Partido Lakas ng Masa
Statement on International Women’s Day
All Out Peace, Not War, in Mindanao!
Justice for Jennifer Laude! Justice for All!
Pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law! No to Watering it Down!
No to US Intervention!
Increased US militarization of the Philippines through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Asian Pivot and the soon-to-be-operational Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) makes living dangerous and doubly difficult for women and children. This has been made clear by the country’s experience with US’s Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines. Again, this is the lesson we can glean from the recent events: the murder of trans-woman Jennifer Laude on October 11, 2014, as well as the killing and displacement of Muslim civilians during and after the Mamasapano tragedy on January 25 this year.
The Partido Lakas ng Masa bemoans the Philippine government’s acquiescence to all US military trainings, exercises, troop deployment, prepositioning of war materiel, patrolling Philippine waters and docking in Philippine ports of US warships and maintaining military advisers. These are all for US wars.
Jennifer’s murder is not an ordinary crime as the President pictured it to be. It is clearly a hate crime committed by a US soldier who enjoys the protection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), hence the difficulty for Philippine police authorities to serve him an arrest warrant and present him in court for preliminary investigation. While custody comes with criminal jurisdiction over the crime, US authorities have custody of the accused Joseph Scott Pemberton. Even in court, the unequal relations manifest in allowing the attendance of several US military personnel while limiting Jennifer’s side to only her immediate family and her lawyers.
The urgency and secrecy of the special operation to get Marwan, carried-out for the US by the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), particularly the 84th Special Action Company skipped the PNP chain of command and supposedly defied the order by the President Aquino to coordinate with the AFP. Evidently, the only consideration of this operation was the US’s desire to get Marwan and show a positive development in its war on terror as the ISIS continues to advance in several fronts in the Middle East and even in Europe. Hence the result: a tragedy that befell 44 members of the PNP-SAF, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), at least five Muslim civilians killed, including a girl named “Sarah”, more than a thousand displaced, and a compromised peace process for the Mindanao-Sulu area.
We also call on the President to own up to his responsibility in this tragedy and not allow himself to be used as a stooge of the US.
The AFP is now into an offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the MIFF. Already, this has displaced 8,130 families or 30,130 individuals. Women, the elderly and children bear most of the hardships and dangers that go with need to evacuate. Young women and children become more prone to trafficking and prostitution. We demand an immediate end to the military offensive against the BIFF.
The military offensive in Mindanao, could increase the possibility of more terrorism, as extremist groups prey on the economic and social desperation of the communities in the area. We call for a negotiated political solution, including with the BIFF, not a military offensive, to resolve the problems in the region. The first step is the passage of the Bangsa Moro Basic Law, without watering down the provisions that enable self-determination for Mindanao.
PLM opposes the US-led “War on Terror” that terrorizes civilians, causes massive destruction and carnage world-wide and is responsible for spawning more terrorist groups. We call on the Aquino government to end the VFA and all agreements that tie the country to an unequal defense relation with the US and make the government an accomplice to the US war crimes in its unending quest for world dominance.
The Partido Lakas ng Masa joins the World March of Women — Pilipinas and other women’s groups mobilising on March 8 demanding justice for all victims of US militarism and for peace and self-determination for Mindanao.