Category: ILPS

Filipino-American alliance conducts relief work in typhoon-ravaged communities: members deliver $15K, medicine and 2,000 bags of food to typhoon victims

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Secretary General, BAYAN-USA
secgen@bayanusa.org


Philippine Congresswoman Liza Maza distributing relief packages

DAGUPAN CITY, PHIILIPPINES–Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN-USA, a US-wide alliance of 14 Filipino organizations, have been actively responding to the needs of the victims of typhoons Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng) that slammed through the Philippines in the past few weeks killing hundreds and devastating thousands. In addition to conducting on-the-ground emergency relief operations in the Philippines, the alliance reached its projected goal of $15,000 for BALSA (Bayanihan Alay Para Sa Sambayanan), a broad, multi-sectoral disaster relief organization affiliated with its mother alliance, BAYAN Philippines, in addition to gathering dozens of boxes across the US filled with in-kind donations of clothes, food, and medicine.

This week, members of BAYAN-USA traveled to the Philippines to deliver their monetary donations and participate in relief operations. In Dagupan City, Pangasinan, BAYAN-USA joined Congresswoman and Senatorial Candidate Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women’s Party and MAKABAYAN Coalition for one day in handing out over 2,000 sacks of food to long lines of families who had been devastated by the typhoon’s destructive force, but met with the inadequate response of the Philippine government in providing relief. Pangansinan, one of the most impacted provinces in the nation, was 80% submerged due to the man-made disaster of the San Roque Dam opening that unleashed more than 8 million cubic meters of water.

“We have seen with our own eyes how the Philippine government has neglected the needs of the typhoon victims at a time of tremendous need for basic necessities like medicine, food, and shelter,” commented Bernadette Ellorin, chair of BAYAN-USA and one of the members of the relief team. “It has been the responsibility of people’s organizations, like BAYAN-USA, to provide the emergency response needed for our families and loved ones back home who are suffering and will continue to suffer from the Arroyo government’s greedy, disaster-creating policies.”


Relief Distribution Plans

In relaying its monetary and in-kind donations, BAYAN-USA expressed distrust over the Arroyo government’s recent directive for all donations from abroad to be coursed only through accredited organizations with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or face taxation and other types of penalties and fees.

Furthermore, Philippine Consular offices in the U.S. have imposed restrictions on courier services from shipping relief goods collected by organizations whose efforts are not affiliated with the Philippine government. Courier services face high penalty fees should they choose to ship goods from people’s organizations collecting donations such as BAYAN-USA.

“In this time of calamity, it is unconscionable that the Arroyo government sees this as an opportunity to make money off of suffering,” Ellorin added, “especially when its own corruption of the National Disaster Relief Funds to pay for Arroyo’s lavish lifestyle is at the root of this disaster.”

Like other donors from the U.S., BAYAN-USA is calling for the Arroyo government to lift restrictions on goodwill, including the DSWD accreditation requirement and the taxation on relief goods, as it is posing a concrete obstacle to donors to send relief to the Philippines.

“Donors from the U.S. are not responding to the directives because of clear distrust. How can they be assured that their donations will reach their loved ones and the neediest communities back home?” Ellorin questioned. “Donors are choosing to go through alternative routes to circumvent the Arroyo government’s greedy paws.”

With the approaching super-typhoon Lupit expected to hit the Philippines within the next few days, the need for long-term or permanent disaster relief efforts becomes more apparent. “In the face of government corruption and inutility, people’s organizations should develop long-term relief operations to meet the escalating needs of the people to fight off the looming threats of cholera, dengue and other health epidemics as well as widespread hunger and homelessness,” ended Ellorin.


Members of BAYAN-USA and GABRIELA-USA with Congresswoman Liza Maza

For more information on how to donate through BAYAN USA, visit www.bayanusa.org.

