Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 12 Filipino organizations in the United States, condemned the US-backed Arroyo regime’s initiatives to engage and derail a so-called “peace process” with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an armed group representing the self-determination interests of the Bangsamoro people, concentrated in the southern region of Mindanao.
The alliance called on the US government to back off from intervening in the domestic political and economic affairs of the Philippines, once a direct US colony and still heavily dependent on US government influence and dictates. A US institution called US Institute of Peace (USIP), has been facilitating so-called “peace talks” via “ancestral domain conflicts” in Mindanao while US military presence continues to increase in the region.
“At the heart of the matter is oil and land,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “Mindanao land houses some of the largest oil and natural gas deposits in the Asia-Pacific region. Multi-national corporate interest to acquire and control these reserves has been real reason for armed conflict in the Mindanao area with increased US and Philippine militarization, foreign mining, and landgrabbing for decades, not religious conflict or ‘terrorism’ as projected by Malacanang or the US government.”
“The US government is also notorious in its history of annihilation and genocide of the indigenous people’s of North America and repression against racial minorities. It cannot be sincere in building peace with or conceding to the aspirations of Bangsamoro people, just look at it’s track record,” Quijano stated.
Quijano also stated that the historical fight of the oppressed Bangsamoro people for autonomy from the Philippine republic is being exploited by the Arroyo and US governments to push for charter change and federalism in the Philippines.
“By issuing a bogus ‘memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain’, the Arroyo clique is shamelessly and covertly pushing to change the Philippine constitution. There is no intention to cultivate peace with the people of Mindanao on Arroyo’s part. As an abuse of her executive powers, Arroyo’s provisions, with the blessing of the US government, will include an extension of her unpopular, dictatorial term,” Quijano added.
Despite peace rhetoric espoused by the US government and Arroyo regime, recent Philippine military offensives in Mindanao have displaced over 150,000 people, both Moro and non-Moro in the region. Armed conflict is also on the rise in the region.
BAYAN USA has been active since its 2005 founding in demanding an end to US intervention in the Philippines, and was even part of a broader campaign to restrict US military aid to the Arroyo government last year. The alliance also vowed to take the issue of US intervention in the Philippines to the new US presidency once elected.