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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.

[babae] Filipina Women say NO to HR 4437!

Reference:
Marisa Mariano, Secretary General, babae San Francisco
Email: info@babaesf.org, 925-726-5768, www.babaesf.org

babae joins millions of people across the U.S. in denouncing the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437) and additional legislation proposed by Senators Arlen Specter and Bill Frist that threaten civil liberties and human rights. These anti-immigrant legislations not only intensify the criminalization of immigrants but of immigration activists, advocates, and all those who support the rights and welfare of immigrants, particularly immigrant women.

Among the major provisions of the HR 4437 bill are how the “unlawful presence” of undocumented immigrants becomes a crime where the person may be imprisoned, barred from obtaining legal status and re-entry to the U.S. At the same time, anyone (including family members) or any organization (such as domestic violence shelters and churches) that “assist” immigrants will also face penalties including 5 years imprisonment. The property used in this act will be subject to seizure and forfeiture.

babae is particularly concerned with a provision of the Sensenbrenner Bill that would detain and deport victims of human trafficking, victims of domestic abuse, and children who are apprehended along an international border or port-of-entry. 15,000-18,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. every year, 70% of whom are women and children. Victims of domestic abuse are principally vulnerable to this anti-woman and anti-children legislation in that it will allow for women and children to continue to be victims of domestic abuse for fear of being deported if they sought for aid or refused shelter because of their undocumented status.

“Filipinos will be among the hardest hit groups if HR 4437 is enacted into law,” says Marisa Mariano, Secretary General of babae. The Filipino community in the U.S. is one of the largest immigrant groups ““ numbering an estimated 2.5 million to 3 million Filipinos, including at least 1 million who are undocumented, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

babae condemns the gross negligence of the Philippine government, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for its continued silence on this issue. The Philippines is currently the third highest labor-sending country with the largest percentage of its nationals, over 10%, living abroad. This 10% generates the $10.7 billion in annual dollar remittances. The Philippine economy is extremely dependent on these remittances provided by overseas Filipinos. The largest population of overseas Filipinos are in the U.S., yet the Philippine government continues to neglect the immigrant rights of its overseas Filipinos – of whom it is so dependent on to sustain the Philippine economy.

HR 4437, if approved by the Senate and signed into law by President George W. Bush, would present a grave danger to all immigrants, both documented and undocumented. It is for this reason that babae stands in solidarity with women and children, and all people to uphold human rights and say NO to HR 4437!

DOWN WITH HR 4437!
IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ARE A HUMAN RIGHT!
OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO!
A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN THE STRUGGLE!

Filipinos across the US participate in peoples actions denouncing anti-immigrant legislations, slam Malacanang’s silence on issue; keep the pressure on as US Congressional debate continues

“For Filipinos in the US right now, the struggle for immigrant rights is being waged against the proliferation of anti-immigrant legislature in US Congress in the form of repressive bills such as the Sensenbrenner Bill, and at the same time the culpability of the anti-migrant Arroyo administration that has done absolutely nothing to assert protection for Filipinos in the US if these bills become law,” stated Chito Quijano, labor union organizer and vice-chair of BAYAN USA, a! s he marched along with other Filipinos in the over one million-strong “Grand Marcha” in Los Angeles last Saturday for immigrant rights.

The recent Los Angeles demonstration, recorded as the largest in the history of California, was one of several continuing to spark rapidly across the US as various immigrant rights groups are taking urgent measures to mobilize in droves while the Senate debate over the controversial Sensenbrenner Bill and other proposed immigration bills peaks early April with a vote.

Filipinos in several cities, under BAYAN USA and allied organizations, took action as early as late December, when the Sensenbrenner bill passed in the House of Representatives. BAYAN USA member organizations from New York to San Francisco have been active in creating critical Filipino community opposition to the said bill and demanding more comprehensive immigration reforms absent from the majority of Congressional bills such as a concrete path to legalization, workers rights, and swift family re-unification for those painfully separated because of visa backlogs.

They also highlighted how Filipinos remain an open target for such blanket repression in host countries abroad because the Philippine government has no real program of protection for overseas Filipinos. In fact, as the debate in Washington DC ensues, at least 11 labor-sending countries in Latin America have already sent representatives to Washington to lobby for immigration reforms. To the misfortune of the 4 million Filipinos in the US, factoring the undocumented population, the Arroyo government has remained silent on the issue.

