Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
November 5, 2008
Contact: Marisa Mariano, Babae San Francisco, 415.333.6267, email@example.com
On the morning of this historic presidential election, Babae San Francisco acknowledges the renewed vigilance of the people of the United States in their demand for change. Let's take this time to not only recognize the historical significance of Senator Barack Obama's win for working people and all people of color in America, but to also serve as a reminder, as Obama himself stated, that our work does not end in this election.
The fight between what's best for the majority of people in America versus the rich minority will continue with this new Administration if not held accountable. As evidenced by the approval of the $700 billion dollar bailout of banks using taxpayer money, Babae recognizes that both Democratic and Republican parties exist to do the bidding of the corporate elite of this country.
Amidst a global financial crisis, a war that has ravaged our citizens for almost six years, unprecedented high rates of unemployment, and rising prices of basic commodities, America is indeed in need of change, and Senator Obama's electoral campaign was forged on the promises of fulfilling these changes. As Senator Obama begins this new journey forward as the next president of the United States, Babae encourages everyone to stand vigilant in ensuring that his promises are fulfilled. We must hold our new president accountable to our demands, and this can only be achieved by being involved and informed. "Our civic duties go beyond the polling booths," says Marisa Mariano, Chair of Babae. "We must organize ourselves into action if we want a different tomorrow. Obama has definitely inspired many people to believe that change can occur, but it is up to us to make that change happen, now that he's been elected."
Senator Obama has called to bring the troops home from the war on Iraq. Babae hopes that he will also do the same for the troops currently stationed in the Philippines. With $12 billion taxpayer dollars spent on this war in 2008 alone, Babae hopes this new administration will put a stop to US military aid to Philippines and instead, spend the money towards building sustainable universal healthcare for its citizens and improving our educational system as promised. To date, the Philippine government has received $30 million dollars of US military aid, even after United Nations reports of human rights violations committed by the Philippine military against the Filipino people.
It is only when the needs and interests of a country's citizens are prioritized can a true democracy be attained. As we move forward with a new president, Babae anticipates many challenges ahead and will keep a vigilant eye with hopes that the new Obama Administration reverses the broken economic and foreign policies of the Bush Adminstration and promote genuine peace and prosperity for all people around the world.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Reference: Joms Salvador, Spokesperson, 3712302 / 0918-9182150
The militant women’s group GABRIELA expressed alarm over the recent court decision sentencing to death a Filipina tutor in Taiwan .
“After the death of Venancio Ladion (aka Jenifer Bidoya) in Jeddah, we fear for the life of Cecilia Alcaraz, a mother of four, who worked as a tutor in Taiwan before she was arrested for allegedly killing a Taiwanese national,” said Joms Salvador, GABRIELA Spokesperson.
The women’s group said that the government’s lax attitude on Alcaraz case might result to another case of “too little, too late” as in the case of Bidoya.
“The case of Alcaraz started a year ago and we did not hear anything from the DFA until today when the death sentence was handed down,” said Salvador .
According to the women’s group, the family of Alcaraz voiced their dissatisfaction over the DFA’s response. According toRosalinda Armia, Alcaraz’ sister, the DFA only recently talked with them through the Manila Economic Cultural Office in Taiwan and merely updated them on their sister’s case. Armia also said that the next hearing for the appeal on her sister’s case is on October 24 and not November as announced by the DFA.
The women’s group said that GABRIELA, together with Migrante International, will join the family of Alcaraz in a dialogue with the DFA on Monday to discuss the case of Nemencia.
“The only way OFWs can get any help from the government is when their families and concerned groups relentless push DFA to take action.”
“The case of Alcaraz is another illustration of the sad plight of millions of OFWs especially women who are forced to leave the country because of poverty despite the many cases of injustices against OFWs in foreign countries.”
“For its part, the Philippine government seems to have forgotten the lesson from the unjust execution of Flor Contemplacion and continues to neglect our so-called modern-day heroes,” said Salvador . ###
Monday, October 13, 2008
13 October 2008
Reference: Emmi de Jesusi, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-3221203
RP MAIDS' SANITY AND LIVES ALSO AT RISK – GABRIELA
The militant women's group GABRIELA said that aside from jobs, Filipinas working as domestic helpers outside the country are now more vulnerable to abuse with the economic crunch.
"Employers who are reeling from the economic crisis will tend to be
more irritable and might pass on their feelings of helplessness at
their defenseless domestic helpers. It is not unthinkable that there
will be more cases of Filipinas loosing their sanity and lives should
this economic crisis result to more cases of abuse of Pinay domestic
helpers abroad," said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.
De Jesus said that Filipinas overseas have constantly been victims of
abuse. The women's group cited DFA data last month stating that more
than 1,000 migrant workers have been repatriated after experiencing
maltreatment from their employers.
According to the women's group, this vulnerability of Filipinas
working as domestic helpers abroad mirrors the weakness of the
government's migration program. "OFWs, especially domestic helpers,
are under the mercy of their foreign employers. Domestic helpers work
as individuals and their workplace confined within the home, mostly
isolated from the outside world making them more vulnerable to abuse,"
added de Jesus.
"The truth is there is no real development in forced migration.
Labor-export policy is a means to deflect the government's inutility
in providing jobs for its people within the country. This should serve
as a slap in the face of the Arroyo government as it nears hosting the
Global Forum on Migration and Development, bannering the erroneous
thesis that migration leads to development and that the Philippines is
its showcase," added de Jesus.
"The Philippine government insists that the fundamentals of the
Philippine economy is strong but the fact that it fears the return of
OFWs, as they anticipate massive lay off of Filipinos working
overseas, only shows that this seeming economic confidence is but a
farce," concluded de Jesus.###
09 October 2008
Source: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-322-1203
ON THE PINAY DH PROTRAYAL IN HARRY AND PAUL
Much has been said about the portrayal of a Filipina maid in the BBC comedy sketch "Harry and Paul." That it is racist and it demeans Filipinas specifically those who work as domestic helpers in foreign countries is undebatable, notwithstanding the supposed artistic license of the show's genre.
