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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

Senate debate outcome a result of diligent peoples struggle; Filipinos in US must stay vigilant, push for more comprehensive immigration reforms

New York–Filipinos in New York urged their compatriots, allies, and supporters to “stay vigilant” as the Congressional debate ensues after the Senate Judiciary Committee finally decided on a definitive immigration bill yesterday for the Senate floor. The amended Senate bill was marked with significant deletions from the Lower House’s controversial Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437), now excluding the widely-condemned criminalization clause of undocumented persons and those who assist them, and including a temporary guest-worker program.

“This is proving that legislators have no choice but to heed the tremendous pressure coming from the movement of immigrants and their supporters on the streets, as exemplified by the massive turn-out of protest actions in Los Angeles, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Washington DC. While these provisional shifts in the Senate bill mark genuine progress, we cannot be short-sighted in our victory. Now is the critical time to keep the immigrant movement on the streets strong as ever as the legislative process continues through the Senate vote to the White House. No provisional amendment is guaranteed to stay intact unless the pressure from the people stays on,” stated Henry Soliveres of the local Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition (J4I).

J4I, comprised of concerned Filipino organizations and individuals in New York and neighboring areas, has been at the forefront of organizing initiatives in the Filipino community against the Sensenbrenner Bill when it passed the House vote last December, helming two largely-attended townhall meetings in the bill in the last 3 months. J4I is also garnering more critical action from Filipinos demanding earned legalization, swift family reunification and an end to criminalization and deportation of immigrants.

“This is not the time to rest. Filipinos, as one of the largest immigrant communities in the US, must participate in the ongoing national movement for more comprehensive immigration legislation reforms. This is a battle for our own human and civil rights,” stated Shirley Cayugan of the Philippine Forum.

In line with the nationwide actions mounted for immigration reforms, J4I is holding a special PAGTITIPON PARA SA LEGALISASYON, or an important public community gathering on Sunday, April 2, along Roosevelt Avenue between 69th and 70th Streets in Jackson Heights, Queens. The program will start at 9:30am with a KAPIHAN (Coffee break) in Perlas Ng Silangan Restaurant, where immigration specialists and lawyers will discuss the latest updates from the Congressional deliberations on immigration legislation, then move outdoors to a public gathering along the sidewalk starting at 11am. A noise barrage for legalization is scheduled from 12noon to 12:15pm.

Several Filipino business-owners from restaurants such as Perlas Ng Silangan, Ihawan, Krystal’s, Renee’s Kitchenette and others have already committed to participating in the street gathering and will donate refreshments for the people’s assembly.

Members of J4I include Philippine Forum, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Anakbayan Filipino Youth, Kinding Sindaw Cultural Troupe, Migrante International, Movement for a Free Philippines, Sandiwa Filipino Youth, and the Critical Filipino/Filipina Studies Collective. All Filipino organizations, groups, and community members are encouraged to join.

A sign-making party for the Roosevelt gathering is scheduled on Friday, March 31st, 5pm at the Philippine Forum Office, 54-05 Seabury Street in Elmhurst, Queens. For trains, take the V/G/R to the Grand Street Newtown stop. The Philippine Forum office is located on the basement of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown. For more info, call Philippine Forum at 718.565.8862.

References: Henry Soliveres, Spokesperson, Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition (J4I) and
Robert Roy, Executive Director, Philippine Forum, email: philforum96@yahoo.com

[LFS-SFSU] Murdered Youth and Student Leader Cris Hugo Celebrated For His Bravery and Sacrifice

San Francisco, CA – League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University expresses deep sadness and anger at the murder of one their members last week on March 19 at Washington Drive, Bagumbayan (village), Legazpi City, Philippines. Cris Hugo, 20, was a student leader at BU’s College of Arts and Letters (BUCAL). He was regional coordinator and national council member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). He was also the newly elected Grand Chancellor of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO Fraternity) chapter at Bicol University (BU). Cris was the first youth leader killed in the spate of political killings this year.

Cris Hugo’s death is evidence of the growing repression under the United States puppeted regime of the fascist President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This year alone thirty-three progressive activists, students, teachers and workers were killed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and scores more have been arrested and detained by the Philippine National Police (PNP). The human rights violations committed under the ruthless administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have surpassed even the twenty-years of corruption and brutality under the late fascist dictator Ferdinand Marcos. As the defiant voices of the masses continue to increase in volume, so to does the wrath of the fake President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who cheated her way into office during the last presidential elections while at the same time using the people’s money to fund her corrupt campaigns. Her fascist regime shows no mercy as her anti-people policies such as the Value Added Tax (VAT), which increased the price of necessary commodities for so many struggling families and the rise of tuition fee increase which continues to stifle the upward economic mobility of the Filipino masses.

