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IBON International
December 11, 2023

The UDHR recognises that unless human rights is protected by the rule of law, people will be “compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression.” We witness this in Palestine. This is also happening in Burma, West Papua, India, and the Philippines.

In the Philippines, belligerent forces represented by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and the current government, both announced intent to resume peace talks in late November. Brutal counterinsurgency efforts by the Philippine government, implemented with an “anti-terror” pretense, have not quelled revolutionary movements struggling for national sovereignty from US power, and democratic rights primarily based on land redistribution to landless peasants.

This recent development foregrounds Philippine social movements’ demand for peace based on social justice. A key component of social justice is the realisation of the full range of people’s economic, social, cultural, and civil-political rights, possible through political sovereignty and the democratic governance over resources and development. Working towards just peace also entails holding perpetrators of gross injustices and rights violations to account, from atrocities during Marcos Sr.’s Martial Law, to Duterte’s brutal drug war and counterinsurgency which are continued by the current administration of Marcos Jr.

𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘳𝘥 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘧𝘰𝘶𝘳-𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘢 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 75𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘜𝘋𝘏𝘙.

HumanRightsDay #UDHR75

On International Human Rights Day 2023

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
Press Statement
December 10, 2023

On International Human Rights Day 2023:
NUPL calls for justice, equality, and the inherent dignity of all

We march the streets with fervent calls to end abuses by oppressive regimes globally and hold the past and current administrations of Duterte and Marcos accountable for their gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Seventy-five years since the global adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the world now grapples with heightened levels of violent conflict, escalating inequalities, and pervasive impunity amid an urgent climate emergency.

In the Philippines, gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law under the current Marcos Jr.-Duterte regime have starkly defied well-entrenched principles of international law. Practices such as extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, fake surrenders, red-tagging, and the weaponization of law not only constitute legal transgressions but also undermine the foundations of a just society. The continued existence of NTF-ELCAC underscores the misuse of state power to suppress dissent, quash opposition, and instill an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Our condemnation extends to the atrocities in Gaza, where imperialist powers fuel war and perpetuate suffering. The plight of the Palestinian people warrants global attention and collective resistance against forces that historically perpetuate oppression.

On this day, we reassert our commitment as peoples’ lawyers to wield the law for social transformation and stand in solidarity with people worldwide in the struggle for a just, equitable, and humane world.

As the people, we pledge to champion justice, equality, and the inherent dignity of all. ###

Stop the imperialist wars and political repression!

Hold to account the US-Marcos-Duterte regime!

Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL President

Why November 23 is a significant date in GRP-NDF talks

Dec. 08, 2023

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The date November 23, when Philippine government representatives and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) signed a joint statement for the possible resumption of peace talks, is significant, says a peace and human rights observer.

It was also November 23, six years ago, that former President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks through Proclamation 360 and launched a “whole-of-nation” approach that attacked peace negotiators and activists alike.

Peter Murphy, chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), said that the Philippine government re-opening possible talks with the NDFP as “a rejection of the (Ferdinand) Marcos Jr predecessor Duterte’s termination of peace talks …on the same day”.

Various peace groups also welcomed the announcement made on November 28 that the Marcos Jr administration and NDF are working to resume peace talks after six years.

Government representatives met with NDFP peace negotiators in Oslo, Norway, and signed a joint statement on November 23 to sign a joint communique to signify the opening of talks.

“Cognizant of the serious socioeconomic and environmental issues, and the foreign security threats facing the country, the parties recognize the need to unite as a nation in order to urgently address these challenges and resolve the reasons for the armed conflict,” the communique said.

The statement was signed by the Special Assistant to the President Sec. Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr. on behalf of the GRP with Presidential Adviser on Peace and Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista as witnesses.

NDFP National Executive Council member Luis Jalandoni signed together with NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julieta de Lima and member Coni Ledesma.

The communique acknowledges Bautista for initiating informal talks in the past years with the late NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison.

Calls for peace ‘remain strong’

Murphy said the resumption of talks is a validation of the people’s call for a solution to peace beyond counter-insurgency measures.

“The joint statement is the result of the Filipino people’s struggle for a genuine just and lasting peace that remains strong and undeterred despite political setbacks and ongoing counterinsurgency that cannot crush the people’s united will to fight for change,” he said.

