Tag Archives: Military

[From the web] Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk -AIph

Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk
4 September 2020

Responding to reports of escalating violence in Surigao del Sur between government security forces and the New People’s Army (NPA) which led to the killing of two young indigenous people, Amnesty International Philippines Director, Butch Olano, said:

“Violence between state forces and non-state actors in Surigao del Sur has continued to build up after the Anti-Terrorism Law was enacted in July, with reports of more indigenous communities at risk of getting caught in the crossfire. Amnesty International Philippines has received reports of harassment perpetrated both by the military and NPA where a large number of residents have been internally displaced due to armed violence in the area. Incidents of killings of civilians, some of young indigenous people, are very concerning.

“State forces must not forget to uphold the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law as part of any counter-insurgency strategy. The government should recognize that clashes between state forces and armed groups drastically affect the lives and livelihood of civilians, and must adopt a concrete plan for the internally displaced or those who are forced to flee out of fear for their lives and safety. Such a plan must be developed in full consultation with affected communities.

“Amnesty International Philippines is calling on the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), as the main government agency tasked with protecting the interests of Indigenous peoples, to do its job in preventing rights violations against IP groups in the affected areas.

“We denounce indiscriminate attacks brought about by military operations, as well as attacks targeting the general population carried out by non-state actors. We call on the military and the NPA to refrain from any attack of this nature. All attacks targeting members of the general population must be promptly and effectively investigated, those suspected of responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials; the human rights of the victims of such attacks must also be respected and fulfilled.

“Amnesty International Philippines is concerned that the hastily enacted Anti-Terrorism Act is being used as an excuse to violate human rights. The government should ensure that all measures taken against non-state actors fully comply with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and that the Anti-Terrorism Act does not lead to further human rights abuses.”

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Violence between state forces and the NPA puts indigenous peoples lives at risk

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[From the web] Lumads flee as military bombs Kalabugao plains in NorMin -MindaNews.com

Lumads flee as military bombs Kalabugao plains in NorMin

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/ 14 December) – Lumads or Indigenous Peoples fled their homes as government planes bombed suspected New People’s Army guerrilla bases in Kalabugao plains in Northern Mindanao ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines on Dec. 26.

Col. Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade said the bombings and military operations are focused in the mountain villages in the Kalabugao plains straddling the tri-boundary of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

“We discovered a major NPA hideout that is probably a projected venue of the CPP anniversary celebration,” de Leon said.

An NPA source identified as Ka Emil confirmed the bombings have been going on in the past 13 days and have dislocated the Higaonon lumads around barangays Hagpa and Kalabugao in Impasugong town, Bukidnon.

Read full article @www.mindanews.com

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[Urgent Appeal] Military hounds trade unionists in Mindanao, forcing them to surrender as rebel supporters -CTUHR

Military hounds trade unionists in Mindanao, forcing them to surrender as rebel supporters

On February 13, CTUHR was asked to join a fact-finding mission in Compostela, Compostela Valley (Mindanao) organized by Nonoy Librado Development Foundation, Inc (NLDFI), Kilusang Mayo Uno concerning reports of military asking local trade unionists to surrender as New Peoples Army (NPA) rebel supporters and government crackdown on labour organizations in Compostela, Valley On February 15-19, CTUHR visited Davao city and Compostela Valley and together with local volunteers in the area talked and visited the workers and trade unionists in the area to ascertain the report.

CTUHR is deeply concerned that the military operations which began intensively on January 22, 2018, under the pretext of Martial Law are now directed at workers and trade unionists in the vast foreign- owned banana plantations in Compostela Valley, Southern Mindanao. The military has tagged the unionists and their family members as New Peoples Army (NPA) rebel supporters and asks them to surrender at the military camp of 66th Infantry Battallion- Philippine Army to clear their names. Trade unionists were threatened that if they don’t surrender, the military will file charges against them or run the risk of getting killed. Members of local trade unions from Sumitomo Fruits or SUMIFRU, Shin Sun Tropical Fruits and Freshmax banana plantations are all affiliated with the progressive Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-May First Movement). President Duterte labelled KMU as one of the communist fronts, and tagged the communists as terrorists and now are targets of the government’s anti-terrorism and countger insurgency campaign.

CTUHR thus appeal for your support and solidarity in calling for an immediate end to these military operations that bring the lives and limbs of workers and their families to constant danger and cause them fear and mental anguish. These constant threat against trade unionists not only violates their right to freedom of association, of collective bargaining, of assembly and of expression but also exacerbated the workers’ economic hardships as they are displaced from their jobs and livelihood. In addition, CTUHR also call for support in urging President Duterte to recant or withdraw all statements and orders maligning the trade unions and other progressive organizations lumping them together with communists, terrorists and criminals. The statements as proven to what is happening today, not only in Mindanao but in various parts of the country are being used to `justify’ the harshest persecution, from harassments to extrajudicial killings of those exercising their legitimate rights. To date, 23 workers and trade union organizers were extrajudicially killed in various campaigns of the Duterte administration.

