Contact: Gary Labao
Interim Northeast Coordinator, BAYAN-USA
NEW YORK– Over 100 gathered at the Gallery Bar last Wednesday in the Lower East Side as hip hop artists shared their talents to help raise awareness about the upcoming May 2010 elections in the Philippines and the anticipation of a consequent spike in human rights abuses in the country. Dubbed “Power in Numbers”, the concert is part of a series of concerts across the country being organized by BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations in the United States and largest overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines.
Performances included Rogue Pinay of Seattle, Gabriel Teodoros and Khingz of the Seattle hip-hop duo Abyssinian Creole, Deep Foundation Crew of New York and New Jersey, and local DJ’s Boo and Otis.Throughout the evening, members of BAYAN USA organizations Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, and Anakbayan NY/NJ took to the stage to talk about the integrity of the May 2010 elections in the Philippines, anticipated election fraud and cheating, and the campaign to stop the national counter-insurgency program of the Arroyo government known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).
The United Nations and various other international human rights groups have denounced Arroyo’s OBL for targeting unarmed civilian activists critical of the Arroyo regime rather than it intended target– armed rebels in the countryside. With both the Arroyo presidency and OBL scheduled to end by June of this year, BAYAN USA is part of the international campaign to monitor the national elections as a means to preempt electoral-related violence the likes of the Maguindanao Massacre last November, which claimed 57 lives, including those of 30 journalists, all in the name of a rivalry between two local warlord politicians both vying for the gubernatorial seat in the province of Maguindanao. It is expected that the Arroyo government will seek to accelerate the intensity of OBL before June before it officially exits.
The concert, which took place the eve of Tax Day, compelled audience members to join the ongoing campaign to stop OBL and other human rights abuses perpetrated by the Philippine government and its military by demanding the US government stop allocating billions in US tax dollars to the Philippine government. BAYAN USA also called attention to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s scheme to stay in government post-Malacanang by running for Congress as a means to escape the thousands of criminal charges waiting to be filed against her for gross cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal detentions, torture, and forced displacement of communities.
For more information about the Power in Number Concert Series of BAYAN USA, visit www.bayanusa.org.