The talks were terminated by Duterte in 2017, just when the negotiating parties were about to complete the comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reform.

After that, Duterte launched his “whole-of-nation” policy, which included the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in 2018. He signed the Anti-Terror Act in 2020.

These policies, rights advocates say, have resulted in red-tagging, arrests, and even murders of peace consultants and activists.

Next steps

The third-party facilitating group, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, welcomed the resumption of talks, as they had made this appeal to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr as way back in 2022.

“We hope that various barriers to peace will be resolved through dialogue and principled negotiations,” said PEPP co-chair Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro.

Bishop Felixberto Calang of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, who has witnessed the peace talks in Norway, hopes the joint statement be concretized into formal peace talks at the soonest time “towards just and lasting peace and the vision of a country where a united people can live in peace and prosperity.”

Crucial part yet to happen

Both panels have expressed they will work on a framework and talking points to revive the talks.

Former Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, who has also participated in the talks, welcomed this development as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not mention the peace talks with the communist rebels in his inaugural and State of the Nation Address.

Marcos Jr. had declared an amnesty program for rebels on November 22.

Zarate pointed out that what is crucial is that the two parties will actually talk and lay down what issues should be negotiated during the talks to address the roots of the armed conflict.

“The crucial part is yet to happen. That’s where we have to be watchful. Peace stakeholders should be more active and be watchful of peace saboteurs especially from the Executive branch of the government, which do not want to settle the 50-year armed rebellion,” he said.

Vice President Sara Duterte, chair of NTF-ELCAC has publicly opposed the resumption of talks and warned Marcos Jr that the NDFP “…will use these peace negotiations to betray the government and deceive the public.”

But government officials have signified support for a peaceful resolution to the armed conflict, as members of the House of Representatives made a unified statement supporting Marcos Jr’s “initiatives for peace and national unity”.

“It is a moral imperative, a chance to mend the fissures that have long divided our nation. We are not just negotiating terms; we are weaving the fabric of a peaceful future for every Filipino,” House Speaker Martin Romualdez said. (

The Palestinian Resistance is a Beacon to Our Resistance against US-backed Zionist Aggression!

Statement by The International League of Peoples’ Struggle
October 20, 2023

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle stands united in unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian resistance. The Palestinian people are absolutely united in their aspiration to bring an end to the Zionist occupation and to finally live in a free and democratic Palestine.

The actions by the Zionist state are nothing short of a genocide. Since the latest attacks against Gaza began, over 3,000 have been killed in indiscriminate airstrikes, including at least 500 getting medical treatment and taking refuge in a hospital. A complete blockade has deliberately cut Gaza off from food, water, fuel and electricity, leaving the people starving and with a medical system on the brink of collapse with over 10,000 injuries and rising. Palestinian health officials cannot keep up with carrying away the dead bodies that lie unattended throughout the strip, leading to the high risk of a disease outbreak amongst the population. Zionist forces have also demanded that 2.3 million Gazans evacuate to the south to make way for their ground invasion and likely attempt to re-occupy the strip while killing even civilians obeying this order. Airstrikes have even hit the southern border between Gaza and Egypt, the only way for Palestinians to leave the strip if they want, leaving desperately needed humanitarian aid packages sitting at the border unable to enter. In addition to airstrikes, the Zionists have even used internationally banned weapons such as white phosphorus gas. Included is the continued violence by soldiers and armed settlers which has killed over 70 in the past 11 days alone.

Indeed, the Zionist government may have declared war on October 7th, but the previous 75 years of occupation and ethnic cleansing policies since the Nakba have been a never-ending war against the Palestinian people. What we see now is merely a heightened general offensive by Zionism within Palestine itself with continuing aggression against neighboring rival countries.

The Zionists may have openly declared war this time, but that’s only because of the Palestinian resistance’s decision to unite in struggle to take up arms against the US-backed occupation state and its “state-of-the-art” military. For over 75 years, the Palestinian people have used every option they’ve had against the occupation of their land, to no avail. The international governance system has allowed the occupation to become normalized with no end in sight. The people have chosen to take the courageous path of united coordination in armed resistance, bravely tearing up the Zionist-imposed border fence of Gaza and launching coordinated strikes in air, land and sea that inspired peoples’ movements the world over to see a united people taking the military might of an imperialist satellite state off guard.

