FIL-AMS, ALARMED OVER THREATS TO RP DEMOCRACY, URGED BUSH TO ACT

WASHINGTON,
March 24, 2006 (MALAYA) BY: JENNIE L. ILUSTRE - Alarmed at threats to Philippine democracy under President Arroyo and the continuing "political turmoil," Filipino American leaders are urging President George W. Bush and top lawmakers in states with large Fil-American voter populations to help "preserve democracy" in their homeland.

In an email from Miami, Florida late Saturday, Dr. Jocelyn H. Bruce said they would soon send a letter to Bush. The signatories, Dr. Bruce, Ernesto Ramos and Val Dagani hail from Florida.

The letter stopped short of urging the US to withdraw support from Arroyo.

The letter did not include the signature of Sonny Sampayan of New York City, who is an advocate of veterans’ pension, because he just returned from Manila over the weekend.

Sampayan had suggested to Dr. Bruce that as American voters, their group should urge the US to withdraw its support from Arroyo.

The letter asks the help of Bush and leaders in the 109th Congress "in urging that the Philippines, which has long been an ally of the United States, continue to observe democratic principles by demanding integrity, accountability, credibility and transparency in its governance."

Dr. Bruce said the letter had been mailed to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican member of the House international relations committee, and also to Rep. Kendrick Meek (D., Florida).

The letter will also be "hand-delivered to US Senators Bill Nelson and Bob Menendez during a multi-ethnic Town Hall meeting on March 25." Nelson is Florida’s senior senator. Menendez is a junior Democrat from New Jersey.

Dr. Bruce said the March 25 Town Hall meeting would discuss issues affecting Filipino Americans, including the Filipino Veterans Equity Act and the setting up of a nursing licensure examination site in the Philippines.

"I would like to emphasize that we are not anti-President Gloria Arroyo," she said. "Rather, we are pro-democracy, which is why we are advocating for the lifting of the undemocratic Executive Order 464 and the vestiges of Proclamation 1017 that are still curtailing the human rights and civil liberties of Filipinos."

On Feb. 24 Arroyo issued Proclamation 1017, a declaration of a state of emergency, to counter an alleged plot to overthrow her during the anniversary of Edsa 1 People Power revolt, which toppled President Marcos in February 1986.

Reacting to Proclamation 1017, the Florida leaders, joined by leaders from California, quickly started a petition on the Internet to urge Arroyo to lift the Proclamation, calling for signatures from those of Philippine ancestry across the US. They later stopped the petition campaign, because Arroyo lifted the Proclamation a week after issuing it.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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