Filipino Trafficked Teachers and Supporters Rallied for Justice on Death Anniversary of Flor Contemplacion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 19, 2014

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

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“STOP! STOP TRAFFICKING OUR PEOPLE!” echoed across the United States last Monday, on the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, a Filipino domestic worker who was unjustly executed in Singapore. GABRIELA USA led actions that launched a national campaign to demand Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers. Rally contingents in Washington DC, San Francisco and New York City chanted and spoke out in front of the Philippine Embassies and Consulates. Teachers courageously shared with consulate representatives their traumatic experiences as victims of human trafficking.

Since 2003, an estimated 300 teachers have been illegally recruited and trafficked to the U.S. by Philippines-based recruitment agency owner Isidro Rodriguez. They experienced fraud and abuse in the hands of Rodriguez, and were often abandoned and left to survive on their own, jobless and without proper documentation. Case complaints have been reported to Philippine Embassy officials in the past as well as to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). Even after several cases of human trafficking brought to the attention of the Philippine Consulate over the course of several years, including cases like the Grand Isle Shipyard oil rig workers, Sentosa nurses, the Florida 15 and now Filipino teachers, the response of the Philippine government to the needs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) has consistently been inadequate and unsatisfactory.

The Labor Export Policy and unequal U.S.-imperialist trade policies put people into extreme poverty and force them to separate from their families and migrate instead of investing in the genuine development of the country. “There will be more Isidro Rodriguezes out there unless we address the corrupt practices of the Philippine government, which work hand-in-hand with recruiters and loan sharks to take advantage of people’s desperation,” says Tina Shauf, Campaigns Officer of GABRIELA USA. Addressing the human trafficking issue is not just about prosecuting unscrupulous recruiters, but also holding accountable government institutions that enable for this practice to happen all too often. “On the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, we publicly condemned President Noynoy Aquino’s administration’s neglect and lack of responsibility to its people, and we demand a STOP to this abuse and exploitation!” concludes Shauf.

#Justice4FilipinoTeachers

#gabrielausa

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GABRIELA USA Calls to Action to Demand Justice for Filipino Trafficked Teachers

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On the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion (a Filipino domestic worker who was unjustly executed in Singapore), GABRIELA USA will be taking action across the United States and launching the JUSTICE for Filipino Trafficked Teachers campaign.

Since 2003, batches of teachers have been illegally recruited and trafficked to the U.S. by Philippines-based recruitment agency owner Isidro Rodriguez. Case complaints have been reported to Philippine Embassy officials in the past as well as to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). However, the response from the Philippine government has been inadequate and unsatisfactory.

We call upon Filipinos, friends, and allies across the nation to join the teachers in their struggle for justice!

Washington, DC
5:00 PM Rally & Speak Out
The Philippine Embassy
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, DC 20036
Contact: info@gabrieladc.org

New York
6:00PM Rally & Speak Out
Philippine Consulate
556 5th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Contact: fire.nyc@gmail.com

San Francisco
4:30 PM Delegation inside Consulate
5:00 PM Rally & Speak Out
Philippine Consulate General
447 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
Contact: info@babaesf.org

Seattle
6-10 PM Photo Op @ Pop Up
Inay’s Restaurant
2503 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
Contact & send photos to: pinayinfo@gmail.com

#Justice4FilipinoTeachers
#gabrielausa

Filipina Women Resist and Fight for the Rights and Welfare of Migrant Women Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 5, 2014

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

On the 104th Anniversary of the International Working Women’s Day on March 8th, GABRIELA USA, a Filipino women’s alliance that consists of member organizations in Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, will be joining working class and im/migrant women across the United States to demand livable wage jobs, an end to labor trafficking, and justice for Super Typhoon Yolanda victims amidst the global economic crisis caused by imperialist globalization.

Almost four months since Typhoon Yolanda, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s administration continues to neglect the needs of the victims, failing to deliver relief goods and basic social needs to women and their families such as adequate housing, comprehensive health services, potable water, and electricity. The government is also using the disaster as an excuse to further intensify militarization of Eastern Visayas deploying thousands of military troops all over the region. “We are outraged and demand President Noynoy to give immediate attention to rebuild and rehabilitate communities. We say NO to another pork barrel scandal keeping relief funds from reaching the people and NO to land grabbing and militarization!” says Tina Shauf, Campaigns Officer of GABRIELA USA.

