Filipino-Americans and allies took charge in five U.S. cities yesterday, March 18, to express their condemnation of the U.S. subservient Arroyo regime in the Philippines and to demand total and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops and military aid in the Philippines, Iraq, Korea and beyond. March 18-19, marked as international global days of action in several countries, signifies the official 3rd Anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq.
“The current U.S. military occupation of Iraq is akin to the century-long history of U.S. military occupation of the Philippines. We know all too well from what the Philippines is now, under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is what the U.S. is molding Iraq to become–a puppet government and neo-colony of the United States,” stated BAYAN-USA chair Kawal Ulanday.
“In the Philippines, there is currently an insidious war being waged, wherein the U.S. government no longer has to wage open combat against the Filipinos themselves, but instead funds it loyal puppet government under Arroyo and the Philippine military to wage a bloody war against its own people, all in the name of a war against terror. But what is really martial law resurrected,” Ulanday continued.
In New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu, Filipino-Americans, led by BAYAN-USA, marched with their Anti-Arroyo allies to expose the U.S. puppet government’s usage of billions in U.S. military aid to launch rampant killing sprees against people’s leaders critical of the Arroyo administration, conduct warrantless arrests, and intensify political persecution of dissident voices.
The U.S. chapter of BAYAN, an alliance of organizations in the Philippines, [also known as BAYAN-USA] raised dozens of their signature red-and-blue flags in nearly all four corners of the U.S. The high visibility of the BAYAN flags amongst the sea of anti-war protesters in the U.S. was a colorful act of defiance against the Arroyo administration who is currently targeting the said alliance’s members in the Philippines through killings and political harassment.
In San Francisco, BAYAN-USA, along with member organizations League of Filipino Students and the women’s group Babae helmed an anti-war/anti-Arroyo contingent nearly 500-strong. In Seattle, BAYAN-USA flags waved side by side with that of member organization Anakbayan, as well as Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization (PUSO). In Los Angeles, BAYAN-USA member organizations Habi Arts and Anakbayan provided cultural performances on the street depicting the Philippine struggle under Arroyo and even served Adobong Palaban (militant adobo) a well-known Filipino dish, to hungry protesters. In Honolulu, BAYAN-USA flags were raised by youth members of Anakbayan. While in New York, a BAYAN-USA representative co-chaired the main anti-war program and march from Times Square to the United Nations building, as BAYAN-USA, Migrante International, Anakbayan, and the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines contingent unfurled a gigantic banner declaring “US Troops Out of the Philippines!”
“We proudly declare who we are and wave the flags that so many of our leaders and members have died for in the Philippines because this flag is so ingrained in the Filipino people’s historical struggle against tyranny under many U.S. puppet regimes beginning with Marcos 25 years ago. Like Marcos before her, the U.S.-funded Arroyo regime is practicing the same fascist strikes against the people to quell resistance. That is why our march is also for the over 4200 victims of human rights violations including killings of BAYAN leaders under the Arroyo regime alone,” Ulanday explained.
The alliance lambasted the Arroyo administration for jailing progressive Philippine Congressman Crispin Beltran and demanded for his release. They also lambasted Arroyo for continuing to threaten Beltran’s fellow five outspoken Anti-Arroyo Congress people– House Representatives Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teodoro Casino, Joel Virador, and Rafael Mariano–with arrest by having military parked outside the Batasan Congressional complex in Quezon City. The “Batasan 5” as they have come to be known have remained trapped in the Batasan complex for several weeks.
BAYAN-USA also vehemently condemned the political harassment of their own national leaders BAYAN chair Carol P. Araullo, BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes, and of BAYAN international relations officer Rita Baua, who have been included in the recently expanded list of so-called “destabilizers” being targeted by Philippine National Police under Arroyo’s watch.
“These are the workings of a U.S. puppet administration so desperate to cling to power it has totally and completely lost all sense of moral and political decency, and turned 100% against the people. BAYAN-USA’s march in 5 U.S. cities on the 3rd Anniversary of the Iraqi war is not only in solidarity with the people with Iraq, but a call to oust the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.”
Kawal Ulanday, Chair, BAYAN-USA, email: chair @ bayanusa.org
Berna Ellorin, Media Officer, BAYAN-USA, email: mc @ bayanusa.org