Dear Nanay… letters from Tamara Michelle Posa Dominado

Just after our return from the Philippines in April 2007 Marie Boti and I heard that our friend Maria Luisa Posa-Dominado, Luing for short, had been abducted on her way back from an election meeting of the progressive party, Bayan Muna. Her name and that of traveling companion Nilo Arado were thus added to the growing list of hundreds of Filipinos who have been killed and abducted since the present government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001. Marie and I are working on a film inspired in large part by Luing’s life and disappearance… and we have had the privilege of getting to know her amazing daughters, May Wan and Tamara. The following letters from Tamara were just published in the national newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which introduced her this way:

Tamara Michelle Posa Dominado, 16, is a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry freshman at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas Miag-ao Campus. Her mother Maria Luisa Posa-Dominado, a Bayan Muna leader, was abducted by armed men on April 12, 2007 in Oton, Iloilo, together with Nilo Arado. Both are still missing to this day.

-- Malcolm Guy


"What’s there to fear?"

By Tamara Michelle Posa Dominado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:38:00 12/11/2008

Dear Nanay,

Today you turn 53. I really wish you were here to celebrate it. I’ve missed you so much, every day and always. And I guess everyone else has, too.

It has been hard not having you around.

I have been living in a dorm for the past two months now. It has been stressful and depressing living there. Some of my high school classmates are staying there, too. I get homesick every now and then because I don’t like the place. I don’t know why.

There was this one time when I really got sick because I cried for almost the whole night. Crying makes me weak. That night, my classmate got homesick and she cried because she missed her mom. That’s what triggered my fit of crying. You see, I won’t easily admit it and I sometimes forget it, but deep down inside, I miss you so much. I’ve missed you since the day you did not come back. I try my best not to talk about you because just a mere memory brings me to the verge of tears. Sometimes I wonder if the pain will ever go away."

Read more: What’s there to fear?


CAP-CPC extends full support to Adil Charkaoui

The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) views with alarm the unfolding events surrounding the trial of Adil Charkaoui in Canada.

On December 9, in Montreal, Adil Charkaoui will go to trial again, even though it was just revealed that the Canadian spy agency CSIS has not yet given anyone - not even the judge - evidence to support its opinions about Adil. In addition, the hearings will take place under a judge, that Charkaoui's lawyers have already argued, should withdraw from the case on the grounds of bias. (More info: www.adilinfo.org/en/node/483).

The Charkaouis have been struggling for very basic rights for more than five years now - against racial profiling, secret trials, torture, arbitrary detention - in what feels like a treadmill of injustice. The endless court proceedings completely banalize the injustices, humiliations, threat of violence and intrusive state control Adil and the rest of his family are subject to on a daily basis.

If, through the secret trial process, the Federal Court finds the certificate "reasonable", Adil - a teacher and father of three children living in Montreal with his family since 1995 - could be deported to Morocco. Two Immigration Canada risk assessments - in August 2003 and October 2007 - found that he is at risk of torture, death or cruel and unusual punishment if deported. Government and courts have nevertheless continued the security certificate deportation proceedings against him, with the Supreme Court refusing in September 2008 to hear Charkaoui's argument that keeping him under a threat of being sent to torture is abusive.

On December 10, Canada will again mark International Human Rights Day, at the same time that secret rendition-to-torture hearings will be continuing. The public face of those secret hearings - show trials in which the individual is supposed to show that it isn't reasonable to believe that he has the profile of a potential "threat" without knowing the case against him ­ have already begun in some of the security certificate cases, like the trial of Adil Charkaoui.

The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns is an organization of Filipinos and non-Filipinos in Canada. It respects the provisions of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and advocates for the promotion of and respect for human rights of all peoples.


The HR Desk / Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (Montréal)

Action in solidarity with Adil Charkaoui

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at noon
Outside Federal Court, 30 McGill St. (Square Victoria Metro), Montreal


Montréal: Vigil and Forum December 10 / Vigile et conférence le 10 décembre

Press conference and vigil with Tamil community
Where: Complex Guy Favreau, 200 Rene Levesque W., Montréal, Québec (Metro Place-des-Arts – Green Line or Metro Place d'Armes – Orange Line)
When: December 10, 2008 11 am – 12 noon

Conférence de presse et vigile avec la communauté tamoule
Complexe Guy Favreau, 200 ouest, René Lévèsque, Montréal, Québec (Métro Place-des-Arts - ligne verte, ou Métro Place d'Armes - ligne orange)
Date et heure: le 10 décembre 2008
11h - 12h midi

Public Forum with Tamil, Philippine and Palestinian communities
Speakers from the Tamil, Filipino and Palestinian communities will present on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Palestine.
Where: 2149 Mackay – School of Community and Public Affairs, Condordia University (corner Sherbrooke), Montréal, Québec (Metro Guy-Concordia)
When: December 10, 2008 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Pot Luck

Conférence-discussion - Sri Lanka, Philippines et Palestine
Des conférenciers des communautés tamoule, philippine et palestine présenteront la situation des droits humains au Sri lanka, aux Philippines et en Palestine.

Ou: 2149 Mackay - School of Community and Public Affairs, Université Concordia (coin Sherbrooke), Montréal, Québec (Métro Guy-Concordia)
Date et heure: Le 10 décembre 2008
18:30h – 20:30h
Souper communautaire- apporter un plat à partager.

Event sponsored by the Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC), International Migrants Alliance - Canada (IMA-Canada), Centre des travailleuses et travailleurs immigrants - Immigrant Workers Centre (CTI-IWC), Tadamon! and the Tamil Action Committee in coordination with the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) - Canada.

Activité organisé par le Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC), International Migrants Alliance - Canada (IMA-Canada), Centre des travailleuses et travailleurs immigrants - Immigrant Workers Centre (CTI-IWC), Tadamon! et le Comité d'action Tamoul /Action Committee, en coordination avec la Ligue international des luttes des peuples (LILP) – Canada.


CAP-CPC open letter to Philippine President: "Surface James Balao"

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / erermita@pop.gov.ph
Fax: +63 2742 1641 or +63 2929 3968

Dear H. E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,

I am writing to you in the name of the Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre of Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) in Montreal, Canada. This organization, made up of Filipinos and non-Filipinos, has been working for over 25 years to build solidarity and understanding between the people of the Philippines and the people of Quebec and Canada. We are contacting you because we are very concerned about the news coming out of the Philippines. We have learned that from July-September of this year, there have been seven (7) documented cases of enforced disappearances in the Philippines making the total cases of enforced disappearances close to two hundred since 2001.

One of the victims is human rights defender James Moy Balao, son of Arthur and Jane Balao of the Kankanaey and Ibaloi indigenous peoples of Benguet, outstanding alumnus of the University of the Philippines Baguio and founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA). He remains missing to this day.

According to reports we have received, Mr. Balao was abducted last September 17, 2008 in Lower Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet in front of a church and school and a few meters from the Philippine National Police Regional Headquarters (Cordillera Administrative Region), Camp Dangwa. He was forcibly taken by five armed men who identified themselves as police and who immediately handcuffed him after they got down from a white Revo. Witnesses say that James pleaded to the bystanders before his abductors could muffle his mouth and drag him to the vehicle, “Ask them what I have done wrong!” .

Seventy two days have passed and we join thousands of others around the globe who are asking: where is James Balao? Why was he picked him up in this manner? Why are his whereabouts still unknown?

We believe that James Balao’s enforced disappearance is probably linked to the infamous Operation Plan Bantay Laya which unjustly brands legitimate people’s organizations as fronts of revolutionary organizations, of which the CPA is included. As a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance tagged by the State as a "sectoral front of revolutionary organizations", it appears that Mr. Balao has been unjustly targeted.

We sincerely hope that James Balao is still alive as sources from within the state security forces themselves have confirmed. We demand that he be surfaced in immediately.

We ask you, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, to:

-- Surface James Moy Balao. No person should be subjected to enforced disappearance. There is no justification for this violation. Military and police camps and all detention facilities should be made open for thorough searches by the family, human rights organizations and the Commission on Human Rights.

-- Conduct an independent investigation on James' enforced disappearance and bring those accountable to the bar of justice.

-- Immediately terminate Operation Plan Bantay Laya which tags members and leaders of civil society organizations as sectoral fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines- New Peoples Army. We call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to sincerely implement the recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston - “As Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the President must take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations”.

-- Observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other international human rights laws and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

-- Sign and fully implement the United Nations Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances

Malcolm Guy
for the CAP-CPC in Montreal, Quebec, CANADA


Canadian trade unionists hit criminalization of Philippine labour leaders

"MANILA, Philippines--Murder and arson charges against labor leaders? Very hard to believe, according to visiting Canadian labor organizers.

The Canadian Trade Union Mission to the Philippines has slammed the criminal charges against labor leaders in the provinces, saying such actions bars them from defending workers' rights.

In a press conference on Tuesday, visiting unionists Peter Leibovitch and Daniel Kinsella called on the government to ensure the safety of labor leaders from physical harm and legal harassment.

“This apparent abuse of the legal system appears to be a change of tactics to suppress activists and critics,” the two Canadians said in a briefing in Quezon City.

Kinsella, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a government union, cited the case of Lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1 Movement), who has been detained at the Calapan provincial jail.

“Saladero is a full-time labor lawyer and has diabetes, while some of his companions have polio and other serious illnesses,” he told reporters in an interview.

Saladero and 72 others have been charged with multiple murder, frustrated murder and arson in connection with alleged left-wing rebel activities.

“These are very serious charges and are too far-fetched for any reasonable person to believe ... I hope the President is aware of them,” he added."

Read more at Inquirer.net: Legal harassment of RP unionists hit - 11/25/08


CAP-CPC demands surfacing of James Moy Balao

The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) condemns in no uncertain terms the continuing disappearance of James Moy Balao. He has been missing since September 17, 2008.

James Balao is an activist advocating for the improvement of the conditions of the people in his community. He is a founding member of the Cordillera People's Alliance and the regional chapter of Bayan in the Cordillera region.

He is professionally a researcher of and for the people of the Cordillera. His selfless willingness to use his education and skills in the service of his family and his people has greatly contributed to the Cordillera's collectivity and connectivity.

It is reported that starting the first week of June this year, James and the rest of his family have been under regular surveillance by unidentified people. Vehicles with heavily tinted windows have been regularly seen tailing him and the family from their residence to wherever they went during the day. It is believed that his years with the legal progressive people's movement have made James the target of state terrorism.

This is totally unacceptable in a democratic society.

The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns is an organization of Filipinos and non- Filipinos in Canada. It advocates for the promotion of and respect for human rights of all peoples.

The CAP-CPC therefore is one with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the human rights group Karapatan and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in demanding for the surfacing of James Moy Balao.

The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns demands that:

1. the Arroyo government create an impartial and independent body to investigate the disappearance of James Balao
2. the Arroyo government allow the UNITED NATIONS Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) under the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights to conduct an investigation in order that the truth be found.

The HR Desk of the CAP-CPC
Ref: Tony


Prosecution is not a political tool


HONG KONG, China, November 11, 2008 Four activists, including a labor lawyer, were arrested and detained in the Philippines on separate occasions in October and November. Irregularities in filing charges against them, and the manner in which their cases are being handled, raise questions as to whether public prosecutors are adhering to procedures or just acting as political tools. (Photo: Noel Neri (far left) and Jobert Pahilga (far right) with Remigio Saladero, Jr. and Rachel Pastores in an Oct. 16, 2006 press conference on attacks against lawyers. PHOTO by dabet castañeda)

Prosecutors have a huge responsibility not only to prosecute suspects in criminal offenses, but also to protect those accused of illegal acts. Stringent rules on this are stipulated in the Philippines Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, particularly in Rule 110, which include the rights and legal protections available to the accused.

The point of these rules is to ensure that criminal allegations are based on factual evidence. It is the duty of prosecutors to ensure probable cause before making decisions on the security and liberty of accused persons. Their role is to balance supremacy of the law with protection of the rights of the accused. They are not adversaries of the accused.

A person charged of a crime should be properly informed of the nature of the offense, his alleged participation in committing the crime "be it direct or indirect" and the facts of the case should provide "sufficient ground to hold him for trial.

When police forcibly took labor lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr., a member of the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center, from his house in Antipolo City on Oct. 23, into custody, he had no idea of the charges against him. He briefly disappeared after the police refused him permission to contact his family. His arrest also illustrates the arbitrary and irregular manner in which police take suspects into custody.

Saladero was shown an arrest warrant in connection with a murder case that took place in March 2006 in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. The warrant bore a different name and address than his. Even if he were the person named in the warrant, issued to the wrong address, he would still have had no way to defend himself or respond to the allegations. In fact, he never received a subpoena.

Apart from the murder charge, Saladero was accused of arson and conspiracy to commit rebellion in connection with an incident in Lemery, Batangas, on Aug. 2 this year. This involved the burning of a site owned by Globe Telecom, a telecommunications company. In this case, Saladero was charged along with a number of other known activists.

Two of Saladero's co-accused, namely Romeo Aguilar, the coordinator of Katipunang Damayan ng Mahihirap and Rogelio Galit, the spokesperson of Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Kabite, are unwell and suffer from diabetes. Aguilar and Galit were charged with arson and murder respectively. How prosecutors were able to establish sufficient ground and probable cause of their involvement in the crimes defies rational explanation.

Aguilar appeared in a wheelchair to give an interview to the media in late October, in which he denied any part in burning the site. He said he was in hospital the day the arson allegedly took place, suffering from swollen feet due to diabetes.

When police arrested Galit from his house in Silang, Cavite, on Nov. 3, he was reportedly bedridden. Due to his diabetes, Galit's leg requires amputation, which is scheduled in the coming days.

These two are among 72 people, 30 of whom are activists and leaders of progressive organizations, charged with murder in the March 2006 incident. The allegations against these persons conflict sharply with their own stories denying involvement, and raise serious questions as to how prosecutors identified them.

The profiles, affiliations and work backgrounds of persons charged and arrested illustrate a continued pattern of targeted attacks against activists in the country. The practice of filing highly questionable and incomprehensible charges in court has increased, although killings have sharply dropped. This illustrates the de facto use of the prosecution system against those critical of the government.

The plight of these activists and their colleagues, forced to endure detentions and trials on questionable charges, illustrates the misuse of the prosecution system and suggests political motives.

Today, observers perceive prosecutors as accomplices of the police in filing fabricated charges in court. Their judgment and reasoning are incomprehensible; their authority is both neglected and abused. The complicity of state prosecutors in allowing themselves to be used as a de facto political tool threatens the security, life and liberty of anyone who is critical of the government and therefore a potential victim of false accusations.


(Danilo Reyes is a staff member of the Asian Human Rights Commission, a regional human rights NGO in Hong Kong. He is responsible for the organization's work on the Philippines. Previously, he worked as a human rights activist and journalist in the Philippines.)



Fascist US-Arroyo regime wields new weapon against people's movement

BAYAN Canada

Between Oct. 23 and Nov. 4, 2008, May First Movement [Kilusan Mayo Uno (KMU)] Legal Counsel Remigio Saladero, Jr., and three local leaders of people's organizations were arrested in four different incidents. The three include Nestor San Jose of Anak Pawis party list and PISTON, Crispin Zapanta of Bayan Muna party list, Rogelio Galit, a peasant leader from Anak Pawis party list. On November 6, Arnaldo Seminiano of KMU was also arrested and detained.

All five men, plus 67 others, all in all including 30 leaders of people's organizations, are in a repeatedly amended list charging them with various non-bailable criminal offences of multiple murders, frustrated multiple murders, and arson around the burning by the New People's Army (NPA) of the Globe Telecom cell site in Lemery, Batangas Aug. 2 this year and their ambush of the military in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental in Mar. 3, 2006.

That the charges are absurd should need no stating. Generally speaking, why would leaders of legal organizations have to be involved in planning NPA actions when the NPA are more than capable of that themselves? More specifically, how could a very busy legal counsel for KMU and law professor have time to involve himself in such stuff? Finally, how could a sick and bedridden man be involved in such actions? Only an organization like the Philippine government and its illegitimate President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), could be so contemptuous of people that they could imagine they could pull such a fast one.

That might be why, as provincial prosecutor Josephine Caranzo-Olivar admitted October 27, 2008 in a court proceeding regarding Atty. Saladero's case that no preliminary investigation was conducted when the names of the 71 were added to the amended information. No inquiry was held to determine if there was probable cause because it was all foolishly made up. Add to that, those in the list were not informed that they were on such lists.

So what we have here is the criminalization of dissent made possible by a total lack of due process.

In addition, the list includes 8 of the 9 grassroots activists who were abducted and tortured last August 31, 2008 in Tartaria, Cavite by elements of the Calabarzon Philippine National Police's (PNP) Regional Special Operations Group. Also included in the complaint are other human rights victims themselves such as Arman Albarillo, who lost both his parents after they were murdered by military forces, and Orly Marcellana, who's wife Eden Marcellana (Karapatan ST Secretary General) was killed in Mindoro by soldiers under Gen. Jovito Palparan. Albarillo has been a consistent complainant in the impeachment cases filed against Mrs. Gloria Arroyo.

Arrests like these are not new. Those of us living in Canada remember the case of Representative Satur Ocampo. Last spring, Canada was graced by the visit of Rep. Ocampo for Bayan Muna party list, the late Rep. Crispin Beltran for Anak Pawis party list and Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan for Gabriella Women's party list. These three honoured congresspersons toured the major cities of Canada to meet with overseas Filipinos and Canadians to update them on the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines. The highpoint of the tour was a presentation to the Standing Committee of the Canadian Parliament. Many parliamentarians expressed their concerns at the continuing violations of human rights in the Philippines. And as if to underline this point, even before Rep. Ocampo had left Canada, the Philippine Government had charged him with multiple murders. Rep. Ocampo continues to battle such harassment.

The difference this time is that the government is using mass arrests. As Bayan-Canada Chairperson Dr. Chandu Claver explains, "They had thought that they could terrorize the Filipino people into silence by abducting (like James Balao and 192 others) and killing the leaders and activists (like Alice Omengan and 909 other martyrs). But this bloody campaign has failed very miserably. Now they are resorting to trying to stifle the voice of the people through the mass arrests of the people's leaders using grossly bogus charges of non-bailable offenses. Mass arrests and persecution have always been in the gruesome toolbox of modern despots from Hitler, to Marcos. With this new move, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is striving very hard to join that ignominious league."

We demand:

- the release of all political prisoners
- all politically motivated and trumped up charges against the leaders and members of people's organizations be dropped
- the thorough investigation of all political killings and disappearances in the Philippines and the prosecution and punishment of all those guilty of such no matter how high they may be placed in the state
- Canadian Members of Parliament denounce the use by the GMA regime of mass arrests to silence opposition


Filipina homeowner in California resists eviction from her home

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 12 Filipino organizations across the US, salutes the spirit of resistance demonstrated by Ms. June Reyno, a Filipina homeowner who has chained herself to her home of 20 years in San Diego, California, after being issued an eviction notice by the San Diego Sheriff's Department. Like many property owners in the United States, Reyno is part of a growing section of the US population facing displacement from their homes as the global financial crisis hits the middle class hard and workers even harder.

Reyno, like many Filipinos in the United States, aspired to live the American dream of owning a home and having a career. But market instabilities eventually led to her losing both. Presently unemployed, Reyno is being evicted because she no longer has the income to keep up with the skyrocketing mortgage rates, and even though she has been approved for another loan to purchase back her home, the greedy bank is not willing to re-negotiate but instead is taking steps to kick her family out of the house.

June Reyno is not alone. Like many homeowners in the US facing the same reality, the intentional relaxation of mortgage rates by the greedy banks duped many, including Filipinos, into believing their American dreams were possible. Little did they know that one day, the financial shenanigans of the deregulated banks would cost them their dreams with the current mortgage meltdown. In 2008 alone, there were over 3.2 million filings for foreclosures and over 750,000 jobs lost in the United States, making Reyno's predicament very common.

Now Reyno is resisting, and demanding that US Congress bailout homeowners like herself versus dishing out trillions to bailout the banks that duped her in the first place. There are over 4 million Filipinos who live in the US today, making them one of the largest ethnic communities in the country. Reyno's story debunks the claims of Malacanang that the global financial crisis will not affect Filipinos, particularly overseas Filipinos like Reyno. In fact, it was Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who was among the first world leaders to wholly support the $700 billion bailout bill issued by US Congress last month.

Reyno's militant actions are needed at this particular time in our history, as the looming financial depression around the world will certainly carry grave political implications. As evictions, foreclosures, and mass job lay-offs are on the rise, resistance must step up against all other forms of repression against justifiable dissent from the people. Filipinos in the US and around the world must be amongst the decisive forces opposing the financial oligarchs and accelerate the fall of greed and financial tyranny!


Join BAYAN-USA, SEIU Local 721, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional and the International Action Center's
Caravan to San Diego for a:
Neighborhood Rally to Stop the Foreclosure of June Reyno's Home

When: Thursday October 30, 8:30 am
Where: Meet at SEIU Local 721 - 500 S. Virgil Ave. Los Angeles (Near Virgil & 6th)
Contact: +1310 677-6407

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen(@)bayanusa.org

Read more and see video at: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/261684

Also see http://obrag.org/?p=1797

BAYAN-CANADA condemns Philippine's threat to IAMR's foreign delegates

BAYAN-Canada, a Canada-wide alliance of patriotic Filipino organizations, condemns the Philippine government's Bureau of Immigration (RPBI) for its latest threat against the Canadian and other friends of the Filipino people who are attending the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR).

These last three days, representatives of migrants organizations, migrants advocates, and pro-migrant scholars from around the world have been in Manila to participate in the IAMR to comprehensively analyze the situation of migrants and oppose the anti-migrant, and Malacañang-hosted Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

This international assembly of migrants, refugees and advocates is organized by the International Migrants Alliance Alliance (IMA), Migrante International, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, IBON Foundation, and BAYAN. IMA is the first-ever global alliance of more than a hundred grassroots associations, organizations, unions, networks and alliances of migrant workers, immigrants, refugees and displaced peoples.

The RPBI statement outrageously threatens with persecution and deportation the delegates of the IAMR from other countries against participating in rallies against the GFMD on the grounds that they are meddling in the internal affairs of the Philippines.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) once again maliciously turns things upside down.

The GFMD is a yearly state-organized and led meeting. The Belgian government organized the first GFMD in 2007. This year's GFMD is organized by the Philippine government. The GFMD has one goal: to heighten the exploitation of migrants and their remittances for generating money for the receiving countries. It is, not surprisingly, put in the guise of development! Migration, though, is not a tool for genuine development. The Philippines needs genuine national industrialization and agrarian reform. Without these it can only have massive unemployment and poverty. Mass migration is the effect of mal-development!

The GRP continues to be the biggest promoter of imperialist policies of trade and investment liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. To postpone its day of reckoning it has turned to the trinity of incessant borrowing, a labour export policy, and internal repression. The GRP has become addicted to foreign loans, migrant remittances, and political violence! In other words, as the biggest servant of imperialism, it has become the biggest pimp of its people.

The GFMD, as a meeting between imperialist masters and neocolonial servants, cannot, therefore, promote the development of the Filipino people. The only thing it will develop is imperialist plunder and the loot bag of regimes like that of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

This is why we need international assemblies like IAMR that provide a forum for genuine migrants organizations, and genuine advocates and friends to come together to give authentic voice to the concerns of migrants.

The RPBI is being utterly duplicitous. It is the foreigners attending the GFMD that are meddling in the internal affairs of the Philippines. The foreign delegates attending the IAMR are guests of Filipino people's organizations. They are not meddling in the internal affairs of the Philippines. The foreign delegates to the IAMR are not breaking any laws but doing their internationalist duty in expressing solidarity with the Filipino people and with migrants and refugees all over the world.

The threats from the RPBI against the foreign delegates attending the IAMR are, therefore, not just threats to the freedom of expression of these foreign friends of the Filipino people, they are also an attack on the Filipino people themselves and their right to genuine development through national industrialization and agrarian reform.

Any arrest or detaining of foreign and local delegates to the IAMR can, therefore, only further blacken the reputation of the GRP.

Hands off the Canadian delegation and other foreign nationals participating in the IAMR!
Hands off the Philippine hosts of the IAMR!


CAP-CPC attends Migrant conference in Manila

Hello everyone,

Greetings from sunny Philippines!

So far, CAP-CPC member Eileen Young and I have busy with different activities here. Eileen was interviewed by GMA7 (see photo above), a local TV station October 26 when she joined the mobilization of the fisherfolks and peasants group at Pasig River in San Juan. They launched small boats to signify migration. She has lots of photos to show (more information at Arkibong Bayan). We also attended the rally to protest the abduction of Atty. Remigio "Ming" Saladero Jr., a labor lawyer who had been representing the May First Movement (KMU) and other workers for more than 20 years.

I have been busy with the first International Coordinating Body (ICB) of the International Migrants' Alliance (IMA), which was formed in Hong Kong this past June. It was a successful two-day meeting to discuss the General Plan of Action (GPOA). I'll have the details later. This evening, the ICB will be attending a dinner with the UN rapporteur and Parlimentarians which is being hosted by the Senate floor leader, Manny Villar.

The International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR), organized by the IMA, starts Monday, October 27, 2008 and we hope to meet-up with other Canadian delegates at breakfast.

Excited, tired but still beautiful,

tt (Tess Tesalona - CAP-CPC Coordinator and IMA Treasurer)


Balao still alive, activists say

By Desiree Caluza
Northern Luzon Bureau, Philippines

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Missing activist James Balao is still alive and is being detained in a military camp.

This was the information received by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance on Thursday, after the first hearing on the petition for a writ of amparo for the surfacing of Balao at the regional trial court in La Trinidad, Benguet.

"Our source informed us that James is still alive and is in detention," Beverly Longid, CPA chair, said in a forum here on Friday.

Asked to comment on the possibility that his son was still alive, Balao's father Arthur said: "I am happy to learn that my son is still alive but I am still confused because I do not have the information about his whereabouts."

On Thursday, the family of Balao and militant groups led by the CPA and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) held a rally in front of the Justice Hall of Benguet to drum up the call to issue the writ.

During the hearing, representatives of the Office of the Solicitor General, which represented the respondents in the petition, tried to have the case dismissed but failed.

A witness, Aniceto Adawing who was cross-examined during the hearing, said he saw five armed men accost Balao in Barangay Lower Tomay in La Trinidad on September 17.

Adawing said the men poked their Armalite rifle and .45 cal. guns at Balao and announced that they were arresting him for suspected illegal drug pushing.

Adawing said he was certain that the men were from the police.

Associate Solicitor Gerik Caesare Paderanga said most of the petitions which were filed for issuance of the writ had been dismissed due to baseless accusations.

Balao's family filed the petition to compel the military, James' suspected abductor, to produce him.

The family asked the court to direct the military to disclose the whereabouts of Balao, a founding member of the CPA.

The family also asked the court to allow its authorized representatives to inspect military or police facilities where Balao was believed detained.

The OSG also failed to submit a return during a hearing, which, according to human rights lawyers, was a violation of the procedure.

A return is the answer of the respondents to the issues against them which should be submitted five days after the petition was received.

Paderanga said they failed to submit the return because the process would take long as the respondents involved extraordinary people such as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Cabinet secretaries and police and military officials.

"We understand that the family is suffering but the submission of the return will require a lot of time. We have to be practical," he said.

Lawyer Mary Ann Bayang, Balao counsel, said the failure of the government to submit its response because they were extraordinary people was a flimsy excuse.

"Saying that the respondents were extraordinary people was not an excuse. Whether they were ordinary or extraordinary people, they should be treated equally before the court. The more that they have to comply because they are public officials," she said.

Human rights lawyers condemn attack on their ranks

Written by ILPS Info Bureau
Friday, 24 October 2008

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), the International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL), Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), SENTRA and the Public Interest Legal Center (PILC) condemn the abduction and illegal arrest of Atty. Remigio "Ming" Saladero, Jr, a member of the NUPL, the chief legal counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Board Chairperson of the Pro-Labor Legal Assistant Center (PLACE). Atty. Saladero is a human rights lawyer who was one of those who argued before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Pres. Gloria Arroyo's calibrated preemptive response policy. He is also a member of the media as a columnist of Pinoy Weekly. He is a respected labor lawyer handling nearly 700 labor cases before various tribunals.

A group of armed men claiming to be members of the PNP barged into the office of Atty. Ming on October 23 showing a 2006 warrant of arrest for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder cases in the Regional Trial Court in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

The attack against Atty. Saladero is a violation of his right to due process considering that he was never informed about the complaint and was not able to defend himself before a warrant of arrest was issued. It is also an attack against the legal profession since Atty. Saladero was harassed for the exercise of his profession. It is a blow the right to counsel and access to justice by many workers and human rights victims whose cases Atty. Saladero is handling.

The case filed against Atty. Saladero is part of the Arroyo government's attempt to cow human rights advocates critical of the policies of Pres. Arroyo. Atty. Saladero have been subjected to various attacks in the past mostly from military for his being the lawyer of suspected members of the New Peoples' Army in Rizal. He was also one of the respondents in the case for Conspiracy to Commit Rebellion, Arson and Destruction of Property filed by the military and Globe Telecoms against 27 leaders and activists from Southern Tagalog Region in connection with bombing of Globe Cellsite in Lemery Batangas on August 2, 2008. These trumped-up charges have no basis in fact. Atty. Saladero is not a member of the New People's Army and is not a fugitive. He has been openly litigating in courts and has never been involved in any case of arson to blow up Globe cellsites.

PLACE said the illegal arrest of Atty. Saladero and his possible prolonged detention will adversely affect the operation of PLACE. "Atty. Saladero handles most of the 700 cases of PLACE. Not only that, his other cases mostly human rights and pro bono will be also affected" said Atty. Noel Neri, member of NUPL and colleague of Atty. Saladero in PLACE.

Members of the legal profession, particularly human rights lawyers, will not take this recent attack sitting down. The raiding team members are criminally liable for qualified theft when they confiscated the desktop computer, laptop and cellphone of Atty. Saladero when they executed the supposed warrant of arrest. We will file criminal and administrative cases against public officials who facilitated the illegal arrest and harassment case against Atty. Saladero and false witnesses who committed perjury in their affidavits. The Supreme Court has chastised the Department of Justice for "prostituting" their office to harass political opponents of Pres. Arroyo. We will make sure that those responsible for the travesty of Atty. Saladero's right to due process will be held liable for their participation in the scheme to harass a human rights lawyer who sacrificed so much for the interest of human rights. We ask the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to immediately call for the release of Atty. Saladero and condemn this attack on the legal profession.

National Secretariat
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers(NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.No. +63 2 920-6660,Telefax No. +63 2 927- 2812
Email addresses: nupl2007[at]gmail.com
Visit the NUPL at http://www.nupl.net/

Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares - +63 917 835 0459
Secretary – General, NUPL

Atty. Noel Neri - +63 927 929 0559
Senior Partner - PLACE

"By calling yourselves the 'people's lawyer,' you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance."

Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno
in his message to the NUPL Founding Congress,Sept. 15, 2007


On the 26th day of disappearance of CPA member James Balao

CONGRESS LOBBY. The Balao siblings (left) ask Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño for assistance following their brother’s enforced disappearance. (Photo by Cye Reyes/NORDIS)

Dear Friends:

Mr. Art Balao, the father of James has written a letter of thanks. I quote in part: “I wish to express my deep appreciation and thanks to all who in one way or the other contributed to find James. In behalf of my family, I thank you all so much. My family miss him and am sure his many friends, relatives and the many people he has touched, loved and helped miss him too.”

Today is the 26th day of the enforced disappearance of James. However, let us not lose strength in our continuing efforts to surface James. Let us not lose courage as we demand and bring to justice the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU)-Military Intelligence Group (MIG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other State units that conspired to this dastardly act.

This is the second update letter on our continuing efforts for the immediate and unconditional surfacing of James. We issued the first update letter last October 3.

While we have yet to find out the exact location and condition of James, through the help of friends and concerned individuals, sometime October 3, we were able to know of the place and account of his disappearance, as follows:

On the morning of 17 September, at around 8:00 in Lower Tomay, La Trinidad, five (5) unidentified elements of the military excluding the driver, riding on a white vehicle that looks like a Mitsubishi Adventure or Revo swooped on him and forcibly took him.

One immediately cuffed his hands as he cried, “Saludsuden yo man dagitoy nu ania ti basol ko? (Please ask them what wrong have I done?) Another, to prevent him from saying more, locked the jaws of James with his arms while two others violently pointed their guns at his sides, to prevent him from resisting, then they hurriedly shoved him into the car. The remaining one waved his automatic rifle at the shocked onlookers as he warned them not to interfere. He shouted “Pulis kami! Huwag kayong maki-alam! Drug pusher eto!” (We are the police! Do not interfere! He is a drug pusher!) Then he rode the vehicle and within hearing stated: “Diretso sa Camp Dangwa” (Proceed to Camp Dangwa.)

Aside from these five men, at least three (3) served as lookouts.

The accounts of many witnesses and sources have also validated our record that James has indeed been under surveillance.

On the same date, acting on information that the military units of Ilocos Sur specifically the 50th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) may have James in custody, the family, friends, the CPA and the CHRA (Cordillera Human Rights Alliance), immediately traveled to Ilocos Sur. We did not take the information lightly because we know that the same IBPA was involved in the extra-judicial killings of activists Romy Sanchez in 9 March, Pepe Manegdeg in 29 November and Albert Terradano in 30 November, all in 2005. In the case of Pepe Manegdeg, eyewitnesses specifically pointed as the killer Sgt. Joel Castro of the 50th IBPA.

Through the intercession of Governor Deogracias Victor B. Savellano, the family and the CPA had a dialogue with the 50th IBPA. Unfortunately, the military representatives Lt. Ruben Tambio and Sgt. Marcelo Garcia did not make any categorical denial as to their involvement in the disappearance of James or a clear commitment of their assistance to surface James. On negotiation, they allowed a very limited ocular visit of the 50th IBPA headquarters in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, to 4 members of the family and 2 representatives of the CPA, and disallowing taking of photographs.

On initiative of the PRO-CAR, the family, the CPA and the CHRA held a dialogue with the police regional directorate, on October 6, after a short program in Lower Tomay, where James was forcibly taken, appealing to the residents therein for further assistance and cooperation. Present during the said dialogue were the Regional Director, Gen. Eugene Martin, the Benguet Provincial Director, Col. Danilo Pelisco, the La Trinidad and Baguio City Police Directors, Cols. Mario Mayam-es and Jesus Franco, respectively, and other police officers. During the dialogue, as a sign of our good faith and willingness to cooperate with the police, we narrated to them the information as to account of the incident and what we gathered, of which the police had no knowledge. We also informed them that there are witnesses. The place of incident is just a few meters away from Camp Dangwa, the regional headquarters of the PNP in the Cordillera.

In the said dialogue, the PNP directorate agreed to double their investigation efforts, provide custody and security for the possible witnesses, greater police visibility in the place of incident to prevent possible attacks and harassment from the perpetrators, and transparency with the family and with the CPA.

The following day, we revisited the MIG office in Camp Allen, Baguio City. This we formally coordinated with the Police Regional Office-Cordillera Administrative Region (PRO-CAR) and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO). Unexplainably, the MIG disallowed our entry to the said Camp but on negotiation allowed entry to the City Police Director, Col. Jesus Franco. The MIG coldly ignored our pleas to allow just the father of James, who was already in the premises as early as 6:30 in the morning, to accompany the Police City Director to enter the MIG compound. In fact, the MIG permitted Col. Franco to enter ONLY when Mr. Balao agreed to the demand of the MIG to move away from where he was waiting simply because he can see the vehicles entering and leaving the MIG compound.

Thereafter, LTJG Thomas Yu-ing, the head of the 11th Community Relations Unit (CRU) of the AFP whose office is just beside the MIG, invited Mr. Art Balao for a discussion. In the said meeting, he offered his assistance in investigating the case of James. Such deception and trickery! As he issued on the same day a very poorly written and grammatically erroneous press release that trivialized James' abduction and enforced disappearance by saying that the CPA is merely playing this up simply for "propaganda to attract media attention and collateral attack upon the government…" and even disrespectfully and loosely comment "Who is James Balao anyway?" Our concern is the life of James, that he be surfaced alive and THAT is NOT propaganda.

The regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in response to an earlier letter from the Balao family and succeeding requests for their immediate action on the disappearance of James, on the same day, proceeded with a team of investigators to the MIG office for inspection. However, the MIG elements treated them with grave hostility; shouting at them and even cocking their guns at the investigators. In paranoia and sign of guilt, the MIG hiding behind the gates, only showed their faces but disguised themselves in baseball caps, dark and wide-rimmed sunglasses, and handkerchief covering their mouth. The CHR investigating team also failed to enter the MIG compound.

On 9 October 2008, the family (his father Art Balao, younger sisters Nonette Balao and Jonilyn Balao-Strugar, and brother Winston Balao,) and I as Chairperson of the CPA filed a Writ of Amparo with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Benguet. The petitioners pray that the Court “(a) issue a Writ of Amparo ordering the respondents to disclose where James Balao is detained or confined, (b) to release James Balao considering his unlawful detention and (c) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his person.”

The petition also prays for an inspection order “to permit the entry of authorized persons for the purpose of inspecting, measuring, surveying and photographing the property or any relevant object or operation thereon” of police and military facilities not limited to the Camps Aguinaldo and Crame in Quezon City, Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, the 50th IBPA in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, MIG in Camp Allen, Baguio City, and ISU in Navy Base, Baguio City. The respondents are Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Eduardo Ermita as the Executive Secretary of the RP, Gilberto Teodoro as the Secretary of the Department of National Defense, Ronaldo Puno as the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Norberto Gonzales as the National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano as Chief of Staff of the AFP, Gen. Jesus Versoza as the PNP Chief, Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu as Chief of the PA, Maj. Gen. Isagani Cachuela as the Commanding General of the AFP Northern Luzon Command, the Commanding Officer of the AFP ISU and PCS Eugene Martin as the Regional Director of PRO-CAR.

On raffle, the RTC 63 under Judge Benigno Galacgac shall hear the Writ. The sheriff has already served a copy of the Writ and Notice of Hearing with the respondents, except the ISU as the personnel therein refused to receive the document. The said Court has set the first hearing on the 16th.

Widespread support continues to pour in.

On 6 October, responding to the plea of the Balao family who addressed their session, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet (Provincial Board) approved unanimously a resolution CONDEMNING THE ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF JAMES BALAO, FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE CPA, AND CALLING FOR THE IMMEDIATE SURFACING AND RELEASE OF MR. JAMES BALAO BY HIS CAPTORS. The said resolution further states that “enforced disappearances is contrary to the customs and traditions of the Benguet indigenous peoples that advocate peace.” The Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of La Trinidad also issued a similar resolution after. Earlier, Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan wrote the Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through Secretary Gilbert Teodoro for her “intercession in locating the whereabouts of Mr. James Balao.”

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) national office on October 10 issued resolution A2008-035 approved en banc “STRONGLY CONDEMNING THE ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF JAMES BALAO, CONTINUING THE INVESTIGATION THROUGH THE CAR REGIONAL OFFICE, AND REQUESTING THE AFP AND PNP FOR ASSISTANCE.” On the same day, the Governor Maximo Dalog of Mountain Province issued a statement AGAINST ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES. The statement reads in part “As father of the province and as Regional Chairman of the League of Provinces, I denounce the unexplained disappearance of James Balao who is one of us. The act does not only deprive him of his rights but also subjects his family to untold mental and psychological torture. xxx Those responsible, regardless of their position or standing in society, should be held accountable, and made to pay for their acts. Denying or delaying justice would prompt aggrieved parties to take the law into their hands. Worse, the impunity by which the crimes have been committed may institutionalize or promote the commission of the same.”

We have yet to hear from the offices of the National Commission on Indigenous People’s (NCIP) and other concerned government agencies to which we appealed for support and intercession.

Recently, the University of the Philippines Baguio, from where James graduated in college on 1983, published its Statement of Concern in the Baguio Midland Courier; and letters of concern from Filipino Scholars in the United States and Filipinos in Stuttgart, Germany. International support continues with barrage of letters and online petition addressed to the respondents as widespread public condemnation reverberates locally.

Amidst all these, we respond appropriately to continues military propaganda that we are simply on a demolition job against the military specifically the army. Recently, on the disdain statement of the Community Relations Unit of the AFP that James Balao does not merit their attention – a remark that smacks of the army insensitivity and lack of value for the safety and life of James.

Kindly visit our website: www.cpaphils.org for the full text of the above stated resolutions, CPA and CHRA statements, letters of support and/or concern, and a photo documentation of all our efforts. This is the second update letter, we have posted the first in our web site. Again, our heartfelt thank you for your actions and responses.

While we cooperate with the police and certain military officials on the matter of investigation and security assistance – we do not have second thoughts as to demanding the full accountability of the military and the police on the enforced disappearance of James. We shall not also hesitate to break lines of full cooperation with the police when proven of their insincerity and involvement in the same, and when such police and military efforts shall point to a conscious conspiracy and whitewash of the accountability of police and military elements.

Let us not lose strength and courage in our campaign to Surface James Balao and Stop Enforced Disappearances. Instead, let our rage and tears further our resolve to continue working for the immediate and unconditional surfacing of James from his captors.

Cordillera Peoples Alliance
# 2 P. Guevarra Street, West Modern Site
Aurora Hill, 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Tel: +63-74-442-2115
Fax: +63-74-443-7159
CPA website: www.cpaphils.org
Surface James Balao website: http://sites.google.com/site/surfacejamesbalao/



Today, September 24, 2008, is the seventh day since the enforced disappearance of Cordillera Peoples Alliance member, James Balao. James could not be located since he left his residence at Fairview, Quezon Hill, Philippines last September 17, 2008.

Where is James Balao?

We strongly believe that James was taken by intelligence agents of the Armed Forces of the Phillipines. We believe that the State through its agents are the perpetrators of this violation.

We believe that his enforced disappearance is because of the continuing implementation of Operation Plan Bantay Laya which considers civilians and progressive legal organizations as enemies of the sate and thus are targets for neutralization.

We strongly condemn this act by the State and its agents.

From February 2001 - June 2008, there has been 193 cases of enforced disappearances in the country. James Balao is the 194th victim. Most of the victims are members and leaders of progressive people's organizations categorized as sectoral fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), or the New People's Army (NPA). Before the enforced disappearances or abductions, the victims experience surveillance, tagging and be threatened through text messages similar to the cases of victims of extrajudicial killings.

According to a reliable source, James was listed in the AFP dossier as the head of the Communist Party of the Philippines Education Bureau. We believe that his enforced disappearance is due to this.

We demand speedy investigation from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We hope to receive word on his whereabouts as soon as possible.

We urge all government institutions particularly the Commission on Human Rights to aggresively assist us in finding James Balao. The search for him gets more and more urgent by the minute. We demand the Intelligence Security Unit whom we believe has him in their custody to surface him. We demand a stop to Oplan Bantay Laya II and the attack on legal peoples organizations.



Jude Baggo
Secretary General
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance


BAYAN Canada Launch a Resounding Success

Dr. Chandu Claver, Bayan-Canada chairperson

Toronto, Canada - Eighty-five people from across Canada representing 20 organizations from Victoria to Montreal came together in Toronto on September 21 to witness the successful launch of BAYAN Canada. Present during the event was keynote speaker, Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, chairperson of BAYAN Philippines, the multisectoral alliance of anti-imperialist and democratic organizations of the Filipino people.

Dr. Araullo, also a columnist of Businessworld delivered a presentation on the intensifying crisis of Philippine economic, social, political and cultural life. She also pointed out that through its mining companies, terrorist listing, and intent for the Visiting Forces Agreement negotiations with the Philippines, Canada is experiencing an "erosion of its image of benevolence".

She underlined the need for Filipinos in Canada to raise the level of their political struggle in order to expose and oppose the anti-national and anti-people policies of the US-backed Macapagal-Arroyo regime, the complicity of the Canadian state in such, and to advance the rights and welfare of Filipinos in Canada. Dr. Araullo emphasized that BAYAN Canada is this alliance for coordinating such struggles of Filipino organizations, finding synergies in their activities, and being their political campaign centre.

Several years ago while at a conference in Vancouver, and having witnessed the growing strength of the Filipino organizations here, I asked about the possibility of building a BAYAN chapter in Canada... several years later I am happy to see that some organizations had taken this on and are now launching BAYAN Canada on this important day, says Dr. Araullo who flew all the way from the Philippines to attend the event.

The launching of BAYAN Canada marks the 36th anniversary of the martial law imposed by the Marcos dictatorship. The organizers of Bayan Canada wanted to make the link between the US-Marcos fascist regime and the current US backed Arroyo regime scheming to stay in power while perpetrating some of the worst human rights violations in Philippine history.

Also speaking at the launching was Bernadette Ellorin, Secretary-general of BAYAN-USA. Ellorin shared some lessons and summarized the advances in the struggles of Filipinos living in the US because of the formation of a BAYAN chapter there. In a statement, the BAYAN chapter in the US expressed their solidarity and commended the years of painstaking work to build the organizations in Canada that have promoted the national democratic movement in the Philippines for decades.

As with the formation of the BAYAN USA in 2005, we understand that the formation of BAYAN Canada had its share of struggles before breaking through and moving forward... the formation of BAYAN Canada by far signifies a higher level of commitment to advance the national democratic line in the Philippines on a widespread level, the statement read.

Sending a solidarity message for the International League of Peoples struggle was ILPS chairperson, Prof. Jose Maria Sison. In the recorded message played for the assembly, Prof. Sison highlighted the worsening world economic crisis that will see imperialist and reactionary forces gearing to use the state as a system of organized violence to intimidate and attack the people in anticipation of growing mass protests and resistance.

"It is therefore necessary for BAYAN-Canada and its component organizations to intensify their efforts to arouse, organize and mobilize the Filipinos in Canada and thus to assert, defend and promote their rights and interests," states Prof. Sison.

The presentations were followed by an introduction of the BAYAN Canada national organizing committee, and a lively question and answer period. Dr. Constancio Chandu Claver, formerly the chairperson of Bayan Muna in Kalinga and now based in Victoria BC, summarized the discussions and outlined the important tasks for BAYAN Canada.

The assembly affirmed the BAYAN Canada national organizing committee and its chairperson Dr. Chandu Claver and its work leading to the first congress of BAYAN Canada. BAYAN Canada is calling on all patriotic Filipino organizations in Canada to join in advancing the Filipino peoples movement for national liberation and democracy.

