by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — Progressive organization BAYAN USA leaders demanded the resignation of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during a demonstration in front of the Philippine Consulate General Office in the mid-Wilshire district on Friday. The demonstration was in solidarity with more than 10,000 people assembled in protest in Metro Manila’s financial district in Makati City last week.
“We are gathered here today because of the continuing corruption of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime,” declared Terrie Cervas, BAYAN USA SoCal coordinator. “Not just corruption by the regime, but also the continuing human rights violations.”
The militants said they are unhappy with the recent developments in the Philippines, including the resurgence of the ZTE-NBN scandal that was exposed by Jun Lozada.
Chito Quijano, a union organizer of the California Nurses Association and a spokesman of BAYAN USA, said that the mass action was intended to send a message to the Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon so that “she could send a message to Malacanang that for delicadeza purposes Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for the sake of our people and for the sake of our country, should step down.”
BAYAN USA is an alliance of Filipino progressive organizations in the United States. It has member organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and in Seattle, Washington; New York and New Jersey. The alliance is calling on all Filipinos not only those in the Philippines but also the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), migrant workers, and immigrants that have settled in the US.
“There are approximately five million Filipinos in the US, and certainly, we are well-informed,” Quijano said. “We should call our respective representatives in the (US) Congress and ask them to withdraw its support of the Arroyo regime.”
Quijano also said that the $300 million in military aid that the Bush administration is granted to the Philippines would mean that 20 percent of that aid would go to the pockets of politicians.
“It (military aid) is not going to help the Filipino people, but rather the military,” Quijano said. “The way I see it, that military aid from Bush would further aggravate the extra-judicial killings in the country.”
He revealed that close to 900 Filipino political activists have been assassinated allegedly by the Philippine military, and not a single person has been punished or imprisoned.
During the rally, Quijano read a statement from Fr. Ben Alforque, President of the US-based, National Alliance of Filipino Concerns.
“We support Lozada and applaud him (for making the ZTE-NBN expose) despite the dangers to his life and his family. We condemn the lies, barbarism and manipulations of the structures of government of the Arroyo regime. The Arroyo government has lost its moral ascendancy to govern. Therefore, she must resign, or the Filipino people should oust her.”
“I think it is about time that she resigns. The people would force her to step down. Just see, it will happen soon. It is time,” added Tulong Bayan spokesman Edwin Chu.