Witness pins GMA, FG Mike Arroyo in 2007 election fraud

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) presented this morning fifteen Election Officials in the Province of Maguindanao who were witness to alleged election irregularities during the 2007 Senatorial Elections in the Province.

Also presented was former Maguindanao Provincial Administrator Norie K. Unas, the right hand man of former Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. According to COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., Unas was the one who “stage managed” and rigged the election results in the 2007 polls, upon the instruction from, said Brillantes, “the highest official of the land.”

Read part of COMELEC’s press release today:

“The 2007 elections in Maguindanao was marred by an absolute commission of fraud and irregularity,” said Brillantes, who with Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and COMELEC Commissioner Elias R. Yusoph, led the press conference this morning at the poll body’s Main Office.

Unas and the fifteen Election Officials and personnel submitted their respective Affidavits before the COMELEC, detailing their knowledge in election irregularities in the 2007 polls.

In his Affidavit, Unas directly linked former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her spouse former First Gentleman Atty. Mike Arroyo in 2007 Maguindanao election fraud.

Unas, in his affidavit, said President Arroyo’s instruction to Datu Andal during a dinner meeting held at Malacanan Palace days before the 2007 elections was: “Dapat 12-0 sa Maguindanao, kahit pa ayusin o palitan niyo ang resulta.”

Unas also said that he was told by Gov. Datu Andal Ampatuan that, “Utos ni FG, kelangang 12-0 ang result sa Mguindanao… at kailangan walang makuhang boto si Cayetano.” He said this came after Ampatuan met with the former First Gentleman at the LTA Building in Makati. Unas accompanied Ampatuan during that meeting.

DOJ Secretary de Lima, for her part, cited the significance of Unas’ testimony, saying that “this is the first time that a witness has direct personal knowledge pointing to the first couple” as alleged perpetrators of election fraud. ###

Here’s Norie K. Unas

Norie K. Unas 

Download Unas’  Affidavit here.

The Election Officers and personnel from Maguindanao who were presented by the COMELEC today are:

  • Saliao Amba (Mamasapano town),
  • Maria Susan Albano (Datu Unsay town),
  • Nena Alid (Talayan),
  • Alice Lim (Pagagawan),
  • Susan Cabanban (General S.K. Pendatun),
  • Magsaysay Mohamad (Sultan sa Barongis),
  • Araw Cao (Mangudadatu),
  • Estellita Orbase (Shariff Aguak),
  • Jeehan Nur (Ampatuan),
  • Salonga Edzela (CVL Tech, Maguindanao),
  • Ragah Ayunan (Rajah Buayan),
  • Russam Mabang (Pandag),
  • Asuncion Reniedo (Paglat),
  • Rohaida Khalid (Datu Saudi), and
  • Norijean Hangkal (Guindulungan).

Photos from the COMELEC Education and Information Department

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COMELEC delists Migrante, OFWs enraged

Migrante: Bayani sa Ekonomiya, Bayani sa Politika

Migrante: Bayani sa Ekonomiya, Bayani sa Politika

Overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) from all over the world are fuming mad over the recent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution delisting Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) from the list of qualified Party-List groups for the May 10, 2010 elections.

In Resolution No. 8679, promulgated by the COMELEC en banc on October 13, 2009; the poll body ruled to delete Migrante and 25 other groups from the list of registered party-lists for allegedly failing to “participate in the last two (2) preceding elections OR fails to obtain at least two percentum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections.”

Immediately, Migrante issued a statement condemning the COMELEC ruling saying that such a move from the poll body was “anomalous” and “unacceptable.”

“The Comelec decision is highly irregular since it veered away from the process where partylist are only removed from the list after due notice and hearing as provided by law. This time, however, the Comelec issued a resolution to remove 26 partylist groups first then asked concerned parties to just submit written opposition if there are any. This is unacceptable,” Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International exclaimed.

Aside from the lack of due process, Migrante also said the COMELEC committed a blunder when it deleted 5 of the 26 Party-lists just because they failed to get 2 percent in one election and was not able to participate in another election. The 5 groups were
Migrante, Abanse Pinay, AK, PCDO-ACTO and PGBI.

“This clearly negates the qualifier in the provision wherein the instance of failure should be committed twice and in two preceding elections,” Martinez asserted.

The Migrante leader likewise denounced the COMELEC’s “desperation” as it is purposely trimming down the list of participating party-list groups in 2010. He noted that if the official ballot for the 2010 elections would be “ridiculously long” because of the number of party-lists wanting to participate, the COMELEC has no one to blame but itself.

“It was the sole agency that approved the registration of those partylist who cannot even be considered as part of the marginalized sector as defined in the Constitution. The Comelec’s desperate scheme to reduce the numbers of participating partylist groups at present should not be done at the expense of the true and legitimate representatives of marginalized sectors,” Martinez protested.

He lamented that only ones who’ll stand to benefit from this “anomalous” ruling are “Malacanang backed party-list groups” such as Maria Lourdes Arroyo’s (sister of the First Gentleman) Ang Kasangga Partylist and Jovito Palparan’s (notoriously known as The Butcher) Bantay Partylist.

“Unfortunately, it is only the Malacanang backed partylist groups who are going to benefit from this Comelec decision while legitimate representatives of the marginalized sectors of our society are getting denied of their right to due proccess,” he said.

Martinez said his group is preparing to file a formal protest before the COMELEC. Protest actions from Migrante chapters and its allied Filipino organizations all over the world are also in the drawing board to express the OFW sector’s collective sentiment towards the unjust COMELEC ruling.

Black Friday Protests

Elsewhere around the world, OFWs are up in arms.

Filipinos in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has declared to hold Black Friday Protests in the Kingdom to protest the COMELEC ruling.

Migrante2“Delisting MSP means delisting OFWs in the political arena,” exclaimed Migrante Jeddah Chapter Chairperson Bob Fajarito as he called on all his compatriots in the Kingdom to wear black every Friday as a sign of their united disappointment. He also encouraged OFWs to bombard the COMELEC with protest letters via email.

For his part, Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson A.M. Ociones said COMELEC Resolution No. 8679 “marginalized the migrants even more.”

“Definitely, this is contrary to the real intent of the Partylist Law of encouraging the participation of the un-represented and marginalized sectors of society in the democratic process of nation-building,” he said.

Ociones said the Migrante’s deletion would be a big blow to OFWs all over the world, most especially in the Middle East which has been touted to be the “epicenter of migrants’ human rights violations.”

Said Ociones: “With the proven track record of Migrante in fiscalizing the government to act in favor, and respond to the most pressing needs of OFWs, getting MSP in the next Congress as Party-list representative is the greatest hope the Filipino migrants can ever achieve.”

Meanwhile, Marco Luciano of Migrante Canada asserted that the COMELEC’s en banc decision “is tantamount to suppressing the rights of a party that seeks nothing but to represent in the House of Representatives the millions of Filipino migrants all over the world.”

“Not only is it a violation of due process leading to the disenfranchisement of a group that has truly served the interests of Filipino migrant workers and their families the world over. It opens the door for the Malacanang-backed party-list groups to dominate the coming party-list election, thus serving the ruling administration’s objective of prolonging its rule,” he said.

COMELEC robbed OFWs twice

Filipinos from down under also joined like minded kababayans all over the globe in deploring the COMELEC’s move.  Dennis Maga, National Coordinator for Migrante New Zealand said that overseas Filipinos were robbed of their votes by the COMELEC twice: “first, through its failure to ensure the registration of more OFW voters; and now, by unjustly disqualifying Migrante from the 2010 party-list elections.”

“It is the height of injustice that the Commission on Elections, in a recent en banc resolution, qualified the Malacañang-supported fake party-list groups like the one represented by the notorious Jovito Palparan to gain a seat in Congress, while disqualifying the leading and genuine advocate of the welfare of the marginalized overseas Filipino workers.”

Photos coutesy of Yboy Macatiag

NYCHRP statement on Arroyo’s “Simple” Dinner


IS GLORIA THE NEW IMELDA?

Filipinos in New York Respond to Arroyo’s “Simple” Meals

Despite the claims of the Arroyo administration, there are certainly simple, inexpensive culinary pleasures to be had in New York City. While the Big Apple is certainly home to Wall Street power lunches, Tavern On The Green, and the Russian Tea Room, it is also home to the $1 pizza slice, the $1.25 hot dog from the street vendor, and the $4 over rice plate in Chinatown.

And with New York unemployment reaching a record high of 400,000 in 2008 due to the economic crisis, these cheap eats are becoming everyday fare for more and more New Yorkers.

