Category: NYCHRP

NY Human Rights Group Speaks Out Against Cybercrime Prevention Act in the Philippines

September 30, 2012

Reference: Hanalei Ramos
NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

New York, NY – The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), a community-based education and advocacy group, called the recent Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, also known as the Republic Act (RA) No. 10175, “a very sinister act by the Philippine government to curtail the rights of the Filipino people, which criminalizes ordinary people for simply expressing their thoughts and views on the internet.””It’s an utter display of arrogance, manipulation and abuse of power by certain Philippine politicians, including the Philippine President Noynoy Aquino,” stated Gary Labao, a member of NYCHRP. Labao also echoed the same position of many Philippine groups have tagged the act a form of “e-martial law” as it is reminiscent of the 1972 declaration in many aspects.According to various reports, the vagueness of the act’s stipulation on libel could lead to many interpretations deeming innocent comments as libelous criminal acts. “The Philippines already has a very flawed justice system, where the poor and marginalized sectors of society have very little chance to, or no hope at all to obtain justice.  How can we expect the average Filipino to be able to stand up against this unjust system with this new law?” Labao asked.

OFW Concerns

Globally, Filipinos are among the top users of major social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter. “The internet has become the most common medium of communication,” explained Krystle Cheirs, a member of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment. “For the government to pass a law that would limit the rights of anyone to express themselves, where activating a ‘like’ button can be deemed as ‘libel,’ would be nothing short of fascism,” Cheirs stated.

“Particularly for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs),  the internet is the most accessible means of contact with family and friends in the Philippines. Can you imagine a simple exchange over the internet on updates and opinions on Philippine politics?” posed Cheirs. “With the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, these exchanges could criminalize your loved ones back in the Philippines, and send them to prison,” she concluded.

Youth Concerns

“This absolutely concerns Filipino youth,” says Yoko Liriano, a student at Hunter College and a youth coordinator for NYCHRP. “Youth use the internet, social media and other outlets in a number of creative ways. Criminalizing the creativity and expression of Filipino youth on the basis of the vague stipulations of the Cybercrime Act. suppresses the rights of young people. This will rob us of a generation of Filipinos who are able to be critical, and able to share their thoughts and views with each other, and abroad,” Liriano comments.

In October, NYCHRP will conduct an information session regarding the Philippines’ Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. “We want to begin the discussion between Filipinos and non-Filipinos in the New York City area, and hope to generate a broad outreach to the larger, internet-savvy community and cyber rights-defenders. It is vital that we build international solidarity to defend that Philippines against the Cybercrime Prevention Act,” Liriano announced. More details for the information session will be announced at  www.nychrp.infoin the coming week.

Liriano remarked, “The idea of a world without borders is true over the internet. Now is the time to fight this borderless battle, and defend our internet rights.”


New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

Filipino-Americans in NYC Join Unions in Largest “Occupy Wall Street” Demo to Date

Members of BAYAN USA and GABRIELA USA at Occupy Wall Street NYC

Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, BAYAN USA Northeast Coordinator


NEW YORK, NY– Filipino-Americans, under the banner of BAYAN USA, joined approximately 80,000 protesters in New York City last Wednesday in the largest support demonstration for Occupy Wall St. since it began 3 weeks ago. The rally in nearby Foley Square and march to Liberty Park, site of Occupy Wall St., was largely called for by organized labor such as the United Federation of Teachers. Other union forces present at the demonstration also included the Transit Workers Union Local 100, and the Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY).

Donning bright red headbands, member of BAYAN USA, an alliance of 15 Filipino organizations in the US, marched into the evening with the New York Community Contingent, alongside low-income, grassroots, mainly immigrant and people of color-based organizations such as Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Picture the Homeless, FIERCE, and the Audre Lorde Project. BAYAN USA members carried signs reading “Filipino-Americans Support Occupy Wall St.”.

Philippine Congressman Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna Partylist, in New York City for a visit, joined BAYAN USA marchers and urged for more support for Occupy Wall St. from the Filipino community.

“Poverty in the Philippines is brought about by trans-national corporations and American control of our economy and political lives, so these protests of the American people to stop these policies should have the support of other countries like the Philippines,” Colmenares told a reporter before marching.

Protest actions in support of Occupy Wall St. have also unfolded in other US cities including Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

“Occupy Wall St. has grown into a worldwide movement for economic justice and equality,” stated Gary Labao of BAYAN USA. “As immigrants from poor countries, like the Philippines, we understand the desperation wrought by poverty and joblessness. That and the growing social unrest here in the US because of rising unemployement, foreclosures, and budget cuts are all tied to the same root cause– the hoarding of the world’s wealth by a very small financial oligarchy of banks and firms– represented here in Wall St.– whose interests are put above the needs of the 99% by governments put in power by the 99%.

BAYAN USA and marchers from the International Action Center (IAC), each also carried the yellow flag of the International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS), a global formation of peoples organizations around the world, of which BAYAN USA and the IAC are members of. ###

Mother of abducted son comes to the US: Edith Burgos speaks on behalf of the still-missing Jonas Burgos in NYC

Contact: Jamie Mapa
NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

New York– Edith Burgos, the mother of missing Filipino agriculturalist Jonas Burgos, and widow of the late Filipino press freedom-fighter Joe Burgos, will be coming to the US in March for a month-long national speaking tour in at least 7 cities across the US. Her first stop will be New York City, where the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) will be holding a community benefit dinner and welcome for her on Saturday, March 1st, 6pm at the BAYANIHAN Filipino Community Center on 40-21 69th Street in Woodside.

The national speaking tour is being sponsored by GMA WATCH, a national grassroots advocacy network that has been actively participating in church lobbying efforts after the US Senate hearing last March 2007 on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines. NYCHRP is a founding member of GMA WATCH.

Ms. Burgos, a secular Carmelite (a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites ), has been traveling extensively on speaking engagements to call public attention to the case of her son, who was abducted by elements of the Philippine military on April 28, 2007 and remains missing to this day. Jonas Burgos, 36, is a land rights activist who was affiliated with the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) or Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon, a local affiliate of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) or Peasant Movement of the Philippines.

Many believe Jonas was abducted because of his activism and support for genuine agrarian reform, as well as organizing other peasants and farmers to fight for their rights through peaceful means.

Ms. Burgos has testified to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva that she still believes her son is at the brutal hands of the Philippine military. Jonas Burgos’ case was also numerously referenced in the 2007 UN report of Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings and Summary Executions, who released 3 reports on the Philippines last year. Burgos is set to have a private meeting with Alston during her brief stay in New York to update him on Jonas’ case.

“We are concerned that not enough is being done for Jonas’ case by the Philippine government,” states Jamie Mapa, a member of NYCHRP and Jonas’ Burgos’ first cousin. “We have a moral responsibility to seek justice for the victims of human rights violations in our motherland.”

Shortly after New York, Burgos is set to travel to Washington DC, where she will attend the Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD), an annual ecumenical gathering of Christian Church representatives that speak on global human rights, social, economic, and political concerns. She will make her way westward from there ending up in California by the end of March.

As a result of national grassroots advocacy efforts from various church groups, the 2008 Appropriations Bill included specific restrictive language on US military aid to the Philippines, with recommendations for the Arroyo government by Alston himself. Many are concerned such aid has been directly contributing to training a Philippine military that has been guilty of perpetrating these human rights violations, which includes over 890+ victims of killings and 300+ victims of abductions.

The Arroyo government is currently under intensifying public scrutiny in Manila for exposed graft and corruption. An initial protest calling for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation topped at 15,000 last Friday, and the protests are only projected to get bigger as more social unrest unfolds.

Joe Burgos, Edith’s late husband, was also a significant press figure that defied censorship under the martial law of the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970’s. The late Burgos founded the popular newspapers We Forum and Malaya. For helping restore democratic processes to the country, Joe Burgos was honored as a World Press Freedom Hero Awardee by the International Press Institute in Boston in 2000.

Ms. Burgos, whose family continues to face political harassment in the Philippines, will be speaking on behalf of the Desaparacidos, a rapidly growing national organization of families and loved ones of the disappeared in the Philippines. She will be traveling with her daughter, Virginia Ann, and Mervyn Toquero of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

KAPAYAPAAN, the Edith Burgos Community Benefit Dinner will have an entrance fee of $20.00 per person. RSVPs are encouraged. For more information or to RSVP, send an email NYCHRP at

Filipinos join others at Ground Zero to commemorate forgotten victims of 9/11–the undocumented

Reference: Robyn Rodriguez, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email:

New York– Filipinos joined other immigrant communities at the Ground Zero last Monday for a solemn wreath-bearing and candlelight ceremony commemorating all victims of the 9/11 bombing, but most especially “the forgotten victims.”

The event focused on the hundreds of undocumented immigrant workers who perished in the bombing and the hundreds more undocumented immigrant workers suffering from unsafe, unfair, and exploitative labor conditions cleaning up Ground Zero.

At a time when Congress’s deliberations on immigration legislation leans more towards enforcement-type policies, and intensified raids, detentions, and deportations are enveloping the country, immigrant rights advocates reiterated demands for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path towards legalization and full workers rights for all undocumented persons.

Berna Ellorin, a member of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and the NY May 1st Coalition, spoke about post 9/11 victimization of the global Filipino community amidst a crowd of mourners.

“There were many Filipinos, both documented and undocumented, who died in the Twin Tower attacks on 9/11, but there are many more new victims created everyday from the Bush administration’s War on Terror that followed. Not only does our community share the pain of raids, detentions, and mass deportations within US borders, but thousands more Filipinos are suffering from the expansion of the War on Terror in the Philippines, the presence of US troops, US funding for death squads, and daily political killings of those fighting for genuine social change,” Ellorin stated in a short speech.

“One of the best ways to honor the lives that perished on 9/11 is to continue to demand the US government and its allies stop using this tragedy as an excuse for the death and suffering of millions more of the world’s citizens,” Ellorin continued.

She was joined by members of Anakbayan NY/NJ, Philippine Forum Community Action, and the Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition.

In closing, Ellorin recalled the words of Filipino migrant hero Carlos Bulosan and read excerpts from his novel America’s In the Heart.

“America is also the nameless foreigner, the homeless refugee, the hungry boy begging for a job and the black body dangling on a tree. America is the illiterate immigrant who is ashamed that the world of books and intellectual opportunities closed to him. We are all that nameless foreigner, that homeless refugee, that hungry boy, that illiterate immigrant and that lynched black body. All of us, from the first Adams to the last Filipino, native born or alien, educated or illiterate.”

This September 11, 2006 also marks the 50th death anniversary Bulosan, a migrant and labor rights activist, writer, and another historical victim of unjust US immigration legislation.

The memorial ceremony was convened by the NY May 1st Coalition, a city-wide formation of immigrant rights advocates and groups calling for immigration reforms that include the legalization for all undocumented persons, a moratorium on all raids and deportations, and no to the criminalization of immigrants.

They were joined by others in the immigrants’ rights, anti-war, and progressive labor communities.