Filipinos Rally Outside Consulate Against Martial Law and Call For Resumption of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release
June 6, 2017

REFERENCE
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, (201) 839-6050

never again to martial law
Filipinos and allies rally outside New York Philippine Consulate to condemn martial law in Mindanao (Photo Credit: Joe Catron)

NEW YORK — On Monday, June 5th, Filipinos and allies rallied outside the New York Philippine Consulate to condemn martial law in the Philippines and to call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks.  The rally was organized by BAYAN USA Northeast two weeks after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following attacks between the Maute-ISIS group and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Marawi City.

The demonstration called for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines and for the continuation of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government Republic of the Philippines (GRP). The Duterte administration canceled the fifth round of peace talks shortly after martial law was declared in Mindanao, blaming the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which issued a call to intensify military offensives to protect communities against increased AFP military operations. This round of talks was supposed to finish discussions on agrarian reform and rural development (ARRD) in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and Political and Constitutional Reform, and start deliberations on national industrialization and economic development (NIED) and environmental protection, and rehabilitation and compensation.

“Who stands to gain from the cancellation of the peace talks and from martial law? Definitely not the people of the Philippines, especially not the Moro and indigenous peoples of Mindanao who are being displaced by the thousands by the AFP,” said Ruthie Arroyo, chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey. “Let us not forget the brutality of martial law under dictator Marcos. Martial law has never been the solution to problems in the Philippines and will only aggravate the ongoing all-out war of the GRP against people’s resistance.”

Potri Ranka of Kinding Sindaw spoke on her experience as a martial law survivor and as an indigenous Moro woman from Lanao del Sur. Close to tears, Ranka called on President Duterte and the GRP to immediately revoke martial law and end the war on terror. “My city is already pulverized by air strikes,” she said. “There are more civilians killed than [those from the] Maute group. Stop the airstrikes! It destroys the Marawi. Give emphasis on self-determination of the Meranao Moro people and [do not use] the Meranao people as collateral in the war against terrorism. That is instigated by the real enemy of the President and detracts him from his peace talks program.”

The protesters made clear that they did not support the actions of the U.S.-directed Maute group in Marawi City, but that martial law was not the answer to bringing peace to Mindanao and will only bring about more human rights violations and state repression. Only a few days after the declaration of martial law, close to 300 young Moro men were rounded up and arrested in Davao City for lack of identification. The period after martial law also saw “the arrest of members and leaders of progressive organizations and the targeting of civilians” under the justification of ‘security.’ Long-running workers strikes and pickets in Mindanao are being dispersed and arrested, like the ShinSun union strike camp.

“The question of peace in Marawi, in Mindanao, and by extension in the Philippines, is essentially a question of land. The Moro struggle for self-determination, including the right to self-defense from the historic militarization and all-out war policies of the Philippine government against them, is essentially also a struggle for food, livelihood, dignity and justice,” said Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “Instead of addressing the roots of armed conflict and social unrest in Mindanao, the Philippine government is branding terrorists and once again skirting the status quo of impoverishment and landlessness imposed by the minority few against the vast majority in the country, with the backing of the U.S.”

NO TO MARTIAL LAW! OPPOSE GRP ALL OUT WAR!
END U.S. COUNTERINSURGENCY OPERATIONS & WAR ON TERROR!
RESUME THE NDFP-GRP PEACE TALKS!
DEFEND THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE!

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potri crying.jpg
Martial law survivor Potri Ranka of Kinding Sindaw shares experiences of her family in Marawi and appeals to Duterte for the lifting of martial law (Photo Credit: Joe Catron)
tita sad martial law
Filipinos from New York and New Jersey come together to say “Never Again to Martial Law!” (Photo Credit: Joe Catron)
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IMPERYALISMO IBAGSAK! Filipinos in the Northeast Resist Trump and Call for Unity and Solidarity Against Imperialism

filipinos-abny-against-fascism
Members of BAYAN USA Northeast at the “Emergency Rally Against the Muslim and Refugee Travel Ban” in Washington Square Park on January 25

For Immediate Release
February 4, 2017

Reference
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, (973) 641-9735

On the anniversary of the Philippine American War, Filipinos in the Northeast carry on the legacy of revolutionaries who fought against Spain and the United States by resisting the Trump administration’s outright fascist and imperialist agenda. Since Trump’s inauguration, Filipinos from throughout New York, New Jersey, and Washington DC have joined hundreds of thousands of people as part of the international outrage against the Trump administration’s discriminatory Executive Orders against migrants and refugees. This Philippine Solidarity Week, which happens every year on the week of February 4 to mark the Philippine American War, BAYAN USA Northeast commemorates the war that gave birth to the first colonies of the U.S. and calls for an intensification and continuation of Filipino resistance against U.S. domination.  

Since January 20, protests have swept the country almost every day and member organizations of BAYAN USA have taken to the streets throughout the Tri-State Area. Many of these rallies highlighted the need for unity and resistance in the face of an oligarchic administration bent on attacking the rights and services of working and poor communities.  On January 20, GABRIELA NY joined the Black, Brown and Indigenous March to linked arms with comrades to defend people’s rights.  That same day, Anakbayan NJ led the “Jersey City People’s Inauguration,” a rally and march organized by a coalition of progressive Jersey City groups called the Jersey City People’s Alliance.

“More than ever we must strengthen our solidarity and people’s movements as this fascist administration seeks to divide and intimidate us!” said Ana Robelo, the Solidarity Officer of Anakbayan New Jersey. “We take to the streets to show that with people power we will fight to defend our communities.”

On January 21, Anakbayan New York, as part of the steering committee of the New York City Against Trump Coalition, led the “Call to Action: J21 Make Fascists Scared Again!” march in a Muslim-majority neighborhood of Queens. “An image of monstrosity was just sworn in as president,” said Michael Legaspi, Solidarity Officer of Anakbayan New York. “ A monster that threatens to build walls to keep immigrants out; threatened to force Muslims to register their names for state surveillance, threatened to criminalize and deport millions more undocumented people–including Filipinos.”

Though the Philippines is not officially listed as one of the seven predominantly Muslim countries banned by Trump’s Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” 300,000 undocumented Filipinos in the U.S. are in danger of deportation as the Trump administration steps up its sweep of undocumented immigrants. In his Executive Order called “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” Trump announced an immigration enforcement priority system that is much broader than anything in the past. The language of this Executive Order suggests that individuals can be merely charged with a crime and do not have to be convicted to be considered for removal.

Additionally, President Rodrigo Duterte announced his intention of non-interference and lack of support for Filipino migrants who get deported. “If you are not allowed to stay there where you are staying, get out because if you are caught and deported, I will not lift a finger,” he said, during a news briefing in Malacanang. “You know that it is a violation of the law.”

Both of these world leaders head governments that are culpable for the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of people whom they are now condemning. All of the countries in the Trump administration’s travel entry ban (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) are countries that were bombed, militarized, and economically sanctioned by U.S. imperialist wars of aggression. The Philippines is also no stranger to forced migration by neoliberal policies. The Philippines’ labor export policy pushes 6000 Filipinos to leave the country everyday in search of work. Instead of creating the conditions for national industries and domestic jobs, the Philippine economy relies heavily on the labor and remittances of migrants–the very same people who Duterte will “not lift a finger” to help.

BAYAN USA Northeast draws lessons and inspiration from the Filipino revolutionaries of the Philippine-American War and calls on Filipinos in the United States to carry this legacy through heightened struggle. Survival under the Trump administration will require unity and a mass movement to destroy rising neo-fascism and intensifying imperialism. With every move of the Trump administration, Filipinos must link arms in solidarity with the masses of people in the United States who are taking to the streets in defense of their communities.  Now is not the time to quiver in fear, but to join mass organizations and alliances like BAYAN USA Northeast and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle to demand system change.

MAKIBAKA, HUWAG MATAKOT!
IMPERYALISMO IBAGSAK!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

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Filipinos Welcome President Duterte’s First ‘State of the Nation Address’ with Rally for Peace Based on Justice

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2016

Reference
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, (973) 641-9735

Filipinos Welcome President Duterte’s First ‘State of the Nation Address’ with Rally for Peace Based on Justice

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Michael Garrovillas of Anakbayan NY at the Northeast ‘SONA ng Bayan’ (PC: Devyn Manibo)

NEW YORK – Filipinos came together this past Friday, July 22 in Woodside, Queens to mark the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of newly elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Organized by BAYAN USA Northeast, a progressive alliance of Filipino organizations in New York and New Jersey, the rally reflected the “SONA ng Bayan” or “People’s State of the Nation Address” that happens annually in the Philippines. Expressing support for the Duterte administration’s pro-people reforms, the New York rally carried the message, “President Duterte, the Struggle Continues! Achieve Peace Based on Justice in the Philippines!”

Much like the Duterte administration so far, this year’s SONA ng Bayan was markedly different from others in the past. Featuring cultural performances and speeches, the rally expressed hope for change under the Duterte administration and called for the full implementation of the “People’s Agenda for Change.” Compiled by BAYAN Philippines after a long consultation process with different sectors of Philippine society, which involved the convening of thousands of Filipinos throughout the country, the People’s Agenda for Change presents a progressive and nationalist platform for the first 100 days of the Duterte administration in five key areas: economics, social policy, national sovereignty and foreign policy, peace and human rights, and governance and corruption. This Agenda was personally delivered by BAYAN activists and received by the president in Malacañang Palace during his first day in office.

Among these demands, the demonstrators highlighted the importance of the resumption of peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “The fight for peace must be grounded in the interests of the Filipino people lest it not be peace at all but pacification,” said Nina Macapinlac, Northeast Regional Coordinator of BAYAN USA. “We must address the root causes of the armed conflict [in the Philippines] that are embedded in the basic conditions of Filipino society, which is one very much beholden to imperialist and local class elite interests.”

Different sectoral groups delivered speeches welcoming the pro-people measures of the President and calling on him to fully address their concerns. Gary Labao of Migrante NY expressed support for the President, especially his pronouncement that working abroad should be “optional and not a necessity” through the creation of jobs in the Philippines.

Labao pointed out that the only solution to the economic problems of the Philippines is to implement genuine national industrialization and genuine land reform to end the vicious cycle of “import-dependency and export oriented” economic orientation. National industrialization can create more jobs at home and put a stop to the Filipinos going abroad as export products for human labor and slavery to other nations.

The SONA ng Bayan took place as the first follow-up event to the New York “People’s Summit,” a community forum of local Filipinos that took place in Queens on Sunday, July 10. The Summit discussed the national situation of the Philippines and presented the People’s Agenda for Change. Participants discussed their own conditions as overseas Filipinos in the United States and identified issues that they would like addressed, ranging from free education for youth and students to pension assistance and genuine representation for migrant workers. The group resolved to hold the Duterte government accountable to its promises through continued advocacy and education.

With more than 30,000 people at the SONA ng Bayan march outside Batasang Pambansa and numerous SONA ng Bayan events outside the Philippines like the New York rally, the Filipino people are vigilantly optimistic for peace and unity in the Philippines. As President Duterte said in his State of the Nation Address, “All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living.” The path to such a just and lasting peace will not be easy and it will require the help of all Filipinos–whether at home or abroad–to come together and ensure that the administration truly serves the interests of the people.

To learn more about the People’s Agenda for Change and how to get involved, contact bayanusa.ne@gmail.com, like BAYAN USA Northeast on Facebook, and visit www.bayanusanortheast.org!

Julie-Jamora-Photo_BAYAN-USA-NE_SONA-ng-BAYAN_DSC_3168_LR
Demonstrators welcome Duterte’s first SONA in Woodside, Queens (PC: Julie Jamora)
People's Agenda for Change
Demonstrators call for the full implementation of the People’s Agenda for Change (PC: Julie Jamora)
ABNJ Impe Tableaux
Cultural performance by Anakbayan NJ depicts the struggle of the indigenous Lumad against US imperialism (PC: Julie Jamora)
VIJOU PERFORM
GABRIELA NY’s Vijou Bryant performs a rap calling for the release of all political prisoners (PC: Julie Jamora)

 

Last “Independence” Day for Outgoing President B.S. Aquino, Struggle for Genuine Freedom Continues Under Incoming Duterte Administration

For Immediate Release
June 12, 2016

Reference:
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com

Last “Independence” Day for Outgoing President B.S. Aquino, Struggle for Genuine Freedom Continues Under Incoming Duterte Administration

Last “Independence” Day for Outgoing President B.S. Aquino, Struggle for Genuine Freedom Continues Under Incoming Duterte Administration (1)

NEW YORK – President Benigno S. Aquino delivered his last “Independence” Day speech in Malacañang Palace this past weekend to a country that was never truly free. On the occasion of the 118th anniversary of the Philippines’s sham independence from Spain, BAYAN USA Northeast commemorates the ongoing struggle of the Filipino people for genuine democracy and freedom from imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. The alliance calls on all compatriots and allies to strengthen this struggle by holding the Aquino administration accountable for its outright failure and crimes against the people, and ensuring that the incoming administration of Rodrigo Duterte implements its promises of social and economic reforms.

In his “Independence” Day speech, Aquino said that he “kept all [his] promises” to the Filipino people who were his “Boss.” Aquino claimed that education access improved among young people during his administration and that “citizens who were once caught in the crossfire are now on the brink of peace.” He boasted that under his rule, the Philippine economy was transformed from the “Sick Man of Asia” to the “Darling of Asia.” But as Aquino’s track record shows, these statements are empty lies. In fact, the state of education in the Philippines worsened with the implementation of K to 12. The addition of two years to senior high school will increase joblessness and depress wages of young workers because the majority of senior high schools are private and most families cannot afford an extra two years of education, signaling an increase in dropouts. Militarization and counterinsurgency intensified under Aquino’s administration, which has fueled multiple massacres against peasant and indigenous peoples and displaced thousands of people especially on the island of Mindanao. The economic growth that Aquino boasts only benefited a small elite group of wealthy families while income inequality continues to widen and more people are impoverished.

Aquino’s false promises is built on more than a century’s worth of bourgeois treachery. Like his earliest predecessor Emilio Aguinaldo, who sold out the Philippine revolution to the Spanish colonizers for P400,000, Aquino is a traditional politician whose class interest in wealth and power will always win out over the interests of the people. Like Aguinaldo, Aquino is a puppet of foreign imperialists and has excelled at serving the interests of US imperialism by tightening its stranglehold on the Philippines militarily, economically, and politically. Aquino will be remembered as the Philippine president who further entrenched US military presence in the country by administering unequal military agreements like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and officially bringing the US bases back to the country after more than two decades since they were kicked out.

As the Philippines anticipates the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte on June 30, BAYAN USA Northeast is optimistic about the presumptive president’s willingness in resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, as well as his promises to push various social and economic reforms. BAYAN USA Northeast commends the presumptive president’s declaration that the Philippines will “not be dependent on the United States,” signaling a shift from a historically unflinching adherence to US foreign policy. Towards this positive goal of an independent foreign policy, Duterte should also take steps to terminate all unequal military agreements with the US like EDCA and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), as well as halt the re-implementation of US military bases in the country.

In the same way that the Filipino people continued to fight despite the betrayal of Aguinaldo and the handing over of power from Spain to the United States, so too will the Filipino people continue to fight in the era of Duterte for self-determination and genuine independence. The alliance holds no illusion that the basic character of Philippine society as a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country beholden to US imperialist interests will change upon Duterte’s ascent to power. Only mass movement and collective action will ensure accountability from the US-Aquino regime, the full implementation of Duterte’s proposed reforms, and the assertion of national sovereignty through an independent pro-people foreign policy.

The masses of people who seated Duterte in Malacañang during the elections will be the determining force in accomplishing genuine democracy and liberation in the Philippines. History has proven this to be true time and time again. The people were responsible for expelling the Spanish from the Philippines, not Emilio Aguinaldo. The people were responsible for ending Martial Law, not the Aquino family. And on this 118th year of sham independence, the people will be decisive once again in ending dependence on foreign powers and forging the future of the Philippines.

JUNK VFA! JUNK EDCA!
DOWN WITH US IMPERIALISM!
FIGHT FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION!
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U.S. Out of the Philippines Now! Indigenous Lumad Leaders and Filipino Community Protest Militarization and Human Rights Violations in Mindanao

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2016

Reference:
Nina Macapinlac, BAYAN USA Northeast Regional Coordinator
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com

U.S. Out of the Philippines Now! Indigenous Lumad Leaders and Filipino Community Protest Militarization and Human Rights Violations in Mindanao

IMG_4172Kerlan Fanagel, spokesperson of Lakbay Lumad USA, giving a speech on the struggles of the Lumad and importance of supporting people’s resistance in Mindanao

NEW YORK — Today, the Filipino American community joined with indigenous Lumad leaders and allies in a rally outside the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square to protest the continued U.S. militarization in the Philippines, especially in the southernmost island of Mindanao. As part of a national day of action to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Philippines-U.S. Visiting Forces Agreement, the rally was also held on the last day of a historic national speaking tour called Lakbay Lumad USA, or “Lumad Journey USA.” Protesters highlighted and condemned the role that the United States has played in intensifying militarization, state repression, and human rights violations against the indigenous communities of Mindanao.

Made up of 18 ethnolinguistic tribes, “Lumad” is the umbrella term for indigenous peoples in Mindanao who have suffered the brunt of military occupation, intimidation, and forced displacement in the Philippines. To shed light on the struggles of the Lumad people, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) launched a campaign to “Stop Lumad Killings. Save Our Schools. Protect Indigenous Life.”  As the highlight of this campaign, Lakbay Lumad USA is made up of indigenous Lumad leaders from all across Mindanao who have traveled throughout the United States since April to demand accountability from the administration of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino and challenge the president-elect and Mindanao-native Rodrigo Duterte to end the impunity of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary troops. Having traveled through the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and the West Coast, the Lumad delegates ended their tour with today’s protest rally to make clear that the harsh conditions back home are not isolated incidents, but are actually facilitated by U.S. military and economic policies funded by U.S. taxpayers.

The Land of Promise – and Profit

Mindanao, the island on which the Lumad live, has one of the most resource-rich land in the Philippines, if not the world. With an estimated $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral resources, Mindanao has been the target of many multinational mining, logging, and plantation corporations. Covered with 500,000 hectares of mining concessions, Mindanao has seen a boom in large-scale mining since the Philippine government passed the Mining Act of 1995, effectively liberalizing the country’s mining sector. To defend their land and livelihood, Lumad and peasant communities in Mindanao have organized themselves and escalated resistance against this incursion. To protect the interests of foreign capital and systematically quell resistance, the Philippine government and the AFP launched a counterinsurgency program called Oplan Bayanihan and deployed over 60% of the country’s armed forces to Mindanao. “This [deployment] means [AFP] are in the community. They stay with families with one room,”  said Kerlan Fanagel, spokesperson of Lakbay Lumad USA. “And everyday they have interrogations of communities. They kill our leaders … and they always have a license to kill us.”

As a consequence of this these trumped-up charges, intimidation, and extrajudicial killings by the AFP and their paramilitary forces, entire mountain communities have been forced to evacuate their homes all across Mindanao. On September 1st, 2016, over three thousand Lumad from northeastern Mindanao evacuated their communities after paramilitary forces killed three community leaders and educators. In another incident, the Philippine National Police (PNP) violently dispersed protesting peasant and Lumad farmers in Kidapawan, Mindanao, who were demanding relief aid after months of famine–resulting in the deaths of several farmers and arrest and disappearance of dozens more. Up to this day, Philippine military and paramilitary forces are occupying and destroying schools and communities of the Lumad who are defending their right to education and protecting their indigenous culture and livelihood from devastation by corporate mining and logging.

The Role of the United States

The United States has played a big role in undermining the self-determination and economic power of the Philippines, imposing ever-worsening hardship and poverty on society’s most marginalized sectors–particularly peasants and indigenous peoples. To ensure its hegemony and influence in developing countries like the Philippines, the U.S. works closely with national security forces like the AFP to safeguard trade routes and and access to markets.

In the past year, the United States increased its military aid to the Philippines from $50 million to $79 million, under the guise of “assisting” the Philippines in the midst of rising tensions with China. However, BAYAN USA-Northeast recognizes foreign military aid as a tool of imperialism and condemns U.S. warmongering against China as a distraction from its own imperialist advances in the Asia Pacific region. By funding the AFP, the U.S. is strengthening counterinsurgency initiatives like Oplan Bayanihan and enabling the continuation of human rights violations against Lumad community leaders and activists.

Additionally, unequal military agreements like the VFA and its successor the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) have served as the basis for increased U.S. intervention in the Philippines. These agreements allowed for the indefinite permanent presence of at least 660 U.S. Special Operations Forces in Mindanao; dozens of annual war games with thousands of foreign troops on Philippine soil and in Philippine waters; unlimited free docking and travel through Philippine land, ports, and airspace; and even the return of the U.S. bases to the country this year. The increased presence of U.S. military forces and their assistance in counterinsurgency efforts create even more favorable conditions for the ongoing oppression of the Lumad people and all Filipinos resisting imperialist advances in Mindanao.

Peace with Justice

BAYAN USA Northeast calls on the international community to stand alongside the Lumad people in their fight for food, land, and justice.

More than half of U.S. taxpayers’ money goes towards military spending, effectively financing the human rights crisis in Mindanao. By calling for an end to U.S. military aid to the Philippines, U.S. residents can play a big role in strengthening the campaign to stop Lumad killings and protect indigenous life. The international community must also call for an end to unequal military agreements like the VFA and EDCA, which undermine the sovereignty of the Philippines and facilitate human rights violations against leaders and activists who are defending their communities.

BAYAN USA Northeast recognizes that the oppression and resistance of the Lumad people are reflective of the conditions of Philippine society as a whole. “This is not just the struggle of indigenous people but of the whole Philippines,” said Fanagel. “And not just the whole Philippines but of all human beings who have visions of peace, justice, and solidarity.” By struggling for genuine freedom from foreign domination and asserting their right to self-determination, the Lumad are modeling the type of resistance necessary to accomplish a just and lasting peace in the Philippines and in countries around the world. Only by fighting for a government that attends to the basic needs of the people will genuine peace with justice be possible.

U.S. out of the Philippines NOW!
End Militarization! Junk VFA! Junk EDCA!
Stop Lumad Killings! Save Our Schools!
Fight for Food, Land & Justice in Mindanao!

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IMG_4188Berna Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA, gives a closing speech on the importance of being in unity with the struggles of the Lumad

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Lakbay Lumad delegation at Times Square Armed Forces Recruiting Station to cap off a six-week tour across the United States

We are May Day Because the LGBTQIGNC Struggle is the Worker Struggle

For Immediate Release

May 1, 2016

Reference:

Lean Deleon & Cole Carothers, Co-Coordinators, BAYAN USA Northeast Queer Caucus, bayanusa.ne@gmail.com

We are May Day Because the LGBTQIGNC Struggle is the Worker Struggle

We are May Day Because the LGBTQIGNC Struggle is the Worker Struggle

BAYAN-USA Northeast Queer Caucus calls on all Filipino/ Filipino-American LGBTQIGNC (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Gender Non-conforming) workers and migrants and our allies to join the millions of people all over the world that will be taking to the streets this May 1, also known as International Workers’ Day. The day commemorates the Haymarket protest where workers who were demonstrating for 8-hour work days and against recent police killings were bombed. Despite taking place in 1886, such atrocities continue today. Workers and migrants continue to be exploited for cheap labour in grueling hours. Poor Black and Brown people are still being gunned down by the police. Peaceful protestors are still being attacked. LGBTQIGNC people are discriminated, harassed, and murdered.

It is imperative that the LGBTQIGNC liberation not be separated from the labor movement. The continued aggression of imperialist countries with neoliberal economic policies and wars aim to disunify the people. Additionally, gay white cisgender politics fixated on gay marriage has taken the national focus away from real issues that affect the majority of the LGBTQIGNC population such as unemployment, homelessness, and the killings of trans women of color. Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) do not have the interests of the majority of LGBTQIGNC. Instead we find liberation as part of the anti-imperialist movement of the workers—especially as the majority of LGBTQIGNC are workers themselves.

Assata Shakur, Black revolutionary said, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” LGBTQIGNC folks must recognize how much we have to gain when we move past our identity politics, and take up a framework of class politics.  

The War on LGBTQIGNC Workers

LGBTQIGNC workers are a significant part of the international workforce yet face rampant workplace discrimination. In the Philippines, LGBTQIGNC Filipinos comprise 10% of the overall population. The majority of the LGBTQIGNC population are workers and peasants, facing amplified poverty conditions as they are often kicked out of their homes for their sexual orientation and discriminated against when seeking employment. In many places in the world, including the Philippines, LGBTQIGNC workers are not protected from discriminatory hiring practices and workplace harassment. They are also not protected from the non-existent job security of contractualized labor.

The war against LGBTQIGNC laborers continues to keep them in a cycle of poverty, forcing many to fall victim to the hands of exploiters and murderers. The anti-LGBTQIGNC culture promoted by big bourgeois companies that control the global media and wealth allows for these workers to be seen as less than valuable in society when in reality, this global wealth is created on the backs of workers like those from the LGBTQIGNC community.

Forced Migration of LGBTQIGNC Migrants

Thousands of migrants are forced to leave places like the Philippines everyday because of the inability to find employment. In the Philippines, like many places in the world, workers are unable to find employment because of imperialist plunder of resource-rich land and the bureaucratic policies that allow the plunder to concentrate wealth into the hands of a few. Economic and military agreements made between countries like the United States and the Philippines widen the wealth divide as the land and resources are opened up to foreign corporations instead of being developed by the country itself. LGBTQIGNC workers are not spared from the need to travel abroad to find jobs to support themselves and their families, and they are the victims of these agreements on the ground.

Because of United States economic interest in the Philippines, the ongoing military agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) allow for US troops to commit crimes against LGBTQIGNC Filipinos with little to no consequences. Jennifer Laude was a 26-year-old transgender Filipina who was brutally murdered by US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. Despite admitting to committing her murder using the “Trans Panic Defense,” he was given a charge less than murder and kept in US custody. His ability to get away with murder of trans Filipinos in the Philippines and to be treated with special privileges is because of military agreements like the VFA and EDCA.

Workers of the world should not have to flee their homelands to go to employers that exploit them, expose them to less than humane conditions and threaten their lives. Refugees and migrants should not have to face criminalization and the fear of deportation in the countries they migrate to because their homelands have been plundered by foreign corporations. In their homelands, workers should not have to face unequal economic policies that prioritize the rich and wage war against the poor.

The ongoing onslaught of imperialism on workers is much more felt by LGBTQIGNC workers, migrants, and refugees as unscientific thinking of patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia intensify the systems that oppress us. To reiterate Assata Shakur, “We have nothing to lose but our chains!”

End forced migration, imperialist plunder and war!

Queer liberation is workers liberation, workers liberations is queer liberation!

From Stonewall to the Philippines, uphold queer militancy!

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Defend Philippine Sovereignty! Flash Mob Condemns Return of U.S. Military Bases to the Philippines on Second Anniversary of EDCA

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2016

Reference:
Natalie Agosto, Mass Campaigns Officer, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Nina Macapinlac, Regional Coordinator, BAYAN USA Northeast
bayanusa.ne@gmail.com

Defend Philippine Sovereignty! Flash Mob Condemns Return of U.S. Military Bases to the Philippines on Second Anniversary of EDCA

IMG_0413 (1)
Protesters in Columbus Circle on the National Day of Action Against EDCA (PC: Roman Damaso) 

NEW YORK – Filipinos and concerned allies held a flash mobilization on April 27 at Columbus Circle to condemn the return of U.S. military bases to the Philippines and to mark the second anniversary of the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Protesters unfurled a large banner at the feet of the Christopher Columbus statue to condemn unequal military agreements like EDCA and to call for the removal of all U.S. troops from the Philippines. The rally denounced the opening of five U.S. military bases in the Philippines, which was made official this past March, and called for the defense of Philippine national sovereignty.

EDCA is a supplemental agreement to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a controversial executive agreement signed in 1999 that led to the indefinite permanent presence of hundreds of U.S. troops; dozens of annual war games between U.S. and Philippine troops; and unlimited docking and travel of U.S. warships in Philippine ports and through Philippine land and airspace. EDCA, which was signed on April 28, 2014 in Manila by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, expands the same military strategy set by the VFA. EDCA allows U.S. troops to use Philippine land and facilities without paying rent; to store arms including nuclear arms in the country; and to use the Philippines as a launching pad for U.S. military intervention and war in the Asia Pacific region.

Earlier this year, the Philippine Supreme Court ratified EDCA and confirmed its legality contrary to provisions set out by the Philippine Constitution that require treaties related to foreign troops, bases, and facilities be approved by the Philippine Senate. The Supreme Court disregarded Senate resolutions arguing the illegality of EDCA, effectively overturning the historical decision of the Senate in 1991 to kick out U.S. military bases and signaling the return of the bases. This past March, after conducting secret talks to identify locations for the U.S. bases, the Aquino government announced five U.S. military bases throughout the Philippines. This month, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced plans to open up even more Philippine bases beyond the five bases forged in the midnight deal with President B.S. Aquino. The return of the U.S. bases and the ratification of EDCA mark a huge blow to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.

EDCA and the return of the bases to the Philippines are a central component of escalating U.S. intervention in the Asia Pacific region, which is part of a deliberate foreign policy strategy called the “U.S. Pivot to Asia.” This so-called “pivot” is a “rebalancing” of more than half of U.S. military forces abroad to the Asia Pacific in order to consolidate and ensure U.S. hegemony in the fastest growing economic region in the world. By taking advantage of the Philippines’ strategic location in the Asia Pacific, the United States is able to use the country as a launching pad to secure trade routes, markets, and territories as well as isolate its competing world power China through militarization and war.  “EDCA gives the U.S. a closer vantage point in checking China as a world power,” said Rodrigo Bacus, a member of New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines who recently returned from an international solidarity mission to the Philippines with the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers to investigate the legality of EDCA. “It allows the US to reach new markets and military positions in Burma and Japan. This unequal treaty allows the US to assert its economic interests even in the Philippines itself. Yet, the people are not so lucky and the Philippines gets little in return.”

Indeed, U.S. military intervention has a proven track record of creating the conditions for rampant human rights violations and environmental destruction. Protesters at Wednesday’s rally spoke on an especially egregious example of violence under EDCA–the case of Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipino woman murdered by U.S. Marine Scott Pemberton, who was stationed at Olangapo City in October 2014. With chants of “Junk junk EDCA! Justice for J Laude!” protesters gave agitating speeches on the lack of justice for Jennifer Laude and on the facilitation of impunity for U.S. military abuse under agreements like EDCA. Even though Pemberton was convicted of homicide for Laude’s death, his sentence was recently lowered to a maximum of ten years. He is currently being detained under American custody at the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo despite the fact that the crime was committed on Philippine soil. “It is agreements like EDCA which allow for US troops to leave women brutally murdered in bathrooms,” cried Cole Carothers, chairperson of GABRIELA NY. “It is agreements like VFA which allow for conditions of violence to exist for Filipino women and children with little to no consequence.”

Arguments in support of increased U.S. military presence often cite the need to defend the Philippines from China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea. China was recently discovered to be creating artificial islands on tops of reefs or rocks, known as the “Great Wall of Sand,” in an attempt to strengthen territorial claims on the strategic waters. BAYAN USA Northeast condemns the encroachment of China into Philippine territory, but does not believe the solution is to welcome U.S. military intervention and occupation. As competing superpowers, both China and the United States are primarily interested in geopolitical power and resources. The U.S. and Aquino administrations propagate that the increase in U.S. military presence is a reflection of the two countries’ longstanding alliance. However, this alliance is one-sided in the favor of U.S.’ imperialist interests.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash speaks of helping the Philippines “modernize” its military equipment to defend against China. The United States has even increased its military aid to the country from $50 million to $79 million of U.S. taxpayer money, with nearly $500 million of military aid since 2002. Within that time, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has only increased its number of human rights violations against civilians, especially indigenous communities in Mindanao. The Filipino people did not benefit from U.S. economic aid and investment–rather, the Philippines remains one of the most impoverished nations in the Southeast Asia and income inequality only widened despite auspices of economic “growth”. Rather, the Philippines must resist territorial incursions from both China and the United States, and to assert its national sovereignty.  

BAYAN USA Northeast calls on Filipinos and allies in the United States to demand for an end to unequal military agreements like EDCA and VFA, and to call for a stop of U.S. military aid to the Philippines. More than half of U.S. taxpayers’ money goes towards military spending which is money that could have been spent on jobs, housing, and education for people in the United States. Instead, the United States government is financing war and militarization abroad to bid for power and resources at the expense of working class and poor people in countries like the Philippines. As long as unequal military and economic agreements are allowed to exist, the people will continue to face human rights violations because of military occupation. Only through collective action and people power can the Philippine people assert national sovereignty and achieve genuine independence.

U.S. troops out of the Philippines!
No to the U.S. bases!
Defend Philippine sovereignty!

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IMG_0383Holding signs calling for removal of U.S. troops from the Philippines and an end to militarization (PC: Roman Damaso)

IMG_0362GABRIELA NY Chairperson Cole Carothers calling for removal of troops and justice for Jennifer Laude (PC: Roman Damaso)IMG_0367Protesters with BAYAN USA Northeast hold a speakout on the steps of the Columbus Circle fountain (PC: Roman Damaso)