Category: Anakbayan

Political prosecution continues: Bicol youth leader shot dead, Davao youth leader abducted

Anakbayan condemns the brutal killing of a student activist leader in Bicol and the illegal abduction and warrantless interrogation of a youth activist leader in Davao City this weekend.

Cris Hugo, a National Council Member and regional coordinator of the League of Filipino Students in Bicol, was shot dead around 10:30pm yesterday in Legazpi City by unidentified armed men.

Raunil Mortejo, Anakbayan-Davao City chairperson, was abducted last Friday night, March 17, at Juna, Matina near the BAYAN office in Davao by suspected elements of the Isafp. Witnesses said he was boarded into a blue green URVAN van with a covered plate number.

Mortejo was released an hour later. According to his account, he was interrogated and harrassed for almost an hour. He was unhurt but was visibly traumatized by the illegal abduction.

“In this administration’s desperation to quell growing protests, it is now harassing and attacking harmless and respectable personalities. We hold the Arroyo administration criminally and politically liable for the killing of Hugo and the continuous attacks against our youth leaders. This regime is a monster, it dares and does not think twice to shed the blood of young patriotic leaders whose only ‘faults’ are that they continue to be steadfast and vigilant in upholding civil liberties and calling for social change despite continuous tyranny and repression perpetuated by the Arroyo administration,’ said Eleanor de Guzman, Anakbayan national chairperson.

Meanwhile, Anakbayan also expressed strongest condemnation against the baseless and false accusations against one of its local leaders and seven other militant leaders in Davao City.

Lorie Ann Cascaro, Anakbayan’s National Council member and Vice-Chairperson for Mindanao, was charged with seven others after being implicated as conspirators in inciting to sedition and rebellion cases filed against Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador.

De Guzman added that while leftist leaders and organizations are seemingly the primary targets of the government’s crackdown, ordinary civilians remain the most vulnerable.

“Anyone is vulnerable to warrantless arrests, political prosecution and, yes, even extrajudicial killings by the Arroyo regime. It can range from Arroyo’s most ardent political foes to the most unsuspecting ordinary bystander. Who, then, is the real enemy of the state?” she said.

The militant youth groups Anakbayan and LFS held a candle lighting protest later today to denounce the killing and continuous political prosecution against activist leaders and organizations.

Visit the official Anakbayan website, www.anakbayan.cjb.net

Reference:
Sarah Katrina Maramag
Media Officer, 09193486790

Police brutality strikes Filipino youth in Jersey City; groups tag cops racist, anti-immigrant

Jersey City, NJ– Filipino groups are outraged over what many are calling “a blatant act of police brutality, racial discrimination, and anti-immigrant sentiment” on the part of two Jersey City police officers who arrested and detained a young Filipino who was about to file a complaint against an erring cab driver.

Alan James Alda, 25, a Jersey City warehouse worker originally from Manila, was startled when police suddenly “arrested and threw him into a detention cell” at approximately 3 am on Saturday after he asked for the names of the two police officers who rudely dismissed his complaint against cab driver for overcharging fare.

The two police officers were later identified as Sgt. Dennis Halleran and Officer A. Nunez of the Jersey City Police Department.

Alda and two of his young Filipino friends had gone to the Jersey City Police Department Precinct near Manila Avenue to report on a cab driver for overcharging fare and demanding upfront payment.

“We went up to the two police officers in order to file a complaint against the cab driver but instead we were rudely told to start walking home,” stated Arcy Yuson, Alda’s companion at the time.

After dismissing their complaint, Alda asked the police officers for their names. It was then that the tide shifted. “Alan was physically grabbed by the cops and arrested”, Yuson explained. “We were shocked.”

The two police officers threatened Alda’s companions with arrest but eventually left them standing outside the police precinct as they took Alda in.

“We didn’t know what was going on. We stood there waiting for Alan to come back out. After a while 2 unidentified officers came out without Alan, but this time holding batons. It was an intimidation meant for us,” Yuson recalled.

Once in custody of the Jersey City police, sources claim that the Nunez and Halleran continued to intimidate Alda, with another unidentified officer even going as far as asking if he was a “terrorist” after they found foreign currency in his pocket.

During this time, Alda remained uninformed by the authorities of the charges against him, even as he sat in jail. He would later be released later that morning. When asked by an attending officer what he had learned from the whole experience, he was told to shut up immediately by surrounding officials upon his attempt to answer.

When asked by Alda if this would affect his right to find work, the officers shouted, “Hell, yeah!”.

It was shortly after that Alda became aware of his charges upon receipt of a slip of paper that stated police complaints of so-called “disorderly conduct” and “resisting arrest”.

“Alan never resisted arrest or created a physically threatening situation for the cops. Why would he? We went to the police precinct to file a complaint. We went there looking for help!” Yuson stated.

“The police seemed to be more interested in insulting these three Filipino immigrants rather than helping them. Alan and his companions were simply asserting their right to police protection, a move which landed Alan a night in a jail cell,” stated Nicholas Cordero, an organizer for Anakbayan, a Filipino youth group based in Jersey City, of which Alda is also a member.

“The police were out of line. Alan’s only crime was that he was Filipino, brown-skinned, and obviously foreign-born. Like many other immigrants of color, this is the treatment we receive from the public servants whose paychecks are supplied by our tax dollars to protect and serve. But more often than not, it is the police that end up threatening our rights and welfare.” Cordero said.

“The police must be held accountable for this. Their conduct was absolutely unacceptable and must not be tolerated.” stated Cristina Godinez, New York attorney and Immigrant Rights Coordinator of the Philippine Forum, an immigrant rights advocacy organization in Queens. “I am concerned about the reckless disregard for an immigrant’s civil rights and the rash suspicion that he is a terrorist.”

Cordero asserted that “criminal brutality and racial profiling” by the Jersey City police officers against Alda that night is not an isolated case. “It’s a common reality for young Filipinos in Jersey City. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, especially in light of the immigrant-scapegoating climate post 9/11. What’s important is that we unite as a community to speak out against these injustices when they happen. We will not stay silent as long as this type of repression exists.”

Anakbayan, along with allied local organizations Philippine Forum and the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines are convenors of the Justice for Immigrants Coalition, which is embarking on a campaign to 1) have the charges against Alda dropped 2) file counter-charges against the police for criminal misconduct and 3) educate and facilitate community action with more Filipino youth and immigrants on police brutality, racial profiling, and anti-immigrant conduct.

“Filipinos are largely a low-income minority group, and over 60% of all the Filipinos in the US are foreign-born. Alan’s abuse by the police is every young Filipino’s concern. It could have happened to any one of us.” Cordero continued.

When asked about coming forward about his story, Alda mentioned “hindi para lang sa akin eto, para sa mga ibang kabataang migrante din. [this is not just for me, but for all migrant youth].”

An emergency Anakbayan meeting where Alda will be available to discuss the details of his arrest to the public and to the media is scheduled on Saturday, February 25, 1pm-3pm at 605 Pavonia Avenue, #42 (near Summit Avenue) in Jersey City. THIS IS AN OPEN MEETING AND ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND, ESPECIALLY FILIPINO YOUTH AND IMMIGRANTS.

For more information on the Justice For Immigrants campaign for Alan James Alda, email Anakbayan at anakbayan_ny@yahoo.com or call 646-479-1605.

Corruption and betrayal in the Philippines: The anniversary of martial law

Statement of Anakbayan Honolulu

On September the 21st, 1972, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, the tenth president of the Republic of the Philippines, declared martial law. Ushering in an era of severe oppression, Marcos subverted economic growth and suffocated political and civil freedoms. Dissension was quelled by extrajudicial killings and by other unlawful means, leaving masses of men, women, and children to suffer under a police state of the worst kind. Marcos was responsible for graft, corruption, cronyism, and innumerable human rights violations. In the unprecedented People Power Movement, one to three million people gathered between Ortigas and Cubao streets in Metro Manila in 1986, leading to the ultimate removal of Marcos from his self-made dictatorial and authoritarian post.

Presently, we face an illegally elected president whose regime resembles that of Marcos: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. A wiretapped conversation between Arroyo and the commissioner of the official poll body COMELEC was released in June this year, in which Arroyo references the fraudulent nature of her reelection in 2004. Arroyo had originally come into power in 2001, and has since done little to improve the lives of Filipinos. Several citizens have asserted their democratic right to demand change. Conversely, the way the government has chosen to respond to this has been to amass an estimated total of more than 37,000 cases of human rights violations. The victims of these violations are those who want nothing more than should be expected in a free nation—autonomy of the state from foreign nations, a transparent government, a functional and productive economy, adequate food and water, education, and healthcare access. The current administration fails to meet these basic needs.

The administration’s approach has been to politically maneuver around the law, and to avoid formulating sustainable solutions to the socioeconomic and political issues that have ailed the Philippines for 440 years, beginning during the colonial period. Arroyo is reticent to embrace progressive measures. Instead, she has stabbed her people in the back by violating the constitution again, in agreeing to US-Philippine military activities, and structuring policies to fit comfortably with those of the Bush administration. Arroyo finds logic in supporting unconstitutional schemes with the American president, and yet she cannot feed and shelter half of the population—a population that did not even elect her. This, among several other charges being brought against her, constitutes egregious corruption, following in a legacy of brutal betrayal.

The Filipino people have suffered and have been displaced economically, socially, and nationally. Justice is long overdue. It is for these reasons that we demand the immediate removal of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from her stolen seat at Malacanang, whether it comes by her resignation or her ouster. She stole the election, and thus has stolen from the Filipino people. Every tactic, every strategy, and every political action she takes—is illegal because she did not constitutionally earn her position as the President of the Philippines. On September the 21st–the anniversary of Marcos’s declaration of martial law–let us remember the ultimate power of the people to act and to incite change.

Uphold Philippine Sovereignty
Arroyo: Resign or Be Ouster
Promote the Human Rights of the Improvished and the Persecuted
Maintain the Dignity and Integrity of the Philippine Constitution
Retain Autonomy—US Troops Out of the Philppines