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10 Years: Still Fighting for Justice for Melissa Roxas!

10 Years: Still Fighting for Justice for Melissa Roxas!

Who is Melissa?

Melissa Roxas was born in Manila, Philippines.  In 1986, the same year after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, Melissa was nine years old and migrated along with two siblings to Los Angeles to be reunited with her mother.  After graduating from high school in 1996, Melissa’s interest in community work, particularly in health care, manifested when she was a student at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  She had the intention of one day going to medical school. Melissa worked as a community health youth organizer with Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), in Los Angeles, where she facilitated workshops on tobacco prevention, and promoted health and well-being.   A gifted writer, Roxas’ body of poetry and creative writing earned her such accolades as a fellowship with PEN USA Rosenthal Emerging Voices and a fellowship with Kundiman for two consecutive years. Melissa also co-founded Habi Ng Kalinangan, or Habi Arts, a Los Angeles-based Filipino cultural organization dedicated to promoting community empowerment and progressive social change.  

State-Sponsored Violence

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the abduction and disappearance of Melissa Roxas, a Filipina American, health worker, poet, and human rights activist.  Melissa was participating in a medical mission in Tarlac, Philippines on May 19, 2009 when she was abducted and tortured for six days in a military camp by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).  Massive public outcry from the Philippines, United States, and across the world led to her release on May 25, 2009. Since then she has filed her case with the Department of Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, Commission on Human Rights, filed complaints with the US State Department and United Nations, testified at the 2015 International People’s Tribunal and spoken out on major media outlets demanding justice for her and all victims of state-sponsored violence in the Philippines.

Activism is Not a Crime

Under then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the AFP ramped up its counter-insurgency program called Oplan Bantay Laya I & II, a program in which the US provided millions of US tax dollars to give funding, training, and direction to the AFP in an attempt to eliminate the ongoing revolutionary struggle in the Philippines.  The Philippine military is one of the largest US military aid recipients for counterinsurgency, but this counterinsurgency program only led to a crackdown on activists like Melissa Roxas who were doing humanitarian work with the most impoverished communities. According to human rights group Karapatan, there were 1,206 extrajudicial killings and 204 enforced disappearances under Arroyo’s presidency.  Since 2009, President Arroyo has not been held accountable for Melissa’s ordeal or other human rights violations on her bloody track record; instead, President Duterte has even gone so far as to dismiss corruption cases against Arroyo and promote her as House Speaker.

The US-Duterte Regime

Ten years later under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ power and influence has only expanded with most of Duterte’s cabinet filled with AFP military officials.  Despite the numerous cases and clear evidence of the AFP carrying out brutal harassment, illegal arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings, and violence against women, children, and indigenous people, Duterte continues to direct and support the AFP’s dirty work by promoting officials and increasing their salaries.  While the number of human rights violations under Duterte continue to soar beyond 29,000, we see little hope for true justice for Melissa and other human rights victims especially under this violent fascist administration.

The only way we can see true justice for Melissa and victims of state-sponsored violence is to get rid of the rotting semi-colonial and semi-feudal system that emboldens human rights violators such as Arroyo, Duterte, and the AFP. We demand justice for Melissa and an end to the culture of impunity and state-sponsored violence.  The victims, survivors, and their families of the ‘desaparecidos,’ or disappeared, long for genuine change, justice, and healing. Only through revolutionary struggle and people power can we achieve lasting change in the Philippines and hold perpetrators of state violence accountable.

 

Justice for Melissa Roxas! Activism is Not a Crime!

Justice for All Victims of State-Sponsored Violence in the Philippines!

Cut All US Military and Police aid to the Philippines!

 

Learn more about Melissa:  justiceformelissa.org

 

JOIN THE SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK OF ACTION

#10YearsNoJustice   #Justice4Melissa #ActivismIsNotACrime

 

JOIN US!

  • Event: Justice for Melissa 10 Year Anniversary May 25, 5:30PM at 425 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA

POST IT!

  • Make Justice for Melissa graphic your Facebook profile pic and update your status with: “10 years ago, Melissa was abducted – May 19, 2009. Join BAYAN USA in demanding justice for all victims of Human Rights Violations and publicize the International People’s Tribunal Verdict.”
  • Share the BAYAN USA statement: “10 Years: Still Fighting for Justice for Melissa!”

