Thursday, August 16, 2007

Harassed Gabriela Leader Back in L.A.

Anna Lisa Enrile, GABNET chairperson back in L.A.

By Fe P. Koons
For FilipinOnline

At the LAX, Dennis Garcia, the husband of Anna Lisa Enrile, national chairperson of the Gabriela Network (GABNET), embraced his wife and the happiness on Dennis’ face is seen. Anna Lisa herself smiled to GABNET members, friends and relatives who welcomed her arrival at Los Angeles airport.

Dr. Anna Lisa Enrile experienced harassment in the Philippines when she was not allowed to board the Philippine Air Lines and head for LA last Aug 5 and was informed that she was on a “watch list”. Dr. Enrile was never clearly told why she could not go back to the U.S. With her, were writer Ninotchka Rosca and Judith Mirkinson, both of GABNET. The three women leaders were in Manila to attend the WISAP international solidarity conference of GABRIELA Philippines. Enrile also led a medical mission to needy areas in the Philippines, together with her USC students who were learning about social work.

In Los Angeles, some 100 supporters from many organizations, SIPA, Pilipino Workers Center, UCLA, Alliance for Lasting Peace and Justice, People’s CORE, KmB, ANSWER LA, GABNET school chapters, PAGE, and the students of Dr. Enrile at USC held a candlelight vigil infront of the Philippine Consulate on Wilshire Blvd.

Philippine Consul General Mary Jo Aragon extended her assistance upon talking to the family of Enrile, Ivy Quicho, GABNET LA coordinator and members of the press last August 13. Aragon called the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila and expressed her support of Anna Lisa and urged them to allow Anna Lisa to come to Los Angeles.

Anna Lisa Enrile said that the harassment will not prevent her from going back to the Philippines and in exposing the political killings in the Philippines. “I will go there every year.”
Philippine Party List Representative Liza Maza and GABRIELA lawyer Alnie Foja intervened for the GABNET 3 who were delayed for an hour by the Bureau of Immigration officers who insisted that the three were”connected with the Taliban”.

The targeting and harassment coincide with the implementation of the RP Human Security Act that went into effect last August 11. Since Gloria Arroyo Macapagal took office in 2001, there have been 900 murders and disappearances of Filipino activists, clergy, labor leaders and 90 of them were GABRIELA members or affiliates. The Philippines has been called as the most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq.

At the IHOP Westchester, Anna Lisa’s parents are smiling. They are now glad that their daughter is with them. But the incident in Manila is just the beginning. Anna Lisa will be reporting back about the WISAP conference, and for sure, will continue to monitor and expose the human rights violations in the Philippines.

[photo courtesy of Al Garcia of People's CORE, taken at the protest vigil at the LA Phil Consulate]

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