On November 2, American political strategists Steve Bannon and David Frum will participate in the Munk Debates at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Despite Bannon and Frum agreeing 100% on expanding US imperialism and its wars of aggression, sanctions and occupations which have led to the death or displacement of millions, they are supposed to debate each other at this event. ILPS in Canada and its member organizations stand in solidarity with the mobilizations in Toronto to condemn the Munk Debates for hosting right-wing fanatics and warmongers. There should be no platform for hate speech here in Canada.
While this event claims to be in the spirit of free speech and defending an open democracy, it is clear that the positions that both Bannon and Frum favour denying free speech and democratic rights for marginalized people. Bannon, as former advisor to US President Trump, was one of the architects of numerous anti-migrant policies, setting the stage for the horrifying images of migrant children in detention, separated from their parents, which shocked the world earlier this year. As a founding executive chairman of Breitbart News, he oversaw a publication that would regularly post articles supporting white supremacy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and misogyny. Bannon most recently served as political advisor to Hungarian President Viktor Orban and recently-elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, both of whom identify with far-right views, made threats against journalists, and have promoted violence against women and migrants.
Frum has a similar track record as advisor to former US President Bush. Credited with inventing the phrase “Axis of Evil” in US foreign policy, Frum was a propagandist in favour of the Iraq War, which ultimately claimed millions of civilians and escalated sectarian tensions in the region. The “Axis of Evil” propaganda has also increased sanctions against any country claiming to oppose US foreign interests, and these sanctions have caused needless suffering in those countries since ordinary people are denied access to vital necessities such as food and medicine. Frum’s recent publications as part of the The Atlantic magazine also show that despite a few empty words against the rise of “populism”, he still agrees for the most part with the Trump administration’s foreign and domestic policy, particularly against migrants.
The Munk Debates, by amplifying the likes of Bannon and Frum, have shown that they believe that democracy and free speech should be reserved for the elite. Bannon spews hatred against all marginalized people and hate speech should not be normalized as acceptable political opinion. Frum promotes his warmongering, anti-(im)migrant rhetoric while providing cover for the hate speakers. Meanwhile, activists, journalists, and numerous others around the world who stand against fascism and imperialism continue to have their freedom of expression repressed, including some by Peter Munk’s Barrick Gold mining corporation! It is the voices of those who are serious about social, economic and political justice, national liberation, as well as genuine democracy that should be amplified instead of those such as Bannon and Frum who represent competing factions of the increasingly deadly imperialist elite.
All out for the mobilizations in Toronto on November 2nd at 5pm at Roy Thompson Hall against the Munk Debates.
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemned President Rodrigo Duterte after he ordered state forces to arrest and shoot farmers’ groups who will stage their occupy activities on government and private lands. His statement, followed the massacre of 9 sugar farmers who were staging an occupy activity in Hacienda Nene of Sagay City, Negros Occidental.
“Do not do it ever again because I have issued an order to the police. If you insist on occupying an area, like what happened in Bacolod, I will order your arrest.” Duterte said in his speech at the birthday party of former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
The President added: “My order to the police is to shoot them. If they resist violently, shoot them, and if they die, I do not care,”.
In a statement, KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos condemned the pronouncement of the president, clarifying that land occupation and cultivation activities of idle agricultural lands are collective efforts of farmers to produce food crops and assert genuine land reform.
Ramos added that farmers would die hungry if they would wait for a land reform from the government.
“Only a mad leader like Duterte would give direct orders to kill his citizens and constituents,” Ramos added.
“As if Oplan Kapayapaan and militarization is not yet enough in terrorizing farmers in peasant communities and farmlands, Duterte virtually issued a shoot to kill order against farmers cultivating the land,” Ramos said.
“We will continue to hold him accountable for peasant killings and human rights violations in rural communities”.
KMP said the land occupation and cultivation activities of idle agricultural lands are collective efforts of farmers to produce food crops and assert genuine land reform.
Ramos said that farmers would die hungry if they would wait for a land reform from the government.
