Thursday, 12 March 2015

“People’s tribunals have had success in directing international attention to grave abuses of human rights in various countries including the Philippines during the Marcos and Arroyo regimes. The IPT draws inspiration and builds on the momentum of previous peoples’ tribunals to advance human rights and hold governments to account.”



International People’s Tribunal | Philippine Coordinating Secretariat
Trunkline: +63 2 927 7061 to 62 loc. 208 | Fax: +63 2 927 698 | Email:pquintosl@iboninternational.org
PRESS RELEASE
International Tribunal to Hear Rights Violations in the Philippines Launched 
QUEZON CITY, March 12, 2014 – An international tribunal to try cases of human rights violations under the presidency of Benigno S. Aquino III has been launched today at the University of the Philippines, Diliman Quezon City.

Dubbed as the International People’s Tribunal (IPT), the initiative will bring into focus the ongoing human rights violations in the Philippines and hold Pres. Aquino and the government of the United States as represented by Pres. Barrack Obama to account before the international community. 

“Beneath the liberal-democratic fa├žade of the Aquino regime, brutal repression of people’s civil and political rights abound, with hundreds of cases of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances and massive displacement of families,” according to Cristina Palabay of Karapatan, one of the complainants to the IPT. 

The IPT will also probe into the role of the increasing US military presence and intervention in the Philippines in worsening the state of human rights in the country. 

“The Mamasapano operation raises questions over the extent of the US military’s involvement in Philippine domestic security. Meanwhile, the Philippine government’s failure to assert jurisdiction over US marine officer Joseph Scott Pemberton for the murder of Jennifer Laude highlights how unequal ties between the US and the Philippines invite impunity,” according to Vanessa Lucas of the US-based National Lawyers Guild, one of the convenors of the IPT.

The Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and another IPT Convenor, Reverend Canon Barry Naylor, explained that the IPT, although judicially non-binding, is symbolic and significant.
“People’s tribunals have had success in directing international attention to grave abuses of human rights in various countries including the Philippines during the Marcos and Arroyo regimes. The IPT draws inspiration and builds on the momentum of previous peoples’ tribunals to advance human rights and hold governments to account,” he said.

In 2008, a US Senate investigation on human rights violations in the Philippines under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led to restrictions on a portion of the annual US military aid package to the Philippine government tied to the implementation of strong human rights recommendations by US advocates.

The IPT is set to convene on July 16-18, 2015 in Washington DC. Former US Congresswoman and peace advocate Cynthia McKinney will be among the distinguished panel of jurors who will hear live testimonies of witnesses from the Philippines.

Conveners of the tribunal include the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), and IBON International.
For more information on the International Peoples Tribunal, visit internationalpeoplestribunal.org. ###


Reference: Paul Quintos, International People’s Tribunal Philippine Coordinating Secretariat, +639175490412,pquintos@iboninternational.org

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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Today, we look back and celebrate the victories and gains of the struggle of our foremothers who gave birth to the significant day of March 8 as International Women’s Day.

Our Power to Weep and Stand in the Spirit of our Foremothers
Ecumenical Women’s Forum


This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15)

Today, we look back and celebrate the victories and gains of the struggle of our foremothers who gave birth to the significant day of March 8 as International Women’s Day. They were poor workers, migrants, social activists and believers of Truth and Justice. They defied the law of oppression and disobeyed the rule of exploitation. They were all too familiar with the feeling of fear as they risked the change they wanted to see, and still they dared to subvert the mandates of injustice. We praise their courageous acts, may we be guided by their spirit today.

Today, we remember the women in the pages of Scripture who challenged the normalcy of patriarchy. Their love, heroism, wisdom and solidarity, which are biased for the poor and those subjected to discrimination, stand as a powerful testimony of liberation and redemption. We praise their courageous acts, may we be guided by their spirit today.

In memory of them, we raise a collective voice.


The challenges we face today as women only increase our purpose, energy and will to carry forward the power and commitment passed on to us by our foremothers.

We have power to weep, like Rachel of the old who wept because her children had gone.

We weep for the fallen 44 members of Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who died in a shoddy and suspect operation under the command of the suspended PNP Chief Purisima whose immediate boss is the Commander-in-Chief of the land. We mourn for the 18 Moro fighters and five civilians who were also casualties of the botched operation. We weep for Sara Pananggulon, an eight year old girl who in her peaceful sleep in the company of her parents was shot dead by SAF troopers, who fired upon her house. We grieve with her parents and community, as another precious child was taken away from us in the name of “war on terror.” We weep for Badrudin Langalan, a farmer who left his home very early in the morning to charge his cell phone. After the operation, his lifeless body, with hands and feet bound, was found amongst the fallen SAF commandos. We weep for their lives that have been unnecessarily sacrificed. As we weep for their lives, we call for Truth and Accountability on the Mamasapano incident.

We weep for our nation, whose people languish under structural negligence, which continues to fail to address poverty and hunger, joblessness, and non-delivery of social and basic services. 

Corruption steals resources deeply needed by the poor. The wealth of the powerful in government and their allies continues to be appallingly increased, while the poor ones live hungry and in need. We reject this kind of governance and call for justice and meaningful change.

The path of justice and truth must be tread. It takes a great, righteous and collective leadership, rooted in the interests and aspiration of the people to shepherd the nation. We can no longer take such wicked ways of governing the people, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)

We prayerfully and collectively proclaim: we will only be comforted when there is truth and accountability, when justice is served to the people, when true the reform is engaged, and when there is democratic governance by the people.##

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Never was a Philippine president’s ineptitude to govern and his subservience to US dictates also so clear, to the point that such a leader would violate the constitutional responsibilities of his office as Commander-in-Chief and betray the sovereignty of the Philippines; break the chain of command, and expose his dependence on a shadow team that includes Purisima, the suspended Philippine National Police Director; and, finally, outrageously lie to his teeth regarding his involvement in the matter, as though he were an adolescent or some boy-king unaware of the gravity of his office.

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BAYAN CANADA ON THE MAMASAPANO BLOODBATH

25 February 2015

The Mamasapano bloodbath is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.   Along with the many cries of outrage, we raise our condemnation of this puppet government, and we say to Aquino: RESIGN!

We condemn in the strongest terms the culpability, deceit and treachery of the B.S. Aquino government, in collusion with US government and its intelligence and military forces, in carrying out the disastrous military operation Wolverine/Exodus that claimed many lives and ruined ongoing peace negotiations with the MILF.  Hopes for peace in the area have been destroyed, and, in its place, fear reigns once more.  Along with 44 casualties from the Philippine National Police-Special Action Forces, there were 18 dead from the MILF, 4 from the BIFF and 7 civilians, including a child.  All of these were the cost of the US government’s hunt for “Marwan” and “Usman”.

Never was the hand of the US government so blatantly clear in the manipulation of events in a supposedly sovereign Philippines than in the January 25, 2015 military disaster in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.  If the forced exit of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos to Hawaii by American convoy has faded in the memory of Filipinos, as well as the subsequent escorting of Corazon Aquino into power by a formerly divided military, under the pressure of a massive public show of people’s power, this year’s bloodbath makes the sinister hand of the United States military forces too shady and messy to quickly clean up and hide away.  The reports of drones in the area, and of American armed forces involved in the operations, as well as the FBI’s “confirmation” about “Marwan”’s death, are just too revealing of the extent to which the EDCA or Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement could be used by the American government in intruding in Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines.

Never was a Philippine president’s ineptitude to govern and his subservience to US dictates also so clear, to the point that such a leader would violate the constitutional responsibilities of his office as Commander-in-Chief and betray the sovereignty of the Philippines; break the chain of command, and expose his dependence on  a shadow team that includes Purisima, the suspended Philippine National Police Director; and, finally, outrageously lie to his teeth regarding his involvement in the matter, as though he were an adolescent or some boy-king unaware of the gravity of his office.

Aquino’s deviousness is also marked in his hastiness to garner the honour and prize money of $7 million for Marwan and Usman.  He had kept the operation secret from the leadership of the PNP, DILG and AFP, and then, when it was needed, he didn’t even ask for their help in saving the forces carrying out the operations.

These marks of his person are also apparent in the later course of the botched operation and its aftermath – an operation years in the making and an expensive project funded by the American government – since by all indications, Aquino doesn’t value the project beyond the prize money, nor does he consider it a part of his responsibilities. Both are unquestionably bad for a nation’s leader and the head of its Armed Forces.  From reports, he could monitor the operations through the Zamboanga monitoring center, and could have very well responded to appeals for help by ordering other armed forces to the area.  Assured perhaps by the US forces that the operations would go was going well since they were on top of it, he did not bother to worry. Even when he finally spoke with the bereaved family members of the 44 slain SAF men, he was not in grasp of the gravity of the situation, was even flippant at times, and said no endearing words nor some gesture to save anything of his already tattered reputation.

His reputation is also botched, because B.S. Aquino has shamelessly gone against the calls of the Filipino people for genuine land reform, for an end to corruption in the government, and for an end to extra-judicial killings.  Instead, we have been shocked by the massacre at Hacienda Luisita; by the Napoles and pork barrel expose and the inept handling of the Haiyan disaster relief and recovery; by the rise of extrajudicial killings due to Oplan Bayanihan, which have remained unaccounted for through the years of this government, and by neoliberal policies and programs that have harmed the nation.

Moreover, while there is no let-up in his administration’s labour export drive, Filipino workers overseas suffer from the government's criminal neglect and incompetence. Migrant workers who have fallen victims to maltreatment, sexual harassment and rape; used as  targets for shooting practice; and suffered false criminal accusations by employers, over and above  withheld wages - many of them have sought the government’s help but were abandoned.

We also strongly call for a revolutionary change in the system of government, in order that genuine change can take place.  In recent history, we have reason to doubt that immediately changing one president for another can ensure this change. Our experience with the governments that came into power after EDSA I and EDSA 2 shows that something else is lacking. We know now that what needs changing is the system of government itself.  We believe that the strong revolutionary alternative would be a transition council that will be composed of organizations and persons who have fought and protested against the B.S. Aquino government.  This council will pave the way for immediate reforms and will call for elections.  Aware that the Aquino government failed due to its refusal to address the roots of the problems of the Filipino people, the transition council, backed by a strong movement of the people and accountable to it, will advance the interests of the nation towards genuine freedom and democracy, and peace based on justice. A transition council is important, but equally so is the strength of the people’s movement!

Hold the US-Aquino regime accountable for the bloody Mamasapano incident!
Condemn Aquino’s evasion and cover-up of its culpability in the Mamasapano encounter!
Condemn US intrusion into Philippine affairs!
Aquino, resign! Oust the US-Aquino regime!
Establish a transition council!
Advance genuine change!
Fight for genuine freedom and democracy!
Fight for peace based on justice!
Continue the peace talks! Resolve the root causes of armed conflict!

Reference: Dr. Chandu Claver. Chairperson
National Organizing Committee. BAYAN-Canada