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End State Repression in the Philippines! Surface the Disappeared!

For Immediate Release

August 30, 2015

Press Statement

Contact:  Nikole Cababa, Deputy Secretary-General, BAYAN USA,

End State Repression in the Philippines! Surface the Disappeared!

Bayan USA Statement on the International Day of the Disappeared

New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) and Ayotzinapa New York commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared (August 30, 2015)

New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) and Ayotzinapa New York commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared (August 30, 2015)

Today marks the anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared, initiated over three decades ago in order to shed light on state-sponsored violence and enforced disappearances around the world.  Enforced disappearances are defined as the deprivation of liberty for political reasons committed by or with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the state.  BAYAN USA joins the international community calling for the immediate surfacing of the disappeared and justice for all victims of human rights violations.

The human rights crisis in the Philippines under Aquino is a direct consequence of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, which as an integral part of U.S. foreign policy is applied in countries where the US has strategic interests. In the case of the Philippines, and many other poor countries, neoliberal economic policies are imposed at the expense of the lives and livelihood of the Filipino people. These policies have restructured the Philippine economic and political system to serve big foreign monopoly capital rather than provide for the people. This spurs strong peoples’ resistance and mass movement seeking sovereignty and liberation. In order to quell this movement and maintain the for-profit, neocolonial system, the Aquino government, as a neoliberal ruling system, must unleash state repression against those most critical of its policies.

State repression against activists in the Philippines is escalating as Aquino prepares to exit the presidency. Over the past 5 years, Aquino developed long track record of human rights violations, including over 27 cases of enforced disappearances, 238 cases of extrajudicial killings, 110 cases of torture, and 723 cases of illegal arrests and detention.  The Aquino government has failed to resolve the 2006 case of enforced disappearances of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, students of the University of the Philippines, and Jonas Burgos, agriculturalist and activist, despite last year’s arrest of General Jovito Palparan, widely known to be responsible for these abductions. Although Palparan has been in custody for nearly a year, justice and accountability for Cadapan, Empeno, Burgos and hundreds more of “The Butcher” Palparan’s victims is yet to be achieved in the Philippine courts.

This past May also marked the 6th year anniversary of the disappearance of Melissa Roxas, a Filipina American human rights activist and poet, who was abducted and tortured by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for six days and released only after waves of protests led by BAYAN in the Philippines and the U.S. garnered international attention.

BAYAN USA calls for the end of Oplan Bayanihan, a counter-insurgency plan modeled after the U.S. counter-insurgency guide of 2009 to quell rebellion and the ongoing civil war in the Philippines.  Oplan Bayanihan has not led to peace in the Philippines, but rather a growing number of militarized communities, displaced indigenous people, and the massacre of unarmed civilians.  According to human rights organization Karapatan, there were 11 victims of extrajudicial killings this month alone.  Oplan Bayanihan has been used to criminalize activism and target human rights advocates, faith leaders, civilians, and critics of the Aquino regime.

“Under Oplan Bayanihan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines are escalating their repression against activists with complete impunity as Aquino prepares to exit Malacanang. Human rights abusers are promoted and awarded for their crimes instead of being prosecuted and investigated.” said Rhonda Ramiro, Vice-Chair of BAYAN USA.

“Both the Aquino government and Obama government should be held accountable for these gross human rights violations because Oplan Bayanihan is modeled after the U.S. counterinsurgency manual and funded with U.S. tax dollars,” Ramiro continued.

BAYAN USA calls on the Philippine government to surface all victims of enforced disappearances and seek justice for their families and loved ones.  We call on the people of the U.S. to stand with the people of the Philippines by demanding our U.S. tax dollars not be funneled towards the Philippine military, which is culpable for the human rights crisis in the country.

Surface the Disappeared!

Justice for All Desaparecidos and All Victims of Human Rights Violations!

End State Repression! End Oplan Bayanihan!

No U.S. Military Aid to the Philippines!

End U.S. Counter-Insurgency! End Impunity!