According to the group, more than 10,000 cases of Certification of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) cancellations are pending at the DAR.
“Farmers got old and sick following up their land cases at DAR but they never got to own the land that they have been tilling for decades,” Ramos said.
“Farmers demanded for genuine land reform and free land distribution and held many dialogues with DAR and Duterte himself but the government turned these down by siding with landlords and oligarchs. Farmers took it upon themselves to realize genuine land reform through collective land cultivation,” Ramos said
The group has documented 172 farmers killed under Duterte administration.
The most recent case is the massacre of unknown gunmen that killed 9 sugar workers, including 4 women and two children in Hacienda Nene, Sagay City, Negros Occidental last October 20. The victims were members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) engaged in a bungkalan activity.(davaotoday.com)
Philippines – A national fact-finding mission on the massacre of nine farmers in Negros Occidental said suspected government agents are behind the bloodbath last October 20 even as the Philippine National Police insists so-called recruiters of the victims are the suspected perpetrators.
The mission said the likely killers are active members of the Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA) who are “commonly known” to be engaged in protecting haciendas and are under the control of the local government of Sagay City.
Based on the way the victims were brutalized after being killed and their history of killings and harassments, it is likely SCAA gunmen, numbering 10 to 15, killed the farmers, the mission said.
The group also cited earlier red-baiting statements issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leading to the massacre.
The mission was composed of Salinlahi, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, KARAPATAN National Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Gabriela Women’s Party Congresswoman Arlene Brosas and Atty. Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.
Hours before the massacre, the victims started a land cultivation activity to plant vegetables to tide them over in between sugarcane cropping activities.
The Philippine National Police, however, insisted on its story that the victims were killed as part of a plot to destabilize and oust the Rodrigo Duterte government.
PNP Region VI director John Bulalacao said they filed multiple murder charges Friday against Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, both members of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), as well as other John Does.
Bulalacao said Saturday that Manlangit and Arquillo deceived the victims by enticing them to join the land cultivation activity in exchange for a parcel of land once Hacienda Nene is distributed to farmers through land reform.
“[They were] persuading innocent people by promising them land not knowing that they become part of a greater force that would generate outrage to the government,” Bulalacao claimed.
Bulalacao claimed the police have eight witnesses, including the 14-year old massacre survivor Sagay police earlier tried to arrest.
The police general said their “complainant-witnesses” voluntarily submitted their respective affidavits, including the statement of the minor as witnessed by the Sagay development and social welfare office.
Upon learning that the boy was about to be arrested by local police, however, his mother Flordeliza Cabahug and mission members claimed custody of the boy.
Red-baiting and killings before the massacre
The fact-finding mission cited that in April, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has accused the NFSW as a legal front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) and that their land cultivation activities are projects to fund NPA operations.
Last December 21, suspected SCAA members killed and burned the body of NFSW-Sagay chairperson Flora Gemola in Sagay’s Hacienda Susan.
In February 22, NFSW member Ronald Manlanat was shot in the head in Hacienda Joefred, also in Sagay.
The gunmen also shot some Hacienda Nene massacre victims on the head and burned three of them after being killed.
The mission said Hacienda Nene’s leaseholder Allan Simbingco rents 400 hectares of land of different haciendas in Sagay City alone.
“Most of the haciendas that he’s directly involved in are the ones with land disputes, even those already under so-called preliminary activities of Department of Agrarian Reform [prior to being awarded to farmer-beneficiaries],” the mission said.
Simbingco is a close relative of Sagay City mayor Alfredo Marañon III and Negros Occidental governor Alfredo Jr.
The Marañons are known to be actively recruiting former Revolutionary Proletarian Army gunmen to be part of the SCAA, the mission cited.
“In fact, the local housing project in Barangay Bulanon is allotted for SCAA members,” the mission said.(Reposted by davaotoday.com)
Even before the massacre of nine farm workers in Sagay, Negros Occidental has been thoroughly investigated, President Duterte is already echoing the military and police line. Landless farmers, he said, were seizing agricultural lands from the “original tenants after the [sugar] harvest…using violence and intimidation, backed up by the New People’s Army (NPA).”
In a speech in Malacañang last Wednesday, Duterte warned the farm workers. “Please do not do it again. Kasi (because) the next time I hear a single incident, I will have you evicted.” Emphasizing that “I’m addressing now the nation, the communists, and the Left,” he added, ominously, “Please do not resist violently. I’m ready to do anything to establish order.”
AFP chief Gen. Carlito Galvez, seated beside Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a televised press conference, even claimed that the Sagay massacre was part of their imaginary “Red October” plot to oust President Duterte. (Supposedly it was to have been carried out in September but has now been moved to December, to coincide with the 50th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.)
The CPP and the NPA have both categorically denied having had a hand in the Sagay killings, and blamed it on a paramilitary group of the AFP and goons hired by local landlords. They had earlier dismissed “Red October” as a scheme to justify the state security forces’ intensified crackdown against progressive legal organizations and activists.
The fact is that the action taken by the slain farm workers – to cultivate (bungkal) a portion of Hacienda Nene in Barangay Bulanon by planting vegetables and other food crops – was nothing new.
There existed indeed such a “bungkalan” or “farmlot program,” negotiated by the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) with some landowners starting in 1971, when the NFSW was formed. As a social-action program, bungkalan entailed encouraging sugar landlords to allocate small portions of their haciendas for the planting of foodcrops by the farm workers. This was done particularly during “tiempo muerto,” the “dead season”between sugarcane harvest and the next planting season (May to September), when the landless, jobless peasants had no other income.
The bungkalan later evolved as an option for poor farmers across the country, led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), to take over idle lands for cultivation to feed their families.
With the repeated failures of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), bungkalan has become one of the modes employed by the peasants in pursuing their campaign to end land monopolization by a few big landlords and corporations. The end-goal, since CARP won’t do it, is the dismantling of the feudal haciendas and other big landed estates.
Already thousands of hectares of former sugarlands in Negros island have become more productive under bungkalan, as can be gathered from a compilation of investigative reports by the media outfit Bulatlat. com. For instance, the reports say that in North and Central Negros, bungkalan exists in 80 haciendas, benefitting 3,156 farming families. In Central Negros, 20 percent of bungkalan is done through communal farming, while 80 percent is under individual or family tillage.
In commemoration of the 13th year of the Hacienda Luisita massacre of striking farmworkers in November 2004, a book, titled Bungkalan, Manwal sa Organisadong Pagsasaka, was published last year by the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). UMA was formed in 2005, in the aftermath of the Hacienda Luisita massacre. The NFSW was among the organizers.
The articles in the book dwelt mainly on the bungkalan experiences of the farm workers in Hacienda Luisita, owned by the family/clan of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, and those in Negros.
Among the recent cases inspired by bungkalan were the following:
• The MARBAI versus Lapanday case in Mindanao. In the first two weeks of May 2017, members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) encamped on Mendiola, near Malacañang. They were demanding their reinstallation by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as owner-tillers of 145 hectares of farmland in San Isidro, which formed part of a 1,400-hectare banana plantation in Tagum City owned and managed by Lapanday Food Corp. Then DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano had already recommended positive action on their petition.
On May 16, President Duterte visited the encamped farmer-beneficiaries, and after hearing their appeals, directed Secretary Mariano to implement their reinstallation. It took some time before the presidential order was fully carried out, as Lapanday security guards hindered the entry of the farmer-beneficiaries apparently under orders by the firm’s management.
• A day earlier, on May 17 last year, 100 farmers entered and occupied 60 hectares of land within the Sanggalang estate in Barangay Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. The farmers were members of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-NE, who had been forcibly driven out of the farms they tilled by Sanggalang security and goons in 2008. In 2001 they had succeeded in asserting their right to till their farms within the estate. The case has been brought to the DAR for resolution.
Still unresolved are the land disputes in Hacienda Looc in Batangas, the Yulo King farm and other farms in Coron, Palawan, among others.
