Historic International Solidarity Mission in the Philippines kicks off

Manila, Philippines–On August 14th, 2005, human rights advocates and families of the victims convened with 85 foreign delegates from 16 countries, to kick off the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) 2005.

Delegates to the ISM 2005 will divide up in smaller groups and visit the places where the grossest human rights violations (HRVs) have taken place: Mindoro Island in the Southern Tagalog region, Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Central Luzon, Samar Island in Eastern Visayas, and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao, to meet with the victims first-hand and gain a deeper understanding of the human rights situation in the country.

The ISM 2005’s findings will be submitted for trial at the International People’s Tribunal, set on Aug. 19, at the University of the Philippines Film Center in Quezon City. The International People’s Tribunal will be headed Vice Chairperson of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), Lennox Hinds and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Irene Fernandez. The ISM has been endorsed by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clarke and former Justice of the Supreme Court of India Jittendra Sharma, Mumia Abu Jamal, Dolores Huerta, Jackie Goldberg, Amiri Baraka, and Noam Chomsky along with more than a hundred international personalities and institutions.

From Jan. 21, 2001 to June 30, 2005, Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights) has documented 4,207 cases of human rights violations affecting 232,795 individuals or 24,299 families in 237 communities. These included 102 victims of frustrated murders and 130 victims of involuntary disappearances. The 411 documented summary executions included 51 leaders and members of the progressive political party-list Bayan Muna (People First), 20 human rights workers, and four lawyers and two judges in 2004 and 2005.

Australian human rights lawyer Peter Broch cited the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) report on the Philippines as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. Broch stressed that the violations incurred under Arroyo’s term is possibly “worse than what happened since the Marcos years.”

Kawal Ulanday, BAYAN USA Chairperson leads a delegation of over 2 dozen journalists, educators, and human rights activists from the U.S. “The ISM is part of our effort to expose the role of the U.S. and the Philippine government in the human rights violations, and to redirect millions in U.S. tax payer dollars from military aid to humane forms of international assistance,” says Ulanday.

Filipinos in the U.S. rally for Preseident Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation or ouster

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Broad Alliance Calls for an Immediate End to the Illegitimate Presidency

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–Filipinos across the U.S. joined the largest mass action in the Philippines calling for the immediate resignation of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on an international day of action on July 13 which brought 50,000 protestors to Makati. Macapagal Arroyo has been implicated in a massive electoral fraud scandal resulting from the discovery of taped conversations of Arroyo with Commissioner of Elections Virgilio Garcilliano. The tapes are just the latest in a long list of grievances against the Macapagal Arroyo administration, including entrenched nationwide poverty, violations of the constitution, neglecting the safety of over one million Filipinos working in the Middle East, spiraling debt, refusal to increase the minimum wage, and the record-setting number of state-sanctioned human rights violations against political opponents and civilians.

In New York, a lifesize Gloria cellphone with its popular ringtone met a picket of protestors at Filipino owned strorefronts in Woodside Queens. Dozens of protestors chanted and waved rows of BAYAN USA (New Patriotic Alliance) flags and colorful “GMA OUT” placards at the entrance of the Philippine Consulate in downtown San Francisco. Seattle’s Filipino Cultural Center was another venue for a community rally where a new hip hop piece was introduced by local artists dedicated to the crisis ridden president.

“GMA’s human rights record makes the late dictator Marcos look like a saint,” said Kawal Ulanday, chair of BAYAN-USA. “The number of recorded human rights violations committed under her watch—including killings of clergy, electoral candidates, and activists—has surpassed those committed under Marcos. Cheating to get elected is just one more violation of human rights—the right of the Filipino people to a truly representative, democratic government.”

Discontent with the Arroyo administration is a broad sentiment felt among the general public in the Philippines. According to a poll conducted by Pulse Asia, 72 percent of Metro Manilans surveyed in June 2005 distrusted Macapagal Arroyo and 68 percent disapproved of her presidential performance. These figures are the President’s highest distrust and disapproval rating in Metro Manila since she came to power in January 2001.