BE CREATIVE!

TAKE A PHOTO/VIDEO!

SPEAK OUT!

  • Record and post a video message of solidarity to Melissa and all victims of human rights violations.
  • Share Melissa Roxas’ story featured on Kababayan Today: Open Letter Part 1 & part 2

Widespread Cheating: Duterte Uses Elections for Power Grab

The widespread fraud and systemic voter disenfranchisement that plagued yesterday’s elections in the Philippines exposed an ugly truth: in a system that favors the ruling elite at its core, elections will be used as a tool to strengthen conditions of tyranny. In order for the masses of Filipino people to ever participate in free and honest elections, we must start with ousting the festering US-Duterte regime.

In addition to age-old political dynasties buying their way through this election, as expected Duterte used all the dirty tools in his arsenal to ensure outcomes that favor him: spending government funds to support candidates from his cabinet including generals from Operation Tokhang that led the campaign to kill more than 30,000 people from urban poor communities; using police officers to distribute fake newspapers that accused progressive candidates and partylists of being communist fronts; texting of death threats to members and supporters of opposition candidates; and armed intimidation of voters and volunteers at polling places. With more of his loyalists taking office in the Senate, Duterte can ensure his implementation of a perpetual war on the people, leading to more extrajudicial killings and human rights violations of thousands of urban poor, peasant farmers and indigenous people. With the House and Senate in his pocket, Duterte is positioning himself to stack up enough votes to railroad charter change (or cha-cha) to remove term limits for the presidency, solidifying his fascist dictatorship over the Philippines, much like his idol, Ferdinand Marcos did in 1972.

There is too much at stake to allow these elections to pass without protest. Just as people rose up to remove a fascist dictator like Marcos in 1986, we too must rise up, join with the broad masses of people angered by the sham democratic process of elections, and throw Duterte out. And then, we must continue building our power to usher in genuine lasting change that uproots the rotting semi-feudal and semi-colonial system altogether, and moves the Philippines towards a socialist system that upholds national sovereignty, invests in sustainable national industries and agrarian reform, and provides living wages and ample employment for all people.

Never again to Martial Law!

End US Support to the Duterte Regime!

No to Charter Change!

Oust Duterte!

BAYAN-USA Honors International Workers’ Day Calling on Workers to Unite against Duterte’s Rising Fascism

For Immediate Release

May 1, 2019

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, chair@bayanusa.org

BAYAN-USA Honors International Workers’ Day Calling on

Workers to Unite against Duterte’s Rising Fascism

On International Workers’ Day, BAYAN-USA marches in step with the workers of the Philippines and around the world in resistance to imperialism and tyranny. In the face of spreading global fascism and worsening poverty, workers are at the forefront of people’s’ movements that are strengthening, forging unity and rising up for liberation.

The US-Duterte regime continues its quest to consolidate a dictatorship through the outright oppression and repression of the poor and working masses. Any facade of an effective constitutional liberal democracy has been completely torn at the seams as Duterte ravages the Philippines with his fascist wars on the people that have led to more than 30,000 extrajudicial killings, trumped up charges, illegal detention, rampant corruption, militarism and martial law.

These measures are most of all hurting workers who bear the brunt of anti-people policies like the Rice Tarification law and the TRAIN law, a policy that lowers the consumer purchasing power of everyday people. As the ultimate sellout, Duterte has not only betrayed his campaign promise of ending contractualization of workers, but he also vowed to take on more unequal foreign loans that chain the Philippines as a debt colony of China; these loans impose unequal conditions tied to the aid, such as the requirement of the use of Chinese workers who are being exploited by Chinese contractors for Duterte’s “Build Build Build” projects such as the PH-China Chico River Pump Irrigation Contract, while more than 22% of Filipinos remain jobless. The economic conditions in the Philippines have created one of the largest diasporas in the world, with more than 6,500 Filipinos leaving the country everyday to look for jobs overseas, while the Duterte regime absorbs the over $33 billion in hard earned remittances overseas Filipinos send back home to their families.

