Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma in New Zealand:

Justice and Liberation: The Road to Peace in the Philippines

 

New Zealand

 

Posted November 25,  2010

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Filipino activists on road for peace

LEIGHTON KEITH - Taranaki Daily News

Last updated 05:00 08/11/2010

 

Two leading figures in the fight for peace in the Philippines have been in New Plymouth to talk about their struggles.

 

Luis Jalandoni and his wife, Coni Ledesma, talked to a group at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery during Mr Jalandoni's national speaking tour "Justice and Liberation: The Road to Peace in the Philippines".

 

The international representative of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines said the aim of the tour was to get support to resume peace talks, which were suspended by the government in 2005 when members of the NDF coalition, including the Communist Party and New People's Army, were put on a terrorist watch list by the United States.

 

"International support is crucial," he said.

 

The small audience of about 12 people was typical of the couple's experience in New Zealand, but they were not deterred.

 

"We've not had big crowds but they've been interested people with lots of questions."

The NDF has been waging a war of liberation throughout the Philippines for 41 years – one of the longest armed struggles in the world.

 

Mr Jalandoni remains positive that peace can be achieved, despite numerous barriers, including the interests of big business being protected by the government.

 

"We think that if both sides are determined and have the political will, it could be achieved within six months – if they come to a realisation that carrying out the negotiated settlement is much better than continuing with the armed conflict," he said.

 

"About 85 per cent of people are living below the poverty line in a country that's very rich in natural resources. There's so much greed for super profits."

 

Mr Jalandoni, a former Catholic priest, and his wife, a former nun, went underground when then president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. Mr Jalandoni and Ms Ledesma were arrested and have served time as political prisoners.

 

They left the clergy and married in 1974, moving to the Netherlands in 1976. They both hold Dutch passports and travel extensively as NDF representatives

 

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JUSTICE AND LIBERATION: THE ROAD TO PEACE
FILIPINO PROGRESSIVE LEADERS TO TOUR NZ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER

Luis Jalandoni (who previously toured New Zealand in 1987) is undertaking a national speaking tour between October 24 and November 14. His tour is being collectively organised and hosted by the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa, Auckland Philippines Solidarity and Wellington Kiwi Pinoy. His topic will be: Justice And Liberation: The Road To Peace In The Philippines. He will visit: Christchurch, Blenheim, Wellington, Palmerston North, New Plymouth,
Hamilton, Auckland and Whangarei.

Luis is accompanied by his wife Coni Ledesma, who will also be speaking. She is a member of the NDF Negotiating Panel for peace talks; and is the International Spokesperson of MAKIBAKA, a revolutionary women’s group which belongs to the NDF.

Luis and Coni are both veteran leading figures in the Philippine revolutionary Left. He was a Catholic priest in the 1960s and she was a nun. Both were founders of Christians for National Liberation, a member group of the NDF. When Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in
1972, both went underground. They were both arrested and spent time as political prisoners. They left the clergy, and got married in 1974. They have lived in The Netherlands since 1976; they were the first Filipinos to apply for and receive political asylum there. They hold
Dutch passports and travel extensively as NDF representatives.
 

ITINERARY
 

Tuesday October 26 – Christchurch
Public Meeting - 7.30 p.m. Knox Presbyterian Church Lounge, 28 Bealey Avenue.
Contact: Murray Horton, 0274 307742 cafca@chch.planet.org.nz

Wednesday October 27 – Blenheim
Public Meeting – 7.30 p.m., Nativity Centre Lounge, cnr Alfred & Henry Streets
Contact: Steffan Browning, 021 725655 greeny25@xtra.co.nz

Thursday October 28 & Friday 29 – Wellington
Public Meeting – 7.30 p.m. Thursday 28, St John’s Hall, corner Willis
& Dixon Streets
Contact: Rod Prosser 021 0744992 communitymedia@paradise.net.nz
 

     

Monday November 1 – Palmerston North
Public Meeting – 7.30 p.m., Catholic Diocesan Centre (t Rau Aroha), 33
Amesbury Street
Contact: Dion Martin (06) 3569658 (w), 021 776029 Dion.Martin@ndu.org.nz

Tuesday November 2 & Wednesday 3 – New Plymouth
Public Meeting – 6 p.m. Wednesday 3rd, Govett Brewster Art Gallery, 42
Queen Street

