Filipino Youth and Community Take A Stand Against Labor Trafficking

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photos by Cristina Grey Villaflor

Jersey City, NJ-  Activists, students and community members took a stand against labor trafficking after attending the community forum on the case of the Florida 15 workers last April 25 at Saint Peter’s College’s Pope Lecture Hall. The said forum was organized by Anakbayan New Jersey, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and the Saint Peter’s College Social Justice Program. 

At the community forum, two of the Florida 15 workers shared their experiences as survivors of labor trafficking. They talked about their recruitment from the Philippines, and the working conditions they endured under San Villa agency in Miami, Florida. They also discussed how this experience has affected their personal lives.
“We didn’t expect to end up like this. It’s been four long years. We miss our families and the children we’ve left behind. But there’s no turning back now. Tuloy ang laban! (the struggle continues!). This is not just for the Forida 15 but for all trafficking victims” said Cecil Delgado, the spokesperson of the Florida 15 workers.
The community forum also discussed the factors that lead to Labor Trafficking such as the Philippine Labor Export Policy. According to Yves Nibungco, current chairperson of Anakbayan NJ, landlessness and lack of job creation in the Philippines, coupled with the government “development” program of exporting Filipinos as commodities, creates the favorable condition for illegal recruitment and labor exploitation to thrive.
“In order for us to fully stop labor trafficking, we must fight against the Philippine government’s Labor Export Policy. Only by genuinely creating jobs at home through national industrialization and agrarian reform can we eliminate labor trafficking” said Yves Nibungco. “We call on the Filipino youth and students to stand up for our kababayans. Take a stand against labor trafficking and the Philippine labor export policy,” added Mr. Nibungco.
Jonna Baldres, Deputy Secretary General of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns talked about their current “Stop Trafficking Our People” campaign or STOP. NAFCON North East region will be organizing a community task force to pull resources and effort together. She called on the Filipino community to unite and join the struggle against labor trafficking.
The forum ended with a group photo and a community chant saying: “Stop, stop trafficking our people!.”
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US Intervention, NOT CHINA, is the Greatest Threat to Peace & Security in the Philippines– BAYAN USA

News Statement

April 16, 2012

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: chair@bayanusa.org

Filipino-American Alliance Calls Aquino Gov’t to Junk the VFA, Stop Balikatan Exercises

As today marks the formal opening of the 28th US-Philippine Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) Exercises in Palawan, Filipino-Americans across the US, under the banner of BAYAN USA, are joined by their American allies in condemning intensifying US military intervention in the Philippines as the greatest threat to peace and security in the country and the Asia-Pacific region.

US is the Real Bully

Contrary to Washington’s line, the Chinese government is not flexing its military might to bully other countries in the region in order to expand its economic interests. It is the US government that fits said description, as US military’s so-called “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region” is motivated by the Obama administration campaign to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new free trade agreement akin to NAFTA that would ensure US economic and political domination in the region, as well as contain super rival China’s emerging economic power and growth.

Decades of US military presence in the Philippines in the name of peace-keeping and anti-terrorism have proven that it is the US troops, not China, that are guilty of pointing their own guns at Filipino civilians, raping Filipino women and children, patronizing and encouraging sex tours and increased prostitution, polluting and destroying the environment, requiring the massive displacement of rural communities in order to accommodate their military operations, advising and training the same Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) documented and denounced by international human rights organizations as perpetrating gross human rights abuses in the country, not to the least of which is the blatant violation and disrespect to Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under Obama, the Philippines is now being used as testing grounds for US drone air strikes, in line with its historical role as a strategic launching pad and fueling station for US military offensives in nearly all of its wars of aggression. The US is also hyping up anti-China sentiment in the region by intervening in regional territorial disputes over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, of which China is a stakeholder, clearly aimed at provoking military aggression with the Philippines at the crosshairs. 

Hearts and Minds Campaign

Characteristic of this year’s Balikatan Exercises is the so-called focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HA/DR), including a Civil-Military Operations (CMO) component that started in March 12 with an engineering program to construct schools and facilities in the most marginalized areas of Palawan. Reminiscent of the same tactics used by the US military campaign to “win the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people and gather popular support for direct US military intervention during the Vietnam War, the HA/DR focus of the Balikatan Exercises is actually in line with the 2009 US State Department’s Counter-Insurgency (US COIN) Guide. The said US COIN guide purports the need for a population-centric approach, or low-intensity conflict (LIC),  wherein “the margin of victory will be measured in far different terms than the wars of our past. The allegiance, trust, and confidence of populations will be the final arbiters” as stated by US Army General William B. Caldwell IV in the US Army Field Manual on population-centric COIN.

With a strong Philippine movement for sovereignty and democracy gaining ground, including an armed revolutionary movement popular with the country’s poor and explicit in its aim to fundamentally change the current failing system in favor of a self-sufficient system implementing genuine land reform and national industrialization, the US government is driven to apply LIC tactics to win support away from the cause national liberation and keep the Philippines as its most reliable hub for power projection in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The US government, and its ruling financial oligarchy, is also driven to maintain the Philippines as a valuable export position for vast natural resources and cheap human labor power in the midst of a worsening global economic crisis it is grappling, but failing, to overcome. 

NoyNoy’s Bankruptcy Exposed

The US-Aquino regime is becoming increasingly isolated as its promise of change is exposing itself as bankrupt through Aquino’s inaction and “NoyNoying” over crucial domestic matters of public interest requiring attention. At the same time Aquino unflinchingly steps to the plate to bat for Uncle Sam’s quest to rattle his saber in the region under the deceptive line of defending the region against China.

It is obvious that Aquino is desperate to keep enjoying the spoils of US puppetry by continuing US-funded state repression against civilians who criticize his policies and championing the US government’s initial steps toward direct US military intervention in the country in the face of a raging civil war between those wanting to maintain the status quo, and those wanting to change the system and build a brighter future. 

It is in this regard that BAYAN USA calls on all in the US who are burdened by the effects of the economic crisis to hold the Obama administration accountable for its maneuvers to invest billions in beefing up it military presence in the Asia-Pacific region through expanding its network of military bases, facilities, operations, and agreements in the region when it could be investing in jobs, education, healthcare, housing, and social services for the American people. We call on all who are against US wars of aggression to demand the Obama administration withdraw its military presence in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region. We call on all in the US who have been victimized by US counter-insurgency, including COINTELPRO, and the onslaught of repressive legislation criminalizing dissent and curtailing democratic rights to condemn US counter-insurgency in the Philippines, home to the world’s longest-running armed revolution against US imperialism. Lastly, we call on all who are for freedom to stand in solidarity with the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine national sovereignty and democracy, a mass movement so widespread and historical in its challenge to US imperialist power projection in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES 
JUNK THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT
STOP THE BALIKATAN EXERCISES
UPHOLD PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

—————————–

BAYANUSA is an alliance of 15 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYANUSA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org

Return to Sender: 5 Reasons to Oppose US Military Intervention in

Return to Sender: 5 Reasons to Oppose US Military Intervention in the Philippines

1. It violates the national sovereignty of the Philippines

The arrival of US forces invariably involves some form of military intervention including outright aggression, occupation and colonization. It would be like people storming into your house, moving their equipment into your bedroom, throwing out your stuff, ordering you to cook and clean for them, beating up your children and spouse, and informing you that you’d be responsible for continuing to pay rent as well as supplying them with meals and entertainment in return for protecting your home.

2. The American people pay without a say

The American people never agreed to send US troops to the Philippines. The current round of military exercises and deployment of US troops to the Philippines takes place under the terms of the Visiting Forces Agreement—a treaty that was never ratified by the US Senate, has no implementing law and is not self-executing, but has been in effect since 1999. And it costs American taxpayers millions of dollars every year without any agreement or oversight by the Senate—or the American people.

3. Civilian deaths, displacement of thousands of families, and other human rights violations will increase Even before US troops arrive, the US and Philippine military prepare miles of land for military exercises by conducting “clearing operations”— shorthand for kicking thousands of families out of their homes and even taking over schools to house US troops. Once the troops land, conditions get worse. US servicemen have fired on civilians, including children in the area whom soldiers “mistook” for wild pigs. The joint exercises between US and Philippine troops and use of US advisors to the Philippine military becomes even more questionable when you consider the Philippine military’s human rights record: 1,280 murders, 215

abductions, and 1,150 acts of torture against innocent civilians since 2001. If the Philippine military is perpetrating these atrocities, what are the US troops and advisors doing with them?

4. It is linked to increased prostitution, rape, and other sexual offenses, particularly against women and children Around US bases and military encampments, the development of an “entertainment” and “service” industry leads to a rise in the number of sex workers who are exposed to sexually transmitted disease and abuse US servicemen. Young girls have been subjected to rape. And it’s no wonder: A Marine Corps Times article published on April 8, 2012 said that “the Philippines also are known for their raunchy party atmosphere! Places such as Olongapo and Angeles City feature notorious red-light districts where alcohol and scantily clad women have attracted many Marines and sailors over the years!That’s what WestPac is: a lot of fun, a lot of good partying and a lot to do.” The Philippines is left to deal with the social costs from the rising sex trade and incidents of rape—with the perpetrators allowed to go free.

5. The military’s toxic waste pollutes the environment for decades and leads to deadly diseases Environmental damage due to military activities devastates communities for generations. Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, through the conduct of numerous studies and investigations, is known to have toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) that were left in corroding power transformers after 1991. In Subic, Filipino workers at the former base were forced to handle toxic waste, including burying it, and swimming through sewage to unclog pipes. Subsequent deaths of these workers and children near the area have called attention to the effects of these wastes. A recent study by KALIKASAN-People’s Network for the Environment revealed that 800 out of 4,000 residents near Subic Base are afflicted with asbestosis. Today, residents return to their villages after the military leave and find live ammunition, used shells and casings, and land laid to waste that used to be used for farming.

In the short-term and in the long-run, US militarization in the Philippines benefits no one— American or Filipino.

by: BAYAN-USA

March for Workers and Immigrants’ Rights

We are calling on the youth and the community to join Anakbayan on May 1, 2012, 12 noon at Union Square as we celebrate International Labor Day. 

What: Rally and march for workers and immigrants’ rights

[click here for facebook event]

Where: Union Square, NYC

When: May 1, 2012 | Rally 12pm-5:30pm, March 5:30pm onwards

Why: Every year we celebrate the victories and struggles of workers and immigrants. This year we will be raising the issue of  the Florida 15, Arizona 34 and other labor trafficking cases in the Filipino community. We will also be linking this to the overall struggle of workers and migrants all over the world.

*Wear a red shirt and look for the Anakbayan flag

For more information please email us at anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com

Say NO to US Military Intervention in the Philippines! No to BALIKATAN Military Exercises!


New York, NY – On April 15, 2012, member organizations of BAYAN-USA in the Northeast region will commence a two-week campaign to oppose U.S. militarization in the Philippines. 

April 15 marks two important dates. The day will be April 16 in the Philippines, when the Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military exercises are set to resume. It is also tax day in the United States. “We implore the American people to be in solidarity with the Filipino people on this day. It is American tax dollars that are overwhelmingly funneled to the military,” says Jackelyn Mariano, Regional Co-Coordinator of BAYAN-USA Northeast. “This way, the U.S. government diverts people’s taxes away from much-needed social services such as education, jobs, housing, and healthcare.”

“Most Americans are unaware of the facts of the matter. We are kept blind from the reality of U.S. foreign intervention. As Filipinos in the U.S. we must call on our communities and allies to oppose this move, as it has led to rampant human rights violations and will increase the threat to our people’s safety.”

At 12:30pm, BAYAN-USA organizations will conduct a teach-in about the issue. It will take place at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center in Woodside, Queens. The teach-in will be followed by an indignation rally, to draw attention to the facts.

On April 30, the Secretaries of State and Defense of both the Philippines and the United States will hold a meeting in Washington, D.C. to solidify the terms of U.S. military presence in the Philippines. BAYAN-USA calls on all people to call and fax these secretaries to register their opposition for these plans.

U.S. TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!

 

STOP: A Community Forum on the Case of the Florida 15 Workers and the Philippine Labor Export Policy

STOP TRAFFICKING OUR PEOPLE!
A Community Forum on the Case of the Florida 15 and the Labor Export Policy

click here for the facebook event

Join Anakbayan New Jersey and the community for a Forum discussion as we raise our own awareness on Human Trafficking & The Labor Export Policy, & to take a stand with YOU as ONE!

At this Forum you can expect:
a. To learn about the case of the Florida 15, Human Trafficking, Labor Export Policy and other issues related to it
b. To meet, share, & discuss with others about your opinions
c. To find out WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT as a Community!

Drinks & Refreshments will be served!

Get updates of the event via Twitter @AnakbayanNYNJ!

For Inquiries Email:
anakbayan.nynj@gmail.com

Thanks in advance for your support! Hope to see you all there!