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Unity Statement of the No to Cha-cha Coalition*

 Never Again to Dictatorship and Tyranny  Comments Off on Unity Statement of the No to Cha-cha Coalition*
Feb 202018
 

Unity Statement of the No to Cha-cha Coalition*

 

 

Uphold democracy, sovereignty, social justice and human rights!

No to Charter change!

 

WE, individuals, groups and institutions of freedom-loving Filipinos;

 

RECOGNIZING that the Constitution, while not perfect nor unchangeable, is the result of our people’s historic struggle against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy, social justice and human rights;

 

ALARMED that the current efforts to revise the Constitution are inimical to our cherished freedoms and aspirations, among them proposed amendments that:

 

  • are patently self-serving for incumbent officials, such as postponing the 2019 elections, extending their terms of office, and enshrining the discredited pork barrel system in the Constitution itself;
  • break up the country into regional states that will add a new layer of bureaucracy, red tape and political largesse while expanding the powers of entrenched political dynasties and warlords;
  • establish a dictatorship, with immense powers given to the President during the transition period;
  • delete or water down progressive and protectionist provisions on the national economy and patrimony, including limits on foreign ownership of land, public utilities, media and educational institutions, and preference for Filipino enterprises and professionals;
  • delete or water down provisions on social justice and human rights, particularly the right to security of tenure and a living wage, agrarian reform, and urban land reform and housing;
  • limit the exercise of the people’s sovereign will to suffrage, and the freedom of the press, free expression, assembly and redress of grievance to its “responsible” exercise;
  • delete or water down provisions prohibiting foreign bases, troops, facilities as well as nuclear weapons;

AFFIRMING that the legitimate issue of the uneven distribution of wealth and power between the national and local governments can be effectively addressed without resorting to Charter change;

 

OUTRAGED that Congress has opted for a constituent assembly that leaves out citizens in the crafting of a new charter on which rests the essential aspects of Philippine democracy;

 

AWARE that in the past, such self-serving, undemocratic and unpatriotic plots at Charter change were defeated by widespread public outcry manifested in sustained protests and timely legal actions;

 

HEREBY RESOLVE to oppose – utilizing all democratic means possible – the current efforts to amend or revise the Constitution;

 

WE LIKEWISE RESOLVE to form ourselves into a Coalition with a nationwide constituency in order to consolidate and intensify our efforts to oppose Charter change at this time;

 

FINALLY, WE CALL ON OUR PEOPLE to remain vigilant and be involved, to participate in various activities including mass actions against Cha-cha and dictatorship, and stand for democracy, sovereignty, social justice and human rights.#

 

 

*Adopted during the Anti-Cha-cha Assembly and launching of the Coalition on February 13, 2018 at the UP College of Law, Diliman, Quezon City.

Response To Interview By Hong Kong Satellite through producer Amber Gonzales

 Dialogue with Professor Roland G. Simbulan  Comments Off on Response To Interview By Hong Kong Satellite through producer Amber Gonzales
Jan 152018
 
RESPONSE TO INTERVIEW BY HONG KONG SATELLITE TV through producer Amber
Gonzales, Dec. 12, 2017.


1. WHAT ARE THE REPERCUSSIONS OF THE PRESENT POLITICAL STANCE OF THE
DUTERTE ADMINISTRATION TOWARDS THE CPP-NPA? FROM DECLARING THEM AS
TERRORISTS, TO SOMEWHAT FEELERS OF OPENNESS TO PEACE TALKS(AGAIN).

1. The Duterte administration shows that he (Duterte) is in a sort of
tug-o-war between the Philippine Left (CPP-NPA-NDF) with whom he has
had a long friendship and modus vivendi for 22 years as Davao City
mayor, versus the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) and the
Philippine oligarchy which wants the status quo to remain.  For 22
years, he praised and aligned himself with the Left and gave them his
unequivocal support, now, can this just change overnight? I don't
think so. As president, he fears that the military will overthrow him
if he acts too chummy with the Left, both armed and legal left. In
2016, as soon as he became president, he released the top 20 key
leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF to act as consultants of the peace talks.
He even appointed to key positions in the Cabinet some known Left
personalities who were nominated by the CPP-NPA, and others to head
many agencies of the government.  The  military does not like this,
having been inflicted with heavy casualties in their anti-insurgency
war, and because of their anti-communist indoctrination in American
military service and training schools.

     President Duterte knows very well that the insurgency cannot
really be beaten with military force; that the CPP-NPA-NDF are not
really terrorists, but dedicated revolutionaries who cannot be bought
or threatened because what they are fighting for is for social justice
and the genuine sovereignty of the country. He himself said this when
he was Mayor and when he was campaigning. He knows very well that they
will outlive his 6-year administration if the root causes of the
rebellion and insurgency are not addressed by the government. He knows
that these revolutionaries are not terrorists, because unlike the AFP,
police and paramilitary forces who kill wounded prisoners, the
revolutionaries treat their captives well, heal their injuries, and
turn them over to their families, or thru former Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
on many occasions. For 22 years, Duterte has said so many
commendations for the CPP-NPA that he can now be said to be their
former admirer, based on his own words.

2. HOW DO YOU THINK THE ONGOING HOUSE IMPEACHMENT HEARING OF THE CHIEF
JUSTICE CAN AFFECT THE NARRATIVE OF A COUNTRY THAT HAS BEEN ON THE
SPOTLIGHT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND SEVERAL ISSUES ON JUSTICE?

 The ongoing House impeachment hearings are unfortunately, an
onslaught  on an already weakened institution, which is the Judiciary.
Now, its survival and independence is being threatened if not at
stake. At a time when this institution needs to be strengthened as a
counterfoil to check and balance Executive Power abuses, those forces
seeking a restoration of authoritarian rule with unchecked abuses are
now contemplating on attacking independent institutions in government,
individuals, organizations and sectors of civil society which will
surely block tyranny and dictatorship. Some pro-Duterte supporters are
agitating for a power grab, a "Revolutionary Government" so that they
can trample on the constitution, the very legal basis of the
presidency which Duterte swore to uphold and protect. I doubt if the
constitutionally-loyal Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will
contribute to this destabilizing act, which will may also lead to the
abolition of  Congress, the Judiciary, elections, and the
constitutional line of succession.

3. THE PALACE ASKED FOR THE EXTENSION OF MARTIAL LAW FOR ANOTHER YEAR
IN MINDANAO, TO COMPLETELY ERADICATE TERRORIST GROUPS. IS THIS GOING
TO UNITE THE COUNTRY, OR WILL IT JUST PUT A CIRCLE ON MINDANAO, THUS
SEPARATING IT FROM THE REST?

The extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year will only
ignite more conflict and suffering in Mindanao. Marcos' martial law
and its mailed fist policies only led to the expansion of the CPP-NPA
and the Muslim secessionist movement in Mindanao. Pres. Duterte will
turn out to be the best ally and recruiter of the CPP-NPA because if
he resorts to an authoritarian dictatorship, attacks the legal Left
and other sympathizers in civil society, he will only radicalize the
moderates and centrists and push them towards the armed Left led by
the CPP-NPA. Martial law or its derivatives will always divide rather
than unite the country and will make the situation more fertile to
insurgency and rebellion. It will only separate and alienate the
Filipino people whose civil and political rights will be wantonly
curtailed, from their government which they will perceive as their
oppressor rather than as their protector.

4. CRITICS SAY THAT THE WAY THE ADMINISTRATION DEALS WITH ISSUES HAVE
BEEN DIVISIVE OR POLARIZING FOR THE FILIPINO PEOPLE. DO WE SEE A SHIFT
OR AN EXACERBATION OF SUCH, GIVEN THE STRUGGLES THAT THIS
ADMINISTRATION FACES?

 In words and deeds, the administration has become very divisive and
polarizing. The insecurity and paranoia that it sees lurking to
destabilize it is actually its own shadow: antagonizing human rights
defenders, dedicated civil society groups, women, indigenous people,
farmers, public utility transport drivers, and the church who are
bad-mouthed for their critique of the cheapening of human life,
impunity, the selective form of justice , etc..
The Duterte administration had the opportunity to address the root
causes of social malaise and insurgency, and to heal past social
injustices, but it blew it by giving in to the wishes of the pro-U.S.
generals and militarist minds. They have never seemed to learn their
lessons since the Marcos martial law dictatorship.

No To Martial Law! Protect Our Human Rights And Collective Rights Of Peoples!

 Never Again to Dictatorship and Tyranny  Comments Off on No To Martial Law! Protect Our Human Rights And Collective Rights Of Peoples!
Jan 082018
 
"Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people
are fed, and where individuals and nations are free" - 14th Dalai
Lama.



On December 11, 2017, the President requested Congress to extend
Martial Law in Mindanao for another year citing continued threats from
armed groups connected to international terrorists and added another
reason, to fight against the communist insurgency. Three days after,
both houses of Congress convened jointly and with a resounding
majority votes, granted the President’s request to extend Martial Law
until end of 2018.



