Tag: human rights


For Immediate Release
June 7, 2012

Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, bayandepsec@gmail.com, 347.669.0661

Filipino Americans Decry Aquino and Binay U.S. Visits as Business Deals to Further Trample on Philippine Sovereignty, Increase US Military Presence in Country

BAYAN-USA, a national alliance of progressive Filipino organizations, commenced the month of June by mobilizing the Filipino community to voice their outrage and concern to the Philippine President Benigno “NoyNoy” Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay on their respective visits to the United States.  BAYAN-USA condemns the Aquino administration for pushing policies that have prioritized opening up the Philippine economy to mainly cater to foreign economic and U.S. military interests, as well as the interests of the ruling classes in the Philippines at the expense of the rights and dignity of the majority of poor Filipinos. Binay visited Los Angeles this past June 2nd, while Aquino is slated to meet with US President Obama this Friday, June 8.

Binay declared his visit to the U.S. was to meet with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to ask for help in defending the rights of trafficked Filipino teachers in Maryland. However, protesters from BAYAN-USA doubt Binay’s interest in workers’ rights due to the very fact that he was staying at the Hilton LA Airport, a boycotted hotel by a hotel workers union, which includes Filipino members. The union called for a boycott to ensure that the workers’ rights to unionize be upheld as well as the fair treatment of workers across the board.

President Aquino, on the other hand, will be meeting Obama at the White House to discuss increasing U.S. military presence in the Philippines.  Aquino may discuss the Philippines signing onto Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a U.S.-led neoliberal free-trade agreement – often referred to as the NAFTA of Asia – which will further liberalize Philippine markets to deregulate foreign business ownership, clearly violating Philippine sovereignty and self-determination. Many economists have pointed to the TPPA’s design to secure US economic dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, while isolating super rival China’s emerging economic influence.

With every US military shift dictated by a US economic agenda, BAYAN-USA recognizes these meetings as Aquino’s subservience to U.S. economic and military interests, as he allows the increase of U.S. military presence in the Philippines in exchange for the tripling of U.S. military aid to the Philippines.  His visit is in line with the Pentagon’s recent announcement of a  60% strategic shift to the Asia Pacific region set to be completed by 2020. As the Obama administration uses military bullying to dictate and project its economic power in the Asia-Pacific region, it continues to justify its actions by sowing an anti-China scare campaign reminiscent of Cold War-era messaging.

Filipinos in the U.S. and in the Philippines declare, “The Philippines is NOT for sale!” and will conduct protest actions in both countries to condemn the U.S.-Philippine military alliance, which will only perpetuate more human rights violations against the Filipino people and aggravate the threat of war, putting the Philippine nation in direct danger of unwarranted military action.

Join BAYAN-USA in nationally-coordinated protest actions to demand that President Aquino uphold Philippine sovereignty and protect the rights and welfare of the Filipino people!

Friday, June 8, 2:00PM EST
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Sidewalks between East & West Executive Avenues
Washington, D.C.
Contact: Jackelyn Mariano, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, 347.669.0661

Friday, June 8, 5:30PM PST
Hilton LAX
Los Angeles, California
Contact: Theresa Jaranilla, Southwest Coordinator, BAYAN-USA, 213.373.5154

Sat, June 9 & Sun, June 10, 12pm-5pm PST
Seattle Center, Pagdiriwang Festival commemorating Philippine Independence
Seattle, Washington
Contact: Chel Cendana, Pacific Northwest Coordinator, BAYAN-USA, 360.990.9424



Renowned Philippine Human Rights Leader Speaking in Seattle for International Human Rights Day

For Immediate Release
December 2, 2011

Media Contact: Michael Viola
Philippine-United States Solidarity Organization (PUSO)

Seattle, WA – Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the Philippines-based human rights coalition Karapatan will be in Seattle on December 10 to commemorate International Human Rights Day. Marie will share her own personal story as a survivor of state-sponsored crackdown on human rights, as well as provide an update of the current situation of human rights abuses in the Philippines. Marie will be speaking at the University of Washington on December 9 and the Filipino Community Center (FCC) in South Seattle on December 10.

Marie is a leading advocate for human rights in the Philippines. When Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, his regime specifically targeted youth activists for their role in questioning the unjust policies of the U.S.-supported Philippine dictator. Marie was a political prisoner and was able to escape. However, authorities captured, tortured, and killed her sister, Liliosa. Her sister’s unjust death steered Marie in the ongoing struggle for human rights and to seek justice for the families and victims of state-sponsored torture and extrajudicial killings. As chairperson of Karapatan (which translates to “justice” in the Filipino language), Marie helps document cases of human rights violations perpetrated by the armed forces and paramilitary units, assists the victims and their relatives in seeking justice, and exposes the present government for the more than 1,000 victims of extra-judicial killings.

