Archive for philippines

In Wake of DREAM Act Defeat Filipinos Reinvigorate Call for Legalization for ALL

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by kulturalguerilla

For Immediate Release
December 20, 2010

NAFCON National Office

In Wake of DREAM Act Defeat Filipinos Reinvigorate Call for
Legalization for ALL

Just days after the DREAM Act failed to pass in the U.S. Senate, NAFCON reaffirms its commitment to fight for Legalization for All. Rev. Fr. Ben Alforque, MSC, NAFCON President commented, “There are more than one million undocumented Filipinos in the U.S. who have a right to a decent life here in America. Our kababayan should be recognized for their legitimate contribution to this country instead of having to live in the shadows. We must strengthen our efforts to fight for their rights.”

NAFCON is opposed to the criminalization of undocumented immigrants.  Migrants, specifically from third world countries such as the Philippines, are forced to leave their homelands because of the worsening conditions of landlessness, joblessness, and economic hardship. It is this situation of extreme poverty and hopelessness that pushes them to search for livelihood in the U.S. and 190 other countries throughout the world. Rev. Alforque stated, “It is inhumane to criminalize undocumented immigrants because laws should protect people in search of a better life not persecute them.”

NAFCON points to the role of the Philippine and U.S. government in creating the conditions that forced millions of Filipinos to migrate and become undocumented.  Every year the U.S. gives millions of tax dollars to the Philippine government as incentives to implement policies which favor American interests at the expense of the Filipino people. For example the Philippine government prioritizes repayment of its debt to the U.S. controlled IMF/World Bank over the welfare of its people. Rev. Alforque explained, “The Philippines spends nearly 20% of its national budget to debt servicing while the allocations for education, health care, and social welfare combined is 17%.  It is the implementation of policies like these, at the behest of the U.S., that impoverish the Philippines and force its people to seek a better life in other countries.”

NAFCON demands the U.S. overhaul its immigration system to protect all workers, unite families, and unify our communities. NAFCON also calls for an end to U.S. intervention in the Philippines and throughout the world because the issue of forced migration is rooted in the creation of poverty and resulting lack of opportunity in the third world.

NAFCON urges its member organizations and allies to work toward building a mass movement towards Legalization for All and an end to policies causing forced migration. Lyra Ibarra, Chairperson of Active Leadership to Advance the Youth in San Francisco commented, “We need to make certain that all our kababayan are given a fair path to legalization. It is not just those who go to college or who serve in the military that should be recognized, but all undocumented peoples who contribute to this country.”


To join the NAFCON news list please send a request to
The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns [NAFCON] is a national multi-issue alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals in the United States serving to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos by fighting for social, economic, and racial justice and equality. It was launched in San Jose California in 2003. At present, NAFCON members encompass over 23 cities in the United States.




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


Reference: San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines


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.



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.

Visiting the Morong 43

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

The first time I heard about the Morong 43, I was outraged. It seems that serving people who are in need has become a crime. These are simple health workers; doctors, nurses, medical assistants. What possible threat could they be to the government? The Morong 43 were participating in a health training seminar on February 6, 2010, when the police and military stormed in the seminar and arrested them. They weren’t even read their rights. It wasn’t until they were all handcuffed and blindfolded when they were told why they were being arrested, which does not fit the rules of engagement in law enforcement. The 43 are accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and were attending a bomb-making workshop. After hearing the testimonies of their families and loved ones, and the lack of evidence, I know fully well that this accusation is not true. Nevertheless, regardless of political affiliation, no one should be treated this way by the government.

When I went to visit them at Camp Bagong Diwa for the first time, I was briefed by members of Karapatan and their relatives about what to expect. Now, even though I used to be a reckless menace during my younger days, I’ve never been caught for the petty crimes I did nor have ever been to a detention area. Honestly, I was pretty nervous. What would I talk about with them? What kind of questions should I ask, if any?

I first visited the women’s holding area, where the women of the Morong 43 are being detained. To my surprise, they were all smiling and happy to see us. These women were all very approachable and easy to talk to. After our introductions, they asked if I have any questions, and I replied, “Wala po. Nandito ako lamang makinig sa iyong mga kwento” (I don’t have any. I’m just here to listen to your stories). The first woman I talked to, Dr. Merry, shared with me that it wasn’t until they were transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa, a camp of the Philippine National Police (PNP), that they were all able to share their stories. They were previously detained at Camp Capinpin, a camp of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). At Camp Capinpin, they were handcuffed and blindfolded for the first 36 hours. They were also constantly tortured; slapped on the head, forced to urinate while still blindfolded and handcuffed not knowing if they’re being watched by a man or a woman, constantly told they were going to die, etc. They all took turns sleeping so they could hear what was happening to their colleagues. They were put into cells for 2 people or in solitary confinement. They weren’t allowed family visits, and when that was granted, they could only visit for 5 minutes.

It wasn’t until the aggressive outcry of progressive and human rights organizations in the Philippines and internationally, that 38 of the 43 were transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa, where they experience no torture at all. Unfortunately, 5 are still detained at Camp Capinpin because they were forced to admit they were NPA. The 38 still support them and understand their admission was forced, and still fear for the safety of the 5. Nevertheless, they are still considered part of the Morong 43. The conditions at Camp Bagong Diwa, while not ideal, are still far better than Camp Capinpin. They get family and friends visits for up to 4 hours on visit days, families and friends can bring them food, books, pens, art supplies, newspapers etc., all which were denied to them at Camp Capinpin.

The other women of the 43 I talked to were Mariel, Maria Teresa, Linda, Delia, and Jaq. They were all very animated and smiling. They say it’s because the conditions are better where they are now and their experience only made them stronger. Their detention only meant that they were doing something right. They are also happy and hopeful because of the support they have locally and globally. They continue to fight and struggle not just for themselves, but for all victims of human rights violations. To them, each day is one day closer to freedom. They also shared with me how it was hard to speak on their experience at first and couldn’t do so without crying. Now that they have constant visitors, it’s become easier to share.

When I went to visit the men of the 43, I got a bad taste of my human rights being violated. In order to visit the men, you must first go through a strip search. We were forced to take off our clothes in small private rooms while they took a look at EVERYTHING we had. Since I forgot I had my cell phone, I had to go back out and put it in the car, and when I went back in, I had to go through the strip search AGAIN. Now, I usually have no shame, but I thought this bullshit strip search was just too much and very unnecessary. It robs the visitors of more than their dignity. The strip search is something we’re going to protest.

When we finally got to see the men of the 43 in their cells, they were also happy to see us, but not as animated as the women. They all had an easy going demeanor but didn’t talk as much. Only one, Franco, was very animated and liked to talk. He serves as the spokesman for the 43. They also shared with me the same stories of torture as the women, with the addition of getting hit in the testicles while they urinated. I was warned about talking to Dr. Montes, the oldest of the group. I was told he was visibly depressed and standoff-ish. But when I talked to him, he opened up. He shared with me his years of work as a doctor and his hope for justice to prevail. His visiting grandson was hugging him the entire time we talked.

The second time we visited the Morong 43 was on the 4 month anniversary of their detainment. We staged a short rally outside with speakers from Bayan, ILPS, Migrante International, Free the Morong 43 Alliance, and League of Filipino Students. Joining us inside were Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino from Bayan Muna, Liza Maza and Emmi de Jesus from Gabriela-Philippines, and other congress representatives from Anakpawis and Kilusang Mayo Uno. I was surprised Ka Satur remembered me from our first meeting at the Kabataan Party-list victory party. Once again, I was caught off guard as I was introduced as the speaker on behalf of Bayan-USA. Since everyone else spoke in Tagalog, I wanted to challenge myself and speak in Tagalog. I started off with a disclaimer: “Una, pasenya na ako, kasi ang aking Tagalog hindi mas magaling. Pero, I will try just for you” (Apologies first, because my Tagalog isn’t that great. But, I will try…). I basically said in Tagalog how we all felt in the US when we heard about their case and the work we’re doing to address it. I ended off by saying how they all inspire us with their strength and continued fight and hope. Ka Satur was the first to shake my hand and say how good that was, and everyone else thought so as well, even though I know I messed up on some grammar. Taritz, in her blunt honesty that I always love, said I need to practice more.

Currently, their file for writ of habeus corpus is still yet to be heard by the supreme court. Hopefully, with the ending of the highly unpopular President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term on June 30, 2010, the next president, which at this point looks like it’s going to be Noynoy Aquino, will release the Morong 43 and all political prisoners, just as his mother Cory Aquino did when she became president.

The inspiration and resolve in the struggle for human rights in the case of the Morong 43 is truly two-way. They say they have strength and hope because of our work and support. But really, they also inspire us by their resilience in the face of injustice. These very special kasamas have really done nothing wrong. Their only crime was serving the people. Echoing the words of the late Filipino freedom fighter Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, “If helping the poor is a crime and fighting for freedom is rebellion, then, I plead guilty as charged.”

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

8 February 2010

Reference: NAFCON National Office 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: /

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

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

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

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





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.

“They Don’t Really Care About Us”

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

As a dancer and passionate Michael Jackson fan, just by the aesthetics alone, I was floored in amazement by this awesome performance. This is one of countless examples that Pin@ys are among the best damn dancers in the world. I give mad props to Travis Payne for even going to the Philippines and wanting to share with the inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention & Rehabilitation Center, the closest they’ll ever get to the dream of dancing with the late MJ. These prisoners, deemed criminals and banished from society, became international superstars from their now infamous YouTube performance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” all without ever leaving the prison industrial complex.

After the thrill and amazement from watching that performance, I find myself internally very conflicted. But I strongly feel that it needs to be part of our discourse as artists.

Now from a socio-political analysis, I can’t help but wonder about the sheer exploitation and abuse these prisoners go through, and in the end they get what, besides international fame? The only one I see reaping the material benefits from all of this is warden Byron Garcia. It’s very true that prison is a microcosm of society, where artists are among the most exploited by those in positions of power, like mainstream media. Like MJ said, “They Don’t Really Care About Us.”

I really would like to see if anything beyond just this video performance would happen to benefit the prisoners for their talents.

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,

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.”

Filipina/o American Youth Denounces the Arroyo Administration’s Renewed Campaign Against Activists

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

For Immediate Release

December 1, 2009

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


Filipina/o American Youth Denounces the Arroyo Administration’s Renewed Campaign Against Activists
Scare Tactics by “Special Intelligence Group” Claims the Life of a Migrant Organizer

SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth mourns and expresses outrage over the death of Danilo Benalo, a member of the Center for Filipino Seafarers (CENTERFILS), who, after harassment by suspected state agents, died of a stroke on November 24. Benalo was an organizer for Migrante International, a worldwide alliance of grassroots organizations addressing concerns of Filipino migrants.

Members of a “special intelligence group” confronted Benalo around noon on November 23 and threatened to harm his family should he refuse to cooperate with the group. They warned him that they had information about him, including his record as an activist and the whereabouts of his family. In distress Benalo agreed to meet with the state agents again that afternoon. However, when a friend, with whom
he had shared the incident and whom he had promised to call after his meeting, tried to reach him later that day, Benalo had already been rushed to a hospital due to a stroke. Benalo died the next morning.

SanDiwa not only grieves the loss of a dedicated migrant organizer, but also condemns the Arroyo administration’s renewed campaign against activists critical of the government, under the direction of newly appointed Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzeles. The death of Mr. Benalo is an addition to the growing list of political killings, enforced disappearances and torture of activists committed by military and secret intelligence groups under the Arroyo regime. “This is no different from the abduction of student activists such as Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, the abduction and torture of Filipino American Melissa Roxas, and the violent dispersal of student rallyists at Malacanang last August. All these human rights violations were committed by state forces under the direct watch of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. All the victims were people advocating for human rights and fighting for positive and genuine change in Philippine society,” said Aurora Victoria David, officer of Stanford University’s Pilipino American Student Union, a member organization of Sandiwa.

“Because of desperation of the Arroyo government in quelling resistance, it is willing to use any strategy—scare tactics, torture, or direct abduction and killing—to silence its critics. This brutal campaign indiscriminately victimizes activists, journalists, women, and church people. As long as you are vocal in criticizing the government, you are an enemy and a target.” declared Anne Beryl Corotan, Chairperson of Sandiwa. With the 2010 Philippine elections fast approaching, and due to fear of losing their positions, those in power resort to coercive acts. The recent massacre of journalists and innocent civilians over local electoral campaigns in Maguindanao, and the delisting of Migrante Partylist from contending in the coming elections are just a couple of examples of countless repressive tactics utilized by the Arroyo administration and its allies in their desperate clutch to power.

Despite all of the repression, SanDiwa vows to continue to educate, organize, and mobilize Filipina/os in the United States in demanding justice for these violations of human rights. “We will continue to protect the rights of the people and will not stop until justice is brought to Mr. Benalo and all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines,” ended Corotan.

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.