An Open Letter to the
PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
02 August 2002
To Her Excellency
Republic of the Philippines
Dear Madam President:
Peace, democracy, freedom and respect for human rights we believe, are cornerstones of the strong republic that we all aspire for.
Gathering for Peace, a coalition of 56 Non-government and peoples organizations, political blocks, students, concerned individuals, and members of the academe write this Open Letter today to express our deep concern over your administration’s recent actions and directives governing RP-US relations, which we feel erode the very foundation of this vision for a strong Philippine Republic.
We raise our concern over your administration’s lack of action on what we feel are very serious allegations of Violations of the Terms of Reference of the Balikatan Exercise 02-1.
The administration should in the name of our national interest look into allegations made recently by Bayan una Representatives Satur Ocampo and Liza Masa that a US solider shot a suspected Abu Sayyaf member in Lamitan Basilan. The government should lend its all out support to the call made by Akbayan Representative Etta Rosales for a Congressional investigation into the incident instead of just brushing the issue aside and resorting to simple name calling.
The government should in the interest of truth and in the name of transparency address head on the nagging concern over the continued deployment of US Special forces beyond the period defined under the TOR.
It should explain to the Filipino people why despite its constant denials, around 160 US troops from the Balikatan 02-1 contingent currently remain in the country. We ask your administration to explain under what terms and conditions will these Special Forces continue to operate in the country?.
We reiterate our opposition to the Extension of the scope and coverage of Balikatan Exercises 02-1.
We voice our concern over the creeping Secrecy surrounding the Mutual Logistics Support Arrangements (MLSA).
The MLSA has reportedly been approved already by your Cabinet, without the public knowing exactly what the agreements contain. So little information on this agreement, which directly affects our national security and sovereignty has been made public.
Gathering for Peace supports the call made by our lawmakers for a Congressional Briefing by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Philippines on the real status of the MLSA.
Finally, we are saddened that in the face of growing citizens protests, your Administration chooses to infringe upon the right to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly
The “no permit, no rally” order, as well as the order lifting the “maximum tolerance policy” on people’s actions infringe upon the people’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly.
It is quite ironic that the Arroyo Administration now constraints the very freedoms that brought it into power in the first place.
Gathering for Peace supports the national call for a strong republic Madam President, but believe that the way forward rests upon the principles of independence and national sovereignty and not subservience.
* Ma. Socorro Diokno * Corazon Fabros * Roland Simbulan * Former Senator Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada
* Bayang Barrios * Noel Cabangon * Renan Dalisay * Gary Granada * Donald Goertzen * Fr. Robert Reyes
* Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party (AKBAYAN!) * Alab Katipunan (AK) * Bukluran Para sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa (BISIG) * Kalayaan * Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) * Padayon * Sanlakas * Sosyalistang Partido sa Paggawa (SPP)
* Peace Camp * Coalition for Peace * Council for National Freedom and Democratic Rights (Confreedem) * Ugnayan ng mga Nagkakaisa at Nagsasariling Organisasyon Sa Kanayunan (UNORKA)
NON-GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE’S ORGANIZATIONS
* Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) * Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Kabataan (ANK) * Aniban ng mga Manggagawa at Magsasaka sa Niyugan (AMMANI) * Artists for the Environment (ARTE) * Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) – Women’s Desk * Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) * Bukluran ng Malayang Magbubukid (Buklod) * Coconut Industry Reform Movement (COIR) * Concon Association (CA) * Empowering Civic Participation in Governance (ECPG) * Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) * Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) * Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) * HUKBALAHAP Veterans * GOMBURZA * Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD) * Justice and Peace Integrity of Creation Commission of Association of the Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (JPICC – AMRSP) * Prelature of Isabela * Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan – All Filipino Democratic Movement (KAAKBAY) * KAALAGAD Katipunang Kristiyano * Kalipunan ng mga Maliliit na Magniniyog sa Pilipinas (KAMMPIL) * KARAPATAN * KASAMA KA * KATAPAT * Kapulungan ng mga Sandigan sa Pilipinas (KASAPI) * Katipunan ng Bagong Pilipino (KBP) * La Liga: Citizens’ Movement for Renewal and Reform (La Liga) * Makabayan Pilipinas * Mennonite Central Committee – Philippines * Movement for the Advancement of Justice and the Rule of Law (MOTUS) * Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (MASP) * Nagkakaisang Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka at Manggagawa sa Niyugan (NIUGAN) * National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) * Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK) * Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) * PASALEY * Peace Foundation * Philippine Global Exchange (PGX) * Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) 1930 * Philippine Peace Solidarity Council (PPSC) * Philippine Peasant Institute (PPI) * Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) * Pinalakas na Ugnayan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Luzon, Mindanao, Visayas (PUMALU – MV) * Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN) * Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) * Women and Children Internal Refugees Assistance Center (WCIRAC) * Youth United for Peace (YUPeace).
GFP Secretariat, PRRM Building,
56 Mother Ignacia St., Quezon City
Call Lenard, Ember, Divine
Tel. 372-4989 or 372-4991
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002