Dear President Obama

Please watch:

I Am Melissa Roxas: http://www.vimeo.com/5446595

Obama, What About the Philippines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbOQSv-DcMM

Dear Obama, GMA is on the Wrong Side of History: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFANG4L8d1Y

Please act:

Yup, it’s our turn. Please send a quick email to the White House! Here’s a template letter! Click, copy and send! HERE: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Template Letter to President Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

Before you meet with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the White House on July 30, I urge you to look into the case of Melissa Roxas, a U.S. citizen and survivor of torture in the Philippines. I urge you to include human rights in the Philippines and Melissa Roxas as an integral portion of your meeting with President Arroyo.

I am deeply concerned for the well-being of U.S. citizen, Melissa Roxas, a survivor of torture. On May 19, 2009, she was abducted while doing community health work in the Philippines. She has spoken out publicly in Los Angeles and is testifying in the Philippines right now about her traumatic experience of being abducted and tortured for almost one week. I know you share this concern. On the U.N. International Day in Support of Torture Victims, you declared, “Torture is contrary to the founding documents of our country and the fundamental values of our people. The U.S. must stand against torture wherever it takes place.”

With your support, we can move another step closer to demanding justice for Melissa Roxas by way of a criminal investigation, arrest and prosecution of the parties responsible for her abduction and torture.

Unfortunately, Melissa is one of thousands of victims of human right violations in the Philippines. She is among the very few survivors of abduction, and I admire her courage to speak out so that we will know the truth and take a stand for justice.

With your support, we can move another step closer to ensuring that no more U.S. tax-payers’ dollars are being used to enable state-sponsored human rights violations in the Philippines.

During your Inaugural Speech, you said, “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history.”

Please take a stand for justice and do not hesitate to defend and demand justice for our sister, Melissa, when you meet with President Arroyo.

Sincerely,

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Signature and Date

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Print Name

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Address (Street)

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10 Years Too Long, 200 People Too Many: Filipinos Across the U.S. Call for the Termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and Justice for the Disappeared

JUNK VFA! Justice for Roxas and Carabeo! Surface Handoc! BAYAN USA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2009
Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org, http://www.bayanusa.org

10 Years Too Long, 200 People Too Many: Filipinos Across the U.S. Call for the Termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and Justice for the Disappeared

In the wake of the abduction of Filipino American human rights advocate and health worker Melissa Roxas and her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc one week ago in the Philippines, BAYAN-USA launches actions against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) today, the 10th anniversary of the VFA’s ratification. BAYAN-USA demands the termination of the VFA and justice for victims of abduction and all human rights violations, which have climbed to record levels in the Philippines since the VFA was ratified on May 27, 1999.

“Human rights violations have escalated to unprecedented heights since 2001, when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president and the U.S. launched its ‘war on terror.’ It is no coincidence that the Visiting Forces Agreement was ratified just two years earlier in 1999,” stated BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. “The VFA paved the way for U.S. military advisers, troops and equipment to flood the Philippines and to train and equip the Philippine military which has been implicated in 1,017 extra-judicial killings and 1,010 cases of torture. Melissa’s abduction adds an American citizen to the list of over 200 victims of enforced disappearance under Arroyo.”

Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a volunteer health worker team preparing for a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac, Philippines, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint on May 19 by at least eight heavily-armed masked men riding motorcycles and in a van without license plates. The circumstances of their abduction typify the pattern of dozens of politically-motivated abductions of activists critical of the Arroyo administration, and evidence points to the military as responsible for these acts. Roxas and Carabeo were officially surfaced on May 24 and 25, respectively; unconfirmed reports of Handoc’s surfacing were received as of the writing of this statement. Because the vast majority of abductions and enforced disappearances remain unresolved, BAYAN-USA believes their surfacing was a direct result of rapid community response and an international campaign by BAYAN Philippines, BAYAN-USA, and the human rights organization Karapatan.

“While we are elated that Melissa and Juanito have surfaced and that John Edward might also have been found, we are outraged that they were even abducted in the first place,” said Ramiro. “We call for justice for all three, including a full investigation and prosecution of the abductors.”

“The abduction of Melissa, Juanito and John Edward is directly linked to the VFA and U.S. military aid to the Philippines,” continued Ramiro. “The U.S. government cannot claim ignorance or wash its hands of responsibility, when it is U.S. advisors who are training the Philippine military, U.S. aid that is funding the military training, and U.S. guns and bullets that are being used to threaten and kill innocent civilians.”

BAYAN-USA claims that despite its rhetoric of “change,” the administration of President Barack Obama has clung to Bush’s foreign policy when it comes to the Philippines. Earlier this year, President Obama phoned Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to express support for the VFA and continuing the annual joint military exercises known as “Balikatan” (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”). The estimated total expense borne by U.S. taxpayers for U.S. militarization in the Philippines since the VFA was enacted in 1999 is a lofty $1 billion. An additional $660 million—up from a reported $400 million just one month ago—is reportedly set to be granted to the Philippines in the coming year.

