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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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!###

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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)
###

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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From Bill C-51 to Oplan Bayanihan: Stop militarisation at home and abroad

From Bill C-51 to Oplan Bayanihan: Stop militarisation at home and abroad

In Canada, there is a growing normalisation of military presence in civilian society. The Conservative government passed Bill C-51 in an attempt to take control under the disguise of the “Anti-terrorism Act”. This has allowed secret policing, increased spending on military and prisons while social programs that benefit poor and working class people are slashed off the budget.

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In the Philippines, human rights defenders, political activists, peasants, and indigenous peoples communities are constantly harassed, disappeared, and murdered by state forces under a culture of impunity.

Recently, the spate of Lumad* killings demonstrates the particular anti-people policy of President BS Aquino through the Oplan Bayanihan. This worsening human right violations only proves Aquino’s indictment and conviction as guilty found by the grassroots International People’s Tribunal last July 2015.

*Background: (see Manilakbayan ng Mindanaohere, here, here and Info sheet – Stop Lumad Killings campaign)

On September 4 we enjoin you and your organisation for holding action against militarisation of Indigenous communities in Mindanao. We protest and call for justice for Dionel Campos, Emerito Samarca, and Aurelio Sinzo!
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Campos is the chairperson of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu), an organization of the Lumad national minority in Lianga town of Surigao del Sur province;

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while Samarca is executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), an alternative Lumad school.

We urge the community to take action against the culture of impunity in the Philippines.

DEMANDS:

  1. Immediate pull-out of the 36th Infantry Battalion in Lumad communities in Lianga, Surigao del Sur
  2. Immediate dismantling of paramilitary groups such as the Magahat/Bagani Forces
  3. Immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights to look into these incidents of human rights violations; and, to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.
  4. To observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that the Philippine government is a party and signatory to.
  5. End Oplan Bayanihan

 stop militarization

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. Hold a protest in front of Philippine consulates to demand justice for the killings of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo
  2. Hold a candle light vigil to express our solidarity with our lumad brothers and sisters
  3. Contact the following authoritiesby phone or send mass emails sample:“My name is _____, I am calling to express my outrage at the killing of community leaders in ALCADEV, Surigao Del Sur. We demand the pull out of Philippine military out of the indigenous schools and communities.”

Sen. Tobias C. Enverga Jr. (tobias.enverga@sen.parl.gc.ca)
Tel.: +1 (613) 943-1945  or 1-800-267-7362
Fax.: +1 (613) 943-1938

Philippine Embassy in Ottawa (embassyofphilippines@rogers.com)
Amb. Petronila P. Garcia
Tel.: +1 (613) 233-1121
Fax.: +1 (613) 233-4165

Philippine Consulate in Toronto (consularmatters@philcongen-toronto.com)
Tel.: (416) 922.7181
Fax.: (416) 922.2638

  1. Take a selfie or group picture and post on social media

Take a picture of yourself or a group with this sample message and use the hashtags #SaveOurSchools #EndImpunity #ActivismIsNotACrime

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS!
DEFEND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ RIGHT TO EDUCATION!
STOP MILITARISATION IN THE COUNTRYSIDE!

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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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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8 reasons why Filipino youth should join the Ontario $14 minimum wage campaign

Follow Anakbayan-Toronto on twitter: @anakbayanto

1. Ontario minimum wage has been frozen for three years

The province’s minimum wage had previously been frozen at $10.25 an hour since 2010. Before that, minimum wage had increased annually since 2004, when it was $6.85 an hour.

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2. $14 is indexed to cost of living, $11 is not enough

Going up with the cost of living every year is an important step forward, but a minimum wage hike of 75 cents on June 1st is not enough: workers will still be 16% below poverty line. Life on minimum wage is not a decent living. Without the needed raise, we can’t put money back to the local economy.

It is a rhetoric that minimum wage increases are bad for business and governments need to mitigate the damage. This sets an extremely dangerous precedent. However, history proves otherwise. Raising it in fact is one part of a larger solution to address the crisis in our communities of increasing income inequality and rampant displacement.
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3. Especially for racialized youth

For generations, young people have been introduced to the job market through part-time minimum wage jobs, especially in fast food and retail. This was promised to be a temporary stepping stone to the launching of our full-time careers as we turn into young adults.

The reality for young workers today is grim as many of us approaching our mid- to late-twenties are still working in minimum wage, part-time, contract, and temp agency jobs. This is true even for our sisters and brothers who are college and university graduates.

As racialized youth we pay more for our education. Studies show more racialized students are likely to take out loans to pay for their post secondary education because of low family income from the minimum wage jobs their parents are raising their family with.

4. Anakbayan works with Migrante

Anakbayan-Toronto is a comprehensive national democratic mass-based Filipino youth group. As an overseas chapter, we unite youth from all walks of life in one struggle for national liberation and genuine social change in the Philippines, while fighting for the rights and welfare of Filipinos in Canada.

We work closely with Migrante-Canada, an alliance of 19 organizations in Canada from coast to coast.

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5. …which is part of Migrants Workers Alliance for Change

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) is Canada’s largest coalition of migrant worker groups and allies. It is comprised of various advocacy and community groups, unions, workers and community members, aimed at improving working conditions and fighting for better protections for live-in caregivers, seasonal agricultural workers and other temporary foreign workers as they remain financially vulnerable in terms of wages, savings and debt levels.

6. Inspired by our colleagues from Washington, D.C., Chicago, Oakland and Seattle

On May 15, thousands of fast food workers will go on strike in 150 US cities. The day will also mark the first spread of fast food labor unrest abroad in solidarity with protests in 30 other countries on six continents, many of them targeting McDonald’s.

The demands have remained constant: raise the minimum wage and the right to form a union. Since that initial action in New York City, the strikes have quickly spread across the country, starting in the northeast but moving to the midwest and south.

Substantial victories from the bottom of the pile includes legislation to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 an hour, by far the highest of any major city in the US and more than double the federal requirement. The measure is being pushed by mayor Ed Murray and has strong public support.

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7. We need to sustain our efforts

The problem comes when a wage increase is coupled with a tax cut. Ontario’s economy should be based on a national strategy to reduce poverty in five years. aside from $14 minimum wage, ideally there should also be changes to personal taxes that reduce income inequality.

8. …with a strong collective voice and action

A move to raise the minimum wage is not only good for the economy, it’s the moral thing to do. It’s about raising the standards for workers and creating a dignified wage. It’s about improving the lives of students students, caregivers, renters, parents, and neighbours. It’s about aligning with historic laws, such as paid sick days and paid health care. It’s lifting lives out of unpaid internships and eliminating tiered wages. History is on the side of positive social change.

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Participate by joining us on May 14th 12:00-1:00pm

College and University (north-west corner), Toronto

Please fill out this form http://bit.ly/1syOKI5.
For more information, visit Anakbayan-Toronto facebook page http://www.fb.com/Anakbayan.Toronto. Contact us at anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

Illustrations by Szara Joy Salise

Anakbayan-Toronto Statement on International Women’s Day

ab-t-photoOn this day, Anakbayan-Toronto rises with all our sisters around the world! We are committed to work for the welfare of Filipinos wherever they are. Above all, we work for the rights and welfare of women and youth who have been denied justice and betrayed by the Philippine government!

We reject the misleading Global Gender Gap Index report ranking the Philippines as among the top five in the world and the top in Asia in closing its gender gap. This is false! The economic, social and cultural barriers are still in place, effectively keeping women in dire conditions. In fact, the feminization of migrant labour migration is prominent as the Aquino government refuses to provide jobs with decent wages. Instead, Aquino’s government pushes Philippine’s Labour Export Policy (LEP) to its maximum extent, sending many parents abroad, thus breaking up millions of families.

Meanwhile, remittances from migrant women still play a major role in the country’s economy, making women’s migrant labour the milking cow of a bankrupt government. Relying on money from abroad and bogus foreign investments is not the way to build a developed and self-sustaining country.

We condemn Aquino’s so-called 7% GDP increase which does not trickle down to the majority of the population. It only means widespread unemployment and underemployment for the majority of women and men. The result is extreme poverty and the militarization of rural areas where foreign companies, especially mining companies, are exploiting natural resources.

Furthermore, Filipinos in Canada face a number of problems. There are over 100 000 Filipino- Canadians and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Alberta in need of accessible, regular and affordable services. It is absurd for people to have to travel to another province just to renew their passports.

Moreover, We urge the Canadian government to give landed immigrant status upon arrival to Live in Caregivers (LICs). As a crucial and contributing part of Canadian society, LICs should be given the same access to social services such as basic health care. LICs, while taking care of Canadian families should be able to bring their own families to Canada because research has revealed time and again the devastating social, psychological and physical effects of family separation due to labour migration.

Lastly, we deserve a raise. Here in Canada the minimum wage still prevents many workers, especially women of colour, the right to earn a living wage. The $11 increase promised by Premier Kathleen Wynne keeps the poorest families 16% below the poverty line. This is unacceptable! Hard working people deserve fair wages.

On International Women’s Day, Anakbayan-Toronto is rising to take power back to the people. We will continue to work towards the genuine national development in the Philippines, for the welfare of Filipinos in Canada and to demand fairness and justice for all people.

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 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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Youth and Student Unified Statement vs. Pork Barrel and Corruption

ImageFilipino Youth Overseas Demand an End to Government Corruption in the Philippines

We, Filipino youth and students overseas, stand with our sisters and brothers in the Philippines who are taking to the streets in the “Million People March vs. Pork Barrel”.

We join the call to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the presidential Special Purpose Fund (SPF). For too long, these discretionary funds have been used to fatten the pockets of corrupt politicians at the expense of our people’s welfare.

We demand that the Philippine government prioritize funding our people’s needs and not their own luxurious lifestyles. In the upcoming 2014 National Budget, the Aquino administration is set to allocate P1.2 trillion ($28.2 billion) for the president’s SPF and P25 billion ($565 million) for congress and senate’s PDAF. Despite his “Tuwid na Daan” (“Righteous Path”) rhetoric, the amount of pork barrel fund has actually doubled during Aquino’s administration and government corruption has only worsened. We demand the immediate rechanneling of all these funds directly to vital social services that our poorest sisters and brothers need, such as public education, health, housing, protection and welfare for overseas Filipino workers and even flood control.

We also call for the immediate, independent, and thorough investigation and prosecution of all parties involved in the misuse of the people’s money. The Pork Barrel must be emptied and the stench of all corrupt politicians and public officials must be aired out. Investigation and trial must be led by independent entities and not the politicians in senate and congress themselves. This process must be made public and televised. We want justice and accountability.

We recognize that this is bigger than Janet Lim-Napoles and the corrupt politicians involved in the current Pork Barrel Scam. This is about a system that breeds corruption and serves the interests of the wealthiest few while neglecting the poor majority of our people. We understand that it is exactly this type of corruption that is one of the main root of the ongoing economic crisis in our homeland, which forces millions of migrants like our parents to search for livelihood in other countries.

That is why, though we are thousands of miles away from our motherland, we are one with the people in fighting against systemic corruption in the Philippines. August 26th is only the beginning. No damage control nor deception by Aquino’s public relations team can stop the growing tide of people’s anger. The entire corrupt system must be changed in order for future generations to live in a society that is truly just and free.

ABOLISH ALL PORK BARREL FUNDS NOW!

RE-CHANNEL FUNDS TO SOCIAL SERVICES!

INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE ALL INVOLVED IN CORRUPTION!

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To be a signatory now, click here.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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Open Letter to the Aldovino Family

To the Aldovino Family,

We would like to extend our sincerest condolences on the loss of your family.

Edna Aldovino

We see Edna’s passing as a case of the precarity of working conditions as a result of the negligence the government to its people’s welfare.

Before her death on Aug. 6, 2013, circumstances surrounding Edna have been brought by enticement by some compatriots for work that supposedly provides better compensation. She has had to endure many hardships starting with being a victim of release-upon-arrival scheme. She’s been one of the overseas Filipino workers who refuse to return to the country to look for replacement jobs for fear for unemployment, unable to meet the family’s needs. Rather, she had to stay in Canada for a few months before she could find someone who was willing to hire her with the proper arrangement under the Live-In Caregiver Program.

Her graduation from the program and finishing the work requirements have not been a guarantee for her to escape from the risks and hardships. Despite her being diagnosed with cancer in 2011, she opted to work day and night in between chemotherapy sessions. She had waged battle to make use of productivity of precarious working condition. She had a job in affective work immaterial of her bearing a lot of sacrifice.

Philippine envoys to Canada have tried to pay close attention to her case yet the time- and resource-consuming procedures follow. One would surely wonder if the purpose of the offices of the government is to provide assistance to the people they ought to represent and serve for (as written in the country’s constitution, why is not being a member of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration suddenly deprives a migrant worker of their assistance?

On the other hand significant delays in the processing of visa for Edna’s son Kenneth’s visit show how the austerity measures by even a developed country such as Canada interrupt and let the process of precarity be the normal, thus, continuing exploitability, especially of migrant workers.

We, members of progressive youth organization, mourn with you, for Edna’s departure. We encourage you to join other families who have suffered from this vicious cycle of warm bodies for export. May this be a reminder that your case is not an isolated one: almost 92% of LCP applicants are Filipino women who either are coming in directly from the Philippines or other parts of the world—from the fraudulent practice of recruitment agencies to the tied “temporary” work permits and the mandatory live in requirement thus making them vulnerable to different forms of abuses other workers in Canada normally would not experience. These issues create a negative effects on the transnational lives (physically, mentally, psychologically).

We would be glad to let you know that we continue our work in criticizing the government in its increased neoliberal economic policies that mainly serves the interests of foreign investors and only the countries’ elites. The state of Overseas Filipino workers under the Aquino administration remains to have been overlooked in PNoy’s cure-all “Daang Matuwid”—contradictory to cliches for OFWs as the “bagong bayani” among other people. The current government has failed to address the very basic rights, safety and welfare of OFWs worldwide This has been evident in various diplomatic issues OFWs continues to face today.

ABT with Edna Aldovino

Edna’s passing will not be in vain. Her life and memory would not be taken for granted that the cancer in our society should not only be coped with but treated from the very core problems. We are here at your side together with Migrante Canada, BAYAN-Canada, iwWorkers, Filipino Migrant Workers Movement and Gabriela Ontario. Root causes of migration would have to be addressed and resolved while we try to argue for our human rights. Together we call for development not for profit, but for the people.

Sincerely,

Anakbayan-Toronto

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Anakbayan Toronto Challenges Filipino Youth on Identity & Struggle with Diwa Ng Kasarinlan 2013 on July 27th.

 Filipino youth group Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-T) partners with Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture (PATAC) to host Diwa ng Kasarinlan 2013.

What does it mean to identify yourself as a distinct people, how can you affect local realities and how can you mobilize with an action to empower the community? On July 27, Toronto Filipinos are invited to challenge their struggles in an afternoon of engaging activities, workshops and cultural performances.

Diwa ng Kasarinlan looks to serve as an arena for inquiring a much deeper appreciation, particularly about the engagement of Filipino youth revolutionaries during the Spanish colonial period. Diwa ng Kasarinlan, which means for “Spirit of Independence” debuted last year on July 7th. This date marks the anniversary of the founding of the Katipunan, the revolutionary movement led by Andres Bonifacio, which waged war against the Spanish colonizers in the struggle for independence.

