GABRIELA USA Statement on the Court of Appeals conviction of Pemberton for killing Jennifer Laude

GABRIELA USA Statement on the Court of Appeals conviction of Pemberton for killing Jennifer Laude
Reference: Irma Shauf-Bajar, Chairperson GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA welcomes the Philippines Court of Appeals decision to uphold the conviction of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton. Jennifer Laude, a 26 year-old trans Filipina was brutally killed by Pemberton, a U.S. Marine in 2014. A victim of militarization, justice for Jennifer remained delayed as Pemberton has been given special treatment under onerous provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and remained in U.S. custody. The VFA, perpetuates a culture of violence and interferes with Philippine sovereignty by allowing special treatment for U.S. troops as well as hindering the Philippines court justice system.

Jennifer Laude’s death remains a pivotal example of the continuous atrocities inflicted on the Filipino people as their dignity remains secondary to the needs of the U.S. under unequal defense agreements such as the VFA and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).  With the decision to uphold the conviction of Pemberton, GABRIELA USA demands that more concrete be taken to uphold the national sovereignty of the Philippines as well as end the unequal defense treaties which continue the culture of violence against women and the Filipino people.

GABRIELA USA continues to extend our sympathies to Jennifer’s family, and honor the lives of all trans people who have fallen victim to a system that does not value trans lives and perpetuates a culture of violence. While state violence and repression continues in our communities, we must RISE against anti-trans violence, RESIST the militarization of our communities, and UNITE for the liberation, safety , and self-determination for all women.

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Join GABRIELA in Demanding Justice for Filipina Trans-woman Jennifer Laude and Sign Online Petition!

FLYER for Oct 24 Day of ActionWATCH GABRIELA USA’S CALL FOR THE GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION:

http://youtu.be/-5OeIiWsgrg

GABRIELA USA received news this week that U.S. Marine PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton accused of killing 26-year old Filipina transgender woman, Jennifer Laude in the Philippines, is now detained in Camp Aguinaldo under the “joint-custody” of both U.S. and Philippine authorities. We believe that both governments are making it appear that Pemberton is under Philippine authority because of the overwhelming pressure from the people. The U.S. still is not fully surrendering jurisdiction to the Philippine government and proper detention, investigation and justice has yet to be served.

Please join GABRIELA USA in sending a strong demand for justice for Jennifer, by signing the petition and encouraging others to support on this Global Day of Action.

SIGN ONLINE PETITION: http://wwwipetitions.com/petition/justice-for-filipina-trans-woman-jennifer-laude 

To: Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, US President Barack Obama, Senator John Kerry (U.S. Secretary of State), Secretary Albert Ferreros del Rosario (Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs), Secretary Leila De Lima (Philippine Department of Justice), Representative Adam Smith (House of Armed Services Committee), Senator Robert Mendez (Chair, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Harold Rogers (Chair, U.S. Committee on Appropriations), Philip Goldberg (U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines)

We are deeply saddened by the murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender woman from the Philippines, and express our deepest condolences to Jennifer’s family and friends.  On October 11, Jennifer was found strangled to death in a hotel room in Olongapo City, Philippines.  An autopsy report has shown the cause of death as “asphyxia by drowning.”  The suspected murderer, U.S. Marine Corp PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, is currently being held in detention aboard the USS Peleliu warship in Subic Bay.  Her death, clearly the result of a violent hate crime towards transgender people, also underscores the ongoing inequality of joint US-RP agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which give US military personnel impunity, as such was the case with Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

 Trans Lives Matter

Systemic violence and aggressive hate is a reality for LGBT people. Transgender people are treated as second-class citizens and their lives are systemically devalued and marginalized in economic, political, social, and cultural spheres of society. Transgender people such as Jennifer suffer from unspeakable violent acts and human rights abuses on everyday.

VFA is an Obstruction to Justice, Enforces Unequal Relations

At the same time, justice for Jennifer Laude hinges upon the treatment of the murder suspect in question, and under whose custody he will be placed and tried. The 2006 trial of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith underscored the special treatment of US military personnel who commit crimes on Philippine soil under the auspices of the VFA. Smith was charged and convicted of rape of a Filipina by the Makati City Regional Trial Court, was held at the US Embassy rather than a Philippine jail, and later acquitted and released by the Court of Appeals in 2009.

