Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

Paano magpipista kapag dalawang taon nang nawawala ang anak mo?

June 22, 2008

Rolando Tolentino, Pasintabi

HINDI ko kilala sina Nanay Connie at Tatay Oca. Kaya rin nag-atubili ako nang maimbitahan ng kakilala ng kakilala na dumalo sa pista sa kanilang baranggay sa Masinloc.

Ang inisip ko, hindi pa ako napunta sa bahaging ito ng Pilipinas. Kaya mabuti itong pagkakataon. Hindi ko akalain na anim na oras pala ang biyahe, at tunay na puwedeng magluto ng pandesal sa upuan namin.

Hindi tapos na bahay sa looban ang sa mag-asawa. Pangmeryendang oras na kami dumating. At dahil madalas ang kantiyawan sa stopover na huwag magpakabusog, nagmistula kaming hayok nang isa-isang inilabas ang pagkaing itinago para sa grupo.

Ang mga hipon at talangka ay huli sa pangunguryente sa dalampasigan. Ang inihaw na bangus ay galing sa fishpen sa baybayin. Hindi na umabot ang malagkit na kanin. Napanis na sa kaantay dahil ilang oras pa lamang nagkakaroon ng kuryente, matapos ang bagyo ilang araw pa lang ang nakararaan.

May ref cake din na inihanda. At dahil pista, labas-pasok ang mga tao. Maraming ipinakikilala, at nag-uusyoso ang mga kapitbahay. At nang matapos ang mabilis na pagkain, nag-usap naman kung ano pa ang gagawin kinabukasan.

Gusto raw mag-beach ng mga batang lalakeng kasama namin. Sige, magpipiknik daw, sabi ni Nanay Connie. At inilibot niya kami sa kapaligiran ng bahay. Nagtumba ang mga puno ng mangga sa taniman ng kapitbahay.

Naglipana ang pagkarami-raming manok sa bakuran. Na sabi nga ni Nanay Connie, ayon kay Tatay Oca, puwede raw silang kumain ng isang manok araw-araw at di mauubos ang mga ito ng isang taon. Imbes na ang tirang pagkain ay ipakain sa aso, mga manok ang naghahabulan sa mumo.

Nag-posing kami sa isang nabuwal na puno ng manggang inakyat. Naging musmos ang lahat. Pinagtatawanan ang lahat nang puwedeng mapagtawanan: laki ng mga katawan ng kasama, imahinaryong pag-aaring asyenda, pati ang kakulitan ng tahimik at cute na apo ng mag-asawa.

Natuloy ang pagpunta sa beach. Umarkila sila ng isa pang tricycle para magkasya ang grupo. Puwedeng mag-surfing sa beach sa Masinloc. Malakas ang alon dahil kababagyo nga lang. Kami ay nasa pampang lang at nag-aantay itulak ng inaabangang alon.

Hindi pa nakuntento sa beach. Dinala rin kami sa ilog na pinagpipiknikan ng iba pang grupo. Nagtatalunan ang mga musmos at teenager sa ilog, samantalang ang grupo namin ay nagbababad lamang sa tagiliran ng ilalim ng kalsada.

Sa panahon ng digicam, walang takot na magkukuha ng pix. ‘Yung dalawang lalake ay panay ang posing dahil ilalagay raw nila sa kanilang Friendster. Dinala kami ni Nanay Connie sa kanyang paaralan. Prinsipal siya at nakasaad ito sa mga marker. Kami na ang pumansin nito.

Hapon na nang bumalik kami sa bahay. Malakas ang buhos ng ulan. Gumagayak na kaming bumalik sa aming buhay sa Manila. Si Nanay Connie ay naghahanda ng pasalubong package para sa lahat: suman, mangga, kasoy wine, daing, at langka. Bawat isa sa amin ay binigyan niya rin ng trucker’s cap.

Napayakap ako kay Nanay Connie. Gaya nang ibang nauna sa akin, hinalikan ko rin siya sa pisngi na para ko ring nanay. Tinapik ang balikat ni Tatay Oca. Naglakad kami habang nag-aantay ng tricycle pabalik sa sakayan ng jeep.

Iniisip ko, para lang ba kaming multong nagpakita sa mag-asawa? Na tulad ng mga diplomang naka-laminate sa dingding at graduation picture ni Karen Empeño, estudyanteng dinampot at magdadalawang taon nang nawawala, ay nagpaparamdam nang alaala ng pagkakamit at kawalan? Nang pag-aantay at pagbabakasakali?

Dumating kami pero hindi umalis. Dumating din sila sa amin at hindi kailanman aalis pa.(PinoyWeekly)

Capitol lawyer defends military, CHR

June 22, 2008

CAPITOL lawyer Erwin Vergara defended both the Philippine Army and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against charges from militant groups.

Karapatan and other allied human rights groups earlier charged CHR Special Investigator Jesus Canete as a spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

They also lashed at the military for committing human rights violations against civilians.

In a recent hearing of the Provincial Board (PB) Committee on Peace and Order chaired by Board Member Melimore Saycon, Vergara explained that soldiers who committed abuses were already imprisoned. Others were given appropriate sanctions and charges were also properly filed.

He said based on the assurance of top military officials, AFP will not cover any wrongdoing done by its men.

But Vimarie Arcilla, information officer of Karapatan-Central Visayas, said after Canete “cleared” AFP members deployed in Linantuyan village in Guihulngan for their alleged involvement in human rights violations, they still heard reports of alleged arson, rape and other forms of harassments committed by members of the 11th Infantry Battalion.

Canete went to the Linantuyan village upon orders of CHR Regional Director Alejandro Alonso to investigate on the charges.

But Arcilla challenged the lawyer to investigate further.

“We believe he should do a real investigation, instead of just parroting out what Lieutenant Colonel Nemesio Gacal says,” Arcilla said.

Arcilla also questioned Canete’s involvement with the AFP. “When did Canete become the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces of the Philippines?” he asked.

Vergara maintained that Canete conducted a fair investigation.

Arcilla, however, said Canete’s investigation failed to consider the background of the four peasants prior to the execution of the affidavits.

From Under This Hat: The NCIP is now under the DENR

June 20, 2008

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act – “An Act to Recognize, Protect and Promote the Rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples creating a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Establishing Implementing Mechanisms, appropriating funds therefor and for other purposes.”

Last May 23, 2008. President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 726, that ordered the transfer of the NCIP from its “attachment with the Department of Agrarian Reform” (DAR) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

On this development, one Igorot said, “After reforming the ancestral lands into Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) they will now take the domains’ natural resources? Itta nga na-iCLOA da ti ancestral land, i-mining claim da manen ti domains? Angsan! Ayshilay usok tan pastolan ni Igodot. Naitulshon shal’ma’y pipi-ig bengat i-tuo,” (Now that the ancestral lands were converted to CLOAs, these will be turned into mining claims. Gosh,! There will be no more native mines and pasture grounds for the Igorots. People will be driven further). Whether he meant it as a joke or not it sounded so true.

This transfer has only once more reaffirmed the policy of the national government on indigenous peoples. That they are just part of the state-owned natural resource, to be extracted and sold, just like their land, their gold and their forests.

It has just been less than a month after representatives of the national government practically showed off to the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting that they had the IPRA, “a local and better version of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” as proof that they are human rights defenders and not violators as pointed out by the local independent human rights monitoring group.

The proof of service may not and is not in the written document but in the implementation of the law to serve the people it draws its realization and mandate from. Many observers, — IP and human rights advocates, historians and documenters — see that instead of keeping the IP communities and resources intact, IPRA has contributed more to their deterioration and loss of identity and loss of cultural integrity. Could it be toward ethnocide?

It is discrimination against all Filipino indigenous peoples — man, woman or child — to take, and note, without their knowledge and participation; the national agency that is supposed to be protecting their rights and defending their rights as IPs; and then attach it to some national agency organized for the land distribution to landless peasants, or to an agency mandated to protect and manage the country’s natural resources!

Well, of course, these IPs are but “poor, noisy Filipino people” located in the fringes of society who in the Independence Day speeches are being called to unite their ranks and assert their rights as a freedom- loving community!#(NorthernDispatch)

Student journalists decry press freedom, democratic rights violation

June 20, 2008

PASIG CITY — Student journalists denounced violations of campus press freedom and democratic rights in a picket-rally staged first week of June in front of the Commission Higher Education (CHED) in relation to the move by administration officials of an Ilocos-based government school.

Campus journalists belonging to the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) were joined by about fifteen (15) protesters from National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) the CHED National Office protest during the recent meeting of the University of Northern Philippines (UNP) Board of Regents (BOR).

Said BOR meeting would tackle the approval of The Blazers to change Tandem as the new publication of UNP, as approved at the recent Policy Conference of the UNP administration last May. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) has consistently pushed the Blazers since last year; however, the BOR did not approve said publication and recommended that the administration resolve the issue inside the university.

According to Ma. Criselda Diocena, editor-in-chief of Tandem, the official student publication of UNP, and convener of Defend Tandem, the UNP has launched blatant attacks to the rights to the students by silencing its voice in the publication and the student council.

“They closed the publication and used force to harass the student leaders and instill fear among the students.” Diocena stressed as she enumerated the cases of student’s rights and campus press freedom violations that the UNP administration allegedly committed.

Diocena was among the student leaders who was harassed and charged with theft after allegedly taking the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of Tandem to the Student Resource Center. To date, Diocena’s case is still at the City Prosecutor’s Office and the office of Tandem remains closed.

In addition, Diocena was not allowed by the College of Engineering (CE) to take up her final examinations, as the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) through Dr. Gilbert Arce did not issue her any clearance. Diocena has not yet enrolled.

Vijhae Alquisola, National President of the CEGP lambasted the UNP administration for creating a new publication to replace Tandem. “The BOR should look into the Tandem seriously, it should not resort to the closure of publication.” Alquisola noted and suggested that the BOR should see to it that the “democratic rights and campus press freedom of the student are upheld.”

Diocena is currently lobbying at various government and non-government agencies to support her call for the reopening of the publication and to stop political persecution to her and other student leaders. # Rod Tajon(NorthernDispatch)

RP Envoy to Saudi Dared: Tell Your Lies to Rape Victim’s Face

June 19, 2008

An overseas Filipina worker was allegedly gang-raped in Saudi Arabia. Instead of getting all the support she needed from Philippine Embassy officials, they accused the victim of fabricating lies just so she could return home.

BY AUBREY MAKILAN
MIGRANT WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

“Come home and tell your lies to the rape victim’s face.”

This was the challenge of Migrante International to Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor after he castigated Filipina rape victim Jessa, not her real name, for insisting that she was gang-raped in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after a press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – claiming that Jessa denied being raped – was published in major dailies.

Claiming credit

Jessa’s story caught the public’s attention after a text message was sent by an OFW in Saudi Arabia to Migrante International about a Filipina domestic helper who was being raped by her employer. Migrante International, in turn, notified the Department of Foreign Affairs DFA).

On May 29, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that Jessa has denied being held hostage by her employer and being gang-raped by four men on May 19 in Al-Qatief, Saudi Arabia.

According to the DFA press release, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) allegedly stated in her May 26 statement that her “allegations were fabricated and mere products of her imagination, and that all she intended was to facilitate her return to her family in the Philippines.” Furthermore, the DFA said Jessa also acknowledged her receipt of full payment of the salaries due her amounting to 6,700 riyals ( ___ ).

In an earlier statement dated May 28, the DFA said that the OFW extended her gratitude to the embassy for facilitating her repatriation, and making sure that her employer paid for her travel expenses.

In fact, the DFA commended Ambassador Villamor’s immediate response to Jessa’s case. It said, “Villamor immediately dispatched a consular officer and an interpreter to Al-Qatief—some 700 kilometers from Riyadh – to investigate the case and assist the OFW, soon after receiving instructions from the department.”

The DFA added that upon representations of the embassy officer, the Al-Qatief Police summoned the employer on May 26 to present the OFW and shed light on the case. The employer reportedly agreed to shoulder the OFW’s repatriation costs.

On the other hand, Jessa, who arrived in the country on May 28, has been quoted in media reports saying that she was forced by the Saudi police to sign a piece of paper in Arabic and she does not stand by that document.

Who is telling the truth?

Jessa, through her husband, told Migrante-Cordillera that she never withdrew her allegations in the KSA, adding that she was even videotaped while being gang-raped by four men. Jessa reiterated that she signed the document under duress and that Philippine embassy officials didn’t even explain to her the contents of the said document written in Arabic. She just thought that signing the document would be the fastest way for her to escape her tormentors.

For Migrante International and Migrante-Middle East, the bias should always be on the side of the victim.

“Reason and common sense dictate that in choosing what to believe between the conflicting claims of the victim and Philippine Embassy officials – who are supposed to protect the victim – one could easily deduce that the victim would never lie because such accusation would put her safety at great risk. The embassy official’s interest, on the other hand, is to protect his position, even if that means violating the right of the victim to file an appropriate case against the alleged perpetrator,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona also said that the victim would not insist on going back home if her employer is treating her well.

He recalled that in their appeal letter to the Philippine Embassy on May 21, Migrante-Middle East explicitly requested the embassy to assist the victim in filing the appropriate case once the victim has already been rescued from her employer so that justice would be served.

“To our surprise, the victim was immediately sent back home on May 28. Why did they suddenly and immediately repatriate the victim without a thorough investigation of the matter?” asked Monterona. “Such swift and compromising stance and action by Philippine officials abroad on sensitive cases like rape, sexual abuses and harassment and mysterious deaths of OFWs abroad is quite alarming because it deprives the victims and their families of justice,” Monterona added.

Criminal negligence

Lian Santos, Migrante deputy secretary general, also criticized Villamor who was quoted as saying, “This kind of misleading attitudes of our workers like Jessa will harm our bilateral relations.” Villamor even said that the KSA and the Philippines have had excellent ties in almost all sectors.

“Villamor’s callous and unfounded outbursts manifest his kind of leadership over almost a million OFWs in the Kingdom; he is more concerned with diplomatic relations than the welfare of our kababayans under his watch,” said Santos. “Because of his proven track record of criminal negligence and lack of sympathy to our OFWs in the Kingdom, Villamor has lost all credibility.”

Santos said they would continue to seek justice for Jessa and for all OFWs raped, maltreated, unjustly jailed and stranded not only in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but all over the world. They also stepped up their call for the recall and termination of Villamor for criminal negligence.

Monterona added that their group is calling on the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment and the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs to conduct an investigation on how Philippine officials abroad deal with such sensitive cases to protect OFW-victims and to ensure that their basic human rights are protected and upheld. Bulatlat

OFW’s Remains Repatriated After 3 Months, Quest for Justice Begins

June 19, 2008

The plane that carried that remains of Eugenia Baja from Saudi Arabia landed in NAIA around 7:30 p.m. June 12. For her sister Lilibeth Garcia, it was the result of more than three months of pleading with government agencies to have her sister’s body repatriated; and it was facilitated only after she sought the help of the media and Migrante International.  Now that Eugenia Baja’s remains are back, the quest for justice begins.

BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MIGRANT WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

It has been two years since Lilibeth Garcia has seen her sister Eugenia Baja who left to work in Saudi Arabia in May, 2007.  Their long-awaited reunion should have been joyous and full of significance being on June 12 Independence Day and just five days since Migrants Day.  But there was no cause for celebration in Baja’s much awaited return and the day lost its significance to Garcia and her relatives; because they were in grief and mourning as they waited in the cargo area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for the remains of her sister Eugenia Baja.

Baja left the country for Saudi Arabia last May 6, 2007. Her employment abroad was facilitated by the Aisis International Manpower Inc.  which has its office in Malate, Manila. She signed a contract stating that she would be employed as a patient server in Saudi Arabia. However, she ended up being a domestic helper.

In January this year, Baja’s family was alarmed after receiving a series of text messages from her: the first pleading for help from her brother and a second message telling them that she did not know what her employers were doing to her and that she felt like losing her mind. (LINK SA STORY TO HANNAH “Short-lived Dream, a Shattered Family Vol. VIII, No. 13).

Their greatest fear was confirmed when they received news February 27 that Eugenia died three years earlier. But it was only by March 2008 that Garcia received a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) informing them of her sister’s death. Garcia was first told that Baja died from an illness.  But DFA officials later told her that Baja committed suicide by hitting her head with bathroom tiles.

At that moment, their long struggle to have Eugenia Baja’s remains repatriated began.

Three painful months

Garcia followed up the repatriation of her sister’s remains with the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs for three months to no avail. When Garcia felt that her pleas were being ignored, she brought along representatives from the 700 Club, a news talk show of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which is being aired locally in QTV Channel 11.

Garcia told Bulatlat that because of the presence of media, OWWA officials immediately promised to give them P20,000 ($450.349 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.41) for burial expenses, a P100,000 ($2,251.745) life insurance policy for her father and another P2,000 ($45.03) for her father’s transportation expenses in going back to their hometown in Bohol.

Garcia said that even Aisis International Manpower, Inc. gave them P10,000 ($225.17) as financial assistance. The OWWA also gave them a direct contact number to a certain Ed Lamparas who is working in the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

Nag-iiba sila kapag may kasama kang media. Samantalang dati pinabalik-balik pa nila ako,” (They suddenly changed just because I was accompanied by a media person. Whereas before, they made me come back and forth with no results. ) she added.

On the other hand, through the help of Migrante International, an organization of OFWs and their families, they were able to ask Senate President Manny Villar for assistance. Villar gave money for the plane tickets of Garcia and two other relatives going to Bohol for Baja’s wake. Congressman Edgar Chato of Bohol promised to shoulder the funeral expenses for Baja.

Journey home

Nawalan na ako ng gana magtanong sa DFA kaya kay Ed Lamparas na lang ako tumatawag sa telepono,” (I lost my confidence with DFA so I called Ed Lamparas directly for updates.) said Garcia. She added that it was Lamparas who informed her that her sister’s remains would be arriving within one week and that they were having a hard time getting a flight back to Manila. Garcia was also informed that her sister’s employer shouldered the expenses for her repatriation.

She added that this was also the first time that someone, either from the government or from the recruitment agency, disclosed the name of the Baja’s employer, Major Abdulasis Alhusim. “Pulis ata yun,” (I think he is a poiceman.) she added.

Nung nalaman nila na uuwi na yung kapatid ko, yung OWWA na yung tumatawag. Eh dati ako yung nangungulit,” (When OWWA found out that my sister’s remains was scheduled to be sent home, they started communicating with me. Whereas before I had to follow them up persistently. ) Garcia said.

The arrival

The plane that carried that remains of Eugenia Baja landed in NAIA around 7:30 p.m. June 12. Gladys Garcia from the legal department of Senate President Manny Villar was able to negotiate with the NAIA administration to allow the relatives to fetch the casket. Ten people – three relatives of Baja including Garcia, four people from the media, two staff of Migrante International and another from the office of Senate President Villar – went inside the airport to claim the body of Baja.

Garcia and her two accompanying relatives later emerged from the airport hand-in-hand and went to where other people were anxiously waiting. Garcia was crying hard as the rest of her relatives came to hug and comfort her. The night ended with a solemn prayer inside the humble jeepney, which they rode going to the airport.

But their quest for justice has just begun.

In an interview with Bulatlat earlier in the day, Garcia said that they intend to have Baja’s body autopsied here to be able to determine the true cause of her death.

Yung buhay (na stranded OFWs) nga kaya baligtarin, yung patay pa kaya?” (If the testimonies given by stranded OFWs who are still alive are being twisted, how much more if that person is already dead?) she said. . Bulatlat

For Violating Rights of Sison, Filipino Refugees: Dutch Gov’t Hit Before UN Human Rights Council

June 19, 2008

The Dutch government was criticized by an international group of lawyers before the United Nations Human Rights Council for violating the rights of Prof. Jose Maria Sison and of members of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

Filipino lawyer Edre Olalia, representing the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and president of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) decried the Dutch government’s violation of human rights of Filipinos living in the Netherlands during the 8th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, June 11.

Olalia made the intervention in the course of the consideration of the report of the Working Group on the human rights record of The Netherlands.  The IADL is an NGO composed of lawyer and jurist members and associations in over 80 countries. It has consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the UN Human Rights Council.

In a statement sent through email by Defend International, Olalia criticized the disparity between the pious pronouncements of the Dutch government about human rights and the continuing political persecution of Filipino political exiles, asylum seekers and refugees like Filipinos in the Netherlands who are in “legitimate and democratic opposition to what they view as anti-people policies and programs of the Philippine government.”

Collaboration with RP Gov’t

Olalia pointed out that the Dutch government and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) had collaborated in using false criminal charges against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, as a pretext to arrest and detain him, raid the NDFP information office and the homes of the peace panelists, consultants and staffers of the NDFP and seize their computers, digital files, documents, bank accounts and many other things on 28 August 2007.

Olalia said, “How could arbitrary and indiscriminate carting away of an immense amount of materials, including the records and related study materials of peace negotiations since 1986 as well as complaints, evidence and files of the Joint Monitoring Committee, a body designed to monitor compliance with a bilateral agreement on human rights and international humanitarian law be justified?”

He asserted that the NDFP is a national liberation movement, whose status is recognized under international law, and which has maintained an open international information office in the Netherlands for a long period of time, and is engaged in peace negotiations with the GRP.

