September 30, 2007
Reference: Valerie Francisco, secretary general, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, 925-726-5768
Filipino American History Month with a "HER" twist
New York, NY--The women of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment brought in October, Filipino American History month, with a bit of a twist. The organization's public introduction was an Open House, aptly called "Pinay HERstories."
Due to the trends in Filipino American immigration, much of the early communities set up in the US were largely bachelor communities. The history of our earlier American generations are reflected in the often male-dominated accounts of Filipino American lives.
Filipina-American poets and perfomance artists Lisa Ascalon, Marie Avetria, Kimmie David and Tamara Llosa-Sandor shared their stories of womanhood and being Filipino in the US. Their artwork re-writing the history of Filipino Americans in the US. Organizations doing work with the Filipino community in New York also came to speak in solidarity. Filipino American Health Services, Inc, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, and Domestic Workers United expounded on their resilient and imperative work with Filipino women.
On the same night, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was at the Waldorf-Astoria attending the 3rd meeting of the Women Leaders Working Group. The theme of the night was "Progress on Women's Empowerment."
Ironically, the woman president of the Philippines addressed the crowd with statistics of billion dollar remittances and solicitations for more business investments in the Philippines without the even batting a lash at exploitative conditions that Filipino migrants, especially women, experience outside of the country.
"GMA is a poor example of Filipino women's empowerment and progress. She has made sure that Filipino women are the largest export out of the Philippines and maintains no accountability to their suffering when Filipino women are out of the country," stated Valerie Francisco, secretary general of FiRE.
September 2007 promises the 14 billion dollars in remittances from migrant workers. Simultaneously, the human rights crisis in the Philippines is still at a staggering slow.
"As a woman, she must be held responsible for the depraved Martial Law-like conditions of Filipino women in the Philippines," Francisco added.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Greetings to all!
FiRE sincerely thanks Bluestockings Bookstore, the all-Pinay line up of performers, and of course, all of you for coming out to make our first Open House such a breathtaking and phenomenal event! If you didn't notice, Bluestockings was jampacked with standing and sitting-on-the-floor room only! And more importantly, that room was brimming with love from the artists and organizers to the audience and then back one mo' gain.
The event's success only pushes us to continue our work and we're looking forward to creating more spaces for the struggles and inevitable triumphs of Filipinos in New York, so stay tuned! Again, thanks for making our night something that will definitely be locked in our HERstory forever.
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment
October Pinay Power Brunch
Sunday, October 21 at 1 pm
FiRE would like to invite you to its monthly Pinay Power Brunch! Please join us for some food, sunshine, and conversation! We'll be in Brooklyn this month at Isis' house so please join the invite list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Friday, September 28, 2007
PLEASE FORWARD AND REPOST!
FiRE NYC's Open House: Pinay HERstories
Fri, Sept. 28,2007 @ 7p
172 Allen At. F or V to 2nd Avenue
(between Stanton and Rivington Streets)
Suggested donation of $5-$10 Sliding Scale
Rachelle A. Cruz
and many more!
There are a number of instances when our stories, as women, as Filipinas, are lost and relegated to the outskirts of history. Pinay HERstories hopes to reclaim the Filipina/Filipina-American narrative by collecting fragments of the shared Pinay experience. Join us for a night with local Pinay artists who will be reading and performing works meant to inspire, empower, and most importantly, relate to Pinays like us! You can also meet the women of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) who have been organizing several local and global campaigns for the past six months. Learn more about our current programs, our allied organizations, and how Pinays are building a community, here, in the New York City area.
This event is open to everyone, and of course, light refreshments will be served.
Please add us to your Google calendars using this button:
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
September 26, 2007
Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: email@example.com
PROTESTERS HOUND ARROYO OUTSIDE NY HOTEL
Fil-Am Community Slams ZTE Deal, Human Rights Record, and Lack of Migrant Protection
The New York Regional Council of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-USA (BAYAN USA) staged a protest action outside of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's hotel, the prestigous Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, to denounce the world leader's failed human rights record, call attention to the plight of the trafficked Sentosa 27++ nurses, and denounce business scams such as the ZTE-NBN scandal, an economic failure driving the country into dire poverty.
Arroyo joins world leaders from around the world in attending the 62nd general assembly of the United Nations.
Approximately 40 protesters, young and old, donning Statue of Liberty headgear and mini-candle torches reading "NYC Sez Oust Gloria!", trooped the hotel's Park Avenue block amidst a tight and intimidating New York Police Department (NYPD) presence that tried to prevent them from doing so. The loud and mighty troops also chanted "Papet, Pasista, Pahirap Sa Masa, Patalsikin Si Gloria!" (Puppet, Fascist, Burden to the Masses-- Oust Gloria!) and "Gloria Resign!".
Rows of NYPD also tried to block the protestors from trooping through the front of the hotel, and threatened to arrest the chantleaders using the bullhorns before pinning the marching protestors into a barracade.
Meanwhile, inside the hotel, Arroyo was addressing Filipino-American community leaders in a posh coffee gathering and discussing economic prospects for the third world nation, exalting of a so-called "economic rennaissance."
This was in stark contrast to the messages of protesters outside, which included members of the Sentosa 27 ++, healthcare professionals from the Philippines trafficked to New York under the collusion of the US and Philippine governments.
"We're on our last hope of the American dream," cried former Sentosa nurse Harriet Avila, who was also criminally charged along with 9 others who resigned after working months under violated contracts and subject to abusive conditions. Avila was also joined be her co-charged, Filipino-American Attorney Felix Vinluan, who also addressed Arroyo's role in then-Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor's political intervention to make sure Sentosa operations continue in the Philippines.
Organizing protesters also included Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Anakbayan-NY/NJ, the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). They were joined by members of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, International Action Center, and CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, all of whom have sent representatives to the Philippines to see the human rights crisis first-hand.
"Arroyo arrogantly boasts of a first world Philippines in 20 years, but as overseas Filipinos, what is more important to us a genuinely sovereign and corruption-free Philippines, safe for human rights defenders. This means it must by Gloria-free first," stated BAYAN USA Secretary-General Berna Ellorin.
Arroyo will also subject her administration to a review by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Earlier this year, UN Special Rapporteur to the UNHRC Philip Alston travelled to the Philippines on a fact-finding mission to produce a report that exposed the hand of the Philippine military, trained by US troops in anti-terror exercises, in committing the nearly 900 killings and 200 abductions in the Philippines, mainly those from the ranks of the broad Arroyo opposition, including BAYAN USA's mother alliance, BAYAN Philippines. ###
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
FiRE supports the ongoing struggle of the Sentosa 27++ nurses. Please visit one of the many feature articles on a publication called, Newsday, that exposes this burning human trafficking issue.
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment
September 26, 2007
Reference: Rico Foz, Executive Vice President, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, email: nafconusa @ yahoo.com
JUDGE UNDECIDED, SENTOSA 27 FIGHT NOT OVER
Fil-Am Groups Strengthen Support for Sentosa 27 Amidst Paid-PR Maneuvers of Illegal Recruitment Agency
New York— The 10 criminally-charged Filipino nurses from the Sentosa 27++ campaign withstood paid protestors at a Long Island courthouse this morning for their indictment trial. SentosaCare owner Bent Philipson charged the 10, and their lawyer Felix Vinluan, with patient abandonment and endangerment despite a rebuttal that none of the patients were endangered or harmed. This morning, the Long Island judge came to no decision whether to proceed with the criminal trial or dismiss the charges on lack of evidence.
The 10 were accompanied by strong support from the New York State Nurses Association.
"SentosaCare is pulling out the big guns with its glossy and fake PR machinery to taint our image and distort the truth," states former Sentosa nurse Harriet Avila. "But with all that money, they can pay protesters to hold placards, but they do not have the truth on their side. The truth and facts stand clear, and that cannot be bought or overturned. Sentosa has artificial support."
"We are glad that despite strong and shameless counter-propaganda from the Philipson camp, the judge was able to withstand their glossy PR machinery and not rule in favor of a criminal proceeding. The Filipino-American, labor, and nursing community vows to strengthen our show of support for our victimized nurses," states NAFCON spokesperson Rico Foz.
Foz also appealed to the Suffolk County court to dismiss the false criminal charges, stating that the prolongation of the trial has cost the nurses financial hardship.
"It is no secret that the main reason these nurses are here are to support their families back home, as is the case of all migrant contract workers," Foz added.
NAFCON spearheaded a Justice for the Sentosa 27++ Campaign earlier this year that garnered thousands of support signatures in favor of the nurses. Worldwide endorsers include the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA), the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the American Nurses Association, the Philippine Nurses Association, Migrante International, the Alliance of Health Workers in the Philippines, and the Gabriela Women's PartyList in the Philippines. A campaign website is accessible at www.justiceforsentosa27.blogspot.com . ###
Sentosa nurses seek audience with Arroyo in New York
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
NEW YORK -- Several Filipino health professionals, who have become collectively known as the "Sentosa 27++", are seeking an audience with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her visit here to bring to her attention their differences with their recruiter, Sentosa Recruitment Agency.
At the same time, the nurses said they would appeal the order of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) that dismissed the complaint against Sentosa for misrepresentation, contract substitution, and violation of Philippine recruitment rules and regulations.
The POEA ruling that cleared Sentosa was signed September 4.
In a news conference here, Maricelle Dealo, one of the members of Sentosa 27++, said they are seeking an audience with the President through the Philippine Consulate here.
Leandro Lachica of the office of the Consulate General in New York said a request for a meeting between the nurses and the President was being worked on.
However, he said he has yet to get a commitment from the President as Arroyo's schedule here would be very tight.
Arroyo will arrive at the Newark International Airport in New Jersey at 4:00 am then will motor to the Waldorf Towers where she would be staying.
Arroyo will deliver a report at the 62nd UN General Assembly, attend the Clinton Global Initiative, deliver a speech at the Women Leaders Working Group, and meet with several business leaders.
Dealo said she hopes Arroyo can look into the plight of the nurses here.
"As prime exports to the US, it was important that the Philippine government give the nurses protection and ensure that they are not exploited by their recruiters," she told reporters.
Felix Vinluan, lawyer of the Sentosa 27++, said that Philippine-based lawyers assisting the nurses will also file an appeal on the POEA decision within the week.
Vinluan assailed the POEA's ruling, saying it had not been fair to the nurses because of "political intervention."
Quoting an article from Newsday, Vinluan said the preventive suspension on Sentosa was immediately lifted by the POEA following a call by former Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor.
Vinluan said Defensor also admitted that he called the POEA administrator "to give her guidance" after Malacañang received a letter from US Senator Charles Schumer on behalf of Sentosa Care.
Vinluan said he hopes the Senate would push through with an investigation of the Sentosa controversy so that remedial legislation can be done to help the nurses.
The nurses were among the registered nurses brought to the US through the Sentosa Recruitment Agency in November 2005. Five months later, they resigned, saying that the agency had lied to them, exploited them, and forced them to work under unsafe conditions.
Ten of the nurses who had worked at the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center were charged by the Suffolk County District Attorney for patient endangerment when they left their work.
Vinluan, who will attend a hearing of the case at 2 p.m. Wednesday (New York time) said he hopes the charges would be dismissed.
Monday, September 17, 2007
September 13, 2007
Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen @ bayanusa.org
Fil-Ams Welcome Release of Prof. Jose Maria Sison
"Fight is Far From Over"-- BAYAN USA
The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of over 12 social justice Filipino-American organizations across the US, welcomed today's Dutch court decision to release Prof. Jose Maria Sison as "a victory of the Filipino people's movement and the world anti-imperialist movement."
"The Dutch found no sufficient evidence against Prof. Sison, linking him to the murders of Arturo Tabara and Romulo Kintanar," states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. "This is a big slap in Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's face. The counter-insurgency scheme of the Arroyo administration was behind the fabricated charges against Sison from the beginning."
The alliance also warned that the fight is far from over for Sison or for the Filipino people.
"Sison is still on the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union, although he has never been convicted for any crime or terrorist actvity, other than fighting for freedom and upholding the national struggle of the Filipino people. The Filipino people are still under state terror under Arroyo's undeclared Martial Law, escalated now under the Human Securty Act," Quijano added.
"We must remain vigilant. The terror tactics of the US-Arroyo regime know no state boundaries. As governments act in collusion to stifle legitimate and just dissent anywhere, the Arroyo administration will go after Filipino progressives abroad. Our movement must not cease to take action in their defense," Quijano ended.
Over 20 mobiliations for Sison' release trailblazed across several continents when Sison was arrested last August 28, 2007. The homes of seven staff members of the National Democratic Front (NDF) peace negotiating panel were also raided and their computers confiscated. BAYAN USA launched mobilizations across the United States, as well as an online petition for his release at www.freejomapetition.org. Among Sison's US-based supporters was former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
Sison is the chairperson of the International League of People's Struggle, a global alliance of anti-interventionist groups in over 30 countries around the world. ###
Friday, September 14, 2007
14 September 2007
Reference: Emily Cahilog, International Relations Officer, 371-2302
"Arroyo gov't is # 1 perpetrator of violence against women"- GABRIELA
The militant women's group GABRIELA tagged the Philippine government as the "number one and cruelest perpetrator of violence against women" in a dialogue with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Experts Yakin Ertuk. The dialogue is part of the National Consultation with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (UNSRVAW) held in Manila today.
"Under the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Filipino women of all ages are being beaten and tortured, abducted and summarily executed," said Emily Cahilog, international relations officer of GABRIELA.
According to Cahilog, since 2001, 96 women were victims of political killing 76 of them were victims of extrajudicial killing, 29 were victims of enforced disappearance and 22 are political prisoners.
GABRIELA highlighted the case of peace advocate Angie Ipong, 62, who was illegally arrested two years ago in Misamis Occidental. Ipong was only surfaced by the military after subjecting the elderly woman to continued interrogation, physical torture and sexual molestation for 13 days. Ipong continues to be detained in Pagadian City Jail.
On children and minors victims of human rights violations, Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns said that from 2001 to August 2007, 59 children and 5 unborn babies have been killed, 11 are disappeared and 82 were victims of illegal arrest/detention.
Under Article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women,violence against women encompasses physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
"The continued and intensifying violation of rights of Filipino women and children is not an issue of the government's inability to resolve these violations. President Arroyo and the Armed Forces of the Philippines can no longer deny the that it is a state policy to perpetrate and perpetuate violence against women and children as part of the state's overall scheme to quash the people's dissent." ###
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Statement on My Release from Detention
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
13 September 2007
Friends, Warmest greetings!
I am deeply pleased and thankful that the Rechtsbank has decided to release me from detention. You cannot imagine how happy I am. It is extremely painful and humiliating to be subjected to solitary confinement and tough interrogation under overheated lamps. The ordeal is acute because I am innocent of the false and politically-motivated charge leveled against me.
I have nothing to do with any murder. This is against my moral and political principles. I am a teacher by profession who loves the exchange of ideas towards common understanding and practical cooperation. I have long devoted myself to the advocacy of human rights and work for a just peace in the Philippines. I cannot go into the facts and arguments concerning my case. It is my lawyer Michiel Pestman who is competent to give you the information that you need.
Consequent to the release order of the Rechtsbank, I gain some confidence in the Dutch legal system. I have the opportunity to prove my innocence and continue to benefit from fair play. I feel somehow vindicated in choosing The Netherlands as my place of refuge from persecution in the Philippines. I also wish to thank the Dutch, Filipino and other peoples for their solidarity and support.
I will stay in the Netherlands with my wife and my two children who are already independent. I will conduct my legal defense and further clear my name. I will continue to exercise my freedom to speak and other democratic rights. I will continue to work for national freedom, human rights, social justice and an enduring, because just, peace in the Philippines.
I will continue to abide by the laws of the Dutch state and further develop solidarity with the Dutch people whose friendship and kindness I have enjoyed for more than 20 years.
September 13, 2007
Reference: Rico Foz, Executive Vice President, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, email: nafconusa @ yahoo.com
Fil-Am Group Slam POEA's Support for Illegal Recruitment
The nationwide alliance of Filipino-American organizations known as the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns or NAFCON, denounced Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz as an "avid supporter of the illegal human trafficking of Filipino workers at any cost," after the POEA dismissed charges filed last year by the Sentosa 27, Filipino health workers who were illegally recruited to the United States by the Sentosa Recruitment Agency in Ortigas.
The alliance, which has gathered worldwide support for the victims, including the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) and Gabriela Women's Partylist, pointed to "political interference" as the culprit behind Baldoz's decision.
"Ms. Baldoz seems to take orders from Americans, rather than Filipinos. We are concerned since the expose that US Senator Charles Schumer called Baldoz asking her to lift the previous license suspension on Sentosa after the 27 filed their complaints," stated NAFCON spokesperson Rico Foz. "It is no secret that Sentosa owner Bent Philipson is a major benefactor to Schumer's campaign. This is tantamount to the support and condonment of illegal recruitment."
NAFCON also slammed misleading claims from the US government that the case was dismissed.
"If Baldoz is basing on the US Department of Justice's (DOJ) so-called ruling in favor of Sentosa, she is completely incompetent. That misleading lie has since been retracted. The Sentosa 27 case is still alive under the DOJ's Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), after it was stalled under the Office of Special Counsel (OSC)," Foz added.
On his part, Sentosa 27 lawyer Felix Vinluan, who clarified initial media reports that the Sentosa 27 case was still alive with the US DOJ, sounded unconvinced of Baldoz's competency.
"Please do not believe every word that comes from the mouth of some Philippine government officials, who are quick and eager enough to share the misinformation that the nurses complaints have been dismissed. These Philippine government officials are just showing their true colors. They do not really serve the Filipino people. Because of money and influence, they are willing to turn a blind eye to the discrimination being committed against their fellow Filipinos," Vinluan ended.
For more information on the Justice for Sentosa 27++ Campaign, visit www.justiceforsentosa27.blogspot.com. ##
13 SEPTEMBER 2007
For Reference: Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan 0920-9213221
Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 09178226635
GABRIELA SEEKS PROBE A POEA DISMISSES SENTOSA CASE
As migrant workers, nurses and health professionals in the United
States protest over the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency's
dismissal of the case filed by the Sentosa 27, the women's partylist
group GABRIELA called for a Congressional inquiry on the alleged
irregularities of the POEA's handling of the case.
GABRIELA Women's Party Representative Luzviminda Ilagan has filed
House Resolution 181 which seeks to look into the POEA's arbitrary
lifting of the suspension order against the recruitment agency,
Sentosa, despite the complaints raised by 27 health professionals in
the United States .
Rep. Ilagan said that when the inquiry begins, they will thresh out
not just the suspension order but they shall likewise look into
irregularities in the recent POEA decision. "For one, POEA decided
to dismiss the case a year after the complaint has been filed when
in fact POEA rules and regulations dictate that decisions on illegal
recruitment cases should be relieased within 90 days."
Last April 2006, 26 nurses and a physical therapist filed charges
against the Sentosa-affiliated healthcare facilities that
individually sponsored them, and with which the nurses signed
employment contracts in the United States. They also filed charges
against Bent Philipson and Francis Luyun. Philipson is the common
COO and Managing Partner of the Sentosa-affiliated facilities while
Luyun is the proprietor of the Philippine-based Sentosa Recruitment
Agency. Luyun also works as international recruiter of the New York-
based Prompt Nursing Employment Agency, doing business as Sentosa
The GABRIELA solon also questioned the alleged political
interference which occurred, referring to the call made by US
Senator Charles Schumer to the POEA to lift its license suspension
against Sentosa. "There are so many issues that needs clarifications
in the Sentosa case."
"We have an economy that is surviving because of the remittances
being sent by Overseas Filipinos, including the nurses victimized by
scheming agencies like Sentosa. That we are unable to protect them
from illegal recruiters is a shame and guarantee just compensation
for the work that they do is a shame. Indeed it is high time that we
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
September 12, 2007
Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen @ bayanusa.org
Fil-Am Groups Remember Martial Law Anniversary with Outdoor DC Concert
New York/Washington DC-- Filipino-American hip-hop artists Kiwi and Blue Scholars will join others in an outdoor concert outside of the Capitol building in Washington DC on Friday night, Sept. 28th, 8pm-11pm. The concert is organized under the Filipino-American umbrella organization BAYAN USA and falls one week after the 35th anniversary of Martial Law as declared in the Philippines under former US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1972.
The concert, titled NEVER AGAIN!, is part of a one-week encampment organized by the Troops Out Now Coalition, a national anti-war coalition of which BAYAN USA is a steering committee member. The encampment starts on Saturday, September 22th and ends with an anti-war march on Saturday, September 29th. The NEVER AGAIN! concert is slated to be on the west side of the Capitol building on 3rd Street between Constitution and Independence, right in front of the reflecting pool.
The month of September marks last minute Congressional committee meetings on US military spending for 2008. The Philippines, as a so-called Second Front to the US War on Terror, receives the largest amount in US military aid in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranks fourth in world recipients.
"We are calling for a withdrawal of US tax dollars to fund Philippine death squads," states Christina Hilo of the Filipino youth group Anakbayan. "Martial law is still a reality for the Filipino people. It is just an undeclared martial law, but just as deadly."
The concert will also call for the release of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, a Filipino political refugee in the Netherlands arrested and detained on false charges since August 28, 2007.
Earlier in 2007, a US Senate Hearing, headed by US Senator Barbara Boxer, investigated the state of extrajudicial killings and abductions in the Philippines. Human rights watchdogs such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations Human Rights Council have all come out with reports criticizing the Philippine human rights crisis under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
For more information, email ny @ bayanusa.org and visit www.bayanusa.org. ###
Posted by lawdamercy at 11:50 AM
Monday, September 10, 2007
An Outdoor Concert for Human Rights in the Philippines
Join Filipino-American artists' call for withdrawal of US military aid for Philippine death squads and an end to the undeclared martial law under the Arroyo government. This concert is dedicated to all victims of Philippine martial law past and present.
Friday Sept. 28, 2007
concert starts at 8pm-11pm
West side of Capitol Building
3rd St. between Constitution and Independence
right in front of reflecting pool
Kiwi (formerly of Native Guns)
organized by the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, BAYAN USA and Troops Out Now Coalition
Stop the Killings in the Philippines!
Never Again to Martial Law!
Free Jose Maria Sison!
For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, September 7, 2007
SISON: Sights & Sounds of a Hero
A MINI-FILM & SOLIDARITY SERIES FOR THE RELEASE OF JOSE MARIA SISON
Join us for two nights of sights and sounds (films and poetry) in NYC celebrating Joma's life's work and to amplify the international campaign to release him from detention in the Netherlands.
The following films document Jose Maria Sison's life as a political asylee in the Netherlands since 1987 as well as his listing as a foreign terrorist by the US State Department and European Unions under the auspices of the US War on Terror.
Monday, Sept. 10th, 7pm
55 West 17th Street, 5th floor
between 5th and 6th Aves.
