As embattled Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo spoke in Congress on her yearly State of the Nation address, Filipino-Canadians across North America today went out of their way to join their compatriots worldwide in calling for her ouster from power.
CASJ joins concerned Filipinos around the globe in calling for justice and an end to the killings of more than 704 journalists, activists, lawyers, priests and church leaders, political leaders, anti-mining and environmentalists, workers and farmers, students, women and children murdered by assassins identified with the Philippine military establishments under the murderous Arroyo Regime.
This worldwide action caps a day of protests and solidarity with the other voices from around the world calling for an end to the orgy of killings and calls for a people’s tribunal to try Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for crimes against humanity, for selling the country’s patrimony to foreign mining firms, her shameless puppetry to U.S. Imperialism and treason for allowing U.S. troops in the country, massive cheating in the last presidential elections, corruption and human rights violations.
Many of our compatriots joined rallies and pickets unmindful of the boiling temperatures varying between 27-30 degrees in many Canadian cities. “But the heat and the inconveniences we suffer here is nothing in comparison to the sorrows of the slain victims’ families and the horrors faced by thousands of Filipinos in the Philippine countryside due to indiscriminate bombings, torture, extra-judicial killings of the Arroyo Regime’s instruments of “State Terror” such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the paramilitary death squads and the continuing abduction of students, workers, church people, labor leaders and citizens suspected of having ties with the CPP-NPA-NDFP and those opposed to the entry of foreign mining firms and the destruction they bring to the natural environment of the Philippines. Since Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001, 704 unarmed civilians have been killed by her death squads. Likewise, enforced disappearances or abductions by government agents and soldiers have now reached 181 according the July 11, 2006 report of KARAPATAN, a human rights alliance based in the Philippines.
Many of our Filipino brothers and sisters were appalled and angry when a 17 year old Filipino youth Jeffrey Reodica was shot three times in the back by Toronto Police detective Dan Belanger. We protested and rallied in great numbers in the Toronto downtown core and demanded and got a continuing inquest into the killing. At the same time, Toronto Filipino and mainstream Canadian newspapers covered the continuing struggle to seek justice for Jeffrey Reodica. But let me tell all of you an important historical truth…“People will look back ...in wonderment at how we got our senses numbed if we don’t protest the continuing orgy of killings in the Philippines today. If Filipino-Canadians shouted to high heavens for justice in the case of one Filipino teen who was shot in the back and killed by police in Toronto, there is no reason why we should be silent in the 704 brutal slaying of journalists, lawyers, church people, political and community leaders, activists and many more killed by the assassins of the new dictator in Malacañang. The victims are all Filipinos and they, too, are human beings as well, despite President Arroyo’s decorated “butcher” General Jovito Palparan’s assertions that “they don’t deserve to live” because they are suspected of CPP-NPA ties.
We must struggle and fight for social justice, uphold and protect human rights, work for a just and lasting peace not only here in Canada but must also look back and listen to the cries for justice around the world, especially, those of our brothers and sisters in our motherland, the Philippines.
We must work together to reconcile power to the majority of the Filipino people where it rightfully belongs in a socially just and democratic society. And to do this, we must organize ourselves; strengthen our alliance building to empower our communities, our people and work towards the goal of building a better and just society.
The Community Alliance for Social Justice has also issued a call for the Canadian government and other foreign governments to cut bilateral aid to the Arroyo regime until the killings are ended. CASJ also calls on the Canadian government to use its international reputation as a promoter of peace to encourage the Philippine government to resume the oft-postponed negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for the resumption of the peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP to address the root causes of the 37 year-old conflict raging in the Philippines.