Category Archives: Visiting Forces

OBAMA’S VICTORY IS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE’S STATEMENT AGAINST THE BUSH REGIME -GABRIELA

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza today acknowledged the determination of the American people in their struggle for change with the historic election of Barrack Obama as the first black US president. “Like the Filipino people, they have been the ones suffering from Bush administration’s bent policies that plunged them into this financial meltdown. They have endured the brunt of the militarist Bush regime that led them into wars of aggression under the pretext of its so called global campaign against terrorism.”

“His strong and vocal opposition against the Bush administration effectively won him the seat in the White House. His campaign rhetoric was indeed translated into landslide victory as he projected himself as the total opposite of Bush,” said Maza.

According to the Gabriela lawmaker, “This much anticipated event has drawn more attention worldwide at this very period when the US economy is at its worst. Undeniably, there is a growing resistance among the American people against the Bush regime that has brought them into the depths of despair.”

“The challenge for President-elect Barack Obama right now is how he could truly provide concrete relief measures that would effectively address the just demands of the American people. It is a matter of making bold decisions that would strategically respond to their quandary. It is a matter of redirecting its policies to provide real jobs and income, basic social services and security instead of pressing forward its warmongering schemes.”

Gabriela Women’s Party likewise poses the challenge for Obama to end all forms of US military intervention in its foreign relations policy, “The pull-out of US troops should happen not just in Iraq but in other countries where US military personnel have permanent or temporary military presence, including the Philippines.”#

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AS MISSION TO OKINAWA LEAVES TODAY: WE WILL HOLD PERPETRATORS OF RAPE AND CRIMINAL NEGLECT ACCOUNTABLE -MAZA

“The Gabriela mission to Okinawa hopes to give Hazel the much needed moral and legal support in this uphill battle for justice. Hazel needs the support of her kababayans now more than ever, especially since the Arroyo government’s neglect and inutility in her case, and their obvious complicity with the US government has made justice even more difficult to attain for Hazel and her family.”

Thus said Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza as she leaves today for Okinawa, Japan with Nanay Melly, mother of the Okinawa rape victim, Hazel.

“We will be meeting with Hazel, her custodian, Okinawan government officials and the Filipino community in Okinawa. We hope to be able to properly assess what the Philippine government has done and failed to do in Hazel’s case so that we will be able to take the next appropriate steps to make the perpetrator accountable,” said Maza, explaining the 5-day mission’s itinerary and objectives.

Maza also said that aside from getting a thorough assessment of Hazel’s case and her legal options, Gabriela Women’s Party and the “Mission to Okinawa” intends to also look into the situation of Filipina migrants and entertainers in Okinawa.

“Like Hazel, Filipina migrant workers in Okinawa, especially those working in places near the US miltiary bases are in a situation that exposes them to much violence and sexual abuse. There is a very good chance that Hazel’s case is not the only one. The responsibility to ensure their safety and the protection of their rights falls squarely on the Philippine government. Their failure to do so make them accomplices and liable.”

The Mission to Okinawa will be presenting their report to the media upon their return in a press conference on July 23.#

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GABRIELA SOLONS WANT OKINAWA RAPE ON GMA’S US TRIP AGENDA

As President Arroyo sets to leave for her trip to the United States, women’s Partylist group Gabriela today called on President Arroyo to include in her agenda, the US military and government’s accountability in the rape case of Hazel, the Filipina migrant worker who was raped by a US soldier in Okinawa February of this year.

“In her meeting with the US President, it is President Arroyo’s political and moral obligation as a woman and as a leader of this country, to include in her agenda, Hazel’s call for justice. We challenge President Arroyo to stand up for Hazel and give substance to her government’s supposed high regard for Filipino migrants,” said Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza.

The Gabriela solon said “Hazel deserves, at the very least, an apology and a commitment to justice, similar to the pronouncements of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the rape of an Okinawan girl also in February 2008.”

“Wherever there are US military bases, there are documented cases of rape and sexual abuse, of sex trafficking and prostitution. Whether in Okinawa, the Philippines or Afghanistan, the abuse of women and children is part of the social cost,” said Maza.

Representatives Maza and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela, are throwing their full support to Hazel and her family. They are set to support and join Hazel’s mother in a planned “Mission to Okinawa” in the following weeks. Aside from getting a thorough assessment of Hazel’s case and legal options, Gabriela Women’s Party and the “Mission to Okinawa” intends to also look into the situation of Filipina migrants and entertainers in Okinawa.#

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OKINAWA RAPE CASE: SHOWCASE OF VIOLENCE, NEGLECT, INUTILITY, SERVILITY TO US MILITARY RULE

“More than being a case of sexual violence, the rape of our “kabaro”, Hazel, an Overseas Filipino Worker in Okinawa is a showcase of government neglect and inutility and of lopsided foreign military relations that the Philippines refuse to stand up against. We throw our support for Hazel and her continuing battle for justice.”

This was the statement given by Gabriela Women’s Party Secretary
General Cristina Palabay in a press conference with the women’s alliance Gabriela, Migrante International and “Nanay Melly”, Hazel’s mother. The women’s partylist group is joining Hazel’s mother in a “Mission to Okinawa”.

“Nanay Melly hopes to be with Hazel and be completely appraised of her situation as well as her case. This was something that the Department of Foreign Affairs failed to do and something that we, as concerned women’s groups, migrants’ organizations and individuals hope to achieve through our concerted efforts,” said Palabay.

It was learned that the DFA had not been in touch with Hazel’s family to give an update on her case other than to tell them that the case had been dismissed by the prosecutors last month.

According to Palabay, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luz Ilagan will be personally accompanying Hazel’s mother in Okinawa next week. Aside from getting a thorough assessment of Hazel’s case and legal options, Gabriela Women’s Party and the “Mission to Okinawa” intends to also look into the situation of Filipina migrants and entertainers in Okinawa.

“Filipina migrants, especially those working as entertainers in places near US military bases are in such vulnerable circumstances. More often than not, their situation invites and even allows sexual abuse. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Japanese government, no different from the Philippines, cannot stand up to the US government who continues to protect their military personnel, even those found criminally liable.”

Palabay further said that it is no surprise that the recently concluded International Migrants Assembly attended by over 90 migrants’ organizations as well as Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Ilagan in HongKong, immediately approved a resolution forwarded by Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party condemning the Okinawa rape case and declaring support for Hazel. Part of the resolution reads as follows:

“This conference resolves to commit to condemn the rape of Hazel by a US Soldier, condemns the inutility and neglect of both Philippine and Japanese governments, their seeming complicity with the US government that robs Hazel of justice”#

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DISMISSAL OF OKINAWA RAPE CHARGES DENOUNCED

Women’s Partylist group Gabriela today said the outright dismissal of rape charges against the US serviceman accused of raping a Filipina in Okinawa is a grave injustice. “We feel that our kabaro has been
victimized twice over in the name of foreign relations.”

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Largoza Maza said “it is apparent that both the Japanese and Philippine governments have succumbed to pressure from the United States. That the statement of the accused
failed to agree with that of the victim is not a sufficient enough reason to have the charges dropped.”

Japanese prosecutors cited dropped the charges last Friday, with Deputy Chief Prosecutor Takafumi Sato being quoted saying, “The man does not accept the accusation. Just because the two parties disagree
on their argument, a rape charge does not stand on its own under the Japanese law.”

Maza also scored the lack of transparency in the handling of the case. “Filipino migrant and women’s organizations in Japan as well as in the Philippines who were ready to lend any form of support to the victim
were never updated on the case by Philippine officials. We were never updated as to whether these officers were there to ensure justice or to ensure her silence.”

The alleged rape occured last February 18, 2008 at a hotel in Okinawa, barely a week after a 14-year old Okinawan girl was also raped by another US serviceman. The Filipina was hospitalized for several days
after the incident and was then placed under the custody of Philippine embassy officials.

Gabriela Reps. Maza and Luz Ilagan are coauthors of House Resolution 51, a resolution initiated by Rep. Cynthia Villar and adopted by the House last March 2008, which expressed the support of Congress for the
Filipina rape victim.

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OKINAWA RAPE FOREWARNS OF THE PERILS OF US PRESENCE TO WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Women’s partylist group Gabriela today expressed concern over reports on the rape of a Filipina by a US military personnel in Okinawa, Japan, saying this incident would once again prove the perils that US military presence bodes for women and children.

 

 

“The Philippine government should lose no time in cooperating with Japan in assisting the Filipina victim in pursuing justice. We must make sure that the perpetrator of this heinous crime is prosecuted and that justice is served,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza.

 

 

Initial reports say the victim was raped last February 18 in an Okinawa hotel. Japanese and US authorities are still investigating the incident while the victim is being treated for injuries in a medical facility.

 

 

The Gabriela solon pointed out that while this is not the first time that rape is committed by a US military personnel both in Okinawa and the Philippines, agreements with the US still provides no guarantee of giving host countries the benefit of prosecuting and punishing perpetrators on their terms.

 

 

Just last week in Okinawa, a 14-year old girl was raped by a US military personnel in a car. Prior to this, there have been at least 12 cases of rape in Okinawa involving US troops. The Japanese government, like the Philippines, during and after prosecution, has not acquired custody of perpetrators, “Again this demonstrates how lopsided these military agreements are.”

 

 

Meanwhile, Mindanaoan solon, Rep. Luz Ilagan said that this new case should serve as a warning to Filipinas especially in areas in Mindanao where military exercises are currently being held. “Residents, especially women and children should be warned. These troops are dangerous and they insist to be beyond our laws.”

 

 

“That US troops are raping women in countries where there are military exercises and agreements clearly show the drawbacks and social cost of US military presence. There are lessons to be learned and the Philippine government should lose no time in taking concrete measures to review if not terminate the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. US troops should keep oout of Philippine soil.”#

 

For Reference: REP. LIZA MAZA (09209134540); REP. LUZ ILAGAN (09209213221); Cristina Palabay, Secretary General (09175003879); Jang Monte, Public Info Officer (09156463009)

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PROTESTS GREET OPENING OF US-RP MILITARY EXERCISES

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Demonstrators calling for US Troops to withdraw from the Philippines protested the start of annual joint  military exercises Monday, with hundreds of American troops heading to southern islands where Al-Qaeda linked militants operate.

Rallies were held in at least four southern cities to demand US troops leave because of alleged involvement in combat operations– prohibited by Phlippine law– and human rights abuses, activists said.

In Cagayan de Oro, police estimated the crowd at 3,000, including priests and nuns who joined lawmakers and Muslim activists, although rally organizers said more than 5,000.joined the protest march.

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo led the protest march early Monday which had the city’s traffic paralyzed for hours.

Disputing the government’s claim that the holding of the Balikatan exercises was based on the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement, Ocampo said that there was no provision in the agreement allowing for successive military exercises.

“Continued or successive joint military exercises violate the Constitution and even the provisions of VFA. And as we see now, these are not even joint exercises but a one-sided conduct of civic actions by American troops,” Ocampo said.

Maza also lambasted the government for allowing American troops to conduct civic action in the country, saying the humanitarian mission was just a cover.

“These humanitarian missions are just an excuse to allow US troops to enter our communities and pursue their real agenda of justifying their war against terrorism,” she said.

Maza warned that the presence of US troops in Mindanao will lead to more human rights abuses, especially against women and children.

Nuns, priests, and students joined farmer’s groups in the protest, bearing anti-US placards and chanting slogans calling President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a terrorist.

In Davao City, around 3,000 protesters belonging to Bayan and the Out US Troops-Mindanao Coalition marched through the streets demanding the immediate pull-out of American soldiers from Mindanao.

Protests were also held in Pikit, North Cotabato, and Davao City.

Click here to sse inquirer.net full report.

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