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Monthly Archives: February 2013

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Statement of SELDA on the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

 

Twenty seven long years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, a law confirming the atrocities and human rights violations under martial law is finally signed into law.  The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, which led the filing of the historic class suit by the martial law victims against Ferdinand E. Marcos in a Hawaii court, welcomes the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

This is another victory of the Martial Law victims in their continuing struggle for justice. Through their relentless efforts, finally and officially recognized are the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and were victims of human rights violations – summary execution, torture, enforced disappearances and all other gross forms of violations. They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.

The struggle was protracted.  The process was agonizing and tedious. Scores of members of the Philippine Congress, in cahoots with the Marcoses and the military who vehemently opposed the passage of the law, tried to block its passing.  In some instances, they deliberately delayed the process or watered down the crafted bill.

Now, with a regime posturing as a “champion of human rights” and trying to score credits for its passage, the law was passed but mainly due to the persistent efforts of the martial law victims themselves.  Tirelessly working hand-in-hand with progressive party-lists and likeminded legislators, the bill was finalized and ratified.  Generally, the law is acceptable to the victims and survivors of martial law.

We take this opportunity to commend and express our gratitude to Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño, who stood with us since the filing of the bill, pursuing the most pro-victim provisions, and consistently pushing, on behalf of the victims, the legislature to finally approve the bill. We also appreciate the support of Senators Chiz Escudero and TG Guingona, and Reps. Edcel Lagman and Erin Tañada.

Here and abroad, we were supported by various peace, justice and human rights advocates in the campaign for the bill’s passage. We extend our solidarity and gratefulness to solidarity groups in the United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland who warmly supported and mobilized in the campaign for the passage of the law, as well as in helping the victims every step of the way. We also thank the members of Parliament of Switzerland as well as its mission in Geneva for lending an ear to the victims’ pleas every time we lobby for their support. Most of all, we commend and deeply thank the members of the peace panel and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who tirelessly asserted, in the process of all peace negotiations with the Philippine government, that the victims of Martial Law should attain justice.

It is with pain and regret for us to witness the passage of this law at a time when many of our fellow victims and colleagues, who took part in the struggle against martial rule, have gone ahead of us. Also, there are still attempts to distort, sometimes even completely erase in the memory of our people, the dark days of the dictatorship. There are those among the architects of martial law who remain scot-free and unpunished. The most notorious culprits have been allowed to regain their political power and influence.

Under the law, the Philippine government is obliged to recognize and give reparation to the victims of human rights violations during martial law. While all the sacrifices and heroism of the Filipino people during martial law is priceless, we see these both as an affirmation to the people who struggle for justice, and as a warning to those who will continue to impose fascism and terror upon the Filipino people.

We dedicate this small victory to all martial law martyrs and heroes who have gone before us. We will continue to honor them, as we ensure that this law shall be implemented to the best interest of the victims and the Filipino people who survived martial law.

We may be jubilant, but we continue to watch with vigilance. To fully ensure that the law will serve the rightful victims and claimants, we will try to make sure that the HRV Victims Claims Board shall be composed of individuals who, in one way or another, know and can feel with the victims and have been involved in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

We take cognizance that SELDA is part of the recommending entities to the Claims Board. We challenge the administration to appoint nominees of SELDA despite some government officials’ bias given SELDA’s political stands.

Also, it should be ensured that those who are included in the master list of the 9,539 victims and those who will consequently file their claims are those who were genuinely part of the struggle against martial law. We should guard against unnecessary bureaucratic processes and scams which will deprive the victims of just indemnification.

We should also take the opportunity to make the younger generation learn, understand and take on the challenge of having the same daring, vigilance, militancy and commitment to justice and human rights.

It has been 40 years after martial law but human rights violations continue to be committed, and with impunity. There has not been much change except for the worse under the dispensations that succeeded the U.S.-Marcos regime. The Marcos laws and executive orders were retained by the succeeding administrations.  The militarist mindset and fascist machinery remain intact especially with the continuous implementation of the US-backed counter-insurgency programs

As long as human rights violations continue, with or without martial law, we stand with the people for justice, democracy and human rights. NEVER AGAIN will we allow the enemies of the people to perpetuate the same injustices, oppression and exploitation against the majority of the Filipino people.  ###

References:

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-561-6800

 

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The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) is an organization of former political prisoners in the Philippines. Founded on December 4, 1984, SELDA was initiated by newly-released political prisoners of the martial law period.  SELDA’s primary task is to work for the release of all political prisoners and to see to it that humane treatment of those who are still in detention are complied with by the Philippine authorities.  SELDA advocates justice for current and former political prisoners.  It calls for the mobilisation of resources in support of political prisoners, former detainees and their families.  It carries out legislative advocacy for the indemnification and rehabilitation of political prisoners. SELDA goes into partnership and builds solidarity with concerned individuals and groups for the freedom and welfare of political prisoners and all victims of tyranny. 
 
SELDA National Office: 2/F, Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, 
Brgy. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Tel: 632-4342837 Fax: 632-4354146 

 

 

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For Immediate Release
February 24, 2013
Contact: Katrina Abarcar
Email: j4gisfilipinoworkers@gmail.com
Phone Number:   202-656-0739

In the 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Actions,

New Orleans Supports the Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers

New Orleans, Louisiana – Fifty years since civil rights actions began in Birmingham, Alabama, activists from all over the U.S. convened in New Orleans to support Filipino workers continuing to struggle against modern day slavery. The first day of the Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission organized by the Justice for Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers campaign resulted in the formation of a new Filipino workers organization and solidifying of support from key organizations and communities within the New Orleans area.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013 began with a sharing between members of the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) and STAND with Dignity, organizations that protect and fight for the issues of migrant workers and low income workers and residents of New Orleans, and former workers from Grand Isle Shipyard. The same day, a new workers organization called FAST, Filipinos Against Slavery and Trafficking was formed.

Community organizations across New Orleans poured into Loyola University’s Danna Hall for a public forum later in the afternoon to express their solidarity, and denounce the pattern of exploitation of workers, across industries and across ethnicities.  Harold Butanas of Migrante Northern California related his own experience of being trafficked. Mr. Butanas arrived in Mobile, Alabama in 2007 with 68 other Filipinos to work as welders, pipefitters and scaffolders.  Mr. Butanas describes in Tagalog, “When we got here, we were already being cooked in our own oil.  We were required to pay $16,000 to sign up to work overseas.  After arriving in Alabama after a month—just after a month!—the company  told us that they no longer had jobs for us, just like that. In 2009, I couldn’t take it anymore, I moved to San Francisco.  I worked as a caregiver working almost 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, but was only being paid 8 hours a week. For 5 years, I worked, without papers, without approaching anyone for help.  Then, I met Terry (Valen), and through FCC (Filipino Community Center), that’s when I gained strength to fight against these injustices.  I’m proud to say that now, out of 68 Filipinos, I am the only one fighting.”  

Daniel Castellanos of the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) also remarked on how this case “was not an anomaly.”  He shared that other workers of other ethnicities often take the same type of dirty and dangerous jobs, working for too many hours and paid too little.  “As a former guest worker, I feel that this is a very important step for the campaign. Because we know that they are now united, and they want to get justice, and as NGA, we are going to support them, in any way we can.  This is not only important for the Filipino workers, but for all workers.  It’s important to expose these kind of employers, because there are many GIS’s around the country.  This is part of the mission of the alliance, and so we will support them.”

Representatives from organizations such as the Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns (EFFCON), Migrante International, and International Migrants Alliance (IMA) read solidarity statements in support of the struggle of the Grand isle Shipyard Filipino workers.

Jackie Mariano, of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-USA), discussed the roots of the outmigration of Filipinos as stemming from the Labor Export Policy (LEP) of the Philippine government. She explained how the LEP is an unsustainable solution to the widespread poverty and joblessness in the Philippines.  Ms. Mariano also discussed how the corrupt landed elite has kept the Philippines an export-oriented and import-dependent economy, and how the U.S. exerts tremendous control and influence over the economy of the Philippines.

