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Jose Maria Sison:  Icon of the People’s Struggle

Pilgrims for Peace Statement
20 December 2022

Sharing deep sorrow for dreams not yet fulfilled, Pilgrims for Peace mourns the passing of a principled and resolute icon of the Filipino people’s struggle for a just and lasting peace.

Chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison was like refined gold. He exhibited sharp acumen for social change as well as extraordinary character marked by goodness, kindness and unrelenting focus as a leader serving the people and the revolutionary movement in the Philippines.

Maligned and persecuted under the US-led war of terror, Ka Joma was not a terrorist. With his passing, we assert once more that neither Ka Joma, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, nor the National Democratic Front of the Philippines can nor should be derogated as terrorist. The long-seeded revolutionary struggle of the Philippines, finds its roots in the colonial vestiges of the feudal bondage of the rural peasants and the backward economy and stunted development of entrenched Imperialist machinations. Ka Joma proved his mettle as an ideological beacon, incomparable strategist and tactician, and reliable backbone of the oppressed and exploited masses in their cry for national and social liberation.

Let it be known: Ka Joma was also a most committed advocate for building a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. With verve and persistence, Ka Joma sounded the clarion call for principled negotiations with any government of the reactionary state that was willing to address the roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines. His unwavering commitment to pursue a way to just and lasting peace under The Hague Joint Declaration was matched by his fervor for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the crafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER). Ka Joma demonstrated that his belief in the need for revolution was matched by an unflinching commitment to pursue peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

As peace advocates, we join in the people’s salute to an ingenious, innovative and unfailing trailblazer. His infectious belief in freedom and social change gave rise to daring struggle and concrete gains for the poorest and most marginalized of the Philippines. Ka Joma inspired a social movement and guided the political maturation of thousands toward their aspiration for national democracy from a socialist perspective. As the founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the contributions of Jose Maria Sison has been indelibly written into the fabric of his motherland.

Now, we and all peace and justice loving Filipinos must continue the journey toward building a just and enduring peace for the Filipino people. #

Most Revd. Rhee M. Timbang, Obispo Maximo, Iglesia Filipina Independiente

Bp. Dindo Ranojo, Ecumenical Bishops Forum

Rev. Irma Balaba, Promotion of Church People’s Response

Fr. Ritchie Masegman, Episcopal Church of the Philippines

Rev. Frank Hernando, Executive Secretary, UCCP

Rev. Homar Distajo, Executive Secretary, UCCP

Dss. Norma Dollaga, Kasimbayan

Kej Andres, Student Christian Movement-Philippines

Mike Pante, PhD, ACT for Peace

Atty. Ephraim B Cortez, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers

Joanna Concepcion, Chair, Migrante International

Arman Hernando, Chair, Migrante Philippines

Gert Libang, Chair, Gabriela

Amirah Lidasan, Moro-Christian People’s Alliance

Feny Cosico, AGHAM

Elmer Labog, Chair, Kilusang Mayo Uno

Rafael Mariano, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Cathy Estavillo, Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women

Dr. Carol Araullo, BAYAN

Tinay Palabay, Karapatan

CHRISTIAN YOUTH URGE GENUINE LAND REFORM AND JUST PEACE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP)
October 21, 2022

Ecumenical youth group Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) joined the mobilization in Manila by peasants from numerous regions as they demand genuine land reform, food security, agricultural aid, and end of militarization in the countryside from President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. who is also serving as the Agriculture Secretary.

“Busy in partying, the president busies himself in lavishness and decadence while inflation soars to 6.9 percent. Coupled with lack of genuine land reform and continued policies favoring importation, farmers continue to carry the heavy cross of government incompetence,” Andres said.

Peasants continue to protest against many agricultural policies that hamper agricultural production of the countryside and welfare of farmers. They protest against neoliberal policies that put agriculture that value profit-oriented and export-oriented ventures more than national food self-sufficiency. One of the most recent acts on agriculture, the Rice Liberalization Act, has been continuously denounced because it favors importation of rice rather than improvement of the local rice industry, much to the detriment of local rice farmers. Moreover, peasants have also denounced bogus land reform programs—from Presidential Decree 27 of former President Marcos, Sr. to CARP by former President Aquino—that have only pushed more farmers into landlessness.

In addition, SCMP is one with peasants in denouncing continued militarization in the countryside. During the first 100 days of the Marcos, Jr. administration, SCMP was able to list at least 81 counts of human rights violations from various sources (List: bit.ly/BBM_HRVs). Many of these human rights violations include abuses by the Armed Forces in the Philippines in the countryside. An example would be the killing of Kyllene Casao, a nine-year old from Batangas, done by members of the AFP 59th Infantry Battalion. In Himamaylan City, about 18,000 residents fled the hinterland because of rampant militarization.

“Instead of pursuing peace talks for socio-economic reforms that will answer the roots of armed conflict, Marcos, Jr., like his predecessor Duterte, is a dangerous pest in the countryside because of continued human rights violations against peasants,” denounced Andres. “With these abuses, we reiterate our call against Mandatory ROTC because we expect no discipline from the AFP who are the top human rights violators against peasants and other peace-loving Filipinos,” he added.

In the end, Andres said, “we urge all Filipinos to be with the plight of the toiling Filipino farmers towards genuine land reform and food self-sufficiency. Until there is no genuine land distribution, until there is scant aid to agriculture, and until state forces continue to terrorize the countryside, our countrymen, especially many Filipino peasant youth will continue to experience hunger and to demand radical change in an inutile Marcos-Duterte administration.”

Reference:

Kej Andres,

SCMP National Spokesperson

#TunayNaRepormaSaLupa

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On Manila RTC ruling junking proscription case

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
September 22, 2022

Terrorist-labeling will not end the armed conflict. The key take-away in the Manila RTC decision to junk the terrorist-labeling vs the CPP and NPA is that those taking up arms based on a political cause are not terrorists and that armed conflict is rooted in social ills.

To quote the decision: “Rebellion is rooted in a discontent of the existing order which is perceived to be unjust and inequitable to the majority, and favourable to the wealthy, ruling few.”

“However, the CPP can only gain adherents for as long as the government remains insensitive to, and incompetent in addressing, the social realities of poverty and material inequality which bring with them the oppression of the marginalized.”

The ruling calls on the government to address the roots of the armed conflict in order to end the insurgency.

“The government can, while uncompromising in its fight against Communism, regard the CPP’s act of taking the cudgels of the marginalized – as an impetus to better address these sectors’ concerns,” it said.

The ruling likewise reminds government of upholding human rights in the course of fighting the insurgency. “Efforts on the part of the present government to counter insurgency should include respect for the right to dissent, to due process and to the rule of law.”

We have said it before, labeling revolutionaries and those engaged in peace negotiations as “terrorists” is wrong, counter-productive and undermines any possibility of a political settlement in the armed conflict.

Contrary to military propaganda that peace talks achieve nothing, the GRP and the NDFP were already close to making a breakthrough in 2017 with agreements on socio-economic reforms that included land reform, rural development and national industrialization. This would then pave the way for an interim peace agreement. This opportunity was squandered by the past administration when it terminated the talks and made terrorist-labeling and all-out war its main policy.

The Philippine government should abandon the policy of terrorist-labeling and apply the framework of International Humanitarian Law to the armed conflict in the Philippines. The Philippine government should pursue a policy of peace negotiations that addresses the social basis of the conflict in order to achieve a just and lasting peace. ###

On Fabricated Charges Filed Against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
Press Statement

20 September 2022

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines thanks ACT Teachers, Gabriela, and Kabataan Partylists for their resolution calling the House of Representatives through Human Rights Committee to condemn the charges against Sr. Emma Cupin, Sr. Susan Djolde, Sr. Ma. Fatima Somogod, Sr. Mary Jane Caspillo, and 12 others under “financing terrorism” legislation (Section 8 of RA 101268).

We continue to appeal to the public, to civil society organizations, and to the legislature to help us expose the continuing fabricated charges filed against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. No one should misconstrue the humble and quiet pursuit of our ministries as any indication that we accept the foul and malicious accusations hurled at us by militarists and warmongers. We flatly reject such lies and smear tactics. Those who seek to besmirch our ministry, by saying it supported or financed ‘terrorism’, should be held to account; their lies will only further the suffering and poverty in marginalized communities.

Furthermore, we urge the Congress to weigh and measure how the applications of counter-terrorism legislation are likely to continue to impede the work of various humanitarian and development organizations as well as the Church missions and ministries. In light of the 53 years of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines’ work with some of the most under-served and marginalized communities of the Philippines, we have faith that Congress will recognize that these blatantly false attacks against us could easily also be foisted upon others as well.

As missionaries, we are unapologetic and unwavering in our commitment to work in poor areas, even when these areas are visited by militarization and armed conflict. We are peace builders, who seek to be participants in addressing the root causes of armed conflict and social unrest in the Philippines. Bringing services and accompanying grassroots leaders are effective methods for resolving community issues and sparking change and development that benefit the communities where we serve. Our efforts to journey with peasants, farmworkers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples help build democracy; we do not finance ‘terrorism’.

If left unchecked, the egregious charges against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines will likely be levied against other civil society organizations. It seems that all that is presently required to persecute and attack any group working in rural areas is a fabricated testimony from supposed “rebel surrenderees.” The ramifications are terrifying for those falsely implicated by these forced and false testimonies. There is little space to disprove allegations, especially as the supposed witnesses are nowhere to be found and appear to be under the custody of the military. Even more, in the collective absence or caution of Church and CSO programs, rural poor communities will likely suffer under increasing human rights violations as well as from the loss of basic services and programs such as health, education, and relief and rehabilitation after calamities.

We pray that the Philippine Congress will recognize the predicament of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and respond accordingly to safeguard us and other humanitarian programs from false attacks and persecution under RA101268. As Rural Missionaries, we wish to continue our service with farmers, farm workers, fisherfolks, and indigenous peoples. We only seek to please God by doing our part in building a more peaceful, just, democratic, and prosperous Philippines.

Reference:

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Leadership Team

Sr. Rebecca Pacete

0956 330 9580, FB Page: @RMPNational

NCCP Supports call of Sen. Legarda to resume GRP-NDFP peace negotiations

National Council of Churches in the Philippines
August 31, 2022

Quezon City: The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), welcomed the call made yesterday of Senate President Pro Tempore, Loren Legarda, to resume the peace negotiations between the the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, NCCP General Secretary stated, “Sen. Legarda’s call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and her statement that believing an ideology which may be different then the majority does not make one a subversive, is a breath of fresh air amid the toxic atmosphere brought about by speeches and public discourses that sow hate and war”.

“The NCCP has always championed principled dialogue over the negotiating table to resolve the 50-year-old armed conflict in the country and fully support Sen. Legarda’s call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and to review the Anti-Terrorism Law”, Bishop Marigza said.

“We also fully appreciate her remark about former President Fidel V. Ramos and his contributions to the peace process in the country. Even though Pres. Ramos was a soldier, it was during his term when The Hague Joint Declaration for the GRP-NDFP peace process was signed and became the basis and the agenda for the formal peace talks”, Bishop Marigza added.

Bishop Marigza also stated, “former President Ramos was a devoted member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and was known to be the first and only Protestant elected President of our country. We are very proud of his legacy on peace building and his role in restoring democracy in our country”.

Sen. Legarda raised the call after Senator Francis Tolentino, in his privilege speech, floated the idea of requiring government officials to declare in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) who among their family members are members of or affiliated with “terrorist organizations.”

“The NCCP considers the proposal of Sen. Tolentino as dangerous and unjust since it requires public officials to adjudge their relatives as ‘subversive’ or ‘terrorist’ without due process on the basis of mere guilt by association,” Bishop Marigza concluded.

Peace, a continuing aspiration of Filipinos – Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace Statement

From Arkibong Bayan repost from Panay News
August 1, 2022

THE Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace, the largest network of peace groups in the country, is alarmed with the government announcement that there will be no peace negotiations.

Roughly a week before the State of the Nation Address of President Marcos, his peace adviser, Secretary Carlito Galvez, announced a recommendation from the National Task-Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, that there will be no national level peace talks. Instead, there will be localized peace talks.

CAJP stands by our position that the peace negotiations at the national level should resume. This is because the roots of the armed conflict in the country, which includes poverty, landlessness, foreign domination of our economy, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources, demand a comprehensive and systemic response.

In this time of deepening economic crisis, where prices of basic commodities and services continue to rise, it is counter-productive to engage in a very costly all-out-war or a program like the failed localized peace talks of the past administration, that have resulted in fake and forced surrenders, harassment and other rights violations. No local New People’s Army command has actually engaged in said local talks. Instead, civilians are coerced and misrepresented as armed combatants. There have been many reports of fake surrenders, including alleged corruption related to these.

In a recent survey, “promoting peace” emerged as number eight in the top ten most urgent issues that Filipinos want the Marcos administration to prioritize. This shows that Filipinos value peace. Peace is a continuing aspiration of our people. For the CAJP, peace is not merely the silencing of guns but the reign of freedom, genuine democracy and social justice. It must be manifest through land to the tiller, decent jobs and fair wages, food on the table, housing, education, health and other social services. Peace with justice means people living in their communities without fear or threat to their lives and livelihood. Without these, the violence of the past and its manifestations in the present will continue, and escalate.

We reiterate that such a vision for a just and enduring peace requires a comprehensive and national approach. President Marcos has banked on the call for unity but there can be no unity in the country if there is unpeace. It is in this context that the Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace calls on the government to resume the peace negotiations which address the roots of the armed conflict. Much has been achieved in the negotiations, including meaningful work on the highly anticipated Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms. The parties should stay the course and advance the negotiations as well as implement signed agreements, like the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

We echo the call of church leaders in the recent summit of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform to “respect the work and agreements that have been entered into by past leaderships” and for “a stop to the practices of red-tagging, filing of trumped-up cases against dissenters, and extrajudicial killings; and the release of all political prisoners.