BAYAN USA denounces the recent online attacks terror-tagging members of the BAYAN USA and GABRIELA USA executive committees. The fake propaganda—posted by Lorraine Badoy (Undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, PCOO) and the Facebook pages “For the Global Public” and “Enlightened Youth”—are a desperate attempt by the U.S.-Duterte regime to discredit the growing National Democratic movement overseas. We are not surprised by such moves, as the regime has long used platforms like Facebook to spread misinformation and “fake news,” using a paid “troll army” and suspicious Facebook pages to do its dirty work. These tactics are just one part of the government’s 2018 counterinsurgency program, “Oplan Kapanatagan,” which was further institutionalized by Executive Order 70 and, more recently, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Issued in December of 2018, E.O. 70 systematized the U.S.-Duterte regime’s “whole-of-nation approach,” which militarized the entire government bureaucracy to criminalize dissent. Part of this was the establishment of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and the formation of an “International Engagement Cluster” focused on attacking activism abroad. The regime’s counterinsurgency efforts have resulted in the increase of online and in-person attacks against activists by government-sponsored groups. In 2019, BAYAN USA was targeted by a tour led by PCOO and the disingenuous Mindanao Indigenous People’s Council of Elders (MIPCEL). The tour was designed to discredit our effective campaigns to uphold the right of indigenous Lumad communities to land and life being denied to them by the Duterte regime by labeling us a “communist terrorist group.” The government even activated Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) abroad to be part of this operation by amplifying the misinformation being peddled by PCOO and MIPCEL.
We respect various forms of resistance that people take up. However, in the context of Duterte’s tyrannical counter-insurgency program, “red-tagging” or deliberate association of organizations and human rights defenders to armed revolutionaries have, many times over, led to state-sanctioned murder. Such was the case for urban poor leader Carlito Badion, Jory Porquia of Bayan Muna, peace consultant and land reform advocate Randy Echanis, and human rights activist Zara Alvarez, the most recent victims of the Duterte regime’s long list of extrajudicial killings.
These public attacks on our organizations are a response by a government backed into a corner, threatened by the people’s unified and growing movement against Duterte’s fascism and exploitation of the people. Despite the regime’s attempts to vilify us, BAYAN USA continues to strengthen and expand our movement for genuine freedom and democracy, as demonstrated by our growing membership and by the more than 1,100 people who safely marched with us on the streets to protest Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), even under COVID-19 conditions. The work of the mass movement—in alliance with U.S. unions and labor advocates, people of faith, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, other Filipino groups like the Malaya Movement and Kabataan Alliance, and many more—has even influenced U.S. government officials and the United Nations (UN) to recognize the urgent human rights problem in the Philippines under the Duterte regime.
We know that the Duterte regime’s campaign to vilify BAYAN USA and our members will only worsen as we continue to expose its fasicm and fight for the interests of the working and poor. As such, we demand that Facebook be proactive in ending its complicity and de facto collusion with Duterte’s fascist government by taking down posts that terror-tag our members, as well as the pages that post them—“For the Global Public,” “Enlightened Youth,” and Badoy’s account being only three of many. These enemies of the people should not be given a platform to spread misinformation, harass our organizations, and endanger the safety and lives of our members.
As more and more people choose the side of the Filipino people’s movement for land, livelihood, and self-determination, it becomes clearer that BAYAN USA is on the correct side of history. Let us defend and steadfastly advance the national democratic movement, counter all fake propaganda, celebrate our victories, and make it ever-clear to the Duterte regime that we will not back down.
Activism is not terrorism!
Junk the Anti-Terror Law!
End state terror!
Makibaka, huwag matakot!
Oust Duterte now!