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One Year Later, Filipinos Still in Crisis Under Aquino– BAYAN-USA

Press Statement
July 25, 2011

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

One Year Later, Filipinos Still in Crisis Under Aquino– BAYAN-USA

Filipino-Americans, under the banner of BAYAN-USA, are taking part in actions across the US and in Manila during the scheduled State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the Philippines to register strong condemnation and disappointment over the failure of the administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “P-Noy” Aquino III to facilitate significant changes to improve the lives of the burdened Filipino people after one year in office.

Citing continuing subservience to foreign dictates and a worsened economic situation as measures of the Aquino’s failure to deliver upon promises made during the election and during last year’s SONA, BAYAN-USA and its allies in the US remain adamantly unconvinced that the administration is genuinely for change.

Shameless US Puppetry

At the heart of Aquino’s failure is unrelenting loyalty and puppetry to US foreign policy.

Within his first year, Aquino has willingly allowed the US to use the Philippines as its puppet state to take advantage of the regional territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands and provoke profit-making military aggression in Asia, and particularly against China.

As war and arms production has become the most profitable industry for the US ruling elite, the US government has in turn been able to rely strongly on the compliant Aquino administration to continue with a sugar-coated version of Arroyo’s deadly Operation Plan Bantay Laya by implementing Operation Plan Bayanihan, per the US State Department’s Counter-Insurgency Guide (US COIN). The objective of this counterinsurgency program is the same as it was for Arroyo’s administration and as utilized by repressive regimes worldwide: to suppress dissent and eliminate opposition using a combination of deceptive and increasingly violent tactics. The end result is the protection of imperialist economic and political interests at the expense of human lives.

The Poor Get Poorer Under Aquino

Under the thumb of US foreign dictates, Aquino has further pushed a neoliberal economic framework that has made life more miserable for the majority of the Filipino people. Landlord families, such as Aquino’s, remain in control of the country’s natural resources and push for privatization. Liberalization continues to hike up the prices of basic commodities such as food, gas, and water out of the reach of Filipino families. Contractualization hurts workers by decreasing wages, sowing job insecurity, and busting unions. Under Aquino, there are over 11 million unemployed Filipinos in the country with virtually zero job growth.

Privatization schemes such as the so-called Public-Private Partnership (PPP) not only serve to bulk up the pockets of wealthy and powerful multi-national corporate investors at the expense of ordinary Filipino citizens and workers. They also widen the gap between the few Filipino families that control the majority of the country’s wealth and political power and the burdened majority who must pay from their own pockets for the risks of private investors. It is the impoverished majority who suffer the most from the Philippine state’s abandonment of its public responsibilities.

Filipinos are left with no choice but to seek opportunities abroad, like in the United States. But in these desperate economic times, many Filipino workers fall prey to human trafficking schemes to the US.

Philippine Government: #1 Human Trafficker

The cases of the Sentosa 27 healthworkers, the Florida 15 hotel workers, and hundreds more similar cases of Filipinos duped into coming to the US under the auspices that they would have contract work waiting for them only to have their money taken, passports confiscated, and be left by their recruiters to fend for themselves as undocumented migrants are another clear measure of the Philippine government’s failure to address the country’s economic woes.

In addition, the Aquino government continues Arroyo’s non-accountability to overseas Filipino workers in distress by not providing adequate social services and protection from abuse, maltreatment, and exploitation abroad.

Last Names Do Not a Great Leader Make

Though he was able to capitalize on his last name and the dirty record of his predecessor to win the election, it is clear that none of these things actually translated into making Aquino a great leader or any improvement to the state of the Philippine nation.

Like Obama, Aquino has proven that he is not much different than his predecessor, particularly with his human rights record. In one year of the Aquino presidency, 45 activists have been slain in politically-motivated killings, 5 have been victims of forced disappearance and over 300 political prisoners remain behind bars. The perpetrators of the 1,206 extra-judicial killings, more than 300 forced disappearances, and over 1,000 cases of torture committed under the previous administration of President Gloria Arroyo remain at-large, including those guilty of abducting and torturing renowned Filipina American poet, artist, and BAYAN USA member Melissa Roxas.

As Aquino delivers his formal State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the Philippine Congress today, Filipino-Americans will be amongst those who refused to be deceived and who understand that real change can only come from ordinary people in collective struggle, not from individual politicians with famous last names. ###

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 14 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 campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

Filipinas in New York City March to Defend Workers Rights on May Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2011

Filipinas in New York City March to Defend Workers Rights on May Day

Reference: Irma Bajar, Chairperson, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment; fire.nyc@gmail.com

New York City – On May 1, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment joined 20,000 people at Union Square with the May 1st Coalition to march for job security, workers rights, and legalization for all. The march ended at Foley Square, where the Coalition was greeted by various unions holding a unified May 1st rally.

