Photo credit: Romeo Ranoco

Canada Filipino youth condemn violent dispersal of National Minorities in Manila US embassy protest

Photo credit: Romeo Ranoco
Photo credit: Romeo Ranoco

October 20, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference: Rhea Gamana, anakbayan.canada@gmail.com

Filipino youth group Anakbayan in Canada strongly condemns the dastardly dispersal of protests of indigenous peoples belonging to the newly established SANDUGO alliance at the Manila US Embassy and at Camp Aguinaldo the previous day.

Around fifty were hurt when police personnel brutally used unreasonable force to break up the organized group.

Violence erupted when the police used water cannon, launched tear gas on the crowd, and highlighted by the act of a petty officer who plowed a patrol vehicle into the unarmed demonstrators, hurting a number of people. Injured people include youth leaders: SANDUGO Lead Convenor Piya Macliing Malayao, Quenilyn Gromeo of Anakbayan-PUP and Kabataan (Youth) Partylist Representative Sarah Elago. Dozens were illegally arrested.

“[This] leaves us to question whether the police of the country is actually protecting its people. Instead, we have seen a gross misuse of power to trample on the democratic rights of our indigenous brothers and sisters,” said Elesser of Montreal.

The legitimate anti-imperialist protest was conducted to call for the scrapping of skewed deals, such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and Philippines’ joint military exercises with the United States, which indigenous leaders blame as threat to their lives and their ancestral domain.  

“I am not going into the blame-game as a start,” said President Rodrigo Duterte in the only statement he has made so far in response as he is on an official visit to China.

Duterte stressed he had given orders to implement maximum tolerance when faced with protesters.

“I said early on: if you want to demonstrate, tell me. I’ll give you a permit for one week just do not invade the Constitutional orders of the (public’s) right to use the streets and be safe,” he added.

“The president may be nationalist and anti-US intervention, but the Philippine state is still a colonized state. The police still protects the interests of US imperialism and the comprador class,” said Kim of Toronto.

Being “civilian in character,” the Philippine National Police is under the directives of the president as the chief executive. As such, President Duterte ought to exercise his control of all executive departments, bureaus and offices to ensure that orders are faithfully executed. The police must serve and protect the Filipino people’s interests, and should not undermine the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

At the minimum, disciplinary action must immediately be carried out against policemen responsible in the line of defense, namely Franklin Kho, the driver of vehicle used to purposely hit civilians, and Marcelino Pedrozo, who ordered the bloody dispersal despite knowing the rally was about to end. They need to be summoned in the court, charged with frustrated murder and dismissed.

For all the tirades against the US, Duterte must continue the pursuit of an “independent foreign policy” to break away from half-century long unequal relations with the US. The fight is not over as long as US troops are in Philippine soil and agreements remain in effect.

In concrete, Anakbayan in Canada demands the junking of the US-sponsored counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which clearly is behind the strategic killings of indigenous and peasant leaders, intense militarization of the countryside, and continued state terrorism. We push for the Malacañang government to send a letter to Washington on the termination of Visiting Forces Agreement, Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and Mutual Defense Treaty.

“It’s heartbreaking to see people die fighting for their rights. They could have asked the cause for rallying talking to people helps you understand the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. Killing majority of the time only harbors hate. And the more they harbor hate, the more people fight back,” shared Grace of Mississauga.

We commend indigenous peoples in their sacrifice travelling thousands of kilometres from their rural villages to the centre of power just to be heard and respected for their right to self-determination.

“We stand in solidarity with you and would like to let you know that we will continue to fight on our side to end foreign intervention in the Philippines,” said Elesser.

As far as independent foreign policy is concerned, the indigenous peoples are in the frontlines standing for it. And the struggles of the Lumad, Moro and other national minorities are linked with our struggle as youth. Not only is this beautiful. It’s patriotic.

Onward with the struggle for people’s liberation and democracy for a just and lasting peace.
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National Conference in Canada to Unite Filipino Youth for Liberation and Democracy

National Conference in Canada to Unite Filipino Youth for Liberation and Democracy

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Art work by Jayson Patrimonio Palolan

First Announcement

September 18, 2016

On November 18-20, 2016, various Filipino youth organizations across Canada are gathering in Toronto under the theme Sulong Kabataan: Onward with the struggle for people’s liberation and democracy for a just and lasting peace. The national conference is initiated by ANAKBAYAN, an organization which unites Filipino youth from all walks of life – for genuine national sovereignty and independence, social justice, human rights and people’s democracy, and an enduring peace.

As students and young workers, Filipino youth are amongst the most marginalized sectors in Canada. “Thousands of young Filipinos are being displaced due to the persisting unemployment, poverty, hunger, and landlessness in the Philippines,” says Rhea Gamana of Anakbayan-Toronto. “Upon arriving in Canada, their troubles are not over.”

Set on the weekend of the observance of November 17th as International Students Day, the conference aims to spark a strong movement of Filipino youth and students across the country. “Young Filipino activist and community organizers have been at the forefront of various struggles in the country for decades — from labour, campus, gender and environmental issues,” shares Lesley Lauren, member of Anakbayan-Toronto. Sulong Kabataan celebrates the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles Filipino youth have engaged in both in Philippines and Canada.

At the same time, the conference also aims to strengthen Filipino youth’s capacity as community organizers in their local neighbourhoods, workplaces, and campuses. Anakbayan emphasizes how this cannot be done without strengthening solidarity efforts with Indigenous and other oppressed sectors in an imperialist centre like Canada.

Sulong Kabataan intends to engage youth with interactive workshops and cultural performances to tell our stories as diasporic youth in Canada,” shares Gamana, “and reassert our role as active actors towards the community’s fight towards liberation and democracy.”

In Toronto, for more information, contact:

Sarah Salise

anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

anakbayanto.org/

facebook.com/Anakbayan.Toronto/

Youth in celebration of resistance

Land is Life, Anakbayan Toronto’s fifth annual Diwa ng Kasarinlan (Spirit of Independence) event held on Saturday, July 16 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education was a cultural celebration of resistance in Philippine history and current society. The event was also a fundraiser for Sulong Kabataan, a Canada wide conference for youth this November 18th- 20th taking place in Toronto. During the programme, many references were made to recent events such as the displacement of Lumads from ancestral lands and the violent dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan,  stressing the importance of land to the survival of the people in the Philippines.

The cultural event was held in solidarity with the International Solidarity Missions and International Conference for People’s Rights in the Philippines, which is taking place in the Philippines from July 16th to the 24th. The conference aims to examine and promote awareness of the living conditions of various regions and communities where human rights violations have been increasing.

Filipino youth – and Anakbayan youth prefer to use the gender-free term “Filipinx” – in and outside of the Philippines often express their struggle of staying connected to their culture. “It is interesting to discover that youth can identify with their own struggles in both here (Toronto) and of their fellow Filipinos at home”, says Viel Perida, lead event coordinator. The Land is Life event provided an opportunity for young people to celebrate their roots through song, dance, spoken word, and traditional instruments.

The event lineup featured returning crowd-pleasers, like jazz singer Belinda Corpuz and ethnomusic group Panday Sining, as well as emerging artists to the DnK scene. Toni Oponda and Rachel Chiong captivated the crowd with their spoken word pieces. Mariz and Myka Lacorte showed off their hip hop dance skills, while New York-based Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage enchanted the audience with pre-colonial traditional dances. Ron Culianista, Mary Carl Guiao, and Justin Lima also entertained the audience through musical performances.

Alongside the featured cultural performances was a lineup of presenters starting with a keynote speech from Dr. Nonilon Queano on the importance of cultural work in the struggle for National Democracy in the Philippines. Jesson Reyes and Gabi Abis spoke about the work of Migrante Ontario not only with the workers but also their children. Meanwhile, Ben Corpuz of Philippine Advancement through Arts and Culture (PATAC) briefly outlined the 15-point agenda to President Duterte by various People’s organizations, which includes a push for the resumption of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

What purpose does art serve?

An interaction at the event sparked an opportunity to begin dialogues long needed in the artistic communities in North America. Anakbayan Toronto encourages the youth not only to embrace their heritage through song and dance, but to go beyond by learning about the struggles of the communities from whom this art originates.

As a community outside of the homeland, it is important to hold critical discussions on the use of traditional arts and culture. We must always ask what purpose does art serve and for whom is it intended?

Moving forward

Anakbayan Toronto looks forward to collaborating with its allies and the broader community to begin further educational discussions and workshops to reclaim and preserve the integrity of the culture of the peoples in the Philippines. Anakbayan Toronto invites the youth interested in learning more about their cultural heritage to join them on this journey.

You can follow Anakbayan Toronto on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit their website anakbayanto.org for updates on Sulong Kabataan and other events.###

 

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Land is Life! the fifth Diwa ng Kasarinlan

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Land is Life

Filipinx Youth celebrating our culture of resistance

Arts | Music | Poetry

July 16, 2016, 1-4pm

Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), 5th floor Room: 5260

Join us for this year’s fifth Diwa ng Kasarinlan (DnK) as we celebrate our history and culture of resistance!

 

12 “K” Points why Filipino youth in Canada call to Stop K-12

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Anakbayan Toronto and Anakbayan Montreal 

June 12, 2016

 

Reference: Szara Salise, Chairperson, Anakbayan-Toronto
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

As Canadian students graduate high school, their Filipino counterparts are about to start their classes June to March. Yet, the quality of education is in no doubt in question in the Philippines.

The number of years of formal schooling in the Philippines used to be one of the shortest in the world. In 2011, major reforms were introduced to lengthen formal educational ladder of 6+4+2 structure (i.e., six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school). A year of kindergarten has also been added, with children now beginning their studies at the age of 5 (versus 7 previously)

1: Misconception about the +2 years (Kathang isip hinggil sa +2 taon)
Adding two years to the basic education curriculum will vastly improve the performance and competency of Filipino students and make Philippine basic education at par with international standards. To follow the dictates of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration is to simply cram the country into free trade and more competition among countries. However imagined, there is no such world standard in the length of formal schooling.

2: Ill-preparedness (Kawalang kahandaan)
Only 48% of public high schools nationwide have submitted proposals to implement an extended senior high school (SHS). That’s about half of the 2 million high school students – the first full batch of Grade 11 students required to take SHS by June 2016. In order to accommodate, the government is streaming students to enroll in private schools and colleges instead. This means the K-12 program violates the Basic Education Act of 2013 which requires a review and evaluation of its capacity before the full implementation of the framework. Why change the whole system instead of testing in pilot sites first?

3: Resource gaps (Kakulangan sa pasilidad, at iba pang imprastraktura)
The Department of Education earlier vowed to achieve zero shortage in classrooms, textbooks, water and sanitation facilities, teachers and seats. However, BS Aquino’s administration is playing catch-up in planning to build more than 40,000 classrooms. That is just for brand-new classrooms not including classrooms for repair and new technical-vocational workshops. Class sizes range even up to 54, where desks intended for two pupils would be shared by three instead. Hundreds of errors were seen in several textbooks. Education officials are still confronted by a shortage of equipment that in some cases, children are asked to bring their own chairs. These deficiencies stretch back to two years.

4: Transition Mismanagement (Kamalian sa pamamalakad)
Decongesting the current curriculum to allow “mastery of learning” is apparently learning everything too fast. And with the severe lack of facilities and trained teachers, shorter hours of instruction may be the practice and make things worse. For teachers, it is only through their own resourcefulness that make them survive.

5: Privatization (Katuparan ng pribatisasyon)
While the government drastically reduced social spending on education, it turns out “capitalist-educators” took over schools as money-making schemes. Seven of the 65 richest Filipino tycoons now own a handful of educational institutions. These schools enjoy maximum tolerance from the government by way of deregulation. They are also favoured by government by way of subsidies and assuring them more profits.

1 out of 5 Philippine schools is a private school
1 out of 10 Filipino pupils is enrolled in private elementary schools
1 out of 5 Filipino students is enrolled in private secondary schools.

6: Corporatization (Korporatisasyon)
With the educational crisis, more corporate-led privatizations are taking shape. Case in point is the rise of APEC (affordable, private, education centers) schools – a for-profit chain of low-fee private schools established through a joint venture between Ayala Education (under Ayala Corporation) and Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (under foreign education company Pearson Plc). The education-business model implemented by APEC involves hiring under qualified and underpaid teachers, to keep costs down and to ensure increasing rates of profit.

On the other hand, Alternative Learning System – non-formal education of underprivileged students in rural areas – constantly face many challenges, particularly the heavy militarization due to counterinsurgency operation that often times threaten and harass the school staff.

In an import-dependent, export-oriented economy, K-12 by itself – even with all its good intentions – could not work.

7: Anti-people curriculum & its downward spiral approach (Kurikulum na anti-mamamayan)
The curricula and philosophy of Philippine education system is geared towards preparing youth as ‘stocks’ ready for labour export. Technical-vocational courses are engineered to respond to the prevailing demand of the international labour market for contractual, part-time and seasonal jobs. Even with different academic tracks from which students can choose from supposedly, not all schools offer the tracks.

8: Tuition and other fees (Kamahalan ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin)
Quality education is equated with expensive fees that prevents an overwhelming majority of the people from availing it. Under Daang Matuwid, tuition fees rose by as much as 400% in the last 6 years. More recently, the Commission on Higher Education approved tuition and other school fee increase proposals of 304 private universities and colleges for the following Academic Year.

9: Labour concerns (Kawalang karapatan sa trabaho)
The K-12 or Enhanced Basic Education law, is paradoxically expected to massive layoffs of workers in colleges and universities. Suppose enrolment in higher education institutions (HEIs) will drop to zero after the extension of high school to grades 11 and 12, estimates show that about 30,000 teachers will lose their jobs over a five-year period, including around 15,000 non teaching staff. Instructors of general education courses will be the most affected during the rollout of the senior high school curriculum this year. While up to 90% of HEIs in the country have no labour unions, personnel are vulnerable to abuse.

10: Chaotic impact (Kaguluhang bunga)
The K to 12 scheme keeps high dropout rates among secondary students. In 2013, completion of grade 6 was less than 74%, indicating a significant drop-out at the elementary level. As it produces more out-of-school youths in the country, it may also cause a “downward pressure” on wages. Unemployment is steadily increasing, not because of shortage of “capable” people, but because there is no clear plan for an independent and sustainable job creation program.

11: Prelude to a crisis (Kagipitang hinaharap)
This scheme is a prelude to the planned restructuring of tertiary level education under the government’s Roadmap for Public Higher Education Reform, which include the proposal to amalgamate several state universities into one system. It means a steady decrease in government spending. In effect, there will be reduction and closure of local universities and colleges.

12: Lack of public consultations (Kakulangan sa pagsangguni sa mga stakeholder)
No massive and genuinely democratic consultations with teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders, were held when the K to 12 Program was being conceived, and before it was implemented. The government failed to carry out its responsibility of assessing the current education cycle and curricula.

Although K-12 is claimed to follow the “global standards”, an education does not take into consideration the people’s welfare and progress, is useless. Philippine education must be geared to the making of Filipinos–nationalist, scientific, and mass-based.

“In an import-dependent, export-oriented economy, K-12 by itself – even with all its good intentions – could not work. The country cannot go at par with the rest of the world without developing its national industry first. When done properly, we could even get FREE basic education that caters to the needs of the common people,” says Ysh Cabana, Education officer, Anakbayan Toronto.

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RELATED: Related statement on the 2012 Quebec student movement
RELATED: Related statement on the 2015 education workers strike

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Anakbayan-Canada Statement on Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) Review

“We can’t keep on relying on others winning, we need to change the game”
Anakbayan-Canada Statement on Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) Review

May 30, 2016
Reference: Ysh Cabana
anakbayan.canada@gmail.com

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Toronto Rally for Migrant Worker Rights May 30, 2016 (Photo by Pinky P.)

 

Migrant power on the rise/ Now’s the time to organize!
No more bosses, tricks & lies/ Give our children better lives!

We are children of migrants, students, intern labourers, youth advocates, the precariat, young blood, the new generation, the millennials who are inspired by the Canadian federal government’s move to review the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).

We cannot continue to hold onto a permanent state laced with suspension and insecurity. We affirm the necessity for this change to be more inclusive by encouraging migrant workers to be heard and heeded. We acknowledge their contributions to the economy.

We believe that the best positive service to migrant workers is to respect their rights and dignity.  With potential federal changes from this review, the most vulnerable could also avail to integrate their work and life. To borrow the Prime Minister Trudeau’s words, “in order to be able to be in service of the country with all one’s very best”.

Within this context, we urge the government to make three specific changes: (1) to transition all work permits to open work permits (2) to remove the policy of cumulative four years working limit also known as ‘4 and 4’ rule and (3) to give status for all migrants in Canada now.

We value our relationships with them – the others – as, in any case, we are all migrants. Not only do we seek for policies that do not treat workers as mere commodities. We also strive for a labour system based on democratic principles of access and distribution, wherein if workers are good enough to work, then they absolutely have the right to stay.

We stand boldly with the working-class sector – unionized, unorganized, unemployed, underemployed and temporary – to conceive and to create institutions making a government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality.

As a nation of immigrants, we deserve better than the current state of affairs.
Together, we have a critical job in shaping the future.
We need to change the game. Status Now!

###

The Canadian Federal Government is reviewing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from May 11 to June 15, 2016. For more information visit the Coalition for Migrants Workers Rights Canada (CMWRC) website migrantrights.ca/  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Canada Filipino youth condemn massacre of Kidapawan farmers

For immediate release
April 2, 2016

References:
Rhea A. Gamana, Member, Preparatory Committee of Anakbayan-Canada
Sarah Salise, Chairperson, Anakbayan-Toronto
Tel: 647.281.0652; Email: anakbayan.canada@gmail.com

The national preparatory committee of Anakbayan-Canada strongly condemns the massacre of farmers and Lumads in Kidapawan City. In broad daylight on April 1st, the Philippine National Police (PNP) opened fire on unarmed protesters which resulted in at least two deaths, over 116 wounded, 78 illegally arrested, and 89 missing including women and children.

One of the strongest El Niño weather disturbances hit Southern Mindanao, Philippines caused severe damages and crop failure for farmers in the area. After a seven-month long wait for relief goods from the National Food Authority, more than 6,000 farmers and community members staged a camp out protest and barricaded along Cotabato-Davao Highway. While the farmers asked for the promised 15,000 sacks of rice, plus free vegetable seedlings and financial subsidies in the wake of El Niño, all they received were bullets.

This violent response by the police under the Aquino government reveals the continuing fascism in the Philippines that leaves many Filipinos landless and the farmers hungry.

“If we are for kapayapaan and we speak and fight for peace, what kind of peace are we talking about when the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are the ones sowing terror on the basic masses? What peace are we fighting for?” asks Jesson Reyes of Migrante Youth Ontario.

“Farmers ought to eat properly since they grow our food, but the rice they produce are exported anyway. Worse, they are met with violence when they complain,” says Carlos Ayam from Montreal.

Genuine agrarian reform, or to put an end to feudalism, will be a step closer for building national industries in the country and will serve the basic needs of the Filipino people. Concurrently, this will cause the downfall of bureaucratic capitalism and will help break foreign influence over the economy.

“I feel like overseas Filipinos don’t want to think about what’s happening in the motherland, yet there are still a number of people who expresses their concerns through social media,” adds Ayam.

In Canada, police brutality and state-sanctioned violence have been fought against by our communities. Black Lives Matter chapter in Toronto have been protesting outside the city’s police headquarters after the Special Investigations Unit refused to clear an unnamed Toronto officer in the shooting death of a 45-year-old black man who lived with mental illness, Andrew Loku. Instead, Toronto police met the protesters with force, shoving them down and destroying built up tents in front of the building.

Likewise, students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario campaign for the removal of former chief of police, Glenn De Caire from his new position as Campus Director of Security and Parking. In his term as chief, De Caire spearheaded carding, the “practice whereby police arbitrarily detain people to collect information that is retained and stored in a police database indefinitely… (which) disproportionately affects marginalized community members.”

“I found that when targets of systemic violencepeople of colour, the poor, women, queer peopleunite and organize they frighten a lot of powerful people. Why?” quips Tinona of Ontario.

From Canada to the Philippines, the struggle over the livelihood and safety of the people against global capitalist rule through state repression are linked. We must meet this violence forced upon us together with our unity with other social forces. We enjoin the Filipino community worldwide in demanding food for our people, not bullets. Bugas, dili bala. Riz Pas des balles.

We call on Filipino-Canadian youth to condemn the state violence against the Philippine masses. We call on Filipino youth to fight for farmers’ rights and welfare and join the struggle for genuine democracy and liberation in the Philippines.

