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Mensahe sa sambayanang Pilipino sa okasyon ng Araw ng ‘Kalayaan’

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

Sa ika-126 na anibersaryo ng Deklarasyon ng Kalayaan ng Pilipinas, nananawagan ang Bayan sa mamamayan na ipaglaban ang tunay na kalayaan laban sa imperyalismo, partikular sa dominasyon ng imperyalismong US sa Pilipinas. Hindi tunay na malaya ang Pilipinas. Ang US ang nananatiling pinakamalaking banta sa soberanya ng Pilipinas ngayon habang ito’y sangkot sa inter-imperyalistang bangayan laban sa Tsina at nag-uudyok ng digmaan sa pamamagitan ng pinalawak na presensiyang militar ng US sa bansa. Ang US ang pangunahing imperyalistang kapangyarihan sa Pilipinas, habang ang Tsina ay isang umuusbong na imperyalistang kapangyarihan at kasalukuyang karibal ng US. Sa pagitan ng dalawang imperyalistang kapangyarihan na nagtatagisan para sa dominasyon sa rehiyon, ang imperyalismong US ang may mas malalim na ugat at mas malaking impluwensya sa Pilipinas sa ekonomiya, politika, kultura at militar. Ang US ang may mahabang kasaysayan ng kolonyalismo at neo-kolonyalismo sa ating bansa.

Sa ating kasaysayan, ang US ang nag-udlot sa pagtatatag ng isang malayang estado ng Pilipinas nang sakupin ng US ang Pilipinas sa pagsisimula ng ika-20 siglo. Pinigilan ng US na makamit ng mga Pilipino ang kanilang pinaghirapang tagumpay laban sa kolonyalismong Espanyol. Nangako ang US na tutulungan tayo laban sa kolonyalismong Espanyol ngunit ang talagang nais nito ay sakupin ang Pilipinas at bilhin ang kolonya mula sa Espanya sa halagang $20 milyon bilang bahagi ng Kasunduan sa Paris. Hindi kailanman naging interesado ang US sa soberanya ng Pilipinas, kundi sa pang-ekonomiya at pampulitikang interes lamang ng imperyalismo.

Ang US ay nagsagawa ng brutal na pananakop sa mga isla, na nagdulot ng pagkamatay ng hindi bababa sa 200,000 sibilyang Pilipino. Pagkatapos ng pagbibigay ng nominal na kalayaan noong Hulyo 4, 1946, ang Pilipinas ay nanatiling isang neokolonya ng US na nagtaguyod sa 2 sa pinakamalalaking base militar ng US sa buong mundo.

Ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas, ang sistemang politikal nito, ang patakarang panlabas at ang establisyamentong militar ay lahat nasa ilalim ng malakas na impluwensya ng US. Ang rehimen ng neoliberalismo na ipinatupad ng US ay nagdulot ng pagkabansot ng ekonomiya. Pinagpatuloy nito ang semi-pyudalismo bilang batayang panlipunan ng imperyalismo. Nanatili tayong isang ekonomiyang nakatuon sa pag-export, umaasa sa pag-import, at nakaasa sa utang – isang tambakan ng mga surplus na produktong imported at labis na kapital habang ang ating pambansang ekonomiya ay nananatiling atrasado at hindi nakakamit ang katayuang industriyalisado. Ang pamamahala ng US sa kolonyal at kalaunan ay neo-kolonyal ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit nananatiling mahirap at hindi maunlad ang ating bansa.

Ngayon ay pinalawak ng US ang presensyang militar nito sa Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng hindi bababa sa 9 na forward military bases sa tinatawag na Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites. Ito ay nagposisyon ng mga kagamitang militar kabilang ang mga Tomahawk missiles at spy drones ng US habang nagsasagawa ng mga military exercises sa hangaring magpalakas ng kapangyarihan sa rehiyon. Ang malawakang deployment ng mga pwersa at kagamitan ng militar ng US sa Pilipinas ay naglalayong udyukan ang Tsina na pumasok sa mas matinding tunggalian militar katulad ng ginawa ng US sa Russia, sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalawak ng NATO sa Ukraine. Samantala, ang “ayudang” militar ng US ay ginagamit sa isang US-inspired counter-insurgency program na ipinatutupad ng iba’t ibang presidenteng sunud-sunuran sa US at nagreresulta sa matinding paglabag sa karapatang pantao at pandaigdigang makataong batas.

Ang US ay kasalukuyang nahaharap sa kabiguan na makamit ang tagumpay militar sa Ukraine matapos tanggihan ang negosasyon ng kapayapaan noong 2022. Ang US ay nahihiwalay din sa politika dahil sa walang kapararaang suporta nito sa Israel sa patuloy na genocide sa mga Palestino. Sa buong modernong kasaysayan, saanman sangkot ang US, mayroong kaguluhan at digmaan. Ito’y totoo para sa mga bansa tulad ng Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, at Afghanistan. Hindi maaaring maging tagasuporta ng genocide at tagaudyok ng digmaan ang US sa isang bahagi ng mundo at titignan bilang mabuting tagapagligtas sa kabilang bahagi. Tiyak na ayaw natin na gamitin ang Pilipinas ng US sa isang proxy war laban sa Tsina.

Ang rehimeng Marcos ay nagpapakita ng sarili bilang tagapagtanggol ng soberanya ng Pilipinas kahit na pinapayagan nito ang walang hanggang presensiyang militar ng US sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng hindi pantay na mga kasunduan tulad ng Visiting Forces Agreement at EDCA. Inilagay nito ang patakarang panlabas ng Pilipinas sa ilalim ng patakarang panlabas ng US, sa maling paniniwala na ang pambansang interes natin ay katulad ng imperyalistang interes ng US. Pinapayagan ni Marcos na gamitin ang Pilipinas bilang tuntungan ng US upang itaas ang tensyon sa Tsina, sa halip na agresibong isulong ang diplomatikong solusyon sa alitan sa West Philippine Sea, sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatupad ng arbitral ruling sa ilalim ng UNCLOS.

Tinututulan natin ang mga agresibong aksyon at ilegal na pag-angkin ng Tsina sa mahigit 90% ng South China Sea. Higit na tinututulan namin ang paggamit ng US sa ating lehitimong isyu sa Tsina bilang dahilan para sa mas malaking interbensiyong militar ng US sa rehiyon, na nagtutulak sa Pilipinas papalayo sa mapayapa at diplomatikong resolusyon ng alitan, at papalapit sa armadong komprontasyon na nagsisilbi sa imperyalistang layunin ng US sa rehiyon. Noon at lalo na ngayon, ang US ang pangunahing pwersang lumilikha ng kaguluhan sa rehiyon.

Nanawagan ang Bayan sa sambayanang Pilipino na ilantad at tutulan ang imperyalismo, pangunahin ang imperyalismong US, at ipaglaban ang tunay na kalayaan at demokrasya sa Pilipinas. Nakikiisa kami sa mga mamamayan ng mundo na lumalaban sa makinarya ng digmaan ng US, mula sa Palestina hanggang sa Pilipinas. Pinaparangalan namin ang lahat ng ating mga bayani na nakipaglaban para sa tunay na kalayaan laban sa kolonyalismo, mula sa mga rebolusyonaryo ng Katipunan hanggang sa mga rebolusyonaryo ng kasalukuyang pakikibaka. #

BAYAN to BBM: Do not let PH be another Ukraine

‘US puppet Zelensky led his country to war against Russia’

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to protect the Philippines from becoming another Ukraine, a casualty in another proxy war by the United States of America (USA) against its rivals.

In a statement on President Marcos’ meeting with Ukranian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday, the group said it is against the national interests of the Philippines to be drawn into a shooting war between the USA and China in the manner that Ukraine is a “mere pawn” between the rivalry between the North American superpower and Russia.