Alcover uses lies and slander to cover-up Malacañang abuse of power and funds

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Secretary General, BAYAN-USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

“Rep. Alcover is only deceiving himself if he thinks that anyone is going to believe his malicious lies and slanderous statements. He should apologize to the Filipino people for wasting their money and time, and issue an immediate retraction of his slanderous statements,” remarked BAYAN-USA Chair Berna Ellorin, in reaction to Representative Pastor Alcover Jr.’s privilege speech to the Philippine House of Representatives on August 17, 2009.

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN-USA, denounced Rep. Alcover’s privilege speech as another pathetic attempt by the Arroyo regime to wash its hands of responsibility for the thousands of state-sponsored human rights violations plaguing the Philippines and to discredit the testimony of torture victim Melissa Roxas. “Melissa Roxas’ strong credibility as a victim of torture, backed unanimously by the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines, has created a diplomatic nightmare for the Arroyo government. Roxas’ brave pursuit of justice and accountability is expectedly bringing out the witch-hunters in the Arroyo government, namely ANAD Partylist Representative Jun Alcover,” stated Ellorin.

Throughout the speech, Rep. Alcover made baseless claims and stated erroneous information as facts. Such information included Rep. Alcover’s branding of BAYAN-USA as “an organization under the NDF [National Democratic Front] international in the United States.”

“Rep. Alcover is stooping to slander as a means to absolve the Arroyo government of the more than 1,000 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases each of enforced disappearances and torture—including the most recent case of Melissa Roxas. This is no surprise, given the overwhelmingly credible testimony provided by Melissa,” said Ellorin. “The Arroyo regime has a history of recycling the ‘communist boogeyman’ every time it gets put on the defensive. Rep. Alcover should be reminded that these McCarthyist red-baiting tactics were discredited last century, for their utter failure to do anything but demonize innocent people and make the world less safe for everyone.”

Rep. Alcover also referred repeatedly to a “hate campaign” being waged to shame the government. “Did Rep. Alcover mis-read the reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights watch, which all point to government responsibility for the overwhelming majority of human rights violations committed against innocent Filipinos?” stated Ellorin. “Clearly, the hate campaign being waged is the one that GMA and her supporters have been waging since 2001, against any person courageous enough to speak up for justice and criticize the failed policies of the Arroyo administration.”

“Alcover is abusing his position in the legislature to advance the Philippine military’s agenda within. His red-baiting and inflammatory remarks also serve to undermine the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDF, even though the NDF has every right to assert its platform for genuine national freedom and democracy, lasting peace, and a progressive Philippines. Rep. Alcover should spend his time, and the Filipino people’s money, concerning himself with public service for a nation in grave need, and not with bloody, ineffective counter-insurgency tactics.” ended Ellorin.

Call for international day of action on Nov. 16 against trade union repression and political killings in the Philippines

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
20 October 2006

The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) calls on its participating organizations and on all progressive forces throughout the world to join and support the International Day of Action Against Trade Union Repression and Political Killings in the Philippines on November 16, 2006. This event is aimed at condemning the intensified attacks being carried out by the government of Gloria Arroyo against the Filipino workers and expressing solidarity and support to the struggle of the workers and the rest of the Filipino people for self-determination, democracy, social justice and development.

The Philippines is now considered second only to Colombia as the most dangerous place for trade unionists. Since Arroyo became president in 2001, sixty-four trade union leaders and organizers have been murdered in extra-judicial executions. They are part of the more than 750 victims of political killings of unarmed legal activists perpetrated by government forces.

Some 982 cases of human rights violations victimizing 77,028 workers have been documented by the independent Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR). The violations include assaults on the picket line, illegal arrest and detention, disappearances, grave threats, abduction and various forms of harassment and intimidation.

Among those killed were union leaders in multinational corporations and local big business establishments notably Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna, union president in Nestle Philippines and Ricardo “Ka Ric” Ramos, union president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU).