But the crux of this issue must go beyond the show, beyond seeking apology from the producers of the show. What should alarm and enrage every Filipino is the fact that the portrayal of the Filipina mirrors a growing view of Filipina women in foreign countries – that of domestic helpers prone to abuse and exploitation. This is not the first time that Filipinos working outside the country fall prey to racist depiction and comments. This will not be the last. Ultimately, accountable to this is the government's continued export of Filipinas as commodities in exchange for badly needed dollars.
GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines found the Filipina portrayal in "Harry and Paul" offensive. But more than that, we find the hypocrisy of the Philippine government revolting.
For decades now Filipinas overseas have been maltreated, raped and abused with nary an iota of concern from the Philippine government as in the case of Grace, an OFW in Kuwait raped by her employer and turned away by the Philippine embassy when she sought help. Nor was there this much show of indignation from the Arroyo government when the 22-year old "Hazel" was raped by a US soldier in Okinawa, Japan early this year.
The Philippine government is seeking public apology from the show's producers and the British Broadcasting Corporation not in defense of the Filipino dignity but in defense of its labor-export policy especially on the eve of the Philippine hosting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Philippine government is not affronted that Filipinas are being exported abroad as domestic helpers and/or entertainers vulnerable to ridicule, exploitation and abuse. The Philippine government is flustered the "anti-Pinay" portrayal in "Harry and Paul" mirrors the current state of many Filipina overseas workers, thus, puts into question its claim that the Philippines is the showcase of how migration leads to development.
Because clearly, a Filipina maid in a foreign land being tasked by a neighbour to seduce a despondent Englishman, speaks not of development but of degradation.
35 Sct. Delgado St, Brgy. Laging Handa
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 374 44 23
GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women's organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our people.
Friday, October 3, 2008
This was after the appellate court ruled that there is sufficient evidence that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still holding students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and farmer Manuel Merino in custody.
The three were abducted by suspected military men on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan on suspicion that they are members of the New People's Army (NPA).
The 33-page ruling, penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, in effect reversed the court's June 2007 decision dismissing the writ of habeas corpus petitions filed by the families of the three missing persons.
In the ruling, the CA's Special Former 11th Division said they consider the testimony of
Raymond Manalo, who, together with his brother Reynaldo, was a victim of military abduction and torture.
In his testimony, which was submitted by the petitioners upon a motion for reconsideration, Manalo said he and his brother saw Cadapan and Empeño during their captivity in Southern Tagalog between February 14, 2006 until their escape on August 13, 2007.
The CA said with the additional testimony of Manalo, petitioners have been able to convincingly prove the fact that the three victims are being detained by the military.
"The testimony of Raymond Manalo can no longer be ignored and brushed aside. His narration and those of the earlier witnesses, taken together, constitute more than substantial evidence warranting an order that the three be released from detention if they are not being held for a lawful cause. They may be moving from place to place but still they are considered under detention and custody of the respondents," the CA said.
The appellate court also directed the Philippine National Police to finish its investigation into the disappearance of the three and to file appropriate charges against those responsible.
The CA however clarified that the ruling is not against the military in general but only against "a few misguided self-righteous people who resort to the extrajudicial process of neutralizing those who disagree with the country's democratic system of government."
Named respondents in the petitions for habeas corpus and amparo were retired Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan, former commanding general of the Army's 7th ID based at Fort Magsasay, Laur, Nueva, and was dubbed "executioner" by his enemies; Maj. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, commander of Northen Luzon Command; Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, commander of the Barangay Mercado Detachment in Hagonoy; and a certain Arnel Enrique.
Palparan has since retired from office and even ran as representative of an administration-backed party-list group.
The CA said troops from the Army's 7th Division appeared to have "appointed themselves as protective guardians of the Republic whose precious principles, however, they have dishonored by ignoring the rights and liberties of its own citizens."
Not being held for any lawful cause, the CA said the UP students should be immediately released from detention.
Based on Manalo's affidavit, six armed men in military uniform abducted him and his brother on February 14, 2006 from their place in Buhol na Mangga village in San Ildefonso, Bulacan.
From there, they were moved from one place to another, particularly military camps and detachments, including Fort Magsaysay and a detachment in Sapang, San Miguel, Bulacan, where they allegedly met Palparan.
From Sapang, he was sparated from his brother and transported to Camp Tecson under the custody of the 24th Infantry Battalion. From there he was moved to a place he later learned was a training detachment of the Scout Rangers.
He said it was in this training detachment where he met Cadapan, who was also being detained by the military and whose feet were chained to a double bed.
During their conversation, Cadapan told him that she was abducted from Hagonoy Bulacan and was subjected "to the gravest torture.''
After a week, he was reunited with his brother who also brought to the camp, where they stated from September 2006 until November 22, 2006. Three days after, he said Empeño and Merino were also brought to the said camp.
Raymond further narrated that she saw Cadapan being subjected to more torture like water treatment through nose and electric shocks. He also claimed having witnessed to the burning of Merino.
In its June 2007 decision, the CA merely admonished Palparan and his men at the 7th ID for withholding information and inconsistencies in their testimonies regarding the abduction and disappearance of Cadapan, Empeño and Merino.
The CA had earlier dismissed the petition for habeas corpus filed by the family of missing UP students on the ground that it was not the proper remedy in the case.
The appellate court, however, ordered the Commission on Human Rights, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the PNP to conduct separate investigations on the case due to the obvious inconsistencies in the testimonies of the respondents. - GMANews.TV
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2008
On September 5, 2008, the US Congress passed The Children Soldiers Accountability Act to prosecute any foreign military commanders actively recruiting children under the age of 15 into military service. These efforts are branded by the US government, the leading force in many overseas wars of aggression, to "real leadership" to end using children as soldiers. The US' puppet regime has fallen right into place with this new trend of "philanthropic" American imperial guilt. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will claim in the 63rd Assembly of the United Nations that the leadership of several opposition military formations, namely the New People's Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, recruit children into their ranks. In truth, these accusations against endangering children reflect more severely on GMA's track record.
Under GMA's rule, over 60 children have died under the extra-judicial killings of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their unwarranted insurgency strategies. Unborn and small children in the care of regular Filipino women targeted as terrorists have been slain in indiscriminate bombardments, shootings and torture. Children have been found on the list of torture victims on the AFP lists. Caught in the crossfire of GMA's copycat US War on Terror cum state terrorism, children have suffered greatly because of displacement and harassment under harsh militarization.
Additionally, under GMA's regime, the rights of children have become the last priority of the nation--the plummet of economy has led to abject poverty, panhandling and begging become the only option for street children and the use of child labor the most rampant abuse in multi-national corporations.
Lastly, the clandestine recruitment of children in the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), a government-trained and sponsored paramilitary force has swelled under the watch of GMA. It is a well known fact that in highly militarized provinces like in the Cordillera region and Samar, that there have been several claims that the AFP have repeatedly used children to serve as guides in their expansion areas. On these grounds, GMA becomes the number one suspect to prosecute with the newly passed Children Soldiers Accountability Act as she has and continues to use children to power her reign of terror upon the Filipino people.
"While we fight for the rights of Filipino children, GMA makes children fight her battles for her," states Valerie Francisco, chairperson of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), "GMA must be held accountable for putting Filipino children, women and families in danger with her blatant lies and abuses."
The women of GABRIELA-USA demand that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo step down from her stolen presidential seat. We call for US military aid to stop funding death squads under the GMA administration. We demand that GMA and her goons stop abusing and killing the children and women of the Philippines!
OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO!
STOP US MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES!
NO TO VIOLENCE AGAINST FILIPINO CHILDREN!
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Balao is a founding member of the CPA in 1984 and worked in its Research and Education Commission, extending his services and expertise in this area in the Cordillera provinces such as in Ifugao. He is the president of their clan association, the Oclupan Clan Association. He hails from Atok and La Trinidad in Benguet. Balao is the second victim of enforced disappearance in the CPA, with Ama Daniel Ngayaan who was first abducted in October 1987 in Pasil, Kalinga. Balao was first arrested in 1988 for allegedly possessing "subversive" documents. The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Intensified Surveillance and Harassment Towards Extrajudicial Killings
Balao's enforced disappearance is not an isolated incident. It is part of a systematic and desperate move of the State against members and officers of the CPA in its "counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency" campaign. The ultimate end-all of being unjustly branded as a "communist front" or "terrorist" is surveillance and harassment towards extrajudicial killings. In recent months, our members, including innocent civilians, became victims to the state terror unleashed thru the Oplan Bantay Laya. Through the OBL, the Arroyo regime has mercilessly claimed the lives of CPA members Markus Bangit and Alyce Claver in June and July 2006, and nearly, the life of Dr. Chandu Claver.
In November 2007, human rights worker Vangie Tadeo from the CPA-Abra chapter was abducted and it was very fortunate that Vangie escaped from her abductors. In March 2008, a youth member of our cultural member organization was abducted. She was surfaced after four days when her captors could not probably get anything from her. She was severely interrogated and remains in trauma. In their massive military operations in Tubo, Abra last March 2008, the 50th IB killed 60-year old farmer-hinter Mariano Galisen. In April and June 2008, elements of the 77th and 21st IBs mercilessly gunned down farmer-hunters Rey Logao and Rocky Aboli, both of Lubuagan, Kalinga, in what the military senselessly calls a "legitimate encounter with the NPA". The circumstances of their deaths show that they are innocent civilians merely attending to their daily routine of farming. If the military can commit such a gruesome act to Aboli who is in fact a councilman of Upper Uma barangay, the ordinary civilians are also subject to the AFP's mad terror tagging. The 5th Infantry Division has in fact manufactured a list of 25 alleged NPA surrenderees that includes names of civilians like Max Liyang Finmon-as of Tonglayan, Natonin, Mt. Province. The barangay officials immediately issued a resolution, also signed by Natonin Mayor Ana Rafael Banaag and the Natonin PNP Chief Eusebio Aclupen, stating that Finmon-as is NOT an NPA but a local resident whom they know.
Undaunted vigilance is very necessary at these crucial times. The regime is desperate in its attempt to prove that it is successful in quelling the revolutionary NPA, because it cannot. That is why it is manufacturing a list of NPAs which are actually innocent civilians and carries on attacking legitimate people's organizations like the CPA.
The surveillance never stopped, and now, with James' enforced disappearance, more suspicious looking drivers, taxi cabs and private vehicles have been parking near the CPA regional office and its network of organizations. The extrajudicial killings came to a lull in 2007 as a result of the sustained multi-level pressure at the extremely isolated Arroyo regime and its OBL, and while the regime underwent review for its human rights record in the Universal Periodic Review. The Philippine government's report to the UPR contained barefaced lies and half truths about the real human rights situation in the country, claiming credit for the decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances through supposed "measures" undertaken by the Philippine government.
Defy State Terror!
Once an innocent civilian or a member of a legitimate people's organization such as the CPA is labeled as a front organization of the CPP, an NPA supporter or a terrorist, that is already laying the ground towards surveillance, harassment and extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance. In James' case, let the public know that an AFP dossier has actually tagged James an alleged position as head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Education Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions. This is outrageous and an outright desperate attempt of the AFP to claim that indeed, the State's "counter-insurgency" is yielding positive results!
We challenge the AFP and PNP to immediately and unconditionally surface James Balao. Each day that you, the PNP and AFP remain silent and indifferent to the enforced disappearance of James only validates further your accountability in his disappearance.
We, along with the Balao family, appeal to the public for support in our effort to have James immediately surfaced. This is our task as Filipino citizens to always uphold and protect the right to life and not deny it to anyone.
A State that violates basic human rights and brazenly denies the right to life must not be tolerated. We will not tolerate each passing day with passivity nor will we tolerate the impunity bred in this fascist regime. We will heighten our vigilance and most especially, resist and defy state terrorism. We will not be lameducks waiting for prolonged surveillance and harassment and the next extrajudicial killing. We will resist all forms of state terror and if necessary, through self defense as an assertion of our rights to life and self determination!
SURFACE JAMES BALAO NOW!
RESIST AND DEFY STATE TERRORISM!
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE
Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance
CORDILLERA PEOPLES' ALLIANCE
# 2 P. Guevarra Street, West Modern
Aurora Hill, 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Sunday, September 21, 2008
September 20, 2008
Reference: Joanne Alcantara, GABRIELA-USA, National Coordinator
(206) 859-7525, email firstname.lastname@example.org
GABRIELA USA DENOUNCES ARROYO'S MARTIAL LAW OF TODAY
Thirty-six years ago, on September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos, the
former US-supported dictator of the Philippines, declared Martial Law
in his country. The political repression, liberalization of economic
policies and social constriction following his declaration claimed the
lives of hundreds of Filipinos. Today, the historical trauma of that
period and the continuation of backwards economic and political
policies still resonate. Filipino American women denounce the ongoing
militarization of the Philippines and the undeclared state of Martial
Law in the Philippines under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA).
The resonance of Martial Law can be more accurately described as an
extension and continuation of graft and corruption from the Marcos
dictatorship all the way through the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.
While she sits in her stolen presidential seat, GMA has washed her
hands in the blood of over a thousand community leaders, activists and
common people. GMA's eagerness to bend over backwards to the dictates
of United States politics and its IMF/World Bank appendages have
outdone the assaults of Marcos on his own people.
The increasing conflict in Mindanao, falsely assigned religious
undertones as its source, finds its origins in the years of Martial
Law when Marcos engineered Philippine policies and legislation to open
up to the demands and orders of countless transnational, multinational
corporations and the then emerging IMF/World Bank. These grievances
exacted on the people of Mindanao pushed the Bangsamoro people to
fight against economic and state aggression to protect their land,
life and resources.
The very same fight exists today in Mindanao, the violence erupting is
from a people defending themselves and their land. The easy fallback
story of Christians versus Muslims is one of the fables in GMA's
fictional legacy in her presidency, just like her claims to appease
the poverty and labor situation in the Philippines. US-backed foreign
intervention and the return of permanent US military bases is again a
reality for the Philippine people under the watch and permission of
the GMA administration.
The direct impacts of GMA's foreign diplomacy results in the
displacement of women and children in Mindanao, beginning with the
arrival of US military occupation in 2001. Family homes, children's
schools and community spaces have been readily disposed to be replaced
by military development and corporate aggression. The "collateral
damage" and the lives of women and children taken by these settlements
are shocking and continue to escalate.
The entrance of US military bases in Mindanao opens the doors for the
proliferation of bases elsewhere in the Philippines, Zamboanga being a
site for expansion. These conditions, tried and true, leave women more
vulnerable to prostitution, sexual terrorism and rape with the arrival
of military servicemen in the thousands.
GABRIELA-USA, consisting of babae, San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York, unite to call for a
serious investigation of the US military encampments in the
Philippines and a restoration of constitutional law and Philippine
sovereignty. GABRIELA-USA demands that respect be reinstated to the
people of Mindanao, that they be granted their ancestral domain and be
able to live with the dignity of their full human rights.
On September 20, 2008, at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center,
FiRE-GABRIELA USA hosts "On Martial Law." This event features special
guest Bebot Galvan from KABALIKAT, support network for Filipina
domestic workers. Together, community members remember the conditions
of Martial Law under Marcos, his overthrow during People Power I in
1986 and discuss today's conditions of ongoing militarization and the
call to oust Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES! US MILITARY AID OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!
NO TO ANOTHER GENERATION OF WAR ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN!
OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO!
SELF-DETERMINATON FOR THE BANGSAMORO PEOPLE!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Just a heads up that i'm looking for a few fresh ladies to be the new Coordinators for Diwata, Babae's young women's group program out of the Filipino Community Center in the Excelsior. This a wonderful volunteer opportunity!
Diwata is a program that provides a space for young pinays once a week at the FCC. The group's activities and projects are determined by the young women themselves, and in the past have ranged from painting a mural, arts and crafts projects, film/movie nights, and putting together a skit performance for Diwang Pinay. More importantly, the young women's group provides the women a space to talk about their issues, receive mentorship, and gain leadership skills.
We had up to 12 young women participants last year ranging from 17yrs-20. We're looking to incorporate some younger youth (possible age 15 and above) this year, and currently only have one coordinator for the whole group (me!). I NEED help! Here's an overview of the responsibilities:
- Attend weekly young women's group meetings and activities (currently set for Friday evenings from 6pm-8pm, but may change depending on availability of the new participants)
- Attend a minimum of one planning meeting per week to plan the week's activities
- Attend and help coordinate a weekend leadership retreat.
- Serve as a mentor and adult ally to the young women participants.
- Help in creating monthly report of the group's activities.
- Oversee and help with recruiting new members.
- Oversee and help with implementation of the projects and activities.
- Must be 21 yrs old or older
- Must be invested in youth empowerment and advocacy!
Not 21?? Join the group! We're always looking for young women to train into youth leaders.
For folks who are interested in this volunteer opportunity, please email me directly at email@example.com. Diwata meetings start soon...don't miss out! :D
Thanks all! Pls. forward to anyone who may be interested!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
13 August 2008
Reference: Joms Salvador, Spokesperson, 371-2302, 0917-3221203
AFP wantonly violates rules of war in North Cotabato -- GABRIELA
"The Arroyo-led AFP is committing a grave violation by conducting intensified military offensives in North Cotabato with utter disregard of the lives of civilians. Under the guise of protecting civilians from so-called occupation of MILF in certain areas in North Cotabato , the joint operations of the PNP and AFP resulted to immeasurable damage of lives and livelihood. It further exposes the fascist character of Arroyo government." This was the statement of GABRIELA National Alliance of Women on the ongoing conflict in Mindanao .
The women's group said that the AFP attacks in North Cotabato is a violation of Part IV of Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions, which outlines the just treatment of civilian populations during armed conflict The Geneva Conventions form the core of International Humanitarian Law, which is commemorated annually in the Philippines during August 12.
"The Arroyo government and its Armed Forces are liars, hypocrites and cheats. No lasting peace can ever spring from this government," said Joms Salvador, GABRIELA spokesperson.
According to Salvador , in times of war, 80% of civilians affected are women and children.
"And if indeed, the ulterior motive in this military attack is to create a scenario to push for charter change, then this government is even more abominable by staking the lives of women and children in exchange for Arroyo's personal political agenda," said Salvador .