Contact: Fiona Clark (06) 7547014; fionaclark@clear.net.nz
Thursday November 4 – Hamilton
Public Meeting – 7.30 p.m., Waikato Trade Union Centre, 34 Harwood Street.
Contact: Bob Anderson, (07) 8297882, 021 776023; ban@xtra.co.nz

Friday November 5 - Whangarei
Public Meeting – 7 p.m., Manaia PHO Rooms, Rust Ave, central Whangarei.
Contact: Tim Howard 027 3089216 the-farm@ihug.co.nz

Tuesday November 9 – Auckland
Public Meeting – 7 p.m. Trades Hall, 147 Great North Road, Grey Lynn

Wednesday 10 – 9a.m. - 12 noon, Auckland University, Maori Studies,
Women’s Forum with Coni Ledesma. RSVP to Helen Te Hira (09) 2803372
(w); 0272 888894 helent@nzctu.org.nz

Friday 12 – 7 p.m. Solidarity Dinner, Civic Building, Strata 17,
Mayoral Drive, Auckland. Tickets $30 (dinner, entertainment, cash
bar). Contact Luke Coxon for tickets

Contact: Luke Coxon (09) 8276059, 028 25893203 luke_coxon@yahoo.com

This tour is collectively organised by Philippines Solidarity Network
of Aotearoa (PSNA),

Auckland Philippines Solidarity and Wellington Kiwi-Pinoy.

 

           

 

Chief Reporter
 

Aquino urged: Negotiate for peace without preconditions, not for Trans-Pacific Partnership entry

A group of New Zealanders is calling on the Philippine president to push for resumption of peace talks without preconditions instead of pushing for another unfair trade deal with the US.

Speaking at the 26th October kick-off public meeting of a national speaking tour to promote international support for peace process in the Philippines, Murray Horton, Secretary of Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) highlighted the challenge for the Aquino administration to “make principled peace negotiations a priority instead of negotiations for another unfair trade deal with the US.”

PSNA is hosting MR. LUIS JALANDONI and MS CONI LEDESMA, representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel on their speaking tour “Justice and Liberation: The Road to Peace in the Philippines” between 24 October – 12 November around NZ.

"We are aware that Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III courted the support of the United States for Philippines' bid to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during his recent meeting with US Pres. Barack Obama. Just like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – World Trade Organisation (GATT-WTO) and other US-designed trade deals, TPP spells more profits for big business and nothing but losses for ordinary people in the Philippines, New Zealand and other countries.
 

If Aquino is serious about making lives better for ordinary Filipinos, negotiating for TPP and other unfair economic deals with the US should be junked altogether. It would be better for Filipinos if formal peace negotiations on the agenda of urgent social and economic reforms will be pushed by the Aquino administration instead of Philippines' entry to the TPP," Horton stated.
 

 

Horton, who is also the Spokesperson of 'New Zealand Not for Sale' campaign, concluded, "Filipinos and New Zealanders have had enough of unrestrained trade liberalisation that destroyed local agriculture and industries. Thus the TPP issue is a common ground for us to oppose what is essentially a back door way of achieving another free trade agreement that will mainly benefit the US.

Murray Horton
Secretary
Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA)
cafca@chch.planet.org.nz <mailto:cafca@chch.planet.org.nz>

www.converge.org.nz/psna

 

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NEWS  REPORTS

 

Taranaki Daily News

http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/4318260/Filipino-activists-o
n-road-for-peace#share
 

Pacific Scoop

Filipino resistance movement looks to NZ as partner in long-needed peace process

FrogBlog

Latest terrorist designations undermine New Zealand’s role as a peacemaker

 

Peace in our homeland

 

           
     

16 November 2010
NDFP Met with NZ Parliamentarians, Peace Advocates to Support Peace
Process, Address Continuing Killings in Philippines

Auckland, New Zealand - As two more Filipino activists, public union president Caloy Rodriguez and peasant activist Rene Rodriguez were brutally murdered last week, 75 human rights and peace advocates including Keith Locke and Su'a William Sio, Members of NZ Parliament, Maori activists, trade unionists, clergy and community leaders in New Zealand reiterated calls for the Aquino government to resume formal peace talks without preconditions, and to put an end to the wave of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and illegal detention of political activists in the Philippines.

At the dinner gathering on 12th November hosted by Auckland Philippines Solidarity, Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma, international representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) conveyed their gratitude to the people of New Zealand who have supported the Philippines' quest for just and lasting peace since the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship.

