Category: BAYAN USA

Fil-Ams say regime change, not charter change, is a cause worth fighting for

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

On the occasion of the traditionally-recognized Philippine Independence Day, Filipinos in the US slammed Malacanang’s intensified maneuvers towards so-called Charter Change [Cha-Cha] to the Philippine constitution as “a shameless act of US subservience to the degree of the era of direct colonial rule in the Philippines.”

“Nominal independence is but a 60-year old lie concocted by those inside Malacanang walls. But perhaps more so than all those who came before her, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo takes home the prize in her all-out efforts to crush the sovereign will of the Filipino people, including orchestrating the rise in political killings, much to the direct interest of US foreign policy and multinational corporations,” stated BAYAN USA secretary-general Rachel Redondiez.

Redondiez pointed the importance of generating overseas condemnation of Arroyo’s “Cha-Cha Express” even from the belly of the world’s number one superpower.

“Oceans will not prevent Filipinos in the US from feeling the impact of the Cha-Cha provisions, including the official re-establishment of the US bases, the sell-out of Philippine soil, assets and national resources, the prolongation of the Arroyo regime’s fascist dictatorship, and the erosion of basic democratic practices, like people’s elections,” Redondiez explained.

BAYAN USA, a chapter of the national alliance in the Philippines, crowned the troubled Arroyo administration as a “traitor regime” that knows no bounds in its anti-patriotic endeavors, as exemplified by those whose interests the Cha-Cha truly serves.

“As Filipinos econmically forced to migrate to the US, we see how the historically unequal relations between the US government and the Philippines has played out serve the interests of big business in the United States,” Redondiez added.

Integral to Arroyo’s Cha-Cha would be increased economic liberalization of the country’s resources, in line with the dictates of US-led agencies such as as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Redondiez equates such moves to the prevention of economic progress for the Philippines and the deepened impoverishment of the Filipino people.

“Arroyo is also manuevering her way through the Cha-Cha to cling on to what little illegitmate power she has amidst a popular movement for ouster,” Redondiez added.

BAYAN USA appealed to all Filipinos in the US to harness their social and economic power to oppose charter change and demand regime change instead. In 2005, remittances from Filipinos in the US totaled to $6 billion, the highest from any other country abroad.

“Unlike Arroyo, the Filipino people, even those of us here in the US, have not abandoned the struggle for genuine national independence. Defying Cha-Cha, hand-in-hand with broadening the movement to oust Arroyo in favor of a transition council, are patriotic causes worth fighting for,” Redondiez ended.

A national protest against Cha-Cha led by BAYAN marked June 12th in Manila.

Fil-Ams condemn intensification of political killings; movement to oust Arroyo is justified by rise in death squad hits

Reference: Berna Ellorin, BAYAN USA, mc@bayanusa.org

New York– Filipinos in the US lambasted the Arroyo regime for sanctioning the the recent killing spree of at least five activists this past week in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. All five were active representatives of Bayan, a national alliance of peoples organizations in the Philippines active in the movement to oust Arroyo, with a chapter in the US.

Among the recent victims is Jose Doton, age 70, a Bayan leader in province of Pangasinan, who was gunned down earlier this week by two unidentified motorcycle-riding men.

A total of 69 activists and leaders from cause-oriented, anti-Arroyo groups have been killed this year alone. 585 have been target deaths from military hits since 2001. The nationwide scope of the killings show the systemic targetting of progressive party-lists such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and member organizations of Bayan.

“As Filipinos in the US, we realize that the killing spree of journalists,church and union leaders, and human rights activists in the Philippines is a direct result of the Arroyo regime’s agenda to silence genuine patriots and nationalists that aim to counter her subservience to the dictates of US political, economic, and military intervention–which directly undermine the people’s centuries-long interests for a sovereign Philippines,” stated Rachel Redondiez, Secretary-General of Bayan USA.

Redondiez stated social discontent for the Arroyo regime has considerably risen with the regime’s push for charter changes to the Philippine Constitution, popularly referred to as “cha-cha”, that would erode basic patrimonial rights by opening natural resources in the Philippines to 100% foreign ownership as well as allow for the re-establishment of the US military bases on Philippine soil. These and many other cha-cha provisions, touted by the Arroyo regime and authored under mandate of the US government itself, have affirmed the people’s resolve to push Arroyo out of office. It is estimated that more than 80% of Filipinos want Arroyo out.

But as the calls for ouster become more visible and vocal, Arroyo’s political killings also rise.

“Millions of Filipinos like those of us here have been pushed to migrate because of the economic and political crisis brought on by U.S.-supported regimes like the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Now, Arroyo’s appetitite for bloodshed is surpassing even the infamy of Martial Law under Marcos,” Redondiez continued.

Bayan pointed fingers at the government-sponsored death squads that have traversed the Philippines, targetting Bayan and Bayan-affiliated leaders for over 5 years, since Arroyo’s first ascendance to office. The frequency of extra-judicial killings skyrocketed in 2005 alongside public denouncement of electoral fraud and corruption that has pushed for an ongoing national campaign for regime change in Malacanang.

Earlier, members of Bayan USA accompanied national human rights leaders and advocates from Karapatan, the alliance for the advancement of human rights in the Philippines, in filing official complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Council in New York. All claims filed were on behalf of victims targetted for human rights violations under the Arroyo regime.

