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.
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.
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