I had my own little experience, during my first campaign in the 2001 partylist elections, in supporting the landless farmers who had occupied and cultivated an idle piece of land in Bago, Negros Occidental. Through the assistance of lawyers in fighting for their right to till the land, and my own intercession with then DAR Secretary Hernani Braganza, the disputed land was awarded to them.
With President Duterte’s ominous warning to landless farmers to stop making productive use of idle land to feed even just themselves and their families, this recurring problem all over the country is bound to continue. An indication of the president’s current inclination is the last-minute cancellation of his announced plan to condole with the Sagay victims’ families; instead, he was photographed visiting the wake of soldiers who died in an NPA ambush in Bicol.
Barug Katungod Mindanao decries the red tagging, maligning and vilification against Bishop Antonio Ablon, prelate of the Diocese of Pagadian of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI).
The Right Reverend Ablon, one of Barug Katungod Mindanao´s convenors and chair of the Western Mindanao chapter of Karapatan, found his name written as graffiti vandalizing the church’s walls on its Gatub chapel in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur, just along the highway leading to Zamboanga City on September 28, 2018 . He and the IFI are being equated as “New People’s Army (NPA)”. Aside from him, graffiti also included the names of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, and the League of Filipino Students (LFS).
Since uncovering many cases of fake and forced surrenderees instigated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and bringing this to light, Ablon is now being targeted by the AFP and red-tagged as a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA. Ablon led a fact finding mission in Brgy Saad, Dumingag town, in Zamboanga del Sur earlier this year and found that the AFP’s touted ‘surrenderees’ were ordinary residents of the said village who were tricked by government troops into signing documents “admitting” they were NPA combatants. Ablon pointed out that the AFP exploited the low literacy level of the village and employed deceit and treachery against the residents.
Ablon’s human rights advocacy has earned the ire of military officers assigned to the 1st Tabak Division under the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM). In June 23, 2018 , the bishop was ‘visited’ by Lt. Col. Merlowe Patria, batallion commander of the 53IB-PA, Philippine Army purportedly to get his cooperation. Lt Col. Patria said Saad is their special project.
Ablon is also an outspoken critic against largescale mining in the Zamboanga Peninsula. He was co-convenor and host of the 2014 international investigation into the operations of TVI Mining in Midsalip and Boog towns in Zamboanga del Sur which found dozens of human rights abuses and adverse environmental impacts of the Canadian mining firm’s gold and copper project.
Barug Katungod Mindanao believes the writings on the wall are a carefully crafted message meant to stop Ablon from his advocacies lest he meet his end. It can only be the hand of a government which has never been cryptic about its intent to silence critics, including a woke church. It subjects any one being vilified to danger and gives license to state agents to attack critics as what we have already seen in the past 3 years under Duterte.
Just recently, killings of priests under Duterte have hogged the news. In previous regimes, staunch advocates Bishop Alberto Ramento, an IFI bishop from Tarlac, and Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio were both vilified shortly before the were extrajudicially killed.
This series of vilification and harassment comes after the pronouncement of President Duterte and its military forces about the much-disparaged “Red October Plot”. The plot which has quickly been exposed as a hoax is a grand scheme of vilification, red-tagging, and harassment against critics of the government’s human rights abuses. The AFP wants to breed hatred against churchpeople and churches that have not been cowed by Duterte’s fascist attacks on communities.
BACOLOD City – Nine persons including four women and two minors were killed when they were reportedly strafed by more or less 40 armed men in a land dispute at Hacienda Nene in Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City on Saturday night, Oct 22, 2018.
An agricultural farm owned by Landlord Carmen Tolentino was occupied by members of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in the morning of October 20, 2018.At about 9:30pm of Oct 20, while NFSW members were resting in their improvised shelter inside the said hacienda, when approximately 40 unidentified armed men fired towards NFSW members which resulted to the instantaneous death of nine persons.
