FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2012
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson
Filipina Women Ramp Up Relief Efforts to Help Kababayans Stateside and in the Philippines
The women of GABRIELA-USA, a national Filipino women’s alliance consisting of organizations across the United States, have been ramping up relief efforts again for Typhoon Pablo (International name: Bopha), at a time when Kababayans (fellow Filipinos) also need help to recover from calamities hitting the Northeastern United States from Hurricane Sandy. Recent news since Typhoon Pablo ravaged communities in Mindanao reports more than 1,000 persons dead, 900 missing and 500,000 displaced and more than 5 million affected. 114,000 residential homes are damaged and 43,000 homes were completely wiped out. “We are not just answering a call to help Kababayans in the aftermath of a major natural disaster, we are also demanding justice for them. We understand that the level of devastation reaching the indigenous communities in Mindanao are far worse because of large-scale multi-national corporate mining and logging,” says Raquel Redondiez, Spokesperson of GABRIELA-USA.
The Mining Act of 1995 takes away rights from indigenous people to their own ancestral lands, leaving them no choice but to fight for their basic rights and livelihood. Typhoons do not typically hit Mindanao as hard as Typhoon Pablo did, but due to large-scale mining and logging, the growing storm charged through from Northern Philippines with no natural terrain to break down its enormity. “Indigenous people have been organizing against large-scale mining negatively affecting their water, food sources and essentially the overall livelihood of their communities. Consequently, they are being criminalized and targeted for human rights violations by the Philippine government, which is protecting multi-national corporate interests instead of the rights of Filipinos in their own land,” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA-USA.
With Hurricane Sandy hitting the Northeastern part of the United States, the GABRIELA-USA women in New York City have actively organized and participated in Operation Kaligtasan (O.K.), an emergency effort that aims to serve as a quick response team in times of calamity, responding to the Filipino community at-large.
“While participating in O.K., we’ve found that the Philippines government, the City, State and Federal government’s response was minimal and have been inefficiently and slowly addressing the immediate economic and employment needs of the people affected within the medical field,” said GABRIELA-USA Vice Chair of International Relations, Irma Bajar. O.K volunteers surveyed residents in the Brighton Beach area in Brooklyn and results indicated that more than 40 Filipino nurses from Coney Island Hospital have been out of work for weeks and were forced to take their leave and vacations due to the hospital closing and over 150 Filipino health workers from Shore View Nursing Home are out of work indefinitely. “Despite the fact that 4,500 Filipinos leave the Philippines everyday and the largest concentration of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) migrate to the United States, the Philippine government has never established a system to protect their rights and welfare,” said Bajar.
GABRIELA-USA understands the importance of responding to the needs, rights and welfare of Filipinos no matter where they are, stateside, back in our homeland, or anywhere else Filipinos have migrated.
GABRIELA-USA is reaching out to the community to support relief efforts that National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) has put forth. Donations can be made through PayPal at http://tinyurl.com/nafconrelief3 or by sending checks to “Tulong Sa Bayan (TSB)” at 519 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013. TSB has been NAFCON’s established partner in coursing relief donations to the Philippines. On memo please write: NAFCON Bayanihan Relief and your city of residence. Please include return address with donations.
For more information on regional collection centers, fundraising and relief activities in your area, please contact NAFCON regional coordinators nearest you or go to our website.
Northeast: Michelle Saulon firstname.lastname@example.org (347) 867 – 1550
Midwest: Lorena Buni email@example.com (224) 678 – 1897
Norcal: Ryan Leano firstname.lastname@example.org (626) 534 – 4971
Socal: Alex Montances email@example.com (253) 381 – 7444