In Jennifer’s case, the VFA again poses as an obstruction to justice, with Pemberton still in the custody of the US military.

The tragic death comes just six months after President Obama visited Manila to sign a new agreement that expands the VFA and US military presence in the Philippines– the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

This observation of one-sidedness is reinforced by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says treaties entered into by the U.S. are not enforceable in the U.S. unless there is an implementing law or if the treaty is self-executing. The VFA, which was not even ratified as a treaty by the U.S. Senate, has neither an implementing law nor is self-executing. It is inequality, and an affront to sovereignty, when the VFA becomes enforceable in the Philippines but not in the U.S.

The Smith and Pemberton cases are just two of the many problems that have arisen from the VFA, a military pact that governs the entry and presence of American troops in Philippine territory. The VFA provides for, among others, the deployment and stationing of U.S. troops and the holding of joint military operations in the Philippines. Unknown to many, U.S. troops have been stationed in the Philippines since 2002 up to the present. The extent of U.S. deployment in the Philippines increased during George Bush’s discredited “war on terror.”

Funding Human Rights Violations Instead of Saving Jobs and Homes in the U.S.

The holding of U.S. military exercises is tied with providing military aid to the Philippines, with an annual $30 million allotted by the U.S. Congress and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in other assistance. The accumulated U.S. military funding for the Philippines from 2001 to the present may have already reached $1 billion.

Such a practice, however, becomes unconscionable when U.S. funding is used by a regime that – to borrow words from President Barack Obama- “clings to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” A 2008 US Senate Hearing led to cuts in US military funding to the Philippine government per documentary evidence involvement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in extrajudicial-killings, enforced disappearances, forced evacuation of rural communities, illegal detentions, and torture.

The VFA, despite the military exercises and aid, provides absolutely no short-term nor long-term benefits to the people of either the U.S. or the Philippines. Filipino citizens have staged an escalating number of protests to voice their opposition to the Agreement and its violation of Philippine sovereignty. Several Philippine senators have also filed a resolution calling for its abrogation.

The Obama administration has vowed a departure from the Bush foreign policies. Terminating the VFA and removing U.S. troops from the Philippines would be a step in that direction.

We demand:

  • That the Aquino government assert jurisdiction over the murder of transwoman Jennifer Laude by US Marine PFC Pemberton
  • That the Obama government immediately waive custody of US Marine PFC Pemberton to the Philippine authorities
  • That the lives of Transgender People be protected and valued, including the passing of Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination legislation that protects Transgender People in the Philippines and the US.
  • The termination of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement for being an unequal pact saddled with legal problems

JUSTICE FOR JENNIFER LAUDE!

STOP ANTI-LGBT VIOLENCE! TRANS-LIVES MATTER!

TERMINATE THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT!

END UNEQUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND THE U.S.!

END ALL HATE CRIMES AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE!

U.S. Marine Murders Filipino Trans Woman in the Philippines and Filipina-Americans Demand Justice!

For Immediate Release

October 13, 2014

Reference: Irma Bajar, Vice Chair of International Relations, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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Filipina-American women under GABRIELA USA are outraged by the news of the murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender woman from the Philippines. The suspected murderer, U.S. Marine Corp PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, was last seen checking into a hotel with Jennifer in Olongapo City, Philippines. Jennifer was later found strangled to death with her head plunged in a toilet bowl. Reminiscent of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and the historic 2005 rape case of Nicole, Pemberton, suspected of murdering Jennifer, is currently being held in detention aboard a U.S. Navy ship instead of being turned over to Philippine authorities for proper investigation. GABRIELA USA demands accountability and justice for Jennifer’s life, as a trans woman who has fallen victim to U.S. militarization!

“Jennifer’s death is not only a direct impact of U.S. military presence in the Philippines, but her brutal murder further exposes the daily vulnerability of trans women who regularly suffer systemic violence and hate crimes in a patriarchal-imperialist system,” says Pia Cortez, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA’s San Francisco chapter.

