Filipino women in the United States, young and old alike, are uniting with a single message on the occasion of March 8th, recognized as International Women’s Day: “Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a disgraceful image of the Filipina and definitely not a role model for us. Best way to advance the struggles of Filipino women now is to oust Arroyo.”
This message came from the female ranks of BAYAN USA, a U.S. chapter of the national alliance in the Philippines with over 12 organizations in the U.S. under its belt. The U.S. chapter has been active with actions in multiple U.S. cities calling for the ouster of Arroyo since last year, while many within the ranks of BAYAN in the Philippines, a continuous voice of criticism against the Arroyo regime, have been killed, jailed, or victimized by rampant human rights violations under Arroyo’s military command.
The Philippines is one of a handful of nations around the world that have carried not one, but two female presidents in their country’s history.
“We, young Filipinas in the U.S., do not look up to Gloria at all, but are in fact shamed by her. Let’s not forget, she cheated her way into the position with election fraud. So she really isn’t the duly-elected head of state,” states Berna Ellorin, a New York-based representative of BAYAN USA.
According to the alliance, the declaration of PP1017 weeks ago has brought false charges of rebellion and/or unjust arrest to over 51 individuals, all vocal critics of the Arroyo regime. Among them is progressive partylist leader Liza Maza, a pro-people legislator who has committed her life to the genuine advancement of women’s struggles in the Philippines.
“This is the woman who has single-handedly resurrected martial law in the Philippines. More and more Filipinos are suffering under Arroyo’s martial rule, and the democratic struggles of women in the Philippines, the majority of whom are poor peasants and workers, are driven backward under Arroyo’s moral, political, and economic bankruptcy,” states Marisa Mariano of the San Francisco-based women’s organization babae, also a member of BAYAN.
Highlights of the last tumultuous year under Arroyo have been a dramatic skyrocket in unemployment rates, a declared fiscal crisis driven by rampant government corruption, and the controversial Value Added Tax (VAT) which Arroyo lauded as the necessary measure to uplift the country’s ailing economic problems against the beaten backs of the impoverished Filipino majority.
Amongst the most outstanding events that has galvanized the call for ouster from more and more Filipino women is the subservience displayed by Arroyo to the U.S. military and a passive attitude towards the alleged gang-rape of a Filipina by 6 U.S. Marines last November.
“This is a woman who also not only refused to stand up for another Filipina and the entire nation behind her when she was gang-raped by 6 U.S. Marines, she is the number one proponent for the continuation of rape and other sexual violations against Filipino women nationwide through her support of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and her welcoming of thousands of U.S. troops to Philippine shores throughout her term,” Ellorin continued.
The alliance also asserted that if not for opposition pressures coming from the popular people’s movement on the streets led by BAYAN and others, Arroyo’s push for the intensification of direct U.S. political, economic, and military intervention under her Charter Change (Cha-Cha) which pose major threats to the livelihood of all Filipinos, could go unchecked.
“As a concerned Filipina woman with two young daughters to raise I want to empower them with the sense of social responsibility and value for civil rights, liberties, and freedoms– which is the antithesis of the Arroyo regime” states Rachel Redondiez, secretary-general of BAYAN USA. “Instead I am teaching my daughters of the daily struggles of Filipino women, the importance of building a strong peoplesâ€™ movement to advance these struggles, and why Arroyo must be ousted. It is the best message for parents to give.”
BAYAN USA vowed to continue their call for a Gloria-free Philippines and the establishment of a transition council in her place while taking to the streets in massive anti-war protests across the U.S. on Saturday, March 18th, the 3rd anniversary of the U.S. military occupation in Iraq, of which Arroyo has been an avid supporter.
Berna Ellorin, Media Officer, BAYAN USA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org