Category Archives: statements

GABRIELA USA and Migrante SF-NorCal Urge Governor Brown to Pass A.B. 241 While Upholding Migrant Workers Rights at Global Gathering

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2013

References:
Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, chair@gabusa.org
Mario de Mira, Organizer, Migrante SF-Northern California, mignorcal@gmail.com

This week, A.B. 241, also known as the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, passed in the state Senate and is now sitting on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for a signature to pass or deny it. A.B. 241 initially included other worker rights, such as meal breaks, sick days, workers’ compensation and adequate sleeping conditions for live-in workers. The Senate version passed on to the governor this week strictly focuses on overtime pay. “Any worker should have basic rights when working a job, despite legal status. Without these protections, domestic workers have been vulnerable to exploitation, and the state system has done nothing to hold employers accountable,” says Valerie Francisco, GABRIELA USA’s Chairperson. Despite the many compromises that have been made on the bill, GABRIELA USA and Migrante SF-Northern California are strongly urging Governor Brown to pass the bill now, but will not cease to continue fighting for workers rights.

Filipinos, like other migrant populations, struggle to meet their basic needs to survive, including affordable housing, jobs, health care, services and other basic human rights. Migrant workers leave their home countries every day to find dignifiable work, so they can support their families in the U.S. and in their home countries, only to find themselves struggling again to meet basic needs. These workers are often vulnerable to exploitation, wage theft, and abuse, particularly for live-in caregivers, where very few laws, if any, offer protections. “We believe that having basic protections will be positive for Filipino caregivers. The passage of this bill and our continued fight for our rights will show what is possible when people are united and organized,” says Rowena Viray, a caregiver and a member of Migrante SF-Northern California.

The global economy thrives off of the backs of migrant workers, and yet they are offered very few protections in the host country. Employers are not held accountable to standard employment laws and policies to ensure basic human rights are met. The Philippines, like other developing countries around the world, force their people to migrate through the Labor Export Program, sanctioned by the Philippine Government.  Live-in caregivers and workers are left to fight for their own rights and protections, as demonstrated in the A.B. 241 struggle.

While demanding justice for workers in California, this October 1-4, GABRIELA USA and Migrante will be convening a conference with migrant workers from around the world at the International Assembly for Migrants and Refugees 4 (IAMR4) to counter the high-level dialogues happening concurrently within the United Nations, where migrants voices are being left out.

In response to migrants’ rights being trampled on by government corruption and global imperialist trade policies, the IAMR4 will also mobilize to protest the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, where policies are discussed to increase remittances. “The global economy is an exploitative business led and profited by the global 1%, and migrants are generating the revenue for it. We need to organize to demand an end to this large-scale abuse!” says Tina Shauf, GABRIELA USA’s Vice Chair of Campaigns. The IAMR4 is organized for and by migrants who are at the forefront of speaking out against injustice towards migrants worldwide.

PASS A.B. 241 NOW!
UPHOLD AND DEFEND WORKERS RIGHTS FOR ALL MIGRANTS!
END THE LABOR EXPORT POLICY!
STOP EXPLOITATION AND MODERN DAY SLAVERY OF MIGRANT WORKERS!

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GABRIELA USA Remembers Filipina Desaparecidos

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2013

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, chair@gabusa.org

GABRIELA USA Remembers Filipina Desaparecidos

Imagine your loved one taken from you, suddenly, without warning. You go searching for days on end, months, even years, with only a glimmer of hope that they may still be alive. Imagine living in a place where people are abducted and disappeared simply for speaking out for justice. In the Philippines, human rights violations, such as enforced disappearances, run rampant as a means to silence dissent. On August 30, GABRIELA USA commemorates the International Day of the Disappeared alongside all other nations in the world who use enforced disappearances as a means quell movements for social and national liberation, by remembering all of the women and men who have been abducted, tortured, killed and disappeared, under the bloody hands of the state sponsored regime.

Current Philippine President, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, reached his mid-term in office, but shows no signs of prosecuting the perpetrators of gross human rights violations committed under his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Under Aquino’s Presidential term thus far, human rights group, Karapatan, has documented at least 142 cases of extrajudicial killings and 17 cases of enforced disappearances.

In December 2011, retired Major General Jovito Palparan went into hiding after he, along with three other military officials, were finally charged with kidnapping with serious illegal detention for the disappearance of students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. The two were abducted and disappeared in June 2006.

“Many Filipinas who are targets of human rights violations are subject to gender violence because of a system that condones violence towards women. There’s no accountability for corrupt practices by the Philippine military,” says GABRIELA USA Chairperson, Valerie Francisco. Both women were raped and tortured by the Philippine military.

In May 2009, Filipina-American, Melissa Roxas, was abducted while doing community health work in the Philippines and surfaced after 6 days of physical and mental torture . Even though Roxas has survived her ordeal, her abductors remain at large.

“People are being abducted, killed for standing up against a self-serving government that does not look out for the welfare of its people. In fact, the government is, instead, capitalizing on exploiting their people and making profit out of the country’s resources, causing the majority of the population to suffer from extreme poverty” says Francisco. Even with the passage of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, the Philippine government has done little to nothing to end enforced disappearances, and the country’s most notorious perpetrator, Palparan, continues to evade arrest.

Additionally, with no investment by the government to allow for national industries to flourish for the benefit of its people, the wealth is instead concentrated in the pockets of the country’s 1% for the benefit of multinational corporations and U.S. imperialism. The people are consequently left with no jobs, affordable housing, food, and social services.

Because of the conditions in the Philippines caused by corrupt government practices and U.S. imperialism, Filipinos are being forced to migrate out of the country, and in that process, migrant workers also become victims of human trafficking and systemic exploitative practices. “It is no wonder why people are standing up against these repressive practices by the U.S.-backed Philippine government and military. Aquino’s administration and U.S. imperialism should be detained and put under investigation!” says Tina Shauf, GABRIELA USA’s Vice Chair of Campaigns.

GABRIELA USA demands and defends people’s rights to speak out against these injustices and put an end to the culture of impunity. The families of those who have been disappeared, and spend endless days and nights searching for their loved ones, deserve to know the whereabouts of their loved ones.

Like kababayans who remain in the Philippines, we see the importance of overseas migrants who also experience human rights violations, to organize for their own rights and welfare. This October 2-4, in New York City, GABRIELA USA is co-sponsoring the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees 4 (IAMR4), calling on migrants to speak out on behalf of all migrants who are also victims of human rights violations. GABRIELA-USA remembers and demands justice for all victims of political repression and enforced disappearance!

Justice for all victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings!
Surface Karen Empeno and Sheryl Cadapan!
End the culture of impunity!

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GABRIELA USA Strongly Opposes Invitation to Increase U.S. Military Presence in the Philippines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2013

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, chair@gabusa.org

This week, talks began between President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s administration (GPH) and the U.S. government to discuss increasing the amount of U.S. troops on rotation in the Philippines. Claiming this open invitation as a “reaction to China’s aggression”, GPH Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin announced the negotiations with the U.S. as a tactic to protect national sovereignty. GABRIELA USA strongly denounces this open invitation for more U.S. troops in the Philippines because we can not forget the last century of U.S. imperialist presence in the Philippines and U.S. interest of geopolitical positioning in the Asia Pacific. “Every Filipino who cares about the national sovereignty of our homeland should be concerned that issues arising between the Philippines and China are being exploited by the U.S.-Aquino regime to justify the presence of thousands of U.S. troops,” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA.

GABRIELA USA has and will always be concerned about the unconstitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement and U.S. military occupation in the Philippines.  Filipino women and children are always the first to suffer with increased U.S. military intervention.  The rape of “Nicole” in 2009 and the U.S. role in preventing convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel from serving his sentence in Philippine prison is grounds for all of us to take action and oppose U.S. military presence in our homeland.  There will be many more “Nicoles” with increased U.S. military intervention in the Philippines.

“In any conflict with neighboring countries over territorial disputes, the Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino should exhaust all peaceful and diplomatic means, instead of using the conflict with China as an excuse to roll out the red carpet for the return of U.S. bases,” continues Francisco. GABRIELA USA believes that issues with China must be resolved without intrusion of U.S. imperialist agendas. As issues with China emerge, the Philippine government must have its people in mind, and learn from the lessons of U.S. neocolonialism to deal with future situations of aggression and economic domination.

“Historically, and to this day, the most dangerous and violent presence in the Philippines is U.S. political 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. Furthermore, as long as Philippine President Aquino remains subservient to U.S. imperialist will, the Philippine people cannot even imagine, nor begin, to have diplomatic and sovereign bilateral agreements with nation-states involved with Philippine political issues,” says Raquel Redondiez, Spokesperson of GABRIELA USA.

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