Archive for gma

NAFCON-US Demands the Immediate Release of 43 Health Workers Illegally Arrested and Illegally Detained in a Military Raid

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8 February 2010

Reference: NAFCON National Office
info@nafconusa.org 718-565-8862 718-565-8856 (fax)

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns-US (NAFCON-US) Demands the Immediate Release of 43 Health Workers Illegally Arrested and Illegally Detained in a Military Raid, Rizal Province, Philippines

New York—NAFCON-US, an alliance of Filipino American organizations based in 23 cities, condemns the Philippine police and military’s illegal raid and abduction of 43 health workers and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines on Saturday, February 6. The health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD). Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.

The human rights alliance KARAPATAN reports approximately 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 AM. At gunpoint, the military forced the caretaker to open the gates. Inside, the soldiers fanned out to different directions. They also kicked the main door to get into the building.

When Dr. Velmonte and her son, Bob demanded for a search warrant, they were merely brushed aside by the military. All medical practitioners and health workers, were ordered to line up at the garage, frisked, and handcuffed. The victims were also questioned and photographed by the military, while another took a video recording of the interrogation. The male victims were then blindfolded with old shirts brought in by the soldiers and secured with packaging tape.

When the participants were already handcuffed, it was only then that Police Superintendent Marion P. Balonglong showed Bob a search warrant for a certain Mario Condes of Bgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal, charged with illegal possession of firearms. The search warrant dated February 5, 2010 and issued by Judge Cesar A. Mangrobang of Branch 22 of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court, did not indicate the exact address of the Velmonte compound. Bob asserted that the warrant did not specify their address, and that Mario Condes, who is subject of the warrant, is not even the owner of the house, but he was ignored by the authorities.

The health workers were forced into the military trucks and were brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of Philippine Army. The health workers have been held incommunicado since then, and have been denied their right to legal counsel. A team from the Commission on Human Rights was also blocked from seeing the detainees.

“The PNP and AFP’s illegal abduction and detention of health professionals is reprehensible and again highlights the Arroyo regime’s disregard for human rights,” states Father Benjamin Alforque, NAFCON-US President. “We condemn the government for arresting these health care providers while they were undergoing ‘First Response Training,’ to serve the poor who are in most need of critical healthcare.”

“If the Philippine government was truly concerned with the welfare of the Filipino people, especially in light of the recent devastation caused by natural disasters such as Ondoy and Pepeng, it would be supporting, not arresting, health professionals who are trained in emergency response and who seek to serve communities,” adds Julia Camagong, NAFCON Vice President of Programs.

Karapatan Recommended action endorsed by NAFCON-US:
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1. The immediate release of the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

2. The government to ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them.

3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into raid and illegal arrest of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.

4. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”

5. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

You may send your communications to:
H.E.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacañang 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

Gen. Avelino Razon, Ret. PNP
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
osec@opapp.gov.ph

Norberto Gonzales
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

Atty. 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: soj@doj.gov.ph

Atty. Leila De Lima
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chr.delima@yahoo.com

GMA STOP THE ILLEGAL ABDUCTION AND DETENTION OF COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER THE ARROYO REGIME!

NO TO US MILITARY AID THAT SUPPORTS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS

________________________________________________________________________________

NAFCON Mission and Purpose

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is a national network of Filipino organizations, institutions, and individuals committed to advancing the rights and welfare, celebrating culture and history, and building unity among Filipinos living and working in the United States. Founded in 2003, NAFCON members are based in over 23 cities across the country. Member organizations include: SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns, Filipino Community Center–San Francisco, Filipino Community Support–Silicon Valley, Philippine Forum—New York and New Jersey, F.I.R.E.—New York, Habi Arts—Los Angeles, Liwanag Kultural Center—Daly City, Filipino Ministry of DSB—San Bernardino, Fellowship for Filipino Migrants—Illinois, and Filipino Migrant Heritage Commission—Virginia.

The main purpose of NAFCON is to contribute our time and efforts to fight and protect the Rights and Welfare of the Filipino immigrants all over the globe. Through education, organizing, mobilizing, fundraising, networking and lobbying; we hope to restore social justice and equality for our people in the United States and in the Philippines.

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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.”

ON THE 37TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF MARTIAL LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES, FILIPINA/O YOUTH & STUDENTS ARE VOCAL AS EVER AGAINST OPPRESSION.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

For Immediate Release

Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth
Contact: sandiwa.national@gmail.com

ON THE 37TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF MARTIAL LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES, FILIPINA/O YOUTH & STUDENTS ARE VOCAL AS EVER AGAINST OPPRESSION.

September 21, 1972, is a day that the Filipina/o people bitterly remember as the day their freedom was suppressed by then President Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos declared the Philippines placed under martial law, an abuse of power he exercised to silence his critics and suppress the opposition. Marcos ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for the subsequent years until his downfall in 1986, when the people rose up against his brutal dictatorship and ousted him from office. The years during his rule are remembered a dark period in Philippine history, when human rights violations ran rampant, which included, but limited to, enforced disappearances, arrests based on trumped up charges, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

In the years leading up to the declaration of martial law, Marcos was facing a growing opposition for a failing Philippine economy, riddled with government graft and corruption. Among the many criticisms of his administration was also a failing education system, during which the Philippine youth and student population grew restless and began massive organizing to demand education reforms. Youth and students held massive rallies, some having up to 50,000 participants. The youth and students were among those in the forefront of this opposition, during a period of time known as the First Quarter Storm. Massive oppositions from the youth and students, as well as the poor and working class, are what led Marcos to violently retaliate by declaring martial law, fearful that his power over the people was waning.

37 years later, we are seeing striking similarities. Current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) is also facing massive opposition from the Philippine people. Her administration has also faced several charges of graft and corruption, as well as over 1,000 cases of human rights violations, the same brutal power tactics of Marcos that the GMA administration is seemingly trying to emulate. Again, the youth and students are among the forefront of the opposition, this time against GMA.

In May 2009, Melissa Roxas, a Filipina American student and human rights activist, was abducted along with two companions while doing volunteer medical work in the Philippines by elements believed to be the Philippine military. After being brutally tortured for five days, she resurfaced and returned to the safety of her family in the United States. However, instead of quietly accepting this injustice, she courageously returned to the Philippines to speak out and seek justice for these atrocities, not just for her, but for all victims of human rights violations under GMA. In August 2009, about 200 youth and students conducted a rally in front of Malacañang Palace to express their outrage and disgust over the expensive international trips of Arroyo and her large entourage, prime examples of the President’s insensitivity towards the majority of Philippines who live in immense hunger and poverty. This raises the question of how much of the people’s money is being used to fund these excesses. The youth and student rallyists were met with indiscriminant and arbitrary arrests, as well as brutal physical injuries at the hands of the Philippine police.

The SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am youth joins with their fellow youth and student kababayans in the Philippines and Filipina/os worldwide in remembering the dark and brutal days of martial law, and the conditions of today that are strikingly similar. We recognize that it is because of oppressive regimes like those of Marcos and GMA that thousands of Filipina/os were and are forced to make the choice to leave the Philippines. Because of massive unemployment and poverty in the Philippines, many Filipina/os immigrated to other countries like the United States, which has the largest Filipina/o population outside of the Philippines. It is also because of oppression that a massive resistance was fomented, which ousted the Marcos dictatorship in the People Power uprising in 1986. And with the current state of “undeclared martial law” in the Philippines under the GMA administration, the youth and student opposition is as strong as ever. We will never forget the dark days of martial law and the many Filipina/os who suffered and died during this period. We will never forget the victims of the current brutal regime of GMA. And with the power of our youth voice, we will continue fighting until declared and “undeclared” martial law is “never again.”

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.

Statement on the Killing of Fr. Cecilio Lucero

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

Quo usque tandem abutere, Gloria, patientia nostra?

(How long will you, Gloria, abuse our patience?)

Statement on the Killing of Fr. Cecilio Lucero

By the National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns

We, of the National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns (NEFFCON), an alliance of Church-based individuals and groups in the United States of America, condemn the killing of Fr. Cecilio Lucero as an evil deed by an evil regime in the Philippines. With our fraternal organization in the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns in the US (NAFCON), the SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, we express our vehement moral indignation at the murder of Fr. Lucero.

What has Fr. Lucero done so as to provoke the vile regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to aim its guns, reportedly held by some thirty people in ambush, on an early Sunday morning, against a priest-minister of God and servant-minister of the people?

Fr. Cecilio Lucero was a Roman Catholic priest, and pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish of Catubig, Samar in Eastern Visayas. His life and work mirrored his deep convictions as Minister of God, disciple of Jesus and servant of the people! As a justice and peace and human rights advocate, he headed the Catarman Diocesan Human Rights and Social Action Desk, chaired the Committee on Human Rights and the Task Force Peace and Order of the Diocese of Catarman. Fr. Lucero was also an outstanding member of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), an ecumenical national organization of church people dedicated to the promotion and defense of justice, peace, human rights and integrity of creation. PCPR itself is listed as a legal front of the Communist Party of the Philippines in the Trinity of War, Book III, of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and as “one of the enemies of the State” in the Order of Battle of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its Oplan Bantay Laya II counter-insurgency campaigns.

According to reports, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself was engaged in anti-communist witch-hunting when she labeled Fr. Lucero as ‘that communist priest’ before a civilian crowd and in front of her military officers at the inauguration of the Catubig Bridge last June 16, 2009. By that act, the so-called President of the Philippines and Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines sealed the death sentence of Fr. Lucero.

The brutal ambush of Fr. Lucero once again speaks of the wanton violations of human rights committed with impunity in the Philippines. Backed by the record of more than 1,100 under the GMA regime, Fr. Lucero’s killing should by now convince the Bishops and the Christian churches in the Philippines to openly withdraw their support to the GMA regime. Fr. Lucero’s inhuman death should by now prick the conscience of this priest-ideologue and his partner in the defense department of the GMA regime that their moral interpretation to justify GMA’s anti-communist war has shed the blood of a civilian fellow-priest.

We of NEFFCON and SanDiwa, with our fraternal organizations in NAFCON, remember the heroism of Fr. Lucero and his dedicated service to the poor and the victims of human rights abuses. His martyrdom adds one more candle to the Light that is guiding the struggle of the Filipino people for Jobs and Justice, Food and Freedom, Land and Liberation. With Fr. Lucero’s interment on September 14, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross in the Catholic Tradition, we celebrate his 22nd sacerdotal anniversary and his share of Christ’s gift of the Resurrection. We pledge to carry on his cause and the struggle of the Filipino people by urging the US government to withhold military aid to the Philippines until the GMA regime prosecute these human rights violators, indemnify their victims, and create a climate for genuine peace talks that shall usher in a transformed society of justice and peace. We exhort the Filipino Youth in the Philippines, and the FilAm Youth in the United States of America to take inspiration from the life and death of Fr. Lucero in the vigorous defense of human rights. We call on the Filipino and the American peoples to withdraw their recognition of the GMA regime, for we cannot tolerate its abuses anymore.

Fr. Cecilio Lucero’s blood cries out from the depth of the earth: How long will you, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, abuse our patience?

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the cause of justice, for theirs is the Reign of Heaven!” (Matt 5, 10).

Signed:

For the National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns (NEFFCON)

Bishop Val Lorejo, IFI

Pastor Roy Padilla, United Methodist Church

For the SanDiwa National Alliance of FilAm Youth

Ryan Leano, SanDiwa Secretary General and Northern California Regional Coordinator

For the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)

Fr. Benjamin E. Alforque, MSC

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

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

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
24278422
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)

SANDIWA NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FIL-AM YOUTH JOIN THEIR FELLOW FILIPINA/OS AROUND THE WORLD IN VOICING THE PEOPLE’S STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2009 by kulturalguerilla

For Immediate Release
July 27, 2009

SanDiwa Statement on GMA’s 2009 State of the Nation Address

Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth
Email: sandiwa.national@gmail.com

SANDIWA NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF FIL-AM YOUTH JOIN THEIR FELLOW FILIPINA/OS AROUND THE WORLD IN VOICING THE PEOPLE’S STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

On July 27, 2009, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be giving her annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) to boast on the social, economic, and political progress that her administration believes the Philippines as a nation has made. This will mark her ninth SONA and potentially, her last. However, as in years past, the Filipina/o people are expecting the same rhetoric that does not reflect the reality of immense poverty, government corruption, human rights violations, and increasingly unattainable education.

This year’s SONA may very well be her last, and with an approval rating of only 26 percent, the majority of the people have high hopes it will be so. Recognizing this, Arroyo’s administration has orchestrated a plan in order to stay in power beyond her presidential term, taking the form of Charter Change, or “Cha-Cha” as it is commonly called. If “Cha-Cha” is approved, the current Philippine Constitution will be changed so that the current system of government will be changed to a parliamentary system, allowing Arroyo to become Prime Minister for an unspecified length of time. Given her administration’s horrible track record of government corruption, rampant human rights violations that even surpasses former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and worsening poverty, “Cha-Cha” is a desperate move for her to cling to power and is highly unpopular with the people. This political maneuvering will only result in the continuing worsening poverty, government corruption, and human rights violations, clearly at the people’s disadvantage.

The Filipina/o people know that because of these conditions in the Philippines, about 3,000 Filipina/os leave the country everyday to escape the poverty and find work abroad. Filipina/os living abroad often work to send money back to their families in the Philippines, and billions of dollars in remittances is what is keeping the Philippines’ already fragile economy afloat. If Arroyo’s boasts of economic progress were only true, then Filipina/os would not be leaving the country just to find work. “Cha-Cha” would only perpuate, if not worsen, these conditions. As Fil-Am youth in the United States, we are all too familiar with this situation, being children of Filipina/o immigrants who left their homeland for greener pastures in order to provide for their families.

The worsening economy has also made the Philippines unsafe for those who simply wish to address these social issues. Many journalists, workers, students, and even innocent civilians who have chosen to organize and speak out against poverty, corruption, and injustice have experienced human rights violations in the form of abduction, forced disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Their only crime was seeking justice. With the increasing incidences of human rights violations, which run rampant and unchecked, Filipina/o Americans are growing increasingly concerned about their kababayan (fellow countrymen) in the Philippines as well as their own safety when traveling back to the homeland, whether it be for visiting family or going on exposure trips. Recently, Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipina/o descent, was abducted and tortured by elements known to be connected to the Philippine military. Fortunately, she was resurfaced and safe after being missing for five days. Roxas was a founding member of Habi-Arts in Los Angeles, a cultural organization that is also a part of NAFCON. She was in the Philippines on an extended exposure trip simply doing volunteer healthcare work. After being resurfaced and returning to the U.S. to be reunited with her family, she is now back in the Philippines to testify about her abduction and torture before the Commission on Human Rights. SanDiwa applauds and commends her courage to return to the Philippines and speak not only for herself, but for all victims of human rights violations. Her courage is inspiring to SanDiwa and all people working towards social justice.

What is also happening in the Philippines that Filipina/o American youth can closely relate to is the rising cost of tuition at universities throughout the nation. More and more funding is being taken out of education, and college is becoming more and more unaffordable. Similar situations are happening in the U.S. In New York, the City University of New York system cut $51 million from its budget as the governor’s plan to address the state’s finances in the current financial crisis. In July 2009, The California State University system increased student fees by 20% and is not accepting applicants for Winter 2010 and Spring 2010 terms. In addition, classes are being cut and in effect lengthening the time for students to graduate. It is the students who are directly and severely affected by these budget cuts and tuition increases. These are just two examples of countless others throughout the U.S. What we see is less investment on education and more funding towards law enforcement and military, which is a very similar situation in the Philippines.

Yet despite all these unjust conditions, Filipina/o American youth stand in solidarity with our kababayan (countrymen/women) in the Philippines taking to the streets and voicing the true state of the nation, standing up against “Cha-Cha,” human rights violations, and rising college tuition fees. While our people in the Philippines struggle with these injustices, we realize that our struggles as Filipino Americans are closely connected, with the criminalization of immigrants and youth, the rising student fees at colleges and universities, and budget cuts to education that goes towards military funding instead. Our work as a National Alliance of Fil-Am youth is especially important here in the United States, because it is our U.S. tax dollars that support the GMA administration. In this new era of “hope” and “change,” we will tirelessly work to make those words hold true, for a better Philippines, for a better United States, for a better world.

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.