Category: BAYAN USA

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.

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.