Facts of Incidents; House to house visits, village meetings and orders to surrender

Residents of Brgy San Miguel, Compostela, Compostela Valley recalled that since January 22, 2018, elements from the Bravo Company of 66th IB Philippine Army based in Compostela Valley (Mindanao) went-house to house looking for union members of KMU local union affiliates. Soldiers began conducting area (locally called purok) meetings and asks the trade unionists to present themselves to the Army detachment in the same barangay . The local unions of these plantations are all affiliated with Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)- a militant and progressive labour center.

Residents and members of the trade unions from Sumitomo Fruits Co, Shin Sun Tropical Fruits and Freshmax banana plantations told CTUHR that elements of Bravo Company told them to call out their relatives to surrender, clear their names or get liquidated as they possess a list of NPA supporters in the area. The 66th IBPA alleged that they got the list from members of the NPA during an encounter with the state troops.

However, Mr Lito Catap, a Brgy San Miguel elected village council member assailed the so-called list, when he saw his name and the name of a long-dead relative. He said that they, and his villagemates are now worried as they don’t know who else are included in the list.

Interviewed workers narrated that at the house to house visits and meetings, the military underscored that they are implementing the President (PDuterte) order’s to hunt the communist rebels and supporters as well as their front organizations and KMU is one of the identified fronts of communists. `As you are a member of KMU affiliated union , you are also considered as NPA supporters. And if you gave even a grain of salt or MSG to them (NPA), then you are an NPA sympathizer or supporter.

Welma Pana, 50, a union member working at SUMIFRU’s Packing Plant 250, in Marapat, Compostela Valley for example testified that on January 22, 2018, around 1.30 in the afternoon, five (5) soldiers from the Bravo Company ng 66th IB of Phil. Army barged into her house. One of the soldiers she was able to identify, a certain Pfc Paulino asked her to go to their camp in San Miguel to surrender because they (the workers) have union. Another soldier, whom she was not able to identify asked her why she joined the union and Pana replied that they want to protect themselves and their job. The military told her that she has to come to the camp on January 23 scheduled meeting to surrender. Then the soldier left the house.

Pana did not report to the camp the following day. She knows that she did nothing wrong and nothing to be fearful about being in the workers’ union. She and her family however, is worried about their safety.

Similarly, Melfer Amolian, 32 years old, Union Member, Shin Sun Workers Union (SSWU-NAFLU-KMU) narrated that on January 28, about 6:00 in the morning, his brother in law on order of the village chief Harry Cabiling, reported to the Bravo company of the 66th IB PA in San Miguel, Compostela, Compostela Valley to surrender and clear his name. He then followed to the detachment 30 minutes later, and a soldier on civilian clothes who did not say his name asked him why did he join the union and what is the money that they are collecting for, if they are for the NPA? Marvin responded that the money is for the union and for the ongoing union strike. He also saw the list of names that the soldiers want them to surrender. The soldier pressed him about the activities he joined which he admitted to having participated in the march and workers’ camp-out in Manila last year, and then asked for the whereabouts of Arman Blasé. Blasé is a full-time NAFLU union organizer, Amolian said, he does not know where Blasé is. The soldiers coaxed him that it is really better to surrender, to clear his name and asked him to sign a logbook. He was not sure of what kind of logbook was that but sure that he is listed as rebel surrenderee.

The same situation also happened to other union members from Freshmax, a sister company of Shin Sun Tropical Fruits.

It can be recalled that on June 2, 2017, more than a week after Martial Law was declared in Mindanao, the military violently dispersed the striking Shin Sun Tropical Fruits workers protesting illegal dismissal, underpayment, violations of other labor standards and contractualization. At the dispersal the military was caught saying that `this is Martial Law and we don’t honor the Labor Code in local language’ when workers asserted that the military has no right to intervene in the labour dispute. At the dispersal, eight (8) men and women workers including a child were arrested. A Korean owner of Shin Sun Tropical Fruits ran away to escape from her legal obligations to the workers. The case is still pending at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

There are other workers who have given their testimonies and complained that they are all worrying about their safety and security. Out of fear, they present themselves to the military camp, but they worry further that they are now listed as rebel surenderees.

In other parts of Mindanao, repression of people’s rights is also raging. On September 28, 2017, Reneboy Magayano, 50, an agricultural worker and chairperson of Maragusan Workers Association was extrajudicially killed by suspected agents of 66th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) on his way to Maragusan Public Market in Compostela Valley to buy fish. On November 29, 2017, Lando Moreno, an oil palm worker in Filipinas Palm Plantation in Agusan del Sur, was also killed by combined company suspected goons and guards, and the police who was nearby the area was not able to apprehend the assailant.

