In Solidarity with Women Worldwide, GABRIELA USA Launches iVOW on the Centennial of International Working Women’s Day

For Immediate Release

Contact: Raquel Redondiez, GABRIELA USA Chair,,

Voices of Women against Violence Against Women (VAW) to Address
Culture of Silence on VAW within the Filipino Community

On March 6, 2010, GABRIELA USA participated in the World March of Women, joining women from over fifty countries to stand for women’s rights. In the Philippines, over 200 women’s organizations are mobilizing with GABRIELA, sacrificing a day’s wages to demand human rights and a pro-people women’s voice in government.  The calls for the World March of Women are resisting poverty, militarization and violence against women. GABRIELA USA, an alliance of Filipino women’s organizations in the United States, marched with women around the world to call for all communities to take a vow to fight violence against women and children.

In the Philippines, poverty and lack of job opportunities has forced 10% of the population to work abroad in temporary jobs with no security, as undocumented workers or as permanent migrants. The vast majority of them are women who are forced to leave the country despite the increasing number of cases of abuse, maltreatment and mysterious deaths of Filipino women migrants in other countries.

In the 9 years of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, state violence has been a main feature on top of the many problems that plague Filipino women. In February 2010, 43 health care workers, 26 of whom are women including a doctor, nurse, midwife, and two pregnant women, were illegally arrested and continue to be illegally detained and tortured. Most of the health care workers volunteer to serve communities with no access to health care due to the high rates of export of the nation’s migrant health care workers. Women usually carry this responsibility and responded to this need by volunteering their time. Clearly, GMA’s administration takes no note of the rising need for health care and of the women responding to this need.

In the US, the reach of the economic crisis affects not only women’s worsening work conditions, or skyrocketing unemployment and financial instability, but is also seen in the exacerbation of domestic violence. Recent studies show rising stress over economic problems resulting in rising rates in reported domestic violence cases. Simultaneously, the budgets for domestic violence services and shelters are being cut back, most notably in California where statewide funds have been completely withdrawn. The attack on women is three fold, in their workplaces, their homes and even by the state.

To respond to these conditions, GABRIELA USA has launched a campaign called Voices Of Women to Fight Violence Against Women. The campaign mobilizes women and men alike to stand up for women’s rights to jobs, reproductive rights, safety, access to health care and education, and self-determination. In a nationwide educational effort, GABRIELA USA organizations in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles have already initiated community discussions and forums to move communities to sign on. To take a vow to fight violence against women and get involved in this campaign, contact

No to Violence Against Women and Children!
Free the 43 Health Workers in the Philippines!
US Troops Out Now!

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SiGAW in the News: US solon asked to help in release of Morong 43


02/26/2010 | 01:38 AM

Concerned leaders and human rights advocates representing various communities in Los Angeles, California sent a delegation to speak with U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s office to seek intervention on the case of the 43 health workers detained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on suspicion of being New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

In a release, the groups said the delegation met with Senator Boxer’s office to deliver petitions signed by over 500 people and organizations to seek support for the demand to immediately release the health workers, who claim they have been illegally arrested and tortured by the AFP.

The workers, who insisted they were conducting a health training in Morong town, Rizal province, were arrested on February 6 on suspicion of being NPA “explosives trainees.”

Earlier Thursday, the group filed a human rights complaint through their lawyers before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (See: ‘Morong 43’ files human rights complaint vs AFP)

Representatives of the delegation urged Senator Boxer to continue her commitment to human rights by supporting the demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 and to stop human rights violations in the Philippines.

The delegation included community leaders Reverend David Farley and Reverend Sandra Richards of the United Methodist Church; Melissa Roxas, who has her own harrowing tale of abduction and torture in the Philippines; Chito Quijano of California Nurses’ Association; Kuusela Hilo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan–USA and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA); as well as representatives from Anakbayan Los Angeles, Habi Arts, Sisters of GABRIELA, and Awaken!

In 2008, following a hearing in the US Senate on the human rights situation in the Philippines convened by Sen. Boxer, the US Congress voted to withhold $2 million of 2009 military aid until the Philippine government complied with certain human rights conditions, according to the groups.