Today, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) still suffer from damaging work conditions, exploitation, and government neglect. As a result of unequal U.S. foreign policies, trade agreements, and the cooperation of puppet governments, the working poor in third world countries, and specifically the Philippines are forced to leave and find work elsewhere. The Labor Export Program (LEP) in the Philippines is a government system that currently forces close to 4,000 Filipinos to leave the country everyday, 70% of whom are women. Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment urge all women and their families to join the struggle against forced migration and fight for genuine comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. “We demand an end to the raids and deportation that are separating and hurting our families. We march and stand together with women, immigrants, and workers across all communities to defend the rights of workers, especially the majority of whom fall victim to exploitative situations and are deprived of their basic rights,” said Irma Bajar, Chairperson of FiRE.

The slew of neoliberal policies have resulted in the worst global economic crisis faced since the Great Depression. Workers feel the brunt of this crisis, both citizen and immigrant, and remain vulnerable to exploitation. “It’s definitely a pressing issue in the Filipino community as the majority of our people in the United States are marginalized workers. Migrant workers are caught between the Philippine government’s Labor Export Program and racist legislation like SB1070 and House Bill 87 in the US,” explained Cris Hilo, Secretary General of FiRE.

FiRE sisters march for legalization for all.

The march ending with various unions like SEIU 1199 and TWU 100, and made clear the need for workers and immigrants in the United States to collaborate and unite in these dark times. “Job security is a real issue that the media refuses to cover. Union busting, like in Wisconsin, or even locally like the Woodlawn Cemetery Workers strike, leaves all workers, both citizens and immigrants, open to attack,” said Hanalei Ramos, Vice-Chair of FiRE.

As the on-going economic crisis continues to bring hardship to working families, especially immigrant communities and women, it is vital to organize and fight for their rights as scapegoating and deportations threaten their livelihood,” said Candice Sering, FiRE member.

11/30 Rally at Rockefeller Center – 530pm

Tongil means unification.  Source:  http://nodutdol.org/downloadables/TONGIL_t-shirtFbw.jpg

Dear Friends,
In response to a U.S. War Crisis on Korean peninsula we are urging your participation in a Rally this Tuesday, Nov 30 at 5pm at Rockefeller Center and 2 on-line actions.

One on-line action is organized by National Campaign to End the Korean War (www.endthekoreanwar.org) and circulated by NoDutdol.
It is an ONLINE DEMONSTRATION for Peace in Korea – Sun 11/28 from 12 noon to 3 pm EST and Wednesday, December 1 from 7 pm to 10 pm EST  (see below for fact sheet and coordinated action)

We are also urging you to SIGN THE ONLINE IAC PETITION to the Obama Administration and s. Korean Govt, UN and major media at:
http://www.iacenter.org/korea/stopattackondprk

This Petition that has already sent more than 75,000 messages, since Nov 24 opposing U.S. war threats to White House, UN, government of South Korea and the major media. (see below for full wording of petition)

RALLY ON TUESDAY
Tuesday, Nov. 30th. 5:30 pm. Action at the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. Come to 50th St. & 5th Avenue.
(If unable due to holiday crowds to get to that corner, come to 53rd & 5th Avenue 646-353-2708 for more information)

On Nov 30 U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier, destroyers, missile launchers, submarines and jet aircraft have moved to the other side of the planet to threaten a new war against the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

On November 30th millions of unemployed workers will be totally cut off unemployment benefit extensions.  Congress is too busy continuing billionaire tax breaks, Federal Reserve bank bailouts, and the trillion dollar war budget. GE, a major war profiteer and owner of the GE Building, along with NBC and MSNBC all located at Rockefeller Center. Join us at the Rockefeller Tree Lighting as we demand Unemployment Benefits & Jobs, Not a Trillion $ budget for War profiteers.

The Tuesday Tree Lighting action is cosponsored by the International Action Center and Flashmobsfor jobs, an organization of the unemployed.
Monday starting at 2 pm and going through the evening there will be a work session at 55 W. 17th, Manhattan, 5th floor. Any train to 14th St.
We are making creative displays and flyers for the Tuesday action. Your help is needed.

– – – – – – – – – – – –
TWO ON-LINE CAMPAIGNS:
STOP the U.S./S. Korean War Provocations KNOW THE UNDISPUTED FACTS! SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION to the Obama Administration and s. Korean Govt. at   http://www.iacenter.org/korea/stopattackondprk NOW!

Tell the Obama Administration and the south Korean Government you want the U.S./south Korean war maneuvers and provocations against the DPRK stopped immediately, the removal of south Korean and U.S. war ships including the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington, an end to the U.S. sponsored sanctions against the DPRK, the signing of a peace treaty NOW to end the state of war that has existed since the Korean war, and the immediate withdrawal of the 30,000 U.S. troops that still occupy south Korea, so that the Korean people can freely decide their own destiny.

THESE ARE THE UNDISPUTED FACTS:
On Nov. 23, the government of South Korea mobilized 70,000 troops for a week of military maneuvers just off the border of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. The DPRK said that these military maneuvers simulated an invasion of the north.

The military deployment was provocatively held many miles NORTH of the DMZ – Demilitarized Zone and long considered considered to be disputed territory.

On Nov 23, at 1:00 p.m., South Korean forces fired many shells into waters right off the DPRK. This is an area that North Korea has a longstanding claim to be within its territory. This claim had been accepted by prior south Korean governments.