The Terror of Arbitrariness (2002)
Thursday, Sept. 13, 7pm
Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10012
organized by BAYAN USA & NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
endorsers include: Al-Awda New York (the Palestine Right to Return Coalition),
New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
Joma Sison is a victim of US and Dutch interests - Dutch lawyer
Written by Dr. Rainer Werning
Wednesday, 05 September 2007
"The Dutch government is sanctioning Jose Maria Sison because first, it is obeying the order of the US and second, it is protecting its investors in the Philippines by acting against the only burden in the relationship between the two countries, " Jan Fermon, counsel for Jose Maria Sison, concluded after quoting from texts from the website of the Dutch Foreign Ministry.
This is the second in a series of interviews conducted by Dr. Rainer Werning, a lecturer at the Internationale Weiterbildung und Entwicklung (InWEnt) in Bad Honnef, Germany. Dr. Werning interviewed Jan Fermon, counsel for Jose Maraia Sison - founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and consultant of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in its peace talks with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.
Dr.Werning recently held a series of lectures about the European legacy in the Philippines at the Ateneo de Manila University, German Club, Notre Dame University (Cotabato) and University of San Carlos (Cebu) upon the invitation of Goethe-Institut, Manila. He interviewed Fermon on March 23 this year at The Hague, The Netherlands on the side of the Permanent People's Tribunal (PPT) second session on the Philippines.
This interview was done before the arrest by Dutch police of Jose Maria Sison on Aug. 28, 2007 on charges that he ordered the killings of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, former leaders of the CPP.
But this interview provides the background and context to Sison's subsequent arrest. The following are excerpts from the said interview.
Rainer Werning (RW): Can you tell us about the so-called Joma story- how it started and what is the status of the case.
Jan Fermon (JF): Summing it up is a difficult task but I'll try to do that. The first thing maybe is to say two words about who Joma Sison is. Jose Maria Sison is a Filipino national, and founder of the new Communist Party of the Philippines. He was arrested under the Marcos regime and placed in solitary confinement for a very long period. When the Marcos regime fell, Jose Maria Sison was released and went abroad on a lecture tour. During a lecture tour in Europe, the Philippine military, which has never been purged of Marcos supporters, launched a new campaigning against him. A price was put on his head and his passport was cancelled. So he was forced to settle in Europe.
Jose Maria Sison stayed active as a writer, as an analyst on Filipino politics and on developments in Philippine society. But because he is abroad he could not play a direct role in the politics of the Philippines. When peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP, which is representing the broad Filipino masses fighting for national sovereignty and for their social, political and economic rights, began during the early 90s, Jose Maria Sison became the chief political consultant of the negotiating team of the NDFP. In this way, Joma thought he could contribute to the advancement of the rights of the Filipino people. And he has been playing that role since.
He has been living in the Netherlands...with some difficulties since the Dutch government refused to grant him residence because they said that it was against the national interest of Holland to have him in Dutch soil. But Dutch courts recognize him as a refugee thereby preventing the Dutch government from deporting him
In August 2002, Jose Maria Sison found out that his name was included, by Dutch authorities, in the list of persons suspected of supporting terrorist activities. He was not informed officially about it. He only found out when he bought food from a grocery store, using a special credit card issued for that store only, and was told that his bills are not being paid. He went to the bank and was told that his social allowance of 201 Euro a month was cancelled by the Dutch government. His health insurance was also cancelled. After some time, he was told to leave the house he rented from local authorities. The authorities said that his wife and son could continue to live in The Netherlands but he has to go.
It is a very harsh situation because it puts Prof. Sison in a position where, basically, he is excluded from participating in any social and economic life. He can't have a bank account; he can't earn an income; he can't have insurance, and he can't have a car. Even renting him an apartment becomes a criminal offence. We found out very quickly that the Dutch government included Professor Sison in the list of people whose assets were frozen. He was placed in this harsh situation by Dutch authorities only a day after the US State Department put him in its terror list...so it was obviously a coordinated action. And later, in a statement posted on the website of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, it said, that, indeed, the Dutch government did this at the request of the US.
When we announced that we would challenge this in court, because there was not even a slight piece of evidence produced, Dutch authorities, I think, became afraid that a court of law in Holland would not accept such a proceeding without any form of contradiction, without due process and without any form of evidence being produced. Well, they basically played the trick. They asked the European Union to include him in its list of "terrorists." So we had to take the case to the Court of the First Instance of the European Union where today, five years hence, the case is still pending. We have insisted that the Council of the European Union furnish us a copy of Joma's case file or any file which became the basis of their decision. We are, up until today, confronted with the argument that the file is confidential and can not be produced.
So we have a situation where a man is subjected to a sanction which has been abolished by the French Revolution: civil death or exclusion from all economic and social life. Jose Maria Sison is being subjected to an unjust and inhumane form of punishment which was abolished by the French Revolution. Added to this, the procedure by which Sison was subjected to this inhumane sanction reminds us of the Spanish Inquisition: where people were branded as heretics and the burden of proof in proving that one is innocent was on the accused.
RW: Well, that sounds really Kafkaesque, isn't it?
JF: I think probably Kafka in his worst imagination could not imagine such a situation, I think this is really beyond any understanding?
RW: Sequence-wise, when did it start...when was he first put in the list?
JF: Sison was first included in the "terror listing" of the US on August 12, 2002. The very next day, August 13, he was placed in the "terror list" of the Dutch government. On October 2002, he was placed in the list of terrorist of the European Union.
RW: What is the status of the case in Luxembourg?
JF: The case is still pending. The case was pleaded in court but there has been no decision yet. During our presentation in Luxembourg we raised several matters, the core of which is the total lack of due process. Somebody is branded a terrorist, which is a very serious accusation, without any reason stated, without any evidence presented. When the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs then, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who is now the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was asked in Parliament whether there was evidence or whether there was a criminal investigation on Prof. Sison's alleged involvement in terrorist activity, his reply was that there was not enough evidence to open an investigation against him. Nevertheless, Sison was branded as a terrorist and put on a list and sanctioned.
RW: What is the political rationale behind it? And how is it related to current Philippine context?
JF: I would like to start with a short story. There is a very interesting text in the website of the Dutch Foreign Ministry which starts by stating that 150 Dutch companies invested in the Philippines and that Holland is one of the major investors now in the country. Further on, it stated that the only burden in the relationship between Holland and the Philippines is the presence of what they called the Communist leadership in Utrecht, obviously referring to Jose Maria Sison and the information bureau of the NDFP. The text concluded that there are, however, some positive developments in the sense that the Philippine government welcomes the decision of Holland to put Sison in its list of terrorists, at the request of the US. It is probably a bit naïve to put it this way, but it was stated very clearly. One can therefore conclude that the Dutch government is sanctioning Sison because first, it is obeying the order of the US and second, it is protecting its investors in the Philippines by acting against the only burden in the relationship between the two countries.
I think, probably the situation is more dramatic as far as the Philippines is concerned. It has now become very clear that the US is pushing forward a policy of branding its opponents as terrorists; and those branded as terrorists, lose their rights. They can be detained without any form of due process; they can be held in secret prisons; they can be flown from one country to another without anybody knowing it; they can be tortured by what the US calls as slight physical pressure; and so on and on.
We can see exactly the same type of process in the Philippines. All kinds of activists in the broad social movement are branded as CPP or NPA supporters or members. They are labelled as CPP and NPA terrorists instead of being called as insurgents or political opponents. Consequently, if the CPP and NPA are branded as terrorist organizations, those accused of supporting it immediately become accomplices of terrorism. From then on anything is possible: they can be killed or detained without due process because the US is saying that it is okay and that they are doing it themselves.
So I think it is not only about Jose Maria Sison being in an extremely difficult situation, being targeted now, and being subjected to public hatred or at least to incitement of public hatred against him. I think this labelling of Jose Maria Sison, the CPP and the NPA as terrorists is also a licence to kill for the Armed Forces in the Philippines.
And so the fight against the labelling of these organizations and Jose Maria Sison as terrorists is part of the struggle to protect the peoples' movement in the Philippines. And it is particularly worrying, I would say even worse, that instead of denouncing this terrorist branding and labelling as incitements to the crimes being committed by the Philippine government and its security forces, the European Union is doing exactly the same thing. It practically makes the European Union an accomplice to the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. This is an extremely serious situation and the European Union should be held liable for that.
RW: What are the most perfidious chapters of the recently passed anti-terror bill, being euphemistically called Human Security Act of 2007?
