Category: BAYAN USA

First US-led overseas war remembered; Fil-Ams condemn MLSA extension for 5 more years

CONTACT: Chito Quijano, Chair
626-255-5949

This week BAYAN – USA (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, USA Chapter) commemorates the Philippine American War, one of the first US-imperialist wars for expansion beyond North America. The Philippine American War began on February 4, 1899, justified by poet Rudyard Kipling and US Congressmen as ‘The White Man’s Burden.’ And more than a century later, the US is still asserting its military, economic and political ‘burden’ upon the Filipino people.

BAYAN USA condemns the latest maneuvers of the Bush and Arroyo cliques to secretively and swiftly extend the RP-US Mutual Logistics and Support Agreement (MLSA) that was supposed to expire in November 2007.  The recent 5-year extension of the MLSA gives the U.S. an ‘all-access’ pass to all Philippine facilities. Chito Quijano, Chairperson of BAYAN USA, asserts, “This treaty is yet another attack on Philippine sovereignty, on the Filipino people.”

“The US has used every tactic in the book against the Filipino people. The war on the Iraqi people today, primarily for their oil, had been templated 109 years ago when the US invaded the Philippines.” Quijano reminds, “US battle-cries such as General Jacob Smith’s command, “Kill everyone over 10!” resulted in the death of more than 1.6 million Filipinos, one-sixth of the Filipino people in less than 8 years.”  The Philippine American War was referred to as the “First Vietnam” during the 1960’s.

After  109 years of worsening poverty and on-going foreign domination, the Philippines continues to be severely impacted by the global US-led war of terror.  Since its distinction as the 2nd Front of the War on Terror in 2002, it has received the most US military aid in Asia. Quijano states, “US taxpayers must oppose the horrendous killing spree and forced disappearances of innocent people and political activists under the Arroyo regime.” In 2007, support for the  ‘Stop the Killings in the Philippines’ campaign gained momentum across the US, and the GMA WATCH was convened to take a pro-active step in supporting the fight against human rights violations in the Philippines.   A recent contract between the Philippines and a US-based lobbying firm reflects an anxious Arroyo regime that must now invest in a cover-up campaign so that its military aid is not impacted or restricted.

With the support of the US, blatant and covert, the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo clique is desperately trying to maintain its chokehold on the Filipino people. Some of Arroyo’s unpatriotic acts over the last year include Oplan Bantay Laya II, the Human Security Act or Anti-Terror Law and the NBN-ZTE Deal. Her callous record as the Commander in Chief, comparable to the despicable human rights record of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has drawn the attention of the international community.  Bodies such as the United Nations, Amnesty International, and even US Congresspersons have questioned her administration and the role of her military in more than 1000 cases of extra-judicial killings and disappearances. The 2nd International Permanent People’s Tribunal delivered the US and Arroyo government a guilty verdict last March 2007. Even Arroyo’s own Supreme Court Justice referred to her fast-tracked Human Security Act as part of this ‘mindless war on terror’.

Quijano concludes, “As long as the US-led war of terror continues, the US will also desperately hold onto the Philippines as it has for the last 109 years. Although the recent renewal of the MLSA calls for 5 more years of unrestricted US access, history has shown that increased oppression breeds resistance. And just like the mass movement for national democracy has been able to oust US-backed puppet presidents before, it has also been able to force the shutdown of US bases before the country was opened up again with the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES
NO US Tax-dollars for Philippine Death Squads!
Stop the Killings!

Rapist’s transferal exposes Arroyo’s true agenda–continuous rape of country is the cost of unconditional US subservience

Reference: Rachel Redondiez, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

The US chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, slammed the Arroyo regime in the Philippines for the transferal of convicted US rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith from a Makati jail to US custody in a midnight maneuver ordered by Malacanang last Saturday.

Smith had been recently convicted in a historic Philippine judiciary decision on charges of raping a 22 year old Filipina woman known as “Nicole” last November 2005. The conviction was the first for a member of US military personnel for crimes committed on Philippine soil in a Philippine court.

“We are outraged and thoroughly disgusted by the Arroyo government’s vision for the Philippines– one where those who fight for the democratic rights for the people are ordered to be killed and where US marines can get off scot-free for gang-raping our women. Smith’s transferal is an underhanded maneuver by Arroyo to appease her master at the cost of our country’s dignity and sovereignty,” stated Rachel Redondiez of BAYAN USA.

“The only hope for justice for Nicole and for our country is a total ouster of Arroyo, the number one traitor of the nation and violator of Filipino women. It will be up to the people now to disinfect Malacanang of her administration. Arroyo will not be able to prevent the inevitable wave of outrage and isolation she will suffer for her treacherous ways,” Redondiez continued.

