For Immediate Release
January 23, 2019
Contact: Megan Foronda, Vice Chair of GABRIELA-LA, firstname.lastname@example.org
On January 19, 2019, Filipino activists gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the third annual Women’s March to protest U.S. military presence in the Philippines and its direct role in funding women’s and children’s rights abuses under the U.S.-backed dictator, Rodrigo Duterte. Led by GABRIELA Los Angeles, a chapter of the international Filipina rights group, activists accused the Trump administration of countless human rights violations due to increased U.S.-led war and military intervention in the Philippines, Palestine, and beyond.
Megan Foronda, vice chair of GABRIELA Los Angeles, declared, “We march for the countless women murdered by the Duterte regime, which the U.S. refuses to denounce and instead has financed with millions of dollars in military funding. We march for women outside the United States, exploited by United States policy, who are largely forgotten by the dominant narrative at the Women’s March. Everyone who professes to fight for women’s rights should remember that the genuine freedom of women will not simply happen because more women are elected to office or because of greater representation in politics or media. Until all poor and oppressed people are free, including ones under siege by U.S. foreign policy, all women cannot be free.”
Since the beginning of the U.S.-backed Duterte regime in 2016, the amount of extrajudicial killings have skyrocketed to 22,000 people. These killings range from peasants and farmers, such as the nine sugarcane farm workers who had been massacred in Negros Occidental known as the Sagay 9, including four women and two children; human rights defenders like Mariam Acob, an advocate for Moro Muslims under heightened militarization and violence under martial law in Mindanao; and the urban poor like Francisco Manosca, a 5-year-old boy from Pasay who had been killed in Duterte’s drug war or “Oplan Tokhang.” Additionally, the Philippine Congress recently passed a bill which seeks to make child offenders as young as nine years old liable for crimes—making more Filipino children vulnerable to becoming victims of police violence and abuse.
Karen Roxas from Migrante, an organization of Filipino migrants and workers, explained, “Instead of providing social services and programs to meet people’s basic needs here in the U.S., Congress has decided to spend millions of our taxpayer dollars in committing human rights violations in the Philippines. It is this same funding that supports a president who excuses rape as part of the culture that Filipino women working overseas must deal with. In reality, Duterte and Trump are the real criminals who inflict violence against women and their families.”
In 2018, U.S. Congress approved $184.5 million in military aid to the Duterte administration; and within the first month of this year, the U.S. approved the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which will hand an additional $1.5 billion in military funding to the Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, ordinary people in the U.S. are increasingly suffering due to a lack of funding toward education, healthcare, and other social services. In the ongoing government shutdown, 2 million Indigenous Americans and Native Alaskans have been cut off from health care with funding for the Indian Health Services frozen, Section 8 housing recipients are facing eviction, and funding for food assistance is set to run out in the end of February—all while violence at the border perpetrated by Trump’s rogue border security continues. The group of Filipino activists invited march participants to demand that the U.S. be held accountable for protecting and upholding human rights for all people and to join the campaign to cut U.S. military aid to the Philippine government, a national campaign led by the U.S. based chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.
Foronda continued, “At a time of worsening crisis throughout the world, it has become more and more clear that it is the people alone who make history and have the power to change our lived realities as we know it. We must unite our communities against fascism and militarism both in the United States and in our homelands. If we want a society that is based on true justice and democracy, it is up to us to organize ourselves and fight for it.”