Category: BAYAN USA

Arroyo not welcomed by all Fil-Ams, lavish US trip lends burden to already poor economy

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of over 12 Filipino organizations in the United States, denounces the secret agenda of Philippine Head of State Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for pushing through with her lavish travel junket #2 to the US to attend upcoming 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations in New York starting this week. According to Philippine Secretary of State Eduardo Ermita, Arroyo will be bringing along at least 71 lawmakers, security, and administrative officials along for the ride. The hotel and food expenses alone for this trip would be enough to feed several poor villages in the Philippines, a country that remains in economic shambles after the devastation of last summer’s hurricane, the food crisis, the declining Philippine peso pegged to the US dollar, and now the ongoing conflict and destabilization in Mindanao. Moving forward with a US trip of such extreme proportions at this time is unconscionable for any state leader, but yet again Arroyo manages to prove, as with her governance of the Philippines, she is not guided by moral conscience, but rather greed.

It was just last June that Arroyo was in New York with over 50 other Philippine officials charging up a million-dollar tab on the Philippine economy. While Hurricane Frank stormed through the Philippines, killing hundreds and devastating thousands, Arroyo and her entourage continued to wine and dine their way through the posh locations of Manhattan. While the MV Princess of the Stars sank to the bottom of the ocean, Arroyo sank to an all-time low by ignoring the emergency in her country and deciding to stay on the United States, with the objective of meeting top Washington officials to secure more foreign financing for her murderous military officials.

On top of it all, Arroyo remains intent in pursuing millions in US corporate funds with the Philippines’ eligibility status for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government-supervised institute funding state governments abroad under the auspices of good governance and poverty aid. The Philippine government’s eligible status for the MCC compact grant continues to escape our comprehension, as the Arroyo government’s popularity in the Philippines and with Filipinos abroad is plummeting at a rapid rate. In order to secure their claim to the MCC compact grant for development, Arroyo will travel to the United Nations to boast of fictitious achievements in alleviating poverty, human rights violations, and economic regression.

Favoritism from the US government towards the Philippines at this point, as with any foreign financing project of the US, takes it cue from the historically unequal and neocolonial relationship between the big white father of the West and the little brown brother of the East. Through Arroyo’s puppet and subservient government, the US government is able to advance its agenda to expand its control over the abundance of natural resources in the Philippines, starting with the deep oil and gold reserves of Mindanao, as well as fisheries, coral reefs, and the vast forestry throughout the country. The Bush partnership with the Arroyo administration is also vital in the restoration of permanent US military bases in the Philippines, securing unwanted US military stronghold over the region and protecting US corporate interests. The current US-Arroyo campaign of bloody counter-insurgency in the country is another glaring example of this.

Now the Arroyo administration, fully intent on extending its power past 2010, is poising itself for more US government support from the next elected US presidency. It is becoming more and more clear with every visit to the United States that the Arroyo administration seeks sustenance from its master, just as a parasite seeks nourishment from a host, without benefiting the host, and sometimes killing it. There is absolutely no good that will come from more US financial aid promised to the Arroyo administration. All financial proceeds will surely be channeled to beefing up the operations of Philippine death squads, the pockets of Arroyo’s cronies, and securing US military presence in the country. At the same time, US taxpayers, who generate the dollars that become US aid to the Philippines, continue to be deprived of basic social services, including education, housing, and healthcare. This, in the midst of the largest US financial meltdown since the 1920’s, should not be the direction our tax dollars take.

We demand that the US government withdraw all financial support to the Arroyo administration, including revoking the Philippines’ MCC Compact Eligible status. We demand a review of the decisions and recommendations made to the Philippine government during the 2007 US Senate hearing that examined the trend of extrajudicial killings and enforces abductions that number in the thousands. We demand that Arroyo resign from her office at once, and appeal to the pro-people forces in the Philippine Congress to impeach her. Lastly, we fully support and are one with the popular street movement in the Philippines to peacefully remove Arroyo from her position by extra-constitutional means.

For the sake of motherland, its natural treasures, its remittance-sustained economy, and our tax dollars, Arroyo must step down.


Arroyo worse than Marcos, but undeclared martial law won’t save unpopular administration

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

On the 36th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines under the US-backed dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Filipino-Americans under BAYAN USA are vowing to support the current movement to remove the current “undeclared dictator” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from her presidential seat.

“In many ways, she is worse than Marcos,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “While Marcos imprisoned his opposition, Arroyo’s death squads just kill them in broad daylight in front of the civilian eyes. It is still an undeclared martial law in our country.”

According to the most recent reports from Philippine human rights monitoring group Karapatan, approximately 1000 extrajudicial killings of civilian dissidents have been documented as of June 2008 under the Arroyo administration, while an additional approximation of 200 abducted. In the last nine months alone, more than 230,000 Filipinos have been have been victimized by forced evacuation and massive displacement due to extensive militarization in the countryside, which also spawns other terrorizing acts such as indiscriminate firing at civilians, hamletting, as well as harassment and intimidation by the US-backed Armed Forces of the Philippines on poor farming communities in the far-flung regions of the country.

“The US government is as responsible for the human rights atrocities committed in the last seven years of Arroyo’s regime, as it was guilty for crimes against humanity committed during the Marcos dictatorship,” declared Quijano.

Since 2002, hundreds of millions of US taxes have been allocated to the Philippines. This escalation of US-intervention followed the Philippines’ designation by Bush and his war-criminal cabinet as the “2nd front of the war on terror.”

Corruption is also remains at an all-time high under Arroyo. While the ZTE-NBN scandal has plagued the administration since last year, numerous cash payola bribery schemes and misappropriation of billions in government funds are strongly latched to Arroyo as well.

“It’s as if Arroyo is trying her best to mimic her idols, Ferdinand and Imelda, in terms of lavishness of lifestyle, human rights violations, and government corruption,” Quijano added.

“Now with armed conflict escalating in Mindanao, Arroyo is once again living up to the Marcos legacy,” Quijano continued. “Marcos spearheaded the all-out war in Mindanao by opening it up to the neoliberal dictates of transnational corporations. Arroyo continues the legacy by pitting the conflict as strife between Muslims and Christians. It is not. In fact, it is Arroyo’s and the US military who are the most violent aggressors in the region, seeking to evacuate Muslim and Christian communities alike in favor of mining companies, golf courses, and forced land conversions.”

Arroyo is set to come to the United States for the second time in the past 3 months, with her last visit in June raking in millions in expenses on hotels for herself and her 50+ entourage. She will be in the US again by September 23.

Despite the ongoing economic and political crises, Filipino-Americans are confident martial law tactics won’t defend Arroyo’s seat from a broad opposition movement. As in 1986 and 2001, Filipinos are once again clamoring for another unseating in Malacanang.

“There is a formula that has been proven time and time again in Philippine history. Repression against the people breeds resistance. Arroyo’s repression will be her own undoing, because it is forcing more and more Filipinos into action,” Quijano ended.

Unite overseas Filipinos in North America for the cause of genuine nationalism and democracy in the Philippines!

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

Statement of Solidarity from BAYAN USA on the Occasion of the Founding of BAYAN Canada

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, wishes to convey its most heartfelt and militant solidarity and congratulations to our compatriots up north on the historic founding of BAYAN Canada. BAYAN USA has been anxiously anticipating the formation of BAYAN Canada because it is a significant show of force from all Filipinos in North America united in cause of genuine nationalism and democracy in our beloved Philippines. We are also pleased that our compatriots up north have chosen September 21st, the anniversary of the declaration of Marcosian Martial Law, to launch BAYAN Canada.

Uniting Filipino compatriots for a common cause is never an easy task. As with the formation of the BAYAN USA in 2005, we understand that the formation of BAYAN Canada had its share of struggles before breaking through and moving forward. We commend the long history of all Filipinos in Canada who have painstakingly worked and built organizations that have promoted the national democratic movement in the Philippines for decades, as well as struggled to protect the rights and welfare of Filipino immigrants in Canada. But the formation of BAYAN Canada by far signifies a higher level of commitment to advance the national democratic line in the Philippines on a widespread level. By carrying the BAYAN name, BAYAN Canada and BAYAN USA in turn are proudly branded with the history, heroism, and martyrdom of over 23 years of BAYAN Philippines, the main political center of the national democratic movement in the Philippines.

As a mighty force, BAYAN Philippines has played a significant role in the ouster of two corrupt Filipino presidents as well as the ouster of what were once the two largest US bases overseas. It continues to mobilize the broadest ranks of Filipinos in the Philippines against US domination, backward landlordism, and government corruption. It also continues to unite the broadest ranks of progressive forces in the Philippines to uphold the interest of the most basic sectors, namely the peasants and workers, which dominate the population in the Philippines today. Because of this, it also continues to bear the brunt of intensified state repression and crackdown on dissent beginning with the US- backed Marcos dictatorship all the way to the US-Arroyo regime of today.

We look forward to working in closer coordination with BAYAN Canada in various campaigns, as they advance the ongoing campaign to pressure the Canadian Parliament to withdraw all support to the treacherous regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This includes pressuring the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to withdraw the millions of Canadian dollars it gives the Philippine government for aid, development, and military training. This also includes pressuring Canadian mining corporations such as Placer Dome and Toronto Ventures Inc. to desist from their environmentally-destructive mining schemes that continue to not only plunder Philippine natural resources, but devastate nearby indigenous and local communities into displacement.

With the examples great BAYAN leaders that have passed such as Lorenzo Tanada, Lean Alejandro, and Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran in our history, we are confident BAYAN’s name will surge forward beyond Philippine borders. For as long as the Philippine nation seeps into the diaspora, there are more compatriots to organize under the banner of BAYAN overseas chapters. For as long as there is imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism in the Philippines, there is a need for BAYAN. It is in this spirit that we look up to the leaders of BAYAN Canada and wish for its fruitful expansion.

BAYAN USA vows to cultivate a meaningful relationship with BAYAN Canada in advancing our common cause, most especially in delivering a solid North American-wide blow against the corrupt, tyrannical, and morally-bankrupt regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!

IMPERIALISMO IBAGSAK! (Down with Imperialism!)

Fil-Ams call for genuine peace in Mindanao, say no to US-Arroyo intervention

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 12 Filipino organizations in the United States, condemned the US-backed Arroyo regime’s initiatives to engage and derail a so-called “peace process” with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an armed group representing the self-determination interests of the Bangsamoro people, concentrated in the southern region of Mindanao.

The alliance called on the US government to back off from intervening in the domestic political and economic affairs of the Philippines, once a direct US colony and still heavily dependent on US government influence and dictates. A US institution called US Institute of Peace (USIP), has been facilitating so-called “peace talks” via “ancestral domain conflicts” in Mindanao while US military presence continues to increase in the region.

“At the heart of the matter is oil and land,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “Mindanao land houses some of the largest oil and natural gas deposits in the Asia-Pacific region. Multi-national corporate interest to acquire and control these reserves has been real reason for armed conflict in the Mindanao area with increased US and Philippine militarization, foreign mining, and landgrabbing for decades, not religious conflict or ‘terrorism’ as projected by Malacanang or the US government.”

“The US government is also notorious in its history of annihilation and genocide of the indigenous people’s of North America and repression against racial minorities. It cannot be sincere in building peace with or conceding to the aspirations of Bangsamoro people, just look at it’s track record,” Quijano stated.

Quijano also stated that the historical fight of the oppressed Bangsamoro people for autonomy from the Philippine republic is being exploited by the Arroyo and US governments to push for charter change and federalism in the Philippines.

“By issuing a bogus ‘memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain’, the Arroyo clique is shamelessly and covertly pushing to change the Philippine constitution. There is no intention to cultivate peace with the people of Mindanao on Arroyo’s part. As an abuse of her executive powers, Arroyo’s provisions, with the blessing of the US government, will include an extension of her unpopular, dictatorial term,” Quijano added.

Despite peace rhetoric espoused by the US government and Arroyo regime, recent Philippine military offensives in Mindanao have displaced over 150,000 people, both Moro and non-Moro in the region. Armed conflict is also on the rise in the region.

BAYAN USA has been active since its 2005 founding in demanding an end to US intervention in the Philippines, and was even part of a broader campaign to restrict US military aid to the Arroyo government last year. The alliance also vowed to take the issue of US intervention in the Philippines to the new US presidency once elected.