AB-T and PATAC are proud partners in this event aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of the Filipino culture hand-in-hand with the contemporary youth’s struggles. This year the event will take place at Palmerston Public Library Theatre at 560 Palmerston Ave. Toronto, ON M6G 2P7 on July 27, 2013 – 12:00PM – 6:00PM

The first part will feature a film showing of a movie related to the history of Philippine independence. Then will be followed up by performances featuring local talents. Complementing the workshops on Filipino culture, history, and current events, participants will be engaged in interactive cultural workshops, which allows them to extend the presentation in creative ways. Toronto Filipinos are encouraged to be part of the conversation by using the hashtag #DnK2013.

Diwa ng Kasarinlan was created by young Filipino-Canadian organizers to strengthen their ties to the motherland. The aim is not only to learn about native food, traditional dances and pop culture but to provide a venue for inquiring a much deeper appreciation of those who’ve come before and have taken the revolutionary path.

Come and celebrate Filipino pride that comes from our history of epic struggle!

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About Anakbayan-Toronto

Anakbayan Toronto is one of the overseas chapters of Anakbayan, a Philippines-wide organization which unites Filipino youth from all walks of life – for the cause of human rights, national freedom and genuine democracy in the country. In Canada, the group engages the youth to raise sociopolitical awareness of Filipino-Canadians and Filipino im/migrant youth through regular educational discussions, workshops and similar activities.

About PATAC
The Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture (PATAC) is a community based organization, registered federally as a non-profit organization. It strives to promote the Philippines’ progressive and nationalist culture, its people, culture and struggles through music, photo, spoken word, print and other artistic medium.

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For tickets, please check
dnk2013.eventbrite.com

For more info feel free to contact us:

anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

Imagehttp://www.anakbayanto.org

 

MAY 2 #TEDDYDAY: Sumusuporta ang Anakbayan-Toronto sa Migrante at kay Teddy Casiño

(Ibinahagi sa gabi ng pormal na paglunsad ng Migrante Partylist-Canada sa Marcelina’s, Toronto ika-16 ng Marso, 2013 ni Ysh Cabaña ng Anakbayan-Toronto)

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Mga kasama, kawani, estudyante, mga kapatid, mga kaibigan at bisita, isang maalab na pagbati mula sa kilusan ng mga kabataang Filipino sa Canada!

Buong pusong sumusuporta ang Anakbayan-Toronto sa paglahok ng Migrante Partylist at ni Teddy Casiño sa halalan sa Pilipinas sa darating na Mayo ng taong kasalukuyan. Kasali kami sa paglahad sa MSP bilang pasaporte natin sa Kongreso. Kalahok rin kami sa pagtakbo ni Teddy Casiño bilang boses ng karaniwang tao sa Senado.

Batid naming mga kabataan ang suliranin ng mga migranteng Filipino. Maging kami ay nakararanas din ng mga problema at paghihirap mula sa pagkakahiwalay ng aming pamilya bunga ng matinding kahirapan sa Pilipinas.

Ngunit malaking pabor sa rehimeng Aquino ang malawakang pag-eeksport ng lakas paggawa. Patuloy ang pagdagsa ng ating mga kababayan dito sa Canada dahil sa kakulanganan sa pagbibigay ng sapat na kabuhayan at paglunsad ng pambansang industriyalisasyon. Walang dudang malaking pakinabang ang remitans mula sa mga OFW. Bunga ng palisiyang ito ang pag-ebolb ng bansa bilang susunod na ‘tiger economy’ syempre sa balangkas ng patuloy na pandaigdigang krisis. Banggit nga ng ilan, sigurong sa tatlong araw na ‘di magpadala ng remitans ang mga migrante ay labis na babagsak ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.

Marami pa ring kinahaharap na hamon ang mga migrante, na karamihan ay mga babae at mga kabataan. Kaya hindi lang tayo nagbabakasakali tulad ni Carly Rae Jepsen sa kanta nyang “Call Me, Maybe”: I threw a wish in the well / Don’t ask me, I’ll never tell I looked to you as it fell / And now you’re in my way dahil sigurado tayo na sa sama-sama nating pagkilos at walang sawang pangangampanya para sa Migrante at kay Casiño ay maitatama natin ang daan tungo sa tunay na pagbabago sa ating bansa.

Sa mga panahong umalpas, napatunayan natin ang serbisyong walang pag-aalinlangan, may eleksyon man o wala, nasa pwesto man o hindi.

Subalit, ito ang ating pagkakataon upang mas palawakin pa ang pagtataguyod ng karapatan at kagalingan d’i lamang ng kasalukuyang migrante, kundi ng mga susunod na henerasyon ng mga Filipino mula sa iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan: manggagawa, magsasaka, kababaihan, propesyunal, kawani, kabataan, maralitang tagalungsod, pambansang minorya, atbp. Kagyat na nararapat na pausarin natin ang pagluklok ng boses ng mga migrante sa Kongreso.

Magkita-kita tayong muli sa tagumpay. Mabuhay ang Migrante Sectoral Partylist #96 sa balota. Mabuhay si Teddy Casiño #6 sa balota. Mabuhay ang migranteng manggagawang Filipino.

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May Day 2013: Decent Work is Hard Work

Filipino youth group Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-T) and other mass-based organizations under the waving banner of BAYAN-Canada march with workers, local community organizers, and peoples around the globe as part of the International Workers Day on May 1st, 2013.

Since it was formalized as an international holiday in 1891, May 1st is a day of coordinated action for workers rights and struggles, for quality living and working conditions, as well as a just workplace system. Radical agitations are resonated in the midst of capitalist uncertainty and austerity.

In the Philippines, the first movement launched more than 100,000 workers on May 1, 1903 led by the Union Obrera Democratica. Segue to 1988, Southern Tagalog region experienced one of the most violent and bloody demonstrations, where high-caliber guns were indiscriminately fired to protesting workers.

At present, despite its much publicized outperformance of its neighbouring countries in Asia, the Philippines under Benigno Aquino III is not able to provide sufficient jobs and the education system cannot equip its expanding labour force with the skills needed for its own industries. The “rising star” economy has significantly increased the fortunes of a narrow clique of Filipino business tycoons by $13 billion to $47.4 in 2011-2012. The country now has total of 15 billionaires while poverty incidence remain unchanged. Three Filipinos out of ten are living under $1 per day.

In search of decent work, many Filipinos are forced to move from rural to urban areas with a large portion opting to go overseas. The pipeline for more than 5,000 people to leave the Philippines for work has ever expanded.

Meanwhile, immigration minister Jason Kenney keeps on drawing in labour force via temporary foreign workers, who are being used and abused to maintain depressed wages for both Canadians and landed immigrants. Among the 1.3 million unemployed in Canada, nearly six workers are available for every job vacancy.

In Canada as in the Philippines and around the world, the fast-growing young labour force is having a hard time to find the jobs that are commensurate with the skills they are educated. Figures are even worse on young people who are not employed, educated and no training at all. As well, many of the employed young are working informally or intermittently. The youth are so tired of low wages and long hours.

This is where our interests lie: the masses of migrant workers which constitute a chunk of the working class to be stronger than it has ever been. The boiling frog in the melting pot of Toronto should be awakened.

Together, we must stand firmly to acknowledge that the profit-driven system is not working for the people. We must raise our voices to articulate the language of communism beyond the canon of liberal democracy. We must march forward to appeal for a strong movement in the face of antagonisms.

Toronto May Day 2012

As part of the Filipino community, AB-T recognizes the need to eliminate the exploitation of migrant workers. We are so stoked of the fact that normalcy is beginning to lose its hold. But without the upshot of genuinely addressing the problems of underdevelopment and agrarian reform in the Philippines, we cannot fully effect change to our situation. And without the support of our allies, we would never succeed.

Regardless of the ever-shifting socio-political problems created by capitalism, the general spirit of militancy among working peoples continue during this great and historic day.

DARE TO BUILD A SOLIDARITY CITY, DARE TO WIN!
LONG LIVE MAY DAY!
WORKERS AND OPPRESSED PEOPLES AND NATIONS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

 All are welcome to join the BAYAN contingent on May 1st:
5:30PM: Start of Program Nathan Phillips Square
6:00PM: Rally along Queen Street to Bathurst to Little Norway Park

For more information, please contact:
Ysh Cabana at anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com or (416) 902 2551.

Toronto Filipino youth group on PH peace process: “Time for true action rather than empty talks”

Reference: Alex Felipe
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

APRIL 24, 2013–This year marks the 40th anniversary of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the largest coalition of various economic, social justice organizations and organs of political power within the national democratic movement.

The process of building up a concrete revolutionary movement has been a gradual and complex process since its inception. This was the same period that the Philippines suffered from a serious downturn after years of experiencing positive outgrowth postured by ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos. An era for his vision of a “New Society” was supposedly fostered through the installation of Martial Law. The regime’s move however, created extreme poverty levels, rampant graft and corruption and slowdown of economy until “it was grinding to a halt” in the 80s.

In the midst of the disorder caused by the dictatorship, the NDFP was born in 1973 the day after its program was formalized. Its policy was sought under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to establish unity among patriotic classes, forces and sectors in the Philippines and abroad for genuine national freedom and lasting peace.

It has a profound role in advancing the struggle against the imperialist US government and its peripheral reactionary governments throughout the last four decades. While it continuously pushes for its program, a truly democratic process that serves the needs of the majority of the people remains elusive with the current ruling class still  in power. This naturally gives rise to a yearning for justice, and has pushed the people to wage an armed rebellion.

The Philippine military’s assessment makes clear that the broad mass movement led by the NDFP continues to wield “strong influence” in more than 60 of the country’s 72 provinces. 

According to their own reports, New People’s Army (NPA) units have initiated more than 70 tactical offensives against large-scale mining corporations and agri-business plantations in the first four months of 2013. These activities are coordinated to hold the multinational companies back from exploiting the peoples and the environment. The anti-feudal movement in the countryside continues to heighten its influence up to the regional level, particularly in the southern island of Mindanao.

Despite the incident involving an NPA unit and Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona, Senator Teofisto Guingona III agrees to the need to resume formal GPH-NDFP peace talks. On the other hand, the Malacañang palace orders to “dismantle NPA checkpoints” enforcing its will on the Philippines as having only “one government” and under “one President,” Benigno Aquino III. His demand only seeks to circumvent the process and calls for surrender.

This is just one in a line of the many obstacles to a two-state solution. How can the problem be resolved when the Aquino regime keeps its counterinsurgency campaign and even allows US troops to use the country as a base in the Asia-Pacific region? How can negotiations be pursued if NDFP consultants Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Eduardo Serrano, Edgardo Friginal, Eduardo Sarmiento, Leopoldo Caloza, Emeterio Antalan, Renante Gamara, Jaime Soledad, Danilo Badayos, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano and Ramon Patriarca remain in detention? How can we move on to tackle the next substantive issues if the current regime fails to honour previous agreements such as the Hague Joint Declaration, and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)? It is safe to say that a solution of the broader framework is needed.

However, this is a situation that peace-minded masses want to see a resolution to: a sincere engagement in reconciliation work for restorative justice and lasting peace process.

Anakbayan-Toronto only hopes for hastening the resumption of the negotiations in the midst of the pitfalls caused by the Aquino regime’s apparent disinterest. We are committed that the root causes of the armed conflict be addressed fundamentally through an overturning of the semi-colonial, semi-feudal conditions in the Philippines. We rightfully express that the Filipino people deserve to benefit in our goal for genuine land reform, national industrialization, true freedom and democracy.

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ABT Statement on Aldaw ti Kordilyera (Cordillera Day) 2013

Can a revolutionary indigenous culture break capitalism’s momentum?

Is it imaginable that our indigenous youth who have been born in Canada or have been hyphenates, claim that they can empower themselves today through their decolonizing psychology, practice and constant self-identity? Can culture alone allow the next generation to come to the fore as active participants in shaping our times?

Sisters, brothers, comrades and kasamas, revolutionary greetings from the youth section of progressive Filipinos in Canada.

The roots of the struggle of the indigenous peoples had resulted in a push by the American regime for direct control over the Cordillera region. The solution to the US Great Depression of the late 1920s was contracted in the mineral-rich mountains the Philippines. This would mean the start of “the real gold rush,” which had been in slack primarily because of the panned resistance to the Spanish conquistadors by the disparate peoples. This would mean that the northern region was the predestined subject of “benevolent assimilation” and cultural disparagement.

American colonial authorities propagated the idea of a pan-Cordillera identity and the meaning of a single “Igorot” inhabiting the highlands to separate them from their lowland counterparts and pacify them. This homogenous regional consciousness was used to constitute America as modern to justify its imperialist occupation. In the turn of the 20th century during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, descendants of tribal peoples were put as ‘living exhibits’ — especially the Cordillerans whose main draw was their custom of eating dog meat. However, prior to their coming, these peoples were richly diverse, as is still now, in different terms.

Our history has taught us lessons that are very significant to our present identity. The role of instituted policies have demonstrated us how ethnic imaginings are constantly constructed and reconstructed. It is precisely the clash of interests that shape the dynamics of history.

Has the bourgeois government in Manila ever effected a progress without dragging away peoples through dirt and blood, forced disappearances and forcible dispossession from their domains?

Perennial mining disasters and controversial mining impacts including those by Canadian firms operating in the homeland show us clearly: the 1996 Marcopper tragedy in the small island-province of Marinduque, whose main waterway Boac River was declared not usable even after more than 10 years since the mine closed; then 2005 Lafayette mine which caused cyanide spill and fish-kill off the coast of Albay, in which local fisherfolks’ livelihood and health were devastated; and most recently, the Philex tailing pond leak which is probably the largest mining tragedy in the Philippines, causing displacement of thousands of our brothers and sisters from the Cordillera region.

From north to south, indigenous peoples must arise out of the fact that their formal equality only covers up their real inequality.The concentration of economic and political power among a few families should not be an acceptable option to the majority Filipinos. Our people in the diaspora must also stand firmly on the question of sovereign land in the context of impoverishment. Altogether, we must ultimately allow healing the economic wounds inflicted by peripheral capitalism by pushing for true democracy and national industrialization.

Cordillera Day gives us a chance to reflect the sacrifice that have been made by our fallen hero Macli-ing Dulag. This day also should make us act on behalf of our indigenous compatriots who have been disappeared such as James Balao and politically imprisoned like Kennedy Bangibang. Culture of impunity persists after the extrajudicial killings of Romy Sanchez, Albert Terredano, Pepe Manegdeg, Jose Doton, Markus Rafael Bangit and Alice Claver. Against the backdrop of centuries-old culture of resistance of indigenous peoples, justice has not been served to these human rights defenders.

We, together with the people of Cordillera, do not sit idly by as we continue to ward off capitalists who plunder their lands and lives for the benefit of the monied few. We will keep exposing and opposing the complicity of Canadian corporations in this conflict. We reaffirm our fight for land which is life and for life that is the land.

We at Anakbayan-Toronto are in solidarity with the people of Cordillera! Down with imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and feudalism!!!

“Parahin ang pangyayamot sa mga progresibong partylista!” – Anakbayan Toronto

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Mula sa hanay ng progresibong kabataang Filipino sa Canada, ang Anakbayan Toronto ay taas kamaong sumusuporta sa Kabataan Partylist at sa PISTON partylist para sa nalalapit na halalan ngayong Mayo 13.

Ang pagtatangka ng Commission on Elections (Comelec) na i-diskwalipika ang dalawang progresibong partido dahil lumabag ang mga ito umano sa patakaran sa pagpapaskil ng mga poster ay hindi makatarangunan, kahit na nagwasto na ang mga partidong ito at tinanggal ang mga posters. Ang mga partylista na kaalyado ng pamahalaan ng Pilipinas, tulad ng Akbayan at Anak Mindanao ay may tig-siyam na paglabag sa batas, ay hindi nila ito i-diniskwalipika ng kumisyon!

Ipinapakita ang anti-mamamayang interes ng Comelec at ng sabwatang US-Aquino lamang ang nangingibabaw sa paglalako ng mga partido na kaalyado nito. Kaalinsabay nito ang kanilang paniniil sa mga makamasang progresibong partylist upang panatilihin ang sistema ng pagsasawalambahala sa mga mamamayang Pilipino, nasa Pilipinas man o sa ibayong dagat.

Kung itatala, ang Piston partylist ay tuloy-tuloy na nagsusumikap sa pag-arangkada ng karapatan ng mga tsuper at sektor ng transportasyon. Sila ang pangunahing bumubusina sa laban sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis sa konteksto ng deregulasyon ng industriya.

Sa kabilang banda, ang Kabataan partylist ay isa sa masugid na nagbitbit ng isyu para sa kapakanan at kalagayan ng mga estudyante at ng kabataang Pilipino. Sa loob lamang ng dalawang taong pagkaluklok sa Kamara, ipinakita ng Kabataan ang kasanayan at representasyon sa paglatag ng mga panukalang batas. Walo mula sa 35 lamang rito ang di kaugnay sa sektor ng kabataan, ayon sa isang pag-aaral. Aktibo rin ang pakikibaka ng mga kasama sa loob at labas ng kongreso, laban sa mga hindi makabayan na patakaran ng rehimeng US-Aquino.

Sa semi-kolonyal na kasaysayan ng Pilipinas, napatunayang minamaniobra ng pamahalaan sa Washington ang bawat proseso ng halalan sa pamamagitan ng pagtulak ng mga lokal na tuta nito upang paigtingin ang impluwensiya nito sa bansa.

Sa ating patuloy na pag ooganisa ng mga kabataang Pilipino sa labas ng bansa ay aktibo tayong nag-aambag sa paglikha ng kasaysayan. Di lamang natin pananatilihing ang muling pagkapanalo, bagkus ay itutulak rin natin ang paglawak ng representasyon ng sektor ng kabataan at masa sa kongreso .

Kami sa Anakbayan-Toronto ay nananawagan kay Commissioner Sixto Brilliantes ng COMELEC at G. Benigno Aquino III na itigil ang political harassment sa mga progresibong partylist. Itigil ang panggigipit sa mga progresibong partylist gaya ng Kabataan Partylist at PISTON! ##

Lagdaan ang petisyon DITO.

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Why I Became an Advocate for Philippine Issues

A speech delivered on 22 Feb 2013 at “Activate TO”

by Anakbayan-Toronto Chair, Rhea A. Gamana.

Rhea SONA 2012

I used to say that activists, especially the youth, were just complaining, paralyzing the traffic, and that they should do more productive things rather than going out to yell on the streets. I used to say to myself that they should just go abroad and earn a living.  Then they would have a better life and could be able to provide their families. I changed my attitude when I reunited with my mother.  Now I understand why they do those things. I am now one of them.

My mother used to be a government employee in the Philippines, but since her salary wasn’t enough to provide for us, she decided to come to Canada and be a live-in caregiver. She left my brother and I behind.  This is a common story for Filipinos.

In the last four decades, a Labour Export Policy (LEP) has been implicitly implemented to address the economic crisis in the country. This is not a long-term and people friendly solution to poverty.

OFW Deployment photo

The Philippine economy does not have a national industrialization plan to end underdevelopment. Instead it depends on remittances from overseas Filipino workers. Their numbers continue to rise under the administration of current President Benigno Aquino III. The LEP divides families. There are now 4500 leaving every day to work in different countries. The Philippines is the number one source country of migrants to Canada.

I was a good student and daughter in the Philippines. I took care of my family. Yet I was always sad that I couldn’t speak to my mother face-to-face if I needed advice from her.

When the time had come that we were going to reunite with her, I was nervous but happy. Prior to coming here in Canada, we attended a few orientations where they told us that Canada was a better place to achieve the future I wanted.

My Philippine educational attainment was considered nothing here in Canada. I had graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and wanted to become a lawyer or a teacher. A week after our arrival here in Canada almost 7 years ago, I applied for a job at a fast food chain.

I resigned myself to working as a part-time cashier while waiting for the right time to go back to college. After working for almost a year, my workplace got robbed.  I thought I would die that day. The robber pointed the gun towards my stomach, and hit my head on the cash register.

That day changed me. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and that lasted for three years. This was not what I expected from a country like Canada. It was not what was described to us in the pre-departure orientation session we received in the Philippines.

According to a study titled “Filipinos in Canada: Economic Dimensions of Immigration and Settlement” by Dr. Philip Kelly of York University, Filipino immigrants have the highest educational attainment of all migrant groups yet still tend to be deskilled. For example, if I was a nurse in the Philippines, I could only work here as a nanny or personal support worker. In my case, I wasn’t able to use my education here in Canada at all.

Research also shows that children of Filipino migrants make less money than their parents and have a lower educational attainment.  According to Statistics Canada, 32% of first generation Filipinos have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 28% of the second generation.

The Philippines is a semi-colonial country, which means that the country itself is not independent and remains under the control of Western imperialism. The Philippines is a semi-feudal nation. Big business landlords and elites exploit the natural resources and the cheap serf-like labour of the country. This results in the displacement of families who then migrate to urban areas or to other countries to find a better living.

It makes me wonder why the Canadian government only allows one family member to come to Canada if they need more people here.

The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is a program of the federal government allowing Canadians to import temporary migrant live-in caregivers, known around the world as domestic workers.

If they complete the program they can become Canadian citizens and sponsor their family through the reunification program.  This takes an average of seven years, sometimes more.  That’s a long time to be separated from your family.  A long time spent taking care of the children of others, while your own need you at home.

This aspect of the program causes damage to family relationships, one that affects the children deeply—this I can tell you from personal experience.

Canadians need to be aware that we are part of this system. Not only here in Canada through our immigration policies, but also in the Philippines where Canadian imperialism contributes to forced migration. Part of our taxes goes to fund Canadian companies in the Philippines (especially in the mining sector), and Canadian military training of the Philippine armed forces to help protect those companies and forcefully displace Filipinos from the countryside through militarization.

I want a Philippines with true democracy and true independence. I want justice for the marginalized and underrepresented.

Today I am the Chairperson of Anakbayan-Toronto. We advocate for human rights, and we struggle for national industrialization that will keep Filipino families intact and ensure that no one will have to leave the country for a better life.  I don’t want any child to suffer what I went through.

Anakbayan-Toronto will not stop calling for national industrialization and genuine land reform in the Philippines, This is the only way that Filipinos will be able to work decent jobs, and not have to leave the country.

Toronto Filipino youth group slam security overkill of poldet Ericson Acosta

Youth group Anakbayan-Toronto condemns the illegal arrest and overkill security measures of political prisoner Ericson Acosta who recently granted a furlough to seek medical attention.

With the campaign of organizations such as human rights group KarapatanSELDA and other international groups, temporary release has been granted for poet-activist Acosta, who displayed symptoms of serious health problems which may have been the effect of torture. However, he received brutal treatment even while undergoing medical treatment.

According to the Free Ericson Acosta Coalition, a broad alliance supporting the detainee, 10 full-armed personnel from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) were stationed at Acosta’s hospital room not only to guard him but to make sure that he is handcuffed to his bed at all times.

Acosta is a poet, thespian, songwriter, and intellectual activist who has been arrested without a warrant since February  2011 by armed troops. He was tortured inside the military camp before being charged of illegal possession of explosives. He has since then been suffering from injustice as his case is still pending in court for 23 months. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Isaias P. Acosta, despite their own health conditions, have been continuously calling for their son’s release.

Acosta’s case is one in more than 400 political prisoners in the Philippines today, most of them victims of arbitrary arrests, torture and trumped-up criminal charges. More than 120 of them, including the imprisoned writer, were arrested under President Noynoy Aquino’s watch.

Anakbayan-Toronto calls for the unconditional and omnibus amnesty to be granted to Ericson Acosta and to all political prisoners.

Free Ericson Acosta!!
Free all Political Prisoners!!

Sign the online petition at  change.org

BAYAN-Canada stands with Canada’s First Nations. Self Determination for Indigenous Peoples Everywhere!

BAYAN-Canada, an alliance of progressive Filipino organizations, stands with Indigenous peoples in Canada in their struggle for recognition of their rights to their lands and for their self-government. In Canada, as in the Philippines and around the world, Indigenous peoples remain among the most, if not the most, economically impoverished people.  The status quo system is fundamentally unjust, manipulative, and unsustainable thus unacceptable.

Imperialism, whether in the Philippines or in this country, is clearly the source of great hardship forced upon the many for the benefit of the few.

The colonizers of what was to become Canada made agreements permitting them to partake in the resources of the land. They signed early treaties of peaceful coexistence with the original peoples. It seems like a small thing to honour these agreements and yet where are we today?

Reserves remain places with poor standard of living. A disproportionate number of indigenous peoples live below the poverty line, and over 100 communities still don’t have clean tap water.  In the north, tuberculosis rates are 137 times higher than the rest of the country. Indigenous people make up 20% of the prison population—which is indicative of both their own struggles borne of their social situation and of the state’s guilt. Despite apologies made by Prime Minister Harper in 2008, the tragic impact of the Indian Residential School System spirals down to the current generation. All these help drive mental health issues, resulting in the country’s highest suicide rates, particularly among the youth.

To the progressive Filipino-Canadian community, the government’s disregard for First Nations is something we can easily identify with. Just last month the Prime Minister visited the Philippines to boost its economic and military footprint on our homeland.

By economic, a good part of this includes Canadian mining on the lands of Filipino indigenous people. 30% of the country (66% of the Cordillera region) has been signed over to mining.  As most of this is on indigenous land, we are familiar with the social, economic, and environmental destruction this industry causes.

By military, we know that on his visit to the Philippines, Harper signed an arms deal to supply the Manila government with military equipment and expertise that will be used to help implement these economic interests.

This combines with other push factors such as the bilateral agreement to “people-to-people exchanges” that drive Filipinos to find work abroad just so they can support their families–actively expanding the benefits of Canadian imperialism with cheap disposable labourers.  The Philippine nation has been the number one supply of migrants since 2011.

BAYAN-Canada stands with our indigenous sisters and brothers.  We demand that at the very least Prime Minister Harper show the most basic level of respect, and pursue an integral relationship with national partners with whom future cooperative agendas can be realised. We echo the call that he meet with Chief Theresa Spence who is on a brave hunger strike very close to Canada’s Parliament and the Harper residence.

However, for indigenous communities to have the opportunity at becoming truly self-sustaining, the status quo of native affairs in Canada must end.

We demand an end to imperialism.  We insist on a repeal of Bill C-45.  And we expect the right of self-determination for indigenous peoples everywhere.

Reference: Alex Felipe, Toronto-spokesperson, BAYAN-Canada, bayan.canada.noc@gmail.com

Jobs through national industrialization, not the LEP

Toronto—As we celebrate International Migrants Day on Dec 18th 2012, let us pause and reflect on the current state of the Filipino diaspora. Anakbayan Toronto stands firm in our call to abolish the Philippine Labour Export Policy (LEP) used by the government to keep the country’s economy afloat. The LEP was a temporary policy during the 1970s economic crisis but Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have remained to become the primary source for the country’s economic growth. OFW remittance alone brings in a huge sum of much needed revenue to the country. According to the National Statistics Office (NSO) the first eight months of this year alone already totalled $15.30 billion, 9.5 percent of which originate from Canada, much of it used to alleviate the symptoms of poverty in the Philippines.

But we must never forget the reason why this policy existed in the first place nor undermine the continued repercussions it has on the Philippine nation.

Every day the state-sanctioned migration drives 4,500 Filipinos away from their houses and communities. In 2011 alone, more than 2.2 million Filipinos left the country to work abroad. The majority of these workers are now women. Many are mothers of young children or older siblings responsible for the well being of their whole family. They leave because they are able to earn more than the average $2/day salary if they work overseas.

This is not for the lack of trying to find work, or lack of education—many OFWS are in fact highly educated.  Filipinos leave and the reason why OFWs exist is because the Philippines lack the commitment to build a national industrial policy that would provide Filipinos with the suitable economic condition that would encourage them to stay in the country. At the moment Philippines has the highest unemployment rate in Asia. Earlier this year, the NSO put more than 2.8 million Filipinos as unemployed and 51.7% of these are youth between the ages of 15-27.

The country’s current state of economic affairs rests squarely with President Benigno Aquino III and his government who but refuse to implement policies that generate lasting employment and self-sufficient industries in the country. What he is more interested in is the continuing sell off of our national patrimony; extensively liberalizing our industries like mining, lumber, textile and exporting our workers abroad as if they are bodies of produce. This liberalizing attitude just further degrades the economy as well as the living conditions in the Philippines.

For Aquino government the LEP is nothing but a game of economic numbers and Canada is an implicit player. The Philippines is now the number one source of migrant workers serving the Canadian economy. It lures Filipino migrants to work as non-citizens with the prospect of not buying their benefits. While Canada is the second largest receiving country for Filipino migrants, its very exploitative Temporary Workers Program and Live-in Caregivers’ Program openly expose workers to potential employer’s abuse, systemic discrimination, and subjugate them to unhealthy working conditions with the threat of deportation or termination of contract. OFWs are used to fill in necessary but unattractive jobs for the average Canadians. Working in Canada is not cheap so it is not uncommon to hear news of temporary workers who go into thousands of debt just to come and work here.

The recent visit of Prime Minister Harper to the Philippines only exacerbates the economic situation in the country. It is a proof of Canada’s tightening imperialist hold in the country through the“3M”: mining, migration and militarization. The Philippine Mining Act made legal by Aquino to liberalize foreign control of the national’s mining industry which was called by many including the proposed counteracting, People’s Mining Act (which calls to nationalize the industry) to be unconstitutional and harmful to the Filipino state. Canada is the top source of big mining companies. Granting open access through the 3M is a write-off of the betterment of our nation and sanctions the business practices of the elites which purposely undermine the working class.

Globally this means that for every pool of cheap labour accessed causes a one percent rise in unemployment which decreases the combined salary of workers to six to seven percent. But for the Filipino people it means toiling longer under even more precarious conditions.

Until now, despite Aquino’s rhetorics for a “matuwid na daan (righteous path)”, he has refused to implement a significant wage hike, to junk contractualization and uphold workers’ rights. At home, correlation can be drawn between the country’s low standards of living, hunger, crime and poverty to the lack of employment opportunities available to improve the Philippine situation. Peasants, fisherfolks, farmers and the urban poor who make up the majority of our nation continue to be the most vulnerable and bearing the most suffering. Abroad, the OFWs which the government promotes as the “modern heroes” are just as neglected. This year, ten embassies across Europe and the Pacific region closed down leaving many of the OFWs stationed in those regions unprotected and harder to give access to in times of trouble. A slap in the face still is these OFWs continue to contribute to social net (i.e. Philhealth, SSS etc) which are not immediately accessible to them.

The state’s continued sponsorship of the detrimental exportation of labour is not and should never be the answer to eliminating the social ills the people suffer from. As part of the liberalization policy of the government it only makes the Philippines worse. If the regulations stay the same, our people will also remain treated as export products; female workers will be at the forefront of exploitation and abuses; families will continue to be divided, a vicious cycle of poverty will remain and the Philippines will continue to be under control of imperialist and neo-colonial rule.

As part of the Filipino migrant community, we intensify our demands for more sufficient and sustainable jobs in the Philippines. We call the Aquino administration to stop the liberalization of the Philippines to the benefit of foreign capitalists and the Philippine elite. More importantly, we demand and immediate implementation for genuine land reform and national industrialization policies to improve the Philippines as a whole.

Abolish the LEP; Demand immediate implementation of national industrialization
Demand genuine land reform and remove liberalization policies
Protect our people and patrimony; Implement the People’s Mining Act.

Plight of Typhoon Pablo Survivors: Anti-Environment And Anti-Peoples’ Policies

We, from the national democratic organizations of Filipino migrant workers, women, youth and students and indigenous people in Toronto, stand in solidarity with the survivors of Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao. We call our allies and friends to continue our collective effort to raise funds and donations to assist them.

Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) hit the southern island of the Philippines on the evening of December 3, 2012.  With winds of 260 km/h affecting over five million people, the super typhoon has been considered the most destructive tropical storm of the year.


As of December 11, at least 700 persons are reported dead, almost 2,000 injured, and 900 missing. The state agency for disaster risk management stated a total of 486,554 families, or 5.4 million persons, were affected by Pablo. But many were also able to get away from danger seeking shelter in makeshift evacuation centres for safety. The affected communities in the south region of the Philippines were especially quick to evacuate and mobilize in light of last year`s calamity (previously thought improbable, Typhoon Ondoy hit the southern Philippines leaving behind $1.06 billion in damages and close to 750 dead).

But the situation remain grim for many communities isolated by the landslides and flash flooding incited by the tropical storm. Aerial surveys show vast areas of flattened houses and buildings, destroyed infrastructures and agricultural lands totaling to over PHP4 billion in damages. However, Typhoon Pablo still left the country, with the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental the most damaged, in a declared state of calamity.

The Philippines is hit by an annual average share of 20 typhoons . But every year the effects of these natural disasters only seem to get worse. Even in the issue of climate change, there is no dispute that it is happening. Yet the government is doing insufficient preparations to prevent these before they strike. Many of these are the direct result of the systemic and biopolitical conditions in the country. The KALIKASAN-People’s Network for the Environment and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) both released separate statements blasting the current regime for allowing the desecration and liberalization of our sovereign land and resources.  This is a message worth repeating in light of the destruction of the tropical superstorm Pablo.

President Benigno Aquino III’s government has been more than willing to further degrade Philippine land and people.  For a pittance, Aquino has authorized exemption laws allowing big multinational mining companies, many of which are Canadian-owned, to operate without any accountability to the people and the environment.  For their benefit, Philippine land laws have been permanently altered in our constitution to allow mineral rich areas to be explored and to be exclusively reserved for extractive operations. These areas were and still are technically, ancestral domains of the indigenous communities in Mindanao. According to the country’s cultural commission, the Lumad—a Bisayan term for indigenous people which has been adopted by 15 of the 18 indigenous groups in Mindanao—comprise 2.1 million out of 6.5 million indigenous people nationally.  It is the Lumad like the B’laan, Higaonon, Manobo, T’boli and many others who are profoundly affected by these large scale mining operations.

But displacement is only one other major problem they must face. State-sanctioned assassinations have encouraged the total annihilation of these communities.  Vilification of movements was made easy through liberal policies. In 2011, the Aquino administration pursued the path for a new mining policy which seeks to employ paramilitary and even the Philippine Army to protect the investments of foreign mining firms. The lives of village tribal leaders and other members as well as many other environmental defenders who have openly voiced their opposition have been the state’s obvious targets. Mindanao-based green group Panalipdan has reported 19 deaths due to the rising struggle against mining plunder.  The RMP-NMR have also been publishing numerous stories illustrating similar cases.  One is Sharon Liguyon, whose village tribal leader husband, Jimmy, was shot dead in their home by the paramilitary because he did not want to give his consent to the company that wanted to mine in their area. With a growing and more daring opposition from the Lumad and from the general southern population, we recognize the need for bigger collective mobilizations. If not, stories like the Liguyons’ will only be normalized.

Meanwhile, advocacies like Manilakbayan have been alerting the public of the broadening alliances of internal refugees. Although the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 seeks to “recognize, protect and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities…” environment defenders and indigenous leaders have only been answered with bullets and bulldozers. Thus, many local people choose organised armed resistance against the ruling landlords and big foreign mining companies.

The government lambasting on small scale miners condemning their work as amplifying the chaotic destruction of Typhoon Pablo is totally false and is an act of betrayal geared towards the poor Filipinos. “Kadtong niuli ko sa Pilipinas duha ka bulan na ang nilabay, giduaw nako ang sitio sa New Bataan sa probinsya sa Compostela Valley ug nakit-an nako ang sitwasyon sa minahan didto. Nadugmok pag maayo ang akong kasing-kasing sa akong nahibal-an. Didto kay nailhan nako ang komunidad sa mga gagmayng minero, ug sila nagbahin sa ako ug ilang sentimyento ug unsa sila maapektuhan kung sudlun ug langyaw na dagkong minahan ang ilang yuta na posibleng madaut ang ilang yuta, panginabuhi, ug ang ilang mga kinabuhi. Mao ba ning Pilipinas na ikabilin nato sa mga musunod na henerasyon? Among ginapangayo ang hustisya ug paspas na pagtubag ni Pangulo Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III atol sa pagtabang sa atong mga kababayan para sila makahanlingkawas niining kalisod sa sitwasyon!!!”  (When I went to back to the Philippines almost two months ago, I visited New Bataan in Compostela Valley Province and saw the mining situation. I was devastated. I met small scale miners, and they shared how their community will be affected by the possible invasion of huge foreign mining, which will potentially hurt their land, livelihood, and their lives. Is this the Philippines that we want for our future generation? We demand justice and quick response from President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to help our kababayans to recover from this disaster!!!) ,said Anakbayan Toronto Chairperson Rhea A. Gamana, who is also a Mindanao native.

The Philippine delegate’s urgent appeal to halt global warming in the recent climate change conference is simply reactionary. The impact of recurring typhoons is natural, but the abilities of the Filipinos who have survived the typhoon are hampered down by conditions of unnatural nature. If the government is pro-environment and pro-people, it will recognise that the these calamities are primarily due to the sinking conditions of the status quo. The Alternative Minerals Management Bill is yet to be enacted. Typhoon Pablo confirmed that imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism are still inherent in the current system.

As Filipinos overseas, we want to register our concern regarding the continuing environmental degradation and seeming government neglect of its basic obligation to protect its people. A genuine change in political agenda must be pursued progressively by the masses to overcome capitalism and environmental catastrophe.

Defend our national patrimony versus big foreign mining firms plunder!
Stop the killings of indigenous leaders and environmental defenders!
Scrap the mining EO 79! Support the People’s Mining Bill!

Vernie Yocogan-Diano of CWEARC at ABT’s Founding Assembly

Magbunyi ang Kabataan Patungo sa Malayang Bukas! Assembly of Anakbayan Toronto (1 December 2012)

Kabataang lumalaban! Kabataang makabayan! Gawin nating makabuluhan ang slogans na ito sa paghimok at pagpapakilos ng kabataang Pilipino sa pamamagitan ng Anakbayan sa Toronto at Canada. Congratulations on your 1st Assembly as Anakbayan Toronto, the youth organization with acomprehensive mission of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the Filipino youth to advance the Filipino movement for national freedom and democracy. Mabuhay kayo.

Vernie Diano in ABT 1st GA

I am indeed honoured to be part of this historic event in the life and journey of Anakbayan Toronto.When I was informed about the assembly, what came across my mind is you probably have wanted tohold your assembly on Nov. 30 being the birthday of one of our heroes who led the revolution against Spanish colonization, Andres Bonifacio. Bonifacio’s birthday was also the date that Anakbayan was formed in 1998. You are also holding your assembly at a significant period when the women of the world are commemorating the 16-day campaign to end violence against women where we highlight the struggles of women in ending violence and discrimination particularly violence perpetrated by the stateand its institutions that make women as private property, commodities and elements of profit. In the Philippines, this is led by our national alliance of women, GABRIELA.

I convey my salute to you that as young as you are, you are already taking part in this less traveled path.The usual dream of any young person is to take the more traveled path of career development, climbing the social ladder and catching up with the fashion. As a young person then, I was not spared from that thinking. I come from a rural indigenous community where every youth’s dream was to be a “big somebody” in the future. Every youth dreamt of giving good life to her/his family. This is possible if you are able to study, finish a degree, have the connection with a politician or person in authority or have the capital to run a business. For one who grew in a rural village, these dreams are realized by leaving eventually your village. But I was also coming from a village that was involved in the armed revolution and that somehow changed the mindset and perspectives of young people. But I was not as bold as the others who saw that life was possible without leaving the village. I was an obedient child with the desire of finishing a degree, landing a good job and be a “somebody”.

When my parents sent me to study in the city of Baguio in the mid 80’s, I had no other goal but study and excel. I hear about actions in the streets and plazas but I kept myself away from these—not because I did not believe but it was because I wanted to fulfill a dream. I believed some were there not because they understood the cause but because they find it thrilling and different. I was not convinced with youth leaders who failed in their subjects or who even dropped and used their activism as a reason. My older brother happens to be one of those in the Progressive Igorots for Social Action (PIGSA). They hold long night sessions talking about perspectives,actions and self-criticism in our house. But he never invited me, nor his group to join them.Without them knowing, I listened to their discussions, read the materials they produce and actually used those materials in my arguments in school. I eavesdropped where the next action is. I realized I was open to their beliefs and movement as I found my way to their public forums and actions. Being an active member of the traditional youth organization of the Episcopal church, I was later invited to a youth camp that discussed social issues which were different from the usual discussions of the church youth. Marcos dictatorship was falling down and we were asked to reflect on the role of the youth in restoring democracy and struggling for justice. That changed a lot in my life. I had very good mentors who were priests and pastors, some of them unfortunately have left and became part of the oppressive system. One of those ministers remain to be as dedicated to the cause for social justice until now. He experienced repressive attacks including being arrested and detained. So when I graduated from college and became a registered Medical Technologist, I thought that the best way to be relevant was to do community work. The state of unemployment in the country especially for MT facilitated that decision. But overseas work was also very inviting at that time. I was first involved as a staff for a women’s NGO and then to another Cordillera NGO doing human rights work. My parents and circle of friends thought that I was missing an opportunity and not fulfilling my dream of being a “somebody”.

Fast forward to the mid-90s’, I thought of trying organizing in one province of the Cordillera to test ifI really like what I was doing. I only had the basic orientation for organizers. The next thing was I was asked to do youth organizing which I strongly resisted in the beginning. Being 26 then, I thought I was too old for that group. But then I was reminded of what Bishop Mercado of the United Methodist Church during the founding of the ecumenical youth organization of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines that “youth is not a matter of age, it is a state of the mind”. So I took the challenge—sino ang gagawa kung hindi tayo. It was a worthy experience. Not only that it gives a sense of being a youth but it was truly a learning and de-learning process. My mass work experience among the youth,indigenous peasants and the professional in Ifugao strongly influenced my perspective of being part of the indigenous peoples’ movement in the Cordillera, particularly the women’s movement. I got the greatest learning and inspiration from them. That gave me the meaning of Serve the People.

In my journey with the indigenous peoples’ movement and in the wider movement for national freedom, democracy and justice, I would like to share with you some reflections: 1) That youth is not only a phase in our life. It is a phase where we determine our relevance and use our energy in making another world. Thus it means concretizing and pursuing the cause of Anakbayan as the Philippine comprehensive youth organization for national democracy. Serve the people. 2) That the world is leading us to a mindset of “mine and mine alone”. The culture bred by neoliberal economics and politics or by imperialism entrenches individualism and for the good of the few eroding the culture of collectivism and communalism that was the way of life of the ancestors of Filipinos before Spanish colonization. It is a worldview of indigenous peoples and such values are lived by some indigenous peoples until this era of neoliberal globalization. These values are specially sustained among indigenous peoples who are pursuing self-determination aspirations in the context of their movements like the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and its allied members which includes indigenous youth and women. To be able to pursue Anakbayan’s mission is to give up a long list of our individual wishes like earning one degree after another while many of the Filipino youth and children in countryside and urban communities cannot even have the basic education.

The energy of the youth is truly needed as the communities in the Philippines are facing greater threats and attacks of death in their resistance against mining corporations, other development aggression, militarization and policies that rob and concentrate the national wealth for the ruling elite, corporations and their imperialist rulers. It is giving up your comfort zones to serve the people.3) As the wellspring of the movement, think about coming back home not only as a visiting force but spend a significant time in actively participating to make change happen. And you will not regret that you will change and remould as you take part in creating the relevant changes. Many of you maybe still tracing their Filipino roots but I do hope that you will find your identity politics with the national democratic movement. The young once are aging and young ones are needed to continue the unfinished work. 4) In any struggle and every way of the struggle, we encounter contradictions. Our struggle includes dealing with individual and organizational challenges and by having healthy discussions that we build on unities. Hold on to the hard-earned lessons, don’t archive these to do what you just wish to do, and enrich those lessons in your ardous and painstaking work of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the Filipino youth in Toronto and Canada. Don’t leave behind the Igorot youth who you might find difficult to deal with but I believe that unending conversations with them will draw them in. Let us work together to make the connections with our indigenous youth organization in the Cordillera through the Cordillera Peoples Alliance,pursue conversations with them as indigenous but also Filipino youth in Toronto and Canada. 5) Let the women shine as leaders and members in Anakbayan Toronto. Women hold half of the sky and women have proven their role in leadership and decision-making and this you must reflect in Anakbayan Toronto. With you, we will look forward to new leaders for Filipino mass organizations in Canada.

An enormous task is waiting for you. I will be coming twice a year until 2015 and I look forward to continue what we began in sharing the progress of our work and have the conversations necessary in advancing our work.

Fetad or betad is our word in the Cordillera in mobilizing entire communities in defence of our land,life and dignity. I do look forward that Anakbayan Toronto will live the same spirit of mobilizing Filipino youth including the Igorot youth in Toronto, build linkages with Canadian,First Nation or immigrant youth organizations in Toronto and Canada, as you spread the good work of Anakbayan Toronto as your contribution to the national democratic struggle in the Philippines. I share the words of Macliing Dulag,one of the Cordillera martyrs who led the resistance against the World Bank funded Chico dams in the 70s and was killed by a military officer, which I always to in my messages, “If we do not fight, we die anyway. If we fight, we die honourably. I exhort you all fight.”

Matago-tako kayo, agbiag, mabuhay, long live!

Vernie Yocogan-Diano
Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC)
cwearc09@gmail.com