12/18: Candlelight Vigil Action Against Kerry’s Visit to the Philippines

Candlelight_Vigil Group Photo

Wednesday 12/18 San Jose, –Members of Anakbayan Silicon Valley (ABSV) and BAYAN-USA gathered for a Candlelight Vigil to commemorate victims of U.S. militarization in the Philippines as well as oppose U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the Philippines this week. The Candlelight Vigil was held in Downtown San Jose with a program that included statements from BAYAN-USA, the Pilipino Association of Workers and Im/migrants (PAWIS), and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), which shed light on the true effects of U.S. militarization in the Philippines. The group also sang “Bayan Ko,” an iconic song symbolizing the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine freedom. Donations were also raised for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

The group that gathered for the Candlelight Vigil included members of ABSV, BAYAN-USA, PAWIS, and a representative from the San Jose Peace and Justice Center.

The action was part of a national response from all BAYAN-USA member organizations to Kerry’s visit to the Philippines on December 17, 2013. Kerry met with Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to discuss the “Framework Agreement for Increased Rotational Presence and Enhanced Defence Cooperation,” which would allow for more U.S. troops in the country as part of the U.S.’ “Asia-Pacific pivot”. The U.S. plans to move 60% of its warships to the Pacific region by 2020 to challenge China’s political influence in the region. ABSV and BAYAN-USA recognize that the U.S. is using the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan to cloak its true intentions of increased presence in the country by providing militarized relief to the Philippines. U.S. militarization has historically brought devastation and human rights violations against the Filipino people, including $1.4 million dollars’ worth of damage to the Tubbataha reef by a warship last January, sex trafficking, rape, and more.

As Filipino American youth, ABSV recognizes that the U.S. government prioritizes military spending above all else, while students and youth around the country suffer budget cuts in education, afterschool programs, and higher tuitions.

The Philippines needs genuine relief and rehabilitation, not increased militarization, which threatens the health, safety, and sovereignty of the Filipino people.







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