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72+ Years of Resistance: Filipinos Stand with Palestine

Today the world commemorates International al-Quds (Jersuralem Day), the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, on which hundreds of cities around the world condemn and protest the ongoing occupation of Palestine by the Zionist state of Israel. This past week also remembers the Nakba or “Catastrophe” which marks the theft of Palestinian land and the dispossession of the Palestinian people. BAYAN USA stands with Palestinians both in Palestine and in diaspora to commemorate over 72 years of Palestinian resistance for liberation and return. We wholeheartedly affirm our commitment and support for the national liberation of Palestine and right of return of all Palestinians.

The Nakba marks the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people with the establishment of the settler colonial Zionist state of Israel in 1948.  Today, over seven million Palestinian refugees and over 13 million Palestinians live in exile and diaspora. As Israel and the United States attempt to entrench and normalize the illegal occupation of Palestine with policies like the Deal of the Century, the spirit of the Palestinian people remain undeterred. As the Nakba continues, the resistance grows even stronger!

As Filipinos, we understand that our liberation is intertwined with that of Palestine. Over 12 million Filipinos live outside the Philippines, forced to migrate out of their home country due to root causes of landlessness, lack of national industries and rampant poverty and unemployment. While Filipinos are exported as cheap labor to other nations, our resource-rich country of the Philippines is plundered for the imperialist interests of countries like the United States and China. In the face of this mass exploitation and oppression, the mass movement and revolution in the Philippines continues to grow, giving voice to the aspirations of the masses.

In step with all oppressed and colonized peoples around the world, we link arms in solidarity with Palestinians, who deserve the right to determine their own fate as a people, the right to return and reclaim their homelands. Together, we fan the flames for liberation and proclaim: “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free! Long live international solidarity!”

#FreePalestine #FreeThemAll #WeShallReturn #alQudsDay #Nakba72 #KeyToJustice #DownWithUSImperialism

Duterte Destroying Press Freedom = Steps toward Full Dictatorship

As BAYAN USA, we stand together with 11,000 ABS-CBN workers to condemn President Duterte’s attacks on press freedom.  What does the shutdown of ABS-CBN mean for the Filipino community?  Duterte has a long track record of silencing media in the form of mass arrests, harassment, killings, and full-blown shutdown, which has led to the massive displacement and unemployment of  11,000 workers.  As early as December, Duterte already made threats to stop the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise given that Duterte was upset the network didn’t air his campaign ads, and aired news exposing his murderous Drug War. The US-Duterte regime is swiftly moving towards a full fledged dictatorship, and controlling the media is key in controlling the narrative. 

Duterte is sending a message to anyone critical of his regime, even ABS-CBN, the largest news broadcasting center in the Philippines and popular news outlet for overseas Filipinos in the U.S.  Duterte’s battle with the media isn’t the first time he has tried to silence journalists. Student journalists have been repressed and arrested, like Frenchie Mae of the University of the Philippine Tacloban last February, and even our own Los Angeles-based Altermidya journalists Eric Tandoc and Hiyasmin Saturay in 2018 during a NutriAsia strike.    

There have been more arrests than mass testing. The Philippines has now become the leading country in the number of arrested and detained people for alleged quarantine violations during the pandemic, with 120,000 arrests in just one month in the Philippines. Instead of targeting popular media, Duterte should focus on combating the COVID-19 pandemic with 10,000 cases and rising in the Philippines.

“Is Duterte afraid that ABS-CBN will expose his utter failures in keeping our families safe in the Philippines? Does he truly care about the Filipino people when he abandons overseas Filipino workers to fend for themselves?  Duterte has no real interest in improving the lives of the vast majority facing poverty, job insecurity, and a public health crisis.” said Nikole Cababa, Secretary General of BAYAN USA. 

She continued, “Almost 4 years of the rotten Duterte government have proven in practice that he is incapable of leading the Philippines to progress and of serving the basic needs of the people. Over 4 million Filipinos live here in the U.S., and we depend on consistent and reliable news and media to stay connected and informed about our motherland, to our families, and loved ones.”

Without ABS-CBN, Duterte will be able to spread more misinformation, unleash paid Duterte trolls, and deprive the public of much needed news coverage.  The one that must be put to a stop is not ABS-CBN, but the Duterte regime itself. When power is monopolized by a single person, fascism rears its ugly head. But the Filipino people are committed to fighting for genuine freedom and a country that promotes progressive and pro-people culture.

“We must work together to shutdown Duterte’s corrupt government, hold him accountable for the criminal neglect of the public health and safety of our families that are facing unemployment, hunger, and militarized violence,” continued Cababa.  BAYAN USA and all its member organizations call for the end of state fascism in the Philippines and martial law tactics!  We cannot allow Duterte to attack the people’s right to free speech and press freedom.  We will continue to fight to defend the rights of every Filipino in the Philippines and overseas.  History reminds us that dictators will not willingly step down, but that they must be brought down by unleashing the truth, by mobilizing people power, and gathering strength in unity.

