Author: admin

We Stand with the Family of Akai Gurley and all Asian community organizations facing backlash for fighting racism & standing for justice

For Immediate Release

February 22, 2016

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN USA, vc@bayanusa.org

Message to Peter Liang Defenders

If defenders of NYPD Officer Peter Liang had their way in the Philippines, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos might still be president, and the Filipino cops Jude Siapno and Chuck Mabanag of the notorious Oakland Riders might still be officers on the streets of West Oakland. The logic of Liang apologists seems to say that Liang should be defended by Asian Americans because he is Asian American.  

Does being the same race and ethnicity somehow earn unquestioning loyalty by others of the same race and ethnicity?

Marcos was Filipino and “doing his job” as president of the Philippines, but that didn’t stop him from jailing, torturing and murdering thousands of innocent Filipinos. Siapno and Mabanag were “doing their jobs” as police officers when they planted evidence and beat up innocent people to meet police quotas and advance their careers.

Protests to defend Liang are at best misguided and at worst a dangerous tool meant both to divert us from the issue of police accountability and to divide black and Asian communities.

Let’s forge unity based on genuine shared interests. In the case of Peter Liang, BAYAN-USA believes that our shared interest lies in unity with the family of Akai Gurley, with anti-racist Asian community organizations tirelessly standing for real justice such as CAAAV and #API4BlackLives, #BlackLivesMatter, and black people fighting for self-determination—not with a cop who was working for the interests of the U.S. security state in the service of U.S. imperialism.

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 20 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth. As the first and largest international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist and progressive Filipinos in the U.S.  For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.

 

On the First Anniversary of the Mamasapano Incident: BAYAN-USA Hits FBI with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to Uncover Truth About FBI’s Role in Massacre of Filipinos

“Over 60 Filipinos died and witnesses also saw the body of an American at the covert U.S.-designed Mamasapano operation one year ago, yet the U.S. has still not come clean about the extent of its role in the carnage. We are filing this Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI because the Filipino and American people have the right to know the full truth about this botched mission,” stated BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin.

The U.S.-funded and orchestrated anti-terrorism operation “Operation Exodus” targeting alleged terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir aka “Marwan” occurred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in the Philippines on January 25, 2015, sending commandos of the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) into territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), despite a ceasefire agreement and ongoing peace negotiations between the MILF and Philippine government at the time. The ensuing 12-hour battle resulted in the killing of seven civilians, 44 SAF forces, and 22 members of the MILF and BIFF. Involvement of multiple U.S. agencies including the FBI became clear as both Philippine government and civilian organizations investigated the operation. Official reports by the Philippine Bureau of Investigation and Senate cited the presence of six Americans at the Tactical Command Post for the mission, including an American who ordered a Philippine Major General to fire artillery. Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) Director Getulio Napenas admitted under sworn testimony that the tissue sample of alleged terrorist target Marwan was immediately brought by the SAF to American FBI agents waiting in General Santos City, bypassing PNP Headquarters or any other Philippine agency. Witnesses cited by the Philippine media also reported seeing among the dead the body of a white American male, who is believed to have been involved in the operation even though the Philippine Constitution prohibits the participation of foreign troops in military operations on Philippine soil. In November 2015, participants in BAYAN-USA’s Peace Mission went to Mamasapano, where they spoke with widows of MILF fighters who shared accounts of white soldiers being sighted in the encounter, further pointing to U.S. military involvement.

BAYAN-USA’s FOIA request asks for documentation pertaining to the FBI’s involvement in Operation Exodus, including:

  • internal or inter-agency correspondence between David Bowdich, the Assistant Director in charge of the FBI Los Angeles Field Office, and the PNP Director General Alan Purisima, SAF commander Director Getulio Napenas, or other Philippine authorities, pertaining to Marwan’s apprehension through the execution of Operation Plan Exodus;
  • manuals or guidelines used by agents of the U.S. in training PNP SAF to execute Operation Plan Exodus, or other similar operations with the aim of apprehending Marwan;
  • responses to requests from the Philippine government to assist in the evacuation of the dead and wounded in the aftermath of Operation Plan Exodus;
  • results of the evidentiary analysis done by the FBI Laboratory indicating the positive DNA identification of Marwan; and
  • provision of any monetary award to the PNP SAF, or other Philippine authorities in exchange for Marwan’s positive DNA identification, such as the $5 million reward that the U.S. State Department offered for Marwan’s arrest.

Full text of the FOIA request can be found here: http://bayanusa.org/foia.

