Remembering Martial Law, GABRIELA USA Reaffirms their Commitment to Resist Gloria’s Marcos-like Reign


September 21, 2009

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA (415) 244-9734,

“On September 21, we remember the thousands victims killed and disappeared under Marcos’ Martial Law,” says Raquel Redondiez, chair of GABRIELA USA and member of BABAE in San Francisco. “And more importantly, we reaffirm our commitment to seek justice for the victims of Martial Law, as well as those who have perished under Gloria’s Marcos-like reign.

Thirty- seven years after the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Filipino American women in the US, members of GABRIELA USA, stand vigilant against the return of the dark days of the Marcos regime.

“The parallels between the Marcos and the Arroyo regimes are alarming. Like the Marcoses’, the Arroyo’s have stolen hundreds of lives and taken millions of public funds from our people. Following Marco’s footsteps, GMA has also used Filipino migrant workers, mostly women, to keep the economy afloat.” said Valerie Francisco, Vice-Chair of GABRIELA USA and member of FIRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment) in New York.

Filipino women in the U.S. also remember that the bleak years of Martial Law gave rise to a powerful people’s movement. Filipinos, including women and youth, refused to kneel to Marcos’ tyranny.

Building strength from the resistance of Filipino women against Marcos’ corruption and tyranny, GABRIELA, a national women’s alliance was founded in 1985 at the height of the people’s opposition to Martial Law. Today, GABRIELA, which has expanded globally wherever Filipinas can be found, still answers the call for change and justice for the Filipino people.

“As GABRIELA members in the U.S., the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law is an important reminder of the resilience of our people” , said Claudia Alexandra Paras, Chair of PINAY, the Seattle-based member organization of GABRIELA USA.

“We will continue to fight for justice for our sisters like Melissa Roxas and Rebelyn Pitao, the most recent women victims of enforced disappearances and political killings under the Arroyo regime.” said Terrie Cervas of SIGAW (Sisters of GABRIELA Awaken) in Los Angeles.

Upcoming Events: National Commemoration of Martial Law

Friday, Sept 18 – Seattle, WA

Learn about the Philippines during a time of declared Martial Law… over 20 years of a repressive regime and it’s lasting effects on a nation.

Pinay member Katrina Pestano, aka Rogue Pinay, will be sharing about her recent experiences traveling back to the country and the current conditions.

Enjoy free food and performances by local Filipino artists!

Friday – September 18, 2009
6:30-9:00pm (Free Event)
5740 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Seattle, WA 98118-2622
Childcare will be provided.

For more information, please contact or (206) 859-7525.

Sunday, Sept 20 – Los Angeles

LA martial law

Dekada ’70: Film Screening Observing the Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines

Sunday, September 20, 2009 – 2pm

Manila Terrace Community Hall in Historic Filipinotown

2328 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026

$5 donation but no one turned away for lack of funds

Monday, Sept 21 – New York

Join member organizations of Bayan USA (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, AnakBayan NY/NJ, and New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) for a short film and discussion about life during Martial Law in the Philippines. Guest speaker, Bebot Galvan from KABALIKAT Domestic Workers Support Network will be sharing her life stories during Martia lLaw.  The discussion will be followed by a tribute to the late Ninoy and Cory Aquino and all victims of Martial Law in the Philippines.Please come if you’ve ever been curious about life for Filipinos during this era, and meet other community workers in the local New York City area.

Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen St. New York, NY 10002
Monday, September 21, 2009
$5 suggestion donation

Monday, Sept 21 – San Francisco

“Remembering the Victims, Honoring the Martyrs”
with Rex Fernandez, Human Rights Lawyer
and legal consultant for Melissa Roxas

September 21th 2009
San Francisco State University
ROOM: Burk Hall 252

Join us for a night of songs, stories and movies to remember the victims and never forget the era of Martial Law that led many families to flee the Philippines and the many martyrs who sacrificed their lives so others can have a better future.

Sponsored by Bayan USA (AnakBayan East Bay, Babae San Francisco, Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines-SF, and The League of Filipino Students)

Protesters surround Mikey Arroyo’s U.S. house

By Henni Espinosa, North America News Bureau

Mikey Foster City ProtestFOSTER CITY, CA—Philippine Congressman Mikey Arroyo’s house had some very angry visitors this morning.

Filipino-American activists, chanting “Shame on you, you got caught!” staged a protest outside the home that is situated in the upscale planned community.  They say they are disgusted that Arroyo, son of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, bought the $1.3 million home and failed to declare it as part of his real estate assets.

“Of course there should be a clear investigation of how he got his wealth, where he is investing it,” said Terry Valen, chair of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.  “It’s clear that this is not coming from his salary as a Philippine congressman.”