An hour and a half later, the DPRK retaliated to what it saw as an attack on its territory by firing shells at the island of Yeonpyeong. Yeonpyeong Island is a S. Korean military garrison 7 miles from DPRK and more than 70 miles from the S Korean mainland.

And now the U.S. has announced plans to send the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington and its battle group including war ships, destroyers and hundreds of fighter jets back into this area of the Yellow Sea, close to both DPRK and China, to participate in new war maneuver provocations.

It is urgent that all who stand for peace and justice make plans now for immediate protest actions in the days ahead.

The U.S. military has been involved in all the war maneuvers by South Korea, going back to the 1950-53 war, and has occupied South Korea since the end of World War II.

Why doesn’t the media ask why the U.S. was orchestrating a massive military deployment of troops, ships and aircraft right on the border of the DPRK?

The provocation here clearly comes from the U.S. government and the right-wing south Korean regime, not the DPRK. The regime of Lee Myung-bak has undone earlier moves that improved relations between the two halves of the Korean nation and has brought increased confrontation.

It can never be forgotten that U.S. imperialism waged a horrendous war against the Korean Revolution from 1950 to 1953, one that resulted in millions of deaths and total devastation of the Korean Peninsula.

For there to be peace on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. should end its support of expansionist, right-wing forces in the south, sign a peace treaty with the north (a state of war still exists after 57 years!) and withdraw its troops so the Korean people can decide their own destiny.

Join us in the days ahead in taking to the streets to protest these U.S. war threats and sanctions that have created a powder keg in Asia. End the military occupation of South Korea! Sign a peace treaty and bring the troops home!

SIGN ONLINE AT
http://www.iacenter.org/korea/stopattackondprk NOW!

Weight Loss Plan for Aquino: Drop Arroyo’s Baggage and Adopt the 4K Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 25, 2010

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

Weight Loss Plan for Aquino: Drop Arroyo’s Baggage and Adopt the 4K Program

Filipinos in the U.S. Urge Philippine President Aquino to Present Plan to Address the People’s Needs at This Year’s State of the Nation Address

BAYAN-USA will conduct actions in four cities across the United States on Monday, July 26, to mark the first annual State of the Nation Address delivered by Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.  President Aquino’s term began ominously this month with the killing of five activists in less than two weeks, a troubling sign in the wake of the violence-ridden presidency of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“We want action, not excuses, from President Aquino,” said Bernadette Ellorin, Chair of BAYAN-USA. “If President Aquino feels weighed down by the mess left by Arroyo, he can shed the former president’s legacy by abandoning Arroyo’s failed policies and implementing programs that provide decent jobs, redistribute land, safeguard national sovereignty, and end state-sponsored terror by the armed forces and paramilitary.”

The demonstrations in the U.S. will coincide with actions conducted by BAYAN in the Philippines as well as in Hong Kong, Canada, and Australia where millions of overseas Filipino workers reside.  Demonstrators will express their concern about the continuing human rights violations targeting activists, as well as present the “People’s Agenda for National Survival.”  The Agenda includes specific recommendations to increase the “4K’s”:

  • Katarungan [Justice] – investigate and prosecute Gloria Arroyo and all perpetrators of human rights violations; free the Morong 43 and all political prisoners; justice for victims of human rights violations
  • Kalayaan [Sovereignty] – terminate the U.S.-R.P. Visiting Forces Agreement; eject all foreign military personnel from the Philippines; repeal the Mining Act of 1995
  • Karapatan [Rights] –  end state-sponsored violence; stop the killings of activists; terminate Operation Plan Bantay Laya and all counter-insurgency programs; advocate for the rights of Filipino migrants abroad including comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S.
  • Kabuhayan [Livelihood] – institute a living wage increase; end the Value Added Tax on basic commodities; implement a genuine agrarian reform program; scrap the unfair stock distribution option

“The Filipino people suffered far too long under the deepening crisis of poverty and rampant state-sponsored violence perpetrated by the US-backed Arroyo regime.  We need immediate relief, and President Aquino has the power to deliver it, if he so chooses,” stated Ellorin. “Aquino needs to stop the killings, prosecute GMA, and end the culture of impunity by conducting thorough investigations of past human rights abuses and prosecuting the abusers now.”

Actions in the U.S. will take place this week in the following locations:

Jersey City

Demonstration

Monday, July 26, 5:30 PM

Meet on corner of Summit Ave and Newark Ave near the Journal Square Path Station

Los Angeles

Demonstration at the Philippine Consulate

Monday, July 26, 5:30 PM

In front of the Philippine Consulate

3600 Wilshire Blvd (between S Harvard Blvd and S Kingsley Dr), Los Angeles

San Francisco

Demonstration and March to the Philippine Consulate

Monday, July 26, 5:00PM

Gather at Powell and Market Street, San Francisco

March to Philippine Consulate (447 Sutter Street) begins at 5:30 PM

Seattle

Informational Action

Sunday, August 1, 12:00 noon

At the Pista Sa Nayon festival, Seward Park

###

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, is an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the US representing youth, students, women, workers, and human rights advocates. As the largest overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines founded in 2005, BAYAN USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement in the Philippines as well as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the United States. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.