For Immediate Release
March 8, 2016
Reference: Angelica Lim, Chairperson, GABRIELA Portland, angelica.a.lim@gmail.com

Portland Filipinos Commemorate International Working Women’s Day
and the Launch of GABRIELA Portland

“Women Hold up Half the Sky.”

Portland, OR -- On March 8th, Filipinos in Portland, Oregon gathered to talk story and lift up the voices of migrant Filipinas for a night of migrant stories and celebration. Highlighting the stories of the fighting spirit and resilience of multi-generational migrant women in the Portland area, March 8th: International Working Women’s Day, was the culmination of a three-week long project that was launched on February 14th for the One Billion Rising REVOLUTION Campaign. We hold the spirit of International Working Women’s Day, the struggle and resistance of working women in their workplaces, and recognize that Filipina migrant workers are at the core of those who are most affected. We unite with GABRIELA USA to end all forms of violence including state repression, fascism, militarization, and wars of aggression.  Just as we are taking part in struggles to defend our land, our jobs, our livelihood and our rights, we must join in the struggle for a just and lasting peace in our homeland and around the globe. More than a century after International Working Women’s Day was established, this day is especially important for us as young Filipino women in the U.S. advocating for the rights and welfare of Filipino women at home and abroad.

March 8th also acts as the historic launching of GABRIELA Portland, a collective of Pinay workers, mothers, students, professionals, and LGBTQ pinays who are advancing the Filipina militant mass movement in the Philippines. Drawing from the legacy of GABRIELA Silang, a revolutionary leader who lead an army against Spanish colonizers, GABRIELA Portland will take up the charge to organize and fight against oppressive forces that attack our livelihoods and our bodies. We link our struggle to those of Filipinas in the motherland, and we fight for national and social liberation.

GABRIELA Portland will continue to uphold the rights and welfare of the most exploited Filipinas, the migrant workers, and will continue to expand its ranks among Filipina migrant workers and unite the militant fighting spirit of women against imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and feudalism. It is only with the toppling of these three basic problems can the forced migration of Filipino women be stopped, the exploitation of Filipinas both in the Philippines and the United States be ended, and the liberation of the Filipino people will be realized.

We seek to connect our current conditions as Filipina workers, students, mothers, professionals, and LGBTQIGNC* in the United States to that of our motherland through educating, organizing and mobilizing. Through our organizing, we will campaign on women-based issues including violence against women, not just in the form of interpersonal, but economic, state repression, forced migration, and issues that affect LGBTQ.  We are committed to working for genuine national liberation and democracy in the Philippines. Through the National Democratic Movement of the Philippines, we will win liberation for all Filipinos living in the diaspora and sovereignty for the Philippines.

SULONG GABRIELA! LUMABAN MAKIBAKA! ADVANCE THE MILITANT WOMXN’S MOVEMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES AND AROUND THE WORLD!

#GABRIELAUSA
#GABRIELAPDX
#ABANTE2016
#RISE4REVOLUTION
#IWWD
#1BILLIONRISING

 

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Contact GABRIELA Portland:

Want to learn more or get involved with GABRIELA Portland?
Email gabriela.pdx@gmail.com

Angelica Lim, Chairperson
Adrianne Sebastian, Vice Chairperson
Trisha Elizarde-Miller, Secretary General
Emily Rice, Deputy Secretary General
Geleen Abenoja, Finance Officer


Press Statement
November 13, 2015

Bayan denounces surveillance on chairperson, 
harassment of leaders ahead of APEC protests

We denounce in the strongest terms the recent surveillance conducted on our chairperson Dr. Carol P. Araullo last November 10. The surveillance operations took place days before the planned protest actions against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. Bayan is leading the weeklong protest actions vs the APEC.

On November 10, at around 8:30 am, Araullo went to the Oasis Center at Maginhawa Street in Teacher’s Village, Quezon City. As her driver got off the car, he was approached by a man on a motorcycle with a backrider. The unidentified man asked Araullo’s driver, “Sino ang sakay mo, si Carol?”

When the driver denied it, the unidentified man said “Lintek!” and then left.

At around 10:30 am to 10:40 am, the same men were seen at a convenience store just near the clinic. Two other men on motorcycles were also seen in the vicinity of the convenience store.

We suspect that those conducting the surveillance operations are state agents as only they have the means and the motive to undertake such activities.

This is not the first case of surveillance conducted on leaders of progressive organizations. Earlier this year, leaders of COURAGE, a federation of government labor unions, were also subjected to heavy surveillance. Similar cases involving the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, Salinlahi and Migrante were also documented just weeks before the annual SONA protests.

A medical doctor, Araullo has worked as the chair of Bayan since 2004 and is also part of other broad formations such as the Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change and
the People’s Initiative Against Pork Barrel (PIAP).

We likewise condemn the filing of trumped-up charges against Bayan leaders that was recently hyped by the Philippine National Police in a press release dated November 12. Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr, KMP secretary general Antonio Flores, COURAGE chair Ferdinand Gaite, Anakbayan chair Vencer Crisostomo and several others were charged last August before the QC prosecutor’s office for various offense related to an incident during the last SONA rally. Respondents have already filed their counter-affidavits in response to the malicious and baseless charges of assault, serious illegal detention and robbery that were allegedly committed against two policemen who had infiltrated a rally. That the PNP chose to highlight the case now, just days before the APEC, is a cheap attempt to intimidate Bayan leaders and members.

We call on the people to remain steadfast amid the escalating state repression in time for the APEC. We call on the people to resist the fascist and neoliberal impositions of the US-Aquino regime and to fight for genuine freedom and social liberation. ###


For Immediate Release
August 30, 2015
Press Statement

Contact:  Nikole Cababa, Deputy Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, depsec@bayanusa.org

End State Repression in the Philippines! Surface the Disappeared!
Bayan USA Statement on the International Day of the Disappeared

Today marks the anniversary of the International Day of the Disappeared, initiated over three decades ago in order to shed light on state-sponsored violence and enforced disappearances around the world.  Enforced disappearances are defined as the deprivation of liberty for political reasons committed by or with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of the state.  BAYAN USA joins the international community calling for the immediate surfacing of the disappeared and justice for all victims of human rights violations.  
 
The human rights crisis in the Philippines under Aquino is a direct consequence of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, which as an integral part of U.S. foreign policy is applied in countries where the US has strategic interests. In the case of the Philippines, and many other poor countries, neoliberal economic policies are imposed at the expense of the lives and livelihood of the Filipino people. These policies have restructured the Philippine economic and political system to serve big foreign monopoly capital rather than provide for the people. This spurs strong peoples’ resistance and mass movement seeking sovereignty and liberation. In order to quell this movement and maintain the for-profit, neocolonial system, the Aquino government, as a neoliberal ruling system, must unleash state repression against those most critical of its policies.
 
State repression against activists in the Philippines is escalating as Aquino prepares to exit the presidency. Over the past 5 years, Aquino developed long track record of human rights violations, including over 27 cases of enforced disappearances, 238 cases of extrajudicial killings, 110 cases of torture, and 723 cases of illegal arrests and detention.  The Aquino government has failed to resolve the 2006 case of enforced disappearances of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, students of the University of the Philippines, and Jonas Burgos, agriculturalist and activist, despite last year’s arrest of General Jovito Palparan, widely known to be responsible for these abductions. Although Palparan has been in custody for nearly a year, justice and accountability for Cadapan, Empeno, Burgos and hundreds more of “The Butcher” Palparan’s victims is yet to be achieved in the Philippine courts.
 
This past May also marked the 6th year anniversary of the disappearance of Melissa Roxas, a Filipina American human rights activist and poet, who was abducted and tortured by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for six days and released only after waves of protests led by BAYAN in the Philippines and the U.S. garnered international attention.
 
BAYAN USA calls for the end of Oplan Bayanihan, a counter-insurgency plan modeled after the U.S. counter-insurgency guide of 2009 to quell rebellion and the ongoing civil war in the Philippines.  Oplan Bayanihan has not led to peace in the Philippines, but rather a growing number of militarized communities, displaced indigenous people, and the massacre of unarmed civilians.  According to human rights organization Karapatan, there were 11 victims of extrajudicial killings this month alone.  Oplan Bayanihan has been used to criminalize activism and target human rights advocates, faith leaders, civilians, and critics of the Aquino regime.
 
“Under Oplan Bayanihan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines are escalating their repression against activists with complete impunity as Aquino prepares to exit Malacanang. Human rights abusers are promoted and awarded for their crimes instead of being prosecuted and investigated.” said Rhonda Ramiro, Vice-Chair of BAYAN USA.
 
“Both the Aquino government and Obama government should be held accountable for these gross human rights violations because Oplan Bayanihan is modeled after the U.S. counterinsurgency manual and funded with U.S. tax dollars,” Ramiro continued.
 
BAYAN USA calls on the Philippine government to surface all victims of enforced disappearances and seek justice for their families and loved ones.  We call on the people of the U.S. to stand with the people of the Philippines by demanding our U.S. tax dollars not be funneled towards the Philippine military, which is culpable for the human rights crisis in the country.
 
Surface the Disappeared!
Justice for All Desaparecidos and All Victims of Human Rights Violations!
End State Repression! End Oplan Bayanihan!
No U.S. Military Aid to the Philippines!
End U.S. Counter-Insurgency! End Impunity!
 

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For Immediate Release
August 26, 2015

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson GABRIELA USA info@gabusa.org

 

US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton is GUILTY for the Murder of Jennifer Laude

GABRIELA USA demands immediate justice to find Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty as charged on the vicious hate crime and killing of Filipino trans woman, Jennifer Laude, last October 2014 in Olongapo, Philippines. Last Monday August 24, U.S. Marine Corporal Joseph S. Pemberton admitted to choking Jennifer Laude until she stopped moving, but claims she was still alive when he left the hotel room. Autopsy reports show she died from asphyxiation by drowning.  Pemberton claimed he acted in self defense as he was surprised to find that Jennifer was a “man” and feared being “raped” by him.  This does not excuse the soldier's malicious intent to harm and ultimately take the life of Jennifer Laude. His admission to choking her only exposes Pemberton’s intent to kill Jennifer upon realizing Jennifer’s transgender identity. 

The killing of Jennifer Laude continues to shed light on the systemic violence and brutal attacks against transgender persons under an imperialist, patriarchal culture that dismisses the dignity and rights of trans people. Mass organizations under GABRIELA USA remain vigilant in demanding Justice for Jennifer Laude and an end to all hate crimes and state violence against transgender people. 

According to Irma Bajar, Solidarity Officer of GABRIELA USA, “There have been 17 reported killings of trans women of color in the U.S.”  She goes on to say, “We continue to witness violence against trans people escalate under various forms of state repression including militarism, police brutality, increased detentions, and in the  prisons. We must acknowledge that Jennifer Laude’s murder is a product of U.S. militarization in the Philippines and anti-trans violence. It is our duty to educate and organize our communities to love and protect trans women here and abroad who regularly suffer systemic violence and hate crimes due to imperialism which further perpetuates patriarchal systems of oppression.”

Ongoing US military occupation of the Philippines has persistently violated the rights of women, who are exploited for sexual and labor purposes, especially in areas where U.S. military bases are still occupying Philippine lands.  Jennifer’s murder further exposes the human rights violations amplified by U.S. militarization in our home country. Under the Justice for Jennifer Laude campaign, GABRIELA USA and BAYAN USA alliance organizations demand that U.S. troops get out of the Philippines. With the so called bilateral policies,  such as the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperative Agreement) and VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), between the US and the Philippine government,  there are no limitations to the number of troops to be deployed to the country nor is the duration of deployment specified. Therefore, unlimited number of troops can be deployed at any time without a particular reason or activity. 

“Pemberton joins a long line of US military invaders and occupiers, and his guilt in the death of Jennifer Laude is loud and clear. His excuses are disgraceful, an insult to the life of Jennifer and the many Trans women who have to live in fear from men like Pemberton” states Valerie Francisco, Chairperson GABRIELA USA. 

U.S. intervention continues to generate a climate of heinous crimes, injustice, and impunity within Philippine society.  As militarization perpetuates continued violence against trans persons and so long as the state continues to protect perpetrators of hate crimes instead of upholding laws to protect the most marginalized and vulnerable in our communities, it is critical that we stand together in fighting for justice for victims and to demand truth and accountability. 

#JusticeforJenniferLaude
#TransLivesMatter
#JunkVFA
#ScrapEDCA
#USOutNow

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August 25, 2015
Press Statement

Reference: Aurora Victoria David, NAFCON Alliance Secretary

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Filipinos in the US to Philippine government: We are not your milking cows! Do your job and protect Filipinos overseas!

Filipinos in the United States vow to remain vigilant against any actions of the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) to open Balikbayan boxes sent by overseas Filipinos for inspection and taxation in an attempt to fulfill a P600-million target revenue from balikbayan boxes set by the Philippine government. The recent retraction of BOC of its original proposal to mandatorily open Balikbayan boxes is due to the outrage expressed by Filipinos worldwide and our families.
 
However, the BOC still plans to increase clearing fees for all containers entering Philippines ports to as much as P100,000 to P120,000, which would translate to an additional $7 per balikbayan box. According to Migrante Partylist, the first increase of P40,000 per container was imposed last July 27, while another wave of increase is reportedly scheduled to take effect on October 1. Filipino workers abroad, freight forwarders, and stakeholders were not consulted in this process.
 
Given the government’s long history of raising fees paid by Filipino migrants who then receive no services or support in return, NAFCON considers all of these actions to be money-making schemes intent on milking Filipino workers abroad of their hard-earned money for the personal interests of government officials.
 
Not only is this issue insulting to migrant workers abroad who try to fill these boxes with items worth months of wages to express their love and fulfill their longing for their families back home, but at the same time it is also infuriating that our tears and sweat are being translated into money for corrupt government officials and agencies.
 
Initially defending the BOC, President Aquino himself stated that the BOC was just “doing its job.” Is that the same reasoning the President uses when he maintains his agencies’ budgets for his P1 trillion worth of pork barrel funds? Were Aquino’s agencies also “doing their job” when they neglected Mary Jane Veloso and countless victims of human trafficking abroad?   By “doing its job,” does Aquino refer to his administration's labor export policy that continues to force more than 6,000 Filipinos abroad daily in search of livelihood?
 
The statements of Aquino and his cohorts in the BOC reflect their ignorance and callousness to the plight of Filipinos worldwide. But the latest outrage on and off social media from various parts of the world has also reminded this government that organized, Filipino immigrants and migrants are powerful. We are 15 million strong, with almost half of the Philippine population being remittance-receiving families. The resounding demand of Filipinos is clear: Protect migrant workers instead of squeezing more money from us! Aquino can start by finding and jailing trafficker Isidro Rodriguez for tricking hundreds of Filipino teachers, coming to the aid of workers who are victims of wage theft and labor trafficking such as the Filipino bakery workers in LA, and re-investigating the death of Romina Ignacio in Kansas which was deemed suicide despite autopsy results in the Philippines revealing stab wounds. He should also ensure the retraction of the P600-million target revenue from Balikbayan boxes.
 
For the 4 million of Filipinos here in the US, let us unite with others worldwide to make sure our concerns are addressed and our rights protected, our hard-earned money goes to our families and not to corrupt politicians, and our home country is led by a government that does not turn our love for family into a profit-making business.

We enjoin Filipinos worldwide to participate in Zero Remittance Day on August 28 to call on the Aquino administration to retract the P600-million target revenue from balikbayan boxes.

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For Immediate Release
August 18, 2015

Reference: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

Filipino Americans Call for Justice for Trafficked Filipino Bakery Workers in Southern California

BAYAN USA stands together with the 11 trafficked Filipino workers of L’Amande French Bakery in Beverly Hills and Torrance, California who are victims of human trafficking, labor violations, and retaliation by Analiza and Goncal Moitinho de Almeida, the owners of the business.  We call for justice for the workers and stand together with them as they continue to fight for their rights, dignity, and safety of their families.

Earlier this year, the 11 Filipino bakery workers came forward to expose the deplorable working conditions and labor trafficking schemes of the Almeidas.  In 2012, Analiza recruited the workers in the Philippines by enticing them with the promise of receiving salaries of $2,000 a month as bakery workers.  Instead, many of them were subjected to abusive treatment including working as domestic servants at the Almeidas’ home, being forced to sleep on the laundry room floor, and enduring physical labor such as housekeeping, painting, and landscaping.  The workers filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Almeidas for multiple violations including illegal recruitment, paying less than the minimum wage, discrimination, harassment, failure to pay overtime pay, and denying workers days off.  They were paid $2-$3 an hour and oftentimes working 15-17 hours a day without meal or rest breaks.  In 2014, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office ordered the Almeidas to pay roughly $250,000 in overtime wages to the workers. 

This past week, news broke revealing the Almeidas’ have quickly fired the rest of the bakery workers, closed their two bakeries, and sold their multi-million dollar properties in Southern California, including a 17-unit rental apartment complex in Long Beach worth $2.4 million alone.  They are currently in the process of repositioning their $1.4 million estate in Rolling Hills to Ana’s father, Juan Santos, former CEO of Nestle (Philippines) and Chair of the Social Security Administration, in a frantic attempt to keep the properties out of reach of the lawsuit case, a common tactic used by bad employers found guilty of wage theft.  Santos’ role in the scandalous sale of his daughter’s properties only further demonstrates the family’s attempts to escape accountability.  

“The Almeidas are cut from the same cloth as Ana’s father, Juan Santos, a powerful and wealthy bureaucrat, that has not been held accountable for the violence and abuse against Nestle workers,” said Nikole Cababa, BAYAN USA Deputy Secretary General.  “The L’Amande workers are tossed into a corner because the owners have used threats against their families in the Philippines.  How can the workers rest easy knowing the Aquino government fails to prosecute traffickers?  The Aquino government should also do its job to investigate the Almeidas and protect the workers’ families.  But Aquino has done nothing to truly address the plight of migrants and trafficking survivors,” Cababa continued.

Furthermore, the Almeidas’ have taken a desperate move to misconstrue the truth and tarnish the reputations of the workers by posting pictures of the workers on their storefront and on social media.  We as BAYAN USA condemn all forms of retaliation the Almeidas have committed against the workers and demand that the California Labor Commissioner’s Office uphold the charges of overdue wages to ensure the Almeidas to pay up.

The situation of the trafficked Filipino bakery workers is not a new issue to the Filipino community, as in the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a trafficking victim and single mom on death row in Indonesia.  According to the Philippine Department of Labor & Employment, an average of 6,092 Filipinos are forced to migrate everyday in order to work abroad totaling up to 12 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) around the world.   In 2014 alone, $26 billion in remittances have been sent back to the Philippines, a majority of which been sent by OFWs in the U.S. (Source: Bangko Central ng Pilipinas).  In the past five years of the Aquino regime, poverty and unemployment have only worsened as the richest 1% have become richer, and the poorest remain landless and jobless.  

BAYAN USA holds both the Aquino and US governments accountable and demand they uphold the rights of OFWs such as the 11 Filipino bakery workers.  We demand the Aquino government immediately address underemployment in the Philippines by raising the monthly minimum wage to P16,000 (~$345 USD), so that people like the Filipino bakery workers will not be forced to leave the country and be subjected to exploitative working conditions in the first place.  We call for the elimination of the Labor Export Policy (LEP) and push for the Philippine government to create national industries to build a more sustainable economy and living wage jobs for the Filipino people.

BAYAN USA is committed to seeking justice for the Filipino bakery workers and fighting against human trafficking.  BAYAN USA member organizations in Southern California will be gathering together this week to coordinate ways to support the trafficked bakery workers.  We pledge to continue educating, organizing, and mobilizing our members and allies to build unity and support for the workers.  We will continue to stand together with the workers to hold the Almeidas accountable for their continuous exploitation of the workers.  Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN USA Chairperson, explained, “We can only rely on our collective unity and organizing to protect the rights and welfare of OFWs.  We call on the Filipino community to educate and organize with us to put an end to human trafficking and win real justice for the 11 bakery workers.” 

Justice for the 11 Filipino Bakery Workers!
Stop Labor Trafficking!  Justice for All Trafficking Survivors!
End Forced Migration & the Labor Export Policy in the Philippines!
Build the Movement of Migrants & Workers!

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For Immediate Release
July 31, 2015

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

Diversion Tactics Won’t Stop the Truth
Over Aquino’s Human Rights Record from Coming Out

Just days after the verdict of the International Peoples’ Tribunal was announced, Aquino loyalists and cronies in the US commenced a press offensive to misinform the public, distort the truth, and discredit the over 30 witnesses from the Philippines who submitted testimonies before a distinguished panel of jurors including international human rights lawyers, academics, authors, faith leaders, and even a former South African ambassador. What these detractors fail to realize is that diversion tactics won’t prevent the truth from coming out: that the Aquino government is guilty of gross human rights violations--violations of civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; and the Filipino people’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.

Evidence submitted as well as the findings of the tribunal are accessible to the public online at www.internationalpeoplestribunal.org.

Among the charges were violations to economic rights, which includes the Aquino government’s failure to eliminate the Pork Barrel System as perpetuated by the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program. 

Testimonies submitted on the charge of violations to the Filipino people's right to self-determination and sovereignty include that of Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at the University of San Diego and expert on US foreign policy, particularly US drone operations; Bangsamoro leader Amirah Lidasan on US military command behind the fatal Mamasapano incident; and former Philippine Congresswoman Liza Maza on the unresolved murder of Jennifer Laude and the impact of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

The findings of the tribunal will be shared widely with the United Nations, US legislators, and other international mechanisms of accountability. The conveners of the tribunal-- the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, theNational Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, andIbon International-- will compile the findings into a book that will be furthered disseminated and shared with the international community.

An endorser of the tribunal, BAYAN USA is also an overseas chapter of one of the complainants: BAYAN Philippines. It was acknowledged in the verdict that most of the targets of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and illegal detentions were people affiliated with BAYAN. The common tactic is red-tagging BAYAN members as communists as a justification for political repression.

BAYAN members and affiliates in the Philippines are known to consistently work for the interest of the most impoverished and most marginalized in the Philippines, a country where there is worsening abject poverty and hunger despite Aquino’s claims of being a rising tiger economy. 

Perhaps the gap in understanding lies in the fact that those most supportive and defensive of Aquino in the US enjoy comfortable, upper-middle to high class lifestyles in comparison to the majority of whom are struggling hard to make ends meet so we can send money back to our families back home, despite the fact we live in a society that increasingly devalues, discriminates, and abuses low-income immigrant communities.

The International Peoples’ Tribunal was compelled by the experience of thousands of victims in the Philippines who exhausted but could not find justice in the Philippine court system. It was compelled by a culture of impunity recognized by international human rights watchdogs.

How are tactics to discredit the tribunal and its findings any different from endorsing impunity and human rights abuses in the Philippines? Is the Philippines truly democratic if redbaiting, silencing of dissent, and suppression of the facts are still being normalized by the government elite and its mega-rich cronies? Is the Philippines truly sovereign when both China and the US are occupying our land and sea, and when more and more US military troops are being stationed in the Philippines despite a vibrant people's movement that resulted in the historic 1992 Philippine Senate decision to close the former permanent US military bases?

The truth will not be prevented from coming out. We will not stop seeking accountability and justice until both are attained.

We welcome a dialogue with Aquino supporters to discuss these matters in a diplomatic, factual, and above-board manner.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Statement
July 27, 2015

Contact: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

 

Enough is Enough! It’s Time to GO Aquino!

“President BS Aquino is GUILTY of crimes against the Filipino people. His time is up!” proclaims Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN-USA Chairperson. “His corrupt and despotic regime has carried the anti-people policies of all of his predecessors too far and inflicted intolerable damage on the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

From July 16-18, BAYAN-USA joined roughly 300 attendees at the International People’s Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People held in Washington D.C., in which 32 witnesses from the Philippines testified about their experiences under Aquino’s violent and repressive regime.  Both the US and Aquino governments were found guilty by the jury, and the people declared that both are charged with violations against human rights including civil, political, economic, cultural, and the right to self determination and national sovereignty.

Aquino’s failure to protect the national sovereignty of the Filipino people against China’s military aggression and the U.S. pivot has only demonstrated his subservience to imperialist powers.  The Mamasapano incident, funded and directed by the U.S., revealed Aquino’s willingness to blatantly lie to the people and protect the U.S. in spite of the bloodbath that resulted in the loss of over 70 Filipinos.  The recent re-opening of the Subic Naval Base for U.S. use in the midst of unresolved cases such as the murder of 26 year old transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude by U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton further shows Aquino’s total disregard for the fight for justice and genuine welfare of Filipino women and children.  The US-Aquino regime continues to use the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) to bring thousands of troops, surveillance drones, and warships to the country and ultimately subject the Philippines as its own U.S. base in posturing against China, the growing superpower.  

Aquino’s crooked record has expanded every year with the vilification, surveillance, harassment and murder of activists and civilians working with the poor and most marginalized communities in the Philippines.  During Aquino’s presidency, there have been 771 illegal arrests and detention, 537 political prisoners, 262 extrajudicial killings, 125 cases of torture, and 27 enforced disappearances as documented by human rights alliance Karapatan.  Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program gives full play to the impunity which has gripped the country for decades. Aquino maintains the human rights crisis by failing to prosecute known criminals such as Jovito “the Butcher” Palparan and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for their notorious crimes against humanity.   

The continued failure of economic policies, such as the Labor Export Policy, has only exposed Aquino’s ineptitude in addressing the widespread joblessness and welfare of overseas Filipino workers.  In fact, while Aquino touts the myth of a rising economy in the country, unemployment and underemployment have ballooned to roughly 12.2 million with the wealth of the richest Filipinos nearly tripling at 250% from $14 trillion (USD) in 2010 to $48 trillion (USD) in 2015.  Without national industries and meaningful jobs, an estimated 6,000 Filipinos are forced to leave their families and country everyday in search of work abroad.  As a result, OFWs become susceptible to trafficking schemes such as the case of Mary Jane Veloso who joins 91 other Filipinos on death row under Aquino’s presidency.

“Five years of Aquino has proven harmful for the majority of Filipinos who are not promised pork barrel packages for their loyalty, but instead have to live the reality of poverty, hunger, joblessness, displacement, rising prices of basic services and goods, a failing public transportation system in the city and military repression in the countryside,” Ellorin stated.

Join BAYAN USA at these People’s SONA events across the nation.  For more updates please visit bayanusa.org :

Seattle, WA

BAYAN USA Pacific Northwest
Sunday, June 26, 12–3pm
GABRIELA Seattle and Kounter Balance performing on the Main Stage
Guerilla Teach-In on People’s SONA and IPT Reportback at 3pm at the Ihaw Ihaw Stage
Seward Park, Seattle
Contact: bayanusa.pnw@gmail.com

Los Angeles, CA

BAYAN USA Southern California
People’s SONA Action:  Roasting Aquino
Monday, July 27th at 5:30pm
In front of the Philippine Consulate, 3435 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Contact: bayanusa.sc@gmail.com

San Francisco, CA

BAYAN USA Northern California
SONA ng Bayan, People’s SONA Action
Monday, July 27th at 5:00pm
Meet @ Union Square to march to the Philippine Consulate
Contact: bayan.staff.norcal@gmail.com

New York City, NY

BAYAN USA Northeast
People’s SONA Action
Sunday, July 26th at 12:00pm
Five Corners in Jersey City
Path Train from NYC to Journal Square

Monday, July 27 at 4:30pm
Meet @ the Philippine Consulate (556 5th Avenue, between 45th and 46th Sts.)
Visit:  bayanusane.wordpress.com

 


The National Lawyers Guild, as a convenor of the International People’s Tribunal (IPT), wishes to respond to the comments made by Ms. Loida Nicolas Lewis on Balitang America following  the verdict of the IPT finding the Aquino and US Governments are:

1. GUILTY of gross human rights violations involving the civil and political rights of the Filipino People, for committing extrajudicial killings, disappearances, massacres, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions as well as other vicious, brutal and systematic abuses and attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people;

2. GUILTY of gross and systematic violations of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people through the imposition of exploitative, neoliberal, “free market”  globalization; transgression of their economic sovereignty and plunder of their national patrimony and economy; and attacks on the people's livelihoods  and destruction of the environment; and

3. GUILTY of gross and systematic violations of the rights of the people to national self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the US war of terror and US military intervention; as well as the perpetration of crimes against humanity and war crimes; misrepresentations of the people's right to national liberation and self-determination as “terrorism” and the baseless “terrorist” listing of individuals, organizations and other entities by the US and other governments.

Ms. Lewis claims that the Defendants were not given their day in court. However, she fails to mention that the Defendants were served the indictment by certified mail, return receipt requested, through the Embassy of the Philippines, the US State Department, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization on July 6, 2015. The Defendants were given an opportunity to submit an answer in writing and/or appear personally to answer the charges. The Defendants were asked to respond as to if and how they would participate. They were informed that a failure to do submit and answer would be deemed as a waiver of the right to present a defense.  The IPT program gave time for the defense to make appearances and present evidence. While due process was followed and the Defendants had the opportunity to be heard, they chose not to exercise that right.

Ms. Lewis further attacks the tribunal by asking where they were during the time of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This is ill-informed as not only does the IPT touch on the issues of violations by Arroyo that are being carried on through Aquino’s regime, but shows her ignorance to the 2007 Permanent People’s Tribunal in March 2007 in The Hague which deliberated on an indictment against the Arroyo regime and US Government.

Ms. Lewis attacks the credibility of the IPT. The jurors that deliberated on the indictment are well respected lawyers, academics, award winning social activists and church leaders with exemplary backgrounds. They heard witnesses testimony and reviewed and found credible documentary evidence. Ms. Lewis has no counter to the allegations by witnesses and brings up no argument that the witnesses are less than credible, but only makes empty accusations.

Further, Ms. Lewis tries to distract from the purpose of the tribunal by bringing up issues with China’s influence in the Philippines that are outside the scope of the indictment and witness testimony. Ms. Lewis goes on to verbalize her support of the EDCA, which puts her obviously on the side of the Aquino and US government.

Ms. Lewis is incorrect. This IPT will have an impact. She fails to realize that the majority of Filipinos do not live her lavish lifestyle and are being greatly harmed by the current regimes’ policies. Ms. Lewis also fails to realize that the international community cares about the people of the Philippines and will make their voices heard. The NLG invites Ms. Lewis and/or those representing her views to discuss further the findings of the IPT with the NLG and fellow conveners of the IPT in a public forum.

                  Sincerely,

                  Vanessa K. Lucas
                  Chair Philippines Subcommittee of the International Committee
                  National Lawyers Guild
                  vanessa@edelsteinpayne.com

IPT Opening Day, Report on Service of Indictment:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnCeuC3gXNI


[PRESS STATEMENT]
July 23, 2015

Reference:     Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
                        Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Karapatan Condemns Military and Police Brutality vs. Lumad Evacuees

“A congresswoman who acted in concert with the Armed Forces of the Philippines prompted the brutal action of the police against the Lumad evacuees at the UCCP compound in Davao City,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco mobilized the police, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the paramilitary group ALAMARA to supposedly rescue the Lumad who sought shelter at the UCCP compound since April 2015 because of the military operations in their communities. 

“It is not the most convenient situation for the Lumads to be in an evacuation center, in a place far away from their homes and farms. But they had to do this sacrifice for their temporary security and safety. Their lives are at stake if they remain in their communities in the presence of the elements of the 68th IB-PA and its paramilitary group ALAMARA,” Palabay added. 

Palabay said the AFP has been conducting combat operations in the remote villages in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Its troops led by the 68th IBPA have encamped in the communities, tagged civilians as mass base of the New People’s Army, used Lumad schools as camps, and threatened and coerced the civilian population. 

This is not the first time the Lumads from Talaingod, Davao del Norte left their communities. Last year, several hundreds of Lumads also evacuated because of bombings, use of civilians as shields and guides during combat operations, and a host of other gross human rights violations. The evacuees at the UCCP compound are the second batch of evacuees who left their homes this year. The Lumads decided to finally leave their homes after members of the ALAMARA paramilitary group started to forcibly recruit them into the paramilitary group. 

“The Lumads left their homes and farms seek shelter only to become victims of violence again,” lamented Palabay. “Ano ang gusto ng gobyernong ito? Saan niyo sila gustong magpunta?” 

Members of rights and religious groups supporting the plight of the evacuees were falsely charged by the AFP with kidnapping, illegal detention and human trafficking.  

Three days ago, on July 20, the plight of the evacuees was brought to the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Chaloka Beyani who is on official visit in the Philippines from July 21 to 30, 2015. ###
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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
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Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. 


For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, 347.244.8953, ipt2015media@gmail.com

(L to R: Neri Colmenares; US drones near Ticao Island, Philippines; Amirah Lidasan)

Amidst US-China Dispute in South China Sea, DC Tribunal Tackles US Drone Ops, Violations to Philippine Sovereignty

WASHINGTON DC-- As ongoing US-China military tensions over the South China Sea escalate, international human rights advocates are gathering in Washington DC to examine violations to Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity as a result of escalating US military presence. An International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT) on the Philippines, scheduled for July 16-18 at the Catholic University of America, will tackle the human rights situation in the Philippines as well as the impact of US military presence which is increasing by way of the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Amongst the witnesses traveling from the Philippines to testify in the public opinion court are Philippine Congress Representative Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna Party List and Suara Bangsamoro spokesperson Amirah Lidasan.

“China’s moves in the South China Sea is being condemned around the world, that’s why it’s correct we Filipinos go to the international community and ask for support rather than play into the trap of the US. The US has no concern for the Filipino people. It will not wage war with China to defend the Philippines. It only wants to freely navigate the seas for its own economic and military interests,” stated Colmenares last June 12 at a rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

Colmenares will serve as an expert witness on the impact of the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement and the EDCA, both of which have ensured a permanent rotational presence of US military in the country.

“Since 2002, we have been reporting on the US-directed anti-terrorism operations in Mindanao, and the secret participation of US troops, but no one believed us. The legislators refused to listen to us. The President refused to listen to us. But now, with the bloodbath at Mamasapano, US-trained Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police themselves are speaking out about how the whole operation was under the command of the US military with US military troops on the ground,” stated Lidasan at a rally in front of the US Embassy last February in Manila.

Lidasan, a native Moro, will testify on secret US drone operations and military presence in Muslim Mindanao, most recently seen in the US-directed anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January that not only broke rank inside Philippine state forces, but resulted in the death of over 70, including 44 Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police.

Cases filed in the IPT include the murder of Filipina transwoman Jennifer Laude allegedly by a US Marine last October and the destruction of the Tubbataha Reef, one of the most biodiverse marine life sanctuaries and a UNESCO world heritage site, by a US naval minesweeper in the Sulu Sea.

“It’s time for US taxpayers to understand the role of their government in the human rights crisis in the Philippines, including the impact of US militarism on the Filipino people and their environment,” states Katrina Abarcar of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), one of the conveners of the IPT. Other conveners include the National Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and Ibon International.

A 2007 US Senate hearing on killings in the Philippines led to restrictions placed on a portion of the annual US military aid package to the Philippine government, based on the Philippine military’s culpability in gross human rights abuses.

Neri Colmenares and Amirah Lidasan are available for media interviews.
Call 347.244.8953.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2015

Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

One month after Mary Jane Veloso was spared from Firing Squad:
BAYAN USA Demands Freedom for Mary Jane and Aquino to Defend Migrant Workers Rights

BAYAN USA joins Migrante International’s call to action for justice and freedom for Mary Jane Veloso! The last minute stay in execution for Mary Jane Veloso on April 29, 2015 was a great victory for the Filipino people who rallied to save the life of Mary Jane all over the world. It was through the efforts of Mary Jane, her family, the National Union of People’s Lawyers, and Migrante International among other migrant workers and organizations in Indonesia and internationally that this people’s victory was realized, despite what mass media claims as a victory of President Aquino. What Aquino and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should claim instead is their criminal negligence of Mary Jane’s case and creating the conditions which drive Filipinos to migrate in the first place.

Mary Jane’s tragic situation is not uncommon. Currently, there are more than 92 Filipino migrants sentenced to death row in other countries and 3,800 others incarcerated. Veloso now stands to testify against her trafficker Cristina Sergio who surrendered to the custody of the Philippine government.  The Veloso family has stood side by side with people’s organizations in demanding justice for all migrant workers and declared that it was the people who saved Mary Jane not Aquino.

“Aquino is the number 1 trafficker of the Filipino people!” declared Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA.

“More than 6,000 Filipinos are forced to leave the Philippines everyday because there is no livelihood for them there. Because of unfavorable economic conditions, Filipino people are forced to leave their families and children behind, many being illegally trafficked risking their lives and happiness in order to send money through remittances. This was the case of Mary Jane Veloso. Human trafficking of Filipino workers is also an epidemic here in the US. There are countless Filipinos  trafficked here as health workers, teachers, hotel service workers, domestic workers , office workers, etc.  who are also seeking justice for what happened to them.”

The fight for Mary Jane’s freedom continues. The movement relies on the same international pressure that led to the stay on her execution to ensure that her case comes full circle with her freedom and justice against her perpetrators including the BS Aquino regime.  The Veloso family plans on taking Mary Jane’s trafficking case to the International People’s Tribunal on crimes against the Filipino people by President BS Aquino and the US government as represented by Barack Obama this July 16-18 in Washington D.C. They will be among other witnesses and victims of human rights violations who will testify cases of human trafficking, harassment, abduction and torture by the government, militarization of communities including by US personnel, among many other issues.

This year alone the Aquino regime has failed at every juncture to truly defend the Filipino people. The Mamasapano bloodbath started the year in January, followed by the case of Mary Jane Veloso on death row, and the worst factory fire in Philippine history that killed more than 72 workers at Kentex Manufacturing Inc. on top of the growing list of Filipino people’s grievances against the Aquino regime.  BAYAN USA joins the popular call in the Philippines demanding Aquino resign or be forced out of office before 2016.

“The people have truly had enough of BS Aquino’s lies, corruption, and blatant disregard for the Filipino people! There are better solutions than to keep him in office, nor to continue to the election of yet another corrupt politician. We are calling for the people’s transitional council to lay the basis for transforming a broken system.” Ellorin continued.
BAYAN-USA calls on all of our members, allies and people who believe in justice and human rights to respond to Migrante International’s call to action for Mary Jane by participating in one or more of the following:

Sign and share the Save Mary Jane petition to help reach the goal of 500,000 signatures!https://www.change.org/p/indonesian-pres-joko-widodo-jokowi-do2-save-the-life-of-human-trafficking-victim-mary-jane-veloso
Conduct a Justice for Mary Jane activity on May 29, which could include submitting a copy of the petition with the list of the signatures to your local Indonesian embassy, or an action at your local Philippine consulate or embassy.
###
 
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


For Immediate Release
May 18, 2015
Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Vice-Chair, BAYAN USA, vc@bayanusa.org

BAYAN-USA Cries Out for Justice for Kentex Workers
Aquino and Kentex Must Be Held Accountable for Tragedy which Killed 72 Workers

With a heavy heart, BAYAN-USA sends its condolences to the victims and families of the workers of the Kentex Manufacturing Inc. factory in Valenzuela, Philippines, where 72 workers perished and many more remain missing after a lethal fire at the unsafe plant. 

Not only were the workers victimized by the oppressive working conditions while they toiled at the factory and then the fire which claimed their lives, but their memories and families are now being doubly-oppressed by the Aquino government, which has only sought to protect the Kentex owners rather than obtain justice for the workers.  Department of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz had the gall to state that the government issued a Certificate of Compliance on 18 September 2014 to Kentex, in an apparent attempt to absolve the company of responsibility for the deaths of its workers.

Pronouncements of compliance with safety standards are worthless when reality shows that Kentex factory was a death trap, with windows sealed shut by iron grills and insufficient fire exits for building occupants.

While the World Bank designated Valenzuela as one of the most “business friendly” cities in the Philippines, this translated directly into hazardous and oppressive workplace conditions for workers at Kentex.  This comes as no surprise, as Aquino’s government has shown since 2010 that it will sacrifice the health, safety and lives of working people in order to maintain its friendly relations with big business.

We support the call of Kilusang Mayo Uno for a National Day of Mourning for the 72 workers of Kentex who were killed in the worst factory fire in Philippine history. Adding to his many other failures as an executive in protecting Filipino workers, including OFW Mary Jane Veloso, and overall inaction and lack of remorse, we call on Aquino to step down. We join the families of those killed in calling for justice and accountability, and we will use our grief to strengthen our fight humane working conditions for all people.  

###

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of thePhilippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org


Press Statement
May 6, 2015
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN USA, chair@bayanusa.org

We Stand with the Baltimore Rebellion -- BAYAN USA
Arrest of Freddie Gray’s Murderers, Homicide Ruling Proves Power of Protest

Bayan USA stands with the family of Freddie Gray and the people of Baltimore who courageously took to the streets to resist racist police repression and state fascism in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s murder in police custody. We welcome and recognize the arrest and charges of homicide against the six police officers involved as an initial step towards justice, but we remain vigilant and must ensure full prosecution and conviction follow. The indictments of these officers are primarily the result of the continuous surge in people’s resistance to racist police terror that reached a new peak last year with the uprising in Ferguson, MO. 

People’s resistance to white supremacy and police terror is nothing new. What is unfolding in Baltimore and in other urban pockets across the US is a continuation of the legacy of struggle against African slavery that gave way to state brutality and systemic repression of Black people in the US. It is a centuries-old struggle that is righteous and dignified. 

It was the brutal enslavement of Africans that provided the vast accumulation of capital needed for US monopoly capitalism- or US imperialism- which has since expanded globally through wars of aggression, counter-insurgency, militarism, and neoliberalism. Alongside Black and Brown people in the US, peoples struggling internationally against imperialist aggression know that racism, fascism, and state repression are endemic to US empire. 

As people of a US neocolony, Filipinos understand that our liberation from US imperialism is inextricably linked to the liberation of Black people in the US. We reiterate our stand for Black liberation through Black self-determination, which includes the right to self-defense.

In the words of MLK Jr-- Until all of us are free, none of us are free. We call on our membership, allies, and supporters to stand with the continuing struggle for Black self-determination and against white supremacy and imperialist state terror.

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of thePhilippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

###


MAY DAY 2015 Message
Issued by the Office of the Chairperson
International Coordinating Committee
01 May 2015

Intensify the Struggle for Workers' Rights, Strengthen the Anti-Imperialist and Democratic Movement

On International Workers’ Day, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle gives its clenched-fist salute to the workers of the world and their genuine unions and labor organizations. We applaud their struggle for higher wages, job security and free exercise of trade-union rights as well as their democratic struggle against imperialism and its reactionary allies the world over.

We remember and celebrate the workers’ heroic struggle for an eight-hour workday in 1886. Prior to 1886, the bourgeoisie sought to intensify the exploitation of workers by making them work for 10, 12 or even 16 hours long. As the strain of inhumanly long working hours became more unbearable and as the living conditions of the working class worsened, the demand for a significant reduction of hours became more pronounced.

The workers emerged victorious after many huge protests and after many workers sacrificed their lives. This is proof that the bourgeoisie will always resist workers’ demands and that workers must wage fierce battles in order to win their rights.

Throughout the history of the militant workers movement, workers of the world have achieved many victories in advancing their rights and interests. Through various forms of mass actions, oftentimes met with brutal repression by the state and big capitalist firms, they have won for respect for their rights, obtained social benefits and pressured governments to codify these rights and benefits in laws and conventions.

These hard-won victories of the workers of the world and the labor movement are facing renewed attacks from the state and capital. Neoliberal policies implemented since the late 70s and early 80s have pressed down workers’ wages through various means in order to allow monopoly capitalists to rake in huge and increasing profits despite the intensification of the crisis of overproduction endemic to the world capitalist system.

The global economic and financial crisis that broke out 2007- 2008 was the result of neoliberal policy with its concomitants of wage reduction and social cutbacks, low taxe rates for the corporations and wealthy, investment and trade liberalization, privatization of public assets, deregulation of social and environmental restrictions and denationalization of underdeveloped economies.

Instead of recognizing the cause and consequences, the bourgeoisie has used the crisis as an opportunity to further concentrate wealth and resources into the hands of monopoly capitalists. Currently, US imperialism and the transnational corporations are actively pushing new free trade agreements that openly disregard international labor rights conventions, while ensuring greater incentives, privileges and protection for capitalists.

The new trade agreements will drive a race to the bottom as governments adopt austerity measures at the expense of the working people, cutting down wages, eliminating job security through labour flexibilization and short-term contracts, attacking workers rights to unionize and strike and undermining the bargaining power of workers’ unions in the name of competition and attracting investments.

In response to this situation, the workers and peoples of the world have been waging various forms of collective action and militant struggle. In Greece, Spain and other countries in Europe, workers and people are taking a stand and voting against austerity measures imposed by the troika of European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The strikes mounted locally and across Europe between 2012 to 2015 are some of the biggest since neoliberal policies were introduced.

In the US, the Occupy protests exposed the gross inequality between the 99 per cent people and 1 per cent oligarchy and the crimes of the financial oligarchs responsible for the global economic and financial crisis that broke out in 2007-2008. Of late, protests are centering on the racist violence inflicted by the police against African-Americans. Low-wage workers in McDonald’s and Walmart are also intensifying their protests for an increase in wages which have been stagnant since the 1970s.

The workers and peoples in various Arab countries have overthrown openly authoritarian governments. The strikes of the workers of countries like Egypt have proven to be one of the key factors in the Arab Spring. Unfortunately the absence of genuine communist and workers' parties outside of the revisionist mould has resulted in the re-ascendant conflict of Islamic reactionaries and bourgeois military cliques. The US, the NATO and Israel have also taken the opportunity to bring down the Qaddafi government, unleash counterrevolution in Syria and fielded the Islamic state to wreak havoc in both Iraq and Syria.

The workers and peoples of Asian countries have shown their renewed vigor for mass action. Cambodian workers successfully mounted nationwide strikes and high-impact campaigns centered on wages. They are paving the way to the creation of a broad people’s movement. Workers in the Philippines and Indonesia have also held various protests for higher wages and against contractual employment.

In 2014 and this year, workers of South Korea launched several strikes aimed at the Park Geun-hye government which wants to railroad retrogressive labor market reforms and is launching a crackdown against trade unions and activists. For years, there have been many spontaneous workers' strikes in China. In the last seven years, the number of strikes has further increased and their demands are taking on a more political character against the monopoly capitalist state masquerading as socialist and the ruling party which is actually a phoney communist party.

In the US, the Occupy protests exposed the gross inequality between the 99 per cent people and 1 per cent oligarchy and the crimes of the financial oligarchs responsible for the global economic and financial crisis that broke out in 2007-2008. Of late, protests are centering on the racist violence inflicted by the police against African-Americans. Low-wage workers in McDonald’s and Walmart are also intensifying their protests for an increase in wages which have been stagnant since the 1970s.

The miners of South Africa launched militant protests for higher wages and better working conditions. Despite the massacre inflicted on them by the government, they remain undaunted and continue to struggle for workers’ rights. The workers and people of South America continue to support governments that are critical of the US and provide ramparts to the all-out implementation of neoliberal economic policies in the region.

In view of all the foregoing, we call on the workers of the world to further intensify their struggle for higher wages, job security, and the free exercise of their trade-union rights. We call on them to intensify the democratic struggle against imperialism and reaction which are behind the vicious and worsening attacks on workers’ rights.

We call on the workers of the world to fight for higher wages, which have been pressed down and have been lagging behind the increase in the cost of living. They should struggle for job security, which has been eroded for decades and is being destroyed at a rapid rate by the big capitalists. They should unite and fight, build more and stronger unions, and defend existing unions against capitalists’ attempts to destroy these either through frontal attacks or cooptation.

They should unmask the lie that higher wages and improvements in working and living conditions of workers go against generating employment. They should do away with the obscene lie that gains of the working people of the world, who create social wealth, are the ones responsible for the crisis, and that the monopoly capitalists who promote plunder and war are the ones who generate economic growth.

We call on the workers and peoples of the world to firm up their unity and advance their struggle for democratic rights and for better working and living conditions against the escalating exploitation and oppression being inflicted on them by the world capitalist system. They should struggle against worsening imperialist plunder and war.

Most important of all, they must heighten their consciousness and organized strength to fight and defeat the global and national systems of exploitation and oppression as well as the grave damage done to the environment by monopoly capítalism.

They must fight for a new and better world in which the working class can fulfill its historic mission of building socialism. They must fight for a society in which the conditions of greater freedom, democracy, social justice, development, cultural progress, peace and international solidarity can be realized.


[PRESS STATEMENT]
1 MAY 2015

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

MAY DAY 2015: Build the Migrant Workers Movement
Filipinos in the US Resist Trafficking, State-Sanctioned Violence, Neoliberalism; Demand Dignity and Genuine Sustainable Development

Filipinos across the US, under the banner of BAYAN USA, join millions worldwide in marking May 1 by celebrating the victory of the masses in achieving a reprieve for trafficking victim and migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso. The power of the movement of migrants and workers stopped the execution of Mary Jane, a victim of a trafficking scam which landed her on death row for five years in Indonesia for a crime she did not commit. Philippine President B.S. Aquino virtually abandoned Mary Jane the entire time she languished in jail, and his regime’s bankrupt economic policies, including the Labor Export Policy, have worsened the extreme poverty of the country which drives 6,000 people like Mary Jane to leave the Philippines every day in search of work in the first place. 

It was only due to the unwavering actions led by Mary Jane, her family, migrants and workers united with people from all walks of life that this victory was won. This courageous organizing provides the key lesson for the oppressed masses today: that the people united in collective action have the power to enact genuine change.

In the face of imperialist war and occupation abroad, militarized attacks on Black people in Baltimore and all across the US, and neoliberal economic assaults via schemes like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), BAYAN-USA pledges to continue building the anti-imperialist movement including migrant workers to challenge the structures that drive forced migration and reactionary violence, and more importantly, to win our peoples’ struggles for self-determination and genuine sustainable development.

Build the Movement of Migrants & Workers!
End Forced Migration & the Labor Export Policy in the Philippines!
Stop Reactionary Attacks Against Immigrants!
Block the TPPA! Resist Neoliberalism!
Long Live International Solidarity!

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of thePhilippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

###


Press Statement
April 24, 2015

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

Only the People Can Save Mary Jane Veloso,
Only the People Can Bring Her Justice

BAYAN USA joins the international movement to save overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Mary Jane Veloso, who’s life hangs in the balance these next 72 hours as it has been reported that she is transferred to a maximum security facility in Indonesia.
 
We appeal to the Indonesian government to halt her execution as evidence has surfaced confirming Mary Jane is indeed a victim of human trafficking and drug trafficking. Her lawyers are currently in the process of filing a second judicial review.
 
We amplify our demand on the Aquino government to exhaust every possible way to protect Mary Jane and ensure she is reunited with her family in the Philippines.
 
The actions taken by the Aquino government for Mary Jane and her family thus far have only been because of pressure coming from the Filipino people and around the world. If not for the international movement to save Mary Jane, the Aquino government’s usual pattern is to turn a blind eye to cases of human trafficking of OFWs, including those trafficked to the United States.
 
The Aquino government is 100% accountable to Mary Jane and her family for their separation and painful ordeal. The Philippine government is ultimately responsible for the dire societal conditions in the country, such as poverty, hunger, and joblessness, that force over 6000 Filipinos to leave the country daily to work abroad.

In addition, the Aquino government is responsible for Mary Jane's death sentence in 2010 by failing to provide her with competent legal counsel and Tagalog translation during her trial, failing to pursue an investigation of Mary Jane's trafficker even when requested to do so by Mary Jane's Indonesian lawyers years ago, and by failing to file a timely appeal for Mary Jane by lumping her with the Bali 9 and claiming her execution imminent.
 
Mary Jane is not a criminal, but a victim of a government that not only systemically exports, and traffics, it’s own people to work overseas to the tune of over $20 billion dollars annually in remittances, but a government that fails to protect and come to the aid of its overseas nationals in distress. 
 
Yet, it is the painful sacrifices, the blood, sweat, tears of OFWs like Mary Jane who, through their remittances, provide the artificial boost to the Philippine economy that Aquino deceivingly takes credit for and uses to cover up the country’s deepening economic and political crisis.
 
Simply put, Mary Jane has only the people to rely on to save her life and bring her justice. Without pressure from the people, the Aquino government will not budge.
 
We call on our members, allies, and supporters to escalate our vigilance and actions in this period to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso. 

