Skip navigation

Tag Archives: GABRIELA USA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA CONDEMNS PERPETRATORS OF THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE, AND HOLDS GMA ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE STATE OF WARLORDISM AND CLIMATE OF IMPUNITY IN THE PHILIPPINES

The election-related carnage on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) took the lives of 57 people, 14 women including
2 women lawyers and 17 journalists

San Francisco, CA–10 years ago, a United Nations Assembly resolved to recognize November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) to work towards the end of violence affecting women all over the world. GABRIELA USA members from San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York are taking this day to remember the significance of this international effort to raise awareness about women’s issues in the light of the horrific massacre which took place in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, in the island of Mindanao.

The death toll is rising in the massacre of unarmed civilians included lawyers, journalists, and at least 14 women who were not only murdered but also raped, mutilated and beheaded. The bodies were found buried on shallow ground on the side of the road where the 6 vehicle convoy carrying the victims were stopped in broad daylight on November 23rd. The victims where on their way to file election paperwork with the Commission on Elections to challenge the ruling political clan in the upcoming elections.

This incident cannot be separated from the thousands of other human rights violations committed under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime, wherein hundreds of women activists, leaders and community members have been killed, abducted, tortured and disappeared with impunity.

Arroyo’s share of responsibility for this massacre is certain as she has repeatedly facilitated and funded armed clan-based militias, utilizing US military aid, and has created the state of impunity in the Philippines where her close political allies could conceive of
carrying out such a heinous crime in broad daylight.  In fact, until today, no arrests has been made in the horrific crime, despite the
fact, or because of the fact, that the tractor used to hide the bodies belongs to the local government, controlled by the Ampatuans, GMA’s close allies.

The UN Declaration for the Elimination of Violence Against Women calls for all forms violence, including those condoned by the State. GMA must be held accountable, and we must be vigilant in continuing to demand the arrest, thorough investigation, and prosecution of the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre. Many believe that the massacre was perpetrated by 100 men led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., of the Ampatuan clan, which delivered what has been dubbed as the “Maguindanao Miracle” a 100% of the votes for GMA’s slate in the 2007 elections.

Moreover, we must continue to struggle against GMA’s anti-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II, which provides license for state-sponsored violence against anyone who asserts their democratic rights.  This U.S.-sponsored plan, which calls for the extermination of the “communist insurgency” by 2010, is a formula for continuing impunity for the military and military-sponsored civilian militias to commit human rights violations, especially against those they label as “community-fronts”.

On this 10th anniversary of IDEVAW, GABRIELA- USA recommits to demand an end to U.S. military and financial aid to the GMA regime, who we hold accountable for the illegal abduction and torture of Filipino American woman Melissa Roxas in May of this year, and hundreds of other human rights violations against women and children.

The women of GABRIELA-USA believe that the Ampatuan Massacre is a foreshadow of an escalation in the violence and human rights violations to be expected this election season, and should be a reminder for all, including the international community, to
participate in ensuring clean and honest elections.

This IDEVAW, GABRIELA USA condemns the relentless violence of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime against the Filipino people, especially women and children.  We stand in solidarity with women worldwide who are facing violence and will continue fighting for the day in which aggression towards women will no longer be tolerated.  And we will work pro-actively to support the election of genuine women’s representatives who will be our partners in this effort.

###

Start Time:
Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8:00pm
End Time:
Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 9:30pm
Location:
Off Market Theater
Street:
965 Mission St. #250
City/Town:
San Francisco, CA

The Babae Ensemble Presents…
Pinay Stories
Connection, Memory, Roots

An evening of original written work, theater, and performance by an all-Filipina cast.
Stories that will inspire, empower, and uplift you.

Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5
8pm show; doors open at 7:30pm

Off Market Theater
965 Mission St. #250
San Francisco, CA 94104

$12 admission
For tickets, visit http://brownpapertickets.com/event/89703

Pinay Stories is a national cultural arts project of GABRIELA USA that centers on collecting creative efforts of Filipino women in the United States reflecting their life stories, journeys and current lives.