Keith Locke, Green Party Member of Parliament, says, "We understand that the quest for peace in the Philippines is a struggle for social justice. There was renewed hope for resumption of peace talks and improvement of human rights situation under Aquino. But the last time I checked, the Human Rights Watch monitored 20 cases of extra-judicial killings under the new government. We are aware of the serious risks faced by political activists who become targets of extra-judicial killings when they stand up for human rights and social justice.”

According to Ledesma, “Under Aquino, the killings continue. Until now, justice has not been obtained for the journalists and civilians killed in the Ampatuan massacre. Activists and journalists especially those who expose corruption in government continue to face death threats," Ledesma noted. Four months ago, Aquino declared his administration's priority in a press conference, "Cases of extra-judicial killings need to be solved, not just identify the perpetrators but have them captured and sent to jail."

“Under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the NDFP had been calling for the meeting and operationalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee to address persistent human rights abuses such as the killings of two Rodriguez activists that brought to 22 the record of killings under Aquino. But the previous Arroyo government, faced with hundreds of complaints on extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and illegal arrests, resorted to submission of hundreds of false and invalid complaints with the obvious intent of inflating the number of incidents against the forces of the NDFP,” Ledesma explained.

“We would like New Zealand to play the role of a peacemaker just like Norway. It is unfortunate that just a few days before Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma arrived, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People's Army (NPA) have been designated as 'terrorist groups' by the New Zealand government," Locke noted as he welcomed Jalandoni and Ledesma to the Solidarity Dinner for Justice and Peace in the Philippines.

At the dinner gathering, Jalandoni gave a brief speech and read a poem entitled "If the land could speak" to underscore that the Filipino people are waging different forms of struggle to attain social justice especially genuine land reform as a central demand in the quest for lasting peace in the Philippines.

Today marks 6 years of the massacre in the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita that claimed the lives of 7 striking agricultural workers.

Ledesma adds, "We have been living as political exiles in The Netherlands since the Marcos dictatorship. Today around 10% of the Philippine population are also forced to be 'economic exiles' because there are not enough jobs and vast tracts of land remain in the hands of multinationals and traditional elite in the Philippines." Ledesma read the poem "Sometimes the Heart Yearns for Mangoes" written by fellow political exile Prof. Jose Maria Sison which spoke of the sentiments of Filipinos forced to work and live away from their homeland.

"We are very grateful for New Zealanders' support to Philippines' quest for justice and peace just as we admire your support to the historic fight to end apartheid in South Africa, the struggle against US aggression in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the US-backed Israeli occupation of Palestine," Jalandoni stated.

The dinner gathering featured traditional Maori cultural presentations from Kapa Haka of Iwi Have Influence (IHI) action group as well as songs from Filipino quartet. A statement of support for peace process in the Philippines was signed and will be sent to the Aquino government and NZ Prime Minister John Key.

While peace advocates in the Philippines and abroad have been looking forward to the revival of peace talks between the NDFP and Aquino government, Key announced on 12th October that New Zealand included the CPP and NPA in its terror list.

“This is disappointing given that the US-led designation of the CPP-NPA in 2002 has become a major hurdle in the peace negotiations under Arroyo. The US-led terrorist designation of the CPP-NPA virtually justified the thousands of extra-judicial killings, abduction and arrests of Filipino activists wrongly accused of being CPP-NPA members or supporters. We were hoping that Key would personally raise concern on the Philippine human rights situation with Mr Aquino as Helen Clark did in 2007 with former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Luke Coxon, APS Spokesperson stated.

“With the New Zealand government designating the CPP-NPA as terrorists, this is tantamount to supporting militarisation and repression against ordinary civilians and political activists labeled as ‘terrorists’ or ‘enemies of the state’ because of their advocacy for change and stance against government corruption and human rights abuses," the group noted.

"We ask Mr Key to stop parroting the US designation of national liberation movements as terrorists. We believe New Zealand can play a more constructive role in the peace talks that are about to be revived in the Philippines by joining the global community in asking the Aquino government to end the impunity in human rights violations and uphold the important agreements so far reached in the formal peace negotiations,” Coxon concluded.

