Bayan Canada and Migrante Canada Joint Statement on the Peace Talks – Feb. 14, 2017

Migrante Canada and Bayan Canada condemn, all over again, the continued blatant and rampant violation of human rights of innocent civilians and of people from progressive organizations who have dedicated their lives to advocating for justice in the Philippines. We condemn, more than ever, the relentless war that has been carried out through the reckless militarization of rural areas by troops and paramilitary, through the decades, under the aegis of the Philippine government.

We specially condemn the fact that this reckless militarization has plagued the country, despite the 5-month old unilateral ceasefire declared by President Duterte, as a sign of his intention to pursue talks about peace. However, as we now know from reports, contradicting such offered signs of goodwill, as of January 2017, 51 battalions have been deployed to Mindanao alone, and the state’s troops were deployed to about 500 villages across the country.

The people have always asked for justice, knowing this is the way to lasting peace.

Just as we, alongside many, praised President Duterte’sresumption of peace talks with the CPP-NDF-NPA, we now condemn the recent results of his withdrawal of the government panel from the talks, and his latest declaration of an “all-out war”. We condemn the new counterinsurgency program, which started early this year and has escalated rapidly.

Highlights:
• January 20, the killing of Alexander Ceballos, regional council member for the National Federation of Sugar Workers, and threats dealt to other agrarian-reform activists in Negros;
• February 3, the killing of Lumad leader Renato Anglao, Secretary General of Tribal Indigenous Opressed Group Association or TINDOGA;
• February 6, Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines re-arrested NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario and threatened to re-arrest thirteen (13) other NDFP peace consultants.

These events took place quickly, in glaring contrast to the long-drawn out silence of government regarding the request voiced out by human rights advocates to bring justice to around 40,000 victims of human rights violations and the voices asking the government to carry out the president’s previous promise to free the close to 400 political
prisoners languishing in jails.

With such a start, Oplan Kapayapaan, obviously can only be as merciless to non-combatants as other programs in the past, and already tells the nation that it will produce the opposite of its name, bringing more suffering to more numbers of people.

We join other organizations hoping for peace in the Philippines as we urge the Duterte government to continue the peace talks and to complete the positive discussions that have begun and forge agreements regarding the social and economic reforms much needed by the people. We all are at a crucial point in our history which can decide the direction of our nation.

The heightened suffering of the vast numbers of Filipinos through the recent decades has proven a dark nightmare of a false democracy. Ironically, of course, it has increasingly become a pleasure dome for the elite and their lapdogs. We utterly condemn this result of successive Philippine governments submitting to an enforced tutorial under its colonizer, the American government.

We, alongside the people, call for the the Philippine government to respect previously signed agreements, and continue on with the peace talks!

We call for an end to trumped-up cases that have victimized many members of progressive groups!

We call for a stop to all forms of political persecution of members of progressive people’s organizations and development workers!

SGD.

Chandu Claver
Chairperson, BAYAN-Canada

Tess Agustin
Chairperson, Migrante Canada

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