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Protest marks Filipino-American Friendship Day

Isang kilos-protesta ang pinangunahan ng mga kabataan malapit sa US Embassy sa Maynila para sa pagdiriwang ng Filipino-American Friendship day noong Hulyo 4.

Ayon sa League of Filipino Students (LFS), walang ganap na kalayaan ang bansa at nakatali pa rin ito sa patakaran ng US. Isang larawan nito ay ang patuloy na mga pagsasanay-militar sa ilalim ng Visiting Forces Agreement at Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Para naman sa Gabriela Women’s Party, patuloy na nangangayupapa ang gubyerno ni President Rodrigo Duterte hindi lamang sa US kundi sa karibal nito na China. Patunay dito ang mahinang paninidigan sa isyu ng West Philippine Sea at malambot na independent foreign policy.

Nanawagan ang dalawang grupo na igiit ng mamamayang Pilipino ang soberanya ng bansa laban sa dalawang imperyalistang bayan. (Music: Background News / Bidyo ni: Carlo Francisco/ Kodao)

SOLIDARITY: A Trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (with English subtitles)

In light of yet another threat by the United States of America and its allies to attack the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, Kodao Productions reposts its 2012 video shot entirely in the said country.

In this video, former Anakpawis Representative and Philippines-Korea Solidarity Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula (PKSCPRKP) President (now Agrarian Reform Secretary) Rafael Mariano takes us to many historical places around this seldom-visited country and explains why international mass media depiction of DPRK is wildly exaggerated, if not entirely false. He also explains why peoples of the world should support the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula and its people. He is joined in this film by former Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan, Kilusang Mayo Uno vice chairperson for external affairs Joselito Ustarez, and PKSCPRKP official Norma Biñas.

(Written, filmed and directed by Raymund B. Villanueva; edited by Cris B. Balleta; produced by Jola Diones-Mamangun)

STREETWISE BY CAROL P. ARAULLO: Unmasking Duterte

These days, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is turning out to be his own worst enemy.

He cannot keep himself from rambling on and on, revealing his bloodlust, megalomania, contempt for objectivity and truth, small-mindedness and bigotry, gullibility for the “intelligence” briefings by the AFP and the propensity for using strong-arm techniques to get his way.

A year ago, at the beginning of Duterte’s presidency, his crassness seemed to be just an idiosyncratic style born of his being an uncouth politician from the boondocks, used to the rough-and-tumble and straight-talking ways of those who are reared in the frontiers of Mindanao.

Many ordinary folk found him engaging, even refreshingly tactless, hence appearing to be honest and sincere.

What was important is that he promised to wipe out the illicit drugs trade in three to six months by means of a bloody “war on drugs”; zero tolerance for graft and corruption; a stop to the practice of “endo” (end-of-contract) that undermined workers’ security of tenure; easing the burden of taxation while spending more on social services for the poor; siding with landless peasants in their fight against the landed oligarchy; an end to the despoilment of the environment through large-scale mining; and to top it all, to release all political prisoners and bring about a negotiated, peaceful settlement of armed conflicts by engaging in peace talks. He also did the unexpected by appointing three avowed Leftists in his Cabinet.

High hopes abounded as well as serious misgivings. The revolutionary and progressive forces on the Left of the political spectrum decided to give Duterte a chance to prove his claims to being the first “Leftist” and “socialist” President.

While long-time mayor of Davao City, traces of his Leftist background surfaced in so far as 1) he acknowledged the CPP-NPA as a political entity born of endemic poverty and oppression; 2) he had a modus vivendi with the CPP-NPA with regard to their de facto existence as a shadow government, including their collection of revolutionary taxes and punitive actions against exploitative and oppressive businesses; 3) he did not consider “all-out war” as the correct or even viable solution to insurgency; 4) he maintained open lines of communication with the CPP-NPA 5) he upheld the human rights of rebels and political activists; 5) he asserted political independence versus US military intrusions in Davao City; 6) he welcomed peace negotiations as a means of resolving armed conflicts by addressing their root causes in unjust socioeconomic and political structures.

A short year later, Duterte is close to fully unfolding towards the Right. Whatever background of activism in his youth has become overwhelmed by the conservatism of his adult years as a politician in the mold of a bureaucrat capitalist until winning the presidency and becoming CEO of the reactionary state.

President Duterte has scuttled peace talks by insisting on an indefinite, bilateral cease-fire even before reaching a comprehensive agreement on socioeconomic reforms (CASER). Duterte not only failed to fulfill his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners, he continued his regime’s brutal counterinsurgency program including the bombardment of civilian communities suspected to be supportive of the CPP-NPA and the targeted killings of unarmed activists.

He resorts to lies and ad hominem attacks on NDFP Chief Political Consultant and CPP Founding Chairperson Joma Sison to belittle, insult, and dismiss him as a revolutionary leader. He parrots the worn-out AFP line demonizing the CPP-NPA as terrorists and plain criminals extorting from the people and businesses.

Duterte is in over his head. His conceit is that his overrated stint in Davao City provides him the blueprint for dealing with the complexities of the country’s historical ills. He misrepresents authoritarianism for political will and resort to mass murder and bullying tactics for decisive leadership.

Duterte’s opportunistic alliances with the Marcoses and ex-President Gloria Arroyo, his over dependence on the pro-US, militarist troika of Lorenzana-Año-Esperon and pandering to the AFP and PNP to preempt a coup attempt by his rivals — all these reveal that he is indeed an ultra-reactionary contrary to his self-delusional pose as a “leftist.”

But as a Marcos wannabe, Duterte lacks sophistication. His expressed intention to bomb lumad schools as a counterinsurgency measure makes him vulnerable to charges of genocide and other war crimes. His demagoguery is repetitive and tiresome. His resort to martial law in Mindanao and the destruction of Marawi City to deal with the disastrous Mamasapano-like police operation against Isnilon Hapilon is a testament to his incompetence and brutality as a commander-in-chief.

Duterte’s “war on drugs” is an unmitigated failure. It’s outcome: an unending body count of alleged small-time drug users and dealers, victims of extrajudicial killing by police and touted vigilantes incited on their murderous killing spree by no less than President Duterte. Impunity reigns with Duterte shielding the police establishment that he once described as “rotten to the core” from investigation by the Commission on Human Rights and the Ombudsman. A police official, coincidentally surnamed Marcos, who stands accused of murdering a suspected drug lord while in jail has been reinstated and will soon be eligible for promotion upon the specific instruction of no less than President Duterte.

Duterte’s economic policies and programs have not departed from the failed policies of his predecessors in keeping the economy backward and the majority of the people eking out a precarious existence with no stable sources of livelihood or forced to take their chances working overseas. His resort to dole-outs, including one-time subsidies for higher education, is unsustainable. Social services like housing and health care remain unaffordable, of poor quality and inadequate. Whatever economic growth benefits foreign multinationals, their domestic business partners and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.

Finally, Duterte has maintained his off-and-on diatribe against the US, citing its track record as a brutal colonizer of the Philippines and as an exponent of wars of aggression against sovereign countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. His tirades intensify as criticisms from US quarters of his regime’s bloody war on drugs intensifies and as the US government hedges on the delivery of armaments and other forms of military aid.

But as the US well knows, Duterte is not about to touch any of the lopsided military agreements such as EDCA and the VFA that allows US military presence on Philippine soil and power projection in the Asia Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Duterte’s courtship of China for loans and investments is leading us to debt peonage to a new master and abandonment of our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.

The Duterte regime is headed towards complete unmasking and isolation as anti-people unless it drastically changes course. Unfortunately, there are few signs that this can or will happen. # (First published in BusinessWorld, 31 July 2017 / carol_araullo@yahoo.com)

 

Joma to Digong: You do not dictate on me

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison rebuffed President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge for him to go home and continue his fight in the country.

“I do not have to prove again that I have the revolutionary will and courage to wage armed struggle against oppression,” Sison said, adding he surpasses the field record of many officers in the “reactionary military.”

Duterte continued his verbal attacks against Sison telling his former professor, “If you are truly a revolutionary leader…come home and fight here.”

“Your people here, your NPA (New People’s Army) members, have been dying, losing their husbands. (They) have not even seen Sison. (Their) leader is a coward. Is there a leader who just rest(s) in Utrecht?” Duterte said in a media interview after visiting the wake of the six police officers killed in an ambush in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Sison retorted he was an active part of the people’s war against the Marcos regime for nine years, 1969 to 1977 and then went to fascist prison for another nine years.

Sison is said to be among those who suffered the worst kinds of torture by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the Marcos dictatorship.

“I surpass the field record of many reactionary military officers who are in the field for a few years until they are assigned desk jobs and then retire at the age of 56,” Sison said.

Sison, also the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), said he will return to the Philippines to “fight the Duterte puppet regime of US imperialism” if deemed necessary by the revolutionary movement.

“That means surmounting my being in the same old age bracket as Duterte and evading the constant surveillance by the US, Dutch, European and Philippine reactionary intelligence agencies,” Sison said.

“At any rate, I must remind Duterte that we are well past the age of retirement in the NPA and AFP,” he added.

“At his ripe old age of 72, he should not try to project an image of being a strutting young fighter at my expense,” Sison further said.

The CPP founder said he chooses the battlefield where he fights and the types of battles the wages, adding these cannot be dictated by Duterte.

“The way he continues to talk he really hates to engage in peace negotiations with the NDFP. He should sober up and allow his negotiating panel to seriously negotiate with the NDFP negotiating panel and make agreements on social, economic and political reforms that lay the basis of a just and lasting peace for the benefit of the Filipino people,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photo by Jon Bustamante)

Mga batingaw ng Balangiga

Tula ni Jose Maria Sison

 

Sabay sa repike, hudyat na malinaw

Ng mga batingaw ng Balangiga,

Sa dibdib ng bayan umalingawngaw

Ang nasang lumaban at lumaya.

Sinugod ang banyagang halimaw

Ng taumbayang nagbalikwas

Laban sa pananakop at pag-agaw

Sa kalayaan ng mahal na bayan.

 

Ang halimaw nagpasyang manira

Sa lahat ng pamayanan,

Sinunog ang mga tahanan.

Tinipong parang hayop ang mga tao

Pinahirapan at pinaslang

Ang kalalakihan sampu ng mga bata

Ginahasa ang mga kababaihan

Dinuro ang matatanda.

 

Inakyat at kinulimbat mula sa tore

Ang mga batingaw ng Balangiga,

Itinawid sa malawak na karagatan

Upang bihagin ang mga ito sa kuta

Sa kalooblooban ng imperyo.

Ipinagmamalaki na tropeo

Ng paglupig sa ibang bansa

At paglapastangan sa kasarinlan nito.

 

Ilang salinglahi na ang dumaan

At nanatili ang mga batingaw

Bilang bihag sa ibayong dagat.

Nais sikilin ng imperyalista ang tunog

Subalit lagging umuugong ito,

Umaalingawngaw sa sa puso’t diwa

Ng taumbayang patuloy sa pakikibaka

Para sa kanilang kalayaan.

 

9 Agosto 2009

 

Mula sa aklat ng mga tula, The Guerilla is Like a Poet

(The Hague, Ujtgeverij, 2013), pahina 201-203

Photo by Davao Today

The Balangiga Massacre (Audio plug)

In his State of the Nation Address Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte demanded from the United States of America the return of the three Balangiga bells taken by the US 9th Infantry during the Filipino-American War in 1901.

“Give us back those Balangiga bells,” Duterte told the US. “They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage,” the president said, adding the US’ genocidal  war is a “painful memory” for the Filipino people.

The president’s remarks revived repeated petitions by Bayan Muna since 2007 for the Philippine government to demand the bells back from the United States of America.

Click the play icon above to play the clip.

This audio clip was part of a series of information plugs produced by Kodao Productions in time for US President George W. Bush’s visit to the Philippines in October 2003. #

Activists storm US embassy on 119th Independence Day

Activist groups from all over the country marched to the United States embassy in Manila on the 119th Philippine Independence Day celebrations to demand for the pull out of foreign soldiers.

Groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said there is no genuine independence in the Philippines as long as foreign intervention is present in the country.

The activists also scored US military presence in the ongoing battle in Marawi City between government troops and ISIS-supported Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. (Videography by Ivan Dexter Tolentino, Jola Mamangun and Esther Anne Cabrillas / Editing by Jo Maline D. Mamangun) Read more

Joma terror delisting, free land distribution among agreements in third round of talks

ROME, Italy—The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and government negotiators are set to end their third round of formal talks today on a successful note with advances on the substantive agenda and new goodwill measures included in the prospective Rome Joint Statement.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and his Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) counterpart Silvestre Bello III said their joint statement will include the signing of the supplemental guidelines on the Joint Monitoring Committee as well as agreements on the ground rules for future negotiations on socio-economic and political and constitutional reforms.

They also agreed to hold a special meeting in The Netherlands in February 22 or 24 to discuss the GRP proposal for a bilateral ceasefire.

“This round is turning out to be a success, despite the apparent sabotage with the killing of the activists in Negros Occidental and Surigao del Norte and the attack on the NPA (New People’s Army) encampment in North Cotabato,” Agcaoili said.

