On Talaingod, Civil War and Peace Talks

Speech delivered before community leaders of the United Methodist Church and BAYAN-USA

Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

Good evening, Friends and Kababayan, Community and Faith leaders of the United Methodist Church, and members of mass organizations of BAYAN.

I extend warmest greetings to the great indigenous people of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, for their persistent fighting spirit, opposing the landgrabbing of Alcantara and Sons since the 1990s and up to now, and their resistance to destructive mining. They are now subjected to the most brutal militarization causing their renewed uprooting. They indeed deserve our strong solidarity.

This flagrant human rights violation by the military and the Aquino regime is repeated in many parts of the Philippines. As the Ata-Manobos in Talaingod accuse the 60thInfantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, and the 4th Special Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Cordillera people condemn the brutal massacre of the Ligiw family in Abra and demand the pull-out of the 47thInfantry Battalion, Philippine Army, whom they accuse of many human rights violations.

Similar militarization and uprooting are caused in Bicol, other parts of Luzon, and the Visayas. The policy of the Aquino regime to favor foreign destructive mining is carried out with brutal militarization.

In addition, the neoliberal policies of the regime, of privatization, deregulation, liberalization and denationalization, are causing great havoc on the lives of the workers, peasants, indigenous people, urban poor, fisherfolk, women and youth, and other sectors of the population.

Because of the intolerable exploitation and oppression of the ruling system of big landlords and compradors backed by the US, there has been a civil war in the Philippines since 1969. The liberation forces upholding and defending the rights of the exploited and oppressed are waging a war for national and social liberation. The New People’s Army led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the forces of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, through 45 years of heroic struggle, have established people’s organs of democratic power in substantial portions of 71 out of the total 81 provinces in the country.

The NDFP has held peace negotiations with the Manila government and has signed more than ten agreements since 1992. The aim of the NDFP is to address the roots of the armed conflict, such as land reform and national industrialization, in order to achieve a just and lasting peace.

The Aquino government, however, has refused to comply with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). It has declared the Framework Agreement, The Hague Joint Declaration, “a document of perpetual division.”

It arrested NDFP consultants Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria on 22 March 2014. It refuses to honor the JASIG. It detains them and 13 other NDFP consultants.

It keeps in jail 470 political prisoners, charging them with criminal offenses, in violation of the CARHRIHL.

On 27 March 2014, it arrested Andrea Rosal who is due to give birth next month. She is the daughter of the late NPA Commander Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal. When she was three years old in 1989, she was snatched from her grandmother’s arms to pressure Ka Roger to surrender. A powerful campaign by Ka Roger and supporters compelled the military to release her.

Extrajudicial killings under Aquino have reached 188 cases, an average of almost one each week.

The NDFP demands the release of the 15 NDFP peace consultants and the political prisoners. We demand a stop to the militarization of civilian communities.

Because of the violations by the Aquino regime of the peace agreements, the peace talks are stalled. However, the NDFP supports the Royal Norwegian Government’s proposal for holding informal talks in Oslo in late May 2014. Peace advocate organizations in the Philippines and abroad also support the holding of such talks. The Aquino regime has not responded.

You can continue your strong campaign of solidarity for the Ata-Manobos and other indigenous people struggling for their ancestral domain and resisting militarization.

You can also help in campaigning for the release of Tiamzon and Austria, and the other NDFP consultants.

You could also campaign for the release of Andrea Rosal.

You can demand the resumption of peace talks between the NDFP and the Aquino government based on the binding past peace agreements.

Your suggested action of “No US Taxes for human rights violations!” is very timely and will be effective in supporting the Filipino people’s struggle for a just and lasting peace.

Thank you!

See related story in Davao Today: Church groups will hold online forum for Talaingod Manobos