NYCHRP Condemns the Negros Farmers’ Massacre, Calls for an End to the Hacienda System and Demands Justice for the Sagay 9!

Reference: Glenn Ramirez, Organizational Development Chair, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com 

NYCHRP CONDEMNS THE NEGROS FARMERS’ MASSACRE, CALLS FOR AN END TO THE HACIENDA SYSTEM AND DEMANDS JUSTICE FOR THE SAGAY 9!

Sagay City, Negros Occidental – On October 21, at Hacienda Nene, a sugarcane plantation, in Sagay City, nine sugarcane workers were killed. The workers who were slain in this heinous incident are identified as follows:

Angelipe Arsenal
Alias Pater
Bingbing Bantigue
Dodong Laurencio
Eglicerio Villegas
Joemarie Ughayon, Jr.
Morena Mendoza
Marchtel Sumicad
Neknek Dumaguit

Sources report that the farmers were ambushed Saturday evening while eating dinner inside their tents by several armed men who opened fire. It was further reported that three bodies among those killed were mutilated and/or set on fire. Four others were also injured, two of whom were minors. We express our outrage as well toward the recent illegal arrest made on October 24 of one of the minors who had survived this atrocious massacre.

It is heart-wrenching and deplorable that so many farmers been brutally killed. October marks National Peasant’s Month in the Philippines, which is meant to be a time to commemorate the struggles of farmers and peasants. Why were these farmers killed, seemingly at random? There are still details that we do not yet know, and there is a lot of misinformation that appears to be going around.

As human rights advocates who fight for and uphold the rights of the people in the Philippines, we are skeptical at the lack of accurate information and abundance of misinformation regarding the massacre at Hacienda Nene. We know that to stand in solidarity with the Filipino people means to educate ourselves and others on the history of oppression of the people in the Philippines, the larger political climate, and the current situation of Philippine society, in addition to linking arms with those marginalized through our solidarity work.

We acknowledge that the peasants slain in this massacre were farmer-activists, part of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers, a local, left-leaning union of farmers. The farmworkers killed had been preparing their bungkalan, or the occupation of an empty plot as part of a Land Cultivation Area, a place to grew crops to ward off hunger and sustain their community through the dry season. The truth is that this recent massacre is not the first of its kind, even in recent times. This swath of killings now brings the number of farmer-activist deaths under the US-Duterte regime to an utterly devastating toll of 197. We are left to wonder, therefore: what could possibly justify the killing of people who were trying to feed their own? Is it a crime to be an advocate, as these farmworkers were, of genuine agrarian reform?

Land reform is at the heart of this issue. The massacre occurred while workers were occupying hacienda land. Haciendas, or tracts of land forcibly acquired for the production of export-oriented cash crops, are part of a feudal system implemented during the Spanish colonial era to deprive the people ownership of their land, thereby maintaining control over the people. Despite the era of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines ending 120 years ago, the country is clearly not free from the dominion of its past–haciendas still exist today. And like this most recent incident, we acknowledge that it is on hacienda land and because of haciendas that gross human rights violations have occurred. We remember the senseless violence of the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004, which the people still have not received justice for.

There are farmers who are fighting for land because they have yet to see effective policy change that offers true ownership of the land that they till. Across the country, these farmers are advocating for land reform because they are starving in the export-oriented, import-dependent economy that has been implemented in the Philippines. We see these deaths in the current political climate of the US-Duterte regime as related to the increased attacks on the peasants and the workers.

We mourn the lives of innocent lives that have been lost and vehemently condemn this senseless killing. We denounce the human rights violations that have occurred in haciendas and throughout the country, especially under the US-Duterte regime. In the true spirit of National Peasant’s Month and commemorating the struggle of the peasants, we call for an end to the system that continues to exploit, oppress, and kill the peasants. We demand genuine agrarian reform now. We call on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an independent, thorough, and unbiased investigation on the massacre. We stand in solidarity with the surviving victims in the Sagay massacre and their families in their call for justice.

We support National Federation of Sugar Workers, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Karapatan, and other human rights and people’s organizations as they begin their two-day National Fact Finding Mission on the massacre. Please contact nychrp@gmail.com if you are looking for information on how to support the fact finding mission and support justice for the Sagay 9.

JUSTICE FOR SAGAY 9!
STOP THE ATTACKS!
STOP KILLING FARMERS!

NYCHRP Condemns Unlawful Dispersal and Arrest of NutriAsia Workers, their Family Members, and Journalists

August 1, 2018

Reference: Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

NYCHRP Condemns Unlawful Dispersal and Arrest of NutriAsia Workers, their Family Members, and Journalists

nutriasia nychrp

Marilao, Bulacan — The Philippine National Police and over 100 private security personnel violently dispersed 300 Nutriasia workers, their families, and supporters while an ecumenial mass was held at the picket line. Many of the 300 were injured and/or arrested while many more remain missing. The police and security personnel then proceeded to destroy the personal belongings of the workers and the picket line that the workers built.

NutriAsia workers have set up a picket outside the Marilao plant since June 2, 2018. The primary demand of the workers, led by labor organization Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Nutriasia (United Workers of Nutriasia, NMN), is to end contractualization and regularize workers. In the Philippines, a majority of workers are trapped in a loop of contractual work where workers are fired every four to six month cycles. As a result, workers are left out of work. Workers were also protesting the unjust termination of workers after they formed a union, along with the subsequent illegal dismissal of 50 more workers after the latter showed support for those who were initially terminated.

The picket line was previously harassed and violently dispersed on June 14, after hundreds of policemen and company security personnel forcibly removed makeshift camps, physically assaulted workers and drove them out of the area.

In February this year, the Department of Labor Enforcement (DOLE) had already ordered NutriAsia to regularize over 900 workers after concluding that the company is engaging in labor-only contracting practices. The Department also reported that NutriAsia is violating labor laws and general labor standards, including illegal deduction for workers’ uniforms and underpayment of basic wages.

“The violent dispersal of the workers is a violation of their right to assembly and their right to form and join unions. Moreover, the police engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions when they took 19 people in the area to jail without actual evidence of charges against them. The Philippines has been a signatory to the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights since 1986. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines is also a signatory to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) since 1998. The actions of the Philippine National Police are clearly in contravention of the spirit of these human rights documents and the Philippine government needs to be held accountable for these violations,” said Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson of New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP).

“We see this attack on workers as a blatant attack on our people and our ancestors. We will counter the attacks by police forces protecting exploitative corporations that are stealing people’s land and committing human rights abuses by any means necessary. We never hesitate to defend the rights of workers and the rights to land for our present and future generations. At the end of the day, these are rights that will not truly be upheld by any court or institution. They are human rights upheld by the people who call for liberation across the globe. Only when our people are liberated and only through workers struggle will human rights truly be sustained,” added Lauren Quijano of NYCHRP.

Journalists Hiyasmin Saturay and Eric Tandoc of Altermidya were among the people arrested by the Philippine National Police. They are currently still in jail despite a release order declaring that there was not enough evidence to hold them. The NutriAsia 19, as the arrestees have been called, were held for over 36 hours without charges and an unexecuted release order.

NYCHRP urgently requests that all organizations of workers including, unionized workers and those currently fighting for unionization, to join in calling attention to this workers strike. We ask for workers to show solidarity with Filipino workers by writing public statements of support that amplify the call to action to boycott all NutriAsia products and to seek justice and accountability for all those arrested at the NutriAsia picket line.

NYCHRP recognizes that when workers organize, they win and sees the courage and persistent struggle of B&H workers, laundry workers, nail salon workers, fast food workers, cab drivers who have organized and gone on strike all over New York City. We call for the end of the Trump-backed Duterte regime’s union repression and union-busting tactics. We demand NutriAsia immediately comply with the demands of the workers including regularizing the entire workforce, providing safe and healthy working conditions, providing a livable wage, and upholding their right to unionize.

If you would like to become a member of NYCHRP or another partner organization or to host an educational session about the NutriAsia strike with your organization, please contact nychrp@gmail.com. The educational session will be for workers to learn about current boycott efforts, and how to get involved in upcoming actions with Filipino migrant workers in solidarity.

SIGN THE PETITION TO SUPPORT NUTRIASIA WORKERS:  https://goo.gl/forms/sFQ4XsCVXgErDMe13

NutriAsia Donation (2)

NYCHRP Demands Human Rights Protection for All Human Lives at 2018 People’s SONA rally in New York City

Reference: Louie Sawi, Mass Campaigns Chair, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

NYCHRP Demands Human Rights Protection for All Human Lives at 2018 People’s SONA rally in New York City

NYCHRP at SONA 2018

Human lives cannot survive without having concern for their human rights. Since Duterte took office, he has failed to ensure the safety and well-being of the Filipino people.

After he launched his  “war on drugs,” over 20,000, poor urban dwellers, including children, have been murdered by the hands of the Philippine National Police and its agents. According to an investigation by Human Rights Watch, police planted guns, used ammunition, and drug packets on victims’ bodies to incriminate them in drug activities. Masked gunmen participating in the killings appeared to be collaborating with with police, refuting government claims that most killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.

Opposition to Duterte’s War on Drugs in the Philippines has led to the imprisonment of 509 political dissidents, critics, and human rights defenders. Even faith based leaders, organizers, and international peacekeepers are not immune to Duterte’s atrocious policies. A month ago, Methodist Church Missionaries Tawanda Chandiwana, Miracle Osman, and Adam Shaw were detained and interrogated by the police while participating in an international peace mission. After 27 years of missionary work in the Philippines, Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox was ordered by the Bureau of Immigration for deportation. Fathers Rey Urmeneta, Mark Ventura, and Marcelito Paez were murdered for speaking out against Duterte’s extrajudicial killings.

Duterte’s amped up anti-people campaign has recently veered to the absurd. The government’s newest policy, Oplan Tambay, demonizes marginalized youth and criminalizes those hanging out in their neighborhood. It has led to more than 50,000 accosted, arrested and detained in city jails. For example, on June 29, urban poor activist Nicolas Minguito was arrested in Olango Island for eating halo-halo outside his house.

Martial Law in Mindanao continues to violate the human rights of its community members. Seven days ago, 1,607 Lumad members from the region of Surigao del Sur, Caraga were displaced from their ancestral lands after a series of abuses inflicted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. After over a year of its implementation, Karapatan, a national human rights organization led directly by impacted people in the Philippines, documented that Martial Law has led to 49 extrajudicial killings; 9,738 threats, harassment, or intimidation; 336,124 indiscriminate firing and bombings, 404,654 forced evacuations; and 979 forced surrenders in the region.

People have the right to be free from these civil and political rights violations, but are also enshrined with the right to stand up against oppressive governments and systems. The people that President Duterte is repressing are folks that are fighting fundamentally to assert their basic social and economic rights. Basic labor rights are being violated as Philippine local companies Sumifru, Shin Shun, and Coca-Cola harass their workers through union-busting, terrorist tagging, and employing state security forces to violently break-up their peaceful protests for safer working conditions and access to affordable health care.

The government’s policy of contractualization offers no income stability for temporary work. It’s inhumane for companies like Jollibee, NutriAsia, and DOLE to terminate the service of the workers after only a year or a few months on the job. The scarcity of white and blue collar jobs in the city force some community members to seek work in these call centers and export processing zones for multinational corporations, where they labor overtime with little sleep and little pay. Approval of a recent fare hike by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board won’t be enough to help workers afford to pay rent, feed their children, or send them to school, especially as the costs of basic goods and services – such as food, transportation, electricity, and water – increase due to rising inflation. Raising wages can improve workers’ lives; however, the government has failed to pass national minimum wage bills such as House Bill 7787 and other proposed legislation that increases the wages.

With the recent appointment of former President Gloria Arroyo into the Speaker of the House position, we know Duterte does not care for the interests of the people. That is why, we must fight. We must support our kababayans back home, in every way we can, to oust Duterte and his entire government out of office. We must replace that with National industrialization, genuine land reform, sovereignty and non-interference from oppressive/western powers like the US, and elect a government that supports scientific understanding of people’s conditions in order to uphold the rights of women, indigenous people, and national minorities.

More importantly, we must do our part, living in the belly of the beast, to stop the US from supporting the human rights abuses and fascism of the Duterte regime.

#StoptheKillingsPH

#EndContractualization

#NotoMartialLaw

#OustDuterte

#PeoplesSONA2018