Category: BAYAN Philippines

“E-Martial Law is 21st Century Fascism!” –BAYAN USA

News Release
October 2, 2012

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, chair@bayanusa.org

Filipino-Americans Show Vigilance Over Cybercrime Law in the Philippines

Day of Action Against Cybercrime Law, Philippines, October 2, 2012. Courtesy: bayan.ph

The Philippine government has enacted the Cybercrime Prevention Law, a piece of legislation aimed to regulate unlawful internet use. Nicknamed E-Martial Law by human rights advocates, this law has been deemed a broad instrument for violating people’s rights to free speech, press, and due process as it targets a crime termed “online libel”. The law gives the Philippine government expanded power to surveille people’s activity on the internet and specifically charge political dissenters with criminal activity, simply for expressing opinions against the government.

“Through the enactment of Martial Law in the in 1970s, the Philippine ruling elite sought to quell people’s protest on the streets through censorship, police brutality, mass incarceration, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and other unmitigated human rights violations. Now, E-Martial Law seeks the same in a digital age,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA. “But just as Martial Law culminated in a people’s organized overthrow of the fascist dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, E-Martial Law is being met with widespread and worldwide protests on the internet as well as in the streets.”

Filipino-Americans understand this struggle, especially in the context of the United States, a country that prides itself in valuing its First Amendment rights and freedoms. Just a year ago, similar acts, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), were on the table. The passage of these bills were halted in the United States Congress in January 2012 by people who mobilized and rallied in the streets against the potential threat such legislation held against freedom of speech and due process.

“The internet has served as a vast platform for creative protest,” said Ellorin. “Activists have sought social networking websites as an innovative space to increase public knowledge about economic, social, and political injustices. The internet has allowed them to gain broad support all over the world in fights against oppressive regimes, like that of President NoyNoy Aquino.”

Internet rights continues to be a relevant issue as the United States engages in secret trade negotiations known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Critics of the TPPA warn that the neoliberal free trade agreement will trample on people’s access to basic rights, such as food, water, medicine, and even the internet. Private corporations will be granted unbridled rights to patent and own otherwise public resources solely for their profitable gain.

“Laws drafted by the ruling class to prevent ‘internet crimes’ benefit a privileged few: big corporations and ruling regimes who want to maintain power and control over ideas and facts,” Ellorin explained. “Efforts to criminalize the development and dissemination of opposing ideas and facts forces the people under surveillance by a fascist state. When every status update and blog post is under strict scrutiny, the people will not be silenced as the government hopes. Our protest will only multiply and find other ways to spread.”

In addition to protests on social media sites, “offline” street protest actions are being conducted in front of the Supreme Court in the Philippines today by broad formations of human rights advocates, journalists, bloggers, netizens, and activists. These groups have vowed to express their dissent against the Cybercrime Prevention Law until it is junked, and have even filed official petitions challenging the law’s constitutionality. BAYAN USA seeks to offer their support from abroad and build an international outcry against internet tyranny and human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Join BAYAN USA in this protest by clicking the following link and signing an online petition drafted by the Kabataan (Youth) Partylist against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012: http://www.change.org/petitions/junk-the-cybercrime-prevention-law. The goal is to reach 1 million signatures. Please spread widely.

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 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 campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.

Day of Action Against Cybercrime Law, Philippines, October 2, 2012. Courtesy: bayan.ph

NY Human Rights Group Speaks Out Against Cybercrime Prevention Act in the Philippines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2012

Reference: Hanalei Ramos
NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Email: nychrp@gmail.com

New York, NY – The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), a community-based education and advocacy group, called the recent Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, also known as the Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, “a very sinister act by the Philippine government to curtail the rights of the Filipino people, which criminalizes ordinary people for simply expressing their thoughts and views on the internet.””It’s an utter display of arrogance, manipulation and abuse of power by certain Philippine politicians, including the Philippine President Noynoy Aquino,” stated Gary Labao, a member of NYCHRP. Labao also echoed the same position of many Philippine groups have tagged the act a form of “e-martial law” as it is reminiscent of the 1972 declaration in many aspects.According to various reports, the vagueness of the act’s stipulation on libel could lead to many interpretations deeming innocent comments as libelous criminal acts. “The Philippines already has a very flawed justice system, where the poor and marginalized sectors of society have very little chance to, or no hope at all to obtain justice.  How can we expect the average Filipino to be able to stand up against this unjust system with this new law?” Labao asked.

OFW Concerns

Globally, Filipinos are among the top users of major social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter. “The internet has become the most common medium of communication,” explained Krystle Cheirs, a member of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment. “For the government to pass a law that would limit the rights of anyone to express themselves, where activating a ‘like’ button can be deemed as ‘libel,’ would be nothing short of fascism,” Cheirs stated.

“Particularly for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs),  the internet is the most accessible means of contact with family and friends in the Philippines. Can you imagine a simple exchange over the internet on updates and opinions on Philippine politics?” posed Cheirs. “With the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, these exchanges could criminalize your loved ones back in the Philippines, and send them to prison,” she concluded.

Youth Concerns

“This absolutely concerns Filipino youth,” says Yoko Liriano, a student at Hunter College and a youth coordinator for NYCHRP. “Youth use the internet, social media and other outlets in a number of creative ways. Criminalizing the creativity and expression of Filipino youth on the basis of the vague stipulations of the Cybercrime Act. suppresses the rights of young people. This will rob us of a generation of Filipinos who are able to be critical, and able to share their thoughts and views with each other, and abroad,” Liriano comments.

In October, NYCHRP will conduct an information session regarding the Philippines’ Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. “We want to begin the discussion between Filipinos and non-Filipinos in the New York City area, and hope to generate a broad outreach to the larger, internet-savvy community and cyber rights-defenders. It is vital that we build international solidarity to defend that Philippines against the Cybercrime Prevention Act,” Liriano announced. More details for the information session will be announced at  www.nychrp.infoin the coming week.

Liriano remarked, “The idea of a world without borders is true over the internet. Now is the time to fight this borderless battle, and defend our internet rights.”

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New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
http://nychrp.info
email: nychrp@gmail.com

BAYAN USA Stands in Solidarity with OWS, Chicago Teachers Strike, & All Efforts to Build People Power!

NEWS STATEMENT
September 17, 2012

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin
Chairperson, BAYAN USA
Email: chair@bayanusa.org

On the 1st anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA salute and stand in solidarity with all groups in the United States who are organizing against increasing economic inequality and mobilizing in the streets. This includes the inspiring example set forth by the courageous Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) which recently voted to continue on with their historic strike against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s aggressive neoliberal offensive to privatize the city’s public education system, despite the latter’s threats and attempts to thwart their actions.

At a time when the 2-party electoral system in the US is spending gross amounts of money on political mudslinging and celebrity-glitzed conventions, the worsening global economic crisis brought about by the financial oligarchy– also known as the 1%, whose interest both parties represent in government–is driving working people in the US into greater desperation to survive. Despite the superficial economic growth championed by the Obama administration, the real US economy suffers from an ever-increasing federal defense budget, deepening jobs depression, growing public debt crisis, and wide-scale economic deregulation and privatization of the public sector. More and more Americans are left with no choice but to organize and resist increasing neoliberal offensives within the US that are akin to the neoliberal offensives launched by the US government abroad.

TPPA–Washington’s Secret Neoliberal Offensive

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)–the new free-trade agreement being pushed by the Obama administration since 2008–is one of the most egregious examples of how the current administration is renewing US neoliberalism on a grander scale than of the advent of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) back in the 1994. The 14th round of secret negotiations over the drafting of the TPPA, which just recently concluded in Leesburg, Virginia this past weekend, was met with protest rallies organized by multi-sectoral groups, including labor unions, who would be negatively impacted upon the agreement’s implementation. Dubbed “NAFTA on Steroids” by policy analysts, one only need to look at the destructive impact of NAFTA on job industries, labor conditions, rural communities, food and agriculture, the environment, and in social relations within the signatories of the agreement, including within the US, to have a glimpse of what’s in store for the Asia-Pacific region with the TPPA.

US economic intervention and consolidation over the Asia-Pacific region cannot exist without political and military intervention. As such, the Obama administration continues to implement it’s so-called military rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, beefing up its war economy tied to a super-profitable US military industrial complex, all the while sowing an anti-China scare propaganda campaign to justify its military posturing in the region. With a constant threat of war and economic intervention, this pivot to the Asia-Pacific will wreak havoc in the lives of the people in that region. On the other hand, it also spells a bleak future for working people in the U.S. who will be met with increasing unemployment, layoffs, and limited access to basic social services and civil rights.

2012 US Elections: What Matters is Most is People Power

During this US election period, what matters most is not who to vote for in the November 2012 elections, but rather what is the future of organized peoples resistance against neoliberalism at home and abroad, and sustaining a movement for economic equality in the US? Will the union strikes in Wisconsin, Occupy Wall Street, and the Chicago teachers strike be relegated into isolated spurts of class outrage of the 99% versus the 1%, or will they continue on and coalesce into a broader peoples movement for change, with an alternative vision and platform of concrete reforms to demand from traditional politicians in Washington?

There remains numerous examples in world history of how organized people power, built from the parliament of the streets, have challenged the reactionary and anti-people character of state governments, at times bringing traditional politicians to their knees. More recent examples include the Arab Spring, the continuing workers strikes and anti-austerity actions across Europe, as well as others. BAYAN USA believe the worsening economic crisis worldwide and its growing impact on the American people presents the best framework for continuous organizing in the US and the prospects for building a people power movement, especially when organizing against economic inequality in the US is linked in solidarity with counterpart peoples struggles against neoliberalism in developing countries.

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 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 campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

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“President Aquino, Stop Blaming the Poor For Their Plight!”—BAYAN-USA

Press Release
August 22, 2012

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN-USA, chair@bayanusa.org

“President Aquino, Stop Blaming the Poor For Their Plight!”—BAYAN-USA
Filipino-Americans Criticize Aquino Regime’s Insufficient Disaster Relief Effort and Anti-Poor Rhetoric

The aftermath of Typhoon Gener and a Southwest Monsoon (Habagat) that ravaged the Philippines in early August has left many Filipinos reminiscent of the disaster of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. Relief operations led by grassroots people’s organizations, including BAYAN-USA, have been activated and are underway around the world. Monetary donations have been sent directly to affiliated organizations in the Philippines that serve urban and rural poor communities, the most affected by the disaster, whose homes and crops have been damaged or lost in major floods. However, instead of also assisting these communities in rebuilding their lives, the Philippine government has targeted them in a blame game accusing them of being the root causes of the flooding disaster.

Aquino’s Anti-Poor Relief Strategy

The almost week-long rainfall from the typhoon and monsoon surpassed that of Typhoon Ondoy, leading to floods just as dangerous as in 2009. Kalikasan Green Partylist, a progressive environmental concerns partylist in the Philippines, explains that floods are solely caused by the amount of rainfall an area receives at any given time. Because rain fell steadily for several consecutive days, water basins were oversaturated, leading to major floods in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces in Luzon.

Despite this scientific explanation, President Benigno “NoyNoy” Aquino III made statements that mistakenly accused urban poor shanties built near waterways of being the major cause for floods. He reportedly ordered Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson to address the issue of informal settlers through any means, even if he must “blast” the urban poor out of such areas.

“The floods would have occurred just as they did whether or not informal settlers crowd near waterways,” said Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN-USA. “Aquino is pointing the finger at the victims of the flood, while he should be taking responsibility for their conditions. His administration has only neglected the basic needs of the majority of the people. It is joblessness, poverty, a lack of sustainable housing projects, and shoddy urban planning that makes people desperately build homes wherever possible, even in the path of dangerous floods.”

Aquino has ordered Singson to relocate 125,000 families along Metro Manila waterways and an additional 700,000 around Laguna Bay. However, the president has not expressed any intention to relocate wealthy private entities, such as large malls, that also surround Metro Manila waterways.

“It is clear that the Aquino regime is framing the issue this way in order to justify making way for the implementation of privatization projects,” says Ellorin. “Just as the flooding has swept away thousands of homes, Aquino plans to do the same to the poor majority.”

Filipino organizers in BAYAN-USA are skeptical of how much relief this relocation plan will actually provide as the housing budget set aside for 2013 is insufficient to fund decent housing for the 195,000 families Aquino is targeting. Instead, more funds are allocated to paying back foreign debt and promoting failed poverty alleviation programs, such as Public Private Partnership Programs (PPP) and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).

Prioritizing Sustainable Programs for the Poor

People’s organizations around the world, including BAYAN-USA, are exposing the Philippine government’s deceptive and destructive rhetoric, which ultimately blames the victims and wipes away any accountability from the government’s ineffectiveness. “At this point, the government should have learned their lesson,” exclaims Ellorin. “The only way to prevent disasters like this from repeating is by allocating sufficient funding into basic social services, such as housing, jobs, health, education, and disaster preparedness.”

BAYAN USA is calling upon anyone interested in donating directly  to the numerous victims of the massive flooding in the Philippines by making a donation to BALSA today: http://tinyurl.com/BALSAbayanihanreliefThe only way to achieve complete relief of the massive flooding is to activate our bayanihan-community effort- and giving spirit as the Philippines has been hit once again with the worst flooding since 2009.

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