Despite the long history of Filipinos opposing U.S. military occupation in the Philippines and the ever-increasing number of state-sponsored human rights abuses tied to U.S. military occupation, President Aquino continues to hand over Philippine sovereignty by allowing more U.S. troops to occupy Philippine soil through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the recent Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). At a time when the Obama administration is heightening its position over the Asia Pacific region, more U.S. troops can only mean more cases of violence against women and children.

“Trans women like Jennifer are at a higher risk for violence because we live in a system that delegitimizes their lives,” says Irma Bajar of GABRIELA USA. “Just this summer in the U.S., 8 trans women of color fell victim to hate crimes and murders. Although there is an increase in violence towards trans people worldwide, little is ever done to protect their lives and hold perpetrators accountable. The murder of Jennifer is clearly a hate crime committed by U.S. military personnel, and he must be held accountable by the Philippine justice system!”

GABRIELA USA extends its sympathies to Jennifer’s family, and honors the lives of all trans people who have fallen victim to a system that does not value trans lives and perpetuates a culture of violence. GABRIELA USA will be holding an action in New York and a vigil in San Francisco this Wednesday, October 15th to condemn the murder of Jennifer Laude, and demand for the swift turnover of the U.S. Marine to Philippine authorities.

Justice for Jennifer Laude!

Trans Lives Matter!

US Troops OUT of the Philippines!

JUNK THE VFA!

Scrap EDCA!

Join us to Demand Justice for Jennifer in New York and San Francisco:

NEW YORK

Contact: Irma Bajar, irmabajar@gmail.com, 206-321-2931

Wednesday, October 15th, 5 PM

Action and Rally in front of the Philippine Embassy

556 Fifth Avenue, New York

Organized by: BAYAN Queer Caucus, GABRIELA New York, and Barangay New York- LGBTQ Pin@ys

SAN FRANCISCO

Contact: Pia Cortez, priscilla.crtz@gmail.com, 650-296-3518

Wednesday, October 15th, 6 PM

Community Vigil at Union Square (at Dewey Monument)

333 Post Street, San Francisco

Organized by: GABRIELA San Francisco and BAYAN Bay Area Regional Caucus

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Trafficked Teachers Demand Answers from the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 6, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

Aquino fail

WASHINGTON D.C.— On October 3rd, member organizations of GABRIELA USA from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C., descended on the U.S. national capital to demand justice for over 300 Filipino teachers who are victims of labor trafficking. It has almost been 1 year since the imprisonment of the recruitment agency owner and primary trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez, in the Philippines last November, and since his release last May, he is still at large. “We demand justice and hold Philippine government institutions accountable for allowing such things to happen, as we are still struggling to gain immigration relief in the US and pursue a human trafficking case against our trafficker in the Philippines,” says Janet Gardose, Vice Chair of Campaigns of GABRIELA Washington DC and one of the trafficked teacher survivors.

Last Wednesday, October 1st, a delegation consisting of teachers and other members of the national alliance GABRIELA USA met with Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, the highest-ranking Philippine government official based in the U.S., to follow up on promises that he made for redress in the trafficking case of the teachers. “Despite the several meetings and attempts to reach out for their help for all of the teachers who have come forward, the process in gaining their support has been bureaucratic and unreliable in responding to the urgent needs of all of the teachers and the countless number of Overseas Filipino Workers lacking protections and experience neglect,” says Jo Quiambao, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA Washington DC. Many teachers have already filed complaints to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in previous years and have not received any recourse to pursue an investigation of poor practices or to ensure migrants are protected. The teachers have been waiting for the support of their own government since 2008.

GABRIELA USA members from across the nation assembled to expose the culpability of the Philippine government in enabling human trafficking through the systematic use of the Labor Export Policy. “I’m a victim of human trafficking and I was so scared of Rodriguez because he threatened our lives. For a long time, I was working for $50 for every 24 hours of work, but I needed to sacrifice for my family. I chose to be a GABRIELA member because I was so scared to be alone, and realized that it is important to fight for justice for myself and other victims,” says Rio Cachola, member of GABRIELA, Washington DC. President BS Aquino perpetuates the exploitative Labor Export Policy, which systematically exports 5,000 Filipinos abroad daily without adequate protections, leaving them to fend for themselves while reaping billions of dollars in remittances per year. Exporting Filipinos out of the country to support their families does not genuinely develop the country.

