This past month, more than 3,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers participated in a three-week live-fire military exercise called Balikatan, which included a drill to blow up a mock Chinese warship in the South China Sea. The exercises coincided with the U.S. Navy’s sailing a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Milius, within 12 miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands near the Philippines, over which China claims sovereignty. The Biden administration’s two-pronged show of force followed President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s decision to expand U.S. access to Filipino military bases—which are really U.S. bases that violate the Filipino constitution’s prohibition of foreign military bases in the country.
United States Vice-President Kamala Harris ended her three-day visit to the Philippines on Tuesday, November 22, amid protests by peace advocates and social movements in the country. Harris is the first top-level US official to visit the Philippines after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr took office in June earlier this year. While President Marcos arranged for a warm reception for Harris, social movements received her visit with a massive demonstration to protest the US’ role in the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines. On Monday, November 21, thousands participated in a massive rally in Manila, organized by several groups under the left-wing progressive coalition Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
New York City, New York - Starting the morning of Monday, May 9, Filipinos and allies across the tri-state area began hosting a vigil outside of the Consulate General of the Philippines. They committed to stay until the results of a historic election were announced. The Northeast Vigil for Democracy was one of dozens across the U.S. calling for a fair election as Filipinos voted for a variety of different positions. All eyes are on the presidency as two main candidates fight it out - Bongbong Marcos and Leni Robredo. While Marcos ran on a robust social media campaign based on rewriting history of his family, Robredo brought forward the people in effort to affect positive change. At 7 p.m. that day, a rally began with close to 100 protesters.
The great Delano grape strike started on September 8, 1965, when Filipino pickers stayed in their labor camps, and refused to go into the fields. Mexican workers joined them two weeks later. The strike went on for five years, until all California table grape growers were forced to sign contracts in 1970. The conflict was a watershed struggle for civil and labor rights, supported by millions of people across the country. It breathed new life into the labor movement and opened doors for immigrants and people of color. California’s politics have changed profoundly in the 52 years since then, in large part because of that strike. Delano’s mayor today is a Filipino. That would have been unthinkable in 1965, when growers treated the town as a plantation. Children of farm worker families have become members of the state legislature.
By Cleve Kevin Robert Arguelles for The Conversation - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed that he killed three men during his time as mayor of Davao city, despite officials trying to downplay an earlier admission. Duterte’s comments might yet hurt his popularity but that seems unlikely. Duterte’s national crusade has resulted in an alarming daily average of 34 drug war-related murders. Despite this death toll and international condemnation, public satisfaction with his anti-drug war is at a significantly high rate of 78%. How can this be explained in a country that a mere 30 years ago brought down a dictator without resorting to violence?
Whether the US Agenda is War on an Arms Race, the US Peace Movement Should be Concerned. While the Middle East teeters on the brink of another prolonged conflict that would engender some form of US involvement, the Obama’s administration’s shift away from the region and toward East Asia is easier said than done. Though the “Pivot to Asia” policy of the Obama administration may not be stealing all the headlines, US military presence around the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca is quietly building up, giving rise to increased American muscle in Southeast Asia. Obama announced the pivot policy during a visit to Australia in 2011, declaring a fully equipped 2,500-strong Marine task force operating from Darwin by 2016. The pivot to Asia is anything but an empty catchphrase, as the US Air Force is beginning to bolster its presence in bases in Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, with plans to move 60 percent of US warships to the region by 2020. It’s no secret that these developments are the Pentagon’s response to China’s ever-increasing military and economic clout, and Uncle Sam is boldly sending the message that he’s coming to town. Washington’s objective is to build a Cold War-style security ring around China by deepening military partnerships with American allies in Southeast Asia, while broadening its capacity to police vital trade and energy chokepoints.