With the help of puppet governments, imperialist policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership allow multi-national corporations to extract and exploit natural resources in an unregulated manner, causing environmental pollution and degradation, and leaving the people unable to survive in their home countries. “There is nothing free about about these ‘free’ trade agreements. Migrants are paying the cost by being forced out of their homeland, separated from their families and subjected to abuse and exploitation,” says Irma Bajar, International Relations Officer of GABRIELA USA.

GABRIELA Washington DC consists mostly of members who are survivors of human trafficking. These trafficked teachers are victims of fraud, and have experienced exploitation and abuse. They were deployed to the US by a Philippines-based recruitment agency only to find that the teaching jobs they were promised were non-existent. Many of the teachers are now filing a human trafficking case against their recruiter, who has been serving time in jail since November 2013 for his crimes against several hundreds of teachers. “It is painful to think that I’m a victim of human trafficking because I lost my self-esteem and dignity. I joined GABRIELA, Washington DC, because of the need to educate people about trafficking and to unite with other survivors to fight for our rights and for justice,” states Fen Ecleo, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA DC.

Migrants from Latin America, Asia and throughout the world regularly remit money back to their families in their home countries and yet experience unfair wages and wage theft, while the cost of living is only increasing. The majority of domestic workers in the United States are foreign-born and about half of workers are paid an hourly wage below the level needed to adequately support a family. Labor laws throughout the United States still do not include requirements for employers to treat migrant workers with dignity and respect, including rights to fair and overtime pay for hours worked.

In celebrating 5 years of Filipino women’s militancy in advancing the rights and welfare of women and children in the United States, as an international chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, join GABRIELA USA in launching a national campaign on March 17 to expose the realities of human trafficking and demand justice for trafficked teachers.

We are Women Workers, We are NOT Slaves!

Stop Imperialist Exploitation & Modern Day Slavery of Migrant Workers!

STOP Forced Migration of Our People! End the Labor Export Policy!

Justice for Migrant Women Workers and their families!

JUSTICE for YOLANDA VICTIMS!

 

Join us on March 8th, International Working Women’s Day in the city near you!

Los Angeles

March 6, 2014 (5-8PM)

People’s State of the City 2014

One Billion Rising performance during program

Church One

E. 70th Street, Long Beach, CA 90805

 

March 8, 2014 (2pm)

Women Against Repression & Occupation

Rock, Rap & Speakout vs Poverty, Prisons & War

MacArthur Park at Wilshire Blvd (between Alvarado & Parkview) Los Angeles, CA 90057

 

New York City

March 8, 2014 (12-5pm)

12 Noon Speak Out/Rally at Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Factory Memorial

23-29 Washington Place (Between Greene St. & Washington Square East)

1 PM March to 147 West 24th St. New York, NY

2PM-5PM Celebration and Speak Out with Food and Refreshments

 

San Francisco

March 8, 2014 (12-3pm)

National Domestic Workers Alliance presents

Dignity in Action: International Women’s Day Celebration

GABRIELA SF One Billion Rising flashmob @ 1pm

Yerba Buena Ally Way @ Minna & 5th Street (beneath SF Chronicle building)

San Francisco, CA

 

March 19, 2014 (6-9pm)

Commemoration of Flor Contemplacion Day

Migrante Northern California’s Dinner and Film Night

Location TBA

 

Seattle

March 8, 2014 (11AM)

International Women’s Day Brigade

Gather at Prat Park (20th Ave. S & Yesler)

March to Hing Hay Park (Maynard & King St)

 

Washington, D.C.

March 17th

Justice for Trafficked Teachers Campaign Washington DC Launch

Press Conference to Expose Trafficked Teachers Case Against Recruiter

Location TBA

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Filipino Women, Survivors, and Allies to Rise, Release, and Dance to Fight Violence Against Women and Demand Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 12, 2014

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

Filipino Women, Survivors, and Allies to Rise, Release, and Dance to

Fight Violence Against Women and Demand Justice

On February 14th, 2014 GABRIELA-USA will join One Billion Rising (OBR), a global call for women survivors of violence and those who love them, to gather safely in public spaces to demand justice. We recognize that we cannot end the various forms of violence against women, including gender violence, poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, without addressing that they are rooted in a global imperialist and patriarchal system. GABRIELA-USA, along with partner organizations and individuals, will be rising for justice on V-DAY in cities across the U.S. including Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Portland and Washington DC, and are calling on all Filipinos and solidarity allies to join in our actions.

In its second year of participation in OBR, GABRIELA-USA is highlighting survivors of human and labor trafficking, as well as migrant workers. Its newest chapter, launched in Washington D.C. this past October 2013, majority of the 50+ members are survivors of human trafficking. These trafficked teachers were recruited by an agency that promised high-salaried jobs with benefits, housing and transportation. Upon arriving to the U.S., the teachers were regularly threatened with deportation, kept under constant surveillance, control, and manipulation. It is under these slave-like conditions, that these women worked in order to survive.

“The Aquino Administration praises Overseas Filipino Workers as the modern heroes of today, but does not want to be accountable to them when abused, exploited, or taken advantage of abroad,” said Jo Quiambao, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA D.C. “We will educate, organize, and mobilize our women to fight for their rights and demand that this type of violence stops in our community. The GABRIELA chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area is also working closely with teachers recruited by the same agency, and the GABRIELA chapter in New York continues to work with the women of the Florida 15, who have already filed human trafficking cases with the Department of Justice, and still in search for their trafficker, Jojo Villanueva.

Tina Shauf, National Campaigns Officer, says “The Aquino Administration is actually the biggest human trafficker of Filipinos abroad, with its Labor Export Program. We demand an end to the trafficking and exploitation of our people! We call on the Filipino community and our allies to support all trafficking survivors engaged in legal cases, both in the Philippines and the U.S.”

On February 14th GABRIELA-USA calls on the Philippine government to respond to the issues of trafficking of all Filipino people, and to address the root causes of migration, poverty and underdevelopment in the Philippines. The fight to end violence against women is the fight against an imperialist system that inherently imposes violence on women. Join us in major activities across the country, in a global dance-protest to demand justice for all survivors and victims of human and labor trafficking, and forced migration!

NOYNOY AQUINO: THE BIGGEST HUMAN TRAFFICKER OF FILIPINOS!

END THE LABOR EXPORT POLICY OF THE PHILIPPINES! NO TO IMPERIALIST TRADE POLICIES!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND ALL MIGRANT WORKERS! OUR PEOPLE ARE NOT FOR SALE!

San Francisco, California

February 14th at 4-6pm

Official SF One Billion Rising Event

San Francisco City Hall

GABRIELA flash mob performance at 5pm

Seattle, Washington

February 14 at 6:30pm-7:00pm

Flash mob at Seafood City

Seafood City, Southcenter Mall

2800 Southcenter Mall, Seattle, WA

 

Washington D.C.

Friday, February 14th  at 12:00pm

One Billion Rising Rally at Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First St. NE, Washington, DC, US 20543

Rally at Philippine Embassy
Sunday, February 16th at 4:00pm

Isang Bilyong Dance at Cleveland

Park Library, NW DC
Portland, Oregon

February 15 at 12:00pm

One Billion Rising Dance at the Annual Filipino Olympics

Portland State University

1825 SW Broadway, Portland, OR
New York

February 14, 8pm-Midnight, Performance @ 8:45pm

V-Day’s Rise NYC Party

Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th St, NYC

RSVP at: http://www.onebillionrising.org/risenyc/
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BAYAN USA Queer Caucus & GABRIELA – USA Stands in Solidarity with Gay Filipino Journalist Randy Gener and the LGBTQ Community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 30, 2014

Reference:

Jenabi Pareja, Coordinator, BAYAN USA Queer Caucus, jenabi09@gmail.com

Irma Salvatierra Bajar, Vice Chair of International Relations, GABRIELA NY – USA, irmabajar@gmail.com

