a message from our sisters in the Philippines on International Womenʻs Day 2012....
Philippines International Women's Day Statement:
Unity Statement, March 8, 2012
Filipino Women March against US Military Expansion in the Philippines and the Pacific
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2012, we, Filipino women declare in strongest terms possible, our opposition not only to increased presence but to U.S. military presence per se on Philippine soil.
The United States is increasing its military presence in Asia-Pacific, in particular in the Philippines, and the Philippine government is showing no qualms in allowing this to happen.
A news account recently reported of the United States’ plan to increase its military aid to “boost” Philippine defense; the promised aid will amount to US$144 million, reflecting an increase of more than US$20 million on the previous amount. In another earlier news article, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas was quoted as saying his government had spent US$50 million for the upgrading of Philippine military facilities.
The Washington Post in January 2012 also reported that Philippine officials were in the United States to conduct initial talks with representatives of the Obama government “about expanding the American military presence in the island nation…” More high-level and intense discussions will take place this March.
The same Washington Post piece quoted a senior Philippine official as saying “We can point to other countries: Australia, Japan and Singapore. We’re not the only one doing this, and for good reason. We all want to see a peaceful and stable region. Nobody wants to have to face China or confront China.” The US has “about 600 Special Operations troops in the Philippines, where they advise local forces in their fight with rebels sympathetic to al-Qaeda,” the report also confirmed.
But really disturbing news was on the use of U.S. drone in the January bombing in Parang, Jolo, which came out in Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online. “A United States-supported airstrike that destroyed with causalities an Abu Sayyaf hideout on the remote island of Jolo in the southern Philippines represented the first known use of the unmanned aerial assault craft in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counter-insurgency operations against terrorism-linked rebel groups,” said the article.
We recognize the continuing insecurity in the Asia-Pacific due to the contending claims of Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and China over the Spratly Islands. But time and again it has been the call of people’s movements and civil society groups throughout the region that this territorial conflict must be resolved by multilateral dialogue among the countries involved and not with the intervention or through the posturing of a military power like the US.
We don’t deny the reality of terrorism that continues to unfold in many parts of the world, even as many of these have been a result of and have been further intensified precisely by U.S. policies, but the Philippines should not be drawn into this US-led war on terror. The Philippine government should instead stand side-by-side with other nations and peoples who call for multi-polar ways of looking at and resolving these conflicts. Without being isolationist and immune to geopolitical realities, the Philippine government must not at all costs surrender our sovereignty.
Why a stand against militarization? Militarization is not only about the presence of warm uniformed bodies, as it spills over other aspects of women’s lives. It exists and persists because of force that turns into violence—which is not anymore just about fighting the enemies using destructive weapons, but about militarization itself as a weapon that creates and supports a culture of violence; the same force underpinning rape, assault on women’s bodies and minds, trafficking and prostitution, domestic abuse, discrimination against those with differing gender orientation.
This is not at all different from another form of violence that also oppresses and ravages Filipino women—economic marginalization resulting from the neo-liberal policy orientation of government.
Neo-liberalization has meant for Filipino women labor contractualization or flexibilization, which hasn’t only further decreased employment opportunities, but has also caused many women to labor in oppressive situations, mainly characterized by depressed wages and insecure working conditions.
Privatization and deregulation, even of basic services and resources considered national patrimony, are also cornerstones of a neo-liberal economy. And it’s not only women in the labor sector and urban areas who are continuously assaulted by these economic policies, which have also opened the agriculture sector to big business, private investments, easing out small and medium-scale landholders and producers. Until now, women in the agriculture sector have remained invisible and their contributions un-quantified in official statistics; yet the more privatization occurs, the more they lose whatever access to lands and land resources they have been able to fight for inch by inch. With privatization and foreign investments becoming the order of the day, the completion of the land and distribution aspect of the agrarian reform program is becoming more and more a distant reality, even as it has been made clear that the current government is no longer prioritizing agrarian reform.
On another level, the persistent intervention of religious fundamentalism in the realm of public policy-making results in depriving women of vital health services, which could cause them their life.
The P-Noy government cannot claim to be on the “straight path” as long as it continues to ignore the economic, social and sexual violence committed against women, while it upholds the primacy of neo-liberalization and militarism. The alignment of the P-Noy regime with the US, as shown by its support for increasing US troop presence in the Philippines, is of deep concern to us and we will continue to struggle against it.
