Contact: Kuusela Hilo
Deputy Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
Los Angeles, CA – Filipino Americans from Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, New Jersey, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco assembled Friday, March 27, 2009 at 10am at the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles to protest the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Friday’s mobilization to “Junk the VFA” assembled community activists in front of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles to open this weekend’s 3rd Congress of BAYAN USA. “We have a duty to stand by our people back home and call for the termination of the VFA,” stated Berna Ellorin, Secretary General of BAYAN USA.
Ellorin continues, “The VFA and the fight to terminate are rightfully at the forefront of our consciousness as we start this Congress.”
The 3rd BAYAN USA Congress is scheduled for March 27 – 29, 2009 at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center where more than 150 delegates and observers from major U.S. cities will meet to coordinate national campaigns dealing with immigration, the economic recession, and human rights violations in the Philippines.
The VFA, ratified in 1999 is a one sided arrangement between the United States and the Philippines. The VFA provides US air, naval, and ground forces to “visit” the Philippines to hold joint exercises with the Philippine military. It provides special privileges and legal protections to US service members stationed in the Philippines. The most recent injustice allowed by the VFA enabled a US serviceman, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, to evade his criminal verdict. In December 2006, Smith was tried in Philippine courts and found guilty of raping “Nicole” a Filipina.