Day of action in Canada

to free the Morong 43 and all political prisoners in the Philippines

 

September 17, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
/p

/p

Montreal

Photos courtesy of BAYAN - Canada

Visit website of BAYAN-Canada:  http://byncan.wordpress.com/

           
     
     
           
           

 

Statement of Dr. Chandu Claver on the September 17 National Day of Action to free the Morong 43 and all political prisoners

WILL THERE BE CHANGE?

I was a physician-surgeon working with a Community-based Health Program in the province of
Kalinga since 1987. Years of experience in alternative health care has thought us that the best
and most effective approach is to work with the people where they are at. Area-based community
health worker training has therefore been one of the main components of any effective health
initiative especially in the light of the inability of the State to effectively deliver the necessary
health services to its constituents.

Such was the activity that the health professional and health workers known as the Morong 43
were engaged in on February 6, 2010 when more than a hundred heavily-armed military and
policemen swooped down and took them into custody. While in the hands of the military they
suffered physical and psychological torture. To this day, they remain behind bars despite a
growing realization among observers of the infirmity of the State’s case.

Traditionally, health personnel and religious workers have been relatively immune from vicious
reactionary backlash. But this has not been true in the last ten years. Goaded on by mad generals
and cabinet members, the Philippine State Security Forces have literally gone into a rampage of
killings, abductions and illegal detentions. This they do for their stated goal of crushing the
longest running liberation movement in Asia today – an obvious impossibility considering that
they have kept moving forward their self-imposed deadline for many years. The fire of this
crazed witch hunt is stoked even more by the logistic support of the most powerful nation in the
world.

State oppression is usually done by deception or by force. In the last several years, State has had
to employ more and more the latter means, as the carrot does not seem to work anymore.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of dead bodies, missing people, and hundreds of political
prisoners. And like the Morong 43, there are 338 more political prisoners languishing in jail.
None of them deserves to be there.

But now we have a new president. In the first two and a half months of his term, I still have to
see some concrete action on his part to actually put a stop to the blood bath. The nation has put
its hopes on him. Will he fail us? Will he change things? We will know in the next few months.

Otherwise, it will again be up to us, the Filipino people to change things for him.

Chandu Claver*
17 September 2010

*Chandu Claver – Kalinga-based former coordinator of the Community Health Concerns for Kalinga, a community based health program. Former member of the Board of Trustees of both the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED), and the Council for Health Development (CHD). An ambush by suspected State forces resulted in the death of his wife and severe damage to himself. Continuing threats on himself and his children forced him to relocate to Canada as a refugee. After investigation a formal hearing, Canada has found his refugee claims as valid. Presently he is the Chairperson of BAYAN – Canada.

 

Sept 17 Vigil in front of Rizal statue, Mackenzie Park, Montreal
           
     
Montreal public forum for political prisoners Emile - Centre for Philippine Concerns Emily just returned from internship with NUPL
     
     
     
=          
==          

Toronto

International Day of Action to Free the Morong 43
Photos by Fmwm Filipino

Visit website of BAYAN-Canada:  http://byncan.wordpress.com/

 

Initiated by Bayan Canada, members of Migrante Ontario, Gabriela, FMWM and other ally organizations staged its solidarity rally cum cultural presentation right at the intersection of famously Filipino populated area in Toronto to call on the Aquino government to free the 43 health workers, and all political prisoners in the Philippines.
 

           
     
     
     

 

An Open Letter to President Benigno Aquino III

I am Chandu Claver. My family was the target of an ambush by suspected State agents nearly four years today on July 31, 2006 in the province of Kalinga. My wife Alice was killed, as a result. Because of continuing threats on what remained of my family, I was forced to seek political refuge in Canada. In the Canadian hearing connected with this, I testified that the death of my wife was linked to the present Philippine counter-insurgency
Operation Plan Bantay Laya which specifically targets civilians and social activists. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has found my claim for refuge to be valid and has declared me and my family as Convention Refugees.

Like many hopeful Filipinos hungry for change, I have intently listened to your recent State of the Nation Address. As a victim of the extra-judicial killings perpetuated in the name of Oplan Bantay Laya, and as one of the families actively continuing to seek justice, I found your speech very disappointing.

