Tag Archives: Philippines

Philippine journalist Raissa Robles joins Oct 21st Centershift Conference

Media contact: email: Nynj@af3irm.org
Tel: 917-397-0989

NEW YORK—Practicing journalism in a country ranked second in the number of media people assassinated and which still holds the record for the most media persons killed in a single event is a challenge the likes of which few experience. However, Raissa Robles, who reports both on her own website and for newspapers like the South China Morning Post, death threats and vilification are but a daily fare. She recently came out with the book Marcos Martial Law: Never Again in which she called the imposition of the one-man-rule on the Philippines “a one-stop butcher shop for human rights violations.”

Ms. Robles will bring her more than two decades of experience in defying and surviving neo-fascism to AF3IRM’s Center Shift Conference, joining the panel “Constellations of History”, and adding her wisdom to the paths women must take in this era of intensifying suppression.

Ms. Robles has been writing about the Philippine government and its presidents since the 1980s, first as a writer of history and later, as a media person covering presidential decisions and actuations. Recently, she has taken on the government of Rodrigo Duterte, now famous for its claimed “war on drugs” which has resulted in some 13,000 people killed. The “war” is still on-going and has spurred its own politics – from attempts to dismantle the country’s Commission on Human Rights, threats to declare martial law once again and the latest, an on-going campaign to enact auto-golpe – i.e., replace the Constitution with one that would enable sitting officials to extend their terms of office.

Into this highly charged political atmosphere, Ms. Robles’s book Never Again was released, becoming a best seller virtually overnight. Although the book is about the long-ousted Marcos Dictatorship, it was released just as the Duterte Regime was about to approve a hero’s burial for the dead dictator. A limited number of copies will be available at the Conference and Ms. Robles will be available to sign them for buyers.

The AF3IRM CenterShift Conference II: Roots and Routes is held every third year. It brings together as many diverse histories and perspectives of the global women’s struggle as the organization can manage. It aims to bring forward a holistic understanding of the women’s movement which is often unremarked in the world today. The main plenary panel is of five women representing points of view acknowledged even in the US women’s movement and is an expression of AF3IRM’S commitment to transnational sisterhood and feminism.

The Conference will also feature the Tuscarora singer and musician, Pura Fe, who continuously brings eight generations of tribal music to the cause of environmentalism and the fight against oil and fracking.

CenterShift will take place at the Center for Social Innovation, 601 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001 and starts at 9 am. Registration can be done via EventBrite.Com at http://bit.ly/af3rr17. For additional inquiries, please contact CenterShift@AF3IRM.ORG . — ##

On the 45th Anniversary of the Marcos Dictatorship in the Philippines, We Remain Opposed to Auto-Golpe, Authoritarianism and Neo-Fascism

21 September 2017
New York

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has maintained, throughout the first year of his term, a revision of Philippine history toward the rehabilitation of the memory of the ousted late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, and his clan and cronies.

Having accepted campaign funds from the Marcos clan and cronies, he has wholeheartedly embraced his subservience to the oligarchy that laid waste both the Philippine economy and Filipino lives.

He has had the skeleton of the dictator buried in the Cemetery of Heroes, labeled the son Bongbong Marcos, though defeated in the last elections, “possibly the country’s vice-president,” proclaimed Marcos’ birthday a holiday in his home province and has now declared the 21st of September a national holiday.

He has moreover continued to mimic his dead tyrant-idol through wholescale destruction of the check-and-balance agencies in governance, defunded the Commission on Human Rights, jailed a proclaimed and sworn-in senator on the contrived evidence of photographs and degraded her with a claimed sex video which was non-existent, pushed to have the Philippine Constitution changed to federalism which would enable him to stay in power until 2025, and freed those charged with corruption and used convicted drug lords’ testimony, fake news, trolls and click farms to demonize the opposition.

More, Duterte unleashed a supposed “war on drugs” which was actually a massacre of the poor and the hapless, 13,000 + dead, while those accused of being drug lords were handled with kid gloves and eventually exonerated. This war on the poor morphed the entire Philippine National Police into an assassins’ guild, with quotas for nightly kills, irrespective of guilt or innocence.