The women's group said that the military should immediately cease its operations in North Cotabato . ###
Friday, June 13, 2008
The corresponding video interview can be found here: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=121594
Pinay whiz gets to pick between Harvard, Stanford
The Filipino community in Daly City is proud of the achievement of 17-year-old AV Herrera who recently graduated from secondary school with top honors.
Herrera, who immigrated to US in 2005, finished as valedictorian of the Westmoor High School.
Her 4.3 grade point average became her ticket to be accepted as a freshman in Harvard and Standford universities.
But while she's contemplating on what school to choose and if it seems that her entry is a dream come true, Herrera said that life in the US isn't that easy.
"Akala ko pagpunta ko dito, maganda ang America, ganyan. Pero pagdating ko, nakita ko ring mahirap ang buhay," Herrera said, as she narrated how she fought her way to the top.
Before immigrating to the US, Herrera was a scholar at the Philippine Science High School in Quezon City.
Her mother, Bernadette, worked hard to be able to take her three children to the US and invest in their education.
Mrs. Herrera went to the US in 2000. She initially worked illegally for three years before she was given her legal papers.
"Kung hindi kami nagtatrabaho, hindi kami makakakain sa maghapon. wala kaming sasakyan. Wala kaming bahay. Nagre-rent lang kami ng isang kuwarto, pero tatlo ang anak ko. Pero nabubuhay kami ng maayos," Mrs. Herrera said.
The Herrera family said that life in the US is hard but they found support from new friends in the Filipino community.
Now, Herrera, who dreams of becoming a human rights lawyer someday, is also working as a coordinator of the Filipino Community Center.
Her mother, meanwhile, has this message to Filipinos who are also dreaming of making it big someday.
"Kung ano man ang darating na panahon, kung ano ang plano niya sa buhay, huwag niyang kalimutan ang kanyang pinanggalingan," she said. With reports from Henni Espinosa and Ging Reyes, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Monday, June 9, 2008
Please find below and attached a letter of Lorena "Aya" Santos for her father LEO VELASCO, who was abducted last year and is still missing. It is her Father's Day message and an appeal to her father's captors to surface him. We hope that you could provide space for it in your media outlets or you could send this to as many people who would care and help in the search for the desaparecidos.
Thank you so much.
Ruth G. Cervantes
International Liaison and Public Information Officer
Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
Telefax: + 632 4354146 / + 632 4342837
9 June 2008
To my missing father Leo,
I wish I could personally greet you a Happy Father’s Day and give you a really big hug. But how can I?
Ever since you were abducted, my only contact with you is in my dreams. Oh, how I wish I would see you and say “Happy Father’s Day, Tatay!”
Nanay and I will surely remember you as I visit her today in jail in Camp Crame. You must have heard by now (through your captors or if you have access to news) that Nanay has also been abducted and surfaced after three days (nine months after you were abducted and disappeared). You must have been so worried for her. You need not be, worried though because we are all taking care of her. Even in detention, she makes good use of her time in reading books and helping her inmates with their different problems.
How I wish that you can just be like Nanay instead of this. I would rather want to see you in jail than not see you at all. At least I would have visiting days to see you and we could eat our favorite food together. We can tell each other all the stories and laugh about them.
But because I have not found you yet, I would have to be contented in writing to you, hoping that through media, you would be able to read this and that your captors will let you read this.
Tatay, I am sorry for not being able to find you up to now. I know I have done everything I could but I also know that Mrs. Arroyo’s government should do more. After all, it is her military that has made you captive and has denied you of your rights to due process. I should have asked more people who might have known which safe house you are in, but then again, government’s agents have the obligation to surface you and bring you to trial.
Along the way of searching for you, I have encountered others who are also searching for their son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father or even both parents. I have met Deka who has been searching for her father, Philip Limjoco who was abducted in Pampanga. I have met Noel (not his real name) whose parents are both missing. I have also met Baby (not her real name), a three year old girl who keeps asking for her father who was abducted in Quezon Province. I have also gotten to know Guy whose father was abducted twenty years ago but still continue to make cards for him during his birthdays.
We understand each other how painful it is to long for missing parents. We share the same rage against your abductors and their bosses and this repressive system. We wonder how these people can make our loved ones disappear and can still sleep at night (with their own families beside them, I imagine.)
I know we are all connected because of this tragedy of enforced disappearance, a state practice that should be stopped and never repeated.
I feel we are all siblings and that they are also your sons and daughters too. We are the children of the Desaparecidos. We are also the children whose parents have fought for their principles and have served the oppressed.
People whom you met constantly reminded me of you as a great father through their wonderful stories about you: how you helped them in their sickness as a medical worker, how you make them believe that peace based on justice is possible and how you gave them advice and strength in times of adversity. Just like me, these common folk whom you have served, embraced, and lived with, is also hoping to see you very.
I say, I am proud of you, Tatay. I have always been. I thank you for showing me the realities of life and society. Thank you for showing me the importance of service. Had you not taught me these, my life would have no other meaning.
And we, the children of disappeared fathers and mothers say we miss you so much. We will never stop looking for you until we find you. We will never stop fighting until we secure justice.
I hope that I will still have the chance to see you alive soon. I pray that your captors will find some conscience to bring our family back together and Deka’s, Noel’s, Baby’s and all the families of victims of enforced disappearances in this country.
Today is Father’s Day. Just greet your captors HAPPY Father’s Day for me.
I miss you and wishing hard to see you soon.
Your loving daughter,
I am Lorena “Aya” Santos, 25 years old. Both my parents are NDFP Consultants for the Peace Process and both were abducted. My father Leo Velasco was abducted in Cagayan de Oro on February 19, 2007 and is still missing. My mother, Elizabeth Principe is currently detained at the Camp Crame Custodial Center.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
MON MAY 5th in SF
WED MAY 7th in Berkeley
Monday May 5th - San Francisco
Buy tickets now: www. cafedunord. com
April 18, 2007
Premier Filipino American emcees, KIWI (formerly of Native Guns) and GEOLOGIC (aka Prometheus Brown of Seattle's Blue Scholars) launch social justice benefit, People Power Tour.