In fact, New Yorkers would be the first to rebuke Philippine Presidential Press Secretary Cerge Remonde’s claims that the recent New York City dinner of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her travel entourage was a “simple” dinner, or the line that such expensive rates are “standard” in New York City.

There was nothing “simple” about Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s entourage drawing up a $20,000 tab for two tables at the ritzy Le Cirque Restaurant in Manhattan. Surely such a feast for the 65 Philippine bureaucrats who literally wined and dined to their hearts content could have easily fed several small villages in the Philippines itself. What blows our minds even more is the recent news that the infamous $20k extravaganza was preceded by a similar $15k fete in Washington DC, where Arroyo and her entourage dined at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse after her state visit with President Barack Obama.

As Filipinos in New York, this degree of extravagance from a Philippine Head of State is both vulgar and, unfortunately, familiar. Before the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, former First Lady Imelda Marcos was known for closing entire floors in Saks Fifth Avenue for her million-dollar shopping sprees. In 1982, Imelda arrived in New York to shop with 40 assistants and 300 suitcases. The previous year, Imelda purchased a Park Avenue apartment and its contents for a lump sum of $9.5 million. According to People Magazine, the then-First Lady even imported workers from the Philippines to help in refurbishing rooms in the Manhattan properties she bought. At it’s height, the Marcos family had purchased billions worth in New York City real estate, including the $51 million Crown Building and the $60 million Herald Center. Ironically, Imelda declined on purchasing the Empire State Building at $750 million, claiming it was “too ostentatious”.

But while the rest of the world was agasp and Filipinos vowed never again to such bawdy displays of lavishness, Arroyo’s latest spending spree on her so-called “simple” meals indicate she may have been taking notes from the so-called Steel Butterfly all along.

Conversely, a 2008 survey in the Philippines conducted by Gallup International revealed that four out of every ten Filipinos reported having little or no food at all on their tables in the last 12 months. At 90 million, the Philippines has one of the highest population growth rates in Asia. The Arroyo government’s failure to resolve increasing food insecurity in the country leaves hunger and malnourishment a reality for the majority of families in the Philippines.The most acute pangs of hunger remain in the densely-populated urban slum communities of Metro Manila, where just stone’s throw away from Arroyo’s residence, at least half a million families lack food.

Such excessive spending on food in the face of extreme hunger cannot be tolerated. Arroyo and friends have some serious explaining to do to the millions of poor Filipinos, including our families, whom we strive to support with our hard-earned remittances.

If $20k for dinner is “simple”, then how much would “decent”, “normal”, and “fancy” cost, by Arroyo standards? And if the Marcoses still have the gall to this day to swear by their dead patriarch’s glass coffin that they did not spend billions in Philippine public funds for their own whims, even amidst credible evidence indicating gross graft and corruption on their part, aren’t Arroyo, Remonde, et al playing the same tune when it comes to their arrogantly unapologetic stand on these dinner tabs? Does one need to be a communist to put two and two together, or is this a case of plain common sense?

In fact, an examination of Arroyo’s penchant for lavish spending of public funds during foreign trips coupled with her propensity for political repression and human rights violations of her own countrymen, may make her the star combination of both Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ worst traits– all wrapped up in a tiny 4’11” moled package.

Is Gloria the New Imelda in terms of spending? With her “simple” dinner costing tens of thousands in US dollars, the answer doesn’t look too bright for us mere $1.25 hot dog eaters. But then again, do we really want her to stick around in office long enough to find out?

Let us take our cue from Philippine history. In 1983, the death of one Aquino, who’s star shone brightly against the darkness of tyranny and corruption, contributed to fast tracking an ongoing people’s movement that toppled a dictatorship marked by repression, corruption and obscene lavishness. Today, in 2009, with the Arroyo administration embodying these same traits, shouldn’t the death of another Aquino, who perhaps shined even brighter, do the same?

MELISSA ROXAS’ SURFACING A VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE, BUT THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR CARABEO & HANDOC– BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino social justice organizations across the United States, is elated to confirm that Filipina-American activist Melissa Roxas, 32, surfaced hours ago in Manila as of Sunday, May 24th. BAYAN USA confirmed this report with the human rights group Karapatan. A detailed account about the circumstances of her surfacing is still forthcoming.