Let us continue to build a people’s movement that will end Duterte’s dictatorship and instead build a people’s democratic government that is not afraid of the truth, one that takes care of the needs and the health of the people over profit.

 

#DefendPressFreedom

#NoToABSCBNShutdown 

#OustDuterteNow

BAYAN USA MAY DAY STATEMENT: Uring Manggagawa, Hukbong Mapagpalaya! The Working Class is the Army of Liberation!

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, BAYAN USA celebrates International Workers’ Day by joining the surge of people around the world rising up against neoliberalism and imperialism, which have once again not only failed to protect humanity’s basic right to life, but have exploited the situation to attempt to further the interests of the ruling class. The pandemic has laid bare the contradictions of imperialism: our society depends on the labor of the working class and poor, yet the wealth they generate in the things they create and services they provide—including personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, clean hospitals, stocked grocery shelves, and so much more—remain in the hands of the ruling elite. We also see the utter failure of neoliberalism and the anarchic, privatized mode of production in safeguarding the rights, health, and safety not just of workers, but of society in general. In the face of this global crisis, we are determined to build the anti-imperialist movement more resolutely than ever before, and further advance the national democratic movement in the Philippines as our biggest contribution to the downfall of imperialism. 

 

Worldwide, workers are facing the brunt of the pandemic, including workers in the US who endure extreme suffering under the failed response of the Trump administration. The majority of Filipinos are part of that very same international working class, especially in the healthcare industry. Filipino caregivers, custodial staff, dialysis technicians, and many others are not prioritized to receive PPE, and in many cases do not even receive hazard pay despite being on the frontlines. Filipino professionals employed as nurses and doctors are similarly being worked to exhaustion without adequate safety measures. So far, there have been at least 9,000 cases of COVID-19 among health care workers and 27 reported deaths. Their employers and government agencies are asking them to make extraordinary personal sacrifices rather than shoulder the responsibility to ensure their well being and that of the general public. 

 

Filipino migrant workers, among them seafarers and J-1 workers, are further neglected. The Filipinos working on the over 100 cruise ships near US ports and waters are extremely vulnerable. Most recently, over 600 Filipino workers were trapped on the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship. They were denied immediate disembarkment, access to mass testing, and safe quarantine when the ship docked in Oakland, CA in March, which resulted in the death of one crew member from COVID-19. J-1 visa holders have been similarly neglected by their hosts, visa sponsors, recruitment agencies, and the US and Philippine governments. Here for “training” and “cultural exchange,” J-1 workers have instead experienced mass lay-offs upon the closure of the hotels and restaurants they were employed by, and are struggling to pay for food, rent, and plane tickets back home. 

 

The experience of Filipino workers in the US is bound to the root problems in the Philippines that force millions to go abroad—namely, the lack of national industry and an outmoded agricultural system that perpetuate poverty. Decades of labor export facilitated by the Philippine government have sent tens of millions of people abroad to work in healthcare, seafaring, and guest worker programs like the J-1 program. However, the Philippine government denies these overseas workers the help they deserve. The Philippine government refused Grand Princess cruise ship workers the right to mass testing once repatriated, putting them and their families at risk of contracting COVID-19. Likewise, the government, through its consulates and embassy in the US, have failed to disperse its Assistance to Nationals fund for J-1 workers’ immediate needs. 

 

In the Philippines, Duterte has made it clear that to be poor is a crime. His focus on military “solutions” to the pandemic rather than medical and welfare solutions has made it impossible for the masses of working people to survive. Out of the two million workers displaced because of the pandemic, only 300,000 have been given financial aid. Those who take matters into their own hands to assert the right to necessary relief, including urban poor residents of San Roque and even relief volunteers of Kilusang Mayo Uno, are met with harassment, terrorist-tagging, and arrest. The anti-people rhetoric and actions of the Duterte regime are culminating toward the possible declaration of a de facto martial law, as confirmed through leaked military documents. Such drastic and inappropriate measures will surely cost more lives than protect. 

 

And yet despite the massive weight that this crisis has forced upon the world, faced with the options to lose hope or to fight, the masses are overwhelmingly choosing to fight. Health workers are launching actions and strikes across the US. Seafarers have pushed their demands forward to their employers and the Philippine government, and hundreds of J-1 workers in the US have formed a national network to do the same. Even in the Philippines, where the threat of martial law looms on the horizon, the labor movement is gearing up for creative May Day protests to demand guaranteed income, sufficient food supplies, free testing and treatment, and respect for people’s rights and welfare. 

 

In this pivotal moment, BAYAN USA calls on Filipinos across the United States to join the struggle of the working masses to fight not only for our immediate needs, but for a new society that will guarantee the health and well-being of the majority. Our first steps toward this must be to build the broadest movement against the US-Duterte regime and any threat of martial law, and against imperialism and neoliberalism as a whole. Combined, these dangers pose an immediate risk to our lives and jeopardize our future even more than COVID-19. This May Day, alongside our calls for guaranteed incomes, health, and overall livelihood, let us also advance the call to oust the US-Duterte regime and towards building a genuine socialist future. 