Joma Sison delisting

Bello for his part revealed that the joint statement shall include a request to the United States of America (USA) that NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison be delisted from its terror list.

“We have a basis (for such request), considering he is in the process, the peace talks, which negates the character of a terrorist,” Bello said.

Bello said it is important for Sison to be able to travel outside of Europe in response to GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement he is willing to meet his former professor in any neutral Asian country.

NDFP panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultant Wilma Austria welcomed the move saying it would help in the negotiations.

“We have long been saying that the revolutionary movement, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA, most especially Prof. Sison are not terrorists,” Tiamzon said.

“It is also important that President Duterte is saying he is independent of the US and this is one concrete step showing he really is independent,” Tiamzon added.

Sison has yet to issue a statement on the development.

Painstaking SER negotiations

NDFP socio-economic reforms Reciprocal Working Committee (RWC) spokesperson and agrarian and rural development focal person Randall Echanis said their bilateral meetings with their GRP counterparts have taken a few steps forward.

“For the first time, the GRP has submitted a comprehensive draft and we have agreed that both our drafts would be discussed with a matrix comparing both versions,” Echanis said.

Echanis also said that the Preamble and Declaration of Principles mostly based on the NDFP draft has already been agreed upon by the Reciprocal Workings Committees (RWC).

“We have identified commonalities on the Bases, Scope and Applicability provisions of our respective drafts and these are three important parts that our bilateral negotiations have disposed with,” Echanis said.

Echanis also revealed that the GRP has agreed in principle that there should be free land distribution to farmers, subject to consultations with other government agencies.

“We are for free land distribution while the GRP is for land distribution at least cost to the farmers.  We met halfway by saying the compensation should not come from the farmers but from the government,” he said.

“They said the NDFP draft’s use of the word of ‘confiscation’ is unconstitutional.  We clarified that land grabbed with use of violence and intimidation should be confiscated without compensation but we have no question with just compensation for landlords whose land was accumulated through just means,” Echanis clarified.

Echanis said the NDFP had been meeting GRP halfway in their negotiations as long as the essence and principle of agrarian reform is not compromised.

The closing ceremony of the third round is expected to be held at three o’clock local time (nine o’clock in the evening, Philippine time).

The fourth round of NDFP-GRP formal peace talks shall be held in April in Oslo, Norway. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Progressive groups storm US embassy to protest Trump at inauguration.

Members of people’s groups in the Philippines protested in front of the United States embassy Friday in time for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th American president.

Protesters led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) condemned Trump, calling him “the new face of imperialism” and “a symbol of sexism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination”.

According to JP Rosos, national spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students, “Trump is a fascist and far right. The global community can only expect intensified neoliberal attacks and wars of aggression against them, as the defining characteristics of imperialism remain.”

Former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casino drew comparisons between Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama. “When Obama was elected, he was touted as a progressive leader who promised a kinder USA,” he said. “However, he broke all his promises and fell short of being progressive.”

“One can only imagine what may happen under Trump, who does not even try to pretend to appear progressive,” Casino added.

Global effects

Monique Wilson, convenor of One Billion Rising-Philippines, explained why Filipinos are joining the protests against the new US president.

“We stand not just for us,” she said, “But also for our oppressed brethren in America who will feel the brunt of the discriminatory policies of the Trump administration against their democratic rights.”

Casino shared that there are people who ask why Filipinos should care about something not directly affecting our country. “We have to remember that we are part of the global community, and that community is fighting against US imperialism, which Donald Trump represents,” Casino said.

“You do not need to be American to stand against Trump,” he added.

Conflicting interests

The protesters also called on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to start taking concrete actions towards an independent foreign policy. Duterte had previously criticized the US government, until Trump’s victory at the election.

The president praised the newly-elected Trump in November, creating fears that he would bow to US interests in contrast to his former pronouncements. This also does not align with the agenda of independent foreign policy being discussed in the ongoing peace process with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Progressive groups are also critical of Trump’s militaristic attitude towards other countries, including the Philippines. According to Casino, Trump allegedly plans to station more US troops and warships in the county. “This will not only increase tensions in the South China Sea, but also continue the violations of the US military in the Philippines,” Casino said.

Casino also said that Trump’s protection of American corporations and banks would allow them to plunder the Philippines’ wealth further, and that Duterte must act against Trump’s moves to push US corporate interests in the country.

“Pres. Duterte must stand for the interests of the Filipino people against US imperialism, not the reverse,” he said. (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)

Death to imperialism, national minorities say

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)