To the powers that be, we say NO to U.S. military expansion in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific! NO to the Philippine government’s support for this expansionism! On March 8, 2012, and beyond, listen to the sounds of our feet marching, to our voices singing protest, to our poetry, stories, testimonies and speeches shouting out our opposition, and watch us transform this opposition into more actions of resistance!
Akbayan–Youth • Amnesty International • Alliance of Progressive Labor • Asian Circle 1325 • Bagong Kamalayan • BATIS • Batis-AWARE • Buklod • Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino – Kababaihan • CATW-AP • Center for Migrants’ Advocacy • Center for Overseas Workers • Development Action for Women Network • Focus on the Global South • Free Burma Coalition • Freedom from Debt Coalition • Initiatives for International Dialogue • Kababaihan-Pilipinas • KAISA-KA • KAMP • LRC-KSK/FOE-Phils. • MATINIK • Medical Action Group • Partido Lakas ng Masa • Partido ng Manggagawa • PAHRA • PEACE • PKKK • Piglas Kababaihan • PREDA • SARILAYA • Transform Asia • WEDPRO • WomanHealth Phils. • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau • Welga ng Kababaihan • Women’s Crisis Center • YSAGE • World March of Women – Pilipinas
International Women's Network Against Militarism 8th Gathering: "Forging Nets for Demilitarization and Genuine Security”
International Women's Network Against Militarism
8th Gathering: "Forging Nets for Demilitarization and Genuine Security”
February 19-25, 2012 – Puerto Rico
The 8th Gathering of the International Women's Network Against Militarism, that occurred on February 19-25, 2012, united 26 women representing 8 countries gathered in Puerto Rico. Delegates from the Philippines, Guahan (Guam), Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Hawaii, and the United States joined their counterparts in Puerto Rico to evaluate the growing military threat and develop strategies to counter the impact of militarism, military contamination, imperialism and systems of oppression and exploitation based on gender, race, class, nationality and sexual orientation.
First, we express our dissatisfaction and anger at the situation faced by our colleague from the Philippines, Corazón Valdez Fabros, who was denied entry into the U.S. despite the fact that she was issued a valid visa beforehand. No adequate explanation has been given to justify this violation of her freedom of movement.
Ms. Fabros is an internationally known and highly respected advocate, researcher, and expert on conflict resolution, democratization process, human rights and security. She is a regular speaker at international conferences and meetings, particularly in the Asia-Pacific, on peace building, nuclear disarmament, and environmental clean-up of former U.S. bases in the Philippines.
Although Ms. Fabros was issued a multiple entry visa last October, Delta Airlines was instructed by the Immigration and Border Protection to not let her board the flight leaving Manila en route to Puerto Rico on February 17, 2012. We are grateful that a U.S. representative of Puerto Rican descent, Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), is investigating and requesting an explanation.
As a result of the discussion at our meeting we declare the following:
- The United States must demilitarize the Asia-Pacific region, clean up military environmental contamination, and compensate affected communities. Further, we advocate the creation of economies of peace rather than perpetual preparation for war.
- We, delegates of the 8th Gathering of the International Women's Network Against Militarism, have visited communities in Puerto Rico and are incensed at what we have learned about the commercial auction of land at the former Roosevelt Roads Navy Base and the exclusion of the people of Ceiba from future use and control of this land. We learned about the lack of cleanup and the ecologically hazardous detonation of unexploded ordnance used by the U.S. Navy on land and water on and surrounding the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. We condemn the recent federal court ruling in Boston that dismissed the lives and health claims of 7,000 Viequenses injured by the Navy presence. Furthermore, we denounce the precarious situation that Viequenses confront. The negligence of the government has caused a maritime crisis that severely affects their health and quality of life.
- We oppose the repression and incarceration of people who fight for genuine peace and human rights. By unanimous resolution, we call on President Barak Obama to order the immediate release of Oscar López Rivera who has been unjustly imprisoned for almost 31 years. The U.S. Parole Commission recently denied his application for parole and ordered that he serve an additional 15 years in prison. By that time, he will be 83 years old and will have been incarcerated for 45 years for politically motivated offenses where no one was hurt. We condemn the inequity in his treatment, compared to his co-defendants. He is now the only one of the 1980's pro-independence prisoners still in prison.
- Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has asserted that the U.S. military plans to remain in the Asia Pacific region as the primary center of its strategic positioning. We denounce the building of any new bases or military installations in the region. This includes the proposed Navy base at Jeju Island in South Korea that will house U.S. Aegis destroyers built at Bath Ironworks in Bangor (Maine), and will serve as a key component of the U.S. military's ballistic missile defense system. We call for the immediate closure of Futenma Marine Air Corps Station (Okinawa) and adamantly oppose the plan to replace this base with a new heliport facility at Henoko. We denounce the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement and the deployment of U.S. forces to the Philippines, which violates the terms of the Philippines constitution. We are against the plans to move 4,700 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guahan. We object to the construction of a “Ballistic Missile Defense System,” berthing docks for nuclear aircraft carriers at Apra Harbor, and “firing range complex” on ancient Chamorro lands. In Hawai‘i, we oppose the expansion of military bases and activites. In particular, we oppose the use of Stryker Brigade tanks at Schofield Barracks (Lihue, Oʻahu) and the proposed basing of 48 aircraft including the Osprey at Kaneohe Marine Corps Airstation (Mokapu, Oʻahu), that will bring in 1,000 Marines and 1,000 of their dependents. We also oppose proposed training of these aircraft at Bellows Airforce Station (Waimanalo, Oʻahu), Kalaupapa (Molokaʻi) and Pōhakuloa (Hawai‘i island). In all these locations, overwhelming numbers of local residents have used all available democratic means to dispute this military expansion that would destroy native cultural sites and cause contamination, overpopulation, over consumption of the islands' limited resources.
- Military training has a devastating impact on the environment and people's health, leading to serious illness and early death. Failure to clean up the hazardous toxics caused by military operations is an environmental justice issue and reflects the racist belief that some people are more valuable than others. It also shows deep disrespect for the earth.
Therefore, we, the participants of the 8th Meeting of the International Women's Network Against Militarism demand the cleanup of closed and current military bases and land used for military purposes in all our countries. This land must be returned to local community control. We demand full compensation to victims of military contamination, including Guahan downwinders of atomic testing in the Pacific, residents of Vieques and other communities of Puerto Rico, communities in the Philippines around former Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base. We also demand that the United States take full responsibility for the negative social impacts caused by the U.S. military presence in the region, in particular gender-based/sexual violence by US military personnel. Sexual crimes by US military personnel have occurred for many decades in the host communities, and they are often go unpunished. For example, Amerasian children born in the Philippines and abandoned by U.S. military fathers lack the support, care, and human rights that all children deserve.
We recognize that the current economic recession created by capitalism has created rising poverty, massive joblessness, and a lack of decent and affordable education and healthcare in the United States and its possessions and territories. We denounce the use of economic resources to further military activity. We denounce the disproportional recruitment of poor young people and young people of color to sustain senseless wars that only protect the interest of the wealthy. Instead, we call for an economy of peace, an economy that will support our communities in sustainable ways, with an emphasis on providing for basic human needs, health and wellness, solidarity, and respect for the land and all peoples.
February 25, 2012
San Juan, Puerto Rico
For Immediate Release
February 23, 2012
Contact: Renie Wong
Hawai'i Peace and Justice
“Jam Docu Gangjeong” Film Shorts: A Jeju Island Village Struggles with the Imposition of a South Korean/U.S. Naval Base
Documentary Film Shorts “Jam Docu Gangjeong” premiering for the first time in Hawai‘i will be shown at The ARTS at Marks Garage on March 17, 2012 6:30-8 PM in a free screening co-sponsored by Hawai'i Peace and Justice in collaboration with Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking and DMZ Hawai'i / Aloha 'Aina. Light refreshment will be offered.
Banned from theater showings for 40 days by the Korean Film Commission, Jam Docu Gangjeong just recently received approval (January 31st) for showing in South Korea. Although Jeju was named an “Island of Peace” in 2005 by the South Korean government and listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, the Korean government has pushed ahead with plans to build a huge naval base in Gangjeong Village for the use of both the South Korean military, as well as US naval warships and destroyers.
The island is home to a unique dialect and culture off the tip of South Korea, but also presents a microcosm for the tragic legacies of the Korean War. Residents of Gangjeong Village have put up peaceful resistance to the base construction, but faced brutal suppression by the police and mainland military, and been heavily fined for the "obstruction of governmental affairs." For the villagers, the naval base threatens to disrupt not only the reef ecosystem, and the way of life by elderly haenyo (women divers), but to destroy the social fabric of the village, recalling the scars of the Korean War and Jeju’s treatment during that period. While the ostensible justification for the base is the North Korean threat, the implications for a shifting geopolitical balance in the region is that the US would gain access to a base in proximity to China.
For Docu Jam Gangjeong, eight independent filmmakers in South Korea responded to the situation by making short films about the people’s struggle over the course of 100 days. The filmmakers present an array of stories from their time living among the villagers and capturing the beauty of the threatened coastline.