Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 7 March 24 - 30, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
Protest actions were held in California and in Vancouver and other sites in Canada in response to the worldwide call to demand the immediate pull-out of U.S. forces in the Philippines. They were one in saying that the U.S. forces, sent by Bush and welcomed by Macapagal-Arroyo supposedly to help fight the Abu Sayyaf, are being used as a pretext for establishing a permanent armed presence in the country in order to secure America’s geopolitical interests in Asia-Pacific.
Filipino communities in the United States and Canada this week heeded the worldwide call to condemn what they said is the new U.S. war of aggression in the Philippines.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, California protest activities were organized by the Filipino Workers’ Association (FWA) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Similar events in Canada were led by the Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance, Filipino Nurses Support Group, Philippine Women Centre of B.C., SIKLAB (Overseas Filipino workers organization), and the B.C. Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.
In San Francisco, California FWA members joined other Filipino community organizations as well as hundreds of other labor unionists and community activists in a march and rally in downtown Oakland on Saturday to protest the Bush administration’s discriminatory policies on working people, immigrants and people of color in general.
An FWA spokesperson said President George W. Bush and the “purveyors of U.S. geopolitical, corporate and military interests are using the so-called ‘war on terrorism’ to terrorize nations that are on their hit list such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Colombia and the Philippines.” Bush is using war as a means for securing and maintaining U.S. hegemony over strategic oil interests throughout the world -- in Central Asia, the Middle East and now in Colombia and the Philippines, he said.
The FWA spokesperson denounced the Macapagal-Arroyo administration in the Philippines for violating the country's own constitution, trampling national sovereignty and compromising its territorial integrity simply to bring back U.S. combat troops in the pretext of quelling "terrorism."
He said that the real objective of the U.S. government is to re-establish a military base in the southern Philippines as a means of overseeing its domination of the South China Sea.
Ominous new phase
“The entry of U.S. combat troops marks an ominous new phase in the U.S. military intervention,” he said. “It sets up a dangerous tripwire for an all-out Vietnam style war of aggression against the popular revolutionary movements in the country, namely, the New People's Army (NPA), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and other Moro rebel armies.”
The FWA, meanwhile, said that the current Bush administration’s militarist policies have aggravated the plight of thousands of Filipinos in the service sectors such as in hotels and restaurants. The economic recession has imperiled the job security of many Filipinos but this has threat become real with Bush’s ongoing war on terrorism where civil liberties are trampled upon and employment now based on citizenship requirements, the association said.
In the Bay Area, several hundred Filipino bag screeners who comprise the majority of the 2,000 union bag screeners (28,000 mostly non-union in the entire United States) face the prospect of losing their jobs, FWA said. “We find it the least bit ironic that the workers who worked hard to attain better wages and union security will now be the first to lose those very jobs all because the warmongers in Washington DC saw it fit to give the flying public a false sense of security by requiring citizenship for the job,” it said.
“Nothing can be a clearer example of racist scapegoating and be more clearly discriminatory against the predominantly Filipino immigrant bag screener work force in the San Francisco Bay Area,” the FWA went further.
Meanwhile, reports said that many Filipinos in Canada have been horrified by the news of 2,600 more U.S. troops expected to be sent to the Philippines. The plan was confirmed and supported by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself this week.
Philippine military authorities said the new U.S. forces will participate in Balikatan 02-2, a joint war exercise which is slated to be held in Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon while another battalion will be fielded for civic action in southern Philippines. Concerned Filipinos in the Philippines, however, viewed the fresh deployment in Central Luzon would actually launch combat operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) which maintains guerrilla zones in that region.
Carlo Sayo of the Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance said: "With the recent news that the U.S. military is preparing to send more troops to the Philippines, there is no doubt that the U.S. never truly had the intention of only helping the Philippine military quash the Abu Sayaff. The U.S. needs the Philippines as a military launching pad in the Asia Pacific just as it has in the past."
The alliance, along with several Filipino organizations in Vancouver, Ontario and other areas, has launched campaigns in Canada to protest U.S. armed aggression in the Philippines and to demand the immediate pull-out of U.S. forces.
In Vancouver last March 18, in front of a large banner with the words “U.S. troops out of the Philippines NOW!” over 100 people gathered for a community discussion on U.S. intervention in the Philippines, and the expanding scope of U.S.-led wars of aggression in the world today. The community forum was held as a part of the March 17 international day of action called by Migrante International to demand an end to U.S. military presence in the Philippines.
Ethel Farrales, member of the Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance (FCYA), began the forum by taking a historical look at U.S. intervention in the Philippines.
Emmanuel Sayo, a researcher for the Kalayaan Resource and Training Centre, presented the global situation and analysis of the widening U.S.-led wars of aggression. “The mere fact that the U.S. is resorting to military might, instead of relying on political and economic influences alone, demonstrates that the global crisis is intensifying and U.S. imperialism is weakening,” he said.
The forum also included a brief presentation of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) by Cecilia Diocson, one of two Canadian representatives to the International Coordinating Committee for the League. She reported the case of Memik Horoz, deputy chair of the ILPS. Upon his return to Turkey in June 2001, Horoz was immediately imprisoned for his political activism. Since then the ILPS has been campaigning for his release.
Currently, a delegation led by Philippine Rep. Crispin Beltran, also the current chair of the ILPS, is on a fact-finding mission in Turkey to check on the situation of Horoz and other political prisoners being held captive there. Bulatlat.com