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No Hawaiian vacation for Arroyo; protest actions to hound GMA’s visit to Honolulu

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References: Daya Mortel, Anakbayan Honolulu,
Chito Quijano, Vice-Chair, BAYAN-USA,

Honolulu, Hawaii–Protest actions are set to confront the visit of Philippine Head of State Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her visit to Honolulu this September 16th. Filipinos and allies are set to highlight President’s ingenuine actions on the rabid escalation and onslaught of politically-motivated killings in the Philippines.

There are currently over 748 victims of political killings and over 184 cases of forced disappearances since Arroyo took office in 2001. The frequency of killings is now near-daily. Most victims have been members of the national alliance BAYAN and members of progressive partylists such as Bayan Muna. All have been open critics of the administration, and members of people’s organizations demanding reforms.

The Filipino group Anakbayan at the University of Hawaii and the overseas chapter of BAYAN based in the United States will initiate the protest actions outside of the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu. There, Arroyo is scheduled to unveil a sakada statue celebrating 100 years of Filipino migration to Hawaii at 5:30pm. Prior to that, she will also visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, where she will dedicate a marker commemorating 60 years of friendship between the United States and the Philippines at 4pm.

Arroyo is also scheduled to stay at the Hilton Waikiki, where heated contract negotiations with the hotel management could very well drive the hotel workers, the many of whom are Filipino, to strike.

“It is a disgrace to the century of hardworking Filipino migrants, beginning with the sakadas (farm workers) to today’s Filipino immigrants, who came precisely to flee economic and political turmoil back home to celebrate our centennial of struggle by glorifying a US-funded dictatorship that is quickly growing more isolated from the Filipino and international community,” states Daya Mortel of Anakbayan and a member of BAYAN-USA.

Arroyo’s alarming human rights record has already sparked an international deluge of reports and statements of condemnation from Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Watch, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and the World Council of Churches.

“The most patriotic act all Filipinos can do, wherever they are, is to denounce the Arroyo regime for its crimes against the Filipino people. The killings of our compatriots must stop, and Arroyo must be held accountable,” Mortel added.

Arroyo has been consistently greeted with protests in her visits to the US over the last several years. During her last visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York to preside of over the UN Security Council last September, fierce protest actions hounded her all the way to the Philippine Consulate in Manhattan.

Arroyo was among the first international leaders to offer total support to the Bush administration’s expansion of the War on Terror overseas. The ongoing war compact between the Bush and Arroyo regimes has included the massive re-entry of US troops throughout the archipelago, and an exponential boost in US military aid and weaponry to the Philippines. The now US-trained Philippine military is the most-cited perpetrator of political killings, marking a resurgence of US-funded “death squads”.

BAYAN-USA will also initiate various candlelight vigils in several US cities in coordination with several other countries in commemoration of the 34th anniversary of Martial Law in the Philippines. Protest actions are set across the Philippines on that day.