Marcos met with Zelensky at Malacanan Palace on June 3 when the latter thanked the Philippine government for its pro-Ukraine statements since the start of the conflict in February 2022.

Zelensky followed Marcos to Manila after their mutual attendance at the Shangrila Dialogue in Singapore to seek stronger support for Ukraine in its ongoing and long-drawn war against Russia.

The European head of state also invited Marcos to attend a pro-Ukraine event to be held in Switzerland in the future.

Marcos for his part told Zelensky his government would extend whatever it could to Ukraine.

Bayan however said the US-controlled North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is to blame for the war between Ukraine and Russia.

“NATO expansion in Ukraine was among the factors that escalated the conflict,” Bayan said.

The Minsk Agreement of 1991, co-signed by Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, dissolved the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and stipulated assurances from the US, NATO and Western powers that former Warsaw Pact member countries would not be made NATO members that would threaten Russia along its borders.

NATO however has added 16 new member states since then, many of which border with Russia and have undergone political turmoil seen as encouraged by Western powers such as the US.

Zelensky’s government has applied for NATO membership that analysts said was among the reasons for Russia’s offensive against Ukraine.

Bayan said US and China are engaged in a similar inter-imperialist rivalry with the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as battle ground.

“We should by now learn from the experience of Ukraine. We should be wary of being a US pawn, and should reject all attempts at making the Philippines a US military outpost,” Bayan president Renato Reyes said.

“If the Ukraine experience teaches us anything, US war provocations and escalation of tensions will not be in our national interest. The Filipino people demand an end to US bases and troops and China’s aggressive actions,” Reyes added.

Bayan said the WPS should be immediately demilitarized and all forms of imperialist domination should end.

The group said the Philippines must stand up to China in the latter’s aggression in the region but must also reject US war provocations and escalation of conflict. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gov’t must denounce red-tagging

“First, the government must make it clear to its officials and the public that it does not encourage, approve or condone ‘red tagging.’ I strongly recommend an Executive Order denouncing the practice and setting out measures that discourage, disincentivise and discipline those who violate the policy. In addition to reassuring civil society and the public, the clear denunciation of ‘red tagging’ will also benefit the upcoming peace talks by encouraging broader participation and more open debate of diverse views to settle differences and reach a consensus.” —UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan (February 2, 2024)

(Image by Jo Maois Mamangun)

[THIS IS THE FIFTH IN A SERIES OF NOTABLE STATEMENTS MADE BY UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION IRENE KHAN ON HER INVESTIGATION IN THE PHILIPPINES]

The dangers of red-tagging

“The dangers are evident. The vilification has often been followed by threats, unlawful surveillance, attacks, or even unlawful killing. It intimidates and chills freedom of expression, and suppresses legitimate activism, journalism, debate and criticism which are part and parcel of freedom of expression. It isolates and antagonizes those who are unfairly attacked, puts them in a vulnerable position, may even drive them to exploitation by others, and undermines public trust in civil society and the media.” —UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan (February 2, 2024)

(Image by Jo Maois Mamangun)

[THIS IS THE FOURTH IN A SERIES OF NOTABLE STATEMENTS MADE BY UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION IRENE KHAN ON HER INVESTIGATION IN THE PHILIPPINES]

Clear evidence red tagging is practiced by PH govt

“While the government has reassured me that it does not encourage or endorse it, there is clear evidence that ‘red tagging’ and ‘terror tagging’ as some persons have called them, are being practiced by security forces as part of their counter-terrorism strategy. Furthermore, it is also clear that such vilification is not only aimed at those who are actually associated with proscribed or listed organizations as some officials claim, it is also used to target legitimate activists and activities, sowing distrust between the State, communities and civil society.” —UN Special Rapporteur Irene Khan (February 2, 2024)

(Image by Jo Maois Mamangun)

[THIS IS THE THIRD IN A SERIES OF NOTABLE STATEMENTS MADE BY UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION IRENE KHAN ON HER INVESTIGATION IN THE PHILIPPINES]

Top 10: Mass Movement Moments 2023

By Renato Reyes Jr. / Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

Solidarity and resistance were the key themes of the year 2023. Collective struggle was our response to the worsening crisis in the Philippines and in the world. Many offered the supreme sacrifice so that freedom and democracy could be achieved. The mass struggles waged by oppressed peoples remain our hope and inspiration.

