NY/NJ Filipinos Launch Philippine Solidarity Week, Protests Plans of U.S. Military Build-Up in the Philippines

February 1, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference: Yves Nibungco, Regional Coordinator, BAYAN-USA
Contact: bayanusa.ne

NY/NJ Filipinos Launch Philippine Solidarity Week,

Protests Plans of U.S. Military Build-Up in the Philippines

New York, NY- BAYAN-USA launches Philippine Solidarity Week, a week-long series of events that raises awareness and solidarity for the continuing struggle for Filipinos to gain national liberation. As a result of the experiences during the Philippine-American War, the US government and military developed war tactics, torture, killing, occupation, and counter-insurgency operations they have used in many other countries such as in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This year, Philippine Solidarity Week begins on February 4th, the 113th anniversary of the 1899 Philippine-American War with a rally in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York to protest the proposed U.S. military build-up in the Philippines.

Protest against militarization in the Philippines

Government officials from the U.S. and the Philippines recently confirmed reports by Washington Post regarding ongoing talks of increasing U.S. military operations and stationing in the Philippines. According to an unnamed Philippine military general, the talks allegedly aim to increase drills to test military readiness to protect offshore oil and natural gas platforms in the South China Sea.

This, according to Filipino activists, is a renewed assault on Philippine sovereignty and is more of a threat to Philippine national security. “This is clearly part of the U.S. government’s attempt to maintain its domination over the region’s economic sphere and contain its biggest economic rival, China”, stated BAYAN-USA Chairperson, Bernadette Ellorin. Following the demonstration outside of the Philippine Consulate, BAYAN-USA will be marching to Times Square to join the larger No War on Iran rally, a nationally coordinated event via the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC).

Building Solidarity for the Philippines

Philippine Solidarity Week is organized by BAYAN-USA to raise awareness regarding the struggle of Filipino people back home and to build support for it here in the U.S. It is a whole week of events starting from February 4 onwards, to signify the beginning of the Philippine American war of 1899.

Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012

Stand Against U.S. Imperialist Aggression on Iran & Military Build-up in the Philippines

Description: This Feb. 4, exactly 113 years since the Philippine-American war of 1899, BAYAN-USA calls on the community to come and join us in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York to protest President Benigno Aquino III’s continued puppetry to American governments’ hegemonic schemes. We will be holding a picket in to register our opposition against Aquino’s puppetry, against the planned military build up in the Philippines and the throughout the Asia-Pacific region. We will then be marching to merge with the bigger anti-war on Iran at Times Square.

Venue Information: Feb. 4, 12:00pm-12:30pm, Philippine Consulate General, 556 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10036

No War On Iran: National Day of Action

Description: BUILD FEB. 4 EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION TO STOP U.S. WAR AGAINST IRAN

NO WAR! NO SANCTIONS! NO INTERVENTION! NO ASSASSINATIONS

A broad spectrum of U.S.-based anti-imperialist and anti-war organizations, including the IAC, agreed on a Jan. 17 conference call to hold coordinated protests across the country on Saturday, Feb. 4. The demands will be: “No war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations against Iran.”

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012

International Migrants Alliance: 1 Million Signatures Campaign Launch

Description: The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) invites community organizations representing immigrants from different countries to an assembly to coordinate the campaign for the collection of 1 million signatures for a just and humanitarian immigration reform promoting the integration of the undocumented into society, permitting a dignified life, access to education, healthcare, and work without being victims of exploitation, abuse and violence. The petitions will be delivered to the White House and the US Congress.

Venue Information: Feb 5, Sunday, 2:00pm at the Bayanihan Community Center, 40-21 69th St, Woodside, NY 11377; Take 69 St (7), Jackson Hts – Roosevelt Av (E, F, M, R), 74 St – Broadway (7)

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012

Philippine Social Realities Exposure Trip 2012 Info Session (Sponsored by NYCHRP)

Description: This summer NYCHRP is going on a Philippine Social Realities Exposure Trip and we want YOU! Join us for a special information session to find out about the awesome summer that is to come!