Mobilize to Stop the Execution of Mary Jane Veloso!
Justice for Mary Jane and all Overseas Filipino Workers!
Scrap the Philippine Labor Export Policy!
Migranteng Pilipino, Ngayon ay Lumalaban!

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


Mary Jane Veloso Should be Given Justice, Not Punishment
International Migrants Alliance (IMA)
09 April 2015

There is a keen sense of collective outrage among migrants worldwide over the plight of Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year old Filipina domestic worker who was trafficked and duped into transporting drugs to Indonesia. After becoming victimized by traffickers, she is now about to be executed in a foreign country after being neglected by the Philippine government in a flawed and one-sided trial.

Like other peasant women who are forced by economic circumstances to work abroad, Veloso's desperation became the condition for ruthless traffickers to exploit and profit from. Her godsister who was also an alleged member of a drug syndicate promised her a job in Malaysia in 2010, only to tell her it had been taken and that she can try applying for another one in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. She was given some money and an empty suitcase that was rather heavy, and her nightmare started soon afterwards.

When 2.6 kilograms of heroin were discovered stashed away in the suitcase's lining, Veloso was immediately put on trial for drug trafficking. She was seen by Indonesian authorities as the main culprit, notwithstanding her previous employment as a migrant domestic worker (FDW) in Dubai and the circumstances surrounding her entry into the country. Her drug test was also negative and she maintains she did not know the suitcase contained drugs. Being deprived of essential legal assistance by the Philippine government at the time of her trial, she was made to accept a public defender and an unaccredited translator who simply rendered the Bahasa court proceedings into English, a language that Veloso is not fluent in. 

The Philippine government intervened only more than a year after Veloso had already been sentenced to death in April 2010, through a request for clemency with then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono. This was later rejected by new President Joko Widodo, as well as a petition for judicial review which was trashed by the Indonesian courts last March 25. Veloso is now up for execution with the next batch of foreigners in death row, which could be anytime this month.

As a grassroots-based global coalition for migrant workers' rights, the International Migrants' Alliance (IMA) is shocked at the criminal negligence of the Aquino government in handling Veloso's case. The death sentence could have been avoided if a more competent lawyer and translator were provided by the Philippine Embassy, while political intervention could have come right after the sentencing. As it is, the Philippine government is now playing catch-up with the Indonesian government in trying to stave off Veloso's impending execution, and another Flor Contemplacion is in the making. 

We are also alarmed that 7 Filipino migrant workers have already lost their lives abroad through the death penalty under the Aquino government, and that more will likely follow as it stubbornly treads the path of “migration for development” laid down by the World Bank, OECD and the UN. The resulting labor-export program under this economic approach aggravates the lack of genuine development in the country, and subjects overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) like Veloso to modern-day slavery, commodification, trafficking and death in foreign prisons. 

In behalf of its member-organizations worldwide, the IMA is calling on the Philippines's Aquino government to to do its utmost to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso, and to hold appropriate officials accountable for gross dereliction of duty in attending to her trial. It should also review the country's labor export program and slavish adherence to the neoliberal framework of “migration for development”. For the Widodo government in Indonesia, we appeal to their sense of human compassion and social justice to ask that Veloso be released on humanitarian grounds, or at least have her sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

IMA fully supports the Migrante International (MI) campaign to save Veloso's life, and will strive hard with other migrant organizations in the Asia Pacific to save the life of other migrant workers in death row around the globe. We will steadfastly work towards the day when poor sections of the population are no longer compelled by the need to find gainful employment abroad, but are actively transforming their own societies along the path of people-centered and just sustainable development. #       

Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso!

No to Another Flor Contemplacion!

No to Labor-Export Policy and Trafficking! 


[PRESS STATMENT]
3 April 2015

API People’s Solidarity Statement on the Indictment of NYPD Officer Peter Liang

CONTACT: Meejin Richart, mrichart@caaav.org or Bernadette Ellorin, chair@bayanusa.org 

April 3, 2015 - We, API People’s Solidarity (APIPS) first and foremost extend our love and solidarity to the family and loved ones of Akai Gurley whose life was stolen by the NYPD via Officer Peter Liang last December. APIPS commends the Brooklyn DA on the indictment of Officer Liang and supports the family of Akai Gurley in their pursuit of justice. 

Our coalition stands in opposition to communities in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, Boston and New York City who have announced plans to hold rallies in support of Peter Liang. The reasoning has been that Liang is a scapegoat because he is Asian, and they reference that officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, responsible for the murders of Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, respectively, were not indicted. We as members of pan-Asian community understand the sentiments of wanting to take care of our own and to object when the criminal injustice system gets its death grip on a community member who is someone’s grandson, brother and son. In the case of Peter Liang, we know with certainty that to support his indictment is to stand on the side of justice. Officer Liang must be held accountable for his use of deadly force that led to the ending of Akai Gurley’s life. 

Justice for Akai Gurley and for all people who have been killed, beaten and had their rights violated by police around the country without an indictment, much less a conviction for their actions. We look to the case of Yong Xin Huang, a 16-year old who was killed 20 years ago this month in March 1995 by NYPD officer Steve Mizrahi in Bushwick. There was large community outcry when Huang was killed, and for good reason. Protesters, led by Huang’s family, called for an indictment of Mizrahi, and for good reason. In the case of Peter Liang, the Asian person is on the other side, and we as a community need to stand with the grieving family of Akai Gurley to demand justice for Akai and for all who have had their lives stolen by police.

We see the indictment of Officer Liang as the first necessary step toward holding the NYPD accountable to the communities it claims to protect and serve. 

We also know that the militarized policies and practices of policing in New York City have strong connections to impunity in our home countries in the Asia Pacific region and around the world. We continue to fight for justice for the murder of Jennifer Laude by U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton in the Philippines. It is our duty as members of pan-Asian diasporic communities to ensure an end to impunity for all officers who kill civilians. We will continue to organize and speak out until all police officers and military personnel are held accountable for brutalizing and killing Black, Latino, Trans*, im/migrant, homeless, indigenous, Muslim and perceived to be Muslim community members.

APIPS joins the family of Akai Gurley and community in their call for Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the entire NY Justice Department to (re)examine the 179 NYPD-related killings from the past 15 years, of which only 3 have led to an indictment. We will continue to struggle against racist police killings targeting Black and Brown communities in the U.S., and we refuse for our communities to be used as a wedge in order to weaken the larger movement to end police murder, which is linked to the U.S. imperialist aggressions in the Asia-Pacific and around the world.

Bayan USA National Alliance
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
Civilian-Soldier Alliance
Eclipse Rising
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Island X
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
Sloths Against Nuclear State – SANS

#JusticeforAkaiGurley #BlackLivesMatter


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
25 March 2015
Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

On the First Death Anniversary of Human Rights worker, William Bugatti:
BAYAN USA Demands End to Harassment and Threats on Brandon Lee, Community Leaders

A year has passed since the state-sponsored extra-judicial killing of William Bugatti, a human rights worker in the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Philippines. The Cordillera People’s Alliance recently released a statement of urgency due to the continued harassment and threats to life of many activists, including human rights workers in Ifugao, Cordilleras. This state repression continues under B.S. Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program, which eliminates the line between legal unarmed organizations and the underground armed revolution, targeting innocent civilians with more than 200 extra-judicial killings. We hold the Aquino government accountable for his murder and demand justice for William and all victims of human rights abuses in the Philippines. 

In 2012, William was harassed and vilified by the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) that placed him on their target list as the “brains of the New People’s Army” along with 27 other people in the community. Despite the threats to his life, William continued to engage in human rights work for militarized communities, disaster relief and rehabilitation programs, and working for indigenous peoples rights. He was targeted because of his organizing work with communities to stand up for their rights against militarization, against mining corporations, and for the development of socio-economic programs that the government has never provided for the people. 

“Nothing has changed, state repression by the Philippine government continues. The Aquino regime’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan show the same results as Arroyo’s infamous Oplan Bantay Laya which reached over 1,200 extra-judicial killings,” explained Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “One of the targets on the recent vilification and harassment campaign put forth by the Aquino regime is Brandon Lee, one of our community organizers in BAYAN USA originally from the Northern California region. We cannot be silent, and we demand an end to the harassment and threats to life and for the Aquino regime to stop targeting innocent civilians and unarmed organizations!”

Lee, a US citizen of Chinese descent, must be afforded full protection by the US embassy while living in the Philippines. We demand an independent investigation on the surveillance, threats, and harassment on the human rights workers in the Cordillera, especially in Ifugao province.

Among the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) members and staff tagged as members of NPA are: Nestor Peralta, Claudine Panayo, Billy Karty, Ben Calingayan, and Brandon Lee. Active barangay officials and local members of people’s organizations are also vilified, including Edwin Bumolyad, barangay captain of Montabiong, Lagawe, Ifugao; Nonoy Bangtiwen, a member of the barangay council of Tulludan, Tinoc; and Dick Tangid, a member of the barangay council of Tupaya, Lagawe and the current vice chair of IPM; Ricardo Mayumi and several others. Engr. James Tayaban, a human rights defender, is also included in the vilification materials. 

“Cases like these and that of Melissa Roxas, another US citizen and member of BAYAN USA who was abducted and tortured by the AFP and eventually released in 2009, remind us that the Philippine government is still corrupt, repressive, malicious, and operates with a level of impunity acknowledged by the UN Human Rights Council. It will take a strong mass movement in the Philippines with international support to demand and enact change upon this corrupt and unjust system,” Ellorin continues. “Right now, we must make these threats known publicly, speak out to the Philippine consulates across the nation with our demands, and join the movement in the Philippines calling for B.S. Aquino to resign!”

BAYAN USA is endorsing the International Peoples Tribunal looking into the crimes of B.S. Aquino, set for July 16-18 in Washington DC. 

JUSTICE FOR WILLIAM BUGATTI & ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

STOP THE VILIFICATION AND HARASSMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND INDIGENOUS RIGHTS WORKERS IN IFUGAO!

JUNK OPLAN BAYANIHAN! STOP TARGETING CIVILIANS AND ACTIVISTS!

###

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


Press Statement
March 24, 2015

 Reference: Yoko Liriano, Education Coordinator, NYCHRP, nychrp@gmail.com

New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines Denounce the Harassment and Intimidation of Human Right Defenders!

 As a New York City-based human rights organization, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) is gravely concerned for fellow human rights defenders in Ifugao province who have alerted us that they are in grave danger and fear for their lives. NYCHRP calls for an immediate stop to the Philippine military-led political vilification and harassment of human rights activists and indigenous peoples’ advocates in the Cordillera region in the Philippines!


Due to the continuation of Operation Plan Bayanihan, the counter-insurgency program enacted by the Philippine government and designed after U.S. counterinsurgency plans, activists are unfairly and dangerously "red-baited" simply for bringing services to far-flung communities of peasant farmers and indigenous peoples whom the Philippine government has historically neglected. We have received accounts from members of the communities in Ifugao province detailing political vilification, surveillance, and harassment targeted at people who are community leaders and human rights defenders of the Ifugao people. There have been online accusations and postering campaigns in said communities including photos dishonestly labeling activists as members of the revolutionary armed group New People's Army (NPA). This is an unjust and malicious attempt by state-sanctioned human rights violators to justify the targeting and killing of these activists who are waging an unwavering legal battle for rural and indigenous peoples’ basic needs. 

The vilification materials also lump almost all progressive party lists, peoples' organizations, and non-government organizations working and serving the province of Ifugao as communist fronts. Included among the wrongfully tagged are IPM (Ifugao Peasant Movement) members and staff such as Nestor Peralta, Claudine Anayo, Billy Karty, Ben Calingayan, and - a personal friend of NYCHRP’s - Brandon Lee.

Brandon Lee is an Asian-American activist from the San Francisco Bay Area. He was a long-time active member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) at San Francisco State University. He moved to the Philippines despite not being of Filipino descent because throughout his years of activism in the United States, he became committed to advocating for the basic needs for rural and indigenous communities in Ifugao province, where he had visited on international solidarity trips. In addition, Brandon has been a dedicated friend and ally of NYCHRP's work to defend human rights in the Philippines from abroad.

This harassment campaign against Brandon and his colleagues is reminiscent of the 2009 case of Melissa Roxas, a Filipino-American activist who, while conducting a medical survey in La Paz, Tarlac, was abducted, illegally detained, and tortured for 6 days by the Philippine military. Since the onslaught of harassment and vilification of the activists, she said, “I am deeply concerned and disturbed over the continuing and vicious attacks on human rights activists. [Aquino’s] administration’s counter-insurgency policy, Oplan Bayanihan, deliberately associates human rights defenders, activists and civilians as members or supporters of the revolutionary armed group New Peoples Army (NPA) and branded as 'enemies of the State' or 'terrorists.' [The Aquino] administration uses this as justification for illegal arrests based on trumped up charges, even extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture.”

The killing of community members who are participating in legal aboveground organizations has been a violent pattern to quell dissent from, and destroy progress built by, the most marginalized communities of Philippine society. The Philippine government has resorted to deliberate attacks against its people to maintain the status quo for the Philippine elite. The former Arroyo administration has a depressing track record of more than 2,200+ extra-judicial killings and the current Aquino administration is following in the same direction with more than 200+ political killings to date. These kinds of actions must stop. It is a violation of human rights, and bypasses people's right to due process by law.

Not only do these illegitimate accusations harm the people being targeted, they also have the communities that the activists serve, because these activists and organizations are bringing much needed social services to the communities they are working in, social services which the Aquino administration neglects to provide. It is a systematic attack on the poorest sectors of Philippine society.

NYCHRP believes that this is not only an issue for those living in the Philippines to address but one for the global community to address. NYCHRP is appealing to the international human rights community to put pressure on the Aquino administration to push forth an independent investigation of the surveillance and threats to life against our fellow human rights workers and community members in the Cordillera region, particularly in Ifugao province; to withdraw its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, due to its insufficiency leading to the deaths of innocent unarmed civilians and activists; and, lastly, to resume the peace negotiations between the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as a means to achieve just and lasting peace instead of resorting to constant harassment, illegal detention, and extra-judicial killings, which are in direct violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

In defense of the just work that Brandon Lee and his colleagues are committed to, please join NYCHRP in responding to the action alert called for by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), and voice these demands to the Philippine government themselves! The action alert may be found here: http://bit.ly/1xLZbcN.

 #DefendHumanRightsDefenders

#ActivismIsNotACrime

#JunkOplanBayanihan

#AquinoResign

 The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) is an NYC-based community organization that shares the vision of human rights advanced by the growing mass movement for social justice in the Philippines. NYCHRP educates, organizes and mobilizes Filipinos in the tri-state area to take progressive action in upholding and supporting the human rights of Filipinos in the Philippines and throughout the world. For more information, please visit NYCHRP.INFO.


 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2015

Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

On 12th Anniversary of US Invasion of Iraq, 
Fil-Ams Demand US Gov’t Accountability for Botched Mamasapano Raid, Demand US Out of the Philippines

 

The Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry (“BOI”) Report and the draft Philippine Senate Report on Operation Exodus confirmed what BAYAN-USA suspected all along: the U.S. was unquestionably involved in the tragic counter-terrorism operation that left at least 66 Filipinos dead, including civilians.  Among the most damning pieces of evidence cited by the reports were the presence of six Americans at the Tactical Command Post, and an American ordering a Philippine General to fire artillery during the operation. The reports directly contradict a paltry statement made by the U.S. Embassy that the U.S. was only involved in assisting with “retrieval” of wounded Filipino police officers and dead bodies.
 
The official reports were issued on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and in the midst of U.S. imperialism’s posturing against Venezuela, including declaring the country an “extraordinary threat to national security” and placing sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials.  BAYAN-USA members are participating in protest actions nationwide on March 21, to mark the anniversary of the U.S. war on Iraq and to link the struggle of the Filipino people to others who are also fighting U.S. intervention and aggression.
 
“When it comes to U.S. foreign relations, the truth is scarce but there’s plenty of intervention to go around,” stated BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin.  “The U.S. Embassy was lying when it said there was no American involvement in Mamasapano. The U.S. lied about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq.  And it lies when it portrays Venezuela’s pro-U.S. coup-plotters as victims of anti-democratic government suppression.”
 
While the forms may vary from covert operations conducted by proxy armies to remote-controlled drone attacks to massive ground invasions and airstrikes, a common thread ties together all instances of U.S. intervention: furthering the neoliberal economic offensive of the global 1% for total control of resources, unfettered access to geopolitically strategic lands and waterways, and buttressing ruling regimes like President B.S. Aquino who serve as loyal allies to the imperialist agenda.
 
Back in 2003, then-President Bush followed the “shock and awe” doctrine, using high-tech military force to destroy all the basic infrastructure of Iraq, ultimately leading to the death of over one million Iraqi people.  Today, President Obama claims it is building a leaner and more nimble military force to help propel America’s “Pacific Century” by shifting 60% of its military to the Asia Pacific, including the Philippines.  In the words of Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month while in Tokyo, “There is a reason that President Obama made the strategic decision to rebalance America’s engagement and resources toward the region, and it’s very simple: Nowhere in the world are economic and strategic opportunities clearer or more compelling than in the Asia-Pacific.”

The result of these escapades are also clear and compelling: loss of national sovereignty, as in the Mamasapano operation; civilian casualties, as in the murder of Jennifer Laude by U.S. Marine PFC Joseph Pemberton; devastation of the environment, as in the ramming of Tubbataha Reef by the USS Guardian; instability and endless civil war, as in the Philippine military’s all-out assault on the Moro people of Mindanao following Operation Exodus, which has turned communities near Mamasapano into war zones and over 123,000 people into internal refugees.

“The U.S.-U.K. war of aggression against Iraq was illegal.  U.S. involvement in the implementation of Operation Exodus violated the Philippine constitution. In its race for complete hegemony, U.S. imperialism cares nothing about international laws or diplomacy—or the lives of innocent people,” said Ellorin.

“It’s time for the U.S. to come clean about its role in instigating, funding, and implementing Operation Exodus.  It’s time for the U.S. to be held accountable for the resulting casualties and for violating Philippine sovereignty. It’s time for the U.S. to stop imposing its failed “war on terror” tactics on all the people of the world.  We know that U.S. imperialism has every intention to skirt around the truth and will never take responsibility unless the people demand it. But the common thread which binds together the oppressed people of the Philippines and Iraq, nations like Venezuela and Cuba who are asserting their independence, and all oppressed people worldwide is the will to resist imperialist incursions and the courage to fight for genuine freedom, democracy and sovereignty,” said Ellorin.
 
###
 
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


[PRESS RELEASE]
17 March 2015
Reference: NAFCON www.nafconusa.org

We Are Flor:
NAFCON Remembers Flor Contemplacion and Seeks Justice for OFW

On March 17, 1995, Flor Contemplacion was executed. 

There are many things that you can find out about Flor: That she had three children.  That she was born in Laguna.  That she was a domestic worker in Hong Kong.  But what most everyone will remember is that she was executed.  And the action that came from the Philippine government was not sufficient and too late.

Identifying with the experiences of Flor, Filipino overseas workers responded with force and launched protest actions internationally.  At the time, there were an estimated 798,000 overseas Filipino workers, roughly about 1% of the total population.  But the amount of remittances that the overseas Filipino workers had brought into the country after the 1997 economic crisis amounted to $7 billion. 

Since the 1980s, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have brought so much money into the Philippines that they have come to be known as bagong bayani, or new heroes.

But these new heroes who leave the Philippines out of desperation, with poverty and unemployment stalking their families, so often face oppression--from discrimination and wage theft to rape and execution--in their destination countries.  Like Flor Contemplacion, they receive little to no help from the Philippine government.

The best that these new heroes can hope for is to die alone, with no family by their side.

Meet Lorna Sun.  On March 20, 2014, she died of cardiac arrest.  She was 65 years old and the lone breadwinner of her family back in the Philippines.  For 16 years, she worked in New York City for 24 hours, 7 days a week, earning only $900 per week.  It amounted to earning $6.08 per hour.  Was it any surprise that she should die of a heart attack?

Only her fellow Filipino migrant workers could stand in for the family that was separated from her and take care of her remains.  When her friend went to the Philippine Consulate to ask for help, as Ate Lorna had no money at the time of her death, the Philippine government unsympathetically responded that it would be too expensive to ship her body back home and that it was best to get her body cremated. 

Nineteen years after the execution of Flor Contemplacion, the Philippine government still failed to protect Filipino migrants. There had been no change in the living and working conditions of migrant workers since the time of Flor Contemplacion.

No change can be expected because the roots of the issue have not been addressed.  If anything, the untenable situation of migrants continues to worsen; now, heads of state have blatantly encouraged the export of Filipino workers rather than provide jobs, land, and social services in the Philippines.  Filipino migrants are still being sold as cheap and vastly profitable labor across the world.  The Philippine government has so perfected its labor export policy that other states have become interested in its model of "migration for development" and are attempting to re-create it.  As for OFWs, well, the unfortunate fact is that virtually nothing has changed in the Philippines, and they will starve if they do not go abroad.  So they face the same problems: discrimination, wage theft, labor exploitation, lonely deaths, and even unjust imprisonment and execution.

Meet Mary Azano.  She was brought to the US by her employer. While she had been promised to be paid hourly for 40 hours per week, all she got was $300 monthly.  It amounted to $1.87 per hour.  Her documents, even her passport, were taken, and when the family went home to the Philippines, she was sent to her employer’s family friend in Seattle, where she was still paid $300 per month.  And now, she was asked to do work even on the weekends.  Sometimes she would be asked to clean her new employer's sister's home for $25 for the day.  She worked so much that she started to become sick.

She left that employer and went back to California, eventually working at different care homes.  But there, she experienced physical abuse.  Her patient kicked her in the face, and a co-worker slapped her so hard that it left a bruise on her face.  When she reported this incident to her employer, her employer said that Mary could not do anything because she was undocumented. 

Well, why would Mary's employer not hesitate to say this?  The Philippine state is interested not in the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, but in the growing remittances from Filipino migrants ($25 billion in 2013).  And the U.S. government is interested not in protecting undocumented workers’ rights, but in maintaining a pool of cheap, disposable labor.   We should not be surprised that Mary’s employer would have the audacity to deny her her labor rights.

But in 2009, after meeting with Filipino Advocates for Justice and PAWIS East Bay and learning about her rights as a worker, Mary filed a wage theft claim and succeeded in winning her case, proving that she could, in fact, do something.

Mary is not the only migrant worker to prove this.  In 2014, in New York, after Lorna’s friend received a cold reception from the Philippine Consulate, Filipinos held a vigil, together with representatives from Philippine Forum, GABRIELA-NY, AnakBayan NY, AnakBayan NJ, BAYAN-USA, NAFCON-NE, Migrante NY/NJ, and Florida 15 Trafficked Survivors in front of the Philippine Consulate to demand financial assistance for Ate Lorna and her family.  The following day, the consulate called Lorna's friend and said that a check was ready for pick-up.

There had been only specious and vague promises until Lorna's fellow Filipino migrants through Kabalikat Domestic Worker’s Network of Philippine Forum in New York fought for justice--in the same way that Flor's fellow Filipino migrants made their voices heard and called international attention to the plight of OFWs back in 1995.

In 2015, under President Noynoy Aquino’s administration, there are 6,092 Filipinos leaving the country every day (Source: IBON Foundation).  The remittances they bring in are about 10% of the total Gross Domestic Product of the Philippines.  The Philippine government makes huge money off migrants, from the schools they set up so they can go abroad, to the fees that they pay at every step of the way to get to their destination countries, to the taxes that come out of their remittances. 

Flor Contemplacion was one name.  So is Lorna Sun.  So is Mary Azana.  And there are so many more. 

There are many stories of migrants who have been trafficked, migrants who have faced racism, migrants who are awaiting death sentences in foreign jails because they have no representation and no help from their own government. But there are just as many stories of migrants resisting being just goods, being just cheap labor, without any rights of their own. 

Just as there as many stories of exploitation and rape, there are as many stories of migrants fighting back and standing up--not only to hold the Philippine state accountable to the protection and rights due to them as workers supporting the Philippine economy, but also to fight the roots of the problem: an unsustainable Philippine economy, policies that favor and protect the interests of foreign and multinational companies, landlessness, and the Philippine government’s complete and utter lack of interest in the well-being of the Filipino people.

Ate Mary tells us: “I want my story to be told.  I want to tell everybody that it’s very hard to stay here in the US if you don’t have a job and you have no family here.  It’s so hard here.  People back home think it’s so easy here, they think it’s just so easy to get the money.  But it’s so hard here, with the abuse we experience because we are undocumented.  Still, we have to fight, we have to stand up for our rights, and we have to be patient because justice can take a long time.  I also want to open the eyes of the employers too—we have rights and they need to know it...”

People called Flor, Lorna, and Mary the “new heroes.”  But they are not heroes for having made money for the Philippines.  They are our heroes because they stood up and fought back. 

***

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is an alliance of over 30 organizations that advocate for the rights of Filipinos in the United States, carrying out campaigns to stop deportations of immigrants, end the trafficking of Filipino workers, and bring about change in the Philippines so that Filipinos are not forced to leave for livelihoods abroad. Join the alliance on May 1st for International Workers Day and in July for the International People’s Tribunal. Visit www.nafconusa.org for more information.


Press Statement
March 6, 2015

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com 

Filipino American Women March to Demand BS Aquino Resignation and 
Stand Together Against State Violence

GABRIELA USA members and allies across the country in Oakland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Portland, and New York City march together on International Working Women's Day to protest ongoing state violence from the Philippines to their locales in the US. Filipino American and immigrant women have organized together this past year to protest and assert their rights for safety, dignity and justice. On March 8th, 2015, they again come together to make their demands clear for an end to systematic violence in our communities, in the workplace, and by the state. 

This past year, GABRIELA USA's main campaign to seek justice for Filipino teachers who are survivors of trafficking sought to intensify the man-hunt for Isidro Rodriguez, a labor trafficker who single-handedly breached contracts of over 300 Filipino teachers, many of which are still seeking justice. GABRIELA members from Washington DC have led the way by confronting Philippine Embassy officials, demanding support for their case and calling for accountability by the Philippine government. Still, the Aquino administration has yet to pay attention to their calls and provide accountability from Rodriguez who remains at large after his release last May 2013, continuing his illegal recruitment schemes and victimizing many more overseas workers. Despite the hundreds of complaints to the Department of Justice in the Philippines and recent sighting of Rodriguez in Spain, little to no action has been done to extradite him.  

Furthermore, the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, by Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton is a clear consequence of the danger of US military occupation in the Philippines. This international case demonstrates the puppetry of BS Aquino to US imperial powers as Aquino has kept silent and passive in achieving justice for Laude and her family. To add insult to injury, Aquino has continued to submit to US will by signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) last year, allowing the US greater access to military bases in the Philippines.  US militarization has been detrimental to country’s sovereignty, while the women continue to suffer from continued sexual assault and violence from their presence. 

These examples of the Philippine state's negligence to its migrant citizenry as well as the Filipino people in the homeland, move Filipino American women, migrant women and allies to mobilize on International Working Women’s Day and highlight the incompetence of BS Aquino. GABRIELA USA stands with millions of Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad calling for his immediate resignation and move towards the establishment of a transitional council.

In the US, GABRIELA USA members stand against the increasing police brutality and violence against Black people in the US, and other communities of color. In the past year, member organizations have joined the thousands of people who have insisted that Black lives matter. While state violence and repression continues in our communities, we must also march in the streets and stand against anti-trans violence and deaths that have spiked in the last year and often go unheard. GABRIELA USA will take the streets and speak out and fight for women and trans women for safety, justice, self-determination and liberation. 

Justice for Trafficked Teachers and All Victims of Human Trafficking!
End Violence Against Women! End Transmisogyny Now! Justice for Jennifer Laude!
U.S. Out of the Philippines! Junk the Visiting Forces Agreement! Junk the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement!
AQUINO RESIGN!

Join us in commemorating the 105th Anniversary of International Working Women’s Day in the city near you!

Los Angeles, CA
Monday, March 9, 2015
Women Rise Up, Aquino Step Down!
6pm Rally at the Philippine Consulate
3435 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 550
Los Angeles, CA 90010
LA March 9th Event

New York City, NY
Sunday, March 8, 2015
International Working Women's Day Coalition 10th Anniversary March & Speak Out
End Police Brutality, State Repression and Militarization!
12pm Rally at Herald Square, 34th Street and 6th Ave.
1pm March
2pm Speak out at Solidarity Center, 147 West 24th st. 
NYC March 8th Event

Oakland, CA
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Lake Merritt Amphitheater (12th st. & 1st ave.)
UPHOLD the LEGACY & POWER of WOMEN'S RESISTANCE HERE and ABROAD!
12PM Rally & Speak Out for Justice
12:30PM March to Rise & Resist
1:30PM Celebration for Women's Strength & Resistance
Oakland, CA March 8th Event

Portland, OR
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Portland Waterfront Esplanade
Power Project 
Join this community visual project to voice the powerful ways in which we thrive as women and build solidarity among the multiplicity of nations, ethnicities and cultures that create a Portland culture of resistance and fight, in the face of intense attacks on our livelihoods, our bodies, and our communities. 
10am-5pm

Seattle, WA
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Rainier Valley Cultural Center - 3515 South Alaska St. Seattle, WA 98118
Women Who Rock - Rocking Media Justice Festival | womenwhorockcommunity.org
11 AM International Women's Day Musical Brigade March 
(Meet Rainier Ave. S & S Dawson St. Route heads to the Rainier Valley Cultural Center.)
1:00PM Rocking Medial Justice Festival
Seattle, WA Event

Washington, DC
Saturday, March 21
Building A Collective Struggle for Womyn's Liberation
4:00 - 8:00 pm at Washington Peace Center (1525 Newton St NW, Washington, DC 20010)
Washington, DC Event

###

-- 
GABRIELA USA is a grassroots-based alliance of progressive Filipino women's organizations in the United States seeking to wage a struggle for the liberation of all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of our people. 

While we vigorously campaign on women-specific issues such as women's rights, gender discrimination, violence against women and women's health and reproductive rights, GABRIELA USA also addresses national and international economic and political issues that affects Filipino women.

GABRIELA USA is an overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, and is a member organization of BAYAN USA and the International Women's Alliance. 

info@gabusa.org  |  www.gabusa.org 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2015
Press Alert
Contact: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN-USA-Secretary General secgen@bayanusa.org

On the Anniversary of People Power I: Filipinos Call on B.S. AQUINO to Resign! 
BAYAN-USA to Conduct Nationwide Actions to Hold the US and Aquino Accountable for Bloodbath at Mamasapano

Under the banner of the Filipino alliance BAYAN-USA, Filipinos in major cities across the United States are conducting actions to demand that Philippine President B.S. Aquino III step down from office for his role in the deaths of over 70 Filipino civilians and Special Action Forces in a US-orchestrated military operation exactly one month earlier in the Philippine town of Mamasapano, as well his overall failure at his job as President of the Philippines. February 25 also marks the 29th anniversary of “People Power I” in the Philippines, the popular uprising that forcibly removed the Marcos dictatorship. A growing number of people worldwide are joining the call for Aquino to resign especially after the Mamasapano clash and the lack of truth and accountability of the US-backed Aquino regime.

“Since Aquino came into power in 2010, the Filipino people have suffered from increasing US economic domination and militarization of the country, and the Mamasapano incident is the straw that broke the camel’s back!” states Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN-USA.

“Instead of safeguarding his people from America’s reckless ‘war on terror,’ Aquino has been telling half-truths and lies to attempt to cover up the US hand in this suicide mission.  This shows how little Aquino cares about his own people. The civilian death toll at Mamasapano disproves the claims that US military presence can safeguard the Filipino people from harm.”

The US-funded and orchestrated anti-terrorism operation “Operation Exodus” occurred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in the Philippines on January 25, 2015, sending commandos of the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP) into territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), despite a ceasefire agreement and ongoing peace negotiations between the MILF and Philippine government. The ensuing 12-hour battle resulted in the killing of seven civilians, 44 SAF forces,  and 22 members of the MILF and BIFF.  Witnesses cited by the Philippine media and the People’s Fact Finding Mission reported seeing drones flying overhead in the days immediately preceding the operation.  They also reported seeing the body of an American male after the clash, who is believed to have been involved in the operation even though Philippine Constitution prohibits the participation of foreign troops in military operations on Philippine soil.

“We’re concerned over Malacanang’s lack of transparency over this incident, despite members of the SAF-PNP pointing fingers at President Aquino’s direct knowledge and involvement in overseeing the operation. The breaking of the chain of command within Philippine security forces and involvement of US drones and troops implies serious breaches on Malacanang’ part on matters concerning provisions in the Philippine constitution, in Philippine national security, as well as the Aquino administration’s  integrity with regards to the GPH-MILF peace negotiations,” Ellorin continued.

“BAYAN-USA calls on the Filipino community and other concerned people in the US to join us in calling for Aquino to resign or be forcibly removed by the strength and numbers of people power. We’re also demanding an investigation into the US role in the Mamasapano incident and that the US stop imposing its failed war on terror tactics on our country. The list of Aquino’s failures and the reasons he should resign go on and on.  Together Filipinos across social sectors are uniting to not only call for his resignation, but to also build an alternative to this rampantly corrupt and repressive system!” ended Ellorin.

Join Filipinos across the US and internationally in actions listed below:

Los Angeles- CA
Aquino Resign Now!
Hold Aquino & the U.S. Accountable for Mamasapano Incident
Feb. 24th, 2015
11:30am @ In front of Philippine Consulate
3600 Wilshire Blvd.

San Francisco- CA
Aquino Resign!
Hold the US & Aquino Accountable for the Bloodbath of Mamasapano!
Feb. 24, 2015
March and Candlelight Vigil
5:30 Meet up at Powell bart Station/Cable Cars
6pm March to Philippine Consulate

Chicago- IL
Hold President Aquino accountable for the death of Filipinos in Mamasapano &
Denounce US intervention in the Philippines
Feb. 24th 2015
Picket & Candle light vigil
12:30 noon @ Philippine Consular Office
122 S. Michigan Avenue

New York- NY
Mamasapano Community Forum & Candlelight Vigil
February 24, 2015
7-9pm @ New York State Nurses Association Conference Room
131 West 33rd Street, 4th floor

Seattle- WA
Outreach Survey
February 26, 2015
6pm @ Seafood City South Center Mall


For Immediate Release 
February 12, 2015
 
Contact: Jun Cruz, NAFCON Communications Secretary
communications@nafconusa.org

U.S. Filipinos Join Call for Aquino’s Accountability in Mamasapano Fiasco
 

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) stands in solidarity with the families of the victims and joins the worldwide call for truth, justice and Aquino’s accountability in response to the Philippine National Police (PNP) operation in the southern Philippines that cost the lives of over 60 Filipinos, including ordinary civilians, members of the PNP, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
 
The negligently implemented operation named Operation Exodus, which was carried out by the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) but funded, trained and orchestrated with U.S. officials, resulted in the single largest loss of lives of PNP forces in history. The main targets were two U.S. FBI “most-wanted” persons, including Zulkifli bin Hir aka “Marwan,” who together carried a $7 million bounty for their capture or death.
 
Operation Exodus occurred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, a territory of the MILF, with whom the Philippine Government signed a cease-fire and peace treaty in March 2014. For months prior to the incident, PNP-SAF involved US military personnel in the planning but intentionally did not coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF, resulting in the deadly 12-hour clash.
 
Mamasapano investigation exposes Aquino’s lies and crimes
 
The Philippine Senate interrogation of PNP-SAF Director Getulio Pascua Napenas revealed that the botched operation was directed by suspended Police Director General Alan Purisima. Napenas narrated that on January 9, 2015, he met with Purisima and President Aquino in the presidential residence in Malacanang to brief the President on “Oplan Exodus.”  The Officer-in-Charge of the PNP Leonardo Espina, who was the acting director over Purisima’s suspension, and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas were not present in this meeting.
 
“There is a long list of violations the President committed in this entire fiasco. He violated the suspension order by allowing Purisima to be in charge of the operation. He also violated the chain of command by placing the leadership with Purisima and not informing Espina or Roxas. He violated the ceasefire agreement with the MILF by failing to inform the government peace panel. We demand accountability,” says Terrence Valen, NAFCON President.
 
Between the contradicting statements of the PNP and the AFP, facts around the incident are being unraveled by the public. “There is still neither basic transparency nor full declaration of facts from the Commander-in-Chief, President Aquino. The people are angry and are questioning Aquino’s cover-up of the truth and suspicious denial of responsibility,” declares Anne Beryl Naguit, NAFCON Vice President.
 
Evidence of US involvement surfaces
 
Potri Ranka Manis, a Maranao Bai Labi and a founding member of Kinding Sindaw, an indigenous-based member organization of NAFCON, states, “The divide and rule tactics using north against south, Christians vs Muslims, is an old scheme that has been used to divide Filipinos. How can the Philippine government who signed a ceasefire agreement send its own police forces to be sacrificial lambs? The scripted violation of the peace process shows who controls the Philippine government officials; this is a mere act to reinforce the rationale for foreign military to continue staying in the Philippines to train and protect its citizens, when in reality the U.S. military is there to protect the interests of the American elite. It’s time to unite and to assert our rights for self-determination.”
 
News reports have shown that the United States government and particularly the FBI were directly involved in the planning and execution of Operation Exodus. An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer elaborated on the use of a drone or an unmanned aircraft that is believed to be from US forces in the country. A source told PDI that the US “had fully funded and provided the training for the Mamasapano operation… [and that] the whole operation had been planned in a secret facility inside La Vista del Mar Resort in Zamboanga, where Americans reportedly operated a facility and where members of the 84th SAF company were trained for the operation against Marwan.”[1]
 
American soldiers even participated in evacuating the dead bodies of the SAF, but the Philippine government has denied U.S. involvement.
 
“The direct U.S. intervention in Philippine affairs and the blatant trampling of the sovereignty of the Filipino people are both unacceptable. The Aquino administration is sacrificing the lives and dignity of Filipinos to fulfill the wishes of the U.S government in its so-called ‘War on Terror.’ The truth is that the presence of U.S. troops and drones in our country is what’s bringing real terror to militarized communities throughout the Philippines -- just ask the family of Jennifer Laude, a trans-woman killed late last year by a U.S. serviceman,” says Valen.
 
Filipinos call for truth, justice and accountability
 
NAFCON calls on our members and all peace-loving people to remain vigilant. “It is our U.S. tax dollars that are being used to fund these operations that lead to violent and senseless deaths of our fellow kababayan (countrymen) in the Philippines, and we must not let this continue. The U.S. government should focus on the issues of its own people such as the nationwide epidemic of poverty and the almost daily killing of black and trans people by police and security forces, private citizens and vigilantes, instead of instigating conflicts overseas and meddling in other countries’ internal affairs,” adds Valen.
 
“We shall not let up in our quest for justice for all those who died.  We will organize various fora, activities, and protest actions, to expose these injustices and demand accountability at the highest levels, all the way up to the resignation of Aquino and the termination of one-sided US-Philippines military agreements. Most importantly, we will strive to unite all people for genuine peace by sowing the seeds of justice planted in the soil of comprehensive social and economic reforms that truly meet  the needs of the people,” Valen ends.

[1] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/671237/us-drone-watched-mamasapano-debacle
 
###
-- 
Aurora Victoria Herrera David
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)
Alliance Secretary 2014-2017
alliancesec@nafconusa.org
www.nafconusa.org
-- 
The NAFCON members list is used for carrying out the work of our alliance. NAFCON members are encouraged to use this as needed. Please do not forward email unrelated to our work, campaigns, and organizational business.


Press Statement
February 4, 2015

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

On Phil-Am War Anniversary, Fil-Ams Join Clamor for Aquino to Resign
Demand Truth & Accountability over US involvement in Mamasapano Massacre

Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA join the growing clamor for President Benigno Aquino III to resign amidst outrage unfolding in the Philippines over the US-backed, Philippine anti-terrorism operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25. The operation resulted in the senseless deaths of over 64 clashing forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police (SAF-PNP), and a number of civilians caught in the 12-hour crossfire. With Malacanang's lack of transparency over the operation, the SAF-PNP itself is pointing fingers at Aquino for not only calling the shots, but intentionally breaking protocol by violating the PNP's line of command, not coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, violating the supposed GPH-MILF ceasefire agreement, and involving US military personnel.

As today marks the 116th anniversary of the Philippine-American War, the first US imperialist war of aggression for colonization abroad, BAYAN USA asserts that the Mamasapano Massacre highlights the deadly ongoing aggression of present-day US intervention in the Philippines, especially in Muslim Mindanao. The US government with the assistance of the Philippine government, under the rhetoric of the global war on terror, has long been waging a campaign to seize and control the vast natural wealth of Muslim Mindanao by subjugating and undermining the Bangsamoro people through counter-insurgency and all-out war tactics. Part and parcel to this are the US government's decade-old drone program in Mindanao as well as pacification campaign under the guise of so-called peace talks between the Aquino government and the MILF. Since the time of the Philippine-American War, the Bangsamoro people have and continue to fight for their self-determination and right to their ancestral domain. 

One of the largest targets for multinational corporate extractive industries in the Asia-Pacific region, Mindanao is home to a wide array of minerals, oil, natural gas, and agriculture. Mindanao is also where US intervention is most heavily concentrated in the country-- in the form of US military presence, US military facilities, US-backed counter-insurgency, and covert CIA operations. Maintaining the Philippines as a US military stranglehold remains critical to US imperialism's 116 year old geopolitical strategy of hegemony over the Asia-Pacific region, of which the new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is a part. 

BAYAN USA joins the call for an independent investigation of the massacre at Mamasapano. We demand truth and accountability from both the Aquino and Obama administrations. As US taxpayers, we call for full disclosure of the facts surrounding US military involvement, as well as US withdrawal from the Philippines. We demand Aquino, as a puppet of the US government, resign from his post or face anger from the broad ranks of Filipinos fed up with his failed leadership.

In this time of increasing militarism in the US and the Asia-Pacific region, we call for greater solidarity between the peoples of the Philippines and the United States. We are concerned that the unrest in Mindanao coupled with unrelenting Islamophobia and anti-terrorism hysteria will be used as a pretext for a declaration of all-out war by the Aquino regime backed by the US government. We stand with the Bangsmoro people in their struggle for self-determination and with the greater Filipino nation in its struggle for peace, justice, democracy, and genuine national sovereignty-- ideals which the Aquino regime continues to steer the country away from. 

AQUINO RESIGN!
Justice for the Victims of the Mamasapano Massacre!
Self-Determination for the Bangsamoro People!
US Out of Mindanao!
US Out of the Philippines!
US Out of Asia!
Long Live International Solidarity!

####
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.

For Immediate Release
January 15, 2015
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, chair@bayanusa.org

BAYAN USA Turns 10!
Isang Dekada, Isang Laban / One Struggle, One Fight
From the Philippines to Ferguson: Resist State Repression, Fight for Liberation!

This 2015, BAYAN USA commemorates its 10 year anniversary by reaffirming its commitment to fight against state-sponsored repression and for national and social liberation from US imperialism, both in the Philippines and the US. 

This year marks 10 years since the founding of the US Chapter of BAYAN USA, the oldest and largest overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines, and one of the largest progressive alliances of Filipino-American organizations.  Founded in 2005 during the blood-stained peak of the Bush-Arroyo regime’s Global War on Terror and US-backed counterinsurgency program “Operation Plan Bantay Laya/Freedom Watch” in the Philippines, BAYAN USA has grown to be a leading critical voice and center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing the broadest ranks of Filipinos and allies in the US for freedom and democracy in the Philippines, the Philippine diaspora, and for racial, economic, and social justice in the US. 

Down With the US-Aquino Regime!

The US-Aquino regime not only continues the anti-people and repressive policies of its predecessors, it is actively facilitating the increased US military presence and intervention in the country as part of the so-called Asia Pivot. The murder of Jennifer Laude and the subsequent refusal of the US to surrender custody of Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US serviceman formally charged with her murder, are just the latest in a long, historical pattern of reactionary violence committed by US military personnel against Filipino civilians with no repercussions.  This adds fuel to the fire of the perennial demand for genuine national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.  

Despite riding onto the presidential office on the coat-tails of his family name, Benigno Simeon Aquino III demonstrates again and again his failure and insincerity when it comes to alleviating the poverty and misery the majority of Filipinos suffer, and what drives over 4,500 Filipinos to leave the country every day in search of a means to survive. Not only have poverty and landlessness, especially for victims of typhoons such as Haiyan and Pablo, worsened under Aquino, but rampant government corruption continues with impunity.  Any opposition to the status quo is met with repression, as witnessed by the 491 political prisoners, 226 extrajudicial killings, and 26 forced disappearances of activists who dared to fight for the poor. BAYAN-USA is one with the masses who know the only solution is to force a seachange in the entire system, starting at the top with Aquino.

Solidarity for Black Self-Determination & All Oppressed Communities in the US!

In the US, Filipinos are an ethnic minority with a long history of resistance and struggle for racial and economic justice beginning as early as the turn of the 20th century during the formal US colonial period of the Philippines. As an immigrant community of color, we understand wars of aggression, militarism, state violence, white supremacy, labor exploitation, and racism from the receiving end. This has compelled Filipino-Americans to contribute greatly to the labor, immigrant rights, and racial and economic justice movements in the US.

BAYAN USA sees the self-determination of Black people, migrant workers, and all other oppressed communities in the US as crucial to our liberation as a people as well, and decisive in the struggle for freedom and democracy within US borders. BAYAN-USA must contribute to the legacy of our elders and ancestors, by vastly expanding our ranks and engaging our members in shared struggle with allies against a common enemy.

Fight for Liberation! Build the Anti-Imperialist United Front!

With over four million Filipinos in the US, we are the largest concentration of Filipinos living outside the Philippines. Sending over 60% of the estimated $20 billion in US dollar remittances from overseas Filipinos to the Philippines annually, we keep the Philippine economy afloat. Such economic power must translate to political power. As immigrants and migrant workers, we are justified in criticizing and speaking out against the Philippine government’s failed economic policies precisely because of our forced migration and its impact on our families. While the Philippine government continues in its downward economic spiral, the migrant and immigrant movement grows in strength and numbers, keeping our eyes on the prize of genuine Philippine liberation, and the right to return Home or to freely choose to migrate .

BAYAN USA is an integral part of the larger, national struggle for freedom and democracy in the Philippines. As an alliance based in the US, BAYAN USA must also live up to its responsibility to play a great role in strengthening and contributing to the anti-imperialist struggle in the US. We understand that while the two countries are on separate hemispheres, the shared struggle of the Filipino people and oppressed peoples in the US is rooted in the same rotten global monopoly capitalist system. We celebrate our 10 years in the National Democratic movement by dedicating ourselves to building and strengthening solidarity ties between peoples in the Philippines and the US, and to do our part to advance the worldwide movement against US imperialism.

Long Live the National Democratic Movement of the Philippines with a Socialist Perspective!
Continue the Struggle for Genuine Agrarian Reform and National Industrialization!
Long Live International Solidarity!

####
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


Statement of the International Migrants on Alliance International Migrants Day
December 18 2014
For reference: Eni Lestari, IMA chairperson (+852-96081475)

Struggle for genuine development and justice for migrants and the people! Struggle and win!

The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) commemorates this year’s International Migrants Day with greater resolve to advance the struggle for the protection of our rights and dignity, the end to modern-day slavery and the resolution of the root causes of forced migration.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih is the image of this struggle that we are pursuing steadfastly.

Erwiana is the young Indonesian domestic worker who was subject to physical abuse and torture from her employer in Hong Kong last year. Her sufferings depict the countless number of physical abuse, harassment and intimidation, exploitation and oppression that many migrant workers experience. Her strength and will to fight for justice in her ongoing case against her employer also symbolizes the willingness of migrants – migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees, immigrants – to collectively fight.

It is her sufferings that belie the pronouncements of development in the world today. She and the 232 million international migrants paint the real picture of forced migration – both a symptom and the result of the intensifying, protracted and prolonged crisis of imperialism.

Neoliberal globalization has caused this phenomenon and continues to aggravate it. The implementation of neoliberal policies has only led to massive landlessness, deindustriualization, environmental degradation and wave upon wave of global economic crisis that caused the dissolution of public services and utilities, skyrocketing of prices of goods, displacement of peoples, unemployment and abject poverty. Without work or salaries to live their families by, many are forced to find work abroad – a phenomenon that many governments have developed into labor export policy.

It is with the same neoliberal framework that the leaders within the United Nations are also aiming to optimize migration for development. Instead of addressing the root causes of forced migration, they only mean to maximize the remittances sent by migrants and facilitate migration all in the name of development. As governments beautify slavery by promoting migration for development through the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), the situation of migrants has only worsened over time. Migrants experience oppression in the workplace, visa restrictions, arrest and deportation, social exclusion, among others.

But there can be no genuine development for the people under this current system. A system that prioritizes capitalist profit over the rights, demands and dignity of peoples. A system that lets modern-day slavery and oppression to prevail.

Yet we are strengthened, inspired and with firm resolve to fight this system. We are strengthened by the likes of Erwiana who have decided to stand up against oppression and abuse. We are inspired by the late Irene Fernandez who has committed her life in defending the rights of migrants and challenging a system of oppression. We are filled with resolve as many migrants all over the world decide to be organized and collectively advance the international migrant movement.

Next year 2015 we will bring the battles in all fronts. We will engage governments of both our host and home countries and challenge them to junk anti-migrant laws and create ones that ensure the protection of our rights and stop oppression and discrimination. We will engage in the international debates and platforms and expose and oppose their scheme to make migration as a tool for development. We will enjoin and encourage all migrants, our families and our local brothers and sisters to strengthen solidarity and demand an end to modern-day slavery and forced migration.

Because we are worth more than the remittances and dollars we send. Because we are workers, not slaves.


For Immediate Release
December 10, 2014
Reference: Jessica Antonio, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

From Ferguson to the Philippines: State Violence, Killings, Impunity Continue -- BAYAN USA

As BAYAN USA joins the bold protest actions across the US in response to the human rights crisis exposed in the systemic police killings of unarmed Black people, Filipino Americans link state violence and killings in the US to the unrelenting state violence and killings of unarmed civilians in the Philippines under Benigno Simeon Aquino III. In a capitalist society, certain lives are deemed worthless if the elite and powerful believe that they get in the way of profitable gain. The U.S. and Philippine governments are run by those elites who are bought by corporate lobbyists. They promote neoliberal economic policies that intensify the pattern of funneling public monies out of basic social services and into the further militarization of poor and oppressed communities around the world who are fighting back against the current system.

Aquino the Impunity King

When it comes to the perpetrators of human rights abuses, Aquino time and time again proves to be just like his predecessors.  Under his watch, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and paramilitary units have been implicated in more than 200 extrajudicial killings of civilians and the forced evacuation of nearly 40,000 people due to military operations. These atrocities take place mainly in indigenous communities where large multi-national corporations conduct mining, agribusiness, energy exploration, and tourism projects at the expense of displacing people for profits. The US-designed counterinsurgency program “Operation Plan Bayanihan” (“Oplan Bayanihan”) targets ordinary people with harassment, surveillance and assassination for simply daring to stand up for their basic human rights.  Oplan Bayanihan applies the labels, “terrorists” and “enemy combatants,” to ordinary farmers, teachers, students, people of faith and workers who speak out against landlords and multi-national companies who impose deplorable conditions on them, as well as the US-Aquino regime which upholds an oppressive system that keeps the majority of the people in utter poverty.  

Aquino Violates International Humanitarian Law

When it comes to following international humanitarian law and laws governing the conduct of war, the US-Aquino regime’s record is equally dismal. The Aquino regime has repeatedly undermined the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), by attempting to unilaterally impose ceasefires, refusing to release political prisoners including NDFP consultants, and failing to ensure that the government complies with signed agreements of the GPH-NDFP including the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.   Oplan Bayanihan tramples on international humanitarian laws on the rights and sanctity of bodies killed in combat. The recent massacre of nine people committed by the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Lacub, Abra further proves this point. The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance reported the bodies of seven New Peoples Army members and two civilians bore torture marks and desecration of the remains post mortem, which counters the claim by the Armed Forces of the Philippines that they were killed in combat.

Torture Report, Political Prisoners

The recently released CIA Torture Report lists the Philippines as a country where the use of torture remains rampant. To win the presidency, Aquino rode on the coat-tails of his father, a former political prisoner, and his mother, who released political prisoners after assuming office. But Aquino presidential track record on political prisoners is more similar to that of the Marcos dictatorship which jailed his father. Under Aquino,  the number of political prisoners have increased in the country.  Even pregnant women, such as Andrea Rosal and Maria Maridel Torres, are not spared from illegal arrest. Their treatment and prison conditions were so inhumane that Rosal’s baby died only two days after birth; Torres was denied prenatal medication and placed in unsanitary conditions exposed to prisoners with tuberculosis.

Puppetry to US imperialism

As if the continuing presence of over 660 US Special Operations Forces in Mindanao and the patently unconstitutional Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) were not enough, the regime signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in April 2014.  The new agreement expanded both the deployment of US troops and US military access to ports and facilities throughout the Philippines as part of the US Defense Department’s plans to “rebalance” its forces from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific. The murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude underscores both the violence and the violation of sovereignty inherent in the VFA and the EDCA.  The US Marine implicated in Laude’s killing was quickly whisked away to the safety of a US ship instead of being turned over to Philippine custody--a blatant example of the unjust and unequal relationship between the US and the Philippines. Given numerous opportunities to weigh in on the murder, spineless Aquino has instead defended the US and completely relinquished control of the case to the US military.

Out with the Old!

More and more people are frustrated with the human rights crisis in the Philippines and lack of accountability of the Aquino regime in failing to respond to typhoon disasters, pocketing money in the pork barrel system, increasing militarization, and ushering in the US reoccupation of the Philippines. The people are demanding that Aquino step down because they have been disillusioned by his utter disregard of international human rights. On International Human Rights Day, from the Philippines to Ayotzinapa, Palestine, New York City, and Ferguson, Filipino Americans stand up against state repression and systemic violence forced onto the people with impunity.

Aquino Step Down!
Stop State Repression and Violence!
End Impunity!
No U.S. Tax Dollars for State-Sponsored Corruption and Killings from the Philippines to Ferguson!
HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!

###

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


For Immediate Release
November 28, 2014
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: chair@bayanusa.org

From Fagen to Ferguson:
We Stand with Our Black Brothers & Sisters in Resistance-- BAYAN USA

Through its non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the US judicial system has once again confirmed its true character -- that, like the police, it exists to protect and serve the ruling class and maintain white supremacy. The grand jury decision to let Michael Brown’s killer go not only re-victimizes Brown and his family, but sends a clear message to African-Americans that the state is continuing to wage a centuries-old, systematic and calculated war on Black people--from slavery to Jim Crow to chronic poverty to COINTELPRO to the prison-industrial complex.  Its goal is complete subjugation of African Americans, to facilitate their exploitation by US imperialism.

BAYAN USA stands firmly with Ferguson and with our Black brothers and sisters in the US. We reiterate our recognition of the right of African-Americans to self-determination and for the need for Black leadership in the fight against white supremacy and racism.

We also reiterate our support to Black organizers calling for the formation of self-defense networks. Beginning with the forcible and violent extraction of Africans from their homeland to labor on tobacco and cotton plantations in the US as slaves, upon whose backs US monopoly capitalism was built, history has always demonstrated the need for Black armed resistance as a natural form of self-defense from white supremacist violence and state repression. Historical examples of this include the Black Panther Party and later the underground Black Liberation Army, both of which formed out of the civil rights era conditions of chronic poverty and total Black disenfranchisement alongside white supremacist violence, lynchings, and state-orchestrated assassinations and incarcerations targeting Black community leaders.

African-American and Filipino solidarity in armed resistance to the US ruling class and its military force can be traced as early as 1899, during the Philippine-American War, when an African-American soldier by the name of David Fagen defected to the side of the Philippine Revolutionary Army and eventually became a captain. As the first US war of aggression and for colonization overseas, the Philippine-American War was the opening salvo for US imperialism onto the global stage at the turn of the 20th century.

Fagen, a Buffalo Soldier with the 24th Infantry Division of the US Army at the time, saw how US soldiers calling Filipinos “niggers” was wrought with the same white supremacist hate and chauvinism towards African-Americans, and eventually realized he was fighting with the wrong army. After defecting, a handful of African-American soldiers in Fagen’s unit followed suit.

Fagen’s example is a hallmark inspiration for all us outraged over the grand jury decision to let Darren Wilson walk free and to forge greater solidarity as we escalate our multi-national and multi-racial peoples resistance against white supremacist violence and police repression, and ultimately against US imperialism.

Justice for Mike Brown will not be won in the confines of the US judicial system, nor within the Obama administration. It is up to us, the people ourselves, to take justice for Mike Brown and all whose lives have been lost to police violence and militarism by any means necessary.

Stop the Extrajudicial Killings of Black People!
Justice for Mike Brown and all lives lost to state violence!
Down with White Supremacy! Down with Monopoly Capitalism!
Long live the Right to Self-Determination! 
Long live International Solidarity!

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


“Power concedes nothing without a demand.” – Frederick Douglass

On Thanksgiving 2014, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) stand united with Mike Brown’s family and friends, and the community of Ferguson. NAFCON gives thanks to all those who continue to fight for peace and justice, including the families of victims of police brutality, military repression, and militarized borders around the world.

On November 24, the nation was horrified to learn that a grand jury chose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown. Brown was unarmed, and kneeling, with his hands in the air, when Wilson shot him six times.

NAFCON SoCal Coordinator Alex Montances tells the media why Filipinos want justice for Michael Brown during a solidarity protest in Los Angeles

NAFCON Southern California Coordinator Alex Montances states, “Filipinos care about this issue. Immigrant communities are harassed by the police too and are threatened with deportation. If the police can shoot an unarmed 18 year old teen, they can do that to us too! We have to stand with Ferguson, we have to stand for justice!” Montances marched and protested with 300 people from other community organizations from Crenshaw to the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and New Jersey, Filipino people also marched in solidarity. In New York, NAFCON members alongside BAYAN-USA, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), and other groups and allies, marched and closed down the West Side Highway in Manhattan.

“There is a long history in this country of allowing law enforcers to walk free after an act of racism and police brutality. We as a people must continue to stand up in protest and uphold our constitutional right to assemble, voice our opinions, and push at all levels for the justice that our communities need,” says Las Vegas resident and NAFCON Finance Officer Annie Sayo.

NAFCON honors and commemorates the many victims of police brutality including Fred Hampton and Mark Clark who were Black Panther leaders slain in a police raid where the Grand Jury also did not indict; Amadou Diallo, a 23-year old Guinean immigrant who was shot 19 times when he reached for his wallet.  Officers were indicted for second degree murder and the case was moved to upstate New York, where a jury acquitted the officers; Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old African American who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman was tried in Martin’s death and a jury acquitted him of murder and manslaughter in 2013.

“Unfortunately, the list continues, but the pattern and practice of high profile cases represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cases where racist police violence has not been subjected to equal justice under the law,” concludes NAFCON President Terry Valen.

NAFCON encourages the community to continue to join actions that push for true justice for Mike Brown and the many victims of police brutality and repression be it in Ferguson, Florida, Mexico, Palestine or in the Philippines.

For more information and ways to get involved, email NAFCON at info@nafconusa.org or call us at 415-333-6267.

###


LPS CONDEMNS  CONDONATION OF RACIST MURDER OF MICHAEL BROWN
AND SUPPORTS  MASS PROTESTS IN FERGUSON,  ENTIRE USA AND ABROAD


By Prof. Jose Maria  Sison
Chairperson, International League of Peoples' Struggle
November 27, 2014

We, the International League of Peoples' Struggle condemn in the strongest terms the racist murder of
the African-American Michael Brown with impunity by the police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. We are in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, the entire USA and the world who have carried out mass protests to express their outrage and demand for justice.

The condonation of the aforesaid crime by the US legal system is a manifestation of the policy of state terrorism and white supremacist racism against the African-Americans and other people of color, including the First Nation, the Hispanics and the Asian-Americans. Police officers are trained and licensed to take lethal action against even unarmed people of color on mere claims of pre-emption and suspicion.
 

Among the people of color,  African-Americans have suffered the worst since the use of slavery to carry out the primitive accumulation of capital by US capitalism for centuries, particularly in the plantation production of cotton and tobacco for domestic manufacturing and export. Today, the white terrorist state of US imperialism continues to violate the right to life and all other human rights of the African-Americans.

One out of three African-Americans is in prison.  The African-Americans are being used as the main fodder for the thriving private prison industrial complex.  US cops kill an African-American every 28 hours. At their whim, the cops  accost the African-Americans and  beat or shoot them to death.  Most of the victims are young, unarmed African-Americans.

The white supremacist arrogance is a continuing factor in the oppression and exploitation of the African-Americans.  But the increasing fascisation and militarization of the police make the African-Americans  and other people of color most vulnerable  to brutal and deadly attacks by the police on a daily basis and whenever they exercise their rights to free speech and assembly in public places.

 The pretext of  homeland security and combatting terrorism has turned the US imperialist state and its coercive instruments more violent and more terrorist than ever before.  It is a manifestation of the rapid decline  and worsening crisis of US imperialism and the desperation of the white monopoly bourgeoisie and financial oligarchy in the face of the people's growing resistance.

 We are pleased with the timely protest of the ILPS-USA against the injustice done to Michael Brown and other African-Americans.  We stand in solidarity with all American people of color and all white American people who are enlightened, anti-racist and anti-imperialist.

We support the entire American people in all their demands for racial and social justice.  We call on all people of the world to fight for liberation and justice against all forms of oppression and exploitation unleashed by US imperialism and  its accomplices.###


PRESS RELEASE

November 26, 2014

Justice for Mike Brown Will be Fought for & Won on the Streets,
Not in the Courts.
To Rebel is Justified! – ILPS-US

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”--  W.E.B. Dubois

The International League of Peoples' Struggles US Chapter stands with the people of the United States fighting against the reign of police brutality and terror against black, brown and all oppressed communities in the United States. 

The failure of the St. Louis County grand jury to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown shows that white supremacy and racism are embedded within the so-called ‘justice system’ in the United States. Every 28 hours a Black person, usually young, usually unarmed, is killed by police. It is only due to the heroic uprising of the people of Ferguson that the case was brought before a grand jury. Prosecutor Bob McCullough clearly worked with police to assure there would be no indictment. And President Obama has called on people to accept the unjust verdict, affirming once again that racist police in the United States have a license to kill, that elected civilian authority is only a thin veneer for naked police and military rule.

The state has made clear that it will continue to profile, imprison and murder people of color with impunity. They are waging war against Black and Brown communities. The people have a right to resist and rebel against this tyrannical authority. People of color have the right to self-determination and control of their communities.

The ILPS-US Chapter condemns the US government’s increased policing, militarization, and provocation of violence in Ferguson and all other communities across the United States who have taken to the streets, freeways and bridges over the last 24 hours to express their justified rage and solidarity with the people of Ferguson. ILPS-US deplores the use of force on unarmed civilians exercising their basic rights. The police have no right to declare any assembly illegal. ILPS-US also recognizes that the racist ruling system has again revealed what it fears the most through its cowardly response to people’s mass actions - the biggest threat to the racist ruling class in the United States are the organized and united communities asserting their rights through collective action and people’s resistance.

It is only through organized and collective struggle that justice for Michael Brown will be served.  Justice for Michael Brown will be demanded and won in the streets, not in the bureaucratic halls of ‘justice’ that have been set up to protect the ruling elite in the United States.

The ILPS-US recognizes the ever-growing importance for communities under attack to know and exercise their rights for the sake of self-defense and survival.  Enshrined both in the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the fundamental right for people to bear arms and defend themselves from attacks by the police and military of one’s own government.  The long history of peoples’ struggles in the United States and around the world against intensified militarization and occupation are lessons and inspiration for us – we must remember that people have triumphed and continue to resist against war, land-grabbing, genocide and occupation.  The stark reality of worsening economic conditions in the United States and the brutal policing of every sphere of our daily life at home, and around the world, means that fundamental right to live is under attack by the US government, in Ferguson and beyond.

We, the people, are our best and only defense and we must continue to organize and resist by any means necessary to ensure our right to live.

This is our moment for people-to-people solidarity. From Mexico, to Palestine to the Philippines, mass actions and messages of solidarity for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson continue to be shared around the world. Reactionary state violence, police brutality, and militarism are global problems, and the very monopoly capitalist system they serve and maintain is a global enemy. This is the moment for our struggling communities in the United States to connect with people’s struggles around the world.

The ILPS-US calls on its member organizations and allies to join mass actions in their respective cities to demand justice for Michael Brown. 

The ILPS-US chapter also calls on its member organizations to link any actions for Black Friday against the ruling 1% to the people’s call for Black Lives Matter. To strategically fight racism, we must fight the capitalist system itself.

All power to the people!
Justice for Michael Brown and all victims of extra-judicial killings!
No Justice, No Peace. 
Black Lives Matter!
FIGHT WHITE SUPREMACY and RACISM, SMASH capitalism


PRESS RELEASE

Political prisoner Torres to give birth soon

Submitted on Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:18 

Political prisoner Maria Miradel Torres, 26, is expected to deliver her baby today, November 19, 2014. She was brought to the Philippine General Hospital yesterday for a check-up but she was immediately admitted after undergoing medical examination.

Torres, a member of Gabriela in Mauban, Quezon, was four-months pregnant when she was illegally arrested on June 20, 2014 in Lucena by joint elements of the Philippine National Police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and Southern Luzon Command (SoLCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. She is charged with murder and frustrated murder at the Infanta Regional Trial Court, Quezon province. The alias warrant of arrest used to “capture” Torres was issued by the court only on June 20, 2014, on the day of her arrest.

“Torres should be immediately released for just and humanitarian reasons. Aside from the utterly baseless charges against her, the BS Aquino government is committing further injustice by depriving her and her baby a healthy and nurturing environment in keeping her detained,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.

According to Torres, she was not examined by BJMP Doctor Dr. Jaime Claveria Jr. since she was transferred to the Taguig City Jail-Female Dorm on June 25. Despite doctor’s order for complete bed rest due to threatened abortion, Torres was transferred to Taguig City Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa from Camp Gen. Guillermo Nakar Station Hospital at the Solcom headquarters in Lucena City.

At the TCJ-FD, Torres shares the detention cell with three other inmates. One of the inmates reportedly has tuberculosis. Torres was assigned to sleep on the third deck of the bed. BJMP personnel confiscated her medicine and supplements for pregnancy upon admission at the Taguig City Jail.

On November 7, Judge Arnelo Mesa of the Regional Trial Court Branch 65 in Infanta issued a joint order directing Jail Warden Jundelina Jagunap to “bring the person of the accused detainee Maria Miradel Torres to her alleged OB Gyne Dr. Melissa Amosco for her medical check-up and likewise said warden is ordered also to bring the person of the accused to said hospital (PGH) whenever her due date for the delivery of her baby will arrive to be properly provided with appropriate number of jail guards/escorts and to stay at the said hospital for one week including her delivery date and thereafter to immediately return her to her detention facility.”

Said court order however was only received on November 17. Torres has been suffering from cough and fever since November 15.

On November 18, Torres was brought to the PGH along with 10 jail guards. She underwent ultrasound procedure for the first time since her arrest. Torres is expecting a baby boy.

Torres is among the 487 political prisoners in the country to date, 53 of them are ailing and 40 are elderly. More than 200 of them were illegally arrested under the BS Aquino administration.

On the evening of June 20, 2014, elements from the PNP and Solcom forcibly entered the house in Ilayang Ilam, Lucena City, Quezon province where Torres stayed. A policeman said Torres was under arrest for being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) using the aliases “Alex,” and “Sydney.” Torres insisted to see the warrant of arrest but she was not shown any.

Torres, who was then four-months pregnant, was confined at a hospital in Quezon province from June 11 to 18 due to profuse bleeding. During her stay at the hospital, several men inquired about Torres. A female who introduced herself as “Flor” and who claimed to be the provincial governor’s aide offered assistance. On June 18, Torres was discharged from the hospital and went home to Ilayang Iyam. While traveling home, she and her companion noticed men following them.

While at the TCJ-FD, Torres was brought to Taguig Hospital due to continuous heavy bleeding. She was hospitalized from July 3 to August 11. She was brought back to the hospital for a follow-up check-up twice after her confinement but she did not undergo ultrasound procedure.

“The Aquino administration should release Torres and all political prisoners, especially those who are sick and elderly. The charges against them should be withdrawn or dismissed. The filing of trumped up charges as a policy of the BS Aquino government is an attack against the fundamental right of individuals and peoples to liberty and the people’s exercise of political and civil rights, as it is a desperate tactic to quell the people’s rising discontent against his administration,” Palabay ended. ###


For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reference: Katrina Abarcar, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), email: info@katarungan-dc.org

Open letter:

http://www.humanrightsphilippines.net/campaigns/end-the-visiting-forces-agreement/

Cynthia McKinney, Noam Chomsky, US Vets & Others Join in Open Letter Calling for Termination of Visiting Forces Agreement

Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, political commentator and author Noam Chomsky, and US veterans are amongst the signatories of an open letter calling for the abrogation of the US-Republic of the Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the main military agreement that allows for the regular, rotational presence of US military in the Philippines since its enactment in 1999.

The open letter, addressed to Presidents Benigno Aquino III and Barack Obama, is being released on the heels of growing public outcry over the murder of 26-year old Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude by prime suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine. Pemberton is in the Philippines as part of a 4000-US military delegation which recently concluded joint exercises with the Philippine military mandated by the VFA. The letter’s was released one month after  Laude’s murder.

The US members of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)- a broad network of peace and human rights advocates for the Philippines founded in 2013- initiated the open letter, which quickly gathered support from the likes of McKinney and Chomsky, as well as former Black Panther Party leader Kathleen Cleaver and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

A number of prominent US Veteran organizations have also endorsed the letter, including Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace San Francisco Chapter.

“Since its enactment in 1999, the Visiting Forces Agreement has served as the foundation for crimes to be committed with impunity by the U.S. military.  The Visiting Forces Agreement has shielded the suspects in the U.S. military from facing Philippine authorities, obstructing the justice still being painfully sought by the family of Jennifer Laude and many other families of Filipino victims,” the letter reads.

International scrutiny over the killing and protests have already prompted US Navy officials to cancel port calls to Subic Bay.

“With this letter, the international community, including US veterans and those still in active US military service, is taking a stand for peace and justice for Jennifer Laude and for the Philippines,” states Katrina Abarcar of ICHRP. “Peace and justice cannot be realized under the framework of unequal power relations, which is exactly what the VFA promotes.”


PRESS RELEASE
November 6, 2014
Reference: 
Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap, +63920-227-1620

10th year anniversary of the strike
Justice for Luisita massacre, impossible under Aquino gov’t

In commemorating the 10th year anniversary of the start of the historic strike in Hacienda Luisita by farm and mill workers on November 6, 2004, the militant Anakpawis Partylist said in a statement that justice for the victims of the violent dispersal dubbed as “Hacienda Luisita massacre” that took place 10 days later is “impossible” under the administration of president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“Sa ilalim ni Aquino, kung saan may malaking impluwensya at kontrol ang pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino sa  mga ahensya at institusyon, makikitang imposibleng mabigyang hustisya ang mga biktima ng masaker sa kanyang termino,”  [Under Aquino, where his family enjoys immense influence and control over  gov’t agencies and institutions, it is apparent that justice would remain elusive under his term,] said Anakpawis Partylist Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap.

Anakpawis said that the Hacienda Luisita issue had its roots to the centuries-old feudal problem that consequently led to the impoverished state of the farm workers compelling them to wage the strike in 2004.  In 1989, former president Corazon Aquino who promised to distribute the 6,453-hectare sugar lands to the farm workers had instead covered it under the Republic Act 6657 or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), particularly section 32 or its provision of stock distribution option (sdo).  In more than a decade of being under the sdo scheme, farm worker beneficiaries (fwbs) suffered even worse socio-economic conditions that later pushed them to go on strike in 2004 to demand for land distribution.

“Nagsilbing instrumento ang CARP at sdo ng pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino upang sila ay kumita nang malaki habang nagtiis sa hirap at gutom ang mga manggagawang bukid tulad ng pag-uwi ng arawang sahod na P9.50,” [CARP and sdo served as instruments to benefit the Cojuangco-Aquino family while farm workers faced poverty and hunger as demonstrated by their daily take-home pay that amounted to P9.50,] said Hicap.

On November 10, 2004, then-labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gov’t issued an assumption of jurisdiction (aj) which practically served as “license” to violently disperse the picket line. Truckloads of government state forces were immediately deployed and on November 16, striking farm workers were fired upon resulting in the killing of 7, namely Jun David, Jhaivie Basilio, Jesus Laza, Jessie Valdez, Juancho Sanchez, Adriano Caballero Jr. and Jaime Pastidio, and the wounding of more than a hundred.

“Ang kutsabahang pamilyang Cojuangco-Aquino at Arroyo na gumamit ng aj ang nagbigay ng ‘go signal’ para pagbabarilin ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawang bukid, kaya malaki ang kanilang utang na dugo sa pamilya ng mga biktima at hanggang ngayon ay walang hustisyang naigagawad,” [The collusion between the Cojuangco-Aquino family and Arroyo which utilized the aj, gave the “go signal” for the gov’t forces to open fire at the striking farm workers, thus, they have a huge blood debt to the families of the victims and until now justice is yet to be served,] Hicap said.

The farm workers filed criminal charges against then-congressman Aquino and his relatives which were dismissed by the Ombudsman on July 2005.

“Habang busy ang mga alyado ni Aquino sa hacienda Binay, magsasampung taon na ang kawalang hustisya sa kanya mismong hasyenda, wala na tayong maaasahan sa ganitong gubyerno, kaya, ang hustisya ay posible lamang kapag tapos na ang kanyang pagkapangulo,” [While the Aquino’s allies are busy dealing with hacienda Binay, injustice within his own hacienda is nearing a decade-old, we have nothing to hope for this kind of gov’t, hence, justice is only possible when Aquino’s presidency is over,] Hicap said. ###

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Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

(Agricultural Workers Union)


To: Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, US President Barack Obama, Senator John Kerry (U.S. Secretary of State), Secretary Albert Ferreros del Rosario (Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs), Secretary Leila De Lima (Philippine Department of Justice), Representative Adam Smith (House of Armed Services Committee), Senator Robert Mendez (Chair, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Harold Rogers (Chair, U.S. Committee on Appropriations), Philip Goldberg (U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines)

We are deeply saddened by the murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender woman from the Philippines, and express our deepest condolences to Jennifer’s family and friends.  On October 11, Jennifer was found strangled to death in a hotel room in Olongapo City, Philippines.  An autopsy report has shown the cause of death as “asphyxia by drowning.”  The suspected murderer, U.S. Marine Corp PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, is currently being held in detention aboard the USS Peleliu warship in Subic Bay.  Her death, clearly the result of a violent hate crime towards transgender people, also underscores the ongoing inequality of joint US-RP agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which give US military personnel impunity, as such was the case with Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

Trans Lives Matter

Systemic violence and aggressive hate is a reality for LGBT people. Transgender people are treated as second-class citizens and their lives are systemically devalued and marginalized in economic, political, social, and cultural spheres of society. Transgender people such as Jennifer suffer from unspeakable violent acts and human rights abuses on everyday.

VFA is an Obstruction to Justice, Enforces Unequal Relations

At the same time, justice for Jennifer Laude hinges upon the treatment of the murder suspect in question, and under whose custody he will be placed and tried. The 2006 trial of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith underscored the special treatment of US military personnel who commit crimes on Philippine soil under the auspices of the VFA. Smith was charged and convicted of rape of a Filipina by the Makati City Regional Trial Court, was held at the US Embassy rather than a Philippine jail, and later acquitted and released by the Court of Appeals in 2009.

In Jennifer’s case, the VFA again poses as an obstruction to justice, with Pemberton still in the custody of the US military.

The tragic death comes just six months after President Obama visited Manila to sign a new agreement that expands the VFA and US military presence in the Philippines-- the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

This observation of one-sidedness is reinforced by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says treaties entered into by the U.S. are not enforceable in the U.S. unless there is an implementing law or if the treaty is self-executing. The VFA, which was not even ratified as a treaty by the U.S. Senate, has neither an implementing law nor is self-executing. It is inequality, and an affront to sovereignty, when the VFA becomes enforceable in the Philippines but not in the U.S.

The Smith and Pemberton cases are just two of the many problems that have arisen from the VFA, a military pact that governs the entry and presence of American troops in Philippine territory. The VFA provides for, among others, the deployment and stationing of U.S. troops and the holding of joint military operations in the Philippines. Unknown to many, U.S. troops have been stationed in the Philippines since 2002 up to the present. The extent of U.S. deployment in the Philippines increased during George Bush’s discredited “war on terror.”

Funding Human Rights Violations Instead of Saving Jobs and Homes in the U.S.

The holding of U.S. military exercises is tied with providing military aid to the Philippines, with an annual $30 million allotted by the U.S. Congress and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in other assistance. The accumulated U.S. military funding for the Philippines from 2001 to the present may have already reached $1 billion.

Such a practice, however, becomes unconscionable when U.S. funding is used by a regime that - to borrow words from President Barack Obama- “clings to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” A 2008 US Senate Hearing led to cuts in US military funding to the Philippine government per documentary evidence involvement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in extrajudicial-killings, enforced disappearances, forced evacuation of rural communities, illegal detentions, and torture.

The VFA, despite the military exercises and aid, provides absolutely no short-term nor long-term benefits to the people of either the U.S. or the Philippines. Filipino citizens have staged an escalating number of protests to voice their opposition to the Agreement and its violation of Philippine sovereignty. Several Philippine senators have also filed a resolution calling for its abrogation.

 

The Obama administration has vowed a departure from the Bush foreign policies. Terminating the VFA and removing U.S. troops from the Philippines would be a step in that direction.


We demand:

  • That the Aquino government assert jurisdiction over the murder of transwoman Jennifer Laude by US Marine PFC Pemberton
  • That the Obama government immediately waive custody of US Marine PFC Pemberton to the Philippine authorities
  • That the lives of Transgender People be protected and valued, including the passing of Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination legislation that protects Transgender People in the Philippines and the US.
  • The termination of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement for being an unequal pact saddled with legal problems

JUSTICE FOR JENNIFER LAUDE!

STOP ANTI-LGBT VIOLENCE! TRANS-LIVES MATTER!

TERMINATE THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT!

END UNEQUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND THE U.S.!

END ALL HATE CRIMES AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2014
Reference: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, secgen@bayanusa.org

“Turn US Marine Over to the Philippine Authorities. 
We Don’t Need More Daniel Smiths”—BAYAN-USA

BAYAN-USA demands justice for the strangling death of transgender Filipina woman Jennifer Laude, who was found dead Saturday night in an Olongapo City hotel room.  The suspect in Jennifer’s killing, a U.S. Marine, is being held by U.S. authorities on board a U.S. ship.  

“We are outraged that another innocent life has been taken away because of the ongoing infestation of U.S. troops who have no right to be in the Philippines in the first place,” said BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin.  “We are equally incensed that the U.S. whisked the suspect Marine away and is holding him aboard an American ship, rather than turning him over to Philippine authorities.  This shows how the U.S. has no respect for Philippine sovereignty or our country’s legal system.”

Approximately 1,400 U.S. troops are currently in Philippine territory for military exercises, in addition to the permanent presence of at least 660 special operations forces stationed on a “rotational basis” in Mindanao.  The basis for the deployment of American forces to the Philippines several times every year is the 1999 U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a one-sided agreement that allows U.S. air, naval, and ground forces to “visit” the Philippines to hold joint exercises with the Philippine military; grants the U.S. use of Philippine air and seaports throughout the country; and provides special privileges and legal protections to U.S. service members stationed in the Philippines.  The VFA is blamed for enabling U.S. serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, convicted in 2006 for the rape of Filipina “Nicole,” to evade his criminal verdict and serve time in the comfort of the U.S. Embassy.  BAYAN-USA anticipates that the situation will only worsen when the newly-forged Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is implemented.

Commenting on U.S. Embassy statements that it would “continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities,” Ellorin said: “ We don’t need any more empty promises.  We don’t need any more Daniel Smiths. We demand that the U.S. turn over the American suspect to Philippine authorities and send the other 2,000 troops currently in our territory packing. We demand the termination of the VFA and the EDCA.”

“This insult to Philippine sovereignty is no surprise, given the history of U.S. militarization in the Philippines.  It also exemplifies exactly why Filipinos are opposed to the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Instead of rushing to implement the EDCA, Aquino should stand up for Philippine sovereignty for once by ensuring that the Philippines asserts complete jurisdiction over Jennifer’s case,” ended Ellorin.

BAYAN-USA urges Filipinos and our allies worldwide to condemn the killing of Jennifer and demand justice for her and all victims of U.S. militarization. Please join us at an action and rally on Wednesday, October 15, 5 PM, in front of the Philippine Embassy at 556 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/349241425253980/?notif_t=plan_user_invited

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.


For Immediate Release
October 13, 2014

Reference: Irma Bajar, Vice Chair of International Relations, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

U.S. Marine Murders Filipino Trans Woman in the Philippines and Filipina-Americans Demand Justice!

Filipina-American women under GABRIELA USA are outraged by the news of the murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender woman from the Philippines. The suspected murderer, U.S. Marine Corp PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, was last seen checking into a hotel with Jennifer in Olongapo City, Philippines. Jennifer was later found strangled to death with her head plunged in a toilet bowl. Reminiscent of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and the historic 2005 rape case of Nicole, Pemberton, suspected of murdering Jennifer, is currently being held in detention aboard a U.S. Navy ship instead of being turned over to Philippine authorities for proper investigation. GABRIELA USA demands accountability and justice for Jennifer’s life, as a trans woman who has fallen victim to U.S. militarization!

“Jennifer’s death is not only a direct impact of U.S. military presence in the Philippines, but her brutal murder further exposes the daily vulnerability of trans women who regularly suffer systemic violence and hate crimes in a patriarchal-imperialist system,” says Pia Cortez, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA’s San Francisco chapter.  

Despite the long history of Filipinos opposing U.S. military occupation in the Philippines and the ever-increasing number of state-sponsored human rights abuses tied to U.S. military occupation, President Aquino continues to hand over Philippine sovereignty by allowing more U.S. troops to occupy Philippine soil through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the recent Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). At a time when the Obama administration is heightening its position over the Asia Pacific region, more U.S. troops can only mean more cases of violence against women and children.

“Trans women like Jennifer are at a higher risk for violence because we live in a system that delegitimizes their lives,” says Irma Bajar of GABRIELA USA. “Just this summer in the U.S., 8 trans women of color fell victim to hate crimes and murders. Although there is an increase in violence towards trans people worldwide, little is ever done to protect their lives and hold perpetrators accountable. The murder of Jennifer is clearly a hate crime committed by U.S. military personnel, and he must be held accountable by the Philippine justice system!”

GABRIELA USA extends its sympathies to Jennifer’s family, and honors the lives of all trans people who have fallen victim to a system that does not value trans lives and perpetuates a culture of violence. GABRIELA USA will be holding an action in New York and a vigil in San Francisco this Wednesday, October 15th to condemn the murder of Jennifer Laude, and demand for the swift turnover of the U.S. Marine to Philippine authorities.

Justice for Jennifer Laude!
Trans Lives Matter!
US Troops OUT of the Philippines!
JUNK THE VFA!
Scrap EDCA!

Join us to Demand Justice for Jennifer in New York and San Francisco:

New York
Contact: Irma Bajar, irmabajar@gmail.com206-321-2931
Wednesday, October 15th, 5 PM
Action and Rally in front of the Philippine Embassy
556 Fifth Avenue, New York
Organized by: BAYAN Queer Caucus, GABRIELA New York, and Barangay New York- LGBTQ Pin@ys

San Francisco
Contact: Pia Cortez, priscilla.crtz@gmail.com650-296-3518
Wednesday, October 15th, evening vigil
Time and SF location TBA and posted on www.gabusa.org
Organized by: GABRIELA San Francisco and BAYAN Bay Area Regional Caucus
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 13, 2014

Reference- Rhonda Ramiro, Vice Chair, BAYAN USA, email: vc@bayanusa.org

With the Butcher Behind Bars, Filipino Americans Demand Justice for Victims of Palparan

Filipino Americans under the banner of the national alliance BAYAN-USA hailed the news of the arrest of Retired General Jovito Palparan.  A fugitive for over two years, Palparan was notoriously known as "Berdugo" (the Butcher) by human rights groups and their supporters for the lead role he played in crafting one of the bloodiest counterinsurgency campaigns in Philippine history—Operation Plan Bantay Laya (OBL)-- with the political blessing and economic support of US imperialism and tens of millions of dollars annually in US military aid.

“We welcome the news of the arrest of the despicable human rights violator Jovito Palparan. Most of all, we salute the courage of the survivors, victims’ families and their supporters, who brought about this arrest through their sheer perseverance in gathering evidence and filing cases in the domestic and international courts and building a strong people’s movement for human rights and for justice,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Jessica Antonio.

Before his stint as a Philippine Congressman representing the Bantay Party-List, Palparan was a decorated military general under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. According to human rights group Karapatan, nine years of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya under Arroyo claimed 1,206 civilian lives through extrajudicial killings and another 206 in enforced disappearances. Among the survivors of the Palparan-Arroyo reign of terror is BAYAN-USA founding member Melissa Roxas, a community health worker from the US who traveled to the Philippines in 2009 and survived a violent abduction and torture by Philippine military elements before being surfaced six days later.  While a Congressman, Palparan along with ANAD Party-list representative Jun Alcover led the rabid communist-branding campaign of Roxas and other victims of the military’s human rights abuses in a failed attempt to discredit the brave survivors who came forward to tell their stories.

Justice for the victims, including Roxas, remains painfully absent as an overwhelming majority of these cases remain unresolved and the perpetrators still at large. Survivors and families of the victims still have to contend with a justice system that grants the Philippine military as well as private armies of corrupt politicians a free pass to terrorize civilians, particularly open critics of the government, in order to quell dissent and protect the interests of a ruling landlord bureaucracy.

“Up to now, the Aquino administration has shown no will to stop the culture of impunity that became widespread under Arroyo and Palparan and continues through today.  We challenge the Aquino government to finally live up to its promises and take swift action to bring Palparan and his minions to justice,” said Antonio.

“Even if Palparan is convicted, BAYAN-USA will continue to advocate for the prosecution of people in higher positions than Palparan, including former President Macapagal Arroyo,” continued Antonio.  “We will continue fighting for the end of bloody counterinsurgency programs like Aquino’s Operation Plan Bayanihan, which is just a sugar coated version of the Palparan-Arroyo Oplan Bantay Laya.”

“We will also protest against any attempts by Aquino to use Palparan’s arrest to divert attention from the president’s own crimes against the people, including his desperate effort to cling to his personal pork barrel pot the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). The DAP and human rights abuses spring from the same source: an unjust, corrupt-to-the core ruling system that benefits and protects the interests of the ruling landlord bureaucracy and U.S. imperialism.  It is time for this culture of impunity to be stopped in its tracks and pulled up from its roots,” ended Antonio.

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas 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 center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.