From: New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Subject: NYCHRP Statement on the 43rd Anniversary of Martial Law in the Philippines
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
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NYCHRP Statement on the 43rd Anniversary of Martial Law in the Philippines
For Immediate Release
September 23, 2015
Reference: Natalie Agosto, Mass Campaigns Officer, NYCHRP, email@example.com
On September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law
in the Philippines by ordering Proclamation No. 1081 and subsumed the
country under military rule. He claimed to fight a war against
“dangerous communists” and “insurgents.”
Marcos’ ulterior motives for imposing martial law, however, was
to quell dissent towards an already oppressive establishment that he
led. Many activists and oppressed people were harassed, tortured,
killed, and forcibly disappeared during this time as the military went
on a rampage to exterminate the people’s spirit of resistance.
The Filipino people’s discontent was caused by rising national
debt, government corruption, underdevelopment of industries,
privatization of basic services, and landlessness of peasant farmers who
make up the majority of the population.
Despite its force, the military could not eradicate the people’s
strength and power. They rose up and organized by the thousands to
topple martial law and the Marcos dictatorship. The will and power of
the people stopped martial law in 1981. However, the fight for freedom
and an end to state repression continues today, four decades
We see the concrete realities of this continued struggle for resistance
in the small community of Han-ayan, in the Caraga region of Mindanao.
Caraga is one of the mining capitals of the world. It is rich in gold,
bauxite, nickel and other minerals and precious metals. Foreign
large-scale mining corporations from all over the world, particularly
from Australia, Japan, and the United States, occupy Caraga to extract
In Han-ayan, two schools were formed by indigenous Lumad people in
response to the lack of education they receive from the government and a
need to teach their youth their rights and a sustainable livelihood. The
schools are Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood
Development (ALCADEV) and Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur
(TRIPFSS). These schools have aided in teaching the students not only
literacy and arithmetic, but also lessons about how they can organize to
stop foreign mining from encroaching on their ancestral lands and
displacing them from their homes.
In 2010, a young man from Han-ayan was shot in the back by members of
the military after he left his home before the 5:00 am curfew imposed by
the Armed Forces of the Philippines to strip abaca in the forest.
Stripping abaca, a strong fibrous plant which can be woven into useful
products such as baskets and clothings, is how his family and many
others in his community are able to provide for themselves. During the
curfew, his family made less money because they could not begin working
as early as they normally would.
His friends found him injured and brought him to a hospital, but that
hospital refused to treat him, as did the next one after that. The third
hospital attended to him but did not report the military issued bullet
that they removed from his back even though it was protocol to do so.
The hospital staff told him that he must have shot himself in the back.
Since the shooting, he can no longer carry heavy loads or eat too much,
which has harmed his ability to provide for his family. He has lived in
constant fear of the military finding him again and completing the first
task they had set to do. His story is just one example of the systematic
oppression that others in Han-ayan live under.
When we ask who the military are protecting in Mindanao, our answer is
clear. It is not the Lumad, who they kill, harass, and displace. It is
the corporate interests of the foreign mining companies that the Lumad,
who have ancestral rights to the land they pillage, have opposed. Can we
say martial law has truly ended when young students still fear walking
within their own communities because the military may target and kill
them? Can we say martial law has truly ended when children are displaced
from their homes and schools by the threat of military troops who will
burn their buildings if they don’t leave? Can we say martial law
has truly ended when leaders of schools that serve marginalized and
oppressed populations of Lumad people are brutally targeted and
Marcos’s Martial Law officially ended over 40 years ago, but a
new version has emerged under a different name and face. It was Oplan
Banta Laya, under the Arroyo administration, which killed over 1,000
civilians. Today, it is Oplan Bayanihan, under current President Aquino,
which is already responsible for the deaths of over 200 civilians. And
it will continue under whatever counterinsurgency programs subsequent
presidents introduce unless the people collectively resist
state-sanctioned violence and repression.
Just as in the time of Marcos, the people continue to rage against the
killing machine of the Philippine government, and we must support them
in the face of escalating human rights injustice! As human rights
activists in the United States, we have to oppose the fact that our tax
dollars are used to fund the government death squads that target the
Lumad and other peoples’ movements in the Philippines. NYCHRP
supports fighting for a Philippines that is truly free from foreign
domination and corporate greed. The people have proven themselves to be
strong and they will be victorious in shutting down all forms of
oppression once and for all through the fight for national democracy.
National democracy is the only answer to ensure that foreign corporate
interests will no longer determine what is good for the Filipino people,
but that the Filipino people are able to reap the benefits of their own
rich land and their own labor!
Fight for National Democracy in the Philippines!
Stop Lumad Killings!
Save Our Schools!
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) is a local education and advocacy group based in New York City that works to promote social, economic, and political alternatives that foster democracy and peace based on justice in the Philippines and for Filipinos in the diaspora today.
NYCHRP shares the vision of human rights advanced by the National Democratic movement of the Philippines. NYCHRP educates, organizes, and mobilizes people and communities in NYC to take progressive action in upholding and supporting human rights in the Philippines and throughout the world.
For more information, please contact:
@NYCHRP on Twitter & Instagram