The Palestinian resistance is a beacon to our resistance! By this, we mean that this strike against a running dog of US imperialism is a move that weakens US imperialism as a whole. The global imperialist system is entering into a new stage of multipolar turmoil, from the US-NATO proxy war in Ukraine, to the build up to war in Asia-Pacific, to the upsurge of peoples’ movements for national self-determination in Latin America and Africa, and of the continued advance of armed resistance movements in the Philippines, India, Kurdistan, West Papua and of course Palestine. The Palestinian resistance gives inspiration to all people struggling in this context for national and social liberation, and therefore we must support their resistance as if it was our own.

The ILPS supports all resistance fighters regardless of organizational affiliation – now is the time to unite!

We also condemn the attacks on Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organizations around the world on behalf of the US and Zionist forces. We are witnessing an unprecedented outlawing of democratic organizations and bans on free speech when it comes to the Palestinian cause while pro-Zionist slogans are given full support, even within the so-called “democratic” liberal states of North America and Europe. Now is the time to defend peoples’ struggle in all its forms.

The ILPS calls on its members to take actions worldwide outside of Israeli, US and European embassies to condemn the genocide taking place in Gaza. We also encourage members to demand of their own governments official condemnation and to push for the unconditional end of the blockade, assault and genocide of Gaza, as well as the end of all military aid to the Zionist state, especially from the US.

All organizations are encouraged to hold educational sessions on the history and current situation of the US-Zionist occupation and resistance of Palestine. Ongoing actions in support of the Palestinian resistance must be maintained worldwide, especially amidst the crackdown and banning of anti-Zionist organizations. We must assert that activism and resistance of any form is not terrorism.

From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free!

Palestinian resistance is a beacon to our resistance!

Long live international Solidarity!


Len Cooper

ILPS Chairperson

20 October 2023

NUPL to DND: Stop Philippine Army’s violations of detained persons’ rights, harassment of human rights lawyers and weaponization of anti-terrorism laws

Letters (see bottom) from the NUPL and Nieves Lizada, mother of detained activist Mary Joyce Lizada, to new DND Secretary Gilberto Teodoro are refused receipt by AFP personnel in Camp Aguinaldo.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
July 7, 2023

The Philippine government must ensure the strict compliance by its national security forces with domestic and international laws protecting the basic rights of persons deprived of liberty and impose all necessary sanctions on those who ceaselessly and obstinately transgress these obligations.

In the first half of 2023, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) has observed a disturbing pattern of disrespect of the rights of human rights defenders accused of committing terrorism and terrorism-related offenses in Southern Luzon. They have been charged for allegedly providing material support to terrorists under Republic Act No. 11479 for extending assistance to farmworkers, indigenous peoples, and victims of militarization in the region, where there are now 13 pending cases of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses.

Some of these rights defenders are now being kept in military encampments and deprived of their right to be visited by family and assisted by competent and independent counsel. Lawyers of their choice as well as of their families have been prohibited from visiting them in violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and Republic Act No. 11479 (Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained, or Under Custodial Investigation). NUPL, as counsel for two indigenous peoples’ rights activists who have been detained in Camp Capinpin, had twice been denied access to the said clients.

The lawyers themselves have been demonized and hindered from discharging their professional duties. In one instance, lawyers from SENTRA have been accused before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region IV-A of harassment and intimidation by an army sergeant for trying to pass through a military checkpoint and asserting their clients’ right to counsel during a quick reaction team (QRT). The QRT was intended to gain access to two sugar farmworkers and an elderly person who were abducted by the military in late March in Balayan, Batangas.

Three young rights defenders from Southern Tagalog are also facing trumped-up complaints of terrorism and providing material support to terrorists in retaliation for the humanitarian missions they conducted on the killing of nine year old Kyllene Casao in Taysan, Batangas.

We urge the Philippine government, particularly the Department of National Defense, to enforce within the ranks of its security forces the fulfillment of detainees’ basic rights without distinction or discrimination of any kind as well as to respect the independent exercise of the legal profession, especially by human rights lawyers. We note that brazen violations of these rights and liberties have caused an alarming rise in the occurrence of torture, cruel and inhumane treatment or punishment that led to the forced or fake surrenders of civilians labeled as “rebel returnees.” The misuse of counter-terrorism laws through the filing of trumped-up complaints by military personnel has also suppressed freedoms and constricted civic space.