Babae (Tagalog for “woman”) is a grassroots and volunteer-based organization of Filipina women in San Francisco dedicated to supporting and empowering Pinays through critical education, leadership development, and community building. We are committed to taking up local and global struggles, immediate and long-term concerns of our communities, especially those directly impacting Filipino women. As part of the Philippine women’s movement for self-determination, we are committed to working towards a future of real sisterhood and international solidarity, true gender equality and opportunity for all women, and genuine sovereignty and democracy in our homeland.

info@babaesf.org | http://www.babaesf.org

GABRIELA National Alliance of Women is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 organizations, institutions, desks and programs of women all over the Philippines seeking to wage a struggle for the liberation of all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of our people. GABRIELA-USA is the first overseas chapter of the Philippine-based organization, extending the Filipino womens mass movement to the United States.

http://www.gabusa.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2009

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org

U.S. CITIZEN ABDUCTED AND TORTURED BY SUSPECTED PHILIPPINE MILITARY AGENTS TO SPEAK PUBLICLY FOR FIRST TIME

U.N. Day in Support of Torture Victims Marked with Press Conference by Torture Survivor Melissa Roxas

What: Press Conference of Melissa Roxas, recent victim of abduction and torture

When: Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time: 4-5:30 PM

Where: Echo Park United Methodist Church

1226 N. Alvarado St.

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Live Web Stream: www.bayan.ph

LOS ANGELES, CA – In her first public appearance since being released from captivity, Melissa Roxas, a U.S. citizen abducted and tortured in the Philippines from May 19-25, will hold a press conference to describe the human rights abuses she endured while held for six days in an alleged military camp. Ms. Roxas, an American human rights advocate of Filipino descent, is the first known American citizen to have become a victim of abduction and torture in the Philippines, a country which has drawn international condemnation for state-sponsored human rights atrocities.

In a sworn affidavit submitted to the Philippine Supreme Court, Ms. Roxas described being abducted at gunpoint by several heavily armed men, brought to what she believed is a military camp, held against her will, questioned without the presence of an attorney, beaten repeatedly, and asphyxiated using plastic bags before being released. During the press conference, Ms. Roxas is expected to demand accountability from the Philippine government and military, who she holds responsible for her ordeal, as well as the U.S. government for providing funding and training to the Philippine military. Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Philippine-based human rights organization Karapatan, and Human Rights Watch have overwhelmingly concluded that the Philippine military is responsible for systematically carrying out human rights violations such as abduction, torture and extra-judicial killings against innocent civilians. Nearly $1 billion worth of U.S. military aid and materiel has been granted to the Philippines since 1999, the year the U.S.- Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement was enacted.

The experience of Ms. Roxas is considered typical for the 200 cases of abduction and 1,010 cases of torture recorded since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president of the Philippines in 2001. The Philippine government’s quick denial of responsibility for Ms. Roxas’ abduction and torture is also considered a typical response; in his 2007 report on the Philippines, U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston cited such systematic denial by the government as one of the primary obstacles to stopping the rampant human rights violations plaguing the country. In his 2009 follow-up report, Alston indicated a general failure of the Arroyo government to stop the persistent human rights violations. In April 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) also released a report detailing the use of torture by the Philippine military.

At the press conference, Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, Attorney Arnedo Valera, will explain the potential legal remedies that are being explored, including the filing of a tort action in U.S. Federal Court for punitive and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or the Arroyo government in the absence of named assailants; the lodging of a private complaint before the U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Desk against the Philippine government for the violation of the fundamental rights of a U.S. citizen; and the filing of a complaints before the appropriate U.N. agencies for violations of the International Covenant Against Torture, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

The press conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA and broadcast live on the website www.bayan.ph. Media in the Philippines will be hosted simultaneously by Bayan Philippines and will be able to ask questions in real time. The U.S.-based press conference is sponsored by the Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign, whose membership includes Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, BAYAN-USA, GABRIELA USA, Katarungan Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. ###

For those who have missed the live feed of Melissa’s Press Conference here are the recorded videos:

Basic CMYK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 27, 2009

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, 415-377-2599,

secgen@bayanusa.org, www.bayanusa.org

10 Years Too Long, 200 People Too Many: Filipinos Across the U.S. Call for the Termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and Justice for the Disappeared

In the wake of the abduction of Filipino American human rights advocate and health worker Melissa Roxas and her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc one week ago in the Philippines, BAYAN-USA launches actions against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) today, the 10th anniversary of the VFA’s ratification. BAYAN-USA demands the termination of the VFA and justice for victims of abduction and all human rights violations, which have climbed to record levels in the Philippines since the VFA was ratified on May 27, 1999.

