Monday, December 10, 2007


"TAO PO ?/!"

An Art Exhibit presenting the Human Rights Conditions in the Philippines and Abroad
by the Artists' Collective of Anakbayan NY/NJ and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)

When: 16 December 2007
Where: Alwan for the Arts, # 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor (between Broad and New Streets, 1 block east of Whitehall & Bowling Green)

"TAO" is the Tagalog term for "human," and "PO" is a word used to show respect. When used conjunctively "TAO PO" is an expression used in the Philippines (by the Tagalogs) when one calls out to see if anybody's home. It usually comes with a knock on the door.

On December 16, in celebration of the International Human Rights Day featuring members of the artists' collective of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), "TAO PO" takes on double meaning, thus the punctuation marks "?/!"

"TAO PO?" (with the question mark) calls out and knocks on other people's doors to heed the calls of Human Rights victims in seeking for justice.

"TAO PO!" (with the exclamation point) on the other hand, simply and straightforwardly asserts the HUMANITY of those who have been subject to oppression and exploitation. This proclaims that they are HUMANS and that they deserve the RESPECT due to them as human beings with rights and a life to uphold.

Taking off from the reality of human rights conditions back in the Philippines, wherein 900+ activists and progressives had been killed and 200+ missing, including children, youth and women, since the de-facto Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took office in 2001, and at the same time, from the human rights conditions of Filipinos abroad who have been the leading export of the country in form of cheap labor for the past few years/decades, "TAO PO?/!" calls out to all entities of society: "WE'RE NOT ANIMALS! WE ARE HUMANS!"

"Let the Stones Cry Out," a community forum on peace and justice in the Philippines by the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) will also be held at 7-930pm on the same day and venue.

For more information, please contact Christina Hilo (818-281-3134) or Hanalei Ramos (201-790-0995).


News Release
December 10, 2007

Reference: Katrina Abarcar, National Coordinator, GMA WATCH, email:

Human Rights Groups in the US Launch GMA WATCH, Citing Arroyo the Most Significant Violator of Human Rights in the Philippines Today

E-Letter-Writing Campaign Launched to Pressure US Congress to Further Restrict US Military Aid to Arroyo Government

Several Filipino-American human rights advocacy groups are banding together this International Human Rights Day (December 10th) to launch a broad coalition called GMA WATCH: A Network for Human Rights, Government Accountability, and Justice in the Philippines. The initiative also comes upon the pledge of former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark as well as several labor and church officials to pay close attention to the grave human rights crisis in the Philippines under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA).

Clark and others in the network were branded and watchlisted as terrorists by the Philippine Department of Justice for their outspoken condemnation of the leadership of GMA and human rights crisis in the Philippines by way of over 886 extrajudicial killings and nearlty 300 enforced disappearances since 2001.

"We convened and named our network GMA WATCH, instead of referencing the entire Philippines because the human rights campaign is not sharp if we do not isolate the commander-in-chief of the Philippine military-- the biggest obstacle to human rights in the Philippines today-- and that is GMA herself," stated GMA WATCH national coordinator Katrina Abarcar. Abarcar also serves as coordinator of the DC-based Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, a grassroots advocacy group that has been participating within the Ecumenical Advocacy Network (EAN) formed last Spring after the US Senate hearing on the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines chaired by Senate Foreign Relations Committee head Barbara Boxer of California.

Membership to the network have also been integrated in broad advocacy initiatives to restrict more US military aid going to the Philippines, a campaign that led to the inclusion of restrictive language and distinct pre-conditions set on the Philippines to improve its human rights record before the release of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) the country, tagged as the 4th largest recipient of US military aid in the world. The pre-conditions were also significantly placed after the release of the country report of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston earlier this year.

This week, members of Congress are attempting to finalize several appropriations bills that could affect US military aid to the Philippines. GMA WATCH is also appealing to others across the US to continue urging key lawmakers in Congress to restrict more US military funding to the Philippines, which are being used to fund human rights violations in the country. An e-advocacy campaign can be accessed at

Other GMA WATCH members and conveners include Fr. Benjamin Alforque of the US-Filipino Catholic Ministries in the Archdiocese of San Bernardino, the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), United Students Against Sweatshops, Teamsters Local 763, ML King County Labor Council in Washington State, the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, the Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and Seattle's Philippine US Solidarity Organization (PUSO). Popular Filipino-American hip-hop artists Kiwi (formerly of Native Guns) and the Seattle-based Blue Scholars are also part of the network.

Other planned upcoming activities of GMA WATCH include a February speaking tour of Edith Burgos, mother of Philippine labor activist and high-profile abductee Jonas Burgos, and a peace delegation to Mindanao in May 2008 to investigate the character of US military presence in the Philippines which have already generated positive responses from groups such as Human Rights Watch. ###

Sunday, December 9, 2007

National Lesbian Day in the Philippines

For Reference:
Joanne Alcantara
Chair, Pinay sa Seattle

Pinay sa Seattle Recognizes December 8, National Lesbian Day in the Philippines

Seattle, WA. On December 8, National Lesbian Day in the Philippines,
Pinay sa Seattle would like to honor our lesbian, bisexual,
transgender, intersex, gay and queer organizers in the struggle for
nationalism and democracy in the Philippines. According to Julie
Palaganas, founding member of Lesbians for National Democracy
(LESBOND), it was on December 6-8, 1996 that the Philippines held its
First National Lesbian Rights Conference in Cavite. From this
conference, National Lesbian Day was declared.

Today, LESBOND stands out as one of the only lesbian women's
organizations of its kind. Beginning in the early 90s as a support
group for lesbian women in Baguio City, it developed into a political
center for lesbian concerns and issues. In 1993, LESBOND organized a
forum called "Lesbianism and Homophobia," bringing a speaker to
discuss health care concerns for lesbian women. Understanding the need
to integrate lesbian issues into broader working women's concerns,
LESBOND joined with Innabuyog-GABRIELA to advocate for lesbian issues,
such as workplace discrimination and homophobia. LESBOND continues to
be an active force in pro-people demonstrations, linking issues of
poverty, corruption, land-grabbing, militarism and imperialism to
sexism and homophobia.

As sisters fighting in the same struggle for genuine democracy and
liberation in the Philippines, Pinay sa Seattle would also like to
honor our LGBTIQ kasamas* in the United States. With the majority of
the women in our collective identifying as lesbian, bisexual and/or
queer, we understand that in order to create a society where all
people are valued and their rights respected, homophobia and
heterosexism must be addressed. Joanne Alcantara, Chairperson of Pinay
sa Seattle states, "As queer Filipina women, we have even more reason
to join the National Democratic Movement in the Philippines. We are
part of the International League of People's Struggle, a unique
movement that is willing to address both imperialism and homophobia as
we work to build a more just society."

Happy National Lesbian Day!
Mabuhay to all the lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, gay and
queer kasamas in the struggle!


* Kasama means companion or comrade. It is used in this case as an
affectionate term for fellow organizers in the movement for
Nationalism and Democracy.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

More than 200,000 Pinoy children victims of HR violations

More than 200,000 Pinoy children victims of HR violations
Thursday, December 06 2007 (www.philstar. com)

More than 200,000 Filipino children were victims of human rights
violations from 2001 to mid-2006, a majority of them caught in the
middle of armed conflicts, according to a report of the Children's
Rehabilitation Center (CRC).

The report was included in the book "Uncounted Lives: Children, Women
and Conflict in the Philippines, " commissioned by the United Nations
Children's Fund (Unicef).

The CRC is a non-government institution serving children and families
who are victims of state violence in the Philippines. It focuses its
services on children in the rural and urban areas who suffer physical
health problems, emotional disorders, and social maladjustments due to
traumatic events like arrest, torture, forced displacement, strafing,
bombing, massacre, disappearance, and other forms of human rights

The CRC has documented 800 incidents of human rights violations
involving 215,233 children as victims from 2001 to July 2006.

These cases include 58 children killed and another 58 who survived
attempts on their lives. Some 40 children were maimed and 17 children
were subjected to different forms of torture and humiliation.

The CRC said 215,060 children were forced to evacuate as a result of
counter-insurgency operations.

The CRC also reported that 10 children have disappeared or become
"desaparecidos. " Five children were victims of sexual harassment and
three were victims of rape by the military, 51 were victims of illegal
search and seizure, 63 were victims of coercion, 69 were victims of
illegal arrest and detention, 40 were victims of physical assault and
injury and 196 were victims of threats and intimidation.

In the period covered, the CRC also said there were 106 orphaned
children who witnessed the killing of their parents or relatives.

Unicef country representative Dr. Nicholas Alipui said that the
continuous persecution of children in war-torn areas makes them "grow
naturally into acquiring knowledge of war, conflict, how to use arms,
how to spy and how to report."

