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US-backed P-Noy is No Champion of Human Rights

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News Statement
December 10, 2010

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA

Aquino’s Non-Resolution of Philippines’ Human Rights Crisis Serves US Foreign Policy

In commemoration of the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA would like to call international attention to their disappointment in Philippine President Benigno “P-Noy” Simeon Aquino III for his failure to act decisively towards resolving the ongoing human rights crisis in the Philippines.

Rather than working to fulfill his campaign promises to the Filipino people, Aquino has spent the past 5 months prioritizing the fulfillment of his promises made to the US government and to multi-national corporate investors to further liberalize the Philippine national economy and territory to accommodate their interests.

If the first 160 days of the Aquino administration are any indicator, the Filipino people can be certain the campaign of unabated extra-judicial killings, abductions, illegal detentions, and torture of civilians throughout the country by its security forces unleashed by the previous Arroyo administration will continue under the current presidency.

Like Barack Obama, the romanticized hype over Aquino’s candidacy and electoral win are slowly being replaced by a steady flow of political doublespeak on critical issues. One of the vilest examples of this can be seen with the case of the Morong 43 healthworkers, who are now in their 10th month of illegal detention under the Philippine military’s custody. After publicly acknowledging irregularities with the raid, arrest warrant, and even so-called “evidence” gathered against the 43 last February by the Philippine National Police and Philippine military, Aquino not only essentially washed his hands of the case by leaving it to the courts to decide on their fate, he beefed up the country’s military budget by an unprecedented 81%.

Unprecedented Military Spending for Counter-Insurgency Operations

The P1.64 trillion military budget proposal of the Aquino government for 2011 is a staggeringly massive amount inclusive of $434 million granted by the US State Department via the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Per the US military’s new Counter-Insurgency (COIN) guide, this amount will be dedicated to strengthening the very structural framework responsible for country’s continuing human right crisis– the national counter-insurgency plan known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

Though touted as a campaign to end the armed rebellion in the countryside, OBL has earned the scrutiny of international human rights monitoring groups for its baseless directive of targeting progressive and outspoken people’s organizations, party-lists, advocates, institutions and even social service providers such as the Morong 43 for being so-called “communist fronts.”

Under Aquino, 22 assassinations of civilians have been added to the piling list of extra-judicial killings and there remains 393 political prisoners throughout the country. Over 300 days have passed since Aquino promised to redistribute his family’s Hacienda Luisita to its tillers. Not a single arrest has been made to answer for the thousands of documented cases of killings and abductions under the Arroyo government, including Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself, the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre, as well as the abduction and torture of Filipina-American human rights advocate Melissa Roxas by military elements.

Aquino’s decision to extend and enforce OBL, despite its many critics, aims to choke off the strong nationalist movement in the Philippines that frustrates US foreign policy interests in the region. With Aquino’s help, the US government is working towards an official re-establishment of a permanent US military presence in the country. Like Arroyo, Aquino is committed to ensuring the terrorizing Bush Doctrine principles are applied to the Philippines in order to advance US geopolitical interests in the Asia-Pacific region, key to which is an all-out war campaign to bail-out the world’s wealthiest countries and financial oligarchs from the worst economic crisis in history.

Already the US government’s hand in the military provocation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and rivaling superpower China spells plans for a US war offensive in the region that would not only bully and advance US trade interests in the region, but necessitate a large, permanent and reliable US military station in the Philippines.

Human Rights & People’s Solidarity

With the burden of the global economic crisis breaking the backs of people both in the US and the Philippines, international solidarity between movements to hold governments accountable for increased public spending towards war and human rights violations rather than for jobs, education, healthcare, and other social services must be forged.

Since 2005, BAYAN USA has been campaigning with allies in the US to cut US military spending in the Philippines and for the withdrawal of US troops in from the region. These efforts in the US are in solidarity with those in the Philippines risking their lives everyday at the frontlines of a growing democratic movement to alleviate the Filipino people from their daily agony of poverty, landlessness, joblessness, and hunger amidst US-funded counter-insurgency and political repression.

BAYAN USA firmly believes that communities in the US play a role in the struggle for human rights in the Philippines by holding the Obama administration accountable for its actions in the Philippines, just as the Filipino people must hold the Aquino administration accountable for its broken promises and subservience to foreign dictates. The ongoing culture of impunity in the Philippines beckons the international community to support the Filipino people’s fight for justice for the victims of human rights abuses and the punishment of human rights violators unleashed by the state.

Free the Morong 43 & all Political Prisoners!
Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya!
End Impunity, Prosecute Arroyo!
US Out of the Philippines!