Category: BAYAN USA

“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

Filipino-Americans join solidarity pact with African-American trade unionists in support of immigrant rights; call for May 1st rally in Union Square

New York– In a press conference held on the steps of New York City Hall yesterday, the militant Filipino-American alliance known as BAYAN USA joined over 30 African-American trade unionists, New York City Councilman Charles Barron, and immigrant leaders in expressing firm worker solidarity with the massive tide of immigrants rights demonstrations demanding comprehensive immigration reforms from the US Congress.

“We workers, particularly black workers and trade unionists fighting a racist and exploitative system against all working people in the US, are in full solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers who are actively steering what is evidently a new civil rights movement,” stated Larry Holmes of the International Action Center.

“We fully understand and embrace that the struggle of our immigrant sisters and brothers is not separate from the struggle of all working people, and we will not let ourselves be divided, by those in power who will opportunistically use the power of the immigrant rights movement to pit black worker against brown worker. Immigrant rights are worker rights.” Holmes continued.

NY City Councilman and black nationalist activist Charles Barron also acknowledged that the American working people understand that it is the onerous economic policies of the US government with other countries such as the Philippines that causes forced migration of peoples in the first place.

Speaking from the Filipino community, BAYAN USA representative Berna Ellorin affirmed Barron’s statement by pointing out that the Arroyo government’s subservience to US economic dictates over the Filipino people’s interests sets the condition that pushes at least 3000 Filipinos abroad to find work abroad because of rampant joblessness and non-industrialization in the Philippines.

“For most immigrants it was never a matter of choice to migrate. It is a matter of survival. Now that we are here, and sustaining the Philippine economy with our remittances, our struggle as immigrants to reform the racist and anti-migrant US immigration system cannot be separated from the struggle of all working people of color. As immigrants, we are also fighting for what Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X were fighting for– basic civil rights,” Ellorin stated.

Among the demands supported by speakers were legalization, not criminalization of undocumented workers, swift family reunification for immigrant families, full workers rights and protection for immigrants, and no to enforcement-type immigration legislation.

The Congressional debate on immigration reform is currently ongoing amidst pressure from immigrant groups in massive outpouring on the streets. A nationally-coordinated immigrant rights rally last April 10th gathered over 250,000 alone in Manhattan and millions more in other US cities. Immigrant groups have signified the demonstrations will only escalate.

Other speakers included black labor unionists Brenda Stokely and Chris Silvera of the Million Worker March.

BAYAN USA and the Million Worker March also openly supported the call for an immigrant and worker rights demonstration on Monday, May 1st, 4pm at Union Square Park, as an extension of the storm of protests that has erupted across US cities.

“In countries around the world, May 1 is traditionally a day of action as international workers day. This May 1st, immigrants and workers will affirm this tradition in New York City,” Ellorin ended.

As a member of the NY May 1 Coalition Steering Committee, BAYAN USA and other Filipino organizations are organizing a Filipino contingent. For more information, send an email to the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines at nychrp @ yahoo.com ###

Images of the press conference available at www.maniwalaya.org/images/bayanusa/index.htm

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

A Gloria-free Philippines is a better Philippines to come home to, say US Filipinos outraged over DFA remarks

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

Now that Department of Foreign Affairs has broken its silence on the immigration debate in the US Congress with a simple “Come home na” to Filipino illegals in the US, Filipinos are responding with a pointed message– “We’d rather go home to an Arroyo-free Philippines.”

According to DFA Spokesperson GIlberto Asuque, Filipinos in the US staying in violation of US immigration laws should come home. “All we can do is advise them to follow US immigration laws, the same way that we want foreigners to follow our own laws,” Asuque stated recently.

“This is a major slap in the face for Filipinos in the US, considering this is a government that cannot even arrest and prosecute foreigners who rape Filipino women,” stated Berna Ellorin of the Filipino-American alliance BAYAN USA.

In response to Asuque’s advise, BAYAN USA asserted it is the Philippine government, in subservience to the US government, that places Filipinos in the US under such dangerous predicaments as TNT’s (Tago-Ng-Tago).

“The mere fact that Filipinos, even in the face of such repressive laws, still opt to risk their lives in the US to work rather than return to their homeland proves how rotten, intolerable, and unsurvivable the conditions are in the Philippines.Over 80% of Filipinos live below poverty levels alone. No Filipino chooses such a life of hiding in the US. They are forced into it by economic circumstances. We challenge Asuque to back up his piece of advise with the concrete promise of jobs and an economic future for our families if we go back home from the US,” Ellorin continued.

BAYAN USA asserted that these words verify what many have felt all along, that the Arroyo administration is turning it back on the struggle of Filipinos in the US who are fighting for basic human, civil, and economic rights amidst the flurry of repressive immigration legislation, such as the controversial Sensenbrenner Bill, that the US Congress is deliberating on.

Moreover, the Arroyo administration should at least educate themselves properly on bills such as Sensenbrenner since the provisions seek not only to criminalize undocumented persons, but ALL Filipinos in the US, greencard-holders and citizens included, as long as they “assist” undocumenteds in any form.

“Gloria Arroyo has done her part generating the one of the highest unemployment rates in our economic history, securing a record-breaking fiscal crisis, and now boasts of sending off one million more Filipinos abroad as ‘modern-day heroes’ to rake in billions of dollars worth of remittances to save the Philippine economy. Asuque’s remarks prove not only useless to the plight of overseas Filipinos, but reveals the government’s criminally negligence that enables the intensification of abuse and exploitation of Filipinos abroad to continue,” Ellorin continued.

“If Filipinos stand to be jailed and deported as felons because of these laws, then let us just register now that we want to see a Philippines is free from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when that day comes,” Ellorin stated.

BAYAN USA pointed out that Filipinos in the US generated 60% of the total $10.7 billion in remittances to the Philippines in 2005 alone. In fact, without the critical intake of remittances from Filipinos in the US, the Philippine economy would not survive. It is estimated that 1 Filipino in the US provides for at least 3-4 family members in the Philippines.

BAYAN USA and allied organizations in the US are projected to intensify their national campaign against the Sensenbrenner Bill and generate critical Filipino community work for just and humane immigration reforms. Of the 4 million Filipinos in the US, over 1 million are undocumented, one of the largest undocumented populations in the country.

The alliance also promised that as it intensified its campaign for comprehensive immigration reforms in the US, it would continue to heighten its call to oust the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.