On International Human Rights Day, GABRIELA DC attended and delivered a statement at a vigil in front of the Philippine Embassy organized by NDWA, NAPAWF, and APALA.
On behalf of GABRIELA DC, we would like to extend our gratitude to the organizers of this vigil and thank everyone who is here on this cold night showing their support for the victims and survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, especially as today we also commemorate International Human Rights Day and we are addressing the needs of migrants and the human rights of our brothers and sisters back home in the Philippines.
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, our communities have lost family, friends, homes, and their means of livelihood. Our members of GABRIELA DC support the call for TPS (or temporary protected status) and like all of you, believe the granting of TPS can play an important role in the relief and rehabilitation of the Philippines after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.
In fact, it surprises us that the Philippine government has been silent on this subject. We have not seen any official announcement from President Aquino or the Philippine Embassy on their stance until today. Sadly, though, this action, or rather, inaction is consistent with the Philippine government’s handling of the demands and issues of Filipino migrants in the U.S. That instead of proactively taking steps to promote and defend the interests of Filipino migrants, the government has been more concerned about protecting their fragile image and putting profits before people. Our allies in California who met with the Philippine deputy consul General said that one of the concerns the Philippine government had about requesting TPS or addressing the devastation after the typhoon was its impact on tourism!
In addition, while TPS can help remove the constant fear of deportation that many in our community face, and TPS will afford those in our community humane jobs, it is only a temporary measure as indicated in its name. There is still a crying need for genuine immigration reform in the U.S. and for genuine rebuilding and development in the Philippines, genuine development that does NOT depend on the sacrifice and exploitation of migrants having to go to other countries for work!
Furthermore, the women of GABRIELA DC want to make known that Typhoon relief should NOT be a reason to increase militarization in the Philippines. In the past we’ve seen women and children become more vulnerable to sexual violence and human trafficking during times of calamity and conflict, demonstrating that increased militarization only further violates the human rights and risks the welfare of our people.
Just as our migrant communities here in the U.S. are fighting for genuine immigration reform, for our rights and welfare as well, our communities in the Philippines still continue fighting for justice and human rights!
We strongly call on Philippine Ambassador Cuisia to advocate for temporary protected status for Filipinos! GABRIELA DC, together with GABRIELA-USA, BAYAN USA and NAFCON (the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns) stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Visayas, not only for immediate relief but also for the long-term needs for rehabilitation for the communities most hard-hit by the typhoon.
We encourage everyone gathered here today to become informed about the ongoing economic crisis Filipinos are facing and the environmental injustice happening in our mother country. GABRIELA Washington, D.C. is planning to coordinate with Taskforce Haiyan members, and KATARUNGAN: Center for Peace Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines to have more educational events and activities in the near future and we hope that you all will join us.
Relief and Rehabilitation, Not Militarization!
GABRIELA Washington, D.C. Supports TPS, Relief, and Justice for Filipinos.