Olalia stressed that persecution through false charges is a major form of human rights violation. “The falsely accused is subjected to detention, humiliation, stigmatization, unnecessary expense of efforts and resources, loss of income and opportunities and public incitement of violence against his person and reputation.”

He pointed out that the Dutch government gave credence to false information provided by the Philippine government, particularly from a body called the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), which the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Prof. Philip Alston recommended to be abolished.

He said, “In this regard, how can the Dutch government guarantee that in the sphere of criminal investigation, prosecution and judicial decision-making, political interests are subservient to the supposed rule of law in the Netherlands so that the human rights of individuals who exercise their basic freedom of thought and expression are promoted and protected?”

Meanwhile, Sison, speaking via the internet before the All Leaders Forum organized by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), June 12, said, “Tingnan n’yo ang kawalanghiyaan ng GRP, niloko ang Dutch government sa pagsasampa ng false charges. Kasama ang Kintanar at Tabara incidents sa rebellion charges na ibinasura na ng Korte Supreme noong July 2, 2007.” (Look at the shamelessness of the GRP; it fooled the Dutch government in filing false charges. The Kintanar and Tabara incidents formed part of the rebellion charges that were already dismissed by the Philippine Supreme Court last July 2, 2007.)

Sison was charged in The Netherlands for ordering the murder of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. He was arrested August 28, 2007 but was released September 13 after the Dutch court found that there were no “sufficient indications that the accused [Sison], while living in the Netherlands, committed the offenses he is charged with, in deliberate and close cooperation with the perpetrators in the Philippines.”.

Olalia said that the oppressive policy of the Dutch government towards Prof. Sison did not cease despite the series of decisions of the Hague District Court on 13 September 2007, The Hague Court of Appeal on 2 October 2007, and the examining judge on 21 November 2007 that there is no prima facie evidence against him. The latest decision of the Hague District Court on 5 June 2008 declares that up to now there is no incriminating evidence against him.

In the same forum, Sison described the cruelty of  “Dutch imperialism.” “Sa kasaysayan, pumatay sila ng tatlong milyong Indonesians for oil interests. May pamukha lang na kumikilala ng karapatang pantao.” (History shows that Dutch imperialists killed three million Indonesians for its oil interests. It only wants to portray itself as a defender of human rights.)

Peace talks

Olalia averred that peace advocates are concerned that the false criminal charges have paralyzed the peace negotiations. He demanded that the Dutch government show respect for human rights by doing away with persecution through false or politically-motivated charges in order to strengthen the rule of law and promote the implementation of agreements between the GRP and the NDFP, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). He called for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in order to pave the way for the end of the armed conflict in the Philippines and lay the ground for human rights to thrive.

For his part, Sison deemed that the political persecution against the NDF aims to pressure the NDF to capitulate. “Gustong ipanalo (ng rehimeng Arroyo) ang hindi niya kayang ipanalo sa battlefield.”  (The Arroyo regime wishes to gain what it cannot win in the battlefield.)

He said that the prospect of peace negotiations remains dim. “Anuman ang kagustuhan ng NDF, di kayang alisin ng GRP ang mga obstacles to the peace negotiations. Gusto nilang talikdan ang Hague Joint Declaration at iba pang agreements. Dinambong na ang pondo para sa indemnification ng mga biktima ng martial law. GRP ang nag-request sa Dutch government para isama kami sa terrorist list at iba pa.” (No matter how willing the NDF is, the GRP refused to remove the obstacles to the peace negotiations. They do not want to comply with the Hague Joint Declaration and other agreements. The fund for the indemnification of martial law victims has been plundered. The GRP requested the Dutch government to include us [Sison, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army] in the terrorist list and so on.)

Dutch Reply

In another statement sent to Bulatlat, the UPR Watch related, “The head of the Netherlands delegation, Dutch Ambassador for Human Rights from the Foreign Ministry Mr. Arjan Hamburger – who was obviously caught by surprise by a Filipino making an oral intervention on the Netherlands human rights report and situation – was unprepared to answer and meekly replied that they will respond to the issues raised by the NGOs in an interim overview of their UPR report or through bilateral contact with the organizations that spoke.”

Olalia challenged the UN Human Rights Council to react or respond to reports that Dutch and Philippine government authorities at the highest level have a long-running scheme to “oppress and criminalize” Prof. Sison by subjecting him to such false charges and to an endless politically-motivated criminal investigation by the Dutch State.

He demanded that satisfactory answers be made to the questions he raised. He said, “Without satisfactory answers, we are afraid that other individuals and organizations in the Netherlands will suffer the same fate in contravention of the basic international instruments to which the Netherlands has committed itself.” Bulatlat

Court Convicts Suspect in Killing of Activist

June 19, 2008

A human rights lawyer called the first conviction of a perpetrator in the extrajudicial killings of activists in the country as a ray of hope. But other perpetrators remain scot-free and so the search for justice continues.

By ARTEMIO DUMLAO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) —  One of the suspects behind the killing of Jose Doton, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Pangasinan, was found guilty of murder.

Judge Ulysses Butuyan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 51 of Tayug town, Pangasinan found Joel Flores guilty of murder and frustrated murder. Butuyan sentenced the assassin to 41 years in jail and ten years more for the frustrated murder of Jose Doton’s brother Diosdado.

Flores, believed to be an intelligence operative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was arrested in mid-2006.

Doton, a staunch critic of the San Roque Multi-purpose Dam Project in San Manuel town, Pangasinan, was killed on May 16, 2006 in San Nicolas town of the same province. Motorcycle-riding men shot Doton dead about 200 meters away from his home. His brother Diosdado who was with him at that time was seriously wounded.

Flores was also ordered to pay the heirs of the Doton family P 500,000 ($11,258 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.41) and P200,000 ( $4,503) to Diosdado for damages.

Reynaldo Cortes, a lawyer and member of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance hailed the decision. “We commend Judge Butuyan for deciding on the merits of the case. This is a first for the more than 900 cases of extrajudicial killings of activists in the country.”

Cortes also praised Alfie Bince of the Pangasinan Integrated Bar of the Philippines who help prosecute the case for the Doton family.

Cortes said, “Before his death, Doton received death threats and was subjected to a vilification campaign and surveillance, just like the other victims of extrajudicial killings. He was tagged as a communist sympathizer and a terrorist.”

The human rights lawyer said the conviction is “”a ray of hope in our quest for justice for victims of human rights violations.”

“More work has to be done. The mastermind and the companions of Flores who carried out the killing still have to be identified, arrested and brought to justice,”.said Cortes. Contributed to Bulatlat

Driving Away the Poor for the QC Business District

June 19, 2008

To pave the way for the Quezon City Business District, hundreds of poor residents are being driven away. While big corporations occupy public lands, the poor are not assured of proper relocation.

BY KRISTINE ANGELI SABILLO
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

People and market stalls cramp the narrow Sebastian Street, the main road of Sitio San Roque, an urban poor community in Quezon City’s North Triangle Area. Thousands of families live in this community, which was said to have been inhabited a couple of decades ago. Hundreds make their living here, selling food, services and merchandise.

San Roque is bordered by Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) and Agham road, enclosed by Trinoma mall and what they call “Dubai,” a vast desert-like piece of land. It is what developers call blight.

Along an eskinita (alley) from Sebastian Street, where women hugging packages of cheap National Food Authority (NFA) rice walk by, lives Yulie Villena, 46, mother of six. Her husband is a taxi driver and they have been living in San Roque for 18 years, one of the first residents in the area.

Rosalina Valdecañas, 52, has lived for 12 years in San Roque with her children. Her eldest son is a supervisor at a janitorial agency and her youngest is unemployed but does all sorts of jobs like delivering ice. Like Yulie, their family income is just enough for their basic necessities. When the need arises, her eldest son sells peanuts on buses after his shift.

With food becoming more expensive and money harder to find, the future is bleak for what society calls “the urban poor.”

Threat of demolition

But while residents like Yulie and Ros face uncertainty in terms of employment and food, they face greater uncertainty with the threat of demolition.

Over time, the community of San Roque is being reduced through a series of demolitions by the government and its partner corporations.

During the late 90s, a third of San Roque was demolished to make way for Ayala’s Trinoma mall. Last year, an initial six-meter strip of houses of some 30 families was shaved off for the EDSA widening project. Twenty-four more meters will be demolished in the coming months.

Business District

These pocket demolitions, while at first glance seem to be isolated cases, are actually part of a grander scheme for Quezon City – the QC Central Business District (CBD).

Under the QC CBD, the 250-hectare area of the North (96.4 ha) and East (99.2 ha) Triangle and the Veteran’s Memorial (55 ha) will be transformed into a mixed-use development, which the World Bank projects as “the center of gravity of all commercial activities in Metro Manila in the coming years.”

According to the Quezon City local government, the QC CBD was borne out of QC Mayor Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, Jr.’s initial plan to turn the city into “an internationally competitive model of urban development.”

However, it can be said that big businesses and international entities have long been eyeing the area, which is government land, because of its strategic location and real estate potential. This is why the Trinoma mall was realized despite its current location beside the urban poor community of San Roque.

Based on the reported measurements, the QC CBD will be larger than the Makati or Ortigas CBD. It is also easily accessible because of its EDSA and MRT frontage, which is longer than any other CBD in the country.

The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, two big financial institutions, would fund the design and commercial development of the area.

San Roque itself is situated in an area that, according to the QC government website, is speculated to have the highest land value if it becomes commercial. Instead of the community talipapa (small market), numerous basketball courts and thousands of houses, the San Roque and neighboring areas would house high-rise buildings, retail businesses and offices.

After Belmonte announced his plans of developing the 250-hectare area and the World Bank came up with a proposed framework, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order 620 for the realization of the CBD project and E.O. 620-A which determines the present composition of the Urban Triangle Development (TriDev) Commission.

The TriDev Commission’s task is to ensure the progress of the CBD project. Its chairman is Vice President Noli de Castro (Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council), its co-chair Mayor Belmonte, and its members National Housing General Manager Federico Laxa and Deputy Executive Secretary Joaquin Lagonera of the Office of the President.

Based on the present plans, the whole QC CBD area itself will be organized into five mixed-use thematic districts:

The Triangle Exchange (54.3 ha), where San Roque is situated, will be the high traffic district of the CBD, containing the three MRT stations and other roads. It holds the highest real estate potential of all the districts and would feature residential, commercial and recreational infrastructures.

The Emporium (37.9 ha) would focus on Information and Communication Technology infrastructures like research institutions, call centers and e-governance structures. Here, public and international offices will be integrated into commercial and residential developments.

The Downtown Hub (54.1 ha) would also be residential-commercial but with some of its lands devoted to institutional facilities for medical, education, science and training services.

Residences at Veterans (39.7 ha) would focus on the residential aspect, having a range of high-rise to lower residential buildings. Like the other districts, it still has commercial, recreational and transit centers.

Lastly, the Commons would be a mixed-use park with cultural, recreational and entertainment establishments nearby.

Relocation?

With the said plans, a complete overhaul of the area would be at hand. The inevitable question is, “Where will the displaced residents go?”

The residents see only three possibilities: relocation inside the area, relocation away from QC and demolition without relocation.

There have been talks within the community that the National Housing Authority (NHA) will be using its medium-rise housing project for the relocation of the San Roque residents inside the North Triangle. However, according to a local anti-demolition alliance in the area, such projects offer false hopes. In the first place, people would have to pay rent, which they could probably not afford. And second, to get a unit, one should complete certain requirements like a regular-paying job and a prescribed monthly income. This, according to the alliance, is impossible for most of the residents.

But most importantly, according to the NHA itself, relocation inside the area is not possible. The purpose of the CBD project is to achieve the highest financial potential of the land, according to NHA. Therefore, socialized housing inside the area is not feasible, especially now that the San Roque land has been leased to the New San Jose Builders company.

At the same time, relocation elsewhere is also problematic. Besides the terrible conditions of relocation sites – being far from the residents’ workplace, having no electricity or water, or having only a pair of bathrooms for the whole community – NHA engineers have admitted that there are really no relocation plans for the people of San Roque. Their relocation sites in other places like Montalban, Rizal are already full and could not accommodate another community.

With or without relocation, the project and the demolition it entails will push through.

At this point, one may ask, “Whose interest is the government prioritizing?”

One of Belmonte’s projects is to alleviate poverty. It is doubtful that demolishing communities and not providing relocation would help his constituents rise from poverty. The CBD project is said to be his gift to the people, but why is he demolishing his own constituents off public land in favor of profit-seeking companies?

Furthermore, with a series of executive orders, commissions and institutions paving the way for the CBD, the national government itself lends a hand to the escalating problem of widespread poverty and displacement both in urban and rural lands.

As Ros said, “Government property naman siya (yung  lupa). Sana ibigay na lang sa tao.” (It’s government property. I hope it gets distributed to the people) Contributed to Bulatlat

Watchdog Says Gov’t in Denial of Rights Violations’ Causes, Solutions

June 19, 2008

The Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch has assailed the Arroyo administration for being “in denial” about the causes of human rights violations in the Philippines. It also criticized the government for adamantly refusing to heed the recommendations of UNHRC members, which could have helped improve the human rights situation in the Philippines.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

The Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch has assailed the Arroyo administration for being “in denial” about the causes of and solutions to human rights violations in the Philippines. This was in response to the Philippine government representative’s statements at the eight session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which began last June 2 and is set to conclude on June 18.

The Philippine UPR Watch delegation to Geneva is composed of Fr. Rex Reyes, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) general secretary; Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) secretary-general; Trisha Garvida of Karapatan; Edre Olalia, International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) president; Dr. Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos; Donnie Mapanao of Migrante-Switzerland; and Ed Cubelo of the Toyota-Philippines union.

The UNHRC is holding the session to tackle the reports of its 47 member-countries to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which held its first session on April 7-18, 2008. The Philippine government’s human rights record was discussed in that session.

The UPR is a new mechanism that was established under General Assembly Resolution 60/251, which established the UNHRC on March 15, 2006. The said resolution provides that the UNHRC shall “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States; the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs; such a mechanism shall complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies…”

The Arroyo administration has in recent years reaped international outrage over the spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances under its watch.

Based on data from Karapatan, there have been a total of 903 extrajudicial killings and 193 enforced disappearances from 2001 – when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising – to March 31, 2008.

The three regions with the highest number of extrajudicial killings are Southern Tagalog with 163, Central Luzon with 137, and the Bicol Region with 127. Most of the victims are peasants (numbering 419) and indigenous people (85). Among political organizations, the party-list group Bayan Muna (People First) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) have the highest number of victims, with 132 and 104, respectively.

Meanwhile, the three regions with the highest numbers of enforced disappearances are Central Luzon with 64, Southern Tagalog with 28, and Eastern Visayas with 24.

Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, the Bicol Region, and Eastern Samar are all marked as “priority areas” in the government’s counter-insurgency operations dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL or Operation Freedom Watch).

UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston went on a mission to the Philippines in 2007 to investigate the spate of extrajudicial killings and came up with a report specifically pointing to the military’s involvement in these. “In some parts of the country, the armed forces have followed a deliberate strategy of systematically hunting down the leaders of leftist organizations,” Alston, who is also a professor at New York University (NYU), said.

During the eight UNHRC session this June, Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Erlinda Basilio disputed Alston’s findings.

“The Philippines finds that the report and the recommendations of Professor Alston are inaccurate, highly selective, and biased,” Basilio said in her statement to the UNHRC on June 7. “The report neither provides a complete picture nor a fair assessment of the situation in the Philippines. Nevertheless, the Philippines remains committed to its state responsibility to resolve verifiable and legitimate cases of extrajudicial killings whoever may be the perpetrators, whether members of rebel groups or members of the military and police.”

Alston, however, said he stood by his findings. “I am simply being faithful in playing my role as an honest broker,” he said.

Repeated denials

At the interactive dialogue during the consideration of the report of the UPR’s working group on the Philippines, Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Erlinda Basilio said that the government cannot “provide follow-up reports on efforts and measures to address extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, taking into account the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.”

Basilio also rejected outright the Swiss representative’s recommendation last April to strengthen the government’s Witness Protection Program “in the context of the reform of the judiciary and the armed forces.” Basilio was quoted as saying during the eight UNHRC session that the Philippine government does not support this recommendation. This contradicted the claim of the government as contained in the Philippine National Report submitted to the UNHRC that “the President has certified as urgent legislation to strengthen the Witness Protection Program.”

Basilio was also cold to the recommendation of the representatives of Slovenia and Mexico for the Philippines to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. Basilio’s response to this during the eighth UNHRC session was that this recommendation is noted and would be “studied further.”

“This speaks so eloquently of the insincerity of the government to address issues of killings, disappearances and other human rights violations in the Philippines,” said Reyes, who heads the Philippine UPR Watch delegation. “First it paints a glossy picture of the Philippine Government as a ‘rights-based’ State that has signed the UN core documents and has enacted laws that supposedly protect the rights of its citizens; and then in the same breath, they refuse to accept the recommendations of the UNHRC that would help resolve the killings and disappearances and stop the impunity.

“Killings and disappearances continue in a climate of impunity and the Philippine government’s Report hypocritically trumpets its ‘commitment, constructive and consultative approach.’ We urge the Filipino people to remain resolute in exposing human rights abuses and be steadfast in denouncing falsehood and hypocrisy. Let us continue the struggle for peace and justice in our country.” Bulatlat

CEGP condemns adviser-meddling, harassment of Makati Collegian editors

June 18, 2008

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) denounces in strongest terms the adviser-meddling, violation of the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, and the harassment of editors of the Makati Collegian by the University of Makati administration.

The issue in the Makati Collegian sprung from the administration’ s unilateral designation of Dr. Teresa Solero as adviser of the Makati Collegian, in violation of the selection process stipulated in the CJA of 1991. The CJA of 1991 mandates that the incumbent editorial board of the Makati Collegian ‘shall make a recommendation of three (3) faculty members, and the administration shall choose a technical adviser from the recommended faculty.’ The editorial board, however, was not consulted on the designation.

The Makati Collegian rightfully refused to recognize Dr. Solero as adviser and this was when the University of Makati unleashed its attacks on campus press freedom and the democratic rights of Makati Collegian Editor-in-Chief Jeneffere Buenaventura and members of its editorial board Adora Joy V. Borja (Managing Editor) and Dannilyn C. de Castro (Associate Editor). (Attached herewith is the complainants’ complete account of the chronology of events.)

Last February 2008, the University of Makati, upon the order of Dr. Solero, renovated the publication office, making it impossible for Makati Collegian editors and staff to access the publication office. Not long after, Dr. Solero announced the establishment of the Studium Generale Publication (SGP) as the school’s official publication to replace the Makati Collegian and rendering it ‘defunct’.

What came after were a barrage of unfounded accusations and actions by the University of Makati administration through Dr. Solero:

  1. A sudden investigation of alleged complaints by students with regards to the Makati Collegian’s financial statements. Said complaints were never appropriately presented to the editorial board and copies were never furnished to them.

The mere fact that the so-called investigation against Buenaventura et al were merely jointly performed by Dr. Solero and Prof. Joselito Mendoza, the so-called designated Investigating Officer of the Studium Generale Publication, is illegal in itself. Firstly, they have no authority to conduct the investigation under Dr. Solero’s position as a mere technical adviser. Secondly, investigations should be a result of complaints filed to the student disciplinary committee, which Dr. Solero failed to produce. Thirdly, the respondents (Buenaventura et al) should be properly informed in writing of the nature and cause of the accusations against them. And lastly, the investigation should be conducted by a duly-constituted student disciplinary committee.

Moreover, the Makati Collegian editorial board has also submitted the financial statements for AY 2007-2008, albeit a bit late because of their difficulty to access the publication office. All remaining funds of the publication are still intact and accounted for.

  1. Insistence and forceful demand of Dr. Solero for the turnover of publication funds to her (i.e. the remaining funds for AY 2007-2008). The editorial board refused to turn over funds because the legitimacy of the establishment of the SGP is in question. Furthermore, the refusal to turnover funds is perfectly legitimate since the Makati Collegian is STILL the official publication of the university.
  1. When the editorial board refused to comply with abovementioned demands, the University of Makati released an order holding the enrolment of Buenaventura. It also allegedly released a memorandum from the Office of the University President stating such an order, but as of press time no such memo had been presented to Buenaventura.

Borja’s registration was also cancelled and de Castro’s academic credentials were withheld.

  1. Of all these, Dr. Solero failed to furnish Buenaventura and the editorial board with pertinent papers and formal written documents to support her accusations and actions. They were also not given the opportunity to air their side on the matter.

The CEGP condemns Dr. Solero and the University of Makati administration’ s grave abuse of discretion and authority resulting in the harassment of the Makati Collegian’s editors and the eventual closure of the publication.

The CEGP also criticizes Dr. Solero and the University of Makati administration for their deliberate and malicious disregard of due process and legitimate procedures.

The CEGP demands that Buenaventura et al be allowed to enroll. Regardless of accusations against them, the University of Makati does not hold the right, and in fact has no basis, to hold their registration for the present school year.

