FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2008
Reference: Kuusela Hilo, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN USA, mobile: 818-395-9207
National Alliance of Progressive Filipino Organizations in the U.S. Protest Republican National Convention
BAYAN USA Demands a Stop to U.S. Intervention in the Philippines and an End to Persecution of Filipino Immigrants in the U.S.
ST. PAUL, MN— Representatives from the US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 12 Filipino organizations in the United States, joined the protests at the Republican National Convention (RNC) today, calling for an end to U.S. intervention throughout the world and particularly in the Philippines, the country which received the largest share of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) under the administration of George W. Bush. The demand came amidst reports of an ambush of U.S. Special Operations Forces who had been accompanying Philippine troops engaged in combat missions on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines in recent days, during an intense armed conflict between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which has already displaced hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in civilian casualties over the past two weeks.
“The presence of U.S. troops and military advisors in Mindanao violates the Philippines’ sovereignty and derails any chances for peace in the region,” said Kuusela Hilo, Deputy Secretary General of BAYAN USA, while present at today’s RNC demonstrations. “The Bush administration’s policy of pouring hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars into the Philippine military only serves to aggravate the conflict, especially because the Philippine military is known to have committed murders, torture, abductions and other horrifying human rights violations against innocent people. Any future U.S. commander in chief must end U.S. intervention in the Philippines in order to have any chance for peace in the country.”
The U.S. has used the Philippines for over a century as a strategic foothold for its military operations and to advance its economic agenda, but at the cost of Filipino lives. U.S. military aid to the Philippines leaped from $15 Million in the three years prior to Sept. 11, 2001 to $246 Million in following three years, as the Philippines became the second front of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror.” Since then, human rights violations against activists and opposition forces have soared, prompting condemnation of U.S. financing of the Philippine military from the United Nations, international human rights groups, and organizations throughout the Philippines.
“At the heart of the matter is oil and land,” stated BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “Mindanao land contains some of the largest oil and natural gas deposits in the Asia-Pacific region. Multi-national corporate interests to acquire and control these reserves has been real reason for armed conflict in the Mindanao area, and the U.S. has used the so-called war on terror to justify its military incursions in the country.”
BAYAN USA further criticized the U.S. military aid to the Philippines at a time when the U.S. is experiencing acute economic crisis, and immigrants and communities of color have been bearing the brunt of this misappropriation of funding.
“Funding for education and social services has plummeted under the Bush administration, while upwards of $700 Million is spent each day on the war in Iraq and tens of millions are spent each year funding the Philippine military,” said Hilo. “It is a crime for the U.S. government to drain money away from health care for low-income Americans and charge Filipinos and other immigrants higher and higher fees for immigration services, while pumping money into the Philippine military which kills innocent people.”
Since its founding in 2005, BAYAN USA has been active in demanding an end to U.S. intervention in the Philippines, and was part of a broader campaign to restrict U.S. military aid to the Arroyo government last year. The alliance vowed to take the issue of U.S. intervention in the Philippines to the new U.S. presidency after the elections. ###