Wednesday, September 26, 2007


News Release
September 26, 2007

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

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. ###