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Getting rid of Bush means getting rid of Arroyo too! Filipino-Americans respond to Obama’s inaugural speech with a call for accountability

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Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA

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Washington DC– Joining dozens of other Filipino-American advocates in front of the Philippine Embassy on Martin Luther King Day, and on the eve of the historic inauguration of US President Barack Obama, member organizations of the US Chapter of Bagong Alyasang Makabayan (BAYAN USA) staged an eye-catching “tsinelas-throwing party” to celebrate the official term end of the Bush administration. BAYAN USA member groups NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Anakbayan NY/NJ, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment also pointed out that while Bush may be gone from the White House, his unpopular foreign policy is still enforced worldwide, especially in the Philippines.

“Truly getting rid of Bush means getting rid of [Philippine President] Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as well, since she is Bush’s strongest and most loyal enforcer in Asia,” stated Chito Quijano, BAYAN USA Chairperson, who traveled all the way from Los Angeles to join the DC action. “Arroyo is one failed remnant of the Bush regime we would also like to see go as soon as possible.”

Staying for the historic inauguration of Barack Obama the next day, the BAYAN USA Chair also urged vigilance and caution in holding the new President accountable to his words. “Though we are inspired by his words, we cannot afford to hold any illusion that the change we can believe in will be ushered in by any one leader. It must be ushered in through active and diligent people’s struggle and mass movement. This is what history teaches us,” Quijano continued.

Quijano pointed out Obama’s inaugural speech sounded promising in terms of condemning world leaders “who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent” as standing “on the wrong side of history.”

“We must work even harder to hold President Obama accountable to these important words, because they describe Arroyo to a tee,” Quijano stated, referring to the human rights crisis and rampant government corruption that still plagues the Philippines under the Arroyo administration with approximately 1000 victims of extra-judicial killings, over 300 enforced disappearances, and thousands more forcefully displaced or killed in the countryside due to violent militarization.

Amongst the foreign policy changes BAYAN USA members vowed to continue struggling for are a withdrawal of US troops from the Philippines, withdrawal of US economic aid to the Philippine death squads, dismantling of permanent US military bases in Mindanao, and a withdrawal of diplomatic relations between the Obama administration and the Arroyo administration until such time Arroyo is unseated. Amongst the US domestic policy changes are legalization for the undocumented in the US, swift family reunification for immigrant families separated due to the US immigration system.