Archive for bayan-usa

Typhoon Ondoy…One Year Later

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

On September 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy struck the Philippines, wrecking unimaginable havoc that left thousands of our kababayan dead and many more displaced. It’s been considered one the worst natural catastrophes in the history of the Philippines, but the much worse catastrophe followed with the Philippine government’s lack of response to the damage. The public emergency relief fund was completely spent before the typhoon even hit, most likely spent on former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s extravagant trips to the U.S., which included a 100+ member entourage and luxurious dinners costing tens of thousands of dollars. Much of the relief efforts in response to the typhoon’s damage was left to non-governmental organizations, with little to no help at all from the government.

For us Filipina/o progressives in the U.S., our analysis of the situation in our homeland was clear. We could not and would not just leave our kababayans alone to fend for themselves, even though we are an ocean apart. We wanted to help in a way that was direct, responsible, and accountable, while at the same time being critical of the Philippine government’s inaction. A disaster relief operation of NAFCON and SanDiwa’s general program of action was always in place, but was never utilized until Typhoon Ondoy. This relief operation was thus launched, in cooperation with Bayan-USA and Gabriela-USA as BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief. Gathering aid for the victims, both monetary and in-kind, became the primary focus in all of our member organizations. What soon happened in the several weeks that followed was nothing short of remarkable. Thousands of people came and donated what they could in terms of volunteer time, monetary, or goods. Hundreds of balikbayan boxes full of donated clothes, medicine, and food began piling up at the different drop-off sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York/New Jersey. Tens of thousands of dollars were raised at countless club events and fundraisers. Programming at our respective community organizations were put on hold to channel all our efforts into helping our kababayan. Filipino Americans who didn’t care about what was going on in the Philippines had a change of heart after seeing the devastation as well as the community’s efforts to get aid directly to our kababayan. I remember getting a call from one Filipino American in particular who said he never made the effort to know about his cultural roots because he felt ashamed of it, but after seeing on the news the sheer devastation, he didn’t want to be ashamed anymore. He said he’s now 33 years old, and now wants to help out as much as he can to make up for all the lost time he spent hiding from his Filipino culture. Despite our lives being disrupted and the stress of organizing the donations and events, I don’t remember anyone complaining too much, because we knew all this was for our people back home. In the end, we were able to ship 750 boxes of in-kind aid to the Philippines as well as over $50,000 in monetary aid.

I can’t believe it’s already been one year since the Typhoon Ondoy disaster, one year since our operation, BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief. As I remember back to the devastation of the typhoon itself, the devastation of the government’s lack of response, and how our transnational community came together to rebuild and heal our beloved homeland, I’m always brought back to that very emotional moment one year ago, fighting to hold back the tears. This was by far the most daunting task I have ever taken up and also certainly the most rewarding in my life as a community organizer. I’ve learned and grown much from that experience, and I am still deeply inspired by our collective work as a community and the work we were able to accomplish, the breadth of work that still remains unmatched by the efforts of the Philippine government. This past summer, I was able to integrate with Migrante International, who took me to visit the communities they work with and that were hard hit by the typhoon. They did receive our donations, and sold much of the clothes to help buy beds and building materials and tools. They are still rebuilding their communities to this day, and it was truly humbling and inspiring to see them still pushing forward and surviving.

One year later, and our communities in the Philippines, though still recovering and still neglected by the Philippine government, are true survivors and still resilient as ever. It has been said that the Filipino is like bamboo, we bend but we do not break. This disaster, both natural and man-made, may have bent us over backwards to the brink of despair. But we have proven through our transnational collective effort, we are far from broken.

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SAN FRANCISCO COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES (SFCHRP) SALUTES THE LIFE OF ALEX REMOLLINO

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

SAN FRANCISCO COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES (SFCHRP) SALUTES THE LIFE OF ALEX REMOLLINO

Reference: San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

Email: sfchrp@yahoo.com

SFCHRP mourns the death of a very dear comrade, cultural worker, and friend, Alex Remollino. Alex passed away on September 3, 2010, after battling health complications due to pneumonia and diabetes. After being in hospitalized for a week at Philippine General Hospital, his death comes as a shock after showing signs of recovery.