The FFM team visited the military camp, accompanied by the Brgy Capt (village chair) Harry Cabiling to hold a dialogue but they were not entertained. Cabiling was summoned inside the camp. The village chair was left inside the camp until the Team left the camp an hour later. The residents noted that the village chair was also sending his council members to summon residents to voluntarily present themselves to the military at the camp.

Recommendations:

Please send letters, emails or fax messages of concerns calling for:

1. An end to the targeting, harassment, and intimidation of unionists, labor rights defenders, development workers, human rights defenders, and members and leaders of progressive organizations;

2. An immediate withdrawal of President Duterte’s statements labeling KMU and other progressive organizations as enemies of the state which encourages State security forces to threaten, harass, arbitrarily and illegally arrest or suspected kill the targets;

3. Relocation of the detachment of 66th IB-PA of AFP away from the civilian populace.

4. The Philippine Government to adhere and uphold the ILO Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and ILO Convention 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining) to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments to which the Philippines is a signatory. 5. Resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front and work towards the advancement of socio-economic reforms that include both labour and land issues of workers and farmers;

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through
http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/

Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph

Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline: 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: communications@doj.gov.ph

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com

Hon. Jesus Dureza
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
Email: stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net

Hon. Silvestre Bello III
Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment
7th Floor, DOLE Building, Intramuros, Manila
Direct Line: (+632) 527-5523. 527-2121
Fax No: (+632) 527-3494.
Email: secshb3@dole.gov.ph, osec@dole.gov.ph.

Please send us a copy to:
Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Inc (CTUHR)
702 Culmat Bldg, 127 E Rodriguez Sr Avenue
Quezon city Philippines
Telefax: (+632) 4110256
Email: ctuhr.pilipinas@gmail.com
Website: http://www.ctuhr.org
Fb: ctuhr.manila

http://ctuhr.org/urgent-appeals-military-hounds-trade-unionists-in-mindanao-forcing-them-to-surrender-as-rebel-supporters/

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[Press Release] The US Congress continues to be concerned about human rights violations by the Philippine Army”. -EANP

The US Congress continues to be concerned about human rights violations by the Philippine Army”.

In an appropriations bill signed by president Obama on December 15, the US Congress expressed serious concern about the lack of progress on human rights by the Philippine Army. The bill appropriates $50 million in credits for the Armed Forces of the Philppines to buy arms from the US, but bill contains provisions that prevent funding of the Army unless the US Secretary of State certifies the Army meets three human rights restrictions.

Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines

In order for the Philippine Army to be given access to the funding the Government of the Philippines must be:
1) investigating and prosecuting army personnel who are credibly alleged to have committed, or aided or abetted, extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, and other gross violations of human rights, and strengthening government institutions working to eliminate such crimes;
2) implementing a policy of promoting army personnel who demonstrate professionalism and respect for human rights; and
3) taking steps to ensure that the Philippine army and paramilitary groups under its control are not engaging in acts of intimidation or violence against journalists or human rights defenders.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines (EANP), a US based human rights group that has advocated for the human rights restrictions since its founding in 2007, recently sent a letter to the US Congress and the State Department documenting the lack of progress on human rights. EANP stated that the Army has a very poor record of prosecuting human rights violators. Since President Benigno Aquino was inaugurated, 152 political and environmental activists have been killed and 18 disappeared. There have been very few arrests, and only a handful of convictions and not one mastermind has been convicted. The Army continues to promote human rights violators. In 2013 the Army promoted Brigadier General Eduardo Año, Brigadier General Aurelio Baladad, Lieutenant General Jorge Segovia, and Brigadier General Ricardo Visaya, all Army officers with credible accusations of involvement in human rights violations. Killings and abductions continue. Human rights groups in the Philippines have documented over 40 killings so far in 2014, a very significant increase compared to the previous year. In addition to the killings, detentions, torture, disappearances, enforced dislocations of indigenous people, harassment and intimidation of human rights advocates, and suppression of labor rights are on the rise.

Since 2008 the AFP has lost over $13M in funding because the US Secretary State concluded that the AFP has not sufficiently improved its human rights record.

Press Release

Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines, Durham, North Carolina (P.O. Box 51844, Durham, NC 27717,
email: eanp2007@email.com,
http://www.eanp.org,
phone number +1-651-646-1985

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[Press Release] BMP demands abrogation of VFA:‘Our people are paying the price of our elitist government’s mendicant foreign policy’

Workers group demands abrogation of VFA:‘Our people are paying the price of our elitist government’s mendicant foreign policy’
THE Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Jennifer Laude, and joins the Filipino people in demanding justice for her murder.

bmplogo

The brutal killing of Ms Laude, a 26-year old woman whose head was found shoved right into a toilet bowl, is tragic in itself.

An apparent hate crime, her murder is not just an affront to the LGBT community who have long been exposed and subjected to sexist and patriarchal violence. It is an affront to us all, LGBT or not.

Making Ms Laude’s death even more tragic, however, is that her alleged murderer, a certain Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton of the US Marines, is beyond the reach of our own justice system.

Thanks to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) entered into by our government with the United States, Mr Pemberton could not be treated like any ordinary murder suspect: Under the relevant provision in the VFA, US military personnel accused of committing crimes in Philippine territory shall be held by US—not Filipino—authorities.

Our own government may request the United States to waive the application of this provision but final decision resides with the United States.

In effect, power over those who kill our people rests not with our own government but with the United States.

This is the price our elitist government has decided to pay in exchange for the supposed security that comes with hosting US troops in the country, for the equipment that the US provides as military aid, and for all the supposed benefits that we derive from our relationship with the US: benefits that our government should never have had to acquire from any external power in the first place.

The elites who run our government could have rejected the VFA but they couldn’t or they chose not to because, failing to guarantee real security to our own people, they could only run to and grovel before the United States for protection.

So now our people—people like Jennifer and, before her, Nicole—are paying the price for our own elites’ dependency on the United States. They are paying the price for our servile and obsequious foreign policy.

To ensure justice for Ms Laude—and to prevent this tragedy from being repeated—we therefore could not just call for a thorough investigation and an impartial trial, as if this were just any other murder case, as if this were just another hate crime.

We must also demand that Pfc Pemberton not be given any special treatment and that he not be exempted from the normal processes accorded to murder suspects.

We must also call for the immediate abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the immediate cancellation of all US military deployments to the country.

Only then can we ensure justice for Ms Laude and only then can we prevent this tragedy from being repeated.#

PRESS RELEASE
October 15, 2014
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)

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[People] One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington. By Walden Bello

One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington.
By Walden Bello, Afterthoughts, Inquirer.net
April 23, 2014

Manila and Washington are said to be rushing to complete negotiations on the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) so both Presidents Aquino and Obama can seal the new security deal when the American head of state arrives next week.

Walden Bello word.world-citizenship.org

If there is anyone in the government who can take credit—or blame—for the new security deal, it is Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who now monopolizes the ear of the President when it comes to relations with China and the United States.

Our territorial conflicts with China are the reason for this new agreement, and the message del Rosario and Malacañang want to deliver is that the AEDC is the mechanism that will make the Chinese respect our rights to Scarborough Shoal, the nine islands and reefs we claim in the Spratly Islands, our continental shelf, and our 200 Mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

The truth of the matter, however, is that the deal negotiated by Secretary del Rosario will do no such thing.

No US obligation to defend Spratlys and Scarborough

According to Philippine officials, the new agreement is governed by the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and that the MDT obliges the US to come to the Philippines’ defense in the event of an attack on Philippine territory, including our possessions in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea.  Here they cite Article V of the MDT, which says “an armed attack on either of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

The problem with this view is that that is not the way the US sees it.  Indeed, the US has not deviated from the position explicitly stated several years ago by Morton Smith, a spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy; according to researcher Roland San Juan, Smith asserted that the Kalayaan islands are excluded from the scope of the treaty because the Philippines raised its claim to them over three decades after the MDT was signed in 1951.

Senkakus, yes; Spratlys, no

Washington’s distancing itself from the defense of the Kalayaan Islands is in contrast to US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s recent aggressive statements in Beijing over the disputed Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands in Chinese) during his visit in early April.  Hagel said, “I restated the principles that govern longstanding U.S. policy on the Senkaku Islands and other islands.

We affirmed that since [the Senkaku Islands] are under Japan’s administrative control, they fall under Article 5 of our Mutual Security Treaty.”  Article V of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty provides that “an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes.”

The difference with the Philippines, in Washington’s view, is that, unlike Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly islands claimed by the Philippines, the Senkakus were under the administrative control of the prefecture of Okinawa when the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty was signed and were thus covered by the restoration of Okinawa to Japan’s control in 1972.

Commenting on the contrasting US behavior on the two disputes, Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, a retired US Navy officer who was director of the Pentagon’s East Asia Policy Office during the Bush II administration writes, “At first glance, the disputes China has with the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal in the SCS [South China Sea] appear similar to the ECS [East China Sea] with Japan because the US is a treaty ally of the Philippines.   Actually, however, the two situations are different.  In the case of Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines did not have undisputed ‘administrative control’ prior to the 2012 confrontation over the islet.  Second, the US is not directly involved in the Scarborough Shoal dispute because its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines does not obligate Washington to take sides over sovereignty questions.”

If the deal does not provide for US support for our territorial claims in the South China Sea, what benefits then do we get from it?  Most likely an increase in military aid, including a few more antiquated Hamilton class cutters.  If so, this is a very poor return for a larger US military presence, especially the Constitution-defying grant to operate US bases within Philippine bases, which the deal essentially is all about.

‘Pacific Pivot’ on the cheap

What is in it for the US?

The US has always said that its main interest in the South China Sea is “ensuring freedom of navigation.”  The first thing to note here is that although China claims the South China Sea as a domestic waterway in its notorious Nine-Dash-Line claim, the threat of its interfering with freedom of navigation has always been remote.  China is not about to court world condemnation by enforcing its domestic shipping regulations on a busy waterway through which an estimated one-third of international trade passes.  Nor does it have the capability to do so, at least not for a long to come.

But even if the Chinese were to pose a threat to international navigation, the US does not need a Philippine outpost to accomplish its stated goal of protecting international shipping.  Even with the US bases in the Philippines already gone in the mid-1990’s, the Pentagon had the South China Sea firmly under control: According to analyst William Berry, during the Mischief Reef crisis in 1995, then Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Joseph Nye “stated that if any conflict in the South China Sea threatens freedom of the seas, then the United States Seventh Fleet was prepared to provide escort services so that freedom of navigation could be protected.”

That this was no bluff was revealed in 1996, during the Taiwan Straits crisis, when two aircraft carrier battle groups were deployed swiftly and with ease out of Yokosuka, Japan, to show Washington’s support for Taiwan.

The fact is the US does not need bases in the Philippines for its upgraded military presence in the Asia Pacific.  The loss of the Philippine bases in 1992 did not translate into any difficulties in the ability to deploy and logistically support its forces from the North Pacific to the Indian Ocean.  The only significant modification to naval logistics that the event led to was the negotiation with Singapore for the provision of ship repair facilities.  Indeed, the elimination of Subic and Clark was probably a big plus for the US since it did away with the great cost of maintaining large fixed bases.

So why does the US now want a higher military profile in the Philippines?  This is owing to what one might call Washington’s “exhibitionist syndrome,” that is, the imperative it feels to “show the flag” to its allies and to China, and to do so in an inexpensive way, with no rent to the host country, with a quid pro quo involving just a few of what the Americans call “Excess Defense Articles” like antiquated cutters.

This is what John Feffer calls “Pacific Pivot” on the cheap in the era of Pentagon budget cutbacks, since using Philippine bases will involve probably just a fraction of having large fixed bases.  As Frank Chang of the Foreign Policy Research Institute writes, “For the United States, the…agreement helps demonstrate to the Philippines and the region its commitment to the Obama administration’s oft-mentioned pivot or rebalance to Asia and to do so without the expense of building or maintaining new military installations.”  He adds, “It clearly offers the United States a cost-effective way to enhance its presence in Asia, something that Washington has wanted to do for a long time.”

Strategic costs for the Philippines

But coming back to what the Philippines gains from the coming agreement, the increase in obsolete military donations from Washington will be more than offset by the negative strategic consequences.   Three of these must be highlighted.  First of all, the coming agreement will, paradoxically, bring us farther away from a resolution to the territorial disputes with China because this issue will be marginalized by the dynamics of a superpower conflict, to one side of which the Philippines will be considered an adjunct.

Second, it will definitely turn the Philippines into another of Washington’s front line states, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, with all the detrimental and destabilizing effects of such a status, including the subordination of the country’s economic, social, and cultural dynamics to Washington’s security needs.  Third, it will move the region farther away from the negotiation of a collective security agreement that is a far better alternative to the current state of volatile balance of power politics, where a simple thing like a ship collision involving antagonistic parties can lead to a bigger conflict.

From balance of power to collective security

Make no mistake: the territorial conflict with China is real, but the way to resolve it is to rely on international law and diplomacy, and this is a terrain in which the Philippines has a big advantage.  As I said in an earlier column, the submission of the 1000-page “memorial” delineating our entitlements in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal is a giant step in this direction.  Beijing knows it does not have a leg to stand on in international law, which is why they have been pushing us to drop the case on pain of “damaging bilateral relations.”

We must also maximize the diplomatic option, where we too have an advantage over Beijing.  We must also press our ASEAN partners to remind Beijing to live up to the commitment to negotiate a binding code of conduct on maritime behavior in the West Philippine Sea that it made at the foreign ministers’ meeting in Brunei in June 2013.  It was pressure from ASEAN and internationally that forced Beijing to make this commitment, and it will be consistent pressure that will force it to follow through on it.

