STATEMENT OF THE PILIPINO ASSOCIATION OF WORKERS AND IMMIGRANTS (PAWIS)
September 21, 2018
San Francisco, California
On the 46 th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, the Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants or PAWIS is one with the Filipino people in shouting: NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW! The 21-year dictatorship rule of Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies is a very dark chapter of our history, marked by economic crisis, killings, tortures, disappearances, media oppression and corruption. An estimated 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured and 3,240 killed. This is the estimate of Amnesty International but we know that so much more were tortured and summarily executed.
However, this dark saga is unfolding again in the Philippines right now. The current President Rodrigo Duterte also silences his critics through extrajudicial killings, arrests, imprisonment, trumped up accusations, harassment and repression, forcible removal from office, death threats, removal of foreign nationals sympathetic to his critics, and militarization of the countryside.
He feeds people the lie that his drug war which has already killed 20,000 Filipinos is working, even as human rights abuses multiply; that
the economy is booming even as an economic crisis looms with the inflation rate going up and the prices of basic commodities and staples like rice becoming more expensive. He convinces people he’s fighting corruption even as he berates government auditors for adhering to international accounting standards on cash controls to prevent fraud. He is steadily eroding liberal democratic institutions with the removal of dissenting heads in these institutions, and reorienting them around his cult of personality. He purports to want to strengthen the laws by peddling charter change and his brand of federalism even as he puts in place leaders who are loyal to him and not to the rule of law.
Particularly for the Filipino workers, Duterte had promised to end labor contractualization, but striking workers fighting to unionize and for better working conditions like the workers of NutriAsia were met with violent and bloody dispersal. As our people find it harder and harder to survive day by day, more Filipinos like me have to leave our homeland to live and work abroad. Yet, even in this adopted country,
we become prey to labor exploitation and abuse, and human trafficking like what our kababayan workers experienced in the hands of the notorious Gamos family, the owners of Rainbow Bright caregiving facilities against whom the Attorney General’s Office has just filed a total of 59 counts of grand theft, human trafficking, and rape.
Today is not a celebration! Today is a reminder that the Filipino people must remain vigilant, wise, and courageous against another creeping dictatorship. And so, we say with even more fervor:
NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
NO TO DUTERTE’S DICTATORSHIP!