From the Philippines to North Dakota, Raise the People’s Struggles and Build International Solidarity!
NAFCON Statement on the 3rd Anniversary of Haiyan
November 14, 2016
November 8, 2016 marked the 3-year anniversary of Super Typhoon Haiyan. NAFCON draws a connection between the struggle of disaster victims and indigenous peoples in the Philippines and that of indigenous communities 7,000 miles away at Standing Rock, North Dakota. As Haiyan survivors continue to recover from the devastation of the Super Typhoon and demand appropriate aid from their government, and as the water protectors at Standing Rock stand their ground even in the face of militarized attacks, we must understand the root causes of these natural and manmade disasters and forge people’s solidarity for environmental justice and human rights.
The destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan was an inevitable ramification of the global climate crisis and a portent of more devastation yet to come if we do not address it. The combination of mining, deforestation, and constantly eroded topsoil lead to poorly functioning watersheds and destroy the natural environmental barriers that would otherwise offset the destruction caused by calamities like Haiyan. The largest resource extraction companies in the Philippines, most of which are owned by foreign corporations, are allowed by the Philippine government to operate largely without restrictions. They are the main contributors to the conditions that exacerbated the effects of Haiyan, as well as the increasing severity, frequency, and length of tropical storms through global and ocean warming. Three years after the typhoon, several hundred thousand survivors who lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods have yet to receive aid, and only 1% of targeted permanent shelters for victims have been built. In response, the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan have formed the powerful grassroots network known as People’s Surge to demand accountability for the government’s neglect, lack of disaster preparedness, and inadequate regulation of extractive industries.
Impacts of foreign plunder of land have also long been felt by indigenous and Moro (Muslim) communities in the Philippines. Militarization brought by business and government “development” interests displaces and threatens the livelihoods of these national minorities. They recently launched an alliance called Sandugo (“blood compact” in Filipino) to support one another in their quest for self-determination. They vow to resist corporate greed, local fascism and foreign domination. Just on October 19th, local police led a violent dispersal of Sandugo protesters at the US Embassy in Manila as the national minority groups expressed support for Philippine President Duterte’s plan to implement an independent foreign policy.
Meanwhile, the movement centered at the Standing Rock Reservation to recognize Native Americans’ basic rights to safe water and the protection of their ancestral lands continues to gain momentum. It aims to mobilize international support and solidarity not only to prevent the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers from being poisoned by the planned “Dakota Access Pipeline” (DAPL), but also to protect their sacred sites and uplift Indigenous Peoples’ demand for the right to self-determination. Filipino organizations such as Anakbayan East Bay and New York and Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP and PCHRP) crossed the country to learn from and contribute to the #NoDAPL movement, bringing supplies and aid last month. “We witnessed powerful non-violent tactics of direct action. The Dakota, other IP’s from across ‘Turtle Island’ and the Pacific Islands, and non-Indigenous water protectors used their bodies and other means to deter the Dakota Access Pipeline from being completed at the Standing Rock Reservation and other points along the pipeline whose proposed endpoint is in southern Illinois,” said Matt Cumings of PCHRP. Lauren Johnson, also with PCHRP, added, “Clashes between militarized law enforcement and the peaceful water protectors have been well-documented nationally and even internationally. Make no mistake: The escalation of violence by the police and national guard at Standing Rock are clearly acts of continued colonization.”
The life-threatening tactics employed by local and state police in concert with the US National Guard at Standing Rock are clearly linked to the militarized police response against Sandugo protesters in Manila. Indeed, the violent and unjust colonization of Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral lands and resources, perpetuated by the US and Philippine governments, is blatant. Yet indigenous communities at Standing Rock and the Philippines are also linked in their legacy of anti-colonial struggle and their noble and just fight for the self-determination of all oppressed peoples.
In light of recent events, it is more important than ever that we are united. President-elect Donald J. Trump has chosen climate change denier Myron Ebell to lead the transition of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell has vowed to dismantle the already-insufficient environmental regulations that seek to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation. American industries are some of the greatest contributors to climate change and calamities in vulnerable third-world nations. Ebell’s short-sighted and unscientific proposals would truly be catastrophic, and we cannot allow them to be implemented.
On the 3rd anniversary of Super Typhoon Haiyan, NAFCON is proud to stand with our partner organizations and people’s movement in the Philippines and with the Standing Rock Indigenous People’s Struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Our community-based initiatives — including sustainable water pumps, relief and rehabilitation efforts, medical missions, and people’s development — empower local communities to preserve their local knowledge and indigenous cultures while continuing to resist their displacement and erasure as peoples in their struggle for self-determination. With our arms linked in international solidarity, let us take united action for a world in which the rights of indigenous peoples, women, peasants, workers, and migrants are respected; in which military and police are not used as tools to repress the people in their calls for social and environmental justice; and in which all people have access to decent livelihoods, food, and clean air and water.