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New York Fil-Ams launch people’s SONA; call to save the “MV Philippines” by unseating Gloria

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Contact: Christina Hilo
Northeast Regional Coordinator, BAYAN USA

NEW YORK– New Yorkers will join Filipino organizations on Monday, July 28th, 6pm in front of the Philippine Consulate (5th Ave bet. 45th and 46th Sts.) in Manhattan to launch a “People’s State of the Nation Address” or “People’s SONA” and expose the lies and deception to be sown by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the same day in Manila. According to Filipino-American alliance BAYAN USA, Arroyo will use the day as a platform to desensitize the Filipino people to the true economic and political state of the Philippine nation, which has been undergoing a severe and intensifying economic crisis, manifested by rising prices of oil, rice, and other basic commodities.

“SONA is a time not only for lies from Malacanang, but the largest street demonstrations in the Philippines the whole year round. Social unrest over the true state of the nation is at an all-time high,” states Gary Labao, a member of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines or NYCHRP, also a member organization of BAYAN USA. “Even though we are overseas, the call to remove Arroyo from her presidential seat is a worldwide sentiment. She is a traitor to the Filipino people and a failure as a state leader.”

Ironically a US-educated economist, the Philippine economy under Arroyo’s presidency has weakened considerably. High government demand for remittances from overseas Filipino workers has pushed more and more Filipinos to work abroad than ever before. With only these remittances keeping the Philippine economy afloat, more and more overseas Filipino workers are disapproving of Arroyo-style governance and calling for a change in leadership.

Overseas Filipino groups in New York will also highlight the reality of human trafficking by various means, including the case of the Sentosa 27++, illegally recruited Filipino teachers, and domestic helpers.

The New York demonstration will be part of a nationwide day of action for BAYAN USA, with same day actions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. BAYAN organizations in Canada will also be launching coordinated actions.

The US-based mobilizations will feature visuals such as the the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars, which tragically sank last month when a major typhoon swept through the Philippines, killing hundreds and devastating thousands more. The US groups will liken the tragedy to the state of the Philippines as a country sinking under the throes of the Arroyo government, while the Arroyo herself ignores the crisis and goes to the US looking for more financial aid, as she did last month during the ship’s sinking.

BAYAN USA member organizations in New York include NYCHRP, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) and Anakbayan New York/New Jersey.