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Arroyo not welcomed by all Fil-Ams, lavish US trip lends burden to already poor economy

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Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of over 12 Filipino organizations in the United States, denounces the secret agenda of Philippine Head of State Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for pushing through with her lavish travel junket #2 to the US to attend upcoming 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations in New York starting this week. According to Philippine Secretary of State Eduardo Ermita, Arroyo will be bringing along at least 71 lawmakers, security, and administrative officials along for the ride. The hotel and food expenses alone for this trip would be enough to feed several poor villages in the Philippines, a country that remains in economic shambles after the devastation of last summer’s hurricane, the food crisis, the declining Philippine peso pegged to the US dollar, and now the ongoing conflict and destabilization in Mindanao. Moving forward with a US trip of such extreme proportions at this time is unconscionable for any state leader, but yet again Arroyo manages to prove, as with her governance of the Philippines, she is not guided by moral conscience, but rather greed.

It was just last June that Arroyo was in New York with over 50 other Philippine officials charging up a million-dollar tab on the Philippine economy. While Hurricane Frank stormed through the Philippines, killing hundreds and devastating thousands, Arroyo and her entourage continued to wine and dine their way through the posh locations of Manhattan. While the MV Princess of the Stars sank to the bottom of the ocean, Arroyo sank to an all-time low by ignoring the emergency in her country and deciding to stay on the United States, with the objective of meeting top Washington officials to secure more foreign financing for her murderous military officials.

On top of it all, Arroyo remains intent in pursuing millions in US corporate funds with the Philippines’ eligibility status for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government-supervised institute funding state governments abroad under the auspices of good governance and poverty aid. The Philippine government’s eligible status for the MCC compact grant continues to escape our comprehension, as the Arroyo government’s popularity in the Philippines and with Filipinos abroad is plummeting at a rapid rate. In order to secure their claim to the MCC compact grant for development, Arroyo will travel to the United Nations to boast of fictitious achievements in alleviating poverty, human rights violations, and economic regression.

Favoritism from the US government towards the Philippines at this point, as with any foreign financing project of the US, takes it cue from the historically unequal and neocolonial relationship between the big white father of the West and the little brown brother of the East. Through Arroyo’s puppet and subservient government, the US government is able to advance its agenda to expand its control over the abundance of natural resources in the Philippines, starting with the deep oil and gold reserves of Mindanao, as well as fisheries, coral reefs, and the vast forestry throughout the country. The Bush partnership with the Arroyo administration is also vital in the restoration of permanent US military bases in the Philippines, securing unwanted US military stronghold over the region and protecting US corporate interests. The current US-Arroyo campaign of bloody counter-insurgency in the country is another glaring example of this.

Now the Arroyo administration, fully intent on extending its power past 2010, is poising itself for more US government support from the next elected US presidency. It is becoming more and more clear with every visit to the United States that the Arroyo administration seeks sustenance from its master, just as a parasite seeks nourishment from a host, without benefiting the host, and sometimes killing it. There is absolutely no good that will come from more US financial aid promised to the Arroyo administration. All financial proceeds will surely be channeled to beefing up the operations of Philippine death squads, the pockets of Arroyo’s cronies, and securing US military presence in the country. At the same time, US taxpayers, who generate the dollars that become US aid to the Philippines, continue to be deprived of basic social services, including education, housing, and healthcare. This, in the midst of the largest US financial meltdown since the 1920’s, should not be the direction our tax dollars take.

We demand that the US government withdraw all financial support to the Arroyo administration, including revoking the Philippines’ MCC Compact Eligible status. We demand a review of the decisions and recommendations made to the Philippine government during the 2007 US Senate hearing that examined the trend of extrajudicial killings and enforces abductions that number in the thousands. We demand that Arroyo resign from her office at once, and appeal to the pro-people forces in the Philippine Congress to impeach her. Lastly, we fully support and are one with the popular street movement in the Philippines to peacefully remove Arroyo from her position by extra-constitutional means.

For the sake of motherland, its natural treasures, its remittance-sustained economy, and our tax dollars, Arroyo must step down.