They noted, however, that the Philippine government has not made any significant efforts to improve the human rights situation in their country, citing the November 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao, which claimed the lives of at least 58 people.

Rev. Richards, Rev. Farley, and Hilo took part in the United Methodist Church California Pacific Pastoral and Solidarity visit to the Philippines last week, as well as in the delegation that visited the medical personnel currently detained in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

Richards said she shared firsthand accounts with Senator Boxer’s office, including the conversations with the families of the detained workers and the forum with CHR chair Leila de Lima.

“Regardless of whether one believes that the 43 health workers are innocent of the charges, it is a fact beyond doubt that their civil and human rights have been violated. They were forced to sit handcuffed and blindfolded for 36 straight hours, were not told with what they were being charged, were not allowed to lie down or sleep, and were fed and toileted by strangers,” Richards said.

Roxas, who accused military agents as the culprits in her abduction and torture while she was with a medical mission in the Philippines in May last year, meanwhile said no human being should have to be detained and tortured for filling in the people’s need for medical assistance in the absence of government efforts.

“The situation is critical. Every day that the 43 health workers are not released, it is one more day they have to endure of pain, fear, and torture,” Roxas stated.—JV, GMANews.TV

FilAms ask Obama to help free ‘Morong 43’ First Posted 11:38:00 02/16/2010 Filed Under: Unrest and Conflicts and War, Crime, rebellion, Justice & Rights, Americas – United States

LOS ANGELES, California, United States—Filipino-American activists wrote US President Barack Obama an open letter asking that the so-called Morong 43, or the health workers who were arrested in Morong February 6 and detained thereafter, be released.

Last week, the delegation of FilAms, including Melissa Roxas, who was also abducted in the Philippines last year, also held a mid-day protest outside the Philippine consulate here to demand the immediate release of the 43, said Bayan-USA vice chair Kuusela Hilo said in a statement.

“We call on the international community to condemn this gross violation of human rights and hold Arroyo accountable for her administration’s gruesome human rights atrocities. We demand that all taxpayer dollars budgeted for US military aid supporting the Philippine military be withdrawn immediately,” said Chito Quijano with the International League of Peoples’ Struggle.

The FilAms, together with Kaparatan chairperson Marie Hilao Enriquez, met with Consul General Mary Jo Aragon to deliver open letters addressed to Obama, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and other elected officials demanding the release of the Morong 43.

The protesters included members of AnakBayan LA, and Habi Arts of Bayan USA, SiGAw! of Gabriela USA, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, the United Methodist Church, the California Nurses Association, and the Filipino Migrants Center

Terrie Cervas, Vice Chair of Gabriela USA and member of SiGAw said, “We condemn the illegal arrest…(and the denial) of basic rights like access to legal counsel and food.”

There is an ongoing online petition for the Morong 43.

Fil-Am Women Call On Philippine Military to Stop the Torture and Harrassment of Mothers and Pregnant Women

Health Care Workers Should Be Released To Their Families And Communities Who Rely On Them For Health Care Given The Government’s Neglect Of This Basic Need

Contact: Valerie Francisco, Vice Chair, GABRIELA USA,

Fililpino women member organizations of GABRIELA USA across the United States demand the release of the 43 illegally detained healthcare workers. Of the 43 healthcare workers, 26 are women including a woman doctor and midwife, and two are pregnant. Most of the healthcare workers are peasant women from various poor communities that were taking classes on first aid and basic healthcare,  however, the Philippine military justifies the illegal arrest, detainment, and torture by claiming that they are members of the New People’s Army.

For a great majority of poor women and children in the provinces as well as urban poor areas, community healthcare workers provide the only access to basic healthcare, education, and prevention because it is not being provided by the government. The ratio of doctor to patient in the Philippines is pegged by the Department of Health at 1:30,000.

These healthcare workers should be praised and supported for their work as healthcare workers for their local communities.  Instead, they have been illegally detained and maltreated with forms of torture and sexual harassment. During their detainment, they were also denied access to food and bathroom privileges, and subject to various indignities.   They were also blindfolded and handcuffed for days on end.  The military has even defied the Philippine Supreme Court’s writ of habeas corpus order for them to present the 43 community health workers.

“While so many healthcare nurses and doctors have left for greener pastures to the United States and other countries, these community healthcare workers have chosen to stay and serve the poor. Many of them are mothers who have volunteered their time out of their busy schedules from working on their farms and taking care of their children to serve their communities with basic healthcare. They should not be criminalized. The real terrorism that has plagued our country is a broken, fascist government that has denied basic necessities like healthcare to the majority of the people.” stated Raquel Redondiez, chairperson of GABRIELA USA, chapter of GABRIELA Philippines.

GABRIELA USA, a national alliance of progressive Filipina women organizations, stands in solidarity with the members of 43 illegally detained healthcare workers and their families. GABRIELA-USA is an overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, WA, SiGAw in Los Angeles, CA, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in NYC.





San Francisco: A Pinay Symposium on Violence Against Women

Kappa Psi Epsilon and Babae-GABRIELA USA present…

A Pinay Symposium
Kombating Violence Against Pinays:
Producing Action

A day of workshops, performances, and action as we fight to end violence against women in the U.S., Philippines, and around the world


Saturday, Feb 20, 2010
San Francisco State University – Rosa Parks A-C in the Cesar Chavez Building

1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

this event is FREE with breakfast and lunch provided!

*Childcare available upon request. Please RSVP to*

For more information, contact Jenely – (916) 616-1363 or email

In the eye of the storm, serving the people

Paninindigan Special Issue

December 2009

“A President must be on the job 24/7, ready for any contingency, any crisis, anywhere, anytime… As a country in the path of typhoons …we must be as prepared as the latest technology permits to anticipate natural calamities when that is possible; to extend immediate and effective relief when it is not….The mapping of flood- and landslide-prone areas is almost complete. Early warning, forecasting and monitoring systems have been improved…”

These were the confident words of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 27 as she vowed that her government will continue to invest in environment even as, according to her, the country is “safer from environmental degradation”. But on one fateful day in September 2009, all these talk about disaster preparedness was rendered empty by tropical storm “Ondoy”, and a week later by typhoon “Pepeng”, which together brought the heaviest rains, worst flooding and landslides in the country in decades.

This string of calamities served as a grim reminder of the reality of climate change and how vulnerable the country is especially with a government that is obviously ill-prepared to deal with natural disasters. More importantly, it also showed how policies and projects long opposed by the people like large-scale dams and foreign mining do cause death and destruction, and thus the urgent need to institute policy reforms.

But even as we demand accountability from the national government and call for policy changes to avoid a repeat of the enormous devastation of lives, properties and livelihood due to typhoons, we also bring attention to the remarkable spirit of bayanihan (“helping one another”) among Filipinos. For the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and our member-organizations, partners and friends, the slogan “Serve the people” has always been more than just a catchphrase, but a way of life. And this we showed in our swift response to calls for relief and assistance from the victims of flooding and landslides in Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon.

BALSA and other relief efforts

balsa work1balsa work2balsa work3for more photos, please visit

Through the Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA), Bayan and its allied organizations have launched relief drives in Ondoy- and Pepeng-affected areas in Metro Manila, Laguna, Pangasinan, and Baguio. With the support of various organizations, relief formations, and institutions, BALSA has so far provided relief goods to around 7,300 families in 13 barangays in three cities and three provinces badly hit by the flooding and landslides. (See Table 1)

balsa table 1

BALSA targeted communities that have yet to be reached by relief efforts from government and other private sector initiatives. It also ensured to reach victims who have stayed in their communities instead of those who have moved to the evacuation centers since many relief drives, both government and private-led, tend to concentrate more on these centers. In this way, BALSA widens the reach of the relief initiatives, avoids the duplication of efforts, and maximizes the goods and services it has generated.

The relief operations in Pangasinan and Baguio were in coordination with Bayan Central Luzon and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. In San Nicolas, Pangasinan and Baguio, BALSA delivered a total of 130 sacks of rice, 36 boxes of canned goods, and 15 boxes of cooking oil on top of the 2,000 plus relief packs that it allocated for the affected barangays in the said areas. The delivered goods were enough for 2,000 families. Some 13 balikbayan boxes of clothes and blankets from Bayan USA were also brought to the Cordillera region.

