Category: BAYAN USA

Fil-Ams to Arroyo – “You are not welcome!” More anti-Arroyo RAT sightings to be expected during President Arroyo’s 10-day visit to the US

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

Nationwide, US–Filipino Americans and other US allies will launch anti-Arroyo RAT “Rapid Action Team” actions during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s highly-anticipated 10-day visit to the US. “The US-Arroyo administration is a garbage regime, and our RATs are infuriated by its actions. The US-Arroyo administration is the Bubonic plague of the Filipino people, and we must rid ourselves of this pestilence. Our families in the Philippines are suffering because of this US-Arroyo administration that is rotten to the core,” said Chito Quijano, Chairperson of BAYAN USA. BAYAN USA first launched RAT actions against Arroyo during her 2005 visit to the United Nations in New York.

Arroyo has several meetings in Washington DC, including a White House session with Bush and his cronies. Coordinated actions in D.C., New York City and throughout the west coast are being organized by the US Chapter of BAYAN (BAYAN USA) and its U.S.-based allies.

“The pinnacle of Arroyo’s US visit will be her meeting at the White House with Bush and members of his Cabinet on June 24th, where she will further undermine Philippine sovereignty in exchange for US military-backing,” said Quijano. US military presence in the Philippines will be a key agenda in the Bush-Arroyo meeting not just because of the “War on Terror,” but also because of US economic interests in the region.

This past February, US military were involved in the massacre of innocent civilians in Sulu. Just recently the US oil company, Exxon-Mobil, announced that it would be doing oil exploration off Sulu.

Quijano also stated, “Arroyo’s appalling record of human rights violations continues to worsen as people are still being extra-judicially killed or disappeared and Arroyo’s death squads and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are still the main suspects at large.” Based on data from Karapatan, there have been a total of 903 extrajudicial killings and 193 enforced disappearances since Arroyo came to power in 2001. “This White House meeting between Bush, the world’s number-one war criminal, and his number-one puppet, Arroyo, can lead only to plans of more human rights violations and attacks on civil liberties and democracy,” concluded Quijano.

BAYAN USA also warns the Millennium Challenge Corporation and US Congress against awarding multi-million dollar grants that will pass through the hands of the Arroyo clique, the Philippines’ most notorious embezzlers. “Earlier this year, thousands upon thousands of Filipinos rallied in the streets demanding GMA’s resignation after key witness, Jun Lozada, exposed the large-scale corruption of the NBN-ZTE deal. It would be imprudent and reckless of Congress and the MCC to entrust millions of dollars to an administration exposed for its barefaced corruption and scandal,” stated Quijano. BAYAN USA demands the withdrawal of the Philippines MCC “compact eligible” status.

“Arroyo has flagrantly failed the Filipino people in order to expand her own personal wealth, and aid the on-going US economic and military intervention in the Philippines. We are one with the Filipino people’s demand to oust Gloria,” emphasized Quijano.

Fil-Ams mourn the death of great Filipino labor leader, Crispin Beltran

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

Bayan USA Statement on Ka Bel’s Passing

It is with great sadness that the US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, mourns the death of great Filipino labor leader and proletarian Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. News of his passing at 11:48am on Monday, May 20th Philippine time spread like wildfire among our membership across both west and east coasts, in at least five major US cities. Our heartfelt condolences and sympathies immediately go out to Ka Bel’s wife Ka Osang and their family of 10 children and 27 grandchildren.

For us, Ka Bel was a legend in his own time, a model of a “tibak” through the decades to emulate. In his over half-century of service to the Filipino people and the Philippine struggle for genuine democracy and freedom, Ka Bel never wavered for an instant in his conviction and commitment. That is simply because Ka Bel was the most remolded of comrades, with a fighting spirit permanently fixated in his being. He was a man who was born from and continued to live simply and humbly among the Filipino urban poor, even though he was already taking on in his later years the distinguished role of Congressman in the Lower House of the Philippine Congress. Ka Bel lived and died with the simplicity of the Filipino “masa”.

Few comrades in our time have the impressive list of credits stacked up in Ka Bel’s resume. For such a simple man, he is forever etched in our minds as the great Chairman Emeritus of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), the militant nationalist alliance of Philippine labor groups and unions that was instrumental in the overall Philippine national struggle that ousted two US puppet presidents and even unwanted US military bases. But few of us in the US recall his even humbler beginnings as a taxi driver in the streets of Manila back in the 1950’s.

While many activists of his generation began in the campus-based youth and student movement, Ka Bel was a real worker who emerged out of worker’s struggles related to wages, contracts, and job security.

Ka Bel was the president of the Yellow Taxi Drivers’ Union and the Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Federation from 1955 through 1963. He later became the an administrator with the Confederation of Labor Unions of the Philippines from 1963-1972, and eventually the vice president of the Philippine Alliance of Nationalist Organizations (PANALO) which transformed into the Alliance of Nationalist Genuine Labor Organizations (ANGLO), which was affiliated with the KMU, which was established on May 1, 1980. In his 20’s, Ka Bel’s name was already famously-linked to street protests, pickets, strikes and labor struggles.

As Secretary-General of the KMU, Ka Bel served alongside historical and stalwart labor greats such as Felixberto “Bert” Olalia in the early 1980’s. As a force of nature against the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, Ka Bel and other KMU leaders where arrested in 1982, and together were thrown in jail to succumb to years of torture by their captors. While Ka Bert eventually died of pneumonia in his jail cell, Ka Bel lived on to continue the labor fight upon his great escape from prison, despite his health impediments related to his detention.

Fresh from escape from the clutches of the Marcos dictatorship, Ka Bel took refuge in the countryside in Central Luzon, where he stayed with the guerrilla movement of the New People’s Army (NPA). There he was known as “Ka Anto” and stayed for two years before returning to the city upon Marcos’ ouster from People Power in 1986.

Ka Bel was also a great internationalist. Revered not only as a Philippine labor leader, Ka Bel advocated and spoke on behalf of labor struggles of different global regions, and was grounded in his belief of the great international struggle of the world’s proletariat. He was also the founding Chair of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) in 2001.

From 2001 on, Ka Bel served in a minority of pro-poor legislators in Philippine House of Representatives, where he also became an advocate particularly for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers. In the last years of his life, Ka Bel was once again thrown into prison for trumped-up charges of rebellion and sedition. Even with his failing health and the intensification of state terrorism under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) regime, Ka Bel remained unfazed until his joyous liberation last year.

Such stories of great leaders do not come often in our human history, and they have also served as inspirations for the formation of people’s organizations outside of the homefront, such as ours. That is why to honor his life, BAYAN USA pledges to emulate his example and strengthen our resolve to contribute fully to the Philippine people’s struggle for genuine nationalism and freedom, as well as the struggle to oust the morally-bankrupt Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime. Generations of subsequent Filipino, overseas Filipino, and international labor activists will not let his example die.


Legalization for all! Stop the raids and deportations!

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

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.


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

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.