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Should Brown Filipinos Fight for Black Lives too?

“The child who is not embraced by the village
will burn it down to feel its warmth.”
– Old African Proverb

By L.S. Mendizabal

“Baluga.” “Nognog.” “Pwet ng kawali.” “Ita.” Even “negro.” These are just some of the terms with negative connotation that Filipinos fling around carelessly about people who have darker complexions. And the majority of us are kayumanggi (brown skinned), so that’s saying a lot. You don’t even have to be Black to be called these words in the Philippines. Here, there’s no such thing as “racial slur” for we have made sport of physical appearances such as being pango (flat-nosed), pandak (short), tabatsoy (fat) and payatot (skinny) which are oddly what most Filipinos look like.

As a morena for most of my life, experiencing discrimination for not being light enough is not new to me. Mind you, I’m not even that dark. When I was in fifth grade, I had to hand an excuse letter on behalf of my little brother to his class adviser. He had fever and wouldn’t be able to take the exams that week. Upon reading it, the old mestiza teacher with a Spanish-sounding last name looked at me and asked who I was.

“I’m his Ate (older sister),” I said. She ogled me through her reading glasses with intense curiosity.

“Then why are you darker? You don’t look alike! I thought you were the daughter of the kasambahay (househelp),” she said casually, waving the letter to signal that I could go.

I don’t remember how I felt then, but I remember how angry Mama was when I told her later that day. I guess she just got so busy at work that it was never brought up again. Looking back, not only did my brother’s adviser reek of colorism but one that is borne of class consciousness as well. Darker skin is usually equated to being poor, uneducated and thus tied to physical labor in the service of lighter skinned employers. What’s sadder is that she was not a conventionally “bad” person. I’d even go as far as saying that she was one of the best teachers in our elementary school. Most Filipinos, especially from the older age brackets, “boomers” if you will, just happen to think that way. It’s normal.

That’s what you get after around four centuries of colonial rule—three years under the Japanese occupation, 48 with the Americans and 333 as territory of the Spanish Crown to be precise. As product of colonial interbreeding (not excluding the rape of our female ancestors), Filipinos have this concept of beauty centered on Western features: statuesque; blonde hair; a Grecian nose; and most importantly, smooth, radiant, fair skin. Just see all the local TV commercials, the billboards strewn along EDSA, the most popular local celebrities and our two most recent Ms. Universe titleholders who are all Fil-something.

A Filipino-American joins the massive protests against racist killings in the USA. (Bayan-USA photo)

Filipinos have been programmed to want to be Caucasians because for the longest time in our collective memory, they were our governor-generals, friars, lords, teachers, ideal husbands, messiahs who would deliver us from adversity. Heck, even Jesus Christ looks white in the portrait that hangs in every Filipino household! Not a hundred armed uprisings could’ve changed this mentality easily because it’s widely reinforced up to this day. We are still a semi-colony of the USA, granted that the Duterte administration has been turning its allegiance over to China, which if I may add, is a land of chiefly lighter skinned Asians.

Now, imagine being Black in America. Not only were they colonized, but forced out of their native Africa, traded across seas and oceans like silk and spices, then owned by pale strangers for their feudal and capitalist interests. For three centuries. For the color of their skin. After the Civil War that led to the Reconstruction Amendments which abolished slavery and recognized emancipated Blacks as American voting citizens, white supremacy was reborn in the form of racist extreme right-wing organizations like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) which terrorized and killed them. The lynching of African-Americans by white mobs for crimes they did not commit or out of pure hate also became prevalent during this entire period. Then came the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s through 60s which condemned these racial injustices and put an end to the Jim Crow laws and disenfranchisement, among many other legislative triumphs. All these years of the Black Liberation Movement, however, did not arrive at the current global uprising that is Black Lives Matter without at least a million of them being continuously exploited, raped and slaughtered in order to bring a White-dominated USA to where it is now: the world’s foremost imperialist superpower. A steady offering of Black lives by white supremacists to Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty—this has always been the fuel to the American dream machine.

