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Filipino Americans to Duterte: Revoke Martial Law in Mindanao!

By Bayan International USA

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following May 23 statement from BAYAN-USA, Anakbayan-USA and GABRIELA USA

Peace in Mindanao Hinges on Eradicating Poverty, Landlessness, Ending U.S. Counterinsurgency Ops; Not Greater Militarization

BAYAN-USA, Anakbayan-USA and GABRIELA USA condemn the declaration of martial law by the Duterte administration in Mindanao and call for it to be immediately revoked to ensure the protection of civilian communities from greater militarization and violence.

“The increased militarization and bombings in Marawi City must stop! Martial law will never lead to peace in Mindanao. It will only aggravate the roots of the armed conflict in the region and place thousands of innocent civilians in danger of violent attack,” states Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN-USA Chairperson.

“With more military operations, women and children will be even more vulnerable to rape, harassment and other sexual abuse,” says Irma Shauf-Bajar, GABRIELA USA Chairperson.

We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to pursue diplomatic and peaceful means to address not only the attacks by the Maute group in Marawi, but also the roots of the armed conflict in Mindanao. This includes implementing urgent social and economic reforms outlined in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms. Discussion of these reforms is part of the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which include respecting the Moro people’s right to self-determination and respect for ancestral domain.

“The declaration of martial law throughout the island of Mindanao denies the historic right of the Moro people to self-determination, and it puts those who continue to legitimately fight for their right to land and self-determination, including the Moro people and the Lumad, at increased risk of state repression,” states Adrian Bonifacio, Anakbayan-USA Chair.

Crushing Poverty, Landlessness Amidst Natural Wealth

The social unrest and armed conflict in the Bangasamoro region of Mindanao must be placed within the proper socio-economic and historical context. Lanao del Sur, the province where the Maute group operates, has the highest poverty rate in the Philippines, yet remains one of the most resource-rich in the country, a prime attraction for foreign corporations for lucrative investments and large-scale extractive operations.

A February 2006 leaked cable from Wikileaks revealed the Liguasan Marsh in the Cotabato Basin, spanning 288,000 hectares, and stronghold of several armed Moro groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, holds the largest deposits of oil and natural gas in the Philippines and in the region, worth hundreds of billions in U.S. dollars.

“The armed conflict in the Bangsamoro territory of Mindanao is essentially rooted in the Moro people’s legitimate struggle for self-determination, including aspirations for genuine sustainable development that would allow for the Moro people’s livelihood off of their own land. It would also mean freedom from over a century of U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) operations that continue until this day, designed to keep the natural resources of the region under foreign control,” Ellorin continued.

Vigilance Against U.S. Warmongering

“But the U.S.-backed mainstream media and die-hard militarists in the Duterte administration, such as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, opportunistically distort the narrative into one of so-called Islamic extremism, so-called terrorism, and drumbeat a pretext for greater militarization, especially U.S. military intervention, just as the US-backed Arroyo administration did in 2002. The media’s aggressive highlighting of the involvement of US-CIA trained and armed groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda speaks directly to US warmongering,” Ellorin asserted.

In addition, BAYAN-USA, Anakbayan-USA and GABRIELA USA also call for greater vigilance against increasing U.S. intervention in the region, as the Trump administration recently increased the U.S. defense budget by $59 billion, resulting in $639 billion for US-led war and militarization abroad, and especially in Asia. “The Trump administration’s increase in military spending goes hand in hand with a proposed $10.6 billion cut in the national budget for public education, alongside cuts to other social services. We condemn the diversion of funds that should be spent on the people toward war and militarization in the Philippines and around the world,” continued Bonifacio. Mindanao remains the region in the Philippines with the largest deployments of Philippine military and largest concentration of U.S. military personnel.





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