Pres. Duterte’s more than one year in office showed a systematic
attack to human rights: more than 14,000 deaths in its war against
illegal drugs; total destruction of Marawi City leading to the
displacement of more than 500,000 Meranaos; the increased spate in the
killings of Lumad, bombings and militarization of their communities;
killings of peasants, workers, women, youth leaders and activists.
These attacks were made by commission or omission of government
obligation to protect the inherent rights of peoples.



The Marawi siege by local terrorists was used by the President as his
foundation for the Martial Law declaration. This was extended when the
battle dragged on. Even after the city was liberated five months
later, Martial Law was not lifted. Since the war in Marawi broke out,
the Meranaos continue to suffer systematic attacks on their rights.
Not only they lost loved ones, they were also stripped off of their
homes and properties, their homeland totally ravaged. Most of all,
their dignities stripped off, the very core of their Meranao identity.



The war on terrorism waged by the government have again subjected the
Moro people to persecution. The Meranao’s for example were tagged as
terrorist because of their ethnic association to the Maute clan.
Harassments of individuals and communities were experienced even by
the Moros in other areas after the Martial Law declaration in May. The
extension of Martial Law will further intensify this situation because
as Muslims they are automatically singled-out and associated with
terrorists especially since the prevailing misconception of the
majority population on terrorists and terrorism are related to the US’
definition and policies against terrorism.



The abandonment of the peace talks with the Communist Party of the
Philippines and the National Democratic Front with its armed wing the
New People’s Party (CPP-NDF-NPA) and the subsequent declaration of the
NPA as a terrorist organization. This effectively expanded the scope
of the government’s war against terrorism to also include the
communist insurgents and their allied organizations. This is very
dangerous for communities in Mindanao as the military and the
President claimed that majority of the communist rebels are from
Mindanao aside from attributing 75 percent of them to be Lumad. Grave
concern and anxiety ripple through Lumad leaders and their communities
with this claim especially now that the Martial Law is extended until
next year. Martial Law will greatly allow the state’s security
apparatus to widen the scope of its witch hunting activities.



Military deployments and tighter checkpoints were already in place in
the considered red zones where the Lumad communities are predominantly
situated. While there is truth to the claim that the NPA and other
rebel groups thrive within the ancestral domains these are mainly due
to perennial issues of human rights abuses due to land grabbing and
blatant plunder of resources ripening the ground for the blossoming
and support of an existing ideology. Added to this, the Lumad
ancestral domains are strategically located with the remaining forest
covers best suited for guerilla warfare. The Lumad did not take this
sitting down as manifested in their constant cries and position:
“leave us alone!” and “do not bring your wars inside the ancestral
domain”.



Recently, Lumad communities in South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Agusan
Provinces, Surigao del Sur and Maguindanao again bear the brunt of the
government’s intensified campaign against the communist rebels and
even to supportive legal organizations. Lumad communities are all the
more caught in the armed fighting between the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) and the NPA, and in some cases with extremist groups
making the Lumad’s ancestral domains as battlefields. In either cases,
the Lumad are also suspected as supporters to either of the warring
groups. Military airstrikes conducted by the AFP displaced local
residents, majority of whom are Lumad. Lumad leaders and community
members active in the defense of their rights as Indigenous Peoples
and defenders of their ancestral domains have become the target of
red-tagging associating them as members of the communist rebels or
part of terrorists groups making them vulnerable to government troop’s
red-baiting and witch hunting leading to false arrests and in worst
cases, killings. An extension of the Martial Law declaration for a
longer period is tantamount to allowing the bloodbath in these
communities to persist.



The declaration of NPA as terrorists will not only adversely affect
the Lumad human rights and environmental defenders. This will also
greatly impact to other sectors who continue to demand for their
democratic rights and stand up for the defense of their rights such as
farmers, workers, women, youth, among others who will also become
victims of the red-tagging. The intensified military operations across
the country have targeted active political and human rights activists
even civilians and causing numerous deaths. The latest fatalities were
the 72-year old retired priest Fr Tito Paez in Nueva Ecija by a riding
in tandem assassins and the T’boli leader Datu Victor Danyan and seven
of his fellow T’boli in a military operation in Lake Sebu, South
Cotabato.



The resistance of progressive and critical social movements against
neoliberal policies, corruption in the government and ineffective and
poor services have been already judged as an anti-government and
equated to as destabilizers, therefore considered security threats.
Martial Law will further constrict the democratic spaces for us who
are actively participating in building just, dignified, peaceful and
sustainable communities.



