KARAPATAN statement on the National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights, June 12, 2017

"There are US soldiers unaccountable to Philippine laws loitering in Mindanao, there are groups that sow terror, we have martial rule and US-driven counterinsurgency programs which continue to repress people’s rights, and there are continuing unequal agreements with countries like the US. What we don’t have and what we are moving away from is the possibility of lasting peace, social justice and our capacity as a sovereign nation,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay during today’s national day of prayer and action to call for peace and respect for human rights by people's organizations, personalities and individuals from various faiths, sectors and political affiliations.

Palabay added that "the celebration of independence day will always be a farcical and shallow display of festivity amid  martial rule, prevailing impunity, and our continued existence as a neo-colony subservient to the demands of the world’s superpowers. Until now, we have our modern day Bonifacios who are victims of political killings, and who remain political prisoners."

As of May 30, 2017, Karapatan has documented 64 cases of political killings and puts the tally of political prisoners to 402.

"If Andres Bonifacio and our other national heroes would hear about the country’s audacity to celebrate independence day despite continuously being beholden to imperialist designs and dependence to neoliberal policies, they would roll on their graves," Palabay said.

Palabay cited policies such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), Visiting Forces Agreement, Mutual Defense Agreement and the government’s counterinsurgency program patterned on the US counterinsurgency guide, as well as unfair economic agreements that have led the country into a debt and poverty trap as among the manifestations of the continuing US’ domination over the Philippines’ affairs. 

Reacting to statements of AFP Western Mindanao Command on US troops' non-involvement in operational matters in Marawi, Prof. Dante Simbulan, former AFP officer and currently a member of Karapatan National Executive Committee at large, said: "What Gen Carlito Galvez, Jr. (PMA Cl '85) said is not true. In PMA (Philippine Military Academy) and in military schools in the Philippines and in the US, officers are taught that Training and Operations (J-3), Intel, Recconnaissance and Surveillance (J-2), Technical Assistance (J-4) are ALL part of Command and Control in an on-going military operations! I should know because I taught in PMA for seven years. It looks like Gen. Galvez is quibbling."

Despite this, however, Palabay said that "as we face both the economic and political crisis plaguing the nation, and as we continue to stand in solidarity with the people mostly affected, we continue to pursue various paths to peace based on justice. We call on the Duterte government to stop its militarist methods and renege from the fascist policies that violated thousands, displaced communities and suppressed legitimate resistance."

"We should then be urged to protest the many wrongs in our society. We should persevere for just peace. We should urge the government to continue talks with the NDFP, MILF and MNLF. We should press for a truly indepedent foreign policy, for genuine agrarian reform and rural development, and for nationalist industrialization. We should be ceaseless towards this direction. This is the only apt way to ‘celebrate independence’ - in resounding protest," Palabay concluded.