The CEGP has also already submitted a complaint to the Office of Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, former CEGP President (1991-1994), requesting for an investigation of the illegal closure of the Makati Collegian, the harassment of its editors, Dr. Solero’s violations of the CJA of 1991, and the illegal establishment of the administration- led SGP.

The CEGP likewise urges the office of Makati Rep. Abigail Binay to look into the case. The University of Makati is a local government unit-run university.

The CEGP expresses its fullest support to Buenaventura and the editorial board of the Makati Collegian in their fight against what could be considered as one of the most blatant attacks on campus press freedom and students’ democratic rights.

Furthermore, the CEGP scores Dr. Solero for questioning the Guild’s concern in this case, accusing its leadership of ‘meddling’ in behalf of the Makati Collegian editorial board. For the record, the Makati Collegian is a member publication of the CEGP and the Guild willingly extends its support to any members who are under attack.

The CEGP has so far documented 297 cases of campus press freedom violations from 53 respondent campus publications last May. ###

Remembering Celso Pojas

June 18, 2008

As the spokesperson of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, Pojas was concerned over the plight of these Lumad farmers, still struggling for their ancestral land but ended up being displaced.

Davao City– On that early morning of May 15 this year, Celso Pojas, 45, was sipping a cup of coffee inside the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) office in Bugac, Maa when he got up, told a colleague he had to buy few cigarette sticks and went outside.

Nobody had an inkling it was to be their last time to talk to him.

As the secretary- general of Farmers’s Association of Davao City (FADC), Pojas was preparing to go to Compostela town as part of the support groups to attend to hundreds of Lumads, who were fleeing their homes in Monkayo and Compostela because of military operations there.

Pojas learned they were housed inside a gym and he was increasingly worried because he received reports the previous night that the evacuees were becoming uncomfortable with the presence of armed soldiers at the evacuation site.

As the spokesperson of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, Pojas was concerned over the plight of these Lumad farmers, still struggling for their ancestral land but ended up being displaced.

He was supposed to stay in Compostela for the duration of the evacuation and aside from his organizing work with farmers there, he was also assigned to cook food and to negotiate with soldiers who often visited the gym.

But only minutes after he got out of the office, his colleagues heard four gunshots, looked out and found his body sprawled just outside the gate.

As the first political activist killed in Davao city since President Arroyo assumed power, Pojas’s death alarmed militant group leaders, who used to view Davao city as a “safer” place for activists amidst the climate of political killings prevailing in the whole country.

Some of them, Bayan secretary-general for Southern Mindanao Jeppie Ramada, for instance, noticed being spooked around.

Days after Pojas’s death, Ramada noticed a person acting crazy, weeding an idle lot next to his house. Strange cars were also seen parking outside the offices of militant groups.

Since October last year, Pojas has been receiving death threats, the latest of which occurred during the transport strike organized only two days before his death.

Edil Gonzaga, spokesperson of the transport group Transmision-Piston, recalled how Pojas already felt being followed around during the transport strike that colleagues saw to it that they never broke away from him.

KMP was about to move to another office even before Pojas’s death but concerns about what happened in Compostela diverted their attention.

Pedro Arnado, vice-chairperson of KMP- SMR said that farmers agitating for land reform have mostly become the targets of extrajudicial killings in the country. Of the 903 political activists killed in the country since Arroyo assumed power, majority were farmers.

It was Friday, May 23, when Pojas was laid down to his final rest. For the first time since the 1980, people gathered at Davao’s Freedom Park, and paraded the casket of the slain peasant leader along the streets of Davao, reminiscent of the funeral march during the time of Martial Law.

Farmers coming all the way from Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental marched with Pojas’s family and friends from Freedom Park to the Davao Memorial Park, passing through the streets of F. Torres, Araullo, Quirino, Claveria and Ponciano.

“He was five years old when I brought them to Davao because I did not want them to be away from me,” said his father Felix Pojas, now 75 years old. Pojas’s mother died when he and his sibling were young.

Poverty prevented him from going to college after he finished high school. When his father remarried, Pojas helped support the family. His siblings remember him as the brother who sacrificed his life to become the breadwinner of the family.

He used to work for the Lapanday banana plantation but after seven years, he was fired when he joined the workers’ demand for increase in wages. Then, he worked as a canal surveyor in a banana packing house in Cabaguio, where he was also terminated after joining calls demanding insurance benefits from the company.

In 1991, he started joining a farmers’s group known as the United Farmers of Fatima (UFF).

Back to his farm, he was awakened to the conditions of peasants and started joining farmer’s groups. He was active in the struggle for genuine land reform to break off the chain of land monopoly from the hands of few big landlords and big capital. He joined the Mandug Farmers’ Association (Mafa) in 2001, an affiliate of FADC and two years after, became a council member of FADC.

Pojas’s father is a farmer beneficiary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Fatima, Mandug. Despite the government’s touted claim to distribute land to the farmers, the land that was supposed to be for him under CARP was still difficult to obtain because the family had a hard time paying for the amortization fee.

Joel Virador, Bayan Muna national vice chairperson, said that the tragedy that happened to Pojas could usually drive people to desperation. “That’s why, some people opt to support armed struggle, because their demand for genuine agrarian reform and food for their families are oftentimes met with bullets,” Virador said during the Freedom Park rally.

Filled with grief over his passing, fellow activists said they were not cowed by what happened and pledged to continue his fight. “It is very clear for us who killed Celso Pojas,” Kelly Delgado said.

“We raise our fist to hail him the peasants’s hero,” said Gonzaga.

Danilo Ramos, the KMP national secretary- general who read a poem on the last night of Pojas’ wake, said that for every grain of rice that Pojas fought for, was life not only for farmers but also for the Filipino people.

“He lived such a deep and meaningful life,” Ramos said. (Grace S. Uddin/ davaotoday.com)

Comrades light candles as a symbolic way of saying that with a light of one torch, hundreds, thousands will follow the step of Pojas. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

CULPRIT. Danilo Ramos, KMP National Secretary- General holds a portrait of President Arroyo. According to him, hundreds had been killed under the administration’s Oplan Bantay Laya II. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Members and leaders of progressive organizations sign the KMP flag with their names to pledge their unceasing commitment in serving the people. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

A FATHER’S GRIEF. Felix Pojas laments over the death of his eldest child. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

His death is heavy on the hearts of the farmers, his friends, comrades and family. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

FUNERAL MARCH. Colleagues want to show to the people of Davao City what the Arroyo regime and the military have done. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

JUSTICE! For slain peasant mass leader Celso Pojas. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

FAREWELL peasant hero. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

A father’s last look at his son. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Why they flee sitio Bermuda

June 18, 2008

Davao City–Somewhere in Bankerohan, in a compound still shady with trees, three-week-old Vermon Autan sleeps soundly on a mat in the bottom bunk of the dormitory-type room that he shares with his parents and four other siblings.

The place is not his home.

But crying only when he wants milk from his mother, Vermon looks at peace. He shows no sign of being scarred from the journey that his parents and the rest of his Ata-Manobo tribesmen took from their home in sitio Bermuda on May 12.

How he came upon this place was a long story.

It started in the afternoon of May 2, before Vermon was born, when his father, Allan Autan, 33, was on his way home to their village in Purok 4-B, Barangay Mangayon, in the municipality of Compostela. Allan was with his brother Jennis, 19.

They had spent several hours cutting down four trees. They planned to sell the lumber to furniture makers to tide their family over while waiting for the profit from the rice that was yet to ripen.

Allan especially needed emergency money because his wife was about to give birth to Vermon, their fifth child.

A few meters from their village, the brothers were startled when they looked up and saw two uniformed government soldiers with their long firearms trained at them. Allan recognized the guns — a machine gun and an M-16 rifle. In his teens, his family lived in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and he was the favorite errand boy of the government soldiers stationed in their village.

BABY VERMON. Baby Vermon Autan, his mother Jenalyn and his four siblings have since been transferred from Bankerohan gym after the three week old baby got sick. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Allan immediately raised his hands. “Good afternoon,” he greeted the soldiers in the vernacular. The soldiers responded by grabbing him and his brother and forcing him on the ground. Then, the soldiers took his machete from his side and forcefully removed his backpack, where he had carefully placed vegetables he had picked up along the way and was planning to cook for dinner.

The soldiers shouted at them, asking where they lived. They said that they were from Purok 4-B, which was just a few meters away. The soldiers refused to believe them and accused them of being supporters or members of the New Peoples Army.

But the brothers denied the accusation. Allan reasoned that they couldn’t be NPA members because they were carrying a chain saw.

Then, the soldiers asked the name of their purok or village hall. Since the hall was barely finished, the village had yet to give it a formal name. When Allan tried to explain this, the soldiers wouldn’t accept his explanation. Instead, they took it as further proof that he wasn’t really from the village and, therefore, was indeed an NPA member.

In the midst of the shouting, Allan barely noticed that the soldiers had made his younger brother go on ahead. He was preoccupied by the two soldiers, a third one joining them in a few minutes. Not content with shouting, the soldiers started to strangle him. Three times, they also put Allan’s head inside a plastic bag.

Allan thought he was going to die each time his head was in the bag. He felt like he was drowning, his oxygen supply cut off. But he was still alive.

Each time the soldier removed the bag from his nose and mouth, his ears would ring with shouted questions and accusations. The soldiers wanted him to admit that he was a member of the NPA.

Allan denied the accusation. So, one of the soldiers took Allan’s machete and tried to strike him. Allan says he doesn’t know where he got the strength to catch the machete by clapping his hand and catching the sharp blade between his palms. The soldiers took his speed and agility as another proof that he was a trained member of the NPA.

Allan explained that he was merely protecting himself but the soldiers would not believe him. They forced Allan’s head inside the cooking pot that the brothers had used to store their lunch. His head wouldn’t fit, so, it was very painful.

Then, the soldiers forcibly removed his shirt, using it to bind his hands behind his back and forced him facedown.

Thinking that he was going to die, Allan called on God. One soldier laughed. He said that there was no God and that it was useless to call on Him. Trying to prove his point, another soldier pushed him harder on the ground, this time grinding his face on the mud, cutting off his oxygen. For good measure, one soldier also sat on his back but Allan would not admit to the soldiers’ accusations.

LATE NIGHT FLIGHT. Though still sore from being beaten by elements of the military, Allan Autan had to carry his wife on the night that his terrified tribe fled their village. Jenalyn had given birth earlier that day and Allan’s back was drenched in blood after the six-hour walk.(davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Then, the soldiers told Allan to get up and accompany him. Allan refused. He was afraid that he might be taken to a more secluded place and gunned down. He was also exhausted.

Finally, one soldier pulled at the hair on his sideburns to force him up. He was still pulling Allan by his sideburns when his wife Jenalyn, still pregnant with Vermon, arrived. She warned the soldier against hurting her husband, who was already tired from felling trees. The soldier who had Allan by the sideburns denied that they were hurting Jenalyn’s husband. Jenalyn said that it was clear that her husband had been roughed up because he was muddy and full of scratches.

One of the soldiers told his companions to let Allan go because the latter’s wife was pregnant and might have the baby prematurely.

The soldier held on to Allan’s sideburns and didn’t reply. Instead, he continued to drag Allan. He brought him to where the rest of the soldiers were. Allan slumped to the ground because he had no more strength on his knees.

He tried to note the names of the soldier who beat him up but among the 20 soldiers who arrived in their sitio that day, no nameplate was visible. Either the nameplates were removed or soldiers covered their chests with bullet bands or sarongs. A badge that the soldiers were wearing, however, identified them with the 28th IB (Infantry Battalion) of the Philippine Army.

When Jenalyn continued to berate the soldiers for hurting her husband, one of the soldiers told her that what happened to him was their own fault. The soldier said he was tired of defending the Lumads against the NPA. He said the Lumads were not very cooperative in providing them with information needed to quash the NPA.

After a few minutes, two of Jenalyn’s neighbors arrived with their small children. They also asked the soldiers to release Allan. After about half an hour, the soldiers relented.

Allan reported what happened to him to the purok chairperson, Oraya Bansayluan the following morning. He asked Bansayluan and Rey Guimbuloy, the president of their local Lumad organization, to accompany him to Mangayon barangay captain Ramon Diaz to report the incident.

At the barangay hall, Diaz contacted Compostela municipal mayor Reynaldo Castillo, who was still in Davao City. After some time, the mayor called Diaz, who told the mayor about what happened to Allan. Castillo told Diaz to have Allan come to his office the next day for lunch.

Guimbuloy was able to contact officers of the southern Mindanao regional Lumad group Pasaka that afternoon. The officers told him to bring the group to the town of Compostela where they would be picked up and brought to Davao City. The group arrived in Davao on May 5. They went to the human-rights group Karapatan where they asked for help in filing cases against the soldiers before the Commission on Human Rights.

They also visited different radio and television stations to let the people know what was happening in their area. But afraid that his wife might give birth, Allan asked to go back home.

The three reached sitio Bermuda on May 10. Bansayluan and Guimbuloy went back to work on their fields the next day but Allan, who was still sore from the scratches and all the bruises, opted to rest one more day.

In the morning of the 12th, just as Allan was preparing to go back to work on his fields, Jenalyn’s labor pains started. Allan called his mother who helped deliver the baby.

Vermon was born at six in the morning.

Allan was happy but was also a bit apprehensive. The birth meant he had to stay away from his fields one more day to tend to the needs of the four other children and to let his wife rest.

But only a few hours after Vermon was born, government soldiers arrived in the village. Allan’s neighbors told him that it was the same group that was there the week before. Those who beat up Allan was also there. All of them still had their nameplates covered or removed.

Allan was scared. His neighbors also told him how the soldiers accosted Bansayluan at the unfinished purok and rebuked him for allowing Allan to complain in public. Allan feared that the soldiers might come for him.

The soldiers left the village after lunch. Before they left, they warned the Lumads that they would go back and burn all their houses if anything were to happen to them in an encounter with the NPA.

At 3 pm, the Lumads heard gunfire. They gathered at the purok, remembering the soldiers’ warning. They agreed that they had to leave immediately.

More soldiers arrived at 4:30 pm to serve as reinforcement to those who had passed by earlier. The uniformed men told the Lumads they would bear the brunt of the soldiers’ anger if any of the soldiers got hurt.

After the soldiers left, some villagers started packing, bringing clothes, cooking pots and what little food they had in stock.

CHOKED. Allan has filed a case against members of the 28th IB after he was allegedly strangled and his head put inside a plastic bag. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Bansayluan, however, couldn’t decide to leave right away. He was concerned for Jenalyn, who had just given birth that morning and couldn’t possibly make the long journey on his own. Allan, whom Bansayluan knew was still sore from the soldiers’ beating the week before, would have to carry his wife. He decided to leave their fate with Allan.

But Allan knew that the soldiers had already marked him because he had filed charges against them. Although his bruises were still smarting, he decided to leave. He wrapped Jenalyn in a malong and had her wrap her arms around his neck.

Allan’s mother carried the newly born Vermon while Jennis and Allan’s younger sister took care of his other children, aged six, four, three and one.

At around 6 pm, the gunfire stopped. The villagers knew that the soldiers would soon be on their way back. One neighbor who just purchased a sack of rice, divided it among themselves, one can for every child in the family. At around 10 pm at night, they started walking. They kept on walking until they reached sitio Salbasyon at 4 at dawn.

When they arrived, Allan’s back was drenched in blood because Jenalyn was still bleeding.

By motorcycle, Salbasyon was still two hours away from the center of Compostela. Allan still felt a bit uneasy but the Lumads were exhausted and tried to find a place to rest in the church, in the purok and even in just a piece of ground.

Guimbuloy contacted Pasaka, who had asked assistance from the mayor. At 9 that morning, a truck from the mayor’s office arrived, ready to transport them to the center of Compostela. The mayor also volunteered free use of the municipal gym.

However, Allan’s nightmare wasn’t over. Military personnel also started arriving at the gym as soon as the Lumads arrived. They were in full battle gear, brandishing their long firearms and vests full of bullets!

“They are here — the people whom we are running away from,” Allan thought.

Some soldiers tried to talk to their children who immediately ran to their mothers. Allan and other Lumads were terrified because some soldiers taunted them, asking them to go and identify the bodies of their friends, referring to the NPAs that they had killed.

On May 14, a day after they arrived at the Compostela gym, the Lumads trooped to the provincial hall, where the members the provincial board were having their regular session. They also aired their grievances to Compostella Valley governor Arturo “Chongkee” Uy.

After Lumad leaders narrated what happened to them under the hands of the military, the provincial officials promised to provide the Lumads not just with temporary shelter but also with food.

But the Lumads wanted more.

They wanted a stop to the military operations. To ensure this, they wanted a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between them and the soldiers.

Allan said he was a little “buoyed” when local officials set the date for the MOA signing with the military on either Friday the 16th or Monday the 19th.

His feeling was short lived. Minutes after they got back to the Compostela gym from the provincial hall, 50 military men in full battle gear arrived. The soldiers began to set up an LCD projector for the Lumads to watch a film that the soldiers had prepared.

Allan said he did not care what they were going to say or do but he didn’t want soldiers anywhere near his family.

It was downhill from there. On May 15, a day before the Provincial Peace and Order Council was supposed to be convened, Governor Uy arrived and tried to make the Lumads agree to go home to their village with an assurance that they will no longer be harassed by soldiers. On the 16th, the military arrived at the gym again. Allan said he was frightened because it seemed that they were taking over. He realized then that no MOA signing between the Lumads and the military for a stop of the military operations was going to happen.

Some of the Lumads thought of going to Davao City to tell more people about their plight. Allan thought Davao was a safer place to go for him and his family. Lumad leaders presented this idea to everybody in the gym. Five families opted to stay behind, asking the Compostela mayor to take them back home, while Allan and most of the Lumads opted to go to Davao. They’ve been staying inside the Bankerohan gym since May 16.

For a woman who survived the long journey shortly after giving birth, Jenalyn is still bleeding. But the medical personnel attending to her gave the assurance that all her vital signs point to a normal recovery. Around her, the four kids run and laugh freely. Only Vermon is truly unaware of what happened to them the last few weeks. He only knows the warmth of being wrapped in his mother’s arms as he suckles on her breast. (CJ Kuizon/davaotoday.com)

BM’s Reply to PDI’s Editorial

June 16, 2008

The Opinion Editor

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Dear Editor:

In the news article “Party-list solons clash over CARP” published in page 6 of the Inquirer’s June 13 issue and the subsequent editorial titled “Unparliamentary? ” published on June 16, what was quoted and highlighted were our personal reactions to Akbayan party list representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel ‘s wild accusation that we colluded with the landlords in Congress on the issue of agrarian reform. Unfairly left out from the reports were the more important issues that we raised on the floor in Congress regarding the substantial differences between proponents of the government’s bogus agrarian reform law like Akbayan, and those who, like us, are pushing for a more genuine program.

It is of public knowledge that since its inception, Bayan Muna has consistently rejected the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) as a betrayal of our farmers’ just demand for genuine agrarian reform. Since we reject CARP itself, then we naturally oppose its extension. Only a malicious mind would label our well-established stand as a product of collusion with the landlords in Congress.

As early as 1988, the principal author of the CARP law in the 8th Congress, Rep. Bonifacio Gillego, already declared agrarian reform dead after the landlord bloc maimed and mangled his bill. Today, his worst fears have been confirmed. After 20 years, CARP has neither broken the prevalence of land monopoly in the country nor emancipated the peasantry from poverty and feudal oppression. Instead, CARP has deceived and oppressed the peasants through tokenism and the reconcentration of land ownership.

Unfortunately, the CARP extension bill (HB 4077), which is being pushed by the Arroyo government in connivance with groups like Hontiveros-Baraquel ‘s Akbayan, does not address CARP’s fundamental defects. Both CARP and HB 4077 lead to the further indebtedness of farmer-beneficiarie s, maintain the limited coverage of the existing program and worse, allow landlords to continue using the law itself to evade land distribution through notorious stratagems like land-use conversion, stock distribution options, corporative schemes, leasehold arrangements, and contract growing, among others.

The Arroyo government and Akbayan want Congress to extend a program that basically converts poor tenant-farmers into mortgage holders burdened with a 30-year debt serviceable at 6% interest per annum.

Surely, this runs contrary to the principle of social justice and the emancipation of peasants. In fact, thousands of emancipation patents and certificates of land transfer have been revoked because of the poor peasants’ failure to pay the amortization. Many more CARP lands have been illegally sold or re-mortgaged.

How can Akbayan and Hontiveros-Baraquel accuse us of colluding with landlords when we have, in fact, been pushing for a more comprehensive and radical agrarian reform measure under House Bill No. 3059? At the heart of our proposal is the redistribution of land through state expropriation that will undergo due process. The farmers shall receive the land free. The state will pay the landowners. Only if the land is sullied, meaning illegally acquired, will confiscation be in order.

Furthermore, owner-beneficiaries should till the land and will be prohibited from selling or transferring it except to their heirs who should also be willing to work the land. This is to ensure that the land will be used for the purpose for which it was given.

Akbayan and the landlords are united in saying our Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or HB 3059 is a “mere stewardship program.” This grossly distorts and weakens the universally- accepted concept of “land to the tiller.” Akbayan’s idea of giving land reform beneficiaries the right to sell and transfer the land will encourage farmers to sell or mortgage, not to till, the land.

Their charges that GARB is unconstitutional and confiscatory is a gross misreading of our measure and a pro-landlord interpretation of the Constitution which explicitly allows the state to exercise its power of eminent domain in the national interest. This would logically include the pursuit of social justice through genuine agrarian reform.

For these reasons, we deemed it proper to move for regional hearings to determine our farmers’ views on both proposals. This was the first time that such regional consultations on the CARP extension and GARB were done, contrary to Rep. Baraquel’s claims that such hearings had already been held. Again, to ascribe this to our collusion with landlords is downright absurd.

Akbayan and its representative’ s statements were not only irresponsible and unparliamentary but worse, baseless and malicious accusations meant to gain media mileage for the extension of the bogus CARP at our expense. Thus, we were compelled to take to the floor in Congress and are writing this letter to set the record straight.

Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño

Bayan Muna Party-List

Maj. Gen. Cunanan’s baptism is a defilement of indigenous culture

June 16, 2008

June 14, 2008

The PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao decried the baptism of Eastmincom Commander Major General Armando L. Cunanan led by the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Conference on Peace and Development (MIPCPD) last June 13 as the MIPCPD paid the newly appointed chief a courtesy call.

Traditionally, lumads would use the rite of baptism to welcome someone into the tribe, an act which many lumad groups consider tantamount to accepting someone as a blood relation or member of the tribe.

But PASAKA calls it a defilement of the lumad culture and warned the military that not all lumads are party to the agreements or negotiations entered into by the MIPCPD.

“If the military enters into the picture, the cultural importance of the rite is reduced to a mere military tactic that is an abuse of the hospitality of lumads, and a penetration of the tribe in order to turn lumads against perceived enemies of state. With this, the MIPCPD has given its bias and loyalty only to the military which is the number one aggressor of lumad peoples’ rights,” said Kerlan Fanagel, Secretary General of PASAKA.

Fanagel added that the MIPCPD has a standing Memorandum of Understanding with the Eastern Mindanao Command executed on November 28, 2007. Fanagel said  the MIPCPD’s MOU with the eastmincom showcases the military’s “bastardization” of lumad culture.

He added, “Gen. Cunanan should keep mind that not all lumads would fall into their dragnet of terror. Many lumad groups are being deceived as the MIPCPD and the military promise them with development and peace while some are merely hostaged and threatened with their lives.   Despite this, many lumad groups have kept their dignity and would rather risk their lives rather than be co-opted by the military’s inhumane practices.”

PASAKA condemned the military’s integration of lumads into its counter-insurgency

operations saying it is a human rights violation that has long been protested by indigenous peoples to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples (UNSRIP).

Fanagel called for the stop of the recruitment of lumads into CVO’s or the formation of vigilante groups which he said is a prevalent practice in many lumad communities.

Last May 8, Joel Unad was shown in local television recruiting lumads of Laak, Compostela Valley into paramilitary groups which got a negative remark from Laak Mayor Rey Navarro himself.

Also on May 5, in New Bataan, around 250 lumads have been reportedly recruited to join the paramilitary groups in a gathering called Kaimunan organized by the Kaimunan Lumad sang Compostela. Residents of New Bataan reported to PASAKA that before the gathering, the military conducted “pulong-pulong” and threatened them about the consequences if they will not attend or join the paramilitary groups.

UNSRIP Rodolfo Stavenhagen after its 2002 visit to the Philippines recommended to the Philippine government to stop the recruitment of indigenous peoples into civilian armies.

Reference:

Kerlan Fanagel

Secretary General

PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao

Media Desk: April

Address: IFI COMPOUND, F. TORRES ST. DAVAO CITY

Email Add:
<!–
var prefix = ‘ma’ + ‘il’ + ‘to';
var path = ‘hr’ + ‘ef’ + ‘=';
var addy24641 = ‘yutangkabilin’ + ‘@';
addy24641 = addy24641 + ‘yahoo’ + ‘.’ + ‘com';
var addy_text24641 = ‘yutangkabilin’ + ‘@’ + ‘yahoo’ + ‘.’ + ‘com';
document.write( ‘<a ‘ + path + ‘\” + prefix + ‘:’ + addy24641 + ‘\’>’ );
document.write( addy_text24641 );
document.write( ‘<\/a>’ );
//–>\n yutangkabilin@yahoo.com
<!–
document.write( ‘<span style=\’display: none;\’>’ );
//–>
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
<!–
document.write( ‘</’ );
document.write( ‘span>’ );
//–>

Tel #: 305-0824

Brother of NPA commander shot dead in Tagum

June 16, 2008

TAGUM CITY(MindaNews) –  Two motorcycle-riding armed men shot dead a younger brother of a New People’s Army (NPA) commander operating in Southern Mindanao inside a passenger tricycle Friday at around 4:50 p.m. Friday.

The shooting also injured the driver.

Killed was Danilo Santiago, 42, married, a member of the Davao del Norte’s provincial civil security services and resident of Mankilam, this city.

PO3 Nathaniel Apolonio, city police investigator, said Santiago is a younger brother of Leonardo Pitao, popularly known as Kumander Parago of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Company operating in the Davao provinces. Santiago’s real family name is Pitao, the police said.

The victim sustained several gunshot wounds in various part of the body.

Miguel Uriarte, the tricycle driver, was also hit at the right side of the abdomen and
immediately rushed to Davao Regional Hospital here.

Apolonio said Santiago was on his way home on board the tricycle when two still unidentified armed men who were riding a motor bike suddenly overtook them at the right side of the road in Katuparan village, west side of this city.

He added that one of the armed men immediately pulled his gun and fired several shots hitting the victims.

The killers immediately fled toward unknown direction after the incident. The police recovered eight 45. cal empty bullet shell and three  slugs at the crime scene.

Santiago’s wife, Revite Santigao, told reporters that her  husband was last seen together with certain Sgt. Melvin Bitang of Military Intelligence  Battalion. Bitang could not be reached for comment. (Alden Pantaleon, Jr./MindaNews)

===============

My Take:

Kasalanan na pala ngayon ang magkaroon ng kapatid na NPA?

Nagpakita na naman ng kaduwagan ang mga elementong ito ng ating pamahalaan.  Porke ba hindi nila madale ang tunay na NPA, e titirahin nila ang sibilyan, na nagtatrabah pa man din sa gobyerno (ibig sabihin, he is serving our government)?

Huwag naman sanang itulak ng mga ganitong klase ng atakeng-militar ang mga NPA na gumanti sa mga pamilya ng sundalo.  diyos na mahabagin, siguradong mas maraming pamilya ng kasundaluhan ang mabibiktima kung mangyayari ang ganito.

kaya sana, tigilan na ang ganitong pamamaslang, magharapan na lang silang mga lehitimong armadong grupo (NPA at AFP) sa isang lehitimong armadong labanan.  Huwag na sana nilang idamay ang sibilyan.

Karapatang pantao at ang ‘giyera kontra-terorismo’ ng US

June 14, 2008

Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

Nagkaroon ng mapanirang epekto ang estratehiya (ng US), na nakasandig sa paglilihim at lakas ng militar, sa batayang mga kalayaan ng mga pinaghihinalaang terorista… May di-maiiwasang epekto sa karapatang pantao sa mundo ang giyera kontra-terorismo, lalo na sa mga bansang pinaghihinalaang pinagkakanlungan ng mga terorista.
— Punong Hukom Reynato S. Puno

SA ikawalong sesyon ng UN Human Rights Council, tinindigan ni Prop. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur, ang mga natuklasan niya hinggil sa bugso ng EJK (extra-judicial killings) sa Pilipinas sa nakaraang anim na taon.

Ayon sa Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch, sinabi ni G. Alston na marami sa mga kaso ang di pa nareresolba; iilang kaso ang naihabla; at wala pang napaparusahang militar. Idiniin niyang sa dami at katangian ng mga pagpatay, depektibo ang pamamaraang ginamit ng gobyerno.

Sabi ni Fr. Rex Reyes, pinuno ng delegasyon ng Philippine UPR Watch, matapos ang Ulat Alston, nagpasa ang Philippine Mission sa Geneva ng pahayag na umaatake sa ulat – “di tiyak, napakamapamili, at may pagkiling” – at sinisiraan si G. Alston.

Nasa karakter ng gobyerno na magmatigas sa modang todo-tanggi sa EJK at iba pang paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Bagamat patuloy na pinagmumukhang maliit ng rehimeng Arroyo ang tindi at saklaw ng EJK, naghuhugas ito ng kamay, at nag-aakusa sa mga kritiko nito ng pagpapalaki sa suliranin at pamumulitika, mayabang nitong ipinroklamang signipikante na nitong nabawasan ang EJK at lahat ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao.

Naiulat na “nagagalak na pinansin” ni G. Alston “ang pagkaunti ng EJK mula noong sinimulan niya ang misyon niya sa Pilipinas.” Pero idinagdag niyang “Bagamat dahilan ang pagkaunti para magdiwang, dahilan din ito para magkondena dahil… ipinapakita nito kung sino ang nasa likod ng EJK.”

Halos unibersal nang tinuligsa ang madugong rekord sa karapatang pantao ng rehimen. Pero nitong huli, naglabas ng press release ang Malakanyang na bumabati sa ulat ngayong 2008 ng State Department ng US “na pumupuri sa pagtangan ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa demokrasya at kalayaan, paggalang sa karapatang pantao at pinahusay na mga pagsisikap na wakasan ang EJK at mga pagdukot.” Dagdag ni Presidential Spokesperson Bunye, “Ipinapakitang muli (ng ulat) ang komitment ng gobyerno ng US na tumulong at kumampi sa atin.”

Dahil sa seryosong mga hamon sa paghahari nito, niligawan ng rehimeng Arroyo ang suporta ng US at tiniyak ang katapatan ng militar na sinanay ng US sa pagpapaigting ng mga aksiyong militar laban di lamang sa CPP-NPA-NDFP kundi maging sa legal na mga organisasyon at personalidad na progresibo sa balatkayo ng paglaban sa “terorismo.” Kaya naman dumami ang EJK.

Napatapang din ang rehimen ng giyera ng US “kontra-terorismo” para sumandig pangunahin sa solusyong militar sa armadong labanan sa halip na tugunan ang mga ugat ng huli sa pagpapatupad ng batayang mga reporma. Kaya isa sa mga biktima ng “giyera kontra-terorismo” sa Pilipinas ang paglaban para sa makatarungan at tumatagal na kapayapaan sa pamamagitan ng negosasyong pangkapayapaan ng gobyerno at NDFP.

Sa harap ng dumadaming paglalantad sa matitinding paglabag sa karapatang pantao at pandaigdig na makataong batas ng militar ng US, pribadong mga ahensiyang kinontrata ng gobyerno ng US, at gayong mga ahensiyang pang-imbestigasyon ng estado sa giyera ng pananakop ng US sa Iraq at Afghanistan – at habang nililipol ang mga pinaghihinalaang “terorista” sa US at ibang bansa – hindi katakatakang pinagtitibay ng administrasyong Bush at rehimeng Arroyo ang pasistang kaisipan at patakaran ng bawat isa.

Itinutulak nito ang mga taguyod ng karapatang pantao na naglalantad at lumalaban sa rehimeng Arroyo na bigyang-pansin ang madugong rekord sa karapatang pantao ng US sa buong mundo gayundin ang partikular na papel ng US sa paghikayat at pagsuporta sa terorismo ng estado ng neo-kolonyal na mga rehimen. Dapat ilantad at labanan ang di-mapapasubalian at naisadokumentong bakas ng war crimes, krimen sa sangkatauhan, genocide, at krimeng agresyon laban sa malalayang bansa ng US.

Ipinapakita lamang ng magaganap na pakikipagpulong ni Gng. Arroyo kay Pres. Bush sa US ngayong buwan kung gaano niya hinahangaan at sinusundan pa rin ang halimbawa ng kanyang pasista, bagamat lame-duck, na idolo.

Pinaikling salin ng orihinal na Ingles na nalathala sa Business World, 6-7 Hunyo 2008.(PinoyWeekly)

Kalayaang Magbakasyon

June 14, 2008

REPLEKSIYON marahil ng lalim o babaw ng pagpapahalaga ng gobyernong Arroyo sa diwa ng Araw ng Kalayaan ang pagpapalipat-lipat nito ng araw ng pagdiriwang. Akala siguro ni La Gloria, ikatutuwa ng sambayanan na ipuwesto ang Araw ng Kalayaan sa isang Lunes, sa mababaw na dahilang magiging tatlong araw ang walang pasok. Pero dapat nga bang ikatuwa ang paglipat sa petsa ng kaarawan ng isang tao? Paano pa kaya itong kaarawan ng ating bansa?

Para marahil kay La Gloria, ang halaga lang ng araw na ito sa mga mamamayan ay bilang bakasyon sa trabaho o eskuwela. Hindi na kalayaan ng bansa ang ipinagdiwang natin noong Hunyo 9 – isang araw na “kalayaan” na lamang ito sa trabaho para makapasyal sa mall, parke o resort. Isang araw ng kalayaan na pagbabayaran din naman ng dumaraming manggagawang kontraktuwal dahil wala silang suweldo sa araw na ito. Ang masama pa, wala naman silang pagkukunan ng pangbakasyon, dahil hindi na nga sumasapat para sa kanilang mga pamilya ang kasalukuyang sahod.

Kunsabagay, ano pa nga ba namang kalayaan ang ipagdiriwang sa ilalim ni La Gloria?

Iniisip na marahil ng mga tambolero ng Malakanyang na mahirap nang ipagdiwang ang diwa ng Araw ng Kalayaan. Umabot na ang Pilipinas sa 110 taon ng pagkabansa, pero laban pa rin ng mga mamamayan ang laban ng mga Katipunero. Isang salik sa mga programang pang-ekonomiya ng rebolusyong pinamunuan ni Andres Bonifacio ang pagpapalaya sa mga magsasaka mula sa pagkakatali sa lupang karamiha’y pag-aari ng mayayaman at Simbahan. Ganito pa rin naman ngayon – katunayan, nitong Hunyo 10, lumipas na ang epektibidad ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, ang bigong programa ng reporma sa lupa ng gobyerno.

Nilabanan ng Katipunan ang pangingibabaw ng dayuhang interes. Hindi ba’t nananatili pa rin ito ngayon? Sa halip na kolonyalismong Espanyol, nakapangibabaw ngayon ang Estados Unidos sa ekonomiya ng bansa, pati na rin sa pulitika. Kulang na lamang ay ang ganap na okupasyong militar – pero kahit ito ay nangyayari na rin, sa hugis ng Visiting Forces Agreement.
Ipinaglaban ng Kilusang Propaganda ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag, karapatan ng mga mamamayang malaman ang katotohanan sa likod ng kanilang pagkaalipin. Sa unang tingin, malaya na ngang magpahayag ang mga Pilipino. Naitadhana na sa Saligang Batas ang karapatang magpahayag. Pero bakit ipinapakulong pa rin ni Espiker Prospero Nograles ang isang brodkaster sa Davao sa bisa ng batas sa libelo? Bakit nailalagay sa balag sa alanganin ang mga tulad ni Ces Drilon tuwing makikipanayam sa mga bandidong diumano’y likha naman, sa simula’t sapul, ng Central Intelligence Agency ng US at nababalitang may malapit na ugnay sa ilang opisyal ng AFP? Bakit paparami ang mga aktibista at mamamahayag na pinapaslang dahil sa pagsasalita nila kontra sa mga makapangyarihan sa lipunan?

May dahilan nga kung bakit nauwi na lamang sa walang kuwentang bakasyon ang Araw ng Kalayaan. (KRG)(Editryal ng PinoyWeekly)

Kay Leo, tatay kong nawawala

June 14, 2008

Lorena Santos

GUSTO ko sanang batiin ka nang personal at yakapin ka nang mahigpit. Pero paano?

Mula noong dinukot ka, sa panaginip na lang kita nakakasama. Hay, gustung-gusto kitang makita at mabati ng “Happy Father’s Day, Tatay!”

Tiyak, maaalala ka namin ni Nanay pagbisita ko sa kanya ngayon sa Kampo Crame . Siguro, alam mo na rin (sa pamamagitan ng mga dumukot sa iyo o kung may akses ka sa balita) na dinukot din si Nanay at inilutang matapos ang tatlong araw (siyam na buwan matapos kang dukutin at mawala). Pihadong nag-alala ka para sa kanya. Hindi na dapat, dahil inaalagaan na namin siya. Kahit sa pagkakadetine, wais siya sa paggamit ng oras – nagbabasa ng mga libro at tumutulong sa mga kapwa detinido niya sa samu’t saring problema nila.

Sana natulad ka na lang kay Nanay, imbes na ganito. Mas gusto ko nang makita kang nakakulong kaysa hindi ka man lang makita. Kahit paano, magkakaroon ako ng araw na makita ka at makakain tayo ng paborito nating pagkain. Puwede tayong magkuwentuhan at magtawanan.

Pero dahil hindi pa kita natatagpuan, makukuntento na lang ako sa pagsulat, umaasang sa pamamagitan ng midya, mababasa mo ito at hahayaan ka ng mga dumukot sa iyo na basahin ito.

Tatay, sorry, hindi pa rin kita nakikita hanggang ngayon. Alam kong ginawa ko na ang lahat pero alam ko ring mas marami ang dapat gawin ng gobyerno ni Gng. Arroyo. Tutal, militar niya ang dumukot sa iyo at nagkait sa iyo ng karapatan sa karampatang proseso. Dapat nagtanung-tanong ako sa mga taong nakaalam kung saang safe house ka itinago, pero mga ahente ng gobyerno ang may tungkuling ilutang ka at sampahan ng kaso.

Sa paghahanap ko sa iyo, nakilala ko ang ibang naghahanap din sa kanilang mga anak, kapatid, nanay, tatay o parehong magulang. Nakilala ko si Deka, naghahanap sa tatay niyang si Philip Limjoco na dinukot sa Pampanga. Nakilala ko si Noel (di niya tunay na pangalan), nawawala ang parehong magulang. Nakilala ko rin si Baby (di niya tunay na pangalan), tatlong taong gulang, na tanong nang tanong kung nasaan ang tatay niyang dinukot sa Quezon. Nakilala ko na rin si Guy, dinukot ang tatay 20 taon na ang nakakaraan pero patuloy pa ring gumagawa ng mga card para sa mga kaarawan niya.

Nauunawaan namin ang isa’t isa, kung gaano kasakit hanap-hanapin ang nawawalang mga magulang. Pinagsasaluhan namin ang galit sa mga dumukot sa iyo at sa kanilang mga amo at sa mapanupil na sistemang ito. Iniisip namin kung paanong kinakaya ng mga dumukot sa aming mga mahal sa buhay na matulog sa gabi (katabi siguro ang kanilang pamilya).

Alam kong magkakaugnay kami dahil sa trahedyang ito – ang enforced disappearance – na praktika ng estadong dapat nang itigil at huwag nang ulitin.

Pakiramdam ko, magkakapatid kami at mga anak mo na rin sila. Mga anak kami ng mga desaparacidos. Mga anak din kami ng mga magulang na nakipaglaban para sa kanilang prinsipyo at naglingkod sa mga inaapi.

Lagi akong pinapaalalahanan ng mga taong nakakilala sa iyo kung gaano ka kahusay na ama, sa nakakatuwang mga kuwento: kung paano mo sila tinulungan bilang manggagawang pangkalusugan noong maysakit sila, paano mo sila napaniwalang posible ang kapayapaang nakabatay sa katarungan, at paano mo sila pinayuhan at binigyan ng lakas sa harap ng mga kahirapan. Tulad ko, inaasam din ng karaniwang mga taong itong pinaglingkuran, niyakap, at sinamahan mo sa buhay na makita ka na.

Ipinagmamalaki kita, Tatay. Kahit noon pa man. Salamat sa pagpapakita sa akin ng mga reyalidad ng buhay at lipunan. Salamat sa pagpapakita sa akin ng halaga ng paglilingkod. Kung hindi mo ito itinuro sa akin, hindi magkakaroon ng ibang halaga ang buhay ko.

At kami, mga anak ng nawawalang mga ama at ina, sinasabi naming sobrang nami-miss ka namin. Hindi kami titigil sa paghahanap sa iyo hanggang di ka namin natatagpuan. Hindi kami titigil sa paglaban hangga’t di natin nakakamit ang katarungan.

Nananalig akong magkakaroon pa ng pagkakataong makikita kita nang buhay. Nananalangin akong ang mga dumukot sa iyo’y magkaroon ng konsensiyang buuing muli ang ating pamilya – gayundin ang kina Deka, Noel, Baby at lahat ng pamilya ng mga biktima ng pagdukot sa bansang ito.

Father’s Day ngayon. Pakibati na lang ang mga dumukot sa iyo ng “HAPPY Father’s Day” para sa akin.

Miss na kita at inaasam kong makita ka agad.
Ang nagmamahal mong anak,
Aya.

(Si Lorena “Aya” Santos ay 25 anyos. Parehong kasangguni ng NDFP para sa usapang pangkapayapaan ang kanyang magulang, at pareho ring dinukot. Ang tatay niyang si Leo Velasco, na dinukot sa Cagayan de Oro noong 19 Pebrero 2007 ay nawawala pa rin. Ang nanay niyang si Elizabeth Principe ay nakadetine pa rin ngayon sa Custodial Center ng Kampo Crame.)

Militant group tags Canete as AFP spokesperson

June 14, 2008

THE regional office of Karapatan Human Rights Alliance tagged Special Investigator Jesus Canete of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Negros Oriental.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Vimarie Arcilla, information officer of Karapatan-Central Visayas, issued the statement after Canete “cleared” AFP members deployed in Linantuyan village in Guihulngan for their alleged involvement in any form of human rights violations.

Canete earlier went to the Linantuyan village upon orders of CHR Regional Director Alejandro Alonso when they heard reports of violations from broadcast stations and print outlets on the alleged arson, rape and other forms of harassments committed by members of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in the countryside of Guihulngan.

“We believe he (Canete) should first should do real investigation, instead of just parroting out what Lieutenant Colonel Nemesio Gacal says,” Arcilla said.

She said what Canete claimed as one-man investigation was actually a platoon-sized charade directed by 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers who herded residents in a “pulong-pulong” with him.

“In this light we ask: When did Jesus Canete become the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces of the Philippines?” the Karapatan official said.

According to her, Canete has no capacity to delve into the human rights violations since he is not “even wise enough to ask and investigate both sides of the story.

“Canete didn’t even bother to ask and investigate Lourdes Baloy, the victim of the malicious vilification campaign by the AFP,” she said, adding that Canete only reiterated worn-out lines of the AFP maligning legitimate organizations such as Karapatan.

“How should one investigate? Why Canete didn’t consider the background of the four peasants prior to the execution of the affidavits? Perhaps, it would interest him to know how the peasants end up in the detachments. Or does he really believe that the peasants have a choice to turn down a summon or ‘invitation’ from the military. If he does not think that ‘mere invitation from police and military already constitute an arrest,’ then he should review his Constitution,” said Arcilla. (SunStarDumaguete)

CA decision favoring Australian firm a temporary setback

June 13, 2008

House militant bloc supports Nueva Vizcaya LGUs in fight against foreign mining intrusion

BAYAN MUNA Rep. Teddy Casiño today renewed full support to the people of Nueva Vizcaya as he labeled a Court of Appeals decision preventing the its provincial government from implementing an order that halts mining operations in the area as “a temporary setback for environmental protection, local governance and the defense of national patrimony.”

The Court of Appeals issued a 60-day injunction with temporary restraining order on the Nueva Vizcaya provincial government that issued a Cease and Desist Order [CDO] on OceanaGold, a Melbourne-based mining firm.

“The militant partylist bloc in Congress supports the people of Nueva Vizcaya and its Governor, Luisa Cuaresma in this fight. Gov. Cuaresma only put out a CDO to stop OceanaGold from operating the mine after it failed to pay P30 million for a quarrying permit, aside from the growing tension among indigenous tribes – including the murder of the village chief – that the entry of the mining firm has caused. The CA decision has obviously favored the Australian firm over the local people of the province,” Casiño said.

The militant solon was visibly dismayed by the decision penned by Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando that completely favored Oceana Gold Mining Inc. The company runs the Didipio Gold-Copper Mining Project in Bgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.

“I cannot help but surmise that the decision is part of the Arroyo administration’s effort to allow OceanaGold to go on with its mining operations that will permanently damage the area. The OceanaGold incursion into Nueva Vizcaya at this point is the cause of brewing tension and violence among Ifugao and Bugkalot tribal communities in Dipidio. The company has in fact supplanted the government in the area as it has arrogated the functions of providing social services and peace and order in the area. It has demolished houses and bulldozed rice lands. With all due respect to the Court, we went to the area last June 7, were waylaid by a police checkpoint and in fact saw the deep division among the once peaceful local community due to the entry of OceanaGold. This, to my mind, is what the Court should do to better come up with a decision,” Casiño said.

Casiño, along with Ifugao Rep. Solomon Chungalao, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla, and Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan went to the area to have an onsite inquiry into OceanaGold’s violations committed in its operations.

From June 7 to 8, 2008, the said Congressional Committee on National Cultural Communities held two on-site hearings in Bgy. Kakidugen and Bgy. Didipio in Kasibu town, mining sites of foreign owned mining companies RoyalCo and Oceanagold, respectively.

The investigation also focused on the OceanaGold’s alleged violations of human rights, the Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) process, certain provisions of the current Mining Law and the Local Government Code in relation to its mining operations.

“It should also be noted that even before the CA decision, DENR Secretary Lito Atienza already branded the the Nueva Vizcaya provincial government’s cease and desist order illegal. This emboldened OceanaGold to go to the CA and defy the local authorities. The municipal and provincial governments do not support the project yet Atienza is siding with the mining firm. We will not back down from this temporary setback. The militant bloc in Congress sides with the people and supports the stand of the local governments versus destructive mining operations in Nueva Vizcaya,” Casiño said.

The House militant bloc is composed of Bayan Muna Reps. Casiño and Satur Ocampo, Gabriela Reps. Ilagan and Liza Maza, and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano. #

‘Delayed and detained,’ insists official

June 13, 2008

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: Provincial Administrator Manuel Tabora said they were definitely detained inside the “mining compound” during the June 7 visit to Barangay Didipio, Kasibu of four house representatives including Rep. Carlos Padilla and together with Gov. Luisa Loren Cuaresma, and other provincial officials.

In an interview with The Manila Times, members of the Vizcaya delegation that joined the visit claimed they had to wait for more than 20 minutes before they were allowed entry by the police officers in checkpoint at Barangay Burgos, Cabarroguis, Quirino province.

Tabora said, after having been accosted for more than 20 minutes at the police checkpoint “and not five minutes as claimed by the police,” they were allowed to get inside. “On our way, we were not allowed to pass another barricade that was padlocked and the guards refused to unlock it.”

Tabora said the incident at the police checkpoint is a separate situation from that which transpired inside the mining compound. “That is where we were somehow detained because we were already inside and not allowed to get through the barricade.”

One provincial security officer who requested anonymity said that when they were inside the compound, they discovered their tents transferred from their original setups but the security guards of Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. who were there, allegedly carrying long firearms, denied having transferred the said tents supposedly to be used by the provincial employees.

In the June 9 issue of The Manila Times, Rep. Padilla complained that he and his three colleagues, Rep. Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao and Party-list Representatives Teodoro Casiño and Luzviminda Ilagan were “detained” for almost half an hour inside the police checkpoint while on their way to Barangay Didipio, Kasibu for a congressional committee inquiry on alleged abuses of the foreign firm conducting the large-scale mining operation in the area.

The solons, all members of the House Committee on Cultural Communities, passed Resolution 594 seeking an inquiry over alleged abuses committed on tribal villagers by Oceana Gold in their operation of the Didipio project, one of the only two large-scale mining ventures approved since the enactment of the 1995 Mining Act. Gene Basilio

Chungalao, Casiño and Ilagan vowed to bring the “horrible experience” before the House plenary.

In his report to Police Dir. General Avelino Razon Jr., Police Chief Superintendent Ameto Gil Tolentino, Regional Dir. of Police Regional Office 02, said that the PNP personnel manning the checkpoint stopped the convoy of Rep. Padilla for five minutes and not 30 minutes as alleged. “They may have been delayed but definitely were not detained,” Tolentino said.

Tabora said however that Rep. Padilla and all the rest of the delegation could not lie. “We were stopped and even if Governor Cuaresma already introduced herself, we were still inspected without considering that these high-ranking elected officials are the ones they should be protecting.”
– Gene Basilio(ManilaTimes)

============================

My Take:

Grabe talaga ang pangil ng state-terrorism.  Maski gov’t oficial di pinapatawad.  Hay naku, sino pa ba ang maaasahan natin ngayong magprotekta sa atin kung ganito na ang ginagawa ng mga kapulisan natin?  Tapos magrereport pa ng kasinungalingang pantakip.

Kakabwisit!

Women’s Front: Building a peoples’ movement

June 12, 2008

By INNABUYOG-GABRIELA

This is the presentation of Vernie Yocogan-Diano, chairperson of Innabuyog-Gabriela, during the People’s Governance and Challenges to Transformative Educators of the Partnership in Education and Development of Ibon Foundation on May8, 2008 in Baguio City. This is the last of two part series. — Ed

To commemorate the death of the respected tribal leader, Macliing Memorial was annually held every April 24 from 1981 to 1984. From April 24, 1985, the Macliing Memorial was transformed into Cordillera Day, a solidarity event for the indigenous peoples’ movement in the Cordillera with other indigenous peoples of the country and the world, with other progressive organizations and support groups of the Cordillera peoples’ struggle here and abroad. Cordillera Day is itself a political statement to present realities faced by indigenous peoples and the advances we are making in our struggle.

The struggle against the Chico Dams created the Kaigorotan consciousness. It was not just a struggle for affected Bontok and Kalinga peoples but eventually became a Kaigorotan/Cordillera peoples struggle.

Coinciding with the movement against the Chico Dams was the protest of Tingguian or Itneg people of Abra against the Cellophil Resources Corporation owned by Disini, a known crony of Marcos. The project’s target was to log almost 100,000 hectares of pine forests in Abra and the rest of the Cordillera. Like the

Chico Dam project, the CRC project was accompanied by militarization that resulted to numerous human rights violations including harassment, illegal arrest and detention, displacement of communities, hamletting and even death. The severe military repression, like the Chico struggle drove the youth, women and men to join the armed resistance in defense of their ancestral territory, escape military abuse and continue serving their people.

These struggles led toward the formation of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in June 1984, a wide and strong alliance of indigenous peoples and other democratic sectors in the Cordillera for the defense of ancestral domain and self-determination. Serving as the people’s movement in the Cordillera, its membership grew in every province with the establishment of CPA provincial chapters.

Sectoral organizations and movements of youth and students, workers,women, teachers and government employees, church and human rights advocates, urban poor, elders and peasants, were set up to become allied members of the CPA. The regional women’s alliance, Innabuyog was set up in March 1990 with membership from indigenous peasant women, workers, urban poor, professionals, youth and students and lesbians.

The CPA as the indigenous peoples’ movement in the Cordillera and along with its sectoral alliances or movements has succeeded at bringing the indigenous peoples’ issues and analysis at the regional, national and international level. The issues include development aggression which is the enforcement of development projects like mining, energy project and forestry projects by the state and private corporations sacrificing the land and human rights of indigenous peoples; militarization and human rights violations, cultural bastardization and commercialization and aspirations for self-determination.

CPA as a movement was able to bring together the various and particular concerns of its membership, brought these back to the people/communities through its education program which became tools in organizing and mobilizing indigenous peoples to defend their land, life and resources. In organizing and strengthening people’s capability, the indigenous peoples movement in the Cordillera combine education, research and analysis, campaigns and mobilization and building of linkages with groups supportive of our struggle.

Linking with the national movement

The peoples’ movement in the Cordillera is not an isolated movement. CPA and its allied members are part of a wider national movement for freedom and national democracy. Hence it also serves as the chapter of BAYAN in the Cordillera with its sectoral alliances being part of national alliances as well. Our contribution to the Filipino peoples’ movement for economic prosperity, national freedom and democracy is advancing our struggle for ancestral land rights and self-determination which we are able to share with other indigenous peoples’ organizations in the country.

We pursue as a movement bearing in mind that our struggle for self-determination has to go hand in hand with the national movement for freedom and democracy. Hence we closely link and relate our struggle with the national movement against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism.

Internationalizing to weaken Imperialism

At a global scale, we need to take part in international networks or movements fighting imperialist globalization and the war of terror. By doing so that we contribute in weakening the imperialist control on the world’s economy and resources and build stronger unity among the exploited people of the world to fight the imperialist structures and programs that cause peoples’ oppression and exploitation.

Lessons, advancing the peoples’ mov’t

Our decades of experience in movement building is replete with rich lessons. There is no replacement for education, organizing and mobilizing the poor, oppressed, deprived, exploited but struggling people. We should not leave behind the women as they form part of 50% of society aspiring for social change.We should have a sharp analysis of our society thru a painstaking conduct of social investigation, education and perseverance to agitate, organize and mobilize the people from various classes and sectors in their big numbers. We have nothing to lose but our chains. Our power is our organized number and our determination to defeat our oppressors and exploiters. #

Advocate’s Overview: Decriminalizing libel

June 12, 2008

By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW

The journalists’ campaign, which the National Union of Journalists of the Philipines (NUJP) leads, urging Congress to enact a law decriminalizing libel has gained ground again with the conviction of The Daily Tribune publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivarez of libel lately by an RTC judge in the National Capital Region.

The Daily Tribune was closed down by the police force after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation 1017, putting the country under national emergency. The Supreme Court, however, ruled for the unconstitutionality of the takeover of the Daily Tribune by the police as it (SC) upheld the supremacy of the constitutional freedoms of expressions and of the press. Olivarez’es paper was at that time consistent in bringing out people’s issues whether it is against the administration or not.

This time, however, Olivarez was convicted in exercising her constitutional freedoms. She was convicted of the antiquated libel law.

It is timely to trace and discuss how the libel law came into being in the Philippines. The libel law was introduced by the colonialist Spaniards. It was then used to contain the propaganda movement in the Philippines whether in relation with the call for reforms of the system or independence from their colonial policy in the country.

It provides that cny act, whether through oral, or in writing, or in visual expressions which the Spanish colonial government considered “seditious” must be silenced. That was a tactic that they had adopted to silence any advocacy related for reforms or for independence.

The concept of libel was adopted and institutionalized under the Philippine system by post-colonial governments. It is now contained under the Revised Penal Code (Codigo Penal which originated from the Spanish) particularly Art. 353, which defines libel “as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.”

Art 353 added: “Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and justifiable motive for making it is shown.” Here, even if the statement is true you can still be punished in Libel if the court will found out that you don’t have no good intention or not justifiable in your publication or broadcast.

This antiquated law should have been removed from our system as past constitutions adopted afterwards contained freedoms of expressions and of the press. In fact, the Bill of Rights under the 1987 constitution provides that “No law shall be passed abridging the freedoms of expression, of speech, of the press, of assembly, and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

By all means, the libel law contradicts these fundamental rights and it has no place under our system. Its repeal is just but formalization. Under our system, journalists who exercise their constitutional mandate can be made criminal because of the libel law, particularly that journalists are among the lowest paid who cannot hire the services of topnotch lawyers.

It is therefore a challenge for congress to show its genuine adherence to the basic constitutional rights to enact a law that would decriminalize libel law. Such antiquated law is already thrashed by most countries.

I personally believe that even removing the libel law under our penal system, any act that causes damage to a parson would entitle the said person for the damages caused unto him or her. The greater the damage caused by the act makes a person entitled for damages to be granted by the court. #(NorDis)

Protest meets Arroyo anew in Baguio

June 12, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — As President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo emerged from the Baguio Cathedral after the pontifical mass here, a group of protesters gave her another surprise rally.

Members of Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students and Progressive Igorots for Social Action tried to block and get the attention of the presidential convoy on its way to the Mansion House dinner. They chanted, “Papet, pasista, pahirap sa masa, patalsikin si Gloria,” (Puppet, fascist, burden to the masses, oust Gloria) while holding placards.

When alerted, the protesters were too quick for the police as they scattered as quick as they appeared. Instead, the few amused, more than surprised, police allowed the protesters to proceed down Session Road.

On March 18, several young students also surprised security in a lightning rally in front of the Mansion. Probably because of that, security in the Mansion was tightened today. But this time the protest was waiting for Arroyo right outside the Cathedral of the Holy Atonement.

Anakbayan said this is its way of condemning Arroyo’s lack of concrete action to solve the worsening economic crises like the continuing rise in prices of basic commodities like oil and rice, and in services like electricity.

“Hangga’t hindi pa siya umaalis sa pwesto, lalakas at lalakas ang pagkilos ng mamamayan para sapilitang tanggalin siya,” (While she does not leave her post, people’s actions to remove her from office will continue to strengthen) said Anakbayan Metro-Baguio’s John Voltaire Dalangin.

The group also said that this proves wrong the administration’s claim that Cordillera is behind her. “They could only claim the support of local officials, not the people of Baguio,” said John Panem of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

Earlier inside the Cathedral, members of Youth for Accountability and Truth Now (Youth ACT Now) wore t-shirts bearing “Ang masama ay masama” and a cutely-rendered devil face that looks like Arroyo. # Cielo Marie Bayson(NorthernDispatch)

VAW survivor hopeful trial turns out well

June 12, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — A woman government employee, who courageously brought her case before the Civil Service Commission (CSC) here last year, remains hopeful a fair decision will be served soon.

She formally filed administrative charges recently against her attacker, for inflicted physical and verbal injuries against her person, Sophia Bermudez, 50, a Department of Education (DepEd) Division Office employee said.


HOPEFUL SURVIVOR. Sophia Bermudez, right, with Vernie Yocogan-Diano, recalls her ordeal. Photo by Lyn V. Ramo/NORDIS

In a press conference Wednesday, Innabuyog-Gabriela Chairperson Vernie Yocogan-Diano commended Bermudez for not allowing herself to be defeated by demoralization and hopelessness.

“She persevered in the interest of public service and the quest for justice,” Diano added. She said Bermudez decided to pursue with filing the charges against Wilgetcortez Godoy, in his 60’s, also a DepEd employee.

Diano also commended the CSC for investigating the incident, establishing a prima facie case and filing formal disciplinary administrative charges against Godoy.

Recalling the attack, Bermudez recalled in the same press conference, “Dinanog nak, sanak to a kinugtaran ket natnagak iti tugaw ko. Impakpak na ti tugaw iti ulok isu a natalimudawak,” (He boxed me, then kicked me out of my chair. He hit my head with the chair so I fainted). She said he attempted to kill her with a typewriter, which was stopped by responding officials.

The physical attack sent Bermudez to a local hospital for three days where she was treated for contusions on the head, right cheek, both shoulders, right arms, lower back, right hip and right thigh.

“I did not file the case for myself or for my own benefit, but for the interest of the public. How could we deliver efficient service when there is a threat of harassment in the workplace?” Bermudez said.

Pursuing justice

The case went through a long and tedious process of investigation, according to Diano, who admired the courage of Bermudez of standing up for her rights, not only as a government employee but also a woman attacked in the workplace.

“This is a case, which must serve as a source of strength for all government employees. It is a case of violence against women and incidentally, it happened in the workplace, a government office at that” Diano told the press.

Godoy now faces charges of “grave misconduct” and “conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service” before the CSC.

The twin charges were lodged as Formal Charges 09-022 penned on May 8, 2008 by Atty. Lorenzo S. Danipog, CSC-Cordillera director.

Danipog gave Godoy a chance to answer the charges and advised him of his right to choose a legal counsel.

Also known among the Baguio press as the aborted typewriter-throwing case, this case of violence against women in the workplace went through the local settlement processes such as the barangay courts and the court-annexed mediation system of the Department of Justice (DOJ), but all failed to come up with an amicable settlement.

Criminal charges have also been filed against Godoy.

Innabuyog-Gabriela handled the sexual harassment charges against a regional DepEd top brass, and two other cases of violence against women, before. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorthernDispatch)

Thunder and lightning strike as PGMA prays

June 12, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — As soon as the opening mass of the Luzon North Regional Rural Congress in the Baguio City Cathedral begun with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a guest, unexpected bolts of lightning and bursts of thunder, followed by a sudden and heavy down pour reverberated over the church.

“It was like in a horror movie,” said one of the bystanders outside the church kidding her companion that it was because PGMA was inside and God is just fidgeting.

Just before the mass started, the weather was perfectly sunny with cotton-like clouds and blue skies and it has been days since the last rains.

Because of the security concerns for the president, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on orders, did not allow several of the regular Baguio churchgoers attend the mass Wednesday.

“I do not care about the president, I just want to go to mass,” said one lady as she turned her back after giving up on trying to enter the Cathedral.

But one lady did not give up and instead loudly berated the PSG causing a scene in front of the church’s main entrance.

Halfway through the mass, a Malaca–ang staff ordered the PSG to let the people in.

As soon as PGMA exited the church through the side door, one of the mass-goers said aloud “Ayan, nag-simba na siya, sana bukas mura na ang bigas,” (There, she heard mass already, I hope the price of rice goes down tomorrow) and the people around her started to laugh as if it was a funny joke.

When the presidential convoy left the church premises, one old lady carrying several plastic bags tapped the shoulder of this reporter and asked if the president has left.

When asked why she was looking for the president, she just frustratingly replied, “Gusto ko lang sana humingi ng tulong,” (I just want to ask for help) then started to walk away.

The convoy was met by protesters just outside the Cathedral gate. (See story in this issue.)

PGMA was invited to grace the opening mass with the Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines the Most Reverend Edward Joseph Adams as the main celebrant and homilist. # Cye Reyes

HRVs heighten in Abra mining town

June 12, 2008

BAAY-LICUAN, Abra — Human rights violations have reportedly been taking place in the upland indigenous communities of the Binongan in Baay-Licuan, Abra, where community consultations are ongoing regarding the operations of Canadian mining company Olympus Pacific Minerals, Inc.

The 503rd IB Reconnaissance Coy and the 502nd Composite Coy replaced the 41st IB, which pulled out in March 2008.

The Binongan tribe set out a tide of petitions against Olympus as early as March 2007 due to violation of their right over their ancestral domain at Mt. Capcapo. Olympus and local conduits AMIC and Jabel explored and drilled in a 4,300 hectare mining claim at Mt. Capcapo in February 2007 without securing the communities’ FPIC which was also the case on the approval of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) issued to the local companies without the communities’ consent.

Sustained opposition temporarily suspended the exploration and drilling, and prompted the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) regional and provincial offices to call the attention of Olympus to comply with the legal requisite of acquiring the FPIC.

Community leaders through Baay-Licuan Takderan Omnu a Karbengan (Balitok) and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in Abra (Kastan) said that elements of the said Reconnaissance Coy have camped under three houses in Brgy. Poblacion and have been taking videos of community meetings on May 29.

The following day, on May 30, the soldiers started conducting a census in the barangay while still taking videos of the community folk. This angered the residents as they questioned the purpose of the census. They disallowed further questioning. “Census” was also conducted in barangays Lenneng and Caoayan.

“It is not the job of the military to be conducting census and this is just being done as a guise for surveillance and harassment, especially since the communities are firmly reiterating their collective decision and stand that they do not want Olympus or any large mine to operate in their ancestral domain”, said CPA Secretary-general Windel Bolinget.

Moreover, Balitok leaders, including CPA and Kastan staff who continue to provide assistance on mining education in the communities are tagged as members of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“Branding these organizations and community leaders as such makes them open targets and enemies of the state thereby giving the military a license to attack and violate the rights of civilians and communities whose activities and opposition to defend their ancestral land, life and resources are just and legitimate,” Bolinget explained.

Starting June 1, the military posted fliers in the rice granaries in Poblacion containing a list of “terrorist fronts,” of which the CPA is included. It was also reported to the CPA that on June 6 in Brgy. Caoayan, elements of the Reconnaissance Coy threatened residents that those who have been giving food to the NPA are supportive of them and thus are members themselves.

“We ask the public to join us in urgently calling for the pullout of the military before any graver human rights violation takes place,” Bolinget added.

Communities’ still say No to Olympus

Community consultations started on April 15 in Brgy. Bolbolla, followed by (April 16), Tumalip (April 17), Nalbuan (April 18), Subagan (April 19), Caoayan (May 3), Mogao (May 5), Domenglay (May 6), Poblacion (May 7), Lenneng (May 8) , and Bunglo (May 10). “The prevailing and collective stand of the communities was not overcome during these consultations as they have in fact strengthened their position against Olympus”, Bolinget said. # AT Bengwayan

GMA7 laments publicity of sexual harassment probe

June 12, 2008

By Jeannette Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:12:00 06/08/2008

TELEVISION STATION GMA Network Incorporated on Saturday maintained it was serious about investigating the sexual harassment complaint brought against a former executive vice president of one of its subsidiaries and two other officials and gave assurance it would not allow itself to be pressured by anyone as it undertook the inquiry.

GMA Network said in a statement that it gave the go-ahead to the complainant to file charges in court against resigned Scenarios Incorporated executive vice president Jose Antonio K. Veloso “now that the network has lost its authority to investigate the said officer.”

Veloso resigned in April, the same month when the complainant filed the administrative complaint against him and two other Scenarios Incorporated officials.

“GMA Network is still investigating the said complaint (of sexual harassment) and it is only fair for the Network and also for any party to the investigation, for that matter, to not issue statements until the investigation is finished,” the statement said.

The network lamented that the case was “exposed in detail to the public” by the Inquirer as the investigation was going on.

The statement added, “The accused GMA Network officer would have faced administrative sanctions, if found guilty, based on the Network’s policy on sexual harassment. However, the said officer has resigned since April and because he is no longer connected with the company, GMA Network has ceased to have the authority to investigate him.”

The network said that the other two respondents to the complaint were still under investigation.

GMA Network has formed a fact-finding committee composed of members of the rank-and-file and supervisors on the sexual harassment complaint filed by a 23-year-old female employee of Scenarios Inc. who resigned from her job reportedly because of the incident.

The incident allegedly happened on March 28 during a team-building seminar in a San Mateo, Rizal resort.

=================

My Take:

May gana pang magreklamo ah!

Napaganda na nga ng PDI ang headline nung una.  Tsk!

Ipa-imbestigador ko kaya ito? hehehehe. Gising Mike!  Eskyus me po! Uhuh! uhuh uh! :D

Ermita: ABS-CBN crew made selves ‘convenient victims’

June 11, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — Broadcaster Ces Drilon and her crew may have ignored security precautions in covering dangerous areas for an exclusive story and, thus, set themselves up as “convenient” victims for the armed group that abducted them in Sulu Sunday, a senior Palace official said Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said efforts are underway to safely recover Drilon, cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, and their guide, Mindanao State University Professor Octavio Dinampong, who authorities say are being held by members of the Abu Sayyaf.

Ermita said had the news team coordinated with authorities, security could have been provided to them even if only “up to a certain point.”

Noting that provinces like Sulu and Basilan are “danger areas,” Ermita said it is “usual practice” to inform local government officials and security forces “about the purpose of their being there,” Ermita, a former military officer, said during his weekly press conference.

“Had they coordinated with the military and police, I’m quite sure the military and police in the area would have said that they can provide security up to a certain point. If you are not comfortable, then only up to a certain point [then] you can send an emissary to your contact” from which ever group to be interviewed, he said.

In the case of Drilon and her companions, Ermita said, “they avoided being accompanied by authorities so it became very convenient for the kidnappers to do what they did,” he said.

while saying he understood the need of media to look for exclusive stories, he said they should also be aware of the “pros and cons of going to a very dangerous mission.”

Ermita recalled that when he was in the military, he knew how to get in touch with the other side before entering their area. “I make it a point to know that conditions were satisfied. I was confident that I would not be kidnapped,” he said.

In 1984, Ermita, helped negotiate the surrender of then Moro rebel leader Gerry Salapuddin, who now represents the party-list Anak Mindanaw in the House.

Ermita said local officials of Sulu are helping in efforts to safely recover the news crew, including sending emissaries to the kidnappers.

But he maintained government will not give in to any ransom demand. (PDI)

===============================

My Take:

Eto pang isa. Tama bang sisihin ang biktima kung bakit siya naging biktima?

Kung pinurga na nila non pa ang sabwatang militar-knr group eh di dapat sana walang nangyaring kidnapan dyan.

Magpapa-gwapo lang e maninira pa ng iba.

‘Human Security Act not applicable to Drilon kidnap’

June 11, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Human Security Act (HSA) is not applicable to the kidnapping of broadcaster Ces Drilon and her crew, Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, spokesman for the Anti-Terrorism Task Force, said Wednesday.

Under the law, terrorism is any person who commits an act punishable under specific provisions of the Revised Penal Code “thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.”

He pointed out that the abductors’ demand for ransom was made to the ABS-CBN network, for which the abducted journalists worked.

“Missing the element which is the demand against the government, the HSA will not apply,” Blancaflor said.

He this was one of the loopholes in the law that they urged but failed to get the Senate to plug.

“I don’t think these terrorist are that stupid. I am sure they have read the law and found the defects and they will use such defects,” Blancaflor said.

But Blancaflor said there are other ways to prosecute terrorists through other laws under the Revised Penal Code and special laws.(PDI)

=======================

My Take:

Blancaflor is stupid.  And in an effort to hide his stupidity, he branded Ces’ kidnapper as intelligent, law-reading animals.

Tarantado!  It only shows that the HSA was passed not to be used against the real terrorist (including some part of this government), but against their political opponent, and the insurgency.

Hostaged TV crew ‘alive, well’

June 11, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — ABS-CBN anchor Ces Oreña-Drilon and two TV crew members, who police said were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf, are “alive and well” and being treated fairly by their captors, an official said Tuesday.

“Pinapakain naman sila (They are being fed). They are well and alive. Hindi sila nakatali and nakakalabas sila (They are not tied and they are able to move around), but they are being escorted,” Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police regional director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told Inquirer in a phone interview, citing reports from the crisis management team formed to negotiate with Drilon’s captors.

ABS-CBN, which confirmed the crew were “missing” on assignment in Sulu, declined to comment on unofficial reports reaching the police that a ransom of P10 million to P30 million was demanded for the release of Drilon and her crew Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama.

“The reports are very unclear at this point in time… and there are other things that ABS-CBN told us that we are not at liberty to reveal,” Police Director General Avelino Razon told reporters in Camp Crame.

Goltiao said the ABS-CBN news team was intercepted Sunday in Maimbung, a township in the Sulu capital Jolo, by armed men under Albader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf leader in the area, and Gapur Jundain, a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front who recently joined the Abu Sayyaf.

The TV news team arrived in Jolo on Saturday at the invitation of a professor at the Mindanao State University, Octavio Dinampo, Goltiao said. The following morning, Dinampo picked them up from a university hostel, but armed men intercepted them as their vehicle passed through the village of Kulasi, Goltiao said.

Dinampo, chairman of Sulu’s Bantay Ceasefire and executive officer of Tulung Lupah Sug, has access to the Moro National Liberation Front and is knowledgeable about the Abu Sayyaf.

Goltiao denied reports circulating in website forums that Dinampo, who was also reported missing, along with Drilon and her crew, had been released.

“But we cannot confirm this until we see him,” Goltiao said.

“And we are more into Ces Drilon because we are still checking if he [Dinampo] is also a victim or whether he is in cahoots with the abductors,” he said.

The “kidnapping” story on Monday did not appear on the pages of the Inquirer the next day or its affiliates, including Cebu Daily News, due to ABS-CBN’s request to hold the story for a day to avoid placing the journalists’ lives at further risk.

“The request was made primarily for the security and safety of Ces and her companions. At that time (Monday), we did not know what their situation was. We don’t want to speculate on any information that would jeopardize their safety,” said Bong Osorio, ABS-CBN head of corporate communications.

He also said they made the “gentle request” for other news agencies to “embargo” the story on Drilon’s disappearance.

The story was not carried by the top three papers Inquirer, Philippine Star, and Bulletin, but appeared in the headlines of Manila Standard Today, Daily Tribune, and the Manila Times and some Manila tabloids.

Local and foreign press organizations condemned the abduction of Drilon and her companions, and called on the Philippine government to ensure their safe return.

“We are deeply concerned for the safety of these three journalists. It is great cause for concern that this volatile southern region of the Philippines remains insecure for the press, and we call on local authorities to work diligently to secure their safe and swift release,” Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said in an e-mailed statement.

“The fears held for the ABS-CBN crew are a stark reminder that journalism in the Philippines has not ceased to be an incredibly dangerous profession and we honor those journalists who work for press freedom under such difficult circumstances,” said the Asia Pacific chapter of the International Federation of Journalists.

IFJ’s local affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, said that “whatever the abductors stand for, whatever their goals are, there is absolutely no justification for seizing journalists whose sole concern is to seek out the truth and present this as accurately as possible.”

“Seizing [Drilon’s group] cannot in any way serve your ends and can only bring down condemnation on your heads,” NUJP said in a statement signed by chairman Jose Torres Jr. and secretary general Rowena Paraan.

Razon said journalists who are in Sulu to cover developments in the kidnapping of Drilon and her news team should coordinate with the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police in the province to avoid similar incidents from happening.

Earlier, police said Drilon had refused an offer of security escorts, citing the “confidentiality” of the report she was pursuing. /Inquirer

MAIKLING KUWENTO: Headline

June 11, 2008

Malaking-malaki ang salitang iginuhit sa mukha ng diyaryo: Napatay ng mga sundalo sa isang engkuwentro si Alfredo Collantes, 31, tubong Tobog, Oas, Albay na kilala rin sa alyas na Ka Lando, Ka Waway, at isang mataas ng opisyal ng New People’s Army (NPA) sa Timog Katagalugan… Matindi naman ang pagpapabulaan ng kanyang inang si Matilde. Aniya’y magbubukid lamang ang kanyang anak na dinukot ng mga sundalo noong gabi ng Mayo 13, sa bahay nito sa Legaspi…

NI NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Inilathala ng Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Naalimpungatan siya. Hindi, nagulantang.

“Baaaaaangggg!!!”

Bigla siyang sinalakab nang matinding takot. Naririyan na naman sila. Sinulyapan niya ang nawala sa ayos na relo sa dingding: alas-dos ng madaling-araw.

Sinundan ang pagsabog ng rapido ng armalite. “Bratatatatat!”

Tiplag siya. Unti-unti siyang gumapang at sumilip sa siwang ng sawali. Nagpupulasan ang ilang kalalakihang naka-khaki.

Blag! May sumipa sa pintuan, nakakita siya ng kisap, biglang nagdilim ang buo niyang paningin.

GUMIGITI ang pawis sa kanyang noo samantalang kumikirot pa rin ang noong kinulata ng puluhan ng armalite.

“Aminin mong ikaw si Ka Lando,” sabi ng anino. Nalalambungan ng dilim ang mga mukha nilang paikut-ikot sa kanyang kinauupuan. Nakatali siya sa silyang narra.

“H-h-hindi ko ho alam ang sinasabi n’yo. Wala akong, uunnggh!” tanging ang kirot sa kanyang dibdib ang naramdaman niya nang hampasin ng yantok. Hindi siya makahinga. Buwisit! Mga putang ina n’yo! Hindi mausal dahil sa tindi ng kirot ng kalamnan, mga kasukasuan.

Kssst! Sabi ng kawad ng pinagdikit. Binasa siya. Hindi, binuhusan siya ng tubig na pakiramdam niya’y sinalok lamang sa kung saang pusali. Saka idinaiti sa balikat niya, sa dibdib, sa bayag, sa utin. Kzzztt! Napapatiplag siya sa pagdaan ng daan-daang boltaheng dumadaloy sa kayang laman at ugat.

MANHID na siya nang tantanan ng mga anino. Nanghihina siya. Hindi na siya makapanlaban, hindi makagulapay. Naramdaman na lamang niyang kinalagan siya, kinaladkad na parang patay na hayop at saka ibinalibag sa mapanghing karsel.

Nakatulog siya dala na rin marahil ng pagod. O talagang nagdilim na ang isip niya dahil sa matinding kirot at hirap na naramdaman kanina?

NAKATANGHOD sa kanya ang hindi kilalang lalaking naka-fatigue nang magising siya.

“Alberto Dimasalang y Cunanan ba ang buo mong pangalan?” anito. Nasa harap sila ng makinilya. Amoy niya ang lansa ng sariling dugong natuyo sa kanyang punit-punit nang damit—mula pantalon hanggang kamiseta.

“Hindi. Alfredo Collantes po.”

Tiningnan siya nang masama ng nagtatanong.

“Ikaw si Alberto Dimasalang y Cunanan, ‘di ba?” angil nito. Para niyang nakikita ang musang na handang sumagpang sa manok.

“Hindi nga po…” mahina niyang sagot. Wala na siyang lakas para makipagtagisan pa.

“Titingnan natin ang totoo,” anito. Gumapang muli ang kilabot sa buo niyang katawan. Mauulit ba?

ILANG ARAW na rin siyang nakakarsel nang magpunta ang kanyang ina.

Nang makita siya, pumalahaw ng iyak. Awang-awa ang matanda sa kanyang bunso.

“Ano’ng kasalanan mo sa kanila?” tanong ni Aling Matilde. Hindi siya kumibo. Nakatulala siya.

Nagpaalam ang ina. Pasumandali lamang siyang aalis at sa pagbabalik, may dalang pagkain at damit para sa anak. Nakatulala pa rin siya.

Napatangis muli ang ina. Takipsilim na nang umalis ang matanda. Umiiyak pa rin. Tumutulo na rin ang luha niya subalit walang rehistro nang anumang emosyon ang mga mata niyang nakatuon sa kawalan.

Parang muli niyang narinig ang mga yabag, ang pagsabog, ang mga putok at naramdaman ang kirot ng kanyang buong katawan.

Nakita niyang muli ang dalawang lalaking dumukot sa kanya sa kanyang kubo noong nakaraang linggo. Papalapit sa kanya. Hahawakan siya sa dalawang bisig ngunit manlalaban siya, aagawin ang kalibre .45 na nakasukbit sa baiwang nang isa. May putok na aalingawngaw.

MALAKING-MALAKI ang salitang iginuhit sa mukha ng diyaryo:

Napatay ng mga sundalo sa isang engkuwentro si Alfredo Collantes, 31, tubong Tobog, Oas, Albay na kilala rin sa alyas na Ka Lando, Ka Waway, at isang mataas ng opisyal ng New People’s Army (NPA) sa Timog Katagalugan… Matindi naman ang pagpapabulaan ng kanyang inang si Matilde. Aniya’y magbubukid lamang ang kanyang anak na dinukot ng mga sundalo noong gabi ng Mayo 13, sa bahay nito sa Legaspi… Inilathala ng Bulatlat

Fil-Ams Arrested During Independence Day Celebration

June 11, 2008

Two Filipino-Americans were arrested, June 4, by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and security forces of the committee in charge of the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade during a protest action at the fair area where festivities were being held.  The two were playing makeshift drums of buckets when arrested.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

NEW YORK CITY, USA – Two Filipino-Americans were arrested, June 4, by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and security forces of the committee in charge of the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade.

Based on accounts sent by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Rusty Fabunan, 35 and Pewee Recaido, 18, both members of the Filipino community fraternity, Kapatirang Pilipino (Kappa Pi) were dragged by the NYPD for “failure to disperse.” The two were playing music using makeshift drums of buckets when they were arrested.

In a statement, Fabunan said, “We’re not here to make trouble. We just don’t want to listen to loud American music all day on this celebration of Philippine Independence. We’re just calling for positive change, and for that, we were harassed.”

Sa sarili nating Independence Day Celebration, hindi kami free,” (On our own Independence Day Celebration, we’re not even free), said Recaido.

Fabunan and Recaido were part of the 200-contingent from the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN or New Patriotic Alliance) USA chapter.

They marched down Madison Avenue chanting “Habang si Gloria ay nasa itaas, masyadong mataas ang presyo ng bigas!” (While Gloria is on top, prices of rice are too high.) and “How on earth can we be free, with a thousand dollar booth fee? How on earth can we be free, change your ways PIDC!”

The participants protested the $1000+ rental fee for a fair booth, which was being charged by the Philippine Independence Day Committee (PIDC). The group deemed that the local commercialization and high rental fees for booths were corruption schemes being perpetrated by the Philippine Consulate to fleece more money from the Filipino community.

NAFCON Member Rico Foz, related, “The contingent was obstructed from entering the main fair area by a blockade set-up by the NYPD. After holding an impromptu rally calling for an end to the local commercialization of the annual parade and fair, NAFCON-BAYAN participants were eventually let in and then continually harassed when they carried their placards inside.”

Robert Roy, Executive Director of the Philippine Forum, said, “This was a targeted act against us led by the PIDC committee and the Philippine Consulate. Both have been harassing our contingent for years now. They are threatened by the message we bring to the PIDC so they wanted to censor us.”

Repeated attacks

According to NAFCON, they were also stopped from marching the parade route by the NYPD in 2005. That time, they carried placards calling for Philippine Consul General Cecilia Rebong to move out of her $10,000 a month condominium at Trump Towers in Manhattan. In 2006, marchers protested the spate in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances targeting activists in the Philippines. In 2007, police stood guard as NAFCON marchers criticized the Philippine Consulate for its collusion with SentosaCare LLC, a healthcare management company in New York that has been known to illegally recruit nurses from the Philippines.

Released on the spot

Onlookers who had been entertained by the music played by Fabunan and Recaido gathered and confronted the NYPD shouting, “Just music… What’s wrong with that?”

The two were eventually released on the spot due to pressure from street protesters. Fabunan quickly thanked the crowd of supporters, “If not for the united voices of chanters pressuring the police, I would have spent the night in jail.” Bulatlat

To Hell and Back: the Story of an OFW who Tried to Endure Everything to Provide for Her Family

June 11, 2008

Stories of OFWs are full of accounts of contract substitution, escaping maltreatment, and enduring prisons.  But how much can OFWs take just to fulfill their dream of helping lift their family from poverty?  Norayda Katigan, 26 years old, tried to endure four months of beatings by her employer and by the owner of the recruitment agency, only to be pushed from the third floor terrace of her employer’s house, causing injuries to her spine and disabling her for the rest of her life.

BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MIGRANT WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Twenty six-year-old Norayda Katigan was overjoyed when a seeming golden opportunity came her way last year. Living in Buluan, Maguindanao all her life, she was being recruited by a certain Samie Sabanda to work as a domestic helper in Dubai.  And Sabanda was not even asking her to pay a placement fee.

Because Sabanda was introduced by a relative, Katigan trusted her.

On October 5, 2007, Katigan was brought to Manila along with six other aspiring OFWs. They stayed in Sabanda’s residence in Las Piñas for almost two weeks. Full of hope and dreams, they were finally scheduled to leave the country on October 18.

Straight to jai
l

On the day that they were scheduled to leave, the staff of Nonstop Agency, to which Sabanda belonged, gave them P750 ($16.65 at the October 2007 exchange rate of $1=P45.041) for their terminal fee. Aside from that, they were also given a sketch with instructions regarding the people they should approach. “

Katigan related that they were told,“Wag kayong magtanong dito, dito, dito. Kung ayaw ninyong mahuli, dito kayo magtanong.” (Do not inquire from these people.   If you do not want to get caught you should approach only these persons).

Nagtaka nga ako kung bakit pinagbawalan kami magtanong sa OWWA or sa mga security guards,” (I wondered why we were not allowed to talk to OWWA officials or security guards inside the airport) she added.

Upon arriving at their final destination, she realized that she was in Damascus, Syria and not in Dubai. As unsettling questions filled her mind and before she could react, immigration officers confiscated their passports and detained them.

Itinira kami sa parang bartolina. Mainit, walang pagkain, walang inom, walang ihi,” (We were detained in a small cell. It was hot inside. We were not given food or water. We were not even allowed to urinate) Katigan told Bulatlat.

After two days of detention, Katigan and her fellow Filipinos were finally released upon being fetched by the staff of the ROAA Services Agency. But before being released, Katigan said, immigration officers slapped their face. “Pero hindi na namin pinansin sa sobrang gutom,” (But since were so hungry, we ignored it) she added.

Feeling helpless and scared

When they arrived at the office of the agency, Yman Almoaalem, the owner of ROAA Services Agency, ordered them to line up. He confiscated their belongings and interrogated them about what happened inside the airport. He also ordered the staff of the agency to cut their hair below their ears because he said employers prefer short-haired domestic helpers.

They were told that their salary was being reduced from $200 to $150. “Ang sabi nila dun yun (Manila) pero pagdating dito (Damascus) hindi yun ang sweldo ninyo” (The agency staff told us that the $200 monthly salary indicated in the contract was good only in Manila. It is different here in Damascus) she said. Katigan told Bulatlat that she complained to Almoaalem about the sudden change in the contract. “Sinampal ako ni Mr. Yman na may-ari ng agency doon. Natakot na ako kaya wala na ako nagawa,” (Mr. Yman slapped my face. I felt helpless and scared)

Beatings

Katigan said that during her first month at work, her employer Nasser Othman, his wife Walada and their four children were very kind to her. However, during her second month of stay with them, Katigan said, the Othmans started to treat her harshly.  “Nagmula yan kapag inuutusan ako, nagkamali ako at pag hindi ko naintindihan (yung utos). Sasampalin ako at tatadyakan,” (Whenever I committed mistakes and did not understand their instructions, they slapped my face and kicked me.) she related.

Katigan told Bulatlat that her employers made her go up the roof to scrub it as clean as possible. She added that her employers were very meticulous. “Yung kaldero nga eh, ginagawang salamin ng amo (Walada Othman) ko. Ganun dapat kakintab. Aamuyin niya lahat” (Walada Othman even used the pots as mirror.  That is how spotless and shiny she wanted it to be.  She smelled it too.)

She asked help from her agency but she was scolded instead. There was a time when she was brought by her employer to the office of the agency.  Almoaalem slapped her face six times, and kicked her twice at the back before she was fetched by her employers. After that incident, Katigan said, Walada Othman became harsher. She narrated that Mrs. Othman ordered her not to eat until her chores were finished. So she ate her meal, which both served as her breakfast and lunch, at around 3 p.m. every day. Katigan complained that she often felt weak and dizzy, almost to the point of fainting.

But still she was able to bear everything for four months.

A series of adversities

On March 20, 2008, Katigan was rushed to the hospital because of fever. She was discharged from the hospital the next day. But her employer told her that she has AIDS. Katigan related to Bulatlat, “Kasi lagi nilang sinasabi na kapag nagkakasakit ako eh may AIDS daw ako. Pero nilalagnat lang naman ako,” (Whenever I was sick, my employers told me that I have Acute Immune Deficiency Syndrome. But it was just fever).

The doctor told her employer that Katigan should refrain from work for five days. But upon arriving home, Katigan said, Mrs. Othman pushed her and forced her to start working. Katigan pleaded to be sent to her agency but her employer did not allow her.

The next day, Katigan was busy hanging washed clothes at the 3rd floor terrace of her employers’ house when Mrs. Othman approached her and started to scold her. His eldest son Karam arrived and asked his mother what was happening. While she was hanging the clothes with her back turned to them, Karam pushed her on the edge and she fell landing on the iron fence of the house. Their neighbor brought her to the hospital.

As a result, she lost five teeth and broke three spinal discs. On March 26, a representative from the Philippine consulate in Syria arrived to sign a waiver, which allowed doctors to conduct the necessary surgery. Because of the surgery, Katigan has19 stitches at her back. She was discharged from the hospital sometime in April. The representative from the Philippine consulate told Katigan that they would not be able to help her because her agency is responsible for her welfare.

After being discharged from the hospital, Katigan was arrested by the police and imprisoned for ten days before she was returned to the agency. She was beaten up by Almoaalem who also tore her medical prescriptions. While waiting for her repatriation, Katigan told Bulatlat,  Almoaalem usually called her to his office to slap her face or to kick her.

The long trip home

Because she needed money to buy plane tickets she pleaded and kneeled down in front of police officers to ask for their assistance in claiming her unpaid salary and her belongings from her employer. After a month, she got her unpaid salary, which she used to buy her plane ticket.

Upon learning that she was about to go home, her fellow overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) asked her to mail their letters pleading for assistance to their families and to the government.  She hid it inside her clothes because she knew Almoaalem would inspect her belongings before she left. Not only did Almoaalem inspect her bags, he also took the rest of her money and assaulted her physically before bringing her to the airport.

On her way home, Katigan met Marjorie Rodriguez, an OFW from Beirut, Lebanon. She narrated her experience to Rodriguez who felt sympathy towards her. While inside the aircraft, Rodriguez asked financial assistance on her behalf from fellow Filipinos passengers.

When Katigan arrived in Manila, officers from the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Association (OWWA) told her that they could provide her with a place to stay but could not reimburse her plane ticket. But Katigan opted to accept Rodriguez’s offer to help. She stayed in the house of  Rodriguez’s sister in Cavite while Marjorie arranged for her return home to Buluan, Maguindanao.

Katigan missed her flight home to Buluan because she waited for the relative of one of her OFW friends in Damascus who was supposed to pick up a letter from her. Since then, Migrante International, an organization of OFWs and their families, took her in while helping arrange her trip back home.

A life changing experience

Last June 3, Migrante held a press conference to demand for the scrapping of remittance charges levied on OFWs and to air Katigan’s story as well. Kara David, a reporter from GMA Network, referred her case to the GMA Kapuso Foundation for medical assistance. She was brought to the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital for check up. The doctors who checked her told her that her spinal column is bent thereby causing her back pains. Also since she was not able to drink her medications, her feet are always numb.

Katigan’s dream of helping lift her family from poverty was shattered with the prognosis of doctors that she could no longer work  “Hindi ko alam. Shempre mapipilitan din ako ng kahit anong kaunting mapapagkakitaan man lang para makatulong ako sa nanay ko. Sabi kasi nila hindi na ako pwede magtrabaho,” (I don’t know what would happen. But I have to earn something to help my mother even if they told me that I could no longer work because of my condition) Katigan lamented.

Migrante International is assisting Katigan in rebooking her flight back home after her dialogue with some members of the House of Representatives. She told Bulatlat that she is not comfortable when people ask her to recount the details of what happened to her in Damascus. But the thought of helping the remaining OFWs in Damascus keeps her going. “Ayaw ko na kasi maulit pa yung nangyari sa akin eh,” (I do not want others to experience what I have gone through) Katigan said. Bulatlat

Compel RP To Implement Alston Recommendations – HR Groups

June 11, 2008

The UPR Watch, a delegation composed of representatives of human rights, church groups, and non-governmental organizations that attended the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights record of the Philippine government before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urged the UN to compel the Arroyo government to implement the recommendations drawn up by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, after his investigation of the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines late last year.


BY BULATLAT
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

The UPR Watch, a delegation composed of representatives of human rights, church groups, and non-governmental organizations that attended the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights record of the Philippine government before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urged the UN to compel the Arroyo government to implement the recommendations drawn up by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, after his investigation of the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines late last year.
“The conclusions of Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions are a stinging indictment of the human rights record of the Philippine Government  and a mockery of its continued membership in the UN Human Rights Council,” said the UPR Watch in a statement released to the media.

In her oral intervention during the interactive dialogue at the 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Secretary General of KARAPATAN and a member of the Philippine UPR Watch, said Alston’s basic conclusions do not speak well of the Philippine Government, which is as a member of the Council. Members of the UNHRC are supposed to observe the highest standards in  human rights protection and promotion.

Enriquez delivered her oral intervention at the interactive dialogue following the report of Prof. Alston.  Her statement was supported by the Commission of Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches (WCC CCIA), the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).

”Despite the open hostility and the undiplomatic tirade of the Philippine Mission on the report and the person of Alston, the Philippine UPR Watch supports and commends the conclusions and recommendations of the highly respected Special Rapporteur,” said Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, secretary general of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and head of UPR Watch.

Reyes added, “The vituperative language and aspersions cast by the Philippine Mission together with the reportedly 50-member government delegation on Prof. Alston were the total reverse of the public relations spin by high government officials in Manila who immediately went to town trumpeting the ‘good grades’ the government supposedly received in the UN.  Alston consistently concluded that the counter insurgency program of the government is one, if not the primary, reasons for the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. “

”Alston also noted that while state security forces have been involved in the killings of
workers, farmers, church people, activists, media persons, indigenous peoples, lawyers, and other members of mass and people’s organizations, the military still remains in a state of denial and that no convictions were made on military personnel.”

Enriquez reported to the UN Human Rights Council that Jonas Burgos, a peasant organizer and son of Philippine press freedom icon Joe Burgos, has been missing for over a year despite evidences pointing to the involvement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the abduction. His mother Dr. Edita Burgos has exhausted all legal remedies in the country to no avail.
She confirmed to the Council that the killings have not stopped.  The human rights alliance KARAPATAN, Enriquez said, has documented 13 cases of extrajudicial killings and two cases of enforced disappearance since the beginning of 2008.  There were also hundreds of victims of displacement due to military operations, Enriquez added.

Enriquez appealed to the UN to compel the Philippine government to comply with the recommendations of Prof. Alston, especially with regards instituting changes in the counter-insurgency program of the government and the AFP, abolishing the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group, as well as all the general recommendations of the Special Rapporteur.

The Philippine UPR Watch also urged the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to ensure that the Philippine Government will actually honor its pledges and commitments to the UNHRC. Bulatlat

Streetwise: Human Rights and the U.S. ‘War on Terror’

June 11, 2008

In the light of increasing revelations about the horrendous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the U.S. military, U.S. government-contracted private security agencies and such state investigative arms as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the course of the U.S. war of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and while rounding up suspected “terrorists” in the U.S. and other countries, it is not surprising why the Bush administration and the Arroyo regime find themselves mutually reinforcing each other’s fascist mindset and policies.

BY CAROL PAGADUAN-ARAULLO
Streetwise / Business World
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

“The (U.S.) strategy which is keyed on military stealth and might had trampling effects on the basic liberties of suspected terrorists for laws are silent when the guns of war do the talking. The war on terrorism has inevitable spillover effects on human rights all over the world, especially in countries suspected as being used as havens of terrorists.” — The Old Struggle for Human Rights, New Problems Posed by Security, Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno

At the 8th session of the UN (United Nations) Human Rights Council, during which the Philippine human rights record is being reviewed, UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston stood by his findings on the alarming spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in the last six years.

According to the non-government organization, Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch, Mr. Alston stated that so many of the cases remained unexplained; only a few cases, prosecuted; and to date, there had been no conviction of military personnel involved. Mr. Alston underscored his finding that, in so far as the number and characterization of the killings, the methodology used by the Philippine government was defective.

Fr. Rex Reyes, head of delegation of the Philippine UPR Watch, said that after Alston’s report, the Philippine Mission in Geneva submitted a six-page statement lambasting the report as “inaccurate, highly selective and biased” and vilifying Mr. Alston himself.

It is not at all out of character for the Philippine government to stick to its denial mode as far as extra-judicial killings (EJKs) and other human rights violations are concerned. The regime of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo, while continuing to understate the gravity and extent of the killings, washes its hands of any culpability, accuses its detractors of exaggerating the problem and of politicking, and then proudly proclaims that it has significantly reduced the incidence of EJKs and human rights violations in general.

Mr. Alston was reported to have “happily note(d) the drop in the number of extrajudicial killings since he began his mission in the Philippines.” But he also wryly added, “The decrease in number while a cause to congratulate, is likewise a cause to condemn because it merely shows clearly who are behind the extrajudicial killings.”

The Arroyo regime’s bloody human rights record was close to being universally criticized by the international human rights community, including such institutions as the International Parliamentary Union as well as certain countries in the European Union known for their consistent defense of human rights. Yet most recently, Malacañang issued a press release welcoming the 2008 report of the U.S. State Department “hailing the Philippine government’s adherence to democracy and freedom, respect for human rights and stepped up efforts to end extrajudicial killings and disappearances.” Presidential Spokesperson Bunye added, “(The report) reiterates the commitment of the American government to assist and stand by us.”

The U.S.-backed Arroyo regime, facing serious challenges to its political survival, has courted the support of the U.S. and ensured the loyalty of the U.S.-trained Philippine military by escalating military actions not only against the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) but against legal progressive organizations and personalities under the guise of countering “terrorism.” Hence the rise in extra-judicial killings.

Moreover, the regime has been emboldened by the U.S. “war on terror” to rely mainly on a military solution to the armed conflict rather than address the roots of the armed conflict by instituting basic social, political and economic reforms. Thus, one of the first victims of the U.S. “war on terror” in the Philippines is the quest for a just and lasting peace through peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP.

In the light of increasing revelations about the horrendous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the U.S. military, U.S. government-contracted private security agencies and such state investigative arms as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the course of the U.S. war of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and while rounding up suspected “terrorists” in the U.S. and other countries, it is not surprising why the Bush administration and the Arroyo regime find themselves mutually reinforcing each other’s fascist mindset and policies.

It behooves human rights advocates exposing and opposing the brutal Arroyo regime to pay particular attention to the U.S. own bloody human rights record everywhere and the particular role that the U.S. continues to play in encouraging and sustaining state terrorism by its neo-colonial client regimes. The indisputable and documented trail of U.S. war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and crime of aggression against sovereign countries must be unmasked and fought against.

Specifically, the U.S. refusal to sign on to the Rome Statute mandating the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its use of arm-twisting measures, e.g. a cut-off in military and economic aid, against countries that ratify the Rome Statute, is a virtual admission of guilt and the intent to continue violating human rights (HR) and international humanitarian law (IHL). The ICC is widely considered to be a historic and major breakthrough in human rights protection because it provides international mechanism for prosecution of grievous violations of HR and IHL. The Philippines signed but did not submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification due to such U.S. pressure.

The official U.S. post-9/11 “Guidelines for Interrogation” of suspected “terrorists” include methods considered as torture by international law standards. Even U.S. courts have ruled these to be unconstitutional. The U.S. also signed but “with reservations” the International Convention on Torture. Severe, inhuman and dehumanizing torture has been inflicted by US forces in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other US-run detention facilities all over the world. Evidently the practice of torture by U.S. security agents and armed forces is systematic and to a certain extent institutionalized.

Human rights groups and several public inquiries in Europe have found the U.S. government, with the help of numerous governments worldwide, to be engaged in the illegal practice of extraordinary rendition, secret detention and torture. The U.S. government-sponsored program of renditions is an unlawful practice in which numerous persons have been illegally detained and secretly flown to third countries, where they have suffered additional human rights abuses including torture and enforced disappearance.

The latest scandal surrounding the U.S.-led war of terror is the emergence from a number of sources such as statements from the U.S. military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies and the testimonies of prisoners, that the U.S. is operating “floating prisons” in an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of those detained as “terrorist” suspects.

Indeed, Mrs. Arroyo’s upcoming meeting with U.S. President Bush in the U.S. this month shows just how much she still admires and follows the lead of her fascist, if lame-duck, role model. Business World / Posted by Bulatlat

Farmers Ask CBCP: Support GARB, Not CARP Extension

June 11, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

This developed as some 1,000 farmers from Southern Tagalog were staging a “Lakbayan para sa Lupa, Pagkain at Hustisyang Panlipunan” (March for Land, Food and Social Justice).

In the weekly Kapihan sa CyPress media forum at the Treehouse Restaurant, Matalino St., in Quezon City last June 7, Orly Marcellana, secretary-general of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog), a local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines ), and currently the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan) regional chair, said that history has already proven the futility of the existing agrarian reform program, which is now 20 years old.

“In the two decades of CARP’s implementation, the farmers in the region remained landless, hungry and poor. We have enough of this bogus land reform,” said Marcellana.

Marcellana insisted that only GARB can introduce an almost-perfect solution to the landlessness problem of farmers in the country.

Rev. Ray Galloaga of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), who works closely with the peasant folk in the region, cited the Scriptures and said that as part of the social justice program of Yahweh, Israelites-through their judges and kings-have implemented their own version of agrarian reform program

“Thus, it is rightful to support what the peasant-folks are fighting for right now and that is the passage of a progressive legislation on agrarian reform,” Galloaga said.

Earlier, Second National Rural Congress (NRC2) Chair and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, expressed support to the extension of CARP.

CBCP even asked the President to certify the bill extending the CARP as urgent. She certified it as urgent early last week.

The Central Luzon experience

United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) president and now Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Agricultural Workers) Rene Galang shared his own experience with CARP inside the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Instead of giving the lands to the farmers and farm-workers for them to till, they (the Cojuangcos) have given us the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a scheme that paved way for more abuse. Now that the Supreme Court has finally decided in favor of the farmers, the Cojuangco clan still refuses to give the farmers’ part of the hacienda which our colleagues have already shed their blood for,” Galang said, referring to the November 16, 2004 massacre.

Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL or Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon) chairman  Joseph Canlas said more and more lands are being grabbed by unscrupulous landlords and developers thus leaving more and more farmers landless and hungry.

Among the schemes used are crop conversion and land use conversion, in which lands are being developed into industrial and residential uses, and instead of being used for production of rice and other food lands are planted with cutflowers and other high-yielding crops, threatening the country’s food supply, Galang elaborated.

“That’s why, we are strongly supporting the bill that our beloved Ka Bel, filed in Congress,” said Galang.

CARP: the Mindanao experience

Mindanao has the same experience, said Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, KMP officer in Mindanao.

“Many lands have been classified as corporate farms, which can only be distributed if the corporation owning the farm voluntarily submits to CARP, as provided for by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988,” said Flores.

GARB

Incoming Anakpawis Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, said that he would be fighting hard for the passage of the GARB and will ensure that the farmers would win this battle.

Mariano joins thousands of farmers that are expected to flock the foot of Mendiola bridge, this June 10, CARP’s 20th anniversary. Contributed to Bulatlat

State School Tuition to Match Private School Rates by 2010

June 11, 2008

The leader of a youth group, citing the Philippine government’s own Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan (LTHEDP), said that tuition in state schools will match that of private schools by 2010.

BY BULATLAT
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

The leader of a youth group, citing the Philippine government’s own Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan (LTHEDP), said that tuition in state schools will match that of private schools by 2010.

The plan prescribes the following targets for 2010: (1) the reduction of the number of SUCs by 20 percent; (2) the conversion of six SUCs to ‘semi-corporations;’ (3) the generation of income by 20 percent of SUCs through the sale of intellectual property rights and grants; (4) the establishment of active income-generating projects in 50 percent of SUCs; and (5) the collaboration with big business of 60 percent of SUCs.

One of the more controversial targets, according to Kabataang Pinoy chairman Dion Carlo Cerrafon, is the pegging of tuition rates at a level similar to that of private schools in 70 percent of state schools by 2010.

“These targets clearly go against present back-to-school government posturing on public tertiary education.”

He said incessant hikes in tuition in state schools, particularly at the University of the Philippines (UP), are clear indicators of the government’s resolve to meet the LTHEDP’s targets by 2010.

“Most state schools have already implemented the plan by increasing their internally-generated funds (IGF) through the privatization of auxiliary services and other revenue projects in the university. A number of SUCS, like UP and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), have already entered into joint ventures with profit-oriented entrepreneurs and big businesses, as already evident in the new ‘science and technology’ park being built in UP property Commonwealth avenue and call center offices and training center in PUP main campus,” he explained.

He added that in two separate memoranda by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in 1999 and 2000, 86 CHED supervised institutions (CSI) have been or are in the process of being integrated into SUCS. In six year, the number of SUCs was reduced by 154, from 264 in 1998 to 111 in 2004.

“LTHEDP slowly transforms state schools into efficient income earning entities with the long-term goal of making them self-reliant capable of running their institutions without government subsidy.

“Such policy not only justifies state abandonment of its responsibility to educate young Filipinos, but it also serves as the basis for schools to engage in money-making activities like joint ventures with corporations, selling of intellectual properties and other assets, income-generating projects, tuition adjustment and imposition of new fees. This ensures corporate dominance even in public education, making tertiary education the province of the elite,” Cerrafon pointed out.

