A gathering of human rights defenders and peace advocates from around the world, aimed at deepening our understanding of the current state of human rights and peace in the Philippines. The conference will also draw up action plans to strengthen international support for the campaign for human rights and just peace in the country.
 

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan)
Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights & Peace (EcuVoice)
and the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICCHRP)

in cooperation with

Peace for Life
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

 

 
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ILPS APPLAUDS RESOUNDING SUCCESS OF ICHRPP, 
CONDEMNS REPRESSIVE ACTS AGAINST FOREIGN DELEGATES 
BY US-AQUINO REGIME

 

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
August 7, 2013


We, the International Coordinating Committee of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, applaud the resounding success of the July 19-21 International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines and all the related activities. We congratulate the organizers and all the participants. We are proud to have co-sponsored the conference and given our view on the relationship of the imperialist policy of neoliberalism and the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines.


We are deeply pleased with the reaffirmation of human rights and the ventilation of human rights violations in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural spheres. We are moved by the new resolve to work for justice and the end of the reign of impunity and to promote and strengthen international solidarity for the purpose. The conference organizers and so many human rights and peace organizations are already disseminating the information about the proceedings and the decisions taken.


We condemn the US-Aquino regime for having undertaken a series of hostile and repressive actions against the conference and its participants. The conference organizers uncovered and apprehended two intelligence agents of the US-Aquino regime trying to penetrate and surveil the conference. They apprehended one more undercover agent from the 24th IB, 7th ID who was surreptitiously taking pictures of conference participants during the mass rally on July 22. Worse, the security forces of the regime assaulted the mass rally which local and foreign conference participants joined in order to protest human rights violations and demand justice.

One of the rally participants, Thomas van Beersum of the Netherlands, was truncheoned and injured. He approached a stationary policeman to demand why his armed mates were beating up the peaceful rallyists. Subsequently, he became the target of a jingoistic campaign of vilification by the regime through the yellow mass media, military psywar units and letter writing brigades. He was depicted as an aggressive foreign interloper and was publicly threatened with physical harm and deportation on the pages of major newspapers, blogs and social network.

 


The chauvinist campaign against Thomas van Beersum was used to draw attention away from the violent attack on the rallyists and the scores of bloodied victims and to ridicule the patriotic and progressive forces for engaging in mass actions under supposed foreign influence. To underscore the jingoistic line, the regime repeatedly threatened to arrest, investigate and deport ten foreign delegates to the conference on human rights and peace.


The regime persisted in hounding and harassing van Beersum. When he was about to board his plane for Amsterdam on August 6, he was arrested by Philippine immigration authorities and prevented from departing with his Filipina fiancee. He was detained and made to miss his flight just to allow the Aquino regime to have the malicious pleasure of deporting him and placing him on a blacklist to prevent him from returning to the Philippines, the country of his fiancee and whose people he loves.


Meanwhile, leading Filipino participants in the conference like Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teddy Casiño, Rafael Mariano, Edre Olalia and others were being charged with the criminal offense of disrupting their own rally against the blatant lies and omissions in the so-called state of the nation address (SONA) of Benigno S.Aquino III. Under the persistent class dictatorship of the big compradors and landlords in the Philippines, there is really no fundamental difference between the blatantly autocratic rule of Marcos and the pseudo-democratic rule of his successors, including the redundant Aquinos. They are exploitative and oppressive and engage in gross and systematic violations of human rights.


It is completely preposterous that the big comprador-landlord Aquino regime, which is a notorious puppet of US imperialism, tries to make itself look patriotic by carrying out a jingoistic and chauvinist campaign of vilification against visiting foreigners who are in solidarity with the Filipino people in their struggle for national and social liberation against US imperialism and the local reactionary classes chiefly represented by Aquino. ###
 

     

 




Neoliberalism and Imperialist Crisis: Impact on human rights and peace

Keynote Speech at the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines
July 19, 2013

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, express our warmest greetings of solidarity to all the participants of the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines. We express special appreciation to those who earlier joined the International Solidarity Missions to various regions of the country in order to observe  the human rights situation, interact with the people and report to this conference.

For their success in organizing this conference and the International Solidarity Missions, we congratulate the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) and the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace (EcuVoice).  Like the Peace for Life network, we are proud to have cooperated with them in promoting the said events and encouraging participation.

We support this conference as it aims to assess, analyze and evaluate the current state of human rights and peace in the Philippines, understand the roots of the problems of human rights violations and the civil war, seek solutions to these problems and arrive at unity on a plan of coordinated campaigns and actions to demand and help realize respect for human rights and attain a just peace.

As keynote speaker on the opening day of the conference, I wish to discuss the impact of neoliberalism and the crisis of global capitalism on human rights and peace in the world and in the Philippines in general terms.  I am mindful of the fact that the keynote speaker tomorrow shall focus on the human rights situation in the Philippines and shall speak about it in  greater detail.

I. Neoliberalism as Attack on Human Rights

The concept of neoliberalism or “new liberalism” was put forward in 1938 by a group of bourgeois intellectuals, which included Alexander Rustow, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek.  They defined it as upholding “the priority of the price mechanism, the free enterprise, the system of competition and a strong and impartial state.”  And they presumed and misrepresented monopoly capitalism as the free competition capitalism that existed in most of the 19th century.

They adopted from Adam Smith the idea that the invisible hand of self-interest in the free market results in the common good. But they obscured or denied his idea that labor power is the creator of new material values and social wealth. They also believed that the economic freedom of the entrepreneurs spells political freedom for the entire society. In effect, they imposed the class interest of the monopoly bourgeoisie on the working class and the rest of the people.

They considered sacred and inviolable the right to private property in the means of production and put this at the core of the rule of law.  They vigorously opposed state ownership of any means of production and state intervention in the economy. However, they considered the state as an instrument to provide the private capitalists with the means and opportunities for profit-making and capital accumulation , including the expansion of money supply and credit, tax cuts, contracts with the state, subsidies, investment guarantees and other incentives.

The concept of neoliberalism arose at the time of the Great Depression, when the crisis of overproduction in monopoly capitalism had given rise to fascism and the imminence of World War II. But the neoliberal intellectuals deliberately ignored the reality of monopoly capitalism and the class struggle between the big bourgeoisie and the working class. They took the supraclass petty bourgeois viewpoint of standing above and against both fascism and socialism and in effect made monopoly capitalism the golden mean.

In the aftermath of World World II, Friedrich Hayek (author of the notion that socialism is the “road to serfdom”) regrouped the neoliberal intellectuals and politicians.  Together they became quite active in the anticommunist crusade during the Cold War but remained marginal relative to other bourgeois intellectual trends, until the US monopoly bourgeoisie adopted neoliberalism as the systematic way to scapegoat the unionized workers and the government, respectively, for wage inflation and for social spending as the cause of the phenomenon called stagflation.

Milton Friedman, who described himself as a monetarist and free marketeer, was the most prominent economist pushing for the adoption of neoliberalism as the official economic policy of US imperialism. He called for unfettered “free enterprise” and a self-regulating “free market” and for allowing the monopoly bourgeoisie a free hand to accelerate profit-making and capital accumulation. Together with the other neoliberals, he prescribed  wage freezes  and cutbacks on social spending as the solution to the problem of stagflation.

Friedman harped on the notion that solving the problems of stagnation and inflation and growing the economy was just a matter of manipulating the money supply and interest rates. He played the starring role in the academic and media campaign to attack Keynesian economics and to blame the working class for wage inflation and for supposedly unsustainable government social spending.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan adopted the neoliberal economic policy in the US and Margaret Thatcher  did likewise in the UK. This policy became known respectively as Reagonomics or supply-side economics and Thatcherism. While it blamed the working class and government social spending for stagflation, neoliberalism obscured and denied the real causes of stagflation, which were the worsening crisis of overproduction as a result of the reconstruction of Western Europe and Japan; and the rapid rise of US military expenditures due to stepped up military production, overseas deployment of US military forces and the wars of aggression in Korea and Indochina.

Reagan and Thatcher used neoliberalism to attack the working class and the rest of the people and violate their human rights.  They and their successors in power have engaged in forcible executive actions and pushed legislation to press down the wage level, suppress the trade union and democratic rights of the working class and cut back on government social spending. They have reduced taxes on the corporations and individual members of the monopoly bourgeoisie and provided them with all the opportunities to make superprofits and accumulate capital.

They have carried out  the flexibilization of labor or destruction of job security by replacing tenured jobs with temporary and part-time jobs; the liberalization of investment, trade and finance; the privatization of public assets; deregulation at the expense of the working class, women, children, the society at large and the environment; the denationalization of the economies of the underdeveloped countries; and the increase of overpriced contracts in war production and guarantees and subsidies for overseas investments.

The entire world capitalist system has followed the neoliberal  economic policy set by the  US and UK. Even the social democratic, bourgeois laborite and neorevisionist parties have succumbed to the neoliberal economic policy. This is given the fancy name of “free market” globalization. It is in fact imperialist globalization, allowing the imperialist firms and banks to do their utmost and worst in exploiting the working class in the imperialist countries and all the  working people, especially in the underdeveloped countries.

Following the neoliberal policy dictates of their imperialist masters, the puppet states have treasonously surrendered political and economic sovereignty and natural resources to the imperialist powers under the signboard of globalization. In the case of the  Philippines, the Marcos fascist dictatorship and succeeding pseudo-democratic regimes have escalated the exploitation of the workers and peasants.  They have also escalated repression in a futile attempt to stop the rising resistance of the people.

In pursuing the neoliberal policy, they have engaged in gross and systematic violation of human rights.  They have violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other related conventions.  They have violated those human rights embedded in the Geneva Conventions, its protocols and related conventions under the rubric of International Humanitarian Law.  They have wantonly violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, which has been mutually approved by the Manila government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippine in 1998.

The neoliberal economic policy has come to be known since 1989 as the Washington Consensus (coined by economist John Williamson) because it has been designed and enforced by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the US Treasury Department, joined by the World Trade Organization since the 1990s. The Washington Consensus imposes on the underdeveloped countries the following prescriptions supposedly for development: fiscal policy discipline, redirection of public spending away from industrial development and self-reliance, tax reform to benefit foreign investors at the expense of the people, market-determined interest rates, competitive exchange rates, import liberalization, investment liberalization, privatization of state enterprises, deregulation and legal security for property rights.

Under neoliberalism, otherwise known as market fundamentalism, the monopoly banks and firms accelerated superprofit-taking and accumulation of capital in the centers of global capitalism. As a result, the crisis of overproduction and overaccumulation by a few has recurred at a rapid and worsening rate.  In a futile attempt to override the recurrent crisis of overproduction and the tendency of the profit rate to fall, the monopoly bourgeoisie has resorted to the tricks of finance capitalism and in the process has spawned a financial oligarchy with absurdly inflated financial assets.

But the repeated expansion of the money supply and credit, the creation of derivatives in astronomical amounts and the generation of one financial bubble after another in order to raise the profits and overvalue the assets of the monopoly bourgeoisie have resulted in recurrent and ever worsening crisis of overproduction. More than one hundred economic and financial crises of varying scales and severity have occurred in the world capitalist system in the last three decades of neoliberal economic policy to the increasing detriment of the working classes and the people worldwide.

The severest crisis has burst out since 2007. It is comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s with far more destructive political and social concomitants and consequences for the entire world. It has generated state terrorism or fascism and furthered imperialist wars of aggression. It has exacerbated the suffering of the broad masses of the people under the terrible conditions of global depression and the intensification of exploitation, impoverishment, oppression and all kinds of degradation. The gross and systematic violation of human rights has spread on a global scale.

The imperialist powers and their puppet states have proven themselves futile at solving the ongoing supercrisis because they cling dogmatically to the neoliberal economic policy. They believe that so far in history this is the best policy adopted by the world capitalist system to give the monopoly bourgeoisie and the financial oligarchy the opportunity to rake in superprofits and accumulate capital. They wish to perpetuate this scourge to humankind. It is therefore the compelling duty of the people to fight against this policy and against the system that has imposed it on the people.

II. Imperialist Crisis Leads to Repression and Wars

The New Deal and Keynesian policy did not really solve the crisis of the world capitalist system, which took the form of the Great Depression and which led to World War II. State-led pump priming through public works  to provide employment, and stimulate consumption failed to put the economy in equilibrium, with the recovery of production.  It was war production that revived the US economy and enabled the US to become the most powerful economic and military  power.

In the aftermath of World War II, the US emerged as the No. 1 imperialist power.  It had ground for capital expansion because other capitalist powers had suffered economic devastation. Thus, it could maintain a high standard of living from 1945 to 1975.  It continued to engage in war production and justified it by launching the Cold War against the socialist countries and national liberation movements.  It maintained US military bases and forces abroad and supplied weapons to allied and puppet states under various regional and bilateral military alliances.

The US imperialists sought to encircle the socialist countries and engage in military intervention against national liberation movements and countries assertive of national independence. They instigated military coups and propped up military fascist dictatorships in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They perpetrated wars of aggression against the Korean people in the early 1950s and against the Vietnamese and other Indochinese peoples from the 1960s to the 1970s.

Using aggressor troops and weapons of mass destruction, the US imperialists perpetrated the most massive and the most brutal violations of human rights..  They perpetrated massacres of genocidal proportions, at least three million people in Korea and at least four million people in Vietnam.  Through direct aggression and proxy wars, they also massacred people in various countries.  They used puppet fascist regimes to massacre people in large numbers.  The most infamous case was the massacre of three million Indonesians by the US-directed military fascist dictatorship of Suharto.  To this day, justice has not been rendered to the victims and their families. The US has persisted in carrying out so-called secret wars that have murdered more than six million people.

In the 1970s, the problem of stagflation beset the US economy.  It was due to the rapid capital expansion of countries previously devastated during World War II and the ever rising costs of the arms race with the Soviet Union, the space and military research and production, the deployment of US military forces abroad and the wars of aggression.  But the US imperialists put the blame on the working class for supposed wage inflation and on social spending by government.
After adopting the neoliberal economic policy at the start of the 1980s, the Reagan administration proceeded to speed up the production of high-tech military weaponry and continued to give market accommodation to the manufactured exports of Japan, Europe and the so-called newly-industrializing countries.  Towards the end of the 1980s, the US had become the No.1 debtor inthe world and had undermined its manufacturing capacity in tradeable goods.

It was gleeful over the social turmoil in China, the fall of revisionist regimes in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the years of 1989 to 1991.  It spread the notion that the end of the Cold War would result in peace dividends for the US and humankind.  But since then the opposite has occurred.  War expenditures and wars of aggression have increased at a rapid rate.

Driven by hubris as the sole superpower and being able to use the NATO at will, the US has unleashed wars of aggression in the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia in order to take advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union, bring down recalcitrant regimes like those of Saddam and Milosevic and tighten control over the sources and supply lines of oil and gas.  The US and the NATO have instigated and supported schemes to overthrow regimes like those of Qaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria and to further manipulate the situation in the Middle East for the benefit of the US and Israel at the expense of the Palestinian and Arab peoples.

Within the UN Security Council and the multilateral agencies like the IMF, World Bank and WTO, the imperialist powers collude against the proletariat in their own homegrounds and against the oppressed peoples and nations in the underdeveloped countries. But as the crisis of the world capitalist system worsens, they tend to contend with each other and engage in alignments and realignments of varying scales.  For extended periods, the US has collaborated with China and Russia under the auspices of neoliberal economic policy.  But it is now confronted with increasingly independent initiatives of the latter two countries jointly or separately.

The US is most reliant on its major allies in the European Union and Japan in economic matters and on the NATO in security matters.  China and Russia are promoting their own economic bloc, together with Brazil, India and South Africa in the BRICS. They have also initiated the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and have consolidated their bilateral partnership in matters concerning security and energy.

The US is concerned that its close partnership with China might erode as the crisis of global capitalism worsens and as China takes initiatives independent of the US.  Despite its deep involvement in other parts of the world, it has made a pivot  or strategic shift to East Asia and emphatically in the direction of influencing developments within China.  Using the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the US is putting increased pressure on China to privatize its state-owned enterprises. It also encouraging the pro-US democracy movement to counter and challenge the nationalist position of the top leaders of the state and ruling party who still wave the Red flag to legitimize their rule.

In its drive for increased military presence in East Asia, the US is maneuvering to further entrench itself in the Philippines economically, politically and militarily.  It is engaged in actions that violate the national sovereignty of the people and the territorial integrity of the country.  It is stepping up its efforts to violate economic sovereignty and do away with the nationality restrictions in order to grab the national patrimony of the Filipino people and exploit the natural resources and other business opportunities.  Worst of all, it is complicit with the reactionary puppet regime in unleashing military campaigns of suppression and in perpetrating human rights violations on a wide scale.

III. Impact on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

The neoliberal economic policy of imperialist globalization is a vicious attack on the national sovereignty of the Filipino people and on the full range of their human rights as a people, including the  working class, peasantry, indigenous people, the intelligentsia, women, youth, children and others. The US  has imposed the neoliberal policy on the Philippine client state  to negate its political  sovereignty and denationalize its economy..

The main thrust of the policy is to denationalize the economy and further make it a captive of the US and other imperialist powers. At the same time, it is a sweeping attack on the national and democratic rights of the people.  It runs counter to the people’s struggle and aspirations for national independence, democracy, development through land reform and national industrialization and a patriotic and progressive culture and solidarity with other peoples.

The neoliberal economic policy has resulted in the sell-out of the national patrimony and the removal or drastic erosion of all nationality restrictions on foreign monopoly capitalism in the exploitation of natural resources and in the operation of businesses. It has allowed the plunder of the forest, mineral, marine and other natural resources of the country by foreign monopoly capitalists and by the bureaucrat big comprador-landlords.  It has ruined the agricultural production of domestic food staples in favor of foreign-owned plantations for the export of fruit as well as for biofuel production.

It has displaced the peasants and the indigenous people, with the use of bulldozers and military and police forces.  It has aggravated landlessness among the tillers. It has lessened the land area for local food production and land reform.  Widespread and unlimited mining involves the export and permanent loss of nonrenewable resources and the frustration of the people’s aspiration for national industrialization.  The frenzied plunder of natural resources is ruining the environment on a wide scale, poisoning the rivers and marine life and causing soil erosion, destructive floods, landslides and drought.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     


 

The neoliberal economic policy dictates the extreme plunder of human resources and violation of human rights. It has pushed the contractualization and flexibilization of labor by eliminating job tenure, forcing the workers to accept the status of temporaries and part-timers.  The objective is to press down the wage level, deprive the workers of social benefits and further impoverish them to allow the superprofit taking of multinational firms and big compradors.  To accomplish this objective, the foreign and domestic exploiters suppress and violate the right of the workers to form unions and all other basic democratic rights.

The neoliberal economic policy has had the effect of aggravating and deepening the  pre-industrial and semifeudal character of the economy.  The economy is agrarian and yet does not produce enough food for itself because of dumping by other countries, smuggling and reduction of agricultural land.  Even then, it  remains dependent mainly on raw material production for export. The  semi-manufacturing or reassembly of  semiconductors and other electronic products for reexport yields little income because it has high import content and is low-value added.

In more than three decades, the export of cheap labor has grown and has become the biggest source of foreign exchange income.  But the total of all export incomes do not offset the high costs of imports. The trade deficit and foreign debt have mounted from year to year.  The total export income always falls below the superprofit remittances of the multinational firms, the stashing away of foreign exchange by high bureaucrats and big comprador-landlords, the luxury imports, the high cost of high rise buildings and the imports of fuel, food and other basic necessities.

In more than three decades, the export of cheap labor has grown and has become the biggest source of foreign exchange income.  But the total of all export incomes do not offset the high costs of imports. The trade deficit and foreign debt have mounted from year to year.  The total export income always falls below the superprofit remittances of the multinational firms, the stashing away of foreign exchange by high bureaucrats and big comprador-landlords, the luxury imports, the high cost of high rise buildings and the imports of fuel, food and other basic necessities.

The reexport of electronic components and other low value-added semimanufactures has drastically
 fallen because of the crisis of global capitalism.  The export of cheap labor has begun to decrease as a result of the crisis and reactionary current against migrant workers, especially in capitalist countries. The Aquino reactionary regime still hopes that it can continue to conjure the illusion of economic growth by relying on portfolio investments in the stock market, business call centers, casinos, the mining operations all over the country and private and public construction dependent on foreign loans.

To enable the multinational banks and firms and the local ruling class of big compradors and landlords to exploit the broad masses of the people and violate their economic, social and cultural rights, the reactionary regime uses the coercive apparatuses of the state to discourage and suppress  even lawful petitions and protests, especially those of the militant legal mass movement.  And of course it uses the full force of reactionary power, with the support of foreign interventionist forces against the armed revolutionary movement of the people.  In the process, it  violates the civil and political rights of the broad masses of the people, exploited classes, organizations and individuals.

It is not true that democracy has been restored in the Philippines after the fall of the Marcos fascist dictatorship.  What has been restored is the illusion of democracy still under the auspices of the same imperialist power and the same exploiting classes that the Marcos fascist dictatorship served through an open rule of terror.  Behind the facade of democracy, one antinational and antidemocratic regime after another has followed the Marcos fascist regime.

Every reactionary regime has been directed by US imperialism to run a surveillance state and to carry out campaigns of military suppression to seek not only the destruction of the armed revolutionary forces but also the intimidation of the broad masses of the people.  The surveillance state in the Philippines is part of the global system of surveillance run by the US. The Filipino defenders of human rights can very well present and denounce the human rights violations.  They deserve the highest appreciation, protection and support for exposing these violations on a national scale as well as on an international scale.

Every regime has engaged in gross and systematic violations of human rights.  These include enforced disappearances or abductions, illegal open arrests and detention on trumped up charges of common crimes, torture, selective murders and massacres, demolition of homes and eviction of the urban poor to make way for the real estate corporations,  the forced evacuation of peasants and the indigenous people to make way for mining companies, export-oriented plantations, so-called special economic zones and free ports” and other forms of land grabbing; destruction of sources of livelihood, and other forms of deprivation such us the military occupation of school premises and community centers in the course of so-called counterinsurgency campaigns, such as the current Oplan Bayanihan.

Even as they are determined to accomplish the new democratic revolution through people’s war, the revolutionary forces and the people led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have agreed to engage in peace negotiations with the reactionary Manila government (GRP) and have authorized the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to form a negotiating panel for the purpose.  Despite the obstacles imposed by the GRP side, the NDFP and the GRP succeeded in forging ten major agreements from 1992 to 1998, a period of only six years.

The Hague Joint Declaration defines the framework of the peace negotiations. It sets the objective of addressing the roots of the armed conflict through negotiations and comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. It declares national sovereignty, democracy and social justice as the mutually acceptable guiding principles.  It makes the assurance  that no side shall impose on the other any precondition that negates the character and purpose of peace negotiations.

The substantive agenda is set in sequence: respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities.  The method for producing the comprehensive agreement on each item is clearly provided.  Reciprocal working committees prepare the draft agreements, whichthe negotiating panels polish and finalize for the approval of the GRP and NDFP principals.

The mutual approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law was a resounding success in 1998.  Before this, important agreements to strengthen and smoothen the negotiation process were bilaterally approved. These included the Joint Agreement on Safety  and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees, the Ground Rules for the Meetings of the Negotiating Panels and the Joint  Agreement in Support of Socio-Economic Projects of Private Development Organizations and Institutes.

But the hand of US imperialism became increasingly obvious in fouling up the peace negotiations from one regime to another.  The Estrada regime resented the NDFP objection to the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement.  It reacted by terminating the JASIG and the peace negotiations in 1999.  The Arroyo regime initially appeared to be enthusiastic in resuming the peace negotiations  with the NDFP in the first half of 2001. However, the regime aligned itself with the so-called war on terror policy of the US, received orders to adopt and implementthe so-called counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya and made representations to the US, European and other foreign governments to designate the CPP, NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant as terrorists  in a malicious attempt to blackmail the NDFP towards capitulation and pacification.

Until its term ended, the Arroyo ruling clique paralyzed the peace negotiations by insisting that the US and other foreign governments had the “sovereign right”  to make judgments and undertake sanctions against Philippine entities for alleged criminal acts within Philippine territory.  In late 2010, the succeeding regime of Benigno S. Aquino III re-appointed as presidential adviser on the peace process the same Arroyo factotum who had been most vociferous in espousing the supposed right of the US to intervene in Philippine affairs.

The first formal meeting of the negotiating panels of the Aquino regime and the NDFP in Oslo in February 2011 became the occasion for the regime to attack The Hague Joint Declaration as a “document of perpetual division” and to misrepresent as precondition the NDFP demand for compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.  At that time it became clear that the Aquino regime was not really interested in peace negotiations.

Nonetheless, the NDFP reiterated the offer of truce and alliance previously made to the Arroyo regime in 2005 in order to counter the repeated GRP demand for an indefinite ceasefire.  The offer was premised on forging first a general declaration of common intent to realize national independence and democracy.  The GRP demand for indefinite ceasefire had long been intended  to effect the capitulation and pacification of the people’s armed revolution and put aside the remaining three items in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations.

Since April this year the Aquino regime has announced that it has terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP and is undertaking a “new approach”.  Obviously the approach is for the regime to ignore the NDFP Negotiating Panel; scrap all previous agreements between the two sides; and rely on brute military force under Oplan Bayanihan in a futile scheme to destroy the revolutionary movement. The Aquino regime calculates that its so-called internal security and peace  plan is going to be effective because of its psywar pseudo-development component, which involves dole outs from the graft-ridden Conditional Cash Transfer and PAMANA funds and the staging of fake localized negotiations and fake mass surrenders.

Behind the all-out war policy of the Aquino regime against the revolutionary movement are orders from the US to carry out Oplan Bayanihan within the context of the US pivot or strategic shift to East Asia.  The US wishes to tighten its control over the Philippines and use it to realize its strategic objective vis a vis China. It is now putting pressure on China to make further economic and political liberalization and is encouraging the pro-US elements within the bureaucracy of the Chinese state and ruling party to gain initiative over the bourgeois nationalists  who are still waving the Red flag as a way of legitimation.

The US is hell-bent on further entrenching itself in the Philippines and making the Philippine reactionary government more than ever dependent on US military power. In connection with Oplan Bayanihan,it is goading the Aquino regime  to engage in provocations and counterprovocations vis a vis China over the sea west of the Philippines.  In this context, we can understand why the Aquino regime has terminated the peace negotiations and we can anticipate the escalation of counterrevolutionary violence and human rights violations.

Concluding Remarks

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, wish you the utmost success in identifying, examining and analyzing the social, economic and political and geopolitical context of escalating violations of collective and individual human rights in the Philippines. Your conference is a means of concentrating your political will and deciding what you must do. We look forward to the General Declaration and Resolutions of your conference.

You must uphold the  rights of peoples to national self-determination and liberation in the face of the economic, political and social crises due to  neoliberal globalization and the drive of the US to maintain global hegemony. You must defend and promote the economic, social and cultural rights and the civil and political rights of the people against the intensification of exploitation and oppression by the US and the local exploiting classes.

You must  define and stress the anti-imperialist and democratic common grounds for the Filipino people and the people of the world in confronting the forces that violate human rights and in striving to develop, expand and consolidate the movement of international solidarity for upholding, defending and advancing human rights and people’s rights and for promoting and realizing a just peace in the Philippines.

We  look forward to the holding of the first general assembly of the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines. We are confident that the results of this assembly will encourage the conference participants to join the international network for promoting and supporting the cause of human rights and just peace in the Philippines.

You must assess and evaluate the various domestic and international human rights solidarity campaigns concerning the Philippines since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. Thus, you will be able  to draw up a plan for an international solidarity campaign for peace, human rights and people’s rights in the Philippines. We look forward to your campaign  plan . And we hope that such campaign will culminate in the next international conference in 2016, the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle is ever willing and ever ready to cooperate with you in all initiatives to uphold, defend and promote human rights and help realize a just peace in the Philippines and in the whole world.

Thank you.

 
           
     
     
     

 

 

Peace, human rights activists form International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines


An international coalition to campaign for human rights and justice and to end impunity, was launched today during the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) held at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City.
 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) was one of the major achievements during the three-day international conference attended by more than 250 peace and human rights advocates from the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific and Australia.


More than 50 organizations from all the major global regions have joined the international coalition and vowed to “campaign ang assist the Filipino people in their search for justice, hoping to bring their plight to the rest of the world, and in so doing, contribute to the realization of ganuine and lasting peace in the Philippines.”


The formation of the ICHRP was also the result of several years of campaigning by international solidarity groups for the Philippines calling for freedom for political prisoners, calling for an end to political killings and enforced disappearances, and militarization of rural communities.

The solidarity coalition also vowed to bring their lobby and advocacy work to the United Nations, national parliaments and other relevant international institutions and “to make the Macapagal Arroyo and BS Aquino regimes accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people”, and to mobilize the international community for human rights in the Philippines.


The ICHRP has elected a 11-person global council composed of prominent human rights and peace advocates, church leaders, jurists, lawyers, academics, journalists, and community leaders.


Prior to the international conference and the launching of the ICHRP, solidarity activists joined international fact-finding missions in Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Mindanao to investigate and document cases of human rights abuses and the people’s economic and social conditions.


The peace and human rights activists have also called on the Aquino government to immediately resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and to respect previously signed agreements.


They are expected to participate at the people’s mobilization as counter to the State of the Nation Address of President Aquino on July 22 at the Philippine House of Representatives.###
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International human rights, peace conference opens in Quezon City

ICHRPP logo

Delegates to join People’s SONA rally on Monday

News Release, 18 July 2013 -  More than 250 peace advocates and human rights defenders from 25 countries gather tomorrow as the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) opens at 9 a.m. at the Great Eastern Hotel, Quezon City. The foreign delegates are also attending the People’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22 to cap the three-day conference and the week-long International Solidarity Mission in the different communities where there are documented human rights abuses.

Rep. Teddy Casiño, Spokesperson of the ICHRPP contested  the Quezon City officials’ decision to deny the protesters permit to rally, calling it “throwback Monday” and reminded the Aquino government that the “Marcos dictatorship was toppled by defying such repressive tactics.”

The continuing use of repressive tactics by the Aquino government, through Oplan Bayanihan, have caused alarm among peace advocates and human rights defenders in the international community. Oplan Bayanihan’s implementation already resulted to 142 victims of extrajudicial killings and 164 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings. The ICHRPP is set to tackle the human rights record of the Aquino government and strengthen national and international human rights solidarity campaigns on the Philippines.

Rep. Teddy Casiño is slated to welcome the foreign and local delegates to kick-off the three day conference. Among the keynote speakers are Jeanne Mirer, Esq, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, a UN accredited organization; Dr. Edith Burgos, mother of desaparecido Jonas Burgos; and Prof. Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).

Meanwhile, the week-long International Solidarity Mission that preceded the ICHRPP wraps up today as delegates gather to collate data on human rights violations they gathered from the different communities in the country.

“This is unacceptable in a country that claims to be democratic and is bound by the rule of law,” Rev. Stuart Lyster, a delegate from Vancouver, Canada, said when the team visited the political prisoners at Camp Bagong Diwa (CBD), Bicutan, Taguig City. The ISM-Metro Manila team were upset to learn that people who serve poor communities are easily thrown in jail through fabricated charges. The delegates also lamented the fact that people languish in jail, “under very poor condition”, also because of  lengthy court processes.

The ISM-Metro Manila met with the peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Allan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza, who are in Camp Bagong Diwa despite being holders of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP.

“We stand in solidarity with the political prisoners and those who will be displaced because of demolition. Solidarity means  that the whole world will stand as witness as to how the powers and the principality in the Philippines will act on these issues,” Rev. Lyster said.

References:
Rep. Teddy Casiño,
spokesperson for the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines,
+63920-9035683

Cristina Guevarra,
media liaison,
+63917-5230396 / +63949-1772928

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.


 

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
  See video of press conference here  
     

 

 

US lawyer calls for peace through respect of people’s economic rights


A prominent American human rights lawyer is calling on Filipinos to use human rights laws and conventions to force the Aquino government into reversing economic policies that adversely affect ordinary citizens, especially the poor.
 

In her keynote speech before the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace (ICHRPP) at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City, Jeanne Mirer, president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a stalwart of the US National Lawyers’ Guild, said government economic policies should adhere to human rights principles.

 

Stressing the importance of satisfying the people’s economic rights to achieve peace, Mirer said: “It is time that we use human rights law to challenge policies to ensure that Filipinos can make the Philippine government actually devote maximum available resources to progressively realize basic economic human rights articulated in the International Convention on Economic and Socio-Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR).”

Calling the current neo-liberal economic order “undemocratic” and dominated by large multinational corporation, Mirer said the people’s unrest resulting from the failure of such policies are dealt with by repression using, among others, anti-terrorist laws that many countries passed or imposed after the 9-11 bombings, and by surveillance and the type of national security state revealed by both Bradley Manning and most recently Edward Snowden.

 

Mirer said Filipinos should make the Philippine government accept laws that promote “economic democracy” and allow everyone to enjoy “a social and economic order in which the rights and freedoms set in the UDHR are fully realized.”

 

She said the fight for human rights has allowed its warriors to become “masters of peace”.

 

Sison warns of more human rights abuses

 

In his message to the ICHRPP, Jose Ma. Sison, chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) and NDF chief political consultant, warned that with the Aquino government’s termination of the peace talks with the NDF, “we can anticipate the escalation of counterrevolutionary violence and human rights violations.”

 

He scored the Aquino government for enabling multinational banks and firms and local ruling elites “to exploit the broad masses of the people and violate their economic, social and cultural rights, and for using the “coercive apparatuses of the state to discourage and suppress  even lawful petitions and protests, especially those of the militant legal mass movement.”

 

Sison said that behind the Aquino regime’s all-out war policy against the revolutionary movement are orders from the US to carry out Oplan Bayanihan within the context of the US pivot or strategic shift to East Asia.

 

“The US wishes to tighten its control over the Philippines and use it to realize its strategic objective vis a vis China. It is hell-bent on further entrenching itself and making the Philippine reactionary government more than ever dependent on US military power. In connection with Oplan Bayanihan, it is goading the Aquino regime to engage in provocations and counter-provocations vis a vis China over the sea west of the Philippines. In this context, we can understand why the Aquino regime has terminated the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

 

Sison concluded his speech by calling on the conference participants to join the international network for promoting and supporting the cause of human rights and just peace in the Philippines.

 

The ICHRPP peace advocates from the US, Canada, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East are committed to strengthen the international solidarity movement in defense of human rights and peace in the Philippines.

 

Conference participants are expected to join the people’s mass mobilization during the State of the Nation Address on July 22. ###

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Fighting for human rights and peace when it is already the Law

Keynote Speech at the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines
July 19, 2013

By JEANNE MIRER
President, International Association of Democratic Lawyers

I want to thank the organizers of this important conference for the gracious invitation to address you today. I am the President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers or IADL. IADL from its inception in 1946 has fought for the rights of peoples throughout the world to live in peace with human dignity. We were founded to promote the goals of the United Nations Charter and through the common action of lawyers, side by side with the peoples of the world we work to promote these important goals.

I have been a peoples’ lawyer for forty two years and the organization in the United States in which I work is the National Lawyers Guild or NLG. The NLG last year celebrated its 75th anniversary. The NLG was instrumental in the founding of the IADL and has always supported its work.

I have always felt especially close to our friends in the Philippines and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers since as a college student in the late 1960s I studied the American War against the Philippines. I was interested in studying the contending forces in the United States which lined up for and against the US effort to become a colonial power, replacing Spain as the overlords of the Filipino people after purchasing the Philippines from Spain for 20 million dollars. I studied the efforts of the Anti-Imperialist League to try to stop and end the war, and their efforts to expose US atrocities in the execution of the war. At the time I was searching for the roots in American history of the American war against Vietnam, and saw many parallels between the two wars and how the Anti-Imperialist League had not been able to hold back or defeat the forces of expansion. But as the internal logic of capitalism requires expansion and growing profits, the forces for expansion had the upper hand. Also, one cannot underestimate the role racism played in both the United States’ wars against the Philippines and Vietnam, but one thing is certain, ever since the American war against the Philippines there has been an ever growing military industrial complex which today is the largest in the world and which through the hundreds of military bases around the world is able to protect the economic interests of the United States and multinational corporations. This military industrial complex also increases the likelihood that throughout the world international, and intra national disputes will turn to military options as a first rather than last resort.

This year, 2013 is the fiftieth anniversary for two important events. Both of which I experienced. The first is Bob Dylan singing “Masters of War” which was published in 1963 and is his homage to the U.S. Military Industrial Complex. Some of the most relevant verses come to mind:

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

* *.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

The second is the fiftieth anniversary of the historic 1963 march on Washington which attracted hundreds of thousands of marchers, which I attended as a teenager, and in which Martin Luther King delivered what has come to be known as his “I have a Dream” speech. This march occurred 100 years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln which freed the slaves, only to see that charter of freedom, and the 13th Amendment which enshrined it become a hollow promise, with the advent of Jim Crow laws and de jure segregation. Before Martin Luther King turned to the hopeful and forward looking portions of his speech, in which he articulated a hope and dream for a non-racial and non-racist future, he discussed the reality of racism in the United States: He said:

“One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense, we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

I have been reflecting a lot lately on these two aspects of the 1960s struggles and what might be called anthems of the American anti-war and civil rights movements.

There is no question but the United States is the largest supplier of arms to the world and that all of the industries which profit from supporting a large military, and never saw a war they did not want to fight, are some of the first to criticize the peoples’ movements for economic justice where the demand is made for the government to provide basic economic human rights such as decent work, housing, health care and food and education. But, in Masters of War, we do not hear that as a matter of law both the threat of or the use of force in settling international disputes are actually illegal under the United Nations Charter, or that even taking up arms in self-defense is legally limited only to instances where it is necessary to repel an armed attack or in the absence of an armed attack, that the threat of armed attack is so “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation”. In “Masters of War” Dylan does not acknowledge that Article 26 of the UN Charter commits the world to work toward disarmament.

There are similar types of omissions from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That is, although by 1968 Martin Luther King, had denounced the American War against Vietnam, and had become a champion of the struggle for economic justice as well as civil rights, and was assassinated the night after marching with striking sanitation workers in Memphis Tennessee, in his 1963 “ I Have A Dream” speech, referenced only the Declaration of Independence. He did not acknowledge the existence of such important declarations as the 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia where the International Labor Organization had declared: (a) labour is not a commodity; (b) freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress; (c) poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere; (d) the war against want is required to be carried on with unrelenting vigor within each nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort in which the representatives of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of Governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to the promotion of the common welfare and that all national and international policies and measures, in particular those of an economic and financial character, should be judged in this light and accepted only in so far as they may be held to promote and not to hinder the achievement of this fundamental objective;

We know the Declaration of Philadelphia was a source for inspiration of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights or UDHR. The UDHR declares both civil and political rights and economic social and cultural rights to be the basic rights everyone has a right to enjoy, and which declares the fundamental human rights all persons, have a right to expect. But there is no reference to the Philadelphia Declaration or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the “I have A Dream” speech.

Why did Bob Dylan in “Masters of War” omit any mention of the right to peace in the UN Charter, and why is there no mention of the UDHR in Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech? It is true that the United Nations at this time was somewhat paralyzed by the Cold War resulting in the general population not paying much attention to it, especially after the UN General Assembly initiated the “Police Action” on the Korean Peninsula in 1059. It is also true that in 1963 the United States was just emerging from the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy period, and Martin Luther King was always suspected of being a communist, and was spied on by the FBI for most of his life and that reference to economic human rights would have likely been considered subversive. And while I know songs or speeches do not cover everything, I am quite sure that a major reason why neither Dylan in “”Masters of War” did not mention the UN Charter nor did Martin Luther King in his “I have a Dream” speech reference the UDHR or other international human rights instruments, is that in the US and most likely all countries of the world, these documents and the rights and duties they spell out have been made to disappear so that the people do not know of their existence and/or that their governments have ratified these documents. Knowing that one’s government has committed through ratification of the UN Charter to respect international law to peacefully settle international disputes or to implement basic human rights can be a major and powerful boost to people in their day to day struggles for human rights and peace in world. It is precisely for this reason why I believe there is a conspiracy of silence about them. The rights and duties required under the UN Charter or in basic human rights documents are not even taught in law schools, which begs the question of how can peoples’ lawyers articulate these rights to the people or try to enforce them in the domestic courts or international agencies if we ourselves remain in the dark?

What can we do to change this state of affairs and lack of knowledge? In early 2011 the International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild put on a webinar entitled: “Human Rights 101 Using International Instruments to Work for Economic Social and Cultural Rights.” The audio recording and the power point are still available on the web at:

http://www.nlginternational.org/webinars/humanrights-mirer.mp3 and

http://www.nlginternational.org/webinars/humanrights-mirer.pdf

While this webinar and power point are more specific to the United States situation as the US has not ratified the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, I would like to go over some of the information from this webinar as part of this speech so as to familiarize you with topics which you will likely hear throughout this conference.