The VFA also provides justification for the basing of U.S. troops throughout the country, in what is widely perceived as an affront to national sovereignty. Moreover, witnesses have observed U.S. troops participating in combat operations, which is in violation of the VFA itself. In the months of February-May this year alone, the “Balikatan” exercises also led directly to the killing of a young girl and wounding of four more children, the rape of 22 year old Filipina “Vanessa,” and the forced displacement of tens of thousands of residents in Bicol where the exercises were held. No one was held responsible for the killing of the child, and although there was clear evidence that “Vanessa” was raped by a U.S. marine, she refrained from pressing charges because she did not believe she could obtain justice. “Vanessa’s” rape was committed just weeks after the acquittal of U.S. Marine Daniel Smith, who was the only American ever convicted of raping a Filipina despite reports of thousands of rapes committed by U.S. military personnel.

“The VFA fosters a culture of militarization and violence, and both the U.S. and Philippine military are guilty of committing human rights violations with impunity,” stated Ramiro. “Melissa’s abduction should give Congress and the Obama administration even more impetus to terminate the VFA and stop pouring billions of dollars into a regime that abducts and kills innocent people. In the face of a budget deficit in the trillions, it is unconscionable to continue providing aid to the Arroyo government and to perpetuate the costly VFA. Congress should cut both during the budget appropriations process this spring and summer.”

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As an international 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. BAYAN-USA’s online petition against the VFA can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/. The online petition to demand justice for Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/online/28021.html.

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Actions being held in the U.S.

Los Angeles
Vigil in front of the PhilippineConsulate
Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 7:30pm
3600 Wilshire Blvd (between S Harvard Blvd and S Kingsley Dr)
Los Angeles, CA 90010

New York
Rally at the Philippine Consulate and March to Military Recruitment Center
Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 5:30 PM
556 Fifth Ave., New York

San Francisco
Action and Meeting with the Philippine Consulate
Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 4:00 PM
447 Sutter Street, San Francisco

Teach-In on the VFA
Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 6:00-8:00 PM
At South of Market Community Action Center
1070 Howard Street, San Francisco

Seattle
Visiting Forces Agreement Teach-In
Thursday, March 28, 6:30-8:30 PM
Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

San Diego
“As If They Never Left” Teach-In on the VFA
Thursday, May 28, 7:00-9:00 PM
At Filipino American Veterans Association Hall
2926 Market Street, San Diego

FiRE bids Bush bye-bye, welcomes Obama!

Move BUSH! And take GMA with you!

On the day before inauguration, your friendly FiRE sisters went all the way to the nation’s capital to bid Bush a proper and long overdue, GOODBYE!

Above, our very own Jennine and Krystle choreographed a farewell dance that echoed, “Move Bush, Get Out the Way! The People Had Their Say! Obama’s Here Today! Take GMA, take GMA!”

At the 4-hour mobilization outside of the Philippine Embassy right around the corner from the White House, we celebrated Dubya’s last day and demanded for him to take his rotten puppet, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, with him. Because of their long standing relationship, Bush and GMA have engineered Philippine politics as a sorry reflection. As long as GMA is in power in the Philippines, the Bush administration’s anti-people policies of war, shrinking social services and violence will continue.

But, the American people have had their say and Filipino Americans and Filipinos in the homeland echo it. FiRE joins thousands in welcoming President Obama! And hopes in his new administration, he will take a closer look at the US-Philippines relations, the military aid that has been poured into the Philippines and the human rights violations that increase along with it!

Welcome Prez Obama!

Hoy! What do you think of Obama’s Administration?

Hoy! What do you think of Obama’s Administration?

Just Click Here: Filipino-American Survey on the Obama Administration

Forward this to your other Filipino Friends and Family! Plaster this on facebook and myspace folks!

ObamaThe election of the first African-American President signals “change” for many US citizens and immigrants in the US.

The sign of the newfound hope for change is not only evident with American society but the rest of the world anticipates change as soon as the new president takes over the White House. There are more than a hundred issues that everyone is concerned about: economic bailout, war in the Middle East, global warming, reproductive rights, same-sex marriage rights, etc. But what about the concerns of Filipino-Americans? What is the Fil-Am agenda?

Among Filipino-Americans (US citizen or not), there is a need to find out what is our common ground and what is the most pressing Fil-Am agenda to be addressed by the new administration. It is also just as important to find out Filipino-Americans think of the new administration in relation to the Philippines.

The following survey is an effort to come up with answers to these questions. This survey was created by BAYAN USA.