I want to tell you about something terrible that happened in the Philippines last week. Let me introduce you to Chad, on the left.
Chad Booc studied Computer Science (CS) and graduated with honors from the University of the Philippines in 2016. He could have worked for a tech company and made lots of money. But he chose to leave a life of comfort. He went to the countryside (CS) to serve his people. From CS to CS.
Chad chose to go out to the Lumad indigenous peoples who have been under attack for centuries because of the vast mineral wealth of their lands. Chad chose to become a teacher in the Lumad schools, which Philippine President Duterte threatened to bomb in press conferences.
Chad knew that serving the Lumads and advocating for their rights was dangerous and difficult. He did it anyway. Last year, he was jailed on false charges. The charges were eventually dropped and his name was cleared. This is a tactic of the Philippine state – false arrests to clear activists off the streets and away from the people.
Last week, they finished that job.
Last week, Chad Booc was murdered along with 4 others by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The New Bataan 5 were shot and killed in cold blood.
The AFP has taken credit for the killing. They’re parading around images of the corpses as trophies. The AFP is claiming that their killing was an armed encounter in the context of the civil war in the Philippines. They’re claiming that killing Chad and his group of teachers and health volunteers was a military victory.
This is a dirty lie. They were civilians. This was a war crime. The US-funded, armed, and trained Armed Forces of the Philippines is guilty of countless crimes against the Filipino people. This is only the newest one.
I hope it enrages you. I hope it moves you to join us, in the calls to stop military aid to the Philippine state and in the calls for justice for the New Bataan 5. I hope you will hold vigils in their honor. I hope you will join the movement.
My photos are on the right. Chad’s story resonated with me. I graduated with a degree in physics. I was swept into the Philippine movement for national and social liberation, the National Democratic movement.
In 2019, I left my tech job to spend four short weeks in the Philippine countryside. I immersed with and learned from the people’s struggle in Negros Island, a place where land ownership monopoly is used to oppress and exploit millions of peasants. I learned so much in four weeks.
I want to inspire more people to go to the Philippines, make those connections, and tell these stories.
If you are looking for something to do about this, you can share and donate to the memorial fund.
And you can join our organization, where we organize similar exposure trips to the Philippines.