Alex was a writer, poet, and journalist, and he used his gift for writing to uncover the truth of what is happening in the Philippines. As a former writer for Bulatlat, a progressive and pro-people news website, he wrote many news reports on the plight of the Filipina/o people, which include poverty, landlessness, and human rights violations from the Philippine government and military manipulated by U.S. Imperialism. Alex has delivered Filipina/os abroad the concrete facts to fight against the social issues that plague the Philippines, giving them a sharp analyses on their root causes. Alex, like his fellow progressive journalists, wrote these news stories from the side of those deeply affected by exploitation and oppression, a side mainstream news media rarely dares to tell. Alex would often report these stories from the grounds where and when they were actually happening, and his finished products truly had the feel of fresh, still steaming delivery.

In addition to being a pro-people journalist, Alex was also a close comrade and fellow organizer to activists fighting for justice against U.S. Imperialism and its Philippine presidential puppets, as a staff member of BAYAN-Philippines. He would often be found at rallies and mobilizations, marching amongst the people. In mass actions, he would be on his laptop reporting the events in real-time, through online social networks or live streams. This was indeed a testament to his commitment to the masses and having their true stories be told. Aside from journalism, Alex also used his gift of writing as a cultural worker, in the form of poetry. He wrote many poems that dealt with justice, resistance, and national democracy . He wrote his poems based on his experiences with the oppressed and those fighting for liberation. He made these poems easily accessible to the masses through his blog as well as progressive news websites.

Through it all, Alex was also a very dear friend. Despite the hard work of mass organizing and progressive news writing, Alex always found time to laugh, break bread, and share his talents with those around him. Ryan Leano, of SFCHRP shares, “I first met Alex in 2009, when he was visiting the the organizations under BAYAN-USA. He shared with us the hard but rewarding life of being a progressive journalist in the Philippines, where human rights violations are seemingly indiscriminant. He also shared the basics of writing press statements and releases, of which I based a press writing workshop for our organization. I met him again in 2010 in the Philippines, where I spent 3 months doing mass organizing work with BAYAN-Philippines. I was with him almost daily, working together on the rallies and mobilizations, as well as sharing many laughs in the office. He has become a very close friend, and I am deeply affected by his passing. I miss him terribly, but I am forever grateful for all he taught me and the happy moments we shared as fellow cultural workers.”

Alex will always be remembered as a freedom fighter for the oppressed, a staunch anti-imperialist, a cultural worker with the purpose of serving the people, and a dear friend who loved to share laughter. His legacy will live on as long as cultural workers keep using their respective artforms with the purpose of serving the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and silenced.

MABUHAY, ALEX REMOLLINO! ITULOY ANG KANYANG LABANAN!!

###

SF-CHRP, a member organization of BAYAN-USA, is a grassroots organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes people and communities in the Bay Area to take progressive action in upholding and supporting human rights in the Philippines, as well as supporting the human rights struggles of all people.

A Unity Statement of the Filipino Community on Immigrant Rights

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

A Unity Statement of the Filipino Community on Immigrant Rights

Together, We Have
Worked the fields and in the canneries
Nursed the ill and the elderly
Taught the young and tomorrow’s leaders
Fought for freedom and defeated tyranny
Invented new technologies and perfected the old
Ministered to congregations celebrating life and coping with grief

Together, We Are
The doctors and nurses who heal the sick and tend the wounded
The engineers who build skyscrapers and roads
The accountants who keep businesses running, small and large
The custodians and room cleaners, clerks and dock hands who do thankless jobs with dignity and pride
The veterans who braved world wars to defend democracy
The farm workers, cooks and waiters, who put food on America’s tables
The playwrights and poets, painters and musicians who awaken our dreams and inspire our actions
Four million people who are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, employees, partners and community members

Together, We Will
Continue to cherish the American values of equality and freedom, and oppose misguided policies that undermine them
Keep families and communities, workplaces and homes together, because dividing us weakens us all
Fight for immigrant rights that value our contributions to society and give us the opportunity to fulfill our potential to build a better world.

Our Principles and Demands:

Uphold the dignity and humanity of all individuals. Legalization now!
Civilized society embraces equality and upholds the humanity of all people. Labeling individuals “illegal” demeans them, and forces millions to endure dangerous jobs, and to toil in the shadows in slave-like conditions. Criminalizing people for being “undocumented” subjects millions to the exploitation of traffickers, to remain in abusive relationships, or to refrain from reporting crimes because the authorities may imprison the victim instead of the perpetrator. We need legalization now, to free our community from the indignity of being labeled as “illegal”, and the inhumane treatment which is sanctioned by it and endangers us all.

