Category: NYCHRP

Filipino people’s moves for immigration reform led by people’s organizations, not envoys; Arroyo, Romulo still shamefully silent on immigrant debate in the US

New York– Filipinos in the US active in the ongoing nationwide demonstrations denouncing immigration bills such as the Sensenbrenner-King Bill and pushing for immigration reforms are affirming that inaction from the Arroyo administration, including overseas consuls in the US, contribute vastly to the blanket vulnerability and repression of overseas Filipinos who avail of no concrete program of protection from the Philippine goverment.

“It is up to Filipinos themselves to educate, organize, and protect their communities here in the US. Consulates may be now learning about this hot debate in the Senate right now over immigration legislation, but their efforts still fall short. It is the Filipino community, through the work of genuine peoples organizations, that have been conducting the critical work to fight for the rights, protection and civil liberties of Filipinos in the US,” states Robyn Rodriguez of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), and a member of the local Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition in New York.

Rodriguez referred to a recent “Pulong Bayan” at the Philippine Consulate in New York last week to discuss the Sensenbrenner-King bill. In light of the massive lobbying campaign in Washington of at least eleven labor-sending countries in Latin America who sent foreign ministers to fight for immigration reform, attendees cornered [Consulate General] Cecilia Rebong to remark on a definitive RP government position on the immigration debate. Rebong replied by justifying why the Arroyo government should not intervene in US political affairs.

“Just as US government does not intervene in our internal political affairs, so must we refrain from intervening on this issue,” Rebong stated.

“First of all, the US DOES intervene in the political affairs of the Philippine government, and second, this inaction coming from Malacanang is the height of OFW (overseas Filipino worker) repression of which the Arroyo is directly accountable. This is an administration that benefits greatly from the dollar remittances of Filipinos in the US. Yet she does nothing when our welfare is at stake, when other countries are doing the right thing and speaking out,” Rodriguez responded.

NYCHRP, a member of the overseas alliance of Filipino organizations known as Migrante International and of BAYAN USA, cited the coordination of protest actions in the Philippines led by Migrante and BAYAN at the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier today and at the US embassy in Manila next week. The actions are in solidarity with the ongoing immigrant mobilizations in the US and to demand Arroyo’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo take a stand in protection of the approximately 4 million US Filipinos who stand to be affected drastically if a strict enforcement-type immigration law is passed.

References: Robyn Rodriguez, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email: nychrp@yahoo.com

Arroyo answers complaints filed against her human rights record by stepping up killings, gives Palparan medal of honor; Fil-Ams, allies, human rights defenders outraged

NEW YORK– Less than one week after 3 prominent human rights defenders from the Philippines traveled over 30,000 miles to the United Nations headquarters in New York to file formal complaints of record-breaking human rights violations committed under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), blood continues to spill over the Philippine headlines more than ever before.

This time with the back-to-back killings and attacks of Anti-Arroyo student activist Cris Hugo of the League of Filipino Students in Legaspi City, peasant leader Amante Abelon of the partylist Anakpawis, his wife and their 5-year old son in Central Luzon in less than 24 hours starting Monday. Abelon and his family were victims of strafing when unidentified armed assailants ambushed their home.

While mother and child died immediately, Abelon remains in critical condition at James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital in Olongapo City.

The attacks happened around the same time the Distinguished Service Star was being awarded to Major General Jovito Palparan, who many have come to know simply as “the Butcher” of Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and now Central Luzon, in Fort Bonifacio.

“This is definitive proof that no so-called domestic remedy can be reliably exhausted by the victims of human rights violations and the Filipino people to stop the rampant human rights violations the Arroyo administration is committing at such high frequency other than to oust her from power. Nothing can be more accurate than to deem these killings as good as committed with Gloria’s own hands” states human rights attorney Edre Olalia of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) in the Philippines.

Olalia was among the three, along with Marie Hilao-Enriquez of the National Human Rights Alliance known as Karapatan in the Philippines, and Father Rex Reyes of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), who stormed into the UN headquarters last week to file the complaints against Arroyo.

Days after, on Saturday morning March 18th, Filipinos and Anti-Arroyo allies in New York gathered in front of the Philippine consulate along Fifth Avenue to register condemnation and demand an answer from the Arroyo administration to the boxes and boxes of complaints issued by over 4500 human rights victims and their families since Arroyo’s ascendance to power back in 2001.

The most outstanding cases called to attention were the extra-judicial killings of Karapatan Southern Tagalog secretary-general Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy, who were tortured and killed by the Philippine military while conducting a fact-finding mission on human rights violations in Mindoro back in 2003. Both deaths were eventually exposed by credible witnesses as having been ordered directly by then-Colonel Palaparan himself.

“We are deeply saddened and outraged that these recent deaths occurred within our ranks in BAYAN with such lightning vengeance from the Arroyo regime only days after official complaints were filed to the UN and Filipinos in New York held an assembly demanding Arroyo be accountable to these complaints. This is Arroyo’s messaging to the Filipino people–our human lives mean nothing, and those who take them, such as Palparan, are awarded rather than brought to justice,” states Dr. Robyn Rodriguez of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP).

