Press Statement on the visit of Benigno Aquino to France

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17 September 2014

On the 17th of September, Philippine president Benigno Aquino III has visited Paris, in the larger context of a trip to four European countries – Spain, Belgium, France and Germany.

In an attempt to ensure international support for his government’s future plans he has met up with Francois Hollande and Emmanuel Valls. He also passed by the chapel Sainte-Bernadette and the Embassy of the Philippines. According to official statements Aquino’s goals in France are to dialogue with the Filipino community, bilateral discussions with France’s government and the signing of the “Philippines-France Defense Cooperation Agreement”.

He also wants to thank France for its support to the victims of cyclone “Yolanda” or “Haiyan” This seems to be a usual, harmless official visit, yet put into context there is another image that presents itself.

It is a fact that the money European countries raised to help the victims of the storm has at a large scale never reached the victims themselves. It has disappeared, although when it reappears, it does in the form of pork barrels or on private bank accounts of the Aquino-Clan and its close friends which is not hard to understand, knowing that Aquino, in his position as president of the Philippines, has direct and absolute control over public funds.

There is still over 15.000 people living in tent camps because their houses were not rebuilt after the storm and there are many farmers, whose harvests were destroyed and who did not get one centavo of help, to overcome their misery, not to talk about the general population. Under those terms it is cynic of B.S. Aquino to thank France for its help, like a bank robber who thanks the director of the bank he robbed for his kindness and compassion.

As well it is a slap in the face of all the Filipinas and Filipinos working overseas because it is them who actually helped the cyclone victims, by sending money to the Philippines for that they worked hard in foreign countries. That by itself would legitimize protest and resistance against Aquino and his government, but there is worse!

In the recent past Aquino has announced plans to extend his presidential term by modifying the constitution, although in the history of the Philippines there has already been one dictator that started his bloody and cruel reign by doing exactly that – giving himself a longer term.

Today, this seems to be any dictator-to-be’s method of choice to start out his career. Internationally there could be negative reactions to those political developments, therefore Aquino checks and measures his allies’ reactions in the forehand to avoid a critical loss of international support during his way to absolute power. As well there is no lack of preparation to militarily oppress protest movements. With the signing of the “Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” U.S. Troops can now be stationed on the Philippines in higher numbers and on a larger horizontal scale. The planned signing of the “France-Philippines Defense Cooperation Agreement”, including arms deals, logistical and educational support adds up to the overall accelerating militarization under the Aquino government.

Finally, in the last years, international human rights organizations have documented a fast growing number of human rights violations, from extrajudicial killings and torture to illegal detention. This development can and has to be seen as a possible preparation of the Aquino-Clan to defend itself against a growing Filipino opposition.

Due to those reasons we are calling upon all Filipino migrants in France and elsewhere to organize themselves to oppose this government. Righteously so, Aquino calls his government ‘daang matuwid’ because it leads straight into dictatorship and misery.

We are not powerless, even overseas. If there is a strong opposition against Aquino in the European countries, he will probably lose international support, which would make a big difference to the Philippines’ political development and to the Philippines’ history that will be written in the years to come.

As a start, we staged a protest yesterday at the Chapel “Sainte Bernadette” – speaking out loudly against corruption and human rights violations!

Signed:
Concerned Filipinos in France