Bernadette Ellorin, Secretary General - BAYAN USA
Brian Myers, People Power Tour – National Coordinator/Booking
firstname.lastname@example.org (contact now for Fall 2008 shows)
Two of the West Coast's premier Filipino American emcees, Geologic aka Prometheus Brown of Seattle's Blue Scholars and San Francisco's Kiwi, formerly of Native Guns, are teaming up again to rally youth and students to raise awareness with a nationwide People Power Tour. Kiwi elaborated, "We are volunteering to do this concert because we have a responsibility, beyond music, to raise awareness and hopefully incite action that addresses the human rights crisis and government corruption in our homeland.
Over the next 3 weeks, this dynamic duo will criss-cross the West Coast and Midwest, collaborating with local groups and emcees for 13 shows in 11 cities. Proceeds from the tour will be donated to Bayan-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino American organizations advocating for social justice and democracy in the Philippines.
Both Kiwi and Geo are active Filipino community organizers, drawing connections between the struggles of Filipinos in the US and their compatriots back home. They share the view that art is not only a reflection of the world, but a tool which can shape a more just future society. Kiwi shares, "For me personally, I found my identity and was eventually politicized through hip hop, and I feel like I owe it to this culture to make music and do shows that will hopefully have the same impact on this generation of youth and hip hop fans.
From the rapidly gentrifying street-corner to the Ivory Tower of academia, Kiwi and Geo bring forth a message of resistance and self-determination in the tradition of pro-people hip-hop music by such artists as Dead Prez, Public Enemy and KRS-One.
Kiwi adds, "The name of the tour was inspired by the "People Power" movement that drove out two corrupt Presidential regimes in the Philippines. Because part of the focus of this tour is the corruption of the current GMA regime, we felt like the name made a lot of sense." A rapidly growing movement comprising of all sectors of the Filipino community are mobilizing to oust the corrupt administration. In the two previous non-violent People Power movements, the Filipino people ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1986) and the corruption-ridden Joseph Estrada (2001). While 2007 has seen a decline in politically-motivated killings (a decline, not a stop), in 2008 political and economic conditions in the Philippines have worsened as the GMA administration is wrought in corruption scandals, including the rice crisis, election fraud, corporate nepotism and kickbacks. Increased US military presence threatens Philippine civilians' lives and livelihood. The February, 4, 2008, Sulu Massacre and numerous military rape cases are just some of the most recent violence.
Proceeds from the tour will be donated to support Bayan-USA's local and international campaigns advocating for social justice and democracy in the Philippines. People Power Tour, Part 1 includes shows on International Workers Day, May 1st, and Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Contact Brian Meyers (email@example.com) to book People Power Tour, Part 2, during Filipino heritage month (October 2008).
Kiwi's website: http://www. myspace. com/kiwi
Geologic's website: http://www. myspace. com/probrown
Bayan-USA website: http://www. bayanusa. org
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
March 11, 2008
Reference: Marisa Mariano, Chair, Babae - San Francisco
Filipinos in San Francisco Celebrate International Women’s Day
By Remembering Victims of U.S. Military Occupation
San Francisco, CA – Union Square passersby received quite a surprise this past Saturday when a group of Filipino Americans gathered around the Dewey Monument, subsequently dropped to the floor. Scattered amongst the bodies on the floor were placards containing documented statistics of rape, abuse, even murder committed by U.S. military personnel against women from different countries.
This attention grabbing action was organized by Babae San Francisco, a local Filipino women’s organization, to commemorate International Women’s Day. “March 8 has long been a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women globally, but we live in a time where violence against women is heavily increasing, particularly in locations with U.S. military presence,” explains Marisa Mariano, Chair of Babae. “As we celebrate the beauty of sisterhood on this special day, it is also our responsibility to shed light on issues that continue to affect the well-being of women. Each person laying on the floor signifies hundreds of others who fall victim to violence perpetrated by the U.S. military.”
Some recent accounts of violence highlighted by the action were the two rapes that occurred only a week apart in Okinawa Japan. On February 2008, a 14-year old Okinawan girl came forward as a victim of rape by 38-year old U.S. Marine sergeant Tyrone Hadnott. A week later, a 21-year old Filipina woman came forward as also being raped by a U.S. serviceman. The rape occurred only two days after the woman arrived on the island as a contract worker from the Philippines.
“It is situations like these that affirm the need for a militant women’s movement,” adds Mariano. “A corrupt president like GMA only serves her own personal interests, so it is up to us to fight against atrocities committed against us. We must insist to be the change that we seek.”
Babae used the Dewey Monument “die-in” to also project the newly formed GABRIELA-USA chapter composed of Babae SF, Pinay sa Seattle, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in NY. The chapter is the first international chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, an alliance of over 250 women’s organizations in the Philippines. Members of Babae passed out buttons and informational postcards about GABRIELA-USA as crowds gathered around the bodies on the floor.
The simple act of resistance successfully carried out a strong and stern message on this International Women’s Day.
Friday, March 7, 2008
GABRIELA National Organizing Committee Coordinator
March 8th – Overseas Filipinas Rally and March as GABRIELA-USA,
Extending the Philippine Women's Movement Internationally
On March 8, 2008, Filipino women in the United States will proclaim
the formalization of a GABRIELA-USA Chapter, the first international
overseas chapter of the Philippine-based women's organization
GABRIELA, through nationally-coordinated protest actions celebrating
women's resistance and calling for the ouster of Philippine President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
GABRIELA, the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity,
Equality, Leadership and Action, was first established in 1984 by 42
women's organizations in the Philippines uniting against the US-backed
Marcos dictatorship. In November of 2007, Pinay sa Seattle, babae in
San Francisco and FiRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment) in New
York planted the seeds for a USA-based GABRIELA. Subsequently,
GABRIELA has committed to expanding our work in the US by providing
organizing around the conditions of Filipinas in the USA.
In the seven years that the US-backed Arroyo has been President in the
Philippines, she has worsened the economic conditions of the Filipino
people and especially women. Her stark human rights violations
record, subservience to US imperialism and militarization has
materialized in the murder of Filipino women and children in the hand
of US troops supposedly training the Philippine military in Balikatan
exercises. Arroyo has also stood silent on the increasing numbers of
Filipino women raped by US military troops in the Philippines, and
recently in Japan.
