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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)

Tribunal finds Marcos, Duterte, Biden ‘guilty’ of war crimes

The International People’s Tribunal (IPT) found President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., former president Rodrigo Duterte, the Government of the Philippines as well as President Joseph Biden and the Government of the United States of America (USA) guilty of war crimes in Philippines.

In an hour-long presentation of its verdict in Brussels, Belgium Saturday afternoon (local time), the IPT said the respondents are guilty of willfully killing civilians, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and property, as well as using indiscriminate means and methods of warfare that cause injury or unnecessary suffering.

Aside from causing widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment, the Manila government’s military operations cause displacement of the civilian population, impede humanitarian aid, and commit acts or threats of violence and terror among civilians, the IPT said.

“These acts constitute serious violations of treaty and customary international law applicable in armed conflicts. In view of the foregoing factual and legal findings, the tribunal unanimously finds the defendants…guilty of all crimes and charges, including war crimes and violations of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) alleged in the indictment,” the IPT’s panel of jurors declared.

The Tribunal added that the respondents are guilty of willful killing of New People’s Army (NPA) fighters already rendered hors d’combat (French for “unable to fight”). It also found them guilty of torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment as well as “outrages against personal dignity and humiliating and degrading treatment and desecration of bodies of slain NPA fighters.”

In addition, the Philippine armed forces also “committed abduction and enforced disappearance, the arbitrary arrest and detention and deliberate attacks against civilians merely suspected of having links with a belligerent party, including the filing of trumped-up charges, red-tagging, terrorist labeling and designation, threats and harassments and intimidation,” the Tribunal said.

The jurors said the prosecutors proved with “clear, convincing, credible, consistent and relevant evidence” their allegations, leading to a unanimous verdict.

The Tribunal said it heard oral evidence from victims and families, expert witnesses and resource persons. It also read affidavits, letters, written statements, reports, publications, resolutions, and similar documents, as well as saw photographs and images, watched and heard audio-video recordings in the course of its two-day deliberations that started last Friday.

“[There were] 15 witnesses in the proceedings, eight in person and seven through video depositions, who delivered in clear and coherent manner. Eleven were victims, families or colleagues while four were experts or resources persons who testified on the context, nature and scale of IHL and human rights violations,” it said.

Policy and practice

The IPT cited the massacre of the Fausto family in Negros Island, the massacre of Tumandok tribespeople across Panay Island, and the killing and persecution of the Save Our School tribal school volunteers across Mindanao as examples of the “willful killing of civilians by GRP (Government of Republic of the Philippines) forces.”

READ:

  1. Mission reports AFP responsible for Fausto massacre, other killings
  2. Gov’t troops massacre 9 Tumandok in Panay
  3. ‘Chad Booc and 4 others were massacred’ – Save Our Schools Network

It said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uniformly claimed the victims were NPA fighters and planted evidence to bolster their canard.

The IPT also said that government air strikes and use of heavy ordnance in various places across the country were “indiscriminate.”

Many captured NPA fighters, including those already rendered hors d’combat have been summarily executed as a “matter of practice,” the jurors added, citing the cases of the five recently killed in Bilar, Bohol and of the 22-year old Jevilyn Cullamat

READ:

  1. Rep. Cullamat pays tribute to martyred daughter; condemns desecration of remains by gov’t soldiers
  2. NDFP peace consultant Randall Echanis murdered
  3. Group reports continuing surveillance on wounded journalist

“That these happened in various regions has rendered this as a matter of policy for state armed forces…The scale and frequency of these practices indicate they were deliberate and undertaken as a matter of policy by the GRP,” the jurors said.

The Tribunal also found the defendants guilty of “sustained nationwide attacks against individuals and organizations led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict through red-tagging campaigns and terrorist proscription.

Victims of such vilification campaigns often end up dead like NDFP peace consultant and peasant leader Randall Echanis, or permanently disabled such as paralegal and community journalist Beandon Lee, the jurors said.

