April 14, 2011
NEW YORK, NY– Filipino-Americans in New York City, under the banner of BAYAN USA, joined Korean-Americans and other Asian Pacific Islanders in marching as an Asian contingent during last Saturday’s 10,000-strong rally and march for peace called for by the United National Anti-War Committee (UNAC). The action was part of a national call by UNAC for anti-war demonstrations in both New York City on April 9th and San Francisco on April 10th. Demonstrators called for an immediate end to US military aggression in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, as well as a reallocation of public funds towards public services in the United States, such as health care, education, housing and employment.
The NYC Asian contingent, led by BAYAN USA and Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, drew attention to US military strategy in Asia and called for an end to decades of US military aggression in the Philippines, Korea, and other Asian countries.
“It’s easy for the US anti-war movement to forget the long-running US military occupation is in the Philippines. It’s virtually stricken or reduced from every US history textbook,” states Gary Labao of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP). “That’s why as progressive Filipinos here in the US, it’s important we keep bringing the Philippine situation to the public conversation of the US anti-war movement.”
Labao voiced opposition to the deployment of 3000 US troops to the Philippines to conduct the 27th installment of the US-RP Balikatan Joint Military exercises last April 5th. Balikatan exercises between the US and Philippine military falls under the bilateral military treaty known as the Visiting Forces Agreement
“Under the unequal VFA, the entire Philippines is virtually one big permanent US military base. It’s a violent assault and trampling of Philippine national sovereignty for the benefit only of US interests,” Labao added. “The Filipino people have gained nothing from US military presence in the country but suffering from countless rapes, indiscriminate killings, disease, displacement, and even toxic waste.”
Philippine President Benigno “NoyNoy” Aquino has continued with the implementation of the controversial VFA despite growing opposition from the Philippine public and private sectors to the military policy.
Member organizations of BAYAN USA that marched last Saturday calling for the junking of the VFA and withdrawal of US troops from the Philippines include Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Anakbayan New York and New Jersey, and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines. They were joined by members of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). BAYAN USA members in the San Francisco/Bay Area also spoke and joined the corresponding UNAC-led demonstration last Sunday, April 10th in San Francisco. #