Aquino To Visit Obama To Discuss Increase in U.S. Military Presence, Betrays The Interests of Filipino Women and Children

For Immediate Release

June 8, 2012
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA-USA,

Aquino To Visit Obama To Discuss Increase in U.S. Military Presence,

Betrays The Interests of Filipino Women and Children

Washington, DC — As Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III prepares to meet with Barack Obama on June 8 to discuss plans to increase U.S. military presence in the Philippines, progressive Filipino women’s organizations under GABRIELA-USA will greet Noynoy Aquino with a message of their own: “U.S. Military Presence = Violence Against Women and Children! U.S. Troops Out Now!”

Just a few weeks after the conclusion of its Second National General Assembly, GABRIELA-USA is set to protest the meeting between the two leaders to confront Aquino on his betrayal of the interests of Filipino women. Aquino’s administration has proven subservient to foreign corporations and U.S. military interests, allowing for the continued increase of U.S. military presence in the Philippines, despite the ban on permanent deployment of troops under the Philippine Constitution and the abolition of the U.S. bases in 1991. Currently, around 4,000 U.S. troops are deployed in the Philippines at any given time under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Violence against women and girls intensify in places where U.S. soldiers are deployed, as proven by the experiences of Suzette “Nicole” Nicolas in 2005 and “Vanessa” in 2009, both of whom had come forward to seek justice for rape they alleged were committed by stationed U.S. marines. Newly elected Chairperson, Valerie Francisco, lambasts the Aquino administration as the number one puppet of the U.S. in Southeast Asia and a traitor to the concerns of the Filipino people, more than half of whom are women. “The presence of American troops proliferates the illegal prostitution and sex trafficking of women in the Philippines. U.S. military presence has never improved the lives of Filipino women, it has only increased their suffering” says Francisco.

Obama’s trippling of U.S. military aid to the Philippines in 2012 is in line with the Pentagon’s recent announcement of a  60% strategic shift to the Asia Pacific region set to be completed by 2020. Thirty million dollars of U.S. taxpayer money is earmarked for the Philippines this year, despite the continuing global economic crisis. “We’ve seen record cuts on social services, on our budget for education, and health programs. We need our tax dollars to build our social safety net, not sent as a military aid package to a country whose administration has a questionable human rights record,” says Joanna Quiambao, member of Igniting Leadership and Action with Women or ILAW, a newly founded GABRIELA-USA organization based in Washington, DC.

Join GABRIELA-USA in nationally-coordinated protest actions to demand that President Aquino protect the rights and welfare of the Filipino women!

Friday, June 8, 2:00PM EST
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Sidewalks between East & West Executive Avenues
Washington, D.C.
Contact: Joanna Quiambao, Igniting Leadership and Action with Women (ILAW),

Friday, June 8, 5:30PM PST
Hilton LAX
5711 West Century Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90045
Contact: Terrie Cervas, Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGAw),

Sat, June 9 & Sun, June 10, 12pm-5pm PST
Seattle Center, Pagdiriwang Festival commemorating Philippine Independence
Seattle, Washington
Contact: Chel Cendana, Pinay sa Seattle,