We further submit the following calls to the newly appointed Secretary of National Defense Atty. Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro, which he is empowered to heed and implement in exercising supervision over the Armed Forces of the Philippines under Executive Order No. 292 (Administrative Code of 1987) and in his capacity as the alter ego of the Commander-in-Chief:

  1. All arrested, detained or imprisoned persons, regardless of status, shall be provided with adequate opportunities, time and facilities to be visited by and to communicate and consult with a lawyer, without delay, interception or censorship and in full confidentiality;
  2. Lawyers should be allowed to travel and to consult with their clients freely and should not suffer, or be threatened with prosecution, administrative or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics; and,
  3. The military should refrain from filing trumped-up cases of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses against persons engaged in humanitarian activities and legitimate exercises of free speech and expression, such as advocacy, protest, and dissent, as well as from deliberately providing incorrect addresses of respondents while instituting complaints before prosecutorial offices.
  4. The military personnel and commanding officers responsible for the foregoing incidents must immediately be investigated and made to account for their human rights violations.
    Activism is not a crime. Stop the attacks!

Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL President | +639172092943
Atty. Josalee S. Deinla
NUPL Secretary General | +639174316396


On the NTF-ELCAC Legal Cooperation Cluster’s statement dismissing calls for probe on the deaths of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
April 25, 2023

In reaction to our statements calling for accountability for the reported inhumane treatment and brutal killings of our clients Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, the NTF-ELCAC Legal Cooperation Cluster pointed out in a statement the evidentiary rule that “burden of proof lies on those who assert” and that “the mere fact that “these 2 CTG-affiliated groups are calling for a probe” is “a clear proof that they are lying and can’t prove their perverted claim.”

These types of comments are non-sequitur and unduly place the burden on human right lawyers and defenders to conduct a probe, which the government is bound to do, gather evidence, and initiate prosecution of the reported war crimes.

They also sidestep the fact that the military claimed at the first instance and for the longest time a “waterborne interdiction operation conducted against a hostile motorized boat” that likely included the Tiamzon spouses. It is also a matter of fact that military sources took down their social media posts which reported the Tiamzon spouses as among the casualties of the said operation.

Hence, it was neither the NUPL nor many other concerned entities and individuals who were alarmed with the subsequent contrary report that the Tiamzon spouses and their companions were supposedly captured, tortured, murdered, and desecrated especially because there are abundant precedents and predictable patterns to support a reasonable basis to question the official military account.

Instead of welcoming a legitimate call that seeks to uphold international humanitarian law or the law of armed conflict and settle once and for all these contrary accounts, it is regrettable that colleagues in the legal profession and co-officers of the court – coming from the top officer of the government’s legal arm no less – would need to resort to hateful and gratuitous name-calling against fellow lawyers by casually labeling us as “CTG (communist terrorist group)-affiliated” or “CPP NPA NDF front” sans competent, credible and admissible evidence.

This has unfortunately endangered our lives and impeded the independent discharge of our professional duties, especially since we in NUPL are compelled to handle cases that most of our colleagues in the profession cannot, would not, or do not – for reasons we respect – handle.

While we may differ in views, opinions and positions – just like we do in court – we should all endeavor to keep our professional dealings civil and fair, use only dignified language, avoid low blows, and refrain from promoting an unsafe environment in any setting, as we are mandated to do as lawyers under the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability and out of basic respect for our fellow human beings.
We expect nothing less from our fellow lawyers. Let us keep it fair and square, if you please.#

Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL President | +639172092943
Atty. Josalee S. Deinla
NUPL Secretary General | +639174316396

NUPL to gov’t: Do your job, keep it fair and square

Kodao Productions
April 26, 2023

Human rights lawyers said it is the government that should investigate allegations of war crimes in connection with the reported death of top Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

Reacting to a statement made by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) Legal Cooperation Cluster, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said the government is bound to gather evidence and initiate prosecution of those connected with the alleged torture and execution of the Tiamzons.