BAYAN USA Queer Caucus & GABRIELA – USA Stands in Solidarity with Gay Filipino Journalist Randy Gener and the LGBTQ Community 

The BAYAN USA Queer Caucus (QC), a committee of LGBTQ-identified members of BAYAN USA, and GABRIELA NY – USA, an alliance of organizations representing Filipina women across the United States, stand in solidarity with the friends and family of openly out gay journalist, Randy Gener, who was brutally attacked walking home from a party on January 17th.  Having sustained massive head trauma, Randy remains hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit after surviving brain surgery. The resulting outpour of support shown through vigils, fundraising campaigns and organizational endorsements from the many communities Randy’s life has touched is a beautiful example of community power for our kababayan in need.

It has been documented by the media surrounding the attack, that Randy’s family and friends believe him to be the victim of a hate crime since his wallet and phone remained untouched, negating the possibility of robbery as motive.  While a suspect has been apprehended for questioning, due in large part to growing community and media pressure on the New York Police Department (NYPD) and its commissioner, William Bratton, to investigate the case, both the BAYAN USA QC and GABRIELA – USA understands that the prosecution of an individual doesn’t address the root causes of violence that impact the lives of LGBTQ people on a daily basis.

Our hope is that that we, as community, keep the dialogue going around how to create and support the sustainability of safe communities for all people regardless of identity or perceived-identity.  We call on our kababayan to brainstorm ideas of safety that move beyond the false sense of security that an increased NYPD-presence in our neighborhoods would bring – because it’s been widely documented the NYPD’s abuse of its Stop and Frisk policy to unjustly criminalize the lives of young men of color, and in particular the lives of LGBTQ people of color.   Says BAYAN USA QC member representing GABRIELA NY – USA, Lolan Buhain Sevilla, “Creating safe communities is about addressing root causes – providing access to economic stability, safe housing, as well as access to health and human services.  What it is not, is the band-aid solution of imposing a militarized state upon the most vulnerable and impacted of our communities.”  It is also about re-thinking how we hold accountable individuals who commit violent crimes, to rehabilitate rather than create repeat offenders, as we’ve seen happen again and again through the Prison Industrial Complex.

The BAYAN USA Queer Caucus and GABRIELA – USA hopes to be part of these conversations.  We will remain committed until the day we no longer have to bear the brunt of devastation that hate crime violence weights upon our communities; when we can walk down sidewalks without fear for our lives.  We call on our communities and allies to join us in these conversations, interventions and implementation of practices, to ensure not one more of us has to live in fear – for Randy Gener.  For Islan Nettles.  For CeCe McDonald.  For Mark Carson.  And the countless others who remain nameless and unaccounted for.

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GABRIELA USA Stands in Solidarity with Garment Workers in Cambodia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 21, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA

Email: chair@gabusa.org

GABRIELA USA Stands in Solidarity with Garment Workers in Cambodia 

GABRIELA USA, an alliance of organizations representing Filipina women across the United States, joins the growing ranks worldwide in support of all Cambodian workers, fighting for their right to a living wage.   Because of this, we call out the Hun Sen government, and its violent tactics towards suppressing peaceful assembly and the rightful call to strike under labor law; tactics that have resulted in the deaths, injury and arrests of workers supporting the most recent nationwide garment worker strike.

GABRIELA USA bears witness to the struggle of Cambodia’s more than 600,000 garment workers, 90 percent of whom are young women, demanding an increase of the minimum wage from $80 to $160 per month for a six-day, 48-hour work week.  Under Cambodia’s own labor laws, stipulating that “minimum wage must ensure every worker of a decent standard of living,” we challenge the government’s response of violent dispersal like the firing of automatic rifles into crowds of unarmed demonstrators, the banning of public gatherings consisting of more than 10 people, and the illegal arrests and trumped-up charges of Union leaders – tactics similar to what we see happening in the Philippines towards its own workers by the triumvirate of foreign interests, neo-liberal policies, and a colluding government.

