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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Haiti/Honduras Vigil: Wednesday, Aug. 12 – 4:30 pm
Brazilian Consulate – 300 Montgomery St. (at Pine, nr Montgomery BART), SF
Haitians and Hondurans are still in the streets protesting political kidnappings and coups.
Return Lovinsky! Return Aristide! Return Zelaya!

  • August 12, 2009 marks 2 years since the kidnapping and disappearance of Haitian human rights leader Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. Yet the authorities have sat on their hands.

  • Haitian President Aristide and Honduran President Zelaya – both kidnapped from their homes in the middle of the night and flown into exile in US-sponsored military coups – are still in exile and not permitted to return home. This is intolerable.

Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine

It is two years since human rights advocate Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine was kidnapped in Haiti. We are with the people of Haiti who have been living under occupation since their elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was kidnapped and forced into exile in 2004 by a US military coup, and with the people of Honduras whose president Manuel Zelaya was kidnapped and removed by a military coup in June 2009.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Please join Haiti Action Committee Wednesday, August 12th, to observe the second anniversary of the kidnapping and disappearance of grassroots organizer and leader, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.
Meet in front of the Brazilian Consulate at 300 Montgomery Street in San Francisco, 4:30PM. [Brazil heads up MINUSTAH, the United Nations military force that has been occupying Haiti since soon after US special troops kidnapped President and Mrs. Aristide in 2004 and flew them to exile in Africa aboard a US military plane.]
Lovinsky was kidnapped and disappeared in Haiti on August 12th, 2007 shortly after meeting with a US-Canadian human rights delegation. As a member of Fanmi Lavalas, Brother Pierre-Antoine is an extraordinary grassroots organizer and leading advocate for the poor, including street children, teenage mothers and victims of torture.
Despite international actions demanding an investigation into Lovinsky’s disappearance, there has been no effective effort by either the UN in Haiti or the Preval government to locate Lovinsky and secure his safe return, or to hold those responsible for his disappearance accountable.
Join with Haiti’s grassroots movement on August 12, together with friends and comrades in Haiti, Grenada, Los Angeles, London, and elsewhere, in events demanding the return of our dear brother, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. End the US/UN occupation! Brazil out of Haiti! Free the political prisoners! Return Presidents Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Manuel Zelaya!
Here is last year’s message of solidarity from Mumia Abu-Jamal:
For Haitians, this coming August is a reminder of the kidnapping and disappearance of their brother, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, who was taken after a meeting with a US-Canadian human rights delegation visiting Haiti in mid-August, 2007.
Pierre-Antoine is a co-founder of the Fondayson Trant Septenm, (Kreyol for September 30th Foundation), a group which assisted and supported the people who during (and especially after) the 1991 and 2004 coups against the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Members of the Fondayson have been targeted for years.
Around the world, activists have been organizing in Lovinsky’s support, calling on various governments, from Haiti’s President Rene Preval, Brazil (which forms the bulk of the United Nations forces in the country), Canada, the US and France, which organized the latest coup against Haitian democracy.
When Pierre-Antoine was abducted, it forced other democracy and human rights activists in Haiti to go into hiding to avoid waves of state repression.
Haiti has a proud and illustrious career on the world’s stage, becoming the first free Black republic in the West after its 1804 revolution against France, which abolished slavery almost 70 years before the US Civil War spelled the end to human bondage in the US. Their freedom spread the bright lights of liberty and independence throughout the Caribbean, and when South America rose against Spain, it was to Haiti that their Liberator Simon Bolivar turned for support, arms, and a place to rest.
For their bold struggle to bring Black freedom to the West, the US and Europe have unleashed an unholy war. France forced reparations (!) on Haiti — an act unprecedented in history, forcing the victor in war to pay away it’s wealth for almost a century. The US repeatedly invaded the country, brutalized its people, and imposed an assortment of puppet dictators to exploit the country for foreign benefit, and national impoverishment, for generations!
Because Haiti’s popularly elected Bertrand Aristide dared to oppose Haiti’s rich elite, and tried to make things nominally better for its peasantry, US Marines forced him into exile.
Because Lovinsky comes from the popular mass movements, he was snatched off the streets of Haiti a year ago, and the movement is building to bring him back home to his family, his community, and the popular movements of which he was a part.
Haiti must never be forgotten, and neither must we forget Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. 7/30/08 (c) ’08 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Behind the kidnappings of these political leaders [excerpted from an article circulated by Global Women’s Strike]:
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is co-ordinator of Fondasyon 30 Septanm for survivors of the military coups against Aristide, and an advocate for those with the least, starting with women and street children. He was kidnapped on August 12, 2007, two weeks after announcing he would run for the Haitian Senate. The grassroots in Haiti hold weekly vigils demanding his return and the return of Aristide, who was forced into exile in 2004 by a Bush administration military coup backed by Canada and France.

Latin American governments have rightly condemned the recent coup in Honduras and have been working for the return of President Jose Manuel Zelaya, but in contrast, they have collaborated with the occupation of Haiti….UN occupying forces in Haiti continue to be headed by Brazil and include troops from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay. Only Caricom (a grouping of the English-speaking Caribbean, Suriname and Haiti) and Venezuela have spoken out; Cuba continues to provide doctors to Haiti.

President Aristide, a liberation theology priest with a 91.8% mandate (2000 election), was removed because he fought to eliminate poverty. His policies angered the Haitian elite and the US which profit from sweatshops, privatisation and the import of [US] rice which has destroyed the local agriculture and contributed to starvation. Like Zelaya in Honduras and Chávez in Venezuela (who also faced a coup in 2002), Aristide increased the minimum wage, and invested in food, health and education.

Now, former US President Bill Clinton is pushing US policy to expand sweatshops in Haiti under the guise of global investments – and the UN occupiers are responsible for many rapes and murders, including recently opening fire on mourners at the funeral of Father Jean-Juste, another liberation theology priest….

Despite pressure from those in power to participate in elections, grassroots people in Haiti organized “Operation Closed Door”. This massive boycott of the US-financed ($17 million) elections was organised after all candidates from Aristide’s party Fanmi Lavalas were banned from running. The boycott was an outstanding success – only 3% voted, a fantastic example of grassroots organizing and solidarity! The ban [on Lavalas] came the day after a meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the present Haitian President, Preval. The reason for the ban?: Lavalas usually takes over 85% of the vote.

Haitians have been made to pay for their 1791-1804 revolution which overthrew slavery, making way for emancipation in the region and for liberation movements everywhere. The world owes a great debt to the Haitian people. They have never given up. [Courtesy of Global Women’s Strike.] Read more about Brother Pierre-Antoine here:http://www.haitisolidarity.net/article.php?id=205

Haiti Action Committee
Information: www.Haitisolidarity.net www.globalwomenstrike.net www.haitiaction.net

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News Statement
August 8, 2009

“Justice for Custodio Family Trial Update: Judge Grants Motion to
Dismiss Marilou Custodio’s Case while Jury Denies Justice to Romel and
Marlo Custodio”

Reference: Rowena Tomaneng
Filipino Community Support,SV
focus.balita@gmail.com

San Jose—Friday, August 7, 2009 marked the close of the Custodio Family
Trial, which began after the prosecution finished its closing arguments
mid-morning and the Jury was instructed to deliberate on the evidence
presented to them for two weeks. This evidence included a grouping of
graphic photos of Romel Custodio the day after he was tased repeatedly
and beat by several members of the San Jose Police Department. By 2:30
p.m., the Jury was back in Department 37 amidst the overwhelming
presence of community supporters. The Jury found Marlo Custodio guilty
of the two charges against him: 1. resisting, delaying, and
obstructing a police officer from duty; 2. possession of marijuana.
Romel Custodio was also found guilty of resisting, delaying, and
obstructing a police officer from duty. The Jury, however, was in a
6-6 deadlock on Marilou Custodio’s case, resulting in a mistrial.
Marilou’s attorney, Mike Armstrong, motioned for Judge Arthur Bocanegra
to dismiss Marilou’s case in the interest of justice. Despite the
prosecuting attorney’s objection, Judge Bocanegra granted the motion to
dismiss Marilou’s cas
e.

The San Jose Filipino community and our allies—National Alliance for
Filipino Concerns, Coalition for Justice and Accountability, Silicon
Valley
Debug, Asian Pacific American Justice Coalition, Students for
Justice, Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute–are disheartened
and outraged by the Jury’s decision to penalize the Custodio brothers,
especially since they–like many other young men of color in San
Jose—ARE victims of police brutality and racial profiling. We are also
appalled by this outcome because for more than two years the violence
imposed on the Custodio family since February 5, 2007 continued as
their case was drawn out and delayed through the judicial system in
order to discourage the family’s quest for justice. Their trial was
pushed back more than 30 consecutive times, and the family had to make
special arrangements with their employment and other family
obligations.

While the denial of justice to Romel and Marlo Custodio is a
disappointing set back for the broader San Jose community’s ongoing
struggle to end use of torture weapons such as tasers and police
brutality,we have increased the community’s strength, unity, and
capacity to mobilize and demand that “real change” happens within SJPD
and our judicial institutions that systematically sanction
discriminatory practices. We can claim victory in the dismissal of
Marilou Custodio’s case as Judge Bocanegra
’s decision validates
Marilou’s unjust arrest. We can claim victory in the fact that for over
two-years the ongoing community support for the Custodio family has
been consistent and strong. From the first press in conference in
Spring 2007, to the first and second year anniversaries on February
2008 and 2009, and throughout the two-week trial, there has been a
steady presence of community members supporting the Custodios—family,
pastors, student organizations, non profits, grassroots organizations,
working professionals, appointed officials, community leaders, and
other victims of racial profiling and police brutality.

The struggle for justice within the court system continues and the
morale and determination of the San Jose Filipino community and
Custodio family remains strong.

Justice for the Custodio Family!
Justice for All Victims and Families Affected by Racial Profiling and
Police Brutality!
Demand SJPD Accountability!
Ban Tasers and Other Weapons of Torture!
Immigrant Rights are Human Rights!

FOCUS MISSION
As a broad grassroots community organization, Filipino Community
Support of Silicon Valley (FOCUS-SV) defends the rights and interests
of Filipinos in Santa Clara County against social and economic
injustices.

FOCUS VISION
We, the concerned Filipinos residing and working in Silicon Valley with
our families and friends, realize the need to protect, assist, and
advocate for our mutual and collective inte
rest against exploitation,
oppression, violence, and injustice. We come together to build a broad
comprehensive grassroots organization that defends the rights gained by
previous struggles and upholds the welfare of Filipinos. With
nationalist and democratic values, we envision greater social,
cultural, and political resources for the Filipino community in Santa
Clara County
that would benefit everyone and promote greater equity and
justice.

For more info contact: email focus.balita@gmail.com

Reply
Forward

Hundreds of activists, farmers and peasants marched to Mendiola on Thursday despite the heavy rain. They were protesting the passage of a bill that seeks to extend the Philippines’s agrarian reform program, which is considered a failure. But the protesters were stopped at the intersection of CM Recto and Morayta in Manila. Violence ensued as the police, using clubs and water cannons, dispersed the crowd. Fourteen were injured.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

PUBLISHED ON January 24, 2009 AT 4:10 PM

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
(Bulatlat.com)

Parallels

Sixty years have the Palestinians spent
away from Palestine,
herded into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank
as the Jews were
in the ghettos of Nazi-occupied Europe.
For sixty years they have been fleeing
from massacres against them,
which are not unlike the pogroms of the Holocaust.