The Philippines is currently the third highest labor-sending country with the largest percentage of its nationals, over 10%, living abroad. This 10% generates the $10.7 billion in annual dollar remittances that sustain the Philippine economy that would otherwise crumble.

The largest popul! ation of overseas Filipinos can be found in the US, as an average of 60,000 migrate from the Philippines each year. Earlier in 2006, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution commemorating 100 years of sustained Filipino migration to the US.

“It’s sustained because the economic crisis in the Philippines remains unresolved,” stated BAYAN USA chair Kawal Ulanday, who participated in hunger strike called by the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition in protest to Sensenbrenner. Ulanday made no qualms about accounting the Arroyo factor into the plight of Filipinos in the US today.

“Just as the inutility of the Arroyo administration plays a key role in creating national conditions so economically and politically unlivable that 3000 Filipinos leave the Philippines as a means of basic economic survival, it is also the culprit as to why overseas Filipinos as partly so vulnerable to such grave human rights violations from repressive laws abroad– l! ack of initiative from the Philippine government to protect OFW’s,” Ulanday explained.

BAYAN USA vowed to nationally-coordinate Filipino opposition and action in the US as part of the broader struggle for immigration reform in the coming months. It also vowed to intensify its call for the “the US-subservient Arroyo regime” to step down.

A discussion guide on the Sensenbrenner Bill is available on www.bayanusa.org.

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

State terror and repression continues in the Philippines despite lifting of the declaration of State of Emergency

Los Angeles – “The Filipino people are experiencing a continued intensification of political repression and state terror by the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, despite the so-called lifting of Presidential Proclamation 1017 that declared the Philippines in a state of emergency,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez told an audience in a forum dubbed as “Philippines Under Fire” last week.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the Secretary General of KARAPATAN (National Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) visited Los Angeles before returning to the Philippines. She was part of a delegation that filed complaints and reports of gross human rights violations by the Arroyo government to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in New York earlier this month.

The forum was sponsored by BAYAN USA, Anakbayan Los Angeles (a Filipino youth organization), Habi Arts (a Filipino arts and culture organization), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and People’s Rights International Solidarity Movement (PRISM). It was also endorsed by California Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg.

Hilao-Enriquez added, “What is alarming is the prevalent practice of extra-judicial and summary executions of activists, human rights workers, peasant and union leaders, journalists, priests and outspoken anti-Arroyo party-list officials by suspected military operatives of the Arroyo government.”

KARAPATAN documented 4,300 cases of human rights violations in the Philippines since Arroyo took office in 2001. There was an almost daily frequency of political killings for most of 2005.

“Today, the Filipino people are intensifying their resolve to oust the repressive Arroyo regime. The immediate removal of Arroyo is the first step towards achieving justice for the victims of human rights violations and improving the human rights situation in the Philippines,” summed-up Hilao-Enriquez her presentation. She urged the audience to support the struggle of the Filipino people and in particular, call for the immediate release of 73 year-old Philippine Congress representative Crispin Beltran, who was illegally arrested and has been in detention since Arroyo declared the State of Emergency on February 25 despite a court order for his release.

While in Los Angeles, Hilao-Enriquez had an audience with California Assemblymembers Jackie Goldberg and Karen Bass, and visited State Senator Gil Cedillo’s office to discuss the current situation in the Philippines and the spate of political killings and rampant repression unleashed by the Arroyo regime.

Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg and Karen Bass expressed their support for KARAPATAN’s work and signed a petition to free Crispin Beltran that will be included in an ad in a national Filipino daily newspaper. Bass stated her surprise and concern to hear of the current repressive conditions of the Philippines, noting it similar to the times of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law. No stranger to Philippine issues, Bass supported previous efforts to end martial law, when she attended protests against the Marcos regime in front of the Philippine Consulate. In addition to the unbridled political killings, they also expressed concern about the US government support given to the Philippines. In August 2005, Jackie Goldberg was also a signatory to the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) to uncover the human rights violations in the Philippines.