Unify and Protect Families
Families of all shapes and sizes—parents and children, siblings, cousins and grandparents, same sex couples–deserve to be together. Many Filipino families have been waiting over 20 years to have their petitions for loved ones approved. We must clear the Family Visa backlog to stabilize our communities, both in the U.S. and in our homeland. We must protect immigrant women and children escaping abuse, and refuse to allow them to be subjected to the further cruelty of deportation. Children of immigrants should be shielded from all harm, including separation from their families and the threat of deportation. Support services must be provided in our languages and with sensitivity to our cultural values and norms.

Value Our Labor– Workers Rights for All!
The U.S. was built with the blood and sweat of working people. All workers must have the right to organize and to be free from exploitative contracts and working conditions. Having a underclass of workers drives down wages and protections for all of us. We must normalize the status of guest workers, because temporary contracts serve as a tool to undermine all workers. Law enforcement should punish illegal recruitment agencies and unscrupulous employers and lawyers, who maximize profits by preying on vulnerable and desperate workers—workers should not be penalized for the actions of their employers. The labor and contributions of all people, including immigrants and those who are undocumented, should be valued equally.

Dignity, Respect and Due Process for All!
The US government’s aggressive foreign policies of war and exploitation fuel economic and social instability worldwide. Immigrants should not be blamed for our national security concerns. Rampant raids, deportation, and inhumane conditions in detention centers jeopardize the safety of everyone. The billions of tax payer dollars contracted to build up and further militarize the U.S.-Mexico borders does not make us safer. We must build our immigration policies on the sound universality of human rights, not the volatility of criminalization and militarization.

Forced Migration is a Result of the Global Economic Crisis
One-sided and unfair trade agreements that have been designed to maximize profits for greedy corporations have destroyed the economy of the Philippines and many other countries, contributing to the ever-worsening economic crisis that has forced millions of Filipinos to seek jobs and means of survival elsewhere. U.S. political and military support to corrupt regimes who bankrupt their countries and repress their people also fuel worsening migrant and refugee conditions. We will link arms in solidarity with all migrant communities in the U.S. and internationally, until we have built a society where all people can thrive, families are not fragmented and separated by the urgent need for survival, and our homelands have the conditions in which all people can live a decent and humane life.

Signed:
National Alliance for Filipino Concerns * BAYAN USA * GABRIELA-USA * SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth* Filipino Advocates for Justice * FOCUS (Filipino Community Support – Silicon Valley) * Philippine Forum New York * Fellowship for Filipino Migrants – Chicago * AnakBayan Chapters of East Bay, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, New York/New Jersey * Babae SF * League of Filipino Students-SFSU * SiGAw (Sisters of Gabriela Awaken) * Philippine Forum New Jersey * South of Market Community Action Network * Filipino Ministry – Diocese of San Bernardino * Filipino Migrant Center – Los Angeles* Stanford Pilipino American Student Union (PASU) * Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) – New York* Pinay sa Seattle * Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines – Portland, New York, San Francisco Chapters * Filipino Community Center – San Francisco * Pilipino Youth Coalition – Southern Alameda County * Habi Arts – Los Angeles

Power, Not Justice, is What Arroyo Seeks With Martial Law — BAYAN USA

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 5, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

News Statement
December 4, 2009

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email:secgen@bayanusa.org

POWER, NOT JUSTICE, IS WHAT ARROYO SEEKS WITH MARTIAL LAW
BAYAN USA Urges Phil. Congress to Revoke Proclamation 1959, Demands Obama Withdraw Support

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the United States is urging Filipinos in the United States and around the world to heighten their vigilance and resolve against the Arroyo government’s recent declaration of a State of Martial Law in the Southern Philippine province of Maguindanao. Following Arroyo’s signing of Presidential Proclamation 1959 last Friday, the Philippine Congress is set to resume on Monday, will review Arroyo’s action, and will vote on it.

“This is not about seeking justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre. This is about taking advantage of what is perhaps the most insolent election-related act of violence in recent Philippine history to justify abuse of executive powers,” states BAYAN USA Chair Berna Ellorin. “Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo does nothing but dishonor the 64+ massacred last November 23rd in Maguindanao by riding on the tragedy to serve her own narrow interest to cling to power, especially when her Presidential term must end next year.”

No Justice for Maguindanao Massacre Victims Under Arroyo

The alliance chided the Arroyo government’s delayed handling of the Maguindanao massacre as intentional and supported growing calls for a third party to conduct an impartial, thorough investigation of the crime scene and ensure swift arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators. But the lack of timely effort on the Arroyo government’s part to go after the obvious suspects– the Ampatuan family, a powerful political dynasty that has ruled Maguindanao for over a decade– clearly posed roadblocks to justice.

Nearly two weeks after the massacre, and with only one suspect in custody who voluntarily surrendered, Arroyo signed Proclamation 1959, placing Maguindanao province under a State of Martial Law, under the auspices of arresting the other members of the Ampatuan family and calling them in for questioning.

“The Arroyos and Ampatuans are close political allies, therefore the Arroyo government is in no rightful position to present itself as capable of enacting swift justice, especially in light of key witnesses coming forward confirming their long-time political patronage included the sales of arms, arms that were used to kill last week,” Ellorin added.

“Declaring martial law does not negate the Arroyo government’s policy of impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses,” Ellorin continued. “It is a means to mask the Arroyo government’s own culpability in the massacre itself and consolidate power through military rule under a military well-documented for sowing the country’s human rights crisis with the assistance of US military aid.”

Obama Standing on the Wrong Side of History?

Since it’s founding in 2005, BAYAN USA has been actively campaigning for the withdrawal of US military aid to the Philippines, which account for the training, advising, and arming of the Philippine military under Arroyo. A US Senate hearing in 2007 raised concerns that funding from the US government was directly linked to rampant pattern of state-sponsored killings and disappearances of critics
of the Arroyo government.

Referring to his now-famous inaugural words criticizing world leaders who “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent,” the alliance also welcomed the Obama administration last January in Washington DC with calls to withdraw all forms of support to the Arroyo government for its proven track record in corruption, fraud, and gross human rights violations.

“If Obama stands with Arroyo’s proclamation of Martial Law, he is no different than Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan whose support for the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos fostered and enabled a dark period in Philippine history when warrantless arrests, torture, and assassinations were routine for the ruling military but terrorizing for the Filipino people,” Ellorin claimed. “The international community, especially US tax payers, play a role in pressuring both the US and Philippine governments to ensure the lifting of martial law in Maguindanao, an end to policy of impunity for human rights abusers in the Philippines, and that justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre is truly obtained void of the Arroyo government’s handling.”

STOP THE ARROYO GOV’T’S COVER-UP OF THE ABDUCTION OF ROXAS, CARABEO, & HANDOC! –BAYAN USA

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

For Immediate Release
May 28, 2009

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

STOP THE ARROYO GOV’T’S COVER-UP OF THE ABDUCTION OF ROXAS, CARABEO, & HANDOC! –BAYAN USA

All efforts to cover up the truth must be stopped and exposed, starting with the removal of the Philippine Embassy’s latest post on its website.

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, denounced recent claims by the Arroyo government’s Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC) that the triple abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo, and John Edward Handoc was a mere fabrication by BAYAN Philippines and human rights group Karapatan, as well that the disappearance of the three involved immersion with the New People’s Army (NPA). The statement from the PHRC was posted yesterday on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC.

That same day, BAYAN USA and allies were launching indignation actions across the United States for the abduction of Roxas, one of the alliance’s founding members from Los Angeles, as well as her companions Carabeo and Handoc, who have all since surfaced.

“The Arroyo government is working double-time to cover up its tracks in the case of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo, and John Edward Handoc by spewing outright lies. Its claims in its latest statement on the case are not only false, but reprehensible and condemnable in its aim to set the real perpetrators of this heinous crime free and save face. What we are witnessing is the Philippine government’s obstruction of justice through its culture of impunity,” states BAYAN USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin.

Inaccuracies and Gross Distortion of Facts

Ellorin pointed out several factual errors to the PHRC’s statement released just yesterday. Such outstanding errors are as follows:

PHRC:

“There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the
abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone, let alone Bayan and Karapatan.”

BAYAN USA:

At least two police reports were filed on the triple abduction. An initial police report was filed on May 20th, 2009 signed and filed by La Paz Police Chief Inspector Ronald R. Fernandez. The report, detailing the account of witnesses of the May 19th abduction by armed men, was addressed to Tarlac Provincial Director Supt. Rudy Lacadin based in Camp Malabulos. On May 26th, after Roxas surfacing, Police Senior Supt. Chief of the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER) Leonardo Arias Espina issued a letter request to human rights group Karapatan, acknowledging the previous initial La Paz, Tarlac police report and inviting Roxas in for questioning.

PHRC:

“There is strong possibility that Roxas and company were on an “immersion” in NPA-infested areas. And that the NPAs could have hidden them for safety purposes, perhaps after receiving reports of a possible encounter or attack by government forces. At some point, organizations like Bayan and Karapatan wanted to take advantage of the situation by letting loose a press statement that an abduction took place, in anticipation of the possibility that Roxas and company would be killed in the crossfire.”

BAYAN USA:

Sufficient documentary evidence compiled by Karapatan– an internationally-recognized and credible Philippine human rights monitoring group– into a fact sheet on the case reports that Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc were part of a medical mission team in La Paz, Tarlac, not an an immersion with the NPA. Quick claims of NPA-involvement are a tactic of the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, which aims to annihilate the armed NPA through the violent targeting of civilian groups engaged in social justice work and community service. By baselessly branding groups such as BAYAN and Karapatan as “communist fronts” and shifting the blame of confirmed human rights violations to the NPA, the Arroyo government absolves itself from having to take the appropriate legal and judicial measures in the over 1,000 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances of unarmed leftist activists.

PHRC:

“We recall the 836 alleged cases of unsolved killings (aka extra-judicial killings) Karapatan released to media in 2006 but which was eventually debunked to be an exaggeration, and the recent 1,016 alleged cases of torture it raised before the UN Committee Against Torture and which to this date remain unsubstantiated.”

BAYAN USA:

As officially reported by United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston in his 2007 country report, the pattern of rampant extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances remains due to a culture of impunity, which includes non-efforts by the Philippine authorities to conduct investigations and prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations, despite confirmation and documentation of such cases. Just recently in his 2009 followup report, Alston points out the continuing failure of the Arroyo government to provide a good faith effort to address the killings committed by the Philippine military, and that the culture of impunity remains, leaving thousands of cases of confirmed killings and abductions unresolved.

The Truth Will Come Out

According the PHRC, no Philippine law authority has ever received an official report about the abduction. BAYAN USA believes the fact that the official reports filed with signatures from Philippine law authorities exposes to the highest degree that outrageous propaganda machinery of the Arroyo administration. These reports must be popularized, as well as the case fact sheet generated by Karapatan.

BAYAN USA calls on the Philippine Embassy in DC to remove the PHRC statement from its website immediately. It also encourages action by the international community to counter efforts by the Arroyo government to cover-up the triple abduction starting with an email/fax barrage of copies of the official police reports and Karapatan fact sheet on the case, to the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and the PHRC. The Philippine Embassy’s website was amongst the first to publish the statement from the PHRC.

BAYAN USA remains confident that the truth will eventually surface on what happened to Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc. “Once Melissa Roxas speaks out, no amount of lies concocted by the Arroyo administration’s propaganda machine will be able to save it from the consequences,” Ellorin ended.

Update: Melissa Roxas Surfaced but search continues for CARABEO & HANDOC

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

News Statement
May 24, 2009

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

MELISSA ROXAS’ SURFACING A VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE, BUT THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR CARABEO & HANDOC– BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino social justice organizations across the United States, is elated to confirm that Filipina-American activist Melissa Roxas, 32, surfaced hours ago in Manila as of Sunday, May 24th. BAYAN USA confirmed this report with the human rights group Karapatan. A detailed account about the circumstances of her surfacing is still forthcoming.

“We are happy to hear about Melissa’s surfacing, but we are still concerned about the whereabouts of her two companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, who were abducted along with Melissa on May 19th and are still missing to this day,” states BAYAN USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin. “We fully intend to pursue the demand for the surfacing of Carabeo and Handoc, as well as justice for Melissa. This abduction should never have taken place.”

Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a medical mission team in La Paz, Tarlac, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint by at least eight masked men in the middle of the night last week. Upon learning of Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc’s enforced disappearance, BAYAN USA, along with BAYAN Philippines and Karapatan, exerted strong efforts calling for their immediate surfacing, including releasing an online petition addressed to US elected officials that gathered hundreds of signatures in a matter of hours.

“Because more than five days had passed since their abduction, we believe Melissa’s surfacing is a direct result of rapid community response and international pressure exerted from the Philippines and the United States first and foremost,” Ellorin continued. BAYAN USA in Southern California has also been working closely with Roxas’ family in Los Angeles in their campaign efforts to surface Roxas and her companions in the Philippines.

Roxas, a founding member of the cultural organization Habi-Arts in Los Angeles and founding Southern California Representative for BAYAN USA, went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights advocacy full-time. Her move was set amidst an acute human rights crisis in the Philippines that includes reports of rampant extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrest, torture, and summary executions. In 2005, Roxas participated in an international fact-finding mission investigating human rights violations throughout the Philippines under the Arroyo administration.

On Wednesday, May 27th, BAYAN USA member organizations across the United States will be launching actions denouncing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a military pact that allows for the basing of US military troops in over 20 ports throughout the Philippines. Included in these actions will be the call for justice for Melissa Roxas and for the immediate surfacing of Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. BAYAN USA firmly believes the continuing, unabated human rights violations committed by the Philippine military and death squads are generously funded by US military aid to the Arroyo government. BAYAN USA also ultimately holds the Arroyo government accountable for the pattern of killings and abductions against civilians critical of the regime since 2001.

“As we continue to campaign for justice for Melissa, Juanito, and John Edward, we are consciously raising awareness of the role of US tax dollars in funding these abductions and other human rights violations. There are hundreds more victims of politically-motivated abductions in the Philippines that are still missing to this day,” Ellorin ended. ###

NY TIMES
U.S. Woman Freed After Abduction in Philippines
By CARLOS H. CONDE
Published: May 25, 2009

MANILA — An American woman has been freed five days after armed and hooded men believed to have been military agents abducted her and two other companions in a province north of Manila, her colleagues said Monday.

Melissa Roxas, 31, an activist from Los Angeles who had been doing volunteer health work in Tarlac Province, was kidnapped on May 19 along with two other health volunteers for a nongovernment group.

She “surfaced this morning,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the group Bayan, of which Ms. Roxas is a member. Mr. Reyes said it was not yet clear why only Ms. Roxas was freed. The fate of the two other workers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, remained unknown.

It was the first time that an American citizen had fallen victim to what Bayan and human rights groups here call “enforced disappearances,” or the abduction of activists by those suspected of being military agents.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., the spokesman of the armed forces, said the military had received a report on Ms. Roxas’ disappearance but declined to comment. “We are verifying it,” he said.

According to Mr. Reyes, Ms. Roxas and her companions were taken at gunpoint from the village where they were working and shoved into a van without license plates.

Mr. Reyes could not yet say whether Ms. Roxas was harmed by her abductors. “The circumstances of her release are still unknown to us, and there is concern for her safety as well even if she has been released,” he said. Mr. Reyes said that Ms. Roxas was resting with her family in Manila.

Ms. Roxas — who is of Filipino descent — moved to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue “human rights advocacy full-time,” Bernadette Ellorin, a colleague in the United States, said in an e-mail message.

According to the human rights group Karapatan, more than 200 Filipino activists have been kidnapped and never heard from since 2001, the year President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power. Others have turned up dead or showing signs of torture. Groups including Human Rights Watch have said that the disappearances are part of the government’s counterinsurgency campaign against leftist rebels. The military has consistently denied such charges, calling it propaganda by leftist groups sympathetic to the three-decade-old Communist movement in the Philippines.
But the United Nations Human Rights Council, in a report last year prepared by its special rapporteur Philip Alston, called on Ms. Arroyo to institute reforms within the military as well as to investigate thoroughly what Mr. Alston called “credible allegations” that the military was behind most of these killings and abductions. Eduardo Ermita, Ms. Arroyo’s executive secretary and spokesman, called the U.N. rapporteur’s report inaccurate and said Mr. Alston was biased in favor of leftist groups.

SURFACE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTIVIST MELISSA ROXAS NOW!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 24, 2009

Reference: Kuusela Hilo, BAYAN-USA Vice Chair, 818-395-9207,
vicechair@bayanusa.org

Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org

SURFACE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTIVIST MELISSA ROXAS NOW

BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and
chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling
on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National
Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately
surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was
abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls
on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure
the safe return of Roxas.

Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the
first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded
the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights
advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent
that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an
international fact finding mission that called attention to the
escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to
the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became
a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009
at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian,
La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and
John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La
Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed,
hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license
plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition
of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of
Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of
over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of
suspected state security forces.

“We are deeply concerned about the abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito
Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. We call for Melissa and her companions
to be immediately surfaced unharmed,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General
Rhonda Ramiro. “We condemn the ongoing abductions and human rights
violations that have been rampant under the Arroyo administration and
victimized thousands of innocent people.”

The search for Roxas and her companions will be spearheaded by the
human rights organization KARAPATAN, while BAYAN-USA, its member
organizations, and allies will undertake an international campaign to
exert pressure on the Arroyo government to surface Roxas. “We appeal
to our elected officials, members of the Filipino American community,
and all people in the U.S. who believe in human rights to take action
to surface Melissa and her companions. Since we were founded in 2005,
BAYAN-USA has campaigned ceaselessly for an end to the human rights
violations in the Philippines, and we will not stop until we obtain
justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations under
Arroyo.”