Category: BAYAN USA

US Filipinos, allies seek Arroyo ouster; join global protests condemning killings

References: Rachel Redondiez
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
email: secgen @ bayanusa.org

Berna Ellorin
Media Officer, BAYAN USA
email: mc @ bayanusa.org

As the killings worsen, the calls across the Pacific have grown stronger and louder.

Filipinos and their allies joined forces across the US in condemning the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime in the Philippines for the perpetration of near-daily political killings. At least eight US cities held actions in front of Philippine consulates and embassies, coordinated with the over 13 more countries across the globe that participated in an international day of action targeting the human rights record of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, already a hot target of watchdogs Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches.

September 21 marks the 34th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law under the former Marcos regime in the Philippines, an edict US-instigated and supported for nearly a decade, and the cause of generations of Filipinos suffering from killings, torture, abductions, and illegal detentions.

“This 34th anniversary of the Martial Law in the Philippines also marks the height of international condemnation of the Arroyo regime– the new US-sponsored dictatorship killings the Filipino people. Today we in the United States amplify across the Pacific Ocean the cry of our homeland– Stop the Killings! Oust Arroyo Now!”, stated Chito Quijano of BAYAN USA.

The various actions were convened by the US Chapter of BAYAN (BAYAN USA) and the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS)- US International Coordinating Committee. This added to over ten Filipino member organizations of the alliance staging actions.

West Coast

Starting in the regions with the largest concentration of Filipinos in the US, Los Angeles and San Francisco staged actions in front of their Philippine Consulate buildings.

In Los Angeles, a guerilla street theater action and rally was initiated by BAYAN USA, Anakbayan-LA, and cultural group Habi Arts. Coffins lined Wilshire Boulevard as speakers from allied organization offered solidarity messages to the Filipino people.

In San Francisco, BAYAN member organizations League of Filipino Students and babae were joined by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and allied organization POWER for a rally on Powell Street. Students and youth staged a “die-in” on the street to symbolize the hundreds dead at the hands of the Arroyo administration. The names of over 750 victims were read aloud in a commemorative people’s march.

In Honolulu, just one week after staging a protest in response to Mrs. Arroyo’s visit to the island state, a human rights forum and film screening focusing on the Philippine situation was convened by BAYAN member organization Anakbayan-Honolulu, followed by an outdoor candlelight vigil at the university campus center.

In Seattle, Filipinos and allies launched the Northwest Alliance for Human Rights in the Philippines at the Filipino Community Center of Seattle. Once the home of Carlos Bulosan, as well as Filipino-American labor leaders and anti-Martial Law activists Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, themselves political targets of state repression under the Marcos dictatorship, Seattle once again shone as a landmark for Filipino-American activism. A new generation of young Filipino activists from Anakbayan-Seattle, the women’s group Pinay, and the Philippine-US Solidarity Organization (PUSO) joined labor leaders, church workers, and other community members in bringing the issue of US-funded state terrorism Philippines back on the community table.

East Coast

In New York, BAYAN member organizations Anakbayan NJ/NY, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines were joined by Philippine Forum Community Action, Movement for a Free Philippines, International Action Center, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Nodutdol, and the Community Organizing Coalition of Philadelphia in a candlelight procession from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the Philippine Consulate in Manhattan.

Protestors tied pictures of human rights violations victims onto a long piece of rope that eventually stretched into a collage of pictures marching down Fifth Avenue, past Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and down to the consulate for a rally.

New York is also home of the United Nations headquarters, and of Laurel Baja. Baja is currently the permanent Philippine representative to the UN who, ironically and much to the disapproval of various human rights watchdogs, sits at the UN Human Rights Council.

Protestors summed up Baja’s representation at the UNHRC as “a big fat paycheck just for keeping a council seat warm and collecting dust.”

In Washington DC, the BAYAN-allied organization Katarungan organized a demonstration in front of the Philippine embassy, the same time a dinner gala event was happening inside.

Despite tight embassy and event security, protestors did not back down in exposing on-the-ground facts about the Philippine human rights situation. At the busiest grid-lock traffic hour, protestors held placards calling for the withdrawal of US support to the Arroyo regime, the withdrawal of US military aid, and the ouster of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in what many foresee as the third national ouster of a corrupt Philippine president, after Marcos and Joseph Estrada.

