Overseas Filipinas rally and march as GABRIELA-USA, extending the Philippine women’s movement internationally

Contact: Joanne Alcantara
Coordinator, GABRIELA National Organizing Committee
(641) 715-3900

On March 8, 2008, Filipino women in the United States will proclaim the formalization of a GABRIELA-USA Chapter, the first international overseas chapter of the Philippine-based women’s organization GABRIELA, through nationally-coordinated protest actions celebrating
women’s resistance and calling for the ouster of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

GABRIELA, the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action, was first established in 1984 by 42 women’s organizations in the Philippines uniting against the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. In November of 2007, Pinay sa Seattle, babae in
San Francisco and FiRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment) in New York planted the seeds for a USA-based GABRIELA. Subsequently, GABRIELA has committed to expanding our work in the US by providing organizing around the conditions of Filipinas in the USA.

In the seven years that the US-backed Arroyo has been President in the Philippines, she has worsened the economic conditions of the Filipino people and especially women. Her stark human rights violations record, subservience to US imperialism and militarization has
materialized in the murder of Filipino women and children in the hand of US troops supposedly training the Philippine military in Balikatan exercises. Arroyo has also stood silent on the increasing numbers of Filipino women raped by US military troops in the Philippines, and
recently in Japan.

The corruption of President Arroyo has been exposed through the NBN-ZTE scandal and the Filipino people are expressing their intolerance. We are uniting across continents and oceans to call for a new brand of people power. The intensifying political climate in the Philippines calls for genuine social change, an ouster of a decrepit president and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

GABRIELA-USA will rally to this call. As migrant women, we recognizethat the majority of Overseas Filipino Workers are women. The worsening economic and political crisis of the Philippines pushes Filipino women out only to be subjected to exploitation, human
trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual assault, torture and even death. We recognize our place is in the struggle to oust a puppet president and we will mobilize around our responsibility to the Filipino people.

During these times of heightened political crisis in the Philippines the women of Pinay sa Seattle, babae San Francisco and FiRE New York, all members of GABRIELA-USA, will continue to carry out the vigilant task of intensifying the people’s resistance against a tyrannical and immoral government. GABRIELA-USA stands behind all working women and Filipino progressives to expose the truth and call for Arroyo’s ouster from presidency.

On this March 8, we call on all peace loving people, advocates for human rights, and women’s organizations to stand in solidarity with GABRIELA and its newly formed USA-based chapter by joining us in the following mobilizations:

New York:
A Salute to Women’s Resistance
Union Square

Women Hold Up Half the Sky
Cultural Performances and Speakers
Jose Rizal Park

San Francisco:
For Our Sisters, We Must RESIST
San Francisco Dewey Monument
Union Square Plaza at Stockton and Powell

Women unite!
Struggle against oppression and exploitation!
Fight the Arroyo regime’s corruption and tyranny!
Oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!
Long Live International Working Women’s Day!
Long Live International Solidarity!

Fil-Ams commemorate People Power by calling for a “new brand” of People Power: GMA Watch and BAYAN USA calls for increased action in the US against Arroyo

Rob McCauley
(206) 383-7209

Jeff Rice
BAYAN USA National Officer
(206) 291-8078

Joanne Alcantara
(206) 427-2994

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, will join its mother alliance’s call for commemorative week long actions surrounding the anniversary of People Power 1. On Monday February 25th, the umbrella group BAYAN Philippines will be joining a broader call of church leaders, civil libertarians, and business leaders for the immediate resignation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, following a high-end dialogue of various Philippine sectors in the Makati Business Club last Tuesday.

The Arroyo clan has recently been exposed of high dealings in graft and corruption as ZTE-NBN Broadband scandal star witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada testified last week to the Philippine Congress.

“We agree that Gloria will be facing a ‘new brand’ of people power, certainly one where more Filipino-Americans will take a stand, make more noise, and contribute to the anti-corruption, pro-democracy movement in the Philippines,” states BAYAN USA Finance Officer Jeff Rice. “We are calling on all patriotic Filipinos in the Seattle area who are concerned with the state of the Motherland to join together in this time of crisis.”

BAYAN Philippines Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr. noted, “Perhaps the difference with people power today is that its seeds are emerging from various sectors of society despite there being no Cardinal Sin to call for it. People power is springing forth from the grassroots, the schools, factories, communities, businesses, with various political formations are coming together. It is spreading despite the limitations of the church hierarchy.”

“Now more than ever, we need to recall the lessons of people power and so we can come up with an improved version for our times. The new people power will not simply be led by any religious leader a la Cardinal Sin. Nor will it just seek to replace one regime with a worse one. We have certainly learned lessons from EDSA 1 and EDSA 2,” Reyes added.

The theme of the BAYAN protest actions will be People Power Pa Rin! (People Power Still!), a call that is growing popular even among overseas Filipinos in various countries. BAYAN USA has a considerable number of second and third generation Filipino members in the US who fully unite with the call and understand its relevance.

“Nothing is impossible. After 20 years of living under the iron fist of Marcos, the Filipino people made the so-called ‘impossible’ happen with People Power 1, and again with Estrada with People Power 2. These experiences prove that the Filipino people can make this new brand of People Power possible– one that will reject the corruption and moral bankruptcy of Trapo (traditional politician) politics, and one that will not allow another Trapo to simply replace Gloria. Even second-generation Fil-Ams can smell what is rotten about Arroyo from 30,000 miles away and know that the Philippine system needs to change,” states BAYAN USA Chair, Chito Quijano.

BAYAN USA hopes to mounts actions with allies and friends in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities in the US calling for the resignation or ouster of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo next week. BAYAN USA also calls on all sympathetic forces in the United States to mount creative actions calling for the immediate removal of Arroyo.

In Seattle, a series of actions will take place calling for the ouster of the Philippine President. All events are sponsored by GMA Watch, Bayan USA and GABRIELA USA. The week of March 10th, Edith Burgos, mother of missing farmer and activist Jonas Burgos, will travel across the nation in a national speaking tour to raise the level of awareness on the ongoing forced disappearances of activists in the Philippines. She has presented her case to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights and has garnered the attention of the international community on the state of human rights abuses under the hands of the Philippine government.

THURSDAY, February 28, 8pm.

Nationwide Candlelight Vigil for Victims of the Arroyo Regime

University of Washington Red Square in front of Suzallo Library

FRIDAY, February 29.

5:30pm Rally at Komo News 4
6:30pm Vigil at Seattle Center Fountain

MONDAY, March 3rd, 6-8pm

Potluck Dinner and Community Teach In

Gran Oriente (117 – 15th Avenue South, Seattle)

SATURDAY, March 8th, 12noon.

International Women’s Day Rally to Oust GMA

Featuring First Quarter Storm

Jose Rizal Park (1008-12th Avenue South, Seattle)

TUESDAY, March 11, 6:30pm

Edith Burgos, mother of human rights victim

Speaking Event at Bethany UCC

6230 Beacon Avenue South

We call on all Filipino people, friends and allies to stand against a corrupt government and say “Enough is enough! People Power Pa Rin! We demand an accountable government in the Philippines! Oust Gloria Now!

GABRIELA-USA demands justice for the rape of Filipina by US military personnel! Stop US troops from violating our women!

Contact: Joanne Alcantara
National Coordinator, GABRIELA–USA

On February 18, 2008, a US army member was taken into custody for the rape of a Filipino woman in Okinawa, Japan. The woman, who’s identity has not been released, reported to local police that she was raped in a hotel. The brutal incident left the woman with injuries, and is currently receiving treatment at a medical facility.

The claim made by the Filipino woman adds to the sordid US military rap sheet in Okinawa, with a 38-year old Marine staff sergeant recently arrested for the rape of a 14-year old Japanese girl only 7 days earlier.

The usual response from the US military claims that Army authorities are investigating the case, but this incident will only prove again the biased nature of the US-Japanese Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA), which allows for US military servicemen to claim impunity regarding specific illegal conduct. In 1995, the gang-rape of an Okinawan elementary school girl by US marines prompted widespread outrage from Okinawans who are still fighting to contest the highly concentrated presence of US military in their island.

Similar to the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), these underhanded military deals between the US and other Asian states have grave consequences for the girls and women who live and work in and around highly militarized areas. The gang-rape of 22 year-old Nicole in 2006 is indicative of the ongoing pattern of sexual attacks caused by US military occupation. Further, the Philippine puppet government under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made it so that the Philippines has become the stomping yard of US military troops. The convicted US marine in Nicole’s case, Lce. Corporal Smith’s lenient sentence is proof of the Philippines’ cowardice when it comes to protecting women’s rights and safety.

The growing presence of US military in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia spells out danger for women’s bodies and livelihood. A recent report of 2 children and a pregnant woman murdered by so-called US training exercises, Balikatan, in Mindanao calls attention to the countless ways US military occupation targets the welfare of women.

These despicable incidents stir up the continuing women’s struggle to oust US occupation in the Philippines and calls for solidarity among women across nations that are subject to the same abuses of military occupation. From the legacy of resistance of our Lolas, WWII comfort women, to standing up against these crimes of war on a new generation of Filipino women, Pinay Sa Seattle, Babae in San Francisco and FiRE in New York demand JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF US MILITARY HARASSMENT!

GABRIELA-USA calls for immediate investigation into the rapes in Okinawa, Japan. The US military and government must take accountability for its wars of aggression on the world and on the women of the world!