The victims were identified by MUEWS Radio as Eglicerio Villegas, 36, of Brgy Bulanon, Sagay City; Angelipe Arsenal also of Brgy. Bulanon, Sagay City; alias Pater of Brgy. Plaridel; alias Dodong Laurencio of Brgy Plaridel, Sagay City; alias Morena Mendoza of Brgy. Bulanon, Sagay City; alias Necnec Dumaguit ; and alias Bingbing Bantigue of Brgy Plaridel, Sagay City.
The Massacre in Negros comes just over a month after a September 15th massacre in Tausag, Sulu where the Philippine Military killed 7 young farmers who had been harvesting fruit. In this case the victims had already been evacuated to Barangay Igasan in Patikul to escape ongoing military operations in their community against the Abu Sayyaf. According to their families, the victims were allowed by the military’s 55th Infantry Battalion to go to Sitio Tubig Bato, Barangay Kabuntakas to harvest mangosteen but were taken prisoner when the military engaged in a fire-fight with alleged Abu Sayyaf bandits in the area. According to eyewitnesses, the seven were captured alive by the military at about noontime on September 15th, at five o’clock, however, their cadavers were taken by the AFP to the local police station.
These shootings are another example of the impunity with which the elites and military in the Philippines enjoy.
COMPOSTELA, Philippines – Several workers under Nagkahiusang mga Mag-uuma sa Suyafa Farms (NAMASUFA) of Sumifro Philippines Company were wounded in a commotion on Thursday morning after some unidentified men accompanied by the members of Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines attempted to disperse the strike camp.
In a phone interview, John Paul Dizon, Namasufa president said that seven members were wounded after unidentified men started to disperse the strike at Packing Plant 220.
He also identified two workers: Jimboy Cagas and Ramil Monte who were arrested and beaten by the authorities after they tried to protect their strike camp.
Cagas and Monte were eventually released after the commotion, he said.
Dizon also reported that soldiers and police tried to enter his house near the strike camp which he viewed as “clear harassment and trespassing of private property.”
“These people are not workers as what they are saying. Some of them are riding a motorcycle passing our house and in the camp wearing bonnets and camps. We suspect that they also have guns” said Dizon.
Another commotion in Plant 115 happened following the dispersal in Plant 220 according to Namasufa Vice president Elizar Diayon.
Diayon said that some unidentified men accompanied by the police and soldiers tried to disperse the workers.
“They arrived here this morning around 10 am trying to disperse us. They destroyed the camp and allow us to strike,” he added.
The union questioned the presence of the dispersal teams in the seven different strike camps after the RTC 11 Branch 56 of Compostela Valley dismissed the issuance of preliminary injunction filed by Sumifru on October 6 restraining the members of KMU who are responsible for blocking the ingress and egress of the banana plantation.
Dizon reiterated that the authorities should respect the court’s decision and allow the workers to continue to strike.
“We are not doing illegal here. We are following what’s in the law and the law clearly stated that it is our right to strike,” Dizon said.
On October 5 an assumption of jurisdiction listed in Department Order No. 40-H-13 was also issued by the Department of Labor and Employment, stating that the company is losing a total of P38 Million per day and ‘that any stoppage of the company’s adversely affecting public good and public interest.’
Sumifru Philippines Corporation (Sumifru) is a Japanese multinational company (JMNC) engaged in the sourcing, production, shipment, and marketing of various fresh fruits, primarily the export of quality Cavendish bananas, pineapple, and papaya. The company operates in more than 12,000 hectares in Mindanao.
In Compostela, Sumifru operates in more or less 2, 200 hectares with 9 packing plants totaling a production capacity of at least 19,000 boxes per day or 7 million boxes per year. The company gross daily income is P19 million per day in its Compostela operations alone.
It has more or less 4700 workforces that according to the company, of the total, 3,000 oof these workers comes from the 300 growers and 1, 700 are packing plant workers.
These striking workers are organized under the union Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU). NAMASUFA is a consolidated union of regular rank and file workers of 9 packing plants (PP) who consider Sumifru as their employer under the law.
Those on strike were workers from 8 different packing plants (PP 220, PP 230, PP 340, PP 115, PP 370, PP 250, PP 260) organized previously organized under local unions, namely:
1. Nagkahisuang Mamumuo sa San Miguel
2. Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa San Jose
3. Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm
4. Packing Plant 92 Workers Union
5. Packing Plant 340 Workers Union
6. San Miguel Workers Union
7. Maparat- Montevista Workers Union
8. Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Pilar-Mangayon
Meanwhile, according to KMU’s Southern Mindanao chapter, Sumifru’s failure to negotiate with their own union is a violation of Article 262 of the Labor Code.
They also condemned the “violent dispersal and other attacks on workers under Namasufa’ which they said the company has violated the right to freedom of association ‘by colluding with the military to intimidate and harass union members who are fighting against their unfair labor practices.”(davaotoday.com)
DAVAO CITY , Philippines — A church leader of a homegrown Christian church who was the subject of red-tagging campaign last month is now fearing for his life after a fresh wave of malicious vandalisms were painted on the concrete walls of a bridge and on walls along a highway outside his church jurisdiction.
“This is now a more serious kind of vilification. Ozamiz is no longer my diocese. I believe that my life is now in danger,” Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Antonio Ablon told Inquirer in a Facebook interview Wednesday night.
On October 10, IFI priest Fr. John Sanchez of the Diocese of Ozamiz discovered the new set of malicious statements painted on the walls at Pulot Bridge and along a highway with the bridge at Brgy. Pulot, Ozamiz City.
IFI church officials expressed alarm over the painted words “Bishop Ablon= NPA” and “UCCP=NPA” which also appeared in Barangays Dimaluna and Tabid, all in the highway of Ozamiz.
Ablon believes this vilification campaign against him and the IFI church is part of what he called a state-concocted “Red October” campaign meant to silence government dissenters.
“This is fearsome and life threatening now and more serious. And this is now unfolding what is Red October,” he said.
“We are now seriously assessing this matter and come up with more concrete actions for my security and the effect of this to the church members,” he said.(davaotoday.com)
Brief:DETERIORATING HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines is moving in a dangerous direction, placing human rights defenders and government critics and all those working to improve the lives of ordinary Filipinos in grave danger. Many Filipinos are pointing to the possibility of a new dictatorship under the government of President Rodrigo Duterte similar to the brutal regime of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for 20 years until he was ousted by a massive “people power” movement in 1986. Many Filipinos are worried the Duterte government is laying the ground for open authoritarian rule with its “shoot-to-kill” and arbitrary arrest policies.
While exact figures are difficult to ascertain, it is clear the number of killings and arrests is rising sharply. Philippine sources have reported (Karapatan) 23,000 killed in the War on Drugs, over one thousand civilians killed in the War on Terror, a sharp rise in Political Killings, 83 victims of torture, 56,456 victims of threat, harassment, and intimidation, 364,617 who have suffered due to indiscriminate firing and aerial bombing, and 426,170 internally displaced who were subject to forced evacuation (Dec. 10, 2017). However, Karapatan has warned that the figures only reflect data voluntarily given to its monitors and human rights workers.
In this context following are some of the key issues of concerns:
The War on Drugs
Rodrigo Duterte regime has conducted unabated brutality in the name of its “war on drugs” which is essentially a “war on the poor”, which has resulted in a human rights catastrophe with estimated 23,000 people killed to date. Of these killings, at least 2,555 of the killings have been attributed to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
External scrutiny of the situation has lead to the expulsion of independent observers and the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court.
The War on Indigence – Anti–Tambay Campaign
In mid-June 2018, the Duterte Regime launched a crackdown on loitering which again is essentially a “war on the poor”. In the first three weeks following the enactment of the Law (June 13th) the Philippine National Police arrested more than 7,000 people, all of them poor and from low-income communities that had been the “epicenter” of the President’s brutal war on drugs.
The War on Islam – Marawi City Occupation
In May 2017 an incursion by approximately 200 members of the Maute Terrorist group into Marawi City and subsequent six month siege of the city of 300,000 by the Philippine Military led to over 1,000 civilian deaths and the total destruction of one of the largest Islamic cities in the Philippines.
The Philippine government subsequently nationalized the lands of the city as a military reservation permanently displacing the more than 300,000 residents who inhabited the city.
Martial Law in Mindanao
Following the operation in Marawi city, in December 12, 2017, Congress under direction from President Duterte and the Philippine Military extended Martial Law for one year to the entirety of Mindanao.
Currently 75% of the Philippine Military are garrisoned in Mindanao. With Martial Law there has been an escalation in political repression and extra judicial killings.
The War on Indigenous Peoples
The Duterte Regime like its predecessors has continued a low-level counter-insurgency campaign against Lumad or indigenous communities to create a more favorable business climate for domestic and multinational mining operations. Of the 68 extra-judicial killings that occurred in the first 12 months of Duterte’s Regime 46 took place in Mindanao and 21 involved Indigenous Peoples.
Martial Law in Mindanao has also led to the recent occupation of indigenous communities and schools by military and para-military forces. Since the opening of the school year in May 2018, Save Our School Network has recorded six cases of military encampment in Salugpongan Ta Tunu Igkanugon Community Learning Center schools in Talingod.
Attacks on Human Rights Defenders
In March 2018 over six hundred individuals were identified as terrorists by the Philippine government. The long list tagged as “terrorists” hundreds of individuals associated with the opposition movement to Duterte’s government, including NGO representatives, peace proponents, human rights advocates, UN Personnel, Indigenous Peoples’ representatives. It features prominent indigenous rights activists in the Cordillera region such as Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, current United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Joan Carling, Co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development and former Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) Chair; Beverly Longid, current global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL); Joanna Patricia Cariño, member of the CPA and Co-Chair of Sandugo; Windel Bolinget, CPA chairperson and National Co-convener of Sandugo; Jeannete Ribaya-Cawiding, former Chairperson of CPA-Tongtongan ti Umili and current Regional Coordinator of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers; Atty. Jose Molintas, former Asia representative to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People.
Also included in the list is Sherwin De Vera, Regional Coordinator of DEFEND Ilocos and member of the Save The Abra River Movement (STARM), as well as former Secretary General of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan. Communist Party of the Philippines founding Chairman Prof. Jose Maria Sison, and all peace consultants of National Democratic Front of the Philippines are also prominent on the terror list.
In early September 2018 government officials reiterated the terrorist labeling for all Human Rights advocates.
Double Talk on Peace Talks
In early June 2018, after two years of on again off-again talks between the National Democratic Front and GRP had seen significant progress; government negotiators came to a framework agreement for a Peace Agreement and cease-fire with the NDF. However, within days Rodrigo Duterte back tracked on the agreement and indicated his intention to pursue a military solution to resolve what is fundamentally a conflict rooted in social inequity.
A Call for Action
OCHRP calls on the Canadian Government to end support for the Duterte regime and:
Stop all military and police cooperation and assistance
Stop ongoing support for the Philippine Government’s counter-insurgency program including socio-economic programming.
Stop all arms sales to the Duterte regime, especially the Helicopter contract currently under negotiation
Challenge the Duterte Regime on it abysmal human rights record with concrete and measurable steps.
The Canadian government should make representation to the Duterte government to:
Return to civilian rule by ending Martial Law in Mindanao.
Restart the Peace Process with the National Democratic Front
Reverse the Terrorist Listing of Indigenous and other Civil Society Leaders.
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Documented Violation of Civil and Political Rights Under the Rodrigo Duterte Government (July 2016 to December 2017)
Type of Human Rights Violations
Number of Victims
Extra Judicial Killings
Frustrated Extra Judicial Killings
Illegal Arrest without Detention
Illegal Search and Seizure
Illegal Arrest and Detention
Physical Assault and Injury
Violation of Domicile
Destruction of Property
Force Labour /Involuntary Servitude
Divestment of Property
Use of Civilians in Police and Military operations as Guides or Shields
Use of Schools, Medical, Religious and Other Public Places for Military Purposes
Restriction or Violent Dispersal of Mass actions, Public Assemblies and Gatherings
MANILA – Rights and students groups have assailed the series of red-tagging and harassment incidents as a systematic attack against government critics in the guise of the purported “Red October” plot, which various groups have dismissed as a mere concoction of the Philippine military.
