Students march on US Embassy on 71st “Fil-Am Friendship Day” to protest US war of aggression in PH, call for an end to US backed Martial Law in Mindanao

July 4, 2017

By League of Filipino Students

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) condemns the United States (U.S.) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s backed scheme of utilizing Martial Law to further repress the democratic rights of the Moro people and the Filipino people.

“We are here united as LFS with other sectors of the Philippines, peasant farmers, workers, youth and students, and national minorities to call for an end to Martial Law and the pulling out of U.S. military troops in Mindanao”, said JP Rosos, National Spokesperson of LFS.

Martial Law has intensified abuses against the people. As of the start of July, over 300,000 people have been displaced, 369 reported deaths, and thousands more are still trapped in Marawi, suffering from regular indiscriminate bombings from US-AFP forces. Casualties include civilians, and even members of the AFP. A month into the declaration of Martial Law, the AFP has yet to carry out its claimed objective of neutralizing the Maute group.

“The United States has already deployed its troops in Mindanao to direct the AFP’s war of aggression. Even as we voice our indignation here today, they continue to scheme and work together in conducting violence against the Moro people,” said Rosos. Furthermore, using the excuse of Martial Law, over 260 people were arrested on the 2nd day for not having identification. A few days ago on June 28th, three peasant leaders and a member of Karapatan, a human rights organization, were also arrested.

These acts manifest in other forms of violence such as Islamophobia, spread by the AFP, mainstream media, fake news, and the reactionary state. In the face of a dictatorship and severe economic crisis, their false rhetoric should not be taken lightly. They all must be held accountable for not only inaccurately portraying the whereabouts of the Maute group, but for also centralizing focus on President Rodrigo Duterte’s belligerent and aggressive statements to justify Martial Law, rather than focusing on how its declaration has resulted in countless human rights violations that continue to occur in Mindanao.

Furthermore, President Duterte’s suspicious visits to other imperialist nations in order to attain financial and military support, in the form of loans and modernized weaponry, truly reflect his withstanding subservience to imperialist interests in further extracting Philippine natural resources, even if it results in trillions of dollars in debt that the Filipino people will pay for decades to come.

As youth and students, we also understand the declaration of Martial Law does not only isolate the Moro community, but also directly affects other marginalized peoples of the Philippines. Lumad communities in Mindanao have already faced countless harassments through joint US-PH militarization.

Although the reactionary government celebrates July 4th as “Philippine-American Friendship Day,” we continue to remain unequally tied to the United States, who ironically celebrates the day as their own Independence Day. Today is not a celebration of “friendship.” It is a condemnation of historical unequal treaties, deals, and military presence, wherein the United States has always been the beneficiary.

“Youth and students have historically been at the forefront of every social and political change, and these times are no different. As long as President Rodrigo Duterte fails to address his promises for genuine independence from the imperialist countries like the US, the youth will continue to call on all sectors of Philippine society to hold the United States, AFP, and the Duterte regime accountable for crimes committed against the people. “ Rosos ended.