I had hoped to hear from you bold and definite steps to stem the carnage that has resulted in more than 1000 bloody executions and more than 200 abductions. I had hoped that you would prevent more killings by at least putting Oplan Bantay Laya under review. I had hoped that you would implement the recommendations of the United Nations Special
Rapporteur Phillip Alston on the matter. The link of Oplan Bantay Laya to the killings and disappearance has been established many times in the recent past by respected institutions, both in the Philippines and abroad. But you never even mentioned Oplan Bantay Laya in your speech.

I had hoped that you would make some positive pronouncements regarding the plight of political prisoners, especially the Morong 43 – health workers like me, who have been languishing in jail since February on obviously trumped up charges. Considering all these, I am hoping that this is not because you are afraid of intimidating the military institution.
In your speech, it was good that you had initiated steps to try to solve the cases of the six new cases under your administration. But your failure to mention any plans to solve the very large number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances during the past administration made me very uneasy.

This fear was increased when you laid down your intention with the Truth Commission. The only reference to going after human rights violators as part of the Truth Commission was a short vague phrase about “going after killers”. Much of your speech was spent painting a very detailed and graphic picture of the corrupt practices of the past administration. In contrast, you only mentioned a very few vague words on an issue that has taken the precious lives of many and devastated countless family members. I cannot
help coming away with a very strong suspicion that you would prefer not to deal with the problem of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. To me, it felt that you were washing your hands of the cases occurring in the past administration, and that your lack of adequate reference to the issue felt like you were sweeping the dirt under the rug. I fervently hope that I am wrong in thinking that.

At the very minimum, I had hoped to hear from you a clear and unequivocal warning that members of the military linked to these killings would face the full force of the law. This was a crucial statement that human rights organizations (both in the Philippines and abroad) have long been recommending to the previous administration. This was a
necessary first step that we believe would serve as a strong warning that would start to counter the “culture of impunity” related with these killings and disappearances. This initial statement would start the process of preventing similar tragic events.

But Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was never able to make that simple statement. You have not done that in your SONA speech either, nor in any of your public speeches. I can only think of three possible reasons why you did not make that crucial, simple and logical statement: that you harboured hidden feelings that the killings served a good purpose; that you did not have the will to go against the military establishment; or your speech writer forgot to put it
in. Which is it, Mr. President?

We need the killings to stop. Your spokesman had declared that extrajudicial killings are not your administration’s policy. Then prove it, sir – shut down Oplan Bantay Laya, and truly investigate and actively prosecute the military perpetrators and their political coddlers, whether in the past administration or in yours.

For as long as the perpetrators of these extrajudicial killings and disappearances believe that their leaders are tacitly approving their heinous crimes through inaction and mixed signals, the blood will continue to flow. And unless you act more decisively, that exactly is what would happen. ##

Chandu Claver
chandu_claver@yahoo.com
31 July 2010

August 3, 2010


http://byncan.wordpress.com/

 

     
     
     
           
     
     
   

 

Justice for Fernando Baldomero and all victims of extrajudicial killings

The following statement was read by Fr. Artemio Calaycay, IFI, a member of the Centre for Philippine Concerns in Montreal, at an event on the island of Panay in the Philippines today, July 13, 2010, to demand justice for Fernando Baldomero, Bayan Muna coordinator. Baldomero was killed July 5 in front of his 12-year old son.

Justice for Fernando Baldomero and all victims of extrajudicial killings

Joint Statement from Bayan Canada and ILPS Canada

July 13, 2010 — Our thoughts and hearts go out across the miles that separate us to the family and friends of Fernando Baldomero, the first activist killed under the new Aquino administration. We were shocked when we heard that Baldomero, a Bayan Muna provincial coordinator in Aklan, had been gunned down in front of his son by motorcycle-riding men right outside his home.

Just when we hoped the spate of killings begun under the former Arroyo regime would be coming to an end, it took barely five days after the new President was sworn in for the first extrajudicial killing of a political activist to occur.

But the shock had not worn off when the news of more killings reached our shores: Anak Pawis member Pascual Guevarra, 78 years old, from Nueva Ecija was killed right in his home on July 9, the same day as Mark Francisco, 27, an ACT Teachers partylist member and Edgar Fernandez, 44, another public school teacher, both from Masbate. Another ACT member and public school teacher, Dexter Legazpi, 36, also from Masbate, fortunately survived a shooting on July 6.

When are the these killings going to stop! When will the bloody climate of impunity put into place during the Arroyo reign be ended once and for all!

It is obviously not enough that the new President instruct the military to uphold human rights in its counter-insurgency campaign. They appear not only incapable of doing that, but instead are on a killing spree.

When will the new President have the strength of character and the human decency to do what is right and scrap Arroyo’s bloody counter-insurgency program known as Oplan Bantay Laya that has targeted unarmed activists?

Fernando Baldomero, a political detainee in the 1980s, paid the ultimate price for wanting justice, true democracy and a decent standard of living for the majority of Filipinos. Despite previous threats on his life he continued as a councillor of Lezo, Aklan and as the coordinator of the party-list group Bayan Muna and an official of the Makabayan Coalition in the province.

Just last March, two men on board a motorcycle with no plate number lobbed two grenades at Baldomero’s house. This was only one of several attempts on Fernando’s life in the last year.

Be assured that we in Canada, part of Bayan Canada, along with our friends in ILPS Canada and the member groups of the Stop the Killings campaign will continue to be at your side across the miles demanding justice for Fernando, Pascual, Mark, Edgar and the hundreds of victims before them

We will not stop until the perpetrators of these atrocities have been brought to justice, no matter how high up the chain of command in the military structures it is necessary to go, and until the counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bantay Laya has been scrapped. Human decency and a respect for fundamental human rights demands no less.

Stop the Killings in the Philippines
Justice for Fernando Baldomero and all victims of extrajudicial killings

July 20, 2010

 
 
 
     
     
     
   

 

AWAKENING
 

BAYAN Canada May First Statement

May 2010

Danny (not his real name) wakes up to the buzzing noise of his alarm clock. It is 4:30 am on a cold Canadian morning, made even colder by the fact that he and his roommates are still without furniture and sleeping on the floor. There was a late April snow storm that passed during the night. He was sure of two things; he should have woken up earlier to be in time to travel the 3 hours to get to the worksite, and he will surely need the pick axe that day. The pick axe is needed to chip away at the ice on the tower where he and his co-workers install telecommunications equipment. Every day is like hanging on for dear life 200 meters up in the air in gusty winds. This is definitely not normal conditions for someone who comes from the tropics.

He sucks in some of the musty air in his cramped apartment and wakes up his six companions to make sure they all get to work on time. They do this almost ritualistically everyday because they have no other choice. Their families back in the Philippines are relying on them. More news about tuition fee increases, the price of oil and rice going up and some family member needing medical attention gets them going every morning. It’s either this or they are sent packing by the company that sponsored them to work as temporary foreign workers under the Canadian government’s program. Just a year ago the telecommunications company had broken the back of the union in the lengthy labour dispute. The company now subcontracts a firm that hires the migrant workers. Danny and friends are not aware of this. All they know is they have to make a living to pay off the loan sharks for the money they spent paying the recruitment agency. So they wake up and they work.

Len-Len, as her friends nicked named her is also getting up. It’s the third time she woke up since she’s gone to bed at eleven last night. The elderly woman she is caring for in the household where she works had called for her several times for assistance. No, she doesn’t work the graveyard shift; she’s a live-in caregiver under Canada’s federal program. After her long shift starting at seven in the morning preparing breakfast for her employers, she can’t refuse the wake-up calls. She’s afraid that the accusations and insinuations surrounding missing jewellery will start up again.

Anyway, isn’t Len-Len lucky that her employer gives her more hours by letting her work for the neighbour’s household? She caters their dinner parties which last late into the night. There’s no overtime paid though, just more exhausting work. She has ten more months to finish the Live-in Caregiver Program before she can apply for permanent status. Luckily, if she keeps her complaints to herself, she won’t be dismissed like she was in her last employment. It causes her so much anxiety knowing that being fired jeopardizes her status in Canada. So she wakes up and she works.

Manong (older brother) wakes up early as well. His old bones are sore in the mornings. His arthritic hands are beginning to get worse in his old age. This is a result of years of working in the textile industry, starting from the Philippines when he was a young man to the garment factory he now works for in Canada. He worries that the factory will close soon. He is sixty nine now, but he was only sixty when he first started working for the Canadian company. He and his wife who also works for the same employer were sponsored by their daughter who is a former live-in domestic. After years of their daughter’s sacrifice for the chance to get status in Canada and to sponsor her family, manong and his wife feel indebted. They feel obliged to help their daughter to augment the family income by continuing to work until their old age. Anyway, it’s for their grandchildren, and the other family members in the Philippines they support with their monthly remittance.

