FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 25, 2009
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair,GABRIELA USA, (415) 244-9734, firstname.lastname@example.org
GABRIELA-USA DEMANDS REAL CHANGE NOT “CHARTER CHANGE” IN US-PHILIPPINE RELATIONS & JUSTICE FOR FILIPINA TORTURE VICTIM MELISSA ROXAS
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) will deliver what should finally be her last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27th. Like all of GMA’s 8 previous SONA speeches, it guaranteed that this one will also be full of wholesale lies regarding the economic, social, and military situations in the Philippines.
Days after GMA delivers her SONA speech, she will fly off to Washington DC to meet with President Barack Obama on July 30, 2009. Since President Obama’s election, GMA has been desperate to capitalize on Obama’s popularity to raise her all-time low approval ratings, and push for Charter Change (Cha-Cha) of the Philippine constitution allowing her to stay in power indefinitely.
Simultaneous to SONA and the Obama/GMA meeting, GABRIELA-USA and other Filipino organizations will conduct People’s State of the Nation activities throughout the U.S., demanding justice for the Filipino American torture victim, Melissa Roxas, and speak out against the Cha-Cha.
Charter Change, which is pushed by U.S. corporate interests, seeks the protections of the 1986 Constitution; allowing foreign ownership of land and public utilities, foreign plunder of natural resources, and the stationing of more foreign military troops . It will also allow GMA to stay in power beyond her current term limit as president, which ends May 2010.
President Obama was elected based on the message of “hope” and “change,” however, his administration has not so far moved away from the neo-colonial and Bush- era relations with the Philippines. He recently applauded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allows U.S. military troops to occupy all parts of the Philippine archipelago. The VFA also provides impunity to American military personnel for rape and other crimes committed while on Philippine soil, such as U.S. Lieutenant Corporal Daniel Smith, who has since returned to the U.S as a free man, without serving a day in the Philippine prison system, though he was convicted of raping “Nicole” in 2005.
The Philippines is one of the top three recipients of US military aid, despite international condemnation against the rampant human rights violations resulting in the death and disappearances of hundreds of activists, community workers, and other civillians.
The most recent case that came to international attention is that of Melissa Roxas, the 31-year old Filipino American who was volunteering as a community health worker in the Philippines, who was abducted and brutally tortured between May 19-25, 2009. It is believed that members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were responsible for this atrocity, and Melissa is currently back in the Philippines to testifying at a hearing for the Petition for Writ of Amparo and Habeus Data against the Philippine military.
GABRIELA – USA, comprised of Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGaW), Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York City, calls on President Obama to ensure that U.S. tax dollars are NOT used to further human rights violations in the Philippines and to demand the impartial investigation and prosecution of those responsible for Melissa’s abduction and torture.
Instead of giving millions of dollars to a corrupt and murderous regime, our tax dollars are better spent on improving health care access, education, and employment opportunities to millions of women, children, and youth who are suffering the brunt of the economic crisis.
JUSTICE FOR MELISSA ROXAS and ALL VICTIMS OF STATE-SPONSORED REPRESSION!
NO U.S. TAX DOLLARS FOR TORTURE & KILLINGS IN THE PHILIPPINES!
FUNDING FOR HEALTH CARE & JOBS & EDUCATION!