4 February 2020

Statement on the peace briefing by NTF-ELCAC in Melbourne

Migrante Australia came out of the meeting organised by the newly opened Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne disgusted and deceived by the real intention of the community briefing.

The Filipino community leaders and organisations became the captive audience of Major General Antonio Parlade Jr, the newly appointed chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) and who was previously the chief of staff for civil-military operations, J7. He was accompanied by 3 other AFP members.

The briefing was about the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) which – in its own words “aims to implement an efficient mechanism and structure for the whole-of nation approach to end the aspiration of the Filipino people to attain inclusive and sustainable peace”.

From Europe, the NTF has now come to Australia in its frantic attempt to discredit organisations that are exposing the issues and crimes of the Duterte regime. The NTF spread lies, attack critics of the Duterte government and red-tag organisations such as Migrante Australia and other civil society groups opposing Duterte’s anti-people policies and activities.

The invitation letter stated that the briefing will provide attendees, important updates on the peace initiative of the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte. While it was a surprising effort, Migrante Australia nonetheless saw the importance of such an initiative especially as peace talks is a concern for every Filipino including migrant Filipinos who continue to be affected by the state of unpeace in the Philippines. Hence, its attendance to the briefing.

Once again, the “briefing” proves the Duterte government’s insincerity and lack of seriousness in tackling the issue of peace especially its root causes. If it was serious, the government should have not cancelled the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and should refrain from its off and on “lets resume the talks” innuendos. The Filipino people has been longing for peace – and peace is not just about laying down arms – it is really about addressing genuine land reform and national industrialisation to create jobs so that Filipinos like us do not need to leave our families and seek employment abroad.

Diehard Duterte henchmen like General Parlade are not capable of engaging and holding a decent, factual conversation with any genuine freedom loving Filipino. The attitude they showed today at the briefing is exactly the same one they extended to Renato Reyes Jr, General Secretary of BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) at a forum in Melbourne on the 1st of February. These anti-peace mouthpieces of Duterte openly accused Migrante and its allied organisations as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) and as terrorists.

Parlade and his entourage of military coronels and majors are using public money that is meant to improve the lives of the people, to go around the world spreading lies and red-tagging community organisations critical of and voicing opposition to the Philippine government. In a time when financial resources are needed for victims of Taal Volcano eruption and for ensuring public health against the nCoV, here is the NTF wasting taxpayers’ money on red tagging junkets

Parlade in his presentation, treated the audience like they were stupid and ignorant who knew nothing about the situation in the Philippines. Several community leaders questioned Parlade and told him that members of Migrante and Gabriela and other organisations are not ignorant and will not standby and allow them to continue with their agenda to destroy the organisations that advocate and fight for migrants’ rights and welfare.

Migrante Australia has a track record of advocacy, welfare and support to Filipino migrants in Australia. They do all these with no compensation nor reward. Their members use their own time, resources and efforts in conducting welfare assistance, advocacy and campaign to better the conditions of migrants here especially the workers and students under temporary visas.

+++No amount of red tagging will stop Migrante Australia from defending the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and fighting for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines, Australia and anywhere in the world where exploitation and oppression exist. ##

Migrante Australia

P O Box 606, Laverton 3028, Australia

Contacts: Mel – 0414 247154 (WA); Danny – 0452 667244 (Vic); Bong – 0410 632707 (NSW); Edwin – 0409 461600 (NSW);

Raul – 0425 796901 (Vic); Lina – 0407 841010 (NSW); Butch – 0413 041514 (Vic); Manny – 0404 105899 (NSW)