The protesters say they are not surprised that another Arroyo property in the Bay Area has been exposed.

“In the past, we’ve heard of allegations of the Arroyos trying to hide other million-dollar homes in San Francisco.  We know that this is a pattern of the Arroyos, hiding their ill-gotten wealth,” said Racquel Redondiez, chair of Gabriela USA.

What is more disturbing for the protesters is that Arroyo insists the Foster City house is owned by a company, when county records show that his wife is listed as the house’s only owner.

“It just further exposes the pattern of cover-up.  If you’re not hiding anything, why would you have to cover it up and deny?” Redondiez said.

The protesters say Arroyo should come clean about the source of his ballooned wealth.  Arroyo’s net worth jumped from 5 million pesos in 2002, to 99 million pesos in 2008.

“We’re just here to express our outrage that Congressman Arroyo has all the money to spend on a million-dollar home in Foster City while our people in the Philippines only live on less than a dollar a day,” said Jack de Jesus, Deputy Secretary of Bayan USA.

The protesters call on the Philippine and U.S. government to investigate the source of Arroyo’s wealth before this Foster City house is sold.

“If they (the Arroyos) get paid for the house, then the money goes back into their accounts and they can do whatever they want with it.  Who knows what they’re going to do next?  But this could be the money of taxpayers not just in the Philippines, but also for us here in the U.S.,” said Valen.

The protesters made efforts to deter potential buyers by putting up warning signs on the sidewalks.

Neighbors have mixed reactions.  A Filipino neighbor who refused to be identified said the Arroyos don’t bother him, because they are never around.  Allen Leader, another neighbor of the house, wants the Arroyo family to come clean about the home to the Filipino people so the protests will end in Foster City.

SONA 2009

July 25, 2009
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair,GABRIELA USA, (415) 244-9734,


Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) will deliver what should finally be her last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27th. Like all of GMA’s 8 previous SONA speeches, it guaranteed that this one will also be full of wholesale lies regarding the economic, social, and military situations in the Philippines.

Days after GMA delivers her SONA speech, she will fly off  to Washington DC to meet with President Barack Obama on July 30, 2009. Since President Obama’s election, GMA has been desperate to capitalize on Obama’s popularity to raise her all-time low approval ratings, and push for Charter Change (Cha-Cha) of the Philippine constitution allowing her to stay in power indefinitely.

Simultaneous to SONA and the Obama/GMA meeting, GABRIELA-USA and other Filipino organizations will conduct People’s State of the Nation activities throughout the U.S., demanding justice for the Filipino American torture victim, Melissa Roxas, and speak out against the Cha-Cha.

Charter Change, which is pushed by U.S. corporate interests, seeks the protections of the 1986 Constitution; allowing foreign ownership of land and public utilities, foreign plunder of natural resources, and the stationing of more foreign military troops .  It will also allow GMA to stay in power beyond her current term limit as president, which ends May 2010.

President Obama was elected based on the message of “hope” and “change,” however, his administration has not so far moved away from the neo-colonial and Bush- era relations with the Philippines.  He recently applauded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allows U.S. military troops to occupy all parts of the Philippine archipelago. The VFA also provides impunity to American military personnel for rape and other crimes committed while on Philippine soil, such as  U.S. Lieutenant Corporal Daniel Smith, who has since returned to the U.S as a free man, without serving a day in the Philippine prison system, though he was convicted of raping “Nicole” in 2005.

The Philippines is one of the top three recipients of US military aid, despite international condemnation against the rampant human rights violations resulting in the death and disappearances of hundreds of activists, community workers, and other civillians.

The most recent case that came to international attention is that of Melissa Roxas, the 31-year old Filipino American who was volunteering as a community health worker in the Philippines, who was abducted and brutally tortured between May 19-25, 2009.  It is believed that members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were responsible for this atrocity, and Melissa is currently back in the Philippines to testifying at a hearing for the Petition for Writ of Amparo and Habeus Data against the Philippine military.

GABRIELA – USA, comprised of Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGaW), Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York City, calls on President Obama to ensure that U.S. tax dollars are NOT used to further human rights violations in the Philippines and to demand the impartial investigation and prosecution of those responsible for Melissa’s abduction and torture.

Instead of giving millions of dollars to a corrupt and murderous regime, our tax dollars are better spent on improving health care access, education, and employment opportunities to millions of women, children, and youth who are suffering the brunt of the economic crisis.