Still on the diplomatic track, we should prepare the ground at the United Nations General Assembly for the eventual introduction of a resolution condemning Beijing’s unilateral annexation of over 80 per cent of the South China Sea, brusquely disregarding other littoral states’ rights to their continental shelves and 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones.  There’s a very good recent precedent: Beijing’s aggressive annexationism based on its arbitrary Nine-Dash-Line claim is essentially similar to Russia’s gobbling up of Crimea, which the General Assembly condemned few weeks ago.

The strategic aim of our diplomatic efforts must be to bring about a collective security agreement for the region that would include ASEAN, Japan, the two Koreas, and China. The ASEAN Regional Forum was headed in this direction in the 1990’s, despite the opposition of the United States, which arrogated unto itself the role of serving as the enforcer of stability in the region.  Its momentum was, unfortunately derailed by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, which swept the rug from under the credibility of ASEAN’s major states.  Though the process will be difficult, it is time to revive this project of collective security since the unstable and volatile balance of power politics favored by Washington is not a viable mechanism for regional peace and security.

With the impending basing agreement with the US, we are right back to our position during the Cold War, when we played the role of handmaiden to the US strategy of Containment by hosting two huge military bases.  The small window of opportunity to forge an independent foreign policy that we gained with the expulsion of the US bases in 1992 will disappear with the impending signing of the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation with the US.

As many have noted, President Aquino’s presidency already has two important legacies: the anti-corruption campaign and the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).  Unfortunately, these achievements will be cancelled out by his embrace of Secretary Albert del Rosario’s one-dimensional diplomacy of reintroducing a massive American military presence in the Philippines.

*INQUIRER.net columnist Walden Bello represents Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the House of Representatives.

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[In the news] Activist youth leader bares alleged military surveillance, harassment -InterAksyon.com

Activist youth leader bares alleged military surveillance, harassment
InterAksyon.com
May 4, 2013

InterAksyon logo2MANILA, Philippines — The chairman of the activist youth group Anakbayan has raised the alarm over what he said were “several incidents of suspected military surveillance and harassment against me.”

In a blog entry in the Philippine Online Chronicles, Vencer Crisostomo said he was preparing to leave his Quezon City home to join Labor Day protests on May 1 when, “at around 9 in the morning, a neighbor reported that a blue van was spotted slowing down in front of our house … seemingly doing surveillance.”

“At least four men were inside the van. (The neighbor) said that at least one wore camouflage pants and military jackets were hanging at the back of the van, visible through the rearview mirror,” he added.

Crisostomo said the neighbor reported the van to security guards of their housing village who confirmed that the driver “identified himself as MSgt Federico Sagun Tambacao, Jr. and presented an military ID card.”

Read full article @interaksyon.com

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[In the news] Why would the Army abduct Jonas Burgos? -RAPPLER.com

Why would the Army abduct Jonas Burgos?.

BY GLENDA M. GLORIA, RAPPLER.com
April 28, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Sometime in 2006, an Army battalion in the northern province of Bulacan was alerted about communist infiltration in its ranks. A young lieutenant was supposedly feeding guerrillas sensitive intelligence data from the military.

The Army then plotted to spy on its own. After a few meetings in Fort Bonifacio, headquarters of the Philippine Army, and with the help of the secretive Intelligence Service Group (ISG), key field and intelligence officers ordered a tight surveillance on 2nd Lt Dick Abletes, a fresh recruit from Leyte who was then 28 years old.

Abletes’s commander at that time, Col Melquiades Feliciano, led the quiet probe on the young lieutenant.

At one point, Feliciano said, Abletes was “seen face to face talking to unidentified members, suspected members of the CPP/NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army), and he was actually overheard saying things against the organization [military] and in fact giving classified documents.”

Army agents caught Abletes “transmitting information, vital information to the CPP/NPA.” His back and forth with the NPA dragged for months.

On March 23, 2007, ISG agents were able to monitor Abletes’s meeting with NPA rebels and a “Melissa Concepcion Reyes” in Bulacan.

In that meeting, Abletes was supposed to have supplied them the military’s “top secret” Working Order of Battle, a list of guerrillas that intelligence and operational units are tasked to “neutralize.”

That was it for the Army. Three days later, agents went for the kill and arrested Abletes.

During a military pretrial probe on Abletes, the Army presented as proof of his ties with the NPA a video recording of that March 23 meeting.

Abletes apparently continued his contacts with the NPA while he was held in the ISG jail, as part of the Army’s strategy to lay out a trap for his underground contacts. In text messages, Abletes would tell his guerrilla-friends that he had been sent on schooling thus his absence.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] Luisita farmers seek DOJ probe of continuing military presence -INQUIRER.net

Luisita farmers seek DOJ probe of continuing military presence.

By Philip C. Tubeza, Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 20, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Farmers of Hacienda Luisita on Monday asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the continuing presence of soldiers inside the sprawling sugarcane plantation owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III in Tarlac.

In a two-page letter of urgent appeal, the United Luisita Workers Union (Ulwu), the Alyansa sa mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the Unyon ng mga Mangagawa sa Agrikultura (Uma) urged De Lima to look into the presence of the military “virtually in almost 10 village communities of Hacienda Luisita.”

“Our group found out numerous cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the military and their civilian agents against members of Ambala and Ulwu,” read the letter dated March 19, 2012.

“Cases of surveillance and interrogations by the military, especially among the members of our organization, were among (those) recorded,” it added.

The military allegedly accused some Ambala and Ulwu leaders of being members of the communist New People’s Army while Ambala chair Felix Nacpil Jr. “received death threats.”

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[In the news] Soldiers to remain in Hacienda Luisita despite opposition from farmers -GMA News

Soldiers to remain in Hacienda Luisita despite opposition from farmers
March 11, 2012

There will be no pullout of military forces in the disputed Hacienda Luisita estate in Tarlac province despite the demand of farmer groups in the area for the soldiers to leave.

“As of now, we do not have any plan to pull out from the Hacienda because the barangay officials themselves are requesting… they support our presence,” said Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto, spokesman of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division.

The 4,915-hectare sugar plantation owned by relatives of President Benigno Aquino III has been the subject of a legal tug-of-war between its owners and farmer-beneficiaries of the government’s agrarian reform program.

Farmers who want soldiers out of the area are members of the Anyansa ng Manggagawan Bukid sa Asyenda Lusita, the Luisita Unyon ng mga Manggagawa, and the Luisita Peasants and People’s Alliance.

The groups claimed that the soldiers have no business staying inside Hacienta Luisita because it is the subject of an agrarian issue. They also said they are threatened by the military’s presence.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] Ilagan wants probe on “active role” of US in AFP operations -MindaNews

MindaNews » Ilagan wants probe on “active role” of US in AFP operations.

February 7, 2012

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan of Davao City wants a probe on what she described as “extensive and intensive intrusion of the US military in AFP operations” in the country.

In a press statement, Ilagan cited several reports on the use of US spy planes, predator drones and unmanned aerial vehicles  in recent operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“If these reports are true, then US troops are participating in and conducting operations beyond what is allowed in the Visiting Forces Agreement and directly transgress our sovereignty. More importantly, their participation in these operations is a potential magnet for the Philippines’ participation in a brewing US-instigated regional conflict,” she said.

Two suspected leaders of the Jemaah Islamiyah and an Abu Sayyaf leader were among 15 alleged terrorists killed in an air strike at 3 a.m. in Parang, Sulu on February 2.

Ilagan quoted Zamboanga-based Mindanao Examiner as saying the airstrike was believed “US-led” and that an unmanned US drone helped track down the targets.

Asked to comment on Ilagan’s statement, Tina Malone, Press and Information Officer of the US Embassy in Manila told MindaNews that the US military “does not participate in any operational actions in the Philippines, and serves solely in an advisory and support capacity at the request of the Philippine Armed Forces.”

“The presence of US troops and their direct combat participation has long been reported in Mindanao and has resulted in gross violations. These include the massacre in Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu which resulted to the death of eight civilians and the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal in 2002. We reiterate our call for the immediate abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and an end to US military intervention,” Ilagan said.

The Washington Post reported on January 26  that a delegation from the Philippines was engaged in bilateral talks in Washington to negotiate the expansion of the American military presence in the country.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

[Press Release] Expanded US forces in Ph may invite future drone operations with unnecessary deaths and destruction – SANLAKAS

 SANLAKAS is today already warning the Philippine public of the potential dangers that an expanded presence of United States military forces on Philippine soil may yet bring upon us. The Left coalition is very much concerned about the possibility that US-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, may be militarily operated inside the country and eventually cause unnecessary deaths and destruction.

The activist group issued its alarm amidst recent media reports confirming ongoing PH-US bilateral defense talks in Washington DC aimed at expanding US military forces in the Philippines. This is part of America’s new strategic policy shift toward the Asia-Pacific region to primarily contain China as a steadily rising regional military power threatening US foreign policy interests in this part of the world.

According to SANLAKAS Spokesperson Rasti Delizo, “Any increase of US military forces in the Philippines may yet result in the potential use of American drones, such as the Predators or Reapers, in joint PH-US military operations ostensibly aimed at so-called terrorist targets. If this ever happens, unnecessary deaths and destruction may yet arise across our country. And as is the case in Pakistan and Iran today, Washington will never publicly confirm such drone operations. As such, the Filipino masses must now come out once again to principally resist and stop the intensifying Manila-Washington axis of terror before this war camp drowns us in more horrific bloodshed”.

Likewise, as a democratic and anti-imperialist organization, SANLAKAS remains strongly opposed to the current presence of US troops, specifically under the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), the 1999 PH-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the 2002 PH-US Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA). These continuing and unjustly imposed bilateral instruments are not in the long-term interests of our people as they will only ensure our country’s further enslavement to America’s neoliberal-militarist agenda. This arrangement has already made us into a near-permanent puppet-state of the US.

In concluding, Delizo further stated, “Our people must already and urgently establish a broad-based united front against America’s militarist expansionism and to heighten our resistance against US imperialist intervention in the sovereign affairs of Philippine society. Just as we proudly ousted the US military bases from Philippine soil over two decades ago, we must once more struggle and fight against the more dangerous type of VFA—‘Virtually Forever Aggression’ of the PNoy-Obama variety—which is the real threat to our masses’ freedoms and democratic rights.

SANLAKAS PRESS RELEASE
1 February 2012

 *For more information, please contact:

MR. RASTI DELIZO (SANLAKAS Spokesperson) @ Cellphone # 09998092461

 

[In the news] 500 flee as AFP intensifies operation vs. NPA in Agusan – MindaNews

MindaNews » 500 flee as AFP intensifies operation vs. NPA in Agusan.

By Erwin Mascariñas

KITCHARAO, Agusan del Norte (MindaNews/8 Nov) – About 500 people, including members of the Mamanwa tribe, left their homes in a hinterland village here as the military intensified operations against the New People’s Army, bombarding rebel positions with artillery and helicopter gunships last Sunday afternoon, belated reports said.

The operation resulted in the death of a Scout Ranger, Pfc Ninoto C. Gulani, and the wounding of four others, including an officer, according to Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, spokesperson of Army’s the 4th Infantry Division.

About a hundred houses in Sitio Zapanta in Barangay Bangayan – site of frequent of clashes between the military and the NPA – were reportedly deserted on the fifth massive evacuation to happen in the area this year.

Residents said the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion fired 105mm Howitzer rounds as the Air Force’s MG-520 helicopters attacked rebel positions starting 10 a.m. on Sunday as members of the 5th and 6th Scout Ranger Companies, meantime, operated on the ground in search of rebels.

Nonito V. Senonis, Bangayan barangay chairman, said that the evacuees, including children, started arriving at the barangay hall compound at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Some were accommodated in the buildings around the hall, while others sought refuge in the houses of relatives nearby.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

[In the news] Cops, military are top perpetrators of torture: human rights’ group | Sun.Star

Cops, military are top perpetrators of torture: human rights’ group | Sun.Star.

By Jereco O. Paloma
Sunday, June 26, 2011

DESPITE The passage of the Anti-Torture Law in 2009, military and the police have allegedly remained the top perpetrators of torture in Mindanao, a church-based human rights group claimed Friday.

Rita Melecio, Mindanao team leader of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), told reporters in Friday’s Kapihan sa PIA that of the nine reported cases of torture this year, six were allegedly committed by the military while another one was committed by police.

The two remaining cases were allegedly committed by so-called “intelligence groups.”

In 2009, when the group recorded a total of 40 torture cases involving 67 victims, 19 cases were allegedly committed by military, 13 by the police, four by intelligence groups and four by combined elements of the police and the military.

Read full article @ sunstar.com.ph

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HRonlinePH says…

1 is too many!

Borrowing this tagline from Angelina Joli in the new video of the UN Office of the High Commissioner in its campaign for the rights of refugees.

[In the news] Release researcher, militants ask gov’t – INQUIRER.net

Release researcher, militants ask gov’t.

File photo source: allecoallende.wordpress.com

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines— A militant group in Eastern Visayas continued to press for the release of a researcher who was arrested and detained by the military on suspicion that he was a communist guerrilla.

Ericson Acosta, researcher for two nongovernment organizations in Samar, was arrested in San Jorge, Samar, on Feb. 14 by soldiers from the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion based in the same town.

Rogelio Berino, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Eastern Visayas, said the continued detention of Acosta was a violation of his rights.

Berino said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday that Bayan was demanding the release of Acosta “if the military truly knows and recognizes human rights in its true sense.”

Contrary to claims made by the military, Berino said Acosta was not a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Acosta, Berino said, was connected with the Alliance of Concerned Samareños and the farmers’ group Kapawa, both based in Samar.

The military, said Berino, fabricated charges against Acosta.

Col. Niceforo Diaz, information officer of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, said Acosta was no longer in military custody since a case against him for illegal possession of firearms and explosives is now at the Regional Trial Court Branch 41 in Gandara, Samar.

Soldiers claimed they seized communist documents, a hand grenade, a mobile phone and P4,000 in cash from Acosta.

“We have a basis for his arrest,” said Diaz in a phone interview on Wednesday. Acosta, said Diaz, is currently detained at the police jail in Gandara, Samar.