“Unless we begin investing more on education and start reversing education policies that encourage commercialization, we will continue to see more students leaving college because of high fees and poverty,” he said. Bulatlat

More Students Transfer from Private to State Schools

June 11, 2008

But fee hikes, limited slots force transferees to dropout, says youth group

A growing number of the country’s college students are transferring from the private schools to state colleges and universities due to rising costs of private-school education. But state schools have been increasing their tuition and other fees in recent years. Because of this, thousands of college hopefuls might be forced to drop out of school this year.

BY BULATLAT
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

A growing number of the country’s college students are transferring from private schools to state colleges and universities due to rising costs of private-school education. But state schools have been increasing their tuition and other fees in recent years. Because of this, thousands of college hopefuls might be forced to drop out of school this year.

Citing recent trends in enrollment, youth group Kabataang Pinoy revealed that due to the rising cost of education, more and more students enrolled in private higher education institutions are either forced to transfer to state schools or find themselves dropping out altogether.

Records from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) show that in 1980, only 10 percent of college students were studying in state schools. By 1994, the number went up to 21 percent and at present already accounts for almost 40 percent of the country’s tertiary-level student population.

“But many of these transferees will find themselves dropping out of college. The problem is, there are no more rooms in state schools either,” Kabataang Pinoy President Dion Carlo Cerrafon said.

“State universities and colleges (SUCs) are confronted by similar problems. Poor education spending and annual budget cutbacks force state schools to impose enrolment quotas and increase fees, forcing many state scholars to leave,” he added.
As a result, Cerrafon said, access to public higher education institutions, which is the last resort for students who want to obtain a college degree, has become impossible to many college hopefuls.

“While it is true that SUCs offer tuition lower than private schools, tuition rate and miscellaneous fees in state schools and universities have seen the biggest increases in recent years, thus making SUC education also inaccessible to ordinary students,” he explained.

Last year, the University of the Philippines (UP) increased its tuition by 300 percent, from P300 ($6.50 at last year’s average exchange rate of $1:P46.15) to P1,000 ($21.67) per unit.

Another state institution, the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) in Manila, implemented a 600-percent tuition hike, resulting in a 50-percent drop in enrollment last school year. From last year’s P15 ($0.32) per unit, EARIST now charges P100 ($2.27 at the June 6 exchange rate of $1:P44.14) per unit. Laboratory fees also increased from P25 ($0.54 at 2007 rate) to P500 ($11.33 at June 6 rate).

The Philippine Normal University (PNU) had already increased its tuition by 400 percent in 2003.

The country’s biggest state school in terms of population, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), was also poised to hike its tuition by 525 percent last year but was forced to shelve its plan due to massive student protests. It would have increased tuition from P12.50 ($0.27 at 2007 rate) to P75 ($1.62) per unit.

Cerrafon said state schools are also forced to accept only a limited number of students due to budget cuts.

Last year, the University of the Philippines (UP) Office of Admissions said some 66,000 high school graduates all over the country applied for the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT). But only an average of 12,000 applicants are admitted each year. For example, some 14,000 applicants on the average seek to enter the UP College of Nursing but only 70 or 0.5 percent are admitted.

The same goes with PUP. PUP has 16 branches and extensions in Luzon and each unit conducts its own PUPCET (Polytechnic University of the Philippines College Entrance Test). In PUP’s main campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila, more than 50,000 thousand students take up the entrance test every year but only 10 to 13 thousand on the average are admitted. One of the lowest passing rates in PUPCET history was recorded in 2006, when only 7,357 examinees passed the entrance test.

Cerrafon added that the increases in tuition and other fees would certainly have an effect on the enrolment of poor but deserving students coming from the provinces.

“Rising fees will certainly daunt bright students from depressed and remote areas of the country from enrolling in UP or other big state schools and eventually force them to settle for poorly-maintained state colleges in the provinces or worse, give up their college dream.”

Studies from private think-tanks and international organizations show the effects of rising cost of education, even in public higher education institutions. In June 2004, the Wallace report pegged college dropout rate at a staggering all-time high of 73 percent. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines, on the other hand, reported a measly 22-percent overall student survival rate from 1st to 4th year college. Bulatlat

Campus press expresses concern over three ‘missing’ journalists

June 10, 2008

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) joins other journalists and media workers in calling on authorities to ensure the safety of three ABS-CBN journalists reported to be ‘missing’ in Sulu.

ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon along with her crew Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama have been reported ‘missing’ in Sulu yesterday. Witnesses claim that they were allegedly abducted by armed men in the village of Kulasi in the town of Maimbung.

“We are greatly concerned with this news and pray for the wellbeing of our fellow journalists. We also appeal to authorities to do everything in their means to ensure their safety,” said CEGP national president Vijae Alquisola. ###

============

My Take:

The mainstream commercial media is indeed not free.  It is being controlled by big business and political lords in many aspects.  Yet its prime-mover, the professional journalists are always facing the danger of being the messenger of news.

The whole Barangay RP is praying for the immediate and safe release of the 3 media workers.

The scourge of child pornography

June 10, 2008

CHILD pornography is here—and quite for some time now. While everybody is busy brawling about the anomalies of this government that is doubly busy, too, doing a wag-the-dog to distract the populace from falling further into the pit of dismay, child porn producers are busy prowling the streets for more and more victims.

Optical Media Board chief Edu Manzano reports of kids (who should be attending kindergarten but are not because their parents are either busy queuing up for a square meal of rice or selling their kidney for a day of opulence) who are brought by their very own mothers to pose as “talents” in a porno film of sorts. Disgust is a very mild reaction to seeing a 4 or 6 year old forced to do a sexual deviance that normal couple would not even dare. While adult pornography is bad enough, child pornography is indescribably worse.

It is the market, which no longer hides in the closets but even shouts in Quiapo and in malls, that dictates the course of child pornography. And while it is presently getting insatiable, the producers will be there to fill the “need”. Reports have it that it only takes Ten Thousand US Dollars for foreigners to produce a full-length child porn film. And parents of child porn talents go home seemingly well compensated with Forty Thousand Pesos after all is done.

It is cold. It is silent. It is devastating.

In a pastoral letter entitled “Welcoming Them for My Sake”, issued in 1998, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), says: “Our voices cannot be loud enough, our words strong enough to condemn this evil among us. The cries of abused children reach up to the God of justice in a call for vengeance. We know that their lament invokes compassion from the God of Love…And to those who inflict pain and wound the innocent, our Lord has harsh words: ‘it is better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believe in me, to be drowned by a millstone around his neck in the depths of the sea.’ (Mt. 18:160).

The blight of child pornography may be traced mainly to poverty—the kind of poverty that has emboldened unprincipled producers, business and pedophiles. But the evil of destroying our very own children simply transcends the social impact of poverty. Virginia, there is really more to it than just the exigency of an empty wallet.(CBCPNews)

Peace group condemns abduction of Drilon, Dinampo, others; appeals immediate release

June 10, 2008

DAVAO CITY, June 10, 2008—The officers and members of the Mindanao People Caucus (MPC), a peace group here condemned the latest abduction of their chairman Prof. Octavio Dinampo, Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN and her crew even as they appeal for their immediate release without preconditions.

In a communiqué sent to CBCPNews, Monday evening, the MPC reported that Prof. Dinampo and Ms. Drilon were on their way to Maimbung, a 5th class municipality in Sulu Sunday but were flagged down by armed men. They were not able to return back to the town of Jolo Sunday evening until yesterday. The Dinampo family believes they could have been kidnapped, though they are yet to establish direct contact with the captors.

“We, from the MPC had always felt we are safest in Sulu with Prof. Octa around us. At this time when he has fallen victim of the very violence that he has been trying to overcome, we readily lend our moral support and prayers as we continue to move mountains and hound the heavens for his safety and early release,” read the statement signed by Atty. Mary Ann M. Arnado, the secretary-general of the MPC.

“We appeal to the law enforcers and the military to exhaust all peaceful and traditional methods of negotiation in working out the release of the kidnap victims. We also call on our religious leaders from both the Christian and Muslim faiths to extend whatever possible support. Let this crisis see the strength of our solidarity and dialogue as brothers and sisters in Mindanao,” the communication stated.

Dinampo is a credible and well-respected leader from Sulu and a leading peace advocate in Mindanao. He has been in the forefront of peace advocacy, good governance and relief and rehabilitation efforts in the conflict affected areas in Mindanao.

As a Convenor of the Bantay Ceasefire, Dinampo has exemplified the ideals of active non-violence and the values of respect, tolerance and dialogue of life and faith.

Dinampo has served as the link of Sulu to the outside world having developed good relations among civil society and the donor community in rehabilitating the war-ravaged communities in Sulu.

“He has been a gracious and reliable guide of many visitors to Sulu and had consistently protected his visitors even at the risk of his own life,” the MPC statement said.

MPC are composed of Dinampo as chairman, Fr. Robert Layson, OMI as co-chairperson; Timuay Melanio Ulama, co-chairperson; Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, secretary-general; Ustadz Rahib Kudto, deputy secretary general. The council members are Bae Magdalena Suhat, Bae Lisa Saway, Pastor Reu Montecillo, Cesar Pabro, Rexall Kaalim, Bapa Joe Acmad, Analiza Ugay, Salic Ibrahim and Lannie Panggol.

MPC extended their prayers and supports to the families and loved ones of the kidnap victims and assured they will mobilize its Bantay Ceasefire volunteers, peace networks and allies especially among the grassroots to reclaim the freedom of the victims. (Mark S. Ventura)(CBCPNews)

Bayan demands results from Task Force Pojas

June 10, 2008

Davao City – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) held a protest rally on May 29 at Camp Leonor, San Pedro St., Davao City to demand from Task Force Pojas the results of their investigations on the killing of peasant leader Celso Pojas.

Pojas was killed last May 14 at the height of his involvements in the anti-militarization campaign in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental and in the independent investigation of the Diarog killing. He was at that time chairperson of the Farmers Association of Davao City, a member organization of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“We have not heard any development regarding the investigations that Task Force Pojas has been conducting since its formation a day after Celso Pojas was killed. Weeks have passed and we fear that their investigations are going nowhere,” Bayan secretary general Jeppie Ramada said.

Bayan reiterated that the killing of Celso Pojas was an execution under Oplan Bantay Laya 2 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Arroyo government. “While the killings continue to claim innocent lives, the suspects remain at large with impunity,” Ramada added.

Ramada also revealed the ongoing surveillances on the offices of Bayan and other progressive organizations in Davao City. “Unidentified men are seen constantly tailing our mass leaders including myself,” Ramada added.

Ramada urged the Local Government Unit and the Davao City Council to act decisively to end the series of extrajudicial killings happening in the city.

“The city’s peace and order situation is getting so alarming and we call on the people to be vigilant in protection of their lives and of those who stand courageously for truth, justice, and equality,” Ramada ended.(DavaoToday)

Psych tests for DHs: stupid, absurd, says MIGRANTE

June 10, 2008

The government’s plan to make all United Arab Emirates ‘ (UAE) bound domestic workers undergo a rigid psychological test drew heavy flak from the largest overseas Filipino workers’ alliance, MIGRANTE International.

Philippine authorities in the UAE led by Philippine Consul General to Dubai Benito Valeriano was recently quoted in the Khaleej Times that they are actually pushing for the measure to determine whether an “applicant cannot withstand work and has the tendency to break down emotionally and psychologically.”

MIGRANTE chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado said this measure is “stupid and only reveals how our

embassy officials are utterly detached from the harsh realities faced daily by our migrant workers on the

ground.”

“Veleriano and his clueless ilk should wake up to the reality that domestic workers snap and are

driven to the brink of insanity because they are subjected to the most degrading and inhuman treatment,

such as physical and mental abuse, rape, non-payment of wages and torture,” she said. “They also face

the reality that Philippine embassy officials will not lift a finger to help them. Now, who will not be driven to insanity under these circumstances?”

Regalado added that the planned psych test is “another scheme of the government to exact more

funds from the OFWs in the form of examination fees.”

“ Not content with the billions of remittances that are saving the economy, government continues to churn

up measures that are bleeding migrant Filipinos dry,” Regalado stated.

“If Valeriano truly believes in alleviating the lot of our bagong bayanis (modern heroes), for starters, he should instead propose measures that would scrap the exorbitant fees and charges it imposes on OFWs,” Regalado pointed out “OFWs are already burdened by numerous charges and fees imposed by the government.”(DavaoToday)

‘Exodus’ calls for end to militarization in countryside

June 10, 2008


Concerned organizations and individuals form an alliance called Exodus for Justice and Peace to call for a stop of the militarization in the countryside and for the return of hundreds of Lumads displaced from their communities. The alliance also seeks justice for the death of tribal chieftain Dominador Diarog, peasant leader Celso Pojas and other victims of human rights violations. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Lawyer Beverly Musni, one of the convenors of EXODUS for Justice and Peace, talks about the displacement of lumads in Mindanao during the time of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. She estimates about a million people displaced in different parts of Mindanao from 2001- 2008. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Exodus’s members sign a statement of unity calling attention to the daily needs of victims, including health and medical services, psychosocial therapy sessions for women and children, legal services, moral support, among others. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

College editors to spearhead first-day-of- school ‘Pubs Baha’

June 9, 2008

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) today announced that it would greet school opening with its traditional ‘Pubs Baha’.

‘Pubs Baha’ is a customary protest activity for CEGP’s member publications. It is characterized by a ‘downpour distribution (baha)’ of old and new issues of a campus publication to students by editors and staff, especially if the publication is experiencing campus press freedom violations.

CEGP National President Vijae Alquisola announced that their member publications will simultaneously distribute their respective campus papers tomorrow, June 10, the first day of classes, in different colleges and universities.

“For this year’s school opening, we are giving ‘Pubs Baha’ a twist. Our message is for students to meet the school year aware and vigilant of past and present issues that have hounded them as published in our publications, ” said CEGP national president Vijae Alquisola.

Alquisola said that among the most pressing issues that students should address head on are the yearly education and tuition woes, press freedom violations, the economic crisis, corruption in government and human rights violations.

Campus publications expected to participate are the University of the PhilippinesPhilippine Collegian, UP Manila’s Manila Collegian, Ateneo’s Matanglawin, Polytechnic University of the Philippines‘ The Catalyst, the EARIST Technozette, University of Makati’s The Makati Collegian, Philippine Normal University’s Torch and the Arellano Herald.

The ‘Pubs Baha’ will be the CEGP’s main participation in the Youth Action Day planned by different youth and student organizations for tomorrow’s school opening.

Simultaneous protest actions are expected to commence at lunchtime tomorrow in Taft Avenue, the University Belt and Katipunan consortia of schools with the theme, ‘Balik-Eskwela, Balik-Sigla ang Protesta.’

“We are enjoining our fellow editors and writers to participate and launch their own ‘Pubs Baha’ as a symbolic action of the campus press’ collective vigilance,” Alquisola said.

He announced that they are set to release a pooled editorial calling for ‘renewed youth vigilance and action for truth, accountability and social change’ to be published by CEGP’s 700 member publications nationwide in the first weeks of classes. ###

Peasant leader killed in front of family in Negros–police

June 9, 2008

By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 09:13pm (Mla time) 06/08/2008

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines–A peasant leader was executed in the presence of his wife and 11-year-old son in Manapla, Negros Occidental, the police said on Sunday.

PO3 Ron Somondong of the Manapla police identified the victim as Armando Dolorosa, 45, vice president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers chapter at Hacienda Marian, Barangay (village) San Pablo in Manapla.

Three unidentified persons, armed with high-powered firearms and wearing bonnets, summarily executed Dolorosa at his house at Hacienda Marian at around 7:30 p.m. on Friday (June 6), according to his wife Janetta.

Janetta said her husband died of 23 gunshot wounds in different parts of the body.

She said her family believed that her husband’s killing was related to the implementation of the agrarian reform program in Negros Occidental.

Somondong said the victim might have known the killers, one of them he was heard to have called “Tol,” as he even welcomed them to his house.

Janetta, in a separate interview, recalled that a burst of gunfire followed after her husband invited the perpetrators to enter their house.

She said she saw her husband’s assailants run away but they immediately returned and pumped more bullets into the body of her husband, to make sure he was dead.

Policemen recovered 12 empty shells of M-16 and .30 rifles from the crime scene, Somondong said.

Janetta told police investigators her husband and 36 other agrarian reform beneficiaries were given Certificates of Land Ownership Awards by the Department of Agrarian Reform 2007 over a portion of land in Hacienda Marian.

Janetta said that since then, Dolorosa had been receiving death threats from persons whom she described as “planters.”

She, however, hinted that one of the gunmen whom her husband called “Tol” was a family friend.

Dolorosa recalled that the animosity started between her husband and “Tol” after agrarian reform beneficiaries in the hacienda got their CLOAs. “Tol” was not one of the beneficiaries, she said.

Armando was the third local NFSW leader who was killed in Manapla since 2003, police records show.(PDI)

===========

My Take:

This only shows that the government’s seemingly approval of these type of crime (as seen thru its inaction), invites more perpetrators to sow terror in the countryside.

Dahil walang hinuhuli at napapagpanagot, pati ang mga simpleng alitan ay nagiging dahilan na rin para magpatayan.

Kasalanan ito ng gobyerno.

‘Success’ in occupying 1,600 ha of Luisita–farm workers

June 9, 2008

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines–Farmers who lost their jobs following a joint labor and agrarian strike at the Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac in 2004 have been growing food and cash crops on a 1,600-hectare area there despite the non-implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program at the estate.

A “success story” is how Danilo Ramos, secretary-general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Movement of Farmers in the Philippines), called this move by some 5,000 farmers.

They tilled portions of the Cojuangco family-owned sugar estate when the Supreme Court stopped the Department of Agrarian Reform in 2007 from implementing CARP there. The same farmers asked the Court in 1989 to void the stock distribution scheme through which they only got shares of stock, not actual land ownership.

“CARP’s bankruptcy and built-in institutional denial of land rights failed to stop Hacienda Luisita workers from struggling and asserting their rights to land. Now, despite all odds and political obstacles, the farm workers are reaping the fruits of their hard labor and collective resistance,” Ramos said in a statement.

In the same statement, Rene Galang, president of the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and chair of United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU), confirmed the occupation and cultivation of lands by displaced farm workers.

Galang said rice and vegetables were grown on the land owned by the family of former president Corazon Aquino.

“We are encouraging more farmers to join and form themselves into cooperation units to cover other hectares for their livelihood,” Galang said.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III, the son of the former president, on Sunday did not reply to a query if the family or the Hacienda Luisita Inc. allowed the farm workers to use the land.

There have been no known instances though when HLI tried to stop or evict tillers.

The Department of Agrarian Reform offices in Tarlac City, Concepcion and La Paz towns were known to have provided agricultural production support for farmers until the Supreme Court issued the temporary restraining order against the agency in 2007.

Luisita farmers also joined the march opposing the extension of the 20-year-old CARP, pushing instead for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 authored by the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran.

“Proponents of the bogus CARP failed to explain the real score behind thousands of cases of land reform reversals compounded by confiscation of land titles, thousands of cases of land use conversions, land grabbing and the unexplained P143 billion spent for CARP, which all happened in the 20 years of [the program's implementation],” said Fernando Hicap, chair of the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya.

(pDI)

Groups set last-ditch effort for CARP extension

June 9, 2008

THE Reform CARP Movement promised to flood the tent city outside the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City with at least a thousand farmers and peasants pushing for the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program beginning today, and also tomorrow, the CARP law’s expiration date.

At the same time, other farmers calling the 20-year-old CARP a failure and said they would have nothing to do with its extension.

The Reform CARP Movement counts as members Task Force Mapalad, Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan, Task Force Baha-Talibayog and other farmers who have been picketing DAR since May to press for CARP extension.

The groups said the proposed five-year extension would give DAR the time to distribute its backlog of 1.1 million hectares consisting of private agricultural lands 60 hectares or more to about half a million farmers nationwide. “More than 3 million hectares were distributed during 20 years of CARP. Most of these lands are still in the hands of farmer-beneficiaries whose lives have certainly improved compared to those who remained mere tenants or farm workers,” the group said in a joint statement.

But Hacienda Luisita farm workers under the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, United Luisita Workers Union and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said CARP cannot take credit for the fact that thousands of farm workers and their families in Luisita now have more than 1,600 hectares for cultivation. They instead blamed government policies for encouraging land use conversion, land-grabbing, ejectment, crop conversion and other schemes that dispossess tillers, as well as high farm inputs and lack of agricultural support services that have led to the decreased rice production in the country.

“This is the reason why we are against any special session in Congress for CARP extension, they should let the anti-farmer program die a natural death,” the second groups said in a statement.

The Luisita farm workers accused government and the Aquino-Cojuangco clan of working together despite apparent political differences to reverse farm workers’ gains, adding that soldiers remain deployed for psy-war tactics in the 10 barrios straddled by the hacienda.

Last month, the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas in a study of stakeholders composed of farmers, indigenous peoples, urban poor and fisherfolks nationwide, said the stakeholders gave government a 70 to 75 percent rating in its implementation of major asset reform laws such as CARP, the Indigenous People’s Rights, Fisheries Code and various socialized housing program. Governance weakness, red tape and weak inter-agency coordination were blamed for the poor performance. - Randy Nobleza(MALAYA)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers