APS thanks you for support in 2015 – looks forward to a great 2016

Auckland people surge

2015 was a busy year for APS.  We hosted Dr Efleda Bautista of People Surge on a New Zealand speaking tour.  She was able to build up links with communities across New Zealand.  Audiences were shocked by her account of government neglect and abuses in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

We thank everyone who supported our activities last year.  Keep a watch out for more APS activities in 2016.

Aquino’s Final Chance for Action on Killings and Political Prisoners

Earlier this week Auckland Philippines Solidarity sent the following letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Sadly political prisoner Eduardo Serrano died yesterday at 8:10am Philippine time, while receiving treatment following a heart attack.  The tragic death of Mr Serrano, after being aquitted by several courts of trumped up charges, simply reiterates the need for the Philippine government to free all political prisoners.


Aquino’s final chance for action on killings and political prisoners

The Aquino Administration risks being remembered as a failure on the issues of human rights, peace and development unless action is taken to end Lumad killings and free political prisoners.

In recent months the horrific murder of Lumads by state backed paramilitary groups in Mindanao has received international condemnation.   Last September 1st the Magahat-Bagani Group, a state backed paramilitary group, murdered Emerito Samarca, director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development; Dionel Campos, a leader of a Lumad organisation and his cousin Datu Juvillo Sinzo.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uses brutal groups like the Magahat-Bagani as part of their counter-insurgency programme.  Aquino should use his final months in power to ensure state backed paramilitaries, including Magahat-Bagani, are finally disbanded and no longer given state support.

Furthermore, we call on President Aquino to grant amnesty to political prisoners languishing on trumped up charges in jails around the country.  Of particular concern is the case of Eduardo Serrano, a consultant to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.  Mr Serrano has been detained in Camp Crame since 2004, on multiple charges of murder, frustrated murder and kidnapping.  Recently the Quezon City Regional Trial Court ordered his immediate release noting he was originally arrested on a warrant intended for the arrest of another man wanted on those charges.

Sadly Serrano is yet to be released.  He faces outstanding trumped up charges filed in other regional trial courts.  On December 16th he suffered a heart attack while in custody.  For the sake of both justice and his health Mr Serrano should be released.

During his Administration, human rights advocates from Australia and New Zealand have continuously appealed to President Aquino for the release of political prisoners and an end to extrajudicial killings.   Now in his final months in office there is still time for action on these important issues.

Speaking tour this October: In the Eye of the Storm: Disaster Politics and Climate Change in the Philippines

Migrante NZ Tour Poster Draft for Fina (1)

In the Eye of the Storm: Disaster Politics and Climate Change In the Philippines

Dr Efleda Bautista, of People Surge, speaking tour New Zealand: 12th to 17th October 2015

In November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in recorded history, crashed into the Philippines killing more than 6300 people and displacing millions.  In the aftermath of the devastating storm, the Philippine government failed to adequately distribute tens of millions of aid donated from overseas countries to typhoon survivors.  Big developers used the chaos as an opportunity to grab lands previously occupied by fisher folk and poor communities.

Typhoon survivors formed an alliance called ‘People Surge’ to protest government neglect and demand pro-people rehabilitation. People Surge highlighted calls for land rights for the poor as key in solving mass poverty and consequent people’s vulnerability to disasters and effects of climate change.

A recent report of the Asian Development Bank noted that Haiyan drove more Filipinos into extreme hardship of living on less than $1.25 a day. They are now exposed to greater vulnerabilities from another extreme weather event.

To mark the second year after  Haiyan, Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) and the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) will host the convenor of People’s Surge, Dr Efleda Bautista, for a speaking tour of New Zealand.

She will talk about the struggles of typhoon survivors for justice and how aid international aid, including that from New Zealand, was distributed.

Dr Bautista’s visit provides an opportunity to hear directly from someone at the forefront of struggle for climate justice and against disaster capitalism.

Tour schedule


12 October, 7:30pm Addington Haven

19 Church Square, Addington

Hosted by Philippine Solidarity Network of Aotearoa


14 October, 6:30pm

Hall No. 1 Wesley Wellington Parish

75 Taranaki Street, Wellington

Hosted by Wellington Kiwi Pinoy


16 October, 6-8pm

Algie Lecture Theatre, University of Auckland Law School

Building 801, 9 Eden Crescent, Auckland

Hosted by Auckland Philippines Solidarity

Auckland Filipino community meeting

17 October 3-5pm 

Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall

13 May Road, Mt Roskill,

(hosted by Migrante Aotearoa and Leyte-Samar NZ Solidarity)

New Zealand and Australian human rights defenders call for freedom for political prisoner Miradel Torres

24 July 2015


SONA 2015 Urgent Plea from Women of NZ, Australia to Aquino: FREE MIRADEL TORRES & BABY KARL, FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS


In an open letter, twenty-five (25) rights defenders including 17 women’s rights advocates from various groups along with leaders of solidarity organisations in Australia and New Zealand sent urgent plea for Philippine government to release unjustly detained women activists especially Miradel Torres, a young mother separated from her 8-month old son.

“MIRADEL TORRES is a COMMUNITY ACTIVIST and a MOTHER, NOT a MURDERER. Clearly, the case of Torres, a member of women’s advocacy group GABRIELA who was arrested on fabricated murder charge while she was heavily pregnant, is one of the outstanding reasons why the recent International People’s Tribunal held in Washington DC declared the Philippine government GUILTY of gross and systematic violations of human rights,” May Kotsakis of the Philippine Caucus for Peace stated. GABRIELA – Australia along with immigrant women associations and Philippines-Australia solidarity groups endorsed the letter sent today to Pres. Aquino, the Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights.

From New Zealand, signatories include Laila Harré, Former Minister of NZ Women’s Affairs, Catherine Delahunty, Member of Parliament, Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand.  Two filmmakers Dean Hapeta and Abi King-Jones also endorsed the letter in light of the detention of filmmaker Maricon Montajes from the University of the Philippines, currently the youngest of all the 528 political prisoners in the Philippines.

“We send this letter to convey a message to the Aquino government that the world is watching and continues to support the quest for freedom for all Filipinos unjustly detained for their political beliefs,” Helen Te Hira of Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) stated.

The letter urges Pres. Aquino: “In the name of justice and humanitarian grounds, we urge you to declare presidential amnesty for all political prisoners as part of your State of the Nation Address.  We believe this will be a great honour for your father and a golden opportunity to leave a legacy of meaningful change towards the final year of your administration.”

Full text of letter follows.


Helen Te Hira                                                     May Kotsakis

Auckland Philippines Solidarity, NZ           Philippine Caucus for Peace

ph.solidarity@gmail.com                              maykotsakis@yahoo.com.au

Mobile: +64 0272445764

Political prisoner Miradel Torres with her baby Karl.

Political prisoner Miradel Torres with her baby Karl.

24 July 2015

Open Letter to Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III from Australia and New Zealand


We are mothers, women’s rights advocates and concerned citizens in Australia and New Zealand. We are greatly disturbed that serious human rights breaches continue to affect many women and children in the Philippines.  In particular we are very concerned about the plight of a women’s rights activist and young mother MIRADEL TORRES (27) who was arrested on trumped-up murder charge in June 2014 while she was four months pregnant and suffering threatened miscarriage from profuse bleeding. Upon giving birth this year, Miradel struggled to breastfeed and keep her baby safe from highly infectious diseases within the prison conditions.

We lament that a recent court decision required her baby Karl to be separated from her as soon as the baby turned 6 months. Keeping Miradel in detention means depriving her of opportunity to bond with her baby in the crucial first years. It is so sad for this young mother to be condemned to a life of missed birthdays and other important milestones in family life – a fate that has been suffered by over 500 political prisoners around the country. We cry out for freedom and justice for Miradel and baby Karl. Likewise we cry for freedom and justice for other sisters in unjust detention on trumped-up charges, including:

  • ANDREA ROSAL – Arrested while pregnant, Andrea was denied proper medical care while in prison and her baby girl died shortly after birth.
  • MARICON MONTAJES – The youngest political prisoner in the Philippines, Maricon is a journalist and film maker from the University of the Philippines who was integrating with rural poor for a film project. She was shot during a military raid then detained soon after hospitalization.
  • SHARON CABUSAO – A sister in the women’s rights and trade union movement, Sharon was arrested along with her husband and another companion.

Mr. President, we remember on your visit to Australia and New Zealand in 2012, you declared that the Philippines’ human rights situation has greatly improved when you assumed power. But the fate of Miradel, Andrea, Maricon, Sharon and many others who have been unjustly separated from their families show otherwise.  There are now 528 political prisoners and there have been 238 extra-judicial killings under your watch, as of 30 March 2015 report of the local human rights group Karapatan.

You often spoke about your family’s sacrifices when your own father was incarcerated during the Marcos dictatorship. Your nephews and nieces are lucky to have the love of your sisters around them. Please let Miradel enjoy her right to be with her baby too. In the name of justice and humanitarian grounds, we urge you to declare presidential amnesty for all political prisoners as part of your State of the Nation Address.  We believe this will be a great honour for your father and a golden opportunity to leave a legacy of meaningful change towards the final year of your administration.




Helen Te Hira

Auckland Philippines Solidarity

Catherine Delahunty

Women’s Rights Advocate & Member of Parliament, Green Party Aotearoa NZ

Laila Harré

Former Minister, NZ Women’s Affairs

Rev. Dr. Carolyn Kelly

Chaplain, Maclaurin Chapel, The University of Auckland

Matilde Tayawa-Figuracion, Justice of the Peace

Co-Founder, Wellington Women Walk for Peace

Belinda Bonzon-Liu

Co-Founder, Wellington Women Walk for Peace

Jane Kelsey

Professor of Law, University of Auckland

Gillian Southey

Christian World Service

Maxine Gay

Retail and Finance Secretary, FIRST Union

Abi King-Jones
NZ Filmmaker

Dean Hapeta aka Te Kupu

NZ Filmmaker

Rev. Chris Sullivan

Justice and Peace Group, St Mark’s Pakuranga

Murray Horton

Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa

Rod Prosser

Wellington Kiwi Pinoy


May Kotsakis

Philippine Caucus for Peace

Angelita Ladera

Chairperson-Gabriela Australia

Carmelita Baltazar

Chairperson, Gabriela Western Australia

Lina Cabaero

Coordinator – Asian Women at Work

Jane Corpuz-Brock

Executive Officer – Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association

Malou Logan, Coordinator

PACIN (Philippines Australia Cultural Interaction Network)

Stephanie Rabusa

Chairperson – Anakbayan (Patriotic Youth Alliance of the Philippines)

Peter Brock

Chairperson – APDP (Australian Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines)

George Kotsakis

Chairperson, Migrante Australia

Peter Murphy

Secretary-PAUL (Philippines Australia Union Link)

Andrew Morrison

Co-Chairperson-PASA (Philippines Australia Solidarity Association)

Cc: Department of Justice, Commission on Human Rights

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women

APS letter to Philippine Daily Inquirer on killings of people’s activists

Yesterday a letter from Auckland Philippines Solidarity was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer calling for an end to state sponsored killings of people’s activists.  According, to the Philippine human rights group, Karapatan 238 people’s activists have been murdered since President Aquino came to power in 2010.

Documentary about indigenous schools in Mindanao: Save Our Schools Campaign

A short documentary about some of the indigenous schools in Mindanao APS is fundraising to purchase books for.

APS appeal for Lumad children’s book


10 March 2015

“In the mountains of Mindanao, Philippines, thousands of children walk through kilometers of mountain road to go to school. They bear the scorching heat, cross swollen rivers, and traverse landslides, if only to learn how to read, write and count.”


Dear Friends

Warm greetings from Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS)!

APS is a group of New Zealanders engaged in campaigns for human rights, justice and peace in the Philippines. In the aftermath of massive destruction brought by typhoons Haiyan and Bopha, APS also supported the fundraising efforts of Filipino community group Migrante Aotearoa.

Particularly in Mindanao, the southern island of the Philippines, groups such as the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) have on-going recovery efforts for indigenous communities hardly reached by government support – many of these communities suffered not only the wrath of typhoons but worse, the large scale plunder and destruction of open pit mining and development aggression.

APS is therefore supporting the Save Our Schools (SOS) campaign of the RMP. Part of this campaign is the endeavour to produce “Birang: Stories of Lumad Heroes” – a project of KALUMARAN (Strength of Indigenous People in Mindanao, a children’s book for Lumad children.  APS enjoins New Zealanders to take part in this project. For as low as NZ$6.50, we can help make difference to a child’s life. We appeal for pledges to share the gift of “Birang” to more Lumad children. Your pledges can go a long way to support:

*1 child PhP 210 NZ$ 6.50

* 1 classroom PhP 4,200 NZ$ 130

* 1 grade level PhP 42,000 NZ$ 1,310

* 1 school PhP 105,000 NZ$ 3,280

For a glimpse of the book project kindly check the attached file.

You may transfer donations through our BNZ account: Philippines Solidarity 02-0208-0062905-001.  Reference: Birang book Mindanao

Thank you so much for your generous support.




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