For Immediate Release
July 13, 2015
Reference: Jackelyn Mariano, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN USA, email@example.com.
Countdown to Congress: BAYAN-USA Celebrates 10 Victories and Its 10th Anniversary
BAYAN USA, an alliance of anti-imperialist and progressive Filipino organizations, has been building up to its 5th National Congress and 10th Anniversary Celebration by commemorating the many victories that the alliance has achieved to advance the national democratic movement of the Philippines and social justice movements in the United States. BAYAN USA’s 5th Congress will take place on July 18-19, 2015, at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, immediately following the International People’s Tribunal on Crimes of the US-Aquino Regime. The Congress carries the theme Isang Dekada, Isang Laban / One Decade, One Fight: From the Philippines to Ferguson: Resist State Repression, Fight for Liberation!
Here are 10 of BAYAN USA’s Victories in no particular order:
1. Surfacing of our fellow community organizer Melissa Roxas. On May 19th, 2009, while on a medical mission in Tarlac, Melissa Roxas became a victim of a human rights violation when she was abducted at gunpoint and held against her will for six days, while being subject to physical and psychological torture until her surfacing in Quezon City on May 25, 2009. Our alliance took to the streets and demanded her release, brought international attention to her case, and to this day we continue our commitment to demand justice for Melissa and other victims of state repression and violence!
2. Playing a leadership role in a major protest action against Royal Dutch Shell that recently took place on the weekend of May 16, 2015. Approximately 2,000 protesters, including members of BAYAN USA Pacific Northwest, gathered both in the water, on kayaks and boats, and on the shores of Elliott Bay in Seattle, Washington, to send a united message to Royal Dutch Shell and to policy makers: no to Arctic drilling and yes to a Just Transition. Organizers surrounded Royal Dutch Shell’s Polar Pioneer oil drilling rig to fight Arctic drilling, runaway U.S. consumption, and the fossil fuel economy which are connected to escalating climate catastrophes in vulnerable countries such as the Philippines, Maldives, and Bangladesh. From the Arctic to the Philippines, end imperialist plunder!
3. Raising our voices against the neoliberal scheme of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which is disguised as a healthy boost for the global economy, but will essentially trash decent jobs and wages in the Global North and exploit low-wage workers, natural resources, the environment, and national sovereignty in the Global South. The U.S. Congress recently passed a Fast-Track Bill that will potentially expedite the implementation of the TPP, but BAYAN USA firmly stands against any move to put profits over people!
4. Decade-long tradition of sending US-based activists on annual exposure trips and international solidarity missions to the Philippines, which allow us to experience first hand the conditions of Filipino people from all sectors of society and learn from their grassroots organizing strategies to build national democracy in the homeland. Upon their return to the US, participants have borne witness to the people they met and their experiences with report-backs, media interviews, photo and art exhibits, and emotional sharings to inspire even more people to get involved in the struggle for national democracy in the Philippines. Long live international solidarity!
5. Sending steady support to BALSA for relief and rehabilitation of neglected communities devastated by typhoons–from Ondoy to supertyphoon Haiyan in 2013. We remain relentless in our efforts because the typhoon victims rely on people-to-people organizing for their survival, while the Philippine government treats millions of victims with criminal negligence and pockets funds that should be used for infrastructure development and disaster preparedness. We demand development for the people and climate justice now!
6. Readily mobilizing to the White House in 2009, when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to secure President Obama’s promise of continued US military aid to the Philippines to operate the brutal counterinsurgency plan Oplan Bantay Laya. Throughout Arroyo’s term, BAYAN-USA and our allies protested GMA each time she visited cities throughout the US including Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, to voice our opposition to her bloody counterinsurgency program and her bankrupt economic policies. We remind the ruling class that our alliance is unafraid to show up to their turf to challenge their status quo of repression and oppression!
7. Exhibiting strength and ability to mobilize in support of comrades in need, despite harsh winters and blizzards. In the winter of 2010, BAYAN USA mobilized in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York City to demand the release of the Morong 43. The 43 health professionals and workers serving rural communities in need of medical care were illegally arrested in February 2010 by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on false charges of illegal possession of firearms. Their arrest is an example of the Philippines’ culture of impunity to commit human rights violations and the ruling class’s tactic of red baiting activists who are genuinely serving the needs of the people. BAYAN USA mobilized to confront the Philippine government officials everywhere they went in the US until the Morong 43 were freed 10 months after their illegal arrest! End impunity!
8. Showing genuine solidarity with our allies at various fronts of the struggle against imperialism and other systems of oppression. By showing up we recognize and empathize with the particular oppressions that different sectors of society face, and link our struggles together to build a broad alliance to fight back and win power for our respective communities! We have mobilized to major mass protests including Occupy Wall Street, the Anti-NATO/G8 march in Chicago in 2012, Black Lives Matter, Trans Day of Action/Remembrance, immigrant and migrant rights, and Palestinian Liberation, among others. All power to the people!
9. Exposing the true conditions of Philippine society year after year by mobilizing the People’s State of the Nation Address because we know that to solve the Filipino people’s basic problems, we have to deal with the material and concrete conditions that they are facing, and address them at their roots. The Filipino people’s demands will not be overshadowed by the deceptive theatrics of the US-puppet heads of state of the Philippines!
10. Repeating our call for President BS Aquino to RESIGN and standing up to him in person when he came to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York in 2014. While Aquino was giving a speech at the World Leaders’ Forum at Columbia University in NYC in September 2014, BAYAN USA activists confronted Aquino inside and outside the venue to address issues of land reform on Hacienda Luisita and unfurled banners denouncing government corruption and impunity. From afar and to his face, BAYAN USA will hold Aquino accountable for his wrongs against the Filipino people! #AquinoResign or be ousted!
To read about our victories and learn more about BAYAN USA’s 5th Congress and 10th Anniversary, please visit bayanusa.org or facebook.com/bayanusapage.
BAYAN USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing students, scholars, women, workers, artists, and youth. As the first and largest international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist and progressive Filipinos in the U.S.