“The U.S. has dodged accountability for the Mamasapano carnage and countless more military-related crimes against the Filipino people, but Obama and Aquino continue to push for the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. It is senseless to give the U.S. military increased access to Philippine territory for its war games, when it won’t even admit any wrongdoing in an American operation that resulted in the killing of so many people,” said Ellorin.

“When government agencies like the FBI refuse to willingly be transparent about their actions, the public has the responsibility to use FOIA requests and all the tools at our disposal to hold government to account,” said BAYAN-USA Legal Desk member Jackelyn Mariano. “In addition to requesting information from the FBI, BAYAN-USA plans to file FOIA requests with other agencies of the U.S. government, including the Navy and the Army, to exercise our right to know the full truth about the U.S. role in Mamasapano,” continued Mariano.

“Operation Exodus at Mamasapano clearly shows how the U.S. is carrying out its ‘War on Terror’ with no regard for the lives of Filipinos, whether combatants or civilians. It carries out its war on terror without regard for the national sovereignty of the countries where the alleged terrorists are supposedly hiding. In many countries, the U.S. employs drones to target so-called terrorists, often ending up killing civilians. We demand an investigation into the U.S. role in Operation Exodus and for the termination of agreements like the EDCA which embolden the U.S. to carry out violent, covert operations with impunity. We demand accountability for the lives lost and the violation of Philippine sovereignty,” ended Ellorin.

BAYAN USA will also send additional FOIA requests to the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Pacific Command regarding the Mamasapano Incident to maximize the opportunity to unearth information about U.S. intervention in the Philippines.

National Day of Action Against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement!

National Day of Action Against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement!

BAYAN USA Call-in Day - #JunkEDCA_Jan 21.2016-7

January 21, 2016

11 AM-5 PM EST

Call the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC to protest the implementation of the EDCA and demand its termination instead!

Who to call:

Office of the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. (ambassador@philippinesusa.org)

H.E. Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.

Tel: 202.467.9366

Sample script:

“I am _____, I am calling to express my outrage at the Aquino administration’s rush to implement the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).  The EDCA violates Philippine sovereignty and will result in the return of U.S. military bases, devastation of the environment, and more violence against Filipino people including women and children. I want Aquino to stand up for Philippine sovereignty by terminating the EDCA.”

Background:

In April 2014, the US and Philippine governments rushed to sign the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which grants the U.S. military greater access to and for an indeterminate length of time to military facilities, land, water and airspace in the Philippines, under the guise of “mutual benefit” and the cover of the pre-existing 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement. Aquino is now trying to rush the implementation of the EDCA, despite the fact that the Filipino masses are against U.S. military bases and the U.S. military’s continuing use of our country for war games, a nuclear weapons depot, military “rest and recreation,” and a launching pad for military aggression.

It was the Filipino people’s constant protest against the presence of U.S. bases in the Philippines for decades which pushed the Senate in 1991 to nullify the 1947 US-Philippines Military Bases Agreement.  We need to carry on that legacy by protesting this latest attack on Philippine sovereignty now!

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Neoliberalism 2016: State of Crisis, Mass Deception, & the Need for Mass Movement in the US

 

master

For Immediate Release

January 14, 2016

Reference: Berna Ellorin, BAYAN USA, chair@bayanusa.org

Obama’s most recent State of the Union Address once again paints a false picture of the US economic and political situation, employing mass deception to cover up a worsening global and national crisis that is burdening, and repressing, more and more Americans everyday.

By pushing and clinging onto the neoliberal economic paradigm both in foreign and domestic policy, the US-led ruling financial elite extract super-profits by worsening the crisis they created. The US remains the world’s largest and most powerful imperialist superpower and military aggressor, and despite Obama’s claim of a strong US economy, the American people suffer from chronic crisis wrought from neoliberalism.

Economic Crisis and Growing Inequality

Neoliberalism’s “market fundamentals” imposed by the Washington Consensus on developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia in the 1990’s imposed global economic integration by way of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. These have also increasingly become the basis for domestic economic policy in the US– creating super-profits for the US financial elite (aka the 1%), and raising the poverty line within US borders, debunking Obama’s claim that “middle-class economics works,” as the rich few accrue more wealth, and the majority fall into depression.