It is important therefore to consider the basic human rights treaties from the perspective of their role in promoting peace and also what has happened in the world order which has undermined the progressive realization of basic human rights.

The Universal Declaration although signed and executed in 1948 reflects the recognition in the 1945 United Nations Charter of the direct link between promoting and protecting human rights and ending the conditions that lead to war. The preamble to the UN Charter recognizes that the peoples of the world have the right to live in peace. It is important to quote the preamble:

WE THE PEOPLES (emphasis on the people not states) OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

     
     


 

  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,


The Charter begins with these inspirational and aspirational words embracing human rights as fundamental to the promotion of social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. One of the first actions of the UN was to identify these human rights and they did so through producing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or UDHR. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was not a treaty but a relatively short, inspirational and energizing document usable by the people and designed to be the foundation and central document for an international bill of human rights. It was the first document to combine both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights in one indivisible whole. The Universal Declaration connected the issue of realization of all human rights to the cause of peace and states that a common understanding of these rights is of great importance to their realization. This is evident in the Preamble to the UDHR which states.

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

The UDHR is set forth in 30 Articles as follows:

Article 1 reflects the inspirational nature of the project. It proclaims in ringing terms that:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.

Article 7 follows up this theme by saying that all are to be equal before the law and have a right to protection against any form of discrimination.

Articles 3 and 25 are probably the core of the substantive provisions in the Declaration. They give every human being the rights to life, to liberty, to security of person (Art 3); and to an adequate standard of living (Art 25). Articles 1, 3 and 7 constitute the UDHR’s core civil and political rights. Article 25 is the core of the economic and social rights. The right to an adequate standard of living is interesting in that it specifies as part of it the right to health and well-being not only of a person but of his or her family, but also the right to necessary food, clothing, housing and medical care, and the right to social security (also covered in Art 22). Article 23 also spells out the right to work under decent conditions of work, and for workers to form trade unions to protect their interests.

Article 28 is one of the most important Articles in that it states Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in with the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

The UDHR brought the world into the modern era of rights by introducing and/or reinforcing at least five key concepts:

  1. All human rights have both negative and positive components (i.e. they address both what government should and should not do);

  2. Human rights include the economic and social sphere, in particular issues of education, housing health, work, food and social security;

  3. Rights are universal, transcending national borders, and their legitimacy is no longer dependent on national recognition;

  4. Prohibitions on discrimination in the protection of human rights extend both to the purpose and the effect of government action and inaction; and

  5. Human rights are interdependent and cannot be viewed in isolation.

When the General Assembly passed the Universal Declaration the resolution included a provision that called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration, and “to cause it to be displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions without distinction based on political status of countries or territories.”

As I have said, this obligation to publicize has been virtually ignored and at least in the United States, the rights contained in the UDHR and subsequent human rights instruments have remained largely invisible to the people. The same can be said for the two major human rights treaties which were written to implement the rights in the UDHR: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. (ICESCR).

The covenants were simultaneously adopted on December 16, 1966 and put forward for ratification by member states. Enough member states had ratified them as of January 3, 1976 that they went into effect. The overwhelming majority of countries in the world have ratified both the ICCPR and the ICESCR. This includes the Philippines, but does not include the United States which has only ratified the ICCPR. I want to focus primarily on the ICESCR as it is the deprivation of basic economic human rights which makes the day to day struggle for survival the primary focus of peoples’ lives making it difficult to exercise their civil and political rights.

The Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has five parts.

Part 1 (Article 1) recognizes the right of all peoples to self-determination including the right to “freely determine their political status” to pursue their economic, social and cultural goals, and manage and dispose of their own resources. It recognizes a negative right of a people not to be deprived of its means of subsistence and imposes an obligation on those parties still responsible for non-self-governing and trust territories (colonies) to encourage and respect their self-determination.

Part 2 (Articles 2 – 5) establishes the duty of State Parties to use and devote the maximum of its available resources to using progressively realize the rights contained in the Covenant. It also requires the rights be recognized “without discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The rights can only be limited by law, in a manner compatible with the nature of the rights, and only for the purpose of “promoting the general welfare in a democratic society”.

Part 3 (Articles 6 – 15) lists the rights themselves. These include rights to

• work, under “just and favorable conditions”, with the right to form and join trade unions (Articles 6, 7, and 8);

• social security, including social insurance (Article 9);

• family life, including paid parental leave and the protection of children (Article 10);

• an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and the “continuous improvement of living conditions” (Article 11);

• health, specifically “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (Article 12);

• education, including free universal primary education, generally available secondary education and equally accessible higher education. This should be directed to “the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity”, and enable all persons to participate effectively in society (Articles 13 and 14);

• participation in cultural life (Article 15).

Many of these provisions include specific actions which must be undertaken to realize them.

Part 4 (Articles 16 – 25) governs reporting and monitoring of the Covenant and the steps taken by the parties to implement it. It also allows the monitoring body – originally the United Nations Economic and Social Council – now the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to make general recommendations to the UN General Assembly on appropriate measures to realize the rights (Article 21)

Part 5 (Articles 26 – 31) governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Covenant.

The heart of the ICESCR appears in Principle of progressive realization. Paragraph one of Article 2 states: Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.

The duty to take steps to progressively realize the rights in the Covenant is not a hollow duty. It is a continuing affirmative obligation. It also rules out deliberately regressive measures which impede that goal.

The Treaty Body responsible for interpreting and enforcing the provisions of the ICESCR is the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. The Committee has issued in General comment 3 a full description of what taking steps to progressively realize the rights in the Covenant.

The principal obligation of result reflected in article 2 (1) is to take steps “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized” in the Covenant. The term “progressive realization” is often used to describe the intent of this phrase. The concept of progressive realization constitutes recognition of the fact that full realization of all economic, social and cultural rights will generally not be able to be achieved in a short period of time. In this sense the obligation differs significantly from that contained in article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which embodies an immediate obligation to respect and ensure all of the relevant rights. Nevertheless, the fact that realization over time, or in other words progressively, is foreseen under the Covenant should not be misinterpreted as depriving the obligation of all meaningful content. It is on the one hand a necessary flexibility device, reflecting the realities of the real world and the difficulties involved for any country in ensuring full realization of economic, social and cultural rights. On the other hand, the phrase must be read in the light of the overall objective, indeed the raison d’être, of the Covenant which is to establish clear obligations for States parties in respect of the full realization of the rights in question. It thus imposes an obligation to move as expeditiously and effectively as possible towards that goal. Moreover, any deliberately retrogressive measures in that regard would require the most careful consideration and would need to be fully justified by reference to the totality of the rights provided for in the Covenant and in the context of the full use of the maximum available resources.

This last sentence, regarding retrogressive measures comes from Article 5 which prohibits States, groups or persons from taking any action or activity aimed at the destruction of any of the rights or freedoms recognized in the present Covenant. That is, once a State has recognized a right contained in the Covenant, in law or practice, and has implemented it, it cannot legally be revoked, nor can a State which may have protected a right to a degree higher than called for in the Covenant, remove that right based on the fact that the Covenant provides lesser protection.

Furthermore, the principle of progressive realization has an affirmative obligation not to discriminate in the provision of these rights on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

The enacting of anti-discrimination provisions and the establishment of enforceable rights with judicial remedies within national legal systems are considered to be appropriate means.

Since 1966 there have been many more important international and regional human rights instruments debated and promulgated in addition to the ICCPR and the ICESCR. However, parallel to but on a completely different track was the rise of powerful multinational corporations and international financial institutions which arose out of the Bretton Woods agreements and were supposed to stabilize the world economy, but in fact have been doing the bidding of former colonial powers, large nations and multinational corporations. The International Labor Organizations’ 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia is still operative and still holds that fighting the war against want must be pursued with vigor and the world’s economic and financial character, should be judged in this light and accepted only in so far as they may be held to promote and not to hinder the achievement of this fundamental objective, and as Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights still requires the development and maintenance of a social and economic order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration can be fully realized, yet International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been requiring States to distort their economies and the labor and human rights protections in these documents by conditioning loans and other financial resources on so-called liberalization policies which are part of the neo-liberal economic order which we are suffering with at this time.

This has resulted in a highly undemocratic international economic order. In May 2013 the IADL held a conference in Paris aimed at promoting a new democratic international economic order where we described the current undemocratic international neo-liberal economic order as being dominated by large multinational corporations which seek “liberalization” of laws protecting people in order to promote economies based on the market rather than human rights and needs of people, which includes the right to a healthy environment. We described the main pillars of the neo-liberal economic order to be: (1) deregulation of corporate activities including financial services, (2) privatization of public services such as education and prisons etc.; (3) de-unionization of the workforce, (4) casualization of the workforce with precarious workers i.e temporary, contingent or contract workers; and (5) free trade agreements aimed at protecting direct foreign investments by corporations to the detriment of indigenous rights. We pointed to the massive transfers of wealth upwards into to fewer and fewer wealthy hands both within countries and between countries with growing levels of inequality in both developed and developing countries. We noted the massive public debts owed to international financial institutions and private investors, especially by countries in the South. We also noted the unrest among the people suffering under these policies are dealt with by repression using, among other things, anti-terrorist laws that many countries passed or imposed after 9-11. They are also dealt with by surveillance and the type of national security state revealed by both Bradley Manning and now Edward Snowden.

We also emphasized the militarization which accompanies this economic order reflecting the powerful corporate military industrial complex and a foreign policy based on military intervention in countries which possess resources the United States and the western former colonial powers and their major corporations seek to exploit.

We pointed out that media corporations promote celebrity and spectacles as news and do not seek to educate the people about the nature of the current order and differences between people based on class, race, gender, religion, and citizenship status, and other characteristics are exploited in order to divert attention away from the fact that these divisions are a result of and exacerbated the economic order. Most importantly, we pointed to both an ignorance of and lack of respect for law and legal obligations, especially international law and international human rights (including labor) law and growing impunity for violating international law. We noted wars of aggression have been fought by superpowers without accountability. Corporations are engaging in illegal land grabbing and other illegal actions in developing countries without accountability.

What does all this mean for us at this conference and our friends throughout the Philippines? As understand it, the Philippine government has a policy designed to warm the neo-liberal heart, a policy which stems from the Presidential Decree under Marcos which has been accepted since known as the automatic appropriation for debt service which requires external debt to be paid before any other budgetary appropriation can be made. This provision was unsuccessfully challenged in 1991 when the Philippine Supreme Court said the policy did not contravene the Philippine Constitution which assigned the highest budgetary priority to education.

But, the Philippine constitution in Article II Section 2 has an inclusion clause whereby the Philippines adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land… The inclusion of international law would mean the human rights treaties such as the ICESCR which the Philippines has signed and/or ratified as well as the UN Charter and the ILO Constitution which incorporates the Declaration of Philadelphia are part of the law of the land.

I understand that this automatic appropriation for debt service has impeded the Philippine government from living up to its obligations under the ICESCR specifically the obligations to devote the maximum available resources progressively realize the rights contained therein, or to realize the rights under Philippine laws which have been passed to ameliorate the suffering of the Filipino people. The Filipino people have been promised rights under their laws and their constitution as well as International Human Rights treaties they have ratified, but as long as the law which allocates a large portion of the Philippine treasury to pay debt service, that promise is illusory. They have been given the type of bad check, as Martin Luther King stated was given by the United States to African Americans which came back marked insufficient funds.

It is time we say that human rights trump property interests such as service on external debt. It is time that we learned to use human rights law to challenge policies like the automatic appropriation for debt service policy to ensure that the Filipinos can make the Philippine government actually devote maximum available resources to progressively realize basic economic human rights as articulated in the ICESCR and the UDHR. As Martin Luther King stated, we must reject gradualism as the answer. We must embrace the fierce urgency of now. It is time to judge policies which govern the Philippine government’s ability to fight the war on want by accepting laws only in so far as they may be held to promote and not to hinder achievement of this fundamental objective, and to accept laws only in so far as they comply with the command of Article 28 the UDHR to allow everyone to enjoy a social and economic order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration can be fully realized.

These same arguments regarding the primacy of human rights law apply throughout the world, in all countries, including those which do not have a policy of automatic appropriation for debt service which siphons funds away from meeting human rights obligations. We must fight to make economic interests adhere to human rights principles. In so doing we can re-write the words to “Masters of War” and inscribe into the history books how the peoples’ fight for human rights allowed us to become the Masters of Peace. 

           
           
     

The Filipino people's struggle for national and social liberation
Contribution to the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines
19-21 July 2013

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

26 December 1968 marked the historic event whereby the Filipino people acquired a proletarian revolutionary leadership with the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Guided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, the CPP declared its program for the people's democratic revolution through protracted people's war. Three months later, it founded the New People's Army (NPA) and in 1973 the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The re-establishment of the CPP was the culmination of an accumulated revolutionary tradition of the Filipino people. They launched more than 200 revolts against Spanish colonialism. Then, led by Andres Bonifacio, they waged the armed struggle for independence against Spain. When US imperialism invaded the country in 1898, they fought against the US war of aggression from 1899 to1913. More than 20% of the population then, that is, 1.5 million Filipinos died in that war of resistance.

The tradition of resisting foreign exploiters and oppressors continued during US colonial rule, also against the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1942 to 1945, and has continued since 1946 against US neocolonial rule and the local exploiting classes of landlords and big compradors. The revolutionary movement is aimed at realizing the national and social liberation of the people.

The revolutionary forces survived the massive attacks of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship from the early 1970s up to 1986. They grew through valiant struggle. They built mass organizations and organs of political power. By 1980, they had established 29 guerrilla fronts throughout the country.

In February 1986, the dictator Marcos was overthrown by a people's uprising. Through dint of hard struggle, the revolutionary movement established its presence throughout the country in urban and rural areas with a mass base running into millions and an armed force operating nationwide under the guidance of a central political authority that functions within the framework of the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government.

Permanent Peoples' Tribunal Sessions on the Philippines

In 1980, revolutionary organizations in the Philippines and abroad organized the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal (PPT) Session on the Philippines in Antwerp, Belgium. The 10-member international jury, headed by Nobel laureate, US Professor George Wald, declared the NDFP “legitimate representative of the Filipino people”. While judging Marcos guilty of crimes against the people and unfit to govern, the jury declared that the armed struggle of the Filipino people enjoyed the status of belligerency and deserved the support of the international community.

A Second PPT Session on the Philippines was held in The Netherlands in March 2007. The jury headed by Prof. Francois Houtart condemned the US backed-Arroyo regime for crimes against humanity and numerous crimes against the people. Human rights and peace organizations in the Philippines provided compelling evidence based on meticulous research and testimonies of courageous victims of human rights violations.

The Second Great Rectification Movement

The revolutionary forces of the NDFP also survived major internal errors committed by elements among their leadership, many of whom became renegades. The Communist Party of the Philippines launched the Second Great Rectification Movement (SGRM) in July 1992. Its aim was to identify, repudiate and rectify the major errors of subjectivism and opportunism, especially what caused the most damage, namely, insurrectionism, prematurely building big NPA formations and, upon failure of the incorrect line, carrying out an anti-informer hysteria.

The rectification movement was an educational campaign. It was embraced by the masses and the broad membership of the revolutionary movement. It was completed in 1998 and reinvigorated the revolutionary movement. It was reminiscent of the success of t he First Great Rectification Movement from 1965 to 1971, which gave birth to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as a consequence of criticizing and repudiating the major errors of the old communist party and the old people's liberation army.

After the success of the SGRM, the revolutionary movement has been able to consolidate and expand. It is now rooted in 70 provinces, out of a total 81 provinces. It has built mass organizations of workers, peasants, women and youth, children, indigenous people, urban poor and fisherfolk. The NPA is now operating in more than 110 guerrilla fronts wherein organs of political power form the backbone of the people's democratic government.

Program of Genuine Land Reform

The people's democratic government carries out programs of genuine land reform, health, education and literacy and culture.

With 75% of the 100 million population consisting of the exploited and oppressed peasantry, the program for agrarian revolution is the main content of the revolutionary program. It responds to the basic aspirations of the peasantry.

The revolutionary movement's minimum land reform program consisting of lowering land rent, elimination of usury, and raising of farmworkers' wages is carried out widely. There are also campaigns to increase agricultural production through mutual aid teams in planting, harvesting and distribution of produce, in developing irrigation, vegetable farming, poultry and husbandry. The program is benefiting millions of the rural population.

The maximum program of confiscation of land and free distribution to tillers is carried out where feasible in certain areas where the revolutionary movement is sufficiently strong. The vision for the future, upon nationwide victory, is the free distribution of land to the peasantry with the provision of support services like irrigation, farm to market roads, assistance for mechanization and building of cooperatives and collectivization towards greater productivity for the benefit of the peasantry and the entire population. Nationwide implementation of land reform will be coupled with national industrialization to lift the backward agrarian economy to a developed and prosperous one.

Educational and Health Programs

Revolutionary education on the history of the Filipino people and their culture is widely carried out. So are programs of literacy and numeracy which are enthusiastically welcomed by the masses. Revolutionary schools have been set up benefiting many thousands of peasants and national minorities, especially children and youth. Educational materials and works of art and literature have arisen from the revolutionary struggle. The revolutionary movement has promoted the use of Pilipino as the national language, and regional languages among the people.


 

 

Health programs popularize the use of acupuncture, herbal and traditional medicines culled from the age-old practices of the masses. Western medicine is also utilized. These programs respond to vital health needs of the people. Health campaigns like proper sanitation, building outhouses, anti-malaria and people's health clinics have been successful. Health professionals have been encouraged to serve the people in the countryside and in the urban slum areas. They have also trained paramedics to provide first aid and treatment for common illnesses.
 

Special Office for the Protection of Children

In April 2012, the NDFP National Council set up its Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC). It proclaimed a comprehensive program for the protection of rights and welfare of children. A committee has been appointed to carry out and monitor the implementation of the program all over the country. The NDFP has frustrated the repeated attempts of the imperialists and local reactionaries to misrepresent its policy regarding children. In a statement on

July 1, 2013, the SOPC Head, Coni K. Ledesma declared the reports of the UN Office of the Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict on the so-called recruitment and use of children by the NPA as “false, biased and baseless”.

Revolutionary Justice System

The revolutionary movement has a justice system far superior to the corrupt anti-people justice system of the reactionary government. It has won the support not only of legal experts in the Philippines, but also international lawyers. In November 2012, the International Legal Advisory Team (ILAT), was set up to advice the NDFP on international legal matters. It is composed of more than a dozen experts in international law from different parts of the world.

There is a growing number of cases wherein the victims of human rights violations by the regime approach the revolutionary forces to obtain justice. Recently, a teenager was a victim of gang rape by three soldiers of the reactionary army, filed her case before the justice system of the revolutionary forces. She had been denied justice by the soldiers' officers. Furthermore, she and her family were subjected to threats. Hence, she, her family and supportive organizations filed the criminal case of rape against the soldiers before the people's court.

Peace Negotiations

The NDFP has forged twelve bilateral peace agreements with the reactionary government with the aim of addressing the roots of the armed conflict. These agreements, in particular, The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) are of the highest standard and widely appreciated by peace advocates in the country and abroad. In 2004, the Joint Secretariat (JS) of the Joint Monitoring Committee under the CARHRIHL was set up. It holds office in Metro Manila, with both Parties represented in the JS. It is supported by the Royal Norwegian Government, the Third Party Facilitator in the peace negotiations between the Manila government and the NDFP.

The aim of the NDFP in peace negotiations is to address the roots of the armed conflict through fundamental economic, social and political reforms. But the Manila government only wishes to impose capitulation and indefinite ceasefires. Despite the widespread calls of peace advocates, the Aquino government has paralyzed the peace talks after failing to impose its unjust wishes on the NDFP..

Nevertheless, the NDFP Negotiating Panel has declared its openness to continue peace talks. It demands respect for and compliance with The Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG (1995), the CARHRiHL (1998) and other bilateral agreements. Therefore, it demands the release of political prisoners in accordance with the CARHRIHL and the NDFP Consultants arrested and detained in violation of the JASIG. It also calls for the independent investigation of the killing and disappearance of NDFP Consultants, family and staff

The NDFP also welcomes the positive actions and recommendations of peace and human rights advocates for the resumption of the peace talks.

Overseas Filipinos

The NDFP firmly supports the just struggles of the millions of overseas Filipinos. Their struggles for their rights and welfare, to organize themselves, to work and be treated fairly, not to be subjected to racism and xenophobia, to understand well the roots of their migration, and to return to their home country and serve the nation. These deserve support and solidarity. The NDFP is firm in upholding their right to voluntarily return to the Philippines and contribute their skills and talents in land reform and national industrialization, in building a free, prosperous, democratic and peaceful Philippines.

