FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA
Filipinos Across the United States to Protest Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address
Nationwide Protest Demonstrations
WHERE and WHEN:
Queens, New York
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Corner of 69th St. & Roosevelt
Los Angeles, California
Monday, July 25, 2011
3600 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
San Francisco, California
Monday, July 25, 2011
Corner of Powell & Market St. Downtown San Francisco
March to Philippine Consulate
447 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Coinciding with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s second annual “State of the Nation Address,” Filipino communities in New York, Southern California, and Northern California will conduct protest actions on July 24-25 to denounce the administration’s failure to change the course of the Philippines’ downward spiral despite Aquino’s lofty campaign promises and bragging that “dreaming is possible again.”
Concerned Filipino Americans in the cities with the largest populations of Filipinos in the U.S. will conduct demonstrations calling attention to the worsening human rights crisis and dismal economic situation in the Philippines under Aquino’s tenure. Since Aquino was sworn in as president just one year ago, 45 activists have been slain in politically-motivated killings, 5 have been victims of forced disappearance and over 300 political prisoners remain behind bars. The perpetrators of the 1,206 extra-judicial killings, more than 300 forced disappearance, and over 1,000 cases of torture committed under the previous administration of President Gloria Arroyo remain at-large, including those guilty of abducting and torturing renowned Filipina American poet, artist and human rights advocate Melissa Roxas. Aquino’s failure to prosecute anyone for these human rights violations coupled with his implementation of the sugar-coated counter-insurgency program “Operation Plan Bayanihan” sustains the culture of impunity within the Philippine armed forces and allows widespread human rights abuses to continue.
Protestors cite Aquino’s losing combination of dependence on foreign investment and loans and export-oriented/import-dependent economy as the source of the country’s inevitable economic slide, which has resulted in a total of 11.3 million unemployed workers this year and over 4 million families suffering from hunger. Massive unemployment and zero job growth have fueled mass migration of Filipinos abroad, to destinations including the United States where the job market is equally grim and the few available jobs are in the most underpaid, overworked and dangerous fields. Stories of human trafficking, indentured servitude, and wage theft of Filipino migrants have been coming to light more frequently in recent weeks, including cases like the “Florida 15” who were trafficked by their Filipino employer Jose Villanueva who owns recruitment and employment company San Villa Ship Management Co., forced to pay exorbitant recruitment fees, given jobs they did not sign up for, and paid late or not at all.
Protest actions are being organized by BAYAN-USA in partnership with the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and local allies in each city.