We hold the Aquino government, Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista, Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza, and the Philippine National Police accountable for the brutal repression for the Kidapawan farmers. For many years, the Aquino landlord clan has left a bloody legacy to farmers from Mendiola Massacre, Hacienda Luisita and today, the Kidapawan Massacre.

Justice for the victims of Kidapawan massacre! Justice for the victims of police brutality! Justice for the victims of state violence!###

Kidapawan

Thousands of farmers from the towns of North Cotabato staged a picket along the highway to demand the immediate release of rice and calamity funds after suffering five long months from drought and El Niño. (photo courtesy of Kilab Multimedia)

UNIFIED STATEMENT: Filipino youth in Canada condemn latest malicious arson attack against Lumad

February 25, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference: Rhea A. Gamana
Preparatory Committee member, Anakbayan in Canada
Contact: anakbayan.canada@gmail.com

The national preparatory committee of Anakbayan in Canada strongly condemn the burning of the Lumad evacuation camp at United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran in Davao City.

Initial reports reveal that at 2:00 am on February 24th, three unidentified men poured gasoline on the roof of the dormitories and set them on fire. Four of the five Lumad refugees injured include a two-year old and a fourteen year old left with second-degree burns.

We are deeply disturbed and outraged by this violence, especially considering it targets a vulnerable community taking refuge in an evacuation centre. Our thoughts are with the victims, especially the children, who have been seeking refuge in the church compound and yet to return to the homes they have fled. We may recall in January there were unabashed threats after a lumad child was killed by the paramilitary backed Alamara in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

For Toronto resident Divine Montesclaros whose family is from Davao City, learning about the news was really disheartening. “I’m dismayed to see so many of our indigenous brothers and sisters continue to face trauma and difficult conditions that have direct link to the harassment by the military present in their communities.”

According to the Save Our Schools Network, a network of children’s rights advocates, President Benigno Aquino III’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan continues to lead the attack on the Lumad. In its World Report 2016 released in January, Human Rights Watch said there has been “no real progress on justice for serious abuses” committed under Aquino.

Hessed Torres, of Vancouver connects the indigenous peoples struggle with Canadian Mining corporations and other extractive companies. “We hold accountable our Philippine government together with all extractive companies for the recent deaths and serious injuries on our indigenous people, most especially the innocent children who deserve nothing less than a life with dignity, respect and without fear or chaos.”

Three months ago, hundreds of Canadians from various institutions and organizations signed on an open letter letter urging the Aquino administration to stop the systematic attacks on Lumad communities.

This new attack was obviously carried out for a political objective. We must not permit such acts of ethnocidal character to bring in more tragedies and to bury any prospect of peace. There is definitely a need for resolution to the plight of the Lumad that includes an immediate pullout of military troops and their paramilitary cohorts from their ancestral domains and an end to further environmental plunder.

The fire caused PhP900,000 ($25,800) in damages. We call for international support by way of monetary donations to the indigenous community affected. Funds will be coursed through the Canada chapter International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada). We appreciate in advance any support and we are confident that solidarity will prevail.

We continue to enjoin other Filipino youth overseas in strongly denouncing the government’s inaction on the plight of the indigenous peoples in Mindanao. We firmly call for a thorough and prompt investigation on this specific case and previous ones to bring the culprits to justice.

From Edmonton, Alberta Elena Torres says “We, migrant youth, strongly condemn attacks in our motherland and we will continue to educate, organize and, mobilize fellow youth overseas.”

Save Our Schools! Stop Lumad Killings!
Uphold Indigenous peoples rights to self-determination! End the Militarization of their Communities!

Signed:

Migrante Youth Alberta
Migrante Manitoba
Migrante Youth Ontario
Anakbayan-Toronto
Anakbayan-Montreal
Kasama-McGill University
Youth Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Greater Toronto Area Mission (YIFI-GTA)
Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada, Ottawa
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Pantayo Kulintang Ensemble
Fuerza/Puwersa Collective, Guelph, Ontario
HATAW Dance Troupe
Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture, Toronto
Filipino Students Association at York University (FSAY)
Carlos Bulosan Theatre (CBT)
Kwentong Bayan Collective, Toronto, Ontario
Southeast Cartel Music
Kapwa Collective
PANCIT Art Collective, Vancouver
Scarborough Campus Students Union, Toronto, Ontario
Philippine Cultural Community Centre Youth Alliance, Toronto
Fossil Free Guelph
Aksyon ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK) Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba

RJ Sison, Alberta
Bong Magpantay, Alberta
Joey Abrenilla, Ontario
Jodinand Aguillon, Ontario
Nicole Cajucom, Toronto
George Escano, Ontario
Justin Lima, Ontario
Sheryl Anne Montano, Toronto
Dace Anne Montano, Montreal
Al Donato, Toronto
Kay de Guzman, Guelph, Ontario
Albert Lopez, British Columbia
Monica Batac, Toronto
Althea Balmes, Toronto
San Roi Abarquez , Toronto
Jasfer Blando, Etobicoke
Matthew Acedera, Toronto
Khian Mabanag, Toronto
Ralph Morales, Toronto
Nicka Angela Silang, Toronto
Victoria Marie, Toronto
Jayson Palolan, Montreal
Alex Felipe, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Hessed Torres, British Columbia
Jessica Kirk, Toronto
Camille Galindez, Toronto
Debbie Celis, Toronto
Johsa Manzanilla, Winnipeg

Demon Manayab

Demon Manayab, 2 years old, one of the victims in the Haran evacuation site arson. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia)
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GTA Youth and Students hold ‘defend Lumad’ event

by Gary Fondevilla

In recognition of Human Rights day, Anakbayan Toronto and the Revolutionary Students Movement (RSM) collaborated on a joint event, “Pangiyak Ki! Defending Lumad People’s Rights in the Philippines”. It was held, with the support of the Canadian chapter of International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto on Saturday, December 12th.

Among those in attendance were youth from local universities and community groups.

The event featured the film, Pangandoy: The fight for Lumad land, education and their future” directed by Los Angeles-based filmmaker Hiyasmin Saturay.

Pangandoy (Aspiration) showed how the natural environment is connected to the lives of the Lumads and its destruction by capitalist development jeopardizes the future of the indigenous children. It featured Lumad children who aspire to use their education to defend and foster their communities.

The militarization of schools and communities has disrupted the Lumads’ day to day lives, displaced communities, and resulted in massacres of indigenous families and community leaders.

#StopLumadKillings and #SaveOurSchools campaigns received international attention after a paramilitary group murdered a school director and two Lumad leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur this past September. Under President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, 68 Lumads have been extrajudicially killed.

 

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Rhea Gamana of Anakbayan Toronto shared her experience from a visit to Mindanao in September. There she visited Lumad refugees housed by The United Church of Christ in the Philippines in their Haran Compound, Davao. (Photo by Francesca Esguerra

Back from a trip to her native land of Mindanao, Rhea Gamana of Anakbayan Toronto reported the Lumads remain resilient in the face of militarized attacks. They plan to build new homes and schools while they stay in makeshift houses. The Lumads were grateful for the support of the international community.

Bern Jagunos of ICHRP-Canada, presented geopolitical analysis showing how conditions in the Philippines precipitated to the human rights violations towards the Lumads. Moreover, Jagunos gave the Canadian connection underlying the militarization of indigenous communities.

Foreign companies such as Canadian mining company TVI Pacific Ltd. covet the mineral and agricultural resources of Mindanao thus employing paramilitary forces to protect their overseas investments, Jagunos asserts.

 

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Bern Jagunos Shows how the current displacement of Lumad communities, arrests and extrajudicial killings of Lumad leaders are part of the Aquino government’s overall counterinsurgency program to facilitate the ruling state’s implementation of its economic and political programs that serve the interests of foreign corporations, particularly those in the extractive (e.g., mining) sector. (Photo by Viel Paulo Perida)

Asked on what actions can be done locally, Jagunos said international solidarity is important via information dissemination as well as parliamentary and extra-legal advocacy.

Thus far, an open letter addressed to the Philippine President was published in two mainstream newspapers in November. Prominent Canadian leaders were signatories including Perry Bellegarde the National Chief from the Assembly of First Nations and Grand Chief, Matthew Coon Come of Grand Council of Crees.

York University student Kim Abis pointed out healing from the trauma of colonization is necessary to build solidarity but it is also why building international solidarity is slow in indigenous populations.

“I see how passionate you all are regarding the issues facing the Lumad. I learned a lot by attending the event and will support as much as possible,” says Malaysian UofT graduate Shahzali Samah.

The organizers hope to echo the rising call to stop human rights violations towards the Lumads and shine light on the work that needs to be done to demilitarize indigenous communities.

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PANGIYAK KI! Defend Lumad People’s Rights in the Philippines

 

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Incessant attacks on Mindanao’s schools, communities and Indigenous people have spawned human rights violations. The brutal killings caused by militarization, particularly at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) in Surigao del Sure demonstrate this reality today.

We call on Pangiyak ki! which means “battlecry” in Manobo language, as our collective response.

More information here

Pangiyak Ki! Defending Lumad People’s Rights in the Philippines
December 12, 2015 | 4-7pm
Doors open 4:15

Room 5-160 (5th Floor) Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) 252 Bloor Street West (right above St. George Subway Station) Toronto, ON M5S 1V6

Hosts: Kim Abis (RSM)

Film showing:
Pangandoy: The fight for Lumad education,
20 mins., Bisaya with English subtitles
filmmaker Hiyasmin Saturay

Speakers:
Rhea Gamana, Anakbayan Toronto
Bern Jagunos, ICHRP-Canada

Special Performances:
Norman Crisostomo of Tambuli

Food and refreshments provided
Wheelchair accessible space
Pay what you can

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ORGANIZERS:
ABTO is the Toronto chapter of Anakbayan, a comprehensive, national democratic mass organization of the Filipino youth.

RSM is a combative, anti-capitalist student movement that aims to serve the proletariat and oppressed peoples in our fight against exploitation. We’re committed to making campus a site of class struggle!

ICHRP-Canada is a network of organizations who are concerned about human rights and committed to work for a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

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This event is part of the #StopLumadKillings grassroots campaign.

