News Release

September 21, 2011


Jackelyn Mariano

BAYAN USA Northeast Coordinator


NEW YORK, NY— Philippine President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino’s speaking engagement at the Asia Society in Manhattan yesterday was met with some 15 Filipino-American human rights advocates at the front door of the building holding bright yellow signs urging the head of state to follow the good legacy of his late parents, Benigno “Ninoy” and Corazon “Cory” Aquino. As the day marked the eve of the 39th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the former Marcos dictatorship in 1972, advocates urged PNoy to free all political prisoners in the country, as his late mother Cory did when she was president in 1987.”PNoy’s parents themselves were victims of martial law. His father was a political prisoner who was illegally detained and tortured,” stated Gary Labao of the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP). “His widowed mother was compassionate enough to use her executive power to release all political prisoners when she was president. PNoy should do the same, as there are currently over 300 political prisoners currently languishing in jails all over the Philippines.”

Joining NYCHRP outside the Asia Society were members of BAYAN USA, GABRIELA USA, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). Labao also emphasized the release of political prisoners, particularly the 14 detained consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), is an obligation of the Aquino administration as their continued detention threatens the ongoing peace negotiations between the NDFP and the government, which seeks to resolve the crisis that has spurred a decades-long civil war and massive social unrest in the country.The group also addressed economic concerns, such as aggressive liberalization of the Philippine economy to accommodate foreign investment, and the slashing of the 2011–2012 Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) budget for overseas Filipinos.

Lastly, the group urged PNoy to uphold the spirit of genuine patriotism of the September 16, 1991 Philippine Senate decision to reject the renewal of the US Bases Treaty by abrogating the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement, which reversed the gains of the historic 1991 victory and gave US troops unlimited access to over 20 ports for basing throughout the archipelago.

The advocates, dressed in business attire, attracted much attention from passersby and those entering the building to hear PNoy speak with their signs, which featured the faces of the late Ninoy and Cory Aquino.


Aquino, in New York City this week primarily for the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations, was invited to speak yesterday on his domestic and foreign policies at a forum sponsored by The Asia Society and The Citi Foundation. ###