The College of Social Work and Community Development of UP Diliman named Manobo leader Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay as its third Gawad Tandang Sora recipient as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations this year.
Bigkay was cited for her leadership in the Indigenous People’s struggles for human rights and dignity. Read more
NATIONAL MINORITIES meted the “guilty” verdict and decreed the “death” penalty against United States imperialism for its crimes against the Philippines and its marginalized peoples at a Peoples’ Tribunal at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila last October 27.
In an open and public trial, indigenous people and Moros presented documented cases of injustices committed by the US government and its so-called local puppets to tribal leaders and elders, who acted as the symbolic tribunal’s jury.
Prosecuting national minority groups said the US government’s crimes included historical accounts of abuses and violence against indigenous people and Moros, such as the massacres at Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak.
They said the police brutality they suffered in front of the US embassy last October 19 was just the latest in a long list of atrocities they directly and indirectly suffered at the hands of US’ interventionist actions in the country.
The tribunal ruled that the US government, corporations and military and their puppets are the ones who have made life difficult for the national minorities and must be punished accordingly.
The tribunal then conducted a traditional ritual called pamaas where they dabbed fresh chicken’s blood on the palms of those present to seal their verdict.
The event was part of the final day of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 that brought indigenous peoples and Moros from all over the Philippines to Metro Manila to share their stories and struggles for self-determination with the people of the city.
Return to the embassy
The groups proceeded to march to the US Embassy to present the tribunal’s verdict to the US government.
Near the embassy, however, they were met by hundreds of policemen and were forced to hold their program near Museong Pambata instead.
While no violence occurred this time around, the protesters were infuriated by the large amount of police blocking their way to the embassy, some of whom were fully armored.
“The police must protect the rights of Filipinos, not foreign interests,” Minda Dalinan of Kahugpungan sa Mga Lumad sa Habagatang Mindanao (KALUHAMIN) said.
“They shouldn’t be using their strength against other Filipinos,” Dalinan added.
Struggle to continue
The national minorities said they have no plans on stopping their fight for self-determination despite the conclusion of Lakbayan 2016.
“We will not stop, we will keep fighting. Not until the plunder of our lands stop ,” Dalinan said.
“The true solution to our struggle against the oppression we receive from imperialists is our right to self-determination. As long as the domination of the US in our country remains, that is not going to happen,” Jerome Succor Aba of Sandugo added.
“Self-determination will not come to us. It is not something we request or wait for. We must struggle to claim it for ourselves,” Aba said. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)
The Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 closes at Mendiola in Manila after weeks of marches from as far as Northern Luzon and Southern Mindanao.
Indigenous peoples and Moros asserted their right to self-determination, peace and the pull-out of military troops from their communities. Despite being teargassed, caned and ran over by the police at a picket in front of the U.S. embassy, the minorities in their newly-formed national alliance Sandugo vowed to fight U.S. imperialism and support Pres. Duterte’s independent foreign policy.
Pia Macliing Malayao, lead convenor of Sandugo and one of those injured by the ramming of a police van, spoke on behalf of the 14 million indigenous peoples and national minorities oppressed in the Philippines.
She was later summoned to Malacanang Palace to air their demands. (Contributed video by ILPS)
Piya Macliing Malayao, SANDUGO spokesperson ang Katribu secretary general, speaks in a press conference a day after the brutal police dispersal in front of the United States Embassy last October 19.
Malayao, a third generation activist in her family who fights for national minorities’ self determination, was among at least 50 activists brutally dispersed by the Manila Police District of the Philippine National Police.
In the press conference, the victims said they are set to file criminal and administrative charges against police officers led by deputy MPD commander Marcelino Pedrozo. Read more
Indigenous peoples who are participating in the Pambansang Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 marched to Mendiola, Manila last October 20 to press their fight for self-determination.
The march was also in condemnation of the brutal dispersal of their rally in front of the United States Embassy the previous day.
The indigenous peoples formed a new national alliance called SANDUGO, which opposes US imperialism that they claim violates their collective and individual human rights. Read more
PROGRESSIVE organizations demanded justice for the victims of the brutal police dispersal of protesting indigenous peoples in front of the United States Embassy in Manila Wednesday morning (October 19).
