NYCHRP Demands Human Rights Protection for All Human Lives at 2018 People’s SONA rally in New York City

Reference: Louie Sawi, Mass Campaigns Chair, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

NYCHRP Demands Human Rights Protection for All Human Lives at 2018 People’s SONA rally in New York City

NYCHRP at SONA 2018

Human lives cannot survive without having concern for their human rights. Since Duterte took office, he has failed to ensure the safety and well-being of the Filipino people.

After he launched his  “war on drugs,” over 20,000, poor urban dwellers, including children, have been murdered by the hands of the Philippine National Police and its agents. According to an investigation by Human Rights Watch, police planted guns, used ammunition, and drug packets on victims’ bodies to incriminate them in drug activities. Masked gunmen participating in the killings appeared to be collaborating with with police, refuting government claims that most killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.

Opposition to Duterte’s War on Drugs in the Philippines has led to the imprisonment of 509 political dissidents, critics, and human rights defenders. Even faith based leaders, organizers, and international peacekeepers are not immune to Duterte’s atrocious policies. A month ago, Methodist Church Missionaries Tawanda Chandiwana, Miracle Osman, and Adam Shaw were detained and interrogated by the police while participating in an international peace mission. After 27 years of missionary work in the Philippines, Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox was ordered by the Bureau of Immigration for deportation. Fathers Rey Urmeneta, Mark Ventura, and Marcelito Paez were murdered for speaking out against Duterte’s extrajudicial killings.

Duterte’s amped up anti-people campaign has recently veered to the absurd. The government’s newest policy, Oplan Tambay, demonizes marginalized youth and criminalizes those hanging out in their neighborhood. It has led to more than 50,000 accosted, arrested and detained in city jails. For example, on June 29, urban poor activist Nicolas Minguito was arrested in Olango Island for eating halo-halo outside his house.

Martial Law in Mindanao continues to violate the human rights of its community members. Seven days ago, 1,607 Lumad members from the region of Surigao del Sur, Caraga were displaced from their ancestral lands after a series of abuses inflicted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. After over a year of its implementation, Karapatan, a national human rights organization led directly by impacted people in the Philippines, documented that Martial Law has led to 49 extrajudicial killings; 9,738 threats, harassment, or intimidation; 336,124 indiscriminate firing and bombings, 404,654 forced evacuations; and 979 forced surrenders in the region.

People have the right to be free from these civil and political rights violations, but are also enshrined with the right to stand up against oppressive governments and systems. The people that President Duterte is repressing are folks that are fighting fundamentally to assert their basic social and economic rights. Basic labor rights are being violated as Philippine local companies Sumifru, Shin Shun, and Coca-Cola harass their workers through union-busting, terrorist tagging, and employing state security forces to violently break-up their peaceful protests for safer working conditions and access to affordable health care.

The government’s policy of contractualization offers no income stability for temporary work. It’s inhumane for companies like Jollibee, NutriAsia, and DOLE to terminate the service of the workers after only a year or a few months on the job. The scarcity of white and blue collar jobs in the city force some community members to seek work in these call centers and export processing zones for multinational corporations, where they labor overtime with little sleep and little pay. Approval of a recent fare hike by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board won’t be enough to help workers afford to pay rent, feed their children, or send them to school, especially as the costs of basic goods and services – such as food, transportation, electricity, and water – increase due to rising inflation. Raising wages can improve workers’ lives; however, the government has failed to pass national minimum wage bills such as House Bill 7787 and other proposed legislation that increases the wages.

With the recent appointment of former President Gloria Arroyo into the Speaker of the House position, we know Duterte does not care for the interests of the people. That is why, we must fight. We must support our kababayans back home, in every way we can, to oust Duterte and his entire government out of office. We must replace that with National industrialization, genuine land reform, sovereignty and non-interference from oppressive/western powers like the US, and elect a government that supports scientific understanding of people’s conditions in order to uphold the rights of women, indigenous people, and national minorities.

More importantly, we must do our part, living in the belly of the beast, to stop the US from supporting the human rights abuses and fascism of the Duterte regime.

#StoptheKillingsPH

#EndContractualization

#NotoMartialLaw

#OustDuterte

#PeoplesSONA2018

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NYCHRP Supports the Striking Workers of NutriAsia, Jollibee, and PLDT; Calls for the Regularization of Workers and an Increase to the National Minimum Wage

July 6, 2018

Reference: Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

NYCHRP Supports the Striking Workers of NutriAsia,  Jollibee, and PLDT; Calls for the Regularization of Workers and an Increase to the National Minimum Wage

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Infographic from Kilusang Mayo Uno

July 3, 2018, the workers of NutriAsia, allied under Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng NutriAsia (United Workers of NutriAsia, NMN), called out an urgent alert as the Philippine National Police prepared to carry out a dispersal order from the Philippine government. The dispersal order comes in the wake of attacks on workers all over the Philippines, including an order from Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), one of the largest telecommunications companies in the Philippines, to end its subcontractors, placing many workers in a limbo status. NYCHRP supports the undeterred spirit of the workers to struggle for better conditions, and support their calls for the end to contractualization (the practice of laying off workers every 4 to 6 months), a raise in minimum wage, and a genuinely free Philippines.