Jalandoni and Ledesma were invited by the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) and Wellington Kiwi Pinoy (WKP) to speak around the theme "Justice and Liberation: The Road to Peace in the Philippines" from 28th October to 12th November around NZ. They are now in Australia for another two-week speaking tour on the status and prospects of peace talks under Aquino. #

Reference: Luke Coxon
Auckland Philippines Solidarity phsolidarity@gmail.com, (09) 8276059,
028 25803203
 

     
     

 

 

Luis Jalandoni's Interview With Chris Laidlaw, Radio NZ National, 14/11/10

 

Luis Jalandoni - Peace in the Phillipines (duration: 17′37″)

 

One of the most longstanding conflicts in the world is the war that has been fought, on and off, between national liberationists and the ruling authorities in the Phillipines. Luis Jalandoni has been at the centre of the conflict since the 1970s, as chair of the National Democratic Front of the Phillipines negotiating panel for peace talks with the government.
Audio from Sunday Morning on 14 Nov 2010

           
     


 

Visitors support attack on spy base
BLAIR ENSOR - The Marlborough Express

Last updated 12:00 28/10/2010

The activists who deflated one of the Waihopai spy base domes by slashing it with a sickle are "courageous", visiting leaders of a political movement in the Philippines say.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines international representative Luis Jalandoni and his wife Coni Ledesma are travelling New Zealand speaking about establishing peace in the Philippines.

The couple spoke at the Nativity Church in Blenheim last night.

The National Democratic Front is a coalition of underground groups which have been "waging a war of liberation" in the Philippines for more than 40 years.

Mr Jalandoni told The Marlborough Express the deflating of one of the domes in 2008 was an "act of solidarity for victims of United States wars of aggression".

"We admire their courage," he said. "It deserves the appreciation of people who are fighting against the US."

Dominican friar Peter Murnane, teacher Adrian Leason and Sam Land cut through electric fences without setting off any alarms and slashed the inflatable dome covering one of the satellite dishes.

They were found not guilty in April on charges of burglary and wilful damage of the Government Communications Security Bureau base.

The trio said they were saving lives in Iraq by disrupting satellite transmissions and were acting for the greater good.

The Waihopai Spy Base was part of the network, used by the United States to spy on countries like the Philippines, said Mr Jalandoni.


"We support the struggle to have this closed down."

Green Party spokesman for the Kaikoura electorate Steffan Browning said it was good that Marlborough people were finding out the base was linked to places of struggle like the Philippines.

"We have a pretty good life here in Marlborough."

He described the situation in countries like the Philippines as "horrendous".

cafca@chch.planet.org.nz

www.converge.org.nz/psna

Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma with host, PSNA Secretary Murray Horton
     
 
           

 

PRESS RELEASE
29 October 2010

Not just Spratly Islands dispute
ASEAN leaders dared to raise issue of unwanted US military troops, bases in ASEAN Summit

"Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III's call for peaceful sharing of Spratly Islands' resources is important, but the unwanted presence of US military troops and facilities in Asia-Pacific must also be raised by Aquino and other heads of state at the on-going ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. The hundreds of US troops in the Philippines under the unconstitutional US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement, the US military bases and its 47,000 troops in Okinawa, thousands of troops in Korea, and the Waihopai spybase on New Zealand soil are equally important issues affecting territorial sovereignty,  peace and security in the region that must be challenged. The rape and prostitution of women, death of civilians and destruction of environment where US war games and exercises are being held must be stopped."

This was the challenge issued by peace advocates and anti-bases activist groups in New Zealand as they host Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel in a series of public meetings around NZ to
promote support for peace process the Philippines.


At the meetings in Christchurch, Blenheim and Wellington, Jalandoni and Ledesma talked about continuing US economic domination and military intervention in the Philippines as major obstacles to peace in the Philippines. "The Waihopai spybase in New Zealand is used by the US to spy on countries like the Philippines. We support the struggle to have this closed down. National

 sovereignty must be upheld to achieve lasting peace in the Philippines. Foreign troops and bases
must not be allowed on Philippine soil just as the Waihopai spybase in NZ and US bases in Okinawa must be closed down," Jalandoni stated.

 

 

According to Murray Horton, main host of the peace tour and Secretary of Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), "Waihopai does not operate in the interests of New Zealanders or our neighbours.  Basically it is a foreign spybase on NZ soil and directly involves us in US wars. Although officially a 'New Zealand' facility, Waihopai is an American spybase in everything but name."

The Waihopai spybase was subjected to unprecedented public attention by the March 2010 trial and acquittal of the three Ploughshares peace activists who penetrated its high security in 2008
and deflated one of the two domes concealing its satellite dishes from the NZ public.

At the US-ASEAN leaders meeting last September 24, US Pres. Barack Obama stated: "Through the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) forum and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we're pursuing trade relationships that benefit all our countries.The United States also wants to focus on deepening its political and security cooperation with the region."

"By all indications, the US is poised to strengthen military presence in Asia-Pacific to protect its economic interests in the name of 'free trade' that ensures massive profits for giant US corporations and local elite. The US, which benefits from unrestricted trade in labour
and capital investment in Asia-Pacific, is actually causing massive social inequities which are root causes of armed conflict in the Philippines. ''Free trade' fuels war," Rod Prosser, convenor of Wellington Kiwi Pinoy, another group hosting the NDFP peace tour, added.

"We are aware that Mr. Aquino courted US support for Philippines' bid to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership during his meeting with Obama. Just like APEC, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - World Trade Organisation (GATT-WTO) and other US-designed trade deals, TPP spells more profits for big business and nothing but losses for
ordinary people in the Philippines, New Zealand and other countries," Horton noted.

Horton, who is also the Spokesperson of 'New Zealand Not for Sale' campaign, concluded, "Filipinos and New Zealanders have had enough of unrestrained trade liberalisation that destroyed local agriculture and industries. Thus the TPP issue is a common ground for us to oppose
what is essentially a back door way of achieving another free trade agreement that will mainly benefit the US. #

Reference:
Murray Horton
Secretary, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA)
Contact: 0274 307742 cafca@chch.planet.org.nz

           
     

 

Dear Friends

On 5th November, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) will hold a Free Morong 43 vigil in support of the 6th November international day of actions to press the Aquino government to effect the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 community health workers.

Media Release: 30 October 2010

Philippines Peace Advocates Visit Whangarei

Two high ranking Filipino peace advocates – Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma - are to visit Whangarei, New Zealand in the next days. Luis is the Chair, and Coni a member, of the National Democratic Front’s Negotiating Panel at the peace talks with the Philippines Government, facilitated by Norway.

In New Zealand, little is known about the four-decade long war and peace process in the Philippines. At a Public Meeting in Whangarei, Luis and Coni will share first-hand knowledge about the peace negotiations they are involved with. They were both arrested under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, spent time in jail as political prisoners, and lived in The Netherlands since 1976.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) is the coalition of several underground groups, including the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People's Army, which has been waging a war of liberation throughout the Philippines for more than 40 years, making it one of the longest running armed struggles in the world. The basis of the conflict has is the huge social and economic injustices faced by the majority of people in the Philippines.

“The Philippines desperately needs peace and security. Resolving the people’s war by addressing the injustices that are at the root of this conflict is central to achieving peace,” said Tim Howard, local convenor of Luis and Coni’s hosts in Whangarei. “This is a great opportunity for us to hear first-hand about the peace negotiations.”

The speaking tour is hosted jointly by Philippines Solidarity Network Aotearoa, Auckland Philippines Solidarity, and Wellington Kiwi Pinoy.

“This Public Meeting is also a chance for us to consider what role New Zealand might play assisting the peace process,” said Tim Howard. Our previous Prime Minister sent a strong message to the Philippines President, indicating that New Zealand is concerned with the continued reports of killings, disappearances, unjust detentions and more human rights violations. There were 1100 assassinations under the previous President Arroyo. Prime Minister John Key has so far taken one side of the conflict, the Government’s, and labeled the opponents as ‘terrorists.’ Many of us look to New Zealand taking a more useful role in supporting human rights and the peace process.”

The Meeting will consider a petition in support of the peace process, and will hold a vigil as part of an international campaign in support of the ‘Morong 43,’ a large group of community health workers arrested 9 months ago this Saturday at a professional development course. 26 of the detainees are women, two having given birth since their arrest. They are still imprisoned illegally, subject to torture, in a military camp.

Whangarei people interested in justice in our country and our region are warmly welcomed to the Public Meeting at 7pm on Friday 5 November, at Manaia PHO rooms in Rust Avenue in central Whangarei.

Contact: Tim Howard 027 3089 216 <the-farm@ihug.co.nz>
 

     
           
           

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Press Release
6 November 2010
Reference: Tim Howard 027 3089 216 <the-farm@ihug.co.nz>

New Zealanders Lit Candles for Freedom, Justice and Peace in the Philippines
NDFP: No Short Cut to Peace Pact with Aquino Gov’t

Whangarei, New Zealand - In solidarity with the 6th November protest actions marking 9th month of illegal arrest and detention of Filipino health workers known as 'Morong 43,' peace and human rights advocates in New Zealand lighted candles and signed Free Morong 43 international petition during a public meeting to support the quest for justice and lasting peace in the Philippines.

MR. LUIS JALANDONI and MS CONI LEDESMA, representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel, spoke at the public meeting in Whangarei organised by Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA). They presented the 12-point NDFP program, stressing, "Peace will be the fruit of social justice, when the small landed elite and foreign multinationals will no longer monopolize land ownership in the country. Land reform is a principal issue that must be addressed to pave the way for just and lasting peace in the Philippines."

While Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda stated that Aquino’s preference was for the NDFP leaders to visit Malacanang with a signed peace agreement, Jalandoni declared, “There's no short cut to a peace agreement, solving fundamental problems of landlessness and joblessness of the vast majority is crucial to resolving the decades-old conflict. Pres. Aquino promised change but he has yet to resolve the long disputed Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita covering 6,453-hectares of land that could benefit thousands of poor families if redistributed justly.”

"We lit candles with the hope that Philippine President Benigno Aquino III will end the darkness of injustice suffered by the 43 community health workers and all political prisoners unjustly detained in the Philippines," Tim Howard, PSNA local organiser of the Whangerei peace forum stated.
 

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Noting that it has been nearly 6 years since the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre, Howard says, "At this time we also remember and demand justice for the 7 Hacienda Luisita massacre victims, union president Ricardo Ramos, clerics Bishop Alberto Ramento, Fr. William Tadena and all who have been brutally murdered in this decades-old land dispute." Howard, one of the 5 New Zealanders who joined the August 2005 International Solidarity Mission to probe human rights abuses under the Arroyo presidency, expressed disappointment that the Cojuangco-Aquino family maintains the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme instead of the outright distribution of the vast sugar plantation to the 10,000 farm workers.

According to Jalandoni, "The continuing detention of Morong 43 and the killings related to the Hacienda Luisita dispute highlight the importance of pursuing peace talks that address the problem of landlessness and persistent human rights violations such as illegal arrest, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings committed by state forces against Filipinos who aspire for socio-economic reforms but are unjustly labeled as 'enemies of the state' and 'terrorists.'”

“With the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) formally signed by both principals of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP in 1998, Filipinos can file complaints on abuses and demand justice based on this agreement and other existing human rights instruments," Jalandoni noted.


While in Whangarei, Jalandoni and Ledesma were interviewed in a major Radio NZ (national public radio) programme, 3 Maori regional radio programmes, and a local community TV station's news (in Maori and English) - to get the word out to large numbers of Maori and other New Zealanders about land issues and other matters that Filipinos and Maori have in common. #

 

           
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Chief Reporter

*PEACE SPEAKING TOUR KICKS OFF IN CHRISTCHURCH,
NDFP LEADERS TACKLE OUTSTANDING ISSUES,
PROSPECTS OF PEACE TALKS UNDER AQUINO


New Zealanders express international support for peace talks without preconditions in the Philippines as they host the Peace Speaking Tour of MR. LUIS JALANDONI and MS CONI LEDESMA, representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel, from 24 October – 12 November around New Zealand.

Addressing Filipinos and New Zealanders in the city of Christchurch, Jalandoni and Ledesma shared latest news about prospects of reviving the stalled peace talks. In a welcome development, Philippine Pres. Benigno Aquino III's appointed human rights lawyer Alexander Padilla as the government’s chief negotiator for the peace talks. Padilla reportedly expressed that there were better chances now to forge a
peace agreement under the Aquino administration.

For their part, Jalandoni and Ledesma presented the 12-point NDFP programme at the Christchurch public meeting, saying "There's no short cut to a peace agreement, solving fundamental socio-economic issues
like landlessness and joblessness of the vast majority is crucial to resolving the decades-old conflict. Land reform is a principal issue that must be addressed to pave the way for just and lasting peace in
the Philippines."

Aquino gov’t urged to implement land reform

"At the very core of the NDFP program is the genuine land reform that will adequately respond to the demand of the peasantry which comprises the overwhelming majority of the population. A small landed elite and foreign multinationals monopolize land ownership in the country," Jalandoni stressed. The NDFP leader described the reality of land monopoly in the Philippines with the outstanding case that hounds
Pres. Aquino - the long disputed Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita covering 6,453-hectares of land that could benefit thousands of poor peasant families if redistributed justly.

