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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.

Filipinos oppose passage of US HR 4437; Sensenbrenner Bill will spell disaster for immigrants in the US

New York/San Francisco–The national alliance of Filipino organizations in the US known as BAYAN USA is strongly urging Filipinos in the US to oppose the possible passage of US House Resolution 4437, otherwise known as the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (Sensenbrenner Bill), which is up for review by the Senate Judiciary Committee this February and hits the Senate floor for a vote this coming March 2006. Such a bill poses staunch anti-immigrant state action that will devastate the over 3 million Filipinos living in the United States today.

“The Sensenbrenner Bill is perhaps the most state-repressive bill to hit US immigrant communities in since 9/11. It will surely effect all Filipinos in the US, whether you are documented or not, in an oppressive way,” states BAYAN USA Chair Kawal Ulanday.

Amongst the most criticized points of the bill, which passed 239-182 in the US House of Representatives last December 16, 2005, are:

  • the “unlawful presence” of undocumented persons would now be considered as a crime and felony, with the perpetrators subject to jail time and barred from future legal status and from re-entry into the country
  • Immigrants, including asylum-seekers, victims of human trafficking, victims of domestic abuse, and children who are apprehended along an international border or at a port-of-entry would be detained until such time as they are removed from the nation or otherwise provided immigration relief.
  • Anyone or any organization who “assists” an individual without documentation “to reside in or remain” in the United States knowingly or with “reckless disregard” as to the individual’s legal status would be liable for criminal penalties and five years in prison.

“Let us not be fooled into thinking this will curb the undocumented phenomenon in this country, of which Filipinos number over 1 million, or defeat terrorism for that matter. This bill is an assault on all immigrants, their families, and friends in the US. It will enforce an unprecedented peak in state-imposed martial law against immigrants since the US Patriot Act was passed,” Ulanday stated.

BAYAN USA asserted that undocumented population in this country will not cease to grow under such oppressive laws. Filipinos and other low-income migrant populations are forced into a life of exploited undocumented status here in the US because of a fiscal crisis made possible under the design of unjust and elitist global economic policies– policies authored by the US corporate elite, enforced by the Bush administration and its US puppet regimes in developing nations. For Filipinos, this translates to the record-breaking fiscal crisis made possible by the US puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that has made it impossible for Filipinos to survive in their own homeland.

“A just and lasting solution to the undocumented phenomenon must first and foremost address its global economic roots. It will never be solved by criminalizing migrants and making them suffer through the government’s opportunistic usage of the word ‘terrorist’ in order to justify sucking in billions of tax-dollars towards so-called defense spending to the deprivation of the American people in desperate need of genuine social services.” Ulanday continued. BAYAN USA cited the battle for comprehensive pro-people immigration reform that promotes civil rights, liberties, economic and social welfare for all peoples is a battle that belongs to all US taxpayers. “The US is a nation of immigrants and workers. The Bush administration and its cohorts in legislature are lobbying for this bill not in the interest of Americans, but to expand the climate of fear that has legitimized a profit-making and sensationalized ‘war on terror’ within our own borders, at the expense of our lives, the lives of our families, and our tax dollars.”

BAYAN USA and its allies called for critical community opposition to the bill. “Those who stand for civil rights and liberties, no matter who you are, must let their Senators know they do not support this bill.” Aside from massive letter-writing and petition-signing to senatorial reps, BAYAN USA vowed to increase national protest and community education on the bill throughout this year. “It will be up to the Filipino people to make their opposition felt not only in Senate, but more importantly on the streets,” Ulanday ended.

For more information on local Sensenbrenner Bill opposition actions in your area, contact BAYAN USA at info @ bayanusa.org.

BAYAN USA recognizes end of HLI strike!

BAYAN USA proudly recognizes the tremendous people’s victory marked by the end of the Hacienda Luisita strike, the most controversial workers strike in Philippine history! We extend our gratitude and continued solidarity with all the supporters throughout the U.S. who attended educational film showings and forums featuring the documentaries of Aklasan and Sa Ngalan Ng Tubo which led to an outpouring of moral and financial support from the labor and faith communities as well as working class and immigrant families

The triumph was, first and foremost, due to the courage of the workers and their families who were able to maintain the picket lines for more than a year in the face of the most brutal attacks by the military, police and the hired goons of the Cojuangco-Aquino family.

We pay tribute to the thirteen [13] martyrs of Hacienda Luisita whose supreme sacrifice made possible the victory of the people of the hacienda. They are the seven victims of the Nov. 16 massacre: Jhavie Basilio, Jun David, Juancho Sanchez, Jesus Laza, Jimmy Pastidio, Adriano Caballero and Jessie Valdez. Peasant leader Marcelino “Ka Marcing” Beltran, shot and killed in his home in Sta. Ignacia on Dec. 8, 2004; Tarlac City Councilor Abelardo Ladera, assassinated in Tarlac City on March 3 this year, Father William Tadena, killed in an ambush near his church on March 13 in La Paz, Tarlac, regional peasant leader Ben Concepcion, shot to death in Angeles City, Pampanga on March 17; Bayan Muna leader Florante Collantes, shot and killed in his home in Camiling, Tarlac on Oct. 15, the latest victim CATLU president Ricardo Ramos who was shot and killed near his home in last October 25. All were either directly involved or actively supported the striking workers.

BAYAN USA vows to elevate our stand against state terror and political repression on this International Human Rights December 10, 2005 and beyond. We hold the Cojuangco-Aquino family, the Arroyo government and NOLCOM, particularly Gen. Jovito Palparan of the 7th ID, responsible for the recent and future attacks on the people of the hacienda. We condemn the emergence of STATE FASCIM in its crudest, most barbaric form not only in Hacienda Luisita but in the rest of the country.