“Human rights violations have escalated to unprecedented heights since 2001, when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president and the U.S. launched its ‘war on terror.’ It is no coincidence that the Visiting Forces Agreement was ratified just two years earlier in 1999,” stated BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. “The VFA paved the way for U.S. military advisers, troops and equipment to flood the Philippines and to train and equip the Philippine military which has been implicated in 1,017 extra-judicial killings and 1,010 cases of torture. Melissa’s abduction adds an American citizen to the list of over 200 victims of enforced disappearance under Arroyo.”

Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a volunteer health worker team preparing for a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac, Philippines, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint on May 19 by at least eight heavily-armed masked men riding motorcycles and in a van without license plates. The circumstances of their abduction typify the pattern of dozens of politically-motivated abductions of activists critical of the Arroyo administration, and evidence points to the military as responsible for these acts. Roxas and Carabeo were officially surfaced on May 24 and 25, respectively; unconfirmed reports of Handoc’s surfacing were received as of the writing of this statement. Because the vast majority of abductions and enforced disappearances remain unresolved, BAYAN-USA believes their surfacing was a direct result of rapid community response and an international campaign by BAYAN Philippines, BAYAN-USA, and the human rights organization Karapatan.

“While we are elated that Melissa and Juanito have surfaced and that John Edward might also have been found, we are outraged that they were even abducted in the first place,” said Ramiro. “We call for justice for all three, including a full investigation and prosecution of the abductors.”

“The abduction of Melissa, Juanito and John Edward is directly linked to the VFA and U.S. military aid to the Philippines,” continued Ramiro. “The U.S. government cannot claim ignorance or wash its hands of responsibility, when it is U.S. advisors who are training the Philippine military, U.S. aid that is funding the military training, and U.S. guns and bullets that are being used to threaten and kill innocent civilians.”

BAYAN-USA claims that despite its rhetoric of “change,” the administration of President Barack Obama has clung to Bush’s foreign policy when it comes to the Philippines.  Earlier this year, President Obama phoned Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to express support for the VFA and continuing the annual joint military exercises known as “Balikatan” (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”).   The estimated total expense borne by U.S. taxpayers for U.S. militarization in the Philippines since the VFA was enacted in 1999 is a lofty $1 billion.  An additional $660 million—up from a reported $400 million just one month ago—is reportedly set to be granted to the Philippines in the coming year.

The VFA also provides justification for the basing of U.S. troops throughout the country, in what is widely perceived as an affront to national sovereignty. Moreover, witnesses have observed U.S. troops participating in combat operations, which is in violation of the VFA itself. In the months of February-May this year alone, the “Balikatan” exercises also led directly to the killing of a young girl and wounding of four more children, the rape of 22 year old Filipina “Vanessa,” and the forced displacement of tens of thousands of residents in Bicol where the exercises were held. No one was held responsible for the killing of the child, and although there was clear evidence that “Vanessa” was raped by a U.S. marine, she refrained from pressing charges because she did not believe she could obtain justice. “Vanessa’s” rape was committed just weeks after the acquittal of U.S. Marine Daniel Smith, who was the only American ever convicted of raping a Filipina despite reports of thousands of rapes committed by U.S. military personnel.

“The VFA fosters a culture of militarization and violence, and both the U.S. and Philippine military are guilty of committing human rights violations with impunity,” stated Ramiro. “Melissa’s abduction should give Congress and the Obama administration even more impetus to terminate the VFA and stop pouring billions of dollars into a regime that abducts and kills innocent people. In the face of a budget deficit in the trillions, it is unconscionable to continue providing aid to the Arroyo government and to perpetuate the costly VFA.  Congress should cut both during the budget appropriations process this spring and summer.”

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As an 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.  BAYAN-USA’s online petition against the VFA can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/. The online petition to demand justice for Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/online/28021.html.

#  #  #

Actions being held in the U.S.

Los Angeles

Vigil in front of the PhilippineConsulate

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 7:30pm
3600 Wilshire Blvd (between S Harvard Blvd and S Kingsley Dr)
Los Angeles, CA 90010

New York

Rally at the Philippine Consulate and March to Military Recruitment Center

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 5:30 PM

556 Fifth Ave., New York

San Francisco

Action and Meeting with the Philippine Consulate

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 4:00 PM

447 Sutter Street, San Francisco

Teach-In on the VFA

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 6:00-8:00 PM

At South of Market Community Action Center

1070 Howard Street, San Francisco

Seattle

Visiting Forces Agreement Teach-In

Thursday, March 28, 6:30-8:30 PM

Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

San Diego

“As If They Never Left” Teach-In on the VFA

Thursday, May 28, 7:00-9:00 PM

At Filipino American Veterans Association Hall

2926 Market Street, San Diego

For Immediate Release
May 19, 2009
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com, 415-244-9734
GABRIELA-USA condemns Alec Baldwin’s Mail-Order Bride Comment and Demands a Public Apology
Hyper-sexualization of Filipina Women Rooted in the History of U.S. Bases in the Philippines and Current Neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines as codified in the Visiting Forces Agreement
Ten days before the 10-year anniversary of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the recent news of another young Filipina “Vanessa” alleging rape by a US Marine in the Philippines, Alec Baldwin’s comment about perhaps getting a “Filipina mail order bride” to “have more kids” is a cutting reminder of how Filipina women are normalized as sexual objects in U.S. society.  
These images and stereotypes, pervasive among former U.S. military personnel who have been stationed in the Philippines, have seeped into American mainstream media and discourse. They speak to legacies of U.S. colonial occupation of the Philippines, the history of U.S. bases and the Arroyo administration colluding with U.S. military abuse of Filipino women.   
With the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) dictating US-Philippine relations, the reversal of the rape conviction of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Smith, and now the Vanessa rape case, this seemingly harmless “joke” on The Late Show with David Letterman points to the ongoing perception of Filipino women as objects for sexual disposal. Indeed, these are symptoms of the larger political and economic sketch. The precedent for Filipinas and the Philippine nation to be dehumanized, sexualized and given second-rate status can be found in US imperialist policies and the Philippine government’s acceptance of this treatment.
Baldwin’s comments about acquiring a wife in his desired flavor, “Filipino” or “Russian” demonstrates how deeply seeded the problem of sex trafficking is in the US. This comment is not only a joke about Filipino women, but  an insult to all women, especially those who are economic refugees of colonized and under-developed countries. We must remember Susanna Blackwell, a Filipina mail-order bride who was killed along with her two Filipina friends in a Seattle court house where she was seeking divorce from her abusive husband in 1995. To this day, GABRIELA USA receives calls from mail order and pen-pal brides under distress, and seeking to escape from mental, physical, and emotional abuse by their American husbands.
After insults about Filipino doctors on Desperate Housewives and domestic helpers on European TV and, and now this recent racist and sexist comment, GABRIELA USA calls on all Filipinos and friends to publicly denounce these derogatory remarks and work towards addressing their root cause—the U.S. military occupation of the Philippines, U.S.impunity against sex crimes and human rights abuses, and the underlying neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines. 
We also re-commit to educating our community and the larger public about the true contributions of Filipina women in U.S. society and the plight of many mail–order-brides who often become victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Too often Filipina women who come to the U.S. through marriage suffer from uneven power relationships and become dependent on their American husbands, sadly mirroring the subjugation of the the Philippines under the U.S.   
GABRIELA USA calls for a public apology from Alec Baldwin. Filipina women from across the country renew their demands for the end of US Troops in the Philippines, an end to the Visiting Forces Agreement and justice for all victims of military rape. 
GABRIELA USA are comprised of members organizations:  Babae in San Francisco, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in New York City, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, and Sisters of Gabriela, Awaken! (SiGAw) in Los Angeles.
###

For Immediate Release

May 19, 2009

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com, 415-244-9734

GABRIELA-USA condemns Alec Baldwin’s Mail-Order Bride Comment and Demands a Public Apology

Hyper-sexualization of Filipina Women Rooted in the History of U.S. Bases in the Philippines and Current Neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines as codified in the Visiting Forces Agreement

Ten days before the 10-year anniversary of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the recent news of another young Filipina “Vanessa” alleging rape by a US Marine in the Philippines, Alec Baldwin’s comment about perhaps getting a “Filipina mail order bride” to “have more kids” is a cutting reminder of how Filipina women are normalized as sexual objects in U.S. society.  

These images and stereotypes, pervasive among former U.S. military personnel who have been stationed in the Philippines, have seeped into American mainstream media and discourse. They speak to legacies of U.S. colonial occupation of the Philippines, the history of U.S. bases and the Arroyo administration colluding with U.S. military abuse of Filipino women.   

With the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) dictating US-Philippine relations, the reversal of the rape conviction of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Smith, and now the Vanessa rape case, this seemingly harmless “joke” on The Late Show with David Letterman points to the ongoing perception of Filipino women as objects for sexual disposal. Indeed, these are symptoms of the larger political and economic sketch. The precedent for Filipinas and the Philippine nation to be dehumanized, sexualized and given second-rate status can be found in US imperialist policies and the Philippine government’s acceptance of this treatment.

Baldwin’s comments about acquiring a wife in his desired flavor, “Filipino” or “Russian” demonstrates how deeply seeded the problem of sex trafficking is in the US. This comment is not only a joke about Filipino women, but  an insult to all women, especially those who are economic refugees of colonized and under-developed countries. We must remember Susanna Blackwell, a Filipina mail-order bride who was killed along with her two Filipina friends in a Seattle court house where she was seeking divorce from her abusive husband in 1995. To this day, GABRIELA USA receives calls from mail order and pen-pal brides under distress, and seeking to escape from mental, physical, and emotional abuse by their American husbands.

After insults about Filipino doctors on Desperate Housewives and domestic helpers on European TV and, and now this recent racist and sexist comment, GABRIELA USA calls on all Filipinos and friends to publicly denounce these derogatory remarks and work towards addressing their root cause—the U.S. military occupation of the Philippines, U.S.impunity against sex crimes and human rights abuses, and the underlying neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines. 

We also re-commit to educating our community and the larger public about the true contributions of Filipina women in U.S. society and the plight of many mail–order-brides who often become victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Too often Filipina women who come to the U.S. through marriage suffer from uneven power relationships and become dependent on their American husbands, sadly mirroring the subjugation of the the Philippines under the U.S.   

GABRIELA USA calls for a public apology from Alec Baldwin. Filipina women from across the country renew their demands for the end of US Troops in the Philippines, an end to the Visiting Forces Agreement and justice for all victims of military rape. 

GABRIELA USA are comprised of members organizations:  Babae in San Francisco, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in New York City, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, and Sisters of Gabriela, Awaken! (SiGAw) in Los Angeles.

###

For Immediate Release

April 21, 2009

Contact: Marisa Mariano, Chair, Babae-GABRIELA USA, 415-333-6267, info@babaesf.org

San Francisco Filipino Women Rise Up Through Art

San Francisco, CA—As the weekend of International Worker’s Day, or Mayo Uno, approaches, the women of Babae-GABRIELA USA, League of Filipino Students, and Diwata Young Women’s Group prepare to not only celebrate the contributions of the working class worldwide, but to also celebrate the experiences and contributions of one of San Francisco’s distinct immigrant working populations, Filipino women. On Sunday, May 3, 2009, Babae, LFS, and Diwata hosts the 7th Annual Filipina Women’s Showcase, Diwang Pinay.

Diwang Pinay (Spirit of the Filipina) is an annual performance and silent art auction by Filipina/Filipina-American

performers, writers, and artists. “With a 40,000 Filipino population in San Francisco, and more than half of whom are women, it is only appropriate to give light and praise to the different ways Pinays are living, resisting, and surviving today in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond,” states Marisa Mariano, chairperson of Babae.

This year’s celebration is themed “Still We Rise,” highlighting the Filipina’s fighting spirit to rise above adversity. With a global economic crisis impacting our communities, especially immigrant working families, and a system that continues to see women as second class citizens, Filipinas wage a battle every day to provide for their families and live with dignity. Transcending beyond their everyday struggles, Filipino women build resistance with a fervor that can be traced back to the legacy of historic women like Gabriela Silang and Tandang Sora. The evening is also in dedication to the 25th Anniversary of GABRIELA Philippines, a grassroots alliance of over 200 women’s organizations in the Philippines that has been at the forefront of fighting for women’s rights since its conception.

