Fil-American groups in New York rally against Con-Ass and Cha-Cha

 

New York CityI

 

June 7, 2009

 

 

On June 7, 2009 National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Philippine Forum, Kapatirang Pilipino (Kappa Pi), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Anakbayan NY/NJ, and BAYAN USA took part in the parade commemorating Philippine Independence from Spain along Madison Ave. During the parade this year, they built upon the parade's slogan with "Bagong Bayani, Bahagi ng Pagbabago" (New Heroes, Instruments of Change), the contingent's display featured elements of huge letters, placing particular focus on the issues of Con-Ass (Constituent Assembly), Charter Change and the abduction of Fil-Am Melissa Roxas, member of BAYAN USA and NAFCON.

 

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Photos courtesy of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)
           
           

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Filipino Community Groups Condemn Discrimination of Advocacy Organizations during PIDC's annual Independence Day March

Reference: Christina Hilo, Bayanihan Filipino Community Center, filipinocenter@yahoo.com

New York, NY - On June 7, 2009 National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Philippine Forum, Kapatirang Pilipino (Kappa Pi), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Anakbayan NY/NJ, and BAYAN USA took part in the parade commemorating Philippine Independence from Spain along Madison Ave. During the parade this year, they built upon the parade's slogan with "Bagong Bayani, Bahagi ng Pagbabago" (New Heroes, Instruments of Change), the contingent's display featured elements of huge letters, placing particular focus on the issues of Con-Ass (Constituent Assembly), Charter Change and the abduction of Fil-Am Melissa Roxas, member of BAYAN USA and NAFCON.

Charter Change, being one of the main issues in the Philippine right now involves the current movement in the Filipino government to amend the country's constitution. The plan has drawn flak from concerned sectors on abuses that may occur out of the process. As of now, the chief concern for the parties in question is the possibility that the process may allow the Macapagal administration to extend its term indefinitely and violate the democratic principles that comprise the Philippine Constitution. Other questionable functions that Charter Change may enact include issues about the permanency of United States military bases, coverups involving tax anomalies connected with the administration worth billions of pesos and unfair distribution of resources with regards to multinational companies.

Because of their political messages, these organizations have incurred difficulties in past instances of the event originating from strained relations with the event organizers. This year, the event organizers stressed the high security since government officials would be there including Vice President, Noli de Castro. Before this year's event these advocacy organizations were summoned by the PIDC to discuss their past involvement in the celebration and were not given notification of their assembly point until two nights before the event. This is not the first time the PIDC has singled out members of NAFCON because of their political messages.

Bearing placards aloft, the NAFCON group drew substantial support from the burgeoning crowds, earning emphatic cheers as well as succeeding in coaxing the crowd to chant along their slogans. A significant number amongst the contingent of political figures in the throng demonstrated assent with the demonstration as well. These successes notwithstanding, the discrimination leveled by the organizers at the NAFCON reared its ugly head once more as the NAFCON contingent were issued a marching order in the very rear of the parade and were neither identified nor acknowledged by the emcees announcing the various parade groups' names.

Last year, cohorts of NAFCON raised the issue of the increasing commercialization of PIDC's celebration, criticizing the exorbitant cost for a booth rental. The demonstration led to an incident of police harassment and intimidation wherein two drum-playing members of Philippine Forum were threatened with prosecution following the event. In 2005, Philippine Forum members were again interdicted by police officers at behest of the PIDC because of a display that drew attention about Filipino taxpayers bearing the burden of the Consul General's $10,000 apartment rental.

"We are advocacy groups, and we will always hold up our political messages and try to raise awareness in our community of the current issues going on here locally and in the Philippines. The PIDC must stop this harassment because it is a shame to celebrate the Independence of our Philippines by trying to silence our community groups. We are Filipinos too and deserve to celebrate in the PIDC parade," remarked Attorney Felix Vinluan, member of NAFCON.

During yesterday's festival, members of BAYAN USA, a national alliance of Filipino advocacy groups in the US, held a snake rally by walking in a single file line through the crowds of spectators with placards saying, "Justice for Melissa Roxas! No to Torture and Abductions in the Philippines." People around the celebration looked in awe and asked questions to the organizers. The rally ended with BAYAN USA members sitting down in a straight line blindfolded to resemble the torture that Melissa went through. A community health worker involved in human rights advocacy, Roxas was abducted by armed men alongside two of her colleagues on May 19, 2009 in the province of Tarlac. She was held for six days in a remote location blindfolded, handcuffed, and tortured because her captors repeatedly accused her of being part of the New People's Army. There is credible basis that she was abducted and tortured by the Philippine military because of the sounds she heard including planes taking off and gun firing which describes Fort Magsaysay. Currently, the Macapagal administration has drawn a lackluster record for human rights in the country with steadily rising numbers of extrajudicial killings and disappearances since 2001.

"It is important that our organizations continue to raise awareness about these issues in our respective communities because PIDC's celebration fails to educate the community about the Philippines' heritage and the struggle for genuine democracy. We cannot sit idle while the question of our national identity is trod underneath the heels of greed and our integrity as a people is being assailed. We speak for the entire Filipino community, and as the entire community we wish to be heard," said Yancy Gandionco, member of Anakbayan NY/NJ.

Philippine Forum and members of NAFCON will also be hosting the First BAYANIHAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL on June 21, a full day family event from 10am to 6pm to celebrate the rich Filipino culture and history in the Filipino community of Queens. The festival aims to truly serve and educate the community by holding health screenings, free immigration consultations, sports, tiangge, children's booth, cultural artists including Blue Scholars, Deep Foundation, and BIBAK. For more information, please call 718-565-8862 or e-mail filipinocenter@yahoo.com.

NAFCON is a national alliance of Filipino organizations in over 23 cities in the United States. In the Northeast, NAFCON includes Philippine Forum, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), and Anakbayan NY/NJ. BAYAN USA is a national alliance of 14 Filipino organizations that acts as a main campaign center on issues locally and from the Philippines.

 

 

Vi\\\Video: Not to Con Ass Rally in New York City

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLu7Zz6rkYI

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           
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