For Immediate Release
September 4, 2015
Reference: Joelle Eliza Lingat, Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey
Lean Deleon, Cultural Officer, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
BAYAN USA Northeast Protests Extrajudicial Killings of Lumad Leaders at the Philippine Consulate
NEW YORK – On September 4, 2015, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) USA Northeast, alongside the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), GABRIELA New York, Anakbayan New York (ABNY), Anakbayan New Jersey (ABNJ), and solidarity allies protested inside and in front of the Philippine Consulate in condemnation of the extrajudicial killing of Lumad leaders Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Bello Sinzo. The mobilization was a part of a larger International Day of Action by BAYAN USA, Anakbayan USA, and the Save Our Schools Network in cities such as Toronto, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
On September 1, 2015 around 4:00 AM, elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army under Colonel Aaron Akas; elements of the 75th Special Forces; and elements of the paramilitary bandit group of Marcos Bocales forced Sitio Han-ayan civilians out of their homes, confiscated their cell phones and cameras and were told to evacuate the area. Around the same time, Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the paramilitary bandit group shot and killed Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo. Emirto Samaracas, who was seen forced into a classroom with his neck, hands and feet tied the day before, was also discovered dead with a stab wound.
In response to such killings and terrorization in the community, fifty activists gathered in front of the Philippine Consulate with a tableau of tied up victims and blindfolds with the names of killed indigenous leaders. Additionally, a group of Filipinos and solidarity allies entered the Consulate and created a people’s mic check to call attention to the lack of justice and state accountability for the latest extrajudicial killings and mass displacements. After the peaceful protest, as the activists were exiting, the Consulate would not open their doors and held the activists against their will.
“We exercised our right to free speech and told the truth about the killings and forced evacuation. We were met with hostility [and] intimidation and [were then] detained by the Consulate staff who would not give a valid reason [for] why we were being detained,” said Berna Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “We are seeking justice and accountability for the killings of Emerito Samarca, director of the Lumad school ALCADEV and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo. Ultimately, it was the power of protest, both outside and inside the Consulate that forced them to release us even after the NYPD arrived. We will not be silenced. We will continue to demand justice and accountability from the Aquino government until both are attained.”
President Aquino’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, continues to quell resistance. As an extension of the United States’ War on Terror, Oplan Bayanihan has committed 238 extrajudicial killings, 27 enforced disappearances, and 59,612 forced evacuations. Despite the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997, which aims to protect indigenous people’s rights to their ancestral domain, Oplan Bayanihan has criminalized people. This is especially true with that of indigenous people, having resisted land encroachments by multinational mining corporations. Furthermore, whole communities are criminalized and schools built for indigenous children are disrupted, such as that in Han-ayan, where 3,000 children are denied their right to an education and 500 families are denied safety and permanency of their homes.
Indigenous people in Han-ayan, Caraga, Mindanao, and the rest of the Philippines are fighting for their right to self-determination; education; safe homes; basic rights; and a land that indigenous people have depended on for centuries. Fifty percent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are stationed in Mindanao and strategically placed where mining corporations are extracting resources. The bureaucrat capitalist government has shown up in full force to protect the interests of imperialists. It is in this twisted reality governed by the avarice of imperialist powers and their bureaucratic colluders that the military justifies its human rights violations in killing three innocent people. Manoy Emok, Dionel Campos, and Bello Sinzo were people who fought for justice for the indigenous people. Because of this, they were silenced by the Philippine military at the auspices of their U.S. puppet masters.
“Araw-araw na pinapatay, pinagmamalupitan, o ginagahasa ng mga paramilitary ang mga katutubong Lumad sa Mindanao,” said Ruthie Arroyo, Interim Vice Chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey, “Sa kasamaang palad, ang walang awang pagpatay kay Tatay Emok, Dionel Campos at Bello Sinzo ay hindi lamang ang nagiisang kaso nang paglalabag sa karapatang panatao ng Lumad. Ang counterinsurgency program ng rehimeng Aquino o Oplan Bayanihan ay nagbibigay daan para hindi managot ang mga militar sa pagsusupil at pagsasakop ng lupain na pag-aari ng mga katutubo. Ilan pa bang kababayan natin ang kailangan pahirapan at patayin bago tayo magkaisa? Let us link arms and express our deep opposition to the numerous killings and occupation in Mindanao brought upon by Oplan Bayanihan! As Filipino-Americans, let us demand to put a stop to the $50 million U.S. military aid sent to the Philippines annually.”
In March 2014, the Quadrennial Defense Review outlined “three mutually supporting pillars that shape our defense priorities: protect the homeland; build security globally; and project power and win decisively.” The review claims humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and to defeat aggression, disrupt, and destroy terrorist networks. However, in execution, disaster relief assistance was subpar and superficial during Super Typhoon Haiyan. Are to we to say that destroying terrorist networks means carrying out extrajudicial killing of educators and community leaders in ALCADEV, MAPASU, and countless other indigenous people’s communities across the Philippines? Are we expected to believe that these are isolated incidents when days after the attack in Surigao Del Sur, military harassment persisted in Bukidnon following a fact finding mission of the Pangantucan 5?
As Filipinos and allies in the U.S., it is our democratic right and duty to halt the spending of federal tax dollars towards overseas military spending. Instead, we should redirect money towards domestic social services. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense’s United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request of February 2015 allotted $50.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations to conduct operations in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and, specifically, the Philippines. According to the Congressional Research Service, between 2002 and 2013, the U.S. provided the Philippines $312 million in military assistance. We galvanize the masses of the U.S. to exercise their electoral strength and use Congress’ power of the purse to reject U.S. imperialism.
While we recognize the limits of electoral politics, the undeniable flow of resources from the fascist state to its neo-colony must be cut off at its source. We strengthen our mass movement by wounding the imperialist beast through multilateral weapons of struggle. As we continue to agitate, organize, and mobilize our communities, we also demand that the U.S. Congress eliminate foreign military expenditure. With the intensification of the conditions of the indigenous peoples and toiling masses of Filipinos in our home country, our people are entering a decisive moment of struggling for liberation or the death of our country. To honor Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Bello Sinzo, BAYAN USA Northeast calls upon our communities to fight for the rights of our children so that they can study our history of struggle and for our people to execute it for genuine peace and national democracy.
JUSTICE FOR EMERITO SAMARCA, DIONEL CAMPOS, BELLO SINZO, CRISANTO AND SINZO TABUGOL BROTHERS!
STOP EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS!
END THE MILITARIZATION OF LUMAD SCHOOLS!
END OPLAN BAYANIHAN & STATE SPONSORED VIOLENCE!
NO TO U.S. MILITARY AID FOR STATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM IN THE PHILIPPINES!