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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

Progressives express outrage over SC EDCA ruling

PROGRESSIVE organizations held a rally in front of the United States Embassy in Manila last July 26 to protest the final Supreme Court ruling declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines legal.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s Renato Reyes said that EDCA is an unjust agreement that is only advantageous to the US. Read more

Progressives denounce SC decision on EDCA

Progressive organizations denounced the Supreme Court decision declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) constitutional in a rally in front of the United States Embassy last January 14.

The protesters maintain that the US-Philippine EDCA violates Philippine sovereignty by giving basing rights to foreign military, more so that the Philippine Senate has disapproved of the “treaty”.

Petitioners against the EDCA are set to file a motion of reconsideration to the High Tribunal very soon.

Bayan: Send Pemberton to Bilibid

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other patriotic organisations held a protest rally in front of Camp Aguinaldo last December 4 to condemn what they believe is preferential treatment to convicted killer US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.

According to Aaron Bonette, chairperson of the LGBTQ organisation Bahaghari, Philippine President Benigno Aquino killed Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude for agreeing to a special facility for the US soldier instead of a national Filipino prison as originally ordered by the trial court that convicted him.

The US refused to turn over to Philippine authorities after his conviction last December 1 and instead insisted that Pemberton be brought back to the military camp where it has its own facilities.

Both Philippine and US governments are reported to be jointly building a new jail for Pemberton in accordance with Visiting Forces Agreement provisions.

Patriotic organisations however say that the move is not only unjust to the victim but is in fact another violation of Philippine sovereignty by the US government.

The protest rally also called on the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreementbetween the US and Philippine governments. #

US Marine found guilty of killing Filipino transgender

Militant organizations cheered as the Olongapo Regional Trial Court found US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott guilty of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

Led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, they held a vigil rally last December 1 as the promulgation of the judgement was ongoing.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr said that the Filipino people should remain vigilant on where the convict would be jailed.

Their fears were proven correct soon after as the Philippine government agreed to returning Pemberton to the US-controlled facility Joint US Military Advisory Group compound inside Camp Aguinaldo.

This move violated the court’s order that Pemberton should first be committed to a Philippine jail facility such as the National Bilibid Prisons pending formal agreements on where the convict should serve the rest of his jail term.