Press Release | October 19, 2016
The NDFP Negotiating Panel strongly condemns the brutal police dispersal of the peaceful rally of lumads and their supporters in front of the US embassy calling for the scrapping of EDCA and other unequal treaties with the US and an end to the US-instigated Oplan Bayanihan. According to the latest reports from Karapatan, more than 50 were injured after the police dispersed the crowd with tear gas, repeatedly rammed a mobile patrol car against the rallyists and chased them with truncheons all the way from the US embassy premises up to Kalaw Street. Thirty-one rallyists were arrested.
The rally was already winding up when Police Supt. Marcelino Pedroso ordered his men to disperse the rallyists with tear gas and truncheons.
The peaceful rally was headed by SANDUGO and supported by progressive groups like BAYAN, Anakbayan and Kabataan Partylist. SANDUGO is an alliance of national minorities and indigenous peoples from Northern Luzon to Mindanao whose communities have borne the brunt of military operations under the US-instigated Oplan Bayanihan.
The lumad communities in Mindanao have not only suffered from the devastation of their ancestral lands as a result of the operations of foreign mining companies and agro-corporations. Oplan Bayanihan has been used to protect these foreign companies against the opposition of the Lumads to the companies’ destructive operations. Lumad communities have been forcibly evacuated and their leaders assassinated as in the recent case of Jimmy Saypan, the secretary general of ComVal Farmers Association.
The rallyists were calling for the withdrawal of all US troops from the Philippines in accordance with Pres. Duterte’s policy statement on charting an independent course in foreign policy. They also called for an end to the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan in view of Pres. Duterte’s declared policy of reaching a negotiated settlement to the armed conflict with the forces of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Apparently, parts of the military and police apparatus are still stuck in the old mindset of subservience and mendicancy to US imperialist interests contrary to their President’s avowed commitment to pursue an independent foreign policy. Pres. Duterte has more than once reminded the US that the Philippines was no longer its colony. He has declared that he would develop friendly relations with all countries including Russia and China and not be used by the US in its wars and conflicts with other powers as his predecessors had done before him.
Most likely, there are elements within the military and police who are against the new policy direction of their commander-in-chief and are out to sabotage the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
We call on Pres. Duterte to discipline the police and rein in his troops. They must be told to respect the people’s rights to peaceful assembly and free speech. These rights are guaranteed in the GRP constitution and in the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) signed by the two sides in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
FIDEL V. AGCAOILI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
NDFP Media Group
viber: +31 643108419
whatsapp: Dan Borjal