Protesters hound Arroyo in the USA

Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles

 

Guest blog: Joy ride to the US

 

Video: Interview with Bayan USA's Kuusela Hilo in LA

 

June 25, 2008

 

 

Protest in New York
◄Protests in  Los Angeles ▲ and in  Washington DC▲

 

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Photos courtesy of BAYAN-USA
           

 

Protesters Send Advanced Team to “Greet” GMA
 

For Immediate Release:
Contact:

Katrina Abarcar, Coordinator, Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and
Human Rights in the Philippines, katarungan@comcast.net

Washington DC – A day before their planned action, Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines sent an advanced team to greet President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo and her “junket” at a scheduled dinner organized by the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council.

As dinner guests arrived, they were met by protesters carrying placards and banners that drew attention to the extrajudicial killings plaguing the Philippines, the rampant corruption, and the specific case of still missing activist and agriculturalist, Jonas Burgos.

Katarungan had a rare opportunity in March to host his mother, Edita Burgos, and to hear first hand how the Arroyo administration created legal barriers in her search for her son.

“When Edita Burgos came to DC, she told us her son was abducted in a crowded restaurant by armed men claiming to be police and not one person bothered to intervene or even question what was happening. We vowed never to make that same mistake, so we are dedicating this picket to Jonas and his mother,” explained Katrina Abarcar of Katarungan.

Members and friends of Katarungan decided to come out a day before their planned action when they heard some had received word from the Embassy that the June 25 dinner with the community had been moved to June 24.

“We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to show President Arroyo that she cannot shield herself from public criticism even here in the US,” said Joanna Quiambao of Katarungan.

“We were more motivated to appear tonight especially because her talk earlier with President Bush did not even touch upon the issue of human rights.- not that we were surprised.”

So far, President Arroyo has managed to steer clear of US lawmakers concerned about her human rights record. “As far as I know, the co-authors, Representative Pitts (R-PA) and Representative Oberstar (D-MN) of the Congressional Sign-On calling for ‘strong and immediate leadership’ to address the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines have yet to hear a response from the President herself,” said Abarcar. The letter, circulated about a year ago, gathered 49 signatures from members of the US House of Representatives.

Katarungan will conduct their action themed “Airing the President’s Dirty Laundry” June 25 in front of the Willard Hotel. ### KATARUNGAN (katar´ungan) n. justice, equity Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines katarungan@comcast.net

 

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Washington DC
     
           
           
           
 






BAYAN USA's Kuusela Hilo in Los Angeles speaks on GMA visit to the US

           
           

 

For Immediate Release:
Reference: Joanna Quiambao, Katarungan: Center for Peace,Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines ,katarungan@comcast.net

June 25, 2008

GMA’s Dirty Laundry Aired for DC Public

Washington DC - A spirited bunch of protesters came out for a second day in a row to draw attention to the human rights crisis in the Philippines while President Arroyo and her junket attended a reception organized by the Philippine Embassy. The group was accompanied by a 10 foot tall puppet of GMA bearing her “dirty laundry” which included blood stained shirts, a paper bag signifying corruption, and an empty rice sack.

“We refuse to remain complicit while our tax dollars go to fund a military that has committed human rights violations under the command of President Arroyo. We refuse to remain silent while our hard earned taxes go to a government gaining a reputation as the most corrupt in Asia,” explained Joanna Quiambao of Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines. “We would rather see that money go to fully fund Filipino Veterans Equity or to make healthcare, housing,education, and childcare affordable for our community.”

As the protesters ended their program, they were approached by a few Filipino veterans who had just come out of the reception for the President. The veterans took pictures with the protesters, told the protestors about their long struggle for justice and taught them “equity” chants. When asked what they thought of the demonstration, they responded that they believed human rights is important.

According to Katrina Abarcar of Katarungan, the protest wasjust “the tip of the iceberg.”

“A few hours from now, Filipino-Americans and their supporters will be taking to the streets in LA. The President will be ruined by“RATs” or Rapid Action Teams on the next leg of her trip in New York City . We represent a growing national movement that’s engaged in street protests, community education, and even lobbying onthe Hill,” said Katrina Abarcar. “Obviously, the Philippine government feltthreatened enough by this movement to sink half a million dollars into a US public relations firm to ‘represent their interests’ on Capitol Hill.”

Last year, because of the American public’s pressure ontheir representatives in the government, human rights conditions were put on aportion of US military aid to the Philippines .

“Not even during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship did this happen. It speaks volumes about President Arroyo’s human rightsrecords,” ended Abarcar. ##
 

     
     
           

 

Joy ride to the US
http://www.lscef.blogspot.com/


The rewards for political loyalty and friendship to GMA include luxurious trips abroad, expensive wining and dining at posh hotels, stay in the same domicile, in the company of the Madame herself, according to former senator Ernesto Maceda. Maceda pointed out that the US government gave $100,000 assistance for victims of Typhoon Frank but that the cost of the junket incurred for $GMA’s entourage must have reached more than $1,500,000 already.

Here is Maceda’s breakdown: There were 20 members of the official delegation, that plus all the members of the Arroyo family who went along for the trip the Philippine delegation must have occupied at least 30 rooms at that hotel. With room rates ranging from $500 to $5,000 a night for suites and ordinary rooms the Philippine delegation would have spent anything from 10,000 to 150,000 US dollars a night for hotel stay alone. GMA hosted expensive lunches and dinners there too. Maceda said that the plane fare bill could reach $200,000 to 300,000 US dollars also. The private jet that was used to fly GMA from Fresno, California to Washington could easily have cost $300,000.

 

As in previous US visits, the Security, Malacañang media and DFA support groups would number between 200 to 250 persons. It is normal that the Consul Generals from US and Canadian cities would also be called to Washington. The big delegation also means a big amount to be spent for chauffeured vehicles hired to be used, at a rate of about $800 to $1,000 a day depending on the class of vehicle. Easily $150,000 would be spent for car hires for five days. At least $100,000 would be used for PR and media purposes. It is probable that GMA also gave some pocket money to members of her delegation, including her PAL crew. This, as in the past, has turned out to be quite an expensive trip to the US and we haven’t even factored in the cost of junket by those extra loyal congressmen, like you know who, other hanger ons, and the staff members of the cabinet officials that also went along for the joy ride.
 

 

Speaker Prospero Nograles said that there is no such list of congresspersons who went along for the US trip. But in the same TV news interview he said that the congressmen whose names were not on any list said that they did not use any public funds to finance their trip to see George Bush (what a waste of good money) and watch the Pacquiao fight. We all know that this is simply too good to be true. Congressmen are given almost 2 million pesos each for travel expenses which they convert to cash according to the government insider Ernesto Maceda.

The Maceda list of government officials who also joined the official delegation to the United states include: Speaker Nograles, Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar of Cebu, Amelita Villarosa of Oriental Mindoro, Mikey Arroyo, Dong Gonzales and Ana Bondoc of Pampanga, women legislators Annie Susano and Nanette Daza of Quezon City, Zenaida Angpin of Manila, Rizalina Seachon Lanete of Masbate, Trinidad Apostol of Leyte, Rachel Arenas of Pangasinan, Mitzi Cajayon of Caloocan and Herminia Ramiro of Misamis Occidental, Monico Puentevella of Bacolod, Antonio Cuenco of Cebu, Danilo Suarez of Quezon, Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan, Junie Cua of Quirino and Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas, Marc Cagas of Davao del Sur, Yevgeny Emano of Misamis Oriental, Anton Lagdameo of Davao del Norte, William Erwin Tieng of Buhay party list, Jose Zubiri III of Bukidnon, Rommel Amatong of Compostela Valley, Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Nelson Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental, Narciso Santiago III of ARC party list, Andres Salvacion of Leyte, Teodoro Coquilla of Eastern Samar, Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. of Cavite, Dato Macapagal of Camarines Sur, Joseph Violago of Nueva Ecija, Marc Mendoza of Batangas and Roman Romulo of Pasig, Bienvenido Abante of Manila, Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte, Albert Garcia of Bulacan, Antonio Diaz of Zambales, Eddie Gullas of Cebu, Amado Bagatsing of Manila, Rosario Rufino Biazon of Muntinglupa, Munir Arbison of Sulu, and Joseph Santiago of Catanduanes. What a shame!

By the way this junket happened at a time when responsible government officials are badly needed back home with our people just beginning to come to terms with the tremendous amount of devastation brought by typhoon Frank.

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

 

           

 

BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN - USA CHAPTER
For Immediate Release

Los Angeles Anti-Arroyo RAT Smells a Foul Regime

Philippine Consulate, Los Angeles – The anti-Arroyo RATs – "Rapid Action Team" traced the foul scent in the thick smoggy air of Los Angeles to the rotten Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime. Filipino Americans and their allies gathered around a trashcan with GMA situated in the middle indicating that it is "Time to Take Out the Trash."