Meanwhile, the conditions of migrants and workers in the United States continue to worsen from within the belly of the imperialist beast. Alongside other migrants, Filipinos face discrimination, poverty wages, unstable work schedules, cuts in benefits, and a lack of job security.  Even worse, the Duterte administration leaves Filipino migrants to fend for themselves vulnerable to labor trafficking schemes and Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.

Despite all of this, Filipinos across the United States and around the world are rising up in growing numbers to fight back against Duterte’s rotten dictatorship and join the call for national democracy in the Philippines.  We urge our members and community to stay vigilant in demanding an end to US-backed state repression and human rights violations in the Philippines. We amplify the call to oust Duterte and to cut all forms of US support to his regime.  We stand in solidarity with oppressed workers, migrants, and refugee communities clamoring for liberation, from the U.S. to their homelands around the globe. We call on all people to join the United People’s State of the Nation actions across the U.S. to be held on July 22, 2019.

 

End Contractualization! Junk the TRAIN law!

Unite to Oust the Fascist Duterte Regime!

Workers of the World Unite! Struggle for Socialism!


 

 

 

 

Over 250 People Stage Die-In and Rally at Philippine Embassy in Washington DC to Call for the Ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines

Over 250 People Stage Die-In and Rally at Philippine Embassy in Washington DC to Call for the Ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines

Over 250 Filipinos and allies from across the U.S. rallied in front of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. yesterday, in a protest organized by BAYAN-USA that brought together people from multiple generations, political views, and organizations calling for the ouster of President Duterte. Protesters expressed their outrage at the deteriorating social and economic conditions of the Philippines, as well as the Duterte government’s increasingly violent repression against government critics, human rights defenders, and grassroots people particularly among the poor. Fourteen people staged a die-in at the gates of the Embassy, to symbolize the 14 peasants and farmers killed by the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in a joint “anti-criminality” operation in Negros Island.

“We’re here in front of the Philippine Embassy to say the U.S.-backed Duterte regime must go!” shouted rally co-emcee Nina Macapinlac, Deputy Secretary General of BAYAN-USA. “Duterte is responsible for the murders of 30,000 people under the drug war and 230 people whose only crime is standing up for their rights. His taxes under the TRAIN law are starving the poor, and his trade agreements with China are selling-out Philippine sovereignty. Duterte must be ousted!”

The rally culminated in a militant march from the main Embassy Building to an adjunct building of the Embassy, where the Ambassador was in attendance at an event. Protestors again staged a die-in at the steps of the building, calling for justice for the “Negros 14” farmers, followed by a noise barrage lasting several minutes.  They also demanded Ambassador Romualdez to “show his face” and answer questions about the human rights violations, martial law in Mindanao, and fascist counter-insurgency programs of the administration that are targeting human rights defenders for assassination or detention on trumped up charges.

Speakers at the rally included leaders from the Philippines Raymond Palatino, Chair of BAYAN Metro Manila, and Ed Cubelo, President of Kilusang Mayo Uno Metro Manila, who are conducting a speaking tour in various cities throughout the U.S. Palatino and Cubelo called attention to the repression being meted out on activists, workers and labor leaders, including those being targeted for their union organizing efforts. Andre Powell, with the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, and Pamela Brubaker, an activist and professor of religion and ethics, both cited the strong solidarity movement against the Marcos dictatorship during the 1980s and pledged to help build a similar solidarity movement to oust Duterte now. Bernadette Herrera, Chair of Migrante USA, railed against the economic policies of the Duterte administration, demanding an end to such policies that drive up prices, drive down wages, and force thousands of Filipinos to leave their families behind and migrate abroad to find work. Angelica Lim with Gabriela USA described the myriad ways that Duterte has made life for much worse for women in the Philippines, from implementing policies that increase poverty for families to fostering a culture of impunity among police and the military, who are encouraged by Duterte himself to commit acts of rape and violence against women.

The rally ended with chants of “Sino, sino, sino ang terorista? Ang U.S., Duterte–sila ang terorista! (Who is, who is the terrorist? US-Duterte are the terrorists!)” and “Duterte-mismo Babagsak! (Take Down Duterte!).”

The rally was conducted following the first day of the three-day National Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in Washington D.C.

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