International Solidarity

The revolutionary Filipino people have won the international solidarity and support of revolutionary, anti-imperialist and progressive organizations and individuals from different parts of the world. They are also contributing their solidarity to the just causes of other peoples' struggles in the spirit of proletarian internationalism and anti-imperialist solidarity.

From strategic defensive to strategic stalemate of people's war

The revolutionary forces led by the CPP are intensifying their revolutionary armed struggle. They aim to advance in the coming few years from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate of people's war. The US-directed reactionary government is hell-bent on seeking the destruction of the revolution for the benefit of US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. Thus, the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces are justified to persevere in the revolutionary struggle.

In celebrating the glorious victories and achievements of the Filipino people over the last 44 years of revolutionary struggle, we must render honor to the many martyrs and heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the people's struggle for national and social liberation and for a just and lasting peace. The revolutionary masses must be honored. As the great Chinese revolutionary, Mao Zedong, declared: “The masses, and the masses alone are the makers of history!”

But there are some individual revolutionary heroes and martyrs, we wish to especially honor today: Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, NPA Commander and CPP Spokesperson, Antonio “Manong” Zumel, journalist, first Chairperson of the NDFP, and Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, the Chief Legal Counsel of the NDFP.

     
     

 

 

Mrs. Edita Burgos speaks about her son Jonas at the Human Rights Conference

At the opening of the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines on July 19, 2013, Mrs. Edita Burgos speaks of her ordeal as a mother searching for her missing son, Jonas, abducted by the Philippine military — a case akin to other enforced disappearances in the country.

 

     
           
     
           


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Former government negotiator calls for resumption of GPH-NDFP peace talks


A former government negotiator in peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is urging the Aquino government to honor the 10 previously signed agreements between the GPH and the rebel group in order for the talks to resume.

 

At the sidelines of the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace (ICHRPP) at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City, Silvestre Bello III, who was negotiator for the GPH since the first Aquino administration to the Arroyo government, said both parties should “move the talks forward to its logical conclusion which is lasting peace for our people.”

 

He urged both the government and the rebel group to resume the stalled peace negotiations without any preconditions and to respect previously signed agreements including the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration and the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).

 

Bello, now a partylist representative in Congress, was among the ICHRPP’s guest in its opening ceremonies yesterday.
 

“Even President Ramos followed agreements (made) during Cory Aquino’s period, Erap (President Estrada) followed the agreements and process despite disagreements, and even GMA (President Gloria Arroyo) because if we don’t do that, who would ever sign a contract or agreement with us?” Bello emphasized.

 

In his keynote address to the international conference, NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the NDFP has been ready to resume the talks but that as early as the first formal meeting of the negotiating panels in February 2011, the Aquino government attacked the 1992 Hague Joint Declaration, which sets the framework for the talks, as a “document of perpetual division.”

 

He added that the government misrepresented as a precondition the NDFP’s demand to release detained consultants in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

 

Bello said he doesn’t think Aquino wants to junk all previous agreements and begin the peace process again from scratch. “The Aquino government is aware that it is not correct to junk the Hague Joint Declaration which serves as the framework for the peace talks. Any person who knows his business should know that in order to be credible, you have to honor your agreements,” he stressed.

 

Bello added that the Presidential Adviser on the peace process may have played a role in the government’s flawed position on the talks. He said President Aquino should consider getting the advice of other members of his cabinet and people who have a deeper background on peace negotiations.

 

Asked if he would be willing to become a member of the GPH peace panel again if requested, Bello replied: “Only if I don’t lose my congressional seat because I have a mandate. I could probably join as an adviser, not as panelist.”

 

Hunger strike for peace

 

Bello’s call for the resumption of the peace talks with the NDFP echoes similar calls of detained NDFP peace consultants Ramon Patriarca who is detained at Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City and Pedro Codaste who is detained at the Malaybalay City Jail. Patriarca began a hunger strike last July 11 that will end on July 22 when President Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address.

 

The detained NDFP peace consultants accused President Aquino of not respecting the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and has instead continued abducting, torturing and detaining NDFP personnel involved with the peace negotiations.

 

The search for a just and lasting peace is one of the important panel discussions in the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace that is being participated in by more than 250 human rights and peace advocates from the US, Canada, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. Conference participants are expected to join the people’s mobilization on July 22 during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino at the House of Representatives.

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Int’l community press for the resumption of GPH-NDFP peace talks

 

Hoping that international pressure would bring the GPH-NDFP talks back on track, peace advocates and rights defenders at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) called on the Aquino government to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front, citing poverty and the re-escalation of human rights abuses as the most compelling reasons to go back to the negotiating table
.
“The landlessness of peasants, the lack of decent wages and job opportunities, decent housing and basic social services are weighing down on the lives of the Filipino people and violate their socio-economic rights. Those who resist and work for change are met with political repression by the State. We want the peace negotiations resumed to help resolve such issues,” the delegates said in a press conference.

The ICHRPP added its  voice to the call by local peace advocates for the resumption of the stalled talks on the basis of previously signed agreements, specifically the 1992 Hague Joint  Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

 

“We lament the fact that the Aquino government has practically terminated the talks by ignoring or violating the 10 or so agreements previously signed by the GPH and NDFP. Aquino’s so-called ‘new approach’ of localized talks combined with counterinsurgency operations disregards and undermines all previous agreements, making the talks impossible,” said ICHRPP Spokesperson Teddy Casino.

 

“The ICHRPP plans to focus international attention on the talks and compel both sides to go back to the negotiating table. International pressure worked in the past on the issue of human rights. We hope it works this time for the sake of peace,” said Casino.

 

Earlier this month, eight peace groups – the Sulong CARHRIHL, Pilgrims for Peace, Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP),Waging Peace Philippines, Generation Peace Youth Network, Women Engaged in Action 1325, Initiatives for International Dialogue, and Philippine Peace Center – issued a joint statement demanding a resumption of the talks, saying, “Time is of the essence. End the prolonged impasse. Resume the talks, now.”

 

The ICHRPP is now on its second day. Conference delegates today are expected to tackle the issue on the struggle for a just and lasting peace. Speakers will share experiences on the search for peace in South Africa, the middle East and the Philippines.

 

The more than 250 peace and human rights advocates are also expected to join the people’s mobilization during the State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22. ###

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

 

Government death squads “a loud secret” — International peace activist

 

El Salvadoran peace activist Marta Benavides likened the killing of Italian priest Fausto Tentorio and the continuing impunity in the Philippines to the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Monsignor Oscar Romero in El Salvador.

“It is the same thing that happened to all the martyrs in Latin America, the same thing that happened in El Salvador with the murder of Monsignor Romero.  We call it a ‘loud secret.’  We all know, the whole population knows, what happened, who was behind it  … the death squads.  (We may not know exactly) who went to kill him, but who was behind it.  We think it’s the same thing here,” said Marta Benavides, an El Salvadoran theologist and internationally-acclaimed peace activist, who was a friend of Monsignor Romero.  She is one of the few surviving human rights activists that began their work in El Salvador in the 70s.

     

Benavides is one of the internationalists attending the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace  in the Philippines from July 19 to 21 in Quezon City.

 

Romero was a vocal critic of the US-supported military junta that took power in El Salvador in the late 70s and the human rights violations by right-wing paramilitary; he was shot dead on March 24, 1979 while he was giving mass in his chapel. Tentorio was killed on October 17, 2011, as he was leaving his convent in Arakan, North Cotabato.

 

Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME was a prominent anti-mining advocate and critic of the human rights violations in Mindanao, and had received death threats from suspected military-backed paramilitary before he was killed.  He was the first foreign missionary killed under the Aquino regime and since Fr. Tulio Favali, PIME who was killed in the mid-80s under the Marcos Dictatorship. In 2012, a second foreign missionary, Dutch environmentalist Willem Geertman was assassinated in his office in Angeles City, Pampanga.  He was the executive director of Alay Bayan Inc., and a staunch critic of development aggression in Aurora province.

 

Benavides said that political repression will continue because global crises are affecting the poorest nations, and people will always rise up in resistance. “That’s how these governments exist in the world right now.  They don’t exist for the people and with the people.   They have to maintain the system as it is so they can … maintain themselves in government… and the system finds the needs to repress them, to suppress and repress so that they can continue to oppress.”

 

Benavides, who was 37 when Romero was killed, recalled the climate of impunity in Latin America :  “It was very bad, it was very repressive at that time, and you could feel it in the air. Everybody have to be very careful. Most people that are doing anything that was good for the people, you have to be clandestine, or semi-clandestine. The death squads were after many people.  And this was also happening in Guatemala, and also in Honduras. But the thing is at that time, even though it was very dangerous, people were very brave.” [KARAPATAN, 20 June 2013] 

           
     
     

 

 

Presentation at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines
19 July 2013

PANEL 2. US geo-political and military strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan

By LEN COOPER
Vice chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)

Chairperson, ILPS-Australia Chapter
Divisional President, Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU)

 

Fraternal greetings and thank you for the opportunity to attend such an important conference and to learn from you during my stay.

 

I come from Australia, which is a country that was invaded by Europeans, beginning about 120 years ago and prior to that it was settled by the aboriginal native people for tens of thousands of years.

 

Since the European invasion of Australia, the ruling classes have been committed to and dominated by the priorities, policies, requirements and military actions and activities of one or other of the so called great powers. Initially the Australian ruling class was a puppet of British colonialism and neo colonialism and then, as it is now, it became more and more of a puppet of US Imperialism, particularly following the second world war and the decline of Britain as the main imperialist power.

 

Australia is a very large Island state, rich in minerals, agricultural production, manufacturing and services. It has a relatively small population of about 28 million people, with a workforce of over 10 million.

 

Australia is a relatively wealthy capitalist country which is suffering from most of the symptoms of the global capitalist crisis. Growing unemployment, over 2 million people living in poverty, a starving of the funding for many peoples needs, super exploitation of and oppression of the aboriginal first nation people, privatisation of the government assets and businesses, inhumane and un- democratic treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, attacks on workers wages, conditions and rights and so on.

 

To a degree and for a period Australia has been protected from the worst aspects of the capitalist crises by business activity and growth in China. This has enabled Australia to grow and prosper from trade with, and massive exports of minerals to China. But that period is coming to a close as China’s demand drops and the severe conditions of the capitalist global crisis start to bite even further into the Chinese economy.

 

Australia currently has a so called Labor government in power although a Federal election is imminent. During the term of the so called Labor government the large capitalist enterprises have prospered and Australia has moved even more firmly into the web of US Imperialism.

 

The Australian authorities, under pressure from US big business are working to deliver the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPPA) which at present involves several countries bordering on the Pacific. The TPPA is an extension of the US / Australia free trade agreement of 2004.

 

The TPPA is also an extension of the Neo Liberal economic programme put in place by imperialism from the 1970’s. In essence the economic programme wants unrestricted access to the markets in all countries outside the imperialists home countries, an unrestricted flow of goods, services, and capital by imperialism and complete freedom for US big business and others to exploit natural resources, source the cheapest Labour in the world, and remove all restrictions for the big and powerful to exploit the weaker and particularly the working people, the farmers the peasants and small business.

 

If imperialism achieves its objectives in the TPPA talks there will be far reaching detrimental, effects on jobs, working conditions ,health and safety, the cost of health services, education services, the cost of medicines, the environment, agriculture, manufacturing, protective regulations, and the independence and sovereignty of people and governments in the targeted countries.

 

Even former World Bank President Joseph Stiglitz has said that “most of these free trade agreements are managed to the advantage of the US which has the bulk of the negotiating power.”

 

Various governments are resisting various aspects of the US agenda in the TPPA talks however what is needed is more unity and mobilisation of the people across Asia and the Pacific to fight this free trade deal in particular and the neo liberal agenda in general.

 

Much good work is being done by people in many countries on this score with mobilisation and united action growing. There is a potential to unite unions, small farmers and small business, health workers, education workers, environmentalists and more.

 

The people in the Philippines and Oceania have this struggle and many more in common.

 

There is the vexed question of US military domination of the Asia Pacific.

Australia has a formal alliance agreement with the United States. It is known as the Australian New Zealand United States Alliance (ANZUS). This has existed for over 50 years.

 

As a result there are over 35 to 40 US military and intelligence sites and bases across Australia, covering all states. Some of the US facilities in Australia are a very important part of the US strategy to dominate and militarise space.

 

The Australian authorities have supported and been involved in, most of the military aggression and slaughter by US imperialism at least since the Second World War. Aggression against Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others.

 

Now of course due to President Obamas ‘ so called pivot towards the Asia Pacific the US is now stationing military assets more permanently on Australian soil and has drawn Australia more firmly into joint military exercises with the US and others and more central to the US military intelligence apparatus.

 

Just recently former Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, writing in the Age newspaper on Feb.6th 2013 said this:

 

“It is time Australia started to have a mind of its own. We should not follow a superpower into war, merely because it wants us to, or because of ANZUS.” We agree.

We must continue to say we will not be part of US Imperialisms’ plans to dominate our region, we will not be part of US Imperialisms war plans against China and other countries. We must continue to demand that the US and any other Imperialist power get out of our region now.

 

There have been reports in the Australian media just this week that the” United States is negotiating an agreement to allow it to position military equipment and rotating personnel in the Philippines while avoiding the controversial issue of re-establishing US bases in the country officials from both countries say.” Says the Sunday AGE newspaper in Australia. (July 14th 2013)

 

Clearly both the Philippines and Australia are being treated like vassal states by US Imperialism. The Filipino people have already pushed US bases out of the country previously and it looks like they will have to do so again.

 

In Australia, we witnessed the biggest street demonstrations in our history when hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against the Iraq war. There is today a beginning of a re awakening in Australia of that protest action against foreign military bases and for an independent Australian foreign policy.

 

The Filipino people have been struggling for independence and Liberation beginning in the 1800’s.They continue that struggle today, more determined, even more effectively and with the absolute certainty that will succeed. They are our inspiration.

 

The democratic, human, and social rights of people across the globe are under challenge in a way unseen since at least the growth and spread of Fascism before and during the Second World War of last century.

 

The capitalist crisis and Imperialism pose a grave threat to the globe and the people of the world.

 

Only the people themselves can solve this crisis and prevent this grave threat. The peoples of Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Philippines, India, Turkey, and many others are showing the way today. They are working towards a solution and we salute them. A solution that involves genuine democracy not a sham. A solution that represents freedom not oppression. A solution that represents social liberation for the people. They are the inspiration. That is our task.

 

Thank you.

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

 

Deputy Sheriff: Australia as imperialist subaltern; A model for the Philippines?

Presentation at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines
19 July 2013

PANEL 2. US geopolitical and military strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan

By GILL H. BOEHRINGER
Hon. Associate, Macquarie University Law School Sydney, Australia

Introduction

A few words about imperialism and human rights will suffice to provide a backdrop to my discussion of the imperialist subaltern’s role. In June 1898, a meeting at historic Faneuil Hall, Boston, led to the formation of the Anti-Imperialist League. For members of the League, colonizing the Philippines was immoral, unprincipled, unconstitutional and, in the view of many, “criminal aggression”. They well knew what would be the result of becoming an imperial power with the acquisition of the Philippines. First, the loss of freedom for the Filipinos. They declared their position with clarity in 1899:

“We regret that it has become necessary in the land of Washington and Lincoln to reaffirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We maintain that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. We insist that the subjugation of any people is “criminal aggression” and open disloyalty to the distinctive principle of our Government.”

Second, the loss of their own liberties would follow. In books, pamphlets, articles and speeches they warned their countrymen: you cannot retain your republican rights when you become an imperialist aggressor. Republic or Empire? was the question posed by of many of these writings.* As Senator Benjamin Tillman commented at the Democratic National Convention in 1900, imperialist subjugation of others would have the effect of destroying liberty at home and threatened “ the very existence of the Republic and the destruction of our free institutions.”

The League was, of course, unsuccessful in their campaign to prevent the country from sliding down the slope of imperialist domination abroad, and what was clearly the implication for the future: repression at home. How prescient they were. Today there is only a shell of an American Republic; the liberties and human rights once taken for granted have been hollowed out, severely restricted, and in some cases “disappeared”. Just as the Roman Republic for a long time retained the republican forms, but was hollowed out as the Empire was constructed.

Nations who align themselves with the hegemonic American superpower in imperialist ventures are not immune to this phenomenon. The human rights and liberties of Australians and Filipinos have been greatly diminished by the pro-imperialist and anti-people policies of their neo-liberal governments. It is with that necessary consequence in mind that I want to consider the two countries’ historical experience of imperialism.

The historical background of imperialism in the Philippines and Australia

The parallels between colonial Australia and colonial Philippines are many. Both nations were founded as the result of Western imperialist intrusion into the Asia Pacific region. First, Spain in the Philippines (16th century) which provided the link between Mexico-the administrative capital of their Latin American colonial empire- and China, and then in the late 18th century the English in Australia (putting aside earlier Dutch and Portuguese sea-faring explorations of the continent’s northwest coast). The English were looking for trade and to secure their interests in the region by establishing bases from which to replenish and repair their ships. They also wished to exclude others from dominating the great southern continent and strategic outpost, the French in particular who were exploring the area at that time. (A colleague reminds me that a colony was established on the island now known as Tasmania very quickly after setting up camp on the mainland in 1788, precisely for this reason.)

While the Australian historical narrative has been that the colony was established simply for the purpose of a convict colony as the “Brits” could no longer send their convicts to the newly independent former colonies of North America, that explanation fails to convince. Convicts were certainly sent, but they could have been dealt with in other ways. In Australia they provided cheap labor for the establishment of the new outpost. As well as a relatively non-threatening guise for onlooking rivals, perhaps.

Then, of course, the late-comers: the Americans, replacing the Spanish and the English as the hegemonic power. In the Philippines, the US came in 1898 to add another link in their trading and military chain from California to China, via Hawaii where their ships could be provided with fuel, fresh food and water for the next leg of their journey. (In Hawaii, they had recently used armed forces from a naval squadron to overthrow the independent monarchy, and established a colony at the behest of the Dole family and other business interests). By 1902 the Americans had sufficiently imposed their military order to announce, fittingly on July 4th, “mission accomplished”. The Filipino Republic was gone, and American suzerainty was established.

Filipino resistance was formally criminalized by the Bandelero Act, 1902. Although the resistance remained for many years, and continued to reappear, the country was gradually pacified. To assist in securing the colony as a safe haven, in August 1901, the Americans brought the “Thomasites” (American teachers brought on the USAT Thomas to begin the process of instilling American ideology and generally to “uplift” the natives; American history books were below decks for ballast). These zealous cultural “ambassadors” (an early “peace corps”) and others, as recent books by Al McCoy have demonstrated, began the process of using a combination of repression and “soft power” to inculcate a victor’s history and the “American way”, including what every Yank is taught from primary school: an understanding that America was ‘exceptional”, humanitarian and democratic, not like the bad old imperialist powers of Europe. In the case of its presence in the Philippines, the local population was taught that it was there for their benefit, and would be friend, mentor and protector. At the time of the comprehensive American naval victory over the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, a German fleet was observing the carnage from nearby; Russian naval squadrons had been lurking in the area for years, and the Japanese were building their naval strength-as demonstrated by their victories over the Russian naval forces at Port Arthur and Tsushima, 1904-05. (On late-comer colonialism, and the mechanisms of American colonial rule, see now K. Fujiwara and Y. Nagano, (eds.) America’s Informal Empires: Philippines and Japan (2011). There are clear signs of “soft power” being used in the early days of American occupation both in this volume, and in the volumes by Al McCoy mentioned above. ( See his Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (2009); and, with co-editor F. A. Scarano, Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State (2009). Of course “soft power” remained a major phenomenon of influence and domination until the present. (See below re “soft power”.)

As for Australia, it was born of imperialism, and proved its allegiance by participating in many imperialist wars fought by its suzerain, the United Kingdom, as is the custom in such relations. The Aussies fought in imperialist wars in distant lands to support British interests, e.g. as British colonials in the Second Maori War (or the Taranaki Wars) in 1860-63; the British expedition (1896) led by Kitchener in the Sudan to re-conquer the Sudan (and to avenge the killing of the popular hero General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885); and again, against the Boers in South Africa, 1899-1902 (dramatized in book and film, Breaker Morant). After constitutional nationhood, they fought the Germans, Turks and others in WW1. Along with the British, American and other Western powers, Australians volunteered for the interventionist war against the Bolshevik revolution (1917-1920). They again took to arms against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) in WW2. In Malaya, a Communist revolutionary force began a war in 1948, and Australian troops were sent in 1950 to join a Commonwealth force to put down the revolution. The war ended with the defeat of the revolutionaries in 1960.

