Washington, DC - Responding to the Philippine Congress's implementation of the Human Security Act (HSA) in July, Filipino groups along the east coast will be converging for a concert in Washington DC on Friday, September 28, one week after the 35th anniversary of Martial Law as declared by former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972.
The concert, organized by the Filipino-American alliance BAYAN USA and featuring Filipino-American hip-hop sensations Blue Scholars and Kiwi Illefonte, aims to bring awareness to the repercussions of the newly-passed and controversial bill, and connect with the overall issue of increased US military spending to places where US troops are present, such as the Philippines.
The concert will also be featured as part of a one-week encampment organized by the Troops Out Now Anti-War coalition, that will culminate in a march to Capitol Hill on Saturday, September 29th. A similar encampment will also be held in Los Angeles on the same dates.
"The HSA is a disaster for domestic security in the Philippines. It will cause the endangerment and the termination of innocent lives," states Valerie Francisco of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, or FIRE, a community organizer who recently returned from the Philippines to protest the HSA.
FIRE, along the Anakbayan, the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, under the banner of BAYAN USA, and local DC groups such as Katarungan will be sponsoring the mini-concert set outdoors and following next-day anti-war march near Capitol Hill.
The Fil-Am groups have also warned that US-based advocates and supporters of the broad Arroyo opposition under the HSA are also subject to the measures of the state with such a vague definition of terrorism.
This comes in light of reports on extra-judicial killings, increase in forced disappearances throughout the country, and a watch-list of names provided by the Bureau of Immigration and Department of Justice jeopardizing travelers from abroad that speak out against Arroyo's domestic policies.
"These days, to oppose the Arroyo regime is the most genuine act of security. To highlight this issue during the Martial Law anniversary is fitting and appropriate, because the Philippines is still under undeclared Martial Law," states Jonna Baldres of Anakbayan.
The groups have also been calling for restrictions on US military aid to the Philippines, in line with its human rights work. September also marks continued Congressional deliberations on US military spending for 2008.
Nearly 50 US solons have signed a petition letter calling for Arroyo to handle the human rights crisis in the Philippines.
In response to a recent US Senate hearing and Congressional deliberations on the fate of US military aid to the Philippine government this past year, the Arroyo regime has resorted to deflecting possible aid reduction by pushing for an all-out war in Mindanao, the southern-most island, claiming Al-Qaeda cells exist, much to wide public disagreement.
Following the public reports of UN Rapporteur Philip Alston, and Amnesty International, the Philippine military has been identified as the key perpetrating group of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances. In 2001, President George Bush declared the Philippines the Second Front to the War on Terror.
Since then, the Philippines has remained the fourth largest recipient of US military aid in the world and the largest in the Asia-Pacific region.