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Filipino Ambassador to US besieged by questions on ‘human rights’ during talk In Seattle

by AJLPP Monday, Jun. 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Honorable Willie Gaa, Philippine Ambassador to the US wrestled with claims of illegal arrest and detention of Congressman and labor leader Crispin Beltran and United Church of Christ Berlin Guerrero, the unabated political killings of unarmed social activists—at least 850 since Pres. Arroyo took power, and the involvement of the death squads affiliated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, during an open discussion at the Filipino Community Center last Saturday, June 16th. A member of the Ecumenical Fellowship for Justice and Peace, a church-based human rights group, presented the full page advertisement of the ‘statement of concern’ of the church and labor community, demanding among other things an immediate end to state sponsored political violence and the release of all political prisoners in the Philippines.

Filipino Ambassador ...
ambassador_gaa_1_.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

June 17, 2007

Press Release

Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines (AJLPP) USA

Filipino Ambassador to US besieged by questions on ‘human rights’ during talk with Seattle community activists



Seattle--The Honorable Willie Gaa, Philippine Ambassador to the US wrestled with claims of illegal arrest and detention of Congressman and labor leader Crispin Beltran and United Church of Christ Berlin Guerrero, the unabated political killings of unarmed social activists—at least 850 since Pres. Arroyo took power, and the involvement of the death squads affiliated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, during an open discussion at the Filipino Community Center last Saturday, June 16th.



A member of the Ecumenical Fellowship for Justice and Peace, a church-based human rights group, presented the full page advertisement of the ‘statement of concern’ of the church and labor community, demanding among other things an immediate end to state sponsored political violence and the release of all political prisoners in the Philippines.

When prompted by the comment that nothing seriously is being done by the Philippine government, to stop the attacks on legitimate opposition, Gaa said that at least four people have now been convicted and that the government promotes ‘witness protection program.’ The release of the Melo Commission, he said, is an indication’s of the government’s willingness to resolve the issue.



An ecumenical activist refuted such claim and alluded to the case of a witness to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary or Special Executions Philip Alston, who was later murdered by the military when Alston left for the US. In addition, he said that Justice Melo himself admitted that the killings were executed in a systematic way and that elements of the military ‘appear’ to be directly involved.



In his response to the Philippine Anti-Terror Bill, Gaa said that there is nothing to be afraid of since the bill was patterned to a large extent to that of the US--- the bulwark of democracy!

The ecumenical activist asked him: “Few days ago, we got 160 workers who were raided in Portland and are right now detained in Tacoma jail, south of where we are now, is this the ‘bulwark of democracy’ that you are referring to?”



Gaa defended the position of the Philippine government not to release Beltran on the ground that the Supreme Court decision is subject for reconsideration and is therefore not final.



Beltran has been languishing for the last 15 months on rebellion case that was dismissed by the Supreme Court. He was arrested during Congress’ session without due regard to ‘parliamentary immunity.’



Gaa refuted the claims on widespread human rights violations on the following grounds: the 840 number provided by Karapatan is bloated and does not jibe with the far lower number of Task Force Usig; Karapatan did not provide witnesses during the hearings by the Melo Commision, Karapatan included in the list of victims members of the Abu Sayyaf, and the People’s Tribunal at the Hague did not have credible judges.



During private conversion with ecumenical activists, Gaa learned about the 22 pastors and missionaries who were murdered by ‘death squads’ affiliated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He admitted not knowing the case of Rev. Malou Tinambacan who after being sprayed with bullets, survived the assassination attempt and was able to identify the assailants as the military.

Gaa asked: “Why do you think these people are being killed.” “The military has tagged them as ‘enemies of the state,’ which in essence gives them license to kill,” says Violeta from the AJLPP.



Gaa received the letter of the Rev. David Bloom, Director Emeritus of the Rauschenbusch Center for Spirit and Action requesting the six Consul Generals in the US to present the Statement to President Arroyo.



Protestant churches, which are currently conducting Annual Conference, will send another fact-finding mission to the Philippines next month.



Other groups that were present were NAFFAA, Ugnayan, Bayan-USA with their allies ,the Socialist Workers and volunteers of the Filipino Community Center.



Meanwhile, the Filipino Veterans, NAFFAA, IDIC the widows and the Ecumenical Fellowship for Justice and Peace met separately with Gaa in the morning to talk about the Equity and the Family Reunification Bills.

Gaa assured the audience about the tremendous support by many Congress people on the Equity Bill. He admitted that the Equity Bill as a matter of strategy has to be prioritized over the Family Reunification bill, without dampening its importance most especially to the veterans whose families have been waiting for too long in the Philippines.

*************

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Fil Vets Meet with RP Ambassador Gaa

by AJLPP Monday, Jun. 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Fil Vets Meet with R...
veterans_1_.jpg, image/jpeg, 640x480

Filipino World War II veterans (JFAV) demands equity and jsutice in a meeting with Philippine Ambassador Gaa in Seattle

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