Broad Alliance Calls for an Immediate End to the Illegitimate Presidency
SAN FRANCISCO, CA–Filipinos across the U.S. joined the largest mass action in the Philippines calling for the immediate resignation of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on an international day of action on July 13 which brought 50,000 protestors to Makati. Macapagal Arroyo has been implicated in a massive electoral fraud scandal resulting from the discovery of taped conversations of Arroyo with Commissioner of Elections Virgilio Garcilliano. The tapes are just the latest in a long list of grievances against the Macapagal Arroyo administration, including entrenched nationwide poverty, violations of the constitution, neglecting the safety of over one million Filipinos working in the Middle East, spiraling debt, refusal to increase the minimum wage, and the record-setting number of state-sanctioned human rights violations against political opponents and civilians.
In New York, a lifesize Gloria cellphone with its popular ringtone met a picket of protestors at Filipino owned strorefronts in Woodside Queens. Dozens of protestors chanted and waved rows of BAYAN USA (New Patriotic Alliance) flags and colorful “GMA OUT” placards at the entrance of the Philippine Consulate in downtown San Francisco. Seattle’s Filipino Cultural Center was another venue for a community rally where a new hip hop piece was introduced by local artists dedicated to the crisis ridden president.
“GMA’s human rights record makes the late dictator Marcos look like a saint,” said Kawal Ulanday, chair of BAYAN-USA. “The number of recorded human rights violations committed under her watch—including killings of clergy, electoral candidates, and activists—has surpassed those committed under Marcos. Cheating to get elected is just one more violation of human rights—the right of the Filipino people to a truly representative, democratic government.”
Discontent with the Arroyo administration is a broad sentiment felt among the general public in the Philippines. According to a poll conducted by Pulse Asia, 72 percent of Metro Manilans surveyed in June 2005 distrusted Macapagal Arroyo and 68 percent disapproved of her presidential performance. These figures are the President’s highest distrust and disapproval rating in Metro Manila since she came to power in January 2001.
“The numbers speak for themselves: the people have no confidence in GMA, and she has no grounds to justify staying in power,” said Rachel Redondiez, secretary general of BAYAN-USA. “The U.S. government should stop coddling this bankrupt president and instead bow to the popular will of the Filipino people for genuine change.”
BAYAN-USA is calling for an interim transitional council representing democratic organizations and the most oppressed sectors of Filipino society, to ensure that whoever replaces Arroyo will have a plan for government reform and begin a new era of pro-people policies.
“Two million Filipinos live in the U.S. , and we are closely watching the current situation in the Philippines. As one of largest immigrant populations in America, we condemn any use of our taxpayer dollars for U.S.-Bush covert operations, political maneuvering or military intervention to influence any outcome in favor of U.S. capitalist interests or imperialist global aggression,” said Ulanday.
The protest was organized by BAYAN-USA and the U.S. Alliance 4 GMA Resignation.