Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
On the 36th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines under the US-backed dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Filipino-Americans under BAYAN USA are vowing to support the current movement to remove the current “undeclared dictator” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from her presidential seat.
“In many ways, she is worse than Marcos,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “While Marcos imprisoned his opposition, Arroyo’s death squads just kill them in broad daylight in front of the civilian eyes. It is still an undeclared martial law in our country.”
According to the most recent reports from Philippine human rights monitoring group Karapatan, approximately 1000 extrajudicial killings of civilian dissidents have been documented as of June 2008 under the Arroyo administration, while an additional approximation of 200 abducted. In the last nine months alone, more than 230,000 Filipinos have been have been victimized by forced evacuation and massive displacement due to extensive militarization in the countryside, which also spawns other terrorizing acts such as indiscriminate firing at civilians, hamletting, as well as harassment and intimidation by the US-backed Armed Forces of the Philippines on poor farming communities in the far-flung regions of the country.
“The US government is as responsible for the human rights atrocities committed in the last seven years of Arroyo’s regime, as it was guilty for crimes against humanity committed during the Marcos dictatorship,” declared Quijano.
Since 2002, hundreds of millions of US taxes have been allocated to the Philippines. This escalation of US-intervention followed the Philippines’ designation by Bush and his war-criminal cabinet as the “2nd front of the war on terror.”
Corruption is also remains at an all-time high under Arroyo. While the ZTE-NBN scandal has plagued the administration since last year, numerous cash payola bribery schemes and misappropriation of billions in government funds are strongly latched to Arroyo as well.
“It’s as if Arroyo is trying her best to mimic her idols, Ferdinand and Imelda, in terms of lavishness of lifestyle, human rights violations, and government corruption,” Quijano added.
“Now with armed conflict escalating in Mindanao, Arroyo is once again living up to the Marcos legacy,” Quijano continued. “Marcos spearheaded the all-out war in Mindanao by opening it up to the neoliberal dictates of transnational corporations. Arroyo continues the legacy by pitting the conflict as strife between Muslims and Christians. It is not. In fact, it is Arroyo’s and the US military who are the most violent aggressors in the region, seeking to evacuate Muslim and Christian communities alike in favor of mining companies, golf courses, and forced land conversions.”
Arroyo is set to come to the United States for the second time in the past 3 months, with her last visit in June raking in millions in expenses on hotels for herself and her 50+ entourage. She will be in the US again by September 23.
Despite the ongoing economic and political crises, Filipino-Americans are confident martial law tactics won’t defend Arroyo’s seat from a broad opposition movement. As in 1986 and 2001, Filipinos are once again clamoring for another unseating in Malacanang.
“There is a formula that has been proven time and time again in Philippine history. Repression against the people breeds resistance. Arroyo’s repression will be her own undoing, because it is forcing more and more Filipinos into action,” Quijano ended.