*Lightning Rally Strikes Arroyo Visit to Los Angeles. Thunderous outcry
from Fil-Ams: 'No to Con-Ass, No to Cha-Cha – GLORIA HAS GOT TO GO.’*

 

Los Angeles

 

June 20, 2009

 

 

On early Saturday morning, Filipino Americans launched a lightning rally to greet Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her mini-junket at the Sheraton Gateway near Los Angeles International Airport. The lightning rally was one of many demonstrations across the Philippines and around the world in recent days to protest the passage of the House Resolution 1109 to convene a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), considered the latest move of the US-Arroyo regime to change the Philippine Charter (Cha Cha) and further undermine democracy in the Philippines

   
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Photos courtesy of BAYAN - USA
           
           

 

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
*June 20, 2009*
Contact:
Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary General – BAYAN-USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

*Lightning Rally Strikes Arroyo Visit to Los Angeles. Thunderous outcry
from Fil-Ams: 'No to Con-Ass, No to Cha-Cha – GLORIA HAS GOT TO GO.’*

Los Angeles, CA. -- On early Saturday morning, Filipino Americans launched a
lightning rally to greet Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and
her mini-junket at the Sheraton Gateway near Los Angeles International
Airport. The lightning rally was one of many demonstrations across the
Philippines and around the world in recent days to protest the passage of
the House Resolution 1109 to convene a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass),
considered the latest move of the US-Arroyo regime to change the Philippine
Charter (Cha Cha) and further undermine democracy in the Philippines

BAYAN-USA & GABRIELA USA's member organizations began the lightning rally,
marching to a rendition of Bayan Ko. Carrying “NO to Con-Ass” and “NO to
Cha-Cha” signs, AnakBayan LA, Habi Arts & Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGAw)
members expressed their anger at the U.S.-Arroyo regime's desperate
Con-Ass maneuver to hold on to power. Fil-Ams were also demanding justice
for fellow Habi Arts member, Melissa Roxas, a U.S. Citizen who was abducted
and tortured by armed men last May while doing community health work in the
Philippines. A street theater piece highlighting the on-going human rights
violations was dedicated to Roxas, Jonas Burgos, Karen Empeno, Sherlyn
Kadapan, James Balao, Juanito Carabeo, John Edward Jandoc and all other
victims of the U.S.-Arroyo regime. With a thunderous outcry denouncing
Arroyo, the protestors drowned out the cheers of U.S.-Arroyo supporters as
Arroyo was escorted back to LAX. The morning rally was concluded with an
“Arroyo, You’re A Jerk” hip hop dance circle led by AnakBayan Los Angeles.

“Con-Ass and Charter Change are lame attempts for Arroyo and her cronies to
stay in power. They all hoped that the Filipino people would not care enough
to notice, but the public outcry of our people in the Philippines, the US
and all over the world prove that the people are wise and keen on her
trickery,” declared Daya Mortel, BAYAN-USA Southern California Regional
Coordinator and Habi Arts member. “She has tried every trick in the book
short of declaring Martial Law. Wherever she may go, there will be people
who will protest and criticize her abuse of power.”

“Con-Ass is the biggest threat to democracy and the Filipino people today,”
stated Kuusela Hilo, Vice Chairperson of BAYAN-USA and member of AnakBayan
LA. “The Filipino people have suffered under the US-Arroyo regime, and for
Arroyo to position herself as Prime Minister or declare martial law would
only mean more suffering and repression for our people.”

The rapes of “Nicole” and “Vanessa” and the devastation wrought on civilians
by the annual Balikatan military exercises under the Visiting Forces
Agreement have drawn increasing criticism from all sectors of Philippine
society. “GMA has turned her back on Filipina women and all other Filipinos
by railroading our Constitution and the democratic process. If Con-Ass and
Cha-cha are pushed through, foreigners will be able to own the natural
resources of the country and Filipinas will continue to be violated by U.S.
troops in the Philippines,” said Terrie Cervas, Vice Chairperson of GABRIELA
USA and founding member of SiGAw. Cervas concluded, “By rewriting the
Philippine Constitution, the Philippines will be victim to 100% foreign
ownership of industries and re-installation of permanent military U.S.
presence, beyond supposed ‘temporary’ posts already in place under the
Visiting Forces Agreement.” For the last 10 years, the Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA) has paved the way for U.S. military advisers, troops and
equipment to train and equip the Philippine military which has been
implicated in 1,017 extra-judicial killings and 1,010 cases of torture.

“The fact that Arroyo tried to visit LA unnoticed is very telling,” said
Mortel. “She knew she could not come to LA, the hometown of Melissa Roxas,
without facing unanswered questions of why her government has not done a
thorough probe into the abduction and torture of Roxas and her companions.
Or why hundreds of others have been disappeared and why thousands of other
victims have yet to receive justice.”

BAYAN-USA will continue to campaign against Con-Ass and Cha-Cha. BAYAN-USA
will also be working with national alliances and human rights organizations
in the United States to demand justice for Melissa Roxas and all other
victims of human rights violations. “We do not want any of our hard-earned
U.S. tax dollars funding Philippine death squads,” said Hilo. “Senator
Barbara Boxer sponsored a hearing on the human rights crisis in the
Philippines just two years ago in Washington D.C., and we will be asking
Senator Boxer and other elected officials to take Melissa Roxas’ case
seriously, to take a stand to defend a U.S. citizen that has survived
abduction and torture, and to require that not one cent of U.S. taxes be
used to fund human rights violations in the Philippines.”

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 and her companions Juanito
Carabeo, and John Edward Jandoc can be found at
http://www.gopetition.com/online/28021.html.
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