Tag Archives: Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)

The Philippines Should Stop Being US’s Pawn and Warfront

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Statement on International Women’s Day:

Today, over five hundred (500) women gathered early in front of the University of Sto. Tomas to mark the International Women’s Day. This was the starting point of their march towards Mendiola where women affiliated with the World March of Women (WMW)-Pilipinas demanded accountability of the highest in command of the recent tragedy in Mamasapano.

The women’s march was joined by human rights groups Amnesty International, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), labor groups such as SENTRO and Partido ng Manggagawa, all calling for peace and self-determination in Mindanao and an end to the intervention in national affairs by the United States.

“The death of transwoman Jennifer Laude in the hands of a US soldier and the death of the child Sarah Panangulon in Mamasapano, are in the same context of US wars,” stated Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the WMW. “Olongapo murder suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton’s ship USS Peleliu ensures amphibious US presence in the Western Pacific, while the PNP SAF operation responsible for Sarah’s murder was clearly sponsored by the US war on terror,” she added.

The group underscored the economic interest of the US in Mindanao in particular, the Philippines and the region in general, as the US “pivot to Asia” strategy started in 2011, or the transfer of military resources to the region, coinciding with a Trans-Pacific Partnership Economic agreement. As a result, “women, children, the environment are considered collateral damages,” according to the WMW statement.

“Jennifer’s murder is a hate crime committed by a US soldier who enjoys the protection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” declared the group. “Even in court, the unequal relations manifest in allowing the attendance of several US military personnel while limiting Jennifer’s side to only her immediate family and her lawyers,” said their statement.

Carrying roses to symbolize their call for peace, the women also wore pink shirts with the slogan “Pagkain, hindi Bala.” They were demanding that President Benigno Aquino III be also held accountable for his role in the tragedy, as reports clearly pointed to his direct knowledge of the operation, beginning with the appointment of suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima and strengthened by their correspondence. “Evidently, the only consideration of this operation was the US’s desire to get Marwan and show a positive development in its war on terror, without regard for the Muslim communities that would suffer as well as the peace process that would be compromised,” stated Virgie Suarez, Chairperson, of KAISA KA.

The WMW and supporting organizations lamented that the ongoing military offensive already displaced 8,130 families, with women bearing the most of the hardships and dangers that go with the need to evacuate. Young women and children become more prone to trafficking and prostitution.

They called for a political and economic solution, not war, to resolve the problems in the area. WMW also called for an end to the VFA and all agreements that “tie the country to an unequal defense relation with the US and make the government an accomplice to the US war crimes in its unending quest for world dominance.”

The program in Mendiola ended with the women’s movement’s emblematic song “Bread and Roses” as the women leaders demanded justice for all victims of US militarism. Similar marches were conducted by WMW members in Cavite, Cebu, Davao, and Gen. Santos City.

Participating organizations included Focus on the Global South, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), LBT groups, anti-trafficking groups Action against Violence and Exploitation, Inc. (ACTVE) and CATW-AP, prostitution survivor groups Bagong Kamalayan and Buklod, migrant groups such as Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA).

Women’s organizations present were Kababaihan-Pilipinas, KAISA-KA, KAMP, the indigenous women’s group LILAK, Piglas Kababaihan, Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK),SARILAYA, Transform Asia, WomanHealth Phils., Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Welga ng Kababaihan, Women’s Crisis Center, Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE), and World March of Women – Pilipinas.

Stay the Course: Labor, Women and various groups reassert the need to continue the Peace process, but the guilty from all sides must be held liable

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ALONG with our fiercest denunciation of those few heedless and inept local brains and foreign instigators behind the foolish adventurism in Mamasapano, we the undersigned, likewise expressed revulsion over excessive acts in the battlefield. The tragedy resulted to the needless deaths of dozens of police commandos, Moro fighters and innocent civilians. Even wars, where combatants are expected to kill and be killed, have universally recognized rules of engagement that at least lessen the dehumanization inherent in armed conflicts.

Thus, if the video circulating in the social media that supposedly shows the cold-blooded and uncalled-for execution of an already wounded and helpless government trooper in Mamasapano is authentic, it should, without hesitation, be vigorously condemned regardless of who the shooter was or what group he belongs to. Bear in mind that summary killing and mutilation of (and other undignified acts against) an injured enemy survivor as well as fatalities in combat is a blatant violation of the humanitarian law, including International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Rule 113: On the Treatment of the Dead, which is specifically stipulated in the Geneva Convention.

At the same time, we reiterate our previous calls to conduct a thorough, honest and no-nonsense probe on those responsible for the tactless and incompetent planning as well as the gung-ho implementation of that police operation, which utterly disregarded all the standing ceasefire mechanisms with the MILF and which sent the unfortunate PNP-SAF troopers to a veritable death trap in a remote village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. We have  specifically identified those most likely to have an actual role in this debacle: President Aquino himself; then suspended (and recently resigned) PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.; and the ubiquitous and shadowy Americans, particularly those in the US military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P).

Likewise, we again warn the public not to be deceived by rightwing hawks and demagogues who are fanning the flames of Islamophobia and knee-jerk call to arms.

Amid all these, we still support the noble ideals and aspirations of the current peace process. This initiative, while admittedly painstaking, complex and protracted, remains the only viable, just and ultimate solution to the decades-long bloodshed in Mindanao and elsewhere. Let us give “peace with justice” the chance it fully deserves and the goal that the people need and longed for. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has to pass in the form that reflects the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Transform Asia

Women and Labor call for “Justice for ALL Fallen in Mamasapano”

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#TruthandJusticefortheFallen64+ #MoroLivesMatter

Noting the invisibility of fallen Muslims in the President’s speech last Friday, labor and women’s groups, progressive parties, other anti-war advocates, and ordinary Filipinos held a candle-lighting action at 6 this evening, at the Boy Scout Circle, Timog cor. Tomas Morato. They demanded for truth and justice for all. “This also means accountability of those in command,” according to Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the World March of Women.

Enriquez added that “It is critical that investigations of integrity (especially by the International Monitoring Team) are made public, because whoever were at the helm of this reckless operation should account for the lost lives, not only of the elite police force but for the Moro people, including a 5-year-old child.” She added that to date, media reports of more than 500 who evacuated for fear, with the female and the young among them rendered vulnerable to trafficking.

Labor groups were at the forefront also of the call for peace in Mindanao, as politicians fan the flamesMuslim hatred and wholesale MILF condemnation. “With the President focusing on the 44 PNP-SAF as victims, the Moros are immediately relegated to perpetrators, preemptive of an independent investigation,” according to Josua Mata, Secretary-General of SENTRO.“In the same manner, politicians such as former Pres. Joseph Estrada, former Interior Sec. Rafael Alunan, Sen. Alan Cayetano, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, former Cong. Teddy Locsin, are fanning the flames of Muslim-hatred, wholesale anti-MILF sentiment, driving netizens to call for all-out war. It is critical to turn the country’s rage and grieving to greater understanding, and not back down in the peace process.”

Herbert Docena, one of the organizers and member of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) reminded the public of the context of this fragile peace,carelessly broken by the operation: “It was the Philippine state that immorally, if not illegally, effectively annexed Morolandia without the Moros’ consent in the early 20th century, backed foreign and local corporations in taking over thousands of hectares of Mindanao lands for their plantations or mining projects, drove hundreds of thousands of landless families from Luzon and the Visayan to settle in the ‘uninhabited’ lands of Mindanao to quell agrarian unrest in the North, and unleashed terror when the displaced people began fighting back.”

The group reminded the public that the ruling oligarchs who dominate the Philippine state – “they who have benefited the most from plundering Mindanao’s resources and subjugating both Moros and Christian landless peoples” – have succeeded in depicting the history of Mindanao as anything else but a history of settler-colonialism, in portraying themselves as other than colonizers, and in casting the Moros and other indigenous peoples as other than anti-colonial movements fighting for self-determination.

Holding a tarpaulin of 69+ faces, with names of the slain Moros after the faces of the 44 PNP-SAF members, the group demanded that the long road to peace be continued.

Organizers: Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), Bukluran Ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), World March of Women (WMW) – Pilipinas, Stop the War Coalition, PLM – PartidoLakasngMasa, Friends of the Bangsamoro, Freedom from Debt Coalition, Focus on the Global South, Philwomen on the ASEAN, and other orgs and individuals