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Home Community Civil Rights Guam Congresswoman Graces People’s Ball As Fil-Am Leaders Consider Filing Human-rights Violation Cases Against Rep. Gloria Arroyo
Guam Congresswoman Graces People’s Ball As Fil-Am Leaders Consider Filing Human-rights Violation Cases Against Rep. Gloria Arroyo PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - Civil Rights
Saturday, 03 July 2010 09:19

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(Journal Group Link International)

 

 

Guam Congresswoman Graces People’s Ball As Fil-Am Leaders Consider Filing Human-rights Violation Cases Against Former President Gloria Arroyo

 

W hile Democratic Congresswoman Madeline Z. Bordallo of Guam paid tribute to the immigrants, stressing the value and their importance in the United States, Filipino-American Melissa Roxas, who was detained and tortured in the Philippines last year, is mulling the filing of a case similar to Marcos over human-rights violations both in the U.S. and in the Philippines.

 

At the 5th annual People’s Ball organized by the Migrant Heritage Commission at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. last Saturday, June 26, Congresswoman Bordallo and Miss Maryland International Heather Young led the friends of Filipinos, who attended the 112th anniversary celebration of Philippine Independence and the commemoration of the 104th year of immigration of the Filipinos in the U.S.

 

Congresswoman Bordallo delivered the inspirational remarks while Ms. Roxas was one of the 18 awardees at the event.

 

The other awardees included retired US Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who helped expose American prison abuses in Iraq; Dr. Josefina Magno who helped set up hospices in the US and Philippines; John Reed, co-founder of the world renown Bayanihan Dance Troupe; DC Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos (a no-show); and Philippine Ambassador Willy Gaa (represented by the Philippine Embassy’s chief Capitol Hill operator Consul Ariel Peñaranda).

 

An estimated 1,000 participants and guests turned up in one of the biggest Filipino-American gatherings in Metro, D.C.

 

In his remarks, MHC’s co-executive director Arnedo Valera also extolled the Filipino presence in the U.S., which numbered 5,600 in the 1920’s and have now grown to four-million.

 

Atty. Valera said the first wave of Philippine Diaspora to the US included the Manongs who labored on the corporate asparagus and pineapple farms of California, Hawaii and Seattle, Washington and Alaska. They were the ordinary folks from back home, who boarded steam ships and sailed the dangerous depths of the Pacific Ocean in the early 1900s.

 

Editor’s Note:

Please see an earlier article about the 5th annual People’s Ball in this hyperlink,

 Star-studded Cast to Grace People’s Ball in D.C. on June 26

 

SECOND WAVE

 

In the 1960s, the second wave of immigrants reached the US. They were Filipino doctors, engineers, nurses, and teachers whose expertise and dedication to work have provided the American society the much-needed professions.

 

And finally, in the 1990s up to the present, “we have the 3rd wave of immigrants.  They are teachers, nurses, physical therapists, and doctors, and those whom we earlier noted as overly qualified to become actors in the care giving industry of the US.”

 

Ms. Roxas delivered the response on behalf of the evening’s awardees.

Melissa Roxas was abducted last year while on a medical mission in Tarlac in the
Philippines, allegedly by army agents. She was accused of being a member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

 

The MCH filed a complaint on behalf of Ms. Roxas with the U.S. State Department, which has promised to look into the allegations, as well as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Roxas is an American citizen.

The Philippine Court of Appeals granted a writ of amparo, which has been elevated to the Supreme Court because of the government’s alleged failure to provide the names of Roxas’ suspected tormentors.

She admits they are set to file charges against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after she steps down this month. It could be a class suit similar to that filed by human rights victims against President Ferdinand Marcos.

 

As Mrs. Arroyo herself pointed out, the only immunity she enjoys as Pampanga congresswoman is for utterances she may make on the floor of the House of Representatives

 

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER MARCOS AND ARROYO

H uman rights groups say about a thousand people – peasant organizers, union leaders, priests and journalists – have been summarily executed during President Arroyo's tenure.

 

A federal district court in Hawaii declared Marcos guilty for forced disappearances, summary executions and torture of some 10,000 people, and was ordered to pay close to $2 billion in damages.

Mr. Valera revealed they are still studying where to sue Mrs. Arroyo.

Presidents are immune from suits while in office according to both Philippine and
US jurisprudence. But in 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of President Clinton, declared a sitting President can be sued for complaints that are private in nature or where the offense occurred before his incumbency.

As Mrs. Arroyo herself pointed out, the only immunity she enjoys as Pampanga congresswoman is for utterances she may make on the floor of the House of Representatives, Atty. Valera said.

 

Atty. Valera is hopeful that the new administration of President Noynoy Aquino and Vice President Jojo Binay will “usher a beginning and an opportunity for genuine change for the Philippines.”

 

He hopes the new Philippine government will listen to the aspirations of 10 million Filipinos scattered all over the world who remit billions of dollars to the Philippine economy annually. He also hopes they will be given political participation by letting them register to vote year-round and let them run for public office even if they are already citizens from other countries for positions that have nothing to do with “foreign policies.” # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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