Photo: BAYAN USA

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands in solidarity with the Filipino national democratic movement and the Filipino people, especially those in Marawi and Mindanao, and joins that movement in condemning the recent declaration of martial law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Filipino people’s history with martial law is one of devastating confiscation of rights and subservience and alliance to U.S. imperialism. A new declaration of martial law in Mindanao will only enhance the suffering of Moro, Lumad and Filipino workers and peasants on the island, where some of the highest rates of poverty, concentrations of U.S. military involvement and levels of foreign corporate exploitation of resources in the country prevail.

Despite stated intentions to confront armed reactionary groups responsible for attacks on the people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with U.S. backing, arms and training, have been responsible for ongoing violence against the people of Mindanao. Airstrikes and bombing threaten civilian life in the Philippines, while suspending the writ of habeas corpus allows for mass arrests. Even more, the militarization of Mindanao causes even more displacement of thousands of people without support for shelter, food and other basic needs.

We join the national democratic movement in the Philippines in calling on the Filipino government to address the root causes of the armed conflict on Mindanao – poverty, inequality and the violation of rights, including the denial of self-determination to the Moro people – which requires moving beyond militarism to a true just and lasting peace for the people of the Philippines, outside the framework of U.S. imperialism, militarism and exploitation.

In addition, we note the call of BAYAN, the New Patriotic Alliance, warning of “possible US involvement in exploiting the ISIS threat to justify fascist measures and foreign military intervention, in the name of ‘fighting terrorism.'”

This is especially urgent in light of President Duterte’s recent speech in which he threatened to “throw [into] the slammer” the consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the revolutionary democratic movement, who are participating in peace negotiations with the government. If put into action, these threats would fundamentally act to scuttle the peace talks and present new opportunities for U.S. involvement in the further militarization of the Philippines.

The United States has consistently urged militarization under the guise of “counter-terror” and “counter-insurgency” in the Philippines, a major focal point for U.S. imperialism for over 100 years. At the same time, it has done its best to sabotage the peace talks and any attempt to prioritize the national goals and aspirations of the people of the Philippines, free of imperialist domination of exploitation.  The announcement of martial law in Mindanao was accompanied by the cancellation of the fifth round of the peace talks, scheduled to address agrarian reform, land rights and a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms. It also comes only shortly after the Trump administration’s declarations of support to the Duterte government.

Indeed, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, one of the most right-wing figures in Duterte’s government, said that the martial law order would not only be used to pursue reactionary armed groups like the Maute group that attacked civilians in Marawi, but also to engage in offensives against the communist fighters of the New People’s Army.  Grassroots organizers have warned of severe threats to the lives and liberties of Filipino agricultural workers, organizers and Moro social movements.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is engaged in struggle side by side with our Filipino comrades in cities around the world in the struggles for liberation in Palestine and the Philippines, and through the International League of People’s Struggle. Our members were honored to be present alongside Leila Khaled for the launch of the Philippines-Palestine Friendship Association in 2015. They witnessed for themselves the impact of state repression and U.S. imperialism for the benefit of global corporate exploiters, major landlords and narrow elites throughout the Philippines and particularly on Mindanao.

From Palestine to the Philippines to the indigenous land of North America, “counter-terrorism” is used as a mechanism to run rampant over the rights of indigenous peoples, confiscating wealth, resources and the land itself. We express our solidarity with Marawi, the people of the Philippines and the social movements struggling for justice and liberation, and join their call to end martial law.