Police brutality strikes Filipino youth in Jersey City; groups tag cops racist, anti-immigrant

Jersey City, NJ– Filipino groups are outraged over what many are calling “a blatant act of police brutality, racial discrimination, and anti-immigrant sentiment” on the part of two Jersey City police officers who arrested and detained a young Filipino who was about to file a complaint against an erring cab driver.

Alan James Alda, 25, a Jersey City warehouse worker originally from Manila, was startled when police suddenly “arrested and threw him into a detention cell” at approximately 3 am on Saturday after he asked for the names of the two police officers who rudely dismissed his complaint against cab driver for overcharging fare.

The two police officers were later identified as Sgt. Dennis Halleran and Officer A. Nunez of the Jersey City Police Department.

Alda and two of his young Filipino friends had gone to the Jersey City Police Department Precinct near Manila Avenue to report on a cab driver for overcharging fare and demanding upfront payment.

“We went up to the two police officers in order to file a complaint against the cab driver but instead we were rudely told to start walking home,” stated Arcy Yuson, Alda’s companion at the time.

After dismissing their complaint, Alda asked the police officers for their names. It was then that the tide shifted. “Alan was physically grabbed by the cops and arrested”, Yuson explained. “We were shocked.”

The two police officers threatened Alda’s companions with arrest but eventually left them standing outside the police precinct as they took Alda in.

“We didn’t know what was going on. We stood there waiting for Alan to come back out. After a while 2 unidentified officers came out without Alan, but this time holding batons. It was an intimidation meant for us,” Yuson recalled.

Once in custody of the Jersey City police, sources claim that the Nunez and Halleran continued to intimidate Alda, with another unidentified officer even going as far as asking if he was a “terrorist” after they found foreign currency in his pocket.

During this time, Alda remained uninformed by the authorities of the charges against him, even as he sat in jail. He would later be released later that morning. When asked by an attending officer what he had learned from the whole experience, he was told to shut up immediately by surrounding officials upon his attempt to answer.

When asked by Alda if this would affect his right to find work, the officers shouted, “Hell, yeah!”.

It was shortly after that Alda became aware of his charges upon receipt of a slip of paper that stated police complaints of so-called “disorderly conduct” and “resisting arrest”.

“Alan never resisted arrest or created a physically threatening situation for the cops. Why would he? We went to the police precinct to file a complaint. We went there looking for help!” Yuson stated.

“The police seemed to be more interested in insulting these three Filipino immigrants rather than helping them. Alan and his companions were simply asserting their right to police protection, a move which landed Alan a night in a jail cell,” stated Nicholas Cordero, an organizer for Anakbayan, a Filipino youth group based in Jersey City, of which Alda is also a member.

“The police were out of line. Alan’s only crime was that he was Filipino, brown-skinned, and obviously foreign-born. Like many other immigrants of color, this is the treatment we receive from the public servants whose paychecks are supplied by our tax dollars to protect and serve. But more often than not, it is the police that end up threatening our rights and welfare.” Cordero said.

“The police must be held accountable for this. Their conduct was absolutely unacceptable and must not be tolerated.” stated Cristina Godinez, New York attorney and Immigrant Rights Coordinator of the Philippine Forum, an immigrant rights advocacy organization in Queens. “I am concerned about the reckless disregard for an immigrant’s civil rights and the rash suspicion that he is a terrorist.”

Cordero asserted that “criminal brutality and racial profiling” by the Jersey City police officers against Alda that night is not an isolated case. “It’s a common reality for young Filipinos in Jersey City. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, especially in light of the immigrant-scapegoating climate post 9/11. What’s important is that we unite as a community to speak out against these injustices when they happen. We will not stay silent as long as this type of repression exists.”

Anakbayan, along with allied local organizations Philippine Forum and the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines are convenors of the Justice for Immigrants Coalition, which is embarking on a campaign to 1) have the charges against Alda dropped 2) file counter-charges against the police for criminal misconduct and 3) educate and facilitate community action with more Filipino youth and immigrants on police brutality, racial profiling, and anti-immigrant conduct.

“Filipinos are largely a low-income minority group, and over 60% of all the Filipinos in the US are foreign-born. Alan’s abuse by the police is every young Filipino’s concern. It could have happened to any one of us.” Cordero continued.

When asked about coming forward about his story, Alda mentioned “hindi para lang sa akin eto, para sa mga ibang kabataang migrante din. [this is not just for me, but for all migrant youth].”

An emergency Anakbayan meeting where Alda will be available to discuss the details of his arrest to the public and to the media is scheduled on Saturday, February 25, 1pm-3pm at 605 Pavonia Avenue, #42 (near Summit Avenue) in Jersey City. THIS IS AN OPEN MEETING AND ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND, ESPECIALLY FILIPINO YOUTH AND IMMIGRANTS.

For more information on the Justice For Immigrants campaign for Alan James Alda, email Anakbayan at or call 646-479-1605.

Immigrants are not scapegoats to nation’s problems: U.S. Filipino working families oppose the Sensenberner Bill (US HR 4437) that seeks to criminalize every immigrant community

SAN JOSE, CA–Filipino professional and low-wage workers express serious disagreement with the U.S. House Resolution 4437 Border Protection, Anti-Terror, and Illegal Immigration Bill (also known at the Sensenbrenner Bill).

The bill will criminalized caring individuals, churches, charities, community groups, and similar service organizations that give humanitarian assistance to families without legal residence status. The bill also will allow the government to seize the properties of these individuals and organizations because they did not thoroughly checked the legal resident and immigration status of people before providing assistance.

“If this dreadful, anti-immigrant bill becomes law, it will throw over 10,000 Filipino families in our county with legal immigration papers into the streets and California’s prisons. It will also destroy the supportive infrastructure of our families, neighborhoods, and cities like Milpitas, Santa Clara, San Jose, Mountain View and Sunnyvale,” says Dr. Rowena Tomaneng, a women’s studies professor at DeAnza College.

“Many religious, labor, and community groups will be close their doors. In the county, they provide the needed safety net to prevent civil rights abuses, enhance working lives, and improve community relations,” Tomaneng continues.

The bill is on the agenda of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this February. The full senate will vote on it in March. It was introduced by Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on December 6, 2005. The U.S. House of Representative passed this house resolution with a 239 to 182 vote on Friday, December 16, 2005.

Immigrant rights supporters including many Filipinos will converge at St. Elizabeth’s Elementary School on 34th Street in the Fruitvale district of Oakland (near Fruitvale BART) for a noon time rally to oppose HR 4437. This rally will be held Saturday, February 25, 2006.

FOCUS urges everyone to spread the word about the bill through a petition campaign (see and to contact their U.S. Senator to oppose the passage of the bill.

FOCUS seeks a more just, genuine, appropriate, and comprehensive immigration legislation that provides everyone human rights and economic security.

Since 2000, Filipino Community Support (FOCUS) is a Silicon Valley consortium that empowers Filipino communities in Santa Clara County through public information, community advocacy and grassroots organizing.

For reference:
Dr. Peter Chua
Director, Filipino Community Support
Phone: 408-297-1977

Record-breaking Remittances from the US to Philippines in 2005 is Nothing to Be Proud Of: Arroyo’s Fiscal Crisis to Blame

Filipinos across the United States are expressing “record-breaking alarm rather than record-breaking pride” over Philippine Ambassador Albert Del Rosario’s recent congratulatory remarks for an over 33.2 percent increase in annual remittances from Filipinos in the United States over the past year alone. This totals to an unprecedented $5.3 billion in US remittances to the Philippines in 2005.

Del Rosario further gushed that “less than 30 percent of an estimated 8.1 million Filipinos overseas, or specifically the estimated 2.5 million Filipinos in the United States, have generated 60 percent of the total worldwide remittances.”

