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Noynoy Aquino’s SONA Covers Up Failures as

Filipino American Women Call for Noynoy’s ImPEACHment!

Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is set to deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28, 2014, which we can expect to be several hours worth of the same broken promises and excuses Aquino has been promoting for the past three years of his sordid administration. Mired in recent controversies of corruption via the presidential Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), brash signing of the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), continued human rights violations, and his inadequate response to Typhoon Haiyan, Filipino-American women are fed up with a negligent president and are joining mass protests to call for Aquino’s impeachment from office.

Eight months after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, the Aquino administration has failed to respond to the basic needs of typhoon survivors. In March, during a dialogue with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), representatives of Typhoon Haiyan survivors, majority of whom are women and children, called for P40,000 (roughly USD $925) in immediate relief stipends for families. This request was denied by DSWD due to a supposed lack of funding, which raises concerns on how the national budget and global aid has been allocated and spent.  

“When the government shrug their shoulders about relief and basic needs of the Filipino people, the whole country suffers. It is unacceptable that crooked politicians claim a lack of funding and turn around to spend millions of pesos on luxurious and unnecessary expenses,” says Valerie Francisco, National Chairperson of GABRIELA USA.

To this end, proof of Aquino’s contradictions with his “straight and narrow” way or matuwid na daan has come to the fore as the Supreme Court recently ruled that the presidential pork barrel, the Discretionary Acceleration Program (DAP), a lump sum of discretionary funds under the total control of the president, as unconstitutional. The president claimed that DAP was supposed to be a stimulus for the Philippine economy when expenses such as the P800 million of his DAP funds for Malacañang renovation do not have clear consequences for the overall national economy and still leaves Filipinos in need out to dry.

The signing of EDCA, which allows U.S. military presence in the Philippines, is also a clear sign of Aquino’s disregard for the well-being of women and children. “It is widely known that prostitution, sex trafficking, and human rights violations run rampant in areas surrounding military bases, and we can only expect these to increase with the signing of EDCA,” says Pia Cortez, Chairperson of GABRIELA San Francisco. It is clear that the Aquino administration continues to prioritize US interests over the well-being of his own people.

Aquino’s lack of commitment to the welfare of Filipinos extends to migrant citizens in the U.S. The plight of more than 200 trafficked Filipino teachers still hang in the balance, as the hunt for their trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez, continues after being released from prison in the Philippines. “Aquino and the Department of Justice has failed to protect its citizens from predatory human traffickers, and continues to fumble in its handling of a clear human trafficking case impacting hundreds of people! In the mean time, survivors are left to fend for ourselves without any support from the government agencies that were so eager to take our money and migrate us out of the country!” claims Fen Ecleo, Co-chairperson of GABRIELA Washington DC and survivor of human trafficking.

With these outstanding abuses to Filipino in the Philippines and worldwide, there is no doubt that Aquino is filled with deception and defensive strategies to keep him and his elite cronies protected. Joining a growing clamor of Filipinos calling for accountability from the president, member organizations of GABRIELA USA will be protesting Aquino’s SONA outside of Philippine embassies across the U.S. carrying peach ribbons, calling for the imPEACHment of Aquino.

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Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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Stand in Solidarity with Melissa this Friday in Los Angeles


Friday, May 23, 2014, 7 PM
Justice for Melissa Cultural Solidarity Night

Echo Park United Methodist Church
1226 N. Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Join us for a cultural solidarity night of music and poetry.  Call for justice for all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines.

Enjoy live performances and hear the poetry of special guest and poet Melissa Roxas—a survivor of torture—courageously sharing her story in the pursuit of justice. More information on the cultural solidarity night at facebook.com.

An Open Letter from Melissa Roxas to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I write to you, Mr. President Obama, on the five-year anniversary of my abduction and torture by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  On May 19, 2009, while conducting health care work in the community of La Paz, Tarlac, Philippines, I was abducted by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

As a U.S. citizen, your recent trip to the Philippines deeply disturbed me, because while there are still no genuine steps being taken to address past and present human rights violations in the Philippines, your actions did nothing to help.  In fact, the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the U.S. and the Philippines made the situation in the Philippines worse.  EDCA is an unequal agreement in favor of the U.S. and in violation of the sovereignty of the Philippines.  Agreements like this, and the possible signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, embolden the already corrupt B.S. Aquino administration and worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Read Melissa’s complete letter to President Obama at justiceformelissa.org.

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Please join GABRIELA USA for a national day of action Wednesday May 21st
 
URGENT ACTION ALERT
Oppose Recent Release of Isidro Rodriguez and Demand Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers on May 21st
 
GABRIELA USA is calling on our members, community allies, supporters and friends to take action on Wednesday, May 21st, to oppose the release of recruitment agency owner and human trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez, and the incompetency of the Philippine government to serve their compatriots with justice and dignity. We are writing to ask you for your continued support for our Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers Campaign.

Background
Since 2003, batches of teachers have been illegally recruited and trafficked to the U.S. by Philippines-based recruitment agency owner Isidro Rodriguez. Case complaints have been reported to Philippine Embassy officials in the past as well as to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). However, the response from the Philippine government has been inadequate and unsatisfactory.

GABRIELA USA received confirmation from Migrante International that Isidro Rodriguez was released on May 8, 2014 due to the settlement of some teachers from the first batch, but this disregards a significantly larger number of teachers pursuing cases against him. Isidro Rodriguez was expected to appear before the Department of Justice on May 13th in the hearing of the trafficking case against him but failed to to show up.

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Our message
    1.    Prosecute Isidro Rodriguez and Investigate Philippine Government Institutions NOW!
    2.    Just reparations for trafficked victims! Cancel teachers’ high interest loans NOW!
    3.    Hold accountable loan sharks in cahoots with Isidro Rodriguez!
    4.    Immigration Relief for trafficked victims in the U.S.!



Join the Filipino trafficked teachers to demand justice for themselves and all other victims of human trafficking by taking the following actions:

Phone and fax barrage to the Office of Ambassador Jose Cuisia and the consulate/embassy responsible for your area of residence.

Office of the Ambassador (ambassador@philippinesusa.org)
H.E. Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.
Tel: 202-467-9366
Fax: 202-467-9417

AND

The consulate/embassy responsible for your area of residence:

http://www.philippineconsulatela.org/
Office of the Consul General
Tel: (213) 637-3008
Fax: (213) 639-0990
Areas of Jurisdiction: Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas


SAMPLE MESSAGE:
“My name is __________, and I am (concerned/appalled/outraged) at the recent release of Isidro Rodriguez. He has committed crimes against hundreds of Filipinos and it is unacceptable that he has been irresponsibly released by Philippine authorities. I urge you to take action. You can do this by making a strong recommendation to the Philippine Department of Justice and to the National Bureau of Investigation to actively search for and re-arrest Rodriguez. Please also make a recommendation for a full investigation on the POEA for wrongfully licensing predatory recruitment agencies such as those owned and operated by Rodriguez. Lastly, with many of Isidro’s victims living in fear and in the shadows, please communicate with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make an endorsement for immigration relief for the victims of Isidro. Thank you, and I look forward to your follow-up on this very important matter.”

Social Media Blitz to widely propagate the international manhunt on Isidro Rodriguez!

Take photos of yourselves holding the “WANTED” picture with the calls below and post it and share on social media (FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) with hash tags: #ProsecuteIsidro, #Justice4FilipinoTeachers, #gabrielausa

TWITTER INSTRUCTIONS
1) Follow the Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers Twitter account @j4FILteachers for updates, details and live tweets on May 21st.
2) Tweet your support and demand justice for the teachers!
 
Re-arrest and Prosecute Isidro Rodriguez NOW! #ProsecuteIsidro #justice4filipinoteachers #gabrielausa

Investigate Philippine institutions now! #ProsecuteIsidro #justice4filipinoteachers #gabrielausa

Just reparations for trafficked teachers! Cancel teachers’ high interest loans now! #ProsecuteIsidro #justice4filipinoteachers #gabrielausa

Immigration relief to trafficked victims now! #ProsecuteIsidro #justice4filipinoteachers #gabrielausa

Hoy @noynoyaquino! Nasaan ang katarungan? #ProsecuteIsidro #justice4filipinoteachers #gabrielausa

3) Tweet your own message/outrage and tag the following people and/or institutions to amplify our demands:

@PhilippinesUSA - Philippine Embassy of the United States of America
@noynoyaquino - Pres. Noynoy Aquino
@govph - Official Gazette of the Philippines
@poeanews - Philippine Overseas Employment Agency
@dojph - Department of Justice
@iacatnews - Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking

For more information, contact GABRIELA USA at gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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GABRIELA Los Angeles will be marching with the BAYAN USA contingent at the Southern California Immigration Coalition march tomorrow’s May Day rally starting 4pm at Olympic & Broadway in Downtown LA. Come join us in calling for Legalization for all! Stop Deportations Now! Fund Jobs, Not War! Stop the US pivot to Asia Pacific and the Trans Pacific Partnership!

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Filipina Women Across the U.S. Protest Against Obama’s Visit to Asia

GABRIELA women throughout the United States stand together with international allies from Okinawa, South Korea, Malaysia and other Asia Pacific countries to protest against President Obama’s visits in the Asia Pacific in the next week. Obama aims to solidify relations in advancing an imperialist agenda and the resurgence of U.S. military occupation in the Asia Pacific region with talks regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). GABRIELA USA and Filipinos in the Philippines are sending a clear loud message, “Obama, you’re not welcome!” GABRIELA USA is outraged, and believes that the most dangerous and violent presence in the Philippines is U.S. economic dominance and military occupation. U.S. imperialism continues to ravage the lives of Filipinos through neoliberal policies that purport sovereignty while enforcing dependence to the U.S.

Historically, corruption by puppet governments and imperialist policies and free trade laws, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), allows imperialist plunder and causes extreme poverty. Joblessness, lack of resources and multinational corporate interests prevent industries in these nations from developing. For women throughout the Asia Pacific region, the consequences of the TPP are dire as they lose access to patented medicines and medicine technologies for easily treated communicable diseases, breast cancer screening and treatment, diabetes treatment, and more.

U.S. military presence has resulted in many unresolved and severe violations against the rights of the Filipino people. As demonstrated in the rape of Nicole and other cases, U.S. soldiers who have committed sexual abuse have been released without accountability. Increasing the presence of foreign soldiers, weapons, and nuclear materials near schools, places of work, and peoples’ homes puts at risk the health, safety, and vitality of the Filipino people especially women and children.

After Super Typhoon Haiyan, it is apparent that Obama is using humanitarian exercises to justify the resurgence of U.S. military presence in the Philippines. Thousands of the Filipinos have been protesting the U.S.-backed Aquino administration’s neglect to provide adequate relief, housing, services and access to medicines, food and clean water. “Aquino and Obama’s efforts to serve their own interests outweigh their actions to provide relief and rehabilitation, and they are only taking advantage of the people’s vulnerability. If Obama really wants to help with disaster relief, we call on him to grant all Filipinos in the U.S. Temporary Protective Status (TPS),” says Tina Shauf, Campaigns Officer of GABRIELA USA.

GABRIELA USA calls on the Filipino people, friends, and allies to unite with us to strengthen our resilience and escalate our continued struggle against U.S imperialism and intervention. We say NO to U.S. military expansion in the Philippines!

Stop the rape of our women! Stop the rape of our country!

Our women are not your toys, our country is not your playground!

Stop Imperialist Wars of Aggression!

U.S. Troops Out of the Asia Pacific NOW! No to TPP!

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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U.S. Out of the Asia Pacific! No Military ‘Pivot to Asia’!

In recent weeks, Obama visited Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines to finalize defense pacts.  Thousands of protesters voiced their outrage.  Why?

Increasing U.S. Military Presence

  • The Pentagon announced it will shift 60% of U.S. warships & naval capacity to the Asia-Pacific by 2020
  • 320,000 U.S. troops are already stationed throughout the Asia-Pacific.  The U.S. is increasing its troop presence and ‘joint military exercises,’ while also massively ramping up military aid.
  • People’s movements kicked U.S. bases out of the Philippines in 1992, and other Southeast Asian bases were abandoned.  But now the U.S. is violating their sovereignty by building new installations and expanding operations at bases throughout the region.

 Regional Destabilization & Human Rights Violations

Obama’s backing of right-wing, even militaristic regimes in Japan and South Korea will lead to greater regional instability.  In the Philippines, U.S. military aid supports warfare and human rights violations against indigenous peoples – allowing mining and logging companies to rob them of their ancestral lands and natural resources.  

  • U.S. militarization is not in the people’s interest and military bases literally cost U.S. and host countries’ taxpayers’ money that should be for jobs, education, healthcare, and other social programs! 

Now the Pentagon is using Climate Change & man-made disasters

like Typhoon Haiyan as excuses for militarization!

No to U.S. War Machine!

U.S. Troops Out NOW!

CALL YOUR SENATORS TO OPPOSE U.S. Militarization and TPP!

“I oppose an increase in military presence in the Asia Pacific and the use of my tax dollars to fund human rights violations.  I also oppose the TPP’s plan to boost corporate power, trample human rights & destroy the environment.”

Senator Barbara Boxer    Senator Dianne Feinstein

(213) 894-5000                 (310) 914-7300