Long live our struggle for land, jobs and decent wages! End state terror and political repression! Pull out U.S. military troops, training and arms funded by U.S. tax dollars! Oust Arroyo now–the worst human rights violator to rule the Philippines!

Filipinos in the U.S. support genuine justice for Hacienda Luisita workers by intensifying call to oust Arroyo: Statement of BAYAN USA on 1st anniversary commemoration of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre November 16th, 2005

On November 16th 2005, BAYAN USA, Filipinos and allies across the US memorialize the 7 martyrs of the Central Luzon Hacienda Luisita massacre along with the 4,207 Filipinos throughout the nation who were documented victims of severe human rights violations under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime (GMA). BAYAN USA vehemently denounces the actions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and paramilitary units under Arroyo’s command who one year ago today opened fire on 5000 unarmed and legitimate strikers with machine guns and rifles killing Jhavie Basilio, Jun David, Juancho Sanchez, Jesus Laza, Jimmy Pastidio, Adriano Caballero and Jessie Valdez. The massacre, which is the most violent picket line dispersal in Philippine history, is not an isolated incident and is a crimson representation of the state repression that has intensified throughout the nation under the Arroyo regime. It is a regime that must and will come to an end in order for genuine justice for the Hacienda Luisita workers to be made possible.

The recent career and deployment of Brigadier General Jovito Palparan to central Luzon confirms the Arroyo regime’s belligerent and dictatorial character in response to the mass protest of the Filipino people. Palparan’s incorrigible record is numbered red accounting for 30 victims of killings in Mindoro Oriental during his assignment as commander of the 204th IB in May 2001 to April 2003; 25 deaths in Eastern Visayas heading the 8th ID from February to August 2005, and 19 from September up to present directing the 7th ID in Central Luzon. The most recent occurred on October 25th, where Ricardo Ramos, president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU)in Hacienda Luisita was shot in the head by a still unidentified gunman at his home. CATLU issued a statement exposing the Arroyo government and Gen. Jovito Palparan leadership in the spate of killings inside the hacienda. Arroyo continues to promote and reassign Palparan despite numerous cases filed against him with the Joint Monitoring Committee between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Arroyo’s intent is clear. She aims to suppress dissent by murdering mass organizers and justifying her actions claiming the victims are members of the New Peoples Army (NPA). The post 9/11 placement of the NPA on the U.S. State Department’s terrorist list feeds the illusion that the GRP’s violent and indiscriminate campaign against the NPA is just. The United Nations Philippine Human Development Report attacks the U.S. listing stating the NPA’s “historical record of armed struggle has not engaged in terrorism or acts of terrorism” The reality is parallel to the U.S. led “War on Terror.” There is no legitimate justification. The real intent is to assert military control to maintain the interests of a morally bankrupt and falling president over the organized legal mass protest of struggling people. Palparan, serving under his commander and chief, is not targeting the NPA; he is targeting civilian mass organizers like Ricardo Ramos and the numerous other victims who play a crucial role in leading Filipinos to rise above the Philippines long standing state of oppression and government sponsored terror.

One year after the massacre at Hacienda Luisita, the situation has not improved and the strike continues. But the people’s movement against Arroyo and the Cojuanco clan is stronger than ever before. CATLU along with the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) are united in their fight against one of the lowest take home pays ever recorded in world history; P9 a day (U.S.$0.16). After Aquino replaced Marcos, the sham of resolving the nation’s primary domestic issue, widespread landlessness, placated the militancy of the Filipino people. In1988, Aquino approved the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act (CARP) which stipulated the land of Hacienda Luisita be redistributed to the farm workers. Instead, Cory Cojuangco Aquino, whose family owns the sugar estate, implemented the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) which distributed shares of stocks to the farm workers instead of following the law and distributing the land to the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita. Almost two decades later, the people are still fighting for their right to a decent livelihood against GMA and her oppressive minions.

Arroyo’s desperate claim to her illegitimate power responds to popular 85% disapproval rate with intensified killings and 20 recent abductions in Hacienda Luisita. It is clear that Arroyo’s blood-hungry appetite for new leadership aims particularly at ULWU president Rene Galang, whose life is under the constant and clear threat of military abduction, torture, and assassination. Without the unbreakable resolve and thirst for justice put into action by the striking workers integrated with the Filipino people’s movement, Arroyo’s true anti-people character would cease to be vigilantly exposed. It is this movement that is rapidly blocking air to her suffocating regime.

The struggle of the workers in Hacienda Luisita is one with the struggle of oppressed peoples all over the world. It is a struggle Filipinos in the US– whose history is forever linked to the struggle for land and wage carried by US Filipino farm workers Bulosan, Itliong, Mensalvas, and Vera Cruz–support wholeheartedly. From joining the ranks of the hacienda picket lines to organizing the ranks of our Filipino workers here in the US, Filipino-Americans will not cease to actively participate in the Filipino people’s call for justice by intensifying its call to oust the number one enemy of the workers of Hacienda Luisita and the Filipino people–Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We further intensify our demand for complete withdrawal of US support–moral, economic, and military–to this murderous dictatorship.

OUST THE US-ARROYO REGIME!

JUSTICE FOR THE FARM WORKERS OF HACIENDA LUISITA!

WITHDRAW U.S. TAX-DOLLAR SUPPORT TO ARROYO’S HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES!