July 31, 2009
Reference: Hanalei Ramos and Yves Nibungco, Regional Co-Coordinators,
BAYAN USA, email: email@example.com
Arroyo's Post-Obama Trip To NYC Riddled with Protest
NEW YORK-- The day after her meeting with President Barack Obama in
Washington DC, Philippine Head of State Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was once
again met with more protests in New York City last Friday in front of her
hotel, the Waldorf Astoria. Arroyo traveled for a brief stay in New York
City to meet with US businessmen this weekend.
Numerous Anti-Arroyo protesters from BAYAN USA, GABRIELA USA, Filipinas
for Rights and Empowerent (FiRE), Anakbayan NY/NJ, NY Committee for Human
Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), and National Alliance for Filipino
Concerns (NAFCON), stood and chanted in the pouring rain to register
opposition against the Arroyo administration's plans to convene a
constituent assembly (Con-Ass) that would revise the 1987 Philippine
Constitution according to her administration's proposed changes, also
known as Charter Change (Cha-Cha). Protesters also held up signs and
banners demanding justice for Melissa Roxas, a member of BAYAN USA
abducted and tortured by what is widely-believed to be the Philippine
military last May.
"These meetings with businessmen are literally to sell-off our homeland
piece-by-piece, as Cha-Cha will ensure the selling of Philippine national
patrimony as well as mass media and public utilities," stated Berna
Ellorin, Chair of BAYAN USA. "We may be only 20 standing here in front of
the Waldorf, but we represent the interest of millions of Filipinos for a
truly sovereign nation to call their own."
Protesters were able to march to the entrance of the hotel while Arroyo
was inside, causing other hotel clients to take notice. Chanting "Cha-Cha
ni Gloria, Ibasura!" (Junk Gloria's Cha-Cha!) and "Gloria, Gloria, You
Can't Hide, We Charge You with Homicide!", protesters stopped, temporarily
blocking the hotel's entrance, to point out Arroyo's scrutinized human
rights record and the case of Melissa Roxas with hotel clients standing by
the entrance waiting to hail a taxi.
They also pointed out the usage of US tax dollars through military aid to
fund the Philippine military which has been proven by international human
rights monitoring groups to be committing these human rights violations.
The Waldorf-Astoria protest follows a high-profile meeting between Arroyo
and Obama at the White House last week.
Several members of protesters in New York City also participated in
protests the day before in front of the White House, seeking to call
Obama's attention to Årroyo's human rights track record and to raise it
during the meeting. But a post-meeting press conference revealed that the
issue was not discussed, in favor of discussion of economic partnership.
Instead, the Obama administration publicly affirmed ties to the Arroyo
administration by appointing the Philippines as the coordinator of the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a multi-lateral economic
forum of nations from South East Asia that meets to discuss economic
development and cultural progress.
"We are disappointed, but not surprised," Ellorin stated. "The Obama and
Arroyo governments are determined to maintain the status quo of a
master-servant relationship through unequal ties, despite opposition from
the American and Filipino people. This only proves that NO PRESIDENT can
bring in 'change we can believe in'. Real change can only be brought by
people like us united in mass movement and solidarity." ###