Speech by Marie Boti at 20th anniversary of massacre of political prisoners in Iran

I bring warm greetings of solidarity to our Iranian comrades from the Centre d’appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC). The Philippines is also commemorating a terrible anniversary today, September 21: the 36th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Thousands of people spanning several generations marched yesterday to Mendiola Bridge demanding justice for the victims of the Marcos dictatorship as well as the human rights victims under the current Arroyo administration. In particular, the protesters are calling for the release of 218 political prisoners.

“The Arroyo regime has gained the sole distinction of being the regime closest to the Marcos dictatorship in terms of its human rights record, corruption and foreign policy. The Arroyo regime is the best argument that we should never allow a return to a fascist dictatorship, no matter what the pretext is,” said Bayan Secretary General Renato M. Reyes, Jr. Bayan played a key role in the struggle to topple the dictatorship in 1986.

I will talk about a campaign we are waging at the Centre for Philippine Concerns and in the Philippines called Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! and then show you a short film excerpt.

Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves!

The first Free Our Sisters! Free Ourselves! Campaign was run by the large women's organization GABRIELA in 1989. Its goal was the release of Luisa Posa Dominado, an activist who fought against the Marcos dictatorship, and her 7-year-old daughter, Maywan. They were both detained in a provincial City jail, with Maywan as the youngest political prisoner in the whole country.

The campaign got wide international support with thousands of postcards and letters mailed from different parts of the world demanding freedom for the mother and daughter. Luisa and Maywan were subsequently released from detention. Luisa continued her work as a human rights advocate and Maywan studied law. We filmed with Luing Posa Dominado in 1985, during the time of the Marcos dictatorship. (Kababaihan: Filipina Portraits was a film about the role of the women's movement in ousting the dictator in 1986.) We last saw Luisa in February 2007.

On April 12, 2007 Luisa was abducted by suspected military men and hasn't been heard of since. Luisa is one of some 200 forcefully disappeared people in the Philippines since 2001. Her daughter Maywan is heading a campaign to surface her mom.

Meanwhile, the number of political prisoners in the country has swelled, including at least 24 women political prisoners under the administration of current president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In most cases, these women were abducted, arrested illegally and detained on trumped-up charges. In detention, they suffer inhumane treatment and prolonged incarceration due to long-drawn out legal battles.

Such is the case of Angelina "Angie" Bisuña Ipong, now 63 years old, a peace advocate who devoted her life to the cause of peace and human rights. She was arrested in March 8, 2005 and was tortured and sexually abused before she was surfaced to the media. She remains incarcerated at the Pagadian City Jail in Zamboanga del Sur, sharing a small prison cell with 21 other women prisoners accused of common crimes.

Elizabeth Principe was illegally arrested on November 28 2007, grabbed and shoved into a van in a busy shopping mall. She was kept incommunicado, tortured and illegally detained by the intelligence group of the Philippine Army until they finally presented her to the media three days later. She remains in detention at Camp Crame prison on charges of subversion and murder. She was a consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines during the peace talks with the Philippine government.

Elizabeth's daughter Lorena Santos has been spearheading the campaign for her release. Lorena is a friend of ours and a spokesperson for Karapatan, a human rights organization. She is part of a new generation of activists and advocates taking the place of those who are in prison or dead. Their struggle continues.

My partner Malcolm Guy and I are connected directly or indirectly to these three women. We are making a film about Luisa, and some of the other among the hundreds of activists, workers, farmers, advocates who have been killed, disappeared, or imprisoned at part of the "War on Terror," Philippines-style. I will show you a 12 minute demo of the film.


During the commemoration of Martial Law in the Philippines yesterday, the spokesperson from Bayan said:

“The fear of a return to Martial Rule by any name is not unfounded. We see the desperation of the regime to stay in power at all costs. We see the unrestrained role of the military in government. We see the continued backing of the United States for an unpopular regime,” Reyes said.

“The only thing that stands in their way is the people. Our people have learned enough from Marcos and they will never allow such a monstrosity to return. Our people will resist,” Reyes added.

The same is true for the Iranian people.

Long Live International Solidarity!


For more information about the activity organized by our friends in the Iranian community to commemorate the terrible massacre of political prisoners in Iran two decades ago please visit: http://www.1980smassacre.com

Please visit the web sites, sign petitions, and keep informed about the situation in the Philippines. If the government, backed by full military might of the US is so intent on crushing all progressive opposition forces in the country, it is because they pose a threat to the existing power structure - they do offer an alternative, a hope for a brighter future and a truly democratic and just society. Canada has recently decided to add its military presence in the Philippines, not content to just exploit the mineral wealth of the country with Canadian mining companies. Please look out for upcoming campaigns about this. Join the campaign to Free our sisters! Free ourselves! by consulting the web site by that name in the Philippines, and by getting in touch with us, the Centre for Philippine Concerns at capcpc@web.ca and visiting our blog at http://cap-cpc.blogspot.com


Marie Boti is a documentary filmmaker with a dozen films documenting the people's movement in the Philippines. Kababaihan: Filipina Portraits (made with Malcolm Guy) featured the role of the women's movement in the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship of 1986.

She is currently working on a new project with Malcolm about the political killings and disappearances in the Philippines, including that of Luisa Posa Dominado. Marie is also an active member in the Centre d’appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns, a solidarity group in Montreal which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.


Help rebuild daycare in Iloilo destroyed by Typhoon Frank

Daycare students in their uniforms.
My name is Malcolm Guy, I live in Montréal, Québec and and I am a member of the Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns. I visited Iloilo on June 25, 2008, four days after Typhoon Frank had hit the island. I had a two-day research trip planned for an on-going documentary project on the island of Panay. I had seen the images on TV but had no idea of the impact on the lives of the local people. I was touched and felt the need to do something. It was hard to know where to start but my friends proposed that I help raise funds to rebuild a local daycare centre run in an urban poor section of the city of Iloilo.

You can find out more information about the daycare and how you can help on the website:

-- Malcolm Guy


Tagaytay 5 freed; rebellion case ‘nonexistent’

Free at Last. The so-called Tagaytay 5 -- Aris Sarmiento, Axel Pinpin, Riel Custodio, Michael Masayes and Rico Ybañez -- shown here inside their prison cell during their incarceration, were freed August 28, 2008. “The dismissal of trumped-up charges and release of Tagaytay 5 is a victory for human rights,” said Ruth Cervantes, Karapatan's public information officer.

By Niña Catherine Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CAMP VICENTE LIM, LAGUNA—Five men accused of being communist guerrillas were released Thursday afternoon after the Tagaytay Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed the rebellion case filed against them by the police.

Released were Axel Pinpin, Aristides Sarmiento, Rico Ybañez, Michael Masayes and Riel Custodio.

Pinpin, a poet, said he and his fellow detainees were ecstatic and yet doubtful when they heard the news.

“We almost couldn’t believe it,” Pinpin said while packing his more than 100 books that fellow writers had given him in a 20-square-meter custodial jail.

The cell, according to the Commission on Human Rights, did not pass the United Nations’ minimum standard for treatment of prisoners.

The five men were excited to leave the detention cell with walls plastered with photos, news items about them, and posters calling for their release.

“We can now walk with freedom,” said Sarmiento, who was still clad in an orange shirt with the slogan “Free Political Prisoners” printed on it.

Ybañez, who will turn 61 on Sept. 5, said his freedom was the best gift he had received.

The men, known as the “Tagaytay 5,” were abducted while riding in a car by Cavite police and Naval Intelligence and Security Forces operatives on April 28, 2006.

Pinpin, Sarmiento and Custodio claimed they were members of the farmers’ group Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka, or Farmers’ Federation in Cavite) while Masayes and Ybañez were hired drivers.

They were held in the Calabarzon Regional Police Office (CRPO) headquarters for two years and four months.

Nonexistent crime

The CRPO Thursday received a copy of the ruling of Tagaytay RTC Branch No. 18, which was issued by Judge Edwin Larida on Aug. 20, according to Chief Supt. Ricardo Padilla, CRPO director. The ruling mentioned the prosecution’s “erroneous manifestations.”