"This whole new phenomena which is really about children in armed
conflict is totally unacceptable to Unicef," Alipui told reporters,
adding that "children should be in school and any child that is
remotely or directly linked within an armed group should be released
and freed to be able to pursue childhood aspirations, go to school and
be peaceful."

Alipui said based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
the Child, "one child is more than enough to be involved in any armed

"Apart from the loss of the mother or parent I don't believe that
there is more devastating (experience) for a child than to be caught
in armed conflict. It is actually immaterial how many children we are
talking about because universally every child whether one, 10, 20 or
100, has the same right everywhere," he said.

Alipui said armed conflict adversely affects children's health,
education, protection and social well-being, and called on the
government to protect children from the effects of armed conflict and

"Let us keep the focus on the impact of armed conflict and violence
against children because for as long as that continues, this country
will not be at peace," he said.

Meanwhile, Alipui said they would furnish the government, including
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and
the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of
Health, and the Department of Education, copies of the book to give
their side on the results of the study. – Helen Flores

Copyright 2007. Philstar Global Corp. All rights reserved. This
article cannot be published or redistributed without the permission of
the publisher.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2 Missing UP Students Tortured, Raped inside Military Camp

2 Missing UP Students Tortured, Raped inside Military Camp

By Dabet Castañeda
VOL. VII, No. 42, November 25- December 1, 2007

One year and five months after their abduction, a witness testified that he had actually seen and talked to Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, the two scholars of the University of the Philippines (UP) who were abducted allegedly by soldiers on June 26, 2006 while doing research in a farming community in Barangay (village) San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan. Farmer Manuel Merino was abducted together with the two.

The witness, Raymund Manalo, also confirmed what had been feared all along - that the UP students were raped by their abductors.

First meeting

Manalo, who was abducted together with his brother, Reynaldo, in their home in Barangay Buhol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, on Feb. 14, 2006, said he first met Cadapan sometime in November 2006 at the barracks of Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan. Camp Tecson hosts the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR).

It was an uncanny meeting, Manalo said in his signed affidavit submitted at the Court of Appeals (CA) on Nov. 12. "Sa loob ng barracks ko nakilala si Sherlyn, isang estudyante ng UP," (I met Sherlyn, a UP student, inside the barracks.) Manalo said as she described Sherlyn as a "babaeng nakakadena (chained woman)."

At first, Manalo said he was told not to converse with the chained woman. But on the third or fourth day, Manalo said he approached Sherlyn and gave her food.

Sherlyn, meanwhile, gave Manalo some information about herself. "Sinabi nya sa akin na …matindi ang tortyur na dinaranas niya. Umiiyak sya," (She told me she experienced heavy torture. She was crying.) Manalo said in his testimony.

Manalo also said Sherlyn was ordered to do the laundry during the day. But more than this, what was bothersome was Sherlyn's confession that she had been molested by a certain Mickey, Donald and Billy. "Sabi ni Sherlyn sa akin na siya'y ginahasa," ((Sherlyn told me she was raped.) Manalo said in his testimony.

Manalo described Mickey as "pandak na mataba, maputi," (short, fat, and fair-skinned) while Billy is "maitim, bungi, pinakamataba sa kanila, pandak." (dark, with missing teeth, the fattest, and short) Donald is Master Sgt. Donald Caigas, the same suspect in the killing of human rights worker Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in April 2003.

Manalo said the words "24th IB" was tattooed on the shoulders of Caigas.

Nine days after meeting Sherlyn, Manalo said, he also met Karen and Manuel inside the same military camp.

During the day, Manalo said he, Reynaldo and Manuel were told to do errands while the two women were made to do the laundry.

An unexpected visit

On Nov. 22, 2006, the Manalo brothers, Manuel, Sherlyn and Karen were transferred to 24th Infantry Battalion (IB) camp in Limay, Bataan. According to Raymund's testimony, they stayed there until May 8 of this year.

Going to Bataan, Karen was separated from the four and was forced to ride a black car with Caigas. The rest of the captives rode a stainless jeep.

Raymund said it was in Bataan where he witnessed the torture of Sherlyn and Karen.

The torture happened after Sherlyn told their soldier-captors that she kept a gun at her mother-in-law's place in Calumpit, Bulacan. She was taken to the place but the soldiers found no firearm there. Sherlyn also tried to leave a letter for her mother-in-law but her military escorts saw the letter and confiscated it.

At the hearing for the writ of amparo Nov. 21 at the Court of Appeals (CA), Sherlyn's mother-in-law, Adoracion Paulino, testified that Sherlyn indeed visited her in the evening of April 11. Paulino said she hugged and kissed Sherlyn but the latter just looked at her and took some clothes. Paulino said her daughter-in-law had five escorts at that time. The visit was swift, Paulino told the court.

After the visit, Paulino said the threats to her life had become endless. As she broke down during her testimony, she said soldiers and police had been visiting her at home, asking if it was true that Sherlyn and five of her escorts paid a visit. "Dinenay ko dahil natakot ako para kay Sherlyn, para sa anak ko at para sa sarili ko." (I denied it because I fear for Sherlyn, my son, and myself.)

Paulino said she tried to keep the brief encounter with Sherlyn to herself. It was only in May when she decided to tell Sherlyn's mother, Linda, about the visit.


When Sherlyn was taken back to the camp in Bataan, Raymund said, he saw the soldiers torture Sherlyn, "Itinali sya sa bangko, itinaas ang kanyang mga paa, binuhusan siya ng tubig sa ilong, kinuryente sya." (She was tied to a bench, her feet were lifted, water was poured to her nose, and she was electrocuted.)

"Sumisigaw sya.Matagal syang pinahirapan," (She shouted. She was tortured for a long time.) Raymund added.

When Sherlyn told the soldiers that Karen helped her write the letter for her mother-in-law, Raymund said, he saw the soldiers take Karen outside. However, Raymund said, he did not see what the soldiers had done to Karen. "Narinig ko lang ang mga sigaw nya," (I just heard her cries.) Raymund said.

The following day, Raymund said, he heard the soldiers hurling invectives at the two UP students. "Inuyam sila sa ginawang pananakit, ipinaalala sa kanila ang ginawang paghipo sa kanilang ari at pagpasok ng kahoy sa kanilang ari," (They were taunted regarding the pain inflicted on them; they were reminded that their private parts were touched and a wooden stick was inserted inside their sex organ.) Raymund said in his testimony.

On the other hand, Raymund said, he and Manuel where forced to join military operations in Bataan. Raymund said they witnessed how the soldiers killed two relatives of suspected New People's Army (NPA) guerillas.

Last sighting

From Limay, Bataan, Raymund said, the five of them (Manalo brothers, Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel) were transferred to a safehouse off the shore of Zambales. They stayed in the said place from May 8 or 9 (Raymund was not sure of the exact date) until June.

The five captives were taken back to Limay, Bataan sometime in June. After two or three weeks, Raymund said, he, Reynaldo and Manuel were taken to a forest by a certain "Lat." They were made to sleep in the forest until Caigas ordered Lat to bring them back to the camp.

At night time, the three male captives were again taken to the forest, this time by a certain "Robin." They were taken back to the camp the next morning. Raymund said it was then that he noticed that Sherlyn and Karen were gone. "Hindi ko na sila nakita," (I never saw them again.) Raymund said.

The three male captives were then chained inside the cell where Sherlyn and Karen were kept before. They stayed there for three days, Raymund added.


On the third day, Raymund said "Lat" took Manuel outside the cell. "Kakausapin daw sya ni Gen. Palparan," ( They said Gen. Palaparan would talk with him.) Raymund said, referring to retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, then the commanding officer of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (ID PA) based in Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

"Nakapiring si Manuel, wala siyang suot pang-itaas, pinosasan," (Manuel was blindfolded, he had no shirt and was handcuffed.) Raymund said in his testimony.

"Ði nagtagal, narinig ko ang hiyaw o ungol ni Manuel. Sumilip ako sa isang haligi ng kamalig at nakita kong sinisilaban si Manuel," (After a while, I heard the shouts and moans of Manuel. I peeked and saw Manuel being burned.) Raymund said.

That was the last time Raymund would see Manuel alive. "Sabi ni Donald (Caigas) huwag na raw naming hanapin ang dalawang babae at si Manuel dahil magkakasama na sila." (Donald told us not to look for the two women and Manuel anymore because they are already together.)

The Manalo brothers were then transferred to Pangasinan where they were allowed to tend a small farm owned by Caigas. Around 1 a.m. of Aug. 14, the brothers were able to escape from their captors when the soldiers became drunk.
A writ of amparo has also been filed for the Manalo brothers who are still kept in a sanctuary as threats hound them and their family to this day.

Raymund is scheduled to testify for Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel on Dec. 18. Bulatlat


This PSA is part of the human rights campaign initiated by the Free Jonas Burgos Movement. Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon, Joe Burgos, was abducted last April 28, 2007 by armed men in broad daylight. He has been missing since. The plate number of the vehicle used in the abduction was later traced to the 56th Infantry Battalion. For more info, email or and see how you can help.

Vote Sentosa 27 as Balitang Amerika's Newsmaker of the Year!

Dear Friends and Supporters:

Please place your vote NOW for the Sentosa 27 nurses as Balitang Amerika's Newsmaker of the Year. Please see the link below for info how to vote.

As you all know, NAFCON has worked hard to build the Sentosa 27 campaign and keep the Sentosa 27 in the news. As the nurses struggles continue with the Avalon 11 facing their criminal hearing on Dec 17th, we in the community must keep up the support and heighten the media profile of the case.

For all of us in the worldwide immigrant community, this case represents all of us!!!!

for the OFW,
Berna Ellorin


Voting until Nov 30, Newsmaker of the year will be announced on Dec 30, 2007.
check the link below.

To Vote by text
Type: my newsmaker (space) name of choice and send to 650-766-1557

To vote by E-mail
Email and type the name of your choice


Philippine Forum, who has hosted our services and supported many of our campaigns and programs is asking to be reconsidered for lease renewal with due process. Below is the flyer members of Kabalikat, YEHEY! Youth, FiRE, Ny-CHRP, and AnakBayan passed out after Sunday mass to members of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown and its surrounding community.

The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown has falsely reported to its congregation that Philippine Forum has been delinquent with facility rental payments. Therefore, those who rallied on Sunday were met with aggression by specific workers of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown. In one instance, one employee of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown used forceful language and aggression to push protesters off the premises, despite the rally occurring on public property. In another example, protesters were accused to be "from the devil."

More updates will be provided as they become available, but again, thank you for your support!

November 25, 2007


To the Members of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown:

We are on a protest picket to solemnly pray and appeal to the Session of the First Presbyterian Church to reconsider its decision directing us to vacate our offices. We are doing this because we feel that we were deprived of our right to due process, the right to be heard, and also on behalf of the beneficiaries of our various programs most especially the youth who have been affected by the notice of eviction.

On Sept. 21, 2007, the Philippine Forum, through its Board of Directors Co-Chairperson Dr. Ben Ileto, wrote the Session asking for a meeting where we would explain our side. Doctor Ileto's letter was prompted by a letter from Rev. Stanley Jenkins informing us - with no clarification as to the reasons - of the Session's resolution not to renew our lease and asking us to vacate the premises by Oct. 1, 2007 . Our request for a meeting was made pursuant to Exhibit 1: Additional Agreements of the Lease of Church Space, 1 (b), which states: "The Church and Philippine Forum shall meet or otherwise contact each other three times a year … for a review of scheduling or other issues …"

Until now, we have not been granted our request for a meeting despite persistent follow-ups and appeals.

Since April, we had asked Church staff Marjorie and Karen about getting the signed lease but each time, we were told that the person in charge of the lease was not available. Marjorie's departure made it more difficult for us to communicate with the church to discuss rental and other concerns, again in the spirit of Exhibit 1 (Additional Agreements). As a non-profit organization, we needed to submit a signed lease to our funders in order to receive rental reimbursement. Since we never got the signed lease, we did not receive full reimbursement thus making it hard for us to pay the Church on time.

We have also addressed concerns conveyed by Rev. Jenkins regarding our Youth Program including the submission of comprehensive program guidelines on May 9. Reverend Jenkins in August himself relayed to our Executive Director, Robert Roy, that he has seen noticeable improvements in the manner we have been managing our youth program.

The illegal eviction and denial of access to our offices have practically shut down our operations and the provision of needed services to our community. All our programs have been suspended thus adversely affecting their current and future funding. It has created a very big financial burden to the organization especially after we made major renovations to our offices to accommodate our programs ( e.g., shelving and food pantry set-up, electrical wiring, tiling, IT/network set-up and wireless connectivity, etc.). This entire illegal eviction process has been detrimental and catastrophic to the viability of the organization. Needless to say, many of our youth are back in the streets again.

All that we have been asking is something that we believe the Session can easily respond to: A sense of respect and fairness, a sense of due process, and the right to be heard.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

Friday, November 16, 2007

FilAms National Day of Action Demand Independent Probe of Batasan Bombing

November 16, 2007

Valerie Francisco, Secretary General, Email:
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), NY Phone: 925.726.5768

Marisa Mariano, Chair, babae, San Francisco Email:
Phone: 415.412.8915

Donna Denina, Vice Chair, Pinay sa Seattle Email:
Phone: 206.438.3521

FilAms National Day of Action Demand Independent Probe of Batasan Bombing

The progressive network of Filipino organizations, BAYAN-USA, conducted simultaneous candlelight vigils yesterday, November 15 in four cities across the nation in light of the recent bombing at the Philippine House of Representatives.

Led by the Women's Alliance consisting of babae-San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)-New York, the actions specifically demanded an independent investigation for the bombing incident. The death of Marcial Taldo, who died on the spot and injuries sustained by Representative Luz Ilagan of the GABRIELA Women's Partylist (GWP) was cause for sweeping distrust around the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's dubious effort to find the responsible party.

GWP Rep. Ilagan's stance on impeachment, along with other people's organizations, is reason enough for the Philippine government to target her. "It is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who should back off from the investigation of the Batasan bombing. The public's distrust on her is all-time high and that gives her no right to speak for truth and justice." stated Emmi de Jesus, secretary general of GABRIELA.

The national day of action brought to light the suspicious pattern of bombings and killings including the recent bombing at Batasan and the bombing at the Glorietta 2 Mall claiming 11 victims, to name a few. Coincidentally and conveniently timed around high level political scandals and bribery incriminating the Philippine president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and several cabinet members, the clamor for impeachment is reverberating within the nation and the international Filipino community.

Many issues taken up by the Filipino American groups have been ignored as a result of attempts to cover up increasing corruption in the GMA administration. " GMA's incriminating record gives her no credibility with the national and global Filipino public to claim righteousness at times of high political shams and trickery," stated Marisa Mariano, Chair of babae in San Francisco, " A thorough independent investigation of the Batasan bombing is vital to uncover the truth."

The US based women's alliance along with BAYAN-USA vow to keep a vigilant eye on the unfolding events in the Philippines. The Filipino American groups have readied themselves to resist another dictatorship in the Philippines.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Please join FiRE, ANAKBAYAN NY-NJ, and New York Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines in commemorating the victims of political repression in the Philippines.

New York:


In front of Philippine Consulate

556 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10036

Contact Person: Valerie Francisco (925) 726-5768


Batasan Bombing Kills Four, Injures Eleven
Filipino-Americans Commemorate Victims With Nation-Wide Vigil

November 14, 2007

Media Contact:

Chito Quijano, BAYAN-USA, Email: , Phone: (206) 459-6923

Rico Foz, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Email:

Phone: (718) 565-8862

On the evening of Tuesday, November 13, a bomb exploded at the southern wing of the Philippine House of Representatives. The bomb, deliberately timed to detonate just minutes after the congressional session ended, has killed four victims, and wounded eleven others. The deliberate timing of the bomb draws suspicion that it may be used to divert attention on the current political crisis of the Arroyo administration. The incident happened hours before a Senate probe into bribery allegations involving Malacanang, as well as Congress hearings on an impeachment case against Arroyo herself.

Among those injured were two congress members: Gabriela Partylist Representative Luz Ilagan and Negros Oriental Representative Pryde Henry Teves. The bomb claimed the lives of Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar; Maan Gale Bustaliño, an aide of Representative Pryde Henry Teves; Marcial Taldo, driver of Gabriela partylist Representative Luzviminda Ilagan; and most recently, Julasiri Hayudini, an aide of Representative Akbar.

BAYAN-USA and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) strongly condemn the bombing and cry justice for the victims. We demand that the Arroyo government take swift action, and hold an impartial and independent probe of the blast.

To commemorate the victims of the Batasan Bombing, BAYAN-USA and NAFCON will hold nationally coordinated vigils in four cities on Thursday, November 15. Please join us in honoring and remembering the fallen victims, as well as offering our prayers for a speedy recovery for those injured.

New York:


In front of Philippine Consulate

556 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10036

Contact Person: Valerie Francisco (925) 726-5768

Los Angeles:

Exact time to be announced

In front of Philippine Consulate

3600 Wilshire Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90010

Contact Person:Terry Cervas (626) 476-0113

San Francisco:


In front of the Philippine Consulate

447 Sutter St. (cross street is Powell)

San Francisco, CA 94108

Contact Person: Joanna Maderazo (415-637-4129)



Westlake Plaza

4th & Pine Dowtown Seattle

Seattle, WA 98101

Contact Person: Donna Denina (206) 438-3521

Statements on Batasan Bombing

Press Statement
November 14, 2007

Statement of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) on the Batasan Bombing

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan condemns in no uncertain terms the bombing of the Batasang Pambansa which resulted in the death of Comrade Marcial Taldo and the injury of Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Women's Party. The explosion also claimed the lives of Rep. Wahab Akbar of Basilan and Maan Bustalino.

The bombing happens at a time when intense political crisis is besieging the Arroyo administration. The incident happened hours before a Senate probe on bribery allegations involving Malacañang as well as Congress hearings on the impeachment case against the President.

We call for an impartial and thorough probe on the incident even as we cry out for justice for the victims. We do not want the investigation to turn into another Glorietta probe wherein the results lack credibility. There should be no cover up. Even as the Philippine National Police (PNP) is popularizing the theory that Rep. Akbar was the target of the blast, it should not immediately and conveniently disregard other political angles that may be the reasons for the blast.

The PNP has the duty to determine whether or not the blast was also aimed at Rep. Luz Ilagan who is a known Arroyo critic, or if the blast was some form of diversionary tactic to cover up the impeachment issue and the Senate bribery probe happening today. All angles, even the highly political, must be looked into for the probe to be credible and acceptable to the public. To immediately limit the probe to the Akbar angle would only fuel public suspicion.

The recent series of explosions that have occurred in Makati City, Quezon City and nearby Cavite province are a cause for alarm insofar as these may be used by the Arroyo government as a justification for more repressive policies. We warn the Arroyo government that doing a Musharraf will be politically costly and will incite further resistance from the people. Whether it is through the draconian Human Security Act or a state of emergency, repressive measures are a totally unacceptable response to these incidents. These only betray the regime's self-serving drive to remain in power at whatever cost.

If the intention of the blast was to sow fear especially among critics of the administration, we can say with certainty that we will not be cowed. We will continue to fight for issues that we firmly believe in. We will continue to hold the Arroyo regime accountable for the many crimes it has committed against the people. ###


By the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)
For Reference: Rico Foz, Executive Vice President, email:

In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the latest bombing of the House of Representatives where at least three people – Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, an employee, and a driver - died, while two other solons were critically wounded along with at least five employees. It is reprehensible that this incident should happen in the premises of Congress and at a time when two impeachment complaints against President Gloria M. Arroyo are pending in the House, while investigation on the latest cases of corruption and bribery involving the President is likewise ongoing in the Senate.

We are concerned that one of the congressmen who was wounded – and possibly targeted for assassination – is a representative of the progressive Gabriela Women's Party (GWP), Mindanao lawyer Luz Ilagan. Her driver, Marcial Tando, died in the bombing of serious injuries. Along with other solons from the progressive group in the House, Ilagan this week moved for the impeachment of Mrs. Arroyo for corruption, human rights abuses, and other culpable violations of the Constitution. In her early stint in Congress, the Mindanao legislator has defended the rights of overseas Filipino migrant workers, including the labor case of the Sentosa 27 nurses in New York.

If we connect the dots, the explosion at the Batasang Pambansa complex (seat of the House) is the latest in a series of bombings and killings, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR). Prior to this was the bombing of Glorietta at Ayala's financial district, which killed at least 11 persons and injured scores of others; the ambush-slaying of the Comelec's chief legal counsel; the mysterious vehicular accident of opposition leader and former senator, Rene Saguisag, that took the life of his wife, Dulce; the equally mysterious car accident of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran; and death threats against certain opposition members of the House and Senate, including Speaker Jose de Venecia.

These incidents are taking place amid a renewed clamor by various sectors for the ouster, removal by impeachment, or resignation of Arroyo. The calls were precipitated by public outrage over the latest high-level corruption scandal and bribery involving the President, her husband, some Cabinet members, and political allies. Senate investigations and other accounts are beginning to tie the pieces that link the president to these scandals and briberies – the latest since Arroyo became president in 2001. Moreover, the Arroyo government is being called in the international community including the U.S. Congress to account for 890 victims of politically-motivated extra-judicial killings and other acts of atrocities, making it, after the Marcos regime, the object of worldwide indignation.

The Filipino people cannot but be alarmed by the fact that it is the Arroyo government that is, deliberately or otherwise, creating the conditions for destabilization that began with her alleged stealing of the presidency in 2004, the escalation of political repression and persecution of many outspoken critics, people's organizations, and progressive party-list groups, and last year's declaration of emergency rule along with repressive executive orders, among others.

We note with concern that these incidents could lead to the full implementation of the controversial Human Security Act and could be part of a bigger scenario to declare martial law. If these are the means by which the survival of the Arroyo presidency could be secured, then there is all the more reason for the Filipino-American community in the United States to once again be united and act as one in resisting attempts to sow a reign of terror in the Philippines leading to the declaration of another martial law.

As we have done so against the Marcos dictatorship of the 1970s-1980s, we cannot be cowed into submitting to another authoritarian rule.#

Wednesday, November 14, 2007



14 November 2007

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-322-1203


GABRIELA National Alliance of Women condemns in the strongest possible terms the bombing in Batasan Pambansa (House of Representatives) last night which killed Marcial Taldo and injured three other members of Gabriela Women's Party including Representative Luz Ilagan. (Marcial Taldo is GWP Rep. Ilagan's driver). We call for an immediate and independent probe on the bombing, fully aware of the inutility of the PNP on resolving matters of grave concern.

The haste by which Manila Police through National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Geary Barias and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales state that the bombing was intended for Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar and that the motive is personal is highly suspect. Their statements were baseless and irresponsible and could only be motivated by an immediate need to divert suspicions from the real perpetrator and mastermind of this heinous crime. They have employed the same ploy in the Glorietta 2 explosion and they are doing it again.

The bigger question that should be resolved on the Batasan bombing, just as in the Glorietta 2 explosion, is "who stands to gain?" The Glorietta 2 explosion came at the time when the Malacañang bribery case was exposed. The Batasan bombing came the day before Pampanga Governor Panlilio was set to testify on the bribery in the Senate and the day before the House Justice Committee Hearing on the impeachment case.

There is a political crisis and it is rooted from Malacañang, where sits a President whose authority has long festered through electoral fraud, graft and corruption, economic sabotage and unequalled human rights violations. We cannot expect for the truth to come out and for justice to be served for as long as there sits in Malacañang a lying, cheating, stealing and manipulative president.

For Marcial Taldo and the other victims of last night's bombing in Batasan, justice must be served.

GABRIELA Philippines
35 Sct. Delgado St, Brgy. Laging Handa
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 374 44 23

GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women's organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our people.

News References :

Congress bombing:

Glorietta Bombing:

Malacanang Bribery:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fil-Ams Condemn Batasan Explosion; Suspect Pro-Impeachment Solon Targeted

News Release
November 13, 2007

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email:

Fil-Ams Condemn Batasan Explosion; Suspect Pro-Impeachment Solon Targeted

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, condemned the most recent car explosion at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City a few hours ago that killed at least one Congressperson, one driver, and injured several. The explosion was set off at approximately 8:00 pm Monday at the South Wing driveway of the House of Representatives complex in Quezon City. Police investigations are ongoing.

"Like the Glorietta bombing, this is a deliberate offensive to justify the intensification of anti-terrorism measures such as the Human Security Act, and further crackdown on civil liberties and minimize democratic space. But the government clearly cannot provide real security for their duly-elected officials in Congress," stated BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano.

The blast immediately killed Marcial Tuadlo, a driver for Gabriela Women's Party Representative Luz Ilagan. Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar also died at Far Eastern University Hospital while undergoing treatment. Ilagan, one the House members who endorsed the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo that is now pending before the chamber's justice committee, is being treated for injuries at the Malvar General Hospital.

"The recent filing of the impeachment complaint in the lower House is now putting Malacanang in a power struggle. Although there is still an ongoing investigation, the fact that it is of primary interest for the highest seat to stop the impeachment complaint on its tracks makes us very suspicious. We hope this investigation is thorough and doesn't suffer the same ill fate as the so-called police investigations into the extrajudicial killings and abductions in our country. It must come to a definite end-- capture and prosecution of the bombers," Quijano ended.

Aside from the impeachment complaint against Arroyo, Representative Ilagan also participating in filing the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), and has been active in issues of overseas Filipino workers, especially with the Sentosa 27++ campaign and the case of slain NYC domestic worker Fely Garcia.

Quijano also pointed out that Ilagan remains an outstandingly solid voice for the rights and dignity of overseas Filipinos in a mainly anti-migrant welfare administration. ###

Monday, November 12, 2007


12 November 2007

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2304 / 0917-3221203


The militant women's group GABRIELA will join in the filing of an impeachment
complaint on Monday morning to once again register the group's stand that
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's crimes against the people and women should be
put to end.

"Every year, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo racks in more crimes against the people.
The impeachment complaint we will file tomorrow is buffered by more and stronger
evidences to prove that Arroyo no longer has the right to stay in Malacañang,"
said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.