The jurors also noted that there has been a steady rise of abduction and enforced disappearance under Marcos Jr. and his government, such as in the case of Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano, as well as Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus last year.

The witnesses gave “astoundingly credible detail” of the systematic nature of the abductions,” the Tribunal said.

Witnesses to include former Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat whose daughter, slain NPA fighter Juvilyn, was desecrated by government soldiers. (IPT photo)

“The lack of genuine investigations into these cases and the impunity that characterize these cases all point to to the GRP as the author,” it said.

The Philippine government could not rely on its national laws to violate IHL and human rights, it said, also noting the lack of genuine police investigations or reports of violations, “even passing the blame on the victims.”

US equally guilty

The Tribunal said Biden and the US government are similarly guilty of the said war crimes and human rights violations.

It said the US places large resources at Manila government’s disposal, including USD1.14 billion worth of military equipment.

Presidents Marcos and Biden at the White House in 2023. (Malacanang photo)

The US is also building military facilities across the country and sends thousands of troops to train the AFP and participate in war games called the Balikatan, the Tribunal noted.

It added that the Philippine counter-insurgency strategy is adopted from US doctrine.

“The US is responsible for directing, training and operating the GRP…[playing an] indispensible role in the atrocities,” he tribunal said.

International jurors and prosecutors

IPT 2024 was presided by a panel of international jurors of lawyers, parliamentarians, professors, and a Bishop.

Julen Arzuaga Gumuzio is a Basque politician, writer and lawyer, member of the Euskal Herria Bildu coalition in the Basque Parliament since 2012. He is part of the European Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Lennox Hinds is founder of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and former counsel for the African National Congress. He currently teaches in the Criminal Justice Program at Rutgers University.

Suzanne Adely is a founder of the Middle East, North Africa Labor Solidarity Network in the United States. She is a long-time member of Al-Awda-NY, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Defend the Egyptian Revolution Committee of New York.

Joris Vercammen is a Belgian cleric and archbishop of the Old Catholic Church, active in the Netherlands. Vercammen was elected to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in 2006.

Séverine de Laveleye is a Belgian politician active for Ecolo. In 2018 she was elected as a municipal councilor of Vorst for Ecolo and was elected as as a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives in 2019.

The prosecutors meanwhile were Belgian human rights lawyer Jan Fermon and his German colleagueRoland Meister.

The jurors said copies of their verdict shall be sent to the Philippine Embassy in Brussels, the US Embassy in Brussels, the European External Action Service, the European Parliament, the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the UN High Commission on Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent, the UN Secretary General, and the Permanent People’s Tribunal. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Int’l tribunal to try US, Duterte, Marcos Jr’s war crimes in the PH

An International People’s Tribunal (IPT) will be held in Europe on May 17 and 18, Friday and Saturday, to try allegations of war crimes in the Philippines by the United States of America and the Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. governments.

Co-convened by the Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle (FFPS) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the IPT is a quasi-judicial forum to investigate and address alleged international humanitarian law violations in the Philippines.

The tribunal will examine violations of the Philippine government’s “means and methods of warfare and the objects and subjects of attack,” the convenors announced.

The violations include extrajudicial and summary killings of civilians and hors d’combat, desecration of remains of combatants, massacre of civilians and other forms of collective punishment, torture, enforced disappearances, mass arrests, indiscriminate firing, indiscriminate aerial bombing of communities and use of white phosphorus bombs, hamletting, (and) terrorist labeling, the IPT said.

The court will also investigate the use of repressive terror laws, assassination of civilians, attacks on schools, fake or forced surrenders, attacks against peace consultants and other forms of suppression, it added.

The complaints to be investigated at IPT 2024.

The IPT said it shall focus on war crimes under both Duterte and Marcos’s counter-insurgency operations patterned after the US National Security Strategy and the US “Counterinsurgency Guide.”

Although not a regular court and is independent from governments and inter-government institutions, the tribunal said it shall follow a structured legal process and the standards of due process and credible evidence.

“The proceedings aim to ensure a fair and impartial process by appointing a diverse panel of expert jurors and providing opportunity for the defendant/s to be heard,” it said.