Protest actions were also held by ILPS member organizations in solidarity with the Philippine victims in Chelsea, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

BAYAN USA, an overseas chapter of BAYAN founded in 2005, worked in coordination with Filipino organizations around the world to launch the successful same-day action.

Filipinos, allies across the US gear up for Sept. 21 protest actions condemning political killings in the Philippines

References: Rachel Redondiez, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org; Berna Ellorin, Media Officer, BAYAN USA, email: ny@bayanusa.org

Filipinos and their allies in the US will participate in an internationally-coordinated global day of action on Thursday, September 21 condemning daily political killings in the Philippines under the questionable administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Vigils are scheduled to take place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, Honolulu, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. Most will take place in front of Philippine consulates and embassies to call attention to the Philippine government’s role in perpetrating the near-daily killings of Arroyo critics, including journalists, lawyers, church workers, students, trade unionists, human rights workers, and others.

The coordinated actions are being organized by the US Chapter of BAYAN (BAYAN USA) and the International League of People’s Struggle. September 21 also marks the 34th anniversary of the US-Marcos administration’s declaration of Martial Law back in 1972. BAYAN USA asserts that there is currently an undeclared martial law in the Philippines under the regime of US-Arroyo.

“Many of us came here precisely because the conditions in our beloved homeland were too unbearable and unsurvivable. Many fled to escape the tyranny of Marcos and US-instigated martial rule. Now Arroyo has resurrected the darkest days in our nation’s history and made it our reality once again. She has also been able to do so with the sponsorship of US military aid and weaponry,” states Chito Quijano, Vice-Chair of BAYAN USA and a labor organizer in Los Angeles. “The world will not stay silent as the killings continue in the Philippines, especially those of us taxpayers in the US whose dollars are funding such day-to-day atrocities.”

Same-day actions will also take place in Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and Brussels. An Arroyo visit to Hawaii last week already unfurled the first of a domino-effect of US protests that will take place next week.

International human rights watchdogs such as Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Watch, and the World Council of Churches have passed reports and statements condemning the killings. To date, over 754 Filipinos have fallen victim to these hits under the Arroyo administration.

For more information on Sept. 21 International Protest Actions, visit www.bayan.ph.

No Hawaiian vacation for Arroyo; protest actions to hound GMA’s visit to Honolulu

References: Daya Mortel, Anakbayan Honolulu, hawaii@bayanusa.org
Chito Quijano, Vice-Chair, BAYAN-USA, vc@bayanusa.org

Honolulu, Hawaii–Protest actions are set to confront the visit of Philippine Head of State Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her visit to Honolulu this September 16th. Filipinos and allies are set to highlight President’s ingenuine actions on the rabid escalation and onslaught of politically-motivated killings in the Philippines.

There are currently over 748 victims of political killings and over 184 cases of forced disappearances since Arroyo took office in 2001. The frequency of killings is now near-daily. Most victims have been members of the national alliance BAYAN and members of progressive partylists such as Bayan Muna. All have been open critics of the administration, and members of people’s organizations demanding reforms.

The Filipino group Anakbayan at the University of Hawaii and the overseas chapter of BAYAN based in the United States will initiate the protest actions outside of the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu. There, Arroyo is scheduled to unveil a sakada statue celebrating 100 years of Filipino migration to Hawaii at 5:30pm. Prior to that, she will also visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, where she will dedicate a marker commemorating 60 years of friendship between the United States and the Philippines at 4pm.

Arroyo is also scheduled to stay at the Hilton Waikiki, where heated contract negotiations with the hotel management could very well drive the hotel workers, the many of whom are Filipino, to strike.

“It is a disgrace to the century of hardworking Filipino migrants, beginning with the sakadas (farm workers) to today’s Filipino immigrants, who came precisely to flee economic and political turmoil back home to celebrate our centennial of struggle by glorifying a US-funded dictatorship that is quickly growing more isolated from the Filipino and international community,” states Daya Mortel of Anakbayan and a member of BAYAN-USA.

Arroyo’s alarming human rights record has already sparked an international deluge of reports and statements of condemnation from Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Watch, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and the World Council of Churches.

“The most patriotic act all Filipinos can do, wherever they are, is to denounce the Arroyo regime for its crimes against the Filipino people. The killings of our compatriots must stop, and Arroyo must be held accountable,” Mortel added.

Arroyo has been consistently greeted with protests in her visits to the US over the last several years. During her last visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York to preside of over the UN Security Council last September, fierce protest actions hounded her all the way to the Philippine Consulate in Manhattan.

Arroyo was among the first international leaders to offer total support to the Bush administration’s expansion of the War on Terror overseas. The ongoing war compact between the Bush and Arroyo regimes has included the massive re-entry of US troops throughout the archipelago, and an exponential boost in US military aid and weaponry to the Philippines. The now US-trained Philippine military is the most-cited perpetrator of political killings, marking a resurgence of US-funded “death squads”.

BAYAN-USA will also initiate various candlelight vigils in several US cities in coordination with several other countries in commemoration of the 34th anniversary of Martial Law in the Philippines. Protest actions are set across the Philippines on that day.

Advocates storm inside Philippine Consulate in NYC to protest political killings

References:

Berna Ellorin, BAYAN USA, email: ny @ bayanusa.org
Larry Holmes, Troops Out Now Coalition, email: larry @ action-mail.org

New York– Four individual members of the Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC), a national anti-war formation in the United States, stormed the Philippine Consulate in Manhattan today to confront Consul General Cecilia Rebong and Permanent Philippine Representative to the United Nations Laurel Baja with protest over, among other things, the significant escalation of political killings in the Philippines.

As they did so, members and allies of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) staged a protest action in front of the Consulate building denouncing the rise in death squads targeting Arroyo critics, reminiscent of the bloody Marcos era under Martial Law.

The most recent killings include Manny De Los Santos, a BAYAN peasant leader from Nueva Ecija, last June 11th, by two unidentified armed assailants riding a motorcycle. BAYAN MUNA representatives Noli Capulong and Sotero Llamas were also assassinated over the past week and a half. A recent report generated by BAYAN tallies over 70 killings in 2006 alone.

“BAYAN is a member of the Troops Out Now Coalition. We understand that over 680 of our allies under Bayan in the Philippines have been targeted and assassinated under the Arroyo regime. We are here to express our anger, our protest, and to demand a concrete response from the Arroyo regime. Her continuing silence and inaction with the obvious bloodshed is unconscionable and equal to condonment,” stated Sara Flounders, national co-director of the International Action Center, a member of Troops Out Now.

Together with fellow TONC organizers Arturo Perez-Saad, Sharon Black, and Dr. Ed Lewinson, Flounders entered the Consulate with letters of protest to deliver to Consul Rebong. The encounter stretched to an anxiety-filled three hour meeting with Rebong and Consul Ed Badajos that escalated in tension as the four protestors also put forth other demands such as the withdrawal of US troops in the Philippines, the withdrawal of the multi-million dollar US military aid package funding the Arroyo regime, and the release of Philippine Congressman Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis, an outspoken Arroyo critic, from illegal detainment.

Protestors also recalled fierce remarks from Consul Badajos defending the Department of Justice’s issuance of rebellion charges against 51 BAYAN members and allies.

“We are working with the United States. We have the right to go after them [rebels],” Badajos explained.

Flounders countered Badajos’ comments, stating the trumped-up rebellion charges are not only untrue, but concocted to specifically set a pretext for government suppression tactics going after the broad opposition movement.

“What a disappointment. What we demanded was a commitment from the Consulate to relay our messages and concerns to the Arroyo herself in Malacanag. What we got was three hours of lip service. Like Arroyo, the extent of the regime overseas is completely insincere in matters of basic human rights,” stated Sharon Black also of the Million Worker March, a national labor rights formation and member of TONC.

The protestors also acutely criticized UN representative Baja”s appointment in the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year.

“It remains glaringly revolting to us from the international community that a representative from a country whose government continues to commit the most heinous human rights violations against its people could hold such a position. Baja must resign. For as long as the killings ensue, the death squads act with complete impunity, and the silent Arroyo government clings to power, no Philippine diplomat deserves any seat in that council,” Flounders stated.

Pictures of slain BAYAN leaders and a miniature black coffin blocked the Consulate window display.

The protestors left with a pledge to Rebong to return in the coming weeks.

“This is not the end. We will continue to return and protest in front of the Consulate as long as the killings continue,” stated BAYAN representative Berna Ellorin.

BAYAN and TONC were joined by members of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST), and the Million Worker March in front of the Consulate in New York.