They can’t retire yet and collect old age pension even after nine years of working for the company. There are requirements for how many years one has to work in Canada before they can apply for their pensions. But manong is proud, because they have contributed to the productivity of the company who just purchased another plant in the U.S. A fact that makes him wonder why the company threatens to shut down their operations and move to China and India. Will the workers get fair compensation for their years of work when the factory doors finally shut? But that doesn’t matter, manong and his wife still wake up and they work.

Across this vast country on the other coast line, Doc wakes up to his youngest daughter’s screams. She is having her nightmares again. While attending to his daughter, his sister-in-law peeks in and asks, “Doc is everything ok?”

Doc who lives with his brother’s family to help keep his living expenses down is uncomfortable with this title. He hasn’t been able to practice his profession since he sought political asylum in Canada. He believes he can no longer be a surgeon again. The Philippine military elements that shot him with nine millimetre rounds that gruesome day a couple of years ago had sealed this fate. It is a testament to the elusiveness of democracy in the Philippines. Doc, a strong critic of the Philippine government, campaigned for a pro-people electoral party called Bayan Muna (People First). Doc always wondered how accepting the existing political system would be to progressives running for elections. Doc got his answer. His good arm that used to hold the scalpels to heal the sick still bears the scars from the bullet wounds. But it is his spirit that is most scarred. His wife died the day of the machine gun attack. In the highest form of self-sacrifice she covered him and took most of the hail of bullets. It is this image that his daughters sometimes wake up to, screaming.

Doc’s spirit may be scarred but it hasn’t been crushed. He still puts himself in the line of fire making statements against political killings in the Philippines. He still makes public appearances appealing to his compatriots and Canadians alike to take a stand and denounce the corruption and violence just weeks before the presidential elections in that country. He also gets up everyday working several jobs to make a living for himself and his young daughters. So he wakes and he works.

On May first 2010 we wake up and we work. We prepare for the various actions under the banner of BAYAN Canada. Some of us wake up early to prepare for our press statements and speeches for the crowds. Others prepare their phone list to mobilize for the actions across the country. Today we march shoulder to shoulder with all Canadian workers. They too may be awakening to the fact that the gains won from the workers’ struggles since the first May Day more than a hundred years ago are under attack. The exploitation of migrants, immigrants and refugees in Canada is the exploitation and oppression of all workers.

Philippines, a nation of labourers and landless peasants is also awakening. The thousands of people marching in Manila will make the streets rumble to the rhythm of their marching feet. Soon the fascists in the halls of power will be the ones to wake up in cold sweat. Their worst nightmare is advancing. We in BAYAN Canada march to this rhythm – the rhythm of our people’s resistance.

 
 
 
 
   
   
     
   

 

Morong 43 health workers remain defiant despite military mistreatment – exclusive photos
18 Apr 2010; Sat; 6:57 am
by: Edre Olalia

Please find below the first known public group pictures of the 43 Morong health workers. These were taken immediately after the hearing yesterday before the Morong Regional Trial Court on the issue of their transfer from a military camp to a civilian police jail. There is an obvious scheme to keep them in the hands and at the mercy of the military.

They have been in the military camp since their illegal arrests last February 6, 2010 and have since been subjected to various forms of physical and psychological torture, threats, coercion, harassments, intimidation, repeated and endless interrogations without the presence of counsels of their choice, among others. Their families are also being surveyed, harassed and threatened. Their private doctors are arbitrarily refused entry. They are still being subjected to psychological torture and psy-war tactics and to arbitrary restrictions. Five of them are presently segregated from the rest, kept in a military safe house and are under duress and given military lawyers who eased out their counsels of choice. The latter have not been allowed to see or confer with the five since the start of March.

In spite of all of these and what they went through, they remain steadfast, committed, now even more assertive of their rights and in a fighting, defiant yet still jolly mood as the first picture shows. It was taken at the end of the lawyers’ briefing and before they were herded back to the military buses en route back to the military camp.

They shall go on fasting starting today in protest of their continued detention in the military camp and the deliberate refusal of the military to bring them to the last two hearings before the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) where they filed complaints against the military and police for atrocious human rights violations based on well-documented accounts. The military continues to defy and disrespect the CHR mandatory orders.

Please use these pictures as you deem fit. As far as we know, these are the first complete group pictures of the detainees with their lawyers. (No cameras are allowed inside the military camp, much less the taking of the detainees’ pictures as a group.)

Thank you.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and
Public Interest Law Center (PILC)
Counsels for the Morong 43

 

 
 
     
     
     
     
     

 

Statement of BAYAN Canada
 

On Aquino’s Philippine State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, 2010

BAYAN Canada, an alliance of progressive Filipino organizations in Canada is outraged and concerned about the direction the newly-elected Aquino administration is leading the country. During his first State of the Nation Address, President Aquino cited the scandalous pilfering of the previous administration, which has left the country’s finances in peril. The president then began to list the solutions needed to heal the country’s economy. Streamlining investment, increasing privatization and developing infrastructure, according to Aquino, are the necessary actions to improve the depressed Philippine economy.

“What was said in the address to the nation was at the least, lacking and a step in the wrong direction” Joey Calugay, Secretary General of BAYAN Canada said. “Despite the fact that the neoliberal policies of the past have ruined the economy and has favoured foreign corporations, Aquino is still insistent on further destroying the nation’s finances by implementing and repeating the tested and failed policies of the past.” Calugay added.

BAYAN members in the Philippines, U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong have laid out their own demands for the Philippine government to address, which tackle the real issues facing the country’s citizens and the millions of Filipino migrants around the globe. The demands and issues of the people are based on the four K’s: Katurungan, Kalayaan, Karapatan, and Kabuhayan.

Katurungan (Justice)
During the previous administration, there were approximately 1200 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances. BAYAN Canada Chairperson, Chandu Claver stated, “Nowhere in his address did Aquino acknowledge the extrajudicial killings that plagued the country during the last decade…. his silence on the killings does very little to comfort the families of the victims who are still hoping and demanding for justice.” The United Nations, U.S. State Department and countless people’s organizations have accused the state security forces of the Philippines and for carrying out the extrajudicial killings.

We demand that former President Arroyo and all perpetrators be investigated for human rights violations.

Kalayaan (Sovereignty)
VFA: There are currently 5000 U.S. soldiers in the Philippines permitted under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines. Although the presence and actions of the U.S. forces are embroiled in secrecy and controversy, the soldiers remain on Philippine soil—free to engage in combat and harass Filipino citizens.

Mining Act of 1995: The Philippines is one of the top producers of chromium and gold. Unfortunately the resources and profit of the country’s vast mineral wealth are not shared with its citizens. Multinational corporations are able to extract minerals, destroy the environment while displacing indigenous populations and above all they are permitted to repatriate all profit!

We demand the repeal of this unconstitutional agreement and legislation, which debase our national sovereignty.

Karapatan (Rights)
The International Federation of Journalists declared the Philippines as the most dangerous country for journalists for the past two years. Death squads have targeted and killed workers, unionists, journalists, politicians and students.

We demand that the Aquino administration dismantle the military program “Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL)” or “Operation Plan Freedom Watch”, which targets mainly civilians critical of ggovernment and people’s organizations suspected as communist fronts for “neutralization”.

Kabuhayan (Livelihood)
Over one million Filipinos leave the country every year to find work. Despite its rich resource base and educated population, the Philippines economy cannot employ its own workforce. The majority of Filipinos work as landless tenant farmers. The economy is based on the export of its physical and human resources. There are no heavy industries that employ a significant portion of the population.

We demand that the Aquino administration implement genuine agrarian land reform. We demand that the Aquino administration create jobs in the Philippines instead of promoting the Labour Export Policy, which was instituted by the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

August 3, 2010

 
 
   
     
 
     
           
==          

BONUS TRACKS

           
           
 

Makibaka


Hinding hindi magagapi pakikibaka nating nag-aalab
Parang bulkang sumasabog natin tatapusin pagpapahirap
Hinding hindi tayo bibitaw sa ating paninindigan
Tayo ang magpapalaya sa ginahasang lipunan
Handa na ba kayo?
Halina at sumama!
Handa na ba kayo?
Halina at sumama,
Manindigan, makibaka!
Hinding hindi aatras ang bayan nating lumalaban
Lalo at dumadami ang hanay nating naninindigan
Hinding hindi tayo susuko sa ating pakikibaka
Ang tunay na pag-unlad ay makakamit lang kung ang bayan ay mapalaya!

**          

 

 
 

Google