“While the IPT’s findings are not legally binding, they contribute to the documentation of historical truths and shape international public opinion and could be a basis for future legal action,” the IPT added.

IPT 2018 vs. the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Precedent peoples’ tribunals

People’s tribunals take inspiration from the Russell Tribunal, also known as the International War Crimes Tribunal, which held two sessions in 1967 to expose the war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people.

It was organized by philosophers Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and other intellectuals.

This was succeeded by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) that was founded in June 1979 in Italy by law experts, writers, and other intellectuals.

WHAT WENT BEFORE: Int’l tribunal on Duterte’s ‘gross violations’ underway in Belgium

IPT 2024 shall be the seventh on the Philippines stretching four decades:

  • October 30-November 1, 1980: In 1980, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal convened its First Session on the Philippines to hear the case against the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., at the suite of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). It was the first international quasi-juridical body to condemn the US-sponsored Marcos dictatorship.
  • August 19, 2005: The series of peoples’ tribunals on the Philippines first took on an international character on August 19, 2005, in Quezon City, Philippines. The IPT 2005 delivered a guilty verdict against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for gross human rights violations against the Filipino People.
  • March 21-25, 2007: In recognition of the urgency of the appeal of the Initiating Group of Philippine Organizations, the PPT decided to convene the Second Session on the Philippines indicting the US-Backed Arroyo Regime for Human Rights violations, Economic Plunder and Transgression of the Filipino People’s Sovereignty on March 21-25, 2007, in the Hague, the Netherlands.
  • July 16-18, 2015: The IPT 2015 was held in Washington, D.C. to address crimes against the Filipino people by former president Benigno S. Aquino III and the US Government, as represented by then President Barack Obama. The IPT 2015 found that the Aquino regime, with support from the US through military intervention, economic and environmental exploitation, and imposition of neoliberal globalization, committed systematic violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people.
  • September 18-19, 2018: The IPT 2018 was held in Brussels, Belgium. The tribunal issued a verdict at its conclusion finding former president Rodrigo Duterte and then US president Donald Trump responsible for human rights violations against the people of the Philippines. Experts and victims of human rights violations presented testimonies on poverty, homelessness, the ‘drug war’, political repression, extrajudicial killings, the oppression of women and a range of other issues.
  • May 17-18, 2024: This year, the IPT will once again convene to hear the case of the Filipino people versus the US-backed counterrevolutionary war of the Duterte and Marcos regimes and their violations of International Humanitarian Law.

WHAT WENT BEFORE: Int’l tribunal finds Duterte ‘guilty’ of slaughter and other crimes

IPT 2018.

The IPT said it will be assisted by an international team of prosecutors and will involve the presentation of live and recorded testimonies from witnesses and victims, analyses and opinions by experts, and submission of sworn statements, studies, reports, and other documents.

A panel of jurors, consisting of legal experts and prominent human rights personalities, shall preside over the tribunal who shall be responsible for presenting a summary and preliminary verdict, it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Women hold rally to denounce Balikatan exercises

By Nuel M. Bacarra

The Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) held a rally at the United States (US) Embassy in Manila three days before the 39th Balikatan military exercises end on May 9, demanding an end to the war games they said is anti-Filipino.

The protesters denounced the Philippine government’s spending for the exercises “in outright disregard of the people’s sufferings.”

House Assistant Minority leader and GWP Rep. Arlene Brosas in her speech said: “We demand transparency regarding the utilization of taxpayers’ money, particularly in funding activities like Balikatan exercises which remain shrouded in secrecy.”

“The Philippine government is spending money for war which we do not need and definitely not the solution to the people’s poverty and hunger,” she revealed.

Brosas added: “We must get rid of the Visiting Forces Agreement and stop funding these war games.”

The 39th edition of the US-Philippine war games is reportedly the biggest yet with the participation of 14 other countries as observers and seen as directed against the People’s Republic of China.

Activists call for the release of 6 fellow protesters five days after their arrest during the Labor Day protests in Manila. (N. Bacarra/Kodao)

After their rally, the group joined other activists at the nearby Manila City Hall denouncing the continued detention of six fellow activists arrested during the Labor Day rallies at the Embassy by the Manila Police District.

They said the Mayo Uno 6’s continued detention is symbolic of the Philippine government’s subservience to US imperialism. #

US reveals military nature of trilateral summit; NDFP denounces BBM’s sellout of PH sovereignty

United States President Joe Biden revealed plans for a more aggressive military presence in the Indo-Pacific region at the start of the US-Japan-Philippine trilateral summit in Washington DC, seen as a warning to Beijing that it will not surrender its dominance in the area.

Launching the summit at the White House on Thursday, April 11, Biden said the Cold War-era Mutual Defense Treaty between Washington and Manila requires the US to respond to an armed attack on the Philippines in the South China Sea.

 “United States defense commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are iron clad,” he said.

The agreement “extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft—to include those of its Coast Guard— in the Pacific, including anywhere in the South China Sea,” a White House readout reads.

Biden is hosting Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a first-of-its-kind summit between Manila and two of its former invaders.

Beijing on the other hand said the meeting is an interventionist attempt by the US to escalate tensions in the region as it maintains its claims over an inordinate expanse of the South China Sea.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, even those that fall on the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). China ratified the convention a month later on December 1982.

China however refuses to honor the 2016 international arbitral ruling rejecting its claims and have since attacked Southeast Asian fishing boats and coast guards in the region.

Marcos selling out PH sovereignty

The international office of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP International) meanwhile called Marcos Jr.’s participation in the summit “an utter and complete sell-out of Philippine sovereignty to US war designs in Asia.”

“Marcos Jr. is willingly offering the Philippine archipelago to serve as a ‘theater of war’ by allowing the US to position its military arsenal on land, sea, and air. The Philippines is a crucial piece in the ‘US Island Chain strategy’ to contain China,” NDFP International said.

Also scornful of China’s aggression against Filipino fisherfolk and ships as well as occupation of land features within the Philippine EEZ, NDFP International added that Marcos Jr. is allowing US to constrict regional waterways and position readily deployable military air power in close proximity to China.

“In order to achieve its objectives, the US is escalating war preparations in the region by encouraging Japan and other imperialist allies to join the geopolitical chess game,” the group said.

NDFP International also said that the forthcoming Balikatan Exercises later this month shall be the biggest in history with at least 16,000 troops.

“The Balikatan war games this year aims to test the so-called ‘Comprehensive Archipelagic Defense Concept (CDAC)’ patterned after US imperialist war plans in the region. These actions form part of the US strategy to provoke China into ‘firing the first shot’ demonstrating the US government’s bloodthirst,” it said.

Marcos Jr.’s actions prove his outright subservience to US imperialist war preparations and his readiness to drag the Filipino people in the middle of a brewing inter-imperialist conflict. Marcos Jr. must be held accountable for his reprehensible sell-out of Philippine sovereignty and his blatant disregard for the lives of the Filipino masses, the group said.

NDFP International also said it denounces Biden for his government’s continued exportation of wars of aggression from Ukraine to Palestine and now using the Philippines as a pawn against China. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Fil-Ams join largest pro-Palestine rally in US history

Hundreds of Filipinos joined the largest pro-Palestine rally in United States of America (USA) history held in Washington DC last Saturday, November 4, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN USA) reported.

Over 300 Filipinos for Palestine members and allies participated in the historic National March on Washington for a Free Palestine event attended by over 300,000 protesters as Israel’s punitive action against Gazans enters its second month.

The Filipino-Americans said they demand an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and the State of Israel, for the latter to end its siege on Gaza, and for the US and the Philippines to end its support for Israel.

“As Filipinos, we know what it’s like to struggle against foreign occupation and domination, what it is like to fight for national liberation across generations,” BAYAN USA said.

