Contact: Joanne Alcantara
National Coordinator, GABRIELA-USA
Thirty-six years ago, on September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos, the former US-supported dictator of the Philippines, declared Martial Law in his country. The political repression, liberalization of economic policies and social constriction following his declaration claimed the lives of hundreds of Filipinos. Today, the historical trauma of that period and the continuation of backwards economic and political policies still resonate. Filipino American women denounce the ongoing militarization of the Philippines and the undeclared state of Martial
Law in the Philippines under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA).
The resonance of Martial Law can be more accurately described as an extension and continuation of graft and corruption from the Marcos dictatorship all the way through the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime. While she sits in her stolen presidential seat, GMA has washed her hands in the blood of over a thousand community leaders, activists and common people. GMA’s eagerness to bend over backwards to the dictates of United States politics and its IMF/World Bank appendages have outdone the assaults of Marcos on his own people.
The increasing conflict in Mindanao, falsely assigned religious undertones as its source, finds its origins in the years of Martial Law when Marcos engineered Philippine policies and legislation to open up to the demands and orders of countless transnational, multinational corporations and the then emerging IMF/World Bank. These grievances exacted on the people of Mindanao pushed the Bangsamoro people to fight against economic and state aggression to protect their land, life and resources.
The very same fight exists today in Mindanao, the violence erupting is from a people defending themselves and their land. The easy fallback story of Christians versus Muslims is one of the fables in GMA’s fictional legacy in her presidency, just like her claims to appease the poverty and labor situation in the Philippines. US-backed foreign intervention and the return of permanent US military bases is again a reality for the Philippine people under the watch and permission of the GMA administration.
The direct impacts of GMA’s foreign diplomacy results in the displacement of women and children in Mindanao, beginning with the arrival of US military occupation in 2001. Family homes, children’s schools and community spaces have been readily disposed to be replaced by military development and corporate aggression. The “collateral damage” and the lives of women and children taken by these settlements are shocking and continue to escalate.
The entrance of US military bases in Mindanao opens the doors for the proliferation of bases elsewhere in the Philippines, Zamboanga being a site for expansion. These conditions, tried and true, leave women more vulnerable to prostitution, sexual terrorism and rape with the arrival of military servicemen in the thousands.
GABRIELA-USA, consisting of babae, San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York, unite to call for a serious investigation of the US military encampments in the Philippines and a restoration of constitutional law and Philippine sovereignty. GABRIELA-USA demands that respect be reinstated to the people of Mindanao, that they be granted their ancestral domain and be able to live with the dignity of their full human rights.
On September 20, 2008, at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center, FiRE-GABRIELA USA hosts “On Martial Law.” This event features special guest Bebot Galvan from KABALIKAT, support network for Filipina domestic workers. Together, community members remember the conditions of Martial Law under Marcos, his overthrow during People Power I in 1986 and discuss today’s conditions of ongoing militarization and the call to oust Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES! US MILITARY AID OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!
NO TO ANOTHER GENERATION OF WAR ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN!
OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO!
SELF-DETERMINATON FOR THE BANGSAMORO PEOPLE!