Tag: protest

BAYAN USA Statement of Solidarity with the Egyptian People’s Struggle

News Statement
January 31, 2011

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

Katie Joaquin of Anakbayan East Bay at the SF Rally in Solidarity with the Protests in Egypt and Tunisia, 1/29/11 (Photo by Sunshine Velasco)

Filipino-Americans Stand with the Egyptian People in Calling for Mubarak to Step Down

Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA are joining rallies across the United States in support of the Egyptian people’s courageous resistance and calling for an end to the US-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. BAYAN USA is equally inspired by the national protest movements unfolding across North Africa and the Middle East, beginning with Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, and now Egypt.

Despite mainstream media’s attempts to distort the protesters as Islamic extremists, the protests in Egypt clearly represent a broad, united front of various classes and sectors of Egyptian society that have grown sick and tired over deep, longstanding socio-economic problems including rising unemployment, food prices, widespread poverty, and government corruption. These are all exacerbated under the current global economic crisis coupled with over 30 years of Mubarak’s allegiance to US foreign policy–which stresses economic liberalization and privatization in the region– over the Egyptian people’s national interests.

The Filipino people are all too familiar with how the US hegemonic hand at the root of the Egyptian people’s misery is able to be sustained through puppet leaders such as Mubarak treating government as a private business rather than as a public service, otherwise known as bureaucrat capitalism. This was the case with the former US-backed dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, whose Iron Fist regime was no match for the popular people’s uprising known as People Power that ousted him from office in 1986. Unfortunately, this has also been the case with all the succeeding regimes in the Philippines.

The valuable lesson the Filipino people have learned from ousting two US puppet presidents through popular upsurge is that a change in leadership does not eradicate bureaucrat capitalism, domestic feudalism, nor foreign dictates. This must come from continuous struggle for structural change by way of a revolutionary mass movement.

Darah Macaraeg of League of Filipino Students-SFSU speaks at the SF Rally in Solidarity with the Protests in Egypt and Tunisia, 1/29/11 (Photo by Sunshine Velasco)

We are endlessly inspired by the Egyptian people’s fighting spirit and self-determination, and we demand the US government to withdraw all forms of support for Hosni Mubarak, who is now heavily-isolated. This especially includes all forms of US economic and military aid to Egypt. Considered one of the closes allies to the US government in the Middle East, Mubarak’s Egypt has enjoyed being the second largest beneficiary of US military aid in the world, receiving $1.3 billion in US tax dollars annually. We also call on the US government to respect and recognize Egyptian sovereignty by not interfering with Egyptian domestic affairs.

Lastly, we call on the people in the US to show their solidarity with the Egyptian people’s struggle by holding the Obama government and US ruling elite accountable for the burdensome economic crisis they have passed on to our backs, in forms such as skyrocketing unemployment and homelessness, critical cuts to education and health care, overbearing privatization of the social services, the prison industrial complex, and the rising costs of consumer goods. We call on the people in the US to strengthen and expand our unity against the US war machine waging costly imperialist wars of aggression abroad in the bogus name of democracy and freedom. This is amongst our best acts of solidarity for the Egyptian people and all other oppressed peoples of the world.


Bay Area Filipinos descend on Arroyo’s waterfront investment house

Contact: Jack DeJesus
Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN-USA

The usual calm of Foster City’s waterfront neighborhood was interrupted momentarily by the sounds of local activists chanting, “Mike Arroyo, you can’t hide! We can see your big bahay! You’re busted!”

Dozens of Filipinos representing different organizations convened in the early morning at the famed Beach Park Boulevard home of Philippine Congressman Mikey Arroyo. Their objective: to show that Bay Area Filipinos oppose the lavish lifestyles of Philippine elected officials and think that they should spend their time and money addressing poverty and human rights instead.

“We are disgusted the Congressman Arroyo bought a $1.32 million dollar home here in the U.S while over 11 million Filipinos are living on less than a dollar a day,” stated GABRIELA USA Chairperson Raquel Redondiez.

The protesters demanded that the Arroyos come clean about the source of their wealth. “Since Gloria and the rest of the Arroyos came to power, their family’s wealth has multiplied, while the Philippine economy has plummeted,” added Terry Valen of NAFCON (National Alliance of Filipino Concerns).

In addition to banners and signs, two protesters dressed as Mikey Arroyo and and his famed Presidential mother carrying giant “credit-cards” of the “Bank of the Philippine People.” Gloria’s “visa” has “20,000 stolen by GMA “Takaw sa Kapangyarihan”, and Mikey’s “Mastercard” has “$1.32 million stolen by Mikey “Kurakot” Arroyo.

The Philippines’ economic ties to Washington was also a point of concern, especially related to the ongoing issue of political killings and enforced disappearances, brought to light by the recent abduction and torture of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas. BAYAN-USA Deputy Secretary Jack DeJesus said, “We are in the middle of an economic crisis. Instead of funding politicians’ luxury homes and Philippine death squads, our US tax dollars should be used to provide social services, health care, and education for people here in America.”