Long Live Gaza!” Filipinos for Palestine participants to the US|National March on Washington for a Free Palestine shout. (Photo by Malaya Movement-New Jersey)

“Philippine and Palestinian liberation are inextricably linked because we have a common enemy. So let us rise up and link arms across our movements and build anti-imperialist solidarity,” the group added.

The latest conflict began after Palestinian group Hamas conducted military strikes against Israel last October 7 that also killed civilians, including four overseas Filipino workers.

Hamas took as prisoners hundreds of Israelis they said they shall be freed in exchange for thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

The State of Israel responded with massive air and ground strikes against all 2.2 million Gazans.

The Palestinian health ministry reported that at least 9770 people, 4,008 of whom were children, have been killed in nearly a month of Israeli strikes.

The massive rally in Washington came after the US government last October 18 vetoed the Brazil-led resolution at the United Nations (UN) calling for a ceasefire in Palestine.

The Philippine government abstained from voting on the resolution, the only Southeast Asian government that did not support the proposed measure. 

This prompted BAYAN in the Philippines to spearhead a protest action at the Israeli Embassy in Manila last Tuesday, October 31.

At the Manila rally, BAYAN president Renato Reyes revealed the Philippines had been the third largest buyer of Israeli weapons from 2018 to 2022 used among others in former president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war that is under investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands.

In Manila, pro-Palestine independence advocates protested at the Israeli Embassy last October 31. (Photo by Altermidya)

In Washington DC, BAYAN USA stated they demand an immediate end to the purchasing of weapons from Israel it said funnels hundreds of millions of dollars toward death rather than the needs of Filipinos.

“The Marcos administration’s silence on Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people is unacceptable. It is also a death sentence for the tens of thousands of overseas Filipino workers in occupied Palestine, who are also seen as ‘collateral damage’ by Israel in its attacks against Palestine,” BAYAN USA said.

The Filipinos for Palestine contingent was organized by BAYAN USA, Malaya Movement, Kabataan Alliance, Anakbayan USA, and GABRIELA USA that were among the over 500 endorsers of the march. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Fil-Am activists hound Marcos Jr.; accuse President of putting PH in crossfire of war

Filipino-American activists hounded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who is in Washington DC for an official visit, protesting the Philippine government’s military deals with the United States of America (USA).

Staging rallies at the White House and at the posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel where Marcos had dinner with some members of the Filipino community in the American capital, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-USA said the President’s visit signifies the “further selling out of the Philippines.”

The activists said Marcos’ visit are to secure deals to further enrich those in power and expand US military presence throughout the archipelago.

Marcos’ visit came at the heels of the biggest war games between the two countries and the approval of four additional US military sites under an expanded Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

In a statement, BAYAN-USA said additional US military presence in Cagayan, Isabela, and Palawan provinces “will only put the Filipino people in more danger of being in the crossfires of war.”

Both governments have earlier denied that the new EDCA sites and the biggest war exercises between the two countries in history is connected with the Chinese government’s aggressive military actions in the region.

On his way to the United States, Marcos stated: “We will not encourage any provocative action that will involve the Philippines by any other country… We will not allow the Philippines to be used as a staging post for any kind of military action.”

BAYAN USA in return asked, “Have you not read the provisions of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement? Prepositioning equipment is clearly and has historically been part of war preparation.”

The group added that no assurances made by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs nor statements from Marcos that the president is allowing the country to be used as a staging post for war.

“The Filipino people must not allow this to continue,” the group added.

‘Ironclad military alliance’

In their White House meeting Monday, US President Joseph Biden reaffirmed US’ “ironclad alliance” commitments to the Philippines, “underscoring that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including the South China Sea, would invoke his country’s mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1952 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.

Both leaders also affirmed the importance of maintaining “peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait following heightened military tensions between the Republic of China and the People’s Democratic Republic of China.  

Biden and Marcos also talked about economic development, environmental protection, human rights, the war in Eastern Europe, among other mutual concerns.

With Marcos in his visit were former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez, eight Cabinet secretaries, First Lady Marie Louise Marcos and Rep, Zandro Marcos. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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.” #