Diwang Pinay hosts a range of performances from talented pinays from San Francisco and the greater Bay Area such as singing, dancing, guerilla theatre, poetry and film. On display will also be an art gallery showcasing artworks of different mediums by artists such as Jessica Antonio, Heather Boyer, Catherine Lagman, Bean Rabino, Dezi Suarez, Elaine Villasper, and Jenifer Wofford.

Join us on May 3, 2009 from 4:30-7:00 pm at the Bayanihan Community Center located in the South of Market District at 1010 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103. The suggested donation will be a sliding scale of $7-10, $5 for students age 10-17 with a valid ID, and free for children under 10 years of age. For more information, visit Diwang Pinay’s official website at http://sites.google.com/site/sfdiwangpinay.

###

For Immediate Release
April 23, 2009

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA, 415-244-9734

Filipina-Americans in the United States express our disgust and anger at the 05_wo_philippines_smith01_4news that the Court of Appeals in the Philippines has acquitted Lance Corporal Smith in the 2005 rape case of “Nicole.” Lcpl. Smith was convicted of raping “Nicole” on December 4, 2006, and legalities around custody and sentencing has been ongoing for the past three years. Due to the highly contentious Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Smith has been in the custody of the U.S. Embassy instead of a Philippine prison. However, on March 12 of this year, a questionable recantation by “Nicole” was released while in the same month, monetary compensation and the termination of her legal counsel casted doubt on who prepared the content of the affidavit.

In this long and dirty case, US and Philippines collusion through loopholes in the VFA have demonstrated that in the Philippines, the rule of law and justice are commanded by American interests and corrupt politicians. The Court of Appeals has failed Filipino women worldwide. Instead of holding Smith accountable of rape, the appellate court has repealed the justice that was already rightfully won by “Nicole” and her family. After years of struggling and fighting with huge and broad support from Filipino organizations like 610xGABRIELA in the Philippines and worldwide, Smith’s acquittal from his legitimate conviction in 2006 is a betrayal to both Nicole and her loved ones, but also to all of the Filipino women, children and men who have been victims of sexual assault and crimes by US military servicemen.

Women’s accounts of rape and assault are often spun into heresy through the manipulation of justice under the auspices of governmental righteousness, as in the case of the US military occupation in the Philippines. Valerie Francisco, Vice Chair of GABRIELA USA stated, “We are witnessing ‘Nicole’s’ story becoming increasingly co-opted by the blind loyalty of the Philippines to American idealism about ‘helping’ us with our perpetual, undefined ‘war on terror.'” Francisco continued, “Nicole’s legacy will not stop at a recantation and acquittal. The fight for justice for Nicole, among so many other victims of militarized gender violence, will not cease at another silenced victim of US aggression.”

Today, when there are 10 women that are “delivered” nightly to US service men for Balikatan excercises, GABRIELA-USA calls for the end of the commodification of Filipino women. With U.S. military exercises held in Bicol this summer, the presence of US troops in very poor rural communities creates a demand that practically coerces local Filipinas into in the sex trade. This is due to the lack of economic options in highly militarized zones of the Philippines.

“This injustice will only fuel anti-VFA movement,” commented Raquel Redondiez, chair of GABRIELA USA, “Under Gloria Arroyo, this seemingly easy deal between the US and her administration for a convicted rapist was an exchange for Philippine sovereignty, justice and democratic ideals. Although Nicole’s family has been through enough and are tired of the trickery, Filipino women’s organizations from the Philippines to the US will continue the fight for justice for Nicole and all victims of sexual crimes under US occupation!”

GABRIELA USA, comprised of Sisters of Gabriela Awaken (SiGaW), Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York City, strongly denounces the acquittal of Lcpl. Daniel Smith and condemn the collaboration of the broken Philippine judicial system and US military interests for again revoking Nicole what was rightfully hers, justice and dignity. We challenge this decision and demand that the Philippine government and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo overturn this acquittal.

JUNK THE VFA!
JUSTICE FOR NICOLE!
PUNISH DANIEL SMITH FOR HIS CRIME!

###