The corruption of President Arroyo has been exposed through the
NBN-ZTE scandal and the Filipino people are expressing their
intolerance. We are uniting across continents and oceans to call for a
new brand of people power. The intensifying political climate in the
Philippines calls for genuine social change, an ouster of a decrepit
president and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.
GABRIELA-USA will rally to this call. As migrant women, we recognize
that the majority of Overseas Filipino Workers are women. The
worsening economic and political crisis of the Philippines pushes
Filipino women out only to be subjected to exploitation, human
trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual assault, torture and even death.
We recognize our place is in the struggle to oust a puppet president
and we will mobilize around our responsibility to the Filipino people.
During these times of heightened political crisis in the Philippines
the women of Pinay sa Seattle, babae San Francisco and FiRE New York,
all members of GABRIELA-USA, will continue to carry out the vigilant
task of intensifying the people's resistance against a tyrannical and
immoral government. GABRIELA-USA stands behind all working women and
Filipino progressives to expose the truth and call for Arroyo's ouster
On this March 8, we call on all peace loving people, advocates for
human rights, and women's organizations to stand in solidarity with
GABRIELA and its newly formed USA-based chapter by joining us in the
A Salute to Women's Resistance
Women Hold Up Half the Sky
Cultural Performances and Speakers
Jose Rizal Park
For Our Sisters, We Must RESIST
San Francisco Dewey Monument
Union Square Plaza at Stockton and Powell
Struggle against oppression and exploitation!
Fight the Arroyo regime's corruption and tyranny!
Oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!
Long Live International Working Women's Day!
Long Live International Solidarity!
Monday, March 3, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
and support our kababayan's call for GMA to resign!
People's Power Lives On!
On February 25, 1986, the oppressive dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos was
put to an end by the power of the people. Twenty-two years later, we are faced
with ousting another tyrant, one who's record surpasses those of Marcos'.
Join us in commemorating the success of People Power I,
and call for the RESIGNATION of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
In front of the SF Philippine Consulate
447 Sutter St. (cross is Powell)
San Francisco, CA 94108
Sponsored by BAYAN USA organizations: babae-San Francisco,
League of Filipino Students-SFSU, Anakbayan-East Bay, and the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP). Endorsed by the ILPS-Bay Area Grassroots School Of Unity and Liberation (SOUL).
Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Water Cure
Debating torture and counterinsurgency—a century ago.
by Paul KramerOriginal article can be found here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/02/25/080225fa_fact_kramer
Many Americans were puzzled by the news, in 1902, that United States soldiers were torturing Filipinos with water. The United States, throughout its emergence as a world power, had spoken the language of liberation, rescue, and freedom. This was the language that, when coupled with expanding military and commercial ambitions, had helped launch two very different wars. The first had been in 1898, against Spain, whose remaining empire was crumbling in the face of popular revolts in two of its colonies, Cuba and the Philippines. The brief campaign was pitched to the American public in terms of freedom and national honor (the U.S.S. Maine had blown up mysteriously in Havana Harbor), rather than of sugar and naval bases, and resulted in a formally independent Cuba.
The Americans were not done liberating. Rising trade in East Asia suggested to imperialists that the Philippines, Spain’s largest colony, might serve as an effective “stepping stone” to China’s markets. U.S. naval plans included provisions for an attack on the Spanish Navy in the event of war, and led to a decisive victory against the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay in May, 1898. Shortly afterward, Commodore George Dewey returned the exiled Filipino revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo to the islands. Aguinaldo defeated Spanish forces on land, declared the Philippines independent in June, and organized a government led by the Philippine élite.
During the next half year, it became clear that American and Filipino visions for the islands’ future were at odds. U.S. forces seized Manila from Spain—keeping the army of their ostensible ally Aguinaldo from entering the city—and President William McKinley refused to recognize Filipino claims to independence, pushing his negotiators to demand that Spain cede sovereignty over the islands to the United States, while talking about Filipinos’ need for “benevolent assimilation.” Aguinaldo and some of his advisers, who had been inspired by the United States as a model republic and had greeted its soldiers as liberators, became increasingly suspicious of American motivations. When, after a period of mounting tensions, a U.S. sentry fired on Filipino soldiers outside Manila in February, 1899, the second war erupted, just days before the Senate ratified a treaty with Spain securing American sovereignty over the islands in exchange for twenty million dollars. In the next three years, U.S. troops waged a war to “free” the islands’ population from the regime that Aguinaldo had established. The conflict cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and about four thousand U.S. soldiers.
Within the first year of the war, news of atrocities by U.S. forces—the torching of villages, the killing of prisoners—began to appear in American newspapers. Although the U.S. military censored outgoing cables, stories crossed the Pacific through the mail, which wasn’t censored. Soldiers, in their letters home, wrote about extreme violence against Filipinos, alongside complaints about the weather, the food, and their officers; and some of these letters were published in home-town newspapers. A letter by A. F. Miller, of the 32nd Volunteer Infantry Regiment, published in the Omaha World-Herald in May, 1900, told of how Miller’s unit uncovered hidden weapons by subjecting a prisoner to what he and others called the “water cure.” “Now, this is the way we give them the water cure,” he explained. “Lay them on their backs, a man standing on each hand and each foot, then put a round stick in the mouth and pour a pail of water in the mouth and nose, and if they don’t give up pour in another pail. They swell up like toads. I’ll tell you it is a terrible torture.”
Please click here for the rest of the article.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Vol. VIII, No. 2, February 10-16, 2008
original article can be found at: http://www.bulatlat.com/2008/02/u-s-troops-sighted-during-sulu-massacre
U.S. troops were present during the Feb. 4 assault by combined Army and Navy elite forces on Barangay (village) Ipil, Maimbung, Sulu that killed eight non-combatants, including an Army soldier on vacation. Worse, they tolerated what had taken place.
Soldiers from the Army's Light Reaction Company (LRC) – a unit composed of Philippine soldiers who had received training from U.S. troops during the RP-U.S. joint military exercises –and the Navy's Special Weapons Group (Swag) attacked Brgy. Ipil early morning, while most villagers were still sleeping, on Feb. 4, said Concerned Citizens of Sulu convener and former Jolo councilor Temogen "Cocoy" Tulawie in an interview with Bulatlat.