BAYAN USA Chair Kawal Ulanday stated “the high dependency over foreign remittances generated from working overseas Filipinos to stabilize the dilapidated economy Arroyo has created is nothing to be proud of. We are shouldering the burden of being the band-aid for a national economy pillaged by government corruption, foreign debt, and neo-liberal economic policies.”

BAYAN USA countered Del Rosario’s remarks that the appreciated peso has increased consumption, which is driving economic growth.

“That is a lie, a picture the Arroyo administration is painting to depict false economic progress to her corrupt administration’s credit,” asserted the alliance.

Genuine economic progress should actually entail a decrease in overseas remittance dependency.

“The peso appreciation is not to the credit of a stronger economy. It is the result of a surplus of dollars flowing in to the country against a 4.84% noticeable decrease in consumer demand. Plainly speaking, overseas Filipinos are hustling to send back the dollars because Filipinos are still not earning enough on their own and still can’t afford the basics to survive,” Ulanday explained.

The alliance also pointed out that over 90% of government revenues from 2005 went to foreign debt servicing rather than to social services their dependents could actually avail of.

Meanwhile, Arroyo is falsely touting her austerity measures and tax hikes on the poor such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) as the responsible components of her economic solution.

And what are the real consequences of the drive to send money home? “Filipinos in the US are pushing their physical limits– juggling multiple jobs, working extra-long hours, separating from their families back home or neglecting their families who are here, risking their health– just to make ends meet for their dependents and for themselves,” Ulanday continued.

Ulanday equivocated Del Rosario’s praise of overseas remittances to “a basic admission of the economy’s fundamental failure.”

“This is a driving reason why Arroyo is bad for the Filipino people, and must go,” Ulanday ended.

Maravillosa Was Not the First and Certainly Won’t Be the Last Fil-Am Youth to Suffer Untimely Death for the Sake of an Unjust War; Bring Troops Home Now

Saddened by the recent death of a Fil-Am soldier in Iraq, the national alliance of Filipino organizations in the US known as BAYAN USA said the best way to prevent the untimely deaths of more Fil-Am soldiers like that of US Army Sargent Myla Maravillosa, whose body was flown back to her hometown of Inabanga, Philippines last week for burial, was to withdraw the US troops in Iraq all together. The alliance continues to actively call for the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq and in the Philippines.

Maravillosa was supposedly only the second Fil-Am soldier to perish in Iraq.

BAYAN USA chair Kawal Ulanday, a Fil-Am himself who grew up in a military family, noted that mainstream media rarely exposes the true death rate of American soldiers in Iraq and other US wars of aggression. “Myla is certainly not the first and will not be the last to die for this false notion of anti-terrorism. She, like all the men and women of our US armed forces, are victims of a US-led imperialist agenda that oppresses within its borders just as it aggressively wages oppression through war abroad.

Ulanday criticized the US military machinery for “preying on the hopes and dreams of low-income, people of color, working communities in the US. They target military recruitment from the poorest sectors in our nation’s cities and suburbs. They lure in the desperate youth with promises of a steady paycheck and education. And because the economy is so elitist and worsening for the majority of Americans, our young Fil-Am men and women take in the bait.”

“We honor and respect the lives of our young fallen brothers and sisters who died with the genuine intention to fight for democracy and freedom. Had their lives not ended under the flag of an unjust war and the leadership of a profiteering US government, they could have continued with these intentions and made major contributions for the good of their communities. But now we will never know who they could have become,” Ulanday ended.

BAYAN USA and its youth organizations League of Filipinos Students and Anakbayan committed to an increase in counter-recruitment education amongst our youth communities across the nation.

They also condemned the “shameless, all-out puppetry of the Arroyo regime to the dictates of the so-called US war on terror”, which is scheduled to deploy 5,000 more US troops to the Philippines under the auspices of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) by February.