For Immediate Release
December 10, 2014
Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
From Ferguson to the Philippines: State Violence, Killings, Impunity Continue -- BAYAN USA
As BAYAN USA joins the bold protest actions across the US in response to the human rights crisis exposed in the systemic police killings of unarmed Black people, Filipino Americans link state violence and killings in the US to the unrelenting state violence and killings of unarmed civilians in the Philippines under Benigno Simeon Aquino III. In a capitalist society, certain lives are deemed worthless if the elite and powerful believe that they get in the way of profitable gain. The U.S. and Philippine governments are run by those elites who are bought by corporate lobbyists. They promote neoliberal economic policies that intensify the pattern of funneling public monies out of basic social services and into the further militarization of poor and oppressed communities around the world who are fighting back against the current system.
Aquino the Impunity King
When it comes to the perpetrators of human rights abuses, Aquino time and time again proves to be just like his predecessors. Under his watch, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and paramilitary units have been implicated in more than 200 extrajudicial killings of civilians and the forced evacuation of nearly 40,000 people due to military operations. These atrocities take place mainly in indigenous communities where large multi-national corporations conduct mining, agribusiness, energy exploration, and tourism projects at the expense of displacing people for profits. The US-designed counterinsurgency program “Operation Plan Bayanihan” (“Oplan Bayanihan”) targets ordinary people with harassment, surveillance and assassination for simply daring to stand up for their basic human rights. Oplan Bayanihan applies the labels, “terrorists” and “enemy combatants,” to ordinary farmers, teachers, students, people of faith and workers who speak out against landlords and multi-national companies who impose deplorable conditions on them, as well as the US-Aquino regime which upholds an oppressive system that keeps the majority of the people in utter poverty.
Aquino Violates International Humanitarian Law
When it comes to following international humanitarian law and laws governing the conduct of war, the US-Aquino regime’s record is equally dismal. The Aquino regime has repeatedly undermined the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), by attempting to unilaterally impose ceasefires, refusing to release political prisoners including NDFP consultants, and failing to ensure that the government complies with signed agreements of the GPH-NDFP including the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Oplan Bayanihan tramples on international humanitarian laws on the rights and sanctity of bodies killed in combat. The recent massacre of nine people committed by the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Lacub, Abra further proves this point. The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance reported the bodies of seven New Peoples Army members and two civilians bore torture marks and desecration of the remains post mortem, which counters the claim by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that they were killed in combat.
Torture Report, Political Prisoners
The recently released CIA Torture Report lists the Philippines as a country where the use of torture remains rampant. To win the presidency, Aquino rode on the coat-tails of his father, a former political prisoner, and his mother, who released political prisoners after assuming office. But Aquino presidential track record on political prisoners is more similar to that of the Marcos dictatorship which jailed his father. Under Aquino, the number of political prisoners have increased in the country. Even pregnant women, such as Andrea Rosal and Maria Maridel Torres, are not spared from illegal arrest. Their treatment and prison conditions were so inhumane that Rosal’s baby died only two days after birth; Torres was denied prenatal medication and placed in unsanitary conditions exposed to prisoners with tuberculosis.
Puppetry to US imperialism
As if the continuing presence of over 660 US Special Operations Forces in Mindanao and the patently unconstitutional Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) were not enough, the regime signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in April 2014. The new agreement expanded both the deployment of US troops and US military access to ports and facilities throughout the Philippines as part of the US Defense Department’s plans to “rebalance” its forces from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific. The murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude underscores both the violence and the violation of sovereignty inherent in the VFA and the EDCA. The US Marine implicated in Laude’s killing was quickly whisked away to the safety of a US ship instead of being turned over to Philippine custody--a blatant example of the unjust and unequal relationship between the US and the Philippines. Given numerous opportunities to weigh in on the murder, spineless Aquino has instead defended the US and completely relinquished control of the case to the US military.
Out with the Old!
More and more people are frustrated with the human rights crisis in the Philippines and lack of accountability of the Aquino regime in failing to respond to typhoon disasters, pocketing money in the pork barrel system, increasing militarization, and ushering in the US reoccupation of the Philippines. The people are demanding that Aquino step down because they have been disillusioned by his utter disregard of international human rights. On International Human Rights Day, from the Philippines to Ayotzinapa, Palestine, New York City, and Ferguson, Filipino Americans stand up against state repression and systemic violence forced onto the people with impunity.
Aquino Step Down!
Stop State Repression and Violence!
No U.S. Tax Dollars for State-Sponsored Corruption and Killings from the Philippines to Ferguson!
HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.