Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 25      July 31 - August 6, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines

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Ringing the World on SONA Day

Nothing could keep the fiery Filipinos from speaking their minds, not distance, and especially if it involves the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency, the source of their many woes.

BY AUBREY SC MAKILAN
Bulatlat

Even from afar, overseas Filipinos are updated and involved in activities on issues back home. 

Just after former U.S. Attorney General and world-renown human rights lawyer Ramsey Clark announced his support for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Filipino groups around the globe in fact staged protests in their host countries simultaneous with the rally in the Philippines on the same day of the president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25.

In Hong Kong, the Overseas Filipinos Unite to Remove the Arroyo Government (Outrage) organized the protest since the eve of the Macapagal-Arroyo’s SONA. Outrage is a broad alliance of migrants, their families and advocates calling for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation or ouster.

The July 25 protest was a whole day affair which started with a variety show cum videoke singing in the morning followed by a program in the afternoon.

NOT FOR GMA: Hong Kong rallyers applaud not GMA, but speeches demanding GMA removal.

Photo courtesy of Migrante International

Around 1,000 persons attended. Members of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, Migrante Sectoral Party-Hong Kong and the yellow-shirted Bangon Pilipinas/Jesus Is Lord Movement comprised the crowd.

Leaders of various organizations representing regions and provinces in the Philippines, such as Cordillera Alliance, Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society, Mindanao Federation and Bicol Migrant Workers, also joined the protest.

Different organizations under OUTRAGE signed a life-size signboard with the president’s face on a passport stamped with “FAKE” and with the call “Gloria: Patalsikin!”

In Canada, Filipinos and supporters gathered in front of the Philippine Consulates in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and braved the scorching heat the summer of +35 degrees. The day before, they marched along Main St. towards Broadway, a "Filipino-town" area popular for Filipino church service, eateries and stores.

The protesters vowed to continue their protests until Macapagal-Arroyo resign.

In Vancouver, a community forum titled, "What's Next After Gloria? The People's Agenda," will be held August 13 at the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House while flyers and a petition for the Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation will be circulated in Montreal on July 30. An indoor forum will also be held in Toronto.

According to Migrante International, there are about 500,000 Filipinos in Canada which make them the fourth largest visible minority group in Canada.

Meanwhile, Filipinos in Australia, led by Migrante-Australia, held a picket at the Philippine Consulate in Sydney on July 25. Before that, members of the Philippines-Australia Women's Association (Pawa)-Migrante Women delivered their letter addressed to Macapagal-Arroyo through the Philippine Consulate in Sydney on July 19. Vice Consul Ferdinand Victoria received the letter. PAWA chair Ma. Eva Tingson took the opportunity to discuss with Victoria the concerns of Filipino migrant women on the current political and financial crisis.

Three days after, on July 28, the Philippines-Australia Solidarity Association in Melbourne organized a public forum on the current political and economic crisis in the Philippines with Rey Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center as the speaker. The same forum will be echoed on August 2 in Sydney.

In Europe, protests and discussions were held in the Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland. An “Oust GMA” Campaign Plan, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s (New Patriotic Alliance-Bayan) “Gloriagate” PowerPoint presentation and materials on the Philippine’s national situation, for Europe was furnished to all Migrante chapters and Europe-wide Consultation of Organizations of Filipinos (Ecofil) network.

On July 23, Migrante-Netherlands (NL) members held a special meeting to discuss concrete implementation of political actions to be taken in connection with the current political crisis back home though information-education activities of members were carried out since June.

Aside from withholding of remittances, Migrante-NL members adopted and signed the statement “Kumilos tayo upang matanggal ang korap at mandarayang gobyerno ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!”  Members also agreed to support the call for the withholding of remittances to express withdrawal of support to the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. They also held a church-hopping in Amsterdam to distribute the statement which included El Shaddai, Jesus is Lord, Couples for Christ, and Iglesia ni Kristo.

In Italy, Migrante’s Manggagawang Pilipino Tungo sa Pag-unlad (Umangat-Rome) coordinated with church people for discussions and petition signing activities in Rome and Milan.

In Geneva, Switzerland, “Oust GMA” statements were distributed, and even published in a Filipino newsletter with 2000 circulation. Migrante-United Kingdom (UK) members were collecting more signatures for their signature drive.

In New York, creative Fil-Ams, led by NY Coalition for Gloria’s Ouster and Bayan-USA made a giant toilet bowl carrying the sign “Plunge Gloria,” with an actress inside portraying Macapagal Arroyo on her cellphone being pushed down with toilet plungers.

The colorful protest also included a giant “Lie-Sol” spray in “Glo-berry” scent alongside the giant toilet bowl. The spray is reportedly a “disinformational” spray that kills odors and others, like priests, journalists, lawyers, and activists.

The protesters sang the “Glory Allelujah,” with ditty lyrics about the president’s alleged cheating acts and the call for her resignation, and another to the tune of the popular dance song “Ocho Ocho.”

The program highlighted the symbolic flushing and plunging of an actress dressed as Macapagal-Arroyo inside the giant toilet bowl while the crowd chanted a clogging sound “glug, glug, glug!” followed by the flushing sound.

The protest was also held simultaneously with Anti-Arroyo protests in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Open letter

Meanwhile, 58 Filipino-American community leaders in the United States also expressed their position in an open letter to the president. The letter appeared as a full-page advertisement in the July 25 issue of Dyaryo Pilipino, a Filipino community weekly that circulates in California, Texas and Florida.

Among the signatories to the open letter were leaders of the Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace (AJLPP), Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (International ANSWER), American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)-Los Angeles, California Nurses Association, Philippine Peasant Support Network, and Washington Human Rights Forum on the Philippines.               

“It is time to go, Madame President, Resign Now!” the letter said.

To avoid “further political divisiveness and confusion that aggravate economic hardships and uncertainty,” the Fil-Ams called on the president’s “sense of patriotism and humility and heed the call of the majority of the Filipino people to step down from the presidency.”

The leaders added that the president could not use the alibi of "upholding the legal process and the Constitution" when she herself “violated the fundamental law of the land by cheating in the elections” and “use the usurped powers of the presidency to perpetuate yourself in power.”

Protesting at home

Meanwhile, Fil-Ams in the country did not miss the chance to join the over 80,000 protesters at Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City.

Fil-Ams’ participation started with a press conference on the eve of SONA in Quezon City. "We are representing the calls, concerns, and sentiments of our compatriots and solidarity friends in the United States, who want to see the end to this illegitimate administration as much as Filipinos do in the Philippines," said Sergio Robledo of USA 4 GMA's Resignation, a national coalition of U.S.-based Filipinos and organizations calling for Gloria's resignation.

About 40 Fil-Ams chanting, "We gotta beat back the Gloria attack! We gotta beat beat back, the Gloria attack!" marched along Commonwealth Avenue with the banners "USA 4 GMA's Resignation" and Bayan-USA. Two Fil-Ams dressed like Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam marching with placards "USA says OUST GLORIA!" and "We want you, Gloria, to Resign!"

Fil-Ams also made a rap version of the “Hello Garci” ringtone with lyrics, "C'mon Gloria, it's your last day, we're gonna protest like it's your last day. We're gonna march at SONA like it's your last day. Cuz Filipinos in the US want you out today!"

Meanwhile, according to Bayan, more than 100,000 people under its network alone held simultaneous protests in various cities and provinces, including Vigan, Baguio, Negros, Cebu, and Davao. Bulatlat

  

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© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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