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Briefing on Philippine initiatives for peace reaches Australia

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The Philippine Embassy in Australia hosted a series of forums held in Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne on February 1-4 to discuss the threats to the Philippine peace initiatives particularly from the CPP-NPA-NDF, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The invited Filipino community leaders and organisations in Australia 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). He was accompanied by three other AFP members.

As representative of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), Parlade told the Filipino community leaders in Australia that the “Filipinos overseas are among the Philippines’ best assets in propelling the country’s progress”.

Parlade, who is also Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command, led a delegation for a series of engagements with the Australian Government and Filipino community to provide updates on the current state of peace Initiatives in the Philippines.

“The Filipinos living abroad are our best assets in terms of highlighting our efforts to move our country forward,” Parlade said in a recent forum in Australia.

The roadshow is part of different international engagements conducted to muster the support of Filipinos abroad and facilitate cooperation with the international community on how the curb the foreign financial scheme of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).

The invitation letter to the Filipino community leaders in Australia stated that the briefing will provide attendees, important updates on the peace initiative of the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte.

The forums, which were open to everyone including known communist-front organizations, discussed the current gains of the peace agenda based on the objectives of Executive Order Number 70 that created NTF ELCAC.

“We welcome everyone in this forum and we encourage an open and honest discussion on issues that affect the peace and development in our country,” Parlade said.

It can be recalled that Parlade was barred to talk and escorted out when he attended a forum titled “Weaponizing the Law: Silencing Opposition and Dissenters” organized by the National Union of People’s Lawyer and Movement Against Tyranny sometime in November 2019.

The NTF ELCAC team also appealed to the Filipinos in Australia to support the campaign to get rid of local communist armed conflict by helping address the black propaganda attack against the Philippine government by communist legal fronts abroad.

Discussions also delved on how members of the Australian academe can help provide a balanced narrative on national security issues and peace initiatives in the Philippines; and how they can help to establish a mechanism to monitor and stop the questionable flow of funds to CPP-NPA linked non-government organizations in the Philippines.

“Reaching out to them and telling them the real score of what is happening in our country is an important agenda in the ‘whole of nation’ initiative for a peaceful Philippines,” Parlade added.

Peace initiative briefing in Sydney | Photo credit: Philippine Consulate General Sydney
Peace initiative briefing in Sydney | Photo credit: Philippine Consulate General Sydney

Migrante Australia disgusted

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.

“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,” Migrante Australia said in a statement.

Migrant Australia further said that 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 ‘let’s 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,” Migrante Australia added.

According to Migrante Australia, 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,” Migrante Australia said.

“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 said.

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