“The numbers speak for themselves: the people have no confidence in GMA, and she has no grounds to justify staying in power,” said Rachel Redondiez, secretary general of BAYAN-USA. “The U.S. government should stop coddling this bankrupt president and instead bow to the popular will of the Filipino people for genuine change.”

BAYAN-USA is calling for an interim transitional council representing democratic organizations and the most oppressed sectors of Filipino society, to ensure that whoever replaces Arroyo will have a plan for government reform and begin a new era of pro-people policies.

“Two million Filipinos live in the U.S. , and we are closely watching the current situation in the Philippines. As one of largest immigrant populations in America, we condemn any use of our taxpayer dollars for U.S.-Bush covert operations, political maneuvering or military intervention to influence any outcome in favor of U.S. capitalist interests or imperialist global aggression,” said Ulanday.

The protest was organized by BAYAN-USA and the U.S. Alliance 4 GMA Resignation.

GMA! Sorry is not enough! Resign or be ousted!

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Join BAYAN USA and USA 4 GMA Resignation for an International Day of Action calling for the immediate end to the illegitimate presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005, 4:00 pm

In front of the San Francisco Philippine Consulate
447 Sutter St.
San Francisco, California 94108
(get off at Powell BART station, walk 4 blocks up Powell, turn right on Sutter)

Since her ascendance to the office in early 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has driven the Philippines down a path of extreme debt, hunger, poverty and state terror. In 2004, the GMA administration declared the entire nation under a fiscal crisis. The current Philippine economic crisis however is a mere result of the President’s unrelenting puppetry to the U.S. that continues to champion imperialist globalization policies. These include the deregulation and privatization of basic services such as oil, water and power, as well as the liberalization of important industries like mining. In line with her anti-people austerity measures, she imposed the Value Added Tax (VAT). She has refused to heed the call of the workers for a P125 across the board increase in wages, the call of peasants and farm workers for genuine land reform. As Filipinos in the U.S., we have a responsibility to support our families back home who deserve a President that will advance their need for decent livelihood and social justice.

While the remittances of Filipinos in the U.S. (over 8 billion just last year) and other migrant Filipinos has kept the Philippine economy from completely crumbling, GMA has done nothing to protect immigrant Filipinos in the U.S. against the blatant racist attacks of the Bush administration. While GMA is the first to open up Philippine land and seas to Bush’s war of terrorism, she lifts not one finger to protest Bush’s scapegoating and mass firing of Filipino airport screeners and deportation and inhumane treatment of hundreds of Filipino immigrants.

At present, the U.S-backed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime has surpassed the Marcos dictatorship in the number of human rights violations. Political killings of activists and fascist measures against the people are on the rise.

Since January 2005 alone, at least 39 leaders and members of Bayan Muna, BAYAN, Anakpawis, Kilusan Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and GABRIELA, as well as human rights lawyers, church people, peasants and innocent civilians have been killed by military and paramilitary forces. Hundreds more have been illegally detained, abducted, and/or tortured. The November 16th 2004 massacre of at least 14 unarmed farm workers and hundreds more wounded in Hacienda Luisita has signified the newest wave of state-sponsored terror, with the biggest targets of human rights violations being human rights defenders themselves.

The GMA administration’s silence and inaction on these atrocities indicates it officially sanctions the repression. To further suppress the people, Arroyo, staying true to her U.S. imperialist master allows the continuous flow of U.S. troops into the country, mocking Philippine sovereignty. She has taken the blueprint from the U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act and is herself pushing the equally anti-people “Anti-Terrorism Bill” which promises to further repress the people’s right to dissent.

Now, the people are once again confronted with the bankruptcy and illegitimacy of her regime with the recent jueteng (illegal lottery) and corruption scandals, and now with the unraveling of the taped conversations with Commissioner of Elections Virgilio Garcilliano that directly links President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to massive electoral fraud.

The Filipino people have had enough! We, Filipinos in the United States, demand her immediate resignation and support the mounting call for her ouster, if she refuses to step down.