President BS Aquino neglects to develop national industries and engages in unequal U.S.-imperialist policies, which does not create nearly enough jobs for Filipinos to have a choice to stay home with their families and aggravates the problem forced migration. President Barack Obama continues to impose policies with President BS Aquino, such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and they have also discussed having the Philippines join the Trans Pacific Partnership, which sacrifices national sovereignty and subjugates the Philippine politics and economy to foreign will. “Such policies will only exacerbate forced migration in the coming years and will further enable human trafficking without addressing the root causes of forced migration and the lack of protections of migrant workers,” concludes Tina Shauf, Campaigns Officer of GABRIELA USA. Additionally, as migrants arrive in the U.S., they are criminalized for their presence despite their victimization as trafficked victims and the important jobs they occupy in the American economy. Filipino trafficked teachers are both pushed out of their country and pulled into a web of problematic issues in the U.S.

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The contingent concluded the program with a dance in front of the embassy to celebrate the collective strength it is taking to demand justice, dignity and respect for the teachers. GABRIELA USA demands justice for Filipino trafficked teachers directly from the Aquino administration and urge the Philippine Embassy to support all the teachers in pursuing a human trafficking case with an expedited process of their T-Visas to provide immigration relief.

BS Aquino: Trafficker In Chief!

Immigration Relief for Trafficked Teachers NOW!

#sulonggabriela

#gabrielausa

#justice4filipinotraffickedteachers

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GABRIELA USA Honors the Life of Recca Noelle Monte and Other Slain Activists

Solidarity Statement

September 10, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

Recca

Recca Noelle Monte was a bright engineering student from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Twelve years ago, she traveled to the Cordillera region and engaged in community organizing there and stayed. Yesterday, September 10, 2014, in the Philippines her son and sister traveled to Manila as she was honored by mass organizations in the Philippines who testified about her bravery and courage. Deceased, Recca will be honored every night this week by various people’s organizations in the Philippines, and internationally her life will also be remembered. 

GABRIELA USA joins mass organizations in the Philippines in honoring her, her work among the Filipino people, and other activists slain like her. Below are cultural offerings by Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA and Elaine Villasper, Organizational Development Officer of GABRIELA USA, both of whom were greatly impacted and influenced by the life and work of Recca Noelle Monte. She remains a powerful force for Filipinas in the United States, inspiring us to take up and continue the struggle she gave her life for.

Eureka

By Valerie Francisco

This morning, I spoke your name for the first time

Eureka

It woke me from my dreams

My dreams of justice and freedom

The return of ancestral lands

To the indigenous people of the Cordillera

My dreams of the lush rice terraces we once walked

The strong resistance against development aggression of the Kalinga people

That inspired you and me, both

Still inspires us

In your life and in your work

You set an example of true and utmost service to the Filipino people

Eureka!

What an idea

To actually give your life in service of those most oppressed

For the women who carry the lifeblood of our nation’s culture of resistance

For the men and women whose hands till the land

For the children who need to have a world changed

Today, I spoke your name

And daily, I will continue

Recca Noelle Monte

We will carry on your struggle

In our every breath

From the Cordillera to the US

Until victory

Eureka

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Taos pusong nakikiramay po kami sa GABRIELA USA. Recca was one of the kasamas that welcomed and hosted us during our exposure in the Cordilleras in 2008, and played a major role in our successful integration with the community. I have many fond memories of kasamang Recca, one of which was of her helping me hike down a very slippery mountain while it was raining. Step by step, Recca held my hand, placed her foot firmly on the ground, and had me lean on her for support all the way down the mountainside. I’ve never forgotten that small act of camaraderie.

