Monday, October 29, 2007

Filipino and Japanese activists meet and disucss Subic and Iwakuni rape incidents

News Release
October 30, 2007

Filipino and Japanese activists meet and disucss Subic and Iwakuni rape incidents

OSAKA -- Three days before the anniversary of the Subic Rape incident in the Philippines involving four United States Marines, Filipino and Japanese activists convened in the small city of Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture to discuss what appears to be striking similarities between another rape incident in the city.

Filipino activists met with anti-bases groups in Iwakuni City to discuss US military presence in the region which has resulted in October 14 alleged rape of a 19-year old Japanese woman by four US Marines. Like the Subic rape incident two years ago, the Iwakuni rape case happened when the four US Marines met a local Japanese woman and invited her to ride with them in their vehicle. She was reportedly raped while inside the vehicle.

The four US Marines belong to the US Marine Airbase in Iwakuni City, an important US military facility Japan, together with the Kanagawa military base and the Okinawa base. They are currently being investigated by Japanese authorities but like in the Subic Rape case, they remain under US custody. The small coastal city of Iwakuni has a population of only 152,000 people.

In November 1, 2005, four US Marines raped a Filipino woman whom they picked up in a bar in Subic base. Last year, a Philippine court convicted one of the Marines for the crime of rape.

Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. and Anakbayan chair Eleanor de Guzman joined more than 250 union leaders, youth activists and foreign delegates in denouncing the continued presence of the US military in Iwakuni during a rally last Sunday. The groups were able to reach the main gate of the Marine base. The marchers included delegates from the anti-war movement in the US as well as labor activists from Taiwan and South Korea.

"What is definitely disturbing here is that the US response in the Subic rape incident seems to be repeated in the Iwakuni incident. Again the US government refuses to give custody of their soldiers to local authorities," Reyes said.

"What is also alarming is that the cavalier attitude of the US government when these incidents happen seems to be encouraging the abusive behavior of American servicemen. That they feel they can pick up just any girl in Subic or Iwakuni and gang rape her in a van is a symptom of sheer arrogance and utter disrespect for our peoples," the Bayan leader added

In the Subic rape incident, while one of the servicemen was convicted, he remains under the custody of the US government while the case is pending appeal.

In the Iwakuni rape case, the four US Marines have yet to be charged by Japanese authorities who cited inconsistencies in the statements of the alleged rape victim. "There appears to be an effort by some local authorities to shift the blame on the rape victim just so protests against US military presence will die down. This is very similar to the Subic rape case wherein 'Nicole', the victim was blamed for her actions," Reyes said.

Reyes said that it was important for the people of Iwakuni to know of the sad experience of the Filipino people when it comes to unequal relations with the US.

"We told the Iwakuni residents and participants of the protest how under the Visiting Forces Agreement, even a convicted American serviceman could not be placed under Philippine custody. We were told that the same rule operates in Japan, wherein the Japanese
government would have to request custody of offenders," the Bayan leader said.

"It seems that under no circumstances will the US government allow its soldiers to be placed under the custody and criminal jurisdiction of any country," Reyes added.
Japan and the US have a very long security alliance which includes the positioning of troops in Japan and the use of bases for military operations overseas.

"The common experiences with American troops in our two countries strengthens our resolve to work together for the removal of US military bases and troops in Japan, Philippines, Korea and Asia as a whole," Reyes added. ###

Renato Reyes may be temporarily contacted through this email or thorugh

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Migrants group, OFW families slam Sentosa Agency

News Release
October 25, 2007
For reference: Maita Santiago, Secretary-General (0916-513-4366)

During picket-dialogue at POEA:
Migrants group, OFW families slam Sentosa Agency

An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families today slammed anew the Sentosa Recruitment Agency (SRA) with a picket-dialogue at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. The dialogue delegation was led by Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Liza Maza and along with Migrante, the relatives of the victims of the SRA and the Alliance of Health Workers participated in the protest.

“"The Sentosa Recruitment Agency is clearly guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment. Its operations should be suspended immediately and its license revoked permanently. We demand no less from POEA Admin. Rosalinda Baldoz,"” says Maita Santiago, Migrante International Secretary-General.

The Migrant Workers Act (section 6) deems that illegal recruitment is committed in large scale if it is committed against three or more persons. Large scale illegal recruitment is considered an offense involving economic sabotage. The Act (section 7) further states that the penalty for economic sabotage is life imprisonment and a fine of not less than P500,000 and not more than P1 million.

“"We also call on Admin. Baldoz to divulge the full extent of the political interventions at play which resulted in the grossly biased actions by the POEA against victims,”" she added, citing the letters by US Senator Schumer to POEA Admin. Baldoz, then-Labor Sec. Patricia Sto. Tomas, NY Consul General Ceclia Rebong and Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in behalf of the SRA – and the subsequent phone call reportedly made by then. Sec. Admin. Baldoz just prior to the POEA’s lifting of the preventive suspension order against the SRA on June 8 last year.

“"We wouldn’t be surprised kung may suholan sa Malacanang, mayroon din sa DOLE o sa POEA. Since the political interference by the powers that be into this case has already been admitted, the full extent of it must be exposed, investigated and the relevant charges filed against those guilty of this shameless abuse of power,”" remarked Santiago, citing the recent bribery expose at the Palace.

At least 32 nurses and a physical therapist have filed complaints at the POEA against the SRA. Currently, a Motion to Appeal the POEA’'s order to dismiss the first batch of complaints (Order dismissal released 4 September 2007) and an illegal recruitment case filed by a second batch (24 November 2006) are still pending.

During the dialogue, the families of the nurses submitted their Unity Statement and demands to POEA Admin. Baldoz.

"“Apart from this dialogue, we commit to intensifying global actions for this campaign through our member organizations and networks. In the US , the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns continues to gather widespread support for the nurses with the very influential NY State Nurses Association being the latest to affirm their support,"” said Santiago .

This October 29th, the NAFCON will lead a picket in front of the NY courthouse where ten of the nurses and their lawyer will face their first hearing on the criminal charges baselessly filed against them by Sentosa. For its part, Migrante International will also lead various actions to highlight the continuing oppression of our kababayans at the hands of Sentosa. #

* a detailed fact sheet is available upon request.



By the families of the victims of the Sentosa Recruitment Agency to

the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration

October 25, 2007

We, the families of the victims of the Sentosa Recruitment Agency (SRA), unite to express our alarm and opposition to recent POEA decisions which heighten the injustices committed against our loved ones by the SRA.

We believe that the SRA is clearly guilty of the illegal recruitment charges filed by the 26 nurses and 1 physical therapist against it last year 2006. The filing of similar charges by additional victims of the SRA strengthens this fact.

As such, we demand that the POEA issue an immediate preventive suspension order against the SRA at the minimum and at the maximum, their license should be revoked and their operations shut down. Otherwise, we fear that even more health professionals and their families will be victimized and forced to endure the grief, anguish and hardship that we now live daily.

As with countless other Filipino families, we were filled with great pride when our loved ones finally graduated as nurses and as a physical therapist. Given the worsening economic conditions in our country, we were also hopeful when they were given the opportunity to migrate to the United States as health professionals.

But instead of a better life abroad, our relatives were forced to endure a range of contract violations, discriminatory and unfair labor practices at the hands of the SentosaCare Agency in New York . Unable to suffer in silence and work under breached contracts any longer, they united and resigned from their positions.

It is deplorable that in Sentosa's bid to intimidate and criminalize our relatives, they retaliated by filing trumped-up criminal charges against 10 of the nurses and their lawyer. It is indeed a bitter reality that while the SRA continues to operate in the Philippines and its owner Francis Luyun remains scot-free – our relatives are being criminalized in New York .

We salute the courage of our loved-ones to stand up and speak the truth. We affirm our commitment to forward the campaign for justice for the Sentosa 27++ and all Filipino migrant workers.

Together with the growing number of people's organizations, other community-based groups and supporters of these health professionals from around the world – including the more than 2,000 who have signed an online internet petition for the victims of the SRA, we demand the following from POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz:

1. Immediate preventive suspension of the Sentosa Recruitment Agency;
2. Genuine investigation into the full extent of the SRA's illegal recruitment activities;
3. Permanent revocation of the license of the SRA and shut down of its operations; and
4. Investigation into Malacanang's intervention in the illegal recruitment case through a phone call by then-Sec. Michael Defensor to POEA Admin. Baldoz – which led to the swift lifting of the suspension order against the SRA and the long-delayed release of decisions in the complaints filed by the initial 27 health professionals and a subsequent batch of complainants.

Justice for the Sentosa 27++!

Justice for all Filipino migrant workers!


Francis Tulang

Step-father of nurse Noralyn Ortega

Elmer Gamiao

Father of nurse Claudine Gamiao

Maritess Delos Angeles

Sister of nurse Jennifer Lampa

Rhia Maulion

Sister of nurse Rizza Maulion

Mariano Morales

Father of nurse Juliet Anilao

Wilfreda Avila

Mother of nurse Harriet Avila

Mr. Garcia
Father of nurse Carlo Garcia

Arroyo's Pardon for Erap's Crimes Prove She Should Be Next in Ousting-- BAYAN USA

News Release
October 26, 2007

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

Arroyo's Pardon for Erap's Crimes Prove She Should Be Next in Ousting-- BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, a national Filipino-American alliance with over 12 member organizatons, indicated that Arroyo's recent pardon of former Philippine President Joseph "Erap" Estrada is the height of her administration's condonement and practice of corruption, bribery, and disastrous economic policies, qualities that eventually kicked Erap's administration out of Malacanang.

"For an educated economist, she is making stupid decisions that go against the grain of what the Filipino people have worked hard for," states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. "Perhaps she is already forgetting that she stood among the thousands flocking out of the Malacanang gates back in 2001 to oust her former boss after his crimes were exposed to the nation. How can she grant him pardon, when the Filipino people have not?"

While the Arroyo herself and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo have been the recent targets of corruption accusations for their direct roles in the ZTE-NBN Broadband scandals, at least 196 public officials such as Pampanga Governor 'Among Ed' Panlilio are coming forward with the Arroyo government's attempt to bribe them out of supporting her impeachment case. She is also proving to be a "mini-Erap" in scope with her own plunder of Malacanang's charity funds for critical social services as reported by the Commission on Audit (COA).

"She may be attempting to gain more allies onto her corner, but she won't succeed in doing so," Quijano added.

The alliance expressed its disgust over Arroyo's attempt to set a new standard of "public acceptance of plunder and corruption", which are the qualities Erap exuthed before his demise.

The alliance also indicated Arroyo's pardon of an former ousted president proves she must face the same fate.

"It's presidents like Erap and Arroyo that substantiate the world branding of the Philippines as one of the most corrupt governments in the world. From afar, Filipino-Americans are disgusted and shamed," Quijano ended.


26 October 2007

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917 - 3221203


"Joey de Venecia's recent testimony on President Arroyo and her
husband's hand in the NBN Broadband scam further strengthens the
widespread clamor for her resignation." This was the statement today
of Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.

"With all these shameless crimes and scandals rocking Gloria's
presidency and the renewed growing calls for her resignation, she and
her cohorts consistently use drastic and desperate tactics to save her
face. The most recent is the unconditional pardon to ousted president
Joseph Estrada. " added de Jesus.

" The act is tainted with Gloria's interest for Erap to capitulate at
the expense of the Filipinos hard won struggle against plunder. But
the people should not be disheartened for we learn our lessons from
every struggle -- Marcos was ousted but not tried; Estrada was ousted,
tried and convicted but pardoned by a treacherous president. This
time, Gloria will be ousted, tried, convicted and will serve her due
sentence for all her crimes against the people," de Jesus concluded.

The women's group held a snake march and noise barrage in Barangay
Tatalon, Quezon City in protest of Arroyo administration's crimes and
corruption. On Sunday, GABRIELA will be holding a protest action in
Malacanang in commemoration of the National Women's Day of Protest. ###

“Pardon for Erap Unpardonable!” - HEAD

Dear Friends,

Kindly forward this to our medical practitioners here in the US.

Rico Foz

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
2/F Doña Anita Bldg, 284 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City
Telefax: (02) 725 4760

Media Release
26 October 2007
“Pardon for Erap Unpardonable!” - HEAD

The executive clemency granted by Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to former President Joseph Estrada is the height of hypocrisy and an insult to the Filipino people. The crime of plunder for which Estrada was found guilty cannot be absolved by someone who is guilty of even bigger plunder and worse corruption.

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), the 3,000-strong national organization of health professionals, workers, and students believes that the issue of presidential pardon is being used for political expediency and has absolutely no basis in terms of dispensing justice.

“On the contrary, Mrs. Arroyo has undermined the entire judicial process and exposed how her administration condones, rather than condemns, plunder.” According to Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos, HEAD secretary-general.

“Can Mrs. Arroyo actually say that the grant of pardon was for the national interest? Who, aside from Erap and Gloria, stands to benefit from this?”

HEAD believes that the pardon is merely a “carrot-and-stick” approach of the administration not just for Erap but to woo his followers, neutralize the Opposition, and stem the rising tide of popular dissent against Mrs. Arroyo. After several influential Catholic bishops demanded her resignation “for lack of moral ascendancy”, pressure continued to rise due to a series of scandals of bribery and anomalous deals that point directly to her.