It could be said that in the case of WW2 at least, the Australians had to fight the Japanese in their own interests; but as has been recently said, there are a thousand possibilities between passivity and war, and the rather insignificant attacks by Japanese air and naval forces on Australia (Darwin in the north, Sydney harbor, and Broome in Western Australia) have to be seen in the context of Australia’s traditional role as imperialist subaltern. Ifs do not count of course, but what if the Australian government had followed a consistent policy of non-alignment, non-intervention? The Nazis did not attack Sweden, nor Switzerland. Would the Japanese necessarily have invaded a neutral Australia? Would they have bombed Darwin, or sent 2 man subs into Sydney harbor?. Would the Australians have fought for their colonies Papua and New Guinea (gained from Britain and the League of Nations by non-violent methods, essentially by mandate) if an understanding had been reached with the Japanese? I raise these questions as the problems of being a subaltern and the dangers involved are back on the table, not least in the Philippines.

The Australians transferred their primary colonial allegiance to the Americans as a result of the incapacity of the British imperial forces to protect them after the debacle of the British surrender of their fortress at Singapore to the Japanese. Australian governments failed to learn their lesson after the disastrous trap into which they were so tragically led by the British generals-following Churchill’s plan-at Gallipoli, Turkey, in WW1. Instead it became a national holiday in remembrance of the “nation building” event. In formal terms Australia remained under the rule of the Queen, still governed from London, a fact dramatically illustrated by the sacking of the unpredictable (read not trusted by the international financial elite) and “soft on Red China” Labour Party Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by the Queen’s representative in the country, Governor General Sir John Kerr, a traitor to his class (a son of a boilermaker) and an ardent monarchist. (Some commentators suggest the Queen left the decision to the Australian born Kerr, but he would not have failed to get prior approval of his intention); but substantively the country was realigned toward the new Sheriff in the Asia Pacific, the USA. It has long been thought that CIA operatives in Australia played a significant role in the de-stabilizing of the Whitlam government which preceded the action of Kerr who, interestingly, has a footnote in the history of the Marcos era in the Philippines (see below). Recent media revelations of Australian Labor Party informants who secretly gave information to the Americans about political and other matters in Australian governing/elite circles over many decades puts this into perspective. One of those who was thought highly of by the Americans is now Foreign Minister in the Australian government.

Since “signing up” with the Americans, the Australians have been involved in a number of far off wars alongside the Sheriff, e.g. wars in Korea; Viet Nam; twice in Iraq, where in 2003 their Special Forces were apparently the first soldiers to fight inside the boundaries of Iraq, even before the rest of the “coalition of the willing” became involved; and currently still in Afghanistan. That is a strong record for a minor island nation of about 20 million people in the southern Pacific. As they are so proud to do in sport, they seem to be “punching above their weight”.

In the last quarter of the 20th century and into the early 21st century, Australia began to flex its muscles in the South Pacific and indeed South East Asia. It was, of course, not entirely new at the imperialist game in its region. It had long held the reins in Papua New Guinea, and was complicit in the Indonesian takeover of West Papua and East Timor. (A colleague informs me that the Menzies Liberal Party coalition government originally opposed the Indonesian takeover of the former, but was to change its policy under pressure from the USA to do so.)

The Australian government began to throw its weight around in the South Pacific Forum; in criticizing policies of (and some personalities) of the Prime Ministers of countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Fiji; and it sent troops-and aid, training missions and even police into a number of countries such as East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and the island of Bougainville. While Australians were told this was humanitarian intervention to benefit-and bring democracy to-these other countries, those on the receiving end did not always see it nor experience it as such.

Many Indonesians and West Papuans, as well as the East Timorese and those in Aceh will have felt the brutal repression practiced by the Indonesian elite KOPASSUS troops, many of whom were trained by the Australian army and carried out military exercises with them. It was said, at the time, that training in human rights issues was a required part of that program, aimed at mitigating abuses where the troops were deployed.

This is the same justification given when Australian troops were sent to Myanmar to provide human rights education to the troops of the military dictatorship. It is also the same refrain we have heard with regard to human rights programs for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. One wonders, given the appalling human rights record of the AFP and their penchant for glib self-justification, whether the training included handling the media.

Australia has for a very long time had an aid program in the Philippines. (See below for further information re the military component.) It is one of the largest bilateral donors to the Republic. Average government donations through AUSAID has been AUD 130 million in the past three years. Also, special visas are available for skilled Filipino workers to enter Australia, a program which in many instances has found these workers paid low wages, or even not paid, and working in unsafe and/or unhealthy conditions. It should also be mentioned that Australian mining companies are amongst the big players in a country with huge and extremely valuable mineral resources.

As a result of the various regional interventions, initiatives and programs indicated above, many observers in the region and in Washington, saw a “special relationship” between the imperialist master-the Pacific Sheriff- and its subaltern. President Bush 2 apparently at one point spoke of John Howard’s Australia as “the deputy sheriff” in the southern Pacific region. It is said that Howard himself, who was fascinated by the macho Texan it seems, took to using the expression. Even the denials c. 2003/04 by Bush that he had ever used that expression, made clear that in fact the American government considered Australia in that light. Bush stumbled through explanations which suggested both countries had a role akin to that of Sheriff, but they were equal partners. Pull the other leg, George!

What is the role of a deputy sheriff in the period of America’s “pivot to Asia”, and in the future?

I will just sketch briefly how the deputy helps out the Sheriff, and how the Sheriff responds. Filipinos will want to consider the implications for them as they shape up under the pro-American president, Aquino 2, to stand shoulder- to- shoulder with the US, and also with the Australians, in the shadow of the growing presence of China.

First, and most obvious perhaps, long-standing US bases in Australia have been crucial to its rise to global hegemony. In particular, much signal traffic intel comes through the facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs (and three other Australian defence facilities which are associated with the foreign and domestic Australian surveillance which Edward Snowden has exposed).

Australia; US bases in Australia were key to the roll-back of the Japanese in WW2, and the recent agreement to allow more American troops (Marines initially) to be stationed in the north is a significant boost for the American China- containment project;

Joint military exercises are commonplace and military training, military exchanges, etc. as well;

Naval visits are frequent. Unlike doughty New Zealand, there is no ban on nuclear vessels entering Australian ports. I believe there is a no-ask, no-tell policy;

Australian political and military activity in the southern Pacific and Southeast Asia regions has expanded the reach of the Americans; as Filipinos sometimes say of their CAFGU and other local para-military forces and private armies, they are “force multipliers”. The US is stretched militarily, financially (with the extraordinary amounts spent in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) and in citizen acceptance of military adventures, so what better than to have the Aussies doing the heavy lifting “down under”;

Similarly, the deputy’s claim to be “exceptional” i. e. not imperialist, just humanitarian, has for a while at least, been easier to sell than such claims from the US, thus giving more legitimacy to actions which would be more suspect if done by the Sheriff;

The actions of the deputy could be quicker and more effective due to propinquity of Australia to possible hot spots, and arguably could be more finely tuned to local sensibilities due to familiarity gained over decades of interaction;

The deputy also has the capacity to train military personnel from countries in the region, which gives them and the Sheriff closer links with military and possible future political leaders. The Aussies have taught human rights issues to the military in Myanmar, and as mentioned above to KOPASSUS in Indonesia, and have done the same with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They have trained hundreds, if not thousands, of AFP personnel in various programs including counter-insurgency and intel work. We know that currently more than 100 AFP personnel get some kind of special training in Australia each year.

Among the graduates of such programs are the notorious General Jovito S. Palparan, known to Filipinos in regions where he operated as “The Beast”-now a fugitive from justice after evidence was produced, and accepted by a court, indicating his command role in the extra judicial disappearance of two University of the Philippines students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, who were working as volunteers with impoverished rural communities and were “tagged” as subversives by AFP operatives. Others who benefitted from training/education in Australia include the favourite of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, General Delfin Bangit, who was her aide de camp during her tenure as Vice President, became Chief of AFP Intelligence, and Commander of the Presidential Security Group; and General Ricardo Visaya who had a most outrageous record of responsibility for human rights abuse-with impunity of course.. According to Karapatan, he was a cohort of Palparan during the latter’s reign of terror in Central Luzon: he was former commanding general of the 69th Infantry Battalion [a unit of Palparan’s 7th Division-GB] responsible for the Hacienda Luisita massacre in November 2004…(he) left a trail of human rights violations wherever he was assigned”. Whether Visaya’s Foreign Officers’ Intelligence Course at the Australian School for Military Intelligence covered such incidents, we do not know. Nor do we know if it covered partisan politicking against progressive party lists and the militarization and intimidation of civilian populations (Metro Manila, 2007). Or whether it dealt with kidnapping and torture (the farmer brothers Manalo in 2006), or harassment of labor leaders and anti-labor campaigning (against Dole Corporation workers trying to form a union affiliated with the progressive KMU labor center, 2011). Again we do not know. What we do know is that he must have been a poor student if he was supposed to learn respect for human rights.

Another task for the deputy is to use “soft power” to develop a pro-American/Australian mentality in target countries. Soft power, as opposed to coercive force, is used to encourage a population-and its leaders of course-to adopt a friendly, positive attitude towards the country using that power. There is an interesting “soft power war” going on presently between the USA, along with its allies and friendly competitors-the UK and EU- and China.

How does the Sheriff respond to the work of its deputies?

One benefit, if it can be called that, for the deouty country is the sharing of “intelligence”, some of which will have been gathered by surveillance of the deputy’s citizens as the heroic Edward Snowden has recently confirmed for us.

By subverting governments and political parties, movements and individuals they do not approve of.

By insisting that the deputy “toes the line” with regard to policies-economic, military- which the Sheriff believes to be in its interest.

By “negotiating” treaties which the Sheriff sees as beneficial to it (and its mega corporations), without great regard for the interests of the deputy country.

Indications of support in case of conflict between the deputy and a third country.

A constant supply of the latest armaments, sometimes at a discount, or even as ‘aid” when second-hand.

The array of “soft power” phenomena mentioned above, including of course financial assistance in the case of a “developing country” or a “Newly Industrializing Country”.

Emergence of soft power- an example: World Peace through Law

Soft power includes financial aid, but also cultural elements, especially popular culture such as music and art, sport (consider basketball in the Philippines!), and education, religion, political ideology, and state institutions, not least the judicial system.

The World Peace Through Law (WPTL) movement was started by Charles Rhyne, President of the American Bar Association and a fervent anti-communist, in order to use American ideology as soft power, e.g. the rule of law in a liberal democracy, to counter- pose the “peace and freedom” offensive by the USSR. For Rhyne the goal was to “capture” May 1st from the Soviet Union and to put a large crimp in the celebrations around the globe on the workers’ day. Rhyne convinced President Eisenhower to proclaim May 1st in America as “Law Day” ( in the US “Labor Day” had long since been assigned to September at the beginning of the school year and part of the final weekend of the summer when thoughts were far from any “class struggle”); subsequently the bombastic LBJ proclaimed it “World Law Day”. How ironic when the first proclamation of Labor Day on May 1st occurred in 1880s “radical” Chicago after the Haymarket bombing incident and the subsequent injustice meted out to four workers hung for being anarchists. (Australians now celebrate a Law Week in the month of May in most states, although it is rather low key.)

Soft power, sometimes called “smart power” was conceptualized by Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former Dean of the JFK School of Government at Harvard University, and longtime foreign affairs and national security analyst. In the early 90s he was Chair of the National Intelligence Council which advised the President; and under Clinton became the Assistant Secretary for Defence-International Security Affairs. Nye, an urbane, liberal “organic intellectual” (in the Gramscian sense) is a graduate of Princeton, Oxford and Harvard universities, and has written extensively on international relations and American power in the age of globalization. His books include Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power (1990); The Changing Nature of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone (2002); Power in the Global Information Age: From Realism to Globalization (2004); Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (2004); The Powers to Lead (2008); The Future of Power (2011); and Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era (2013).

     
     
     
     
     
     


David Drezner, a reporter for Foreign Affairs, a highly influential American journal of elite thinking, commented in 2011 “All roads to understanding American foreign policy lead through Joe Nye.” Recently Nye was named as the 6th most influential scholar in international relations in the last 20 years (the first 5 must be amazing!).

Nye was recently on a speaking tour of Australian major cities, and spoke at my university, amongst others. Of course his purpose was to emphasize the role of soft power in developing friendly relations between competitors in the new circumstances of “globalization” and “free trade” agreements, not least the American economic weapon, the Trans Pacific Partnership then (and now) being negotiated; the rise of China and a roiling Middle East.

After one of his lectures, under questioning about the “dark side’ of soft power, that is the use of it to dominate other countries ( an aspect which he had not adverted to, as if it was all cozy and above board), he had to admit that the US had made “mistakes” and done “regrettable” things in places such as South East Asia and the Philippines, but on balance he thought there had been a positive impact on the Philippines, and that American use of soft power had been a major positive element in the development of a democratic country with a rule of law. He would wouldn’t he.

Soft Power and the Philippine- Australia Connection, 1977

Soft power can, of course, be applied by small countries and colonies or neo-colonies. And it can be used externally as well as internally. The Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos, perhaps surprisingly given his notorious martial law repression, was adept at using soft power. In an ironic move, and after an indirect request from the would-be guest, he had agreed-with a laugh it is said by the intermediary- to invite Sir John Kerr to a World Peace Through Law Conference in Manila, in 1977, along with a number of leading statesmen and politicians-especially from Third World countries, many of them dictators such as South Korea’s Park-and substantial judicial figures such as the first African-American to sit on the US Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall (his Hawaii-born Fil-Am wife had never been to Manila so their presence is partly explicable by her longing to see the country).

Between 3 and 6 thousand lawyers and others attended (press estimates varied between the Marcos newspapers and the others which were under looser control I suppose). The American progressive lawyer, social justice activist and former Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, caused a momentary hiccup when he and others held a street rally to protest the holding of the conference in a country under Martial Law. (Interestingly the conference was given to Marcos instead of the Shah of Iran who desperately wanted it.) A crowd of 5-10,000 showed up and received the “water treatment” and police beatings. Several dozen protestors were arrested. Clark then called a press conference and announced that due to the repression under Martial Law, in particular the detention of so many people without trial, torture and human rights abuses generally, he could not accept the invitation to attend what he indicated was a charade, and took a plane back to the USA. I found only one brief account which did not mention Clark, nor that the original plan was to have a meeting in a catholic College which was cancelled-presumably under pressure from the government-so the organizers took it to the street. It should be noted that Clark is currently on the list of those prohibited from entering the Philippines as a result of his support for Joma Sison in his legal battles, and many critical actions and reports over the years about continuing human rights violations and impunity in the country.

Liberal Party Senator Jovito Salonga, members of the PSDP (Social Democratic Party of the Philippines, or “socdems”) and others are said to have tried to organize a parallel conference, but I have been unable to find any information on that. It was not reported in the press at the time.

The conference was the kind of stage Marcos and First Lady Imelda loved. He sought the support of the Filipino people for his modernization project, building the New Society, and legitimacy on the world stage. The First Lady sought the adulation of the Filipino people, and of course the delegates.

The President was rewarded by the Conference delegates with an award for being a “Nation Builder”. No doubt the long Opening Speech by the Chief Justice, Fred Castro, with its fulsome praise for the New Society program and jurisprudential justification of Martial Law would have been important in winning the delegates’ approval of what Marcos had been doing with his dictatorial powers.

The President and Imelda entertained the Kerrs who, although on a private visit were treated as visiting dignitaries of great importance. (No trace of Kerr’s visit to Manila is to be found in the Governor General’s Official Diary at the time, nor in any of his writings) Kerr enjoyed a media blitz as if he were representing the Australian government. The media stressed that he was an important Australian to talk business with, and headlines emphasized his discussions with Marcos about trade, investment and relations between the two countries. Perhaps to emphasize the good relations between the two countries, the press also featured Sir John laying a wreath at the tomb of the unnamed soldiers at Labingan ng mga Bayani, Fort Bonifacio, and a photograph of the entry of an Australian warship into a Philippine port, presumably for ‘R n R”. (See generally my unpublished paper with Stephanie McNamee, “Sir John Kerr and President Marcos: a footnote in Australian legal history”).

By way of contrast, and perhaps for tactical reasons in his relations with the US government, the press was at the same time publicizing what appeared to be supportable allegations by a Filipina cafeteria worker on a US military facility, Clark Airbase, who claimed that she had been raped by the senior officer in her department. Similar allegations against the same officer were filed with the police by another female worker on the base, and were to find their way into the press. Interestingly, after the Conference the rape stories disappeared from the newspapers. The US officials were demanding the right to deal with the matter themselves under the existing treaty between the two countries. Plus ca change. I have been unable to determine whether the officer was dealt with by the Americans or the Filipinos. However, I suspect he was protected by the US authorities, which would have been embarrassing for Marcos, thus the silence of the press may be understood as a tactic to avoid being seen as weak in dealing with the Americans.

The week-long WPTL Conference was an amazing extravaganza. In addition to supplying Mercedes automobiles for principle guests to be driven around the city, Marcos had Dame Margot Fonteyn, Rudolph Nureyev and the Moscow Beethoven Piano Competition prize winner Van Cliburn-and his mother-flown in for a performance at the recently constructed Philippine Cultural Center (Imelda’s pet project). As the genial but commanding host of the Conference, Marcos ensured that Kerr, an Australian lawyer was given the “Lawyer of the Year” award by the Conference attendees. Few of them would have known that by then he was disgraced in his own country.

What future for the Philippines-will it garner a deputy sheriff badge?

At this time, it appears that the Philippine government will have a chance to become a deputy sheriff. The Aquino administration has a very positive and supportive attitude toward the Sheriff, and a past tradition of the Philippine elite working loyally with the USA is greatly appreciated there. Of course some Filipino critics would say that the relationship has been marred by obsequiousness, the latest example being the Solicitor General trying to protect the US naval officers who are responsible for running the USS Guardian (!) aground on a reef within Philippine territorial waters, causing grave damage to the environment, and to the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk. (Obsequiousness is actually a trait emperors-and Sheriffs-not only like but often demand.)

As we have outlined above, the Republic has also shown a friendly face to its close-in mentor, deputy sheriff Australia, suggesting a good working relationship between the potential future partners, as well as a division of labor and territorial responsibilities.

Nevertheless, there are certain problems remaining which will have to be resolved before the Sheriff is likely to consider an application for promotion. A “performance evaluation” would point to areas where significant improvement is required.

The first barrier, denial of bases for the past 20 years, seems now to have been overcome, all credit to an imaginative interpretation of the Philippine Constitution. US forces (and Japanese) will be given even more access to the country, since rotation of troops means they are not here permanently and therefore, being only temps, can come and go (literally as they please- as in the Nicole incident, with the spiriting away of the alleged rapist US Navy Seaman Smith from Philippine custody and jurisdiction) without violating the Constitutional ban on foreign bases. No wonder Jack Cade said- “First, we kill all the lawyers” (apologies to our hosts in the NUPL! And also to playwright Shakespeare).

Other problems, however, cannot be whisked away by verbal gymnastics. Consider:

  1. A lack of political stability, due to:

    1. Continuing widespread hunger, poverty and inequality;

    2. Shambolic political competition, with transitory and vacuous policies, as well as illegitimacy of elections because of vote manipulation and vote buying, and other forms of cheating;

    3. The power of the political and economic dynasties which form a conservative, self-interested dominant elite;

    4. Personality/celebrity politics and a correlative lack of a convincing plan for national economic development which is likely to provide a strong base for continued re-distributive growth.

  2. Lack of guaranteed territorial integrity
    The “deal” with the MILF in Mindanao appears unlikely to bring peace, but if it does, then the national government will lose effective control of a significant political and economic entity. Why should that be the end product? Is it likely that secession will not remain on the agenda? The Sheriff could be put into the position (or help bring it about) where it is going to have to decide who is going to be the most valuable deputy in the region.

  3. Lack of internal territorial control.

    1. The continuing struggle for social justice and against repression and exploitation waged by the CPP and the NPA (supported by the civil society elements of the NDF and others) also suggests that the Philippines is insufficiently united to become a reliable and effective deputy;

    2. The apparent inability of the GPH to effectively deal with the murderous and apparently sectarian BIFF, and the gangsters of the Abu Sayyaf raises further doubts as to the capacity of the country’s leadership to fulfill the deputy role.