And to further imitate his tyrant-idol, Duterte occasioned the most serious armed conflict in Mindanao, with the Muslim city of Marawi reduced to rubble and thousands of refugees continuing a perilous existence in evacuation centers where 39 have died from disease.

This is our response: As we opposed the Marcos Dictatorship through all the two decades of its murderous rampage and rapacious looting, so shall we oppose Duterte’s ambition to channel his dead tyrant-idol and destroy all the democratic processes in the archipelago. Overseas Filipinos have worked under the most stringent conditions to re-establish a bright possibility for the archipelago, accepting some of the most demeaning jobs in the world in order to remit financial resources to enable their families to survive and thrive. We oppose any attempt to nullify this nearly 50 years of sacrifice of those exported overseas to pull Philippine economy up from where it had been trashed by the Marcos clan and cronies, and to restore wealth to the Philippine treasury so looted by the same oligarchy.

As we have and continue to call for justice against malfeasance of the Marcos clan and cronies, so we call for justice against the Duterte Regime for a) murder of 13,000; b) exacerbation of armed conflict; c) enabling the theft of Philippine territory and resources; d) destruction of the democratic procedures fought for and won against the Marcos Dictatorship.




To sign or endorse this statement, please go here.

Solidarity Statement To Jennifer Laude’s Family And Supporters On the 1-year Anniversary of Her Death

On the anniversary of Jennifer Laude’s death, the women of AF3IRM salute her family, friends, and supporters who fight for justice in her name. As you gather in Olongapo City today, we join you in expressing outrage and join your calls for the conviction of her murderer. We also raise our voices in opposition to the United States subversion of  Philippine sovereignty and its protection of Jennifer’s murderer, despite his own admission of guilt and the evidence against him.

In court, US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton admitted to choking Jennifer, a transwomen. Yet his defense refuses to take the responsibility for her murder and instead tries to play victim. To justify violence against transwomen with the irrational fear of rape and a “trans panic” defense is perverted.  One’s gender or sexuality is not an excuse for murder or violence of any kind!

Unfortunately, we in AF3IRM are not surprised that the US has taken this position.  Here in the United States, there have been 20 transgender women, mostly women of color, killed this year alone. Within our own courts, the invocation of a “panic” defense in cases of violence against transgender people is admissible in every state except California. The discrimination and attacks on the lives and bodies of women, especially transwomen of color, have only intensified.

It is also no surprise to us that the US is so blatantly exporting its disregard for the lives of transgender women. Misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia continue to be taught and upheld by US imperialism, especially through its military. We again assert that the hostility toward the two-spirited is a colonial imposition, strengthened by the gender binary that imperialism uses to maintain wage slavery and oppression. This hostility is in opposition to native culture of the Philippines and its recognition of genders not within the gender binary system.

Indeed, the case of Jennifer Laude is emblematic of the long history of US colonialism and imperialism in the Philippines. Make no mistake – the subversion of justice for Jennifer is just another example of the imposition of US imperialist rule over the Philippines. They would not even release Pemberton to Philippine authorities and instead house him in their own detention facility.  It is clear that the United States does not respect Philippine sovereignty and only use the Visiting Forces Agreement and Mutual Defense Treaty to re-enforce US occupation as they try to protect their own military and corporate interests.

As we come together across borders and mark one year since Jennifer’s death, we challenge US imperialism, because each day that passes without Pemberton’s conviction is another day with injustice.  Living in the United States, we in AF3IRM renew our commitment to fight for Jennifer and all victims of discrimination, violence and exploitation. Know that we are with you.

With this renewed commitment, we will continue to rally against the US imperialism. We will continue to fight against gender-based violence and hate crimes. We will continue to seek justice and to affirm the value of women’s lives. We know that none of us are free, until all of us are free. Our struggles as transnational, women of color in the United States are deeply entwined with the struggles of women the world over and our collective resistance is key to our liberation.

Onward to the liberation of women and humanity!