Cris is the first youth killed this year and so long as the Filipino people in the Philippines continue to live under the shadow of the malicious Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, the plague of human rights violations ranging from threats, kidnappings, torture, arrest without warrant and murder will continue to terrorize the progressive movement. Cris Hugo believed in the struggle and the fight for Filipino students against unfair tuition fee increase and budget cuts. Cris Hugo was killed because he spoke out against the fascist President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Cris was targeted because the perpetrators know that youth and student movement in the Philippines is one that is strong, powerful and determined to take action against any president who represses the dissent of the masses.

League of Filipino Students-SFSU would like to dedicate a candle light vigil for Cris on Thursday, March 30, 2006 5:30-7:00 p.m. in the Malcolm X Plaza at San Francisco State University campus. We invite all supporters of the movement in the Philippines and other oppressed third world countries, community members, allies, organizations and individuals who would like to know more about Cris’ life and work. The youth and student struggle does not end with Cris’ death. His murder should arouse any youth and student because it signifies that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo does not discriminate against anyone who opposes her fraudulent and unprincipled administration. Cris, like many of us attending college fought for the same struggles that we face here in the United States—tuition fee increase, anti-immigration legislation, equal access to health care, budget cuts on education and social services, the imperialist war on Iraq and U.S. military presence in the Philippines and all over the world. League of Filipino Students-SFSU asks that you join us in celebrating a martyr who sacrificed his life fighting to oppose the imperialistic economic and military intervention of the United States government in the Philippines, calling for the ouster of the unscrupulous and dishonest regime of the fascist and fraudulent Presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and supporting policy for genuine land reform and true democracy for the Philippines and the Filipino people. Cris Hugo’s death will not be in vain as we as youth and students carry on the struggle knowing that one day the National Democratic movement will be victorious. Mabuhay si Cris!!! ###

JUSTICE FOR OUR BROTHER CRIS HUGO!!!
END THE KILLINGS OF OUR YOUTH AND STUDENT ACTIVISTS!!!
OUST THE FASCIST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO!!!

Petition online demanding justice for Cris Hugo: www.petitiononline.com/LFS415

Stop the killing of Filipino youth!

Anakbayan Seattle condemns the brutal killing of a student activist leader in Bicol and the illegal abduction and warrantless interrogation of a youth activist leader in Davao City this weekend by suspected military forces.

Cris Hugo, a National Council Member and regional coordinator of the League of Filipino Students in Bicol, was shot dead around 10:30pm yesterday in Legazpi City by unidentified armed men. Instead of investigating the role of the military in this death, the Police Chief Narciso Guarin said they were looking at a possible feud between fraternities at Bicol University as the cause.

Meanwhile, Raunil Mortejo, Anakbayan-Davao City chairperson, was abducted last Friday night, March 17, near the BAYAN office in Davao by suspected military elements. Mortejo was released an hour later. According to his account, he was interrogated and harrassed for almost an hour. He was unhurt but was visibly traumatized by the illegal abduction.

The killings and abductions of progressives are being justified by the military by accusing victims of being “communists” or “terrorists.” However, this is without evidence, trial or witnesses presented before the military summarily executes civilians in the countryside. Any opposition to the current Administration is met with harassment or death.

Progressive activists are being executed outside the law by suspected military and police in an effort to silence dissent and opposition to the attack on democracy. The government is using extrajudicial killings to scare the population into submission. The military crackdown has created the equivalent of ‘killing fields’ in the Philippines with the unchecked murders and harassment of civilians under the guise of the war on terror.

In the past five years, hundreds of women, priests, human rights investigators, journalists, peasants and workers have all been slain or tortured under President GMA. This latest situation shows that the military is now shifting its focus to youth and students in its relentless rampage for control.

Here in the US we feel the loss of another young kasama who dedicated his life towards genuine liberation of the Philippines , killed because he wanted a systemic change to make the lives of Filipinos better. As youth, we are the future and we have a stake into shaping that future. We stand in solidarity with progressive youth in the Philippines risking their lives while organizing for jobs, housing, education, civil rights and social services.

The youth cannot be subdued into obedience while we organize for our basic needs and rights. We must now, more than ever, be inspired to fight for our communities’ needs while working for genuine National Democracy in the Philippines.

JUSTICE FOR CRIS HUGO! NO TO RETURN OF MARTIAL LAW! TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL NOW! STOP THE KILLING FIELDS IN THE PHILIPPINES! UPHOLD HUMAN RIGHTS! FREE KA BEL AND THE BATASAN FIVE! DEFEND FILIPINO IMMIGRANTS! JUNK THE RACIST HR4437!

– Anakbayan Seattle
“Serve the People”