New Jersey activists condemn Maute attacks, Duterte’s martial law response

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Unfurling ‘no to martial law’ banner

Unfurling ‘no to martial law’ banner

“We condemn the attacks on the people of Marawi. We also condemn President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.” With this statement, Ren Clacer, chairperson of GABRIELA New Jersey, added her voice to the May 26 community vigil in solidarity with the people of Marawi.

Clacer and about 30 other left-leaning activists gathered at the 9/11 memorial fountain at Journal Square in Jersey City to voice their opposition to the declaration of martial law after an incident where armed men from the Maute group launched an attack in Marawi, Lanao Del Sur. The protesters unfurled a banner that says “Never again to martial law.”

“Martial law is not the answer to the conflicts occurring in the region. Militarization of communities leads to increased violence against women and displacement, [and] it increases the vulnerability of women and children to military abuse as well other human rights abuses,” said Clacer.

“I don’t support the Maute group, I don’t support terror groups, I don’t support Martial Law in Mindanao. Martial Law won’t solve problems, rather it will create more problems,” said Bobby Young of Migrante New Jersey, who is from Cagayan De Oro.

“The problems of peace and order, the problem of poverty, illegal logging, destructive mining, landlessness, social inequity, self-determination can’t be solved by martial law,” Young continued.

The Maute group is reported to be a radical Islamist group composed of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and some foreign fighters led by Abdullah Maute.

Singing ‘Bayan Ko’

Singing ‘Bayan Ko’

“We condemn the attacks carried out by the Maute group in Marawi. They claim to have affiliations with Abu Sayyaf and ISIS. These are the very same groups that the CIA had trained to cause disruption among communities asserting their self-determination. U.S. and Philippine militarization has spawned terrorist groups in the Philippines that are now being used as scapegoats to further curtail the civil rights of the people,” said Rodrigo Bacus of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns Northeast (NAFCON NE).

Maricar Taino, chapter president of the New Jersey Philippine American Junior Chambers International, reminded everyone that peace is possible. She said, “The struggle for freedom and democracy has been marked by violence resulting in considerable loss of lives and property all over the world. Terror cannot be ended by terrorizing. We have to believe that peace is possible. Peace is not just the absence of conflict, but the prevalence of justice.”

Laura Austria of Anakbayan New Jersey, a Filipino youth and student organization, called for a genuine solution to the conflict. She said, “We demand that our leaders address the root causes of the conflict in the Philippines rather than default to heavy-handed military tactics through the declaration of martial law. Filipinos in the U.S. must express our collective indignation by signing the petition. To truly stand with Marawi, we must create a genuine solution to the people’s struggles and advocate for a truly just and lasting peace in the Philippines.”

The vigil ended with the singing of “Bayan Ko,” a song popularized during the anti-Marcos dictatorship, and the chanting of “never again, never again to martial law!” Grassroots organizations such as Anakbayan New Jersey, Gabriela New Jersey, Migrante New Jersey, New Jersey Philippine American Junior Chambers International, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, FANG Collective, and BAYAN USA-Northeast were represented in the protest action.

Copyright (C) 2017 The FilAm

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