As of December 2015, the US external debt has reached $19 trillion. The US economy has further moved away from industrial production and become more reliant on financialization– essentially making profit out of putting more Americans in debt, most notably through predatory lending for mortgages, education, personal credit– privatization, and austerity to pull itself out but to no avail. Obama’s claim of a drop in unemployment to 5.5% in 2015 is artificial when it is actually at 9.6%, mainly because it excludes the tens of millions of Americans who are rapidly dropping out of the country’s labor force. Immigration policy is determined largely by the global labor market’s demands for cheap, flexible, and exploitable labor. Staple neoliberal practices of privatization and austerity mean unprecedented loss and lack of recovery of public-sector jobs. Exclusivity and wealth disparity, especially along racial and gender lines, are growing. According to a report released by the Urban Institute, white families on average have seven times the wealth of African American families and six times the wealth of Hispanic families.

Plain and simple, not everyone has a fair shot to “make it” in America. In fact, most don’t.

Neoliberalism is Militarism

Obama’s claims of aspiring to make technology work for us, especially in solving the climate crisis and wanting to keep America safe and lead the world without “becoming its policeman” are also misleading and problematic, particularly when it comes to neoliberalism’s push for hyper-militarism.

In both foreign and domestic policy, the US government continues to push for greater militarism. The US government spends more on military production and warfare than any other country in the world. Military production and defense spending dominated the 2015 federal budget at nearly USD 600 billion. In addition to funding and arming militaries and paramilitaries around the world, the US maintains nearly 800 military bases in over 70 countries. In 2014, the costs of US military intervention around the world cost US taxpayers approximately $100 billion. While creating the illusion of a unipolar world under US imperialism, more and more imperialist and advanced capitalist countries are looking to compete with and isolate US hegemony. The world is fed up with US domination and does not look to the US for leadership. Multi-polarity and competition amongst imperialist powers for markets, territories, and natural resources is a proven recipe for endless global warfare.

Within US borders, law enforcement is also hyper-militarized and hyper-aggressive, most notably the police and Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE). The impunity granted to militarized law enforcement to kill, arrest, attack, detain, and deport speaks directly to the profitability of criminalization, state brutality and repression, especially in the context of a white supremacist, racist, xenophobic, bigoted, enemy-fearing, and anti-immigrant society.

Furthermore, the Pentagon remains the largest user of petroleum products and energy in the world, yet remains exempt from international climate agreements. The US military and US war production remain one of the biggest perpetrators of the global climate crisis.

Another staple of neoliberalism is the push for so-called “free-trade agreements.” While 20 years of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) proved disastrous particularly for economies in Latin America, destroying agricultural industries, impoverishing and forcing tens of millions to migrate for survival, the secretly-negotiated, and much larger Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) grossly goes beyond the scope of international trade and commerce, but also stresses defense and security of US economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region, home to the largest market for US exports. This inadvertently pushes for greater US militarization in the Asia-Pacific region in order to secure US economic hegemony by way of a so-called “Pivot to Asia.”

Neoliberalism is Mass Incarceration

With the decline of the manufacturing sector due to outsourcing, the US financial elite has a found a multi-billion dollar cash cow in prison labor. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and The GEO Group are just two of the largest for-profit prison corporations that powerfully influence Washington D.C. to enact policies on aggressive criminalization and detention. In fact, many 2016 electoral candidates have direct ties or are supported by the private prison corporate lobby.

The US holds 25% of the world’s prisoners.  Approximately 13 million people are introduced to American jails in any given year, despite a decline in violent crime.  As the population behind bars increases, more and more corporations turn to prisoners  for cheap and/or free labor. These corporations include Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, Whole Foods, and American Airlines.

The massive raids, detentions, and deportations of immigrants and hyper-criminalization of youth of color, especially Black and Latino youth, by the Obama administration must be seen in this context super-profitable as well.

Under neoliberalism, Americans are neither safe nor secure nationally from climate change.

“Better Politics” Means System Change, Not Regime Change

Obama claims the future we want is in our reach, but US government policies have set us on a path to crisis after crisis. The rhetoric of “We the People” and “better politics” can only be genuinely actualized through united people’s struggle and mass movement that challenges the rule of financial oligarchy and corporate empire. This means active resistance to neoliberalism, the united front of workers and oppressed peoples, and the development of people’s alternatives and systems that put human welfare over profit in all spheres.

Around the world, people’s resistance to neoliberalism and US-led monopoly capitalism spreads and grows stronger in many forms, including strikes, protests, student walkouts, armed struggle, and divestments. As people impacted by neoliberalism domestically, Americans must also stand in solidarity and be one with these struggles globally. Only through system change can we reach the future we want. Only the people can make this happen.