Here are some of the mass movement moments that made their mark in 2023.

1. #FreePalestine

The Philippines was part of the global protests against the US-backed Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza. The mass actions were staged in Manila and various parts of the country especially in Mindanao. Filipinos abroad also joined the global protests in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands among others. Defying Philippine police forces, various sectors marched to the Israeli embassy in BGC and the US embassy in Manila to denounce the killings of Palestinians and to demand a #FreePalestine, from the river to the sea. The global movement exposed the depravity and moribund character of the US war machine, the utter bankruptcy of the Zionist project and the justness of armed resistance for national liberation against colonial occupation. In Manila, various groups and the University of the Philippines hosted Filipino-Palestinian refugees from Gaza who were repatriated by the Philippine government but lacked state support to be able to settle and integrate here. Palestine continues to fight even as the year ends, and will continue to fight for freedom well into the new year.

2. #NoToJeepneyPhaseout

The most sustained mass campaign this year was against the profit-oriented PUV modernization program which aimed to phase-out traditional jeeps, allow for the corporate takeover of local routes, and squeeze more profits from commuters. Strikes were staged in March, November and December of this year. During the March strike, government conceded that it would not phase-out traditional jeeps that are still roadworthy. The government however insisted on the forced consolidation of jeepney routes and franchises to allow the corporate takeover of local routes, and then force the use imported “modern” jeeps that favor foreign manufacturers. So long as the PUVMP remains, the livelihood of drivers and operators would remain threatened. The biggest political victory of the campaign was the tremendous support it garnered from the public who sympathized with the plight of the jeepney drivers and who rejected the profit-oriented modernization scheme. The fight is not over though as the December 31 deadline looms.

3. #AbolishConfidentialFunds, #NoToMaharlikaScam

Fighting corruption was a major campaign for 2023 as groups opposed the Maharlika Investment Fund and the confidential and intelligence funds of top government officials. Protests greeted the signing of the Maharlika Investment Fund as workers and economists expressed concern over the huge allocation, questionable returns, and potential for misuse of the so-called sovereign wealth fund. Makabayan lawmakers meanwhile exposed the questionable rapid utilization of confidential funds by the Office of the Vice President in 2022. The OVP did not have any confidential funds allocated under the GAA of 2022 yet somehow obtained P125 million from a fund transfer authorized by the Office of the President. Public outrage, amid the intensifying contractions among the factions of the ruling elite, made possible the removal of the confidential and intelligence funds of the OVP and the DepEd. The confidential and intelligence funds of the President remained untouched by Congress. Presidential travel funds also significantly increased by 58%, bringing it to a whopping P1.408 billion in 2024.

4. #NeverAgain

Fighting historical revisionism and fascism are our sworn duties under a second Marcos regime. This year saw efforts at “rebranding” the Marcos dictatorship with DepEd proposals to remove “Marcos” from “diktadurang Marcos” and the official use of “Bagong Pilipinas” as a call-back to the “Bagong Lipunan” of Martial Law. No amount of “rebranding can hide the crimes of the dictator and cover-up the fascist character of the current Marcos regime. A huge march was held in Manila on September 21 to mark the 51st anniversary of Marital Law. Upon reaching Mendiola, thousands of candles were lit as protesters sang Bayan Ko.

