FILIPINA/O AMERICAN YOUTH EXPRESSES OUTRAGE OVER INCIDENT OF POLICE BRUTALITY AND ARRESTS OF THEIR FELLOW KABABAYAN IN THE PHILIPPINES

For Immediate Release

Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth

email: sandiwa.national@gmail.com

FILIPINA/O AMERICAN YOUTH EXPRESSES OUTRAGE OVER INCIDENT OF POLICE BRUTALITY AND ARRESTS OF THEIR FELLOW KABABAYAN IN THE PHILIPPINES
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The SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, in the strongest terms, expresses condemnation over the violent dispersal and arrests of several Filipina/o youth and students by the Philippine police at a recent rally in Manila.

On August 19, 2009, about 200 members of League of Filipino Students (LFS), Anakbayan (AB), and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), conducted a “lightning rally” in front of Malacañang Palace, the residence of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Participants of the rally wanted to show the Arroyo administration their outrage and disgust over the expensive dinners Mrs. Arroyo and her entourage, including more than 20 administration congressmen, had in New York and Washington D.C., during her recent visit in the United States. These lavish dinners totaled in more than $40,000, garnering indignation of the youth and student groups, which they said are prime examples of the President’s insensitivity towards the majority of Philippines who live in immense hunger and poverty. The excess activities of the President had recently called into question about the over-budgeted international trips of the President, with very large entourage, and which put to question how much of the people’s money is being used to fund these excesses.

Among those arrested were students from Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the Philippines Diliman, and some high school students, who are members of the LFS, AB, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and SCMP. In addition to the arrests, some 17 youth also sustained physical injuries when the police attacked them with nightsticks. Witnesses said even some students emerged with their mouths bleeding after coming in contact with the police. The police detained the arrested students for almost an hour and their companions and legal representation were prohibited from checking on them. The arrested students were then to be brought to the Manila Police District (MPD) Headquarters after their medico-legal check at the Hospital ng Maynila for illegal assembly. The police did not inform the arrested students of their rights. The rest of the rallyists marched from Mendiola to UN Avenue and staged another rally outside the MPD Headquarters at around 1:00 to demand the immediate release of the 20 students. The student activists who were arrested were released later in the evening.

Filipina/o American youth finds the actions of the Philippine authorities absolutely unacceptable. Although though we are glad that our kababayan have been released, this brutal dispersal and arrests should not have even happened in the first place. As a country like the Philippines being recognized as having a democratic society, the freedom to express is a basic human right, and that basic human right was brutally violated. Incidents of police brutality is nothing new for Fil-Am youth and all youth of color. In 2008, Sandiwa members Rusty Fabunan and Wilfred Recaido were wrongfully detained for merely playing drums at the Philippine Independence Day Festival in New York. In 2007 in Oakland, CA, three Southeast Asian youth were wrongfully accused of murder. The police then conducted numerous raids targeting Southeast Asian youth in local high schools and youth centers. In San Jose, CA, eight police officers brutally beat down of Marlo Custodio, an 18 year old Filipino student, along with his brother and mother. Marlo Custodio was a much involved in school programs as well as a community youth organizer. In Seattle, an unarmed 13-year old Filipino youth was shot by police, mistaking a cell phone for a weapon. In 2006, Alan Alda, was arrested and detained by Jersey City police after seeking their help against an erring cab driver. A few months after the incident involving Alda, an unarmed individual named Sean Bell was shot fifty times by plainclothes and undercover NYPD officers on the day of his wedding.

As youth and students of Filipina/o descent in the U.S., we know what it is like to be criminalized by government authorities for fighting similar struggles as our kababayan (countrymen/women) in the Philippines are facing, such as poverty, unemployment, rising tuition and education costs, and human rights violations. Angelica Cabande, Chairperson of San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF-CHRP), stated, “We our outraged with the constant abuse of power by the Arroyo regime by delegating the Manila police to conduct mass arrests and violent dispersal of youth activists. Again, we are witnessing the silent martial law the Arroyo regime is exercising towards our kababayan back home which is constantly denied by her administration.”

In the midst of constant harassment of urban youth and immigrant families, this incident serves as another reminder that we will not allow ourselves to be harassed by the government authorities, which is a problem plaguing urban youth and immigrant families in cities throughout the U.S. and our kababayan in the Philippines. Expressing our concerns and raising awareness about actions by the government that are to the detriment of the people they are supposed to serve are not crimes, but are basic rights of the people. Voices of disagreement and concern should be listened to, not brutally suppressed. The SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, which includes U.S. chapters of League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan, stand in solidarity with their counterpart youth and student organizations in the Philippines. Therefore, SanDiwa relentlessly calls for justice for the 20 students who were unjustly and indiscriminantly arrested by the Manila Police District, for the investigation and prosecution of the police elements and commanding officer who were involved in the violent dispersal and indiscriminant arrests, and for the Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and therefore accountable to protecting Human Rights when they are violated.

SanDiwa, the youth and students arm of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), is a national alliance of youth, students, and community youth organizations, united to (re)educate, celebrate, and advocate for issues that affect our Filipino communities in the United States and in the Philippines. As an alliance, we seek to work cross-culturally in reclaiming our humanity and to work collaboratively with “other” minority groups to protect the rights and welfare of young Filipinos all over the United States.

Student rally at Mendiola turns violent

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacanang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet @ops.gov.ph

Director General Jesus Versosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Email: bluetree73@gmail.com

Hon. Leila de Lima
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines
Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Email: drpvq@chr.gov.ph

Hon. Agnes Devanadera
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email sad@doj.gov.ph

Jesus D. Dureza
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
*Office of the Peace Process
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice: +63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Mobile:
Fax:+63 (2) 635 9579
osec@opapp.gov.ph

Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to
freedom of opinion and expression
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9177
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION)

Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders
Room 1-040
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)

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