PANAHON NA! Forum Highlights Struggle of Filipino Immigrants, Calls for Pinoys to Participate in Immigration Reform Debate

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Jersey City, NJ- Filipinos around New Jersey gathered at the Pope Lecture Hall at Saint Peter’s University last Sunday to shed light to the particular struggles of Filipino immigrants and to discuss the recently released immigration reform bill. At the Forum titled “Panahon Na!” (Time is Now), Anakbayan New Jersey, a Filipino organization that organized the event, called on the Filipino community to organize and actively engage in the upcoming debate around immigration reform.

‘We’re in the same boat’

The panel was comprised of Catalina Adorno, a student at Saint Peter’s University and member of the Social Justice Club; Edna Sabino, a Filipina teacher; Chia-chia Wang, an advocate from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Attorney Cristina Godinez, an immigrant rights advocate and lawyer, Hong-mei Pang of Revolutionizing Asian Immigrant Stories on the East Coast (RAISE), Hanalei Ramos, Northeast regional coordinator of BAYAN-USA, and Bea Sabino, chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey. They talked about the wide array of experiences and hardships immigrants, documented or undocumented, face in the current immigration system.

“my experience as an immigrant has been difficult because not many people are welcoming of immigrants. Everyone makes the claim we are just here to steal their jobs. Jobs are being stolen from American citizens but not by immigrants- by corporations who are moving jobs into other countries in search for cheaper labor. That’s an entire issue in itself. I am just here to get an education.,” said Catalina Adorno, talking about the hardships of being an immigrant student. “As immigrants, our future is very uncertain.” Adorno concluded.

“My migration journey feels like a long wait at the doctor’s office, uncertain and anxiety-laden” said Edna Sabino, a pre-school teacher in Jersey City who migrated to the US in 2003 and was petitioned by an employer through an H1B visa. She is still waiting for her permanent resident card. She said “It is already hard for us to navigate the immigration current immigration system, I can just imagine how harder it is for those who are undocumented. Because of that I sympathize with the cause of undocumented immigrants. We are in the same boat,” referring to the struggle of undocumented and documented immigrants for immigration reform.

Meanwhile, Chia-chia Wang, Civic Participation coordinator of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) talked about local programs that creates more hardship for immigrant communities, such as the secure-communities program. “S-comm [secure communities] allows immigration agency to access local law enforcement’s fingerprint database and identify and locate immigrants regardless of crime conviction,”  Chia-chia Wang continued, “it makes immigrants fearful of working with local government, including the police department.”

“My stance on immigration reform is that they [US government] should just do a better job at it because, as many of the speakers mentioned, people are still having a hard time bringing their families to America. It takes years for parents or children to get their visas,” said Rogie Borja, President of Asian American Student Union (AASU) at Saint Peter’s University said after attending the forum.

Updates on the Gang of 8’s Immigration Reform Bill

Speakers also discussed updates on the new immigration bill entitled “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” released by the “Gang of 8”, a group of 8 senators from the republican and democratic party. According to the new bill, the new immigration system will put a “tough but fair path to citizenship” for qualified undocumented immigrants, it will shift from family-based to merit-based immigration allowing for in-demand low-skilled and skilled workers to come to the United States.

“Immigration needs to be an Asian issue. It needs to be visible in the Asian communities. Asian people need to be visible to politicians so that our demands are met– that our families are protected, that our workers are similarly protected,” said Hong-mei Pang of RAISE in reaction to the new immigration reform bill.

Hanalei Ramos, Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA said, “I really want us to support family reunification. I want us to be critical of the guest worker programs that are being proposed by the Gang of 8. I really want the deportations to end because people have the right to feel safe in their own communities, and to reap the benefits and rewards of the lives that they built in this country.”

A Call to Action for Filipinos

“My family and I are experiencing first hand how isolating and disempowering migration can be under the current system. We have been waiting for Green Cards for 7 years now. As one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in the US, Filipinos have their migration stories as testament to what comprehensive immigration reform should be,”  shared Bea Sabino, chairperson of Anakbayan New Jersey, at the conclusion of the forum.

“We need a strong, united mass movement for immigrant rights to influence public policy. The Gang of 8 proposal proves that if we want genuine immigration reform, the people really do have to fight for it. We are urging the Filipino community to come out of the shadows, share their stories and join progressive Filipino organizations, such as Anakbayan, in guaranteeing equal rights to immigrants and an end to this modern day segregation of our schools, workplace and communities,” Sabino added

On May 1, 12 noon at Union Square, Anakbayan New Jersey, along with other Filipino organizations are calling on the community to march with them to demand a genuine immigration reform that reflects the needs of the Filipino community.

“Hindi lang ito laban ng mga walang papel, at lalong hindi rin ito laban lang ng mga Latino. Ito ay laban din ng ating komunidad. [this is not just the fight of the undocumented, and more so not just the fight of the Latino community. It is also our community’s fight.]” Sabino continued.

Panahon na! A Community Forum on Immigration Reform was organized by Anakbayan New Jersey and hosted by the Saint Peter’s University Social Justice Program. It was co-sponsored by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Pilipino-American Unity for Progress (Unipro), Asian American Student Union (AASU), Pan-American Concerned Citizen’s Action League (PACCAL), Kalusugan Coalition, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-USA).

“Organize and Fight for Genuine Immigration Reform,” says Anakbayan-USA

New Jersey – National Filipino youth organization, Anakbayan-USA, calls on the Filipino youth and community to organize and struggle for genuine immigration reform.  This, according to the youth group, is in response to President Barack Obama’s recent executive order concerning DREAM Act eligible youth, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

“Seeing the thousands of youth lining up to apply for deferred action only reaffirms the need to organize and intensify our struggle for genuine immigration reform,” said Yves Nibungco, national chairperson of Anakbayan-USA.  “Clearly, DeferredAction is not the DREAM Act and it is most certainly not a path to legalization for our brothers and sisters,” Nibungco continued.

Deferred Action is an executive order by President Obama relieving DREAM Act eligible youth under age 31 from deportation providing that they qualify and fulfill its requirements.  It also allows them to apply for a work permit and in some states, a driver’s license.  This application comes with a fee of $465. An estimated 1.7 million youth are supposed to benefit from this administrative relief.  

But according to Anakbayan-USA, this recent development is a clear political maneuver by Obama in relation to the upcoming presidential elections this November. “Deferred Action is not a gift from Obama, rather it is a testament to the strength of the collective action of thousands of immigrant youth who took to the streets to put pressure on the government,”said Nibungco.  

Anakbayan-USA calls on the youth to be cautious in applying for Deferred Action.  As an executive order, Deferred Actionis not a law and may be subject to change at any time.  According to the youth group, this makes undocumented youth serve as “political hostages” in President Obama’s bid for a second term as presidential candidate. The youth group said that immigrant communities should not forget that under Obama’s administration, 1.1 million immigrants have been deported since 2009, higher than any other president since the 1950’s. Meanwhile, presidential candidate, Mitt Romney has said that he will veto the DREAM Act if he gets elected.   

That is why, according to Anakbayan-USA, Filipino immigrants should join the fight and push for legalization for all. “We call on the Filipino youth and the community to come together and take a stand on the side of immigrants. Let us organize and fight for genuine immigration reform here in the U.S. and an end to the Philippine government’s exploitative labor export program,” Nibungco concluded. 

The United States is home to the largest population of overseas Filipinos, numbering more than 4 million. With one million estimated to be undocumented, Filipinos are heavily impacted by the current inhumane immigration system, such as decade-long waiting periods for petitions of family members, rampant detentions and deportations.

These numbers continue to rise as the Philippine government intensifies its the Labor Export Program. This program that has led to the forced migration of Filipinos at the rate of over 4,700 leaving the country daily. Remittances from the nearly 15 million overseas Filipinos continue to remain at an all-time high contributing to 12% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Last year alone, remittances from overseas Filipinos reached $20 billion. The Aquino administration has substituted this for genuine land reform and national industrialization as foundations for national development.*

Chapters of Anakbayan-USA nationwide will be conducting more info sessions regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. For more information contact

Pack the Court! Support the Florida 15 Workers!

15 Filipino workers are speaking out against a corrupt recruitment agency that have victimized hundreds of migrant workers. This will be the first court hearing of the Florida 15 workers and it is very important that we show our support for them and for the long struggle for justice! 
Come out and show your support on their first court hearing. Let us pack the court!
What: Court Hearing and Rally
Where: U.S. Eastern District Court of New York | 225 Cadman Plaza, East Brooklyn
take the A/C to High Street (for directions, click here)
When: September 24, Monday | 3pm
For more information contact the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) at
or go directly to Michelle at or Yves at
For more information about the case click here or here
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Tune-in! Anakbayan-USA Radio Show Ep.2 on Sept. 7

This coming Friday, September 7, tune in to the second episode of the only national Filipino youth radio show in the US. 
This month’s theme is “Serve the People” featuring interviews with Anakbayan members who just returned from their exposure trip and medical mission in Davao City, Philippines, as well as reports from local community work across the US.
Listen to progressive, socially-relevant music, timely analysis and news reports from the ground from across the U.S. by our local Anakbayan chapters and allies.
BONUS: Tune in an let us know what does it mean for you to “SERVE THE PEOPLE”? We’d like to hear from you!
To tune in and listen to Anakbayan USA Radio show click here ->
Friday Sept 7 | 8-10PM PST | 11-1AM EST | Saturday Sept 8 11AM Manila
to check out the facebook event, click here
For more information on how to contribute, contact Romeo Hebron at

Community Groups Hold Forum on Deferred Action in Jersey City

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 Photos by Noel Pangilinan

Jersey City, NJ -Filipino youth activist group, Anakbayan New Jersey, joined forces with immigrant and lawyers organizations last August 12 for a “Community Forum on Immigration Reform: Deferred Action” held at the Pope Lecture Hall, Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City.  The said forum provided vital information regarding the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or most commonly known as “Deferred Action.”  It also aimed to empower the Jersey City immigrant community to continue the struggle for comprehensive immigration reform. 

The immigrant community turned out in large numbers to learn about the said new immigration policy.  Anna Brown, head of the Social Justice Program of Saint Peter’s College, gave a warm welcome to the attendees of the forum.  Councilman at-large, Rolando Lavarro, also gave welcoming remarks, commenting on his own experience.  The speakers include DREAM Act activists, Giancarlo Tello and Brenda Aguilar of the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC), and Filipino lawyer and immigrant rights advocate, Attorney Cristina Godinez. They provided  an overview regarding the said new policy.  The forum also provided free legal consultations to the community headed by lawyers from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).

“Deferred Action is simply a stop-gap measure, a band-aid for the overall immigration issue that America faces and is not to be confused with the Dream Act. While the Dream Act is definitely a goal, we should not and will not forget our parents, aunts, and uncles and will continue to push towards ultimately Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” said Giancarlo, core member of the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition or NJDAC. .

Meanwhile leaders in the Filipino community talked about the need to build a strong immigrant movement. Jonna Baldres, Deputy Secretary General of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) gave a comprehensive presentation on the socio-economic factors that lead to forced migration.  “We only want to provide for our families but our governments are forcing us to migrate to look for livelihood elsewhere, separating us from our loved ones.  We must come together, stand up and fight against the 1% that exploits us.  It is only just for us to demand respect, dignity, wages, benefits and rights that are rightfully ours and due to us,  until we achieve full legalization for all,” said Ms. Baldres.

According to statistics, an estimated 2 million individuals nationwide and 40,000 in New Jersey can be eligible for deferred action.  “It is important to note, however, that Deferred Action is not so much an achievement of the Obama administration, as it is the product of thousands of Dream Activists and allied organized forces, who continue to put pressure on US lawmakers in order to assert their rights as undocumented youth,” Bea Sabino, Chairperson of AnakBayan New Jersy, added. Community leaders urge the immigrant community to stay informed, be vigilant and organize support for comprehensive immigration reform.

Anakbayan New Jersey called on the Filipino youth to take part in fighting for immigrant rights. “Filipinos are the second largest immigrant community in the United States.  We come from five centuries worth of migration history, which includes notable personalities like Philip Vera Cruz and Carlos Bulosan, who dedicated their lives to fighting for the civil rights of immigrant workers.  Our identity as young Filipinos in America is deeply rooted in that history; hence, we must step up in continuing the struggle against racism, exploitation, illegalization and criminalization of immigrants. At this juncture in US immigration policy, we must always keep in mind that, undocumented or not, every human being has rights to education, fair and just wages, healthcare and the due process of law,” concluded Ms. Sabino.

The Community Forum on Immigration Reform: Deferred Action was organized by Anakbayan New Jersey and was endorsed and co-sponsored by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Philippine Forum-New Jersey, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC), Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Action 21, and the Saint Peter’s College Social Justice Program.

On August 25, the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition will be holding a free Deferred Action application drive from 11am to 5pm at the Paul Robeson Campus Center located at 350 Martin Luther King Blvd. Newark, NJ 07102.  For more information please contact NJDAC at

Struggle for National Democracy as the Only Path for Change

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Struggle for National Democracy as the Only Path for Change

Anakbayan-USA joins Filipinos across the US on July 23rd to expose the outright lies and deception of the US-puppet regime of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as he delivers his third State of the Nation Address.  We call on the Filipino youth to fulfill its revolutionary role as the hope of the nation by fully participating in our people’s struggle for genuine change which can only be realized through achieving National Democracy.

Success and Progress For Whom?

Aquino’s mythology of taking a “Righteous Path” only serves the interests of the ruling class and US imperialism.  He hypes the 6.4% gross domestic product growth rate as a sign of success, but this so-called “growth” only benefits the top 1% of Filipinos – the big landlords and big corporations.  Despite the global economic crisis, the top 40 richest Filipinos doubled their wealth from $23 billion in 2009 to a total $47.4 billion in 2011.  Meanwhile, working families are experiencing deepening poverty and economic hardship.  This is made possible through Aquino’s economic centerpiece, the Public-Private Partnership program, which increases the privatization and commercialization of vital services such as health and education.  Approximately 26 public hospitals are to be turned over to private corporations and 1.4 million urban poor families are in danger of being displaced in order to make way for business projects of private corporations.

By deregulating the costs of tuition and repeatedly cutting the budget for public schools, Aquino has made education inaccessible to the majority of Filipino youth.  There is a rising number of college dropouts due to the fact that public schools are now as expensive as private schools.  Currently, 50% of children age 11-15 are out-of-school.  Aquino’s conversion to a K-12 educational system only serves the demands of the foreign labor market by producing more semi-skilled workers to be exploited in low-paying jobs overseas.  It does not create genuine economic development for the Philippines.  Meanwhile, the great majority of youth continue to be unemployed or underemployed under short-term contractual jobs.

Aquino maintains and imposes this unjust order through Oplan Bayanihan, the US-dictated counter insurgency program that unleashes violence on the civilian population and continues the previous Arroyo regime’s blatant disregard for human rights.  At least one community leader or activist is killed every week, amounting to a total of 100 victims of extrajudicial killings.  This brutal counter insurgency program is funded by $30 million in military aid from our US tax dollars.

Selling-Out the Philippines’ Sovereignty

Aquino is pushing to further entrench the Philippines as a vassal state of US imperialism.  He pretends to be ultra-patriotic against China’s muscle flexing in the disputed territories of Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands, while openly allowing the intrusion of US military forces in the Philippines.  Currently, there are 4,500 US troops in the Philippines.  Predator drones are deployed for surveillance and bombing operations, particularly in Mindanao. Nuclear-capable warships and submarines dock for service in the Philippine shores.  What’s worse, Aquino has illegally given permission for the reopening of former US military bases in the Philippines.  All of these treasonous acts are in complete disregard and violation of the provisions in the Philippine Constitution of 1987 that prohibit foreign troops.

National Democracy vs. Aquino’s “Righteous Path”

The current state of the Philippine nation clearly tells us that Aquino’s “Righteous Path” is leading us towards greater poverty, hunger and exploitation.  It also clearly tells us that the only true solution is to continue and intensify our struggle for national liberation and genuine people’s democracy.

The struggle for National Democracy is the movement to achieve genuine independence by liberating the country from foreign control and establishing a truly democratic people’s government that is run by the working people themselves.  It is the fulfillment of the concrete needs and interests of the majority in the Philippines, particularly the peasants and workers which comprise 90% of the population.

Through implementing a genuine agrarian reform, land monopolies of the major landlords like the Cojuangco-Aquinos will be dismantled and distributed to the landless peasants, liberating 75% of the population from a backward and exploitative condition.  This land reform serve as the foundation for national industrialization that will enable us to tap the rich natural resources of the Philippines for benefit of our people.  It is only through national industrialization that we can create full employment for the Filipino people and put an end to the systematic export of migrant labor as a means of survival.

Under this new system, free quality health care and education will be available for all.  The guarantee of political and civil rights will ensure the full development and participation of the people towards true social progress.

Youth as the Hope of the Nation

It is apparent that there is no bright future for the Filipino youth and people under the current political, economic, and social system in the Philippines.  Now more than ever, it is urgent that Filipino youth combine with all the sectors of Philippine society to replace the current system with one that truly serves their interests.

As chapters of Anakbayan are now being established across the US, Canada, and Australia, we have an important role in spreading awareness to the international community of our people’s struggle for freedom.  As Filipino youth overseas, we must arouse, organize and mobilize the people to address the needs of our community abroad and strengthen international support for the struggle for National Democracy, the only genuine solution to the problems in the Philippines.

It is only by fully participating and contributing to the struggle for national democracy can we concretely fulfill our role as the true hope of the nation.

Reject the Lies of the US-Aquino Regime!

US Troops Out of the Philippines!

Increase the Budget for Education and Social Services!

Advance the Struggle for National Democracy in the Philippines!


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. ###

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!.”