In memory of Ka Recca and the other kasamas, I’d like to offer a short excerpt from my journal written during our exposure trip in 2008:

“Every so often you meet people that change your life forever. In Kalinga, I met them. My experience in Kalinga cannot be adequately described in words. I just know deep inside that I entered that barrio with whatever ideas and concepts about myself and left as a different person. In Kalinga, I sang with all the joy and pain in my heart. I laughed without holding back, and I faced my fears head on, looking towards the kasamas for support. No amount of explanation can narrate everything stirring inside of me. There was something about Kalinga and its people that will stay with me forever. I feel so blessed and privileged to have had the interactions I’ve had with the kasamas here the past few days.”

Salamat, Ka Recca, for holding my hand, for listening, for laughing and dancing with us, for offering your life to the very last breath in service of the people. You gave me a necklace to remember our time together, and today I will proudly wear it in your honor. Paalam, kasama. I will carry your memory forward, and hope to emulate your selflessness and dedication to the people that we serve. Mabuhay ka, Kasamang Recca!

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GABRIELA-USA Solidarity Message to the Citizens of Ferguson, Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 25, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chair, GABRIELA-USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

IMG_3032

Two weeks have passed since the people of Ferguson have taken to the streets to protest the brutal murder of Michael Brown at the hands of the Ferguson Police Department. GABRIELA-USA, a Filipino women’s alliance with member chapters in Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, stands in solidarity with the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, asserting their constitutional right to assemble in protest against this injustice.

As mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sisters, we send our deepest sympathies and unanimous support to Ferguson communities voicing their outrage in response to the institutionalized racism that targets the lives of Black people daily. We denounce the state-sponsored police violence that systematically criminalizes, de-values, de-humanizes and violates the safety and lives of Black families. We mourn the lives of Black children, particularly young Black men, murdered by militarized police states.

We raise our fists and take to the streets in our own communities to protest state repression. While fighting for rights of immigrants and working-class people of color in the U.S., as militant Filipina women, we understand all too well the connection between our struggles for liberation and self-determination, from our homeland of the Philippines, to Palestine, to Ferguson.

It as our duty to fight for the collective liberation of all our people; we continually link our struggles for national liberation in our homeland with the liberation of people throughout the world. We stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.  We stand in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown and the families of other young Black and Brown people who unjustly fall victim to violence in the hands of the state.

We Stand in Solidarity with the People of Ferguson, Missouri!

Justice for Michael Brown!        

End State-Sponsored Police & Military Brutality!

#BlackLivesMatter

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GABRIELA USA Solidarity Message to the Palestinian People

GABUSA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 29, 2014

Reference: Irma Bajar, Vice Chair of International Relations, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA, a Filipino women’s alliance consisting of member organizations in Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine against the recent air strikes and bombings by the Zionist government of Israel. We strongly condemn all imperialist governments, led by the United States, for their continued monetary support, collusion and provocation of these brutal attacks and genocide of the Palestinian people.

We send our deepest sympathies and unequivocal support to the liberation movement of Palestine, and in particular the women & children of Gaza who live in constant fear for their and their families’ lives because of the unending assault at the hands of Zionists. We in the U.S. are bearing witness to the escalated state-sanctioned genocide of a people fighting for their ancestral land, as well as the right to sovereignty and self-determination. We are disgusted witnessing this slaughter, supported by our government’s self-serving interests, supported by our U.S tax dollars.

Western imperialist governments, like the U.S., play a big role in fanning the animosity and war between Israel and Palestine, by continually sending political and military support to Israel, thereby directly participating in the killings of innocent Palestinians, a US imperialist policy implemented against all nations across the world attempting to assert their sovereignty. In 2014 alone, Israel received $3.1 billion in bilateral assistance from the U.S., which serves as an estimated 23-25% of Israel’s defense budget.

It is our duty as Filipina women fighting for the liberation of our people in the Philippines, that we link our struggle for national liberation with that of other movements in the spirit of true international solidarity. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian women, who despite threat to their lives and security, continue to struggle for their people’s freedom against Zionist occupation, and for a free and sovereign Palestine.

Long Live the Palestinian People!

Long Live International Solidarity!

