Filipino-Americans chuck their tsinelas and shoes

at Bush-Arroyo regime

 

Washington,  D. C.

 

January 19, 2009

 

 

Washington, D.C.- In below freezing temperatures in Washington DC, over 50 Filipino-American advocates of Filipino issues from across the United States, as far as Seattle and Los Angeles, picketed for four and a half hours in front of the Philippine Embassy to celebrate Bush's last day in office. In addition, they demanded that Bush take away his number one puppet, President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo along with him.

   
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Photos courtesy of KATARUNGAN
           
           

Press Release
January 19, 2009

Reference: Katrina Abarcar, Coordinator, KATARUNGAN, email: da_keese@hotmail.com, Phone: 443-794-8836

FILIPINO-AMERICANS CHUCK THEIR TSINELAS AND SHOES AT BUSH-ARROYO REGIME

Washington, D.C.- In below freezing temperatures in Washington DC, over 50 Filipino-American advocates of Filipino issues from across the United States, as far as Seattle and Los Angeles, picketed for four and a half hours in front of the Philippine Embassy to celebrate Bush's last day in office. In addition, they demanded that Bush take away his number one puppet, President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo along with him.

With utter frustration over the anti-people policies under Bush-Arroyo's administration, Filipino-Americans threw their tsinelas (slippers) and shoes at larger than life faces of Bush and Gloria that were painted on several cardboard boxes stacked one over the other.

"These tsinelas are for those who are hungry, out of work, jailed unjustly, trafficked overseas Filipino workers, and for everyone who are suffering because of 8 years of corruption and political repression in the Philippines," Joanna Quiambao from SANDIWA-D.C. said as she chucked her tsinelas at the image of Bush and Arroyo's faces on the boxes.

Representatives of national alliances, including National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), SANDIWA (National Alliance of Fil-am Youth), traveled from Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, and Washington DC to celebrate the end of the Bush administration, with different member organizations including Anakbayan Seattle, Anakbayan NY/NJ, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Philippine Forum, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE-NYC), and Kapatirang Pilipino (Kappa Pi), and local DC organizations including Katarungan: Center for Peace and Justice (D.C.).

As members of the local Filipino community in D.C. came to the Philippine Embassy for an inaugural celebration, members of NAFCON welcomed guests with placards as reminders of the current situation of human rights in Philippines. With over a thousand extrajudicial killings and 301 enforced disappearances since the beginning of Arroyo's administration in 2001, they urged their kababayans (countrymen) to be aware and take action so that justice will be served, and change will be realized. As it is a momentous occasion to celebrate the end of Bush's eight years and remembering his close work relationship with President Arroyo, the Filipino-American community pledged to also put an end to her corrupt administration.

Issues of U.S. military funding for the Philippines were also addressed during the event, currently the Philippines is the biggest receiver of U.S. military investments in Asia, with these funds going directly towards military death squads that haves contributed to the increasing human rights violations.

"U.S. tax dollars should not be going towards killing innocent civilians that uphold human rights in the Philippines. That money should be put into our schools and hospitals that take care of our children and family members," said Anne Beryl Corotan from SANDIWA-NY.

On the day before President-elect Obama's inauguration and the national holiday in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr., Filipino advocates reminded local community that they will remain vigilant during President Obama's term, will hold him accountable for his actions, and will stay committed to their work in their local communities to meet the demands of the Filipino people. With promises of immigration reform within the first hundred days in office, they demanded for the reunification of families separated due to the dysfunctional U.S. immigration system. To help produce and visualize the change desired by the Filipino community, presented the "Platform for Change" around issues in the Philippines

Within the "Platform for Change", the main demands of the Filipino-American community are:

1. U.S. TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!
2. NO MORE U.S. TAX DOLLARS TO PHILIPPINE DEATH SQUADS!
3. STOP THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES!
4. LEGALIZATION FOR ALL THE UNDOCUMENTED IN THE U.S.!
5. FAMILY REUNIFICATION FOR FAMILIES TORN APART!
6. FULL EQUITY AND RECOGNITION FOR WWII VETS!

For more information, please contact Katrina Abarcar with KATARUNGAN at da_keese@hotmail.com


 

     
     
     
     
           

 

News Release
January 21, 2009
Contact: Katrina Abarcar, Coordinator, Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, katarungan@comcast.net

Filipino-American Human Rights Advocates Hope For U.S. Policy Shift in Philippines

Urge President Obama to make clean break from Bush policies and from Philippine President Arroyo

Washington, DC – For Filipino-Americans concerned about the epidemic of politically motivated executions, abductions, and arrests carried out allegedly by Philippine military against government critics, President Obama’s first official day in office has been a highly anticipated event.

“Like many others, I am breathing a sigh of relief that my family survived eight years of Bush and made it out with our house, a job, and our health. But for family of mine in the Philippines, the nightmare is not over,” said Katrina Abarcar, Coordinator of Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines. “The legacy of Bush continues through one of his most faithful devotees, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”

“Like Bush, Arroyo exploits fear to justify war and to enact repressive policies. She lives by the same mantra, ‘You are either with us, or with the terrorists.’ She exercises a blatant disregard for law, human rights and public opinion. And she chooses to be the president to only the elite at the expense of the impoverished majority,” said Abarcar.

According to NGOs in the Philippines like the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) which helps children and families traumatized by state-perpetrated violence, there has been a significant rise in human rights abuses since the Philippines was declared by former President Bush as the “second front in the war on terror”. Since then, the Philippines saw a sharp increase in military aid from the US.
 

 

The Arroyo Administration has carried out their own domestic “war on terror” through Operation Bantay Laya, a counter-insurgency program that has been criticized by organizations like the UN, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, for the way it identifies and neutralizes civil-society organizations it categorizes as fronts of local communist insurgents.

 

A closer look at the over 1000 victims of extrajudicial executions and the enforced disappearances shows the vast majority to be community organizers, organizers for pro-people political parties, labor leaders, church workers, human rights attorneys, farmer advocates and journalists and others who were addressing the needs and advocating on behalf of the oppressed and impoverished majority.

“Unfortunately, instead of working to eradicate poverty, the Arroyo administration is working to eradicate those fighting poverty to remain in power. The administration has more readily distributed bribes than land to the majority of farmers who have none,” states Joanna Quiambao, community outreach coordinator for Katarungan.

But Filipino-American human rights advocates are hopeful that the Obama administration will choose to send a strong message to Arroyo. In his inaugural address, President Obama stated, “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.”

“There is no question in our minds that President Arroyo is on the wrong side of history,” says Quiambao

Human rights organizations in the Philippines have credited international scrutiny and pressure for a decline in the extra-judicial killings in 2008. Unfortunately, widespread human rights abuses continue.

“As taxpayers, it is our duty to ensure our tax dollars, during this time of economic crisis, are not contributing to human rights violations in the Philippines. Our tax dollars would be better spent on creating jobs, providing health care to the uninsured, public education, expanding unemployment insurance, helping struggling homeowners to stay in their homes, and fully funding Filipino veterans equity,” ends Abarcar.. ##

 

           
     

 

News Release
January 21, 2009

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

GETTING RID OF BUSH MEANS GETTING RID OF ARROYO TOO!-- BAYAN USA
Filipino-Americans Respond to Obama's Inaugural Speech with a Call for Accountability

Washington DC-- Joining dozens of other Filipino-American advocates in front of the Philippine Embassy on Martin Luther King Day, and on the eve of the historic inauguration of US President Barack Obama, member organizations of the US Chapter of Bagong Alyasang Makabayan (BAYAN USA) staged an eye-catching "tsinelas-throwing party" to celebrate the official term end of the Bush administration. BAYAN USA member groups NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Anakbayan NY/NJ, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment also pointed out that while Bush may be gone from the White House, his unpopular foreign policy is still enforced worldwide, especially in the Philippines.

