Filipino Americans Nationwide Stand Up Against War
and Occupation on the Seventh Anniversary of the War on Iraq
As the invasion of Iraq enters its eighth year, the Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines (Alliance Philippines) expresses their solidarity with the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and every place there are occupying US forces.
“Ordinary people are rallying across the country and around the world demanding an end to wars of aggression and longstanding imperialism”, says New York-based Ugnayan Interim Spokesperson Chevy Evangelista.
Queens-based organizations Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Linking the Children of the Motherland) and Damayan Migrant Workers Association as well California-based organizations, Kabataang maka-Bayan (KmB, Pro People Youth) Los Angeles and San Diego, are urging Filipino and other immigrant communities to join coordinated DC/West Coast anti-war rallies on Saturday, March 20, 2010.
According to Evangelista, Obama is far from the change he promised: “He is the same as presidents before him - spending our tax dollars on endless wars in the name of “national security”, while in our neighborhoods people are anything but secure.”
As low-income immigrant families are losing their jobs, homes and services in today’s economy, the Obama administration will spend $1.03 trillion on defense this year; over $72 billion for the war in Afghanistan and $65 billion for the war in Iraq.
“That’s $40 million a day that should go to our schools, fixing a broken healthcare system, and creating jobs. We say money for jobs, health-care and education, not for war and occupation!” says Damayan member Cita Brodsky.
This summer Obama plans to deploy another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, totaling a force of nearly 100,000. While President Obama says he intends to pull-out all US troops in Iraq by the end of 2011, some sources say the Pentagon is already planning for troops in Iraq in 2012 and beyond.
“This means that more low-income youth will be targeted in their schools to join the military instead of furthering their minds. It means that our country will continue to prioritize war at the expense of health, education and job security. It means more forced migration and displacement as people flee for their lives,” adds Evangelista.
Filipinos know that the costs of war and occupation cannot be tallied in a yearly budget. The effects of war and occupation can last generations, taking its toll on the economy, the culture, the politics - the entire social fabric of a people. More than 100 years after the US invaded the Philippines, Filipinos have struggled against US military presence, and the dictators and puppet governments that have cowed to US pressure and influence.
“Despite the Filipino people’s victory removing US military bases in 1992, again this year, US troops will pour into Ilocos Sur, Central Luzon and Cavite as part of the Visiting Forces Agreement for this year’s Balikatan Military Exercises. Again, this year more than a million people, the majority of them women, will leave the Philippines to work abroad and send money home - a signal of severe unemployment and a failing domestic economy. War, occupation and forced migration and displacement are intrinsically connected,” explains Brodsky.
On the West Coast, the Filipino American community understands another cost of war that has yet to be reconciled. Since World War II, Filipino American veterans and their spouses have struggled to win their due benefits. Even today 46,000 Filipino World War II veterans and their families, many of them in their 80’s and 90’s, have yet to receive an equitable benefits package.
In Los Angeles, KmB Chair, Christine Araquel sees the Filipino Veteran experience as deeply systemic. “This is what’s happening today - troops are doing more, and longer tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the promise of tuition-free school, medical coverage, even citizenship, but increasingly, young veterans aren’t supported mentally or physically; VA [Veteran’s Affairs] doesn’t have the funding to integrate people back into civilian life.”
According to Araquel, “The way we treat our veterans exposes the ugly reality of racism as a necessary counterpart to war; it is poor and working-class people—on their own soil and as immigrants—who lose their lives and livelihoods.”
For more information, please visit www.alliancephilippines.blogspot.com or contact 212.564.6057.