The NTF ELCAC earlier said that those who made the allegations, including the NUPL bear the burden of proof, adding that the lawyers’ group and human rights group Karapatan are affiliated with the CPP.

The task force added the mere fact that both the NUPL and Karapatan are demanding an investigation are “a clear proof that they are lying and can’t prove their perverted claim.”

The NUPL however reminded the government that it is the State’s duty to conduct investigations on complaints of rights violations.

“These types of comments are non-sequitur (illogical) and unduly place the burden on human rights lawyers and defenders to conduct a probe,” the NUPL said.

The lawyers added that it was the military that first reported the supposed waterborne firefight that may have killed the Tiamzons and eight others in August 2022, but later took down their social media posts on the matter.

Keep it professional

When citizens complain of rights violations, the government should welcome it as part of its commitment to uphold international humanitarian law, the NUPL said.

Instead, government lawyers—colleagues in the legal professions and co-officers of the court, are choosing to resort to “hateful and gratuitous name-calling” by labeling human rights attorneys as “CTG (communist terrorist group)-affiliated or CPP, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines front without competed, credible and admissible evidence,” they said.

The NUPL was reacting to Assistant Solicitor General Angelita Miranda, a member of NTF ELCAC’s Legal Cooperation Cluster, who alleged that both NUPL and Karapatan are fronting for Communist groups.

The NUPL said such practice endangers their lives and prevents them from independently performing their duties as lawyers.

“Especially since we in NUPL are compelled to handle cases that most of our colleagues in the profession cannot, would not, or do not – for reasons we respect – handle,” the group said.

“While we may differ in views, opinions and positions – just like we do in court – we should all endeavor to keep our professional dealings civil and fair, use only dignified language, avoid low blows, and refrain from promoting an unsafe environment in any setting, as we are mandated to do as lawyers under the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability and out of basic respect for our fellow human beings,” the NUPL asked.

“We expect nothing less from our fellow lawyers. Let us keep it fair and square, if you please,” NUPL added. #

(Raymund B. Villanueva)

Barbarous killings of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria are grave breaches of international humanitarian law

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
April 21, 2023

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) strongly condemns the cold-blooded murders of CPP leaders Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria and their unidentified companions. The Tiamzon spouses are the latest NUPL clients to be killed under the government’s practice of giving no quarters to members and peace consultants of the underground revolutionary movement who were not engaging in hostilities or were manifestly unable to defend themselves.

The reported manner of killings, signs of torture on the unarmed victims’ bodies and the insidious cover-up involving the explosion and sinking of a “hostile boat” in the waters of Catbalogan City, Northern Samar, all point to the commission of war crimes by the military.

These grave breaches of international humanitarian law expose the injustice of the current counterterrorism framework, which blurs the distinction between armed conflict and terrorism, enables the arbitrary terrorist designation of parties to the protracted armed struggle, and enfeebles the application of protective legal norms to hors de combat, prisoners of war, and protected persons.

The government is, thus, called upon to fulfill its obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law in all circumstances as stated in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Protocols, the domestic Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity, and even the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

This non-derogable obligation includes the duty to recognize the equal applicability of international humanitarian law to both parties of an armed conflict and to hold the military to account for the inhumane treatment and deaths not only of the Tiamzon spouses but of many other casualties of its war crimes.

It must also realize that further using ruthless counterterrorism tactics in tandem with draconian anti-people laws and issuances while neglecting to resolve the roots of the armed conflict will not only subvert public trust in our legal institutions and processes but also foment the people’s indignation and continue to undermine the possibility of achieving a just and lasting peace.#

Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL President | +639172092943
Atty. Josalee S. Deinla
NUPL Secretary General | +639174316396

US War Games not beneficial and helpful to Filipinos

Posted by arkibongbayanph
APR 12, 2023

Bayan slams Balikatan 2023
(Statement of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – BAYAN)

Bayan stands opposed to the Balikatan war games , as a matter of principle, based on our historical experience with US forces and based on our understanding of current developments in the region. There is no truth to the claim that these war games are beneficial and helpful for Filipinos , and that they are intended to boost our disaster response capabilities. The war games that will kick off on April 11 has little to do with humanitarian assistance and everything to do with US war preparations and imperialist power projection in the region.