“Faced with an information charging a manifestly nonexistent crime, the duty of the trial court is to throw it out. Or at the very least, and where possible, make it conform to the law,” Larida said.

The judge ordered the men’s immediate release.

Triumph of justice

Carlo Ybañez, the lawyer of the accused, joined by lawyers Frank Chavez and Jose Manuel Diokno, described the court decision as a “triumph of justice.”

“The decision favoring the Tagaytay 5 is proof that justice still exists in this country,” Ybañez said.

Ybañez said the trial took a while, the process sped up after he filed a writ of amparo.

A writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

The arraignment of the Tagaytay 5 was postponed by the RTC six times. During the arraignment on June 16, the five pleaded “not guilty” to the rebellion charges.

Charges for illegal detention

Ybañez said Chavez told the court that there was no crime and the prosecution could not prove rebellion by citing subversion.

“The police who abducted and detained them are liable,” Ybañez said, emphasizing that the men’s lawyers were planning to file charges against the police in connection with the illegal arrest and detention, torture and planting of evidence.

The Tagaytay 5 said more than 30 armed plainclothesmen abducted them while traveling along Ligaya Drive in Barangay (village) Sungay in Tagaytay City on April 28, 2006.

After less than a week, the five were charged with rebellion and presented to the media as members of the communist New People’s Army.

In July, CHR Chair Leila de Lima recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges in the Office of the Ombudsman against the Cavite police and the Naval Intelligence and Security Forces for human rights violations.


Sarmiento said that while he was happy that he was now free, he also felt fear. “Fear of what will happen to us outside and what police can still do,” he said.

What happened to them within two years was unimaginable, Pinpin said. “I write poems but I couldn’t describe our experience in the span of two years,” he said.

Pinpin, research and information officer of Kamagsasaka-Ka, said he would be going back to the peasant movement. “The government had taken away so many things from us,” he said.

Punish the police

After the arrest, Pinpin said, the group’s trading operations involving muscovado sugar and coffee were affected.

Sarmiento said the police who arrested and detained him and the others should be punished. “It is so easy for them to arrest someone but it’s hard for them to free innocent people,” he said.

Sought for reaction, Padilla said: “We are filing a motion for reconsideration. Then we will let the court decide.”


Dying nanny wants law change

Filipina caregiver Juana Tejada, ill with cancer, granted residency after battle with federal government led by our friends at Migrante Ontario and other groups

August 26, 2008

Deena Kamel
Staff Reporter - Toronto Star

Juana Tejada, a Filipina nanny with terminal cancer who celebrated becoming a permanent resident yesterday, wants to make her dream of security in Canada a reality for other live-in caregivers.

A campaign led by unions and immigrant support groups is proposing a "Juana Tejada Law" – an amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that would help guarantee the rights of medically inadmissible but otherwise qualified foreign caregivers living in Canada.

"It's an honour for me," said Tejada, 38, who is facing terminal colon cancer. "I really don't want other caregivers to go through my situation because it's been very tough."

Tejada had her immigration application denied twice because, though healthy when she arrived, she developed cancer while working in Canada and was now deemed a burden on the health-care system. But after strong public support, she was recently cleared to apply for permanent residency.

"I dream of a society that gives value and concern to its people who create its wealth," sang the band at yesterday's celebration and launch of the amendment campaign.

Before arriving in Canada, live-in caregivers undergo stringent medical exams.

They must live with the same employer for 24 months out of three years, then undergo a second medical exam to apply for permanent residence. Tejada's supporters want to see that second exam requirement eliminated for caregivers.

"Through sheer bad luck or fate, after meeting the permanent residence requirement, she faced deportation because she got sick, through no fault of hers," said Tejada's lawyer, Rafael Fabregas. "She did not lie or commit criminal offences or cheat."

The campaign has the support of Migrante-Ontario, the Independent Workers Association and United Steelworkers, among others. Some politicians are already backing it.

"(We) feel very strongly that if you are good enough to work in Canada, you are good enough to apply for landed immigration," Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash said yesterday, to a roar of applause from members of the Filipino community and others. She said she was "optimistic" the proposed amendment would be adopted by Parliament in the fall, barring an election call.

Nash's fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow agreed, suggesting it should be on the election platform of all parties.

"They take care of Canadian children. Working families would not survive without them. They raise our kids. For me, this is priceless," said Chow, responding to criticism about the possible burden on the health-care system. "They deserve our respect and appreciation. Some have left their own kids behind."

The subject of children strikes a chord with Tejada.

"It's sad. I've been taking care of somebody's child, but I don't have any of my own," she said. "There's sickness that's now hindering me." Though doctors say the illness is terminal, she still hopes to recover and have a family.

The amendment would help some of the 13,000 live-in caregivers who arrived in Canada last year, said Fabregas.



Making a killing: The military-industrial complex in 2008

Please check out the excellent article by CAP-CPC member Aziz Choudry that recently appeared in Bulatlat and towardfreedom.com

The Military and the Monetary, they get together whenever they think its necessary, they've turned our brothers and sisters into mercenaries, they are turning the planet, into a cemetery (Gil Scott-Heron)

GATT Watchdog
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 28, August 17-23, 2008

"In the late 1990s, well before Bush’s ‘war on terror’, New Zealand TV screened a particularly awful US action drama called ‘Soldier of Fortune Inc.’, about an elite team (composed of former US Marines, Delta Force, CIA, British SAS personnel) who performed ‘unofficial’ covert missions for the US Government. They would get a briefcase full of money from a shadowy military liaison and head to the Middle East, Latin America, Haiti, or the Balkans, or smoke out foreign agents and assorted enemies within the USA, missions for which Washington could claim plausible deniability because none were active duty soldiers. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it to keep ‘US democracy’ safe, for a price. Sounds familiar? Truth is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction, and the onscreen adventures of this squad of special operations and intelligence experts pale into insignificance when held up against reality." More...

Also see: http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1386/1/


Les gens s'organisent suite à la mort de Fredy Villanueva - réportage de Radio-Canada

La Zone Audio • Vidéo | Radio-Canada.ca

Greetings from ILPS Chairman to new Nepalese Prime Minister

16 August 2008

Comrade Prachanda
His Excellency Pushpa Kamal Dahal
Prime Minister
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal

Dear Comrade Prachanda,

We the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) convey to you our warmest greetings of revolutionary solidarity and congratulations for your election as the first Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal (FDRN) by overwhelming majority vote. We share the elation over your outstanding achievement with you as leader, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the People's Liberation Army, the mass organizations and the entire people of Nepal.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the people of Nepal have advanced from one major political victory to another. The cumulative victories have been due to the correct general line of new democratic revolution through people's war against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. Through a decade-long revolutionary armed struggle, your Party was able to build a powerful mass base and make advances in an all-rounded way.

The people of the world have celebrated the great historic victory of your Party and the people of Nepal in overthrowing the monarchy and establishing the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. They expect, as your own people demand, that the revolutionary process continues through fundamental reforms by constitutional changes, policy-making, executive action and mass mobilization.

We fully and firmly support the demands of the people of Nepal that under your leadership the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal uphold, defend and promote national independence, people's democracy, social justice, economic development through industrialization and land reform, a national, scientific and mass system of culture and education and an independent foreign policy for peace and international solidarity.

There are great possibilities of global significance arising from the revolutionary strength of your republic, Party and people. Nepal can serve as a base for promoting the global historic mission of the working class for defeating imperialism and building socialism and for generating the broadest possible mass movement of international solidarity against imperialism and reaction.

We extend to you our most militant best wishes. We are hopeful and confident that you as Prime Minister will lead the republic, your Party and the people of Nepal towards still greater revolutionary victories. The prospects are bright because your Party and people are united, reliant on their own revolutionary strength, ever vigilant and militant in defense of revolutionary gains and are determined to struggle and make the necessary sacrifices to reach the next new and higher level of the Nepali revolution.

Please accept the assurances of our highest comradely regards.

For the International League of Peoples' Struggle

Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International Coordinating Committee