In a press conference held last October 20 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the groups called on President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa to take action and punish Manila Police District officers for their violence against the victims.
According to Makabayan vice chairperson Neri Colmenares, Senior Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo and PO3 Franklin Kho as well as other MPD personnel are guilty of violating Batas Pambansa (BP) 880 and of attempted murder.
“BP880 is about illegal assembly. But there is nothing in it that allows the use of brutal methods. Does a group not having a permit make it alright to violently disperse them?” Colmenares asked.
“That kind of behavior is illegal, especially with the way they manhandled medics, minors and (members of the) media. The Manila police are clearly guilty of violating the same law they are trying to use against the rallyists,” Colmenares said.
Colmenares added, “BP880 states that you cannot file a case against a participant of a rally. You can do so against a leader, but not a simple participant like how they tried with this protest.”
“The fact that there was premeditation, superior strength and even treachery in play also means we can also charge them with attempted murder – at the very least,” Colmenares said.
The Makabayan bloc has filed a resolution to investigate the incident and condemning the police force for the violence. Progressive groups also call for accountability and firing of the policemen involved.
The protest was about to conclude when Pedrozo ordered the dispersal of the rally and the arrest of its participants, in violation of the agreement between the police and the ralyists before his arrival.
The police then fired teargas and began clubbing the demonstrators.
A police mobile unit, driven by Kho, ran over rallyists several times.
Police officers then proceeded to violently pursue, harass and arrest demonstrators, medics, media personnel and even bystanders filming the events.
At least 50 were injured, 18 of whom needed hospitalization. At least 20 were arrested, including five medics, two minors and one media practitioner.
The arrested were released after at least three hours at MPD Precinct 5 along United Nations Avenue.
The PNP claimed that the violence was unintended, the protesters did not have a permit and who incited the violence.
PO3 Kho, for his part, said he did not intentionally run over the protesters whom he accused of trying to steal the police vehicle.
Their victims, however, presented video footage from various media outfits which they said showed Kho’s criminal intent to maim or kill as well as of Pedrozo ordering the dispersal and arrests for the MPD to save face with the US embassy.
According to Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes, there was no provocation from their side.
“We were down to our final speaker, but Pedrozo showed up and said that the police had shamed the US embassy, that the rally must be dispersed and that there must be arrests,” Reyes said.
“There were even policemen who hesitated to act because they understood that violence was senseless as the protest was peaceful and ending anyway. They were not provoked. They attacked first under Pedrozo’s orders,” Reyes said.
Reyes said they believe there was no need for a permit to protest.
“President Duterte has been fine with it all this time. Besides, we had been protesting for over an hour by the time they began their assault,” he said.
Colmenares added that the videos showed that the police violence was premeditated.
“In the videos, Pedrozo clearly ordered to disperse the rally, with or without provocation, because they would apparently shame themselves with the US embassy by allowing the rally to go for so long,” he said.
“Is Pedrozo ashamed, then, of President Duterte for condemning the US, telling Obama to go to hell, pursuing a strong foreign independent foreign policy?” Colmenares asked.
Majority of the protesters were indigenous peoples and Moro participants of the ongoing Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 who travelled to Manila to demand for respect of their right to self-determination over their ancestral domains and culture.
They were joined by progressive organizations led by Bayan as they also called for the immediate pullout of US military forces and corporate interests from their lands, as well as to express support for president Rodrigo Duterte’s call for an independent foreign policy.
“We have experienced the imperialism of the US, the massacres of our people and those who fight for us. This is why we were at the US embassy yesterday,” said Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson for the newly-formed indigenous peoples alliance Sandugo, said.
“We have been dishonored and brought to poverty by the control and meddling of the US in our areas,” Malayao, who was among those run over by Kho, added.
“We already face brutality and violence in our communities. Why must we be confronted with violence in the city as well, when we were only asserting our rights?” she lamented. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)
National Union of People’s Lawyer chairperson Neri Colmenares explains why they intend to file attempted murder charges against Manila Police District officers who violently dispersed protesting indigenous peoples in front of the United States embassy in Manila last October 19.