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Noynoy Aquino’s SONA Covers Up Failures as Filipino American Women Call for Noynoy’s ImPEACHment!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 26, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is set to deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28, 2014, which we can expect to be several hours worth of the same broken promises and excuses Aquino has been promoting for the past three years of his sordid administration. Mired in recent controversies of corruption via the presidential Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), brash signing of the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), continued human rights violations, and his inadequate response to Typhoon Haiyan, Filipino-American women are fed up with a negligent president and are joining mass protests to call for Aquino’s impeachment from office.

Eight months after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, the Aquino administration has failed to respond to the basic needs of typhoon survivors. In March, during a dialogue with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), representatives of Typhoon Haiyan survivors, majority of whom are women and children, called for P40,000 (roughly USD $925) in immediate relief stipends for families. This request was denied by DSWD due to a supposed lack of funding, which raises concerns on how the national budget and global aid has been allocated and spent.

“When the government shrug their shoulders about relief and basic needs of the Filipino people, the whole country suffers. It is unacceptable that crooked politicians claim a lack of funding and turn around to spend millions of pesos on luxurious and unnecessary expenses,” says Valerie Francisco, National Chairperson of GABRIELA USA.

To this end, proof of Aquino’s contradictions with his “straight and narrow” way or matuwid na daan has come to the fore as the Supreme Court recently ruled that the presidential pork barrel, the Discretionary Acceleration Program (DAP), a lump sum of discretionary funds under the total control of the president, as unconstitutional. The president claimed that DAP was supposed to be a stimulus for the Philippine economy when expenses such as the P800 million of his DAP funds for Malacañang renovation do not have clear consequences for the overall national economy and still leaves Filipinos in need out to dry.

The signing of EDCA, which allows U.S. military presence in the Philippines, is also a clear sign of Aquino’s disregard for the well-being of women and children. “It is widely known that prostitution, sex trafficking, and human rights violations run rampant in areas surrounding military bases, and we can only expect these to increase with the signing of EDCA,” says Pia Cortez, Chairperson of GABRIELA San Francisco. It is clear that the Aquino administration continues to prioritize US interests over the well-being of his own people.

Aquino’s lack of commitment to the welfare of Filipinos extends to migrant citizens in the U.S. The plight of more than 200 trafficked Filipino teachers still hang in the balance, as the hunt for their trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez, continues after being released from prison in the Philippines. “Aquino and the Department of Justice has failed to protect its citizens from predatory human traffickers, and continues to fumble in its handling of a clear human trafficking case impacting hundreds of people! In the mean time, survivors are left to fend for ourselves without any support from the government agencies that were so eager to take our money and migrate us out of the country!” claims Fen Ecleo, Co-chairperson of GABRIELA Washington DC and survivor of human trafficking.

With these outstanding abuses to Filipino in the Philippines and worldwide, there is no doubt that Aquino is filled with deception and defensive strategies to keep him and his elite cronies protected. Joining a growing clamor of Filipinos calling for accountability from the president, member organizations of GABRIELA USA will be protesting Aquino’s SONA outside of Philippine embassies across the U.S. carrying peach ribbons, calling for the imPEACHment of Aquino.

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GABRIELA USA Commemorates the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion and Rallies Against Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 30, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA commemorated the 45th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and rallied against violence drawing attention to the continuing conditions faced by LGBTQGNC Filipinos.

According to a recent report by the Anti-Violence Project, in 2013 there was a 21% increase in reports of physical hate violence against LGBT people, 89% of LGBT homicide victims were people of color and 72% were trans women. GABRIELA USA endorsed and marched on the 10th anniversary of Trans Day of Action organized by TransJustice of the Audre Lorde Project in New York City that called for the end of such hate violence and highlights other issues the trans and gender non-conforming community, including: criminalization and incarceration, health care access, economic justice, and affordable housing.

In Seattle, members also participated in the Trans Day of Action event on June 27 attended by 3,000 people to continue the fight against the continued repression and violence against trans people.  GABRIELA Seattle alongside members of API Chaya, came together to honor the recent death of Korean American trans youth, Sun Kim, a dedicated community leader whose commitment to social justice left an imprint on the lives of many and will never be forgotten.