The live-fire exercises and the simulated sinking of a decommissioned ship makes this iteration of Balikatan even more provocative. It will flare up tensions in the region. This is not in our best interest as a nation.

The Philippines is caught between an inter-imperialist conflict between the US and China. All actions of the US are intended to advance its imperialist agenda in the region. The US agenda and Philippine interests are not identical. We are merely being used as a foot stool for American power projection and provocation in the region. We are a convenient playground for US soldiers, and now a giant forward operating base for US weapons and warships through the EDCA.

The presence of foreign troops on our shores is a glaring sign that we are not truly free. Our foreign policy is shaped by American interests. Even our “internal security” follows the US counter-insurgency doctrine. We constantly wait for US excess defense articles and military aid as reward for being a US neo-colony. What is tragic is that after decades of having US bases and troops in the Philippines. our AFP has remained backward and undeveloped, contrary to claims that it will modernize through our agreements with the US.

We should not be dependent on the US when it comes to asserting our sovereignty versus China. The US has different goals in this region and we must be careful not to be dragged into US provocations and war. Bayan stands against both US intervention and China incursions. We oppose the lopsided military arrangements with the US that are an affront to our sovereignty and have caused the further weakening of our country. We call for the scrapping of all unequal military agreements with the US.

Protests demand U.S. military out of the Philippines

By Arjae Red
Workers World
February 17, 2023

U.S. Secretary of Defense, and former Raytheon board member, Lloyd Austin visited the Philippines, where he met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Feb. 1 to announce the expansion of the U.S. military presence there, from five to nine bases. The expansion and establishment of these bases are allowed under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

This announcement has sparked outrage among the people of the Philippines, who held mass demonstrations in 1991 and shut down Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which had been used to support the U.S. war of aggression against Vietnam.

The Filipino people have fought hard for more than a century against U.S. colonialism. During the Philippine-American war, the U.S. military slaughtered more than a million people. The 124th anniversary of the war, which began Feb. 4, 1899, coincided with Secretary Austin’s visit to Manila.

BAYAN USA Call to Action

Ten days after President Marcos and Secretary Austin met, activists and allies of the national-democratic movement of the Philippines mobilized for a Call to Action, which was put out by BAYAN USA.

Rallies hit the streets demanding an end to the EDCA, expulsion of all U.S. troops from Philippine territory, the end of all joint U.S.-Philippine military exercises, the end of all U.S. military aid to the armed forces and police of the Philippines and an end to the colonial relationship of the country to the U.S.

This writer spoke to LRT, an organizer with BAYAN Seattle, who shared their thoughts on the U.S. military expansion: “The presence of the U.S. military carries a dual purpose of maintaining the semicolonial system in the Philippines and ensuring its guns remain aimed at China. There is no regard for the people or the environment, as the U.S. Navy has historically polluted local waters and damaged coral reefs, affecting the marine life and disrupting the livelihood of fisherfolk.

“Everywhere there has been a U.S. military base, there has also been a red-light district. The tourism of military personnel isn’t just at night clubs and local clubs. The violence against Filipina women intensifies with the presence of military personnel, as evidenced by the 2014 murder of Jennifer Laude by U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton.”

Although Pemberton was imprisoned first in a Philippine jail, he was ultimately released to U.S. custody. Today he walks free in Hawaii with no justice for the Laude family.

LRT continued: “It is the U.S. Special Forces that train the murderous butchers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines to inflict harm on our communities in the name of ‘counterinsurgency’ and ‘anti-terrorism.’ Who better to teach the AFP to terrorize its own people than the number-one terrorist in the world?”

U.S. increases bases, threats to China

These newly secured bases were the missing link in completing what is referred to as the “first island chain” in the U.S.-military enclosure of China. These bases are situated on the land sites closest to Taiwan. As Washington builds up U.S. forces in the region for war against China, supplies and nuclear weapons could be stored on these bases.

With a U.S./NATO-instigated proxy war in Ukraine in full-swing, justified under the auspices of “protecting” Ukraine, and with the U.S. showing no desire to de-escalate, there is no reason to believe joint-access military base expansion would protect the Philippines. U.S. maneuvers in the region have threatened aggression against China. The presence of additional U.S. military personnel only puts the Philippines in the crossfire.