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

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Stop Aid to Arroyo, Filipinos Ask Canadian Gov’t

Filipinos in Canada joined their compatriots in the Philippines in calling for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation last week. They are also asking the Canadian government to stop giving aid to the Arroyo government.

By the Kapituko – GMA Resign Movement
Posted by Bulatlat

TORONTO, Canada - On the day embattled Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave her yearly State of the Nation Address (SONA), Filipinos in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal braved the sweltering heat of +35-degree Canadian summer to deliver a hotter message – her immediate resignation.

They also asked the Canadian government to stop giving its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Arroyo government.

Here in Toronto, Filipinos with young children and grandparents in tow waved banners and placards in front of the Philippine Consulate on Eglinton Avenue East in solidarity with the worldwide call for the resignation of Arroyo.

Speakers from various sectors lambasted what they call the U.S.-Macapagal-Arroyo fascist regime and demanded Arroyo’s resignation. They also called for an end to the spate of killings of political leaders, journalists, priests, ministers and church leaders, workers, peasants, judges, lawyers and people critical of her administration’s policies.

The Arroyo government’s political crisis had been simmering for years as the Filipino people realized that, as alleged, Arroyo and her husband are in the take from the proceeds of illegal numbers game or jueteng – an issue that brought the downfall of Arroyo’s predecessor, Joseph Estrada through people power uprising in January 2001.

The crisis had been aggravated by increasing poverty, unemployment, military atrocities committed by the military and paramilitary forces against the civilian populace under the guise of counter-terrorism as well as killings and human rights violations.

Scandal

The “Gloriagate” scandal has sparked and fuelled protests and brought the political crisis to a boiling point. At the same time, as various polls painted her as the most unpopular and the worst president in Philippine history, the “Gloriagate” expose’ and Arroyo’s virtual admission of involvement in the electoral fraud have heightened the people’s clamor for her immediate resignation.

Joy Sioson of the Philippine Women’s Centre–Toronto said the people’s outrage can no longer be contained over Arroyo’s cheating in the 2004 elections, subservience to the dictates of U.S. imperialism, militarization of the whole country and the unabated murders of opposition leaders and anti-administration critics.

Mithi Esguerra of Ugnayan ng Kabataang Pilipino sa Canada (UKPC) also said already, there were 47 deaths due to assassinations and summary execution since November 2004 to March 2005. Many of the victims are from Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, both political parties that won seats in the House of Representatives. Other victims include leaders and members of people’s organizations and cause-oriented groups that were critical of her policies.

“In view of all these, we ask that all Canadian aid to the Philippines used by the Arroyo administration for counter-insurgency and the dubious ‘war on terror’ be cut off since these have been used to commit many grave human rights violations,” Esguerra said. “We also ask that the members of the AFP and police who are responsible for these violations be held accountable and brought to justice. The GMA administration must indemnify all victims of these military atrocities.”

Iggy Manlangit of North York Filipino Association urged Filipinos to unite in the struggle to protect and uphold human rights in the Philippines. Arroyo, he said, should resign immediately to allow a new breed of Filipinos to run the country. The days of corrupt, autocratic and dictatorial political leaders must come to an end so that the socio- political and economic life of Filipinos can progress.

Media killings

Edwin Mercurio, a Toronto freelance writer and former Philippine journalist, held Arroyo accountable for the unmitigated killings of media practitioners.

“The rising death toll suffered of Filipino journalists is abhorrent, scandalous and is a savage attack on Press Freedom,” Mercurio said. “Today, the Philippines is the most dangerous place in the world for media practitioners surpassing India, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico and second only to war-ravaged and US-occupied country, Iraq.”

“We are witnessing the assassination of journalists under the murderous, graft-ridden, fascist and U.S. puppet Mrs. Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo,” Mercurio also said.

Terry Olayta of the Community Alliance for Social Justice (CASJ) scored Arroyo for using the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) fund during her election campaigns. She added that the administration’s lack of assistance for overseas workers facing abuse, exploitation and persecution abroad and continuing rights violations are enough reasons for Arroyo to resign.

Rally participants also said they are tired of the Philippine-style ‘Rigodon’ politics and do not believe that fundamental changes would come out of the U.S.-Ramos sponsored Charter Change or “Cha-Cha.” They want to see a government that truly reflects the aspirations of the Filipino people, where there is social justice, genuine economic reforms, righteousness, transparency and accountability – a Philippines free from imperialistic control by foreign countries and a sovereign nation where there is lasting peace and progress. Bulatlat

  

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