5. #SahodItaas #PresyoIbaba #MahalSaPilipinas

The economic crisis was a key issue throughout the year as we saw inflation quicken, and “shrinkflation” take hold of basic commodities. The first quarter of the year saw rising prices of agricultural food products while the Marcos regime further liberalized importation of agricultural products, instead of supporting local production and clamping down on cartels. The second quarter of the year saw a huge May Day demonstration that brought together various labor groups for the common call for a nationwide wage increase. June 30 meanwhile marked the first anniversary of the Marcos regime with groups marching to Mendiola with a parody of the Tourism Department’s “Love the Philippines”. “Mahal sa Pilipinas” was what many poor Filipinos were saying.

6. #EndImpunity #StopTheKillings

Tyranny and impunity are not forever. This year saw the first criminal case filed against former President Rodrigo Duterte by teacher-lawmaker France Castro of ACT Teachers’ Party. There now seems to be a different government attitude when it comes to cooperating with the ICC, with some quarters saying that ICC prosecutors have indeed been allowed into the Philippines to probe the Duterte drug war. SMNI is no longer untouchable, is the subject of a congressional inquiry and has received a suspension order from both the MTRCB and NTC. Bayan leaders and a journalist have filed civil cases against two of SMNI’s host. Meanwhile, trumped-up cases of “terrorism” vs Southern Tagalog activists have been dismissed at the level of the prosecutors.

7. #SurfaceJhedAndJonila

One of the most riveting incidents of 2023 was a presscon supposedly presenting “rebel surrenderees” Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro. But instead of the usual government gloating, the two young environmental activists turned the tables on the NTF-ELCAC and exposed that they were actually abducted by the military, held against their will in a safe house, and coerced into signing documents that claimed they were rebels. It was a moment of great courage that shook the military establishment. The fascist abductors scrambled for an explanation and then decided to charge the youth activists with “perjury”. Jhed and Jonila have filed a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court and remain active in their environmental advocacy. Many victims of abductions, like Dexter Capuyan and Bazoo de Jesus, remain missing to this day.

8. #SONA2023 and the Doble Kara effigy

For Marcos’ second SONA, a broad range of political forces marched along Commonwealth Avenue to press for higher wages, lower prices and an immediate response to the worsening economic crisis. Bayan brought out the Doble Kara effigy which showed the duplicitous character of the Marcos regime – one that claims to be different from previous puppet regimes but is fundamentally the same. The effigy was burned during the protest, the first for a Marcos SONA. For this act of protest, Bayan artist Max Santiago was slapped with trumped up charges such as violations of the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Management Act. Both cases were eventually dismissed by the QC prosecutor.

9. #HindiMagagapi

Last April 24, progressive organizations paid tribute to revolutionary heroes in the struggle for genuine freedom and democracy over the last 50 years. Many of them were victims of extrajudicial killings and summary executions, while others died in battle with the fascist forces. More than a thousand people attended the outdoor event that recognized the contributions of Jose Ma. Sison, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria, Fidel Agcaoli, Antonio Zumel, Jorge Madlos, Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, Ericson Acosta, Kerima Tariman, Kamil Manangan, and many others. In the event, speakers asserted that revolutionaries are not terrorists but freedom fighters who loved the masses and wanted a just and lasting peace for the Philippines.

10. #JustPeace

On November 23, the GRP and NDFP signed the Oslo Joint Statement signifying the intent of both parties to pursue peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict. The move was welcomed by various democratic forces and even the political parties in Congress. Human rights groups sought the release of political prisoners including the NDFP peace consultants and the removal of the terrorist designation against the NDFP and the CPP and NPA. Meanwhile, Vice President Sara Duterte openly opposed the resumption of the talks, calling the Oslo Joint Statement “an agreement with the devil.” The fascist mindset drew widespread criticism from the people and pushback from her political foes. With guarded optimism, we await the results of the possible meetings that will take place next year, even as we continue to fight for a just and lasting peace in the framework of the national democratic struggle. #

Canadian foreign minister urged to voice rights violations concerns in PH visit

A group asked the Canadian foreign affairs minister to stop her government’s support to the Philippines’ counter-terrorism campaign they say often leads to human rights violations.