NATIONAL– In the wake of two attacks on trans women, at opposite sides of the globe, but both results of class, race and gender oppressions and discrimination, it is time to recognize the intersectionality of oppressions under Capitalism and class society and work to dismantle them.

On October 12th, a Native American trans woman was beaten unconscious by four men in a Brooklyn, NY, street, to the accompaniment of racist and sexist slurs. The 28-year-old victim is in critical condition and doctors still do not know if she will suffer permanent brain damage. She was a client of the non-profit New Alternatives for Homeless LGBTQ Youth.   The victim’s name has not been released.

On practically the same day, Jennifer Laude, 26, had her head shoved into a toilet bowl and was drowned allegedly by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, in a motel room in Olongapo, Philippines. She had injuries on her body that indicate she was beaten before the drowning. The marine is in the archipelago as part of 3,500 men engaged in joint military exercises. He comes from Massachusetts, a US state with stringent laws on violence against the transgendered – laws indicative of the enduring discrimination against them.

AF3IRM recognizes that this arc of violence spanning the globe is rooted in Capital’s maintenance of intertwining systems of oppression to maximize corporate profits and remake the entire world into its image. The US has been involved in conflict, in varying degrees, in 73 countries. Women, especially trans women, bear the brunt of this oppression. This is an epidemic. This year alone, in a report of violence against 102 trans people, reported from 14 countries worldwide, “36 persons were shot multiple times, 14 stabbed multiple times, 11 were beaten to death, three were burned to death, three dismembered/mutilated, and two were tortured, two were strangled, one was hanged, one had her throat cut and one was stoned to death.”

AF3IRM takes a firm stand against intersectional violence which continues to afflict the under-class and the exploited in the home base of US imperialism itself. It recognizes the export of such violence, done through the US military and US corporations, to countries and regions which had lived peaceably in the diversity of their populations, beliefs and cultures. AF3IRM calls for an end to this unconscionable export of intersectional violence abroad. AF3IRM calls for a dismantling of the apparatus of intersectional violence, indeed of all violence, in the United States itself, to disassemble the structures of inequality of class, race and gender.

The bedrock cultures of both the Brooklyn and Olongapo victims recognize the humanity of both trans women. It is imperialism that undoes this respect. Native American culture accepts the concept of “twin-souls” or “two spirits” in a person while Philippine native culture recognizes four genders.   The culture descended from white European societies has been hostile to these concepts, based as it is on private property which was built on the oppression of women. Because of genocide against the native populations of North America, Capitalism has managed to build itself untrammeled on this land. The Philippines, on the hand, is in the twin-grip of imperialism and an archaic patriarchal religious belief system codified in Europe, both of which impose gender normative standards on colonized peoples.

As transnational women residing in the US, we are appalled and outraged by this utmost and continuing disrespect for those who are our sisters.  According to a report released in 2011, K-12 students who identified as transgender or gender non-conforming experienced a high rate of 78% in terms of harassment. Overall, trans students of color and transwomen reported even higher rates of physical assault and sexual violence than other transgender people. This is also mirrored by the higher rates of sexual and physical assault faced by adult transgender women of color in prison. Additionally, 22% of transwomen experienced family violence and they face higher rates of being denied access to shelters. It is clear that the discrimination, harassment, and violence faced by transgender individuals have contributed to transwomen’s high lifetime suicide attempt rate of 42%.

We view this pernicious discrimination and violence against trans women as part of the spectrum of violence against women; we view these attacks as contempt for our indigenous and native cultures; we view these attacks as manifestations of the violence coiled at the heart of intersecting oppressions.

The Brooklyn assault was but the latest in a series of attacks on trans women. A 33-year-old was beaten with a hammer; a 22-year-old was shot. Recounting her experience, the 22-year-old said, “Two years ago, I got jumped. Four months ago, I got stabbed. Two months later, I got shot.”

The murder in the Philippines, on the other hand, is but the latest in a long list of sexual crimes and violence against the people of the archipelago, whose government seems institutionally ill-equipped to deal with crimes committed by foreigners. We recall the rape of Nicole and our campaign as GabNet for justice for her – a quest frustrated by the Philippine justice system itself. We recall other instances where the strength of imperialism’s control over client-states and the US military’s insistence on its own privileges – of being criminal, prosecutor and judge all at once– echoes the privileges of the ruling class in the US itself. We recall how, of 4,700 crimes against the people of Okinawa by US troops, only seven have been prosecuted.