In a press conference at the University of the Philippines a day after the incident, Colmenares explained there the police actions were unwarranted and with criminal intent. Read more
A peaceful demonstration of Indigenous Peoples umads in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila turned into mayhem as a police transport vehicle (body marked NCRPO 145) ran over the protesters.
The police driver backed up fast and accelerated forwards four times, with clear intent to maim or kill.
There were no fatalities but a number of demonstrators were injured while at least 29 were arrested in one of the craziest police dispersal operation in Philippine history. (Video by ILPS Philippines) Read more
By Abril Layad B. Ayroso / Photos by Reggie Mamangun
AT LEAST 50 were injured when a Manila Police District vehicle rammed indigenous peoples protesters in a violent dispersal at the United States Embassy in Manila this morning.
After being surrounded by protesters, a police vehicle with license plate SAA 5553 and National Capital Region Police Office markings backed up at high speed, apparently intent on hitting the victims.
After several meters, the vehicle accelerated forward and ran over protesters before backing up again, scattering activists trying to escape its rampage.
According to rights group Karapatan, 31 were also arrested, including two Lumad minors, after Superintendent Marcelino DL Pedrozo of the MPD ordered the dispersal.
Organizers of the Pambansang Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 said Pedrozo showed up at the rally already enraged and immediately ordered the arrest of the protesters.
Under Pedrozo’s orders, the police began pushing back the protesters that immediately became violent as the police fired tear gas at the retreating activists.
Some protesters who tried escaping through and around Plaza Salamanca across the embassy were violently apprehended, with the police even chasing and clubbing the fleeing protesters’ vehicles.
The violent dispersal is the second in two days after the group was also violently blasted with water cannons at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City yesterday.
The violent dispersal immediately received condemnations from various human rights and indigenous peoples groups.
“We condemn the Manila Police District, and call on President Rodrigo Duterte himself to address this enraging incident, which has even surpassed the water cannon incident yesterday at Camp Aguinaldo,” Jerome Succor Aba, Suara Bangsamoro national spokesperson said.
“Is this how the government treats its national minorities? Is this the answer to our plea to stand up for national sovereignty and protect the interests of national minorities from the claws of Washington?” Aba asked.
Dulping Ogan, secretary-general of Kalumaran, blamed the US for the violent dispersal.
“The US can even order our police to attack our own people just to protect its embassy. This is a clear display of power, and highlights the urgency of our call to pull out US forces from the Philippines, especially in our ancestral lands,” Ogan said.
“Here in Manila, our calls are met with water cannons, and now teargas and brute force. In our ancestral communities, the attacks are far worse: we all know of the repeated cases of murders against our kin. Everywhere we turn, we Lumads and other national minorities are brutalized. Yet we will remain defiant. No amount of police brutality can dent the indefatigable and united spirit of the national minorities,” Ogan said.
The protesters proceeded to the Manila Police District headquarters to demand for the release of the arrested activists and condemn the police for the violent dispersal.
They are also demanding accountability from Pedrozo for using excessive force during the dispersal.
The national minorities travelled to Metro Manila to assert their rights to ancestral domain and self-determination as well as to demand the removal of US military and corporate presence from indigenous lands.
The struggle of the national minorities
During their rally, leaders of national minority groups spoke of abuses by the military who they accuse of acting as mercenaries of the US government and foreign corporations.
They said the militarization to their communities goes along with the destruction of the environment and their ancestral domains.
“Every single time the Americans show up, we can’t sleep, hunt or even eat in peace when they are so close to our communities,” Sonny Serrano of the Central Luzon Aeta Association said.
“The US Embassy and the military allow US soldiers to get away with crimes against indigenous people. Why must we tolerate such a system that puts Americans over indigenous peoples?” Serrano added.
Aba, for his part, added that the US not only promotes the destruction of the environment but also the discrimination on national minorities.
The Moro people of Mindanao fought the Americans to defend their ancestral domains that led to the Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak massacres where hundreds were massacred by US troops.
“They keep calling us Muslims terrorists, but who is the real terrorist here? Who has committed so many crimes against the people of the Philippines?” Aba added.
The US military is currently present in Mindanao, who President Duterte said must leave as soon as possible. # (With reports by Raymund B. Villanueva and Divine C. Miranda)