“It is a huge honor to welcome such a celebrated human rights crusader to Seattle. She has a remarkable story of organizing against the Marcos dictatorship and a sharp analysis of the current human rights situation in the Philippines.” says Joaquin Uy from the Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization (PUSO), the community-based group organizing Marie’s talks. “Her presentation is especially timely in offering a global reference point for the Occupy events taking place in New York, Seattle, and in other U.S. cities.”

Marie will be speaking about Karapatan’s annual human rights report under the current Philippine presidency and sharing her unique perspective on the Occupy movements sweeping the nation and the world. Her talk is meant to commemorate International Human Rights Day. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has become a universal standard for defending and promoting human rights. Every year on December 10, Human Rights Day marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration. Governments and nonprofit organizations all over the world celebrate this day’s declaration that “All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.”###

Friday, December 9, 2011 at 4pm
University of Washington Campus at the Communications Building, Room 226 (CMU 226) by the Padelford Parking Garage
Admission: Free
Extras: Cultural performance and light snacks provided

Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 6:30pm
Filipino Community Center of Seattle, 5740 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way S, Seattle, WA 98118
Admission: Sliding scale donation $5-$12. No one turned away for lack of funds.

All proceeds support political prisoners and the struggle for human rights in the Philippines.

PUSO (Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization) translates as “heart” in Filipino is a grassroots organization based in Seattle. We organize to improve the human rights situation and to support lasting peace in the Philippines. To this end, PUSO builds solidarity between the people of the Philippines and the U.S.

Hundreds of Supporters Worldwide Offer Open Letter to Demand Justice for Melissa Roxas, marking May 25th a Day of Survival

Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign
Contact: Kuusela Hilo, info@justiceformelissa.org

May 25, 2011

Hundreds of Supporters Worldwide Offer Open Letter to Demand Justice for Melissa Roxas, marking May 25th a Day of Survival

To mark the 2nd year anniversary of Melissa Roxas’s survival of enforced disappearance and torture and the international campaign to surface Melissa, hundreds of supporters have signed on to an open letter addressing Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines.

Two years ago, an international campaign was launched to demand the immediate release of American citizen Melissa Roxas and her two colleagues, who were abducted by the military while doing community health work in Tarlac, Philippines. Because of this worldwide outcry, Roxas was returned to her family that same day. Upon Roxas’ release, it was confirmed that she was a survivor of both abduction and torture.

To this day, Roxas and her two colleagues are just a handful of living witnesses to the government-sponsored enforced disappearances and torture that continues with impunity today in the Philippines. To this day, the perpetrators responsible for this ordeal remain at large, abetted by government cover-ups by officials such as Etta Rosales of the Commission on Human Rights. More importantly, two years later, international protests, petitions and prayers continue for Melissa Roxas and all those who have suffered human rights violations at the hands of the Philippine government.  “We will never forget that day in late May two years ago when we launched the campaign to surface Melissa Roxas and her two companions. We needed an international campaign to search for Melissa and her colleagues then, and we know we need to continue our international campaign today to seek justice for what was done to Melissa and the thousands of other victims of human rights abuses by the Philippine military,” said Rhonda Ramiro of the Justice for Melissa Campaign.

Since May 19, 2011, supporters of the Justice for Melissa Campaign have been holding solidarity gatherings and protests commemorating the 6 days Melissa Roxas was held incommunicado by the Philippine military. Nationwide, BAYAN USA, a convener of the Justice for Melissa Campaign, led community gatherings and protests to demand justice for Melissa Roxas. Youth, artists, friends of Roxas and community leaders created a special two-year anniversary video in Los Angeles which debuted during an intimate gathering on May 19, 2011 at Rosewood United Methodist Church to break bread and provide bolstering support for Melissa on a day now marked as a day of survival.

Links to see the outpouring of support for Melissa Roxas can be found at: www.justiceformelissa.org
HERE to view 2nd year commemoration video of the Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign
HERE to view a 2010 Democracy Now! interview with Melissa Roxas
Justice for Melissa to hear the AnakBayan LA Hip Hop Song tribute for Melissa
HERE to see San Francisco rally for Melissa Roxas

US-backed P-Noy is No Champion of Human Rights

News Statement
December 10, 2010

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA
Email: chair@bayanusa.org

Aquino’s Non-Resolution of Philippines’ Human Rights Crisis Serves US Foreign Policy

In commemoration of the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA would like to call international attention to their disappointment in Philippine President Benigno “P-Noy” Simeon Aquino III for his failure to act decisively towards resolving the ongoing human rights crisis in the Philippines.

Rather than working to fulfill his campaign promises to the Filipino people, Aquino has spent the past 5 months prioritizing the fulfillment of his promises made to the US government and to multi-national corporate investors to further liberalize the Philippine national economy and territory to accommodate their interests.

If the first 160 days of the Aquino administration are any indicator, the Filipino people can be certain the campaign of unabated extra-judicial killings, abductions, illegal detentions, and torture of civilians throughout the country by its security forces unleashed by the previous Arroyo administration will continue under the current presidency.

Like Barack Obama, the romanticized hype over Aquino’s candidacy and electoral win are slowly being replaced by a steady flow of political doublespeak on critical issues. One of the vilest examples of this can be seen with the case of the Morong 43 healthworkers, who are now in their 10th month of illegal detention under the Philippine military’s custody. After publicly acknowledging irregularities with the raid, arrest warrant, and even so-called “evidence” gathered against the 43 last February by the Philippine National Police and Philippine military, Aquino not only essentially washed his hands of the case by leaving it to the courts to decide on their fate, he beefed up the country’s military budget by an unprecedented 81%.

Unprecedented Military Spending for Counter-Insurgency Operations

The P1.64 trillion military budget proposal of the Aquino government for 2011 is a staggeringly massive amount inclusive of $434 million granted by the US State Department via the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Per the US military’s new Counter-Insurgency (COIN) guide, this amount will be dedicated to strengthening the very structural framework responsible for country’s continuing human right crisis– the national counter-insurgency plan known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

Though touted as a campaign to end the armed rebellion in the countryside, OBL has earned the scrutiny of international human rights monitoring groups for its baseless directive of targeting progressive and outspoken people’s organizations, party-lists, advocates, institutions and even social service providers such as the Morong 43 for being so-called “communist fronts.”

Under Aquino, 22 assassinations of civilians have been added to the piling list of extra-judicial killings and there remains 393 political prisoners throughout the country. Over 300 days have passed since Aquino promised to redistribute his family’s Hacienda Luisita to its tillers. Not a single arrest has been made to answer for the thousands of documented cases of killings and abductions under the Arroyo government, including Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself, the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre, as well as the abduction and torture of Filipina-American human rights advocate Melissa Roxas by military elements.

Aquino’s decision to extend and enforce OBL, despite its many critics, aims to choke off the strong nationalist movement in the Philippines that frustrates US foreign policy interests in the region. With Aquino’s help, the US government is working towards an official re-establishment of a permanent US military presence in the country. Like Arroyo, Aquino is committed to ensuring the terrorizing Bush Doctrine principles are applied to the Philippines in order to advance US geopolitical interests in the Asia-Pacific region, key to which is an all-out war campaign to bail-out the world’s wealthiest countries and financial oligarchs from the worst economic crisis in history.

Already the US government’s hand in the military provocation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and rivaling superpower China spells plans for a US war offensive in the region that would not only bully and advance US trade interests in the region, but necessitate a large, permanent and reliable US military station in the Philippines.

Human Rights & People’s Solidarity

With the burden of the global economic crisis breaking the backs of people both in the US and the Philippines, international solidarity between movements to hold governments accountable for increased public spending towards war and human rights violations rather than for jobs, education, healthcare, and other social services must be forged.

Since 2005, BAYAN USA has been campaigning with allies in the US to cut US military spending in the Philippines and for the withdrawal of US troops in from the region. These efforts in the US are in solidarity with those in the Philippines risking their lives everyday at the frontlines of a growing democratic movement to alleviate the Filipino people from their daily agony of poverty, landlessness, joblessness, and hunger amidst US-funded counter-insurgency and political repression.

BAYAN USA firmly believes that communities in the US play a role in the struggle for human rights in the Philippines by holding the Obama administration accountable for its actions in the Philippines, just as the Filipino people must hold the Aquino administration accountable for its broken promises and subservience to foreign dictates. The ongoing culture of impunity in the Philippines beckons the international community to support the Filipino people’s fight for justice for the victims of human rights abuses and the punishment of human rights violators unleashed by the state.

Free the Morong 43 & all Political Prisoners!
Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya!
End Impunity, Prosecute Arroyo!
US Out of the Philippines!