September 16, 2018
NEW YORK– Over 300 Filipinos from across the US gathered in New York City for the 6th Congress of the US Chapter of BAYAN, or BAYAN USA, which took place September 15-16. The Congress concluded with a march from Pershing Square- named after General John J. Pershing, a US general during the Philippine-American War known for the massacre of Moros at the turn of the 20th century- to the Philippine Consulate on Fifth Avenue to demand an end to US-supported fascism in the Philippines under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.
Since his election in 2016, President Duterte has boasted over his notorious drug war that has claimed over 20,000 lives, including extrajudicial killings of indigenous activists opposing foreign plunder of their ancestral lands, church advocates for the rural poor, and human rights activists documenting the actions of the Philippine military in the militarized communities.
BAYAN USA, an alliance of over 25 Filipino organizations in the US, has been part of the international clamor denouncing the drug war and the human rights crisis generated by the US-backed Duterte regime, particularly demanding an end to the Trump administration’s financial support to the Philippine military and Philippine National Police, as well as continuing US military presence in the country.
BAYAN USA and its supporters have also been vocally opposed to the Duterte administration’s economic policies, especially the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN Law. The tax reform bill lowers personal income tax while raising excise levies on fuel and other products. The law hits the poor hard, as the Philippine peso continues to depreciate, and prices of goods rise rapidly, with an inflation rate currently reaching 7%.
“The killings, militarization, and backbreaking poverty and hardship in the Philippines demonstrate that Rodrigo Duterte is the worst disaster to hit the country, more disastrous than any typhoon or calamity,” states Rhonda Ramiro, newly-elected chairperson of BAYAN USA. “We in BAYAN USA are committed to growing the US-based movement for genuine peace, sovereignty, and democracy in the Philippines, especially because it is the US government and its interests in the Philippines that play a historic role in shaping the Philippine economic and political ruling system.”
The final day of the BAYAN USA 6th Congress, which welcomed 11 new grassroots organizations, a majority of which are comprised of Filipino migrant workers, and concluding march and rally takes place 27 years after the historic decision of the Philippine Senate in 1991 to reject the renewal of the US military bases treaty, which led to the closing of the former permanent US military bases in Subic Bay and Clark Air Field. The landmark decision was a call for patriotism and to uphold Philippine sovereignty.