Monday July 23, 2018

Tell it to SunStar: Balikatan exercise

THE US-RP Balikatan Exercises was held in Central Luzon recently amidst the issue on the torture of Moro activist Jerome Succor Aba by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in San Francisco Airport last April 17.

We condemn the Trump administration for its policy on the Muslim ban in the US and glaring Islamophobia. We Muslims are not terrorists. We did not invade sovereign lands to plunder its natural resources and terrorize people of other countries. We did torture anyone. That is what the US government does.

We also condemn the neglect and inaction of the Philippine consulate in San Francisco during Aba’s 28-hour ordeal at the CBP. Despite receiving endless phone calls from various organizations in the US, the Philippine consulate officials except for a very brief call did not bother to ensure that the rights of Aba are upheld and to check personally his situation.

The CBP even forced Aba to sign a blank paper and used his signature on documents that stated that Aba was treated humanely to cover up their torture. Aba later executed an Affidavit of Refutation on the signed document released by the CBP, insisting he was under duress and just wanted the torture to stop.

Aba, 25 years old, a national minority activist and co-chairperson of Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination went to the US upon the invitation of the United Methodist Church to attend the 2018 Ecumenical Advocacy Day in Washington, DC and after to join the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour in the US. He was supposed to speak about the human rights and Martial Law situation in Southern Philippines.

Despite President Duterte’s rhetorics and posturing to veer away from US dependence, he implement pro-US policies especially the US “War on Terror” where the national minorities suffer from its consequences. The Moro people and indigenous peoples face rapid plunder of our lands and resources, intensified repression and militarization, and heightened discrimination and Islamophobia.--Sandugo Moro Katutubo