Bayan USA also pointed out the usage of US tax dollars to fund death squad weapons, training, and machineries in the Philippines. An Arroyo-Bush military pact sealed in 2001 has secured millions in US military aid to the Arroyo dictatorship, the largest recipient of US aid in the Asia-Pacific region. There are currently thousands of US military in the Philippines training Philippine forces in suppression tactics that include large-scale political persecution, under the auspices of so-called anti-terrorism measures.

A number of national leaders in the anti-war movement, namely former US attorney general Ramsey Clarke and writer Noam Chomsky, have openly supported calls for an Arroyo ouster and denounced human rights violations in the Philippines. Bayan USA is also actively campaigning for the total withdrawal of US monetary and military support to the Arroyo regime.

“Unfortunately for Arroyo, the killings won’t silence the popular call for presidential ouster. The intensification of state terror under her watch will not withstand the people’s movement, as Marcos experienced in 1986, and Estrada in 2001,” Redondiez ended.

Bayan USA, a chapter of Bayan Philippines with member organizations spread across the US, vowed to continue its appeal to the international community for support in the campaign to oust Arroyo and demand justice for the victims of state-sponsored terror.

“Rampage of Death” has claimed 585 Lives

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ rampage of death has claimed 585 lives since 2001 when Arroyo assumed the presidency. Of this, 221 have known political affiliation. The figures have been compiled by the human rights group Karapatan and have been submitted in part to the United Nations last April.

“This is the single worst man-made disaster that has spanned five years and continues even to this day. The extent and magnitude of the killings show that there is a systematic national campaign to annihilate and decapitate legal organizations of national democratic mass movement,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“It is incredibly idiotic and malicious to blame so-called CPP purges for these deaths. It is patently ridiculous to deny the pattern in the killings of activists,” Reyes said.

Bayan stands by its earlier pronouncement that the killings were the work of government-sponsored death squads.

Reyes said that the victims of extra-judicial killings have claimed not just members of partylist organizations but also members of militant peasant groups, trade unions, political alliances, human rights workers, lawyers and church workers. Many are known leaders of Bayan, KMU, KMP, Karapatan, PCPR and other cause-oriented formations. A great number of those killed are also affiliated with partylist groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women’s Party.

“The administration’s refusal to admit that there is indeed a pattern in the extra-judicial killings of activists points out either to their incompetence or their tacit approval for these actions,” Reyes said.

Bayan also expressed outrage that the Philippines, a newly elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, has only given a token response to the killings. Last week the PNP formed a task force to look into “unsolved killings” of activists.

“The rampage of death must be condemned by all freedom-loving Filipinos. This is not just an attack of “˜leftists’ but an assault on the lives and liberties of our people. We ask the CBCP, the international human rights watchdogs and all concerned individuals and groups to rise and condemn these atrocities,” Reyes said.

Filipino-Americans support call for the Great American Boycott 2006, rally for immigrant rights on May 1st

References:
Kawal Ulanday, Chair, BAYAN USA, chair @ bayanusa.org
Berna Ellorin, Media Officer, BAYAN USA, mc @ bayanusa.org

Filipinos across the US, under the banner of BAYAN USA and allied organizations, are supporting the national call for a one-day boycott of consumerism on Monday, May 1st, to drive forward the point that immigrant workers make significant contributions to, and therefore can impact, the US economy.

Dubbed “The Great American Boycott of 2006” the national call would entail no work, no school, no buying, and no selling for one day. BAYAN USA member organizations from New York to Los Angeles have picked up on this call and will mobilize widespread Filipino support when immigrant rights groups take their actions to the streets in massive rallies.

“As Filipino workers and working families, we support this call because this is one dramatic way of proving how essential we are to the US economy, and the economic power immigrant workers truly have. We see this as part of our ongoing call to demand respect, justice, and dignity from the broken US immigration system that is working against the people’s interests,” stated Kawal Ulanday of BAYAN USA.

In a press conference yesterday in New York City, immigrant leaders Javier Rodriguez and Jesse Diaz, the organizers responsible for the March 25th “Mega-March” that drew in over 1.5 million in Los Angeles, joined Filipino, South Asian, Latino, and Caribbean community members in announcing a May 1st immigrant rights demonstration in New York City’s Union Square starting at 4pm.

Even New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s recent remarks questioning the point of a national boycott could not withstand the outpouring of support from immigrant groups, workers, business-owners, and even some politicians in support of it.

“It is understandable that there are those in power who would like to avoid such an impact a one-day boycott could potentially have on the US economy, but the truth is whatever impact we make cannot be compared to the devastating impact US foreign policies have on our home countries that cripple and ravage our economies so much so that they cannot sustain us, and we are forced to migrate to survive,” Ulanday continued.

Worker organizations are also citing the significance of May 1st, celebrated around the world as International Workers Day, is historically not celebrated in the US.

“Immigrants will be rallying side-by-side on this day with the broader worker’s struggle to reclaim May Day,” Ulanday ended.

Among the basic demands of the Filipino alliance are unconditional legalization for all, a restructuring of the tedious family visa backlog system that has kept many Filipino families apart, and full worker rights and protection for undocumented workers.

BAYAN USA member organizations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle will be joining others in organizing Filipino contingents to participate in scheduled May 1st rallies. General information on actions across the country can by found by visiting www.nohr4437.org. For more information on Filipino contingents, contact the nearest BAYAN USA representative near you:

San Francisco/Bay Area: norcal @ bayanusa.org Los Angeles: socal @ bayanusa.org Seattle: pacificnorthwest @ bayanusa.org New York City: ny @ bayanusa.org