Category: BAYAN USA

Legalization for all! Stop the raids and deportations!

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

Statement of BAYAN USA on the Occasion of May Day 2008

On this May Day 2008, BAYAN USA joins over 12 million undocumented immigrants across United States in struggling for full legalization, workers rights, family reunification, and genuine comprehensive immigration reform. We do so also in celebration of May 1st, the genuine international labor day that has been banned by the US government because of its historical roots in the struggle for socialism.

It was the fighting spirit of oppressed and multi-racial immigrant workers that brought May 1st back to the US streets in 2006, when the immigrant rights movement successfully launched the largest mobilizations in US history to stop the movement of House Resolution (H.R.) 4437, an oppressive bill that sought to criminalize undocumented workers in the US. Today, the momentum of the immigrant workers movement continues the revolutionary tradition of upholding May Day on the streets in the US as Immigrant Workers Day.

Since then, conditions for immigrant workers have changed very little, and in many ways they have worsened. There are more and more immigrants losing their status every day and becoming undocumented. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has only intensified its role as the state apparatus to terrorize immigrants across the US, without any regard for human rights doctrines nor the US Constitution. Every day, ICE raids and random checkpoints terrorize and split immigrant families and violate their basic human rights. Detentions and deportations are also on the rise.

The main reason why there is forced global migration, the US-led neoliberal trade system, has also intensified and increased what was once global joblessness to global food crisis and food insecurity. Under this framework of global poverty, migration is becoming more of a necessity for the basic survival of populations.

Many Filipinos, like Mexicans and other nationalities, come to the US through family sponsorship. The senseless bureaucracy of the immigration system is so inefficient, that it requires family sponsors to wait up to 20 years for their loved ones to get a visa to come to the US. An immigration backlog gathers dust in Washington DC while the fates of millions of families depend on the snail’s pace of the US Homeland Security Department to trudge through it.

But while the state’s media machinery seeks to demonize immigrants as “dirty” and “unwanted”, and distort public opinion about them, the truth about the positive role immigrants play in this country is seldom promoted.

Immigrants contribute richly to the social and economic fabric of the United States. Aside from paying taxes and not availing of social services, or taking on jobs most US citizens shun, immigrants care for our children, our elderly, construct our buildings, plant our food, grow our gardens, and maintain our homes. Without them, our society would fail to function.

The US business sector thrives on cheap labor. That is why they seek immigrants. Knowing that most immigrants would choose to work for low wages under unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the US over a life of poverty in their countries of origin, capitalists take advantage of their desperation by driving down workers’ wages and stripping them of rights and benefits. This ensures that the capitalist turns in higher profits year after year, at the cost of human dignity for immigrant workers. From this framework arises a modern-day slave class in the US.

Every day, over 3000 Filipinos leave the Philippines for a chance at giving their loved ones the promise of food, clothing, and shelter. Most Filipinos aim to come to the United States, where they are the second largest immigrant population, and have actually been migrating to the US since the Spanish Galleon trade of the 15th century. Because so many Filipinos and other nationalities leave to come to the US, the US has become the number one labor-hosting country.

By seeking to make migration harder and more xenophobic for incoming immigrants through bureaucracy and criminalization, the US government is shooting itself in the foot.
The demand for enter the US will not stop for as long as US foreign policy seeks to denationalize and destabilize foreign economies to its advantage.The US government is often assisted by puppet governments that carry its interventionist agenda in developing countries overseas.

In this Philippines, this is best exemplified by the ineptitude of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government, which espouses the Marcos-initiated Labor Export Policy (LEP) of 1974 as the main resolution to the debt crisis in the Philippines. By choosing to export its human and natural resources over genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, the Philippines is now one of the top three labor exporting countries in the world, with the most-remittance dependent economy. It also remains a heavily-impoverished nation with no plausible prospect of reaching first world status any time in the future, despite the claims of the Arroyo government.

Here in the US, more and more Filipino immigrants are falling victim to raids, detentions, deportations, family disunity, lack of social services, and lack of civil and human rights. That is why on this Immigrant Workers Day, Filipinos will be joining our fellow immigrant sisters and brothers in demanding changes in the US immigration system and an end to neoliberal globalization that perpetuates forced migration to the US.

LEGALIZATION FOR ALL UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS!
STOP THE RAIDS! STOP THE DEPORTATIONS!
FAMILY REUNIFICATION NOW!
NO TO THE LABOR EXPORT POLICY!
NO TO IMPERIALIST GLOBALIZATION!
MABUHAY ANG MIGRANTENG PILIPINO!

