BAYAN USA- Northern California
Contact: Jessica Antonio- BAYAN USA SecGen@bayanusa.org
San Francisco, CA- Over 200 Filipino Americans and community supporters gathered at Union Square Plaza on July 23rd in reaction to the false claims of progress by Philippine President Aquino in his annual State of the Nation Address.
“This is the true SONA ng BAYAN,” asserts Princess Bustos of the Filipino women’s organization BABAE, “We join the 12,000 Filipinos in the Philippines and the actions in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Canada to tell the world that nothing has changed since Aquino stepped into office!”
On the stage of Union Square, BAYAN USA organizations opened with a street theatre performance depicting a “marriage” or union between the U.S. and the Philippines, exchanging vows such as- U.S. military aid for Aquino’s maintenance of the U.S.’s Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows thousands of U.S. troops to occupy areas of the Philippines while protecting them from prosecution.
“Aquino turns his back to the violence committed by Philippine and US troops upon entire communities,” declares Jessica Antonio, Secretary General of BAYAN USA, “The ‘accidental’ killings of civilians, displacement of 1,000’s of people, and rape of women and children is a BIG price to pay for meager table scraps!”
In the forefront of the stage pictures of recent human rights victims, such as Willem Geertman, a Dutch missionary who was executed in the public street in front of his office in the Philippines on July 3rd. Blindfolded activists told the crowd the life stories of Willem, Arman Albarillo, and Melissa Roxas to address the continuance of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings under the Aquino regime. On the eve of his State of the Nation Address the 100th victim, Marilou Valle, an urban poor community leader, was found shot dead in Tondo. Justice has yet to be found for the over 1,200 plus victims committed under the Arroyo regime, especially with former Gen. Jovito Palparan and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo walking free from any charges.
BAYAN USA organizations in the Bay Area along with local groups in the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Workers Union Local 2, Chinese Progressive Association, Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, and Filipino caregivers from the Filipino Community Center’s CARE Project marched the streets to the Philippine Consulate calling for President Aquino to uphold national sovereignty, implement genuine agrarian reform, and to create more jobs in the Philippines instead of pushing Filipinos to become Overseas Filipino Workers(OFWs).
Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA- an alliance of Filipino women, exclaims, “Filipino women are being exported as PNoy’s most lucrative industry. Instead of selling them to the world, GABRIELAs all over the world demand that he provide work in our homeland, provide social services for the health and education of women and children.”
Aquino’s claims in his speech that there has been extraordinary increases in the budget for education and asserts that it will only get better for students in the coming years. However, Noemi Teppang of ANAKBAYAN USA-representing Filipino youth and students, states that Aquino has yet to solve the education crisis for the youth. “Currently, 50% of children age 11-15 are out-of-school. Aquino’s conversion to a K-12 educational system only serves the demands of the foreign labor market by producing more semi-skilled workers to be exploited in low-paying jobs overseas. Where is the future for Filipino youth if they are to continue to vicious cycle experienced by OFWs all over the world?”