With their homeland being chewed up almost daily,
the Palestinians are getting dispersed
throughout the world,
as the Jews were after Rome’s pillage of Judea.
And recently they have been walled in
from what is now Israel –
suffering the same fate that the Jews did
when the Romans built Colonia Aelia Capitolina.

——o0o——

Israel, the Oppressors of Your People are Still Alive

Israel,
your soldiers today are the Romans and Nazis of old.
Listen to the wails of the women and men in Palestine
whose homes were reduced to rubble,
whose sons and daughters and brothers and sisters
were slaughtered like pigs –
these are the same cries
that burst forth from the mouths of your people
as Jerusalem’s ruins were being buried
under Aelia Capitolina,
as their loved ones were being gassed to death
in the concentration camps.
Israel,
the oppressors of your people
are still alive –
daily uprooting and murdering the Palestinians.
(Bulatlat.com)

When the Prey Strikes

PUBLISHED ON May 30, 2009 AT 3:28 PM

By OLMAYA NGABIT
Posted by Bulatlat

The Beasts
Blood thirsty beasts stalk them,
Watching them
From a distance at first,
Then slowly inching nearer,
And in a blink of an eye
Pounces on their prey
These beasts they know no mercy
They find satisfaction
In the agony of their prey
They live to kill

They Prey
They know they are being hunted,
That beasts are around somewhere drooling
Well aware that anytime
One of them could be devoured
But they do not scamper
They refuse to be paralyzed by fear
They draw strength in their number
Patiently,
Resiliently,
They wait for the perfect time
To strike down the beasts

The Blow
The rampaging beasts know
Their reign of terror is bound to end
Their pangs and paws bleeding
From trying hard to cling to the throne
But the fall of the beasts is inevitable
When the prey delivers the final blow!

After the weekend of attending the Asian Pacific Islander American(APIA) Spoken Word & Poetry Summit in the Bay Area, a tribute to the weekend a post of a poem from Olmaya Ngabit. Ngabit places issues on the beast of Imperialism/ Capitalism and how it hunts for the people.

Oppression breeds resistance.  They refuse to be afraid nor do nothing but they will gather and organize together to gain numbers to tackle the beast.

Please forward widely…

CALIFORNIA FILIPINO-AMERICAN WOMEN EXPRESS OUTRAGE AT GOVERNOR’S 100% CUT ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAMS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2009

Reference: Marisa Mariano, Chair, Babae-San Francisco

babaesf@gmail.com

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cut $489 million from the state budget passed last week by the state legislature, cuts which were directed primarily towards the state’s health and human service programs. Filipina-American women of Babae, the San Francisco chapter of GABRIELA USA, are especially shocked and outraged at Schwarzenegger’s elimination of the entire state’s funding support for California’s crucial Domestic Violence Programs. Domestic violence shelters were already preparing for the 20% funding cut proposed by the state legislature, but will now be forced to close their doors entirely or scramble to seek new sources of funding. Affecting the most vulnerable citizens of the state, battered women and children will be left with no place to go as the $20.4 million in cuts affects 94 domestic violence shelters throughout California. These shelters not only offer a safe space for women and children escaping and seeking protection from their abusers, but also provide vital services to help rebuild their lives. Shelters across the state are now being forced to lay off staff and eliminate services including their emergency shelter, transitional housing, legal advocacy, and counseling programs, as well as those which serve the young victims of abuse, such as child counseling and support groups. It is equally important to remember that these broad cuts do not only affect these much needed shelters, but also affect the valuable domestic violence programs which focus on community education, advocacy, and prevention.

“We are already experiencing deep cuts for students, children, the elderly, the disabled, the poor and the working poor throughout California, but now, if Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts are allowed to stand, survivors of violence will not have a place to turn for help and lives will inevitably be lost,” said Marisa Mariano, Babae-San Francisco Chairperson. For many communities, the budget cut coincides with an increase in reported cases of domestic violence. The stress of job loss, foreclosures, and car repossessions stemming from the current economic crisis can raise tension in vulnerable homes, leading to domestic violence. The city of Fresno has seen a 30% rise in cases of domestic violence over the past four months. “Domestic violence has been and continues to be a problem in the Filipino community. We’ve lost Marisa Corpuz and Claire Joyce Tempongko in the last few years in the city of San Francisco alone, to domestic violence and without state support and culturally relevant resources, more Filipinas will fall victim to violence.”

Babae-San Francisco stands together with domestic violence shelters, organizations, and others throughout California to protest the governor’s action and call on the state legislature to do everything in its power to restore funding to domestic violence programs and other vital health services for the most vulnerable Californians.

We urge you to take action and:

1.) Call the Governor’s office at 916-445-2841 and express your concern.

2.) Use this easy action alert tool to send a message to the Governor and your state legislators: http://www.capwiz.com/sfvo/issues/alert/?alertid=13807706&type=ML

3.) Forward this message to your family and friends and urge them to call or write the Governer and their state legislators.

====================

Babae (Tagalog for “woman”) is a grassroots women’s organization that serves to address the rights and welfare of Filipinas in the San Francisco Bay Area. We strive to learn about our history and culture in the Philippines and how it connects to our conditions as Filipinas in the United States. We mobilize and organize around Pinay issues to strengthen our legacy as empowered Filipina women in solidarity with National Democracy in the Philippines and international women’s emancipation. For more information, please visit http://www.babaesf.org.

We are a proud member organization of GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, SiGAw in Los Angeles, and FiRe in New York.

Babae is a member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about BAYAN, please visit http://bayanusa.org

Press Statement
July 31, 2009

References:
Katrina Abarcar, Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, email: katarungan@comcast.net;
Peter Arvin Jabido, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), email: nychrp@gmail.com

Filipino-American Rights Groups Disappointed in Obama for Standing with Leader on Wrong Side of History

See Related Photos:
http://www.katarungan-dc.org/gma-white-house-visit-picket-and-vigil/

US-based rights groups are registering disappointment over the outcome of US President Barack Obama’s meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines yesterday at the White House.

“Yesterday, Obama shook hands with a leader who stands on the wrong side of history,” states Gary Labao of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), a New York City-based human rights advocacy organization. “Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo fits the description of one who clings to power though deceit, corruption, and the silencing of dissent to a tee.”

A few hours before Arroyo’s arrival on the White House driveway, DC-rights group Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines and the Columban Center for Outreach and Advocacy sponsored a prayer vigil for the victims of extrajudicial killings and abductions by the Philippine military in front of the White House gate. Other sponsors of the vigil included the Ecumenical Advocacy Network for the Philippines, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church-USA Washington DC Office, the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, the International Labor Rights Forum, and NYCHRP.

Members of NYCHRP, Anakbayan NY/NJ, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, and Sandiwa Fil-Am Youth Alliance traveled from New York to join the vigil, in which around 50 advocates stood in a circle in front of the White House gates and renewed their call for US Congress to cut a greater amount of US military aid to the Philippines and tag greater human rights conditions. Also discussed was the case of Melissa Roxas, an American abducted and tortured in the Philippines last May. It is widely-believed that Roxas was taken by elements of the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) based in Central Luzon.

Katrina Abarcar of Katarungan spoke on Roxas’ behalf and reiterated the words from a statement of Roxas, who is currently in the Philippines testifying against the Philippine military– “I can no longer count how many times I have narrated the incident and my ordeal. But I will not tire to tell the truth about what happened for I seek justice, not only for myself, but for others who have gone through the same. I seek justice, not only for what they did to me, but for other victims of human rights violations.”