GABRIELA-USA Demands Justice for Melissa Roxas and Victims of Torture and State Repression

For Immediate Release
June 26, 2009

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA,, 415-244-9734

GABRIELA-USA Demands Justice for Melissa Roxas
and Victims of Torture and State Repression

In 1987, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, passed an international human rights instrument to ensure that states neither condone torture within their borders nor return citizens to countries with the chance of torture upon their arrival. On June 26, 2009 marking this convention, the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, in solidarity with anyone affected by torture reminds us about the injustices that ring across the world as torture is still commonplace practice in militarized situations, occupations and war.

For GABRIELA USA, a national alliance of progressive Filipino women’s organizations in the US, the significance of this day hits very close to home. Only one month earlier, Melissa Roxas, a Filipino American and US citizen was abducted in the Philippines between May 19-25 during her time working as a community health worker. Roxas, an avid human rights advocate and member of BAYAN USA, joins thousands of Filipino citizens who have fallen victim to the state repression under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime in the Philippines.

An international campaign resonating in many countries where Filipino immigrants and migrants live and work has brought about attention to the human rights crisis in the Philippines beginning in 2001 with the onset of the US-funded Balikatan military training exercises. Throughout the long and drawn out George W. Bush administration, militarism and military aid in the Philippines increased along with the record of human rights violations; including extrajudicial murders, abductions, torture, summary executions and heightened harassment of community leaders and common people.

Only a month before Roxas’ abduction and torture, US troops in the thousands were deployed to the central region of Luzon, Philippines; a stone’s throw away from the site of Roxas’ forced disappearance. On the day that Roxas and 2 of her companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, were taken from their work site, a police report was quickly filed and clamor began for their surfacing. The occupation of US troops in the Philippines justifies a cruel and unjust witch hunt for “terrorists” that are, in reality, community health workers and human rights advocates. The Philippine armed forces have historically used military training exercises to legitimate harassment and crude investigations.

With all of this said and done, a pretentious GMA-led effort through the channels of Philippine judiciary and foreign relations offices has claimed that Roxas’ abduction was staged. They have casted doubt on Roxas’ case even in the face of the successfully passed Writ of Amparo filed against Arroyo and Secretary of Defense Gilberto Teodora, among others. We will not stay silent as the GMA regime seeks to discredit Melissa Roxas. GMA’s corruption and denial have been ringing in our ears for too long.

On this International Day Against Torture, GABRIELA USA is standing shoulder to shoulder with Melissa Roxas for her fight for justice. We call on US politicians, lawmakers, representatives of foreign relations committee, members of budget committees and President Barack Obama to rescind the increasing military aid budget to the Philippines. We demand that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime surface all political prisoners, including Karen Empeno and Sheryl Cadapan! We ask our Filipino American community to join with us in solidarity with torture victims and across the world to say, “NO MORE!”

Justice for Melissa Roxas!



Inspired by Melissa Roxas’ experience, a GABRIELA-USA member wrote the following fictional poem. For resources and more information regarding Melissa Roxas’ case, please visit

“Elisa Roxas”

Leo was eight and it was summer in Tarlac.
He snuck away from the house, after lunch,
New Gameboy from Leo’s uncle in the States
Was hot in his hands and needed to be
Shown and shared, and shown off
Just a little.
When he heard, when he heard
The yelling and the screaming
And the name, that sounded like
Elisa Roxas
Elisa Roxas
He started to walk to the yelling
A house in Tarlac
A van in the front
His heart beating fast
And sweat coming down his face
And the yelling, that sounded like
Elisa Roxas
Elisa Roxas
And he saw men with guns
Without any faces
The boy’s stomach started to ache
And he barely noticed
The other people coming
Nanay Lita from the sari-sari store
Bong, Dino, brothers drinking at Nanay Lita’s store
Gina, the gay hairstylist coming through her door
Coming nearer to the yelling
Elisa Roxas
Elisa Roxas
But the men with the guns and no faces
They wouldn’t let anyone near
A woman being dragged
She fought and kicked
Five men pushing
To get her into the van
That’s how hard she was fighting.
And Boss Pito tried to talk
To the men with guns and no faces
And the boy’s stomach
Churned acid as the fear
Rose in his throat
But the men with guns and no faces
Drove even Boss Pito away
As right before the boy’s eyes
The woman yelling
What sounded like
Elisa Roxas
Elisa Roxas
Right before his eyes
Right before his eyes
Just like that.
And a hand came down
On Leo’s shoulder
And Leo dropped his Gameboy
Fear overflowing
Of men with guns and no faces
And it was Lola Insing
Who watched the van drive away
And she said, her eyes on the
Disappearing van
“Don’t be afraid, Leo.
Don’t be afraid.
There will be a howl
And we won’t stay silent
And we won’t keep quiet.”
Like the woman yelling
What sounded like
Elisa Roxas
Elisa Roxas
Her name is Melissa Roxas.
And we won’t stay silent
And we won’t keep quiet.