[Basahin sa Filipino]
Bayan USA Condemns the Planned Anti-Terrorism Council and National Security Council’s ₱3.7 Million Counterinsurgency Tour in the United States
BAYAN USA condemns in the strongest terms the Philippine state’s aggressive implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) overseas. From December 10 to December 18, key officials from the Philippines’ National Security Council (NSC), Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) were planned to tour the United States to engage Filipino-Americans in the government’s call for “unity and reconciliation.” The tour — with stops originally planned in Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco — is no doubt part of the Marcos Jr. regime’s continued attempt to drive a wedge between activists, progressives, and the broader Filipino community overseas. It is also a flexing of the ATA’s “extraterritorial” provisions that extend its reach even to overseas Filipinos and supporters. While stops in the tour have since been canceled, BAYAN USA remains vigilant and ready to counteract any efforts by the state to sow division. The planned NSC and ATC tour comes on the heels of the recently concluded “Special Mission Project,” which featured known agents of the NTF-ELCAC, and was supported by Apollo Quiboloy, a known sex-trafficker who is currently wanted by the FBI.
Among those set to tour were Clarita Carlos (National Security Adviser and Vice Chair of the Anti-Terrorism Council), Nestor Herico (NSC Deputy Director General and former Marine Commandant), Michael Castillo (NSC Deputy Director General), and Eugene Rodrigeuz (Undersecretary for the Office of Press Secretary).
The plan of these government officials validates what many Filipinos overseas feared when former president Rodrigo Duterte passed the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) in 2020: that the long arms of the Philippine state would tighten their grip over activists and progressives overseas. The ATA created the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) — which Carlos represents — tasked with arbitrarily “designating” individuals and organizations as terrorists. The ATC permits authorities to arrest designated “terrorists” without judicial warrant and to detain them without charge for up to 24 days before being brought in front of a judge. The NSC, on the other hand, was behind the arbitrary blocking of 27 independent media outlets this past summer, including Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly.
“Even though Carlos has denounced red-tagging in the past, she represents an agency whose sole task is to ‘designate’ terrorists, which, in reality, is actually one of the most harmful forms of red-tagging,” expressed Rhonda Ramiro, Chairperson of BAYAN USA. The ATC is the same institution responsible for designating peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as terrorists, including former chairperson of the negotiating panel, Luis Jalandoni. “If Carlos and her crew were serious about promoting ‘reconciliation and unity,’ she would have immediately revoked these designations and advocated to resume the national peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP.” Carlos has instead advocated for “localized” peace talks, which have historically been used as a cover for psychological warfare and military suppression operations.
BAYAN USA also criticizes the hands-on role the Philippine consulate has been playing in the tour. “Our members in Northern California met with Consul General Neil Ferrer in 2021 to confront him about his effective endorsement of red-tagging after he provided the opening address to an online forum that red-tagged our mass organizations,” said Ramiro. “During that meeting, while Ferrer refused to denounce red-tagging, he also tried to distance himself from the work of other agencies that have actively gone after progressive organizations and institutions, as if he did not support such targeting of activists. We now know the extent of his collaboration and engagement with the NSC, ATC, and NTF-ELCAC to repress overseas activists as he was one of the main people preparing for the tour.”
The ₱3.7 million government-paid tour comes during an economic crisis, with inflation at a 14-year high of 8 percent. “The ruling elite’s gross misuse of funds that do not prioritize the masses’ basic needs — including the looming corruption scheme under the Maharlika Wealth Fund — along with ongoing state repression are the true causes of conflict and disunity in the Philippines. History has shown that targeting progressives instead of these root problems does nothing to achieve just and lasting peace in the country,” emphasized Ramiro. From July to November this year alone, the Marcos Jr. regime is responsible for over 9,000 forced evacuations, 15 politically motivated extrajudicial killings, 301 killings under the ongoing drug war, over 180 illegal arrests, and over 357,000 cases of threat, harassment, and intimidation.
BAYAN USA calls on the Filipino community and its allies to remain vigilant and critical of the Philippine state’s attempts to co-opt the language of peace and unity while actually sowing seeds of division. We protested in the thousands when the Anti-Terrorism Act was passed in 2020. Let us be ready once again to march on the streets whenever the foot agents of the ATA land on our shores to silence the movement of Filipinos overseas seeking genuine change in our homeland.
Abolish the NTF-ELCAC!
Junk the Anti-Terror Act!
Abolish the ATC!
Activism Is Not Terrorism!