Arroyo’s White House Arrival Met with Protest

After the vigil, the rights groups staged a protest in front of the White House gates in anticipation of Arroyo’s arrival.
Chanting “Gloria Tuta, Diktador Pasista!” (Gloria, Puppet! Fascist Dictator!) and “Inutang na Dugo, Singilin, Siniglin, Pagbayarin!” (Blood Debt, Payback Now!) and “Gloria, Don’t Lie to Me. Torture Don’t Make Democracy!”, as Arroyo’s car entourage drove into the White House driveway, protestors marched to and straddled the White House front gate with banners and signs reading “Justice for Melissa Roxas!” and “Obama: Say to No to Torture! Say No to Arroyo!”

During the 45-minute meeting between Obama and Arroyo, the groups stayed outside the White House holding picket-protest, explaining to tourists and passersby the state of unequal relations between the US and the Philippines, and why more Americans should demand that US Congress withdraw all forms of support to the Arroyo government.

Prior to the meeting, US human rights advocates were pushing for Obama to include raising the case of Roxas and human rights with Arroyo in person.

No Public Mention of Roxas or Human Rights in the Philippines

But the subsequent post-meeting press conference did not indicate whether or not the issues of Roxas or Arroyo’s human rights track record were raised behind closed doors. Instead, the only reference to human rights was Obama’s praise for Arroyo’s so-called efforts to address the human rights situation in Burma, as well as eagerness to work with the Arroyo government by appointing the Philippines as the coordinator of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), an economic organization of countries in the region framed to promote economic, social, and cultural progress.

“We assume his silence means he is more committed to continuing Bush’s foreign policy on the Philippines, which includes maintaining and even increasing US troop presence on the island nation, and using the Arroyo government as a proxy to uphold US economic and political interests in the region,” Abarcar said. “So much for standing ‘against torture wherever it takes place.’ ”

Arroyo critics continued with the picket until Arroyo’s departure, in which the chanting resumed until the car entourage was off the White House premises.

Katarungan and NYCHRP, along with other US-based groups and churches, have been actively lobbying the members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to cut a greater portion of US military aid to the Philippines. They expect a final decision on the 2010 military aid package released by September.

###

http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2009/07/26/army-grills-villagers-on-socio-economic-projects/

Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Northern


BAGUIO CITY – In a recent interview, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary General Jude Baggo expressed grave concern over the increasing presence of the Army and their so-called “soft approach” activities in the communities of the Cordillera.

Baggo said it is very alarming that after the so-called “soft approach” of soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to supposedly “win the hearts and minds” of people in communities they suspect to be influenced by New People’s Army guerillas, they are now resorting to intimidation and “indirect” interrogations to gather information regarding projects of civil society groups and community self-help activities.

Their continuous encampment and meddling into the daily lives of civilians in Talampac, Lacub, Abra and other areas are a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL), which upholds the rights of civilians in situations of armed conflict.

The CAHRIHL provides that the civilian community shall be protected from the risks and dangers posed by the presence of military troops in urban centers and other populated areas.

“It is a very alarming development that the military seems bent on ‘demonizing’ projects or assistance requested by the communities from concerned NGOs to alleviate their economic situation. These are now being labeled as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP),” Baggo said.

Baggo added that while there is an ongoing resistance by the people of Abra, particularly in Lacub, against the entry of large mining corporations, military presence and activities in those areas are noticeably intensifying.

Lacub has sources of high grade gold ore. It is among the municipalities of Abra which has pending applications for mining exploration by the Australian Rio Dorado Mining Company.

After encamping inside the communities of Barangay Talampac, elements of the Alpha Coy of the 41st IB Philippine Army are reportedly harassing the residents anew. The CHRA has monitored reports that Army soldiers question villagers on socio-economic projects (SEPs) initiated by non-government-organizations in the locality, aside from asking for the identification of members of community organizations in the area.

In one report, soldiers under the command of Lt. Limuel Jimeno held a meeting with the residents of Talampac in the evening of July 19. Jimeno’s unit asked residents to identify the organizations and individuals who helped or facilitated the acquisition of the rice mill, a desktop computer and farm tools and projects for the community.

“The soldiers gave residents one week to furnish them the information. This can be construed as a threat on the people”, Baggo said.

One informant, who has asked not to be named, said, “Although the soldiers did not ask specifics on the assisting organizations involved, by implication, the soldiers are trying to connect these socio-economic projects to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).”

The soldiers are also asking about the members of Saranay, a farmer’s organization in the said barangay. They also expressed their intention to organize an elders’ organization in the area.

Earlier, the same military unit formed an elders’ municipal alliance Gibon in the municipality of Baay-Licuan also in Abra.

It will be recalled that last February 15, members of the Re-engineered Special Operations Team (RSOT) of the AFP occupied the barangay hall and day care center and five houses in Talampac proper.

On March 1, they occupied the basements of two private houses while other members encamped in Sitio Pacoc of the same barangay. The soldiers even implemented a curfew in the communities.

Also, in Besao, Mountain Province villagers continue to air grievances over the continued presence of soldiers from the 50th IBPA. They complained of the continuing implementation of curfew by soldiers.

The community members were also told to use pinewood, instead of flashlights, when moving around during night time. They said the soldiers told them that flashlights are being used by NPA guerillas.

One resident added that they have to be extra careful and cautious when they get firewood in the forest because roaming soldiers may mistakenly think that they are carrying a firearm. “You can never tell what they will do to you”, he said in Kan-kanaey.

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Filipino Community Support, Silicon Valley (FOCUS, SV) continues this struggle for justice, along with our community allies: Silicon Valley Debug, Coalition for  Justice and Accountabilty (CJA), Filipino Youth Coalition (FYC), MAIZ, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), De Anza Isang PUSO, De Anza Students for Justice, De Anza Student Alliance, De Anza SJSU Akbayan, MAIZ, SFSU League of Filipino Students, and ALAY.  JOIN US IN OUR SUPPORT OF THE CUSTODIOS BY ATTENDING THE TRIAL.  TWO and a HALF IS TOO LONG TO WAIT FOR JUSTICE!!!

Custodio Trial Schedule

Location:    190 West Hedding Street. Department 37, 5th Floor, Judge Bocanegra
Days:          Monday-Thursday, July 27-August 6, 2009
Time:          9:00am – 4:30pm (there are recess breaks)

The week of July 27th – scheduled testimonies for the prosecution (San Jose Police Officers and a Filipino neighbor)
The week of August 3rd – scheduled testimonies for defense (family and witnesses)

Guidelines for Supporters

1. Dress Professionally
2. No Discussion of Case in or outside of the courtroom. If a Juror is exposed to conversation on the case, it can be grounds for a mistrial.
3. Display of Professional Behavior.  Disruptive behavior will reflect badly on the family.

__ ___________________________________________________________________
FOCUS  MISSION
As a broad grassroots community organization, Filipino Community Support of Silicon Valley (FOCUS-SV) defends the rights and interests of Filipinos in Santa Clara County against social and economic injustices.

FOCUS VISION
We, the concerned Filipinos residing and working in Silicon Valley with our families and friends, realize the need to protect, assist, and advocate for our mutual and collective interest against exploitation, oppression, violence, and injustice. We come together to build a broad comprehensive grassroots organization that defends the rights gained by previous struggles and upholds the welfare of Filipinos. With nationalist and democratic values, we envision greater social, cultural, and political resources for the Filipino community in Santa Clara County that would benefit everyone and promote greater equity and justice.