 

Nationalize public health systems! Resist and condemn neoliberal policies!

Solusyong medikal, hindi militar! (Medical solutions, not militarization!)

OFW assistance now!

Workers of the world unite!

The workers united will never be defeated!

Build the migrant worker movement!

Oust Duterte Now! 


 

May Day Call to Action!

May Day Call to Action!

International Workers’ Day or May Day is a global celebration of the working class and the struggles of the proletariat, with its roots reaching back to the fight for an 8-hour work day, led and popularized by a global alliance of communist and labor parties called the Second International. More than a century later and in the midst of a global pandemic, the urgency to build a strong worker-led movement remains. We see how our society depends on the labor of the working class as they run agriculture, food production and distribution, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and other industries essential to society. On the other hand, we also see the utter failure of neoliberalism and the anarchic, privatized mode of production in safeguarding the rights, health and safety not just of workers, but of society in general. 

Filipino workers conditions in the U.S.:

The majority of Filipinos in the U.S. are part of the working class who are now suffering from unemployment, high risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to the lack of equipment and weak healthcare infrastructure, lack of access to basic needs, and state neglect. Decades of forced migration through the labor export policy have produced legions of overseas Filipino workers who are stranded and neglected. Among them are seafarers and J-1 workers in the U.S.

Hundreds of J-1 workers, who are hospitality workers on the J-1 cultural exchange visa, have experienced massive lay-offs and abandonment from their hosts, visa sponsors, recruitment agencies and U.S. and Philippine governments.  Many are unable to return home because of lockdown policies, piling debt, and fear of public health risks. We must expose the J-1 visa program as yet another neoliberal scheme to exploit migrant workers.

Additionally, there are an estimated 400,000 Filipinos working in the maritime industry as seafarers, facing some of the most inhumane treatment and violation of rights before, during, and after disembarkment. Most recently, over 600 workers aboard the Grand Princess Cruise Ship were denied disembarkment, access to testing, and safe quarantine when it docked in Oakland, CA, which resulted in the death of one crewmember on April 1st from COVID-19. Crew members faced abandonment, including 400 workers who were repatriated without proper health treatment or financial support, putting them and their families at risk. Migrante USA and NAFCON supported the workers with their demands for disembarkment, humane treatment, access to testing and health services, safe housing, compensation for lost wages, and covering all costs attendant to repatriating workers to their countries of origin. There is a petition and ongoing efforts to hold Grand Princess Cruises responsible.

There is also a high concentration of Filipino workers and professionals in the healthcare sector in the U.S., many of whom are women. So far, there have been at least 9,000 cases of COVID-19 among health care workers and 27 reported deaths. We must support their organizing efforts for personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard pay and safer working conditions, while connecting to their experience of forced migration due to the three root problems. As of April 18th, there have been 766 healthcare workers with confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 22 reported deaths in the Philippines, amounting to 13 percent of cases in the Philippines. This percentage is much higher than the regional average of 2 to 3 percent. We can draw parallels between the risks and exploitation of health care workers in the homeland, here, and abroad. Duterte’s saying that “It is an honor to die for your country” shows that he has no respect for the lives of healthcare workers and the broad masses, and deserves to be ousted. #OUSTDUTERTE

TAKE ACTION NOW:

  1. PARTICIPATE in Migrante International’s 5,000 signature gathering campaign for May Day, calling on the Philippine government to immediately release financial assistance for all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in need and who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please sign & share widely: Petition for OFWs (English translation here).
  2. JOIN the Global Noise Barrage on May 1 (12pm PST) to protect the rights of Filipino migrants and OFWs during this time of pandemic! Participate by posting pictures and videos (at least 15 seconds) of you banging pots on social media with the hashtags below! Refer to these instructions and tag @MigranteUSA & @MigranteInternational. Check out this sample video by Migrante USA
    1. #NasaanAngTulong
    2. #OFWAssistanceNow
    3. #SolusyongMedikalHindiMilitar
    4. #FreeMassTestingNowPH
  3. May Day Webinars:
    1. Friday, May 1, 1pm PST: Mission to End Modern Slavery (MEMS) Anti-Trafficking Webinar https://www.facebook.com/events/4230039790343367/
    2. Friday, May 1, 5:30pm PST: GABRIELA USA One Billion Rising online action (concept paper here)
    3. Saturday, May 2, 7pm PST: Philippine National Situationer in the Time of COVID19 & Duterte (in Tagalog) by Migrante USA webinar RSVP: tinyurl.com/phcovidnatsit

CALLS:

  • Nationalize public health systems! Resist and condemn neoliberal policies!
  • Solusyon medikal, hindi militar! (Medical solution, not militarization!)
  • OFW assistance now!
  • Workers of the world unite!
  • The workers united will never be defeated!
  • Build the migrant worker movement!
  • Oust Duterte Now!

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