For Immediate Release
August 30, 2015
Press Statement

Contact:  Nikole Cababa, Deputy Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, depsec@bayanusa.org

End State Repression in the Philippines! Surface the Disappeared!
Bayan USA Statement on the International Day of the Disappeared

Today marks the anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared, initiated over three decades ago in order to shed light on state-sponsored violence and enforced disappearances around the world.  Enforced disappearances are defined as the deprivation of liberty for political reasons committed by or with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the state.  BAYAN USA joins the international community calling for the immediate surfacing of the disappeared and justice for all victims of human rights violations.  
 
The human rights crisis in the Philippines under Aquino is a direct consequence of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, which as an integral part of U.S. foreign policy is applied in countries where the US has strategic interests. In the case of the Philippines, and many other poor countries, neoliberal economic policies are imposed at the expense of the lives and livelihood of the Filipino people. These policies have restructured the Philippine economic and political system to serve big foreign monopoly capital rather than provide for the people. This spurs strong peoples’ resistance and mass movement seeking sovereignty and liberation. In order to quell this movement and maintain the for-profit, neocolonial system, the Aquino government, as a neoliberal ruling system, must unleash state repression against those most critical of its policies.
 
State repression against activists in the Philippines is escalating as Aquino prepares to exit the presidency. Over the past 5 years, Aquino developed long track record of human rights violations, including over 27 cases of enforced disappearances, 238 cases of extrajudicial killings, 110 cases of torture, and 723 cases of illegal arrests and detention.  The Aquino government has failed to resolve the 2006 case of enforced disappearances of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, students of the University of the Philippines, and Jonas Burgos, agriculturalist and activist, despite last year’s arrest of General Jovito Palparan, widely known to be responsible for these abductions. Although Palparan has been in custody for nearly a year, justice and accountability for Cadapan, Empeno, Burgos and hundreds more of “The Butcher” Palparan’s victims is yet to be achieved in the Philippine courts.
 
This past May also marked the 6th year anniversary of the disappearance of Melissa Roxas, a Filipina American human rights activist and poet, who was abducted and tortured by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for six days and released only after waves of protests led by BAYAN in the Philippines and the U.S. garnered international attention.
 
BAYAN USA calls for the end of Oplan Bayanihan, a counter-insurgency plan modeled after the U.S. counter-insurgency guide of 2009 to quell rebellion and the ongoing civil war in the Philippines.  Oplan Bayanihan has not led to peace in the Philippines, but rather a growing number of militarized communities, displaced indigenous people, and the massacre of unarmed civilians.  According to human rights organization Karapatan, there were 11 victims of extrajudicial killings this month alone.  Oplan Bayanihan has been used to criminalize activism and target human rights advocates, faith leaders, civilians, and critics of the Aquino regime.
 
“Under Oplan Bayanihan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines are escalating their repression against activists with complete impunity as Aquino prepares to exit Malacanang. Human rights abusers are promoted and awarded for their crimes instead of being prosecuted and investigated.” said Rhonda Ramiro, Vice-Chair of BAYAN USA.
 
“Both the Aquino government and Obama government should be held accountable for these gross human rights violations because Oplan Bayanihan is modeled after the U.S. counterinsurgency manual and funded with U.S. tax dollars,” Ramiro continued.
 
BAYAN USA calls on the Philippine government to surface all victims of enforced disappearances and seek justice for their families and loved ones.  We call on the people of the U.S. to stand with the people of the Philippines by demanding our U.S. tax dollars not be funneled towards the Philippine military, which is culpable for the human rights crisis in the country.
 
Surface the Disappeared!
Justice for All Desaparecidos and All Victims of Human Rights Violations!
End State Repression! End Oplan Bayanihan!
No U.S. Military Aid to the Philippines!
End U.S. Counter-Insurgency! End Impunity!
 

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