DEMOCRACY NOW – Headlines for July 30, 2009

Obama Urged to Address Human Rights in Arroyo Meeting

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/30/headlines#9

President Obama is scheduled to host President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
of the Philippines today at the White House. Filipino activists are
calling on President Obama to raise human rights concerns, including
torture and abductions by government forces. Melissa Roxas, a United
States citizen of Filipino descent, recently spoke out about her
kidnapping by alleged Filipino soldiers.

Melissa Roxas: “I was never left alone. There were always men watching
me. I was constantly interrogated, and during the interrogations, they
would ask me repeatedly if I knew why I was there. And I was told by
them that I was abducted because I was a member of the CPP-NPA
[Communist Party of the Philippines New People’s Army]. I also
repeatedly told them that I have rights and that I demanded for my
lawyer. I told them that I was just a writer and a volunteer. They
told me that even if a year passes, I would never see a lawyer, that
in there I had no rights. Although it is still very difficult to talk
about the incident, I wanted to tell the truth about what happened to
me, because I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else
ever again. I want the world to know what happened, because the
Philippine government and military should not get away with what they
did to me, to Juanito, to John Edward. And they cannot get away with
what they did to many other people.”

The Obama-Arroyo meeting comes as Congress begins debate on extending
US military aid to the Philippines. Advocates have called for the
funding to be cut in half and for increased requirements on protecting
human rights.

**********
The Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines urges you
to send a letter to President Obama today.

Email the White House:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/

Submit your letter TODAY!

Justice for Melissa Roxas and all victims of human rights violations
in the Philippines!
______________________________

_____________________________________________
________________________
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

Before you meet with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at
the White House on July 30, I urge you to look into the case of
Melissa Roxas, a U.S. citizen and survivor of torture in the
Philippines.  I urge you to include human rights in the Philippines
and Melissa Roxas as an integral portion of your meeting with
President Arroyo. Please watch this video before you meet with her on
Thursday.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFANG4L8d1Y

I am deeply concerned for the well-being of U.S. citizen, Melissa
Roxas, a survivor of torture. On May 19, 2009, she was abducted while
doing community health work in the Philippines. She has spoken out
publicly in Los Angeles and is testifying in the Philippines right now
about her traumatic experience of being abducted and tortured for
almost one week. I know you share this concern. On the U.N.
International Day in Support of Torture Victims, you declared,
“Torture is contrary to the founding documents of our country and the
fundamental values of our people. The U.S. must stand against torture
wherever it takes place.”

With your support, we can move another step closer to demanding
justice for Melissa Roxas by way of a criminal investigation, arrest
and prosecution of the parties responsible for her abduction and
torture.

Unfortunately, Melissa is one of thousands of victims of human right
violations in the Philippines. She is among the very few survivors of
abduction, and I admire her courage to speak out so that we will know
the truth and take a stand for justice.

With your support, we can move another step closer to ensuring that no
more US tax-payers’ dollars are being used to enable state-sponsored
human rights violations in the Philippines.

During your Inaugural Speech, you said, “To those who cling to power
through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that
you are on the wrong side of history.”

Please take a stand for justice and do not hesitate to defend and
demand justice for our sister, Melissa, when you meet with President
Arroyo.

Sincerely,
_______________________________             _______________
Signature                                                      Date
_______________________________
Print Name

Join the Justice for Melissa Campaign and visit the website at
www.justiceformelissa.org for news, information, and updates. Find out
what you can do to support the Justice for Melissa Campaign today.

In solidarity,
Claire Oliveros
Chair, Portland CHRP

***************
Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP) is an
organizing committee of Filipinos and allies working in solidarity to
advance the national democratic movement of the Philippines in the
U.S. PCHRP serves as an outlet for local, national, and international
urgent action alerts, media updates, and general information related
to human rights violations against Filipinos in the Philippines and
U.S.

PCHRP is a member of BAYAN USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino
groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars,
women, workers, and youth. As the only international chapter of Bagong
Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an
information bureau for the national democratic movement of the
Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in
the U.S.

www.portlandc…@gmail.com
www.bayanusa.org