“Which institutions have the discretionary funds to use for these baseless accusations? Not only are the movers of this regime intent on spreading fake news on social media, but they are also hell-bent on discrediting people who expose the real situation on the ground. This is a systematic operation run by agencies and institutions which will benefit if the victims and people who help them are silenced,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Ranking military officials claimed in media reports that the purported “Red October” plot aims to unseat President Rodrigo Duterte. The intelligence report allegedly came from laptops that were recovered from their anti-insurgency raid, and even a supposed recording of a conversation between leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and other political groups such as Magdalo and the Liberal Party.
CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison has long dared Duterte to release to the public the recorded conversations to supposedly prove the conspiracy. But the military has yet to budge.
Such red-scare tactic, according to National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia, is an “old worn-out McCarthyhism,” where advocates are recklessly accused as communists without any shred of credible evidence.
All of these, he added, are “scapegoats for further draconian rule and repression of all forms of legitimate resistance against political persecution and economic hardships.”
Eighteen schools have been named as breeding grounds for those who will participate in the Red October plot.
In media interviews, Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr., deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said documentaries on the martial law years being shown in these universities and colleges portray Duterte as a dictator “to incite students to rebel against the government.”
The schools mentioned were Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, University of the Philippines – Diliman and Manila, University of Santo Tomas, San Beda College, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Philippine Normal University, to name a few.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said “this simply means that students are taking on their historical task to be agents of social change, especially by immersing with the basic masses, the workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, urban poor and others.”
“They are able to relate their concrete conditions as direct consequences of government programs and policies, thus, they join their struggle,” he added.
Red October, Casilao said, is a sham distraction to derail public attention from pressing economic issues and human rights abuses of the Duterte administration.
Bishops, church workers not spared
On Sept. 28, the walls of a chapel of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur were painted with the markings of “IFI = NPA.”
Karapatan said another set of markings were found along the highway of Lacupayan, Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur with the following texts: “UCCP = NPA,” “IFI=NPA,” and “Bishop Ablon = NPA,” referring to peace advocate and Karapatan-Western Mindanao chairperson Bishop Antonio Ablon.
UCCP stands for United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Western Mindanao has also decried the same red-tagging incident.
In a Facebook post, Bishop Ablon said, “We stand our ground. We are united and firm in our conviction to continue the ministry that our Lord Jesus entrusted and commanded us to do to love our neighbor as ourselves as whatever we do to the least of our brethren we are also doing it to God.”
Systematic attacks vs. critics
Palabay said the red-tagging is a systematic attack against known government critics and progressives, most especially those who are demanding for justice for the victims of human rights violations under the Duterte administraton.
Karapatan, itself, is a victim of the series of red-tagging and harassment incidents. Duterte, himself, mentioned Karapatan no less than six times in his speeches in an attempt to red-tag the human rights organization, which did not totally surprise them and that his “minions are following suit, targeting us for our incessant work of exposing this regime’s crimes.”
On Sept. 29, banners were unfurled at several bridges in Balibago, Angeles, and Pampanga with the following text: “Karapatan, terrorist protector.” Karapatan also received threatening text messages from these numbers 09556810452 and 09557396541, accusing their members and leaders of being so-called legal front of the New People’s Army, and of being “huwad na makatao.”
“While Karapatan has been the subject of many such threats and harassments, we continue to emphasize how these endanger our human rights workers more, and justifies attacks against us,” Palabay added.
Palabay said Karapatan’s record in human rights advocacy work is available for public scrutiny and that they are proud of the efforts and commitment of many human rights workers on the ground, with many being harassed and even extrajudicially killed.
She said, “we have continued our work despite attacks from fascist regimes, and we will continue to tread on. Our affirmation will never come from the government, but from the victims and their relatives, the communities and the peoples whom we have had the honor to serve.”