Senate historic vote on Fil vets a result of Filipino unity for full equity and people’s struggle: Fil-Ams demand House of Representatives to complete the process of righting a historical wrong

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, commends the perseverance of the Filipino WWII Veterans, their families, and the many grassroots organizations who have fought decades for full recognition and equity for Filipino World War II Veterans. The recent passing of US Senate Bill 1315 (S.1315), the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, is a major step towards righting this historical wrong. It is important to underscore that it was only through unrelenting advocacy and massive struggle of many individuals and organizations including our own member organization, that the Filipino WWII Veterans will get their full recognition. And as we await the vote of the House of Representatives, it is important to intensify our advocacy for justice and to demand that the bill will not be watered down.

“It was the blood, sweat, and tears of the Filipino World War II Veterans themselves, their families, and their supporters, marching on the streets for over six decades that made the US Senate turn its head our direction,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “Otherwise, the appalling institutional racism in the United States and historical unequal relationship between the US and Philippine governments would continue to enforce the painful 60 year-old status quo of mass deprivation of basic pension benefits for our aging veterans, many of whom have already passed away.”

Last week, in a historic vote, the US Senate voted an overwhelming 96 to 1 in favor of passing S. 1315, a bill that would finally provide Filipino World War II Veterans their veterans affairs (VA) pension. Before that, the issue of full equity for Filipino World War II Veterans stood as the single most unifying concern for a broad Filipino-American population of nearly four million in the United States. Numerous Filipino groups took the concern annually to Capitol Hill as well as organized marches and rallies around the veterans’ cause.

The Philippines was the first and only direct colony of the United States government acquired through a violent takeover at the turn of the 20th century. At the time of World War II, the Philippines, then a US Commonwealth, provided over 140,000 Filipino men under the US Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE) Program, to fight alongside US soldiers in defeating the Japanese Imperial Army. While considered US nationals at the time, the Filipino veterans were only foreign nationals recruited to the US Armed Forces that did not avail of the US government’s promise of pension benefits once their service to the United States was completed.

Of the 140,000 Filipino men who fought during World War II, there are less than 18,000 surviving, and many continue to die weekly impoverished and uncompensated for their bravery.

In 1946, the same year the Philippines was granted nominal independence from the US government, Congress and President Truman passed the infamous Rescission Act, which voided Filipino veterans who served alongside US soldiers in the same cause to receive pension benefits. It stated — “the service of Filipinos shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or national forces of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits.”

“We must continue to expose this shameful episode in US history, and hold the US government accountable for its many unforgivable acts,” Quijano added.

S. 1315 is a bill that would enhance life insurance benefits for disabled veterans, burial allowances and household grants, and provides for over $221 million in new pension benefits.

As the issue now moves into the House’s hands, Filipino-Americans are stepping up their demand that the deal be sealed.

“We cannot back down now. We need to keep the momentum going and keep the pressure on Congress. We urge all freedom-loving citizens to contact their local state representatives and demand full equity for the Filipino veterans especially when the issue is up for a vote in the Lower House this year. We will not cease our collective efforts and actions until justice for our brave veterans is finally attained,” Quijano ended.

Fil-Ams commemorate People Power by calling for a “new brand” of People Power: GMA Watch and BAYAN USA calls for increased action in the US against Arroyo

Contact:
Rob McCauley
GMA WATCH
(206) 383-7209
rob.mccauley@teamsters763.org

Jeff Rice
BAYAN USA National Officer
(206) 291-8078
edjop82@gmail.com

Joanne Alcantara
GABRIELA-USA
(206) 427-2994
gabrielawomen@gmail.com

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, will join its mother alliance’s call for commemorative week long actions surrounding the anniversary of People Power 1. On Monday February 25th, the umbrella group BAYAN Philippines will be joining a broader call of church leaders, civil libertarians, and business leaders for the immediate resignation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, following a high-end dialogue of various Philippine sectors in the Makati Business Club last Tuesday.

The Arroyo clan has recently been exposed of high dealings in graft and corruption as ZTE-NBN Broadband scandal star witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada testified last week to the Philippine Congress.

“We agree that Gloria will be facing a ‘new brand’ of people power, certainly one where more Filipino-Americans will take a stand, make more noise, and contribute to the anti-corruption, pro-democracy movement in the Philippines,” states BAYAN USA Finance Officer Jeff Rice. “We are calling on all patriotic Filipinos in the Seattle area who are concerned with the state of the Motherland to join together in this time of crisis.”

BAYAN Philippines Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr. noted, “Perhaps the difference with people power today is that its seeds are emerging from various sectors of society despite there being no Cardinal Sin to call for it. People power is springing forth from the grassroots, the schools, factories, communities, businesses, with various political formations are coming together. It is spreading despite the limitations of the church hierarchy.”

“Now more than ever, we need to recall the lessons of people power and so we can come up with an improved version for our times. The new people power will not simply be led by any religious leader a la Cardinal Sin. Nor will it just seek to replace one regime with a worse one. We have certainly learned lessons from EDSA 1 and EDSA 2,” Reyes added.

The theme of the BAYAN protest actions will be People Power Pa Rin! (People Power Still!), a call that is growing popular even among overseas Filipinos in various countries. BAYAN USA has a considerable number of second and third generation Filipino members in the US who fully unite with the call and understand its relevance.

“Nothing is impossible. After 20 years of living under the iron fist of Marcos, the Filipino people made the so-called ‘impossible’ happen with People Power 1, and again with Estrada with People Power 2. These experiences prove that the Filipino people can make this new brand of People Power possible– one that will reject the corruption and moral bankruptcy of Trapo (traditional politician) politics, and one that will not allow another Trapo to simply replace Gloria. Even second-generation Fil-Ams can smell what is rotten about Arroyo from 30,000 miles away and know that the Philippine system needs to change,” states BAYAN USA Chair, Chito Quijano.

BAYAN USA hopes to mounts actions with allies and friends in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities in the US calling for the resignation or ouster of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo next week. BAYAN USA also calls on all sympathetic forces in the United States to mount creative actions calling for the immediate removal of Arroyo.

In Seattle, a series of actions will take place calling for the ouster of the Philippine President. All events are sponsored by GMA Watch, Bayan USA and GABRIELA USA. The week of March 10th, Edith Burgos, mother of missing farmer and activist Jonas Burgos, will travel across the nation in a national speaking tour to raise the level of awareness on the ongoing forced disappearances of activists in the Philippines. She has presented her case to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights and has garnered the attention of the international community on the state of human rights abuses under the hands of the Philippine government.

THURSDAY, February 28, 8pm.

Nationwide Candlelight Vigil for Victims of the Arroyo Regime

University of Washington Red Square in front of Suzallo Library

FRIDAY, February 29.

5:30pm Rally at Komo News 4
6:30pm Vigil at Seattle Center Fountain

MONDAY, March 3rd, 6-8pm

Potluck Dinner and Community Teach In

Gran Oriente (117 – 15th Avenue South, Seattle)

SATURDAY, March 8th, 12noon.

International Women’s Day Rally to Oust GMA

Featuring First Quarter Storm

Jose Rizal Park (1008-12th Avenue South, Seattle)

TUESDAY, March 11, 6:30pm

Edith Burgos, mother of human rights victim

Speaking Event at Bethany UCC

6230 Beacon Avenue South

We call on all Filipino people, friends and allies to stand against a corrupt government and say “Enough is enough! People Power Pa Rin! We demand an accountable government in the Philippines! Oust Gloria Now!

Overseas Filipinos in the US register their voices against Arroyo

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, has pledged to increase their actions this week calling for the resignation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the Philippine presidential seat in Malacanang. Numerous activities calling for an end to corruption are scheduled in the coming weeks, initiated by BAYAN USA member organizations.

This week marks the anniversary of People Power 1, which ousted the US-backed Marcos regime in 1986. Many are calling for a “new brand” of People Power to target Arroyo.

“This so-called ‘new brand’ of People Power will have a significant amount of amplified voices call for GMA’s removal from overseas Filipinos in the United States. We are the largest overseas Filipino community in the world and supply over 50% of the overall total amount of overseas remittances to the Philippine economy,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “We are economically and politically empowered to make this justified call, as the Arroyo regime no longer has the moral ascendancy to continue.”

Scheduled activities initiated by BAYAN USA include the following:

Thursday, February 28, 2008 – Nationwide Candlelight Vigil – OUST GMA!

San Francisco, CA: 5pm in front of the SF Philippine Consulate

447 Sutter St. (cross is Powell)

SEATTLE, WA

8pm. University of Washington Red Square in front of Suzallo Library

NEW YORK, NY: *

5pm at Roosevelt Avenue and 69th Street in Woodside, NYC

*BAYAN USA will be joining NAFCON-led community vigil in the heart of the Filipino Community in NYC

LOS ANGELES, CA

5:30 PM

In front of SF Philippine Consulate

3600 Wilshire Blvd

FRIDAY, February 29, 2008

SEATTLE, WA

5:30pm Rally at Komo 4 News Station (140 4th Ave. N)

6:30pm Vigil at Seattle Center Fountain

www.bayanusa.org