While in New York, the three visitors left no stone unturned when maximizing their time to publicly expose the human rights situation in the Philippines to the American public.

NYCHRP, a member organization of the Filipino alliance BAYAN, held a vigil outside the UN building gates as Enriquez, Olalia, and Reyes made their cases in front of the UNHRC. NYCHRP also sponsored community forums for the guests who spoke extensively about the resurrected martial law under Arroyo at the International Action Center, Community Service Society, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in Manhattan.

Two important meetings were held between Olalia, Enriquez, and the human rights attorney for the Cuban 5, Leonard Weinglass, who signed a petition calling for an end to human rights violations and publicly condemned the Arroyo regime.

Another was a meeting between Olalia and Sophie Richardson of the Asia Pacific Advocacy Department of Human Rights Watch.

Richardson expressed particular alarm over the political detainment of Anakpawis Party representative Crispin Beltran and the civil rights violations against the Batasan 5, all progressive anti-Arroyo legislators being held inside the Batasan Congressional Complex as Philippine military await to arrest them just outside without warrant and no prospects of due process.

Richardson, who has spent time in the Philippines back in 2004, recalled witnessing the Arroyo-commanded military shoot at innocent, unarmed civilians while in a restaurant in the Abra region.

At the Philippine consulate, allies from various organizations including Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, CAAAV:Organizing Asian Communities, and other non-Filipinos expressed their solidarity with the Filipino people at a time of martial law, and supported the call to oust the number one violator of human rights from Malacanang.

References: Berna Ellorin, NY Representative, BAYAN USA, email: ny @ bayanusa.org;
Robyn Rodriguez, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email: nychrp @ yahoo.com

New York Filipinos call for emergency summit as rate of human rights violations in the Philippines worsens

NEW YORK–An unprecedented death toll of over 35 political killings of human rights activists, lawyers, priests, and members of various cause-oriented organizations in the Philippines since January 2005 has given rise to international action from compatriots abroad. In response, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), a human rights action group involved in monitoring human rights activity in the Philippines, will be sponsoring an emergency human rights summit in New York City. The event will take place Thursday, June 16th, 6pm at the United Nations Church Center, 777 UN Plaza, corner of 44th St and 1st Avenue in Manhattan.

“Filipinos in the United States need to know that there is very much an undeclared martial law in effect back home,” states Berna Ellorin of NYCHRP. “The onslaught of the Hacienda Luisita massacre this past November, where over one thousand unarmed sugarcane workers on strike were met with bullets by the Philippine National Police in Tarlac, has signified the rise of unabated state terrorism and human rights atrocities under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. Most of these HR victims are members of progressive, cause-oriented, and openly-critical groups legitimately struggling for social change, such as Bayan Muna, BAYAN, Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and Gabriela. The trend now shows that public dissenters to government are not only subject to harassment, but abduction, illegal detainment, torture, and more often than not death by gunshot in broad daylight. Such were the cases for BAYAN-Ilocos Region secretary-general Romy Sanchez, Hacienda Luisita strike supporter Fr. William Tadena, Ernesto Bang of the progressive partylist AnakPawis, and human rights lawyer Felidito Dacut to name a few.

“The human rights violations at present are graver and more frequent than that of the time of the Marcos dictatorship. We are calling this summit in light of a silent Philippine president and censored press, who are playing dumb and have kept mum despite the skyrocketing number of deaths and disappearances of their own countrymen,” adds Ramon Yusin. Yusin, a member of NYCHRP and the New York chapter of ANAKBAYAN, a national youth organization in the Philippines also added, “GMA’s administration not only takes home the prize for worst track record in securing human rights for the Filipino people since her rise to office back in 2001, but her no holds barred, open-door policy for letting more and more U.S. troops back in the Philippines under the pretext of Bush’s war against terrorism also poses a serious threat to the state of human rights for the Filipino people.”

NYCHRP, as a member organization of BAYAN-USA, a multi-sectoral alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S., is also fielding prospective U.S. delegates for the upcoming International Solidarity Mission (ISM) this coming August 12th in the Philippines. The purpose of the ISM is to bring international attention to the Philippine human rights situation by sending fact-finding teams to five regions. The specific regions were chosen because those areas have tracked the largest number of human rights violations in recent years.

“U.S.-based Filipinos and Americans critical of this ongoing international war must begin to examine how it translates concretely into machineries of state terror in countries like the Philippines, where U.S.-backed regimes such as that of Macapagal-Arroyo enact red-baiting tactics and promote anti-terror hysteria in order to inflict terror upon and silence legitimate people’s movements. Just as the Marcos’ Martial Law provided reason for the influx of U.S. solidarity and international pressure against a fascist regime, the time has come again for a new generation of U.S. solidarity to link arms with the Filipino people against state terror under a new dictatorship,” Yusin ended.

For more information on the ISM 2005 or the upcoming summit, contact NYCHRP care of Berna Ellorin at nychrp@yahoo.com

Contact:
Berna Ellorin
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP)
nychrp@yahoo.com