NEW YORK, NY – On Saturday, October 15, 2011, Filipinos under the banners of BAYAN USA and GABRIELA USA joined the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) in a march against imperialist wars. They responded to a call from the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) urging its member organizations around the globe to mobilize in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and against imperialist wars of aggression. October 15th also marked the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
The OWS movement has been growing nationally and globally for a month since its launching on September 17. A movement that has been celebrated for its broad appeal, OWS actions have offered a space for many groups of people to express their grievances with the capitalist economic system that fuels the current global economic crisis. The Filipino contingent added its voice to the growing mass movement with calls denouncing U.S. economic intervention and U.S. wars of aggression, particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and the Philippines.
The relentless greed of U.S. imperialism has pillaged third world countries for centuries, stealing resources and human labor for the profit of the ruling class, which includes top bankers, high-ranking politicians, and corporate leaders. Additionally, U.S neoliberal economic policies have brought about massive financial cuts to basic services, such as health care, housing, food, and education. People all over the world have been resisting this crisis by organizing and mobilizing their communities to fight for their rights and welfare. Waging war in these countries – as well as in poor, marginalized urban areas in the First World through racial profiling, police brutality, and the prison industrial complex – has been the United States’ strategy to quell people’s uprising.
“About a decade ago, President George W. Bush called the Philippines ‘the second front on the war on terror,’” stated Jackelyn Mariano, Co-Coordinator of BAYAN USA Northeast. “Until today, the United States government has been funneling millions of dollars in military aid to the Philippines. Like in Afghanistan, however, this money is not used to supposedly maintain people’s safety from terrorism, but instead is used to protect the interests of the 1%, multinational corporations and the Philippine elite. Instead of investing in social services, the U.S. government prioritizes funding its military industrial complex, which acts to repress popular movements that threaten the power of the global ruling class.”
Since 2001, over 1000 unarmed legal activists in the Philippines have been killed and over 200 have been forcibly disappeared by the Philippine military. These acts of political repression were directed by U.S.-designed counterinsurgency programs, such as Operation Plan Bantay Laya (Freedom Watch) I and II launched by former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroro, and Operation Plan Bayanihan (Coming Together for One Cause) launched by current President Benigno Aquino III.
Chanting “Stop the War, Feed the Poor”, the Filipino contingent marched north on Broadway with UNAC from Wall Street to Zuccotti Park, the site of the Occupation, up to Washington Square Park, the site of a youth-led rally in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. At 4PM, they then joined a solidarity meeting at Judson Memorial Church organized by the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights, DRUM, and BAYAN USA, to hear veteran Chicano activist and recent target of FBI and Grand Jury repression Carlos Montes and others discuss why immigrant rights and antiwar activism are connected to the OWS movement.
“We must understand that all the problems that we face – joblessness, human rights violations, political repression, war – they all have one root cause, and that is imperialism,” stated Yves Nibungco, Co-Coordinator of BAYAN USA Northeast. “Occupy Wall Street has made it clearer to the mainstream that capitalism does not work, so we must unite together as one to organize and build a brighter future for our society.” The solidarity meeting attendees then joined a larger rally in Times Square, which drew close to 50,000 people, as part of the continuing Occupy Wall Street movement.
Co-Coordinator, BAYAN USA Northeast
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is a mass-based women’s organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women’s struggle in the Philippines. We are women of Philippine descent, including those who are migrants, immigrants and US-born. We recognize Filipino women of mixed heritage and adoptees. FiRE is a LGBTIQ-(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer/Questioning) friendly organization that is inclusive of transgender people of Philippine descent. For more information, please visit http://www.firenyc.org.
We are a proud member organization of GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, WA, and SiGAw in Los Angeles, CA. http://www.gabusa.org
FiRE is a member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about BAYAN, please visit http://bayanusa.org/