GABRIELA New York together with the BAYAN Queer Caucus, BARANGAY-NY, and Pinay Trans USA also participated in the Manhattan Pride march as the Filipino contingent. Their banners “Justice for the Typhoon Yolanda Victims and After the Storm there is a Rainbow” were calls to hold President BS Aquino and the Philippine government accountable for their lack of response to the Filipino People. Members held signs that said, “Get the Philippines to the Rainbow. Support Temporary Protected Status for Philippine nationals.”

DJ Arucan, National Officer for Education and Training of Gabriela Women’s Partylist marched with GABRIELA New York at this year’s NYC Pride march and stated:

“The struggle of the LGBTQGNC community is not separate from the struggle of the majority of people in the Philippines. It is an integral part of everyone’s fight for social justice. Basic rights such as the right to till land as a peasant, obtain regular employment with a decent livable wage as a worker or professional, and access to free education for all are the major problems every society has encountered for decades.  All LGBTQGNC must join the struggle of the oppressed majority of people to end discrimination and social injustice. LGBTQGNC people can only be freed when the majority are liberated.”

Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest Bayan Queer Caucus representative, Rosie Dino, was joined by members of GABRIELA Seattle at the annual Dyke March on June 28 to march alongside all queer and trans folks who continue to struggle against various forms of violence including the continued deportation of thousands of immi/migrants by President Obama.  There are 2 million too many immigrants being separated from their families and having their human rights violated.

From coast to coast, Filipinas in the U.S., along with others im/migrant and LGBTQGNC communities must continue to fight and defend their right to live in dignity, free from all forms of violence and repression, because the the Stonewall Rebellion is not over until all marginalized sectors of the Trans, Queer and GNC community, working class im/migrants, women, youth and people of color have justice and are liberated.  We see the liberation of all LGBTQGNC as integral to the liberation of all oppressed people.

Relief and Rehabilitation, Not Militarization!

Stop Criminalization of Im/migrants!

No to Deportation! Legalization for All!

End Profiling, Harassment, and Discrimination by the Police!

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Filipinas Across US Demand Prosecution for Human Trafficker Isidro Rodriguez

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 21, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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Melissa Reyes, Co-chairperson of GABRIELA San Francisco

On May 21, GABRIELA USA organizations and their allies in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and New York City launched a deluge of phone and fax messages to the Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to the U.S.  Concerned citizens of the U.S. and Filipino community members expressed their dissatisfaction with the steady stream of migrant Filipino workers trafficked under the direct knowledge of the Philippine government.  Furthermore, the community is outraged over the recent premature release of Isidro Rodriguez, who late last year was arrested and detained for crimes related to his illegal recruitment practices.

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Terry Valen, President of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)

Since 2003, hundreds of teachers have been illegally recruited and trafficked to the U.S. by Philippines-based recruitment agency owner Isidro Rodriguez. Over this duration, numerous case complaints have been reported to Philippine Embassy officials and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) about the contract substitutions and exploitative work conditions these trafficked teachers experience in the U.S. These complaints have been met with slow and unsatisfactory response from the Philippine government officials and agencies who are purported to protect the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants.

Instead of serving due justice to these victims, the Philippine government has done just the opposite. GABRIELA USA received confirmation from Migrante International, an alliance of Filipino migrant organizations, that Isidro Rodriguez, a proven trafficker of Filipino migrant workers, was released on May 8, 2014 due to the settlement of a few teachers from a primary case. His early release disregards a significantly larger number of teachers currently pursuing cases against him. The Rodriguez was expected to appear before the Department of Justice on May 13th in the hearing of the trafficking case against him but failed to appear and will likely evade charges.

imagejpeg_1The email and fax barrage to Philippine Ambassador to the U.S.,  Jose Cuisia Jr.,  comes at the heels of an in-person meeting with community members at the San Francisco consulate office in which the Ambassador promised to pen a letter of endorsement for Isidro Rodriguez’s prosecution and re-arrest to the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines. Cuisia also made commitments to GABRIELA USA, Migrante Northern California, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and the trafficked teachers that he would pursue the POEA for licensing a proven human trafficker such as Isidro Rodriguez. Lastly, Cuisia communicated that he would follow up the Department of Homeland Security to provide immigration relief for the trafficked teachers victimized by Isidro Rodriguez.

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