Redondiez likened the custody transferal to a condonement of continuous rape and sexual violations of Filipino women and the Filipino people under the context of the historical unequal relations between the US and the Philippines.

“As Filipinos in the US, products of this unequal relationship, we demand every US troop leave Philippine soil, that the Visiting Forces Agreement be revoked. The VFA is the concrete manifestation of a century-long legacy US interests raping our land,” Redondiez added.

Fil-Ams applaud SC decision to scrap Charter Change; warn House to forgo Constituent Assembly for appeal

Reference: Rachel Redondiez, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: sec-gen @ bayanusa.org

Filipino-Americans across the United States applauded the recent Philippine Supreme Court ruling to dismiss an Arroyo-administered “People’s Initiative” petition drive pushing for proposed revisions to the 1987 Constitution.

In a landmark decision earlier this week, the Supreme Court voted 8-7 against consolidated petitions filed by Sigaw Ng Bayan and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), stating it “cannot betray its primordial duty to defend and protect the Constitution.”

“The legislative and executive branches of the Philippine government should take note and learn from the statements of their colleagues in the Supreme Court. We are very happy with the high court’s ruling because it is motivated by the national sovereign interests of the Filipino people, the love of democracy, and an adherence to the Philippine constitution, contrary to this so-called People’s Initiative and Arroyo’s Charter Change,” stated BAYAN USA Vice-Chair Chito Quijano.

Quijano further stated the SC decision as a victory for the large outpouring of street mobilizations and international people’s momentum to largely expose the People’s Initiative as a fraud.

BAYAN USA, a US-based chapter of the umbrella organization in the Philippines, denounced the petition drive as an “Arroyo maneuver to circumvent and alter the Philippine Consitution in order to pave the way for intensified foreign economic, political, and military intervention on Philippine soil.”

“As Filipinos in the US, we understand that the proponents of the People’s Initiative are not, in fact, the Filipino people themselves. It is the US government and multi-national corporate initiative that Arroyo’s Charter Change is pushing for,” Quijano added.

Among the proposed changes is a significant overhaul of the of the two-chamber legislature into a unicameral parliament, wherein a prime minister, instead of the president, would head the government.

Staunch opponents have argued the systemic overhauls advance Malacanang’s desire to consolidate its failing grip on power in lieu of an exceeding political crisis.

Quijano further warned against a gathering from Congress for a constituent assembly to continue on with its lobby for Charter Change.

“The House should respect the Supreme Court’s decision as final, and cease from carrying this problematic and failed agenda any further,” he ended.

Every kill is the work of a coward; US Filipinos mourn Ramento’s death

Reference: Rachel Redondiez, BAYAN USA, email: secgen @ bayanusa.org

New York– Less than two weeks after the staging of an international day of action against heightened political killings in the Philippines that brought together Filipinos and non-Filipinos all over the world, the most gruesome death by stabbing has taken place. On Tuesday, October 3, at 4am (Philippine time) Philippine Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) was stabbed to death seven times while asleep in his convent in Tarlac, Central Luzon. Ramento was known as an outspoken critic of the Arroyo administration and convenor of several initiatives in promotion of human and civil rights, including the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL).

“We are most appalled with the gruesome nature by which the murderers took Bishop Ramento’s life. He was 69 years old. He was asleep. Yet he was stabbed. Only an extreme coward would go through such desperate measures to attack a completely defenseless individual,” states BAYAN USA vice-chair Chito Quijano.

The murder of Bp. Ramento follows a national trend of politically-motivated killings under the US-backed Arroyo regime. Ramento was a convenor of Pilgrims for Peace and a supporter of Hacienda Luisita farm workers on strike. He made no qualms of his opposition to Arroyo’s national policies.

“The Arroyo administration has the blood of a beloved peacemaker in her hands. The very name of Gloria Arroyo has become synonymous with bloodshed,” Quijano added.

Alongside a call for the withdrawal of US tax dollars towards Philippine military aid, BAYAN USA continued to echo support for an Arroyo ouster.

“Bishop Ramento’s death will not be in vain. His commitment to justice and to the people will live through the example he has set for the global community of human rights advocates. As we strive to embody his pro-people qualities and continue his work, the Arroyo administration will continue to be weakened. His death is felt throughout the world, across oceans,” Quijano ended.

The alliance also demanded a full investigation of Ramento’s death.

For more information and pictures of candlelight vigils in memoriam, visit www.arkibongbayan.org. ###