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Statement to the Launching of the Women’s Campaign: Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!

by Elisa Tita Lubi
Founding Vice-Chair, Gabriela Women’s Party
Program & Management Committee and Regional Council Member, APWLD (Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development)
Former International Relations Officer, GABRIELA
National Council Member, BAYAN

Greetings to all women and men defending women’s and peoples’ rights, especially those who are here today in the launching of the campaign to Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!

The first Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! Campaign was run by the GABRIELA Commission on Women’s Human Rights in 1989. Its goal was the release of Luisa Posa, an activist who fought against the Marcos dictatorship, and her young daughter, Maywan. They were both detained in an Iloilo City jail, with Maywan as the youngest political prisoner in the whole country.

The campaign’s call Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! was adopted from a women’s campaign in San Francisco, California. Our campaign got wide international support with thousands of postcards and letters mailed from different parts of the world demanding freedom for the mother and daughter. Luisa and Maywan were subsequently released from detention. Luisa is now with Bayan-Panay while Maywan is a law student.

Nelia Sancho and I headed that first campaign which was launched a few months after I was released from the Manila City Jail, where I spent most of the months of my more than half-a-year’s detention for charges of alleged subversion. I was arrested without a warrant, tortured and jailed without bail. While in prison, my lawyer filed a motion for reconsideration that raised questions about the sufficiency of evidence supporting the charge against me. The case was reverted back to the Fiscal’s or Prosecutor’s Office for reinvestigation. GABRIELA at that time also ran a campaign for my release which created enough pressure on the government and the military to let a legitimate legal process prosper. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Today GABRIELA launches another campaign to Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! Ironically, I am now a beneficiary of the campaign along with other women being subjected to political repression by the Hitlerine, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Liza Maza, Philippine legislator, President of the Gabriela Women’s Party and GABRIELA Vice-Chair, continues to defy the Philippine National Police’s attempts at arresting her and the other four party-list representatives who are now under protective custody of the House of Representatives. Liza and I were listed among the 51 being accused of the non-bailable offense of rebellion/insurrection.

GMA’s police and military agencies continue to come up with lists of people being hounded in a situation of undeclared martial law. The names of two young Moro women leaders, Amira Lidasan and Zainab Ampatuan, of the Moro-Christian Peoples’ Alliance appeared in a Mindanao list. Implicated along with many other leaders of democratic people’s organizations and NGOs and by an impostor witness, Jaime Fuentes, in his testimony are:

* Carol Araullo, Chairperson of BAYAN
* Emy de Jesus, Secretary General, GABRIELA
* Rita Baua, International Relations Officer, BAYAN
* Dinky Soliman of the Hyatt 10 and resigned Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

We are women under constant threat of being arrested without a warrant and slapped with trumped up charges and false accusations by the government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, its military and police agencies and its Department of (In)Justice.

Will we undergo the same experience that I had in 1988 when I was arrested without a warrant and charged with a non-bailable offense so they could keep me in jail, only to be freed months later because there was no sufficient evidence against me in the first place?

We demand that the Raul Gonzalez’s Department of Justice, the PNP and the AFP desist from further persecuting us. All bogus charges and false accusations against us should be dropped; fake witnesses be recalled; and the threat of warrantless arrest on our persons be withdrawn in writing.

Enough with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government’s violation of women’s and people’s rights. Let’s put an end to GMA’s fake presidency, her puppetry to the US and her family and cronies’ graft and corruption. Let’s put a stop to political killings, media repression and affront to our civil liberties. The new dictator has to go. Oust Gloria!

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

Political prosecution continues: Bicol youth leader shot dead, Davao youth leader abducted

Anakbayan 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.

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.

Raunil Mortejo, Anakbayan-Davao City chairperson, was abducted last Friday night, March 17, at Juna, Matina near the BAYAN office in Davao by suspected elements of the Isafp. Witnesses said he was boarded into a blue green URVAN van with a covered plate number.

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.

“In this administration’s desperation to quell growing protests, it is now harassing and attacking harmless and respectable personalities. We hold the Arroyo administration criminally and politically liable for the killing of Hugo and the continuous attacks against our youth leaders. This regime is a monster, it dares and does not think twice to shed the blood of young patriotic leaders whose only ‘faults’ are that they continue to be steadfast and vigilant in upholding civil liberties and calling for social change despite continuous tyranny and repression perpetuated by the Arroyo administration,’ said Eleanor de Guzman, Anakbayan national chairperson.

Meanwhile, Anakbayan also expressed strongest condemnation against the baseless and false accusations against one of its local leaders and seven other militant leaders in Davao City.

Lorie Ann Cascaro, Anakbayan’s National Council member and Vice-Chairperson for Mindanao, was charged with seven others after being implicated as conspirators in inciting to sedition and rebellion cases filed against Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador.

De Guzman added that while leftist leaders and organizations are seemingly the primary targets of the government’s crackdown, ordinary civilians remain the most vulnerable.