John Parker of the International Action Center likened the Bush-Arroyo clique to a "magician drawing attention to one hand while the other is actually responsible for deceiving the public," referring to Arroyo's ten day visit to the US as an opportunity to gather more support for her administration all the while covering the fact that her reign has been riddled with corruption, economic crisis and human rights violations. Just this morning GMA News reported "According to former ambassador and senator Ernesto Maceda, the P66.885 million spent in the US visit is 15 times more than the $100,000 the US has given for victims of typhoon "Frank.""

A member of the United Steel Workers and Colombian activist, Geraldo, highlighted the importance of Latinos supporting the cause of Filipinos as "the situation of the Philippines and Colombia are very similar" in the realm of state policies and practices being implemented contrary to the people's sovereignty and welfare. Assassinations and enforced disappearances of activists of both countries have continued to skyrocket with impunity. "US taxpayer dollars are going into the funding of Philippine death squads," stated Bev Tang, organizer with Anakbayan Los Angeles. Protestors carried signs calling for "GMA, to stop funding human rights violations with US taxes!"

BAYAN USA took a lead in demanding the ouster of Arroyo and the withdrawal of the Philippines Millennium Challenge Corporation "compact eligible" status. Additionally, BAYAN warned the US Congress against awarding multi-million dollar grants that will pass through the hands of the Philippines' most notorious embezzlers – the Arroyo clique. Just earlier this year, thousands upon thousands of Filipinos rallied in the streets demanding GMA's resignation after key witness, Jun Lozada, exposed the large-scale corruption of the NBN-ZTE deal.

"Arroyo has flagrantly failed the Filipino people in order to expand her own personal wealth, and aid the on-going US economic and military intervention in the Philippines. We are one with the Filipino people's demand to oust Gloria," emphasized a written statement from Chito Quijano, Chairperson of BAYAN USA.###

 

US Chapter Contact info:
Website: www.bayanusa.org
Email: info@bayanusa.org
Contact: Chito Quijano – Chair
Cell: 626-255-5949
Philippines National Office:
No. 1, Maaralin cor Matatag Street
Brgy. Central, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
Tel . 435-9151; Fax. 925-5906
 

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Los Angeles
     
           
           

 

News Release
June 26, 2008

Reference: Christina Hilo, Northeast Coordinator, BAYAN USA, email: ny@bayanusa.org

NEW YORK R.A.T.s HIT ARROYO WITH A 'MOUSETRAP' DESPITE FAILED DIVERSIONARY TACTICS

NEW YORK--While scheduled to dine with Filipino-American leaders at the posh Hotel Hilton in Midtown Manhattan, a Rapid Action Team or R.A.T. of about 100 individuals convened at the front of the hotel, waiting for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appear in her limousine along the Avenue of the Americas. Arroyo is in New York on the final leg of her national US tour, her main agenda of which was to meet with President Bush and secure more US military aid and other forms of funding.

BAYAN USA, a national alliance of Filipino organizations in the US, together with several other allied groups, coordinated R.A.T.s in several cities in protest of Arroyo's visit, claiming the President will funnel any foreign aid, especially US aid, towards the proliferation of human rights violations, including militarization, counter-insurgency, politically-motivated killings, and abductions in the Philippines. Ironically, the Philippine government was recently elected a vice-presidential post in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), a major point of controversy for the families of over 1000 victims of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines.

Protesters also condemned Arroyo's refusal to cut her extravagant US tour short when a major typhoon (Typhoon Frank) hit several provinces in the Philippines last week, killings hundreds and devastating thousands of impoverished families. The country has also been hit hard with the rising price of oil and an overall long-term food crisis. Weekly protest actions throughout the country and rising social unrest peaked when it was exposed Arroyo would be taking along in her US tour 10 members from her Cabinet and several Congresspeople, in perhaps what is one of the most lavish travel expenditures in Philippine diplomatic history.

Even before arriving in New York City, following her stay in Washington DC, the Arroyo camp employed diversionary tactics to evade protesters, changing meeting locations last minute. Luckily, friends close to Arroyo's critics in New York were able to feed accurate and up-to-date information to the R.A.T.s looking out for her.

Speakers and rallyists outside the Hilton Hotel took turns slamming the President's lack of decent governance and rampant corruption schemes. "To all the Filipino-Americans meeting with Arroyo inside the hotel, do you know that you are meeting with a murderer, terrorist, and plunderer?" shouted Yves Nibungco of Anakbayan NY/NJ, also a member organization of BAYAN USA, into the large entryway of the hotel.

Protesters screamed and raised their banners when Arroyo's black limousine dashed by around the hotel to a heavily-guarded, private entryway. New York police were also intent on harassing the protest contingent and prevent them from assembling on the sidewalk.

The theme of "RATS" was first employed back in September 2005, when protesters in New York played on the fact that New York is the rat capital of the world. At the time, Arroyo was in New York to attend an assembly of the United Nations. She was met with protesters donning rat paraphernalia in front of the Philippine Consulate along Fifth Avenue.

"Rats come out when they smell garbage, which is what the Arroyo government is becoming more and more of, a large smelly heap of garbage that rots the Philippine nation," states Gary Labao of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), another member organization of BAYAN USA. Labao helped to design and produce a large paper-mache rat used during the protest action.

Participating organizations in the R.A.T. action include the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Anakbayan NY/NJ, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE)-Gabriela USA, Kapatirang Pilipino or Kappa Pi, Kabalikat Domestic Workers Support Network, Philippine Forum, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum, and the International Action Center (IAC).

Aside from New York, anti-Arroyo actions took place in Washington DC and Los Angeles. A protest action is scheduled in Seattle this Sunday. ###

 

New York city
     
     
           
           

 

June 25, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CEGP slams Arroyo's US junket
Malacanang spent P620M on travels in 2007


The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) expressed outrage over
Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's junket to the US, saying that it is
'unreasonable spending in this time of shortages and crisis.'

CEGP national president Vijae Alquisola said, "Typhoon Frank or not, Pres.
Arroyo's excursion to the US made up practically of most of her Cabinet
officials, some hand-picked Congressmen and their families is deplorable while
the public is languishing with soaring prices. What makes the matter worse is
how the President is loathing cutting short her trip even when the country is
barely recuperating from the latest grave natural disaster."

"The US trip is hardly a business tour, what with the President bringing along
her two sons Mikey and Datu, who brought along with them their wives,
children, nannies and nurses."

This is not surprising and new, Alquisola said, since Pres. Arroyo has had a
history of lavish and excessive spending in similar junkets.

Citing the Commission on Audit's (COA) official report on the financial
transactions of Malacanang, Alquisola said that Pres. Arroyo spent an
estimated P620 million on foreign (P585.5 million) and domestic (P34.1
million) travels in 2007.

"This translates to an average of P49.04 million per month on foreign trips
and P2.84 million on local travels! While for this latest US trip alone,
$543,000 (P24.4 million) is the approximated cost of travel tickets and
lodging for the duration of their stay. Divided into the 65 congressmen who
reportedly joined Pres. Arroyo's entourage, that's still a big amount of money
and we highly doubt if every one of the officials paid for their own," said
Alquisola.

"Just imagine how much funds are wasted on trips like these. The money could
have been better spent to curb soaring prices of oil and rice or for disaster
relief operations," Alquisola said.

For his part, Youth Act Now! (Youth for Accountability and Truth Now!)
Spokesperson Alvin Peters said that Pres. Arroyo's latest US trip may be
Malacanang's ploy to 'woo some hand-picked administration Congressmen as the
resumption of session nears and a new impeachment complaint against her is
inevitable.' ###

Reference:

Vijae Alquisola, national president, 09162034402
Sarah Katrina Maramag, deputy secretary-general, 09193486790
 

 


June 26, 2008
For Reference:
MR. DANILO RAMOS, KMP Secretary-General
Tel. No. 928-41-84 (KMP)

Arroyo government forming new typhoons for farmers


The Arroyo government has signed framework agreement of cooperation with the
US, majorly pertaining the country's agriculture. It concerned sanitary and
phytosanitary measures on Philippine exports such as fruits in order to enter
the American market. On the other hand, the US government would perform
grants and programs worth about $216 million, aside from the $1.2 billion the
Philippine government intends to avail from the World Bank.

The US conditions primarily consists of introduction of genetically- modified
organisms (GMO) crops, as well as livestock genetic improvement program,
funding supposedly support services and infrastructure components.

"This is what the Arroyo government has been itching to do from way back, her
Gloria hybrid rice that has been rejected by farmers, BT Corn that sickened
children, soya and wheat, and other GMO that the US wants us to dangerously
produce for them," Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General recalled.

"All of these are to serve as cheap raw materials for the American market and
to compel us to utilize their agro-chemical products that are harmful to the
farmers' health and relatively very costly that puts all of us in debt," Ramos
added.

Mrs. Arroyo's agreement with the US forms a new type of typhoon for the
farmers as this would signal new waves and batteries of land-use conversions,
displacements, diseases and death, indebtedness and miserable poverty.

"This would strengthen the governments' displacements of peasants from their
farms "in the name of development" and the latter's collaboration with big
landlords who'd go full-force with their landgrabbing and forced dislocations
of legitimate farmers," Ramos described.

Moreover, the Arroyo government is geared up to flood the country with
imported rice, deliberately to sideswipe locally-produced rice to force
farmers into crop-conversion in favor of cash crops as source of foreign
markets.

The Arroyo government is vigorously using the recent typhoon incident to
rationalize the blatant importation of rice. The NFA is targetting 2.4
million metric tons of rice imports this year that is 39% higher than last
year's 1.8 million. This figure is estimated to surpass recent years' share
of imported rice of about 12% to 14% of total rice supply.

"Crisis is what the Arroyo government is offering the Filipino people. She's
killing the farmers by selling our agriculture to the US, importing rice to
debilitate local production, not to mention that land reform continues to be a
dream to the landless," Ramos capped.

"Generally, all of us Filipinos are in danger, our food security is at stake,
gambling it for her personal favors, though, hunger and poverty hound the
poor," Ramos ended.#

 

           

 

PRESS RELEASE
25 June 2008

Clean up of US military bases should be on the main agenda of GMA's meeting with President Bush, environmental activist group demands

"The overseas trip of President Gloria Arroyo should prioritize in its
concerns the long overdue obligation of the US government to Filipino
communities affected by the environmental and health impacts of toxic waste
from U.S. military bases in the country. More than a decade has passed after
the closure of military bases, yet the issue of toxic waste contamination
generated during the stay of US forces remains unresolved," noted
environmental activist group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment
(Kalikasan PNE).

"If President Arroyo and the US government are sincere on settling previous
issues and strengthening US-RP relations, they should take up the issue of
rehabilitation of the former US military bases and the compensation of the
victims and their families," says Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of
Kalikasan-PNE.

Bautista noted that the US spends more than any country in terms of military
expenditure. However, it continues to evade accountability for the bases
clean-up and continues to defy international and local laws. The Philippines
has Republic No. 6969, also known as the "Toxic Substances and Hazardous and
Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990", but is overridden by previous military
agreements, such as the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Mutual
Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA).

"Yet the US, the world's largest polluter, continue to violate this law by
entering toxic and nuclear materials into our territories. What's worse is
that even President Arroyo has refused to demand for what is right and due to
us. She acts like a marionette of President Bush by defending first the
military interest of the US government over the rights and welfare of the
Filipino people particularly the US toxic waste victims," asserts Bautista.

"The case of Clark Air Base in Pampanga is just one example of the ill effects
the U.S. bases brought to our people. It is just one among many of the
injustices and violations, not to mention environmental damage, experienced by
our country in the presence of US military forces," Bautista adds. ►►►

 

 

 

 

 

Clark Air Base has been the largest base outside the US for 50 years until
1991. It was used as a command post and massive medical and communication complex. It had a storage capacity of 25M gallons of hydrocarbons (oil,  grease, petroleum, etc.), 200 sq. ft. of ammunition storage space and miles of runways, hangars, and aircraft parking aprons. It also served as a , venue for bombing exercises and housed nuclear weapons (F-4E Phantom 11 and B28).

After the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and abandonment of the bases in 1991,
various studies conducted by local and US groups have concluded that water and soil contamination caused grave health consequences to those living in the
area. Weston International, a US based environmental organization found
alarming amounts of deadly toxins such as methyl mercury, nitrates, aldrin,
dieldrin, tetrachlorine, benzene and lead in the land and water samples.

These toxic substances have caused deaths to families living in the area.
Among the major illnesses that manifested were skin, mouth, nose and throat,
and skin diseases. Miscarriages, stillbirth and reproductive disorders,
physical and mental birth defects were also common. High incidence of cancers,  heart ailments and leukemia, asbestosis were also monitored.

"Until President Arroyo demands that the US act on restoring the environmental
damages their military bases and activities have incurred, there is no sense
in believing in their claims that both are acting with the interest of the
Filipinos in mind." ends Bautista. ###

KALIKASAN- People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's
organizations (POs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental
advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of
the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the
majority at their core.
--
CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
National Coordinator
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com
Website: www.kalikasan.org

 

 

 

 

           

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