The National Council of the Philippine Peace and Solidarity Council (PPSC) held its first quarterly meeting for 2014 at Pomeroy Hall, located in the City of San Jose del Monte, adjoining Metropolitan Manila, on February 9, 2014. The meeting opened with a minute of silence in honor of the departed leaders of the peace movement in the Philippines, and proceeded with the filling of vacancies in the PPSC’s National Council and Executive Board, the nomination of new PPSC provincial and city coordinators, and the payment of individual and organizational dues for 2014.
The PPSC sends warmest greetings to all national committees of the World Peace Council (WPC), and salutes fraternal delegations which will be attending the Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting of the WPC to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 1 and 2, 2014. It is with deep regret that the PPSC would not be able to send a delegate to this WPC meeting to be held shortly, especially considering the PPSC’s continued drive to extend assistance to the survivors of Super-Typhoon “Yolanda” (international name “Haiyan”) in the Visayas. The PPSC calls upon the international community to continue assisting the said survivors in their very difficult reconstruction efforts.
The PPSC also sends warmest greetings to all national committees of the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization (AAPSO), and looks forward to the successful holding of the AAPSO’s 9th Congress in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in June 2014.
ON THE NATIONAL SITUATION
The PPSC National Council met in a period of the deepened economic crisis of capitalism worldwide, causing unprecedented new sufferings for millions of the Filipino people, and even for billions of people throughout the world. Unemployment, poverty, hunger and destitution have worsened under the neocolonial situation of the Philippines, even as the profits of transnational corporations have ballooned under the imperialist-imposed policies of privatization, profit deregulation and import liberalization.
Prices overcharged by privatized water, electricity, petroleum, railway, tollway, port and other utilities continue to rise and remain deregulated, causing greater misery among millions of our people. With the lack of basic industries and with markets saturated by imported products, unemployment in the Philippines hit a new high of 26.1% towards the end of last year, affecting over 11.2-million members of the labor force. The youth are particularly affected, with hundreds of thousands graduating each year from colleges and technical schools into the ranks of the unemployed. The burden of the economic crisis caused by the capitalist oligarchy is being passed onto the shoulders of the poorest sectors of the working masses, with mandatory social security and medicare membership charges being raised, even as wages are frozen and government social services are being cut, under the concepts of austerity and “cost-recovery”.
US military forces are constantly present in many parts of the Philippines, particularly in insurgency-wracked areas of Mindanao, in denigration of our national independence and sovereignty. Frequent port visits by US fleets pose the danger of widespread annihilation in case of any nuclear or other WMD accident. US fleet patrols in the West Philippine Sea and contested expanses of the South China Sea only increases tension with the People’s Republic of China, and sabotages good-neighborly relations. The PPSC demands the immediate banning of US and other foreign military forces from Philippine territory, and the immediate abrogation of the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement of 1998 and the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. The PPSC calls for the peaceful resolution of all conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea, based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and condemns the dangerous US stance of showing off its military might in the area in order to pressure the Philippine government into “reserving” its Exclusive Economic Zone for exploitation by US and other related transnational corporations.
A covert and more sinister purpose for the constant presence of US military forces in insurgency-wracked areas of Mindanao is related to the long-standing US policy of trying to “downsize” or break up large or diverse states into a pliant grouping of smaller countries or statelets. Fifteen years ago, the USA and other NATO powers fostered separatism among various ethnic groups in Yugoslavia, and then launched a genocidal invasion under “humanitarian” pretexts to create a protectorate in the Serbian province of Kosovo and to balkanize the country into a collection of independent statelets with no economic or political clout to resist imperialist dictates.
Now, separatism is being fostered in Iraq under partly-privatized imperialist occupation, with “independent” little states being prepared for Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis. Under NATO occupation, Libya is also being dismembered into 3 sub-states, along the contours of its pre-independence period. Syria too is being bled to prepare it for balkanization under the US-Israel plan for a “Greater Middle East”. Long-simmering separatist movements are also being primed by imperialism to break up Indonesia into more docile island states and make the harvesting of their resources easier for transnational corporations. And in the Philippines, US-supported fundamentalist armed groups are being used to denigrate the present Muslim autonomous region and to instead carve up a Bangsamoro statelet that would impose more harsh (but US-pliant) islamic rule over resource-rich areas of Mindanao. In view of the foregoing, the PPSC condemns the US use of islamic fundamentalism as a means of subverting Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
ON THE SITUATION IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION
US imperialism’s military “pivot” to Asia is of grave concern to the Asia-Pacific Region. The USA has declared that it would deploy 60% of its military forces in the Asia-Pacific Region in order to secure the strategic interests here of the USA in the economic and political field, and to “contain” China’s growing might. Countries in this region are being pressured into forging strategic alliances with the USA, and some countries have already signed treaties allowing visits of US military fleets and forces, and joining up with US transnational corporations for the exploration and exploitation of offshore oil, gas and other mineral resources.
An Asian version of NATO is being improvised by the USA, with the participation of Japan, South Korea and Australia which have all allowed the stationing in their territories of more US military forces. In this connection, the PPSC condemns the deployment of more US military forces in the region, and calls for the immediate dismantling of all US military bases in the region and worldwide. The PPSC supports the struggle of the Japanese people against the resurgence of Japanese militarism, against the changing of the pacifist provisions of their constitution, and for the abolition of the archaic tenno (emperor) system.
Regarding the Korean peninsula, the PPSC condemns the USA’s continued military threats against the DPRK, and demands the immediate removal of all US military bases and nuclear weapons from South Korea, as well as the immediate ending of joint military exercises by the USA, Japan and South Korea which only serve to escalate tensions. The PPSC supports the Korean people's struggle against the imperialist war plans, for independence and sovereignty, for demilitarization and nuclear disarmament, and for the peaceful reunification of Korea.
Further, the PPSC supports the struggle of the Australian people for the ouster of the ultra-conservative Abbot regime which serves as the primary puppet of US imperialism in the Western Pacific area. The PPSC supports the promotion of South-East Asia, and the whole of the Asia-Pacific Region, as Zones of Peace, free from nuclear weapons, foreign military bases and military pacts. The PPSC further supports immediate freedom for the nations and territories of this region which are still under foreign colonial domination, namely : Micronesia, Kanaky and Polynesia.
In Central Asia, the USA maintains an extensive network of military bases in Afghanistan. The USA also continues to grossly violate the sovereignty of Pakistan, carrying out criminal bombings using drone aircrafts. The PPSC reaffirms the demand for the complete withdrawal of all occupation forces from Afghanistan, and for an end to US drone attacks anywhere. The ongoing US and NATO military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not only jeopardizing peace and stability in Asia, but is also strengthening the forces of religious fundamentalism and terrorism throughout Asia.
In South Asia, the increasing intolerance among Hindu fundamentalist organizations in India also poses a grave threat to peace and stability in this area. In Bangladesh, the activities of religious fundamentalists have somehow been contained through mass mobilization by all secular and democratic forces. The PPSC condemns all forms of religious fundamentalism, all calls to religious war or jihad, and all self-righteous attempts to subvert secular rule and impose religious rule. Further, the PPSC supports the trial of the war-criminals of the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh, as well as the prosecution of Gen. Musharraf for his crimes against the people during the period of his dictatorship in Pakistan.
The PPSC expresses serious concerns about the situation in the Middle East, which is the focus of present imperialist war operations. Heavily armed “opposition” groups, mainly foreign jihadi mercenaries, are being sponsored, trained and guided in their subversive actions to destabilize Syria, spreading death and terror over the Syrian people. With the dominant role of Turkey and of tyrannical Gulf monarchies, and with the supervision of the USA, NATO and the EU, the interference in the domestic affairs of Syria has reached new dangerous levels. The 2nd Geneva peace conference on Syria recently adjourned without any agreement being reached, due to the USA’s opposition to any agreement which will control its mercenary forces dredged out from the ranks of Al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist terrorist groups.
The PPSC is aware of the US-Israeli plan for a “Greater Middle East” which has been endorsed also by NATO. What is happening now in Syria is part of this very plan, which has Iran as its next target despite the recent negotiations on the Iran nuclear energy issue. Iran is being targeted with the pretext of its nuclear program, but the real motivation is the rich energy resources of this country and its geo-strategic capability of controlling shipping in the Persian Gulf. The PPSC expresses its solidarity with the people of Iran and its peace loving forces in their complex struggle to achieve peace, secular rule, democracy and social progress, and rejects categorically the US-NATO threats and sanctions which are aiming at a regime change.
While condemning the open support of the USA and the EU for the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine, the PPSC reaffirms its support and solidarity with the Palestinian people for ending the occupation and for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, and with East Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as its capital. Furthermore, the PPSC demands the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Shebaa farms, and supports the return to their homeland of the Palestinian refugees in diaspora on the basis of UN Resolution 194, as well as the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
The PPSC expresses its serious concern about the recent NATO discussion on the possible future presence of NATO troops (under US military leadership) in Palestine in order to “supervise” the implementation of a “peace plan” between Palestine and Israel. NATO is the armed wing of imperialism which backs zionist Israel’s occupation of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands. NATO’s military presence in Palestine will only add foreign “wardens” to reinforce Zionist martial rule over the open-air stalags that are the present Palestinian territories.
Considering that UN General Assembly Resolution 68/12 of 26 November 2013 had proclaimed 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in order to mobilize international support for and assistance to the Palestinian people, the PPSC resolved to hold one major conference on this issue this year. The PPSC designated its National PRO, Mr. Doy Del Castillo, to coordinate with the UN offices in the Philippines, and with diplomatic representations of countries strongly supporting the Palestinian cause, in order to prepare the holding of this planned conference.
The PPSC expresses its full support and solidarity with the peoples of Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and other countries of the Arabian peninsula, as well as with the peoples of Turkey and Morocco, in their struggles against their autocratic rulers, and for democracy and human rights. The PPSC opposes any interference in the Arabian Peninsula by the USA, NATO and the European Union. The PPSC also draws the attention of all peace loving forces to the plunder of the natural resources of Libya along with the suffering of its people, after the NATO aggression of 2011 and the dismemberment of the country.