Venue Information: SATURDAY FEBRUARY 11th, 7:00pm; doors open at 6:30pm; at the International Action Center, 55 W. 17th Street / 5th Floor, NYC

Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

NEIGHBORHOOD WORD: “LOVE & SOLIDARITY IN QUEENS”

Pinoy Poets and Writers Celebrate Love Stories, Philippine Independence, and the Filipino-American Community in Queens

Description: FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Please join us for a fun-filled literary and community reading celebrating love stories and love of country. A gathering of acclaimed Pinoy poets and writers come together with Filipino community members in Queens to share fiction, poetry, hip-hop, and more. Join us for a rollicking afternoon of storytelling, camaraderie, and mouth-watering Filipino food!

Venue: Feb 12, Sunday @ 3:00pm at the Bayanihan Community Center, 40-21 69th St, Woodside, NY 11377; Take 69 St (7), Jackson Hts – Roosevelt Av (E, F, M, R), 74 St – Broadway (7)

Monday, Feb. 13, 2012

Portrait of a Freedom Fighter: A Book Launching of the Selected Writings of Jose Maria Sison Vols. 1-4

Description: The Selected Writings of Jose Maria Sison, Volumes 1-4 is a comprehensive compilation of Sison’s writings on socialism, imperialism, war and plunder, peace, terrorism, and peoples resistance spanning over 40 years, a period of time in which Sison served as fiery young leader in the Philippine revolution.

Venue Information: Monday, February 13, 7-9pm at Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street (between Stanton and Rivington), New York, New York 10002. Trains: F/M to 2nd Avenue or J/M/Z to Essex/Delancey Sts.

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

Why Occupy? Teach in @ St. Peter’s College (Social Justice Dept)

Description: St. Peter’s College Social Justice Program and Occupy Jersey City is bringing “WHY OCCUPY: Inspire, Organize, Mobilize For a Brighter Future” to Jersey City! An all-day event on the origins of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and other social movements. Discussions, exhibits, arts, culture, connections and making history. FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! Light refreshments will be provided.

Venue Information: Wednesday, February 15, 2012; 8:30am to 1:00pm; McIntyre Lounge, St. Peter’s College, 2641 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Jersey City, NJ

For more information and a full listing of events during Philippine Solidarity Week, visit http://www.philippinesolidarity.wordpress.com.

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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.

FiRE Honors LGBTQGNC Rights on National Lesbian Day in the Philippines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FiRE Honors LGBTQGNC Rights on National Lesbian Day in the Philippines

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

New York City – On December 8,  Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) celebrates and honors National Lesbian Day in the Philippines. This day was established at the first National Lesbian Rights Conference on December 6-8, 1996 in Silang, Cavite.  FiRE is committed to fighting for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Gender Non Conforming people (LGBTQGNC), and ending all forms of gender violence, exploitation, and oppression.  As an organization of Filipinas in the United States fighting for genuine democracy and national liberation in the Philippines, FiRE would like to honor and thank local New York City and Philippines-based organizations working tirelessly for the rights and safety of the LGBTQGNC community.

In the recent months, the United States has witnessed the tragic youth suicides caused by bullying and harassment.  It is vital to provide ongoing education for children, teens, adults, community workers, and the government resources to deconstruct homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia.  Communities should come to the new understanding that LGBTQGNC are entitled to live a life free from violence, as it is a human right.

Earlier this year, the Philippine – based organization, LESBOND, Lesbians for National Democracy,  launched an educational campaign which focused on creating understanding and awareness around homosexuality and homophobia.  The curriculum was initially meant for universities and the media, but has since been redeveloped for outreach to elementary school students. “The module describes the history, sociology and societal behavior that has sustained homophobia in the Philippines,” said LESBOND member, Julie Palaganas.

LESBOND continues to advocate for gender equality and democracy on the foundation that the place of women, including lesbian women, is in the struggle for genuine liberation.   Therefore, great reform must be made on various levels for LGBTQGNC people to acquire the freedom to express their sexuality and identity, create homes for homeless LGBTQGNC youth, access affordable health care and medical services, receive job security with partner benefits, and initiate policies for school and workplaces to be safe places for LGBTQGNC youth and adults.

Irma Bajar, Chairperson of FiRE states, “As a queer Filipina woman who has faced homophobia and heterosexism,  it’s important to unite and create an all-encompassing liberation movement.  We must ensure LGBTQGNC rights and commit to dismantling homophobia, heterosexism, and transphobia.”

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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

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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.