Escalating human rights violations in the Philippines urges action in NYC

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NEW YORK–Over 40 concerned Filipinos, human rights advocates, and cause-oriented activists gathered last Thursday, June 16, 2005 at the United Nations Church Center in Manhattan to listen as members from the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

(NYCHRP) delivered a comprehensive situationer on the record-breaking rate of human rights violations under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) regime.

“Blood” was the word that soaked into the audience’s minds as NYCHRP member Berna Ellorin reported back on her recent stay in the Philippines. The blood of activists, human rights lawyers, journalists, and priests to be exact.

“Political killings and targeting of activists are on the rise,” Ellorin presented. “In 2005 alone, 39 members of cause-oriented groups, human rights lawyers, priests, and human rights advocates have been killed by military and para-military groups. All of these victims were members of or affiliated with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN, a national, multi-sectoral alliance of people’s organizations fighting for social change,” Ellorin explained, also pointing to the big blue BAYAN flag on the wall, of which NYCHRP is also a member organization. “GMA has driven the country deeper into a chronic fiscal crisis, and dissenting voices are apparent. But with the US-backed mandate touting ‘a war against terror’, GMA has the used the rhetoric of Bush’s war to quash all vocally critical of her administration by conveniently equating the work of genuine and sincere leaders for social change with terrorism.”

NYCHRP cited examples of rising state terror in areas such as Hacienda Lusista, a sprawling sugarcane plantation and sugar mill factory located in Tarlac, where a massacre resulted last November 2004 when military forces sprayed bullets towards over 1000 unarmed farm workers on strike, killing 14 and wounding hundreds more. Since the massacre, many more individuals supporters of the ongoing strike have been targetted for assasination, including Fr. William Tadena as well as UN judge ad litem and the Philippines’ preeminant human rights attorney Romeo Capulong.

“The data adds up. This is state terror. This is martial law all over again. Only instead of activists getting locked up like before, they are shot in broad daylight,” stated Rusty Fabunan, a member of the NYCHRP panel who also answered questions from the audience.

Audience members were also keen on relating anti-terrorist measures in the US such as the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act, as the prototypes GMA has adapted when pushing for her Anti-Terrorism Bill in the Philippines. They also could not avoid drawing the conclusion that state-sponsored terror from US-backed governments such as the GMA administration is the unseen and unpublicized extension of Bush’s so-called war against terror overseas.

“It was a powerful program,” stated Bill Doar of the International Action Center, headquartered in NYC. “It was especially important for us Americans to learn about another war overseas (in the Philippines) that the US government is just as much responsible for as in the war in Iraq. Only this one hardly anyone knows about.”

NYCHRP also pointed out the role of BAYAN in not one, but both People Power ousters that kicked two corrupt presidents out of office. “The Filipino people have proven more than once what the power of the people can accomplish. This is precisely what threatens the GMA administration into resorting to state-sponsored terror tactics to eliminate those who are actively exposing the corruption and inutility of her regime,” Fabunan challenged.

“I left informed AND inspired,” added Dasaw Floyd of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, especially after learning about a developing campaign in the Philippines for the resignation of GMA. “A repressive state that refuses to serves the basic interests of the majority of people, such as that of GMA, is the worst violator of human rights.”

NYCHRP also spoke extensively about the upcoming International Solidarity Mission to the Philippines in August 2005. “BAYAN, along with other concerned convening people’s organizations in the Philippines, are organizing an internationally-coordinated fact-finding mission to expose to the world the real horrors that have accumulated with regards the GMA’s criminal negligence on basic human rights”, Ellorin continued. “The findings of the mission will be made public shortly upon return of the US delegation.”

Audience members also united with the program’s final call for increased and coordinated solidarity action coming from New Yorkers to spread awareness on and support the campaign to stop the killings of activists in the Philippines. In line with NYCHRP’s work locally in New York, a Philippine Solidarity Committee will be developed to involve non-Filipinos with an interest in advocating and supporting human rights in the Philippines.

“Many Americans still remember the days of the old Martial Law under the Marcos dictatorship. It was atrocious then and in many ways even more atrocious now. Reviving the international support coming from human rights advocates from the United States back then is integral to pressuring for substantial change this time around as well.” Ellorin ended.


Berna Ellorin
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP)