Filipino Youth and Students hold Founding Congress of Anakbayan-USA in the midst of Anti-NATO Protests in Chicago

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Chicago, IL – On May 18, Filipino youth and student leaders from across the US convened at the Centro Autonomo community center, located in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago, for the historic Anakbayan-USA Founding Congress.  The congress established Anakbayan-USA as a nationwide organization and overseas national chapter of Anakbayan Philippines in the midst of city-wide protest marches and rallies against the ongoing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit. This, according to organizers, is their symbolic protest and act of defiance against the global 1% represented by NATO.

The theme of the founding congress declared the purpose and direction of Anakbayan-USA: “Makibaka! Huwag Matakot! Unite and Strengthen the Filipino Youth Movement in the US to Advance the Struggle for National Democracy in the Philippines!”  The theme is aimed at calling on the youth to join the struggle against the increased repression in the US and to contribute to the struggle for genuine social change in the Philippines. 

“It [AB-USA Founding Congress] couldn’t have come on any other day than today, in the face of G8 and NATO.  This is our act of defiance.  Our coming here together as youth and students of our people is our act of defiance in the face of imperialism. We owe this to our brothers and sisters who have suffered and who have sacrificed their lives to fight for our people’s liberation,” said Yves Nibungco, elected founding National Chairperson of Anakbayan-USA. 

Over 60 delegates from Anakbayan chapters in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, San Diego, East Bay (Oakland), Silicon Valley and Chicago, including delegates from affiliate organization, League of Filipino Students (LFS) – San Francisco State University came to the founding congress to approve a General Program of Action and elect the National Executive Committee of Anakbayan-USA. Those elected were Yves Nibungco of Anakbayan New Jersey as Chairperson, Janelle Quibuyen of Anakbayan Seattle as Vice Chairperson, Eric Tandoc of Anakbayan Los Angeles as Secretary General, Ivan Penetrante of Anakbayan San Diego as Education Officer, Noemi Teppang of Anakbayan Silicon Valley as Finance Officer and Lyle Prijoles of the League of Filipino Students-SFSU as Solidarity Officer. 

The keynote speech was delivered through a pre-recorded video by Jose Maria Sison, the exiled Filipino revolutionary and founding chairperson of the seminal Filipino youth organization, Kabataang Makabayan (KM). “We are certain that your congress will strengthen your resolve and will instruct you to arouse the Filipino youth throughout the US, expand and consolidate Anakbayan-USA and mobilize an increasing number of Filipino youth along the line of anti-imperialist and democratic struggle and militant support for the struggle of the Filipino youth and people for national liberation and democracy in the Philippines,” said Sison.

A live message was given via Skype by Renato Reyes, Secretary General of Bayan Philippines and founding chairperson of Anakbayan Philippines in 1998, in which he affirmed the role of Anakbayan in the US.  “Anakbayan can introduce Philippine history, society and revolution to a growing number of Filipino-Americans who long to understand their roots and the struggle in the homeland. At the same time, the Fil-Am youth experience first-hand problems of racism and discrimination as well as economic exploitation and imperialist war. Anakbayan should also organize the immigrant youth who are familiar with the severity of the crisis in the Philippines, often the reason why they have to migrate,” said Reyes.

Chanting “Makibaka! Huwag matakot!”, a protest chant popularized during the anti-Marcos dictatorship struggle in the 70’s, members of Anakbayan-USA pledged “to continue to expose the rotten character of the Aquino regime and to raise the struggle for national democracy to a new level of intensity.”  The delegates concluded the founding congress with a group oath-taking and singing of progressive Filipino songs.

Anakbayan-USA later marched with the “national liberation” contingent at the Coalition Against the NATO/G8 demonstrations in downtown Chicago comprised of Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, Palestinians, Canadians and others to denounce NATO and G8 as instruments of the “Global 1%” in exploiting third world countries like the Philippines. ###

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FILIPINO-AMERICANS TO DESCEND UPON CHICAGO TO PROTEST NATO

FILIPINO-AMERICANS TO DESCEND UPON CHICAGO TO PROTEST NATO
US Chapter of BAYAN to Hold 4th Congress in Chicago Days Before NATO Summit

CHICAGO– Filipino-Americans from across the US will gather in Chicago on Sunday, May 20, 2012 to join the nationally-coordinated protest demonstration against the scheduled NATO Summit in downtown Chicago. The protest is scheduled two days after the fourth congress of the US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, also known as BAYAN USA, which will also take Chicago on Friday, May 18th, at Centro Autonomo in  Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. 

 
Founded in 2005 in San Francisco, BAYAN USA is an alliance of 15 Filipino community organizations across the US  who have actively campaigned on issues of human rights, immigrant reform, workers’ rights, racial and gender discrimination, environmental justice, budget cuts as well as US economic and military intervention and counter-insurgency in the Philippines for the past 7 years. 

The congress and protest comes at the heels of high-level talks in Washington between representatives from the administration of Philippine president Benigno Aquino III and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month, confirming the so-called “new” US military pivot to the Asia-Pacific region to contain the so-called “rising threat” of China will rely heavily on an increase of US military troops in the Philippines, where at least 600 US special forces operatives have been deployed in Mindanao under the auspices of post-9/11 counter-terrorism exercises.

 
Anti-China Scare is a Ruse for Economic Agenda
 
“The US economy is actually dependent on China as the two are major commercial partners,” states Berna Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “This so-called new US military pivot to Asia is nothing new. The US military have been in the Philippines since 1898, the longest-running US military foreign basing in the world.  The Obama administration’s real intention for its military agenda lies in pushing a new US-led free trade agreement in the region– the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It’s a lot like NAFTA in that it is oriented to ensure the US economically dominates trade in the Asia-Pacific region. But it is also a lot bigger and more aggressive than NAFTA in eradicating the local economies and destroying livelihood for the regional peoples, including that of the Philippines.”

In response to the claim of the US and Aquino governments that China is a major threat to the region, BAYAN USA asserts that the Aquino government’s welcoming of an increased US military presence in the country not only alarmingly exposes the extent of its puppetry to the dictates of the US government, but also poses a greater danger to Philippine territorial integrity and to the Filipino people themselves.”
 
“Does the Aquino government not care that about the countless, documented cases of abuses suffered directly by Filipino men, women, and children from US military in the Philippines?,” Ellorin continued “What about Suzette ‘Nicole’ Nicolas? What about Buyong-Buyong Isnijal? What about Gregan Cardeno? Has any US military personnel in the Philippines ever been arrested or charged for rape, molestation, harassment, or murder? And yet, the Filipino people are supposed to believe that CHINA’S military is the bigger threat?” 
 
The G8 and NATO Summits

In light of the upcoming G8 and NATO Summit meetings in the US this month, BAYAN USA will raise the issue of the US-led neoliberalism through the TPPA and military agenda through the US military pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, to the protest demonstration in Chicago. 
 
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of anti-China sentiment going around, but we want to clarify what this push for increased US military in the Philippines and in Asia is really about. It’s not so much about containing China as it is about making sure the global 1% are able to reap and plunder the natural riches of the Asia-Pacific region as well as avail of cheap, exploitable human labor from its peoples without limits through economic agreements like the TPPA,” Ellorin stated. “And this is in line with G8 and NATO agendas.”
 
BAYAN USA also called on the Aquino administration to assert Philippine national sovereignty through diplomatic, peaceful means when addressing territorial disputes with countries in the region, including China, instead of always turning to the US military. ###
 
 
BAYAN-USA 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), BAYAN-USA 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

JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE SILVERIO DEMOLITION!

Anakbayan chapters throughout the United States most vehemently condemn the violent and brutal dispersal of residents and stall owners of Parañaque’s Silverio compound and the forced eviction and demolition of their community by the combined forces of the Philippine National Police, paid goons, and security agents of business tycoon Henry Sy, on April 23. In their unjustified and unnecessary use of force, tear gas, and gunfire against unarmed civilians, at least one person was killed, 39 were severely injured, and another 30 were illegally arrested. These people were legally defending their homes, small businesses, and livelihoods from destruction. After the “hero’s burial” of Arnel Leonor–killed during the demolition–on April 29, with simultaneous protests throughout the country, President Aquino has yet to say anything about the young man’s death.

The Silverio compound, in which 28,000 urban poor reside, is set to be demolished for the establishment of condominiums for the Shoemart (SM) Development Corporation, owned by the Philippines’ richest business tycoon, Henry Sy. Despite the fact that the Parañaque city government had reportedly deposited P10.4 million to acquire the lot and allow the residents to pay for their property through a Community Mortgage Program, state and private business forces instigated the violent dispersal of this community for the continued super-profits of big businesses like that of Sy.

This incident is only one manifestation of the ongoing social injustice long suffered by the poor majority of Filipino people. We remember the residents of Corazon de Jesus in San Juan, Metro Manila who were violently evicted from their residences and whose homes were destroyed last year by over 400 police backed by a mob of security agents and a paid demolition team. We remember the Hacienda Luisita Massacre in 2004. The Aquino government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programs legalize the profiteering of big landlords as well as foreign and national big businesses at the expense of the majority of the Filipino people. It creates the basis for the continued rampant demolition of poor Filipinos’ homes and livelihoods, which has become a trademark of the Aquino regime.

We condemn this human rights violation, as it represents no departure from President Aquino’s track record on issues affecting the youth. He demonstrates his neglect for public education through his administration’s budget cuts for state universities and colleges, and its recent approval of a new round of tuition and other fee increases for School Year 2012-2013. To the Filipino youth, it has always been clear that his administration treats the masses of Filipino people as second-class citizens in their own country. He readily destroys the future of the youth by abandoning state responsibility to provide access to an affordable education for all, in the same way that his police destroy the homes and livelihoods of the urban poor. He privatizes and commodifies education and, in the same vein, sides with business tycoon Henry Sy in displacing thousands in the Silverio Compound.

But what can we expect of a President who happily welcomes US soldiers to trample on the sovereignty of the Filipino people? Since his election to office, Aquino has continued the anti-people policies of his predecessors and has been ever-compliant in selling our lands and resources to foreigners through his PPP programs. Through his puppetry to imperialist nations, especially the United States, his policies are in line with those who have historically worsened conditions in the Philippines. To keep the economy afloat and alleviate unrest, his administration continues the virtual selling of Filipino workers through its Labor Export Policy (LEP), which systematically pushes Filipinos abroad for work.  This includes our very own families here in the United States.

As Filipino American youth, we recognize that we live in the country that maintains social, political, and economic hegemony over the Philippines. We recognize that the Philippine government’s prioritizes the interests of big and foreign businesses (including many American ones) over those of the Filipino youth and urban poor, thereby forcing our compatriots to leave the country every day in the thousands to find livelihoods abroad. Rather than implementing genuine land reform, promoting national industries, and providing decent jobs within the country for the benefit of the majority of Filipino people, the Aquino government faithfully protects the interests of the few who benefit from the current oppressive system in the Philippines. Furthermore, we condemn the Philippine government’s flagrant use of police brutality and fascist practices in suppressing the justified resistance of the people. We recognize chilling parallels to the fascist current in the US, with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Trespass Bill, and the murder of Trayvon Martin.

In an effort to resist the Philippine government’s subservience to big and foreign businesses, and to stand in solidarity with the Silverio compound residents defending their lives and livelihoods against state violence, we call on our fellow youth and Filipinos in the U.S. and their families to boycott all businesses owned by Henry Sy, including Banco de Oro and Shoemart (SM). The U.S. has the largest population of Filipinos outside the Philippines, amounting to over four million; our hard-earned money should not fund businesses that kill poor Filipinos in the name of profits.

At the Leonor’s burial, Gloria Arellano of Kadamay, an organization of urban poor in the Philippines, stated: “As Leonor is laid to rest today, we call for justice for the victims of the brutality of this state. We promise no let up in this fight. The Filipino masses shall soon be able to end this oppressive government and its anti-poor and fascist policies.” We stand in solidarity with the urban poor in demanding justice for the victims of the “Silverio Massacre.” We shall continue the fight for Philippine national democracy and justice against state violence both in the Philippines and the U.S.

JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE SILVERIO DEMOLITION!
BOYCOTT BANCO DE ORO AND SM!
END STATE VIOLENCE!
CONTINUE THE STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL DEMOCRACY!

MAKIBAKA! HUWAG MATAKOT! Unite and Strengthen the Filipino Youth Movement in the U.S. to Advance the Struggle for National Democracy in the Philippines!

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MAKIBAKA! HUWAG MATAKOT!
Unite and Strengthen the Filipino Youth Movement in the U.S.
To Advance the Struggle for National Democracy in the Philippines!

“Only through militant struggle can the best in the youth emerge.”
 – Jose Maria Sison

Today, as the people and working class all over the world militantly march for International Workers’ Day, we announce the upcoming Founding Congress of Anakbayan-USA on May 18, 2012 in Chicago.  As the first overseas national chapter of Anakbayan, we will continue to build the first nationwide Filipino youth movement that clearly recognizes the integral role of US-born and migrant Filipino youth in the struggle for national liberation and genuine democracy in the Philippines.

Anakbayan was founded on November 30, 1998, one hundred and thirty-five years after the birth of Andres Bonifacio, the working class revolutionary leader who founded the Katipunan and fought for national liberation against Spain.  It was formed to take up the historic task of arousing, organizing and mobilizing a powerful key force in Philippine society, the Filipino youth.  In 2001, only three years after its establishment, Anakbayan emerged as one of the leading forces in mobilizing hundreds of thousands of youth in the massive people’s uprising now known as “People Power II,” which ousted President Joseph Estrada.  Since then, Anakbayan has consistently been at the forefront of the Filipino youth movement in advancing the struggles of oppressed and exploited communities nationwide for genuine independence and democracy in the Philippines.

As soon as Anakbayan was founded in the Philippines, migrant and US-born Filipino youth heeded its call to continue the Katipunan’s unfinished revolution of 1896. Progressive Filipino youth and student organizations across the US immediately affiliated with Anakbayan and in 2002, finally established the first overseas chapter in Seattle. Since then, Anakbayan has spread across the country to major cities with large concentrations of Filipino youth, including Los Angeles, East Bay, New York, New Jersey, San Diego and Silicon Valley.

Anakbayan chapters in the US have been at the forefront of protecting the rights and welfare of our kababayans by linking and raising social justice issues here in the US to the struggles of the oppressed and exploited back home in the Philippines. Anakbayan has fought against education budget cuts, struggled to defend immigrant rights, linked arms with workers to recover stolen wages and sought justice for trafficked workers.

We are now confronted with a protracted global economic crisis and rising fascism. According to the US Department of Labor, 1 in every 2 youth is jobless while thousands continue to lose their jobs from mass layoffs. Meanwhile, higher public education remains inaccessible to most students as tuition fees continue to increase at an annual average rate of 8% nationwide, with some public universities raising tuition by as much as 31%. As private detention centers rake in profits, the Obama administration continues to systematically carry out record-breaking deportations, which have displaced 1.2 million immigrants since he was elected into office. Undocumented youth continue to live in a nightmare as the DREAM Act mutates into a selective military draft for immigrant youth to be used as frontliners in countless wars of imperialist aggression in our home countries.

In anticipation of a surge in people’s resistance, we see the rise of a fascist police state in the US through the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) and other repressive laws like Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and HR 347 “Anti-Protest Law”.  While the civil and political rights of all Americans are being attacked, the US continues to impose its violence against people across the world in pursuit of increasing profits.

In the Philippines, the struggle continues to intensify as the crisis of the semi-feudal and semi-colonial society worsens and US military intervention increases to protect the economic interests of multinational corporations. True to his class, the landlord President Noynoy Aquino continues to faithfully serve imperialist, big business and big landlord interests by ensuring the increased exploitation of workers and even allowing US drones to drop bombs on our people. Clearly, the Filipino youth have no bright future within the current system. There is no other way for the youth but to fight back.

Through Anakbayan-USA, Filipino youth across the US are unifying and strengthening their community organizing efforts in order to carry forward the historic torch of courageous and daring youth that paved the way before us.  From the legacy of the anti-colonial resistance of the Katipunan and the Kabataang Makabayan that defied the iron fist of the Marcos dictatorship, we will continue to advance the struggle for national democracy in the Philippines until its eventual victory.  We play a crucial role here in organizing Filipino youth of all backgrounds and building international solidarity with all oppressed communities and countries.

We call on the Filipino youth to defiantly declare “Makibaka! Huwag Matakot!” Join the struggle and don’t be afraid! Let this call resound throughout the campus halls, workplaces, and in the streets. Let us unite and build this movement. Let us fulfill our revolutionary role as Filipino youth and serve the people!