“We are happy to hear about Melissa’s surfacing, but we are still concerned about the whereabouts of her two companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, who were abducted along with Melissa on May 19th and are still missing to this day,” states BAYAN USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin. “We fully intend to pursue the demand for the surfacing of Carabeo and Handoc, as well as justice for Melissa. This abduction should never have taken place.”

Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a medical mission team in La Paz, Tarlac, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint by at least eight masked men in the middle of the night last week. Upon learning of Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc’s enforced disappearance, BAYAN USA, along with BAYAN Philippines and Karapatan, exerted strong efforts calling for their immediate surfacing, including releasing an online petition addressed to US elected officials that gathered hundreds of signatures in a matter of hours.

“Because more than five days had passed since their abduction, we believe Melissa’s surfacing is a direct result of rapid community response and international pressure exerted from the Philippines and the United States first and foremost,” Ellorin continued. BAYAN USA in Southern California has also been working closely with Roxas’ family in Los Angeles in their campaign efforts to surface Roxas and her companions in the Philippines.

Roxas, a founding member of the cultural organization Habi-Arts in Los Angeles and founding Southern California Representative for BAYAN USA, went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights advocacy full-time. Her move was set amidst an acute human rights crisis in the Philippines that includes reports of rampant extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrest, torture, and summary executions. In 2005, Roxas participated in an international fact-finding mission investigating human rights violations throughout the Philippines under the Arroyo administration.

On Wednesday, May 27th, BAYAN USA member organizations across the United States will be launching actions denouncing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a military pact that allows for the basing of US military troops in over 20 ports throughout the Philippines. Included in these actions will be the call for justice for Melissa Roxas and for the immediate surfacing of Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. BAYAN USA firmly believes the continuing, unabated human rights violations committed by the Philippine military and death squads are generously funded by US military aid to the Arroyo government. BAYAN USA also ultimately holds the Arroyo government accountable for the pattern of killings and abductions against civilians critical of the regime since 2001.

“As we continue to campaign for justice for Melissa, Juanito, and John Edward, we are consciously raising awareness of the role of US tax dollars in funding these abductions and other human rights violations. There are hundreds more victims of politically-motivated abductions in the Philippines that are still missing to this day,” Ellorin ended. ###

SURFACE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTIVIST MELISSA ROXAS NOW

surfacemelissa

BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure the safe return of Roxas.

Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an international fact finding mission that called attention to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009 at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed, hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.

“We are deeply concerned about the abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. We call for Melissa and her companions to be immediately surfaced unharmed,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. “We condemn the ongoing abductions and human rights violations that have been rampant under the Arroyo administration and victimized thousands of innocent people.”

The search for Roxas and her companions will be spearheaded by the human rights organization KARAPATAN, while BAYAN-USA, its member organizations, and allies will undertake an international campaign to exert pressure on the Arroyo government to surface Roxas. “We appeal to our elected officials, members of the Filipino American community, and all people in the U.S. who believe in human rights to take action to surface Melissa and her companions. Since we were founded in 2005, BAYAN-USA has campaigned ceaselessly for an end to the human rights violations in the Philippines, and we will not stop until we obtain justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations under Arroyo.”

Of women, fire and rapists

The month of March this year may forever be ingrained in Philippine history as among the worst to ever hit Filipino women.

fireThough it is supposed to be “Women’s Month,” the string of events that unfolded recently made it a lot like the government’s so-called observance of “Fire Prevention Month” (which coincidentally falls on the same month as that of Women’s); a time where, quite paradoxically, incidents of fire happen to hit us most.

On the first day of March, I was awakened by a loud and seemingly unending blare of sirens. I think this was around 9 AM. I thought there was a fire nearby, so I hurriedly went up my roof to check if there is a cloud of black smoke in the vicinity. Fortunately, there was none and the entire ruckus was just a parade of fire trucks to warn us against playing fire – March being fire prevention month and all.

Seriously though, that earsplitting commemoration didn’t sink into me until I happened to open my TV and learned on the news that a fire has razed the Baguio City Public Market and an SM Mall in Cavite. “Ahh, Fire Prevention Month nga pala ngayon,” I told myself. “Kaya pala may parada ang mga bumbero.”

For me, the government’s, particularly that of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s (BFP) yearly commemoration of the “Fire Prevention Month” is just a smokescreen to hide their utter inability to protect us from fires in one of the hottest months of the year. We all know that the BFP is poorly equipped and undermanned. So I only have pity for those brave firefighters who regularly come to blows with major fires donning only tattered and substandard firefighting clothes while their bosses up the ladder have only grease lining both their mouths and pockets for eating lechon on a regular basis and for the millions of grease money forked from private companies who sell the same substandard firefighting equipment.

That, my friends, is my brief explanation why I think “Fire Prevention Month” is a joke.

nicole_smith1

And so when I heard of the news that a twenty one year old woman was brutally murdered and molested on the night of March Fifth in Davao; I thought this incident would surely solidify the women’s movement that’s set to march on March 8 for International Women’s Day.

Also, I knew this would be a setback to the peace process, considering that the victim is a daughter of legendary New People’s Army Commander Parago. The victim was elementary teacher Rebelyn Pitao.

And then, after an alleged and much touted “30 minute” phone call of US President Barack Obama to de facto Philippine President Gloria Arroyo recently, “Nicole” was reported to have suddenly “recanted” her story on her alleged rape by US Serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

junk_vfa1Her so called “recantation” was widely seen by her lawyers and the women’s groups as an underhanded ploy to weaken the Filipino people’s movement against the lopsided Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). They also asserted that the US government, with the help of the Arroyo regime, has pressured “Nicole” to issue her alleged “recantation” to weaken the rape case against Smith, thus making it possible to finally spirit him out of “detention” from the US Embassy.

Indeed, “Nicole’s” sudden turn around is suspect. Note that this happened at the height of clamor to have the VFA abrogated. And after the Obama-GMA phone chit-chat, note further that the Philippine government has resurrected from the dead moves to extradite police officers Mancao and Dumlao who is believed to hold the key in pinning the mastermind on the murder of PR man Bubby Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

The Department of (In) Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales has publicly said that Mancao and Dumlao are ready to link opposition stalwart Senator Panfilo Lacson and former President Joseph Estrada to the Dacer-Corbito killing.

Ex deal? Probably. But one thing’s for sure: This government is ready to sacrifice the dignity, not only that of rape victim “Nicole” but the entire nation’s as well, for its own political survival.

PHILIPPINES-CRIME-POLITICS-JUSTICEAnd then the unthinkable happened. Former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos, who was convicted of raping an 11 year-old in 1996, was ordered released courtesy of an executive clemency issued by the de facto President. (Play Smoke‘s funny Jalosjos game here. I scored 185!).

The joke that is the annual “Fire Prevention Month” has indeed rubbed off to “Women’s Month” under Gloria Arroyo. To think that we have a woman presenting herself as President.

I sure dread the day when I’d be saying “Aah, Women’s Month pala ngayon. Kaya pala may nagahasa na naman.” I hope this would come not in my lifetime.

ON 110TH ANNIVERSARY OF PHIL-AM WAR, US-ARROYO MOVES FOR INTERVENTION INTENSIFY WITH CHARTER CHANGE- BAYAN USA

Yesterday, the Filipino people commemorated the 110th anniversary of the Philippine-American War. More than a million Filipinos laid down their lives more than a century ago in defense of our motherland against rising imperialist power – America.

Now, 110 years since, we are again faced with the prospect of yet another stage of unbridled imperialist plunder and militarization via the Arroyo regime’s charter change.

The following is a statement from our militant compatriots in the United States that details why the Filipino people, including those overseas, should exert all efforts to expose and oppose Arroyo’s cha-cha.

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ON 110TH ANNIVERSARY OF PHIL-AM WAR, US-ARROYO MOVES FOR INTERVENTION INTENSIFY WITH CHARTER CHANGE- BAYAN USA

On this 110th anniversary of the Philippine-American War, the first US war of aggression for conquest overseas, Filipinos under the banner of BAYAN USA remain vigilant and defiant over US government maneuvers, in conjunction with the US puppet administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to dominate and control Philippine economic and political affairs. In fact, moves for US government intervention in the Philippines are intensifying more than ever under the Arroyo administration. Two of the most recent forms of intervention are related to the US-Arroyo clique’s drive for Charter Change, or Cha-Cha– this week’s passing of House Resolution 737 by Philippine House Speaker Prospero Nograles and the Obama administration’s renewed commitment to the Balikatan exercises, this time in Bicol, for 2009.