"Truly getting rid of Bush means getting rid of [Philippine President] Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as well, since she is Bush's strongest and most loyal enforcer in Asia," stated Chito Quijano, BAYAN USA Chairperson, who traveled all the way from Los Angeles to join the DC action. "Arroyo is one failed remnant of the Bush regime we would also like to see go as soon as possible."

Staying for the historic inauguration of Barack Obama the next day, the BAYAN USA Chair also urged vigilance and caution in holding the new President accountable to his words. "Though we are inspired by his words, we cannot afford to hold any illusion that the change we can believe in will be ushered in by any one leader. It must be ushered in through active and diligent people's struggle and mass movement. This is what history teaches us," Quijano continued.
 

 


 

 

 

 

Quijano pointed out Obama's inaugural speech sounded promising in terms of condemning world leaders "who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent" as standing "on the wrong side of history."

"We must work even harder to hold President Obama accountable to these important words, because they describe Arroyo to a tee," Quijano stated, referring to the human rights crisis and rampant government corruption that still plagues the Philippines under the Arroyo administration with approximately 1000 victims of extra-judicial killings, over 300 enforced disappearances, and thousands more forcefully displaced or killed in the countryside due to violent militarization.

Amongst the foreign policy changes BAYAN USA members vowed to continue struggling for are a withdrawal of US troops from the Philippines, withdrawal of US economic aid to the Philippine death squads, dismantling of permanent US military bases in Mindanao, and a withdrawal of diplomatic relations between the Obama administration and the Arroyo administration until such time Arroyo is unseated. Amongst the US domestic policy changes are legalization for the undocumented in the US, swift family reunification for immigrant families separated due to the US immigration system.

For more information, contact BAYAN USA at info@bayanusa.org, or visit www.bayanusa.org ###

 

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ISSUE ANALYSIS No. 01
Series of 2009

The people when organized have proven their transformative power that can be mobilized to cobble the building blocks of a new government. From their ranks a genuine, incorruptible, and mass-oriented leadership for the national government can arise.

The Presidency and the Social Movement

By the Policy Study, Publication, and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
January 21, 2009

As the country reels from the impact of the global financial crisis, eyes are set on the next presidential race in May 2010. Latest surveys show that nine out of 10 Filipinos are keen on the presidential elections and this has given rise to speculations that civilian unrest would ensue if the polls are derailed.

The present dynamics of the presidential race has been set by the pre-election campaign of several contenders as seen in their inclusion in popularity rating surveys and TV promotions since last year. As expected the surveys unveil a long list of aspirants from traditional politics (trapos), those identified with President Gloria M. Arroyo and those from the opposition vying for popularity. The early birds have also resorted to “billboard politics” putting up giant billboards strategically along the main avenues of the National Capital Region and in the provinces.

Having loathed the association of traditional politics with corruption and mediocre performance – painted so graphically in recent years under Arroyo – some groups particularly from the middle class, civic organizations, and youth are rooting for alternative candidates for president as well as for the Senate. For these slots, among the names being floated are the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, Reynato Puno, and a number of governors and mayors claimed to be independent and whose election into office had the backing of grassroots communities.

It is a positive development to see a whiff of fresh wind in the country’s electoral politics long dominated by traditional oligarchs, fraud, and corruption. More important, however, is that the search for alternative candidates should have substance other than form. How “alternative” are these candidates and what kind of reform do they represent? How about their winnability in an electoral process where the results are decided chiefly by money and fraud?

At the moment, yet to be seen with clarity and consistency is the claimed alternative contenders’ positioning on various issues that matter most to the masses. So far, aside from being depicted as models of “good governance” nothing is heard from these national aspirants on the issues of land reform, poverty, the neo-liberal globalization-driven financial crisis, human rights, peace talks, and so on.

The presidential office

The office of the presidency has always been tied with the oligarchy – the system of family dynasties that is at the helm of national and local power since election was institutionalized by U.S. colonialism. From the beginning of the current republic, the presidency has been filled by representatives of the Filipino elite and its vast central powers and state resources were used for self-perpetuation. Naturally, the country’s poor economic performance, corruption, breakdown of the rule of law, divisiveness and civil strife, and other problems have been blamed on the presidency. This is not to insulate, however, the bureaucrats in the state machinery, Congress, and even the judiciary from being held accountable to their own misdeeds.

After two civilian-led uprisings that toppled two discredited presidents in 1986 and 2001 the presidency has remained not only as the key dispenser and beneficiary of corruption but also as the roadblock to the popular aspirations for economic emancipation, peace, and justice. In recent years, the occupant’s vast powers and resources have been used for the abuse of authority, turning Congress into a rubber stamp to ensure presidential survival, and commit widespread human rights violations even as the people writhed with poverty, unemployment, and a future highly dependent on OFW remittances. Held for ages by the ruling oligarchs whose interests do not extend to the masses, the presidency has offered no clear visions to address the country’s fundamental problems and this is why it is increasingly isolated from the constituency whom it is supposed to serve.

Failures

With the foibles of the presidency – which have deteriorated into a catastrophe under Arroyo – all the more is there reason for the country’s social movement with its current various shades to flex its muscle in the push for genuine political reform. The country cannot wait for another presidential election before the people – in their organized formations – put their voice in the forefront of politics and, in the short term, decisively determine the outcome of the elections.

Reforming the country’s presidency – for that matter, the political system – takes a myriad of proposals. There are groups moving for changing the unitary form of government with a strong president into a federal system, and the presidency into a parliamentary form. This has created no strong groundswell of support, however, simply because some political bigwigs are using it as a pretext for power perpetuation through charter change. Others, including those from the interfaith and NGO spectrum, are calling for new faces in the local government to run for higher elective posts including the presidency hoping that their ascendancy would start the process of political transformation from within.

Already heard since the 1960s, the movement for a “moral revolution” or a “moral force” is being revived in the midst of corruption scandals and power intoxication among the traditional politicians. Although one problem is that some of the calls originate from notorious politicians, the advocacy may attract support from sectors such as schools and evangelical missions on the belief that moral values have a conscientizing and cleansing power.

The leftist cause-oriented movement holds the record of having the enduring and broadest voice in taking up various people’s issues ranging from land reform, trade union rights, human rights, to U.S. intervention. It was in the forefront of the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 and in the removal of President Joseph E. Estrada in 2001. Its struggle for genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, and a protected national economy is worth revisiting in the midst of past and present presidents’ failed pro-globalization policies and the wholesale trade of the national patrimony to foreign monopoly capitalists. The movement has given birth to the formation of Party-list groups in a bid to espouse new politics in Congress. However, its advocacy for radical social and political reform has borne the brunt of state repression –clearly indicating that the present state simply lacks the courage to face new ideas with a preference to engage these in the field of violence.

Critical junctures

At critical junctures of the Arroyo presidency, major political forces from the anti-Arroyo social movement were mulling the feasibility of setting up a transition council led by eminent persons. The council was to have a short-term program that includes sweeping electoral reform, a new people’s constitution, and finally an election to choose new national leaders. This remains an idea even as it has been swept aside by bigger events and now, the buildup to the presidential contest in 2010.

Even if the process of reforming the presidency and the political system it represents proves to be tough and drawn-out the period leading to the next elections can serve to articulate new visions and programs. Certainly, the political experiences and clout already gained in the forums of the streets, strikes, and legislative debates can be transformed into a collective muscle that can, at the very least, decide the outcome of the presidency.

The social movement’s engagement in the next national elections should be able to influence if not decisively define the political platform and criteria for electing the next president and this can be articulated among the country’s electorate. Not to be ignored, however, is the reform of the electoral process itself and much work and vigilance needs to be done in this area, as well.

The coming electoral exercise can serve as a popular education for the country’s voters toward making the country’s politics democratic, constructive, and development-oriented. Traditional politicians should begin listening to the people and stop claiming that it is only in their hands where the country’s destiny rests. The people when organized have proven their transformative power that can be mobilized to cobble the building blocks of a new government. From their ranks a genuine, incorruptible, and mass-oriented leadership for the national government can arise.

For your comments/suggestions please send your email to issueanalysis2009@cenpeg.org

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
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