FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2017
Joy Prim, ICHRP-Southern California Network
Southern California Community Welcomes Peace Tour Delegates and Commit to Support Human Rights and Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines
Los Angeles, CA– Filipino human rights defenders representing the JustPeacePH Peace Tour 2017, were warmly received on April 27 at a dinner and forum opening up the Southern California-leg of their nationwide tour. The tour aims to increase support for the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), which aim to bring about a just and lasting peace for the Filipino people.
The venue at Rosewood United Methodist Church-with a largely Filipino immigrant congregation in the East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles served as the backdrop for a sharing of the struggle for peace as a long-running civil war continues in the Philippines. Edre Olalia, Legal Consultant of the Peace Negotiating Panel of NDFP, explained, “There are peace negotiations because there is an ongoing armed conflict. There is an armed conflict because of the exploitation and oppression, that’s why there is no development.”
The rapid increase in human rights violations has brought growing international attention towards the Philippines in the wake of the “war on drugs” encouraged by GRP President Rodrigo Duterte and carried out by the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, and its other militias.
Josephine Pagalan, Spokesperson of Kasalo Caraga- Coalition of Indigenous People’s Assocs.
Dulphing Ogan, Secretary General of Kalumaran – Alliance of Indigenous People’s Orgs. in Mindanao
Jo Pagalan, one of the representatives from the indigenous Filipino (Lumad) tribes reported, “the CARAGA (northeartern Mindanao) region was declared a mining capital where 12 army battalions are deployed.” This “is used by the government to suppress and silence the Filipino people, not only indigenous people,” added Dulphing Ogan. They decry the GRP’s complicity in violating laws that ban the encroachment on indigenous lands, particularly by investment ventures interested in the natural resources there.
Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of KARAPATAN-Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights in the Philippines
Edre Olalia, Legal Consultant of the Peace Negotiating Panel of NDFP and President of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
The Lumad representatives were followed by speakers who shared the overarching human rights and socioeconomic conditions in the Philippines. Despite “numerous, myriad problems, there are rays of hope, particularly as the Filipino people continue to resist neoliberal policies and the militarization of their communities,” says Tinay Palabay, national secretary general of human rights organization Karapatan.
Christopher (Tope) Hamera, Communications and International Solidarity Associate with INPEACE Mindanao
The program ended with an call from Christoper Hamera, a Methodist missionary and Math and English teacher to Lumad children. He reiterated the importance of supporting the development of the Lumad through the Save Our Schools (SOS) Campaign, which sends educators to the Lumad children, especially through alternative schools in their villages. Participants then signed a petition for Rep. Karen Bass (D-34) to support the ongoing peace talks and to reassess the State Department’s foreign military funding policy.
The forum in the Los Angeles region–home to the largest population of Filipino population in the United States–underscores the importance of supporting the peace talks as a way to bring substantive improvements to the lives of everyday Filipinos. Delegates and participants expressed hope that carrying out of socioeconomic and political reforms will bring about a just and lasting peace to the Filipino people who have been fighting for it for close to 40 years.
Forum speakers, audience members, and members of allied organizations.
View the recorded livestream of Living Faith, Seeking Justice, Pursuing Peace at www.facebook.com/ICHRPSoCal.