Category: BAYAN USA

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. ###

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.