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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!

U.S. tax dollars FULL EQUITY for Filipino veterans, not to fund martial law

Every Veterans Day is a reminder that Filipino World War II Veterans are still denied justice. For over ten years now the U.S. Congress has failed to pass legislation that amends Title 38 of the 1946 Rescission Act–the act that denies Filipino Veterans equal recognition and compensation for their sacrifice during World War II.

Many of these Veterans, walking the downtown streets of America, are separated from their families, and often live with 4-5 others in cramped single occupancy rooms or small apartments. Reaching their twilight years, thousands subsist off of supplemental social security income or welfare and live very difficult lives. These men came to the U.S. after George Bush Sr. signed the 1990 Immigration Act giving Filipino Veterans the right to naturalization but not Full Equity. This law which gives Filipino Veterans citizenship without the right to equal recognition and compensation demonstrates the long standing problem of American public policy. How can it be appropriate to say Filipino WWII Veterans are U.S. citizens but cannot be given equal treatment? It is because of this clear contradiction so many Filipino Veterans demand the U.S. government make amends and pass HR 302 and S146, the current Filipino Veterans Equity Act in the House and Senate.

However, the national defense budget projected at $402.6 billion consumes an overwhelming portion of the U.S. tax base.[1] Some believe that the Bush administration’s exorbitant defense spending stands in the way of Filipino Veterans Equity. Many representatives in Congress claim there is not enough money to give Filipino Veterans the justice they have deserved for over 59 years.

BAYAN USA asserts that there is more than enough money to pay for Full Equity. Just this year alone, the U.S. government has projected giving $71,770,000 in military aid to a regime and armed forces that is responsible for a record number of human rights abuses. [2] The Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime has lost the mandate of the Filipino people and they are demanding an end to her presidency. She is spending the Philippine defense budget and the millions in military aid received from the U.S. on suppressing the will of the Filipino people and to brutally repress the national democratic movement. As of July 2005, Karapatan, a human rights group has documented 4207 cases of human rights violations which included killings, summary executions, unlawful detention and force disappearances.[3] American tax dollars should be used for Full Equity for Filipino Veterans and not to fund martial law.

It is important to note that there is a historical difference between the service of Filipinos Veterans during WWII and the role the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) plays today. In WWII, when the Philippines was still a colony, the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), the guerilla units and the New Philippine Scouts served as inducted soldiers in the American military for the purpose of defending the Philippines against Japanese imperialism. Today the AFP is the military arm of the repressive Macapagal-Arroyo regime that performs weekly assassinations of anti-Arroyo leaders and human rights defenders violently suppressing the people’s rights to dissent by beating protestors on the streets in enforcement of the current de facto martial law. The U.S. government is spending American tax dollars to draw blood from the Filipino people instead of allocating the appropriate means to fund justice for the surviving tens of thousands of Filipino Veterans who are still denied Full Equity.

The demand for FULL EQUITY for Filipino WWII Veterans is similar to the demands of our compatriots back home that are also fighting for the right to dignity, basic social services and a decent livelihood. Additionally, BAYAN USA recognizes the Filipino WWII Veterans struggle for full recognition is connected to the national democratic struggle for genuine sovereignty and independence. The Rescission Act continues to be a reminder of the institutional racism and lack of respect the U.S. government has against our people. It is an example of the unequal relations and neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines. No Philippine president, since the Rescission Act, has ever demanded and stipulated that the U.S. reverse this most disgraceful legislation. Yet each one of them allowed for continued U.S. exploitation of our homeland such as President Arroyo’s complete support for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

From the Rescission Act to funding de facto Martial Law, BAYAN USA is committed to challenging U.S. policies in the quarters of Congress. BAYAN USA member organizations such as The League of Filipino Students (LFS SFSU) along with Anakbayan (AB) Honolulu and Seattle have been working to build youth and community support for FULL EQUITY. At the BAYAN Founding Congress in January 2005, the full assembly voted to support FULL EQUITY for Filipino Veterans through the passage of HR302 and S146 in the 109th Congress.

BAYAN USA calls on the people of the world to stand in solidarity with the struggle for Filipino Veterans Equity and Justice. Filipino Veterans fought under the American flag so that all people could be free from foreign domination, and military repression. They fought so that the landlessness, poverty and corruption that have plagued the Philippines for centuries could be addressed by the Filipino people themselves. Instead they were coerced to serve a country that would deny them equal treatment and continue the legacy of imperialism that they were fighting against.

BAYAN USA recognizes the hundreds of thousands of Filipino Veterans who have already died without equal recognition or just compensation, and the millions of innocent people who still face oppression under U.S. imperialism and neo-colonial domination. BAYAN USA supports the passage HR302 and S146 so that the tens of thousands of Veterans still surviving may receive just compensation and that all Filipino WWII Veterans and their families can finally get the recognition for their service and sacrifice. We demand that the U.S. use American tax dollars for FULL EQUITY for Filipino WWII Veterans instead of funding de facto Martial Law in the Philippines.

Pass HR302 and S146!

Justice for Filipino WWII Veterans!

Full Equity Now!

Stop US Military Aid to the Philippines!

Money for WWII Veterans, Not for Dictators!

[1] National Defense Budget – Long Range Forecast (Table 1-2) http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2005/fy2005_greenbook.pdf

[2] USG Assistance and Payments to the Philippines and its Citizens by Sector for FY 04-05

[3] KARAPATAN. The Human Rights Record of the Arroyo Administration: Four and a Half Years of State Terror. Available at www.bayanusa.org.

No immunity: Case of US troops’ gang rape of Filipina woman must surrender to Philippine jurisdiction

New York/San Francisco–The national alliance of Filipino organizations in the US known as Bayan USA and its supporters strongly condemn the recent and brutal gang rape of a 22 year-old Filipina woman by at least six US Marines stationed in Subic Bay, Olongapo City two days ago last Tuesday, November 1.

The six suspects are currently being held in the Philippines under the custody of the US Embassy in Manila.

Bayan USA spokesperson Berna Ellorin asserted, “this heinous crime against the Filipino people at the hands of the US military troops commands nothing less than comprehensive justice. This can only mean
all efforts must be exerted by both the US and Philippine authorities for a full investigation of the alleged perpetrators. Absolutely no immunity must be granted to the six suspects under US jurisdiction. They must surrender to Philippine jurisdiction be tried and held accountable to the Filipino people and its legal system. The Macapagal-Arroyo government, if it is one with its people, must facilitate such a due process. Anything else is not justice.”

According to the unidentified female victim, the group of six US marines invited her to join them in a rented van after a night out in a karaoke bar. A few hours later, as reported by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), witnesses said they saw the unconscious woman’s body being dumped from the van on a road.

SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga confirmed that the six US servicemen–Keith Silkwood, Daniel Smith, Albert Lara, Dominic Duplantis, Corey Barris, and Chad Capent– were “identified by the driver of the van.”

Ellorin zoomed in on a vague claim by the US Embassy and US Charges D’Affairs Paul Jones that the US would “cooperate” with the Philippine authorities in an investigation of the incident.

“There is a century-long history of US military atrocities committed against Filipinos in the Philippines that were never brought to justice,” Ellorin stated, citing previous examples including the shooting of unarmed civilian Buyong-Buyong Isnijal by US Soldier Reggie Lane in Basilan back in July 2002, the shooting of Aetas (an indigenous people) near Subic back in the eighties by US troops who claimed to have mistook them as wild boar, and countless human rights violations and sexual offenses against Filipino women.

“In all cases, Philippine government surrendered its criminal jurisdiction to the US. US soldiers, as protected by provisions under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) are seldom surrendered to Philippine authorities much less tried under Philippine law. They are totally untouchable under US jurisdiction, despite crimes they can commit against Filipinos on Philippine soil. This means they can get away with anything from murder to gang rape, and not have to answer to the Philippine government,” Ellorin explained.

Ellorin cited the unconstitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement in the first place, stating it directly violates Philippine national sovereignty. “The VFA should be repealed at once, for the rights and
welfare of the Filipino people.”

Jones, on the other hand, refused to disclose the exact whereabouts of the six US rape suspects, who were among the 4,500 US servicemen in the Philippines for the Talon joint military exercises since several weeks
ago.

Bayan USA called for increased national action in indignation and demanding justice for the victim. It reiterated its call for the total and unconditional withdrawal of US troops and US military aid from the
Philippines.