“Anyone is vulnerable to warrantless arrests, political prosecution and, yes, even extrajudicial killings by the Arroyo regime. It can range from Arroyo’s most ardent political foes to the most unsuspecting ordinary bystander. Who, then, is the real enemy of the state?” she said.

The militant youth groups Anakbayan and LFS held a candle lighting protest later today to denounce the killing and continuous political prosecution against activist leaders and organizations.

Visit the official Anakbayan website, www.anakbayan.cjb.net

Reference:
Sarah Katrina Maramag
Media Officer, 09193486790

Filipino-Americans Take to the Streets Calling for End to US Militarization in Iraq and Philippines on 3rd Anniversary of War; Demand Ouster of US-Subservient Arroyo Regime

Filipino-Americans and allies took charge in five U.S. cities yesterday, March 18, to express their condemnation of the U.S. subservient Arroyo regime in the Philippines and to demand total and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops and military aid in the Philippines, Iraq, Korea and beyond. March 18-19, marked as international global days of action in several countries, signifies the official 3rd Anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq.

“The current U.S. military occupation of Iraq is akin to the century-long history of U.S. military occupation of the Philippines. We know all too well from what the Philippines is now, under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is what the U.S. is molding Iraq to become–a puppet government and neo-colony of the United States,” stated BAYAN-USA chair Kawal Ulanday.

“In the Philippines, there is currently an insidious war being waged, wherein the U.S. government no longer has to wage open combat against the Filipinos themselves, but instead funds it loyal puppet government under Arroyo and the Philippine military to wage a bloody war against its own people, all in the name of a war against terror. But what is really martial law resurrected,” Ulanday continued.

In New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu, Filipino-Americans, led by BAYAN-USA, marched with their Anti-Arroyo allies to expose the U.S. puppet government’s usage of billions in U.S. military aid to launch rampant killing sprees against people’s leaders critical of the Arroyo administration, conduct warrantless arrests, and intensify political persecution of dissident voices.

The U.S. chapter of BAYAN, an alliance of organizations in the Philippines, [also known as BAYAN-USA] raised dozens of their signature red-and-blue flags in nearly all four corners of the U.S. The high visibility of the BAYAN flags amongst the sea of anti-war protesters in the U.S. was a colorful act of defiance against the Arroyo administration who is currently targeting the said alliance’s members in the Philippines through killings and political harassment.

In San Francisco, BAYAN-USA, along with member organizations League of Filipino Students and the women’s group Babae helmed an anti-war/anti-Arroyo contingent nearly 500-strong. In Seattle, BAYAN-USA flags waved side by side with that of member organization Anakbayan, as well as Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization (PUSO). In Los Angeles, BAYAN-USA member organizations Habi Arts and Anakbayan provided cultural performances on the street depicting the Philippine struggle under Arroyo and even served Adobong Palaban (militant adobo) a well-known Filipino dish, to hungry protesters. In Honolulu, BAYAN-USA flags were raised by youth members of Anakbayan. While in New York, a BAYAN-USA representative co-chaired the main anti-war program and march from Times Square to the United Nations building, as BAYAN-USA, Migrante International, Anakbayan, and the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines contingent unfurled a gigantic banner declaring “US Troops Out of the Philippines!”

“We proudly declare who we are and wave the flags that so many of our leaders and members have died for in the Philippines because this flag is so ingrained in the Filipino people’s historical struggle against tyranny under many U.S. puppet regimes beginning with Marcos 25 years ago. Like Marcos before her, the U.S.-funded Arroyo regime is practicing the same fascist strikes against the people to quell resistance. That is why our march is also for the over 4200 victims of human rights violations including killings of BAYAN leaders under the Arroyo regime alone,” Ulanday explained.

The alliance lambasted the Arroyo administration for jailing progressive Philippine Congressman Crispin Beltran and demanded for his release. They also lambasted Arroyo for continuing to threaten Beltran’s fellow five outspoken Anti-Arroyo Congress people– House Representatives Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teodoro Casino, Joel Virador, and Rafael Mariano–with arrest by having military parked outside the Batasan Congressional complex in Quezon City. The “Batasan 5” as they have come to be known have remained trapped in the Batasan complex for several weeks.

BAYAN-USA also vehemently condemned the political harassment of their own national leaders BAYAN chair Carol P. Araullo, BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes, and of BAYAN international relations officer Rita Baua, who have been included in the recently expanded list of so-called “destabilizers” being targeted by Philippine National Police under Arroyo’s watch.

“These are the workings of a U.S. puppet administration so desperate to cling to power it has totally and completely lost all sense of moral and political decency, and turned 100% against the people. BAYAN-USA’s march in 5 U.S. cities on the 3rd Anniversary of the Iraqi war is not only in solidarity with the people with Iraq, but a call to oust the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.”

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