In a May 18 letter, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)-Canada asked Minister Melanie Joly to bring up human rights concerns in her ongoing visit to the country.

“It is important for Canada to stop offering financial, programmatic, and technical assistance to the Philippine Government as it may lead to the oppression of its own citizens through counter-terrorism measures,” ICHRP Canada said in its letter.

Joly is in the Philippines from May 18 to 20 to strengthen bilateral relations between the Canadian and Philippine governments.

The Canadian foreign minister is set to meet with Philippine foreign affairs secretary Enrique Manalo and other Cabinet members on matters including regional security and stability, maintenance of a rules-based international order, Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy and partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

ICHRP however urged Joly to ask the Philippine government to stop the red-tagging of Filipino human rights defenders the Philippine military and several government officials accuse of being “enemies of the state.”  

Red-tagging and similar campaigns are “questionable counter-terrorism efforts,” the group said.

“In less than a year since President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. assumed office, eight human rights defenders and community organizers have involuntarily disappeared. By continuing to support the Philippine Government, Canada risks being complicit in serious and widespread human rights violations. Therefore, this issue needs to be addressed promptly,” ICHRP explained.

ICHRP also called on Minister Joly to call on the Philippine government to:

  • Repeal the Anti-Terror Law and recall Executive Order No. 70, creating a National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), stop all activities emanating from this order, including the escalation of smear campaigns and judicial harassment against human rights defenders and specifically, call on Philippine authorities to surface the eight human rights defenders, who have involuntarily disappeared in the past 11 months, alive and safe;
  • End impunity and prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations, and
  • Adhere to and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights instruments to which the Philippines is a party and signatory.

ICHRP said its partners have reported that the counter-terrorism policies and programs of the Philippine Government do not meet the international standards for counter-terrorism and human rights obligations.

“Canada’s response to this issue serves as a test of its dedication to protecting human rights and those who defend them,” the group said.

“This is a critical issue that demands prompt attention,” it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Fil-Am activists condemn high level US-PH meeting they say undermines Philippine sovereignty

By Nuel M. Bacarra

Filipino-American activists belonging to the United States of America, District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and its member organizations condemned the high-level meeting earlier this week between US and Philippine cabinet secretaries they said further undermines Philippine sovereignty.

In a statement, the activists said the meeting purported “to reaffirm the United States commitment to (its) alliance with the Philippines which has contributed to peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region for more than 70 years,” was meant to bolster the ongoing US-led war games that started on that day in the Philippines.

The group also condemned the addition of four new Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites in the Philippines widely seen as a containment maneuver against Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

“The four new locations… indicate a considerable motive for the US to intervene in the country and intimidate China. The amplified scale of the Balikatan exercises also aligns with accelerated motions to provoke China before actual combat ensues,” BAYAN-USA-DMV said.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III met with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Philippine Department of National Defense officer in charge Carlito Galvez Jr. in a ministerial dialogue that discussed Indo-Pacific security, Philippine military modernization, economic and environmental security and alliance partnerships.

DFA Secretary Manalo said, “We especially welcome the United States pledge to fast-track and to ramp up support for the modernization of our defense, civilian law enforcement and humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities, especially in the maritime domain, as well as the implementation of EDCA projects and investments in and around EDCA-agreed locations.”

BAYAN-USA-DMV however said the event was only meant to justify the Balikatan military exercises that see a 140% increase in US military presence in the Philippines involving 12,000 US forces, 5,000 Filipinos and 111 forces from Australia.

The group added that US support to the Philippines uses US taxpayers’ dollars in arming and funding of the Philippine military and police known for gross human rights violations, including the indiscriminate bombings in Mindanao, in Negros, military encampments on indigenous and farmer communities and the massacre of human rights and peace advocates, activists and environmental defenders.

