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Filipino people’s moves for immigration reform led by people’s organizations, not envoys; Arroyo, Romulo still shamefully silent on immigrant debate in the US

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New York– Filipinos in the US active in the ongoing nationwide demonstrations denouncing immigration bills such as the Sensenbrenner-King Bill and pushing for immigration reforms are affirming that inaction from the Arroyo administration, including overseas consuls in the US, contribute vastly to the blanket vulnerability and repression of overseas Filipinos who avail of no concrete program of protection from the Philippine goverment.

“It is up to Filipinos themselves to educate, organize, and protect their communities here in the US. Consulates may be now learning about this hot debate in the Senate right now over immigration legislation, but their efforts still fall short. It is the Filipino community, through the work of genuine peoples organizations, that have been conducting the critical work to fight for the rights, protection and civil liberties of Filipinos in the US,” states Robyn Rodriguez of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), and a member of the local Justice 4 Immigrants Filipino Coalition in New York.

Rodriguez referred to a recent “Pulong Bayan” at the Philippine Consulate in New York last week to discuss the Sensenbrenner-King bill. In light of the massive lobbying campaign in Washington of at least eleven labor-sending countries in Latin America who sent foreign ministers to fight for immigration reform, attendees cornered [Consulate General] Cecilia Rebong to remark on a definitive RP government position on the immigration debate. Rebong replied by justifying why the Arroyo government should not intervene in US political affairs.

“Just as US government does not intervene in our internal political affairs, so must we refrain from intervening on this issue,” Rebong stated.

“First of all, the US DOES intervene in the political affairs of the Philippine government, and second, this inaction coming from Malacanang is the height of OFW (overseas Filipino worker) repression of which the Arroyo is directly accountable. This is an administration that benefits greatly from the dollar remittances of Filipinos in the US. Yet she does nothing when our welfare is at stake, when other countries are doing the right thing and speaking out,” Rodriguez responded.

NYCHRP, a member of the overseas alliance of Filipino organizations known as Migrante International and of BAYAN USA, cited the coordination of protest actions in the Philippines led by Migrante and BAYAN at the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier today and at the US embassy in Manila next week. The actions are in solidarity with the ongoing immigrant mobilizations in the US and to demand Arroyo’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo take a stand in protection of the approximately 4 million US Filipinos who stand to be affected drastically if a strict enforcement-type immigration law is passed.

References: Robyn Rodriguez, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email: