Noynoy Aquino’s SONA Covers Up Failures as Filipino American Women Call for Noynoy’s ImPEACHment!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 26, 2014

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

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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GABRIELA USA Commemorates the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion and Rallies Against Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 30, 2014

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

GABRIELA USA commemorated the 45th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and rallied against violence drawing attention to the continuing conditions faced by LGBTQGNC Filipinos.

According to a recent report by the Anti-Violence Project, in 2013 there was a 21% increase in reports of physical hate violence against LGBT people, 89% of LGBT homicide victims were people of color and 72% were trans women. GABRIELA USA endorsed and marched on the 10th anniversary of Trans Day of Action organized by TransJustice of the Audre Lorde Project in New York City that called for the end of such hate violence and highlights other issues the trans and gender non-conforming community, including: criminalization and incarceration, health care access, economic justice, and affordable housing.

In Seattle, members also participated in the Trans Day of Action event on June 27 attended by 3,000 people to continue the fight against the continued repression and violence against trans people.  GABRIELA Seattle alongside members of API Chaya, came together to honor the recent death of Korean American trans youth, Sun Kim, a dedicated community leader whose commitment to social justice left an imprint on the lives of many and will never be forgotten.

GABRIELA New York together with the BAYAN Queer Caucus, BARANGAY-NY, and Pinay Trans USA also participated in the Manhattan Pride march as the Filipino contingent. Their banners “Justice for the Typhoon Yolanda Victims and After the Storm there is a Rainbow” were calls to hold President BS Aquino and the Philippine government accountable for their lack of response to the Filipino People. Members held signs that said, “Get the Philippines to the Rainbow. Support Temporary Protected Status for Philippine nationals.”

DJ Arucan, National Officer for Education and Training of Gabriela Women’s Partylist marched with GABRIELA New York at this year’s NYC Pride march and stated:

“The struggle of the LGBTQGNC community is not separate from the struggle of the majority of people in the Philippines. It is an integral part of everyone’s fight for social justice. Basic rights such as the right to till land as a peasant, obtain regular employment with a decent livable wage as a worker or professional, and access to free education for all are the major problems every society has encountered for decades.  All LGBTQGNC must join the struggle of the oppressed majority of people to end discrimination and social injustice. LGBTQGNC people can only be freed when the majority are liberated.”

Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest Bayan Queer Caucus representative, Rosie Dino, was joined by members of GABRIELA Seattle at the annual Dyke March on June 28 to march alongside all queer and trans folks who continue to struggle against various forms of violence including the continued deportation of thousands of immi/migrants by President Obama.  There are 2 million too many immigrants being separated from their families and having their human rights violated.

From coast to coast, Filipinas in the U.S., along with others im/migrant and LGBTQGNC communities must continue to fight and defend their right to live in dignity, free from all forms of violence and repression, because the the Stonewall Rebellion is not over until all marginalized sectors of the Trans, Queer and GNC community, working class im/migrants, women, youth and people of color have justice and are liberated.  We see the liberation of all LGBTQGNC as integral to the liberation of all oppressed people.

Relief and Rehabilitation, Not Militarization!

Stop Criminalization of Im/migrants!

No to Deportation! Legalization for All!

End Profiling, Harassment, and Discrimination by the Police!

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Filipinas Across US Demand Prosecution for Human Trafficker Isidro Rodriguez

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 21, 2014

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

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Melissa Reyes, Co-chairperson of GABRIELA San Francisco

On May 21, GABRIELA USA organizations and their allies in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and New York City launched a deluge of phone and fax messages to the Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to the U.S.  Concerned citizens of the U.S. and Filipino community members expressed their dissatisfaction with the steady stream of migrant Filipino workers trafficked under the direct knowledge of the Philippine government.  Furthermore, the community is outraged over the recent premature release of Isidro Rodriguez, who late last year was arrested and detained for crimes related to his illegal recruitment practices.

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Terry Valen, President of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)

Since 2003, hundreds of teachers have been illegally recruited and trafficked to the U.S. by Philippines-based recruitment agency owner Isidro Rodriguez. Over this duration, numerous case complaints have been reported to Philippine Embassy officials and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) about the contract substitutions and exploitative work conditions these trafficked teachers experience in the U.S. These complaints have been met with slow and unsatisfactory response from the Philippine government officials and agencies who are purported to protect the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants.

Instead of serving due justice to these victims, the Philippine government has done just the opposite. GABRIELA USA received confirmation from Migrante International, an alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, that Isidro Rodriguez, a proven trafficker of Filipino migrant workers, was released on May 8, 2014 due to the settlement of a few teachers from a primary case. His early release disregards a significantly larger number of teachers currently pursuing cases against him. The 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 appear and will likely evade charges.

imagejpeg_1The email and fax barrage to Philippine Ambassador to the U.S.,  Jose Cuisia Jr.,  comes at the heels of an in-person meeting with community members at the San Francisco consulate office in which the Ambassador promised to pen a letter of endorsement for Isidro Rodriguez’s prosecution and re-arrest to the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines. Cuisia also made commitments to GABRIELA USA, Migrante Northern California, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and the trafficked teachers that he would pursue the POEA for licensing a proven human trafficker such as Isidro Rodriguez. Lastly, Cuisia communicated that he would follow up the Department of Homeland Security to provide immigration relief for the trafficked teachers victimized by Isidro Rodriguez.

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