Why such extreme actions of lethal force and repression?  It’s due to the Cambodian economy’s dependence upon the multi-national garment companies that subcontract to its estimated 800 local factories.  US and European retailers like the Gap, H&M, Adidas and Nike are some of the largest buyers of garments manufactured in Cambodia.  The call for fair wages by striking workers is then unjustly blamed for the threatening of bottom-line profit for these companies who prey upon poor countries like Cambodia, the Philippines, and Vietnam for cheap labor under slave-like conditions.  It therefore becomes in the best interest of corrupt governments, unconcerned for the welfare of its citizens, to maintain the confidence of the foreign entities lining its own pockets at any cost – no different from the example we see from the Aquino government – the template for imperialist practice at the expense of the people.

GABRIELA USA, an international chapter of GABRIELA-Philippines, stands with Cambodian workers to demand the Cambodian government to release any detained workers, and for the immediate end of repressive violence against Labor Movement and Human Rights demonstrators.  We also call on our Filipinos in the United States and everywhere to take up the cause and concerns of workers worldwide, taking into account how our individual actions can be combined to support their struggles for a just living wage.

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GABRIELA USA Exposes Human Trafficking Scheme at the Nation’s Capital on International Migrants Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 18, 2013

References:

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

Nicole Cunanan, Vice Chair of Propaganda & Cultural Affairs, GABRIELA Washington, D.C., Nicole@gabrieladc.org

WASHINGTON—On Dec. 18, 2013, International Migrants Day, GABRIELA USA, an alliance of Filipina women’s organizations across the United States, stands with the GABRIELA Washington, D.C. chapter to expose the trafficking of teachers from the Philippines to the U.S.

Since 2003, the Philippine-based labor recruitment agency, Renaissance Staffing Support Center (formerly known as Great Provider Service Exporters, Inc. and World Goal Corporation) represented by its president, Isidro Rodriguez and its U.S. partner Green Life Care International, LLC have been trafficking teachers to the U.S. The agency promised applicants high salaried jobs with benefits in public schools in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. It also promised them housing and transportation. Applicants were required to attend various expensive seminars and pay excessive fees to successfully secure H1B visas. Teachers paid between $18,000 to over $20,000 for the entire process. In many cases, their passports were held until they submitted the entire fee amount and were not returned until their departure for the U.S.

When teachers arrived to the U.S., their promised jobs did not exist, leaving them to fend for themselves.

Some teachers have even reported that recruitment-agency owner Rodriguez also committed various acts of sexual harassment against female teachers and asked for sexual favors in exchange for papers. If victims voiced concerns or went against the recruiter, they were threatened to be deported or told that their families will be harmed.

“This illegal recruitment and trafficking scheme made us suffer in slave-like conditions and in debt bondage. We sacrificed so much just to try to support our families back home and we are still trying to survive day-to-day,” stated Ma. Fen Ecleo, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA Washington, D.C. and one of the trafficking victims.

“This situation with the teachers is not an isolated case, and is an example of a larger systemic problem in the Philippines,” says Tina Shauf, Vice Chair of Campaigns of GABRIELA USA. GABRIELA USA demands that the Philippine government ensure that true justice is delivered to the the teachers as they pursue legal cases against Rodriguez and Renaissance Staffing Support Center. Rodriguez should be jailed for the crimes he has committed and the teachers should get full compensation for debts. GABRIELA USA also demands that the teachers get T visas, as human trafficking victims, so they can continue to work and live in the US without fear of deportation. We call on the Filipino community and our allies to support the teachers’ ongoing legal cases in both the Philippines and the U.S.

“The Philippine government hails the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as “Modern Heroes” and yet in their time of need, the OFWs are treated with apathy,” said Jo Quiambao, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA DC. “Workers’ remittances to the country keep the economy afloat but the government fails to address the concerns and well-being of distressed OFWs.”

On the occasion of International Migrants Day, aside from recognizing the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide, GABRIELA USA calls on the Philippine government not only to respond to the problems of migrant workers in the host countries, but to also address the root causes of migration which is poverty and underdevelopment in the Philippines.

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GABRIELA USA and the BAYAN USA QUEER CAUCUS CONDEMN THE INDIAN PENAL CODE SECTION 377

Global Day of Rage NYC (Photo credit Abeer Hoque)FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 17, 2013

References:

Valerie Francisco, GABRIELA USA Chairperson, chair@gabusa.org

Jeremy De Nieva, Co-Coordinator, BAYAN USA Queer Caucus, jeremydenieva@gmail.com

GABRIELA-USA and the BAYAN USA Queer Caucus stand in solidarity with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI) community of the Indian diaspora, as well as those who endlessly fight to preserve dignity and human rights for all people globally. Just one day following International Human Rights Day, the Supreme Court of India reinstated a law making homosexuality a criminal offense punishable up to a life-term.  Known as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the law overturns a Delhi high court verdict in 2009 that decriminalized consensual sex between same-sex adults. This ruling impacts everyone globally who value bodily safety, self-determination, liberation, are against colonialism, imperialism, and state repression.

GABRIELA-USA and the BAYAN USA Queer Caucus vehemently condemn this ruling as it violates private, consensual sexual conduct between adults, and enshrines gender discrimination.  This ruling is a significant setback to all the work that LGBTQI activists continually fight for. “It is imperative that we not only focus solely on the issue of marriage as a platform for addressing issues of basic human rights for the LGBTQI community as the mainstream LGBTQI movement has been emphasizing; rather, we should be addressing the root causes of injustice, as we are witnessing the backward undoing of civil rights gains – all due to short-sighted band aid solutions,” states Irma Bajar, Vice-Chair of International Relations of GABRIELA-USA.

BAYAN USA Queer Caucus Co-coordinator, Jeremy De Nieva, asserts, “The top court ruling that validates the Indian Penal Code Section 377 is a major threat to the humanity of LGBTQI communities and people all over the world. In connection to the United States and Philippines, the ruling is another cop-out justification for further mass incarceration to be added to the long laundry list of inhumane, political reasons for why one could be put in prison, which includes that of having different political beliefs, being a person of color, and immigration status among many others. The root of such policies and enforcement lies in the desire for capitalist profit that corporations and the state monopolize and gain from virtually free prison labor, which is rapidly proliferating.”

In addition to the criminalizing of consensual acts between adults, we anticipate the inevitable backlash from the broader community as a result of the overturning of Section 377, which legitimizes hate crime violence without any legal protection. Police violence, abuse, and harassment will be on the rise as they continue to target the Trans and Gender Non Conforming community, sex workers, and poor people. This reality goes beyond Section 377.

“If we are against the profit being made by the government in these prisons being funneled into the astronomical military budget rather than for education, health care, disaster preparedness and relief, and other social services, then we must also be against the colonial IPC Section 377. If we are against modern-day slavery, we must also rise up against the criminalization of LGBTQI communities,” concludes Bajar. GABRIELA USA and the BAYAN USA Queer Caucus demands justice and liberation for all LGBTQI people globally, and the basic human right to work, healthcare, safety, love with dignity without fearing for their lives. We demand an end to profiling, harassment, abuse, and brutality at the hands of the police and the state, and we stand in solidarity with the people in India who are rising up to demand that the Indian Penal Code Section 377 be overturned.

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GABRIELA USA SAYS NO TO US MILITARY EXPANSION IN THE PHILIPPINES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 17, 2013

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, chair@gabusa.org

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Philippines this morning to meet with President Benigno Aquino III to strengthen agreements on increasing military presence in the Philippines. In recent months, President Aquino has been infringing on Philippine sovereignty again by allowing an increase in the number of U.S. troops, aircrafts and warships in the Philippines at a time when Washington, D.C. is heightening its position over the Asia Pacific region. “The need for relief in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan is being exploited by the U.S.-Aquino regime to justify the presence of thousands of U.S. troops,” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA.

The health, safety and vitality of Filipinos will be put at risk with the increased presence of troops, weapons and nuclear materials. The Filipino people know all too well, the increased presence of US military will only escalate the human rights abuses that are already happening under the current administration, and bring more insecurity to the country like it has in many other parts of the world.  Since the reinstatement of US bases in the Philippines after they were booted out in 1991, the rise in prostitution of Filipina women skyrocketed to more than 600%.  More U.S. troops can only mean more cases of violence against women in children. After Super Typhoon Haiyan, women and children are even more vulnerable and subject to gender and sexual violence due to displacement and a lack of resources.

According to GABRIELA Secretary General, Joms Salvador “More than 60,000 women have been prostituted in Subic and Clark. More than 3,000 cases of VAWC were committed but not even a single perpetrator was punished. While the U.S. insists that the Philippines will retain control over facilities used by US troops, we know very well that under the defunct Military Bases Agreement and the current Visiting Forces Agreement, American soldiers are practically untouchables.”

The U.S.’s proclamation of America’s Pacific Century is the political agenda under which the military occupation is being prioritized in guise of relief and rehabilitation. Instead of the Philippine government upholding the sovereignty of the Philippines, the Aquino administration are submitting to political puppetry as their failing record on relief has put them in the dog house over surmounting discontent of the Filipino people due to the Pork Barrel scandal. Aquino is attempting to win back their trust by solidifying his allegiance to the United States, rather than putting the Filipino people’s welfare first.

Filipina Women say NO to US Military Expansion in the Philippines!

US Troops OUT of the Philippines!

JUNK THE VFA!

 

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GABRIELA DC Calls for Relief, Rehabilitation and TPS on International Human Rights Day

On International Human Rights Day, GABRIELA DC attended and delivered a statement at a vigil in front of the Philippine Embassy organized by NDWA, NAPAWF, and APALA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBeCRyJpaZ4

On behalf of GABRIELA DC, we would like to extend our gratitude to the organizers of this vigil and thank everyone who is here on this cold night showing their support for the victims and survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, especially as today we also commemorate International Human Rights Day and we are addressing the needs of migrants and the human rights of our brothers and sisters back home in the Philippines.

In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, our communities have lost family, friends, homes, and their means of livelihood. Our members of GABRIELA DC support the call for TPS (or temporary protected status) and like all of you, believe the granting of TPS can play an important role in the relief and rehabilitation of the Philippines after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

In fact, it surprises us that the Philippine government has been silent on this subject. We have not seen any official announcement from President Aquino or the Philippine Embassy on their stance until today.  Sadly, though, this action, or rather, inaction is consistent with the Philippine government’s handling of the demands and issues of Filipino migrants in the U.S. That instead of proactively taking steps to promote and defend the interests of Filipino migrants, the government has been more concerned about protecting their fragile image and putting profits before people. Our allies in California who met with the Philippine deputy consul General said that one of the concerns the Philippine government had about requesting TPS or addressing the devastation after the typhoon was its impact on tourism!

In addition, while TPS can help remove the constant fear of deportation that many in our community face, and TPS will afford those in our community humane jobs, it is only a temporary measure as indicated in its name. There is still a crying need for genuine immigration reform in the U.S. and for genuine rebuilding and development in the Philippines, genuine development that does NOT depend on the sacrifice and exploitation of migrants having to go to other countries for work!

Furthermore, the women of GABRIELA DC want to make known that Typhoon relief should NOT be a reason to increase militarization in the Philippines. In the past we’ve seen women and children become more vulnerable to sexual violence and human trafficking during times of calamity and conflict, demonstrating that increased militarization only further violates the human rights and risks the welfare of our people.

Just as our migrant communities here in the U.S. are fighting for genuine immigration reform, for our rights and welfare as well, our communities in the Philippines still continue fighting for justice and human rights!

We strongly call on Philippine Ambassador Cuisia to advocate for temporary protected status for Filipinos! GABRIELA DC, together with GABRIELA-USA, BAYAN USA and NAFCON (the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns) stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Visayas, not only for immediate relief but also for the long-term needs for rehabilitation for the communities most hard-hit by the typhoon.

We encourage everyone gathered here today to become informed about the ongoing economic crisis Filipinos are facing and the environmental injustice happening in our mother country. GABRIELA Washington, D.C. is planning to coordinate with Taskforce Haiyan members, and KATARUNGAN: Center for Peace Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines to have more educational events and activities in the near future and we hope that you all will join us.

Relief and Rehabilitation, Not Militarization! 

GABRIELA Washington, D.C. Supports TPS, Relief, and Justice for Filipinos.