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City of San Francisco to join international call for end to political killings in the Philippines

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Contact: Princess Bustos, League of Filipino Students

Resolution Introduced Urging Mayor Gavin Newsom to Deliver San Franciscans Condemnation of Human Rights Crisis to Philippine President on His Upcoming Trip to the Philippines

San Francisco, CA–This past Tuesday, November 14, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced a resolution condemning rampant political killings in the Philippines. The resolution comes just one week before Mayor Newsom heads a delegation of the San Francisco-Manila Sister Cities Committee to the Philippines.

If passed, this resolution would be the first declaration of policy by a major U.S. City legislature to condemn the political killings and call on GMA to allow for an independent investigation.

“This resolution is in keeping with San Francisco’s long established reputation as a City that not only upholds the civil and human rights of our diverse communities but also as a City that stands up against human rights violations taking place in other parts of the world” says Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the principal sponsor of the legislation.

There have been more than 765 political killings during President Arroyo’s 5 year term. In 2006 alone, there has been an average of 1 killing every 4 days taking the lives of priests, labor leaders, student organizers and others who have been outspoken critics of the Arroyo administration. In San Francisco, a city with more than 40,000 Filipino residents, these abuses hit close to home.

The resolution comes at the heels of recent statements made by U.S. based companies and retail giants against the atrocities being committed under GMA’s administration. In a letter to President Macapagal-Arroyo co-signed by San Francisco based GAP Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility, the U.S. business executives stated that “NGO’s should be able to express their views and carry out their legitimate role freely and without fear of violence. It is important that we and other companies doing business in the Philippines remain confident in the government’s commitment to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the rule of law.”

“This resolution would be an important contribution to the increasing international pressure for President Arroyo’s accountability in over 765 political killings that have taken place during her administration,” said Princess Bustos, Chairperson of the League of Filipino Students at San Francisco State University.

The League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University, the main proponent of the resolution, has been working to raise awareness about the worsening human rights crisis in the Philippines. This past summer, the student group led a delegation of over a dozen Bay Area students and educators to conduct a fact-finding mission on the killings. One of the student leaders they were supposed to meet was Reimon Guran, an LFS member at Aquinas University in Albay. However, a few days before their arrival, Reimon was killed while riding a bus by still unidentified assailants who shot him several times in the face.

“It is no coincidence that most of the victims are those who have been outspoken critics against Gloria’s election fraud, corruption, and human rights violations. Mayor Newsom’s visit to the Philippines is an opportunity for our City to convey to Gloria our strong condemnation of the killings which is widely believed to be committed by military agents under her command,” said Princess Bustos. ###