Given all the above, we the representatives of our tri-people
grassroots constituencies of the Bangsamoro, Mindanao migrants and
Katawhang Lumad, vehemently oppose the further extension of the
Martial Law declaration. We believe that putting Mindanao under
military rule will greatly endanger our human rights as individual
persons and collectively as peoples. We are deeply disappointed with
the both houses of Congress for willfully submitting to the whims and
caprices of this dispensation, abandoning their sworn duty to defend
and protect the Filipino people and the Constitution.



We demand to genuinely include the Meranaos in the rehabilitation and
rebuilding process of their homeland and their lives. A militarist
approach to the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City would prevent
the Meranaos and the IDPs, further displacing them and denying them
democratic rights to substantially participate in putting back their
lives on track and their homeland in order.



We strongly debunk the false attribution that the bulk of the NPA’s
and/or rebel groups are Lumad. This is committing another grave
injustice to the Lumad people who have since time immemorial suffered
from colonization, exclusion, marginalization and dispossession.
Perpetuating the above claim is like signing the death warrant of this
persecuted people.



We condemn in the strongest term possible all these attacks and
killings in the Lumad communities. We echo and reiterate their demand
for all armed groups, whether it be from the state and non-state
actors, to immediately leave and cease from encroaching into their
ancestral territories making them unwilling victims of these wars. We
strongly demand accountability and responsibility to all the deaths,
destruction and damages sustained by these Lumad communities. We feel
their fear and concerns as their communities and members continue to
be subjected to all these military and development attacks. We fully
recognize and respect the Indigenous Political Structures and systems
of the Katawhang Lumad in the exercise of their rights to
self-determination for their political future and the protection and
management of their territories and the resources therein.



We add our collective voice in strongly condemning the killings and
harassment of leaders and activists fighting and asserting for the
protection and fulfillment of human rights. We are of the firm belief
that in the Mindanao context, terrorism did not emerge as a foreign
idea rather it is deeply rooted to social injustice and structural
violence such as suppression of the democratic individual and
collective rights of persons and peoples aggravated by neglect,
chronic corruption and ineffective and inefficient governance fueling
social unrest and insurgency. Without substantial political, economic
and social responses to these questions, resistance will continue in
various forms and means. Martial Law and Militarization are never
answers to these deep seated issues instead will foment more unrest.



Reference Person: Mr. Rodelio N. Ambangan, Chairperson

Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM)

Cotabato City

December 18, 2017

A Statement Of Concern On The Deteriorating Human Rights Situation

 Never Again to Dictatorship and Tyranny  Comments Off on A Statement Of Concern On The Deteriorating Human Rights Situation
Dec 082017
 

Guest Editorial

 

A STATEMENT OF CONCERN ON THE DETERIORATING HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION

 

As December 10, International Human Rights Day nears, we decry the continuing deterioration of human rights in our country.

 

The recent killings of Catholic priest Fr. Marcelito Paez in Nueva Ecija. Pastor Lovelito Quinoñes in Mindoro Oriental, and human rights activist Elisa Badayos in Negros Oriental seem to signal a new and wider wave of killings and human rights violations in the country.

 

Such incidents come at the heels of Pres. Duterte’s closing the door on the peace talks with the NDFP and admonition to state security forces to shoot and kill suspected armed rebels. We are alarmed that just as Oplan Tokhang saw thousands of alleged drug users or peddlers mowed down based on mere suspicion and spurious claims of “nanlaban,” the President’s order can also give license to state forces to kill unarmed civilians labelled as “rebels”.

 

We are likewise alarmed at the President’s threat to crack down on activists, critics and all those whom he imagines are conspiring to topple his government. This sends a chilling effect on the public and impinges on our people’s exercise of their political rights and civil liberties.

 

The continuing efforts to undermine the system of checks and balances in government, as manifested in the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the threat to impeach Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the bullying of the Commission on Human Rights and the continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, is equally worrisome. More so efforts of the President and his supporters to threaten and intimidate the critical press.

 

And yet the greatest threat to human rights today is Pres. Duterte’s unmistakeable drift towards authoritarian rule whether through charter change ostensibly to shift to a federal system of government or an outright power grab through a so-called “revolutionary government”.

 

We call on our people to be critical and ever vigilant. Let us resist the erosion of our basic human and democratic rights. Let us unite in fighting tyranny and dictatorship.#

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