BAYAN USA Northeast Protests Extrajudicial Killings of Lumad Leaders at the Philippine Consulate

ne statement.002

For Immediate Release

Press Statement

September 4, 2015

Reference: Joelle Eliza Lingat, Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey

anakbayannj@gmail.com, 201.675.8278

Lean Deleon, Cultural Officer, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

nychrp@gmail.com, 510.586.8799

BAYAN USA Northeast Protests Extrajudicial Killings of Lumad Leaders at the Philippine Consulate

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BAYAN NE in front of the Philippine Consulate (PC: Julie Jamora, http://www.juliejamora.com/)

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!

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Anakbayan New Jersey Member, Jon Zirkle in front of the Philippine Consulate. (PC: Julie Jamora)

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“END IMPUNITY” (PC: Julie Jamora)

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Concerned Community calls for Stop the Killings in Mindanao (PC: Julie Jamora)

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ALCADEV Mobe (PC: Julie Jamora)

New Jersey Youth Activists Join National Day of Action to Demand Justice for Victims of Extrajudicial Killings, Call for an End to US Military Aid to the Philippines

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Jersey City, NJ- Filipino youth organization, Anakbayan New Jersey (AB-NJ), and community activists gathered at the Journal Square Memorial Fountain on Friday night as part of Anakbayan-USA’s National Day of Action to demand justice for small- scale miner and Sikadan-Anakbayan member, Freddie “Fermin” Ligiw, and his family.

The remains of Ligiw, his father, Licuben, and brother, Eddie, were found in a shallow grave close to their residence in Licuan-Baay, Abra, Philippines on March 7. The three were prominent community leaders who opposed large-scale mining operations in Abra, and were active members of grassroots organizations, Kakailan Salakniban Tay Amin a Nagtaudan (KASTAN), a provincial chapter of Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, and Anakbayan.

Catalina Adorno, a close ally of AB-NJ and one of the founding members of Choforitos United, an immigrant youth activist group in Union City, NJ, commented in solidarity, “We are coming out in full support of upholding the human rights of everyone who are involved in advocating for social justice. No one should be killed anywhere for fighting for what they believe in.”

A fact-finding mission by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance on March 9 revealed that the 41st Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was conducting combat operations against the New Peoples’ Army several days before the Ligiws went missing.

Perpetrators of these atrocious operations persist with impunity as the Aquino administration continues to implement Oplan Bayanihan (Operation Plan Shoulder-to-Shoulder), a counterinsurgency program that has historically targeted activists, peoples’ lawyers, journalists and other grassroots leaders in an effort to quell the revolutionary movement in the Philippine countryside. Aquino has also consistently promoted and justified the planned expansion of US military access to the Philippines.

Amidst the US Military Pivot to the Asia-Pacific, the number of human rights violations against activists and community leaders in the Philippines is steadily rising. At the end of 2013, Philippine human rights alliance, Karapatan, documented 169 cases of extrajudicial killings since President Benigno “NoyNoy” Aquino took office in 2010.

That number quickly increased during the first quarter of 2014 with the case of the Ligiw Family. On Saturday, the tragic murder of Romeo Capalla, member of Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA, Alliance of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and Arrests) and younger brother of Davao Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Capalla, became the 11th documented case of political killings this year.

Jenabi Pareja of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) was critical of US involvement in HRVs overseas. “We aim to shed awareness on the murder of a fellow kasama (comrade), but also of our firm position to end all U.S. military aid to the Philippines,” said Pareja.

Since 2002, the US has sent a total of $500M in military aid to the Philippines. In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry pledged another $40M for 2014 after visiting the Southeast Asian country post-Super Typhoon Haiyan in December 2013. The US and Philippine governments are also entering the seventh round of talks, intending to close a deal on the “Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation” by next month.

Filipino activists in the U.S. expressed serious concern regarding this issue, considering its relationship to HRVs in the Philippines. Pareja added, “U.S. tax dollars and military positioning under the pretext of mutual defense and humanitarian support, are being used by elements of the AFP to carry out brutal attacks on people fighting for change in their communities back home. These funds should instead be channelled towards social services such as education, healthcare and welfare benefits for the working people of the U.S.”

In a Twitter exchange with Anakbayan NY and NJ on Saturday, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC stated an ongoing investigation of the Ligiw case is being conducted. The Embassy also gave assurance that the “state will go after those behind these political killings”.

“We [Anakbayan chapters overseas] are deeply disturbed and outraged by this brutal attack to a kasama. We will not stop until justice is served- for Freddie, for Jonas, for Sherlyn, for Rachelle, and all victims of political killings back home,” said Nina Macapinlac, member of AB-NJ.

AB-NJ committed to raising awareness on the issue of HRVs in the Philippines, and sustaining the call for justice for all victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Nina Macapinlac, member of AB-NJ, concluded,”We demand an immediate and thorough investigation of the murder of the Ligiw family, and an end to U.S. military aid to the Philippines. We are urging concerned citizens of New Jersey to contact Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee for the 113th Congress, to demand cutting all US military funding to the Philippines.”###

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References:

  1. Anakbayan Cordillera Statement on the Killing of Fermin Ligiw

  2. KARAPATAN, Alliance for Human Rights in the Philippines

  3. US Aid and Human Rights Violations in the Philippines

  4. PH Offers US Use of Bases

  5. Younger Brother of Bishop Capalla Murdered in IloIlo Province