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

Filipino Americans Call for Justice for Trafficked Filipino Bakery Workers in Southern California

For Immediate Release

August 18, 2015

Reference: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN USA,

Eleven Filipino bakery workers who have sued L'Amande French Bakery alleging labor exploitation include, from left, Fernan Belidhon, Elmer Genito, Romar Cunanan, Louise Luis, Gina Pablo and Ermita Alabado. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Eleven Filipino bakery workers who have sued L’Amande French Bakery alleging labor exploitation include, from left, Fernan Belidhon, Elmer Genito, Romar Cunanan, Louise Luis, Gina Pablo and Ermita Alabado. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Filipino Americans Call for Justice for Trafficked Filipino Bakery Workers in Southern California

BAYAN USA stands together with the 11 trafficked Filipino workers of L’Amande French Bakery in Beverly Hills and Torrance, California who are victims of human trafficking, labor violations, and retaliation by Analiza and Goncal Moitinho de Almeida, the owners of the business.  We call for justice for the workers and stand together with them as they continue to fight for their rights, dignity, and safety of their families.

Earlier this year, the 11 Filipino bakery workers came forward to expose the deplorable working conditions and labor trafficking schemes of the Almeidas.  In 2012, Analiza recruited the workers in the Philippines by enticing them with the promise of receiving salaries of $2,000 a month as bakery workers.  Instead, many of them were subjected to abusive treatment including working as domestic servants at the Almeidas’ home, being forced to sleep on the laundry room floor, and enduring physical labor such as housekeeping, painting, and landscaping.  The workers filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Almeidas for multiple violations including illegal recruitment, paying less than the minimum wage, discrimination, harassment, failure to pay overtime pay, and denying workers days off.  They were paid $2-$3 an hour and oftentimes working 15-17 hours a day without meal or rest breaks.  In 2014, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office ordered the Almeidas to pay roughly $250,000 in overtime wages to the workers.

This past week, news broke revealing the Almeidas’ have quickly fired the rest of the bakery workers, closed their two bakeries, and sold their multi-million dollar properties in Southern California, including a 17-unit rental apartment complex in Long Beach worth $2.4 million alone.  They are currently in the process of repositioning their $1.4 million estate in Rolling Hills to Ana’s father, Juan Santos, former CEO of Nestle (Philippines) and Chair of the Social Security Administration, in a frantic attempt to keep the properties out of reach of the lawsuit case, a common tactic used by bad employers found guilty of wage theft.  Santos’ role in the scandalous sale of his daughter’s properties only further demonstrates the family’s attempts to escape accountability.

“The Almeidas are cut from the same cloth as Ana’s father, Juan Santos, a powerful and wealthy bureaucrat, that has not been held accountable for the violence and abuse against Nestle workers,” said Nikole Cababa, BAYAN USA Deputy Secretary General.  “The L’Amande workers are tossed into a corner because the owners have used threats against their families in the Philippines.  How can the workers rest easy knowing the Aquino government fails to prosecute traffickers?  The Aquino government should also do its job to investigate the Almeidas and protect the workers’ families.  But Aquino has done nothing to truly address the plight of migrants and trafficking survivors,” Cababa continued.

Furthermore, the Almeidas’ have taken a desperate move to misconstrue the truth and tarnish the reputations of the workers by posting pictures of the workers on their storefront and on social media.  We as BAYAN USA condemn all forms of retaliation the Almeidas have committed against the workers and demand that the Almeidas pay the workers’ their overdue wages.

The situation of the trafficked Filipino bakery workers is not a new issue to the Filipino community, as in the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a trafficking victim and single mom on death row in Indonesia.  According to the Philippine Department of Labor & Employment, an average of 6,092 Filipinos are forced to migrate everyday in order to work abroad totaling up to 12 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the world.   In 2014 alone, $26 billion in remittances have been sent back to the Philippines, a majority of which been sent by OFWs in the U.S. (Source: Bangko Central ng Pilipinas).  In the past five years of the Aquino regime, poverty and unemployment have only worsened as the richest 1% have become richer, and the poorest remain landless and jobless.

BAYAN USA holds both the Aquino and US governments accountable and demand they uphold the rights of OFWs such as the 11 Filipino bakery workers.  We demand the Aquino government immediately address underemployment in the Philippines by raising the monthly minimum wage to P16,000 (~$345 USD), so that people like the Filipino bakery workers will not be forced to leave the country and be subjected to exploitative working conditions in the first place.  We call for the elimination of the Labor Export Policy (LEP) and push for the Philippine government to create national industries to build a more sustainable economy and living wage jobs for the Filipino people.

BAYAN USA is committed to seeking justice for the Filipino bakery workers and fighting against human trafficking.  BAYAN USA member organizations in Southern California will be gathering together this week to coordinate ways to support the trafficked bakery workers.  We pledge to continue educating, organizing, and mobilizing our members and allies to build unity and support for the workers.  We will continue to stand together with the workers to hold the Almeidas accountable for their continuous exploitation of the workers.  Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN USA Chairperson, explained, “We can only rely on our collective unity and organizing to protect the rights and welfare of OFWs.  We call on the Filipino community to educate and organize with us to put an end to human trafficking and win real justice for the 11 bakery workers.”

Justice for the 11 Filipino Bakery Workers!

Stop Labor Trafficking!  Justice for All Trafficking Survivors!

End Forced Migration & the Labor Export Policy in the Philippines!

Build the Movement of Migrants & Workers!


BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 20 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit

Diversion Tactics Won’t Stop the Truth Over Aquino’s Human Rights Record from Coming Out

Diversion Tactics Won’t Stop the Truth

Over Aquino’s Human Rights Record from Coming Out

Just days after the verdict of the International Peoples’ Tribunal was announced, Aquino loyalists and cronies in the US commenced a press offensive to misinform the public, distort the truth, and discredit the over 30 witnesses from the Philippines who submitted testimonies before a distinguished panel of jurors including international human rights lawyers, academics, authors, faith leaders, and even a former South African ambassador. What these detractors fail to realize is that diversion tactics won’t prevent the truth from coming out: that the Aquino government is guilty of gross human rights violations–violations of civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; and the Filipino people’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.

Evidence submitted as well as the findings of the tribunal are accessible to the public online at

Among the charges were violations to economic rights, which includes the Aquino government’s failure to eliminate the Pork Barrel System as perpetuated by the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.

Testimonies submitted on the charge of violations to the Filipino people’s right to self-determination and sovereignty include that ofMarjorie Cohn, a professor of law at the University of San Diego and expert on US foreign policy, particularly US drone operations; Bangsamoro leader Amirah Lidasan on US military command behind the fatal Mamasapano incident; and former Philippine Congresswoman Liza Maza on the unresolved murder of Jennifer Laude and the impact of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

The findings of the tribunal will be shared widely with the United Nations, US legislators, and other international mechanisms of accountability. The conveners of the tribunal– the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, the National Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and Ibon International— will compile the findings into a book that will be furthered disseminated and shared with the international community.

An endorser of the tribunal, BAYAN USA is also an overseas chapter of one of the complainants: BAYAN Philippines. It was acknowledged in the verdict that most of the targets of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and illegal detentions were people affiliated with BAYAN. The common tactic is red-tagging BAYAN members as communists as a justification for political repression.

BAYAN members and affiliates in the Philippines are known to consistently work for the interest of the most impoverished and most marginalized in the Philippines, a country where there is worsening abject poverty and hunger despite Aquino’s claims of being a rising tiger economy.

Perhaps the gap in understanding lies in the fact that those most supportive and defensive of Aquino in the US enjoy comfortable, upper-middle to high class lifestyles in comparison to the majority of whom are struggling hard to make ends meet so we can send money back to our families back home, despite the fact we live in a society that increasingly devalues, discriminates, and abuses low-income immigrant communities.

The International Peoples’ Tribunal was compelled by the experience of thousands of victims in the Philippines who exhausted but could not find justice in the Philippine court system. It was compelled by a culture of impunity recognized by international human rights watchdogs.

How are tactics to discredit the tribunal and its findings any different from endorsing impunity and human rights abuses in the Philippines? Is the Philippines truly democratic if redbaiting, silencing of dissent, and suppression of the facts are still being normalized by the government elite and its mega-rich cronies? Is the Philippines truly sovereign when both China and the US are occupying our land and sea, and when more and more US military troops are being stationed in the Philippines despite a vibrant people’s movement that resulted in the historic 1992 Philippine Senate decision to close the former permanent US military bases?

The truth will not be prevented from coming out. We will not stop seeking accountability and justice until both are attained.

We welcome a dialogue with Aquino supporters to discuss these matters in a diplomatic, factual, and above-board manner.