The evening ended with cultural presentations from delegates, and community organizations, such as the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO).  Ang Grupong Pendong, made up of former members of the popular progressive Filipino band Asin, headlined the intimate event. Workers were invited to join the group on stage to sing songs about the strength and courage of workers in their fight against exploitation.

For more information about the Justice for Grand Isle Shipyard Filipino Workers campaign, go to j4gisfilipinoworkers.wordpress.com.

San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SFCHRP) is proud to present the shadow puppet piece, Karapatang Pantao (Human Rights). It is dedicated to all victims of human rights violations (HRVs).

Please anticipate a second version of this shadow puppet piece coming in the near future. In the meantime, we hope you all enjoy this first version.

For more information, please visit sanfranchrp.com

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I AM ND: Michael “Artivista” Luat at the Office Gallery

 

On exhibit March 24 – May 11, 2013

Opening reception March 24, 3-5PM

 

Kearny Street Workshop

1246 Folsom Street, Suite 100

San Francisco, CA 94103

ARTIST STATEMENT

“Art is not a skill. This is an irrevocable fact . It is beyond form. It is the consciousness juxtaposed with feelings, thus become structured and created into form… Action, which is the process of painting, is an interplay of sorrow, pain, fear, and the liberation from it which is joy, beauty, and freedom. It has an infinite doors in which these opposing forces interact. To me, my painting is a door to open. It is for the viewer to open and discover not the artist’s space but their own dimension…”

– Papo De Asis, Los Angeles, Ca. Feb. 26, 1997


I AM ND is an exhibit inspired by the National Democratic movement of the Philippines, a movement led by the Pilipino masses uniting to fight for basic human rights against an anti-people, neo-colonial government and system. It celebrates the legacy of 150 years of struggling for sovereign nationhood beginning with the revolutionary leader Andrés Bonifacio and continuing to this day.

The Philippines is an archipelago blessed with abundant natural resources enough to feed its entire population, including the eleven million Pilipinos living and working abroad. However, due to increasing privatization and globalization stemming from neoliberal policies propped up by the U.S.-controlled puppet state, resources are sucked dry and then dumped back into the country as finished products. Jobs are a joke as the rights of workers are whittled down to almost nothing, and wages are unable to cover the rising costs of living. These oppressive factors create a domino effect for families – from education, healthcare, housing, and more until people are forced to leave to seek “better opportunities” abroad.

I am an organizer with BAYAN-USA, an umbrella organization with 17 groups across the country aligned with the principles of the ND movement, due to the conditions that I have experienced from integrating with people in the Philippines who are struggling everyday to survive. In the US, I have heard countless stories of overseas workers who fall victim to the exploitation at the hands of their employers.

A current example of this is the plight of the Pilipino workers at Grand Isle Shipyard in Louisiana. Welders there toil under dirty, dangerous, and demeaning conditions on oil rig platforms. While working on the Black Elk platform, three workers were killed in an explosion. A report was sent to the Philippine government, but nothing so far has been done to protect the welfare of and bring justice to these workers.

As a Pilipino American, I feel it is important to let others know about what is happening in my homeland and in my community. In creating art, I am able to illustrate the stories of the Pilipino masses to my audience, inviting them to dialogue and moving them to take action to make a difference internationally.

Michael Peña Luat, aka ‘Artivista’, is a native Californian, San Francisco-based artist/activist  whose works are inspired by the social and political views of the National Democratic movement of the Philippines, as well as protest/revolutionary art from individual artists and collectives from around the world. He is trained by a handful of college classes, but socially acquired techniques through his peers and experimentation. He produces work in various mediums, including pen, acrylic, linocut, and digital media.

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CONTACT INFORMATION:

TJ Basa, Program Manager
Kearny Street Workshop
(415) 503-0520
tj@kearnystreet.org