JF: I think, I would be very careful in that because I didn't study it in detail. But the problem is always the same when this kind of law is adopted. The very simple and logical questions that would test if this kind of law is justified are: Is there a gap in the legal system that would allow people to commit mass killings of innocent civilians such as flying an airplane into a building or blowing up a metro in a European city? Is there a gap in our legal system that would allow people who are directly or indirectly responsible for this kind of act to escape from justice? Always the answer is no, of course. There is no justice system in the world that allows somebody who is criminally liable for such an act by participating, assisting, or helping in its perpetration to evade justice. There is no system in the world that would allow these people to escape unpunished. So we basically do not need anti-terrorist laws. We don't need it to get to these people; we don't need it to punish those who are indiscriminately killing civilians by their terrorist acts. What is its purpose then? The purpose is, of course, to get to all kinds of people who are not really terrorists. But because they are branded as terrorists, they can be subjected to public hatred, and to special proceedings that are instituted as a result of these anti-terrorist laws. And I think from what I know, the new Anti-terrorist law in the Philippines plays exactly that role. It justifies and legalizes the process of unjustly branding not only people who are engaged in rebellion but also those in the broad movement who may not be engaged in rebellion but might have some sympathy for it. All of them are branded as being terrorists. Contributed to Bulatlat
September 6, 2007
Reference: Rico Foz, Executive Vice President, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, email: nafconusa @ yahoo.com
SENTOSA 27 CASE STILL ALIVE-- NAFCON
US DOJ's So-Called Case Dismissal Untrue, Lawyer Says
New York-- The 27 Filipino healthcare professionals, victimized by illegal recruitment from the Philippines to the United States, known as the Sentosa 27 ++ clarified that their discrimination case filed with the US Department of Justice against the Sentosa Recruitment Agency were not only false, but "maneuvered by Sentosa's legal spin team to obstruct justice and build-up public opinion against them."
According to Sentosa 27 lawyer Felix Vinluan, "The reports are misleading and untrue. Far from being dismissed, the discrimination cases are now with the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO)."
On April 6, 2006, twenty six nurses and one physical therapist filed discrimination charges against the Sentosa-affiliated healthcare facilities that individually sponsored them, and with which the nurses signed employment contracts, as well as against Bent Philipson and Francis Luyun. Philipson is the common COO and Managing Partner of the Sentosa-affiliated facilities. Luyun is the proprietor of the Philippine-based Sentosa Recruitment Agency. Luyun also works as international recruiter of the New York-based Prompt Nursing Employment Agency, doing business as Sentosa Services.
The discrimination charges were filed before the US DOJ's Office of Special Counsel, (OSC), because the nurses were not directly hired by their respective petitioning employers on account of their immigrant or citizenship status. Instead, they claim they were made agency nurses of Prompt Nursing Employment Agency.
When it became apparent after several months of proposing extensions periods, that that OSC was simply stalling on addressing the case, the 27, without waiting for the OSC, directly filed the discrimination charges before the OCAHO.
"The OCAHO, under Administrative Law Judge Ellen K. Thomas, has taken jurisdiction over the discrimination complaints. The discrimination cases are no longer with the OSC," Vinluan added. "The headline of the news report misleads the public into believing that the cases filed against the Philippine-based Sentosa Recruitment Agency had been dismissed."
"We are disappointed that the US DOJ OSC did not take the victims' case very seriously enought to handle it expediently. But we are glad that the nurses took action and filed with the OCAHO, when it became apparent that nothing was moving forward under the OSC. We believe justice will be served as long as the world community stands behind the Sentosa 27. Theirs is a brave and legitimate fight," stated Rico Foz of the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns or NAFCON.
Foz also referred to the previous political interference of US Senator Charles Schumer who called the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to lift its license suspension against Sentosa after the nurses filed a complaint with POEA administrator Rosalinda Baldoz.
"We cannot rule out that political interference, and Philipson himself, are behind these stall tactics," Foz added.
NAFCON, a nationwide Filipino-American alliance working with the Sentosa 27, initiated a campaign that garnered supporters worldwide in favor of the Sentosa 27's case against Philipson. The campaign also gathered thousands of support signatures at www.petitiononline.com/j4s27. A Justice for the Sentosa 27 website can be accessed at www.justiceforsentosa27.blogspot.com .
"The Sentosa 27 have a strong case. They have the truth on their side. These political maneuvers are a testament to how desperate Sentosa and Philipson are to keep their heads above water against the massive public opinion and bad press snowballing against their operations," Foz ended. "
The Sentosa 27++ nurses, are likewise awaiting developments on the Senate resolution filed by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson calling for the investigation of Sentosa Recruitment Agency, and which resolution was referred to the Committee on Labor chaired by Senator Jinggoy Estrada. ###
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
"Please view the following video of Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General, speaking about the arrest of Joma Sison and calling for his immediate release. Clark also comments on the Human Security Act of 2007, and the need to withdraw US military aid to the Philippines. The video was created by G. Labao of NYCHRP."
Despite what some have reported, JoMa has NOT been released by the Dutch governmenet. He is currently in solitary confinement. Please stand by for the latest developments in JoMa's case. In the meantime, please download the factsheet and visit www.freejomapetition.org and sign!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
The Troops Out Now Coalition is planning a march in which FiRE and most of BAYAN-USA will be participating. If you can help spread the world, and can rally as many of your folks to D.C. that weekend, it would be an incredible show of solidarity.
FYI: the women in FiRE plan to hop on the Chinatown bus from NYC to DC RIGHT AFTER our Open House (which is the night BEFORE the march) to be a part of this event. We hope to see you there! :)