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Immigration

‘Kodakan’ (Promoting Filipino Heritage in America)  

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said these words in 1943: "We have faith that future generations will know here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war.” Fast forward to the year 2017 and what President Roosevelt said 74 years ago is still relevant.
We again witness ignorance and intolerance manifested by rising anti-immigrant sentiments and attacks in the U.S. The rise of bashing incidents, violence, and hate crimes against immigrants and people of color have been fanned by conservative and nativist rhetoric that depicts immigrants as a “baggage to American society” rather than the realistic picture of hard working people who contribute their talents and labor to make America a better country.
The Filipino community in America is not immune to the anti-immigrant trend.
The fact that Filipinos have settled in North America long before Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states, and even before the Philippines was granted independence by the United States, does not exempt our community from the immigrant bashing that is happening around. We need to continue educating mainstream America about who we are and the contributions that we have made as a people in American society.
Education is an important component but reality check tells us that there is not much written about our history and culture as a people in the U.S. Even in cities and places where there are many Filipinos, historical materials and studies about Filipinos are not always available and accessible in libraries, resource centers, schools and institutions of higher learning.
There are many immigrant stories that need to be told, many photos and multi-media materials that need to be gathered, stored, and shared so we can tell our own story about our community. There should be no more waiting. With the immigrant bashing going on around, the time to do this is now.
With the advancement of information and communication technology and the extensive use of internet and social media in our daily lives, we can now expect that our own narratives and Filipino heritage can be easily and properly documented. It is also much easier now to store information for future generations.
There are many activities and developments in connection with this undertaking to promote and preserve Filipino heritage in the U.S. particularly in San Francisco.
First was the recognition and adoption of the city’s South of Market area as the Filipino Cultural Heritage District (SoMa Pilipinas) on April 12, 2016. Last year, a number of our community members also shared their stories through the StoryCorps and the Center of Asian American Media.
This year the Filipino community in partnership and cooperation with the San Francisco Public Library came up with the project “Kodakan Photo Day: Shades of San Francisco: A Search for Visual Filipino History of San Francisco.”
“Shades of San Francisco” is embracing the mission to collect and copy photographs from the family albums and private collections of current and former San Francisco residents. These photos will then be exhibited and added to the San Francisco History Center’s photo archives to create a permanent record of the daily lives of San Franciscans as well as the historical, political, and cultural contributions of the many neighborhoods and ethnic communities that make up the City and County of San Francisco.
Shades of San Francisco (Kodakan) will take place for the Filipino community on May 13, 2017 from 10am to 4pm at the San Francisco Main Public Library (100 Larkin Street in San Francisco).
We should support this noble cause. On photo day, please bring copies of your photos from your photo albums, loose photographs, and digital photos, including old materials and literatures about Filipinos and the Filipino community in San Francisco so the library will have more archival collections about us and our contributions as a people to the San Francisco community as a whole.
Let us continue to promote and preserve Filipino social and cultural heritage in America.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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What’s Up Attorney? Was Secretary Yasay telling the truth about U.S. citizenship? Or how to lose U.S. citizenship without really trying

“Less talk, less mistake; No talk, no mistake,” Genaro Magsaysay reportedly said when asked to talk about the issues while he was running for a Philippine Senate seat. He won.

The Commission on Appointments on March 8, rejected the ad interim appointment of Attorney Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr as Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs after he refused to answer a Commission member’s question to “categorically answer 'yes or no,' whether at one point in time in your life, were you ever an American citizen? Just a yes or no.” Yasay had replied: "I wish I could answer that question with a yes or no, but as directly as I could in answering that question, I have always admitted that I was granted US citizenship. That is my answer." "I was granted US citizenship on November 26, 1986, but it is my position that that grant of US citizenship at that time was void ab initio on the basis of the explanation I have stated in my affidavit.”
http://www.rappler.com/nation/163666-duterte-appoints-enrique-manalo-acting-foreign-secretary
Yasay reportedly said in a prior interview: “But at that time I was granted US citizenship, I had a “preconceived intent” of returning back to the Philippines.” He reportedly said that taking the oath of citizenship “does not make me a US citizen if precisely the basis upon which the grant of American citizenship is flawed and is defective." "I would not have and I did not acquire legally American citizenship. It is precisely for that reason that three months after, in January 1987, I returned back to the Philippines." "And this consolidated the position that I did not legally acquire US citizenship and I returned all of my papers, executed an affidavit, telling the American authorities that I did not qualify." He said that under American law, one is "disqualified for being an American citizenship" if at the time of application or granting, one had the "preconceived intent of abandoning your US residency and in fact you abandon your US residency within two years after obtaining that U.S. citizenship."
http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/03/06/17/yasay-i-did-not-acquire-us-citizenship-legally

The question remains - Was Mr. Yasay ever an American citizen from an objective, not subjective (or from his own), point of view? If he was, when did he cease to be one?
On November 24, 1986, Yasay took his oath as a United States citizen. On January 8, 1987, Yasay returned to the Philippines and “abandoned” his U.S. residency. On February 23, 1993, Yasay signed an affidavit that he had abandoned his residency in the United States in 1987, thereby becoming "ineligible" for U.S. citizenship. In March 1993, Yasay was appointed as an associate commissioner of the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). On June 28, 2016, Yasay renounced his American citizenship before an American consular official in Manila. On February 22, 2017, Yasay told the Commission on Appointments that his 1993 affidavit stating that he had abandoned his U.S. residency "nullified" his oath of allegiance to the U.S., thus he "did not acquire legal status as a U.S. citizen."
The question has arisen: why did Mr. Yasay have to formally renounce his U.S. citizenship before a U.S. consular official in Manila on June 28, 2016 if the grant of U.S. citizenship to him on November 24, 1986 was “void ab initio” because he had a “preconceived intent” of returning back to the Philippines?

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Gloria Arroyo ousted as deputy speaker; 11 chairmen lose committees

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the deputy speaker for Central Luzon, and the committee chairpersons who voted against the death penalty bill have been removed from their posts.
In a surprise move on the last session day before Congress goes on recess, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas took the floor to move to declare as vacant Arroyo's post as deputy speaker and the chairmanships of the following:
· Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (People Participation)
· Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus (Poverty Alleviation)
· Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero (Basic Education)
· Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Civil Service)
· ACT-Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio (Public Information)
· AMIN Party-list Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (Muslim Affairs)

· Buhay Party-list Rep. Mariano Michael Velarde Jr. (Overseas Workers Affairs)
· Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate (Natural Resources)
· Batanes Rep. Dina Abad (government reorganization)
· Diwa Partylist Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Women and Gender Equality)
· Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte (special committee on land use)
There were no objections and the motion was carried.
Fariñas then moved to replace Escudero as Basic Education committee chair, with Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI. The Sorsogon representative has been demoted to vice chairperson of the said committee.
Afterwards, the majority leader moved to adjourn the session.
These happened even after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that the anti-death penalty House leaders will be replaced when session resumes in May. – GMA News

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Whereas

Responsibility and hope
We Filipinos should not forget our values as people. Reading the news and social media postings of many, including the news that we hear from relatives, friends, and loved ones in the Philippines, it is undeniable that many have accepted the extrajudicial killings (“EJKs”) linked to Operation Tokhang and the government’s war on drugs as a “necessity” and a part of life in the Philippines.
Recently, majority of the members of the House of Representatives also voted to resurrect the death penalty.
The blame should not only be put against the incumbent president, Rodrigo R. Duterte, who during his campaign for the presidency and after he was sworn in as president vowed to “kill them”--- them referring to drug lords, drug pushers, and drug users. For almost nine months now, President Duterte continues to rally his supporters to support his drug war.
I am puzzled and perplexed by the way the Filipino people have accepted and tolerated the president’s iron-fist approach. I also wonder why many continue to believe that this approach will work and be effective in moving the nation forward. Countries like Thailand and Colombia tried the same approach before and came out unsuccessful despite the number of casualties that ended up six feet underground.
Have we forgotten the age-old Filipino proverbs “Kapag may buhay, may pag-asa” and “Hanggang buhay ang tao ay may pag-asa” which were handed to us by our ancestors many generations ago. Both of these proverbs tell us that while there is life, there will always be hope.
There is also the Filipino maxim that says “Kung buhay and inutang, buhay rin ang kabayaran” which implies that if a life was borrowed, the debt should also be paid with life.
This may sound like a good justification for the death penalty--- as in the law of retaliation during the ancient and barbaric times--- commonly referred to as “an eye for an eye.” However, if we analyze and reinterpret the maxim in this modern and civilized world, what we will see is a profound balance sheet and accountability approach.
The equivalent of accountability or responsibility in Pilipino is “pananagutan.”
Pananagutan goes deep into who we are because it is related to our “pakikipagkapwa-tao” (how we treat others).
Following the mantra of “Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko,” that popular Philippine public service television show in the 1970s hosted by Rosal Rosal and Orly Mercado, Filipino service providers and community-based agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area have adopted “Kapwa Natin, Pananagutan Natin” as their service principle and purpose statement during the 1990s.
Pakikipagkapwa-tao is one of the more important core virtues of being a Filipino. The meaning of kapwa is shared identity which on a certain level leads to shared responsibility and solidarity.
Hence, kapwa natin, pananagutan natin may mean caring for one another and in the larger context this helps promote a community of caring and responsible people.
How do we reconcile the concept of community and responsibility if we tolerate and accept EJKs as part of life in the Philippines? The same goes to accepting the death penalty if the penal punishment makes a grand return in the Philippines. Remember, the Philippines made a pact with the community of nations years ago against the imposition of the death penalty?
Let us not forget that we Filipinos are also responsible for the more than seven thousand deaths attributed to the drug war (if the Philippine government is indeed responsible for those deaths)--- because we are responsible for the lives of our “kapwa” and the families that the departed have left behind.
The Philippines cannot move forward as a nation if there is no accountability as to the more than seven thousand lives lost and the continued killings going on in the name of the war on drugs.
As long as there is life, there will always be hope. And for hope to grow and hopefully reach others in the community--- including the nation’s leaders--- there must be pananagutan first to protect and care for the lives of our fellow human beings--- our kapwa.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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Modification of child custody or visitation orders

I have a client that has a visitation order of a mere 5% due to a prior restraining order. He came to my office and wants to know what his options would be. Since the restraining order had expired, a modification is “necessary or proper” in the child’s best interests. Generally, a custody or visitation order may be modifiable during the child’s minority whenever the court finds a modification is “necessary or proper” and consistent with the child’s best interest.

I suggested reaching out to the opposing party’s attorney prior to filing any motion to see if a stipulation for more visitation time would be available. This not only curbs legal fees and court costs but is consistent with the duties required in family law of both parties’ to act in good faith.

If there is no agreement and court intervention is the only means to an end, I will always note in our motion that best efforts were made in order to prevent judicial intervention and increased costs. Depending on the acts or behaviors of both the attorney and opposing party, sanctions for legal fees and costs may be requested.

The standard governing custody adjudications requires the court to review and conclude what is the child’s best interest. However, if the custody order has been deemed “final”—usually a Judgment has been filed, then a showing of “significant change of circumstances will be needed. The policy behind this is that modifications to custody or visitation create instability and security is essential to the child’s welfare.

The paramount goal is to preserve the need for continuity and stability in custody arrangements, unless some significant change in circumstance reflects a different arrangement would be in the child’s best interest. As for my client, there is no final custody order so the best interest standard is the applicable law.

Unless the order is permanent or final, the court is only required to make an initial custody determination of what custody order is consistent with insuring continuity and stability for the child. The burden of proof must be on the party requesting the change –my client.

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Marcos v. Robredo election protest – will it fly?

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” – President John F. Kennedy, on why we should fly to the moon.On June 29, 2016, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos, Jr. filed an election protest against Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo, who was proclaimed the winner for the position of vice president of the Philippines in the May 9 election by a reported margin of 263,473 votes. This is considered a small margin by most observers. Robredo reportedly obtained 14,418,817 votes to Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes.Marcos personally filed his protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) at the Supreme Court accompanied by hundreds of supporters. The petition consisted of more than 1,000 pages with about 20,000 pages of supporting documents. The Supreme Court is also the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.He questioned the results in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provincesand 5 cities, which involve about 9 million votes. He asked for the reopeningof the ballot boxes and a recounting of the ballots.The protest is based on three grounds: (1) defective vote counting machines; (2) traditional modes of election irregularities, like vote buying, intimidation, pre-shading of ballots, failure of elections, etc.; and (3) unauthorized introduction by an employee of Smartmatic (the vote counting machine provider) of a new “hash code” or script program into the transparency server of the system resulting in changes in the vote count. Marcos claimed that the votes presumptively obtained by

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Trump, the Executive Orders & You!

Exactly one week after his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive orderwhich banned entry of noncitizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, halted U.S.refugee admissions, and suspended the nonimmigrant visa interview waiver program.Signed on January 27, 2017, the executive order seeks to protect the nation from entry offoreign terrorists, but consequently led to a series of nationwide protests, Constitutionalchallenges, and agency confusion at ports of entry and with the U.S. Citizenship andImmigration Services (USCIS). One week later, a District Court judge issued a nationwide temporary restraining orderwhich halted enforcement of certain provisions of the executive order, namely partsrelated to the travel ban on refugees and noncitizens from Muslim-majority countries.Subsequently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the DistrictCourt judge’s ruling and allowed the temporary restraining order to remain in place.While no immediate next steps have been confirmed, President Trump has expressedplans to challenge the ruling, potentially at the Supreme Court level, and has also notruled out the possibility of issuing an entirely new executive order.

Meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began enforcement raidsin several states across the nation aimed at apprehending undocumented immigrants,particularly those with criminal records. ICE has reported that 680 people were takeninto custody nationwide. 161 people were taken into custody in Southern California. Aslegal challenges ensue, expanded enforcement begins, and uncertainty continues to loom,it is now more important than ever to consult with an immigration attorney if you havequestions about how to obtain legal immigration status. Frequently Asked QuestionsI am from one of the seven restricted countries. Is it safe for me to travel outside of theU.S.? If you are a citizen or national of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen andare not a U.S. citizen, you will not be permitted to enter the U.S. if the temporaryrestraining order is lifted. If the travel ban resumes, lawful permanent residents, as well as

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Remembering Rizal during Trump’s travel ban

The Trump administration is not the first to order the exclusion of a group of people from entering the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first law to be implemented to bar a certain ethnic group from coming to this country. Although the United States of America was founded and has emerged as a great nation because of the contributions of immigrants and refugees, U.S. history tells us thatthis country has also made unfortunate mistakes of blaming immigrants about the woes suffered by the U.S. As a consequence, policies that restrict immigrants and immigration came about due to strong anti-immigrant attitudes and sentiments that prevailed over truth and reason. There are even incidents of hate crimes due to anti-immigrant sentiments and xenophobia. When President Trump signed the executive order (“EO”) “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” on January 27, 2017, the EO did not only bring fear among Muslims and refugees but to non-Muslims as well because the order had consequences that affected almost everyone who wanted to enter the U.S. Even those who wanted to visit the U.S. as tourists and those who have been in this country for many years as legal permanent residents and naturalized citizens were also alarmed.


The so-called “port of entries” in the international airports as well as those located in our borders again became symbols of America’s closed doors. The EO brought the message that so-called “outsiders” are not “welcome” and that those who dared to proceed will be subjected to interrogations. There was chaos in many U.S. airports after President Trump signed his immigration EO and after the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol started to enforce it. Many travelers were stranded, some were arrested and put-on-hold, and there are those who were rejected outright and deported. The EO also came as a surprise to airport officials who did not fully understand the order and the sudden changes it brought concerning the rules and protocol for people trying to enter the U.S. It was good that concerned citizens reacted quickly to protest, including many immigration lawyers and human rights advocates in the U.S. who rushed to the airports to provide assistance to those who were affected and detained. At this time, there’s an order from the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that put a stop on the enforcement of the Trump EO. This was not the case though when Filipino national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, first entered the United States in 1888. No federal appeals court, protesters, and lawyers came to rescue Dr. Rizal and his fellow ship passengers from prejudice after they were detained in San Francisco, California. Rizal’s diaries and letters to his friends and relatives in Laguna about his travel experience in the U.S. showed his brilliance as a political analyst. Rizal was held (“quarantined”) in his ship for six days before he was allowed to disembark. What Rizal saw in 1888 is similar in a way to what we are now witnessing in 2017.


His observation as to why he and his fellow passengers were detained was stated in a letter to his parents--- “Here we are in sight of America since yesterday without being able to disembark, placed in quarantine on account of the 642 Chinese that we have on board coming from Hong Kong where they say smallpox prevails. But the true reason is that, as America is against Chinese immigration and now they are campaigning for the elections, the government, in order to get the vote of the people, must appear to be strict with the Chinese, and we suffer. On board there is not one sick person…” The prejudice and restriction against the Chinese people that Rizal witnessed during his visit in San Francisco is the same prejudice that Muslims and refugees are facing today. Yesterday’s “smallpox” is today’s “terrorism.” Rizal’s sharp mind can help explain how President Trump won the last election. Restrictions against immigration and blaming immigrants get votes. The government must appear to be strict and President Trump succeeded in portraying the past U.S. administration as weak on the issue of immigration. Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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How Do DHS’s New Rules Affect You?

On February 21, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) released two newmemoranda, which outline how DHS plans to implement President Trump’s recent executiveorders concerning the immigrant community. You are probably wondering how these newmemoranda may impact you or your family; Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza is here to help. The memoranda demonstrate that DHS intends to aggressively enforce removalprovisions against all who may have violated any immigration law. The first memorandum“Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest,” focuses on strictenforcement. Of particular note is that DHS is broadly expanding its enforcement priorities.DHS states that only those covered by the memoranda from DHS regarding the programcommonly known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, are exempted fromenforcement. In conjunction with this, DHS is expanding enforcement priorities to include thosewho have “committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” This is very broad. Itincludes those who have been charged with, but not convicted of, a crime or those whom thegovernment believes may have committed a crime even if they have not been charged. Furthermore, many entries into the United States that do not comply with the law(including reentry after removal without government permission) are violations of criminal law.Additionally, DHS states that anyone who is a priority is treated as having equal priority forenforcement actions. Thus, DHS now prioritizes anyone who has committed acts whichconstitute a criminal offense in the same category as those who have actually been convicted of acrime. The stated plan for enforcing these new priorities includes the hiring of thousands of newDHS officers, using local law enforcement as immigration officers, as well as requiring local lawenforcement to provide information to DHS about local communities to aid in carrying out theirenforcement priorities. Do non-citizens still have rights in this increased enforcementatmosphere? Yes, they do and it is important for them to know and exercise those rights as wellas to file for all immigration benefits for which they may be eligible. The second memorandum “Implementing the President’s Border Security andImmigration Enforcement Improvement Policies,” describes new DHS policies and proceduresto increase penalization of entry without inspection or with false documentation. A major portionof this memorandum emphasizes the importance of detaining persons as “the most efficientmeans by which to enforce the immigration laws,” and, as such, restricts the ability for detainedpersons to secure their release from detention. This memorandum also repeats the goal of hiringthousands of additional officers and agents, together with the use of local law enforcement to“perform the functions of an immigration officer,” including the apprehension and detention ofpersons. It is unclear how the local law enforcement agencies will respond to this command, butit appears safe to conclude that DHS’ overall strength in terms of numbers of officersinvestigating and detaining persons will increase dramatically.

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The complexities of political colors

The Filipino people were united in toppling the Marcos dictatorship during the 1986 EDSA Revolt. Fast forward to February 25, 2017 and we witnessed the anti-dictatorship movement gather at the People Power Monument in EDSA while supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed the EDSA commemoration by organizing at the Quirino Grandstand. The colors that stood-out prominently in both venues mirror the current social order in the Philippines. “Fighting colors” are more common in collegiate sports and cheering competitions than in politics. College teams in the Philippines carry their respective colors with pride (i.e. Ateneo Blue Eagles, La Salle Green Archers, UST Golden Tigers, UP Maroons, and San Beda Red Lions). In Philippine politics, the most common and often used colors by political parties and candidates after World War II were red, white, and blue. This was an easy choice because these are the colors of Philippine flag. Regardless of party affiliations, candidates want to present themselves as “pillars of patriotism” and “promoters of nationalistic ideals.” Before Martial Law was declared, the two main political parties (Liberal Party andthe Nacionalista Party) were very much alike in their party emblems and political platforms. Both were also represented by the elite who tried to maintain the status quo.


The only group that challenged the then elite-dominated government was the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (“CPP”) who had strong support among the students, workers, peasants, and the urban poor. The CPP carried the color red which in the Philippine context is associated with protests and uprisings. Red is the fighting color of the revolutionary Katipunan, the Pulahanes, of many millenarian movement, of progressive trade unions like the Kilusang Mayo Uno, and of the militant youth groups Kabataang Makabayan and the League of Filipino Students. During the time of Martial Law and the New Society Movement (Kilusang BagongLipunan), then President Ferdinand Marcos took the political colors of the two-party system and consolidated them into one--- he also consolidated a faction of the Philippine elite. With the people silenced by violence and fear, the only consistent challenge to Marcos again came from the

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