Among the cases included in the impeachment complaint is that of 63-year old
human rights advocate Angelina "Angie" Ipong who has been in jail since March
2005. "Angie's case is the epitome of how vicious Arroyo is against Filipino
women. An activist for more than three decades, Angie was illegally arrested on
an International Women's Day, tortured and sexually molested and is now being
tried for charges which are flagrantly fabricated," said de Jesus.

Ipong is currently detained in Pagadian City with charges of rebellion, arson,
frustrated double murder and double murder in three different courts. Ipong is
set to be arraigned in Dipolog City on the same date and time the impeachment
complaint will be filed in Congress.

De Jesus also said that they will not be detered by the "technical obstacles
being imposed by Congressman Matt Defensor," stating that "the people's right to
oust a much unwanted president should overrule any technicality."

"The numbers game Macapagal-Arroyo was so confident would favor her no longer
holds. With its shameless scandals rocking even its own people and causing more
rifts among the so-called 'pro-administration' legislators, this impeachment case
has better prospects," de Jesus said. ###


Note: The following text is a speech prepared and delivered by NAFCON's legal advisor Atty. Arnedo Valera, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Migrant Heritage Commission, NAFCON's member organization in Virginia. It was delivered last weekend at a National Filipino-American Leaders' Summit in Las Vegas.

Organizers of the Las Vegas Summit


By: Arnedo S. Valera, Esquire
Legal Counsel – NAFCON

I have decided to rename my title to MAKING OUR COMMUNITY OF VOICES INTO COLLECTIVE DEMAND FOR JUSTICE to be more specific and set out the theme of what I will be talking about today.

Allow me to begin by saying that the issue about the ABC TV episode's "Desperate Housewives" has once again awakened us with one thunderous voice of indignation - proof that Filipinos in the United States have common grounds for unity and action. For weeks following the episode's showing last September, Filipino immigrants and U.S.-born Filipinos many of them professionals like doctors, nurses, and lawyers took to the streets to stage protest pickets, as well as sign online statements, issue news releases, and organize forums. For its part, the NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR FILIPINO CONCERNS (NAFCON), MIGRANT HERITAGE COMMISSION and its affiliate organizations throughout the U.S., took the stand that the short "apology" issued through email by the ABC management was inversely proportional to the racial slur that damaged the integrity and competence of Filipino professionals and institutions and henceforth, the nationwide alliance moved and called for the boycott of all ABC-Disney products unless TV network issued a real apology and adopted concrete measures to ensure that the incident will not happen again.

I believe, likewise, that the ABC racial spat episode should be seen as essentially an immigration issue because of its broader implications on the rights of Filipinos particularly the medical professionals and workers. It disparaged and damaged the career, rights, and future practice of the medical professionals, with an element of racial prejudice because it singled out the Filipinos as a whole. It was entirely farcical for ABC to talk about the unreliability of Filipino medical professionals when their competence and compassionate care for millions of patients not only in the U.S. but in other countries is known all over the world. Lies are lies, and it is legally and morally dangerous to use them as a butt of joke or a satire especially against a nationality.

It is, moreover, unconscionable for the Philippine government to accept ABC's short apology especially because the acceptance was issued contrary to the sentiments of many Filipinos in the U.S. and in the Philippines who were demanding justice and redemption in form and substance proportional to the injustice committed and in the same international and public venue – the TV network – used by the company to inflict the racial slur. This is a government that we know whose economic survival depends on the remittances of overseas Filipinos yet is short of performance when it comes to defending the hardworking Filipinos' rights and ministering to their needs in their countries of destination.

The ABC controversy is just one of many incidents – which are largely unreported – of racial prejudice, racial profiling, wage discrimination, unjust employment terms and conditions, and other acts of injustice that many of our fellow migrants in the U.S. suffer. That is why there is all the more reason for the Filipino-American communities to face up to these threats to our democratic and immigration rights, for these to galvanize us into action, and to be engaged in united though diverse forms of action. For instance, various organizations in the U.S., such as the Philippine Forum, the New York Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines, NAFCON, and the Migrant Heritage Commission have taken the cudgels of the Sentosa 27 nurses who face the threats of criminal convictions and deportation even if they were the ones victimized by illegal recruitment and unjust labor conditions. The deteriorating state of human rights in the Philippines, characterized by the spate of extra-judicial killings that resulted in the death of nearly 890 social activists, human rights volunteers, lawyers, health activists, church leaders, and other victims, from 2001 to the present is another issue that engages these U.S.-based organizations in coordination with human rights organizations and institutions in the Philippines and elsewhere. One other concern that has drawn the outrage of these organizations as well as other groups and communities in the United States is the corruption that continues to infest high officials of the Philippine government. Some of the most recent graft and corruption cases such as the ZTE national broadband scam and the multi-million "brown bag" bribery involving some members of Congress and local government officials have brought us to the realization about how rotten the government has become even as the country's economy has become irremediably stagnant, with the poor becoming poorer and the wealth more and more concentrated in a few families. Cases like these that involve the office of the presidency have made the Philippines the second country in Asia with the highest incidence of corruption. Until now, there are no exact figures how much of the remittances sent to the Philippines by Filipinos abroad in billions of dollars every year is lost to government corruption.

The remittances that overseas Filipinos, including us immigrants in the United States, send to our families and relatives in the Philippines may provide short-term economic relief to them or even as a fallback income for some of us who eventually will spend our retirement in our country of roots. But we know for a fact that the long-term stability and a secure future for our unfortunate brothers and sisters back home can only be ensured under a situation where the people are able to take control of their own economic future and under a government that truly represents the interests and aspirations of its broad constituencies.

It is under these circumstances that I invite you to look again at the current situation of the Philippine society which, I believe, is in a state of transition, where people are beginning to question the wisdom of maintaining a government – not only a President – that is beginning to lose its credibility; where the system of check and balance, as represented by Congress, does not function because the institution is itself plagued by corruption while it only maintains itself virtually as a social club for political dynasties; where the election continues to be just a fraudulent process of recycling the reign of power of the same political dynasties that have been in control of government for generations and decades; and where the dire economic conditions are driving people to leave everyday in their thousands in search of jobs in other countries. We cannot, I believe, insulate ourselves from the unjust rule and social injustice that continue to confront the Filipino people; or turn our backs while millions of our people face poverty or die in the process of advocating for reform.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a growing number of Filipino-American organizations working to lend their voice and support to the daily demands for economic rights and social justice back home, even as they also increasingly are involved in the defense of immigration rights and other issues here in the United States. Sometimes, their issues are inter-linked with the advocacy movements of other ethnic groups, such as in the fight for immigration rights where big Filipino contingents have marched in the streets alongside hundreds of thousands of immigrants. In the cases of the "Desperate Housewives" episode and Sentosa 27, the advocacy actions have elicited the support and participation not only of Filipino doctors and nurses but also other professionals , other service sectors, including lawyers. All these only show that issues and concerns that unite many Filipinos galvanize us to attend forums and other venues of discussions as well as into the streets for pickets and marches that serve to articulate our protests and demands for justice not only to the public but also to the media so that the voices are heard by thousands and even millions of people here and in the Philippines as well. It is through collective demands and unity such as these that Filipino expatriates in the United States gave effective support to the anti-Marcos dictatorship movement in the Philippines that was sparked by the assassination of Ninoy Aquino and culminated in the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, as well as in the removal of the morally-bankrupt Estrada presidency in 2001.

At this point, I would like to say something about the concept of "constructive dialogue" in relation to the "Desperate Housewives" issue. The framework of "constructive dialogue" had been pushed supposedly in the spirit of drawing a "win-win" situation requiring, however, the cessation of peaceful pickets and other protest actions against the ABC TV network. What happened was that, "constructive dialogue," designed to be held behind closed doors, led to giving certain concessions (e.g., promise of jobs and employment opportunities Filipino artists) that, in effect, diluted the Filipino communities' agitation for a real apology and other concrete measures and, hence, essentially led to the unsatisfactory resolution of the issue about racial prejudice. "Constructive dialogue," as a mechanism for resolving an issue, may be valid in a situation where the aggrieved party, for instance, is an individual. However, the injustice committed in the "Desperate Housewives" issue is racial prejudice, and the victims are a whole country. Cries of indignation, demands for apology, and calls for boycott came from Filipinos based not only in the U.S. but also in the Philippines and many other countries. They were asking for justice and redemption, not job opportunities, and certainly they were expecting the demand for justice to be dealt with transparently where the sentiments of millions of Filipinos are heard and heeded. To insinuate that pickets, calls for boycott, and class suits are not "constructive" or "proactive" is to deny the aggrieved people their freedom of speech and to use other forms of avenues in seeking redress within the bounds of the law. To hold a "constructive dialogue" within the closed walls of the global company that committed the racial slur is to restrict our collective articulation of protests to a select few. Let us be reminded that justice is never given or begged for, you have to fight for it even if the one that stole it from you is a global enterprise with a powerful communication network.

This is also why, even if we support the initiation of class suits in the continuing quest for justice, the avenues for articulating our protest and indignation should remain open. More so, if the class suit being filed is against a company that has unlimited resources under a justice system that is not always favorable to the actual victims of injustice. Alternative lawyering and legal resources approach emphasizes going beyond the usual court centered approach, emphasizing our ethnic collective interests and recognizing the importance of combining two or all forms and courses of action to achieve justice and redemption.

Today, our collective demand for justice and other issues should also welcome any moral, legal, and political support from other organizations in the spirit of solidarity and on the basis of mutually accepted principles. But the leadership of our campaign against ABC should remain in our own hands and collective efforts as members of the Filipino-American community, and those ready to assist us voluntarily and without any pre-conditions should uphold this leadership and initiative. This is a defining moment of Filipino American Empowerment, let us cherish it and move forward.

Let me close with an anecdote about two lifelong friends, a chicken and a pig, who were going on their usual morning work together. The pig turned to the chicken and asked "What do you think we should have for breakfast today? Quick as a flash, the chicken answered: "Bacon and Eggs" The Pig said, hey wait a minute!! You only want to participate, yet from me you expect total commitment.

In making our community of voices into a collective demand for justice in this campaign, we need to render total and complete commitment … no less…

Sa inyong lahat, Isa pong makabuluhan at mapayapang araw. Mabuhay ang lahat ng ating mga doctor at pangkalahatang mangagawa sa sector ng kalusugan…….Mabuhay ang Migranteng Pilipino……


She could be your mother, sister, tita, neice, or friend.....

Mga Kababayan sa New York at New Jersey,

This week, the Kuwaiti High Court of Cassation will begin hearing oral arguments for the case of Marilou Ranario, a 33 year old Filipina domestic worker from Surigao del Sur in jail and on death row. Marilou was convicted in 2005 for the murder of her employer, a man who was viciously abusing and raping her. The victim's family have since withdrawn their lawsuits against Marilou, yet she remains on death row (please see attached fact sheet.) and languishing in jail awaiting her sentence. She is currently supporting 2 children back in the Philippines while her husband can't find stable work as a jeepney driver.

Abuse, rape, and maltreatment are common experiences for our hardworking overseas Filipino workers, who are forced to choose a life abroad in order to escape poverty and provide for their families. Marilou represents all of us; yet despite this reality, the Philippine government is doing nothing to save her from execution by hanging. As was the case of Flor Contemplacion, a Filipina domestic worker who was executed by the Singapore judicial system in 1995, it is up to the worldwide community of Filipinos and migrant workers to stand up for justice when governments fail to protect their people, and show their might on the streets. Please visit and sign the petition at / marilou/petition.html and join us for...



Sponsored by Kabalikat-Philippine Forum (Filipina Domestic Workers Support Network), the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) and the Save Marilou Ranario Movement (SMRM)

statement of concerned overseas Filipinos in New York City

We, NYC-based Filipina household workers, nannies, caregivers, along with other concerned overseas Filipinos and advocates of basic human rights, demand that our sister, Marilou Ranario, be released immediately from the Kuwaiti jail she continues to languish in since being convicted for the death of her employer in 2005.

Marilou, a 33-year old domestic worker who was viciously maltreated and abused by her employer, represents all of us overseas Filipinos who must leave our families back home in order to ensure they can eat. In order to escape poverty back in our homeland, we are left with little choice to but brave uncertain shores where we know abuse, exploitation, and maltreatment are common for Filipinos and other migrant workers. We also know a hard and lonely life overseas without the company of our families is better than a guaranteed life where our children will starve and have no opportunities. This was Marilou's story as well.

Marilou was a teacher from Surigao Del Sur that opted to leave to become a domestic worker abroad because she earned a more stable living doing so. She supported 2 small children back in the Philippines while her husband was unable to find stable work as a jeepney driver.

Back in 1995, the entire Filipino nation and overseas Filipino community struggled against the Philippine government's systemic neglect of the plight of overseas Filipino workers with the case Flor Contemplacion, a Filipino nanny who was hung after being wrongfully convicted for the death of her employer's child. As was the case with the high profile movement to set Flor free, the Philippine government made no political effort to save Flor's life. We fear the same will happen to Marilou.

Earlier this year, the mysterious and still-unresolved death of New York-based domestic worker Fely Garcia further proved the Philippine government's absence of concern and sympathy for OFW's abused and even killed.

Like Marilou, Flor and Fely, we are all victims of a Philippine government system known as the Labor Export Policy. This was originally established as a temporary measure to solve the country's crisis of joblessness and landlessness, forcing families to turn abroad for stable income, but the Philippine governments after Marcos turned it into a permanent fixture and means to keep the pathetic Philippine government afloat. Today, over 3000 Filipinos, mostly women, leave their children behind to work abroad. The total remittances that prop up the Philippine economy coming from overseas labor totals to more than $11 billion. These come from the suffering and toils of mainly Filipino women workers overseas.

The crime of the Labor Export Policy is that there is no program for protection for women like Flor and Marilou, who become victims of abuse, maltreatment, exploitation, rape, and indentured servitude. In many cases, Filipino workers are treated like animals, much less second-class citizens with no rights. Filipino women fall vulnerable to sexual abuse commonly.

But they are still Philippine citizens. Philippine embassies and consulate offices abroad are absolutely useless and fail to assert protections for our valued overseas workers, aggressively sending more workers overseas to face similar fates. The Arroyo administration has remained painfully silent while boasting of an economy sustained by migrant laborers like Marilou.

We say shame on the Philippine government for taking Marilou's remittances and doing nothing to legally protect her in a foreign land where she clearly has no rights as a human being. In this sense, the Arroyo government is no different than the foreign employers that treat Filipino workers like dogs in their host countries, and women workers as slaves.

We call on the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation, that will hear oral arguments this Tuesday, November 13th, on Marilou's case to strongly consider the united voice of Filipinos worldwide who today are taking the streets in defense of their Filipina sister, and decide not to execute her!



News Release
November 13, 2007

Reference: Lorena Sanchez, Philippine Forum-KABALIKAT (Domestic Workers Support), email:

NY Filipinos Come Together to Say: Save Marilou Ranario!

New York-- The Filipina domestic workers support group known as KABALIKAT, a program of the community service organization Philippine Forum, spearheaded a solemn prayer vigil on the busy intersection of Roosevelt and 69th Street in Woodside, Queens last night as part of an international day of action to save the life of 33 year old Filipina domestic worker Marilou Ranario.

The group recited one full decade of the rosary for the Ranario, convicted of murdering her employer back in 2005 and currently on death row in Kuwait, despite large noise coming above from the 7 train. Marilou was also a victim of consistent abuse, maltreatment, and forced into indentured servitude by her employer.

"She represents all of us," states KABALIKAT Co-coordinator Shirley Cayugan-O'Brien. "We believe she is the real victim, not the criminal. We are all victims of a criminally-negligent Labor Export Policy."

Cayugan-O'Brien further explained it was the lack of protection offered by the Philippine government, particularly the overseas Philippine consular officers, that continue to victimize women workers like Marilou, who many fear will suffer the same fate as Singapore-based domestic worker Flor Contemplacion who was hung for a wrongful conviction of murder back in 1995.

November 13th was called as an international day of action by Migrante International, an alliance of overseas Filipino organizations of which KABALIKAT is a member. November 13th also marks the hearing of oral arguments of Marilou's case by the Kuwaiti Court of Cassation. The employer's family have since withdrawn their previous lawsuits against Ranario, a mother of two children from Surigao Del Sur.

KABALIKAT, Migrante International and the broader Save Marilou Ranario Movement (SMRM) claims the Kuwaiti Court will take into high consideration the public aspect of Marilou's case, in which strong public outpouring of support can also make a difference.

Actions were also held in Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, and throughout the Philippines.

Philippine Forum-KABALIKAT was joined by fellow concerned Filipinos from the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and Anakbayan. ###

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Join the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)
for a screening and discussion of the classic Filipino socially-relevant film


Sister Stella L. is the award-winning masterpiece by Mike De Leon. It's about a nun, Sister Stella Legaspi, who becomes involved in labor strikes after learning about the government's neglect of the poor and the working class. Her sworn duty to fight for the poor and the oppressed turns personal when her journalist friend Nick Fajardo is tortured and the union leader Dencio is kidnapped and killed. What follows is her eye-opening and the tear-jerking battle against cruelty and injustice.

The film broke censorship barriers back in 1984, during the final years of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, for its realistic portrayal of labor struggles, and extrajudicial killings, hauntingly mirroring the reality of Philippine society today under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Tuesday, Nov. 27th
Screening starts promptly at 7:00pm
at 55 West 17th Street, 5th floor
between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan
Trains: F/V to 14th Street

Sponsored by the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)
Member organizations of BAYAN USA (
For more info. email

Friday, November 9, 2007



November 7, 2007
Valerie Francisco, Secretary General, Filipinas for Rights and
Empowerment (FiRE),
Marisa Mariano, Chair, babae, San Francisco,
Joanne Alcantara, Chair, Pinay sa Seattle,


Seattle, WA---On November 2, 2007, babae of San Francisco, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) of New York, and Pinay sa Seattle convened in a national conference entitled "Filipina Sisters Unite" and established a national organizing committee towards the formation of the first U.S. based chapter of GABRIELA, an alliance of over 250 women's mass organizations in the Philippines.

It has been a banner year with the international condemnation against the Arroyo regime. The need for Filipina women's organizing is needed more than ever to respond to the worsening human rights crisis in the Philippines. Since Arroyo has come into power in 2001, close to 900 political activists have been killed, and over 90 of those are women. Hundreds more are missing and continue to face harassment and repression by the military and police forces.

As an extension of the progressive movement of Filipina women in the Philippines, Filipinas in the U.S. will continue to expose the U.S.-Arroyo regime while addressing the needs of Filipinas locally. All Filipinas in the U.S. who are concerned for the rights and welfare of Filipinas in the Philippines, the U.S., and in the diaspora are invited to get involved in future campaigns and organizing projects.

In an effort to diligently push forth the militancy and fervor of Filipina women's organizing in the U.S. several projects and campaigns were planned over the course of the year such as nationally coordinated campaigns on the issue of political repression, addressing issues and concerns faced by Filipinas locally through a Women and Wellness campaign, and PINAY Stories--a project to collect and document the experiences and stories of Pinay in the U.S.

The organizing committee is also gearing up to launch a national speaking tour for Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General of GABRIELA in Spring 2008. Following her tour, the committee will coordinate exposure trips to the Philippines for the summer of 2008 in an effort to bridge the gap between women in the Philippines and in the US. The exposure trip will also bring to light the harsh conditions faced by the women in the Philippines through integrations with the various sectors including the urban poor, peasant women, indigenous and women workers.

FiRE, babae and Pinay sa Seattle are member organizations of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing groups of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As the only international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. who are committed to undoing over 500 years of colonial rule and to bringing freedom and justice to the people of the Philippines.


Bayan's Statement of Solidarity for the People of Pakistan

Bayan's Statement of Solidarity for the People of Pakistan
Against the Emergency Rule of Musharaff

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan ( New Patriotic Alliance ), the largest multisectoral alliance in the Philippines, condemns in the strongest terms the emergency rule recently imposed on Pakistan by Prime Minister Pervez Musharaff.

Musharaff has declared a state of emergency purportedly " to curb terrorism " and to contain the "extremist Islamic groups". Everyone knows that the real agenda for martial rule is Musharaff's desperation to stay in power and quash any group seeking his removal. Militant and progressive secular leaders as well as Opposition groups in Pakistan are being arrested under the so-called emergency rule. In essence, Musaharaff, the Chief of the Pakistani Army has declared martial law.

Peaceful meetings inside offices are being raided, while a vast number of people are being held under house arrest. All international and private news channels have been curt off while news can only be accessed thru the state's channel.

Bayan calls for the immediate and unconditional lifting of emergency rule, the reinstation of the Judiciary, press freedom, and the release of all persons detained by the Musharaf fascist dictatorship.

Bayan also urges everyone to take note of the role of the US in instigating the current situation in Pakistan. The US has supported the dictatorial regime of Musharaff in exchange for the latter's support for the US war on terror, including the invasion of Afghanistan and the setting up of US bases in Pakistan. United States aid to the Musharaff fascist regime has reached $10 billion since the 9-11 attacks in 2001.

Anti-imperialist groups in Pakistan have reported that the objective of the US in its so-called "war on terror" is to encourage mayhem in Muslim states to change the map of a so-called Broader Middle East. The US plan is to create or transform three whole countries into permanent US bases. The countries are Afghanistan with Pashtun areas of Baluchistan, Kurdistan carved out of Iraq and Turkey, and a new Baluchistan carved out of Pakistan and Iranian Baluchistan.

Bayan joins the people of the world in expressing solidarity with the Pakistani people in their struggles against the strongarm rule of the US-Musharaff regime. Bayan hopes that the very broad united front of all sectors fighting this rule will triumph and will persevere until US imperialism and all reactionary forces in this large country be defeated ultimately.###

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sharing on the Philippine Human Rights Situation from the Church's Perspective

Sharing on the Philippine Human Rights Situation from the Church's Perspective
(w/ special guest from the Philippines, Ms. Norma Dollaga of the PCPR)
Thursday, Nov 8, 7pm
CAAAV/Nodutdol office
53-22 Roosevelt Ave., Second Floor.
Woodside, New York 11377

US-based rights lobby group says nothing is sure yet on $30M aid


US-based rights lobby group says nothing is sure yet on $30M aid

Nov. 8, 2007

NOTHING is sure yet after all with the purported $30 million in fresh
military aid from the United States, a lobby composed of Filipinos and
Americans, including members of US churches, said yesterday.

The Arroyo government might not even get any increase at all and could
face more preconditions on every dollar coming from the US if
political killings and human rights violations continue, said the
group Katarungan Committee for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the

"Both houses of the US Congress have yet to meet and reconcile their
versions of the US budget appropriations bill for 2008 and that means
that the Arroyo government actually still has nothing concrete to brag
about," it said.

"The Arroyo government is focusing only on the bright side of the US
Senate version of the bill while at the same time airbrushing the
historic portions that paint it as a human rights violator," said
Bernadette Ellorin, secretary general of Bayan USA, one of the groups
involved in the lobby efforts to limit US military aid because of what
is seen as continuing extrajudicial executions and human rights

Katarungan and Bayan USA said they want to "prevent US public funds
from financing the reign of terror in the Philippines."

Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday said the
Philippines has clinched $30 million in fresh military aid and
immediately expressed thanks to the US government.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the "the increased
United States funding assistance levels to the Philippines "contains
no preconditions" or strings attached," referring to "an almost
three-fold increase to Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the
Philippines – from the $11 million proposed by the Executive
Department, to $30 million."

Malacañang and the DFA released the statements on increased military
aid soon after an October 31 posting on the official website of the
office of Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial
killings, which featured news on the US Senate's pre-conditions in the
article "US Congress tying assistance to Sri Lanka and the Philippines
to progress against extrajudicial executions."

According to Ellorin, "Malacañang is obviously doing a media blitz
based on old news on a US Senate proposal approved two months ago and
which is not yet final. Perhaps this is to cover up the failure of
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to dampen the UN report delivered
by Alston."

Ellorin also said "the US House version only allots $23 million in
military aid for the entire East Asia and Pacific region."

"With both Houses yet to reconcile their versions of the budget bills,
it thus remains uncertain whether the Arroyo government will get the
$30 million that Philippine officials have bandied about," Ellorin

Katarungan said no bicameral committee meeting has been scheduled
because "to date, only the Senate has publicized who their conferees


Katarungan also said the US government is now running on a reenacted
budget, after the US Congress failed to enact a new budget measure
before October 1, the start of the US fiscal year.

"This turn of events is creating havoc for government agencies, which
are operating under a 'continuing resolution' that provides the same
amount of money as in the last fiscal year. By November 16, when the
continuing resolution expires, Congress will either need to have
passed the funding bills or come up with more short-term answers for
programs that still do not have their appropriations approved," it

Katarungan also said the US Senate approved in plenary on September 6
"restrictive language" or pre-conditions introduced by Sen. Barbara
Boxer on an additional $2-million military assistance to the

Ellorin said the "restrictive language" means that the Arroyo
government's human rights record is now under closer scrutiny by the
US Congress but "Malacañang is airbrushing this important, historic
fact in yet another act of cover-up."


According to documents provided by Katarungan, Boxer, using strong,
pointed language recorded in the US Senate journal, said "this binding
legislative language is critical. I hope that Secretary [Condoleezza]
Rice is able to produce a report that states that the Philippine
government is taking real action and the Philippine military is no
longer responsible for the deaths of innocent persons."

Boxer also told the Senate that "for too long, the government of the
Philippines has not taken sufficient action to address extrajudicial
killings and bring those responsible to justice."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, responding to Boxer's query on the Senate floor
whether he will work with her to put additional limitations on future
US military assistance to the Philippines if the Philippines fails to
meet the conditions, said: "I share Sen. Boxer's concern about
extrajudicial violence in the Philippines and will continue to monitor
this situation carefully."


Leahy, who chairs the US Senate committee handling the budget bill for
the State Department and Foreign Operations, warned that he "will
consider additional limitations on future US military assistance if
the Philippine government fails to adequately address this issue."

Leahy and Boxer introduced the second pre-condition to the budget bill
under Amendment No. 2762 "to clarify conditions on assistance for the
Philippines," according to a document obtained by the Katarungan.

Under Section 688 of the Senate-approved budget bill, the $2 million
in additional military aid may be made available only when the
Secretary of State reports that:

• The Philippine government is implementing the recommendations of the
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or
Arbitrary Executions.

• The Philippine government is implementing a policy of promoting
military personnel who demonstrate professionalism and respect for
human rights, and is investigating and prosecuting military personnel
and others who have been credibly alleged to have committed
extrajudicial executions or other violations of human rights. – With
Reinir Padua

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Manila's lies and cover up on US military aid, human rights record

Nov. 7, 2007

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email:

Manila's lies and cover up on US military aid, human rights record

BAYAN USA strongly condemns the Arroyo government's latest lies and
act of cover-up on US military aid.

The Arroyo government is lying to the public by claiming that it will
get $30 million in US military aid, up from $11-million this year.
Malacanang is obviously doing a media blitz based on a US Senate
proposal approved two months ago -- a proposal which is not yet even

In fact, the US House version only allots $23-million in military aid
for the entire East Asia and Pacific region.

With both Congressional bodies yet to reconcile their differing versions
of the budget bills, it thus remains uncertain whether the Arroyo government
will get the $30-million that Philippine officials have bandied about.

BAYAN USA has been linked to broad overseas opposition efforts to
lobby US legislators in order to prevent US public funds from going to death
squads in the Philippines or misused as endorsement of a government
accused of abetting extrajudicial executions.

We likewise deplore the Arroyo government's attempts to airbrushing
its record as a human rights violator. Malacanang is desperately
trying to conceal the adoption by the US Senate of "restrictive
language" or preconditions to the $2-million in additional military
aid to the Philippines.

The "restrictive language" means that the Arroyo government's human
rights record is now under closer scrutiny by the US Senate, an outcome
of strong legislative advocacy coupled with a stronger mass movement
outside of Congressional halls.

We urge US Congress to implement stricter monitoring on the
compliance by the Arroyo government on the three preconditions adopted
by the Senate, which now includes "a policy of promoting military personnel
who demonstrate professionalism and respect for human rights, and
investigating and prosecuting military personnel and others who have been
credibly alleged to have committed extrajudicial executions or other
violations of human rights."

Without the outlining of a strict and tight mechanism for monitoring, the
Philippine government will make many more attempts to twist the facts
and spin new media stories to its favor. After all, even the US government
has a long history of funding overseas dictatorships. The Philippines
remains a strategic location for the Bush administration's plan to expand
the War on Terror into Asia.

Perhaps the ongoing media blitz seeks to cover up the failure of
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita's feeble attempt to dampen the
impact of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston's damning report and to
conceal the undeniable fact that no one has ever been convicted for
the nearly 900 extrajudicial executions under Arroyo's watch. ###

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Migration no guarantee out of rural poverty

Migration no guarantee out of rural poverty -WB
ISAGANI DE LA PAZ, OFW Journalism Consortium
11/02/2007 | 03:36 PM

MANILA – Contrary to popular beliefs, migration, despite the volume of money it brings, has neither brought rural folks out of poverty nor is it a sure fire way for farm people to clamber aboard the prosperity wagon.

"Where migration is more or less permanent, income from migration depends on the success of the migrant and the reason for migration. So migration is not a guaranteed pathway out of poverty," the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development said in its recently released report, debunking several myths on agricultural development.

The Washington, United States-headquartered IBRD, popularly known as The World Bank, cited in its 386-page report that "despite massive rural-urban migration, rural poverty will remain dominant for several more decades in Asia."

The bank''s World Development Report 2008 that focused on identifying ways for governments to lift some 600 million rural people from extreme poverty has said that while this has been achieved, it is not due to migration.

"More than 80 percent of the decline in rural poverty is attributable to better conditions in rural areas rather than to out-migration of the poor," the report titled "Agriculture for Development" said.

"So, contrary to common perceptions, migration to cities has not been the main instrument for rural (and world) poverty reduction," it added.

In fact, authors of the World Bank report noted that out-migration of people from rural areas has even contributed to the constant rate of poverty rate in cities.

The report, released October 19, noted that while the poverty rate of US$1-a-day has been declining in developing countries –from 28 percent in 1993 to 22 percent in 2002- , this "has been mainly the result of falling rural poverty (from 37 percent to 29 percent) while the urban poverty rate remained nearly constant (at 13 percent)."

The report also noted that during the period under study, 1993-2002, there was an 81-percent reduction in rural poverty worldwide. But this is "ascribed to improved conditions in rural areas; migration accounted for only 19 percent of the reduction."

Migration, the report said, "lifts some of the rural poor out of poverty but takes others to urban slums and continued poverty."


Even remittances from abroad are downplayed by the report on contributing to national poverty rate declines.

While the report acknowledges that there are "indirect effects of urbanization on rural poverty through remittances and rural wage changes," this is "through tighter rural labor markets."
But this argument, the report's authors said, has a conservative but unlikely assumption: all rural-urban migrants are poor.

The bank computed migration's contribution to rural poverty reduction using the US$2.15 poverty line rather than the US$1.08 extreme poverty line "because it is unrealistic to think that all migrants are extremely poor."

Even so, using the same assumption that all those who migrate are poor, the report noted that reduction in rural poverty would still hit 81 percent, "not to migration."

"Indeed, almost all the decline in South Asia and East Asia is because of a genuine decline in poverty in rural areas. Even when China is excluded from the sample, 67 percent of the reduction in rural poverty is from causes other than migration," the report said.

According to data compiled by the Institute for Migration and Development Issues (Imdi), there is no direct correlation between the number of Filipinos going overseas for temporary or permanent work and stay, and the poverty incidence levels.

For example, the National Capital Region, composed of more than a dozen cities, has posted a 4.3-percent poverty incidence level in 2003. In an eight-year period beginning 1998, almost a million overseas Filipinos came from this region.

However, the data that the nonprofit group Imdi compiled couldn't cite if these Filipinos just used the NCR as temporary residence prior to going overseas or which rural area they came from if they, indeed, migrated from farm villages.

It is difficult to determine so since the NCR is the reservoir of major government agencies processing the export of Filipino labor as well as the receptacle for the air travel and remittance industries.

Likewise, despite Davao del Sur, for example, posting a 24-percent poverty incidence rate and having recorded 55,117 Filipino migrants, Batanes island posted only a 9.2-percent poverty incidence level despite only 72 of its residents having left that fishing and farming province that's the tip of the Philippines.

Another example is Pampanga, President Gloria Arroyo's home province, which posted a six-percent poverty incidence level. It is second to the NCR for having the most number of Filipino migrants at 125,226. Compare this to Pangasinan, home province of former President Fidel V. Ramos, which had 111,029 of its citizens migrating in the eight-year period ending 2005. Still the province posted a poverty incidence level of 18.6 percent, more than double neighboring Pampanga's.

With the exception of Batanes, 14 provinces have poverty incidence levels above the national average of 25.7 percent.

"The high poverty levels of these provinces can perhaps explain why citizens from these areas cannot easily migrate overseas," the Imdi scoping study on migrant philanthropy released last August said.


Even the World Bank report admits it is difficult to establish migration's direct impact on rural poverty reduction levels.

"Migration can be a climb up the income ladder for well-prepared, skilled workers, or it can be a simple displacement of poverty to the urban environment for others," the report noted.

The report also cited that while remittances from migrants back to the farm household "can relax capital and risk constraints, the relationship between migration and agricultural productivity," for one, is "complex."

"The (temporary) absence of household members reduces the agricultural labor supply. Agricultural productivity can therefore fall in the short run but rise in the long run as households with migrants shift to less labor intensive, but possibly equally profitable, crops or livestock," the report said.

Remittances, the report noted, "often drastically change the composition of the rural population" and "can pose (their) own challenges for rural development, because migration is selective."

"Those who leave are generally younger, better educated, and more skilled. Migration thus can diminish entrepreneurship and education level among the remaining population," the report said.

Likewise, the report cited there are evidence suggesting migration "is most accessible for the wealthiest and best educated of the rural population, as moving requires means to pay for transportation and education to find a good job."

"Moreover, better-educated migrants are the most likely to have a successful migration outcome," the report added.

It particularly cited the Philippines as having more female migrants to urban areas faring better than the less-educated males.

The report estimated some 575 million people migrated from rural to urban areas in developing countries over the past 25 years.

Of these, it said, "400 million lived in transforming countries, where migration flows increased to almost 20 million a year between 2000 and 2005."

Migration flows as a share of the rural population have been traditionally highest in urbanized economies, but they have fallen over 2000–05 to an annual rate of 1.25 percent. In transforming and agriculture-based economies, the annual flow of out-migration steadily increased to 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent of the rural population, respectively.

The report also noted that international migration out of rural areas is male-dominated in Ecuador and Mexico, but female-dominated in the Dominican Republic, Panama, and the Philippines. - OFW Journalism Consortium

Note: To download the complete World Development Report 2008, go to this link: