Filipinos and Allies in SoCal Protest Growing US Military Presence in the Philippines, Call Support for GRP-NDFP Peace Talks

For Immediate Release

May 2, 2017

Reference:   Nikole Cababa, BAYAN USA Deputy Secretary General, sc@bayanusa.org

Filipinos and Allies in SoCal Protest Growing US Military Presence in the Philippines, Call Support for GRP-NDFP Peace Talks

Los Angeles, CA – On April 28, 2017, Filipino community members, led by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan SoCal (BAYAN SoCal), together with other allied organizations and solidarity groups trooped to the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, CA to protest US militarization in the Philippines and around the world. The protest also brought front and center their support for the ongoing Peace Negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Romeo Hebron of BAYAN USA said that the US War Machine, funded by Americans’ tax money, continues to support and train Philippine military that oppresses Filipino Indigenous Peoples, workers, women and youth. In addition to this, he pointed out the new Trump administration’s budget would only be complicit in this growing militarization in the Philippines.  “Amidst the cuts that the Trump administration made to education, health care and other social services, the US is wasting people’s money with its interventionist policies that cause un-peace in countries like the Philippines,” he continued.

The protest underscored the third-year anniversary of the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States and supplemented the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two governments on April 28, 2014. The EDCA and the VFA, effectively brought the US bases back into the Philippines, a violation of the Philippine Constitution.

Christina Palabay, Secretary General of the Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) called on President Duterte to “walk the talk and decisively terminate the one-sided military agreements with the US, including the EDCA.” Palabay added that if the Duterte government is really serious in asserting Philippine sovereignty against the US, it should start by doing away with treaties and deals that trample on the nation’s sovereignty.

This action was part of the national Peace Tour that was being coordinated by ICHRP to build international support for the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines which brought human rights defenders and indigenous leaders from Mindanao.

Megan Foronda of Gabriela Los Angeles raised the question, “Is there peace in the Philippines when farmers and indigenous peoples are displaced from their lands? Is there peace when the rights of women, children, and LGBTQ rights are violated?” Foronda recalled the murder of Jennifer Laude by US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton in Olongapo City in 2014.

Cheyenne, a Native American activist from Red Earth Defense, linked Native American issues with Filipino issues and expressed solidarity with the Philippines. “Many of the things happening here in the U.S. are also happening in other parts of the world. The Lumad people’s struggle is our struggle,” she said.

The protest concluded with a rendition of the song Muog na Bato (Stronghold), a song about unity and the advancement of the people’s movement.

The Peace Tour event was organized by the International Coalition for Human Rights – Southern California, with support from legal, faith and other solidarity organizations. From April 18-May 8, the Peace Tour tours New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and St. Paul, MN.

Filipino community members and allies decry U.S. military occupation and call for just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

For more on the tour, visit: www.humanrightsphilippines.net/events or #JustPeacePH.

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