LOS ANGELES–Yesterday, 9 community advocates were violently forced out of a Duterte administration-funded town hall in the Philippine Consulate. The town hall is part of a multi-city speaking tour in the United States–funded by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the Philippines–that has been claiming that U.S. grassroots organizations opposing the regime are “terrorist fronts” and has been endorsing military and paramilitary murders of Lumad (indigenous) leaders who are falsely accused of terrorism for protesting mining and logging companies. Watch a Balitang America clip of the Chicago tour stop here.
Advocates were grabbed by the neck, repeatedly shoved, dragged out, and thrown onto the ground, as the town hall organizers prevented them from challenging the scripted falsehoods the delegation has been repeating throughout its tour. LAPD officers acted as bodyguards and prevented other advocates from entering the building.
20+ advocates held a demonstration outside the Philippine Consulate simultaneously with the inside protest. Watch the live video feed with statements from several organizations here.
Photos of the rally outside on Facebook here: http://tiny.cc/oa9s9y
VIDEO OF TOWN HALL PROTEST HERE: http://tiny.cc/edit9y
Before being violently ejected, advocates in attendance protested the military-backed killings of 31 Lumad leaders; the government’s closure of 85 indigenous schools; the killing of Lumad leader and anti-mining activist, Beverly Geronimo, by suspected agents of the Philippine military in plain clothes; the July 8th murder of Datu Mario Agsab, a Lumad leader killed by members of ALAMARA and elements of the AFP; Duterte’s repeated threats of airstrikes on Lumad communities; and martial law that’s displaced close to half a million Moro and Lumad people.
The Duterte-sponsored delegation was formed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 2003 and has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), serves as a contract negotiator between local tribes and private business and is tasked to deceive Lumad communities into collaborating with the AFP. Members are part of the Philippines’ infamous paramilitary groups, like ALAMARA and Magahat-Bagani, which have been wreaking havoc on Lumad leaders and communities. The tour is aimed at garnering support for the regime’s U.S.-backed counterinsurgency program, “Oplan Kapanatagan,” under which innocent Lumad advocates have been brutally killed.
The following is a statement from the Malaya Movement in Southern California:
“We condemn the mistreatment of advocates who attempted to counter the terrorist-tagging intended to endanger our safety and to counter the Duterte regime’s lies to legitimize the slaughter of Lumad communities. We condemn the delegation and the tour organizers for spreading deadly lies on behalf of the Duterte dictatorship.
“Once again, it should alarm all in the United States that the Duterte government is beginning to target Filipino activists residing abroad. It’s unfathomably immoral, yet unsurprising, that Duterte’s office has paid a sham delegation of supposed Lumad leaders to paint this government a hero of the very Lumad communities it has repeatedly bombed, executed, and displaced with gusto.
“Of course, the delegation made no mention of the human rights crimes the Philippine government continues to inflict on the Filipino people or the fact that the UN just passed a resolution to investigate those crimes. By promoting the Duterte regime’s lies, this tour and all who are aiding it are aiding in the murders of indigenous people like Obello Bay-ao, Datu Mario Agsab, and Beverly Geronimo. They are aiding in a dictatorship’s murders of human rights defenders and dissenters, at least 216 of whom have been assassinated as the result of the government’s baseless accusations of terrorism.
“The Malaya Movement repeats its call to END MARTIAL LAW IN MINDANAO. Malaya’s rapid growth throughout several U.S. cities is the direct result of increasing unity among Filipinos of varying politics. We are calling on all freedom-loving Filipinos to join us on July 22 for the United People’s State of the Nation Address in front of consulate offices across the U.S.”
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