  4. Corruption is pervasive

The fact that the former President was willing to enter into deals with foreign corporations for infrastructure projects at huge costs to the nation while filling her own pockets with kickbacks (and those of her First Gentleman aka “Mr. Fifty Percent”) illustrates the extent of the problem. While the incumbent President has pledged to end corruption (and naively believes-or says he believes-that that will put an end to poverty) it can be said that just as his neo-liberal “trickle- down economics” has made things no better, and in some ways worse, there is no evidence that “trickle-down honesty” is bringing obvious benefits to the masa. (See the report of Transparency International, released recently, which indicates there has been little change in the Filipino perception of the problem and the lack of effective action by the present administration. See also the lead story by Catherine S. Valente in the Manila Times, July 11, 2013 “Corruption remains rampant- Palace”).

For the time being, on the basis of our evaluation, it would seem likely that the Philippines will not get a promotion. It will continue to serve the Sheriff loyally, and receive promises of support and protection. It may continue to get surplus navy ships and other military materiel. Even humanitarian aid. Always military training of course, human rights abuses to one side. (The situation in Egypt is enlightening. Huge amounts of US military aid has gone to that country’s armed forces, and in the last decade over 11,000 officers have been trained in the US, including the top echelon who were educated at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. One wonders if the curriculum recommended firing at the backs of praying worshippers as was recently done in Cairo).

Of course when push comes to shove, there could be such pressure on the Sheriff and his Aussie deputy that the Republic will get the nod to operate as a temporary deputy, full promotion dependent on performance on-the –job. (“Temp” is the “new normal” under globalized neo-liberalism, so the GPH cannot cavil.) There are good reasons why such a limited promotion could be on the cards sooner than we think.

The Republic will function as an early warning system, much as my former US Navy ship- a “destroyer- radar”- did back in the ‘50s. We had the latest radar technology and were posted 60 miles away from an aircraft carrier squadron for the purpose of warning the carrier of enemy planes coming in for attack. Quite a vulnerable position to be in if ever there was an attack. One thinks of the similarity to the current ruckus in the “West Philippine Sea”. By acting as a target for imagined enemies, the country will demonstrate that it is a “locked-in” ally.

It will earn additional “brownie points” for the following reasons:

  1. It has troops to spare as its performance has demonstrated in Mindanao and Basilan and elsewhere;

  2. It has plenty of interesting topography for training and exercises with base-less foreign troops;

  3. It has experience in providing aircraft facilities, ship repair and “R n R”;

  4. It has been a supportive voice in international fora, and one of the first to be “willing” to invade Iraq;

  5. It has been a welcoming site for profit-making by US and other foreign corporations;

  6. It has provided a reserve army of labor by encouraging millions of Filipinos to leave for the US to find employment not available in their home country;

  7. It has also suffered, in silence, a brain drain of innovative and entreprenurial university graduates in favour of the USA;

  8. It has been a source of “inside” information about the region through its location and participation in ASEAN and other associations;

  9. It is a source of ideological support for American “exceptionalism” (“they gave us our independence”), liberal democracy, and neo-liberal policies;

  10. It provides a Christian barrier to potential Islamicization of the region, or a regional Islamic state.

That is a very strong resume. With the passage of time, and the cleaning up of its internal problems indicated above, the Republic could easily garner a permanent deputyship.

Down the road a way

In the longer term, a country of well over 100 million and great natural wealth can be expected to grow in stature and capacity, and therefore a move up the hierarchal formation to become a deputy.

Assuming that the Republic maintains its subordinate role in the American neo-empire, it is certain to be seen as an important link in the chain of “containment” or encirclement of the superpower China will become. A look at the map will show that China’s northern sea flank is faced by another American subaltern, Japan, while Alaska is back-up. The southern flank is covered by the Philippines (and other countries such as Viet Nam which have warmed to the embrace of the Yanks) and Australia as back-up. (I leave out Taiwan as it is especially difficult to predict its future, but it is unlikely to be part of the containment strategy in any strong sense, unless forced to by active Chinese assertion of its jurisdiction over the island).

A strong, economically developed Philippines could, of course, choose an independent, nationalist path, gradually moving out of the US field of power. This could be a choice the other deputy, Australia, might also have to make if its links with China strengthen and the Americans lose their hegemonic position, perhaps because American “exceptionalism” no longer sells in large parts of the world. (Again, a colleague suggests that joint naval exercises with China were seen in US elite circles as a “betrayal” by Australia, requiring explanation and reassurances of the fidelity of the Aussies to their seigneur.)

A Philippines newly developed could easily find that their economic interests viz a viz China trump their historical link with the US. Already Filipino tycoons, such as the massively rich Sy family (shopping mall kings) are moving into China looking for “new opportunities”-profits- in the opening up of a huge consumer market. That much of Filipino economic resources are under the control of Chinoys (Chinese Filipinos) it is not difficult to see the likely growth of interdependency between close neighbours who have strong historical ties. (Those ties, commercial in particular, are examined in some depth in R.T. Chua, Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity, and Culture, 1860s-1930s (2010).

Stranger things have happened in world politics. One hundred years ago it would have been difficult to predict the present client role into which Japan has settled in its relations with the USA.

*See for example:

Perry Belmont, Republic or Empire? (1900)

George Sewall Boutwell, In the Name of Liberty: Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism (1899)

William Jennings Bryant (ed.) Republic or Empire? The Philippine Question (1899)

James Wells Sewall, A Protest Against the President’s War of “Criminal Aggression” (1899)

James Wells Sewall, Republic or Empire? an Argument in Opposition to the Establishment of an American Colonial System (1900)

Note-three of these authors were, amongst other things, lawyers. Bryant was the unsuccessful candidate of the Democratic Party for president in 1896, 1900 and 1904 ; he made anti-imperialism a major issue in the 1900 election, which he lost to McKinley by about 600,000 votes out of about 13, 500,000. McKinleys attitude toward colonization is summed up in the following: while he was unsure about annexation of the Philippines at first, after a night on his knees praying, he concluded that God had “dropped them into our lap” and therefore “Nothing is left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them.”

VIDEO:
“Paradise” for the wealthy, “purgatory” for those who have less — Prof. Gill Boehringer

 

     
     

 

 

Aquino’s “Oplan Bayanihan”: Replicating a failed US Counterinsurgency Guide

Presentation at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

Quezon City, Philippines
19 July 2013

PANEL 2. US geopolitical and military strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan

By SATUR C. OCAMPO
President, Makabayan People’s Coalition
President, Bayan Muna

It was quaint how Benigno S. Aquino III — 18 days before he was elected President of the Philippines on May 10, 2010 – defined the “four key elements” of what he envisioned as his administration’s national security policy. The four elements he cited now constitute the “national strategic guideline” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counterinsurgency plan, “Oplan Bayanihan”.

He put forward the four key elements in his speech at a Peace and Security Forum held at the Mandarin Oriental Manila on April 22. Aquino, then a senator aspiring for the presidency, laid the ground for his proposition by chastising the outgoing administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for its failures, in these words:

“For nine long years the Arroyo administration has failed to put in place a coherent National Security Policy that addresses the root causes of strife and conflict… The absence of a clear national policy and a coherent strategy for peace negotiations led to confusion and false expectations across the table.” (The second sentence pertains to the bungled peace negotiations between the Arroyo government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front: an agreement on ancestral domain set to be signed by the two sides in August 2008 was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.)

The next administration, Aquino segued, “will have to pick up the pieces and resume the quest forpeacewith vigor and clarity of purpose.” Sounding like a man of action he had not been known for, Aquino set these following steps for the next government:

  1. Complete the drafting, “within the first three months of the next administration,” of a comprehensive National Security Policy that “will guide our national defense and internal security policies that, in turn, will shape our respective national military and law enforcement strategies”;

  2. The document should be a product of consultations among “various stakeholders, including representatives from the different components of the security sector and other agencies”; and

  3. The work should be completed by the end of 2010.

Then he identified the four key elements on which the national security policy must focus:

  1. Governance (the government must be present and accountable to its citizens);

  2. Delivery of basic services (health and education especially to depressed and vulnerable villages in conflict areas with the help of international partners, the private sector and non-profit organizations);

  3. Economic reconstruction andsustainable development (economic reconstruction of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao should be fully integrated in all Mindanao-wide and national development plans); and

  4. Security sectorreform (begin with restoring the pride and honor of the uniformed services) .

The full text of Aquino’s speech was posted in the Internet. It contained a footnote to the afore-cited four elements, which states: “These elements are derived from a universally accepted template for post-conflict stability, reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts used in such war-torn places as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan.”

Why, one may ask: Rather than deeply analyze the “root causes of the armed conflicts” in the context of prevailing conditions in his country (in order to identify the appropriate solutions that he must pursue), Mr. Aquino opted to apply the template used by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan? These are the three countries where the US had launched wars of intervention in the past decade, wherein it has been mired in trying to resolve a multiplicity of problems, and from which the Obama administration now desperately seeks to disengage.

Or did Aquino believe that because the template was denoted by the US as “universally accepted” it could very well apply to the Philippines?

The answer to both questions is this: In crafting their internal security policies and counterinsurgency operational plans — specifically against the Left revolutionary armed movement, led by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army for 44 years now — all the six governments starting from the Marcos martial-law dictatorship (1972-86), without exception, have relied heavily on US military advice or guidance. They all adopted the US template as it evolved through the numerous American wars of intervention (that began with the Philippine-American war at the turn of the 20th century).

A review of the Aquino government’s performance in the past three years reveals that it has not – or it has evaded – seriously analyzing and addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. It has relied on superficial “peace and development” programs undertaken in conflict-affected areas. Yet it continues to use as mantra the clause “address the root causes” for resolving the armed conflict with the CPP-NPA.

Oplan Bayanihan vis-a-vis US COIN Guide

On January 1, 2011 – when Aquino had been President for six months — the AFP made public (in booklet form) its Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP), the counterinsurgency plan called “Oplan Bayanihan”. In his message Aquino says the plan “opens up space for the involvement of the Filipino people in defining, shaping, and ensuring our peace and security as a nation.” He called on the entire citizenry to “join the AFP in translating this national aspiration to reality.”

And there, listed down as the IPSP “National Strategic Guidance”, are the four key elements Aquino had lined up in his April 22 speech.

By adopting the four elements as strategic guidance, the IPSP establishes a direct correlation or kinship with the 2009 U.S. Counterinsurgency Guide. This document was issued two years earlier (January 11, 2009) jointly by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore.

The preface to the COIN Guide adverts to America’s “prolonged counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq” from which experiences the document “distills the best of contemporary thought, historical knowledge, and hard-won practice.” We can safely assume that the four key elements adopted by the IPSP are deemed as part of those “distillations”.

US counterinsurgency practice, the preface elaborates, rests on a number of assumptions: 1) “that the decisive effort is rarely military, although security is the essential prerequisite of success; 2) “that our efforts must be directed to the creation of local and national government structures that will serve their populations, and over time, replace the efforts of foreign partners (read: American forces)”; 3) “that superior knowledge, and in particular, understanding of the ‘human terrain’ is essential”; and 4) “that we must have the patience to persevere in what will necessarily prove long struggles.”

These assumptions, or COIN Guide premises, surface in several sections of the IPSP document (albeit in slightly modified terms), as we shall see in the following examples:

  1. On counterinsurgency – COIN Guide: Counterinsurgency “is the blend of comprehensive civilian and military efforts designed to simultaneously contain insurgency and address its root causes… non-military means are often the most effective elements, with military forces playing an enabling role.”= The IPSP “gives equal emphasis (to) combat and non-combat dimensions of military operations… it departs from the old parameters and explores non-combat parameters of success in addressing the country’s peace and security problem.” (Executive Summary)IPSP applies the “whole of nation approach”. This “presupposes that ordinary citizens and the entire Filipino people are active contributors to internal peace and security. In this context, the role of the AFP is to catalyze the involvement of the stakeholders and facilitate the synergy of all these efforts.” (Strategy for Internal Peace and Security)

    1. “COIN approaches must be adaptable and agile. Strategies will usually be focusedprimarilyon the population rather than the enemy and will seek to reinforce the legitimacy of the affectedgovernment while reducing insurgent influence. This can often only be achieved in concert with political reforms to improve the quality of governance and address underlying grievances, many of which may be legitimate.”

      = The IPSP approach is “a shift from a predominantly militaristic solution to a people-centered security strategy that is founded on broad-based consultations and engagements with key stakeholders…Military operations shall be conducted within the larger framework of the government’s peace strategy… This translates to the conduct of combat operations against armed internal threats that are intelligence-driven, deliberate, and calibrated to diminish the armed capability of said threat groups… The AFP shall likewise maximize the utilization of non-combat operations such as civil-military operations (CMO) and development-oriented activities.” (Strategy for Internal Peace and Security)

  2. On COIN model’s political function – The key function is to provide a “framework of political reconciliation, and reform of governance around which all other COIN activities are organized.”

    = The IPSP cites President Aquino’s pronouncement “to offer opportunities for negotiations toward a just and lasting peace”; that “achieving a transparent and participative peace process requires a comprehensive understanding of the root causes of conflict, under clear policies and driven by a genuine desire to attain a just and lasting peace… The AFP remains committed to the peaceful and just settlement of conflicts”… “adhering to the primacy of the peace process and supporting peace building activities such as reconstruction and rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas.” (Executive Summary)

  3. On measuring success – “Success in COIN can be difficult to define, but improved governance will usually bring about marginalization of the insurgents to the point at which they are destroyed, co-opted or reduced to irrelevance in numbers and capability…Ultimately, the desired end state is a government that is seen as legitimate, controlling social, political, economic and security institutions that meet the population’s needs, including adequate mechanisms to address the grievances that may have fueled support of the insurgency.”

    = IPSP: The AFP’s “strategic intent” or “end state” is: “The capabilities of internal armed threats are reduced to a level that they can no longer threaten the stability of the state and civil authorities can ensure the safety and well-being of the Filipino people… Against the NPA, the AFP’s internal peace and security initiatives shall focus on rendering the NPA irrelevant, with the communist insurgency abandoning its armed struggle and engaging in peace negotiations with the government.” (Strategy for Internal Peace and Security)

     

    Legacy of human rights violations

    As earlier mentioned, Oplan Bayanihan is the latest in a long line of counterinsurgency operational plans (oplans) that have been drawn up by the AFP, under the successive governments beginning with the Marcos martial-law dictatorship. Historically, such plans have been heavily influenced, if not essentially directed, by the US defense and military establishment – given the reliance by the AFP on its American counterpart for both doctrinal and practical training and equipage supply (consisting of World War II vintage equipment and discarded but “refurbished” weapons).

    Each plan has relied primarily on military might and means in trying to suppress and strategically defeat the CPP-NPA-led “people’s war” (which started in Central Luzon in 1969, now has spread to over 70 provinces). Each plan has failed, and each left in its wake widespread human rights violations across the nation, reliably documented by human rights monitoring organizations, principally Karapatan.

     
     
     
     
     
     

The Arroyo government’s “Oplan Bantay-Laya” – relentlessly pursued in two phases over nine years – was most notorious for having sweepingly categorized as “CPP-NPA front-organizations” and thus as “enemies of the state” several open progressive people’s organizations, political parties, and even religious organizations. Killer squads, mostly riding tandem on motorcycles with backups, viciously targeted and attacked several hundreds of legal mass leaders and activists for extra-judicial killing. Hundreds also became victims of enforced disappearance.

In the first six months of his administration, Aquino extended the implementation of OplanBantay-Laya despite outcries of popular protests, thus enabling the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to continue under his watch.

But even after Oplan Bayanihan officially replaced Oplan Bantay-Laya, the killings and other forms of human rights violations continued — notwithstanding the AFP’s vow that henceforth its operations “will always be within the bounds of universally accepted principles, such as international humanitarian law, human rights, and the rule of law.” Consequently, the human rights community — both national and international — has denounced Oplan Bayanihan for being “no different from OplanBantay-Laya” and has called for its immediate termination.

As of end-June 2013, extrajudicial killings under the Aquino government numbered 142, with another 164 cases reported as “frustrated extrajudicial killings.” Of the 142 victims, 80 were peasants and 27 were leaders of indigenous peoples. There were 16 incidences of enforced disappearances. (Karapatan Monitor)

This is not surprising when one looks closely into the IPSP section on “strategic concepts” pertaining to specific tasks. Pursuant to its “end state” against the NPA (to render it irrelevant), IPSP says: The AFP “shall continue using legitimate force and conducting combat operations with even greatervigor but only against armed insurgents… Intensified and relentless pursuit of the NPA is intended to exhaust their armed capabilities and diminish their will to fight.”

In the six-year timeframe of the IPSP (2011-2016), focus on the first three years is to “substantially” attain the “end state”. That would allow the AFP to devote the period 2014- 2016 to handing over the lead role in counterinsurgency to local government units so that it can “initiate its transition to a territorial defense-focused force.”

Thus 2013 is the crucial year to achieving the IPSP “end state”. But from the way it looks – with less than six months remaining – Oplan Bayanihan appears to be running out of time.

Last Thursday, AFP Chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, credited as the “key author” of Oplan Bayanihan, called a command conference to assess the military operations in the first semester of 2013. The assessment was a mixture of success and failure.

Here are some of the data presented:

  • The AFP increased its “engagements” against the NPA in January to June to 350, from 312 in the same period in 2012, and “apprehended” 99 NPA members as against 50 in first-semester 2012. (Bautista claimed altogether 323 NPA members were “neutralized” without citing the period covered).

  • The NPA, noted the AFP, also had also increased tactical-offensive attacks against the AFP to 173, from 162 in the first half of 2012.

  • Bautista placed the number of NPA fighters at “more than 4,000”. Journalists pointed to AFP records showing that NPA membership remained at 4,000 in the last three years. So no palpable reduction, despite “sustained momentum focused on military operations against the NPA.”

About that the AFP chief explained: “We have significant numbers of surrenderees from the NPA ranks… (but) there has been continuous recruitment and it’s unfortunate the recruits they’re getting are from the youth, from farmers and indigenous peoples.” (Note that per Karapatan Monitor, of the 142 victims of extrajudicial killings 80 were peasants and 27 were leaders of indigenous peoples).

How were the NPA members attracted to surrender?

Since Gen. Bautista’s appointment as AFP chief in January there has been a flurry of Oplan Bayanihan activities designed to induce NPA leaders and members to yield their firearms.

Starting in May, AFP field commanders have been reporting “surrenderees” who availed of its “Gun for Peace” program, initiated in April. Under the program, each surrenderee is paid for every firearm he yields (P200,000 for light machinegun; P60,000 for M-14 rifle; P50,000 for M-l6 rifle or .45 caliber pistol).

In addition, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) – which oversees the government’s “peace and development program” under PAMANA (Payapa at MasaganangPamayanan or Peaceful and Prosperous Communities) — reportedly provides P50,000 to each NPA surrenderee as “customized package and means of livelihood” through its “Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP)”, started in July 2012. Also provincial governments that have reportedly cooperated with the AFP (such as those of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Leyte, and Davao del Norte), have supposedly offered P10,000 financial assistance and P25,000 livelihood support fund for each surrenderee.

This surrender-through-financial-inducement is a slide back to the old counterinsurgency mindset of “treating the symptom rather than the disease” – which failed.

A good question at this point is: Given that the US COIN Guide used in Iraq and Afghanistan has failed to defeat the insurgencies and to achieve stability for the US-backed governments there, can it succeed when applied in the Philippines? In corollary, it can be asked: By using the failed COIN Guide template in the Philippines can the IPSP/Oplan Bayanihan succeed?

Meantime, the Aquino government has been under pressure to “enhance” the AFP’s capability for external defense in light of China’s increasingly aggressive pronouncements and maritime actions, following a standoff in a small but resource-rich area of the South China Sea over which both the Philippines and China claim sovereignty.

The Aquino government has called on the US for support – and offered in exchange free accessby US (and Japanese!) forces to Philippine military bases, which has spurred strong objections among the Filipino people. China’s reaction has become more bellicose.

It’s not farfetched that the Aquino government may seek direct US military support to the counterinsurgency campaign against the CPP-NPA. Examine these three indicators:

  1. Since August 2002 the US government has included the CPP-NPA in its listing of “terrorist organizations”, against which it continues to pursue the “war on terror” initiated by George W. Bush in 2001. Thus far, the US has focused on pursuing targets of attack — through Special Operations forces on the ground and, on an ever-expanding territorial scope and increased tempo, via missile-bombing by unmanned aerial vehicles called drones.

  2. The preface of the US COIN Guide ends with this ominous statement: “Whether the (US) should engage in any particular counterinsurgency is a matter of political choice, but that it will engage in such conflicts during the decades to come is a near certainty.”

