Fil-Am activists to PNoy: Stop corruption, killings

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 24 2010 06:40 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2010 02:40 AM

MANHATTAN, New York – Several Filipino-American activist groups gathered at the Philippine Consulate in New York Wednesday.

The groups, including Bayan-USA, Anak Bayan USA, Gabriela, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, said the mobilization was not an anti-Aquino protest.

They said they gathered to send a message to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and former President and now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Prosecute Arroyo for all her crimes and human rights violations she has committed to the Filipino people. We would like to see her in jail. So, President Aquino, we want you to have the balls to arrest Arroyo right now!” said Bayan USA’s Gar Labao.

Arroyo, who is in New York this week to attend the Clinton Global Initiative, has been accused of corruption and has been linked to political killings under her watch.

Eric Odell of Freedom Road Socialist Organization was just walking by Fifth Avenue when he heard Filipino activists chanting “Prosecute Arroyo”.
“I agree with the call that the demonstration is making for her to be arrested. I think she (Arroyo) and her administration is responsible for the deaths of many. Many people and I think that she needs to be held to account to that,” said Odell.

The group is also demanding Aquino to junk the VFA or the Visiting Forces Agreement and the counter-insurgency program called “Operation Bantay Laya,” which, they said, is doing more harm than good.

They are also asking the president to put a stop to political killings in the Philippines.

Anakbayan USA’s Yves Nibungco said, “Within his 100 days, almost 7 people have been murdered already in cold blood by the military under President Aquino III.”

The group is also asking the President to free all political prisoners, particularly the Morong 43.

Bernadette Ellorin of Bayan USA said she has one piece of unsolicited advice to the President.

“I would tell President Aquino to remember the legacy of his parents. His father was a very high-profile political prisoner in the Philippines, and he should do the best that he can to free all political prisoners,” said Ellorin.

Earlier, President Aquino formally signed the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, a $434 million dollar grant to the Philippines to reduce poverty through economic growth.

But activists questioned the grant the US gave to the Philippines.

“It’s the single largest grant in the history of grant giving that the US government has given the Philippines, and we really wanna ask President Aquino really who is his boss? The one who pays him, which should be the US government, or the people he is accountable to serve. We’re not protesting him. We just wanna know who his boss is?” said Ellorin.

Filipino-American activists said that while they support Aquino to succeed in leading the homeland, they are reminding him and making him accountable for the campaign promises he made. Balitang America