It is ironic – and we hope everyone appreciates the irony – that we must now demand the protection of the people of the Philippines from violence perpetrated by the US military, which ostensibly and allegedly is in the region to protect them. But demand it, we must, at the minimum: that all US military personnel be limited and segregated to a fenced-off area, away from civilian centers – to avoid their exporting upon a hapless population the intersectional violence of US base culture.  Strategically, we ask that the US stop its interventions in the Philippines and elsewhere — militarily, politically, economically — in recognition of the chaos it has left in its wake in various regions of the world.

We ask our sisters in the US to continue our struggle against the intertwined systems of oppression, to dismantle classism, racism and sexism, to persevere in our quest for a holistic worldview that takes cognizance and gives due importance to the world of women, so we may reverse that which has been called “the historic defeat of womankind.” Only by the defeat of that defeat can a truly new world of equality come to being.

End All Systems of Oppression!

Violence Against Transwomen is Violence Against Women!

Break the Arc of Violence: from Brooklyn to Olongapo!

Abrogate All SOFAs, All VFAs!

A Woman’s Place is at Head of the Struggle for the Liberation of Humanity!


AF3IRM Commits to Building Sexual Violence Relief Resources in the Philippines

For Immediate Release
December 10, 2013
Contact: Barbra Ramos, National Communications Director
(323) 813-4272
AF3IRM Commits to Building Sexual Violence Relief Resources in the Philippines


Today, on Human Rights Days and the end of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, AF3IRM announces a partnership with the National Association of Asian and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence (NAPIESV) and Balik sa Dagat Bangka Journey to prevent and to provide relief from sexual violence against women in disaster areas. The organizations’ proposed program is multi-layered—it includes active partnership with groups in the Philippines and the creation of mobile sexual violence relief centers.

Jollene Levid, National Chairperson of AF3IRM, asserted, “Like many life experiences, the experience of catastrophe is gendered.  It has long-term repercussions specific to women and girls, who already face disadvantaged social positions and circumstances.”

Readiness to deal with immediate sexual violence under catastrophic conditions, said Ms. Levid, is only one aspect of the work.  “We need to learn the particular vulnerabilities of women in the post-disaster world.”   She added that this should be part of disaster-readiness for any country, especially in this era of a rapidly changing climate system.

The program is intended to build the capacity of local residents to contend with sexual violence and trafficking, in these times of crisis.   “We begin with the principle that locals can protect themselves, given the knowledge and skills,” said Ms. Levid.  “The program does not start from either a premise of charity or solidarity, but from a premise of learning and working together, over a sufficient length of time.”

The three organizations will work with partner organizations in the Philippines and employ the skills and knowledge of women who have gone through and provided assistance in such areas as Indonesia and Haiti during times of disaster.   Ms. Levid stressed, “They come with their experience and with a willingness to learn concrete conditions unique to the Philippines.”   Also joining the program are survivors of trafficking, who will provide training on how to strengthen women’s and girls’ resistance to trafficking.

The objective is to create human resources capable of immediate mobilization when catastrophe strikes.   “This is in accord with AF3IRM’s principle of empowerment and self-reliance for women and girls.  And hopefully, relieve pressure on overseas Filipino workers who are constantly tapped for charity and relief work, pushing them further into debt bondage.”

NAPIESV is a national organization established by Asian and Pacific Islander anti-sexual assault advocates developing a cross-movement analysis, as well as working to build relationships and partnerships to address sexual violence in API communities.

Balik sa Dagat Bangka Journey is a community-building project with a vision of empowerment through cross-cultural collaboration by helping build a Pilipino bangka (outrigger canoe), creating watercraft experiences for urban families, and revitalizing ancient seafaring traditions on the West Coast.

To support the project, you can contribute at: http://www.napiesv.org/get-involved/donate/. For more information, email contact@napiesv.org