Cha-Cha = Economic Liberalization

The recent passage of HR 737 as railroaded by Arroyo mouthpiece Prospero Nograles this week significantly indicates the first inclusion of the Arroyo clique’s ardent campaign to alter the 1987 Philippine Constitution. This not only indicates that the Cha-Cha campaign is alive and kicking, but is poised for the offensive. Nograles, who was put in position after the Arroyo-maneuvered ouster of former House Speaker Jose De Venecia, filed House Resolution 737 this week. HR 737 specifically calls for the amendment of Sections 2 and 3 of Article 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution “to allow the acquisition by foreign corporations and associations and the transfer or conveyance thereto, of alienable public and private lands.”

The resolution was approved by the House by a vote of 11-4. It’s next stop will be the Philippine Senate. In these times of devastating economic crisis, further economic liberalization of the Philippine economy is the last thing the Filipino people need. The economic provisions proposed in Nograles’ resolution will ensure more landlessness for Filipino farmers, deepening poverty, and expand joblessness in the Philippines. Despite claims from the Arroyo clique that economic liberalization will bring in foreign investments and employment opportunities, the reality indicates quite the contrary. Studies have already shown that existent policies of economic liberalization, under the auspices of neoliberal globalization, are at the root cause of global economic crisis that is burdening the already-suffering Filipino people. More liberalization will only compound the Filipino people’s burdens even more.

Cha-Cha = More US Military Intervention

It is a given that US economic interests overseas are always protected by intensified US military presence and aggression. The Obama administration’s continued commitment to the invasive Balikatan exercises, this time in Bicol, is disappointing, because it will expand US military presence in the country. It is equally disappointing that the status quo of a regular US military aid package to the Philippines remains in tact, despite unanimous documentary evidence from international monitoring bodies that these US tax dollars are being funneled towards the Philippine military’s perpetration of extra-judicial killings and abductions of Filipino civilians, under the tutelage of US military advisers deployed to the Philippines. Since the Phil-Am War of 1899, US military presence has never left the Philippines.

US military presence will surely expand and increase if Arroyo’s Cha-Cha passes in the Philippine Congress. Section 25 Article XVIII in the Philippine Constitution clearly prohibits the presence of foreign military troops and facilities on Philippine soil, yet the US government has managed to keep a military stronghold in the Philippines and mock Philippine national sovereignty, even after the closing of Subic Naval and Clark Air Force Base in 1991. It has done so through a series of US-Philippine military agreements such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). These agreements have managed to ensure the continuing human rights violations committed by US troops ranging from sexual terrorism against Filipino women and children to direct combat of Philippine soil. Engagement in direct combat by foreign troops on Philippine soil is officially outlawed by the Philippine Constitution, and is one of the provisions the Arroyo administration is intent on changing as part of the Cha-Cha.

A Call for Patriotism

BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the United States, representing patriotic Filipinos forced to leave due to unsurvivable poverty in the Philippines, believes the struggle of the Philippine-American War of 1899 is not over, as current US government maneuvers in the Philippines are still in contrast to the collective interests of the Filipino people for genuine national sovereignty. It vehemently condemns the malicious and anti-patriotic character of the Arroyo administration for betraying the national interests of the Filipino people. Not only will Cha-Cha strip Filipinos of the right to determine the fate of their country and its natural resources, it will pave the way for the official resurrection of Martial Rule and return of fascist dictatorship to the Philippines. Cha-Cha continues the mission of the US government during the Phil-Am War in securing US government control over the Philippines. It is for this reason that our resistance as Filipinos must also step up.

On this day of memory of the Phil-Am War, let us pledge to heighten our patriotism and love of country by denouncing Cha-Cha and calling on the Philippine Senate to reject HR 737 and stop the Cha-Cha train dead on its tracks. Let us continue our demand to have all US troops withdrawn from the Philippines as well as all forms of US economic aid to the Philippines.

Let us also continue to call for the impeachment, resignation, and/or ouster of the number one traitor of the Filipino people– Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

JUNK HR 737! NO TO CHA-CHA! NO TO FOREIGN PLUNDER OF PHILIPPINE NATURAL RESOURCES! US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES! NO US TAX DOLLARS TO PHILIPPINE DEATH SQUADS! GLORIA RESIGN!