“Mrs. Arroyo has shown that she will literally beg, steal, or borrow in order to stay in power,” added Dr. Nisperos. “She barters the interests of the Filipino people to save her own skin, and she must be held accountable for such treachery. Our people demand nothing less than justice.”

“What Mrs. Arroyo has done is unpardonable!”

HEAD is joining calls for Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation. “The current dispensation has lost all semblance of moral and political ascendancy. What is obvious is Mrs. Arroyo’s blind ambition to remain in power at all cost. Given the brazen arrogance and unscrupulous behavior of Mrs. Arroyo and her men, the litany of corruption scandals will only continue.”

The suffering of the Filipino people will also continue. Based on what happened over the last few years, Mrs. Arroyo will only wait for her regime to regain a semblance of stability before she unleashes the hounds of war and viciously persecute those who oppose her.

“The lies being peddled must stop now!” Dr. Nisperos ended. “We call on all members of the health sector and the Filipino people to unite and stand up against a corrupt, immoral, authoritarian, and demented president.”###

Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos
Secretary-General, 0916 214 5724
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Deputy Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Kin of dismissed workers push for Sentosa suspension

Kin of dismissed workers push for Sentosa suspension

Posted 11:57pm (Mla time) (Mla time)
By Jerome Aning

MANILA, Philippines -- An alliance of organizations representing the welfare of overseas Filipino workers and their families held a picket at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in Mandaluyong City on Thursday to ask for the suspension of operations of the controversial Sentosa Recruitment Agency. [ Read more ]

HR Advocates Protest Ermita's Visit to NYC as Arroyo's Lead Spin Doctor for HR Situation

News Release
October 25, 2007

Reference: Jamie Mapa, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email:

HR Advocates Protest Ermita's Visit to NYC as Arroyo's Lead Spin Doctor for HR Situation

New York-- The NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Anakbayan NY/NJ, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment staged a solemn prayer vigil outside the Philippine Consulate last night during a public forum between Malacanang's Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and the Filipino-American community.

Ermita, along with members of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights Purificacion Quisumbing and Coco Quisumbing, was deployed to New York to answer serious queries made by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after a disturbing and implicating report drafted by UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston after conducting a deep fact-finding mission with communities and various victims of human rights violations in the Philippines earlier this year.

From the very beginning of the Q & A session, it was clear the audience members were highly critical of Ermita's sanitized "spin" of what is happening in their homeland. He regarded extrajudicial killings as simply "unexplained" killings where the Arroyo government is doing all that it possibly could to catch the perpetrators.

NYCHRP's Jamie Mapa and her mother, Malu T. Mapa, asked particularly pointed questions regarding the competancy of the Philippine government and refuted Ermita's earlier claim that oftentimes the killings remain unexplained because the families of victims do not cooperate in the investigation. Both mother and daughter are the cousin and aunt of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom fighter Joe Burgos, and a peasant organizer abducted by military forces last April, and who remains missing until this day.

Other critical questions came from Christina Hilo of Anakbayan, who asked Ermita what that Philippine government's stand was on the recent ruling of the prestigious Permanent People's Tribunal in the Hague, which found the Arroyo regime guilty of the killings and various other crimes against humanity. Valerie Francisco of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment echoed the position of Gabriela Philippines, in that the Philippines has become a dangerous country for women and children. Finally, Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General of BAYAN USA, and also a member of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, pointedly confronted the panel on why she was included in controversial blacklist issued by the Department of Justice of over 500 names of individuals overseas who have ties to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

"Is it because I have participated in fact-finding missions with Karapatan?" Ellorin stated point blank to the panel. "I can assure you Mr. Ermita, I am not a member of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, nor do I know anyone from those organizations. Most of the people on that list are people I highly respect and have spoken out against the killings and abductions in the Philippines. How can we trust that your National Security Advisor Bert Gonzalez knows what he's doing with fabrications like that?"

The contingent inside urged the rest of the audience members to join the prayer vigil outside. As the audience members walked out, some joined the ranks of those praying. Jamie Mapa, her mother Malu, and her aunt who took over the leading of the rosary outside for all victims of human rights violations, including their beloved Jonas. ###

FiRE Condemns GMA for Condoning State Violence Against Women

October 25, 2007
Reference: Valerie Francisco, secretary general, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment,

FiRE Condemns GMA for Condoning State Violence Against Women

It is universally accepted and recognized that violence against women is pervasive and must be stopped. The article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women identifies one specific area in which violence commonly takes place as the “physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.”

Many international bodies, state-sponsored violence against women has been and continues to be condemned, nowhere more than the Philippines under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime. The recent release of the Special Rapporteur Philip Alston human rights report cites the Philippine government in a “state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers were implicated.”

Gabriela-Philippines cites that since 2001, 96 women were victims of political killings, 76 of them were victims of extrajudicial killings, 29 were victims of enforced disappearance and 22 are political prisoners.On children and minors as 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.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, on his October 24 visit to New York, dutifully covered up for the rotten GMA regime by insisting that the alarming human rights violations in the Philippines was part of the long standing counter-insurgency. Ermita failed to clarify what insurgency has to do with the increasing poverty level, lack of women-centered health services and extrajudicial killings of women, children and unborn babies.

FiRE lambasts the fascist GMA administration for sending officials to the US to contain the damage that continues to ravage the people's movement in the Philippines. We demand the immediate halt to the political killings and persecutrion perpetrated by the Philippine government! FiRE calls for the complete withdrawal of US military aid to Philippine death squads! FiRE condemns GMA for her heinous attacks on the Filipino people at home and in the US!


For more information about Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is mass-based women’s organization in New York and a member of BAYAN-USA. Please visit, or contact us at
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. Please visit, or contact us at ###

Thursday, October 25, 2007

FiRE Reportback @ Brecht Forum!

October 25, 2007- Thursday
8pm @ The Brecht Forum

451 West Street (that's the West Side Highway) between Bank & Bethune Streets

Valerie Francisco from Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) and Christina Hilo from Anakbayan NY/NJ will be presenting and discussing their past exposure trips to the Philippines and their work among different communities including indigenous, urban poor, and rural areas. They will also be talking about their work with different sectors: youth and students, women, workers, and indigenous peoples.

This is a great opportunity for those who are interested in doing exposure this upcoming summer to get a grasp of the full experience.

F.I.R.E. and Anakbayan NY/NJ are mass organizations under the national alliance of Bayan USA.


A, C, E or L to 14th Street & 8th Ave, walk down 8th Ave. to Bethune, turn right, walk west to the River, turn left

1, 2, 3 or 9 to 14th Street & 7th Ave, get off at south end of station, walk west on 12th Street to 8th Ave. left to Bethune, turn right, walk west to the River, turn left.

PATH Train to Christopher Street north on Greenwich St to Bank Street, left to the river.

#11 or #20 Bus to Abingdon Square, west on Bethune

#14A or #14D Bus to 8th Ave & 14th Street, walk down 8th Ave. and west on Bethune to the river

#8 Bus to 10th & West Streets


From the West Side Highway

Coming from downtown, just take the West Side Highway to our door

Coming from uptown, there is no left turn near Bank and West so you should get off the highway at 14th Street, go one block and turn right on Washington Street, turn right again on 11th Street, go one block back to West Street and turn right. You will be one block below Bank Street.

From interior of Manhattan

Take any Avenue to 11th Street, turn west and drive to the Hudson River, turn right onto West Street, we are one block north.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


News Release
October 24, 2007

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


New York-- A community townhall meeting in Elmhurst is set for this Sunday, October 28 at 2pm one day before the criminal hearing of 10 out of the 27 nurses now known as the Sentosa 27 will take place in Suffolk County on Monday. The public meeting is being convened by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns or NAFCON, an alliance of Filipino-American organizations spanning over 23 cities in the United States.

The meeting will stress the nurses situation, deliver campaign updates and call for the need to gather more community support for the nurses, even making transportation arrangements for those who want to travel to the Suffolk County Court the following day to support those criminally-charged.

The Avalon 10, who resigned from the Sentosa-owned Avalon Gardens last year, face retaliatory charges of patient endangerment filed by SentosaCare LLC CEO Bent Philipson. Philipson also pressed charges against the nurses' lawyer, Felix Vinluan, who was approached by the nurses for advise since they had realized Sentosa had not made good on any of its work contracts with them, duping them into coming to the US to work as contract rather than staff nurses for various facilities.

The nurses also endured extreme lengths of time without pay, abuses in the workplace, and a steep patient-nurse ratio reached at high as 60:1.

"This facility charges them with patient endangerment, but it is really the inhumane patient to nurse ratios that endanger the patients," states NAFCON spokesperson Rico Foz.

The Avalon 10 maintain they fully finished their shifts before resigning, and made sure their were other nurses to take over their patients.

A motion to dismiss the criminal charges on insufficient evidence was earlier denied by the Suffolk County Court and the criminal hearing will proceed. Meanwhile NAFCON and the nurses have met with City Councilpeople such as John Liu and will continue to request for a special prosecutor, having little faith they will receive a fair and objective trial with strong anti-immigrant sentiment in Long Island.

Philipson, who is also a political contributor to Charles Schumer, is believed to have used his political connections with big politicians to reverse the previous suspension put on his company's recruitment license in the Philippines by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and stall civil charges for discrimination filed by the Sentosa 27 with the US Department of Justice in Washington DC.

NAFCON's campaign for the Sentosa 27 can be accessed online at and an online petition can be viewed at

The Sunday townhall will be held at the Philippine Forum office in Elmhurst, 54-05 Seabury Street. Take V/G/R trains to Grand Ave Newtown, exit on the front end of the platform, when you exit on the street turn left on 54th Street until you hit Seabury Street. The office is located on the back street end of the First Presbyterian Church. The townhall is open to the public. For more information call the Philippine Forum at 718-565-8862. ###


October 24, 2007
Reference: Valerie Francisco, secretary general, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment,

Filipina Women Say Never Again to Martial Law!

It is universally accepted and recognized that violence against women is pervasive and must be stopped. The article 2 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women identifies one specific area in which violence commonly takes place as the “physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.”

Many international bodies, state-sponsored violence against women has been and continues to be condemned, nowhere more than the Philippines under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime. The recent release of the Special Rapporteur Philip Alston human rights report cites the Philippine government in a “state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers were implicated.”

Since 2001, 96 women were victims of political killings, 76 of them were victims of extrajudicial killings, 29 were victims of enforced disappearance and 22 are political prisoners.

On children and minors as 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 the fully enacted, Human Security Act, the “state of denial” that is the Philippines, have covered all their bases by legally condoning state violence on women. The current state of neo-Martial Law in the Philippines is a blatant mimicry of the US PATRIOT Act which has, in turn, criminalized many progressive Filipino American women and women’s organizations.

In tandem, the partnership between the US and Philippine governments emerges as antagonistic, anti-people, anti-women and terrorist-baiting team. The extrajudicial killings in the Philippines are undoubtedly connected to millions of US dollars funneled to military training and exercises in the Philippines.

FiRE demands the immediate halt to the political killings and persecutrion perpetrated by the Philippine government! FiRE calls for the complete withdrawal of US military aid to Philippine death squads! FiRE condemns GMA for her heinous attacks on the Filipino people at home and in the US!


For more information about Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is mass-based women’s organization in New York and a member of BAYAN-USA. Please visit, or contact us at
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. Please visit, or contact us at ###

The Corruption of Power

Series of 2007

Power breeds corruption, and corruption anesthesizes.

The Corruption of Power
By the Policy Study, Publication, and Advocacy
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
Oct. 23, 2007

Seen from all angles, the latest scandal that has wracked the presidential office should only lead to either an impeachment or resignation by its occupant. But if Mrs. Gloria M. Arroyo goes, will that have solved the real problem? Will her departure and, possibly prosecution, guarantee that briberies, malversation, fraud, and nearly all other violations of every provision of the Constitution, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and other laws involving this high office won't happen again?

A senator last week called for the President's resignation, saying that her term as chief executive is beyond repair and beyond redemption. But that is just looking at one side of the coin. Having been in public service himself for decades and with a record of sorts as a critic of authoritarianism and misgovernance, he should be able to see the whole picture that it is the entire government institution run by the elite that is beyond repair and beyond redemption.

In this government, every scam and every scandal that hogs the headlines throws Arroyo in the spotlight. The heat generated by the $330-million ZTE national broadband scandal has not simmered down and there she was embroiled in yet another reported bribery. Exposes and admissions made by at least three governors and two House members told of an Oct. 11 meeting at the presidential office where 190 pro-administration congressmen and 50 governors were given brown bags each containing cash ranging from P200,000 to P500,000. The money, according to some estimates, totaled P150 million to P200 million. The provincial executives were told that the "cash gifts" were for "barangay projects"; those given the congressmen were supposed to preempt another impeachment against the President. There were no receipts, just cold cash, and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) denied it ever came from its office.

Based on the admissions and evidences shown, the distribution of "cash gifts" constituted bribery. If it was intended for "barangay projects," it was still illegal under the election code which prohits fund releases during election period. The barangay elections take place on Oct. 29.

A garbage of filth

The bribery scandal has unwrapped a garbage of other filth. There were reports about how several congressmen would regularly receive similar cash gifts as "productive bonuses" and during the two impeachment complaints against the President; and of how local officials after meetings in Malacanang would leave clutching thick envelopes. "Pork barrels," the release of which is now under the DBM, were being collected only by pro-Arroyo congressmen. There were also stories, not the least denied, about the President meeting Catholic bishops where money changed hands for "charitable projects" and how Palace assistants keep a birthday list of some 100 eminent clergymen.

The stories about crooks, thieves, and liars in high places go deeper. As the new controversial bribery sparked renewed calls for presidential resignation and impeachment, GMA News Research revealed a Commission on Audit (CoA) report admonishing offices under the President to account for "sundry questionable expenses" in 2006. The CoA, the TV report said, asked the offices to account for donations for calamity areas diverted to spruce up the Palace golf course, huge amounts of unliquidated cash advances, loans issued without records, and questionable purchases of supplies, equipment, and property. Based on the GMA story, the unaccounted expenses amounted to at least P2.074 billion.

The limelight captured by the scams and scandals involving the President for several weeks had stirred another public outrage with a new report by the anti-graft watchdog, Transparency International, where the Philippines dropped several notches lower in corruption rating. The Philippines was ranked earlier as one of the top countries in Asia in terms of corruption. The report came on the heels of allegations of corruption and illegal gambling money involving the President, her family and cronies, questionable transactions, election fraud involving billions of government funds, and other cases that took place since Mrs. Arroyo came to power in 2001.

Abuse of power

The culture of impunity that has marked the extra-judicial killings of dissenters and presidential critics rears its ugly head in another form here: the impunity of abuse of presidential power. Although the scams and scandals wracking the present regime have deep roots in the culture of patronage and clientelism practiced by all presidents since Manuel Roxas, Mrs. Arroyo brings into this system another dimension. Political survival due to lack of constitutional legitimacy, as a result of election cheating in 2004, has forced Arroyo to rely on the support of the military and police as well as on patronage politics, in the case of pro-Malacanang legislators and LGU officials. To maintain this support mechanism, patronage system is given full play in which money changes hands – often, as alleged, sourced from public funds – coupled with preferential treatment in multi-million development projects and other incentives.

The beneficiaries, in turn, consider this as part of political culture in which presidential dole-outs help sustain support from their network of relatives and constituencies, as well as to guarantee electoral votes for the President and her allies. So deeply embedded is this web of pay-offs and dole-outs that it has led to the paralysis of constitutional checks and balances, with, for instance, Congress which is dominated by pro-Arroyo allies using their numbers to block impeachment complaints against their patron. As alleged, even some members of the Catholic hierarchy have been trapped in this culture so that the voice that they used to lend in the ouster of Marcos in 1986 and Estrada in 2001 is now sealed. Power breeds corruption, and corruption anesthesizes.

For decades, the Philippines has earned a notoriety in the realm of corruption precisely because of the wrongdoings of its top bureaucrats, whether civilian or military, and where graft and corrupt practices, like termites, devour every layer of the bureaucracy and every unit of government. Key institutions that are supposed to check this malady – including the conservative Catholic hierarchy, business, and some "civil society" technocrats – have also been infested with these corrosive and anti-people practices.

The poor as victims

Yet the money that is lost to graft and corruption would have sent millions of poor children to school or increased the wages of government employees, including rank-and-file military and police forces. The funds squandered because an allegedly plunderous president must stay in office could have saved the lives of millions of sick people who have never seen any doctor in their entire lives.

Government has been in the hands of the ruling elite ever since it was introduced by the Americans as an adjunct of their colonial rule. Name any president, a member of Congress, or a local official and chances are big that he or she comes from a political dynasty whose rise to power is made possible by the considerable share of economic wealth it has appropriated. Not for reasons of making this country a better place to live in or for some altruistic goals of freeing the poor from centuries of bondage of class exploitation and oppression do they get themselves elected or appointed – chances are, through fraud or influence - to the niches of power. They are in government because political or bureaucratic power enables them to ransack public funds and inflate the ill-gotten private wealth that they already possess. Corruption helps increase the power of the elite and renders the poor classes more marginalized economically, socially, and politically.

The scams and scandals that plague the bureaucracy aggravated by the paralysis of institutional mechanisms against graft and corruption are what make the governmet system rotten to the core. At the rate by which the government is losing its credibility one begins to ask whether a mere transfer of presidential seat from one person to another or a shift to another form of government is enough to cure the cancer that afflicts the infrastructure of governance. The ultimate victims, after all, are the people. The sooner the nation realizes that it's about time elite power must end the better for its future. Governance is about who wields the political power. Political power should be in the hands of the people.

For reference:

Prof. Bobby Tuazon
Director, Policy Study, Publication, and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
Tel/Fax +9299526

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Emergency HR mobilization tomorrow Wed. 8/24 6pm

When: TOMORROW, WED. 8/24 6PM

**** Jamie Mapa, Jonas's first cousin, and her mother will be with us tomorrow at the action in front of the consulate. They will also be inside asking Secretary Ermita questions.

As per last minute developments, Executive Secretary and Head of the Philippine Human Rights Commisssion Eduardo Ermita is in town and the Consulate General in NYC is hosting an open forum with him tomorrow at 6:30pm

Ermita is in town to assure the UN that the Philippine government is sincerely addressing the killings and abductions in the country, and put a new spin that the human rights crisis in the Philippines is decreasing, after much heat was put on the Arroyo government through international human rights watchdogs such as the UNHRC, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. We know this is not true.

NYCHRP and AB met last night to plan out an emergency action in front of the consulate tommorrow starting at 6pm. Some of us are doing production work today. Hope the rest of us can make it tomorrow.


News Release
October 23, 2007

Reference: Jamie Mapa, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email:


The NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, a committee of human rights advocates, has absolutely no faith in the well-spun tale Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita will be telling the United Nations this week as to what is the human rights situation in the Philippines. Ermita is in New York as the head spin doctor in a so-called Philippine Human Rights delegation to answer the UNHRC's queries after a disturbing report published on the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston last February.

The Philippines is a country that is fundamentally hot-wired for human rights violations across all sectors of society because it has a government that is desperately trying to suppress all forms of dissent that is growing larger everyday due to failed domestic policies, deepening poverty, and growing militarism.

It taking lesson and re-applying the tactics of the darkest days of suppression in the Philippine history, namely with the resurrection of Martial Law under the Human Security Act of 2007.

From the nearly 900 killings of students, church workers, trade unionists and journalists that caught the world's eye, to the high-profile abductions of Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan, and Karen Empeno, instances of extrajudicial killings and abductions prove to be targetted towards only those who have joined or lead the ranks of the broad opposition in and out of parliament. As long as the Arroyo-led military decides to handle dissent by curtailing democratic rights and killing off opponents, then the human rights crisis will continue to intensify.

The Arroyo government is in a position where it must defend itself from intense scrutiny worldwide, not just for human rights violations, but now for bribery, failed economic trade agreements, and others. As unrest grows throughout the country, the Arroyo government staged a means to distract and divert media attention to itself with the Glorietta bombing in Makati one week ago, blaming so-called communist insurgents for the social unrest instead, mirroring Marcos's diversion tactic with the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971.

Unless Ermita speaks of the Arroyo government's inefficiency to handle the country by employing truly democratic policies and respecting national sovereignty, it cannot speak about finding a real solution to the human rights crisis.

We call upon the United Nations and the general public to dismiss Ermita's claims and seek the real data care of the results of countless fact-finding missions launched by peoples organizations since 2001 and the findings of the Permanent People's Tribunal back in March 2007.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Palace misused charity funds, gave loans sans records - COA

Palace misused charity funds, gave loans sans records - COA
10/17/2007 | 07:29 PM

EXCLUSIVE: Months ahead of last week's row over "cash gifts" for local politicians and legislators, the Commission on Audit had admonished the Office of the President, under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to hold its officers accountable for sundry questionable expenses in 2006.

The COA said the Palace had diverted donations for calamity areas to spruce up the Malacanang Golf Course, incurred huge amounts of unliquidated cash advances, issued loans without records, and could not explain big discrepancies between the booked and physical inventories of supplies, property and equipment.

The COA, in its official audit of the accounts and operations of the Office of the President from January to December 2006, rendered "a qualified opinion on the fairness of the financial statements" and listed 10 adverse "observations and recommendations."

In particular, the COA audit revealed that Mrs Arroyo's office:

• Failed to settle cash advances worth P615 million made to officers and employees, local government units and government corporations;

• Granted P269 million in loans out of the President's Social Fund "without supporting documents and disbursement vouchers;"

• Diverted P8.8 million in donations for calamity areas, including P900,000 to spruce up the Malacanang Golf Course, P3 million for hotel and conference expenses, and P4 million as "donation" to an unnamed foundation;

• "Improperly recorded" P112 million in fund transfers to local government units, government corporations and nongovernmental organizations;

• "Erroneously recorded in the books of the Office of the President" the P48.9 million balance of a trust account under the name "President's Social Fund-Livelihood Assistance Program" deposited with the Land Bank of the Philippines;

• Failed to reconcile booked and physical inventory office supplies, property, plant and equipment, worth P70 million in all;

• Understated the accumulated depreciation and depreciation expense accounts of property, plant and equipment worth P950 million;

The COA said the audit sought to "ascertain the propriety of the financial transactions and determine the fairness of the presentation of the statements" of the Office of the President that consists of "the OP Proper and the agencies under it."

The 60-page COA report was submitted to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on June 25, 2007. The report was signed by COA Director IV Bato S. Ali Jr., Cluster I – Executive and Oversight director, while the transmittal letter to Ermita was signed by COA Commissioner and officer-in-charge Reynaldo A. Villar.

Atty. Susan D. Vargas, Malacanang's deputy executive secretary for administration and finance, and Teresita P. Valdellon, department chief accountant, signed the "Statement of Management's Responsibility for Financial Statements."

'Best estimates'

Vargas and Valdellon certified that "the financial statements have been prepared in conformity with generally accepted state accounting principles and reflect amounts that are based on best estimates and informed judgment of management with an appropriate consideration to materiality."

Too, they wrote that, "management maintains a system of accounting and reporting which provides for the necessary internal controls to ensure that transactions are properly authorized and recorded, assets are safeguarded against unauthorized use or disposition, and liabilities are recognized."

The OP Proper, COA explained, consists of "the Private Offices, the Presidential Assistant System, the Executive Offices, the General Government Administration Staff, the Internal Administration Staff, the Internal Audit Service Unit, the Locally Funded/Foreign-Assisted Projects, and other Executive Offices."

In addition, "the OP directly supervises 61 other executive offices, agencies, commissions and committees that warrant the special attention of the President."

COA cited that "Article VII of the 1987 Constitution vests the executive power upon the President," who also "exercises control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices" and "ensures that laws be faithfully executed."

Unliquidated millions

For 2006 and even two years prior, COA noted that the OP had failed to liquidate cash advances made to cash-disbursing officers worth P77 million; cash advances to officers and employees worth P29.5 million, and "other receivables" worth a whopping P508 million.

In its qualified comment, the audit cited that under Section 89 of Presidential Decree 1445, "A cash advance shall be reported on and liquidated as soon as the purpose for which it was given has been served."

On the other hand, COA Circular 97-002 prescribes deadlines for liquidation of cash advances, and failure to do so "shall constitute a valid cause" for withholding the salary of the accountable officers. COA has proposed that the OP "compel" these officers to settle their accounts within the prescribed period, and refrain from granting additional cash advance to those with unsettled accounts.

Loans sans records

Last year also, COA said that "loans granted under the President's Social Fund in CY (calendar year) 2003 and January 2004 totaling P269,527,000 were not booked up, thus understating the appropriate Loan Receivable accounts while overstating the Cash in Bank account."

The report explained that "one of the main funding sources of OP is its share in the net earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), also called the President's Social Fund."

Initially, the PSF provided funds to implement the "Isang Bayan, Isang Produkto, Isang Milyon," that Mrs Arroyo eventually institutionalized through Executive Order No. 176 issued in 2002.

Under the program, "to simulate economic activity and growth of small and medium enterprises" Malacanang allotted P1 million loans for a borrower in each town and city, payable to the Land Bank.

The COA determined that loans granted totaling P216 million in 2003 and January 2004 "were not recorded in the books." Just as bad, "reports required from grantees/borrowers pursuant to the MOA (memorandum of agreement) such as accomplishment, financial and terminal reports were not submitted."

Donations diverted

The diversion of donations received for calamity victims by Malacanang was also discerned by COA.

In 2006, COA said the Office of the President received "from various sources" donations totaling P65,413, 463.79 or P65 million, for the following purposes:

• Donation for the Southern Leyte landslide, P7.1 million
• Donation for Socio-Economic Projects of the President, P35.6 million
• Donation for Typhoon Milenyo victims, P2.7 million
• Donation for the relief and rehabilitation of affected areas in Albay province, P20 million.

COA's adverse finding follows: "We noted, however, that out of the actual expenses incurred totaling P64,079, 173.40 from the donations, expenses totaling P8,807.621.75 could not be identified with any of the purposes of the donations."

According to COA, Malacanang had reported using the donations thus:

• Burial expenses, P795,000
• Hotel Expenses, P815,380.15
• Maintenance of the Malacanang Golf Course, P900,000
• Summit Conferences/General Assembly, P2,295,241.60
• Donation to Foundation, P4,000,000

These expenses "out of the purposes of the donations are contrary to Section 13 of the General Provisions of the General Appropriations Act of 2005," which stipulates that "donations, whether in cash or kind, shall be deemed automatically appropriated for the purpose specified by the donor."

"We recommend that management strictly use donations for the intended purposes specified by the donors," COA stated.

However, it took note of the explanation given by Malacanang officials that, "some donations have (a) general purpose, so they have wider discretion of what purpose these donations shall be released."

Still, COA stressed that, "the provisions of the law on donations… shall be faithfully observed."

Inventory discrepancies

Yet another qualified comment COA made pertained to discrepancies between physical and book inventories of supplies and equipment in the Office of the President.

The audit report said that under "Construction in progress – Agency Assets," Malacanang booked a balance of P198 million, but "per physical count, it has no balance since such construction of assets was already completed."

Too, the Inventory Committee of the Office of the President "failed to conduct physical count of other inventories worth P13,495,998.07," and failed to file the required semestral reports on the same.

The balance sheet of the inventories reported to COA by Malacanang included:

• Merchandise inventory worth P726,339.39
• Drugs and Medicines Inventory, P264,155.15
• Medical, Dental & Laboratory Supplies Inventory, P152, 286.56
• Gasoline, Oil and Lubricants Inventory, P3,511,843.18
• Other Supplies Inventory, P8,788,899.79
• Livestock Inventory, P52,474.00

However, COA determined that:

• "There was no physical count of the Merchandise Inventory and Livestock Inventory since the balances of these were carried in the book s of accounts and non-moving since 2000."

• "Drugs and Medicines Inventory have been immediately issued upon receipt."
• "Gasoline, Oil, and Lubricants Inventory had never been inventoried semi-annually or annually."

• "In the absence of the physical count, the reliability of the balance of inventories are doubtful," COA said.

Dormant accounts

Finally, COA said Malacanang continues to keep in its books, as of December 31, 2006, various dormant accounts totaling P293 million dating from as far back as 1992.

The biggest item under this account pertain to "Other Investments and Marketable Securities" valued at P275.6 million.

"Management reasoned that their pertinent records are no longer available due to the fire that gutted the agency's Administration Building sometime in August 1995," COA said, "hence the difficulty or the impossibility to retrieve the required papers." – Malou Mangahas, GMANews.TV/GMA News Research

Please help our friends at FAHSI fundraise!

Dear Friends,

From October 25-27, 2007, the Filipina Women’s Network will be sponsoring
their Fifth Annual Filipina Summit. An estimated 350 Filipina women from
all over the U.S., many of them political, civic and industry leaders, will
gather in Washington D.C. Every year, the Filipina Women's Network (FWN)
brings together Filipina women, corporate America's untapped source of
leadership at a time when economic, social and political challenges demand
new styles of leadership and innovation. FWN strives to meet this demand by
providing Filipina women with knowledge and resources and by connecting
women with community leaders, industry experts, nonprofit, academic and
government professionals, and with each other.

The FWN Summit will held in October in celebration of Filipino Heritage
Month. Highlighted in this summit, FWN will announced the final receipts of
the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the US. FAHSI is excited to
announced that our Youth Program Director has been nominated for this award.
(Rose-Ann K. Ubarra)

FAHSI will be participating in the summit by sponsoring the Youth Panel.
During this panel, guest speakers and FAHSI staff members will talk about
the Image of Filipina Youth and the experiences of Filipina Youth in the US.
For a full schedule of panel discussions please visit

We are asking for the community to help with the costs of registration and
accommodations for five of our staff members to attend this event. Our goal
is to raise at least $2,000. Donations to FAHSI for this cause will be tax
deductible and any amount will help.

If you are able to donate at this time, please visit our website, and donate through our Just Give link on our main page. You
can also can send your donations in the mail to our office. Please make
your checks payable to the Filipino American Human Services, Inc. Our
deadline to get pledges in is October 21, 2007.

Thank you in advance for your support. Please call us if you have any
questions or comments about the Filipina Women’s Summit please visit the
website at I can be reached at our
office at (718) 883-1295 or you can call my cell phone at 516-395-9071

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat!

All the best,

Rose-Ann K. Ubarra
Youth Program Director
Filipino American Human Services, Inc (FAHSI)

Philippine American Center
185-14 Hillside Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11432
Office (718)883-1295
Fax (718)523-9606

JDV III joins calls for Arroyo's resignation

JDV III joins calls for Arroyo's resignation
ABS-CBN news 10/18/07

Days after expressing disenchantment with the leader he used to call "my president," businessman Jose "Joey" de Venecia III has joined calls for President Arroyo's resignation in the wake of allegations of bribery in her administration.

The son of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. made the statement during a luncheon Thursday tendered by Senate Minority Aquilino Pimentel Jr. to honor the businessman's courage in exposing the alleged bribery, corruption and overprice in the ZTE-broadband deal.

"The easiest, but maybe not the softest, is for her to resign, but I don't see it happening," the younger de Venecia told ABS-CBN News correspondent Lynda Jumilla.

From the bribery-tainted ZTE-national broadband network deal to the Malacañang meeting where bags of cash were allegedly handed out to congressmen and local officials, de Venecia said it was clear Mrs. Arroyo knew all the alleged corruption going on and allowed these to happen.

He, however, said since resignation was next to impossible that the president's impeachment must be pursued.

The businessman said his father made a mistake in allowing a weak impeachment complaint to be referred to the House justice committee. He said it was something the speaker could and should correct.

"In the process he might lose the speakership but at least he goes down fighting. That may be his legacy at this point," said the businessman.

The younger de Venecia has accused the president's husband First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo of demanding him to back off from the government's negotiations with Chinese corporation ZTE.

Mr. Arroyo, however, denied the allegation, saying that it is not something that he would do to somebody he just met.

JDV denies
The elder de Venecia, meanwhile, merely laughed at reports tagging him as the suspect behind the controversies now hounding the Arroyo administration, particularly the alleged bribes given to some officials last week.

At the same time, the House chief shot down accusations made by Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno that the money given to congressmen and governors came from his office.

"I saw nothing. If I were involved, why would I do it at the palace? It would have been done elsewhere," de Venecia told ABS-CBN News correspondent Jing Castañeda, explaining his side regarding the alleged distribution of bribes at Malacañang on Thursday last week.

De Venecia said he has no reason to destroy his relationship with President Arroyo.

The Arroyo administration grabbed the headlines following reports that it allegedly distributed cash gifts to lawmakers last week.

Early this week, Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio and Bulacan Gov. Joselito Mendoza admitted receiving P500,000 in cash each stuffed in a paper bag after a governors' meeting in Malacañang.

Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante and Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco admitted receiving money from Malacañang after news broke out about the controversy. Cuenco, however, retracted his statement later, saying he was "just kidding."

