“Duterte continued the War on Terror policy which carried terrorism in our country and the whole world.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – The first and biggest alliance of Moro and indigenous peoples in the country condemned President Duterte for paving the way for increased US intervention, specially in the ongoing conflict in the Islamic City of Marawi and with his imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
In a protest held here today, Sept. 15, which commemorated the 26th year of the Senate rejection of the US bases treaty, the national minorities alliance Sandugo branded Duterte as “just another US lapdog,” as he continues the US-led War on Terror, the US-patterned counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, and the return of US military bases in the country.
The national minorities’ rejection of the Duterte administration comes with their call for heightened struggle for the right to self-determination, whether through campaigns or through the indigenous, traditional form of defense throughout history: armed resistance.
“In contrast to Duterte’s claim of having an anti-imperialist stand, of having Moro blood, of condemning US injustices in the Philippines, it is clear now that he is a puppet of US imperialism. He intensifies the plunder in our ancestral lands according to the neoliberal policies of the US,” said Datu Jerome Succor Aba, Sandugo co-chairperson.
The call for struggle was depicted in a war dance performed by indigenous and sectoral mass leaders, who jabbed mock spears, swords and bow and arrows, as they burned a 12-foot effigy of US President Donald Trump straddling a missile embossed with Duterte’s face.
This was also reflected as the Moros prayed together in a jumu’ah, in which they affirmed the call for jihad, the continuing struggle against oppression.
Last year, on October 19, Sandugo’s protest in front of the US embassy was violently dispersed by police, one of whom drove a police mobile into a crowd of protesters, injuring at least 50, including Sandugo convener Piya Macliing Malayao.
At that time, progressives had hoped that Duterte will push through with ending lopsided defense agreements with the US, and end US intervention in Philippine politics and economy. But Duterte has turned his back on his pronouncements, and has accepted technical aid and other assistance from US military troops for the fighting in Marawi. This year, he also scrapped the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), declared martial law in Mindanao and ordered all-out offensives in Marawi City.
“Duterte continued the War on Terror policy which carried terrorism in our country and the whole world, raised the specter of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf and Dawlah Islamiya which were created by the US to use in its intervention in our country,” Aba said.
He added that Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao worsened human rights abuses and pushed Moros and indigenous peoples. “We are forced to further fight the injustice, and are more determined to defend our rights.”
“Even before the formation of the New People’s Army, the MILF or the MNLF, the national minorities have long waged armed struggle against the colonizing forces of the Spanish, the Americans… The national minorities use arms to fight for national liberation, as part of the nation’s struggle,” Aba said.
The protesters gathered in the morning at Plaza Salamanca at the corner of Taft and United Nations avenues, and at 10 a.m., marched toward the US embassy. They did not get any farther than the National Library along UN avenue, more than a kilometer away from the US embassy, as they were blocked by more than 100 anti-riot police of the Manila Police District, and a fire truck. A short skirmish ensued between protesters and police before the rally program was held.
On Sept. 16, 1991, the Philippine Senate voted to scrap the RP-US Bases treaty, effectively booting out American military bases in the country. Under succeeding administrations, American soldiers were allowed back under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in 1999, and the joint military exercises dubbed Balikatan, which began in 2002. In 2014, under President Aquino, the country signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, which allows “agreed locations” for US troops, war ships and planes and weapons. Progressives say Edca signals the return of US military bases.