A Year after Ondoy and the Overwhelming Support of Filipinos in the U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Statement

Reference: NAFCON National Office

Email: info@nafconusa.org

A Year after Ondoy and the Overwhelming Support of Filipinos in the U.S.

On September 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy struck the Philippines , killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands more. Although many consider Ondoy as one of the worst “natural” catastrophes in Philippines history, Rev. Benjamin Alforque, NAFCON President commented, “The real catastrophe is not the typhoon but the government neglect and corruption that led to the overwhelming number of avoidable casualties.”

For decades, members of the government profited by selling mining and logging rights to foreign corporations without regard for its people.  The irresponsible mining and logging destabilized the soil where thousands of Filipinos live. Soil destabilization created places prone to severe mudslides that toppled over and wiped away entire communities during Ondoy. Rev. Alforque continued, “If the government acted in the interests of its people, they would have prohibited the mining and logging to protect our kababayan.”

The government-made catastrophe continued when Ondoy hit and the nation had no money for emergency relief. Anne Beryl Corotan, Chairperson of SanDiwa (NAFCON’s youth and student arm) commented, “The government could not even afford to purchase rubber boats to rescue survivors of the floods.” The President at the time, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), spent the entire P800 million relief fund on extravagant trips throughout the world.

The government’s role in creating disaster became clearer when a blogger named Ella released pictures of entire government warehouses filled with rotting relief goods. Even after people throughout the world responded in force to assist victims of the typhoon, the government could not deliver.

In the face of the GMA administration’s failures, NAFCON organizations coordinated relief work independent of the government. NAFCON initiated BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief. In partnership with Migrante International, a migrants’ organization working directly with the communities most effected, whom are also families of migrant workers around the world, NAFCON made sure that the donations gathered would be distributed immediately to those people who needed them.

As part of NAFCON’s relief effort, money along with hundreds of balikbayan boxes began piling up at the different drop-off sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles , and New York/New Jersey. In the end, BAYANihan for Philippine Disaster Relief generated 750 boxes of goods as well as over $50,000 in cash.

In June 2010, Ryan Leano of SanDiwa, visited with Migrante. Leano commented, “Migrante took me to visit the communities that received our donations. The people sold much of the donated clothes to help buy beds, building materials and tools. They are still rebuilding.”

One year after Ondoy, former President and now Congresswoman Arroyo still needs to be prosecuted for her role in the government-made catastrophe. Rev. Alforque said, “Arroyo needs to be held accountable, not only for her failures in the wake of Ondoy, but for the series of corrupt practices throughout her administration.”

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The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) is a national network of Filipino organizations, institutions, and individuals committed to advancing the rights and welfare, celebrating culture and history, and building unity among Filipinos living and working in the United States . Founded in 2003, NAFCON members are based in over 23 cities across the country.  Member organizations include: SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns, Filipino Community Center–San Francisco, Filipino Community Support–Silicon Valley, Philippine Forum—New York and New Jersey, F.I.R.E.—New York, Habi Arts—Los Angeles, Liwanag Kultural Center—Daly City,  Filipino Ministry of DSB—San Bernardino, Fellowship for Filipino Migrants—Illinois, and Filipino Migrant Heritage Commission—Virginia.

SanDiwa, the youth and students arm of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), is a national alliance of youth, students, and community youth organizations, united to (re)educate, celebrate, and advocate for issues that affect our Filipino communities in the United States and in the Philippines. As an alliance, we seek to work cross-culturally in reclaiming our humanity and to work collaboratively with “other” minority groups to protect the rights and welfare of young Filipinos all over the United States .

 

450 Relief Boxes from U.S. East Coast: SENT! (NAFCON/SanDiwa’s Bayanihan for Disaster Relief Campaign Continues)

PRESS RELEASE
27 January 2010

REFERENCE: Jonna Baldres, Migrante International Coordinator for US East Coast, filipinocenter@gmail.com, (718)5658862

450 Relief Boxes from U.S. East Coast: SENT!
NAFCON/SanDiwa’s Bayanihan for Disaster Relief Campaign Continues

NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY – On January 19, just as news were received that the relief boxes from the US West Coast arrived on the doorstep of Migrante International in the Philippines, US East Coast — New York and New Jersey chapters of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and its youth arm, Sandiwa National Alliance of Filipino-American Youth — sent off some 450 relief boxes to be shipped to the Philippines on the same day!

“After nearly four months of struggling, and eventually, claiming victories, against the restrictions and repressive policies of the Philippine government on relief donations, NAFCON has once again proven that with collective action, the Filipino community will triumph,” said Nicholas Cordero of Philippine Forum-New Jersey, a member organization of NAFCON in the East Coast.

In September 2009, upon learning that typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines, NAFCON and SanDiwa immediately gathered to launch its Bayanihan for Typhoon Ondoy Disaster Relief Campaign nationwide. Migrante International was identified to become the recipient of NAFCON and SanDiwa’s continued relief efforts, as it has proven to genuinely address the issues of Filipino migrants and, more importantly, their families in the Philippines. With the banding together of the whole Filipino community and friends from all over the United States, fundraising activities and collection of donations began right away, gathering about $15,000 in monetary relief, and more than 500 relief boxes in the East Coast — including food, clothes, medicines, blankets and other material donations.

“Three more typhoons hit the Philippines since Ondoy and the Mayon volcano just erupted in December. In light of all these calamities, the Bayanihan for Disaster Relief Campaign continues as long as the relief has not reached disaster victims, and we, the youth from SanDiwa, together with our mother alliance, NAFCON, will keep close watch and make sure that these donations will not go to corrupted hands,” said Anne Beryl Corotan, SanDiwa chairperson based in New York.

In the course of the relief campaign, NAFCON, SanDiwa and their member organizations all over the US have also led in fighting for the lifting of the ban on used clothing and dropping of taxes on relief by the Philippine government, and lastly, for Migrante International to receive and distribute the donations to affected communities. The campaign did not only focus on collection of donations and creatively fundraising for shipping but also took up the responsibility of challenging the policies of the Philippine government and exposing its inefficiency that caused the loss and displacement of thousands of its people in these tragedies. Community meetings and actions were also held to educate, gather and express the sentiments of the members of the community.

“As long as natural and man-made disasters keep coming to our beloved country and the Philippine government does not take steps to address these, and instead, imposes unreasonable policies preventing our overseas kababayans from sending help to our loved ones back home, we will continue to fight,” said Yves Nibungco, chairperson of the youth group Anakbayan New York/New Jersey and member organization of SanDiwa.

Out of the 530+ relief boxes, ninety-five more were left (New York and New Jersey combined) as the container could not fit any more boxes. NAFCON East Coast will be calling for a community forum within the next few days for the community to decide on what to do with the rest of the boxes. The boxes sent are expected to arrive in Manila by mid to end of February.

On March 7, a victory celebration for the relief campaign will be held as the Filipino community in New York also celebrates the second anniversary of the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center in Queens. Member organizations, volunteers and everyone who helped in the relief efforts are all invited to join in the celebration of the Filipino’s insurmountable strength, resilience and collective action amidst great battle and tragedy, leading to successes of the whole community.

For more information and for continuous coverage of the Bayanihan for Disaster Relief Campaign, please visit www.bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com.

MABUHAY ANG MGA PILIPINO SA U.S.!
MABUHAY ANG SAMBAYANANG LUMALABAN AT NAGKAKAISA!

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More photos from this link: http://s382.photobucket.com/albums/oo261/jonnabaldres/NAFCON_Bayanihan_relief_sendoff_19Jan2010/

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Storage in New York being emptied of ‘Bayanihan for Disaster Relief’ boxes

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Loading ‘Bayanihan for Disaster Relief’ boxes into the container truck from New York storage

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Volunteers done loading 230+ New York
‘Bayanihan for Disaster Relief’ boxes!

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New Jersey ‘Bayanihan for Disaster Relief’ boxes lined up for loading

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Volunteers load New Jersey ‘Bayanihan for Disaster Relief’
boxes into container truck

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Volunteers practice true “Bayanihan” spirit
as they load relief boxes into container truck

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Around 450 ‘Bayanihan for Disaster Relief’ boxes sent off to the Philippines!

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Container truck on the way to ship ‘Bayanihan for Disaster Relief’ boxes to the Philippines!

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Packing list ready as early as December 2009

BAY AREA BAYANIHAN FOR PHILIPPINE DISASTER RELIEF CELEBRATES THE RECEIVING OF DONATIONS BY MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL AND A SUCCESSFUL RELIEF EFFORT

For Immediate Release

January 19, 2010

Reference: Ryan Leano, Secretary General, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth

Email: sandiwa.national@gmail.com

BAY AREA BAYANIHAN FOR PHILIPPINE DISASTER RELIEF CELEBRATES THE RECEIVING OF DONATIONS BY MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL AND A SUCCESSFUL RELIEF EFFORT

In September of 2009, Typhoon Ondoy was followed a week later by Typhoon Pepeng, hitting the Philippines with torrential rain and massive flooding. These typhoons caused unprecedented damage, destroying homes and property, affecting hundreds of thousands people. The extensive disaster, coupled with the disaster of the Philippine government’s ineptitude in dealing with the massive damage, brought about the need for Filipinos in the United States to come together and help their kababayan (countrymen/women) back in the Philippines. The result was a nationally coordinated relief effort spearheaded by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and its youth arm, SanDiwa National Alliance of Fil-Am Youth, with the most prominent centers of the relief effort happening in New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, various Filipino grassroots community organizations participated in this national relief effort by forming the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief project. The group decided that Migrante International would be the recipient of collected donations. Migrante International is a grassroots alliance in the Philippines that addresses the needs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) and their families in the Philippines. This coordinated effort ensured that the relief effort would be the most responsible, reliable, and accountable in getting the donations to the communities in the Philippines most affected by the disasters, without interference by government agencies. Distinct from other relief organizations, this effort was purely grassroots, accomplished without a significant role played by government agencies or large scale charitable foundations.

Since the immediate aftermath of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief project volunteers worked tirelessly in coordinating donation drop off sites throughout the Bay Area. The response was overwhelming, with mountains of in-kind donations piling up at the drop off sites. By the time of shipping in December 2009, 300 boxes of clothes, food, and medical supplies were sent to the Philippines, as well as more than $30,000 in monetary donations from generous people in the community in addition to a $50,000 relief project donation from the City of San Francisco.

This relief effort, however, did not come without hard struggles. Among the roadblocks that slowed the aid in reaching the victims were the directives placed on donations by the Arroyo administration, stating that all donations had to be approved by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through DSWD accredited organizations. The directives further stated that the donations going to organizations not accredited with the DSWD would be taxed. However, the community remained aggressive and vigilant, and after meetings with the local Philippine Consulate and their counterparts in New York, the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief was able to get the donation taxes lifted and assurance that Migrante, International would still receive the donations.

As of January 2010, all 300 boxes of donations were successfully received in the Philippines by Migrante International, and they are in the process of sorting and giving the donations to families most affected by the disasters. The next shipment of donations from New York/New Jersey will follow very soon. The $50,000 donated by the City of San Francisco will be used in constructing water filtration systems as well as disaster and health capacity building projects in communities most affected by the disaster. Although this was one disaster, this grassroots international relief effort will continue on as long as the need persists.

The Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief, along with their kababayan in the Philippines, celebrate the community coming together in this successful relief effort in the midst of the disasters, both natural and man-made. It extends its deepest thanks to all those who donated their time, work, and money in sorting out the clothes, food, and medical supplies and packing them in all 300 boxes. Deepest thanks as well go to the community organizations who volunteered their spaces to be donation drop off sites, despite the disruption in their programming. This effort truly exemplifies the Filipino spirit of bayanihan, which translates into communal and collective support.

Please, see pictures below from Migrante, International receiving and unloading our cargo container of almost 250 balikbayan boxes at DSWD for further delivery to affected families and communities earlier this month – a good start to the new year for so many families!  To learn more about this nationally coordinated relief effort, please visit www.bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com.

Bay Area Filipinos Celebrate Success of Bayanihan Disaster Relief

For Immediate Release

December 24, 2009

Contact: Aurora Victoria Herrera David, Officer, Stanford-PASU–member of NAFCON, Northern California, Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief
auroravictoriahd@gmail.com, 650-491-4561

Bay Area Filipinos Celebrate Success of Bayanihan Disaster Relief

Collective Action Proves to be the Answer

On December 7th, the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief successfully shipped approximately 250 boxes of people’s relief to kababayans in the Philippines. Together with boxes previously shipped, the relief team was able to collect 300 boxes of clothing, food, medical, and school supplies from concerned individuals throughout the Bay Area. In three months time, the team also raised more than $30,000 in monetary donations, sent directly to affected communities.

Mara Ibarra and Bernadette Herrera, representatives of the National Alliance of Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), a member alliance of the relief team, are in the Philippines to ensure smooth reception of the boxes by Migrante International. Migrante International is a the grassroots organization selected and trusted to distribute the Bay Area donations. The relief team will closely monitor the transfer of boxes from Philippine Customs to DSWD’s One-Stop Facility, then to Migrante, and finally to some of the most-affected communities and victims of the typhoons.

The Filipino Community Center (FCC) in San Francisco, a member organization of NAFCON, played a key role in facilitating the funding of a relief and rehabilitation project in Quezon City. As of December 23rd, the City of San Francisco is processing the direct transfer of a $50,000 donation to the Coordinating Council for People’s Development and Governance (CCPDG) in the Philippines to launch a project that will help communities recover from the adverse health effects of the typhoons and prepare them for responding to future disasters.

At the Annual Parol Festival and Parade on December 12th, organizers and supporters of the relief drive came together and celebrated the community’s success in sending relief to kababayans in the Philippines. The efforts of everyday Filipinos surpassed any government initiative or effort to respond to the recent typhoons, and the community has proven once again that bayanihan (Tagalog for communal effort & unity) is the answer when those who have power and authority fail to fulfill their responsibilities to the people.

The disaster relief team is also in contact with organizations in the Philippines regarding recent reports of the imminent eruption of Mt. Mayon in Albay, Philippines, including ways to help evacuees. As we continue to raise monetary donations for Philippine disaster victims, we remain vigilant in following actions of the Philippine government and SF Consulate who had claimed that they do not have the money to ship the relief boxes to the Philippines for our kababayans.

We call on our fellow Filipinos in the Bay Area and around the world to maintain efforts in helping our kababayans in the Philippines and to hold the Philippine government accountable to their duties to serve the people. As we celebrate the holidays and the success of the Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief Project in 2009, we commit to continuing our grassroots efforts to truly serve the people in 2010 and beyond.

Like so many Filipino migrants forced abroad and sending remittances to loved ones in the Philippines, we hope that our donations contribute in a small way to a happier holiday season, and we also send warm holiday greetings to our generous Filipino migrants in the Bay Area and around the world!

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PRESS RELEASES: Filipinos in US Continue to Challenge Philippine Gov’t to Ship Relief Boxes and Let Migrants Voices Be Heard in Philippine Congress

PRESS RELEASE
03 December 2009

Reference: Jonna Baldres, Migrante International Coordinator – US East Coast, jonnabebeh@gmail.com, (718) 5658862

Filipinos in US Continue to Challenge Philippine Gov’t to Ship Relief Boxes and Let Migrants Voices Be Heard in Philippine Congress

NEW YORK – Last Monday, November 23, members and representatives of Filipino organizations and nationwide alliances held a mobilization in front of the Philippine Consulate in New York to express two outstanding calls, “Help Ship Aid Immediately!” and “Let Migrante Run in 2010 Elections!”

Present in the mobilization were representatives from different migrant organizations such as the Philippine Forum New York and New Jersey, Kappa Pi Fraternity, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, and New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines. Representatives from the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), SanDiwa National Alliance of Filipino American Youth, Migrante International and guests from allied organizations BAYAN USA, GABRIELA USA, and straight from the Philippines, the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), also joined the protest action.

“It’s almost Christmas and our 400 boxes here in the East Coast have not yet been sent. The taxes were dropped, but we continue to pressure, challenge and demand that the Philippine government release funds for shipping of the boxes. They said they do not have funds, where then is the people’s money? Who are paying for their expensive dinners and posh apartments here in the US? None other than the hard-working Filipino migrants! They owe it to the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and now they can’t give back and allot even just a small fraction of the Filipino’s hard-earned money to the community to send the relief boxes back home in time for Christmas,” said Kathleen Dy, Secretary General of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey.

Leni Valeriano, Vice President of Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), who attended a conference of the World Council of Churches in New York at the time, said that before she left the Philippines, there were 8 million people displaced because of the typhoons. And yet, donations from migrants and friends from different parts of the world only get stranded in the warehouses of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), an agency of the Philippine government where donations are being sent. She added that while the Filipino community in the US must demand for the Philippine government to ship the boxes, Filipinos must also hold the Arroyo administration accountable for its negligence of the Filipino people who, until now, still have not recovered and were left homeless after the tragedy.

“The Philippine government relied heavily on private and people’s organizations to gather and distribute donations and funds during this ordeal. What did the Philippine government contribute? Nothing. We are not going to let the boxes die here in the US, unlike how the government let the people die in the Philippines,” said Anne Beryl Corotan, Chairperson of Sandiwa National Alliance of Filipino-American Youth.

These migrant organizations also brought up the case of Migrante Sectoral Partylist being delisted from running for Philippine Congress in 2010 elections. They also cited this as one of the reasons why the Philippine government refuses to ship the boxes and gives the organizers of the Bayanihan for Typhoon Disaster Relief (NAFCON and SanDiwa) a hard time, as Migrante, the recipient of the relief boxes which will then distribute the donations to the communities in the Philippines, is known to be one of the most consistent critiques of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.

“The Philippine government is afraid because the migrants’ voices are now starting to pick up here in the US and that the migrants are now learning to stand up for their rights. With the US having the most number of Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV) registrants for 2010 elections among all global regions — reaching almost 25,000 — the Philippine government is trying all its best to prevent the migrants’ voices from being heard and getting organized. The Arroyo administration probably thinks that it can get away with all the crimes it has done to the Filipino people unaccounted for. The Filipino migrants’ struggle does not just stop with the relief boxes. We will carry it on wherever it may take us, be it in the streets or in the halls of the Congress,” Jonna Baldres, Migrante Coordinator for US East Coast, stated.

The Filipino migrants are a strong force that keeps the economy of the Philippines afloat. In 2008 alone, a high of US$16.43 billion or almost P790 billion of OFW remittances had been recorded. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), a total of 1,376,823 Filipino workers were deployed last year, which means an average of almost 4,000 Filipinos leave the country everyday. In the US alone, there are about 4 million Filipinos struggling to make a living.

Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) USA, an alliance of 13 nationalist and democratic organizations all over US, also joined the mobilization and conveyed that the Philippine government, in truth, is a capitalist institution — a ‘business’, and not for public service.

“The Philippine government makes money out of the people. The public officials keep denying us of the money that is ours. They will deny the people of their basic needs and rights — education, healthcare, and even disaster relief. And in its want to protect itself in a time of economic crisis, the Philippine government will employ all means to prevent the progressive voices who will thwart its plans of maintaining the Philippine government as a business from entering the Congress, thus, the delisting of Migrante Partylist. Expect that there will be more repression, violence, killings and abductions as the electoral campaigns lead up to May 2010,” Ellorin added, citing the Maguindanao Massacre wherein 50+ people, including journalists, women and lawyers had been killed ruthlessly, as an example.

These migrant organizations vow to continue the fight for the right to relief and representation and have scheduled another wave of activities and protest actions. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, another mobilization is scheduled to happen in front of the consulate. On December 18, International Migrants’ Day, a mass will be sponsored by Philippine Forum at the St. Sebastian Church in Woodside. The relief boxes are expected to be finally sent off on December 19.

“As the Philippine government continues to show its inadequacy in responding to its people’s needs, we continue to ask our kababayans to stay strong, vigilant and mindful of what the government’s responsibilities to its people are. Donations from the community are still accepted and very much appreciated specifically for shipping fees of the relief boxes, but we stay grounded on our demand for the Philippine government to take up its responsibility to address this need of the Filipino people,” Rusty Fabunan ended in behalf of NAFCON. ###

More photos here: http://s382.photobucket.com/albums/oo261/jonnabaldres/Help_Ship_Aid_Let_Mig_Run_23Nov2009/

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Rusty Fabunan of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON)

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Bernadette Ellorin of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) USA

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Jonna Baldres, Migrante International Coordinator for US East Coast

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Filipinos Vow to Continue Bayanihan for Typhoon Victims and Expose Philippine Government’s Inadequate Response to Disasters

For Immediate Release

November 24, 2009

Contact: Terrence Valen, Organizational Director, Filipino Community Center–member of NAFCON, Northern California, Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Disaster Relief

terry@filipinocc.org, 415-203-0696

Bay Area Filipinos Come Together for Philippine Typhoon Victims

In just 2 months time, Bay Area grassroots organizations raised almost $20,000 and collected more than 300 boxes of clothing, food, medical, and school supplies for victims of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in the Philippines.

This large community-led collection of donations marks a triumph for the church and human rights groups, community centers, women and student organizations, teachers and health care workers, bank and government employees that, despite economic problems in the United States and the Philippine government’s tax directives, came together in the name of community-to-community “bayanihan” (tagalog for “communal effort & unity) to support Philippine flood victims.

The Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Typhoon Relief, as the relief team is called, gave a grassroots alternative to donors who did not want their donations to be channeled through agencies of the Philippine government due to its history of corruption and lack of transparency.

The thousands of dollars and hundreds of relief boxes collected were a product of numerous fundraising events such as benefit shows and public tabling organized by 15 grassroots organizations and collection sites throughout the Bay Area.

Philippine Government Proves Inept in Responding to Calamities

However, the majority of the relief boxes are still stored in the Filipino Community Center (FCC) in San Francisco because of expensive shipping costs, a responsibility that should be shouldered by the Philippine government.

After weeks of communicating and negotiating, the group met Vice-Consuls Fred Santos and Doy Ver of the SF Philippine Consulate to set agreements last Friday, November 20, and the Consuls claimed that the Philippine government doesn’t have the funds to ship the relief boxes.

“The Philippine government should have supported this effort and helped to ship everything to our kababayan in the Philippines,” said Terrence Valen, Executive Director of the FCC. Given the disasters that hit the Philippines every year, the government should already have a protocol for responding to these calamities.

However, according to the Consuls themselves, the government has instructed them to be “creative” in coming up with ways to ship donations that they collected, proving that they don’t have planned procedures in getting donations to the Philippines.

And now that the community gave them this opportunity to restore even a little confidence of everyday Filipinos in their government representatives, they merely reiterated their incapacity, ultimately proving that Filipinos around the world can’t rely on the Philippine government even in times of calamities. “Their claims that they don’t have the money to ship our relief donations ring empty in most people’s ears — to us these sounded more like excuses given Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s track record of corruption and extravagant spending,” added Valen.

In fact, the Consulate in San Francisco was not aware that Filipino grassroots organizations in New York who have been doing relief work have already reached an agreement with the Philippine Consulate in their area that all goods will be “further delivered” to Migrante International after they reach the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

As of Monday, November 23rd, they are still awaiting response from the New York Consulate to assure the Bay Area groups that their collected goods will ultimately be sent to Migrante International, a community-based organization that work with families of overseas Filipino workers and is rooted in poor communities that have been deeply impacted by floods throughout the Philippines.

Filipinos Vow to Continue Bayanihan, Expose Philippine Government’s Inadequate Response to Disasters

The Bay Area community has proven that in this time of natural disaster and global economic crisis, the collective effort of regular people — youth and students, church people, teachers, healthcare workers and caregivers, community organizers — is the most effective means and most reliable force in sending help to those in need.

Given the claims of the Consuls that no funds are allocated for shipping costs, the Philippine government has again failed to help its people and has proven that the everyday Filipinos were right in distrusting the government.

The Bay Area Bayanihan for Philippine Typhoon Relief vows to continue to expose the limitations of our local consulate representing the Philippine government’s overall ineptness in handling the disaster, ship the relief donations through fundraising and community support, ensure donations go directly to grassroots recipients, monitor closely government spending that should have been spent for the benefit of people, and continue to empower communities through grassroots support.

On December 6th, Stanford’s Pilipino American Student Union (PASU), a member organization of the relief team, will hold a benefit concert on their campus to raise donations for typhoon victims and help compensate for shipment costs of relief boxes.

Relief boxes at the Filipino Community Center

 

Students Sorting and Packing Relief Goods

PRESS RELEASES: Filipinos in NY-NJ Demand Phil. Gov’t Own Up to Its Responsibility and Ship Relief Boxes

PRESS RELEASE
23 November 2009

Reference: Jonna Baldres, Migrante International Coordinator – US East Coast, jonnabebeh@gmail.com, (718) 5658862

Filipinos in NY-NJ Demand Phil. Gov’t Own Up to Its Responsibility and Ship Relief Boxes

Help ship aid immediately!

Almost two months into the relief efforts following the tragedies that struck the northern part of the Philippines, Filipino migrant organizations from New York and New Jersey vow to continue the fight to demand the Philippine Government to ship the relief boxes immediately to the Philippines. In light of this, members of the different migrants’ organizations in the US North East region will mobilize and troop to the Philippine Consulate in New York on Monday, November 23, to express this demand.

“Though the consulate has dropped the taxes, lifted the ban on used clothing, and let donors (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns or NAFCON) send their donation boxes to DSWD and ‘for further delivery’ to intended recipients (Migrante International) — which has always been supposedly its responsibility in the first place — it has still refused to help in shipping the donation boxes,” said Rusty Fabunan of Philippine Forum in New York, a member organization of both NAFCON and Migrante International.

Migrant organizations in the US East Coast, such as the Philippine Forum with chapters in both New York and New Jersey, the Filipino youth group Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), and the Moro cultural group, Kinding Sindaw, have all participated in the Bayanihan for Typhoon Disaster Relief spearheaded by NAFCON and the SanDiwa National Alliance of Filipino-American Youth. In the North East region alone, these migrant organizations have raised almost $10,000 in those 2 months and collected over 400 boxes of donations to be sent to the Philippines.

“The Philippine government said that they have no money for shipping of donations? Where then did they get the money for their lavish dinners and expensive trips to the US if the government has no money? Where do the funds collected by the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) from the 3000 Filipinos leaving the Philippines everyday go?” asked Julia Camagong, Co-Executive Director of Philippine Forum and the US representative to Migrante International Global Council.

Last August, a Washington Post article revealed that Arroyo and her entourage spent $15,000 for their dinner after meeting with US President Barrack Obama on July 30 in Washington DC. Aside from this, the New York Post also published an article exposing Arroyo’s $20,000-worth dinner party at Le Cirque, a French fine-dining restaurant in Manhattan during the same week. Lest we forget, reports of Consul General Rebong renting a $10,000-a-month condominium at the posh Trump Tower on First Avenue in Manhattan also made the buzz in 2005. These, among others, are some of the Arroyo administration’s track record on corruption.

“If they can spend that much for an apartment of one person or one dinner for less than a hundred people, then they can definitely allot something for the shipping of relief boxes that can feed and keep hundreds of our kababayans warm and sheltered. And besides, the Filipino community in the US has already done its part. It’s now the Philippine government’s turn to make sure that relief from its hard-working migrants reaches the typhoon victims in the Philippines,” said Yves Nibungco, Chairperson of Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, also a member organization of both NAFCON and Migrante International.

These migrant organizations said that while they are still finding ways to ship the donation boxes, they will continue to pressure the government to “do its job” by shipping the donations for free, as it should have more networks and funds than the migrants who actually have meager or no money left to send to their families back home.

Filipino migrants, represent!

“Aside from its refusal to help ship the boxes, the Philippine government has been remiss in addressing other Filipino migrants’ concerns in a lot of circumstances. And the intention to run and represent the migrant Filipinos in Congress that will genuinely address issues of Filipino migrants in a long-term basis, not just in times of calamities, is one that has been quashed recently by the ruling regime through the disqualification by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC),” said Camagong.

Last 2004, Migrante Sectoral Partylist (Migrante International’s political partylist) ran but failed to reach the 2% of votes needed to win one partylist seat. In 2007, Migrante decided not to run and informed the poll body of the Commission of its decision, in writing. The Commission then ruled this as “losing the election” twice (with the non-participation also considered by the poll body as “losing the election”), which has been made basis for Migrante’s being disqualified.

According to Migrante, COMELEC did not even call for a hearing before issuing the decision. Moreover, five (5) partylists with the same situation as Migrante’s were allowed to run. Last October 26, Migrante filed a verified opposition to the poll body’s decision to disqualify but it has been dismissed once more by the COMELEC last November 19.

“This only shows that the Philippine government had let its ‘bagong bayani’ down once more and proves that it continues to play deaf in heeding the migrants’ voices,” said Camagong.

The mobilization will also be part of Migrante’s 12 days of protest to express and continue to fight for the right to be represented in Philippine Congress. Aside from Migrante, other progressive partylist groups such as Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Sectoral Partylist, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) Sectoral Partylist, and Ang Ladlad Partylist (for LGBT) were also disqualified.

“We will not stop until our fellow overseas kababayans’ hard-earned efforts are won,” ended Camagong.

For more updates, please visit https://bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com. ###

Photo by Eddie Veridiano
Photo by Paul Gullas
Photo by Philippine Forum
Photo by Philippine Forum
Photo by Philippine Forum
Photo by Philippine Forum

 

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