Background and Purpose of Unity Statement
The Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte has utterly disregarded the human rights and civil liberties of the Filipino people. After almost a year and a half in office, his administration’s drug war has killed over 13,000 poor Filipinos, his military rule in the southern island of Mindanao has displaced over 400,000 people, and his counterinsurgency program “Oplan Kapayapaan” (Peace Plan) continues to target activists through killings, illegal arrests, and other abuses. Ten activists were killed in two days (Dec 3-4, 2017), including Roman Catholic Priest Fr. Tito Paez of Nueva Ecija. Workers and labor organizers have been threatened by military agents with surveillance, harassment in their homes, and arbitrary arrests. Twenty have been killed under the Duterte administration. The President of transport workers organization PISTON, George San Mateo, was recently arrested (and later released) for leading transport workers strikes nationwide against a money-making jeepney modernization scheme of the government.
Marawi in Ruins
It is rare to pass from one city to another in Mindanao without passing a military checkpoint. NAFCON recently visited evacuation sites just outside of the city of Marawi to provide relief goods to over 2,000 families and to join in a fact finding mission to investigate the conditions. There, we witnessed residents of Marawi decry the tactics of the military that turned the city into ruins – all that is left are puddles of bullet shells laying waste on the ground. The evacuees voiced their concerns about the lack of honest reporting by mainstream media and condemned Duterte’s Administration for treating thousands of families in the large city as collateral damage in his war against the Maute group which consisted of no more than 130 members.
Without the consent or input from Marawi residents, Presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque, already has plans to present the idea of rebuilding Marawi to foreign investors. Roque said, “The plan is to flatten it and redesign the whole area. There will be four-lane roads, instead of two-lane roads. There will be a promenade along the river. It will be a major tourist attraction.” The administration’s plan seeks to erase the legacy of thousands of Marawi residents, mosty Moro, who have made the city their home for decades and deserve the right to peace and justice in Mindanao. Martial Law and for-profit development is not the answer the people need.
Adopted Communities and Partner Organizations Harassed
A wave of killings, illegal arrests, harassments, and other abuses have been reported by various organizations across the country as President Duterte refuses to accept criticisms of his government’s treatment of everyday Filipinos, like the Moro and Indigenous peoples in Mindanao.
NAFCON’s own partner organizations in our Adopt-a-Community program in the Southern Tagalog region have been targeted. Particularly, Batangas, where there are plans for large-scale, environmentally destructive mining, has been subjected to increasing military presence and reckless aerial bombings. Local community members and organizers are being terrorized daily by military and paramilitary forces working for the government and foreign interests. People are being driven off their land as it is being turned over to foreign corporations. Military and police are also stationed in these areas to actively obstruct local human rights organizations such as Karapatan and NAFCON from reaching the communities as part of the military’s attempt to repress the people’s growing resistance to the intensifying military occupation of their land.
Call to Action
It is in this context that NAFCON calls on Filipinos in the United States and all supporters of the Filipino people, to sign on to the unity statement below. Under Duterte’s Drug War, Martial Law, and Oplan Kapayapaan, the Philippine police and military forces are falsely tagging an ever-growing list of people suspected as drug abusers and pushers, “communists,” “terrorists,” or anyone who dares to dissent from the government. These blatant abuses of power, insidiously dubbed “initiatives for peace” by the government, are used to intimidate and silence civilians, labor leaders, and community workers, creating a de facto dictatorship and trampling on civil liberties and democracy throughout the country.
We, organizations and individuals, call on President Rodrigo Duterte to:
Stop the killings!
We demand an end to the ruthless drug war which is essentially a war against the poor. We demand an end to the counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, an all-out war against dissenters, activists, and anyone who dares to criticize or question the Philippine government. We demand an end to all extrajudicial killings.
Uphold human rights and civil liberties of the Filipino people!
End Martial Law in Mindanao. Suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, indiscriminate aerial bombings, arrests and detention without warrants, and curtailment of civil and political rights have not brought peace and justice to the people of Marawi and Mindanao. We oppose any plans to extend or expand martial law or to impose a fake “revolutionary government” that only aims to concentrate power in the hands of a few and diminish democracy.
Enact social and economic reforms for the people!
Implement meaningful changes that will address the longstanding issues of the people such as free distribution of land to peasants, creation of local industries and jobs for the people, ending the plunder of resources by multinational corporations, provision of free social services such as education and housing, and recognition of the right to self-determination of the Moro people, indigenous peoples, and other national minorities.
Only by addressing these socio-economic issues can the Filipino people attain a true just and lasting peace.
Stop the killings!
Never again to dictatorship!
Genuine and sustainable development for the people now!
- National Alliance for Filipino Concerns
- Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) San Diego