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US Iraq War Veteran Warns of Drones in Mindanao, Pacification, and EDCA

US Iraq war veteran-turned-peace activist Ramon Mejia warned of the dangers of US drones in Mindanao, as well as increasing US military presence in the Philippines under the newly-signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Mejia was in the Philippines as part of a peace mission from the US looking into the impact of US military intervention in the country in line with the Obama administration’s “pivot to the Asia”.

“Drones are a despicable invention. I am very concerned to hear accounts of US drones operating in Mindanao secretly. As a former US Marine who has experienced firsthand the horrors of US war in Iraq, I can attest that drones were invented for one ultimate purpose— to kill,” Mejia stated.

Pacification

Mejia, a Palestinian solidarity activist in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, also drew comparisons between the peace process between the Bangsamoro people and the Aquino government with the peace process between Palestine and Israel, brokered by the US government.

“Peace in both cases means pacification. The objective is to divide a people over the promise of limited concessions, allowing for easier subjugation,” Mejia stated.

The peace mission, sponsored by BAYAN USA, also spent time with Moro communities in Cotabato City and Maguindanao. Mejia joined fellow US-based peace activists Juyeon Rhee of the Korean organization Nodutdol and Bernadette Ellorin of BAYAN USA. 

“We are concerned over the conditions of abject poverty and human rights abuses we saw the Moro people suffering from on their own ancestral domain. We fully support their right to self-determination, including the right to fight to economically uplift their lives.”

EDCA & Hegemony

“As a former US Marine, I can say that the only objective of US militarism is to pursue hegemony, that is what the Obama administration’s so-called Pivot to Asia is about,” Mejia continued. “The EDCA is not going to ensure protection for the Philippines nor will it modernize the Philippine military. Securing US military control over the Philippines is strategic to the drive for US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region, and it will come at a grave social cost for the Filipino people.”

Bringing Back Stories and Building Bridges

“As active peace activists in the U.S., we came to hear the stories of a people facing increasing US intervention and witness their struggles to fight for their basic rights. And we will take these stories back to better inform the US-based peace movement of what is happening on the ground in the Philippines,” stated Rhee. 

“There are problems inside the US that need to be resolved—unemployment, homelessness, lack of access to education and affordable healthcare. We need our tax dollars to be directed towards solving these problems, not for US intervention in countries like the Philippines,” Rhee ended.

The peace mission is planning to build connections with the U.S. peace movement and people’s ongoing struggles in the countries affected by the U.S. intervention.

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SUSTAIN GLOBAL MASS ACTIONS TO SUPPORT THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN THEIR STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION AGAINST ISRAELI ZIONIST OCCUPATION AND GENOCIDAL ATTACKS ON THE PEOPLE IN THE GAZA STRIP

Chairperson, International League of the Peoples’ Struggle

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

August 7, 2014

We , the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), renew our call to all our member-organizations, our allied organizations and the broad masses of the people of the world to sustain the mass actions in solidarity with and support for the Palestinian people in the just struggle for national liberation and self-determination against the US-supported Israeli Zionist occupation of Palestine and the current genocidal attacks on the people in the Gaza Strip.

Since July 8, the fascist Netanyahu regime has used the police case of three Israeli youth killed in the West Bank as pretext to unleash a war of aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza

Strip and has perpetrated horrendous war crimes and crimes against humanity. As of the August 5 count, Zionist Israel has massacred nearly 2000 Palestinians (mostly children, women, the elderly and sick) and wounded more than 8000 others. It has destroyed entire neighborhoods and the social infrastructure (including schools, US shelters, mosques, hospitals, and water and energy facilities).

The Israeli aggressors have used against the Palestinian people artillery fire, attack planes, tanks and bombs, including white phosphorous bombs, and other types of weapons. These have been supplied by the US and the European Union to kill the people and destroy their homes and social facilities.

They have systematically pulverized entire neighborhoods in a vicious scheme to make a so-called three-kilometer buffer zone around Gaza city and thus to deprive the people in Gaza Strip of 44 percent of their land.

We must launch and develop a movement to demand the end of the conditions in which Israel can at will attack Gaza and massacre the Palestinian people. In six years Israel has unleashed three massacres without being held to account by an international criminal court. It has turned Gaza into a concentration camp since 2006. It has subjected the Palestinians to various forms of collective punishment. Fishermen are shot to death whether they go beyond a 3-kilometer limit imposed unilaterally by Israel. Farmers are also killed when they harvest their crops beyond a borderline arbitrarily set by Israel.

We heed and endorse the call of the people of Gaza for the people of the world to carry out a movement for realizing boycotts, divestment and sanctions. As in the global campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa in recent history, the people of the world and their institutions and organizations can and must pressure governments to sanction Israel and implement a comprehensive arms embargo. Israel has been able to occupy Palestine, operate a terrorist and apartheid regime and commit its murderous atrocities because of the support of imperialist governments, especially the US and the European Union.

We join the all-out Day of Rage of August 9 which the people of Gaza and entire Palestine have called for. We enjoin all the ILPS member-organizations and all justice-loving people in various countries to initiate and hold mass actions to the best of their ability on August 9 and thereafter. We also endorse and join the mass actions initiated by other organizations, alliances and actions in the imperialist countries and elsewhere. The ILPS member-organizations in the US are joining in full force the International March to the UN on August 9.

The people of the world must stand in solidarity with Palestinian people and sustain a mass movement to pressure the US and other imperialist powers to back down from propping up Zionist Israel.

We must demand the end of Israeli colonialism and terrorism, its occupation of Palestine and all the barbarities of Israel. We must resolutely and militantly support the Palestinian people in their just struggle for national liberation, full recovery of their homeland and the return of the millions of Palestinian refugees to their homeland.###

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WOMEN PICKET TO DEMAND BUDGET FOR HEALTHCARE, HOUSING AND NOT FOR LP ELECTIONS AND AQUIINO DAP

Members of the women’s partylist group Gabriela trooped today to the House of Representatives calling for the total abolition of all pork barrel and lump sum appropriations and higher budgetary allocations for basic social services. Congress begins its deliberation on the proposed 2015 budget today.

Habang nagpapakasasa ang Pangulo at mga alyado nito sa pondong kanilang nilulustay, pinagkakait at mistulang ninanakaw sa mamamayan ang mga serbisyong dapat ay ibinibigay sa kanila ng gubyerno! Hindi totoong walang pork ang panukalang budget, sa katunayan ay lumalangoy ito sa napakadulas na taba. For as long as the lump sum allocations remain, the national budget’s susceptibility and vulnerability to corruption, misuse and abuse remain,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan who joined protesters at the gate.

Women who chanted “Budget para sa serbisyo, hindi sa DAP ni Aquino!”decried the lump sum allocations in the budget including the President’s Special Purpose Funds amounting to P501B. This amount is twice the amount allocated in the previous year.

“This makes it very easy to divert funds to personal or electoral use. Amid unresolved issues surrounding President Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program and the impeachment complaint, it is impractical and irresponsible to entrust the president with lump sum allocations,” continued Ilagan.

Rep. Emmi De Jesus for her part said that even as government claims to have allocated the biggest chunk of the budget to social services, years of experience prove that this does not necessarily translate to a better quality of life for the people or the delivery of social services.

Paulit-ulit na sinasabing may budget para sa pabahay, sa edukasyon, sa mga ospital pero patuloy na lumalala ang mga suliraning kinakahrap ng mga maralita. Nine-negosyo ang mga pabahay habang kabi-kabila ang demolisyon, tumataas ang singil sa mga mga pampublikong ospital at pautloy na magsisiksikan ang mga bata sa mga classroom,” De Jesus said.

 Women protesters said they will remain vigilant and rally for government accountability and the delivery of much needed social services.#

For Reference:   REP. LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221

                              REP. EMMI A. DE JESUS 0917-3221203

Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0917-4049119

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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