Filipino Americans to President Obama: Ask Arroyo about Melissa Roxas and the thousands of victims of state-sponsored torture, abductions, and killings in the Philippines

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Secretary-General, BAYAN-USA

Nationwide Actions Demand a Reversal of the Failed Bush-Arroyo Doctrine and Call for REAL Change in US Policy Toward the Philippines

During nationwide actions this week marking the annual “State of the Nation Address” in the Philippines, BAYAN-USA declared that it would demand accountability from the Philippine government for the illegal abduction and torture of American citizen Melissa Roxas and call on President Barack Obama to discuss the human rights crisis in the Philippines in his meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on July 30. Roxas, who is the first US citizen known to be tortured in the Philippines during the Obama administration, was abducted, held in captivity and tortured by alleged military agents in the Philippines from May 19-25, 2009.

The Arroyo-Obama meeting also coincides with a hearing of the Court of Appeals in the Philippines on Roxas’ case, at which Roxas will testify about the violent abduction and torture including repeated beatings and asphyxiation with plastic bags that she endured during her six days in captivity in what she believes was a military camp. The meeting of President Arroyo and President Obama also occurs as the US Senate and House deliberate over next year’s military aid package to the Philippines; the current year’s military aid package is $32 million. US military aid to the Philippine grew a staggering 1,500% during the Bush administration and is widely believed to have funded the Philippine military personnel that committed the human rights atrocities, which includes a body count of at least 1,013 people killed and 1,036 people tortured.

“Neglecting to question Arroyo about Melissa Roxas and the thousands of human rights violations being committed by the Philippine military makes the Obama administration complicit in the perpetration of these heinous crimes,” stated Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary General of BAYAN-USA. “Granting tens of millions of US tax dollars to the murderous Philippine military would make President Obama just as guilty as Bush in the continuing torture and murder of innocent people.”

BAYAN-USA and representatives of churches, community organizations, labor unions, and other concerned groups are appealing to President Obama to live up to his declarations of “change,” by asking President Arroyo what action she intends to take about the rampant human rights violations that continue to plague the Philippines. They are also calling on President Obama to specifically ask President Arroyo, as Commander in Chief, to ensure that the Philippine military cooperates with the investigation into Roxas’ case.

“On the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims, President Obama declared, ‘Torture is contrary to the founding documents of our country and the fundamental values of our people. The US must stand against torture wherever it takes place.’ We are asking President Obama to live up to his words by taking a stand against the state-sanctioned torture used by the Philippine military against government critics,” said Ramiro.

During her meeting with President Obama, President Arroyo is expected to make a pitch for support of her proposed changes to the Philippine Constitution, known in the Philippines as “Charter Change.” Despite widespread popular opposition, President Arroyo has relentlessly campaigned for Charter Change for over two years, including during today’s State of the Nation Address. Charter Change would wipe out constitutional protections that protect Philippine sovereignty by allowing 100% foreign ownership of Philippine land and key industries, as well as open the door to a power extension for President Arroyo beyond the end of her term in 2010.

Recent polls show extremely low approval ratings of President Arroyo. Since Arroyo became president in 2001, the Philippines has experienced the longest period of sustained high unemployment in its history, at 11.2% or 10.8 million people unemployed and underemployed; a cumulative national government deficit of P1.29 trillion, which is triple the deficits of the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations combined; more human rights violations against innocent civilians than under any previous president including Ferdinand Marcos; and at least 16 documented government corruption scandals amounting to $430 million in kick-backs and pay-offs to government officials and relatives.

“If President Obama is serious about promoting peace and supporting lasting change in the Philippines, he should oppose Arroyo’s Charter Change,” stated Ramiro. “Charter Change would result in less security for Filipinos and Americans alike, because it would worsen poverty and pave the way for an Arroyo dictatorship.”

We want REAL CHANGE NOT Charter Change
We want HUMAN RIGHTS NOT Torture
We want DEMOCRACY NOT Dictatorship
We want SOVEREIGNTY NOT Foreign Rule
We want REAL SECURITY NOT State Terrorism
No US Military Aid for Torture, Abductions and Killings in the Philippines
Investigate the Abduction and Torture of Melissa Roxas

BAYAN-USA Actions being held in the U.S

New York
The Real State of the Nation: Community Forum, Play, and Action
Monday, July 27, 2009, 6:00 PM
Bayanihan Community Center
40-21 69th St.
New York, NY

San Francisco
Cha-Cha-Cha Change We Can Believe In: Action to Demand REAL Change and Justice for Melissa Roxas
Monday, July 27, 2009, 4:00 PM
Federal Building
Corner of Mission Street and 7th Street
San Francisco, CA

Los Angeles
Justice for Melissa Roxas and State of the Nation Action
Coincides with Melissa Roxas’ Writ of Amparo Hearing in the Philippines
Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 7:00 PM
In front of the Philippine Consulate
3600 Wilshire Blvd (between S Harvard Blvd and S Kingsley Dr)
Los Angeles, CA

Additional Actions being held in the US

San Francisco
Vigil for Human Rights in the Philippines
Thursday, July 30, 2009, 6:00 PM
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
756 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA
Sponsored by the USA-Philippines Ecumenical Advocacy Network

Washington DC
Justice for Melissa Roxas Action and Prayer Vigil
Coincides with Meeting of President Barack Obama and President Gloria Arroyo
Thursday, July 30, 2009, 11:00 AM
Sponsored by Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines
In front of the White House

Lightning rally strikes Arroyo visit to Los Angeles. Thunderous outcry from Fil-Ams: ‘No to Con-Ass, No to Cha-Cha. Gloria has got to go.’