As per writing, 20 people, mostly Black, have been killed, countless are injured and at least 11,000 arrested since mass mobilizations broke out in the US following the May 25 incident when a white cop, Derek Michael Chauvin, knelt on the neck of a Black man, George Floyd, for eight minutes and 46 seconds, causing his death. Black women and children are being abducted and slain everywhere. And in a harrowing throwback to the Reconstruction, five Black people have been found dead hanging from trees. The police have ruled out foul play and classified these lynching as “suicide,” as if a bunch of African-Americans would not have chosen a more appropriate time to end their lives amidst a revolt that demands that all Black lives should matter, as if they could not have thought of any other means of dying but publicly hanging themselves as in the historical hate crime that killed thousands of their ancestors. All these happened in just three weeks since a series of racist killings have triggered massive protests across all 50 states of America as well as the world.

Undeterred by ongoing police brutality, the protests show no signs of letting up. Aside from their demands to defund the police and abolish the whole prison industrial complex, poetic justice is somehow served what with the number of police stations, capitalist establishments and other anti-Black institutions that are being burned down, of racist monuments and memorials uprooted and destroyed. The message is clear: businesses and buildings can be replaced; Black lives cannot. The dismantling of statues of slavers, slave owners and those responsible for Black genocide is nothing compared to everything that’s been wiped out in the name of the “the white man’s burden.” Calling them “George Floyd protests” is an understatement, for as much as the murder of Floyd was their catalyst, so were all the Black lives lost over centuries of systemic racism, their faces too many to count, their names too crowded in our collective consciousness that it’s difficult to learn them all. BLM began as a hashtag in 2013 but the broad movement that it has bred is but an eruption of generations of Black sentiment and dissent. Slavery, they’ve experienced, was simply reformed, not abolished, since their emancipation never quite translated into racial equality. America is literally ablaze with the flame of revolution and the rest of the world is catching fire, albeit long overdue.

A caravan protesting racist killings in the USA. (Bayan-USA photo)

“Why should we Filipinos give a damn?” some might ask. “Most of us are not Black.” “The Duterte diehard supporters (DDS) should have no business with BLM because they condone extrajudicial killings by the police!” “You’re just following what’s trending.” “We already have enough problems in our own turf! #BrownLivesMatterToo” are just some posts by random Filipinos that I’ve seen hovering on social media.

So why must we, regardless of ideology and political beliefs, support BLM?

1) Because all Black lives matter. Period! and

2) because we share a common enemy.

The white-dominated imperialist USA has perpetually fed on the exploitation of our people and natural resources, all the while presenting itself as savior and benefactor, for instance, by keeping the national economy afloat through debt so they can exploit more.

Neoliberalism has made the Philippines and the rest of the Global South beholden to white imperialist powers through the state.

Meanwhile, the AFP-PNP are the oppressive instruments of the state that ensure that the exploited remain exploited. State violence and brutality is not a mere offshoot of abuse of power or a mishandling of guns, but a very specific neoliberal design implanted in the workings of the establishment. The uprisings of all peoples of color against white supremacy in solidarity with BLM in the neo-colonies (our own backyards) as well as within the countries of white imperialists (the homecourts) possess the impact of a flurry of a thousand blows from all sides.

By “uprising,” we do not mean simply participating in Instagram story chains, or posting black squares hashtagged with BlackOutTuesday and calling it a day, or being passionate about BLM while endorsing or staying mum on the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) which, if signed by Duterte, is worse than Martial Law with its draconian anti-people provisions.

I mean, whatever happened to “All cops are bastards?” Fascist violence is the universal language of the police. You cannot be for BLM and root for the PNP! Some Filipino makeup artists also thought it was a good idea to pay tribute to Black lives by posting blackface looks on social media. Blackface, originally sported in 19th century theatre to represent black caricatures, is repulsively unacceptable in 2020! These performative and selective types of activism are not only lethargic but as hollow as a national artist writing a poem on each day of the quarantine in an attempt to “encourage the public to read more poetry” while his fellow artists are starving during the pandemic.

