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On the Recent 10-Day Visit of Phil. Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the US

by AJLPP-East Coast Saturday, Jun. 28, 2008 at 12:39 PM 213-241-0995 337

The 10-day visit of U.S.-backed Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) and ten of her Cabinet members to three states in the U.S. is nothing more than a spectacle starring a puppet president and her masters in the White House, the Capitol, and in the offices of Wall Street. The Filipino people have nothing to gain from this

Statement of the Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace (Alliance Philippines) on the Recent 10-Day Visit of Phil. Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the US

The 10-day visit of U.S.-backed Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) and ten of her Cabinet members to three states in the U.S. is nothing more than a spectacle starring a puppet president and her masters in the White House, the Capitol, and in the offices of Wall Street. The Filipino people have nothing to gain from this visit.

In his meeting with GMA last Tuesday, June 24, U.S. President Bush called Filipinos his “friends”, and congratulated GMA on her "effective stand on counterterrorism" and for "laying out a vision for peace." This "effective stand" on "peace" has resulted in more than 1,000 activists killed, more than 200 missing, and more than 200 detained, in the most blatant form of state violence and appalling human rights record the Philippines has ever seen, surpassing even U.S.-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos in sheer brutality.

Despite this record, the U.S. continues to support the GMA regime in order to maintain its military outpost in the Pacific. In the name of the U.S. War on Terror, U.S. military personnel enjoy unrestricted access to the archipelago, protected from legal accountability even in incidences where the rape of Filipina women was irrefutable. The Visiting Forces Agreement, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, and the Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) Exercises have converted the Philippines into a giant U.S. military base as a way to protect U.S. interests at the expense of the Filipino’s people’s own dignity and national sovereignty.

With million in American tax dollars funneled towards Foreign Military Financing that the Philippines received this year, the U.S. Senate withheld million contingent on GMA’s human rights record, as a recognition of the politically-motivated human rights violations documented by organizations in the Philippines, as well as international outcries and a report by United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur Philip Alston.

But the military is just one way that GMA ensures the continuing subservience of the Philippines to the U.S. In part, she is in the U.S. to meet the business community and to court investors in order to sell offthe country’s rich natural resources. Keeping the Philippine economy afloat has been GMA’s justification.

Yet when giant oil reserves were discovered off the Philippine island of Palawan last year, the GMA regime’s priority was to sell the oil to foreign companies. The average Filipino using jeepneys, buses, tricycles and cars continue to contend with soaring gas prices, while 450 million barrels of the Philippines’ own oil are exported to the highest bidder.

GMA has no intention to develop national industries or to develop the natural resources of the Philippines. It is the sweat and labor of overseas Filipinos workers—mostly women doing grueling and devalued domestic work—that are truly propping up the Philippine economy.

Approximately 3,400 Filipinos leave the Philippines every day, and over ten percent of the population lives in 192 countries around the world. An estimated billion in remittances was sent to the Philippines as of June this year, and is expected to reach billion by the end of 2008.

About half of those remittances came from the United States. Compared to the millions in U.S. military financing that GMA receives, the export of Filipinos is a windfall. The latest burden on overseas Filipino workers, the rice and oil crisis in the Philippines and the general economic slowdown, has forced Filipino migrants to work harder, work more and make more sacrifices in order to maintain their families’ standard of living in the Philippines and to survive here in the U.S.

Since the start of the U.S. War on Terror, immigrant communities have increasingly become the targets of racial profiling in the false name of security. Recently, the U.S. economic downturn has further scapegoated immigrants.

The Filipino community has been under attack, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on homes, buses, trains and workplaces as part of the U.S. government’s tactic of deporting and detaining immigrants to ease its economic crisis.

The simultaneous decline of the U.S. dollar and the Philippine peso reveals the complete dependence of the Philippines on the U.S. With a looming recession, the Filipino community in the U.S. will bear the burden of both economies.

Separated from their families and forced into the margins of American society by their immigration status, it is these same immigrants who build, clean and maintain America’s homes, raise America’s children, care for America’s elderly, and serve America’s take-out and dine-in food.

And now GMA is in the U.S. meeting with top politicians and businesspeople. What has been her response, and the response of her local arm, the Philippine consulate, to the treatment of Filipino migrants, without whom the Philippine economy would collapse within just three days? Neglect, lack of accountability, and outright callous disregard.

It is therefore fitting that GMA is thanking Bush for passing the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill, a bill still in Congress and yet to be passed in the Senate. Justice still needs to be served for the Filipino World War II Veterans 62 years after the Rescission Act declared they are not considered U.S. veterans, depriving them of benefits. The neglect and disregard of the Filipino people by the Philippine government is a legacy that GMA has no intention of correcting.

It is up to the Filipino people themselves, with the support of their allies internationally, to fight for life and livelihood, and to change the rotten system perpetuated by GMA.

The Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines vows to continue educating, organizing, and mobilizing the Filipino community in the U.S., and echoing the demands of the Filipino people for justice, dignity and freedom from foreign domination.






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