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Secretary General, BAYAN-USA

Los Angeles, CA — On early Saturday morning, Filipino Americans launched a lightning rally to greet Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her mini-junket at the Sheraton Gateway near Los Angeles International Airport. The lightning rally was one of many demonstrations across the Philippines and around the world in recent days to protest the passage of the House Resolution 1109 to convene a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), considered the latest move of the US-Arroyo regime to change the Philippine Charter (Cha Cha) and further undermine democracy in the Philippines.

BAYAN-USA & GABRIELA USA’s member organizations began the lightning rally, marching to a rendition of “Bayan Ko” carrying “No to Con-Ass” and “No to Cha-Cha” signs, AnakBayan LA, Habi Arts and Sisters of GABRIELA Awaken (SiGAw) members expressed their anger at the US-Arroyo regime’s desperate Con-Ass maneuver to hold on to power. Fil-Ams were also demanding justice for fellow Habi Arts member, Melissa Roxas, a US Citizen who was abducted and tortured by armed men last May while doing community health work in the Philippines. A street theater piece highlighting the on-going human rights violations was dedicated to Roxas, Jonas Burgos, Karen Empeno, Sherlyn Kadapan, James Balao, Juanito Carabeo, John Edward Jandoc and all other victims of the US-Arroyo regime. With a thunderous outcry denouncing Arroyo, the protestors drowned out the cheers of US-Arroyo supporters as Arroyo was escorted back to LAX. The morning rally was concluded with an “Arroyo, You’re A Jerk” hip hop dance circle led by AnakBayan Los Angeles.

“Con-Ass and Charter Change are lame attempts for Arroyo and her cronies to stay in power. They all hoped that the Filipino people would not care enough to notice, but the public outcry of our people in the Philippines, the US and all over the world prove that the people are wise and keen on her trickery,” declared Daya Mortel, BAYAN-USA Southern California Regional Coordinator and Habi Arts member. “She has tried every trick in the book short of declaring Martial Law. Wherever she may go, there will be people who will protest and criticize her abuse of power.”

“Con-Ass is the biggest threat to democracy and the Filipino people today,” stated Kuusela Hilo, Vice Chairperson of BAYAN-USA and member of AnakBayan LA. “The Filipino people have suffered under the US-Arroyo regime, and for Arroyo to position herself as Prime Minister or declare martial law would only mean more suffering and repression for our people.”

The rapes of “Nicole” and “Vanessa” and the devastation wrought on civilians by the annual Balikatan military exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement have drawn increasing criticism from all sectors of Philippine society. “GMA has turned her back on Filipina women and all other Filipinos by railroading our Constitution and the democratic process. If Con-Ass and Cha-Cha are pushed through, foreigners will be able to own the natural resources of the country and Filipinas will continue to be violated by US troops in the Philippines,” said Terrie Cervas, Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA USA and founding member of SiGAw. Cervas concluded, “By rewriting the Philippine Constitution, the Philippines will be victim to 100% foreign ownership of industries and re-installation of permanent military US presence, beyond supposed ‘temporary’ posts already in place under the Visiting Forces Agreement.” For the last ten years, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) has paved the way for US military advisers, troops and equipment to train and equip the Philippine military which has been implicated in 1,017 extra-judicial killings and 1,010 cases of torture.

“The fact that Arroyo tried to visit LA unnoticed is very telling,” said Mortel. “She knew she could not come to LA, the hometown of Melissa Roxas, without facing unanswered questions of why her government has not done a thorough probe into the abduction and torture of Roxas and her companions. Or why hundreds of others have been disappeared and why thousands of other victims have yet to receive justice.”

BAYAN-USA will continue to campaign against Con-Ass and Cha-Cha. BAYAN-USA will also be working with national alliances and human rights organizations in the United States to demand justice for Melissa Roxas and all other victims of human rights violations. “We do not want any of our hard-earned US tax dollars funding Philippine death squads,” said Hilo. “Senator Barbara Boxer sponsored a hearing on the human rights crisis in the Philippines just two years ago in Washington DC, and we will be asking Senator Boxer and other elected officials to take Melissa Roxas’ case seriously, to take a stand to defend a US citizen that has survived abduction and torture, and to require that not one cent of US taxes be used to fund human rights violations in the Philippines.”

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the US representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As an international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the US. BAYAN-USA’s online petition against the VFA can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow. The online petition to demand justice for Roxas and her companions Juanito Carabeo, and John Edward Jandoc can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/online/28021.html.