According to a Department of Labor report in May of 2018, Jollibee Foods Corporation and PLDT are ranked #1 and #3 with 14,960 workers and 8,310 workers affected. These estimates may even be undercounting the overall number of contractual workers considering that it counts the numbers by legal entity, as opposed to looking at the network of corporations associated with a particular brand. The same report counts DOLE Philippines, Inc. as #2 with 10,521 workers affected while DOLE-Stanfilco, a clear subsidiary or affiliate of DOLE, is ranked 20th with 1,131 workers affected.

Attempting to take advantage of the loopholes left behind by the Department of Labor and President Duterte’s claim to end contractualization, PLDT severed ties with many of its subcontractors, laying off 7,000 workers. Just a few months ago, NutriAsia similarly laid off many of its workers as their short-term contracts ended. The same fate occurred to workers of Jollibee in this same span of time.

Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognizes the right of each individual to work. Article 7 protects their right just and favorable conditions of work, including a decent living for workers and their families. The contractualization of Filipino workers and the widespread wage rates of under $10 a day violate the spirit of these protections. In the Philippines, commodity prices are increasing while wages remain stagnant. As a result, many Filipino workers are forced to leave their communities and families behind. Moreover, about three-quarters of the country are farm workers or peasants, people obligated to big landlords to do labor and, in some cases, pay off debt. Contractualization, low wages, and the semi-feudal, semi-colonial economy of the Philippines are fundamental violations of the people’s rights.

NYCHRP supports the leadership of workers to form workers organizations and fight against these conditions and the continued neo-colonization of the Philippines. NMN, PLDT Organization of Workers and Employees for Rights (POWER), Defend Job Philippines, and Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement, KMU) are among the many organizations of workers leading worker strikes, worker occupations, and demonstrations across the country. We condemn the government’s response to these strikes by calling dispersals. We affirm that the workers are well within their rights to organize and form trade unions.

NYCHRP also supports the call for a genuine democracy in the Philippines, where workers and all peoples determine and uphold the rights to quality of life, land, and opportunity. Until the conditions of imperialism, bureaucrat capitalism, and semi-feudalism in the Philippines are abolished, the Philippines will not truly be free.

 

End Contractualization!

P750 Minimum Wage!

National Industrialization and Agrarian Reform for All!

Migrant Rights are Human Rights: Stop the Separation of Families. Legalization for All.

June 26, 2018

Reference: Rodrigo Bacus, Chairperson, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), nychrp@gmail.com

Migrant Rights are Human Rights: Stop the Separation of Families. Legalization for All.

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In the last month, many have spoken out against Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on the border. The policy has resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents, while the parents are in criminal and deportation proceedings. Because of the system that the Trump administration is using to effectuate this separation, many of the children may not ever see their parents again, without assistance from the community. Journalists, politicians, and the United Nations have called these actions unlawful and a violation of human rights. Amidst all the criticism, Trump has further isolated the United States from the demands of the people, even withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The separation of families occurs because federal jails are legally mandated not to put adults and minors together. The crossing of a person into the U.S. border without approval from an immigration officer has been a misdemeanor under federal law since 1990, which allows people to be prosecuted. Instead of doing away with the prosecution of misdemeanors altogether, the Trump administration has instead decided it would let the system separate children by classifying them as unaccompanied minors once the parents are taken to federal jails. Jeff Sessions, who concocted this plan, knew this separation would be a consequence of the administration’s choice to prosecute massive numbers of people who enter at the border. He even alluded to this consequence publicly as a way to deter immigration into the United States.

In an effort to quell the outrage of the public, Trump defended the administration’s policy by arguing that he was simply enforcing laws established by a Democrat-party led government. This statement is a deflection and an incorrect assessment of U.S. immigration history for the last few decades. The truth is that U.S. immigration law has continued to become stricter and harsher under both Democrat-led and Republican-led governments, because it serves the interest of U.S. imperialism and its neoliberal policy.

As mentioned before, the law that classifies the entry without authorization of a person as a misdemeanor has existed for decades. Former presidents Bush senior, Clinton, Bush junior, and Obama have taken on anti-immigrant stances, finding ways to restrict entry into the country and increasing the level of deportations. Each of these presidents have engaged in the criminal prosecution of some people who enter the border pursuant to the federal law that has existed since 1990. In fact, deportations were at its height under President Obama, based on reported numbers. Regardless of whether the President, Congress, or Senate were led by the Democrats or the Republicans, the two parties have been united on the stance that immigration to the U.S. is a privilege, and that immigrants must work extra hard to prove that they are worthy to enter and belong.

However, the immigration story united on by both Republicans and Democrats is incorrect. It diminishes the histories of the people who were natives to U.S. land. It also washes the hands of U.S. imperialism by obscuring the relationship of immigration to the U.S. with the history of the country’s intrusion and interference in other sovereign states. Members of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) study the phenomenon of forced migration and know that forced migration is what drives entry into the U.S. whether the government of the U.S. ultimately considers these entries lawful or not. Forced migration is caused by unequal trade agreements, neoliberal policies, and militarization perpetrated by and meant to serve the interests of the U.S.

The Philippines alone has been subject to the experimentation of U.S. imperialism and many Filipinos have been forced to migrate as a result. In Marawi City, for example, the U.S. supported the bombing and leveling of the city, which has forced its inhabitants to leave, still currently unable to return. Many of them have even left the Philippines, in an effort to find security and stability for themselves and their families. Because of unequal economic, political, and military agreements with the U.S., the Philippines remains a suppressed semi-colonial, semi-feudal system: most people are landless farmers made dependent to landlord families; jobs are scarce and labor abuses are rampant and normalized. Every day, an estimated 6,000 Filipino workers are forced to leave their communities and families behind because the Philippines’ repressed economy cannot sustain them. The U.S. profits off of the vulnerability of working Filipinos when they arrive in the U.S. by exploiting them for labor; many do not see their children for years or decades. Because of the insidious role of U.S. imperialism, family separation does not occur only at the U.S. border but also at the countries of origin themselves.

It is not difficult for members of NYCHRP to imagine that countries in Latin America, and other sovereign nations, have experienced similarly because of U.S. imperialism. Many indigenous people of Mexico experienced the forcible taking of their land from U.S. colonizers who were interested in creating large plantations to exploit slave labor and extracting the natural oil and gold wealth of the land over a century ago. The border crossing of a different kind later resulted in the separation of families when the U.S. decided, about a century later, that as an imperialist power it could control the movement of people who were native to the states of Texas, California, Arizona, etc.. In its 1940s bracero program, the U.S. restricted authorized entry into the U.S. from Mexico so that it could exploit the labor of migrants. Even the current waves of migration from Central America is a direct result of U.S. imperialism in the Cold War era Intentionally, the U.S. destabilized progressive governments and movements in Latin America and attacked labor unions and other forms of workers organizing in order to secure a stepping stone for itself into the world stage. Consequently, people are fleeing places of poverty and violence in Latin America constructed directly by U.S. imperialism. Forced migration, including into the U.S., is a direct result of U.S. imperialist and neoliberal policy across the globe.

Moreover, we recognize that the U.S. government can never truly claim control over a land that they stole to begin with. Members of NYCHRP know that the land we work on and live on here in New York City is Lenape land that was stolen by colonizers, the only true illegal immigrants. People native to what is now called U.S.A. lived here, existed here, and prospered. The people built nations that the U.S. government continues to try and dismantle with its settler colonization. We believe that the migrants struggle for liberation and human rights and dignity is bound together with the struggle of the indigenous peoples on the land now called America.

This past week, Trump signed an executive order that he claimed would “fix” the problem. This order claimed to stop the separation of families at the border. However, what Trump is paving the way for, is the detention of families indefinitely. This executive order did not factor in that minors are only permitted to be detained in a facility for a maximum of 20 days, which would then require their removal and would only serve to separate the family again. This order also did not address how to reunite the thousands of children who have been sent to detention facilities all over the states even as far as New York and New Jersey.

The actions of the Trump administration are an unlawful and arbitrary deprivation of life and liberty, a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37. The same article 37 further provides that the detention of children should be used as a last resort, and should be done in the shortest amount of time possible. Contrary to these provisions, the Trump administration has refused to give full explanation to their actions, separating children from their parents by treating them as unaccompanied minors once the parents are detained for criminal and deportation proceedings. The mechanical application of these laws is arbitrary and no administration before this one has engaged in mass criminal prosecutions of families crossing the border without inspection, including some who have declared they were asylum seekers at the border, and have forcibly separated their children as a result.

NYCHRP supports and participates in the growing resistance across the U.S. to abolish ICE including calls to shut down facilities particularly involved in the cruel and inhumane treatment of the people detained in them. We oppose the targeting of activists through immigration law, including the detention, torture, and deportation of Jerome Aba, a human rights advocate from Mindanao, Philippines, by Customs and Border Protection agents in California. We continue to oppose U.S. imperialism, including the corporate interests that drive it, and the role of imperialism in creating wars of aggression and poverty all over the world – the main causes of forced migration. NYCHRP believes that migration is a freedom that people have owned and exercised since the existence of human beings – we oppose its restriction for the interest and profit of only a few.

No to Child Imprisonment or Family Separation!

No to Forced Migration!

Stop criminalization of migrants and refugees!

Stop arrest, detention, and deportation of migrants!

Uphold and Implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families!

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