The largest Philippine-related women’s organization in the United States, GABRIELA Network (GABNet) called today, February 28, 2006, for sustained protest actions against Proclamation 1017 of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, de facto president of the Republic.

The women’s mass solidarity organization announced it would hold demonstrations and pickets in front of the Philippine Embassy and various Philippine consulates until Macapagal-Arroyo lifts the so-called state of national emergency.

Mondays the picket line will be in Washington DC; Tuesdays in Seattle, Washington; Wednesdays in New York; Thursdays in Chicago; Fridays in Los Angeles and San Francisco; Saturdays at Irvine and Sundays in San Diego. The last four are in the state of California where majority of Filipinos reside.

The announcement was made at a February 27th picket-rally in front of the Philippine Consulate on Fifth Avenue, New York. Leafleting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. preceded the rally. It followed similar picket-rallies in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle last Friday, February 24th. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, GABNet women picketed in relays for seven hours.

Some 20 women joined the picket in New York, braving the wind chill that had dropped temperatures to below freezing. Nevertheless, as Dorotea Mendoza, GABNet Secretary General, pointed out, the rally was “energetic, fully expressive of the outrage we felt over the targeting of progressive politicians and organizations by the militarized government of the Philippines.”

She said that the release of over 50 names being targeted for arrest and detention by the Macapagal-Arroyo regime contributed to the women’s ire. “All progressive personalities, a few retired military men. And this emergency was supposedly caused by a planned military coup,” she said. “It has been nothing but a shadow-play to wreck democracy in
the country.”

The sustained protest action, according to Annalisa Enrile, GABNet Chairperson, is meant to show support for the struggle of the Filipino people to be rid of “the true cause of the state of national emergency – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She’s been raring to be another Marcos.”

The women’s rolling national mobilization will have five demands: 1) that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should step down and thus end the political turmoil in the Philippines; 2) that the proclamation of the state of national emergency be lifted; 3) that all arrested and detained members of progressive political parties and organizations be released immediately; 4) that congressional immunity against arrests of whatever form should be respected; and 5) that all censorship, raids and seizure of media cease and desist at once.

Ms. Enrile asked the international community to rally to the Filipino people’s cause. “The Marcos regime lasted 25 years,” she pointed out. “Let’s not wait that long to frustrate the ambitions of another tin-horn dictator.” Interested parties should access www.gabnet.org for the rally times and locations; or contact GABNet at  gabnet@gabnet.org or (212) 592-3507. Please contact same to arrange interviews with GABNet representatives and women leaders in the Philippines. ###