Which brings me to a rather tough but necessary question: Are Filipinos merely uneducated on institutional racism or are we, as a people historically inclined to serve White men, inherently racist?

Let’s not even stray far into colonial history. In fact, let’s talk about how we currently treat our own Indigenous Peoples, the Aeta (“eye-ta”) population in the country. The Aetas, an Australo-Melanesian race, which may be traced back to Africa eons ago, are the Philippines’ oldest, if not first, inhabitants. Their culture and ways of living are often said to be “backward” but in reality, they are natural taxonomists, herbal medicine experts, not to mention excellent farmers and hunters. And yet, Aetas face constant abuse from their fellow Filipinos (“mga unat,” they call us). Not only are they completely ignored by the government but with its blessing, Aetas are frequently driven away from their ancestral lands by land grabbers, huge logging and mining companies and the AFP. The country’s upland regions, which are home to Aetas, are being used as the military’s counter-insurgency training and operations areas. Worse, the AFP usually tags Indigenous Peoples standing their ground to protect their livelihoods as “rebels” and enemies of the state, too. In addition to all these, Aetas, being darker than most Filipinos, are on the receiving end of widespread racial discrimination. Where else did “baluga,” “nognog” and “Ita” come from? Colorism is a child of racism. You don’t have to be a white cop lynching African-American kids to be racist. Anti-Blackness is a global thing, and it can be as subtle as the whitening lotion you slather on your body after bath every day.

Internalized racism is the culprit behind the thinking that it’s harmless to do blackface, or repost a #BlackLivesMatter story chain and nothing else, or call our darker-complexioned friends names that we think are hilarious. White racial antipathy has evolved in its different forms of expression, the less explicit being racial prejudice and racial apathy. Asians, despite being POC, are notorious for being racist at worst and racially apathetic at best. After all, the police officer who stood next to Chauvin kneeling on Floyd who was saying he could not breathe and did nothing about the murder is Hmong-American, while the convenience store that called the cops to report Floyd is owned by an Arab-American. Sure, we Filipinos love Black culture, fashion, athletes, rappers and Beyonce, but why did we laugh out loud at Elizabeth Ramsey, Blakdyak, Whitney Tyson and Wilma Doesnt when they popped up on TV? Their complexion was a comedic antic in itself! Truth is, we Filipinos still have a long way to go before we can fully overcome racial prejudice and apathy, let alone rectify centuries of reinforced internalized white supremacy. We’ve also suffered from white oppression and exploitation, yes, but it is important to note that the age-old problems of our Black sisters and brothers are rooted in the history of being enslaved not for differences in ideology, religion or culture but solely based on the difference of skin color, resulting into the very concept of “race” that’s anchored on lighter skin being superior to dark. This is what we mean when we say that “not all lives can matter until Black lives matter.”

While writing this, I’ve come to realize how it’s a privilege to read up on racism instead of having to fear being Black every day of my life. Signing petitions and sending money to donation drives (preferably by Black community organizers and protesters) in support of BLM, advancing or reopening of cases and bailing out arrested protesters is a good start.

We must also take the time to educate our fellow Filipinos on racism by sharing books and reading materials not just online, but most importantly, within our homes where prejudices are first learned and fortified. These days, when most of the world is mobilizing against many social injustices in the midst of a pandemic no less, there should no longer be room for bigotry, not on the internet or at the dining table where you say grace with your family.

Call racism out and educate the racists, including yourself. After all, this isn’t about you.

Furthermore, racial discourse does not stop online or at home. Filipino-American communities in different states have joined and organized BLM demonstrations. Here in the Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has led peaceful protests against the ATB, the biggest and most recent of which, dubbed as “Grand Mañanita” on June 12, had the protesters simultaneously take the knee in solidarity with the Black Movement. Anti-racism mass mobilizations have also been conducted in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and countries across Africa, to name a few.

The latest pronouncements by the imperialist-sponsored World Health Organization (WHO) itself, expressing support for these worldwide protests in the middle of COVID-19 are proof that late capitalism—in which the principally white Global North, especially the USA, has reveled in through hundreds of years of exploitation of their own people and those in their neo/colonies—is clearly on its last legs. BLM as a movement against systemic racism and white supremacy could not have been a more fitting spark to start a prairie of fire, to borrow Mao Zedong’s words.

Even so, we cannot afford to let our guard down. This is just the beginning. As long as the carceral state is not abolished, as long as there is racial inequality, racial profiling, redlining of African-American neighborhoods and even misogynoir and transphobia within the Black communities themselves, the fight is far from over. As long as there is no justice, there will be no peace. In fact, we may not see the end of it.

Renowned activist, Marxist feminist and author, Angela Davis, shared in a recent interview that she often tells comrades “to consider the very long trajectory of Black struggles. Most important is the forging of legacies, the new arenas of struggle that can be handed down to younger generations.”

Indeed, Black Lives Matter is more than just a trending hashtag. It is a continuing revolution that will not cease until perhaps when our children’s friends call them by their real names and when grade school teachers do not perceive only the color of their skin. #

Filipino-American activists join protest caravans in US

By redlamp.net

WASHINGTON DC –Filipino American activists and allies representing various community and grassroots organizations joined protest caravans in solidarity with the Black community demanding justice for George Floyd and other victims of police racism and brutality.

George Floyd was a security guard, who, after being suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill, was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota last May 25.

Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes leading to his death.

The incident sparked massive protests throughout the United States and in key cities around the world.

“This fascist government gives police state impunity not only to monitor and harass but to actively murder and kill all elements deemed as threat to security,” said Jo Quiambao of GABRIELA Washington DC.

Filipino-American activists join protest caravans in the Washington DC area against the killing of George Floyd and others by the police. (RedLamp photo)

Janeva Duran, a recent immigrant from the Philippines, said:  “For someone who just arrived in the States and is aware of the injustices here, it’s our social responsibility to show up and stand in solidarity with the Black community. I recognize that the issue of police brutality and militarization is happening here and also back in my home country of the Philippines.”

“In these times, it is crucial to build solidarity and work towards genuine systemic change, change that can address the fundamental causes of racial violence and police brutality. I hope that Fil-Ams continue to stand on the right side of history.” added Chrissi Fabro of Kabataan Alliance. “I hope that Fil Ams continue to engage in productive discussions about anti-blackness and what genuine solidarity is like,” he added.

The activist Fil-Ams likened what it called fascism in the US with events in the Philippines, especially with the Congress certifying the anti-terror bill as urgent.

The activists said the versions being pushed by administration legislators are tools that will clearly help the Philippine government violate civil liberties and further stifle dissent.

“There is a parallel with what’s happening both here and in the Philippines. In the US, we’re seeing it in the form of police brutality and racial profiling among Black and Brown folks. In the Philippines, we’re seeing it in the form of the Anti-Terror Bill and the $2 billion arms deal. Both of these perpetuate state violence against activists, human rights defenders, indigenous communities, and more,” said Jay Cleofe of Anakbayan Washington DC.

BAYAN USA coordinator Jhong Delacruz, added: “In the face of COVID-19 and police brutality, and against a system that values profit and property over lives, both here in the US and back home in the Philippines, we will continue to fight. In the wake of this deplorable rise in police-killings and of this historic caravan protest, we will continue to breathe.” #

IMKP: Gera sa Pagitan ng Iran at USA

Payahag ni Prof. Jose Maria Sison hinggil gera sa pagitan ng Iran at USA.

KODAO ASKS : Natupad ba ni Duterte ang ipinangako niyang Independent Foreign Policy?

Noong Hunyo 12, Araw ng Kalayaan, tinanong ng Kodao kung natupad nga ba ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte ang ipinangako niyang Independent Foreign Policy.

Panoorin ang sagot ng mga dumalo sa rali sa mga konsulada ng Estados Unidos at Tsina.

Filipino activists condemn Israel’s massacre of Palestinians

A few hours after the massacre of 61 Palestinian civilians in Gaza by Israeli forces, activists held a protest action along EDSA in Quezon City Tuesday afternoon.

Various organizations led by the International League of People’s Struggles-Philippines condemned the latest massacre while the United States of America opened its new Embassy in Jerusalem.

Victims of violent dispersal at US embassy demand justice

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.

Police brutality

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.

PNP’s lies

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.

Why protest?

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)

50 injured as police vehicle rams IP protesters

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.

Immediate condemnation

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)

Police vehicle rams through indigenous peoples protesters in front of the US Embassy.

Police vehicle rams through and runs over indigenous peoples protesters in front of the US Embassy.

Katribu leader and Sandugo convenor Pia Macliing Malayao lies on the ground after being hit by the police vehicle.

Katribu leader and Sandugo convenor Pia Macliing Malayao lies on the ground during violent dispersal.

A protester bleeds after being clubbed by the police.

A protester bleeds after being clubbed by the police.

Injured and bleeding protesters being accosted by the police.

Injured and bleeding protesters being accosted by the police.

 

 

Bayan protest at US Embassy supports Duterte’s ‘independent foreign policy’

PROGRESSIVE groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) marched to the US Embassy last September 16 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Philippine Senate’s rejection of the extension of the Philippine-United States of America Military Bases Agreement and to support “President Rodrigo Duterte’s independent foreign policy.”

The protest celebrated the 1991 rejection by 12 senators of the agreement despite great pressure exerted by then President Corazon Aquino to the Senate to extend the treaty.

The activists also condemned the current Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which they say allow American troops to treat the Philippine as their “playground.”

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr said the VFA and EDCA  signed by the US and subsequent Philippine administrations allow offending US troops to escape punishment for their criminal activities in the Philippines.

The Manila District of the Philippine National Police tried to prevent the protesters from reaching Roxas Boulevard but were outwitted when the march split in two and rushed past the hastily assembled police line.

‘No longer a colony’

Duterte had previously emphasized his government’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy from the US.

He recently called out US President Barack Obama on the latter’s reported intention to bring up the issue of human rights violations at their planned meeting in Laos last week.

Duterte also called on US troops to leave Mindanao.

He said he will not allow the US to further meddle into the country’s political and military affairs as it has yet to acknowledge and apologize for atrocities in Mindanao.

Duterte mentioned the massacres of Moros at Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak during the US occupation of the Philippines which killed thousands of civilians.

Beyond words

Bayan challenged Duterte to take the matter of foreign policy beyond words.

“We support Duterte’s call for the withdrawal of US troops from Mindanao. However, he must go further if he truly wants to pursue an independent foreign policy,” Reyes said.

The group issued a list of demands for a Philippine independent foreign policy, namely:

  • Overturn laws and agreements allowing US troops to stay in the Philippines, specifically the EDCA signed by Benigno Aquino III;
  • End joint military exercises with the US;
  • Stop the country’s dependence on second-hand but expensive military equipment from the US;
  • Probe US’s role in the botched Mamasapano incident in 2015 that resulted in the death of 44 Filipino Special Action Force members;
  • Assert Philippine sovereignty against any US intervention; and
  • Denouncing American-led wars of intervention. # (Report by AL Ayroso / Featured image by Divine C. Miranda)

 

Bayan explains need for independent foreign policy

As it commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Senate vote rejecting an extension of the US-Philippine Military Bases Treaty, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration that foreign soldiers must leave Mindanao.

Watch highlights of today’s protest action at the US Embassy.

Read more

Protest greets Kerry visit

PROGRESSIVE groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) took to the streets of Manila last July 27 to protest United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Philippines.

Kerry is in the Philippines to dialogue with president Rodrigo Duterte on Philippine international relations, specifically on its ongoing dispute with China over the South China Sea.

The activists, however, said that Kerry’s visit is an attempt to make Duterte dependent on the US as his predecessors. Read more