Member of Congress Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran–veteran labor leader, May First Movement (KMU) Chairman Emeritus and former Chairperson and current Honorary Chairperson of the ILPS–has been illegally detained since he was arrested on February 25, 2006, a day after Arroyo declared a “state of national emergency”. He was arrested on trumped-up charges dating back two decades ago that had been previously quashed by Philippine courts.

In its recent 115th assembly in Geneva, the Inter-Parliamentary Union passed a resolution expressing concern over his arbitrary detention and calling on the Philippine government for his immediate release or at the very least for his transfer to the custody of the Philippine House of Representatives like his progressive congressional colleagues who had also been framed up in the same false charge of rebellion. We must demand the complete and immediate release of Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. The injustice done to him is an in injustice to the entire working class which is deprived of its elected representative and its voice in Congress.

To gain political advantage over the legal opposition and to serve her interest in bureaucratic corruption, Arroyo has long pushed the US policy of “neoliberal globalization” and “labor flexibility” in the Philippines in order to aggravate and deepen the exploitation of the working people in the Philippines. She has promoted the denationalization, liberalization, privatization of state assets and deregulation of the Philippine economy in order to expand the interest of the US and other foreign monopolies.

She openly declares that her war against the workers and the Filipino people is part of the wider war of terror instigated by US imperialism to keep the world safe for big business. She has vilified as “economic terrorists” the workers who act concertedly to demand better wage and living conditions. She was among the first presidents of US puppet states to declare subservience to George W. Bush’s so-called “war on terror”. Bush “rewarded” her shameless obeisance by calling her government a “major non-NATO ally” and naming the Philippines as “the second front in the war on terror”.

Fact-finding missions by independent international bodies have confirmed the rampant trade union and human rights violations committed by government forces in the Philippines. The extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances and other human rights abuses have generated international condemnation and outrage from such bodies as Amnesty International, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the World Council of Churches and many others.

The International Day of Protest on November 16 coincides with the second anniversary of the infamous Hacienda Luisita Massacre where seven striking workers and supporters were killed and scores more were injured in a violent dispersal of the strike at Hacienda Luisita by police, army troops and private armed goons on November 16, 2004.

What you can do on November 16, 2006 among others:

a) Hold a protest action in front of the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in your country. b) Send a message of solidarity and support to the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), kmuid@tri-isys.com. c) Send a protest letter to the Arroyo government. d) Ask your government to stop giving financial aid to the Arroyo government because such aid is used to attack the Filipino workers and people under the guise of anti-terrorism.

STOP TRADE UNION REPRESSION!
STOP EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS OF POLITICAL ACTIVISTS!
FREE CONGRESSMAN CRISPIN “KA BEL” BELTRAN AND ALL POLITICAL DETAINEES!
STOP AID TO THE CORRUPT AND REPRESSIVE ARROYO REGIME!
SAY NO TO BUSH’S WAR OF TERROR AGAINST PEOPLE OF THE WORLD!

Tribute to Bishop Alberto Ramento the Bishop of the workers and peasants

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
6 October 2006

On behalf of the participating organizations of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in scores of countries, I hereby express deepest condolences to the family of Most Reverend Bishop Alberto Ramento, to all the clergy and members of the Philippine Independent Church and to all his colleagues in the people’s movement for national freedom, democracy, social justice and a just and lasting peace.

All of us are in grief and feel a deep sense of loss over the murder of Bishop Ramento. But we are all comforted by the fact that he has lived a full and meaningful life in the service of his faith and the oppressed and exploited people. His contributions to the people’s struggle for a better life constitute a vital legacy and will continue to shine. His martyrdom inspires us to struggle ever harder for the people’s rights.

May I mention that I had the good fortune of knowing Bishop Ramento personally. We worked together with others in 1994 to persuade the president of the reactionary government to release from prison a revolutionary cadre, whose arrest by the military was prejudicing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Since then, we had fruitful relations in pushing forward said negotiations, especially after his visit to the NDFP Negotiating Panel.

We of the ILPS condemn in the most vigorous terms the brutal murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento last October 3, 2006 in his parish in San Sebastian, Tarlac City, Philippines. We are informed by his immediate relatives and colleagues in his church and in the people’s movement that before his murder he was categorized as an “enemy of the state” and listed in the “order of battle” of the military and that he received death threats by text messages for opposing the charter change campaign of the Arroyo regime, condemning the extrajudicial killings and supporting the workers and peasants in Hacienda Luisita.

But Bishop Ramento could never be cowed. He was firm with his principles and was an experienced fighter for justice. Since the time of the struggle against the Marcos fascist dictatorship, many people have come to know him as a staunch and fearless fighter for the people’s rights. He was always conscious of adhering to and promoting the revolutionary heritage and the continuing patriotic and progressive character of the Philippine Independent Church.

The ILPS is well informed that the Philippine Independent Church was a product of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonialism and then against US imperialism. It is the largest church alternative to the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. It has millions of church members. At the same time, it respects the principle of the separation of the church and the state. It has concordat relations with the Anglican provinces and the old Catholic Church abroad.

Bishop Ramento was ever conscious of bringing to the defense of the Filipino people the strength and influence of his church in the Philippines and abroad. But he was always personally a humble and hardworking priest even as he rose to the highest positions in his church and in the ecumenical movement. He served as the Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC), chairperson of the National Council of Churches and co-chairperson of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum.

He upheld the revolutionary legacy of his church by word and by deed. He stood and fought for the rights of the poor, the exploited and the oppressed. He was on the side of the workers and peasants of the vast plantation Hacienda Luisita when they launched a strike for the implementation of land reform, higher wages and the return to work of dismissed union officials. Together with the workers and peasants, he faced the attacks of the military against the striking workers. Loved and respected by the masses, his clergy and the faithful he served, he was honored as the “bishop of the poor workers and peasants.”

Bishop Ramento was an outspoken critic of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, questioning the legitimacy of her rule and asking her to step down. He also denounced the US-backed Arroyo regime and her repressive instruments, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the paramilitary. He condemned the rampant acts of state terrorism. In the strongest terms, he denounced the Arroyo regime for its culpability for the extra-judicial killings, abductions, torture and other human right violations.

Bishop Ramento was a strong advocate of just peace. He was indefatigable in pointing out that the civil war in the Philippines can be resolved through peace negotiations only by addressing the fundamental problems of the people through economic, social and political reforms guided by the principles of national independence, democracy and social justice. He was outstanding in spearheading associations and actions for a just and lasting peace.

Bishop Ramento’s parish in Tarlac is a parish of the poor and his church is simple with no treasures of holy icons or golden tapestry. That is why no one believes the precipitate claim of the police that robbery was the cause of his murder. His wealth is his pro-people principles as manifested in all his efforts to uphold, defend and promote the rights and interests of the people, especially the toiling masses.

In the last pastoral letter that he signed as Chairman of the Supreme Council of Bishops, he called on the people to “find courage and confront the darkness that is engulfing the very soul of the nation and continue to tread the path towards the establishment of a just society under a government that genuinely serves the interest and welfare of the Filipinos.”

His moral leadership and his active participation in the people’s struggle have earned the ire of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime. Arroyo, her cabinet oversight committee on internal security and her minions in the military, police and its paramilitary and death squads are all responsible for the dastardly murder of Bishop Ramento. It is within the framework of the Bush-directed war of terror and Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya that our beloved Bishop Ramento has been taken away from us, like the hundreds of other victims of extra-judicial killings.

The extra-judicial killings by the Arroyo regime’s cabal of assassins have failed and will fail again to intimidate and stop the Filipino people from fighting this puppet, corrupt, brutal, illegitimate and immoral regime. The murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento brings to a new and higher level the outrage of the people. His martyrdom arouses us to heighten our fighting will and capabilities in order to get rid of the Arroyo regime as soon as possible. It also inspires us for a long time to come to fight for national liberation, democracy, social justice and peace. ###