The active response of overseas Filipinos to calls for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken the campaign to a higher level and given it an international dimension. This increases the pressure on the Macapagal-Arroyo administration which is heavily dependent on OFW remittances.
The June 24 mobilization that brought together anti-administration groups was not limited to the Philippines. Various OFW groups, most of them affiliated with the militant Migrante International, have signified support to the ouster campaign.
A petition campaign in fact is presently circulating among Filipinos in the United States, saying “The Filipino people have had enough! We, Filipinos in the United States, demand her immediate resignation and support the mounting call for her ouster, if she refuses to step down.
Dubbed “On Line Petition Campaign RESIGN NOW”, the petition was launched June 23, at Kusina Filipino in Seattle, Washington, attended by Rene Rivera of the Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization, Ace Saturay of the Filipino Workers Action Center, Freedom Siyam of Bayan-USA and other leading Filipino leaders in U.S. One of the highlights was the presentation of the “Hello Harci, Hello Ma’m” ring tones and video showing.
The petition cites as reasons fraud and corruption which the alleged wiretapped conversations reportedly proves; failure to protect Filipino immigrants in the U.S. against the racist attacks of the Bush administration; driving the country to greater economic crisis; and the killings of activists and implementation of repressive fascist measures.
In the face of all these, the petition declares that Macapagal-Arroyo has “lost all credibility to serve as President of the Philippines”.
National Day of Protest
OFWs from Hong Kong to New York participated in the National Day of Protest by holding actions in their respective cities.
Migrante International said that Filipinos in major cities across the U.S., in Vancouver, Canada and Hong Kong showed their unity with the groups clamoring for Macapagal-Arroyo’s ouster and demanding for her to come clean about the “massive electoral fraud” she committed in the last elections.
Among the activities organized included flooding the Philippine consulate in Los Angeles with protest calls for the president to resign, holding of simultaneous rallies, “informational pickets” and petition signings in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Hong Kong.
The activities in the U.S. were led by Bayan-U.S.A. while Siklab, an organization of Filipino migrants, is among the organizers of the Vancouver rally. The United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UniFil HK) led the activities in the area.
Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Sectoral Party chair, said that while Migrante joins Robert Tarongoy and his family in marking his return to the Philippines, the media reports about the tragic fate two other OFWs in the Middle East “should remind Gloria how OFWs pay a high price for the continued failure of Gloria’s national economic program.” This, she said, forces Filipino workers to work as part of the government’s labor export policy.
In Bahrain, Grace Nodalo, 39, a Filipino bank teller was reported kidnapped by an unknown group outside her residence in Bahrain the morning of June 21. In Saudi Arabia, Filipino domestic worker Sapia Ibrahim Usman, 37 years old, lies in the hospital, declared as brain dead by doctors after jumping from the third floor of her employer’s home in Jubail on the early afternoon of June 14, two days after she arrived in Saudi Arabia.
Karaoke version of Hello, Garci
The cultural arm of Migrante, Sining Bulosan, on the other hand launched its versions of the “Hello Garci” tapes. Unlike the ring tones which are short, Sining Bulosan’s satirical songs, based on the popular tunes Dayang-Dayang and Parang Kailan Lang, are full length songs.
“We’re going to produce and disseminate karaoke versions of these songs and our main audiences will be OFWs and their families,” Danny Fabella, well-known composer and one of the leaders of the cultural group, said. “This way, karaoke get-together sessions for homesick Pinoys will also be venues where they can discuss and uncover the truth regarding the Hello Garci tapes.”
“At kung hindi pa rin ‘kakanta’ si Gloria tungkol sa kanyang malawakang pandaraya, kami ang kakanta para sa katotohanan – kasama ang migrante at sambayanan,” (And if Gloria will not talk about the widespread fraud, we are the ones who will sing about the truth, together with OFWs and the people), Fabella added. Bulatlat