Katrina Abarcar, Coordinator,
Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and
Human Rights in the Philippines, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
◄ 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 ,email@example.com
June 25, 2008
GMA’s Dirty Laundry Aired for
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
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN -
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:
Contact: Chito Quijano – Chair
Philippines National Office:
No. 1, Maaralin cor Matatag Street
Brgy. Central, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
Tel . 435-9151; Fax. 925-5906
Reference: Christina Hilo, Northeast Coordinator, BAYAN USA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK R.A.T.s HIT ARROYO WITH A 'MOUSETRAP' DESPITE FAILED DIVERSIONARY
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
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
the public is languishing with soaring prices. What makes the matter worse
how the President is loathing cutting short her trip even when the country
barely recuperating from the latest grave natural disaster."
"The US trip is hardly a business tour, what with the President bringing
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
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
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
reportedly joined Pres. Arroyo's entourage, that's still a big amount of
and we highly doubt if every one of the officials paid for their own,"
"Just imagine how much funds are wasted on trips like these. The money
have been better spent to curb soaring prices of oil and rice or for
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
resumption of session nears and a new impeachment complaint against her is
Vijae Alquisola, national president, 09162034402
Sarah Katrina Maramag, deputy secretary-general, 09193486790
June 26, 2008
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
US, majorly pertaining the country's agriculture. It concerned sanitary
phytosanitary measures on Philippine exports such as fruits in order to
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
Philippine government intends to avail from the World Bank.
The US conditions primarily consists of introduction of genetically-
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,
Gloria hybrid rice that has been rejected by farmers, BT Corn that
children, soya and wheat, and other GMO that the US wants us to
produce for them," Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General recalled.
"All of these are to serve as cheap raw materials for the American market
to compel us to utilize their agro-chemical products that are harmful to
farmers' health and relatively very costly that puts all of us in debt,"
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
displacements, diseases and death, indebtedness and miserable poverty.
"This would strengthen the governments' displacements of peasants from
farms "in the name of development" and the latter's collaboration with big
landlords who'd go full-force with their landgrabbing and forced
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
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'
of imported rice of about 12% to 14% of total rice supply.
"Crisis is what the Arroyo government is offering the Filipino people.
killing the farmers by selling our agriculture to the US, importing rice
debilitate local production, not to mention that land reform continues to
dream to the landless," Ramos capped.
"Generally, all of us Filipinos are in danger, our food security is at
gambling it for her personal favors, though, hunger and poverty hound the
poor," Ramos ended.#
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
from U.S. military bases in the country. More than a decade has passed
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
"If President Arroyo and the US government are sincere on settling
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
Bautista noted that the US spends more than any country in terms of
expenditure. However, it continues to evade accountability for the bases
clean-up and continues to defy international and local laws. The
has Republic No. 6969, also known as the "Toxic Substances and Hazardous
Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990", but is overridden by previous
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
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
"The case of Clark Air Base in Pampanga is just one example of the ill
the U.S. bases brought to our people. It is just one among many of the
injustices and violations, not to mention environmental damage,
our country in the presence of US military forces," Bautista adds. ►►►
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
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
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
"Until President Arroyo demands that the US act on restoring the
damages their military bases and activities have incurred, there is no
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
advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle
the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the
majority at their core.
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