From Christchurch, Jalandoni and Ledesma will also speak in public meetings organised by Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), Wellington Kiwi Pinoy (WKP) and Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) in Blenheim, Wellington (they have already spoken in Blenheim – where they also visited the Waihopai spybase - and Wellington), Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Whangarei and
Auckland. Awaiting approval of Jalandoni's application for an Australian visa, they hope to fly for a similar speaking tour 15-25 November in major cities in Australia.

"We are hopeful that like Norway and The Netherlands that have hosted formal peace talks and ‘backdoor negotiations,’ New Zealand and Australia can also play significant roles in urging the Aquino government and NDFP to immediately return to the peace negotiating table without preconditions,” Murray Horton, PSNA Secretary and main tour organiser stated.

“Being a major labour-exporting country and trade partner of New Zealand, the Philippines’ fragile peace process certainly deserves our attention. By organising this tour, we present a unique opportunity for New Zealanders to hear firsthand about a four decades long war and accompanying peace process in our Asian neighbour where NZ dairy products are widely marketed while Filipinos have been filling NZ’s skills shortage in return,” Horton added.

"Like Norway, we believe that New Zealand can play a positive role by supporting the peace process and campaigns to end land-rooted human rights violations and US military intervention in the Philippines.
While New Zealanders were recently devastated by a massive earthquake here in Christchurch, the Filipino people need peace and security as they have long been devastated by both natural and man-made calamities such as large-scale government corruption and massive social inequalities that fuel armed conflict,” Horton concluded.

Murray Horton
Secretary,
Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA)
cafca@chch.planet.org.nz <mailto:cafca@chch.planet.org.nz>

www.converge.org.nz/psna

 

 

PRESS RELEASE
27 October 2010

NZ group to Aquino: Clean up human rights mess in your own backyard

Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III needs to clean up human rights mess in his own backyard first if he wants to gain moral authority in urging junta-ruled Myanmar to release all political
prisoners including Nobel Peace laureate and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

This was the challenge of Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS), a New Zealand-based group supporting human rights campaigns in the Philippines, as Mr. Aquino is gearing to talk tough on human rights at the ASEAN Summit on 28-30 October in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“It's a good thing that Philippines is adding pressure for restoration of democracy in Myanmar, but it's totally outrageous that scores of political prisoners including 43 community health workers remain in
unjust detention under the supposedly democratic Aquino government," Luke Coxon, APS Spokesperson stated.

From 24 October to 14 November this year, APS together with the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) and Wellington Kiwi Pinoy are hosting Mr Luis Jalandoni and Ms Coni Ledesma, two senior international representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel for a peace speaking tour around New Zealand.

"To build confidence for the peace process, Aquino now holds the power to stop the official state policy behind the hundreds of human rights abuses under Arroyo and now 16 victims of extra-judicial killings under his watch. Before it can be a model host for the secretariat of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the Philippine government has a lot of cleaning up to do with its messy human rights record. We reiterate calls for freedom of the two nursing mothers among the Morong 43 detainees and all political prisoners,” Coxon stressed.

In 2007, Arroyo’s visit to New Zealand was greeted with protests regarding the human rights crisis in the Philippines. Former Prime Minister Helen Clark personally raised New Zealand’s concern on such
abuses. Aquino is reportedly set to have bilateral meetings with heads of state including NZ Prime Minister John Key at the ASEAN Summit in Vietnam.

“We ask Mr John Key to personally raise concern on the Philippine human rights situation with Mr Aquino as Clark did in 2007 with Arroyo. While peace advocates in the Philippines and abroad have been looking forward to the revival of peace talks, Key announced on 12th October that New Zealand included the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) in its terror list. This is disappointing given that the US-led designation of the CPP-NPA in 2002 has become a major hurdle in the peace negotiations under Arroyo,” Coxon noted.

“We believe that obstacles to the peace process such as continuing human rights violations and the terrorist designation of the CPP-NPA which justify killings, abduction and arrests of Filipinos falsely
accused of being CPP-NPA members must be overcome to build greater confidence in the peace process. As New Zealanders we add our voices to the continuing demand for immediate release of the 43 health workers and all political prisoners, and full stop to the state policy of repression behind the continuing wave of extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations under Aquino,” Coxon concluded.

Reference: Luke Coxon - 02825803203; phsolidarity@gmail.com
 

           
           
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