Primer on the campaign (http://bit.ly/1K02gKZ)

Open Letter to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III from Concerned Canadians (http://on.fb.me/1NKnnDx)

 

 

Solidarity Statement from Youth to the Janitors on strike

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Reference: 

Szara Salise, Secretary General
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

From the Filipino youth group, Anakbayan-Toronto: We stand in solidarity and rage with the contractual cleaning staff of Dream Office REIT’s buildings along Bay Street!

We, the youth and the students, stand with workers in their fight for fair living wages and job security! We denounce the continued exploitation of workers! We denounce the employer’s unwillingness to bargain in good faith! We denounce the low wages and the contractual nature of workers’ jobs at Dream Office REIT’s buildings!

The big bosses thought they would be able to contain the collective energy of workers by increasingly relying on subcontracting employment, and thus, maintaining the precarity of workers’ jobs. But the workers are rising and we stand with them to fight these injustices! Cleaning is a necessary job. It is time that the workers receive the respect they deserve!

In the last few years we have watched the worsening conditions of workers, especially for workers of colour, under a neo-liberal agenda here in Canada and worldwide. As a national democratic organization, we call on workers to unite and oppose anti-worker policies that negatively affects their everyday working conditions.

We stand in solidarity with the workers until they are reinstated, when their right to unionize is recognized, and when they decide they are happy with a contract that can allow them to support themselves and their families! We, the youth of Anakbayan-Toronto, will stand by your side in your struggles because we are stronger together!

Makibaka! Huwag Matakot! (Dare to Struggle! Dare to Win!) ###

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STATEMENT: Filipino American Youth Condemn Extrajudicial Killings of Lumad Leaders in Surigao Del Sur

Anakbayan New Jersey

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For Immediate Release

Press Statement

September 1, 2015

Reference:Nina Mariella Macapinlac, Vice Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey

nmacapinlac@gmail.com, 973-641-9735

Daniel Santiago, Solidarity Officer, Anakbayan New Jersey

das101191@gmail.com  

Filipino American Youth Condemn Extrajudicial Killings of Lumad Leaders in Surigao Del Sur

Anakbayan New Jersey condemns in the strongest terms the extrajudicial killings, harassment, illegal occupation, and forcible evacuation of Lumad indigenous communities surrounding the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), an alternative indigenous school in Sitio Han-Ayan and Km. 16 of Surigao del Sur, Mindanao. These atrocities were committed by military and paramilitary groups that are organized and armed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to attack their fellow Lumads as part of the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan.

After ALCADEV’s three-day Foundation Day celebration, three indigenous leaders and community educators were violently killed on school grounds and in surrounding communities by paramilitary forces…

View original post 593 more words

DIWA NG KASARINLAN 2015, a Free event!

Anakbayan-Toronto happily invites everyone to the fourth annual Diwa ng Kasarinlan (DnK), Spirit of Independence, to commemorate the 123rd year founding of the Katipunan and to celebrate the continuous efforts by Filipinos worldwide for genuine independence in the Philippines.

DnK is an initiative by Filipino youth to commemorate the 123rd year founding of the Katipunan, the patriotic society which launched the Philippine Revolution from Spain in 1896 under the leadership of Andres Bonifacio.

Diwa ng Kasarinlan is a free all-day event that aims to bring together Filipino youth across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond for the purpose of promoting national pride through awareness of our history, the current challenges we face as a people, and discussions of what youth can do to help overcome these challenges.

This year’s theme, Our Revolutionary Roots: Ang Pag Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa (The Love of Country) will be explored through artistic performances and displays to send out messages of social justice in the Philippines. We will have performances that will showcase local talents and talks highlighting aspects of our rich history and culture.

We need genuine changes in our motherland and Filipino youth has a place in the struggle to oust Aquino and stop Western & Chinese aggression towards the Philippines.

The event will take place July 25th, 1-4 pm at the OPSEU Region 5 office in 31 Wellesley St. East, Toronto; refreshments will be provided and please visit facebook.com/Anakbayan.Toronto for more details.

This event is co-sponsored by OPSEU Region 5, Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture (PATAC), Filipino Worker’s Network with the support and endorsement of Bayan, Migrante Canada Organizations, and SEAS ( Support enhance Access Service Centre).

Join us, get to know Filipino pride for the right reasons!

poster by Lesley
poster by Lesley

#MayDay2015 Unified Statement of Migrante Youth and Anakbayan in Canada

On May 1st, International Workers Day, the youth of the Philippine National Democratic movement across Canada sends the warmest greetings to all working peoples who are struggling against capitalist exploitation but determined to build our socialist future.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win

We have a world to win

With our collective action, we have achieved historic victories. The first May Day in the Philippines was celebrated even when it was under colonial rule. Over 100,000 workers joined the first ever Labor Day mobilization organized by the Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas (UODF) in 1903. They marched to the government palace on the first of May to demand better working conditions. Their main call: “Kamatayan sa Imperyalismo!” (Death to Imperialism!)

From the late 19th to early 20th century the international organization of socialist and labor parties declared May 1st to be International Workers’ Day. The first was observed in 1889 when workers demonstrated that change can happen by asserting their interests. A working day was a grueling 16 hours but through collective assertion working hours was successfully reduced to eight hours.

Most recently, the sweet victory of the campaign to save Mary Jane Veloso, an overseas Filipina worker and a victim of human trafficking, from death penalty in Indonesia is sparked by militant collective struggle and strong solidarity with the countless people from across the international community. The unfolding of this historic event inspires us to journey with the masses.

We remain hopeful and defiant

With our current conditions, workers still suffer from the backlash of global capitalism. The working class people, comprised broadly by youth, are very much affected by the continuing crisis of capital accumulation.

Here in Canada education workers and students fought for fair deal as they drown with rock-bottom wages, face precarious work environments, and pursue their studies without any security that jobs will available for them. Particularly in Quebec, thousands of people were mobilised against the increasing austerity affecting post-secondary institutions. Similarly, there is a growing clamor to go beyond bargaining in Saskatchewan.

In Ontario, if we really want to make the youth count, we need to link our struggles to the working class. As much as workers need our pay upsized, $15 per hour would still be eaten up by the increasing costs of housing, household operations, and education. The site of worker power is organising not just for additional coins in our wages but for the change that would end intergenerational cycle of poverty.

In Alberta we also join in mobilising community support to let Vicky Venancio, a temporary foreign worker who became quadriplegic through an accident in Edmonton, stay in Canada. For years, we have been supporting the fight of migrant workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for fair wages, dignity, and recognition of their rights.

In British Columbia, great potentials are realized in cases where the legal battles are won. There is the case of a Filipina domestic helper who was maltreated and held as a “virtual slave” in a Richmond hotel. We also recount the story of Leticia Sarmiento, whose former employer was convicted in a landmark human trafficking case in 2013. There is a quality of hope when people collectively fight for their rights.

Overseas Filipino workers are worth more than the billions that they remit to keep the Philippine economy afloat. There still remain a number of workers, whose lives make up the backbone of the current economy, that are unaccounted for.

We carry the fight back to the roots

In the current era of imperialism, the escalation of labour rights violations continue in the desperate attempt of the ruling class to keep the existing system away from its crumbling status.

In the home front, widespread unemployment and underemployment, plus the government’s push for the K to 12 curriculum over the thrust in cheap exportable labor make things worse. Neoliberal agenda persist while endangering the lives of our kababayans. Kristel Tejada, a University of the Philippines (UP) student, committed suicide in March 2013 as she could no longer afford to pay her tuition fees, in spite of the fact that she excelled in her academics. Similarly, a Cagayan State University student Rosanna Sanfuego was pushed to abandon her dreams to the point of ending her own life. She passed away in February 2015.

Moreover, the tragic murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender woman, by a US marine is a clear result of the prolonged US military presence in the Philippines. Her story reminds us how past and present local bureaucrats continue to place the Filipino people vulnerable under the violence of imperialist powers.

Despite the landlord BS Aquino’s boastful (in truth, shallow) remarks about the growth of Philippine economy, the root causes of the problem of abject poverty are still not addressed under his regime. Land reform and national industrialization are not taken as genuine and long-term solutions to the joblessness in the country.

We are revolted by current regime’s pretentious character, saying lies to save his face from gross negligence of his responsibility. We vow to wage stronger support the growing voices of dissent that BS Aquino must go. No more BS: step down or be ousted! We continue to push forward the establishment of a transition council that would follow the democratic principles of governance.

The issues of the youth are not divorced from the issues of the marginalised peoples in the Philippines. Thus, we call on Filipino youth to join us to celebrate the international struggles of all oppressed people in the world. For us in the national democratic movement, let us renew our commitment to fight for what our people and communities need. Let us together remember and learn from those that we have lost and advance the struggles with the victories that we have gained. Let us strive to move forward towards the future with just and lasting peace.

Disenteng trabaho sa Pilipinas, hindi sa labas! (Decent work in the Philippines, not overseas!)

Migranteng kabataan, Anak ng Bayan! Natutong lumaban dahil sa kahirapan! (Migrant youth, children of the nation! Carrying on to fight against their oppression!)

Makibaka, huwag matakot! (Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!)

Long live international solidarity!


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Anakbayan in Canada

Migrante Youth BC

Migrante Youth Alberta

Migrante Youth Ontario

Anakbayan Toronto

Anakbayan Ottawa

Anakbayan Montreal

Anakbayan-Toronto solidarity statement on striking teaching assistants and contract professors in Canada

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Reference:

Rhea A. Gamana, Chairperson

anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

We from Anakbayan-Toronto, a comprehensive youth organization, as part of the Philippine National Democratic movement supports the ongoing strike of teaching assistants and contract professors at various universities in Canada, and particular here in York University. We express our solidarity and join you, teaching assistants, sessional instructors, and research assistants in the picket lines for this important struggle.

We are in solidarity with you. We understand that these “boundless exploitation”, precariousness of contract work, and especially the commercialisation of education is the result of the neo-liberal austerity agenda of the contemporary Ontario government.

We in Anakbayan-Toronto believe that access to higher education is our right and not a privilege.

What TA’s and contract professors are experiencing in Toronto are the similar experiences that has been happening in the Philippine education system. Elementary, high school, college, and university teachers have long been fighting for their right of a decent living. They echo the same call as we do here in Canada: salary increase, benefits, and job protection, which in the Philippine context, so they don’t have to leave the country and their families in order to support them.

Latest numbers has shown that there are now 5, 016 Filipinos leaving the Philippines everyday. They leave to find work elsewhere as the result of the country’s Labor Export Policy, a policy where the country exports people in exchange for remittances to keep the economy afloat. Many of these overseas Filipino workers are  teachers and educators who find themselves in dirty, dangerous, and demeaning jobs where they become disposable workers.

The bargaining saga may continue under the climate of uncertainty. It will take more of our vigilance and collective struggle against the peddling of education as a profitable business instead of a social service. We deserve more than this. As we say in Philippine language: Makibaka! Huwag Matakot! (Dare to Struggle! Dare to Win!) ###

Anakbayan Toronto joins Haiyan survivors in seeking justice and BS Aquino accountable

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As Autumn weather creeps into the bones of us living in Ontario and our lifestyle keeping us busy, it can be easy to forget what had happened 365 days ago when the strongest tropical typhoon ever recorded hits the Philippines.

One year after the disaster much still needs to be done. The slow recovery has left massive landlessness leaving people without permanent housing and lack of land to till. Price surge of basic needs for daily living are difficult to attain as the immediate local economy suffers. State accountability has been constantly put forward to Aquino and his government’s response getting lost in its bureaucratic process that does not lead to genuine relief and recovery.

The shock of its impact used to cover TV news reports, newspapers, and radio shows, keeping us on the loop of the disaster. Great loss, devastation, and feelings of helplessness used to overcome us. Much of the media, even recently, have been focused on how terrible the tragedy was through photos of piled up wreckage, death tolls rising while more are displaced. However, much needs to be said about the current situation of those who survived.

President Aquino’s government has failed to adequately and swiftly look after the needs of his fellow Filipinos’ suffering. These abandonment and lack of understanding of effective relief and rebuilding efforts have driven communities into the streets calling injustice for the way many government officials handled – is handling the situation.

While local and international humanitarian organizations and aid are still the more reliable source of rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts, their full and lasting effect have not been felt by all communities as many families are still living in temporary bunkhouses, which are meant to give them shelter in times of emergency.

History proves that trying to resist the political force of the masses is useless. The disaster that is the BS Aquino government which deny justice to the survivors of super typhoon Haiyan, especially in terms of housing and livelihood, prompts us to look at the alternatives beyond the Malacanang Palace’s claim of meeting international standards.

More people are now convinced that to find the solution is to ask the right question first. How are we to adapt to the effects of climate change? Forms of resilience may not be encompassed by current market structures.

Major typhoons have made landfall in areas deemed to be low risk in the past two years which made their impact more devastating due to the lack of preparation and experience. Remember the destruction left by tropical cyclone Bopha in Compostela Valley, Mindanao in 2012 and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol just three weeks after Haiyan. It is the Philippine government and its organizing bodies’ responsibility to develop effective and sustainable evacuation strategies. This has been one of the longstanding call of the population who have been left to rebuild their lives several times annually because of natural calamities.

Something also needs to be said about the collective global responsibility of climate change. Many of us in the West have been made aware of changing climate conditions around the globe through the media. These changing climate patterns are real and they are getting worst. Action is the answer to prevent more human losses and alleviate its effects to our living environment.

Anakbayan-Toronto has been calling for the accountability of President Aquino III and his government to be more transparent on where the flow of local and foreign cash donations and relief goods are going. Have they been used effectively to rebuild and rehabilitate the affected areas?

It is becoming clear that the monies received are going to local officials’ cash coffers under the name of “future developments” or Pork Barrel. The Philippine government have been making a business out of its citizens’ money instead of allotting it for basic social services and emergency disaster response. The Filipino people deserve better treatment from their own government.

We join Haiyan survivors, we urge our Filipino youth in Canada and allies in their inquiry and action for justice. We take courage to confront the fear of turbulent climate crisis as we fight back for the values we hold dear. One year after Super Typhoon Haiyan makes landfall in the Philippines, we commemorate the lives lost and acknowledge the strength of those who have survived.

Justice for the victims and survivors of Typhoon Haiyan!

Down with bureaucrat capitalism!

Oust BS Aquino III!

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Out now! US troops, out now!

Out there, there is too much that the mainstream media have published; out there, it’s been a taboo topic. If you’re still trying to figure it out, now is the best time to stand up for justice. Jennifer Laude’s murder is not an isolated case of a brutal crime by a member  US troops as they conduct military operations in the Philippines. A long dark history of these crimes exists, dating to the first day that American soldiers set foot on our land.

With great concern for our sisters and brothers from the LGBTQI community, Anakbayan Toronto unites with the global alliance of mass organizations in solidarity with the family and supporters of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgendered woman. As shown by evidence, she  was tortured and then brutally killed in an Olongapo lodge on October 11, 2014.

Anakbayan-Toronto youth come from different backgrounds, and  work in solidarity with different sectors in addressing issues such as gender-based violence. At the same time, we also call for justice for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.

We are in the thick of the conversation where the aspect of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (sogie) has been singled out to conclude that it was a hate crime done by a certain Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton. However, we believe that this case, or any case involving US military for that matter, should also be seen as a product of the important context of the Philippine government as a client and lackey of the US government and its corporations.

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Though the Subic naval base officially closed in the 1990s, crimes against Filipinos at the hand of the predator US military persist to this day. On the whole, justice has not been done. In 2006, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was slipped off into American custody despite his being pronounced guilty of rape of a Filipina and being sentenced to a Philippine jail. Laude’s death came about at the end of the joint military exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), as ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999.

Americans never left the country,as Washingtos top officials boast.Today, the local puppet government clamored for an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which permits an unlimited number of US soldiers to put up their bases anywhere in the archipelago.

Clearly, there is a significant and concurrent growth of atrocities where there is a strong US military presence. The VFA and EDCA violate Philippine sovereignty. They also legally protect  US troops from prosecution and punishment  for gross human rights violations.

We call on the US authorities to turn over the American Marine Pemberton to the Philippine government for further investigation. We urge the Philippine government to act swiftly, and provide transparency in accordance with proper legal processes.

We call on the BS Aquino government to stop defending so-called foreign alliances, which are skewed towards foreign interest, serving to protect US imperialists.

As a progressive Toronto Filipino youth organization, we are joining the call to all Filipinos around the world to intensify the demand to scrap the VFA and recently signed EDCA, and the complete expulsion of US troops from Philippine soil.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of Jennifer Laude. With the ongoing colonization of the Philippines, the threat of violence is never too far, especially for queer and trans women. It is time for the U.S. military to leave the Philippines and it is time for U.S. imperialism to end now!” says Anakbayan-Toronto member Zenee May Maceda

It is widely ackowledged that the escalation of US imperialist presence sustains the systemic deprivation of the already imperiled sectors of society. This must stop!  In addition, just as the lives of migrants, women and children matter, the lives of transgendered persons matter too. They must be protected!

Junk VFA and EDCA!
Down with US Imperialism!
Immediate Justice for Jennifer Laude!

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Anakbayan-Toronto on 116th Philippine Independence Day

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PRESS RELEASE
Reference: Sarah Salise, Secretary General
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

Why do we defy on PH Indie day?

Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-TO) commemorates the 116th year of the Philippine “Independence” Day; however, we stand firm and believe that the Philippines is still not independent due to the imperialism of the United States and its major influence to the puppet government of President BS Aquino III.

Time and again, there is an ongoing debate on which day should we celebrate Philippine independence day. But first, we beg the question: Are we as a country with a plurinational state truly independent? In the 2014 edition of an annual event for Filipino-Canadian secondary school students, one would find it troubling to have July 4, 1946 as the answer during an inspirational talk by community role models.

The most popularly recognized date is June 12, 1898 as the day when the first republic proclaimed the statement implying independence of the archipelago from Spain’s colonial rule. Then there’s September 3, 1945 as liberation day from the Japanese and if one would stretch it further, April 27, 1521 was the day when Lapu-lapu led and won the battle against Ferdinand Magellan on the beach of Mactan.

Independence— when, where and for who?

On June 12, what actually happened is an act of treason by the liberal government of Emilio Aguinaldo. A few months after, the first two acts were promulgated (1) to release all Spanish prisoners, (2) to allow foreigners the right to equally do business in the Philippines. Unwittingly, he declared the republic to be a mere protectorate of US imperialism.

As the archipelago were sold by Spanish colonizers to the United States for $20 million through the Treaty of Paris, the interests of the Filipino masses were further jeopardized. Even July 4, which coincides with US Independence day, it is impolitic to relegate it as the contemporary Filipino-American Friendship Day when American soldiers massacred around 600,000 Filipinos during the occupation of the archipelago.

We, from a national democratic youth organization, believe that the Philippines yet remains to be a semi-colony, looking at the influence of other countries especially the US. Our country is controlled through the local lackeys and puppets in the government working behind the scenes for all the decisions made to benefit the few rich and elite.

The Americans never left. With the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) being signed by the two countries, this will just worsen the crisis happening in the Philippines. Now that the US military exercises will be more intensified by putting up more bases, there will be a lot of human rights violations that affect women and children. There will be more militarization in the communities that will force our kababayans to be internally displaced or forcefully migrate in order for their families to survive. Children and youth will be left behind without their parents, and will struggle to fight separation and being reunified after a very long time.

“It is difficult to view the Philippines as a truly “free country” if we look at its institutions even the schools- heavily rely on the American system,” says Sarah Salise, AB-TO Secretary General.

One of those decisions is the changing of the current education system to K-12 preparing the youth and students for forced migration, rather than as an equivalent to the North American system. Not only does it not serve the interests of our fellow youth, but it also make their concrete conditions much harder than it is.

Salise adds “If the Philippines is truly independent, we should be able to have our own way of doing things. We should be able to teach our young people about the darkness of our past and the brightness of our future that we should work on.”

Philippine independence day is commonly glossed over with pageants, parades, fireworks, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies. In tune, the culture of society is dominated by the mores of the ruling class. They are trying to bury the valiant battles waged in our history and mostly led by young blood: from Bonifacio and the Katipunan, Sakay, Malvar, Barros, Alejandro, Edjop, Eman, Ditto, the First Quarter Storm. Freedom is a heritage and a gift that needs to be defended and supported.

In the peoples’ movement, we celebrate these events by following the footsteps of great Philippine heroes and martyrs who fought for self-determination. Online and offline, we organize in communities to uplift and inform young people to move forward responsibly, conscious of their power and their crucial role in creating change.

Wherever we are located, we will always be tethered to the 7,107 islands we call home. So on this day we raise our banners, and drum up accountability of our leaders, however garish their speeches sound. We continue the militant struggle to knock to the ground the three ills in our country and instead cherish for our freedom and democratic ideals.

We dare to dream of a better world. Only when there is a national policy geared towards building local industries, and the government reflecting the interests of the masses of the people, can we be truly independent.

Thus, we defy.

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Anakbayan-Toronto on May Day 2014

On May 1, 2014, we – the youth and students – join all those who will fill Toronto’s streets to bring attention to the struggles and issues of the working class. Their interests and ours are one – we have nothing to lose, and have all to gain, in the struggle for our shared liberation.

The future of the youth does not belong to these governments, institutions, and their policies which remain hard as steel in imposing oppressive structures. They attempt to pit workers, people of colour and indigenous people against one another, and therefore weaken their unity.

Recently, the Canadian government implemented a moratorium in hiring temporary migrant workers in the food service sector. The tendency for employers is to fire staff with status in Canada, and instead hire migrant workers who are forced into dismal working conditions. The moratorium would seem to circumvent this tendency. However, the moratorium, like the recent changes in the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program, are fake attempts to address the exploitation experienced by workers with status. They all lead to the increase in xenophobic sentiments that target migrant workers as people who are taking jobs away from Canadian workers. In addition, the changes serve to reify the continued exclusion of migrant workers, refugees and undocumented workers from accessing vital services.

Over-all, contractual employment and the loss of permanent positions continue to rise. All these are part of larger structural issues- all resulting in an intensified uncertainty in the workplace.

We have really not much to lose – we who are impoverished, indentured and displaced. We must seize and strengthen our unity.

Let us honour our communities by increasing our solidarity work.

Our call is for a movement that links workers’ struggles across national and state borders.

We call for the implementation of a a transnationally transformative workers’ movement that would also engage in solidarity with indigenous peoples.

We call for the rejection of the exploitative conditions of temporary migrant workers, whose bodies and labour are exploited by employers to address their needs.

We call upon governments to address the issues around family reunification, which continue to keep families apart.

We demand that migrant workers, refugees, and all undocumented peoples gain access to status and the necessary benefits that can improve their working, living and health conditions.

Our call is to remember that as we march freely along the streets, there are proletarian revolutionaries who cannot join us because of their continued incarceration. But they are with us as their strength and courage emanate beyond their prison cells.

This is a call for a people’s movement towards a world with no space for xenophobia, racism or bigotry.

Workers of the world, unite!

This May Day let us conspire; let us breathe; let us march; let us imagine and then give birth.

Together, we are stronger.

Community supports Kenneth Aldovino’s Right to Stay

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By: Lesley Valiente and Sarah Salise

Kenneth Aldovino received a letter in the mail asking him to leave the country before the end of January. Aldovino has been in Canada for 6 months, initially arriving just in time to see his mother, Edna Aldovino, for the last time before she passed away of cancer in July of 2013.

Prior to her passing, Edna worked in Canada under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) since 2009 and in 2012, completed the requirements that make her and her family eligible for permanent resident status. Completing these requirements was difficult as Edna was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2011 and continued working while undergoing chemotherapy treatments to ensure that she complete the requirements that would allow her to apply for permanent residency. Edna’s years of hard work and sacrifice, unfortunately, will not fulfill their purpose of bringing Kenneth to live in Canada as the processing of his application stops with the death of his mother, who was the primary applicant on their papers.

Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is geared for Canadian families looking to hire a foreign caregiver because the availability of local workers are lacking. The program is meant for temporary employment but Canada is one of the few countries that promote the LCP to migrant workers as a way for them to work abroad and at the same time earn their permanent residency status.  Live-in caregivers have up to four years to complete the requirement of 3, 900 hours or 24 months of full-time employment to be eligible to apply for permanent residency. In Ontario, live-in caregivers are paid a minimum wage of $10.86 per hour and work for up to 48 hours a week.

A community-led campaign called ‘Let Kenneth Stay‘ is now in full swing, with organizers collecting letters of support and circulating online petitions to encourage Minister of Immigration, Hon. Chris Alexander to use his discretionary powers and allow Kenneth’s permanent residency application to process. Having lost his mother so early in life, Kenneth will face great difficulty if forced to return to the Philippines where he will have no family and no financial support. In fact, thousands of young, educated Filipinos leave the Philippines everyday in search for jobs abroad – an illustration of the lack of employment opportunities within the country. If given the chance to stay in Canada, Kenneth has a support group within the community and will have the chance to study and work to build a new life for himself. Community organizers are hopeful that Kenneth’s application for permanent residency will be considered under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Letters of support as well as petition signatures are of great importance at this time in putting pressure on the government to act in Kenneth’s favour.”Let Kenneth Stay” campaign has also been gaining supporters and followers throughout Canada and in the U.S. on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the Filipino youth organization, Anakbayan Toronto, there is a bigger issue at play in cases such as Edna’s: the lack of status accorded to workers under the Live-In Caregiver Program. Since caregivers are seen as a source of “temporary work” and not as immediate candidates for citizenship, these workers must migrate to Canada alone, undergoing separation from their families. Edna herself left home in 1999 when Kenneth was just five years old and migrated to work in Taiwan, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong before coming to Canada. In addition to the emotional strain of being away from one’s family, live-in caregivers undergo difficult working conditions, finding themselves on call around the clock as the needs of the elderly and of the young for whom they provide care do not end after an 8-hour workday. Such arduous labour takes a physical toll on the body after time, and it is not surprising to find that many caregivers, like Edna, eventually display serious medical problems. While there is an economic pull factor for foreigners to work as a live-in caregiver in Canada, it cannot be denied that the true aspiration for these workers is to eventually live in Canada permanently with their families. In the case of Edna Aldovino, denying her son the right to claim his permanent residency does an injustice to Edna and renders her years of hard work and sacrifice meaningless.

* For more background information and news links, read here:
http://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2014/01/22/immigrant_dreams_die_with_deceased_nannies.html
http://www.kairoscanada.org/dignity-rights/her-name-is-edna/
http://philippinereporter.com/2013/07/20/caregiver-with-terminal-cancer-raises-money-to-see-son/
http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/3849333-fundraiser-underway-to-reunite-dying-woman-with-son/
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/07/22/canadas_foreign_service_strike_hurting_tourism_creating_backlogs.html

Toronto Filipino progressive groups meet with head of the Philippine Consulate in Toronto

Toronto Filipino progressive groups meet with Consul General Mahilum.

On November 15th 2013- Toronto Filipino progressive groups Anakbayan Toronto (AB-TO) Migrante Canada and Migrante Sectoral Partylist (MSP) met with Consul General Junever Mahilum West appealing to the Philippine government to get its act together when it comes to the relief efforts following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

The current Philippine government have failed to demonstrate the urgency needed to provide the basic necessities to the thousands affected by the Super typhoon. The lack of disaster response coordination coupled with widespread corruption is mainly to blame on the slow response of the state.

The group also handed a petition to Consul General Mahilum asking to abolish the Pork Barrel funds that is unlawfully in the discretion of corrupt Philippine legislators.

Later, Mahilum-West assured the group, “We will convey everything to Manila.”

“As much as you may be seeing us as very critical of policies,” Connie Sorio said, “we also want to work with you in terms of improving more services towards our countrymen,” she told Mahilum-West.

The Consul-General said, “We’re open. If you want to come, let us know. We’ll have dialogues. We’ll have this continuing dialogue.”

The group staged a candle light vigil to show solidarity with the families and victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The vigil lasted for an hour and was attended by other concerned Filipinos and organizations (FMWM-Filipino Migrant Workers Movement, IWworkers, Akdaan Writers group, GABRIELA-ONTARIO, Indigenous group Binnadang and BAYAN CANADA and students from a few universities.

“We dream of a society where families will never be torn apart just for the need to survive”— Toronto Filipino Youth on International Migrants Day 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Jesson Reyes,
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

December 18, 2013Anakbayan-Toronto stands with the millions of migrant workers worldwide who are forced to leave their homes for different reasons: some move away from their families behind in pursuit of a better livelihood, while others flee persecution or seek refuge without having anything left. Is this the kind of society we want?

Over the past few decades, mass migration in the Philippines takes place primarily because of the failure of the government to provide decent jobs, and decent wages to its people. Crippling poverty, persistence of un(der)employment, inequality and the governments inaction are the direct results of neoliberal policies that give priority to the foreign and corporate profits over the welfare of the majority of the people.

The Philippine state continues to be the apparatus to mobilize labor as export to the global enterprise. With almost 5,000 citizens from the country going elsewhere everyday, the Filipin@ workforce has become the most globalized on the planet. How did this start?

From the 1970 onwards, the global crisis is the battering the country’s export-oriented economy, particularly the electronics and garments industries. This means liberalization of trade, services, investment and capital. It also means transnational movements of people in search for better lives. A temporary fix to the country’s balance of payment deficits is the Labourt Export Policy as instituted by the Philippine government by then-president Ferdinand Marcos. It engineered the first outflow of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the Gulf region. This policy is affirmed not by a single act of deployment of people. But through different program thrusts, the numbers continues to increase by ten folds as we the victories and continued struggles of Migrant workers today.

Filipin@ im/migrants are practically located everywhere. Most number of outward migration are women who are forced to leave in search of work to support their families. To date, no tipping point is forthcoming and this migration model is touted as one of the most sophisticated in “institutionalizing and managing migration”.

However, decades of exporting cheap Filipin@ labour have not led to any genuine development: the Philippines is still an underdeveloped Third World country. OFWs continue to experience physical, sexual, psychological abuse, are exploited, trafficked and discriminated against. Their families at home suffer the social burden while the Philippines experiences an unrelenting brain drain

Since 2011, there is a growing population of Filipin@ migrant workers that are coming to Canada. Under the temporary foreign worker program, the Live in Caregiver program is dominated by women. According to the film “End of Immigration?” by Malcolm Guy and Marie Boti, there has also been a growing number of Filipin@ workers being recruited to work in the fast food and service-oriented sector across Canada.

Many of the migrant workers face precarious working conditions in Canada. This is mainly due to their temporary status. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is a system that runs a use-and-abuse cycle. Furthermore, it supplies the need of a Canadian capitalist market as it creates a quick to access source of cheap and disposable labour out of Filipin@ migrant workers.

The Philippine government and it’s implementing agencies pay lip service in protecting its migrant workers worldwide. Though not novel, the Benigno Aquino III administration still uses the term “Bagong Bayani” amongst overseas workers. Rightfully so, the country is the fourth biggest remittance receiving country next to India, China and Mexico. Its economy depend on remittances to keep the economy afloat. Remittances make up 12.5% of the GDP in 2012. For years, it’s been the country’s roughshod exercise in managing its economy.

But these numbers have not translated to either genuine development and better protection for migrant workers. In 2012, several embassies and consulates were closed due to lack of funding in various countries. Stranded OFWs in the Middle East were left to fend for themselves and families as the current administration refuses their demands for a swift repatriation.

The paradox of labor migration is that migrant parents saying parting words to their children “We love you so we need to leave you”. These simple words impact the hundreds of live-in caregivers who, while in the host country such as Canada, face various obstacles with legal, health and consular issues. As they seek help from the Philippine consulate office, migrant workers are asked if they are a member of “OWWA” which is an insurance-like protection package that is offered to all OFWs at their departure. Family separation and reunification also have long lasting impact on children and youth.

In Canada, we may be seen as outliers but we are not outsiders. We are not disposable and we cannot easily be dispensed crisis after crises. We hold on to our role in making history as we claim we are the lifeblood of the economy working and paying taxes. We may decide to stay yet continue resisting to be detained, decimated or deported.

As youth and students, along with other progressive organizations, we assert our part in the Filipin@ Diaspora and will continue to speak out that the Philippine state’s brokerage through the Labor Export Policy is unconscionable. We stand firmly that the most efficient way to address the root causes of forced migration is to advance the struggle for a national industrialization in the homefront.

Anakbayan-Toronto will continue to arouse, organize and mobilize with the increasing Filipino migrant community in the region. We will continue to call on the government of BS Aquino through their implementing agencies to ensure the protection and to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipin@ migrant workers in Canada. We will hold the government accountable for all migrant workers whether they have OWWA membership or not as they have the mandate to serve the Filipin@s inside and outside the Philippines.

We will continue to realize our dream of a more just and humane society where the basic needs of the people are fulfilled.

Long live the migrant workers movement!

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AB-TO Solidarity Message for PAWIS 10th Anniv

A short greeting and solidarity for The Pilipino Association of Workers and Im/migrants (PAWIS) for its 10th Anniversary, to be celebrated on December 19. PAWIS is a Filipino workers’ rights organization that began from a campaign for the rights of immigrant airport screeners in the early 2000s, and continues to work today with caregivers and other low-wage workers.

STP

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Enough is already known about the horrors migrant workers face, such as unsafe working conditions, non payment of salaries, wage theft or partial payment, extortionate rents for bad accomodation, exploitation, abuse and few provisions for people migrating through both regular and irregular channels.

Yet migrant workers are the lifeblood of the economy, often from bottom up. Migrant workers contribute a huge chunk to the building of wealth in wealth countries, such as the US. Human progress can’t move without you.

We can’t imagine the victories of the campaigns such as the Oakland immigrant airport workers, CA Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, and comprehensive support for low-wage Filipino immigrants and workers without your sweat. Full recognition and equal veteran’s status and dignity will not go on much longer without your affirmative action.

A decade is such an awfully short time to waste. That’s about 87,600 of making headway in the fight for the rights and welfare of Filipinos in the US, the Philippines and all over the world.

If we enjoy the fruits of your labour, we will not throw in the towel or cool down. We hope you continue to lead the people, the masses and work still better. Get even better organized and in even greater strength. So that for another decade we will ensure that we will achieve greater results to advance the people’s movement. Together, let’s continue to realize national independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development.

TORONTO FILIPINO YOUTH: EMBODY THE FIGHTING SPIRIT OF BONIFACIO IN HIS 150TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY.

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The significance of Andres Bonifacio’s revolutionary life story is not lost on history books. Youth group Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-TO) lead the 150th birth anniversary of the working class hero Andres Bonifacio on November 30 in the University of Toronto. Simultaneously, the local chapter also celebrates the first year anniversary together with over a hundred chapters around the world.

Solidarity video messages from BAYAN Canada spokesperson Dr. Chandu Claver spearheaded the action packed day as AB-TO members listened attentively to his militant greetings. Anakbayan-Seattle Chairperson Jennilee Policarpio wished the Toronto group and conveyed the significance of building the first overseas chapter eleven years ago to address the issue of Filipino-American youth to connect them all back to the Philippines. The national situation of the Philippines was reported back by Anakbayan Philippines Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo who enunciated the need for all Anakbayan chapters to organize and mobilize against the incompetent BS Aquino administration.

“Hindi na nating maaring tiisin na magpatuloy ang kahirapan ng ating mamamayan sa ilalim ng isang rehimeng taksil sa taong bayan, at para lamang sa iilan at mapagsamantala” said Crisostomo.

Outgoing Secretary General Jesson Reyes facilitated the discussions in remembering Bonifacio and the revolutionary movement Katipunan, which spearheaded the 1896 Revolution, the first anti-colonial uprising in entire Asia and spawned as well the first republican government in this region.

Under the theme “Continue the Unfinished Struggle,” the gathering brought together youth from different backgrounds and showed a wonderful expression of their fervor for genuine change in society.

Since it was founded in 2012, AB-TO has carried out its mandate to uphold the rights, welfare and interests of the Filipino youth, migrants and workers in the Greater Toronto Area. More so it has continued to empower people from different backgrounds through its real-time and online project Kamalayan by providing short courses on critical Philippine history, identity and questions on national pride. It contributed to researches on the Filipino youth situation, local campaigns like Raise the Minimum Wage in Ontario, extension of consular services in provinces with a growing Filipino population and fundraising initiatives for super Typhoon Haiyan survivors.

Local youth organizer Rhea Gamana, founding chairperson of Anakbayan-Toronto, helped provide a framework on the current situation of Filipino youth in Canada. Gamana shared her insights on why Filipinos leave the Philippine only to find more challenges after arriving in the host country.

AB-TO members all showed earnestness in learning more of their heritage and keeping abreast on both current affairs in the community and in the home front. New members also committed in helping out in realizing the spirit Bonifacio and the Katipunan imbued by serving the people as everyone clapped and chanted in unison.

For more information on how to get involved, visit www.anakbayato.org, email anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com or follow AB-TO on twitter @anakbayanto

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For Immediate Release: Toronto Filipino youth celebrate Hero Andres Bonifacio’s 150th Anniversary

ABT 1st year GA

Reference: Rhea Gamana,
 Chairperson – Anakbayan-Toronto
 rheagamana@gmail.com

TORONTO-On November 30, Filipino youth around the world celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, the working class hero who led the resistance movement during the Spanish colonial period before the turn of the 20th century Philippines.

Youth group Anakbayan will lead the celebrations in Toronto to share our wonderful expression of national pride–an affirmation of our revolutionary heritage as the people “Continue the unfinished struggle” for national democracy in the Philippines. Over a hundred chapters around the world will host their local celebrations as the organization was founded on the birthday of the national hero Bonifacio.

Since its inception in 2012, Anakbayan-Toronto has carried out its mandate to uphold the rights, welfare and interests of the Filipino youth, migrants and workers in the Greater Toronto Area. More so it has continued to empower people from different backgrounds through its real-time and online project Kamalayan by providing short courses on critical Philippine history, identity and questions on pride. It contributed to researches on the Filipino youth situation, local campaigns like Raise the Minimum Wage, and fundraising drive for TS Haiyan survivors.

Attendees are also requested to bring in their donations to be turned over to the ongoing Migrants Rescue Operations which is coordinated by Migrante Canada. Pledges for donations may also be sent via private message on Facebook (facebook/Anakbayan.Toronto) and Twitter (twitter @anakbayanto).

In celebration of its first year, Anakbayan-Toronto aims to keep its active role in engaging youth through music, presentations, and exhibit that will trace back the stories of our struggles and victories as part of the collective spirit of the Filipino people.

November 30, 2013
3:00pm-5:00pm
Room 5-280, OISE Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1V6

Refreshments provided. Wheelchair accessible.

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Undocumented in Canada (Anakbayan Toronto’s presentation at the International Assembly for Migrants and Refugees (IAMR4)

 

Undocumented in Canada

 

  Non‐status immigrants or undocumented are people who do not have the legal status that would allow them to live permanently in Canada. They are defined as women and men & children who actively participate in the Canadian labour force. Majority of whom have entered the country with some legal status. Due to the shift in immigration Canada has been actively doing. The temporary foreign worker program is expected to a create approx.150, 000 undocumented workers by 2015. Lastly, there are also those individuals remaining in the country following the issuance of a deportation order; and those pursuing alternate procedures such as Humanitarian & Compassionate applications.

According to Social planning Toronto report (a unique and thorough study conducted by the city of Toronto and non-government agencies that focuses on non-status people. Canada houses about 200,000 to 500,000 undocumented people by the turn of 2013. Nearly 50% resides in Toronto. Toronto is known to be the “Sanctuary city”. As we go further along, we will discuss what this means

To be undocumented in Canada is a complex process, interwoven by a flawed immigration system and reinforced by gender, racial stratification and discrimination. The obvious mismatch between labour demands and the type of immigrants who qualify for acceptance to Canada, is a major determinant for becoming non-status

Unlike here in the U.S., where undocumented migration is associated with clandestine border crossing, in Canada, the majority of currently undocumented migrants initially entered through authorized legal channels, including refugee claimants, sponsored immigrants, or as individuals with valid student, work, or visitor visas.

What is common for all these individuals is that majority are actively participating in different type of work force.

What sets them apart is that with their non-status situation leaves them and their families with precarious access to health care, education, social services, and legal rights that are basic to promote and protect their health.

 What has been done?

STATUS campaign

In 2004, STATUS a broad coalition of individuals and organizations advocated for the regularization of status of all non‐status immigrants living in Canada. In the past, every time there has been an overhaul of Canada’s immigration law, the government has brought in programs to regularize the status of those who were caught in the old system. STATUS demanded that the government of Canada implements a program to allow all non‐status immigrants living and working in Canada to apply for permanent resident status. Living without status is a human rights issue and STATUS is asking the government to act.

DON’T ASK DON’T’ TELL Policy.

No One Is Illegal-Toronto AND MIGRANTE ALLIES launched the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy Campaign in 2004. City residents without full legal status face significant barriers to accessing essential city services, such as emergency services, social housing, food banks, health care, and education. These barriers exacerbate and perpetuate the fears of detention and deportation that thousands of city residents are forced to live with.

A Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy would make city services available to all residents, regardless of their immigration status. The policy would ensure that ALL city residents, including people without full immigration status, can access essential services (housing, health, education, social services, emergency services) without fear of being detained or deported.

From this Campaign we were able to push forward another campaign directed to the School Board to gain access to education for children of the undocumented.

Education not Deportation

Education Not Deportation (END) is a campaign and a coalition of committed people raising awareness, engaging and organizing around issues of migrant justice with schools and educators. Students, teachers, union members and community members who joined the movement to ensure that all students regardless of immigration status are able to access education.

END is striving for elementary and secondary schools to be safe and accessible places for all, as outlined in Section 49.1 of the Ontario Education Act.

END works to ensure that all people have equal access and opportunity to attend colleges, Universities, ESL classes and language schools without fear of immigration authorities and deportation.

 In the Fall of 2007 the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) – the largest school board in Canada – provided its 558 schools with a full colour poster stating that “All children living in our community, including those without immigration status in Canada, are entitled to admission to our schools”(attached)

Accompanying this poster was a tip sheet with guidelines for office administrators to ensure that no student is denied access to elementary or secondary school.

This victory is the result of three years of struggle. Since getting the TDSB to pass a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in May 2007, the Education Not Deportation Campaign that includes OSSTF-D12, students, teachers, and other community groups and organizations have been working tirelessly to ensure that the policy became concrete practice in schools across the city. This experience has reminded them of the gap between policies and their implementation – and even now, we know the struggle is far from over.

Is it enough?

Fortunately for Toronto, a city in which holds more than 50% of non-status in Canada, have embraced the title Sanctuary City. This speaks to the values and the ethics in which the people and non-governmental agencies are riding on when it comes to providing non status complete access to services. This proactive landscape that pertains to non-status today could have not been possible without the work of non-government agencies and service providers that have opened their hearts and minds to serving each individuals. In the context of the rights of every human being.

Though is worth mentioning that many feel overburdened by the disproportionate responsibility placed on select organizations to offer care to non-status individuals, which consistently requires negotiating for more resources. There is also a general understanding that the policies governing the provision of care by health institutions, often conflict with the fundamental beliefs and values held by health professionals, which is to provide care for all, irrespective of anybody’s status. This is a wonderful example of the really the kind of change we should be aspiring for. After all these hard work that non orgs do, individuals will still have their biases as to how one should treat a case of a non-status. Is the patchwork enough? Or do we need to change the environment that we live in.

 Many providers note that although health institutions which offer care to non-status people are safe places, non-status individuals may exhibit distrust towards such institutions, due to previous cases where reporting to immigration officials has shown presence in that area.

 Where do we go from here?

The works of various advocacy groups have led to a number of services that have been granted for all residents of Toronto regardless of their legal immigration status. But mainly on the municipal level. Provincial and Federal services are not available to non-status. These include employment insurance, some workers’ compensation benefits, Ontario health care, public housing, Ontario works (welfare) and more.

Groups such as Solidarity city, Migrants rights Toronto, Canadian council for refugees whom are all allies of Migrante Canada and Anakbayan Toronto have been in the forefront of various mass lead campaigns. Campaigns Know Your Rights has helped spread awareness on invisibility of non-status people. Furthermore, along with all the campaigns we have launched to serve the poorest of the poor of our communities. We must also expose the flawed systemic programs, policies and institutions that perpetuates the irregulization of non-status people.

In fact we see it that the burgeoning amount of non-status people in Canada is quite a good reflection as to how ineffective, anti-migrant the Canadian Immigration system is today.

This very system that looks to serve a certain group of individuals while making it harder to the rest to achieve status. Thus perpetuating this culture of “Kapit sa patalim” or risking lives to live underground.  More importantly, like the theme of many speakers in this conference have been speaking of. We’ve got to take on this assignment of understanding the push factors that brought you and I here or our parents. We’ve got to learn not only about the criminalization of migrants here and in our borders. But also the militarization that are happening back home that results to displacing our people. Forcing people to migrate to other countries. Let us also be mindful of those who are being displaced locally. The idps of the internal displaced persons. Lastly, we need to speak of the roles of the imperialist USA actions to our country back home.

There are many reasons why migrants become undocumented. Regardless of that situation, they have rights that should be recognized, upheld, and protected. Anakbayan Toronto is present here today, to be one with all undocumented people in North America and worldwide. We will fight side by side to stop criminalization of migrants, from the strength of our unity, lets us tackle the root causes of all migration!

Anakbayan-Toronto on the detention of Canadian student Kim Chatillon-Meunier Press Statement

Press Statement
September 9, 2013

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We, progressive Filipino students and youth in Toronto, strongly denounce the detention of Kim Chatillon-Meunier by the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Kim, a 24-year old student, was denied to board her flight back to Canada Friday night Manila-time. She is being held in the BI detention center in Taguig city. Kim is one of the people included in the “watchlist” made by security state forces of foreign activists showing solidarity with the Philippines.

Kim was in the Philippines for her internship as part of her requirement for the international studies she is taking at the University of Montreal. She participated in women’s reproductive health research and documentation in slum communities in Tondo, Manila. Prior to her observance of the rally during the State of the Nation address last July, she was a delegate at the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP).

We are alarmed at this pattern of harassment and violation of human rights persist in the Philippines. As we have seen, this is not the first case that foreign participants in mass demonstrations have been held by Immigration officials to be deported and blacklisted. From the illegal detention of Thomas van Beersum in the wake of the ICHRPP, the BI under the Aquino administration has just proved its repressive character in the Philippines, where thousands of human rights abuses are consistently brushed off the side.

We demand the immediate release of Kim and a guarantee to her safe passage back to Canada. This show of threat to individuals who stand up to support human rights issues in the country does not at all reflect the Filipino people’s interests. It contradicts the principles of democracy and peace, which it had always advocated.

As people of conscience around the world, we will keep a close watch of this case. We demand that her rights, particularly her right to counsel, be recognized. We demand the scrapping of
such blacklists/watchlists by the BI.

We call for the international community, including the Canadian government, to speak out against these threats to human rights in the Philippines under the Aquino administration.

For more updates, please see http://is.gd/y2Tzq8.

ANAKBAYAN-TORONTO
Toronto, Ontario
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Anakbayan-Toronto
Twitter: @anakbayanto
http://anakbayanto.org
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

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Toronto Filipino youth to Aquino: act now on Lumad exodus and LEP

Toronto Filipino progressive youth group Anakbayan-Toronto decry the spate of forced displacement of about a thousand residents of Barangay Kauswagan, Municipality of Loreto in the southern Philippines. The native people called generally by the term Lumad, sought help from the Agusan del Sur provincial government and now from the Davao City local government.

Kilab bakwet3

Villagers have denounced the intensified presence of Bagani paramilitary troops of 26th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that started on July 27. According to the village folk, the soldiers have been hunting down members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and have illegally captured and tortured four young individuals, namely Allan, 16 years old; Rico, 18; Roland, 19, and Jay-R, 17. They were allegedly the same troops who forced some residents to sign a blank document on behalf of a company who wants to establish a biogas plantation in the area.

Community-based Kahugpungan Alang sa Kalambuan (Kasaka) spokesperson Marilyn Egdames said the deployment of military personnel in the villages is “a smokescreen for government collusion with corporate interests in mineral resources, natural gas, jatropha, and palm oil – all of which Loreto is rich in.”

She also said that since 2012, Seng Hong Exploration has signed a contract with the Philippine government to explore Loreto, which is a part of the Agusan Marsh claimed to have rich natural gas deposits. The mainland Chinese oil company has been conducting geological and geophysical studies, including drilling of three exploratory wells in a portion of 750,000 hectares straddling the Davao Agusan basin.  Since 2003, the energy department has embarked on an aggressive promotion of oil and gas exploration in the country. Even as contracts with foreign companies wanting to explore potential oil sites in the country are being eyed.

Under the Petroleum Act, the government will earn some 60 % in royalty of whatever oil or natural gas will be drilled by oil companies from the site. While the petroleum sector is deregulated and liberalized, the pump pricing increase thus government officials looking for its most affordable alternative will continue to attract foreign companies to tap into the country’s oil and natural gas reserves.

With this in mind, the government ensures these projects be not derailed to boost oil production.

Massive military counterinsurgency operations are caused by these mining interests to which local people are demanding be withdrawn from their ancestral lands. According to Davao-based alternative online publication Kilab Multimedia, food blockades, harassment, arbitrary detention and other forms of human rights violations were experienced by the people not just in Barangay Kauswagan but also in Municipality of Patin-ay, Prosperidad, Agusan Del Sur. According to a statement by Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) “half of this number are women, and there are 300 children among the thousand bakwit (evacuees.) Violence brought on by Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is a scourge to the lives and rights of our women and children.”

Kilab bakwet4

Militarization,  has been one of the main factors why there are numerous forced evacuations or bakwet occurring in Philippine rural areas. Dots can can easily be connected to draw the big picture on the phenomenon of migration of Filipinos, who are trying to provide a better life for their families, internally to informal settlements in urban core areas or abroad to countries like Canada.

Moreover, Canadian mining corporations remain to be one of the top investors in this sector in the Philippines. Extractive operations, for example, by Toronto Ventures, Inc in Bayug, Zamboanga del Sur, caused forced displacement of Subanons from the area. By far it is the first mining company doing such, which claimed the life of Jordan Manda, 11, on September 4, 2012 while his father outspoken tribal leader Timuay Manda was dropping him to school. Over a score more of indigenous Lumads have been slain from the beginning of the Aquino’s term in June 2010 until the present for resisting the land grabbing and destruction of their ancestral lands.

While national minorities are being neglected, the government has not answered the call for a genuine reform. Since July of this year, the progressive bloc in the House of Representatives is seeking the repeal of Republic Act (RA) 8479, otherwise known as The Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law of 1998, which oil firms have used as license to impose almost weekly oil price adjustments.

Labour export policy has continued further to be the major factor in the shift to global migration of Filipinos from the dictatorship Ferdinand Marcos to the current Aquino regime.

Kilab bakwet2

Anakbayan-Toronto denounces Oplan Bayanihan and calls for the immediate pull-out of all military units in ancestral territories.

We continue to call for ending the Labour Export Policy! Struggle for National Industrialization!

Photo credit: Kilab Multimedia

Contact Reference: Rhea A. Gamana at anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com or 647.281.0652

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