  3. The Pentagon document, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for the 21st CenturyDefense, which discusses the US “pivot” or “rebalancing” to Asia-Pacific, lists as one of its 10 primary missions the conduct of “stability and counterinsurgency operations”. In part it says:

“U.S. forces will nevertheless be ready to conduct limited counterinsurgency and other stability operations if required, operating alongside coalition forces wherever possible. Accordingly, U.S. forces will retain and continue to refine the lessons learned, expertise, and specialized capabilities that have been developed over the past 10 years of counterinsurgency and stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, U.S. forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations.”

Certainly the anti-imperialist, patriotic and freedom-loving section of the Filipino people will vigorously oppose this type of direct US military intervention. Certainly nobody in this conference will stand for such interventionist war.

 

           
     
     

 

 

Confronting a decrepit imperialist monster

Talk at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines

By ANTONIO TUJAN JR.
Director, IBON International

PANEL 1. Economic, political and social crisis globally and in the Philippines, and implications on peace and human rights in the Philippines
Quezon City, Philippines

19 July 2013

Three years since the declaration by international economic institutions such as the IMF and the OECD that global recession in 2008 has ended in 2010, the absence of recovery has befuddled imperialist apologists and economists alike. So-called “post-recession” recovery by industrialized countries like US, UK and Japan remains very weak, seemingly teetering on the brink of another recession despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out banking and other financial institutions and various efforts at pump priming to fund recovery.

The creeping effect of this “non-recession” has now spread further to the economic heartland of Europe, as countries like France and Germany now face the threat of recession. On the other hand, many Eurozone countries such as Greece and Spain continue to bear the brunt of depression, as their sovereign debts crises remain unsolved and now threaten to infect even major industrial powers like Italy.

The so-called rise of emerging economies is imperialist hype to cover up the sorry state of developed countries reeling from crisis with the illusion of a “rebalancing” world economy. It also feeds into the strategy of monopoly capital to intensify the extraction of superprofits from the developing countries through various means, including through financial speculation riding on the so-called emerging economies.

This crisis is akin to the Great Depression of the 1930’s in its intensity but unlike it altogether. First, the scale of trade and financial integration through the policy of neoliberal globalization both feeds on and intensifies the crisis. Second, the possibility accorded by financial liberalization for further multiplying super-profit taking through financial speculation has created a new phenomenon of intensifying the effects of the crisis on the real economy. Third, the overweening power of the financial oligarchy over capital, both public and private, allows it to engineer autonomous opportunities for financial and commodity market growth, with its own speculative busts.

This is another depression, a lingering protracted depression, is fed by financial speculation seeking its end but also exacerbating it.

Continuing factors for depression, threats of new bubble bursting

This creeping, protracted depression affecting world monopoly capital has not seen its end.

Ghost recovery, continuing features of depression

The so-called economic recovery since 2011 remains sluggish and unclear. A growing number of countries have fallen back into double-dip recession, while US recovery has been feeble. There has been no recovery in productive sectors such as manufacturing and other industries. The jobs that were lost from 2008 onwards have not been recovered, and unemployment remains severe—thus the term “jobless growth.” Financial crashes remain continual phenomena.

By end-2012, the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects 2013 report had already presented dire economic forecasts about the risk of what it called “synchronized economic downturn” across many developed and developing countries.

The UN WESP 2013 report said that based on a set of assumptions in the UN baseline forecast, growth of world gross product (WGP) is expected to reach 2.2% in 2012 and is forecast to remain well below potential at 2.4% in 2013 and 3.2% in 2014. (See chart below) “At this moderate pace, many economies will continue to operate below potential and will not recover the jobs lost during the Great Recession.” 1

Six months later, this risk of “synchronized economic downturn” remains. In the latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) update dated 9 July 2013, the IMF acknowledged that global growth is “projected to remain subdued” at 3.1% in 2013, about the same as in 2012 and less than the 3.3% forecast in April 2013 WEO.2 The chart below, taken from the IMF WEO for July 2013, shows global GDP growth (projected figures on gray background) up to Q3 2013.

At this point (end-June 2013), the Eurozone is now in its longest recession since the end of World War II, with economic activity across its 17 countries falling for the seventh quarter in a row from Q4 2011 to Q2 2013. The economies of France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands have generally shrunk. The growth in Germany, the region’s strongest economy, just eked out a 0.1% growth on a quarterly basis, but also shrunk by 0.2% year-on-year. Ten-year data on year-on-year GDP growth of Europe’s biggest economies—Germany, France, and Italy—are graphically shown below, superimposed on equivalent data for the whole Eurozone.3

While a slight improvement shown in Q2 2013 led Eurozone officials to expect some sort of uptick in the second half of 2013, other economists remain guarded since no real growth drivers have clearly emerged.4

The U.S. economy appeared to fare better compared to Europe (see graph below)5, but in fact its own recovery remains ephemeral. The reason is that the U.S. economy is being turbo-propped by an unsustainable printing of dollars, with the Federal Reserve issuing $85 billion every month. The irony is that, instead of stimulating the real economy, more than 80% of the Fed’s excess reserves remain idle in private banks. These idle reserves have turned into yet another form of financial speculation, likened by some economists to a ticking time bomb. Outside of the US, other Central Banks have adopted similar “quantitative easing” remedies to open investment markets.6

The IMF has also recently acknowledged that the so-called emerging economies are growing more slowly than previously projected. The factors for this includes reduced US and European demand for exports from Brazil and Russia; China readjusting its priorities towards domestic consumer spending; and other emerging markets weakened by the pullout of foreign direct investments. A recent ILO report also showed that the new recession conditions in Europe have been spilling over globally.7

New bubbles threatening to burst amid threats of default, bailouts

As many economists have noted, indicators of economic recovery merely show the same old up-and-down economic and financial cycles in transitory periods of uptick. They are now warning of new bubbles threatening to burst. [See note]

Europe seemed to stabilize after ECB vowed “to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro,” but there is a big worry that the recent indicators of recovering growth is mostly a bubble that will burst sooner or later.8

As of April 2013, 41 different countries have active debt arrangements with the IMF; some are outright bailouts.9 Most of these loans come with very stringent conditions, which in the past the IMF imposed only on poor countries. But now more and more rich nations, such as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland are getting bailed out with IMF help, and agreeing to harsh austerity measures in exchange.

But the IMF’s funding depends on five largest creditors: the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, and the U.K.—countries that are in deep debt themselves. Thus these bailouts are increasingly unsustainable.

Thus, while the bailouts may have gained some breathing space for selected businesses and banks that are deemed “too big to fail,” the economies reel from one bailout crisis to the next as they fail to generate enough jobs and consumer demand. On top of this, the accompanying austerity measures have hit the poorest sectors of the population in developed and developing countries alike.

Unemployment, loss of income

Although the epicenter of the continuing global crisis in recent years has been in the most developed economies, its social impact has been truly global. As an ILO 2013 special report said, the advanced economies may have accounted for half of the total increase in unemployment of 28 million since 2008, but the crisis has had “significant spillovers into the labour markets of developing economies as well.”

An accumulated total of 197 million people were without a job in 2012. Significantly, 3 out of 4 newly unemployed in 2012 came from outside the advanced economies, with marked increases in East Asia, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, some 39 million dropped out of the labor market, while the global jobs gap since 2007 has risen to 67 million.

Despite the prospects of growth in 2013-14, the number of unemployed worldwide is expected to rise by 5.1 million in 2013 (bringing the total to 202 million), and by another 3 million in 2014.

The report explicitly acknowledged the direct role of fiscal austerity programs in employment and wage cutbacks, and that macro imbalances have been passed on to the labour market and weakened it to significant degrees.10

The other key messages of the ILO 2013 report include the following:

  • Policy incoherence has led to heightened uncertainty, preventing stronger investment and faster job creation

  • The continuing nature of the crisis has worsened extended unemployment spells and labour market mismatches, intensifying downside labour market risks.

  • Job creation rates are particularly low, as typically happens after a financial crisis

  • The jobs crisis pushes more and more women and men out of the labour market

  • Youth remain particularly affected by the crisis

Among the advanced economies, joblessness has particularly worsened in Europe, with some countries hitting record highs in recent months. (Italy’s unemployment rose to 12% in end-May 2013—the worst since 1977.) In the US, the latest Job Report is optimistic only because “new jobs” are being created but the unemployment rate remains, because full-time jobs are giving way to part-time jobs.11

Growing unemployment, wage and benefit cutbacks, and loss of livelihood opportunities are all contributing to a generalized loss of income for big sections of the population in most countries. Despite claims by the IMF and World Bank that MDG 1 on reducing poverty (in terms of halving the number of people living on $1.25 daily) had been achieved globally, the truth is that multidimensional poverty remains a severe global problem.

For example, in the most recent Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released just this March 2013, the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) reported that a total of 1.6 billion people continue to live in multidimensional poverty. This is more than 30% of the combined population of the 104 countries covered by the study. The report also said that at the present rate, the best-performing countries may be able to halve their MPI “in less than 10 years and eradicate it within 20”—certainly a very slow rate.12

Food crisis, losses from natural calamities

In recent years, high food prices have become the “new normal.” Despite lower demand and a slight decline in cereal prices due to stagnant economies, food prices remained high or volatile. This is mostly the result of financial speculation in agricultural commodities, which has become an increasing arena of neoliberal globalization—as a series of UNCTAD papers as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food have officially asserted. The speculation has spilled over to not just commodities but to farmland and irrigation water sources.13

In addition, losses from the more unpredictable natural calamities due to climate change are contributing to the price and supply volatility. For example, the US drought in 2012 (the worst in 50 years, and which has persisted in nearly 20% of the country up to 2013) drove up maize prices to record levels, while heavy rains in Argentina and Russia affected wheat supply and prices. In October 2012, the UN warned that failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and elsewhere “have eroded [world grain] reserves to their lowest level since 1974,” and that extreme weather events this year could trigger another major food crisis.14

Strategic economic approaches to address crisis in the context of neoliberal globalization

Monopoly capitalist states in the US and elsewhere in the West, in their aim to stave off recessionary crisis and later ensure quick recovery, have responded in a two-stage way: First, through bail-outs of ailing banks, other financial institutions, and selected giant corporations considered “too big to fail”. And second, when the immense public deficits turned into huge sovereign debts, by imposing austerity measures and related efforts in their attempt to defuse the debt crisis.

Meanwhile, these powerful states assiduously defend the same basic economic and financial policies of neoliberalism that caused or aggravated the recessionary crisis in the first place. They pursued only those paltry reforms in secondary fiscal and financial issues, which in effect constituted a mere slap on the hand and only affecting a few criminal speculators—intended to keep financial speculation within manageable bounds but not to impose real regulation. Such reforms included cursory responses to issues dear to the hearts of most investors themselves, such as tax havens and capital flight.

A growing popular clamor led by social movements against neoliberal globalization, periodically exploding into massive protests, have been met with deceptive and defensive propaganda if not outright fascist attacks by police and intelligence agencies. Even proposals from mainstream economists for return to a modicum of economic regulation and protection remain unheeded.

Instead, the US and its imperialist allies have been adopting new strategic approaches to cope with the multiple crises while continuing to seek and pursue all avenues of gradual recovery

     

 

Buying into the new green

Some of these strategic approaches have been filtered into UN processes such as the UNFCCC and post-2015 (along with the parallel process of SDGs), carefully packaged to project a broad international consensus and to rebuild the framework of multilateralism. But lurking behind these processes are efforts by the imperialist powers to ensure the continuing dominance of monopoly capital and neoliberal globalization.

Green economy is not a simple PR ploy by big business and OECD governments; neither is it a simple response to the challenge for sustainability because of climate change. Monopoly capital sees the green initiative as a combination of two related strategies: on one hand, harness the role of innovation and high-tech to spur recovery of industry; and on the other hand, develop a new process or movement of neo-colonial exploitation funded through public-private investment in the guise of climate change funding.

Strategic role of Greater East Asia

As the protracted depression continues to linger, the big Asian economies are taking on a more strategic role of spurring the global economy. This role is being played by China, South Korea, and first-tier South East Asian countries (and to a certain degree India and Australia), which are relatively better off economically. Even Japan, stagnant for decades now, still has substantial economic clout. These countries are able to stimulate sluggish consumer spending and international trade, and to support the large appetites of foreign investments and even of speculative financial markets. A modicum of prosperity and consumer capacity also supports a degree of middle class growth, which in turn tends to dampen class conflicts and strengthens perceptions of democracy and political stability.

This strategic role of East Asia is increasingly reflected in the competing efforts of the US and EU to craft various bilateral and plurilateral pacts in East Asia, such as the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) being negotiated by EU with India and the ASEAN. Russia is also aggressively elbowing into the region to strike its own deals and expand its own economic sphere of influence.

This strategic role of East Asia, now clearly appreciated by the US and its allies, is at the core of what is being hyped as the “Asian Century”—a catchword that is partly economic truth, partly investment hype, but in any case represents a geopolitical shift of focus. It is also reflected in heightened US-EU interest in regional structures of governance such as the APEC and East Asia Summit. On the other hand, the strategic refocusing is hindered, in the case of the US, by its deep involvements in the Middle East, and by economic troubles in the case of EU.

The TPPA as the new US “can opener”

Closely related to the strategic shift to East Asia is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a comprehensive trade deal being cooked up by the US. The countries involved in the TPP negotiations are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and even Japan. The deal is so shrouded in secrecy that even the US Congress remains in the dark, while representatives of US multinationals are “being consulted and made privy to the details of the agreement.”15

If signed into law, the TPPA would empower MNCs to bypass national laws and courts and urge its own supra-national courts (supervised by the World Bank and UN) to impose neoliberal policies and standards—even US laws—in a wide range of trade questions, including medicine, agriculture, intellectual copyright, and so on. The US hopes for the TPPA to gain momentum until it becomes a fait accompli and pries open all remaining trade restrictions by Asia-Pacific states.

Reconfiguring imperialist “multilateralism” through the G20

With the 2008 economic collapse, the G7 imperialist powers lost much credibility to dictate economic policy on the whole world, while giving no quarters to developing countries led by the G77 and China bloc. Increasing conflicts between the imperialist bloc and the G77-China bloc have resulted in repeated deadlocks on critical global issues, including those being tackled in the climate change (UNFCCC) talks and in the WTO Doha Round. This intensifying dissent by developing countries within the UN and other multilateral bodies is often branded as the so-called “failure of multilateralism.”

In this light, the formation of the G20 is yet another strategy to forge a new imperialist consensus. The idea behind the G20 is to bring the “emerging economies” (such as the BRICS and other large developing countries) into its fold, as a bit of window dressing to rebuild the façade of international consensus around its overall policy of neoliberal globalization. This way, liberal and progressive initiatives that find their way into the system, such as proposals to reform the system of development finance, are sidelined, while G7 (with G20) policies are defended.

New WTO approach in Bali

The Doha Development Round under the WTO was a deal breaker, considering both the impact of implementing WTO and the implications of further liberalization under the new proposed provisions. The failure to conclude the Doha Round is symptomatic of the crisis—the intensity of protests and public opinion against it, the tenacity of developing-country positions, and the hardline US-EU demands and positions. Despite the efforts of the G7 and the G20—and the UN itself—to sell it, the Doha Round’s demise has been finally accepted by the WTO.

In its stead, a new Ministerial is scheduled in December 2013, which will attempt to pick up the pieces of the different failed efforts to expand the WTO since the first Ministerial in Singapore in 1996. Many issues arising from Singapore through Cancun and Doha are being considered again for debate and possible negotiation. While people’s movements persistently call for an end to the WTO as one of the emblematic symbols of neoliberal globalization, here come the imperialists redoubling their efforts to revive and re-gear the WTO for further expansion.

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Section III. Rising factors for people’s resistance, armed conflicts

Mass protests

By end-June 2013, as The Economist itself noted, a wave of anger rose up and began “sweeping the cities of the world.” The otherwise staid publication even compared 2013 to the 1848 revolutions that swept Europe and to the 1968 and 1989 rebellions. Comparing the 2013 mass upsurge with the 2011 Occupy protests, which were high profile but did not mobilize millions, the magazine noted that this time “the protests are fed by deep discontent.”16

A distinctive trend in the first six months of 2013 is that the most dramatic mass upsurges have broken out in what are considered emerging economies, in addition to the Eurozone countries that have been battered by austerity programs and debt crises.

In Brazil, the massive demonstrations (which reached more than 1 million people on June 20) started as a mass protest against bus fares. It soon broadened into a much wider range of issues that reflected the Brazilian government’s anti-people policies, including corruption, poor public services, high cost of living, and profligate spending such as on the World Cup sports event.17

In India, big protest actions have risen to the forefront earlier in 2011, fuelled by working-class strikes and middle-class frustrations with corruption, on top of a growing Maoist armed revolution in the countryside. At the end of 2012, big protests verging on riots in reaction to the gang rape of a young woman were actually addressing the lack of state protection vs women and their rights.

Massive protests have also broken out in Egypt in response to the failure of the Morsi regime to respond to public demand for reforms in the face of the economic crisis. The protests have led to a military take-over of government. Elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, mass protests continue to simmer. Similar mass protests are hounding governments in Turkey and Bulgaria, with specific issues sparking mass actions that rapidly grew into much wider protest movements.

In Europe, sustained mass resistance including workers’ strikes continues to build up over gradually tightening austerity measures and worsening unemployment amid recurrent sovereign debt crises. The protests are particularly intense in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain, and Italy. Violent riots also occurred in Sweden in May 2013 and earlier in the U.K. in 2011, as the youth and other unemployed spontaneously sought varied channels of mass discontent. 18

Armed conflicts

Amid multiple crises and mass discontent, global peace remained as elusive as ever. According to the 2013 Global Peace Index of the Institute for Economics and Peace, the peace situation has deteriorated in 110 out of 162 countries since 2008 due to political instability, internal armed conflicts, and boundary disputes.19

In the most severe cases, the US and its imperialist allies are deeply involved—either through direct foreign military intervention (as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and recently in Mali), or through client states (as in the Israeli-Palestine conflict), or through proxy “rebel groups”, as is the case of the Free Syrian Army in Syria and an assortment of NATO-backed armed groups that overthrew the Qaddafi regime in Libya.

Section IV. Increasing fascism and militarism

Rising trend of fascism

The trend of fascism continues to rise worldwide, and its worst features are becoming more evident than ever even in the supposed bulwarks of Western democracy, namely the US and UK. With the recent NSA espionage exposés divulged by Edward Snowden, it is now evident more than ever that the US has become a national security state, closely followed by the U.K.

Alarmingly, various US legislation—the PATRIOT Act, the Protect America Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA Amendments Act—have expanded the legally allowable state actions (on top of secret and illegal operations) that restrict basic civil liberties and human rights in the guise of counter-terrorism.

The NSA spying scandal (and previous similar exposés) reveal not merely massive violations of US citizens’ privacy rights, but other countries’ national security as well as their citizens’ rights. Surveillance is increasingly serving as prelude to actual attacks on people and their rights—especially now that drone technology is applied both for surveillance and actual kill operations.

Even worse, the scale of secret US operations divulged by a whole series of whistle-blowers shows an immensely huge potential for its monopoly capitalist class to extremely centralize the key machineries of state power in the hands of a neo-conservative, militarist, and fascist clique.

Human rights violations by the “national security” state

The US, which in the past prided itself as the global champion of human rights, has been showing more of its fangs not just overseas but within its homeland. It has a fast-growing record of domestic human rights violations, on top of its bloody international record of launching interventionist wars, supporting fascist dictatorships, and serving as principal arms supplier in other countries.

Within the US homeland, abuse of ordinary citizens by police, FBI, and Homeland Security operatives, are on the rise, on top of increasing cases of violent dispersal of protest rallies. Racial discrimination, hate crimes, and abusive treatment of immigrants are as prevalent as ever. The notorious record of US federal prisons as well as increasingly privatized state prisons is already well known. The US is among the world’s most heavily armed populations, with more than 100,000 people gunned down yearly. Yet increasing crime is made a reason to expand the forces and functions of the national security state.

Incredible as it may seem, but up to now, the U.S. has not participated in or ratified a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.20

A similar trend of rising fascism can also be seen in other developed countries, in emerging economies, as well as in developing countries (especially those long ruled by fascist dictatorships and military regimes supported by the US and its allies).

Rising trend of militarism

There has always been a direct connection between economic downturns and the trend for increased militarism and military spending. Armed conflicts between countries, as well as large-scale domestic violence, have long tended to flare up in times of intense economic and social crises.

More to the point, a number of huge business conglomerates have direct interests in the growth of defense-related industries. Thus, while the rest of the global economy suffered from doldrums in recent years, military spending has continued to bloat up.

The whole world’s military expenditures in 2012 are estimated to have reached $1.756 trillion, corresponding to 2.5% of world GDP. A handful of military powers are spending the largest sums. In 2012, for example, the 15 countries with the highest military spending accounted for over 81% of the total. The US is responsible for 39% of the world total; China is a poor second at 9.5%; China, Russia, UK, and Japan combined (the next biggest spenders after US) spent only 21.6%.

Indeed, another SIPRI report in 2004 presented the irony of a yawning gap between the world’s total military expenditures and funding to alleviate poverty and promote development.21 In fact, the entire budget of the United Nations and all its agencies and funds pale in comparison to the world’s total military expenditures.22

The US military pivot to East Asia

At present, the US remains as the foremost promoter of militarism. At the same time, the imperialist shift of focus to East Asia (in economic terms) is backed by a US strategic military pivot plus political and diplomatic policy.

According to a top Chinese expert on Middle East affairs (as cited by Russia Today), there is a consensus among US think-thanks that the Asia pivot intends to attain three objectives:

  1. To protect present US dominance over the shipping lanes from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea;

  2. To “defend the chokepoints” in case they are closed by hostile states (e.g. Iran for the Strait of Hormuz); and

  3. To prevent other powers (presumably China, to some extent India or even Russia) from becoming a real threat to US dominance

Despite the U.S. military’s down-sized budget, it plans to implement a long-term strategic transfer of forces to Asia-Pacific destinations from 2011 to 2020. These include air power (tactical aircraft, bombers); US Army troops and US Marines; and high-tech weaponry. The US has implemented a rotating scheme, which will eventually involve some 2,500 US Marines. By 2020, the US Navy intends to increase the deployment of its naval assets in Asia Pacific to 60% (from the current 50%).

This pivot also includes strengthening the US military presence based in Japan (especially its strategic missile force) and supporting Japan vs China in their dispute over the strategic Diaoyu islands. The US already has strategic joint operations with Australia, and is eyeing wider U.S. ship access to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay facilities.23

On the diplomatic front, Washington is also fast-tracking its strengthening of military ties with ASEAN countries, including former enemy Vietnam and former villain Myanmar. It is planning to host its first meeting with ASEAN defense minister in Hawaii in 2014. It is also pushing for redefined VFAs or basing arrangements with countries such as the Philippines.

China’s response

China’s response so far has been to forcefully signal that it will oppose the US rebalancing act. It has continued its own diplomatic crusade to neutralize ASEAN hostility vs its South China Sea claims.

At the same time, China appears to be giving a bigger weight to the Middle East as a strategic theater for economic, political, diplomatic, and military competition with the US. It has further stepped up its diplomatic campaign in all global regions, giving special attention to Africa and Latin America, on top of its efforts to lead the G77 bloc in UN processes and debates.

Intensification of US-China cyber war

The recent years have seen a scaling up of capabilities as well as operations in cyber warfare among the world’s military powers, with the U.S. and China engaging in a high-profile battle of wits and accusations and counter-accusations of cyber espionage. The EU and other countries are trying to catch up with their own cyberwar capabilities, if only to strengthen their own defenses vs cyber-attacks. This concern has worsened recently, with the EU openly complaining that it was itself a target of NSA operations (as per Snowden revelations).


Some implications of these international trends on the Philippines

  1. Mixed economic impacts amidst deep and unresolved social crisis

The seeming immunity of some East Asian economies to the worst effects of the global crises due to certain transient factors, including the role of China, makes these countries a temporary beneficiary of incoming FDI flows on top of overseas remittances. Thus, the Philippines can still boast of investment and credit rating upgrades from the likes of Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor. At the same time, the country’s economic fundamentals in the various sectors of production and trade remain unstable, while the OFW situation is gradually being affected by political instabilities in other parts of the world.

The Philippine state under the Aquino presidency remains as one of Asia’s holdout fanatic followers of the anti-poor neoliberal policy dictates, as can be seen in its dogged pursuit of privatization (in the form of PPPs and support for previously privatized utilities) and liberalization. These have resulted in relentless increases in the cost of living, opening up the country’s natural resources to further plunder, and generally increased attacks vs rights of labor, peasantry, indigenous peoples, homeless, and student-youth.

  1. Increasing US presence and bullying

The US pivot to Asia, its rivalries with China, and its potential involvement in domestic armed conflicts and inter-country disputes (including the South China Sea boundary disputes), all point to the trend of a bigger US diplomatic and military presence in the Philippines.

According to a Chicago Tribune news item in November 2012: As of October 2012, “70 U.S. Navy ships had passed through Subic, more than the 55 in 2011 and the 51 in 2010. The Pentagon says more than 100 U.S. planes stop over each month at Clark…” In 2012, South Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries, a big investor in the Subic shipyards, agreed to set up a maintenance and logistics hub to serve U.S. warships jointly with Pentagon contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries,

The news item also cited an editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly as saying: “It’s like leasing a car as opposed to buying it—all the advantages of ownership with a reduced risk.” Looking at Subic, the defense editor said, “the U.S. will be leveraging Philippine bases and assets, privately owned assets, and all at a fraction of the monetary and political price of taking back ownership of the base. It gives the U.S. the same strategic reach that basing would have done but without all the hassle.”

Furthermore, recent irritants that worsened the China-Philippine dispute over the Spratleys and a few other islands in the South China Sea are being used both by the US and Philippine governments to justify the expanded US military presence in the country. These are on top of previous other alibis, such as to assist in the modernization and training of the AFP, to help boost the local economy, and to support the campaign vs terrorism. The US is also seeking access to an even wider range of ports and airports in the country.

  1. Implications on peace and human rights advocacy

With increased US support for the Aquino regime as a whole, and for its armed services (AFP and PNP) in particular, we can expect a more complex situation and bigger challenges, with international, regional, and domestic factors entangled, in the area of peace-building and human rights advocacy.

We are starting to see in the country the impact of the “national security state” doctrine and practice in the Aquino government’s pursuit of laws versus cybercrime and in support of NSA-type surveillance, as well as in the current civic-action, psy-war, intelligence, and combat components of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. At the same time, we are seeing the various pressure factors that are undermining the GPH-MILF and GPH-NDFP peace processes.

Click here for oirignal text and sources

 
     
           
     

 

Peaceful development, reunification between the Strait, and US intervention

 

Presentation at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines


Quezon City, Philippines
19 July 2013

PANEL 2. US geopolitical and military strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan

 

By KAO, WEI-KAI
Member, Standing Committee of the Labor Party
Councilor of Hsinchu County, Taiwan, China

 

The Taiwan Strait standoff is a continuation of a Chinese civil war. Since the cold war, Taiwan has become part of a US West Pacific strategy, so it was “natural” for it to side with the US and confront with mainland China. The United States and its military have been playing a certain role in the Chinese civil war, starting from the end of World War II up until now.

The period between 1945 and 1949

In the anti-Japanese warfare, the KMT and the Chinese communists formed a united front to fight against the Japanese, but they also confronted each other and even fought vehemently with each other. They fought for the occupancy of territory, as well as the takeover of arms or land surrendered by Japanese military. They held peace talks; peace talks failed; and war erupted. The civil war at that time was characterized by a conflict between the power of peasants and workers against the power of landlords and tycoons. It was also in that time that the Chinese communists achieved an initial result in land reform, which eliminated the landlord-tenant system, and the KMT, waning gradually, deepened its dependence on imperialist support. The United Stated played the role of a mediator; militarily supported the KMT; and gave up the KMT at last as the KMT was too corrupt to be saved. (What is also worth noticing is that the Japanese military, based on its rich experiences of fighting with the Chinese communist army, also began to shift its support to the KMT at that time). The KMT began to retreat from mainland China to Taiwan (the Hainan Island and several small islets off the southeast coast of mainland China still belonged to mainland China.) Since the conclusion of the World War II, the US strategy of “enhancing Taiwan independence, fostering a weak and pro-US regime” has thus begun.

In the period between 1950 and 1953

The Chinese communist troops occupied the Hainan Island and the Zhoushan Islets – the second largest islands of China, only next to Taiwan. The Korean War ensued, and the US military began to help defend Taiwan. The United States and China plunged themselves into the Korean War. The Chinese civil war consequently “froze.” While the mainland China began to handle issues such as KMT captives, KMT’s remaining troops, and the Korean War, the KMT began to put into force a martial law and unfolded white terror, including the cleansing of the people connecting with, or suspected of connecting with, Chinese communists-related organizations in the Japanese occupancy period. Taiwan began to receive ammunitions, warships, and warplanes from the United States since 1951, in addition to the reception of strategic or living necessities, worth $100 million per year, until the year 1965.

In the period from 1954 to 1971

In the period, the battles between the KMT and the Chinese communists, instead of being a comprehensive warfare, were regional armed conflicts. A maritime warfare happened between 1954 and 1955, which made the KMT retreat from the Dachen Island as well as two Kinmen artillery wars, in 1954 and 1957 respectively, were examples to explain the situation. The KMT began to implement a land reform in 1949, and successfully tackled the landlord-tenant issue. The landlord-tenant issue had been the greatest contradiction in a 2000-year-old Chinese history, as well as in the civil war between the KMT and Chinese communists. It was the major reason for almost all of the rising of peasant rebellions in the Chinese history.

In the year 1955, the KMT regime and the United States signed a common defense pact, but the pact did not include Mazu and Kinmen, islets southeast of China, though the two islets are under the KMT rule. Besides the purpose of containing the Soviet Union and China, the Unites also wielded its military intervention in the Taiwan Strait in an effort to maintain a “peaceful but divided” status heading toward the direction of “two countries.” Reportedly, in order to maintain the “one China” principle, Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek maintained the form of a civil war through launching the 1957 artillery warfare.

Under a US planning, Taiwan began to develop towards an export-oriented economy. It received industrial technology, capital, and market support from the United States, and developed into one of the four Asian Little Dragons at the cost of high energy consumption, high pollution, and low wage level. The KMT regime suppressed dissidents, but the soaring industrialization and service trade, whose pays were relatively high if compared with traditional agricultural income, lowered people’s dissatisfaction. Taiwan has thus become an anti-communist and pro-US area in the absence of a left wing. Moreover, in the Vietnam War, Taiwan served as a US military base as well as a rest and recreational place for US troops. The Chinese communists, supported by many of the third world countries, gained an upper hand over Taiwan diplomatically and replaced the KMT regime’s seat in the UN.

In the period from 1972 to 2000

The United Stated began talks with mainland China, and during 1972 to 1982, expressed the stances of “recognizing, not to challenge, and acknowledging” the “one China” principle. In 1979, the United States shifted diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to mainland China, and ceased the common defense pact. However, in the meantime, the United States also announced a Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Three years following the announcement of the TRA, the United States promised it would gradually decrease armament supply to Taiwan. The promise was not realized.

Before achieving reunification, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait still have to tackle differences in terms of the economy, culture, or transportation, and world countries have to treat the Taiwan authorities as a valid government. However, the TRA as well as the real US intention mean far beyond that. The TRA is a US law (it is not a pact signed by the US and another country). It allows the United States to recognize one China, and admits Beijing the only regime that represents China. However, in the meantime, the United States sells arms to Taiwan – a civil war-bounded area. The act is certainly not novel for the United States though.

In the last 15 years of the previous century, the families in the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, who had been separated because of a civil war for 30 years, began to be allowed to contact each other, and accompanied by mainland China’s bid of reform and opening up, the economic and tourism exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait also thrived. Being advantaged with a low-wage condition, mainland China, like many Southeast Asian and Latin American countries, became the best destination for Taiwan and many other multinational companies’ capital immigration. The situation created a certain impact on Taiwan’s economy and Taiwan people’s feelings.

With a widened gap between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in terms of military and composite national strength, as well as the development of “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the KMT’s stance in a civil war has shifted from “reclaiming the mainland” to “unifying China with the Three Principles of the People (a political philosophy developed by Sun Yat-sent to make China a free, prosperous, and powerful nation),” and then to “refusing to be unified through military force.” In this century, it has formally being rephrased into “refusing unification.” The KMT-Chinese communist civil war, which had been characterized by a class confrontation, has thus being superficially turned to a contradiction between unification and refusing unification or opposing splittism and maintaining split.

After 2000, and NOW

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had run presidential office for 8 years from 2000 to 2008, and the KMT has taken office since then. The DPP administration, by means of trying PROC’s patience, stirs up people’s emotion for the purpose of winning elections, while The KMT administration tends to take a peaceful and open-to-communication way in cross-strait affairs. The two administrations also take different policies on national defense budget. In order to abate cross-Strait confrontation, the Ma Ying-jeou regime slashed the national defense budget. In the year 2008, the national defense budget accounted for 19.8 percent of the central government’s overall yearly budgeting. After Ma Ying-jeou took office, the defense budget was cut in a planned manner, and in the year 2013, the national defense budget has been slashed to 15.8 percent, a 20-percent cut as compared with the budgeting in the year 2008. In contrast, when the DPP was in power, the defense budget was adjusted upward from 14.9 percent in the year 2001 to 19.8 percent in the year 2008, a 32-percent hike.

Despite their differences, when it comes to politics, both parties agree that Taiwan has no relation to mainland China. Taiwanese administration’s anti-communism propaganda has changed from “against class struggle,” “communist is loss of humanity,” ”Democracy and freedom triumph” to “people from mainland are tasteless,” “Taiwanese capitals are moved to mainland,” “laborers from mainland will steal away our jobs,” and, of course, the so-called Tienanmen Massacre. From the aspect of culture, education and ideology, desinicization and showing approval of Japanese colonization become official and social mainstream.

Despite the fact that the deficit is getting bigger and bigger, it never hinders Taiwanese officials’ will to make large purchase of arms from America. In 2004, the DPP even proposed historic arms budgets, planning to spend 200 hundred million US dollars to buy arms from America (including diesel-powered submarines, maritime patrol aircraft and Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries.) Nevertheless, the Ma Ying-jeou regime, being unable to resist US pressuring, has also said yes to two batches of US arms acquisition plans in its five-year administration, which involved 183 million US dollars. The arms acquisition plans included offensive weapons such as the Apache helicopters and the Patriot III missiles. The DPP’s 200-hundred-million arms procurement budget was strongly opposed by Taiwanese people. Even though the KMT is not against arms procurement, it seized the chance to go against the DPP and block the arms budgets. Due to the budgets was kept being blocked, AIT director Stephen M. Young even warned that “The US is watching closely and judging who takes responsible positions as well as those who play politics on this critical issue.”

 

By the end of last century, the US initiated two military conflicts against China – the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, and the mid-air collision between US spy plane and Chinese fighter jet in 2001. Besides, under the US-Japan Security Treaty, the US is able to cooperate with Japan to respond “situations in areas surrounding Japan.” In the recent 2 years, The Diayou island dispute between China (Taiwan) and Japan makes the East China Sea area become a flashpoint, which even temporarily distracts world’s attention from Korea peninsula. Without a doubt, the US will also have influence on the sovereignty disputes between China (Taiwan) and the Philippines through PR-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

 

Because the US broke the Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and ROC in 1979, there has been no US-ROC joint war games since then. However, in 2006, the US, for the first time, acknowledged that US generals will inspect and instruct Taiwan war games as the after-sales service of its arms sales to Taiwan. The Joint Theater Level Simulation (JTLS) is one of the products that the US sold to Taiwan. Just before our conference, Taiwan held a JLTS simulated war games, “Han Kuang 29,” with the assistance of US, targeting the mainland’s aircraft carrier Liaoning as a potential enemy. The JTLS will enable Taiwan’s military to link with the US Pacific Command and Japanese and South Korean forces, and, together with the militaries of Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, the Philippines, and even Oceania, Taiwan will be a part of the US forces. Without a doubt, the most crucial imagery enemies of the joint forces are China and the North Korea ruled by the Communist Party.

 

Even though the anti-communist propagandas are different from what they were, what makes it sad is that the anti-communist position has remained the same. Therefore, it appears that people in Taiwan “willingly” join the US forces, and “willingly” want to be protected by the Big Brother. In order to legitimate its ambition to strengthen its military powers and joint forces in Asia-Pacific area, the US needs demonized imagery enemies. Consequently, China and the North Korea are regarded as the potential destroyers of the safety in this area. And, the civil war and separation happened in both countries are the consequences of America’s military strategies. On the contrary, if the two separated parties in both countries can promote peaceful communication and mutual development with each other, lower the antagonism to the minimum, and, in the end, achieve reunification, it will be a huge setback for America’s Asia-Pacific strategies.

 

 

PRESS CONFERENCE: State of human rights and peace in the Philippines

International delegates attend the press conference 20 July, as a part of the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines.

 

 

     

News Release
21 July 2013

REFERENCE: Rep. Teddy Casiño, spokesperson for the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, +63920-9035683
Cristina Guevarra, media liaison, +63917-5230396 / +63949-1772928

International delegates hit surveillance and intimidation, use of national security to justify repression of human rights defenders

International peace activists and human rights defenders attending the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP) condemned the deployment of military and police surveillance agents in their activities even as they geared up to join tomorrow’s SONA protests.
 

Security personnel of the conference apprehended a police officer and suspected military asset in two separate incidents yesterday (July 20).
 

Caught taking photos of delegates and conference vehicle plate numbers was a certain Kenneth Mendez, who claimed to be a reporter but could not mention what media outfit he was working for. Also apprehended was a certain PO2 Emilio Fetalvo Jr. who admitted being ordered by a certain Col. Pelibilio of the PNP to conduct surveillance of the conference. Fetalvo was previously seen shadowing staff members of the Karapatan national office.
 

“I am indignant at the covert surveillance of conference participants . But we will not be intimidated from joining the Filipino people in the vigorous protests tomorrow,” said Paul Murphy, an Australian labor rights activist.
 

Delegate Ron Gochez, an American teacher who joined a team that visited Davao City’s militarized Paquibato district last week, described his group’s encounter with soldiers in the area: “We were there for less than five minutes and this is what we saw: the military, and military intelligence operatives taking pictures when we arrived, taking pictures of the people, taking pictures, trying to intimidate the people.”
 

“The people do not want any more militarization. They want schools, they want health care, they want roads,” Gochez lamented.
 

Delegates also decried the exaggerated deployment of military, police and crowd dispersal units for tomorrow’s SONA protests based on an alleged intelligence report indicating a national security threat.
 

Ironically, the issue of “national security” and the consequent violation of the people’s socio-economic and civil and political rights was the focus of discussions in the past two days of the ICHRPP. Such concern was summed up by international lawyer Anna Morris from the U.K., who said the concept of national security “should center on securing the economic and political rights of the people. It is those rights that the President should put in the heart of his State of the Nation Address on Monday.”
 

Added Morris: “This is my third visit here in the Philippines and on each occasion, the level of repression increases, not decreases, against those who are legitimately engaged in the protection and representation of the vulnerable, the dispossessed and the poor. In a modern society, it should be that impunity decreases and accountability increases, but sadly that is not the case in the current government.”###

 
     

International solidarity mission investigates rights violations in the Philippines

International delegates to join People’s SONA “The world is watching. This is a test for the Philippine republic on how to deal with the poor and marginalized and their needs. We are here to show our solidarity and to let you know that you are …

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Family of Dutch EJK victim assails Aquino govt rights record; impunity proof of failure of HR

The family of Dutch missionary Willem Geertman who was a victim of extrajudicial killing last year in Angeles City, made strong exception to the statement of European Union (EU) ambassador Guy Ledoux last week lauding the Aquino government’s human rights record. Herman Geertman, brother of …

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Aquino dashes hope for respect for human rights – Dutch Parliamentarian

A member of the Dutch Parliament representing the Socialist Party of the Netherlands has called for solidarity with Filipinos in their struggle to end human rights violations and impunity. Harry van Bommel of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands, the third biggest political party in …

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Branding a human rights lawyers group as “enemy”; AFP back to its old recidivist ways

Press Statement, 11 July 2013 – We, at the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, express concern and alarm at the statement reportedly given by Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes branding the NUPL and Karapatan as “enemies” in reaction to our comment to the designation …

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SONA 2013: Police attack protesters; scores injured, arrested

Protest rallies during President Benigno Aquino’s annual State of the Nation Address turned violent yet again with no less than 21 rallyists severely injured and at least 10 arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

While leaders and lawyers of the protesters were negotiating with the PNP and have in fact moved sideways to open two lanes of the blocked road the police suddenly rushed them, leading to the violence and arrests.

Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas was, as usual, at the forefront of the protesters.

 

           
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