ON OTHER ASPECTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION
The PPSC reaffirms its militant and unwavering solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and denounces the criminal blockade imposed by the USA on Cuba. The PPSC supports the international demand to shut down the US concentration camp at the US military base in Guantanamo, and to completely remove this base from Cuban soil. The PPSC also demands the release of the remaining members of the “Cuban-5” from US prisons, who are incarcerated for the “crime” of preventing US-supported terrorists from launching attacks on Cuba and Cuban personnel abroad. Further, the PPSC salutes Cuba for hosting the negotiations for the peace process in Colombia.
The PPSC condemns the US campaign of destabilization against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which has become more virulent since the death of Comandante Hugo Chavez and the electoral victory of President Nicolas Maduro. The US campaign of destabilization extends to all countries of ALBA and the CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States founded in 2011), and this campaign of destabilization deserves the condemnation of all peace-loving peoples worldwide.
The PPSC demands immediate freedom from US colonial domination and occupation of Panama and Puerto Rico, and further demands the return of the Malvinas Islands to Argentina. The PPSC further calls for the re-strengthening of the Non-Aligned Movement, for the democratization of the United Nations with greater powers vested in the General Assembly, and for the strengthening of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.
The PPSC supports the cause of the bi-national people of Cyprus in their struggle against the Turkish occupation of the northern half of their country ; the cause of the people of Western Sahara in their struggle against Moroccan occupation ; as well as the cause of the peoples of Mali, the Central African Republic and Eritrea in their struggles against imperialist intervention.
The PPSC notes the past attempts of the EU and NATO to overthrow the legitimate government in Ukraine, and condemns the present imperialist plot to use the riotings by pro-EU gangs in the Ukraine since November 21 as a platform for destabilization and regime change, in order to draw the country into the EU-NATO bloc (and away from Russian influence). The US condemnation of the Ukrainian government’s attempts to end the riotings is truly hypocritical, considering all the years of the brutal police repression of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in the USA. The banking mafia that controls the EU and the USA only wants to turn Ukraine into its own colony of exploitation, acquisition, expansion and corruption.
Imperialism’s increased aggression against the peoples of the world puts humanity at serious risk. Today, more than ever, we need to intensify our anti-imperialist and solidarity actions and strengthen WPC and AAPSO member movements in each country. The PPSC calls upon all peace and solidarity organizations, all mass organizations of students, youth, trade unions, women and other sectors, to build a strong movement against the policies of imperialist globalization and war ; to make our Asia-Pacific Region as a region of peace, stability, democracy, human rights, justice, equality and progress ; to get rid of foreign bases, occupation, terrorism and religious fundamentalism ; and to abolish all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
Especially during the present deep economic crisis of the capitalist system, we need to highlight the relation of capitalism, its crisis, and the tendency towards wars and aggressions. We must connect our peace agenda with all struggles for justice and democracy – for decent jobs and wages without precarious conditions and outsourcing policies, for extensive social rights, for free public health care, against commercialization of culture and education, for a safe and secure environment, and for the provision of other public and democratic services that will serve the peoples’ needs and not the needs of the monopolies.
The PPSC joins the WPC in protesting and denouncing the arrest and trial of Margaretta D'Arcy, an Irish Peace activist who has become known from her militant participation in actions against the use of Shannon airport in Ireland by US and NATO warplanes in their crimes and aggressions against many countries and peoples in recent years. Irish authorities offered set her free if she would sign and commit herself to refrain from similar actions in the future, an offer dismissed outright by the 79-year-old veteran fighter for peace. The PPSC joins the WPC and all WPC-affiliated organizations worldwide in condemning the Irish government’s complicity with US and NATO war crimes launched through Shannon airport, and in demanding the immediate release of Margaretta D'Arcy.
Towards the conclusion of the meeting, the National Council heard the report of the team which delivered a batch of relief goods to survivors of Super-typhoon “Yolanda” (international name, “Haiyan”) in the barangays (villages) of Bunga, Dau, Lomboy and Tumalalon, all in Mambusao town in Capiz Province, Panay Island. The National Council thanked all the members and friends of the PPSC who continue to support the campaign to assist the super-typhoon survivors by continuing to contribute cash, food items, medicines and clothing. The PPSC National Council further directed the immediate delivery of the next batch of relief goods to some typhoon-ravaged towns in Eastern and Western Samar, particularly to affected members of PANDAY (the PPSC-affiliated association of carpenters, masons and other construction day workers). PPSC National Council member Fermin Idea was designated as the head of the team which will undertake this next delivery of relief goods to Samar.
Finally, the meeting expressed the PPSC’s sincere gratitude to the Activist Group Shiso Undo of Japan for extending assistance to the survivors of Super-Typhoon “Yolanda” (“Haiyan”).
ATTY. GERARDO BRIASA
National Chairman, PPSC