FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2009
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairwoman, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, firstname.lastname@example.org (925) 726-5768
FIL-AM WOMEN IN NYC DEMAND AN END TO MARTIAL LAW MINDANAO
Martial Law in Maguindanao will only Threaten Basic Human Rights for
Women and Children
New York, NY- December 10 is International Human Rights Day, a day to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which promotes universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Historically, this document was written to establish peace worldwide after World War II, when millions had died due to global warfare and fascist regimes had taken away people’s civil liberties and freedoms. On this day, which is meant to uphold basic human rights in the Philippines, Filipino American women in New York City implore the Philippine Congress to overturn President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s
Proclamation 1959 that has declared Martial Law in the province of Maguindanao.
On December 4, 2009, after 11 days of one of the most horrific massacres in Philippine history that took the lives of at least 64 people, 14 women including 2 women lawyers and 30 journalists, GMA has declared Martial Law in the province of Maguindanao. Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) demands that Congress revoke Proclamation 1959, the declaration of martial law and call for all Filipina women and the global community to be vigilant on the hostile political climate in the Philippines. As citizens living and working in the U.S., we also demand that US President Barack Obama stop spending U.S. tax dollars on military aid to the Philippines as US military presence is only being used against our Philippine counterparts.
Recently, arms stockpiled in the hundreds were discovered in Ampatuan compounds that can easily be linked to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and serial numbers that can be traced to US military armaments. The relationship between GMA’s martial law and choice to give the AFP control of Maguindanao and the Ampatuan clan’s violence is crystal clear. It is a joke and an underhanded political move to give the very collaborative suspects of the Maguindanao Massacre, the AFP and the Ampatuan clan. To expect the AFP to deliver justice for the Ampatuan victims, when the AFP themselves are the prime suspects is a ridiculous claim.
This political move only shows GMA’s greed and hunger to maintain power and protect her allies. Martial law in Maguindanao capitalizes on the horror of the massacre surrendering power to military forces and has deep implications for martial law in the whole country. Martial law only means more killings, arrests, abductions, human rights violations, and the militarization of communities for civilians.
With the increase of militarization, women and children are easily made victims and they are susceptible to rape and other wartime sex crimes. When women are arrested, they face the danger of being sexually molested or raped by the military. During times of militarization, women and children experience a sense of fear created by military control; loss of home, crops, animals for entire communities; displacement of indigenous people meaning loss of cultural identities and the destruction of their close relationship with the land; loss of education, when children cannot go to school; emotional and psychological effects of militarization; and increased poverty.
As a member organization of GABRIELA-USA, a grassroots Filipino women’s alliance in the United States, we believe that the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao is a foreshadow of impending escalation of violence and human rights violations to be expected this election season, and should be a reminder for all, including the international community, to be vigilant and participate in ensuring clean and honest elections in the Philippines!
Filipinas in New York City urge all freedom-loving and pro-people citizens of the United States to join the Never Again to Martial Law Alliance to stand for basic human rights and dignity in the Philippines!
NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
REVOKE PROCLAMATION 1959!
JUSTICE FOR MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE VICTIMS!
OBAMA, NO MORE U.S. TAX DOLLARS FOR PHILIPPINE MILITARY AID!