On December 19, through the Serve the People Corps of Bayan- Southern Tagalog, BALSA also sent goods and boxes of clothes for the Christmas season for the still flooeded areas in Laguna. Some 1,000 Christmas packs and 70 boxes of clothes were turned over to Bayan-ST.

Aside from the distribution of relief goods, BALSA has also conducted medical missions in selected communities. With volunteer doctors, nurses, and health workers moblizied by the Health Alliance for Democracy and the Samahan Operasyong Sagip (SOS), BALSA provided free medical check-up and distributed medicines to flood victims in Barangay Bagumbayan in Libis, Quezon City and in Barangay San Isidro in San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

BALSA’s relief operations have been made possible through the cooperation and support of formations such as the health sector’s Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS), Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), and Bayan-USA. Contributions for relief goods, mobilization of volunteers, and other forms of support have also come from IBON Foundation, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, AGHAM Advocates for Science and Technology for the People, Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Bayan Muna, Kodao Productions, and others. There were also individual donors such as the Cabaero family of Pampanga.

Among the major sources of support is Bayan’s chapter in the US, which has raised cash donations for Ondoy and Pepeng victims aside from gathering hundreds of boxes of clothes, food, and medicine from across the US. Bayan-USA also sent volunteers to the Philippines to join on-the-ground relief operations. According to Bayan-USA, it has always been the responsibility of Filipino people’s organizations in the US to provide the emergency response needed for their families and loved ones back home.

Big support came from Bayan-Hong Kong and Bayan-Canada which also promoted BALSA in their respective areas. BALSA received the biggest contributions in the Hong Kong relief drive by the Filipino community. Friends and comrades from Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and Italy also gave significant contributions to the relief drive. Workers, union members and migrants in Japan through the Asia-Wide Campaign (AWC) and Migrante Japan were the first to extend international support for the relief efforts of BALSA.

Meanwhile, organizations and institutions in the health sector and their partners formed the Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) as their main platform to respond to the relief and medical needs of the calamity victims. SOS includes the Council for Health and Development (CHD), Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), Community Medicine Development Foundation, All-UP Workers’ Union – Manila, Health Action for Human Rights, Health Students’ Action (HSA), People’s Health Movement – Philippines, Center for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG), and NARS (Association of Community Health Nurses and People’s Health Advocates).

As of this writing, SOS has already provided relief goods to 11,603 families in various areas in Metro Manila as well as in the provinces of Laguna, Pangasinan, and Benguet (in partnership with BALSA). It has also conducted a total of 15 medical missions that served 5,012 patients in calamity-hit areas. (See Table 2)

balsa table2(click to enlarge)

On the other hand, Bayan Muna’s (BM) Serve the People relief drive has, as of Oct. 18, has already reached 7,384 families in six cities in Metro Manila, three towns in Rizal, and one town each in the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Laguna. (See Table 3)

balsa table3

Another major relief project is the Tulong Anakpawis, a coordinated relief effort spearheaded by Anakpawis Partylist in cooperation with Task Force Obrero, Sagip Kanayunan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kadamay, Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center, Piston, Pamalakaya, National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates-Youth, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Institute for Occupational Health, Safety and Development (IOHSAD) and volunteer individuals from the labor, peasant, urban poor, drivers, vendors, fisherfolk, and other sectors. (See Table 4)

balsa table 4

Coping with trauma

Meanwhile, in addition to the distribution of relief goods, some institutions have began to provide psycho-social therapy services to help calamity victims cope with the trauma caused by the disaster. The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), for instance, has given such therapy to children in Barangay Olandes, Marikina City. According to CRC staff, they have observed symptoms of trauma such as lack of sleep, rousing from sleep and catching breath as if drowning, fear of darkness, and fear of water, among the children in typhoon-hit areas.

According to the CRC, the victims, especially the children, need long-term rehabilitation not only in terms of livelihood but also psychologically because the trauma they suffered is unimaginable. In one case, for instance, children and their families had to cling to a large tree for 48 hours in order to survive as they awaited government rescue that never came.

To address the needs of children who suffered from trauma due to Ondoy and Pepeng and to prepare for future disasters, the Task Force Children of the Storm, a network of organizations dealing with children’s rights and welfare and of which the CRC is also a member, will publish a self-help manual. The manual is intended as a simple, easy-to-use handout that anyone can use to help their children cope psychologically during calamities, according to the CRC.

Socioeconomic impact

The twin devastation brought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng hit the Philippines at a time when the country is still reeling from the impact of the global financial and economic crisis. According to the latest (as of Oct 16) consolidated report of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the total cost of damage from the two typhoons reached P21.29 billion. The cost of damage to agriculture accounted for 64.8% of the total, and infrastructure, 35.1%. About 7.43 million were affected in the country’s 12 regions, including Metro Manila[1]. (See Table 5)

balsa table 5Compiled by Bayan using data from the NDCC Situation Report No. 31 dated Oct 16, 2009

Initial estimates from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) claimed that the macroeconomic impact of the two typhoons is equivalent to about 0.2% of the gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, on the other hand, said that aside from the budget deficit possibly ballooning to P300 billion this year, 2009 economic growth could also fall to 0.4 – 1.4% because of the storms from an earlier forecast of 0.8 – 1.8%, although the downgraded target has yet to be made official[3].

Government acknowledges that current estimates are based on conservative assessment, which did not include the thousands of homes and businesses that were devastated. Nonetheless, such extent of damage and dislocation will surely worsen the social and economic effects of the global crunch on the chronically depressed, backward Philippine economy and the exploited and downtrodden Filipino people.

While government tends to downplay the effects of the recent typhoons on the GDP, with NEDA pointing out that reconstruction will spur domestic growth, the costs are actually much higher considering the still unquantified short- and medium-term effects of losses in jobs and livelihood due to Ondoy and Pepeng (although independent think tank IBON Foundation, in a preliminary estimate, said that Ondoy alone would push at least 276,000 families in NCR, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon into “long-term poverty”).

Note also that official unemployment before the storms ravaged the country was pegged at 7.6% nationwide (National Statistics Office’s July 2009 Labor Force Survey), with the top three highest regional unemployment posted by the NCR (12.1%); Calabarzon (11.1%); and Central Luzon (9.9%) – the regions most affected by the typhoons. These regions together account for 79.9% of the total number of permanently displaced workers due to economic reasons from Jan 2008 to Jun 2009 as well as 69.3% of the total number of families affected by Ondoy and Pepeng. (See Table 6)

balsa table 6 Compiled by Bayan using data from the NSO on unemployment, BLES on displaced workers, and NDCC on affected families by Ondoy & Pepeng

Aside from economic displacements, the poor and marginalized sectors such as the families in the slums as well as villages of small fishers face physical dislocations as government uses the recent flooding in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon to justify the demolition of squatter colonies. According to the Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee on Informal Settlers (MMIAC), there is an estimated 544,069 households living in different illegal settlements[4], including waterways. The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), on the other hand, is renewing its push to relocate the lakeshore residents and “illegal settlers” near Laguna de Bay, which could affect about 100,000 households[5].

However, it remains to be seen if government will dismantle not only the shanties of the urban poor but the factories and other huge infrastructure such as business establishments blocking the flow of floodwater. In addition, the experience of Pangasinan residents with the flooding caused by the release of water by the San Roque Dam also challenges the wisdom of decades-old policy of government on building mega-infrastructure to attract foreign investments.

The siltation of the Agno River in the province which causes it to easily overflow and flood nearby towns is also blamed on large-scale mining operations, which the Arroyo administration is aggressively promoting to foreign investors. In Benguet and other Cordillera provinces which were hit by landslides after Pepeng poured heavy rains, large-scale mining operations are held responsible as well for making the region vulnerable to landslides.

Educating and mobilizing the people

Indeed, beyond providing immediate and short-term relief and assistance to calamity victims is the need to ensure that long-term policies are put in place to protect the environment and avoid a repeat of the destruction caused by Ondoy and Pepeng. Towards this, BALSA ensured that its every relief operation is also used to educate the affected communities of the underlying issues behind the calamities and what are the needed reforms to better protect them from future natural disasters.

Bayan-NCR promptly developed and published an education material on Ondoy and Pepeng that comprehensively discusses the relations of the calamities and their impact on the people with government policies favoring big private corporations and allowing the wanton plunder of the national patrimony. A series of public fora on climate change has since been launched by different organizations to help enlighten the people and explain to them the root causes of the disasters. During Bayan’s 8th National Congress, a resolution was passed calling for a nationwide education campaign on climate change aside from a separate resolution expressing sympathy and solidarity with the families of the victims of the flooding and landslides.

The 12-vehicle convoy to Pangasinan and Baguio on Nov. 5 and 6 under BALSA, was not only a relief effort but also a protest caravan against the San Roque dam and foreign mining. In Urdaneta, Pangasinan, a protest rally was held in front of the municipal hall to highlight the accountability of the San Roque Power Corporation (SRPC) and the National Power Corporation (Napocor) in the massive flash flood that affected 38 cities and municipalities. In Baguio City, a short program was held in Burnham Park to discuss the ill-effects of large-scale foreign mining and how it aggravated the effects of Pepeng in the Cordillera region. A similar protest and relief caravan will be held soon in Southern Tagalog.

To be sure, natural disasters will continue to hit the country in the future with drastic climate changes facing the Philippines and the world. But armed not only with the spirit of bayanihan and of serving the people, but most importantly with the firm resolve to struggle for genuine change that will free us from oppression, exploitation and from the harmful effects of an environment degraded and plundered in the name of profits, we will survive and triumph. #


[1] National Disaster Coordinating Council (Oct 16, 2009) NDCC Update, Situation Report No. 31 on Tropical Storm “ONDOY” {KETSANA} Glide No. TC-2009-000205-PHL and Typhoon “PEPENG’ {Parma} Glide No. TC-2009-000214-PHL

[2] BusinessWorld (Oct 7, 2009), Economic planners see 0.2% hit to GDP, Accessible online at

[3] Agence France-Presse (Oct 19, 2009), Philippine economy falls victim to twin storms, Accessible online at

[4] Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 18, 2009), P32B needed to house 500,000 squatter-families, Accessible online at

[5] Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 18, 2009), Legarda, Manda call for relocation of lakeshore residents, Accessible online at

Pinoy activists in US join clamor to probe martial law imposition


Pinoy activists in US join clamor to probe martial law imposition

Article posted December 16, 2009 – 09:32 PM
Calls to investigate the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao have spread among overseas Filipinos even days after the edict was lifted.

Human rights activists in the US have joined the growing clamor to hold President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accountable for placing the southern Philippine province under military rule in response to the gruesome November 23 massacre, which left at least 57 people, including 30 journalists, dead.

At least eight major Filipino-American groups recently staged a protest action in California in front of a US Federal building in downtown San Francisco, shouting slogans and carrying posters that said, “Never again to Martial Law.”

Members and supporters of the League of Filipino Students, Babae-San Francisco, Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Anakbayan-Eastbay, GABRIELA-USA, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, attended the two-hour rally.

Ivy Climacosa of BABAE-USA said their group is denouncing Arroyo’s declaration of martial law and called on the US Congress to cut its financial aid, which she said “bankrolls the Arroyo regime’s atrocities.”

GABRIELA-USA chair Raquel Redondiez added, “We’re in the middle of an economic crisis in the US. Instead of funding the Philippine Death Squads, our hard-earned tax dollars should be used to provide much needed jobs and social services to communities in the US.”

Anakbayan’s Katie Joaquin also said that the declaration of martial law was Arroyo’s ploy to stay in power and cover up her administration’s role in the massacre in Maguindanao.

The primary suspects in the massacre include leading members of the Ampatuan clan who also hold key government positions in the province and are known to be close allies of Arroyo.

BAYAN USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro believes that the imposition of martial rule was meant to effectively block any investigation and prosecution of the massacre, as it placed the Philippine military and police in charge.

“(The Philippine military and police) are the very same people who have been accused of collaborating with the perpetrators and with committing thousands of killings, abductions, torture and rape of innocent people,” Ramiro said.

Redondiez said the US-based groups would continue to pressure the US Congress and the Obama administration to end political and military support to Arroyo and what they consider as her “cronies.”

Arroyo placed Maguindanao under martial rule on December 4 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation (PP) 1959. She subsequently lifted the order after one week, at the height of a joint Congressional session and seven petitions pending in the Supreme Court to declare PP 1959 unconstitutional.

The groups, which formed the US-based coalition Never Again to Martial Law (NAML), have called the lifting of PP 1959 a victory even as they vowed no letup on calling for international pressure to ensure full restoration of civilian rule in Maguindanao.

Dr. Dante Simbulan, an NAML convenor and former political prisoner, said the lifting of martial law was a way for Arroyo to save face. “International awareness about Arroyo’s arming of her warlord allies and the illegality of her declaration of martial law is growing. She may have lifted Martial Law to avoid embarrassment and questions at the upcoming Copenhagen conference and other international fora.”

Arnedo Valera, an international human rights lawyer, added: “We believe GMA may have declared martial law to ‘test the tolerance’ of the Filipino people and the international community for it. For all we know, we could see it re-emerge in another form in the future.”

Professor Ligaya McGovern of Indiana University also said people around the world must remember that with or without martial law, there exists a climate of repression and impunity in the Philippines, which allows for gruesome acts like the Maguindanao massacre to occur.

“We will continue to do what is needed to stop human rights violations and to achieve justice for the victims of the massacre and all other victims of human rights in the Philippines,” McGovern said. – JMA, JV, GMANews.TV

GABRIELA celebrated silver anniversary with 10th congress and grand reunion

News Release

30 November 2009

Reference: Lana Linaban, Secretary General, 371-2302 /

GABRIELA celebrated silver anniversary with 10th congress

and grand reunion

GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines celebrated their 25th anniversary with a national congress, a women’s protest action and a grand reunion.

Last October 26 to 27, more than 200 members of GABRIELA representing regional and provincial chapters and sectoral organizations from all over the country attended their 10th congress held in Antipolo City. The congress also approved the addition of two overseas chapters from the United States and Hong Kong.

The assembly affirmed the gains of the militant women’s organization in the last 25 years and accepted the challenge to further its struggle for the rights and interests of Filipino women and children in the midst of worsening imperialist attacks on the lives of the Filipino people. This was reflected in the group’s ten-point program of action for 2010 to 2012.

GABRIELA’s 10th congress elected its new set of officers: Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Liza Maza as national chairperson, Emmi de Jesus as vice-chair, Lana Linaban as secretary general, Joms Salvador and Gert Ranjo-Libang as deputy secretaries general for external and internal affairs, respectively, Obeth Mataro-Montes as treasurer and Emily Cahilog as international relations officer. Mother Mary John Mananzan now serves as chair emeritus of GABRIELA after being its national chair for more than a decade.

The day after the assembly, delegates of the congress commemorated October 28 National Women’s Day of Protest with an all-women action in Mendiola to demand accountability from government for inefficiency in the face of disasters. They were joined by members of GABRIELA within Metro Manila and victims of government’s inefficiency during and after the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

The commemoration of the group’s 25th anniversary culminated in a Grand Reunion held at the Amoranto Theater in Quezon City. The reunion opened with a ritual lead by GABRIELA’s cultural group, Sining Lila, while Joey Ayala sang live on stage his song”Lumiyab Ka.”

Senator Jamby Madrigal and Congresswoman Cynthia Villar attended the event as well as actress Katrina Halili. Senator Chiz Escudero and television personality Boy Abunda also sent their greetings via video. Bayang Barrios and Cynthia Alexander also performed during the program as their show of support to the group’s advocacy.

GABRIELA’s ad for its iVow to Fight Violence Against Women campaign was also launched during the celebration. The audio-visual and print ad were made by the prestigious advertising group DM9JaymeSyfu lead by long-time GABRIELA supporter Ms. Merlee Jayme.

The highlight of the event was the awarding of recognition and tribute to notable women leaders through the years including Rep. Maza, de Jesus, GWP Rep. Luz Ilagan, Nanay Mameng Deunida of KADAMAY, Ka Lita Mariano of AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women, Ka Nitz Gonzaga of Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan, Dr. Carol Araullo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and human rights activist Ms. Tita Lubi.

Popular actress Angela Locsin, who attended the celebration and Ms. Bibeth Orteza, who directed the event, were also given Gawad Gabriela recognition for their consistent support to the group’s advocacies. ###