More groups abroad oppose war games

The International League of Peoples’ Struggles-Hong Kong and Macau held a protest rally against EDCA last April 11. (Provided photo)

The group Malaya Movement in New York called for the junking of “unequal military agreements” between the US and the Philippines because as “ineffective and unnecessary” as well as contradictory to Philippines sovereignty and the interests of the Filipino people.

“[T]here is no doubt that [the Balikatan] is a military build up to war in Asia Pacific…meant to provoke China and to stoke the flames of world war,” the group said.

International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Hong Kong and Macau also condemned “US military’s intervention in the Philippines undermining our national sovereignty under the pretext of its humanitarian assistance and disaster response propaganda.”

“We denounce the move of the US government to undermine our national sovereignty through the EDCA additional sites and the Balikatan exercises. We demand the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” the group in a statement said.

“The Balikatan exercises are not beneficial to the Filipino people. The funds allotted for the war games should instead be used to resolve more worthwhile concerns such as hunger and poverty, failing health and education services. War games are costly in financial terms while entailing massive environmental destruction. It breeds human rights abuses, corruption in the military and intensifies local conflict,” it added. # (with reports from Raymund B. Villanueva)

CPP praises NPA’s ‘achievements and victories’ on its 54th anniversary today

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) praised the New People’s Army (NPA) on its 54th founding anniversary Wednesday, March 29, citing achievements and victories through more than five decades of revolutionary armed struggle in the country.

In a statement, the CPP said the NPA has defeated numerous government campaigns of encirclement and suppression from the first Marcos regime to the present, growing from its original “60 fighters and commanders, nine automatic rifles, 26 single-shot rifles and handguns, and a mass base of around 80,000 in the first district of Tarlac province.”

While balance of forces overwhelmingly remain in favor of the Manila government, the CPP said the NPA has fought indefatigably over the over the decades and “it has grown by leaps and bounds.”

In its 54th founding anniversary statement last December 26, the CPP said the NPA currently has more than 110 guerilla fronts all over the country.

“The NPA is the most powerful weapon of the Party for waging the people’s democratic revolution. It carries out protracted people’s war along the strategic line of encircling the cities from the countryside,” the CPP said.

The revolutionary group said the NPA has adapted to the particular conditions of the country, achieving “great successes in carrying out guerrilla warfare, building guerrilla zones and base areas, and establishing Red political power covering vast areas in the countryside.”

“Day by day, the seeds of the future people’s democratic government are sown in thousands of villages across the country, existing side by side with and antithesis to the present reactionary and fascist government,” it added.

‘Heavier tasks’

The CPP said the NPA however faces heavier and greater tasks ahead, needing to “surmount and defeat the intensified campaigns of encirclement and armed suppression being carried out by the US puppet army,” referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We must continue to accumulate strength by smashing the AFP part by part in order to bring the people’s war from its current level to the next higher level. The Party and NPA remain fully determined to carry forward the people’s war to victory,” it said.

The CPP said NPA commanders and Red fighters have to “stir up and spread the flames of the people’s war for national freedom and democracy.”

The underground party cited “intensified imperialist oppression against the Filipino people” and emphasized the need to “attain freedom from US control and domination, and carry out land reform and national industrialization” which it said are key steps to improve the lives of the Filipino people.

It also denounced the plan of the US to construct more military bases in the Philippines to use the country “as part of its war theater preparations against China.”

The CPP said “the broad masses of the Filipino people are suffering from increasingly intolerable forms of oppression and exploitation… they are ever determined to wage resistance in order to free the country from clutches of US imperialism and the subservient ruling classes, and attain genuine national freedom and democracy.”

‘It lasts because it is loved’

In a separate statement, the NPA in Southern Panay said it joins all revolutionary forces in the country in celebrating the Red army’s anniversary.

Ariston Remus, NPA-Southern Panay spokesperson said the people’s love and support enabled them to outlast massive military operations launched by the government.

“The masses continue to put their faith in armed struggle as the only effective solution to their poverty and with the NPA as their true defenders,” Remus said in Filipino.

“The masses are getting better in their underground activities to show their love and give their fathomless support to their army,” he added.

‘Lofty ideals’

Founded in Capas, Tarlac in 1969, NPA’s armed struggle is often regarded as the longest-running Communist Party-led armed revolution in the world.

It has been designated as a so-called terrorist organization by the Philippine, United States and other Western governments, an accusation the revolutionary groups vehemently rejects.

In September 2022, a Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) rejected Manila government’s bid to have both the CPP and the NPA proscribed as terrorist organizations.

Manila RTC Branch Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar wrote that while both organizations may be regarded as rebels, they are not terrorists because violence is simply part of their means but not their end.

“A perusal of the foregoing Program consisting of lofty ideals readily shows that the CPP-NPA is organized or exists not for the purpose [of] engaging in terrorism,” Judge Magdoza-Malagar ruled. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

UN slams PH gov’t for failing to protect ‘comfort women’

The Philippines failed to redress continuous discrimination and suffering of sexual slavery victims perpetrated by Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, the United Nations (UN) women’s rights committee reported on international women’s day, March 8.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) based in Geneva, Switzerland in a decision said the country’s failure to fight for justice for the victims had essentially resulted in ongoing discrimination against them that continues to this day, nearly seven decades since the war ended in 1945.

CEDAW issued the decision after examining a complaint filed by 24 Filipina nationals, commonly known as “comfort women”, asking the Philippine government to support their claims against Japan for reparations for their suffering from sexual slavery in the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.

CEDAW member Marion Bethel said the decision is a symbolic moment of victory for the victims who were previously silenced, ignored, written off and erased from history in the Philippines.

 “The committee’s views pave the way for restoring their dignity, integrity, reputation and honour,” Bethel said.

The complainants, members of Malaya Lolas (Free Grandmothers), an organization of sexual slavery survivors and supporters, testified that on November 23, 1944, they were taken to an old mansion called “Bahay na Pula” (Red House) in San Ildefonso in Bulacan province where there were repeatedly raped, tortured and subjected to inhumane conditions for up to three weeks.   

“They have since then endured long-term physical, psychological, social and economic consequences, including physical injuries, post-traumatic stress, permanent damage to their reproductive capacity and harm to their social relationships in their community, marriage and work,” CEDAW said in a news release.

They asserted that they had consistently raised their claims at the domestic level, requesting that the Government of the Philippines espouse their claims and their right to reparations against the Government of Japan, the committee reported.

Their repeated efforts, however, were dismissed by authorities, with their last action turned down by the Supreme Court in 2014. The Philippine government has always maintained that it is not in a position to claim compensation from Japan after ratifying the Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1956, it added.

In 2019, the victims then brought their case to the committee, seeking to establish the responsibility of the State party to fulfill its commitments under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in supporting the non-discrimination of women and girls on its territory.

The committee noted that the Philippines had waived its right to compensation by signing the Treaty of Peace with Japan.

It observed that the Philippine Commission on Women had not addressed the institutionalized system of wartime sexual slavery, its consequences for victims and survivors or their protection needs.

In contrast, Philippine war veterans, who are mostly men, are entitled to special and esteemed treatment from the Government, such as educational benefits, health-care benefits, old age, disability and death pensions.

The comfort women’s case is one of continuous discrimination, CEDAW asserted.

Given the extreme severity of gender-based violence suffered by the victims, and the continuing discrimination against them regarding restitution, compensation and rehabilitation, CEDAW concluded that the Philippines had breached its obligations under the Convention.

In particular, the Committee found that the State party had failed to adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit all discrimination against women and protect women’s rights on an equal basis with men.

The Committee requested that the Philippines provide the victims full reparation, including material compensation and an official apology for the continuing discrimination.

“This case demonstrates that minimizing or ignoring sexual violence against women and girls in war and conflict situations is, indeed, another egregious form of violation of women’s rights. We hope that the committee’s decision serves to restore human dignity for all of the victims, both deceased and living,” Bethel said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)