Category: BAYAN USA

Fil-Ams demand US troops out of Mindanao: Siting of US soldiers at massacre scene proves “Balikatan kills”

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

“The involvement of US troops in a fatal raid of a Sulu village, south of Mindanao, killing eight innocent bystanders, including two children and pregnant woman proves Balikatan kills,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano in response to the testimony of Sandrawina Wahid, a villager who claims to have witnessed US troops storm her village with Philippine troops earlier this month.

The Filipino-American alliance of over 12 organizations in the US is joining the massive movement for the removal of US troops from the Philippines, and Mindanao in particular.

Wahid testified she witnessed at least four US soldiers join Philippine forces raid her barangay (village). Among the victims who did not survive the raid was her husband, Private First Class Ibnol Wahid, a soldier shot while on vacation with his family. Soldiers also burned down houses and harassed villagers.

“The US troops are in the Philippines under the context of the Balikatan joint military exercises in order to train and assist Philippine troops in defeating terrorism. They are prohibited under Philippine law to engage in direct combat,” Quijano stated. “This incident proves otherwise. We demand an immediate investigation by government authorities of US involvement in this tragedy.”

Amidst growing protests in Manila in response to the Arroyo family’s exposed graft and corruption, bigger protests have emerged in Mindanao against renewed US military presence in the region, the extension of the US-Philippine military agreement known as the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA), and the return of the Balikatan joint military exercises, including major cities Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

“Balikatan literally means ‘shoulder to shoulder’, but people are dying because of it”, Quijano added. “The real terrorism the people need to defeat is state terrorism and political repression in the Philippines at the hands of Arroyo’s military and the US military.”

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in an effort to support the Global War on Terror, requested the Bush administration send US troops to Mindanao back in 2001 to defeat the Abu Sayyaf, a supposed Islamic fundamentalist group gone awry. Since the start of the Balikatan exercises after September 11th, no member of Abu Sayyaf has been apprehended. Many question of existence of the group and its relationship to the Philippine government.

“As tax season here in the US approaches, we are appealing urgently to US taxpayers to call on their government to withdraw US military aid to the Philippines. The last Appropriations Bill from the US Congress allotted $30 million in aid to the Philippines. This money is fueling state terrorism in our motherland,” Quijano ended.

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

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, will join its mother alliance’s call for commemorative actions around the anniversary of People Power 1, 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 overseas Filipinos will take a stand, make more noise, and contribute to the anti-corruption, anti-dictatorship movement in the Philippines,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano.

BAYAN Philippines Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr. noted, “Perhaps the difference with people power today is that it’s 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,” Quijano ended.

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.

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

CONTACT: Chito Quijano, Chair

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.”

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.