FiRE @ FWN Conference

Friends, FiRE's own Valerie and Hanalei will be panelists at the Filipino Women's Network Annual Conference in Washington D.C. for the following:

2:10 pm - 3:10 pm
Through the Looking Glass: Images of identity in the youth community
Panel Discussion

Pop in to say hello if you're in the neighborhood! A hearfelt Thank you to Rose of FAHSI for inviting us to speak!

Ermita off to NY to discuss RP rights situation with UN

Ermita off to NY to discuss RP rights situation with UN
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Last updated 11:04pm (Mla time) 10/21/2007

MANILA, Philippines--PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has dispatched a team to New York led by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to discuss with United Nations officials the country's efforts to end the wave of political killings that has been hounding her administration.

Arroyo sent Ermita, who is also chairman of the Philippine Human Rights Committee, Commission of Human Rights chairperson Purificacion Quisumbing and other officials to meet with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ahead of the submission of a formal report to the international body of the UN team that looked into the killings early this year, according to a statement from Ermita's office.

The UN team, led by Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, said a military could have involvement in a number of the cases of killings. It also said there was need for the Arroyo administration to acknowledge that the killings were a problem.

Ermita is expected "to personally update UN officials on government efforts in dealing with the situation."

He is also expected to convey "to them the government's continuing resolve and commitment to address all forms of human right violations, especially in light of the country's recent election to the UN Human. Rights Council."

Ermita and the other officials left Sunday night for the week-long mission.
Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye has been designated acting Executive Secretary.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Press Release
Washington D.C.
New York,New York
October 4, 2007
Arnedo S. Valera, Esquire

Rico Foz


ABC Television Network facing an impending picket and protest in front of Manhattan's ABC Studios on 77 West 66th Street, NY, NY, October 5 at 6 pm, and October 6 (noontime) at ABC Office, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 (Metro Washington D.C.), agreed to meet with the Filipino-American Delegation led by NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR FILIPINO CONCERNS (NAFCON), PHILIPPINE FORUM AND the MIGRANT HERITAGE COMMISSION (MHC). As mounting protests and international condemnation for the racial slur made by Actress Teri Hatcher in a scene with a doctor in Sunday's episode of "Desperate Housewives" where she remarked: "Okay, before we go any further, can I check those diplomas?Because I would like to make sure they are not from some med school in the Philippines."

Robert Mendez, Esquire, Senior-Vice President for Diversity and Talent Development of ABC NETWORK had a very cordial and pleasant telephone conversation with Arnedo S. Valera, Esquire, Executive Director of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) and legal counsel of NAFCON this evening and both agreed to meet in Trump Plaza Hotel in New York at 5 P.M. tomorrow, October 5th, four blocks away from the organized community picket led by NAFCON and PHILIPPINE FORUM. As a good faith gesture to the Filipino Community, ABC’s Mr. Mendez assured Mr. Valera that the controversial episode will be edited and the scene permanently cut and never again be shown even in re runs, DVD set or any format for sale or rent. Likewise in exchange of goodwill with Mr. Valera, Mr. Mendez agreed to listen to the demands for more concrete measures of accountability to be presented by the Filipino-American Community panel group led by NAFCON, PHILIPPINE FORUM AND THE MIGRANT HERITAGE COMMISSION (MHC). He further promised to seriously address all the demands and concerns of the picketing groups.

The picket in front of Manhattan's ABC Studios at 77 West 66th is supported by the following organizations : The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, NAFFAA, Anak Bayan, Movement for Free Philippines, FILIPINAS FOR RIGHTS AND EMPOWERMENT (FIRE), KABALIKAT and the SENTOSA ++ NURSES.

The picket in Metropolitan Washington D.C. on Saturday, 6 October is to be led by the Philippine Medical Association of Metro Washington D.C. (PMAMW) and MD to be supported by various Fil-Am organizations, among them are the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) DC and MD and the MIGRANT HERITAGE COMMISSION (MHC).

Rico Foz of NAFCON, BERNADETTE ELLORIN of PHILIPPINE FORUM, a representative of the medical community and Arnedo S. Valera, Esquire of the MIGRANT HERITAGE COMMISSION will lead the panel that will present the demands of the organized picketing groups to ABC Senior Vice President, Mr. Robert Mendez.

Among the demands to be presented are: ABC Network Broadcast Public Apology and not simply a one paragraph statement; Conduct a complete and thorough investigation of those responsible for writing the reprehensible and racial slur script line; ABC to conduct racial and cultural sensitivity programs for all employees ; ABC should make a categorical and unequivocal statement that it recognizes the significant contribution of Philippine Health Care professionals especially our doctors, nurses and other health care givers to the entire U.S Health Care System because of their competence and high quality of skills; A sincere and proper apology to the Filipino People and the nation and the Fil-Am community groups for disparaging and maligning the Philippine Educational System and the expressed racial prejudice to Filipino doctors and physicians; ABC will commit to make episodes and shows that will depict Filipinos and other minority groups as prominent positive role models of the community and that ABC agrees to support Filipino-American Community projects that will strengthen racial diversity and harmony in local communities and at the national level.

NAFCON promised to organize more peaceful ,continuous and sustained pickets and protests together with various Filipino-American groups and minority groups in the country until the demands are substantially met.

Monday, October 1, 2007


30 September 2007

For Reference: REP. LIZA LARGOZA MAZA 0920-9134540
Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0915-6463009


GABRIELA Women's Partylist Representative Liza Largoza Maza said it is
hypocritical and ironic that Mrs. Arroyo called on women power to
demand the release of Burmese pro democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at
the United Nations last Friday.

"Mrs. Arroyo's statements are attempts to cover up her regime's
murderous record on extra judicial killings and disappearances, amid
much international criticism over the human rights crisis in the
country. This duplicitous show of support for Aung San Suu Kyi and the
pro-democracy movement in Burma is mortifying," said Gabriela Women's
Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza.

The Gabriela solon further said, "Mrs. Arroyo even had the gall to
summon women power for the Burmese leader when in her own country, her
repressive policies are the very hindrance to women power." Maza
pointed out that human rights documentation in the country since Mrs.
Arroyo assumed office in 2001 indicate that 96 women have fallen
victims to extrajudicial killings and 31 have disappeared.

Under Mrs. Arroyo, the Philippines have had 22 women political
prisoners, many of them in conditions no different from Suu Kyi.

"No different from the military junta in Burma, Mrs. Arroyo has led
the violent dispersal of protests with her Calibrated Pre-emptive
Response. She has led attempts to silence critics with her
Proclamation 1017 and deny Filipinos the truth behind the rampage of
corruption in her administration with EO 464. Certainly, her two-faced
statements cannot hide her bloody record from the international