Killed in the attack were Marisa Payian, 4; Wedme Lahim, 9; Alnalyn Lahim, 15; Sulayman Hakob, 17; Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43; Narcia Abon, 24 – all civilians. Also killed was Pfc. Ibnul Wahid of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, who was then on vacation.
"Wahid's hands were even tied behind his back," Tulawie said, citing an account by Sandrawina Wahid, the slain soldier's wife. "He was forced to lie face down on the ground and they stepped on his back. His wife ran into their hut and back out, showing the soldiers his Army ID and bag, begging them to not hurt him. But still, they shot him."
One of the victims, Kirah Lahim, was even mutilated. "They took out his eyes and cut off his fingers and ears," Tulawie said.
Military officials have given varying explanations of the incident. One explanation was that the non-combatants were killed in a firefight between soldiers and "terrorists," while another points to a "family feud" as having triggered the killings.
One Army general said what happened on Feb. 4 was a "legitimate encounter," claiming that troops searching for kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao clashed with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and members of the terrorist Jema'ah Islamiyah.
The military did not say whether Lao, who was kidnapped on Jan. 28 while on the way home from her store, was being held in Sulu.
Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-"terrorist" task force in Sulu, said two soldiers and three bandits – including ASG leader Abu Muktadil – were killed in the "encounter."
"It was a legitimate encounter," Rafael told media. "As far as we are concerned, troops clashed with the Abu Sayyaf and Jema'ah Islamiyah. We have recovered the bodies of Muktadil, but soldiers also found eight more bodies in the area and we are trying to find out whether they were caught in the crossfire or slain by terrorists."
Tulawie, however, said this was not true.
"That's a lie," Tulawie said. "Most of these people (who were killed) are just seaweed farmers. There is no ASG there. In the case of Wahid, they killed their own fellow soldier."
"They were quiet people who had no enemies," Tulawie said of the victims.
Meanwhile, Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said authorities are presently investigating reports that the killings were sparked by a family feud.
As the killings were taking place, there were U.S. troops nearby. Tulawie said Sandrawina was taken into a Navy boat, where she saw four U.S. soldiers.
"They were just nearby and they tolerated what was happening," Tulawie said. "There was only one who was heard shouting, 'Hold your fire!' but that was all. They tolerated these human rights violations committed by the soldiers they had trained."
Westmincom chief Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga said there were no U.S. troops involved in the operation.
"There was no direct involvement of the Americans," Allaga said. "It is strictly prohibited."
Not the first time
Sulu Gov. Abdulsakur Tan said this was not the first time that U.S. troops were reported to have taken part in Philippine military operations in Sulu. With this, he corroborated what Tulawie had said in an earlier interview with Bulatlat.
When an encounter between the AFP and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) broke out in Brgy. Buansa, Indanan, Sulu in early 2007, U.S. troops who were a few kilometers away were seen running toward the direction of the gunfire. They were carrying their guns.
Military spokespersons said the attack was brought about by reports that members of the ASG were in the MNLF camp. The MNLF – with which the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 – has repeatedly denied that it coddles ASG members.
During that same period, U.S. troops were busy with a road construction project in Brgy. Bato-Bato, Indanan. At that time, the area was the center of Philippine military operations in Sulu.
These were gathered by Bulatlat in its interview with Tulawie in March last year.
This, Tulawie said, is just part of a larger picture that has been developing in Sulu since 2004.
"Military operations always take place not far from where U.S. troops are," said Tulawie. "The presence of U.S. troops has been visible in areas where military operations have taken place."
While Tulawie says there is yet no evidence that U.S. troops have actually participated in combat operations, their visibility in areas where AFP operations have been conducted raises questions on the real reasons behind their presence in the country's southernmost province.
U.S. military presence in Sulu
The presence of U.S. troops in Sulu started in 2004 and has been continuous since then.
U.S. troops would have entered Sulu as early as February 2003. The AFP and the U.S. Armed Forces had both announced that the Balikatan military exercises for that year would be held in Sulu.
This provoked a wave of protest from the people of Sulu, who had not yet forgotten what has come to be known as the Bud Dajo Massacre.
The Bud Dajo massacre, which took place in 1906, is described in some history texts as the "First Battle of Bud Dajo." It was an operation against Moro fighters resisting the American occupation.
The description of the incident as a "battle," however, is disputed considering the sheer mismatch in firepower between U.S. forces and the Moro resistance fighters. The 790 U.S. troops who assaulted Bud Dajo used naval cannons against the 800-1,000 Moro resistance fighters who were mostly armed only with melee weapons.
In the end, only six of the hundreds of Moro resistance fighters holding Bud Dajo as a stronghold survived, while there were 15-20 casualties among the U.S. troops.
The announcement in February 2003 that the year's Balikatan military exercises would be held in Sulu summoned bitter memories of the Bud Dajo Massacre and led to protest actions where thousands of Sulu residents participated.
The next year, however, U.S. troops came up with ingenious ways to find their way into Sulu – coming in small groups and bringing relief goods. This "neutralized" the residents' resistance to their presence.
The U.S. troops in Sulu are part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P). Based on several news items from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the JSOTF-P are in Sulu to train the AFP's Southern Command (Southcom) and to conduct civic actions.
However, an article written by Command Sgt. Maj. William Eckert of the JSOTF-P, "Defeating the Idea: Unconventional Warfare in Southern Philippines," hints that there is more to the task force's work than training AFP troops and embarking on "humanitarian actions." Wrote Eckert:
"Working in close coordination with the U.S. Embassy, JSOTF-P uses Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations forces to conduct deliberate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in very focused areas, and based on collection plans, to perform tasks to prepare the environment and obtain critical information requirements. The information is used to determine the capabilities, intentions and activities of threat groups that exist within the local population and to focus U.S. forces – and the AFP – on providing security to the local populace. It is truly a joint operation, in which Navy SEALs and SOF aviators work with their AFP counterparts to enhance the AFP's capacities."
These U.S. troops have always been seen near the sites of Philippine military operations in Sulu. The latest sighting was during the Feb. 4 attack on Brgy. Ipil, Maimbung where seven civilians and one Army soldier on vacation were killed. Bulatlat