Archive for the ‘photos’ Category

Photos: BAYAN – Panay leads various groups in marking the Mendiola Massacre of 1987

January 28, 2009

BAYAN – Panay leads various groups

in marking the Mendiola Massacre of 1987

Plazoleta Gay, Iloilo City .

January 22, 2009

The multi-sectoral protest commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre. Members of Paghugpong sang Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) recalled the historic event which happened in 1987, vobisng to continue the struggle of the farmers for land.

The picket also strongly condemned the US-backed Israeli invasion of Gaza which has resulted in the loss of lives of hundreds of civilians. Despite the recently declared temporary ceasefire by the Israeli government, war of aggression will continue in the days to come because of the absence of unconditional declaration of ceasefire. BAYAN believes that the war on Gaza is instigated by the US policy of war on terror.

–  EDGAR PELAYO, Secretary-General, BAYAN – Palnay

(Photos Courtesy of Bayan=Panay)

Arkibong Bayan

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Photos: 22 years after the bloody carnage: “All we want is piece of land”, say relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims

January 28, 2009

22 years after the bloody carnage:

“All we want is piece of land”,

say relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims

January 22, 2009

22 years after the bloody carnage:

“All we want is piece of land”, say relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims

Quezon City, Philippines- “All we want is a piece of land that we can till and call our own. But what we got from them the state was bullets.”

Twenty two years after the bloody carnage, relatives of the infamous Mendiola Massacre said they want to move on and continue with what their husbands and relatives pursued two decades ago, but the horrible event kept on visiting them like day-to-day nightmares.

After their 7-day camped out at the Ministry of Agrarian Reform (now Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR), from January 15-21, 1987 on January 22, leaders and members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), numbering about 15,000 decided to march from the agrarian reform office to Liwasang Bonifacio and then to Mendiola.

In Mendiola, military and police elements open fired and peppered the farmers and their sympathizers with bullets. Thirteen marchers, mostly farmers from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions were killed and identified as Danilo Arjona, Leopoldo Alonzo, Adelfa Aribe, Dionisio Bautista, Roberto Caylao, Vicente Campomanes, Ronilo Dumanico, Dante Evangelio, Angelito Gutierrez, Rodrigo Grampan, Bernabe Laquindanum, Sonny Boy Perez and Roberto Yumul.

Aside from the 13 farmers who were killed by state security forces, reports also said 39 marchers sustained gunshot wounds and 32 sustained minor injuries. “Let me set the record straight. What we want is a parcel of land but what the government gave to us were scores of bullets and in the aftermath of the massacre is a bankrupt, bogus, anti-farmer and pro-landlord agrarian reform program,” the Kilusang Enero 22 or KE 22 said in a press statement.

KE 22, an assembly of relatives of Mendiola Massacre added that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) passed by Congress during the time of former President Corazon Aquino was a comprehensive failure and merely sustained the 22-year old wounds caused by the Mendiola Massacre.

“How can you have justice with CARP? It is not a social justice program but an instrument for further landgrabbing, further denial of peasant land rights and class exploitation by the landlord few. CARP is part of the long-running injustice committed to the victims of Mendiola Massacre,” KE 22 said. .

Relatives want GARB

KE 22 said it is actively supporting the passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 principally authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by his successor Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

“We hope the leadership of House Speaker Prospero Nograles will move on and act with dispatch and resolution in favor of HB 3059. This social justice measure is necessary for the cause of land and justice across-the-country,” relatives of Mendiola Massacre victims added.

GARB which is still pending before the House Committee on Agrarian Reform will cover all agricultural lands and have these lands distributed for free to all landless, land lacking and willing to till farmers all over the country, according to KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella, a survivor of Mendiola Massacre.

KMP’s Marbella said lands operated by transnational corporations, including commercial farms ran by big agribusiness groups shall be nationalized in favor of farmworkers and agricultural workers who would be trained to manage and operate these large plantations and commercial agri-business farms.

In the case of sullied lands, or lands acquired through fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force and violence, these would be subjected to confiscation, while landlords who acquired their landholdings without any shades of blood debts or crimes against their tenants will receive just compensation and shall be paid by the state based on the average tax assessment on the land for the immediate last three years preceding the effectivity of the act.

The KMP leader said farmer beneficiaries are guaranteed with security of tenure and sustained support systems to make the awarded lands more productive and more responsive to the needs of the farmers and the Filipino public in general.

Success story

Meanwhile in Hacienda Luisita, farmworkers continue to cultivate more than 1,800 hectares of the hotly disputed sugar estate outside the framework of the 20-year old CARP.

“The key to this success story is the determination of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers to challenge and fight the Stock Distribution Option scheme legitimized by the bogus CARP. Now, the farmworkers and poor farmers of Hacienda Luisita are reaping the fruits of their labor,” the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said in a press statement.

UMA public information officer Rey Calaguing said the hacienda farmworkers and poor farmers are planting various crops in more than 1,800 hectares like rice and vegetables. “We are encouraging more farmers to join and form themselves into cooperation units to be able to cover other hectares for their livelihood. This is peasant class power in full swing,” he said.

UMA said the current “bungkalan” campaign has already benefited 838 families or roughly 1,676 individuals spread in the barangays of Malapacsiao (244.5 hectares), Asturias (209.93 hectares), Bantog (258 hectares), Cut-Cut (275.9 hectares), Balite (153.4 hectares), Mutrico (248 hectares), Pando (163 hectares), Texas (140 hectares), Pasajes (60 hectares) and Parang (51.5 hectares).

Camp-out in HOR, march to Mendiola

The KMP together with the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, UMA, Amihan peasant federation and farmer groups Kalipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) will stage a three-day camp-out at the House of Representatives beginning on Monday.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said about 1,000 farmers will participate in the camp-out from Jan.19-21 in Batasan Complex. He said farmers and fisherfolk will conduct mass lobbying with congressmen starting Monday and update lawmakers on the current situation of farmers and explain to lawmakers the necessity of passing HB 3059.

“We will seek an audience with House Speaker Prospero Nograles. That is one of the objectives of the three-day peasant camp-out in Batasan. We will not entertain any kind of political snub, that’s for sure,” warned Hicap.

On Jan.22 farmers will march from DAR to Mendiola to officially end the four-day peasant march for land and justice. The Pamalakaya leader said the march to Mendiola will be joined by militant groups under the umbrella alliance of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Hicap said some 1,500 placards bearing the face of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be slashed and burned in Mendiola to show the peasant’s collective outrage against the brutal and anti-rural regime of President Arroyo and the farmers’ resolve to fight for genuine land reform.#

FOR REFERENCE:
WILFREDO MARBELLA, KMP Deputy Secretary-General
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (+63-905-421-73-05)

For Immediate Release
January 22, 2008

REFERENCE:
ANTON DULCE
Vice Chairperson/Media Officer, 09095189340
KEN RAMOS
Chairperson, 09215129678

On the 22nd anniversary of Mendiola Massacre
No justice, No peace for the Filipino peasants, people

“No justice! No peace!” is the message of militant youth led by ANAKBAYAN as they joined the Peasant March to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre, where unarmed peasants demonstrating for land reform were gunned down by state security forces.

“The demands of the 13 peasants murdered in 1987 remain the same. Unless social justice is attained thru genuine land reform, the victims of the Mendiola Massacre will not find any peace,” according to ANAKBAYAN National Chairperson Ken Ramos.

Ramos lambasted the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, or CARP, as a ‘cure worse than the disease’. “The amount of land monopolized by landlord families has increased, rather than decreased throughout the two decades of CARP implementation. It contains pro-landlord loopholes, such as retention limits, non-distributive options and land conversions that are being exploited by landlords up to this very day,” Ramos said.

Ramos also condemned ‘pseudo-progressive groups’ that are forcing CARP on the people. “Years of implementation have proven that CARP is already defective, so why are they insisting on its extension? It is simply because CARP funds and foreign financial aid for land reform have been their cash cow for a long time. These groups, together with big landlords and compradors, are the ones who benefited from the fake agrarian reform policy, not the peasants,” Ramos added.

“From Aquino to Arroyo, the demand for land by the peasants has been met with brute force. Thus, there is ‘no peace, no justice’ in the countryside.”

“Because of their unwavering resolve to expose the faulty CARP and push genuine agrarian reform, peasants have been victims of state fascism,” Ramos said.

Ramos pointed out that the peasant sector bore the largest number of casualties committed by AFP death squads under Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya 1 & 2. He further berated the upcoming Balikatan exercises to be held in the Bicol Region this April as another measure to monitor and repress the peasant movement in the region.

“Giving farmers the piece of land they deserve is a starting point to achieve peace in the countryside,” Ramos said. “Genuine land reform is a start to ending the semi-feudal roots of poverty in the Philippines.” ###

Anakpawis Partylist
National Headquarters
Jan 22, 2009

End slavery: Obama promise remains an elusive dream for Filipino peasants

Exactly twenty two years after the bloody massacre of 13 peasant activists in Mendiola, the calls which were met with bullets by the Aquino administration has become even louder as the issue of landlessness worsen under the Arroyo regime.

Anakpawis members from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Metro Manila converged once more in Mendiola to reiterate their call for justice to the victims of Mendiola Massacre and that the demands of peasant for genuine agrarian reform should be met.

According to Anakpawis Spokesperson Joel Maglunsod, “As we witness the coverage and attention that the inauguration of US Pres. Barack Obama, we can’t help but compare their celebration to the centuries-old struggle of the Filipino people against slavery. The peasants, who have long struggled to own the land they till since the Spanish colonial rule, are still at the mercy of mighty landlords. What’s worse is that peasants are being massacred all over the country and justice was never served.”

In 1987, the same year as the Mendiola massacre, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was implemented in response to the demands of farmers at the time. But, according to Maglunsod, the law was not meant to really address the root cause of landlessness which is land monopoly but rather to strengthen the control of big landlords over bigger parcels of land. After all, according to him, instead of distributing land, the implementors of CARP have now expanded the reach of their haciendas.

“It is high time for the enactment of a genuine agrarian reform law not the extension of the pro-landlord CARP.” Maglunsod said that the government cannot deny that peasants remain landless despite having spent P20billion of taxpayers’ money. “The need for justice in the form of equitable distribution of land remains,” he added..

This is the reason why the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, the poorest yet most revered congressman of our time, filed House Bill 3059 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) in November 2007. This, Maglunsod explained, is a law drafted by the collective struggle of the peasantry against slavery and destitution brought about by landlessness.

Anakpawis however believes that the task of explaining genuine agrarian reform will be extremely difficult noting our kind of government and society. Their representative, Cong. Rafael Mariano, who himself is a landless peasant will have to get the signatures of the landlord-dominated congress. This is why they vow to continue fighting for the peasants’ right to own the land they till in the parliament of the streets and wherever necessary. “Freedom from slavery is never free but is earned through the collective struggle of a people who really wants it,” ended Maglunsod. # #

Peasants shake the lower house, call for the passage of GARB

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and the peasants from Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) coming from Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas and Quezon, held ground at the gates of the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City. They are joined by Pamalaya-Pilipinas (fisherfolk), Amihan (peasant women), UMA (agri-workers) and support groups. Their mobilization at the lower house is part of their 4-day campaign to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre that took place during the Aquino regime on January 22, 1987.

“At Mendiola Massacre, 13 peasants were killed when police and military forces opened fire at my fellow peasant demonstrators who were calling for genuine land reform then. Until now, no justice whatsoever were given to them and their families, thus, we are fighting tirelessly for genuine land reform as our commitment and vow to their martyrdom. At the Hose of Representatives, we are fighting for the passage of House Bill 3059 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB),” opened Antonio Flores, KMP National Auditor and KMP – Southern Mindanao Region Chair.

“We are going to shake this lawmaking institution, 200 peasants from Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas and Quezon are going to lobby their district lawmakers to enact GARB on Wednesday. We are also visiting Speaker Nograles’ office to discuss why we want GARB to be passed. We believe this is a first at HOR, hundreds of lobbyist at the same time calling for the passage of a same bill,” added Flores.

Moreover, agri-workers from Hacienda Luisita joined the street forum at the gate and discussed regarding their victories and why GARB would be helfpul to their plight. Anakpawis Rep. and KMP Chair Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano also talked about the role of GARB to the overall struggle for genuine land reform.

“We are vigilant about what’s happening inside the house, we are to block any efforts of landlord lawmakers to revive the dead CARP and invent legislative moves protecting their domination over the country’s vast agricultural lands,” noted Flores.

“As peasants from other provinces arrive, we are to hold an in-depth and point-per-point discussion about GARB. We are going to do a “Read Along GARB,” with audiences from the countrysides and other groups and sectors,” Flores added.

KMP, Kasama-TK, Pamalakaya, Amihan, UMA, Anakpawis leaders and members are to stay at the gates of the lower house until January 21 before they proceed to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). The next day they would march from DAR towards Mendiola to call for genuine land reform, justice for the Mendiola Massacre victims and the passage of GARB.#

FOR REFERENCE:
ANTONIO FLORES, KMP National Auditor / KMP – Southern Mindanao Region Chair
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (+63-905-421-73-05)

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

PRESS RELEASE
January 20, 2009
REFERENCE:
ANTONIO FLORES, KMP National Auditor / KMP – Southern Mindanao Region Chair
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-905-421- 7305)

GARB 101
Farmers gave college students a lecture on new agrarian reform bill

Some 82 college students from different state colleges and universities on Monday night got a crash course on GARB (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill) 101, according to one of the leaders of the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

Those who finished the crash course on GARB 101 were freshmen, sophomore and graduating students who trooped to House of the Representatives in Batasan Complex, and were joined by members of militant youth groups Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Student Christian Movement (SCM), the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and National Union of Students of the Philippines .

KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores and activist poet and former political detainee Axel Pinpin of Tagaytay 5 served as instructors to students from University of the Philippines- Diliman campus (UP-Diliman) , Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and University of the East-Recto, who spent over one-hour listening to the inputs of resource persons and took down notes on the lecture about GARB.

“The GARB read along project promotes the reading and discussion of GARB otherwise known as House Bill 3059 to inform the Filipino peasantry and the general public that GARB is a social justice piece of legislation, ” the KMP leader said.

Flores read that the heart and soul of GARB or HB 3059 is free land distribution to all landless, land-lacking and willing-to-till farmers all over the country. He said just compensation will be given to landowners, except those involving sullied landholdings, or land holdings acquired to fraud, deception, intimidation, or the use of force or violence, and landholdings whose landowners employ oppressive and exploitative practices on their tenants, agricultural workers or other farmers tilling the land.

The KMP leader said men and women who are willing to till land and make it productive for the common good of the Filipino people are entitled to become beneficiaries under an agrarian reform program created under GARB or HB 3059.

One of the students asked: “Are gays and lesbians will become beneficiaries too under GARB?” Flores said gays and lesbians are also beneficiaries of a land reform program under GARB provided they will till and make the land awarded to them productive for the benefit of the Filipino people.

Flores added that enlightened landlords will be allowed to maintain five hectares under GARB provided that they will till the land and will not employ and exploit landless farmers or agricultural workers.

For his part, poet Pinpin of Tagaytay 5 said the students could further appreciate GARB by integrating themselves with and learning from farmers. He said the best way to understand HB 3059 is to understand the farmers’ plight, aspiration and struggle for land, food and justice.

“This crash course and read along activity on GARB would help although to many of you this remains an abstract. To fully understand GARB, we encourage you to live with the farmers and learn from the farmers,” Pinpin added.

Pinpin, a graduate of agriculture in UP-Los Baños briefly recalled how his integration with the farmers had help him understand the peasants struggle for land and the need to change society, and how the students integration with farmers would help them not only to understand GARB or HB 3059 but to accept the social reality that century old feudal bondage and long-running problem of landlessness in the country remains a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed and resolved.

GARB, which is backed by KMP, Kasama-TK and staunch allies like Pamalakaya fishers group, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant federation was authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran, and co-authored by Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan. #

At the KMP Website, GARB 101 Farmers gave college students a lecture on new agrarian reform bill .

(Photos Courtesy of Arkibong Bayan)

Photos: Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 2

January 16, 2009

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 2

January 10, 2009

Gaza’s day of carnage – 40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools
• Bloodiest attack of campaign so far
• Obama breaks silence on conflict


Israel’s assault on Gaza has exacted the bloodiest toll of civilian lives yet, when the bombing of UN schools being used as refugee centres and of housing killed more than 50 people, including an entire family of seven young children.

The UN protested at a “complete absence of accountability” for the escalating number of civilian deaths in Gaza, saying “the rule of the gun” had taken over.
Doctors in Gaza said more than 40 people died, including children, in what appears to be the biggest single loss of life of the campaign when Israeli bombs hit al-Fakhora school, in Jabaliya refugee camp, while it was packed with hundreds of people who had fled the fighting.

Most of those killed were in the school playground and in the street, and the dead and injured lay in pools of blood. Pictures on Palestinian TV showed walls heavily marked by shrapnel and bloodstains, and shoes and shredded clothes scattered on the ground. Windows were blown out.

Hours before, three young men who were cousins died when the Israelis bombed Asma elementary school in Gaza City. They were among 400 people who had sought shelter there after fleeing their homes in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza.
Abed Sultan, 20, a student, and his cousins, Rawhi and Hussein Sultan, labourers aged 22, died. Abed Sultan’s father, Samir, said the bodies were so mangled that he could not tell his son from the cousins. “We came to the school when the Israelis warned us to leave,” he said. “We hoped it would be safe. We were 20 in one room. We had no electricity, no blankets, no food.

“Suddenly we heard a bomb that shook the school. Windows smashed. Children started to scream. A relative came and told me one of my sons was killed. I found my son’s body with his two cousins. They were cut into pieces by the shell.”

The UN was particularly incensed over targeting of the schools, because Israeli forces knew they were packed with families as they had ordered them to get out of their homes with leaflet drops and loudspeakers. It said it had identified the schools as refugee centres to the Israeli military and provided GPS coordinates.

Israel accused Hamas of using civilians as cover, and said the Islamist group could stop the assault on Gaza by ending its rocket attacks on Israel.

The Palestinian authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, last night delivered an impassioned plea to the UN security council to act immediately to stop the Israeli operation, which he described as a “catastrophe” for his people. Israel has agreed a “humanitarian corridor” to allow Palestinians to get essential goods.

The rising casualty toll, more than 640 Palestinians killed since the assault began 12 days ago, gave fresh impetus to diplomatic efforts. The White House offered its first hint of concern at Israel’s actions by calling on it to avoid civilian deaths. The president-elect, Barack Obama, broke his silence by saying he was “deeply concerned” about civilian casualties on both sides. He said he would have “plenty to say” about the crisis after his swearing in.

Gordon Brown said the Middle East was facing its “darkest moment yet” but hoped a ceasefire could be arranged soon.

Explaining its attack on al-Fahora school, the Israeli military claimed that a mortar was fired from the playground, and it responded with a single shell whichkilled known Hamas fighters; the resulting explosion was compounded because Hamas “booby-trapped the school”. Two Hamas militants were among the dead, both part of a rocket-launching cell.

The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, John Ging, said three shells landed at the perimeter of the school. “It was entirely inevitable if artillery shells landed in that area there would be a high number of casualties,” he said.

He said UN staff vetted those Palestinians who sought shelter at the school. “So far we’ve not had violations by militants of our facilities,” he said, though responding to questions he accepted there had been clashes between Hamas and the Israeli army in the area.

Earlier in the day, Ging visited Gaza’s hospital and was shocked at the scale of civilian casualties. “What you have in this hospital is the consequences of political failure and the complete absence of any accountability for actions that are being taken. It’s the rule of the gun now, and it has to stop,” he said.

At least 12 of one family, seven children aged from one to 12, three women and two men, were killed in an air strike on their house in Gaza City. Nine others were believed trapped.

Israel continues to insist most of those killed by its forces are Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters – although its assertion it is going to extraordinary lengths to target only “terrorists” has been undermined by a tank firing on a building used by Israeli troops, killing four of them, on Monday.

Another soldier was killed yesterday as Israeli forces continued their push into Gaza City. Tanks and troops also moved on the southern town of Khan Yunis.

The invasion has yet to achieve what Israel says is its goal of stopping rocket attacks. Hamas fired more than 30 into Israel yesterday, one to within 20 miles of Tel Aviv at Gadera, wounding a baby.

The de facto Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, issued a statement from hiding, saying that the Gazans would defeat Israel. “[Israel] has failed to force the population to surrender,” he said.

From:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-obama

UN: Gaza faces ‘alarming’ humanitarian situation
01/01/2009 | 07:20 AM

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UNITED NATIONS — Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are facing an “alarming” humanitarian situation under constant Israeli bombardment, with the main power plant shut down, overcrowded hospitals struggling to cope and very limited food supplies, UN officials said Wednesday.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the power plant shut down Tuesday because Israel has blocked fuel delivery through the main pipeline since Dec. 26. This has forced hospitals to use generators, which have limited fuel supplies, and left many of the 650,000 people in central and northern Gaza with power cuts of 16 hours a day or more, he said.

“On the humanitarian side,” Holmes said, “the situation remains alarming.”

“Hospitals are obviously still struggling very much to cope with the number of casualties. We have continued to get some medical supplies in and to help them cope, but this remains difficult and fragile,” he told reporters at UN headquarters.

Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the UN Relief and Works Agency which helps Palestinian refugees, told reporters by video link from Gaza that the agency, known as UNRWA, has not distributed any food for two weeks because of the shortage of supplies and the Israeli bombardment.

“I think that means that 20,000 people a day have been without food that they expect — and probably is the bulk of what they get. … It’s not just the flour, but it’s the protein source, either lentils or tinned meat and the sugar and milk powder and oil,” she said.

“So people are doing pretty badly. Everyone we know is sharing whatever they have, not just with their families but with their neighbors,” Abu Zayd said. “People are not eating what they used to. That’s simply what’s happening.”

“We haven’t seen widespread hunger. We do see for the very first time — I’ve been here for eight years— … people going through the rubbish dumps looking for things, people begging which is quite a new phenomenon as well,” she said.

Holmes said the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel continues to be open, with 55 trucks of food and medical supplies and five ambulances getting into Gaza on Tuesday, and about 60 trucks on Wednesday. That compares to 125 truckloads a day in October 2008 and 475 truckloads a day in May 2007, just before Hamas took control of Gaza, he said.

Some medical supplies, ambulances and generators also got into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, he said.

A spokesman for President George W. Bush, Gordon Johndroe, told reporters in Texas that American officials are seeing “a good flow” of medical and food supplies into Gaza.

Abu Zayd stressed, however, that UNRWA needs 100 trucks of flour a day to meet the needs of refugees. But she said Israel has closed down the Karni crossing, the main gateway for cargo into Gaza where it is normally delivered, for security reasons.

She said UNRWA was told by the Israeli humanitarian coordinator that all other crossings aren’t open because “there is intelligence about serious preparations for security operations.”

“We wonder if it’s serious enough to really keep things completely closed and to keep people on their edge of subsistence,” she said.

Holmes said “the major needs, apart from medical supplies, remain … grain and wheat flour and fuel — also cash would be very helpful to enable people to buy supplies.”

He said the Israelis have been “cooperative in principle about these supplies but we need to see more results.”

UNRWA launched an emergency appeal on Tuesday for US$34 million for food, medical supplies and other goods, he said, and “there are good indications that the donors will respond generously.”

On the infrastructure side, Holmes said damage has been limited so far, but two major wells have been hit along with schools and some UN facilities. Five mosques identified with Hamas were also hit by Israeli bombs, Abu Zayd said.

Both Holmes and Abu Zayd said the bombing has taken a psychological toll.

Abu Zayd said UN staff members “try to tell their children that the bombing is a wedding and somebody’s celebrating.”

“The children, of course, know that there’s something wrong because they’re not going to school,” she said. “They were supposed to take their exams this week.”

“Everyone is just traumatized by what’s happening each day, and also their worries about the future, because they don’t know what’s going to happen next… they’re just expecting the worst,” Abu Zayd said.- AP

From:

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/142027/UN-Gaza-faces-alarming-humanitarian-situation

**Stills from the Youtube video at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgeqrs5ePLU

Arkibong Bayan

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 1

January 14, 2009

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 1

From:

The other side of the story

http://palestinian.ning.com/forum/topics/the-other-side-of-the-story


Taumbayang ayaw sumayaw sa Cha-Cha

December 15, 2008

PW Staff


Nagmartsa mula tapat ng Rustans ang mga miyembro ng progresibong mga organisasyon sa ilalim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. (Ronalyn Olea)


Nagmartsa rin ang mga pulitikong miyembro ng Liberal Party patungong kanto ng Paseo de Roxas at Ayala Avenue. (Contributed Photo)


Pinangunahan ni Engr. Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr. ang pagpipito kontra sa pandarambong at Charter Change. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)


Naglagablab ang damdamin ni Armida Siguion Reyna sa pagbabasa ng tula para sa kilos-protestang iyon. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)


Kinatawan ni Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo (pinaka-kanan) ang progresibong mga kongresistang party-list na sina (mula kaliwa) Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano at (natatakpan ni Ocampo) Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)


Nagpupuyos ang damdamin ng isang demonstrador. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)


Bagong sinisimbolo ng parol: protesta kontra Cha-Cha. (KR Guda)


Garalgal ang boses ni Sen. Loren Legarda sa pagsigaw sa kanyang talumpati sa programa. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)


Isang ahente ng Philippine National Police ang nahuli ng mga demonstrador na may dalang baril habang nakikihalo sa mga manonood ng programa. (KR Guda)


Matikas ang tindig ni Atty. Adel Tamano habang nagtatalumpati. (KR Guda)


Parang “Donya Buding” ng bagong henerasyon ng kilusang protesta ang sumisikat nang karakter ng artistang si Mae Paner na “Juana Change.” (KR Guda)


Muling inaliw ng Sining Lila, pangkulturang grupo ng Gabriela, ang mga manonood sa kanilang nakakatawang pagtatanghal. (KR Guda)


Nanawagan si Sen. Ping Lacson sa mga obispo na “pangunahan ang anumang kailangang pangunahan”, at susunod ang taumbayan. (KR Guda)


Binasa ng asawa ni Gen. Danilo Lim ang mensahe ng heneral at ni Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV sa mga demonstrador noong gabing iyon. (KR Guda)


Nakiisa maging ang tindero ng sigarilyo sa pag-aalay ng kandila laban sa Charter Change. (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)


Panata ng mga nagsidalo na lalabanan nila nang buong lakas ang anumang tangkang ilusot ng mga kongresista ang pag-aamyenda ng Saligang Batas. (KR Guda)


Davao City: Nagsindi rin ng kandila ang mga miyembro ng progresibong mga organisasyon at taong-simbahan laban sa Cha-Cha. (Karlos Manlupig sa Davao City)

PinoyWeekly

(Photos) Launching of PANGATAMAN-Bikol

November 23, 2008

Bicol environmentalists and leaders of people’s organizations

launch PANGATAMAN-BIKOL,

hold a forum on Climate Change

Aquinas University, Legazpi CityI

November 15, 2008

How PANGATAMAN-BIKOL Started

PANGATAMAN-BIKOL was established on April 14, 2008 by leaders of people’s organizations, institutions, other  environmental groups and individuals to institutionalize the efforts and give more  focused activities to environmental campaigns.

Programs and Services of PANGATAMAN-BIKOL


■  Envikronmental education and trianing program
■  information and research studies program
■  Environmental management and development program
■  Environmental advocacy and networking rpogram

How PANGATAMAN-BIKOL started


The issues on the Palanog cement factory in Camalig, Albay, the persistent mining  operation in Camarines Norte and the $130M Solid Waste Injection Project by the  geothermal plant in Tiwi mobilized different sectors in the Bicol Region to participate and  become active in environmental protection and conservation campaigns.

But it was Rapu-Rapu mining which awakened the consciousness of the Bicolanos.

Several regional and provincial organizations like Forum for Ecological Concerns, Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance (SARA), AKLAS in Sorsogon, and Anti-Lafayette Mining Alliance  (ALMA) called for the closure of the mining company.

Different actgivites were conducted to further broaden the campaign.

Out of these continuing environmental problems in the region PANGATAMAN-BIKOL was organized.

Most Rev. Lucilo  B. Quiambao, DD

Auxiliary Bishop of Legazpi

Ms. Beverly Ala

Executive Director, PANGATAMAN-Bikol

A lecture on Climate Change by Engr. Virgilio Perdigon, Jr.

Secretary General,  Aquinas University, Legazpi City

ArkibongBayan


(Photos) Initial Findings of the International Verification and Fact-finding Mission on Attacks against Filipino lawyers and judges

November 16, 2008

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Initial Findings of the International Verification

and Fact-finding Mission on Attacks against Filipino lawyers and judges

By 8 Dutch and Belgian judges and lawyers

from Stichting Advocaten voor Advocaten

(Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation)

November 12, 2008

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Initial Findings of the International Verification & Fact Finding Mission 2008

1. Contrary to 2006, the profession related killings of lawyers and judges (hereinafter ‘these killings’) are acknowledged as a serious problem.

2. Although the number of these killings has declined, they still occur; it must be emphasized that every killing is one to much.

3. The number of and the reasons for this decline are not undisputed.

4. Intimidation continues as of today. We observed that among lawyers and judges feelings of fear and insecurity still exist: (death) threats and other forms of harassments, including fabricated charges, were mentioned.

5. The Philippine government claims to have taken firm measures to address the problem of extrajudicial killings. Indeed it has established various Task Forces. Human rights awareness programs were also issued, which must be welcomed. Nevertheless, they have not led to visible results.

6. Apparently only one (1) person has been convicted for these killings and that was in 2006. So impunity still seems to exist.

7. We observed a lack of trust among lawyers, judges, their relatives and civil society organizations as to whether the government is sincere in addressing the problem of these killings. Solving this problem clearly needs broad support of all layers in society.

8. In the cases we investigated in 2006, little or no progress has been made so far.

9. As regard to the way of investigating or prosecuting these killings, there seems to be little or no coordination between the various Task Forces and agencies concerned; for instance, different data were seen in their presentations.

10. The Melo Commission stated that ‘the circumstances clearly show that such killings (….) is pursuant to an orchestrated plan by group or sector with an interest in eliminating the victims (..)’. The governmental measures merely focus on protection and security of lawyers and judges, where they should also address the underlying causes.

11. The willingness to investigate upon serious allegations of involvement of state agents in these killings is still lacking by the governmental authorities concerned. In addition, this would increase their credibility. ►

12. We observed that according to the ruling opinion the principle of command responsibility cannot be used in criminal cases.

13. We welcome the initiative of the Supreme Court to introduce the Writ of Amparo. It is broadly supported.

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PRESS STATEMENT
INTERNATIONAL VERIFICATION & FACT FINDING MISSION
D.D. 12 NOVEMBER 2008

In June 2006, the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (L4L) organized an International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) on the attacks against Filipino lawyers and judges. Amongst other things, it concluded that Filipino lawyers and judges were threatened, harassed or even killed while carrying out their legal profession.

Since then, we have been aware of various developments in the Philippines. The Melo Commission was installed and reported its findings in the beginning of 2007. The Philippine government claims that it has followed up the Melo Commissions’ recommendations and has taken other measures to address the killings.

However, international and Philippine civil society organizations claim that the reality remains that the killings, threats and harassment of persons involved in social activism, including lawyers and judges, still continue.

In view of the above, L4L organized a follow up Verification & Fact Finding Mission (IVFFM) in order to:

(a) verify the status of cases of harassed or killed lawyers and judges investigated by the IFFM in June 2006;

(b) verify and collect as many findings as possible regarding several new cases of threats, harassment and killings of human rights lawyers and judges as well as the (lack of) reaction thereto by the competent Philippine authorities;

(c) verify and collect as many findings as possible regarding the effectiveness of the measures the Philippine government claims to have taken to address the problem of extrajudicial killings, and

(d) inform the appropriate Philippine authorities and the international community, more specifically any national and international lawyers organization about these findings.

So far, the IVFFM has interviewed lawyers and judges facing threats, relatives of killed lawyers and judges, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, representatives of various state agencies concerned such as PNP, Task Force USIG, NBI, IALAG, DILG, civil society organizations and the CHRP. In addition, interviews are scheduled with the Ombudsman and a representative of DoJ.

Today, the IVFFM will only presents its initial findings. A full report with its conclusions and recommendations will follow in due course.

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PRESS STATEMENT
11 NOVEMBER 2008

Inclusion of lawyers in military’s order of battle, red
baiting slammed: LABELLING IS A THREAT ON THE LIVES OF LAWYERS

A group of lawyers condemned the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) and the Arroyo government for listing lawyers in the military’s order of battle.

Based on the own monitoring and documentation of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) from 2001 to 2008, there were 15 lawyers and two lawyers’ groups who have either been told they are included in the military’s order of battle (OB) or have been openly labeled as rebels. Two of the 15 have already been killed.

Atty. Norman Bocar was gunned down, September 1, 2005, in Borongan, Eastern Samar. He was among those listed in the OB called Oplan Ligpit (Operation Plan Exterminate) of the 8th Infantry Division.

Atty. Juvy Magsino was shot dead on February 13, 2004 in ,
Naujan, Mindoro Oriental. In 2002, then Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. of the 2nd nfantry Division of the Philippine Army labeled Atty. Magsino as a communist and supporter of the New People’s Army (NPA). Palparan even told the media that the Army would be monitoring Atty. Magsino.

Atty. Remigio Saladero, legal counsel of labor group
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has been charged with false criminal charges in relation to two incidents of raid by the New People’s Army (NPA). Saladero has been labeled as a member of the NPA; the military said his supposed nom de guerre is Ka Patrick. He is detained at the Calapan City District Jail.

In 2004, Judge Romeo Capulong also became a subject of
black propaganda and demonization campaign of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP). He was then serving as the counsel for the striking workers of the huge farmland Hacienda Luisita. In the AFP publications “Trinity of War,” “Part III: Overview of Hacienda Luisita Incidents and Other Significant Events,” and powerpoint presentation “Knowing the Enemy,” Judge Capulong, with the PILC, was made out as a tool of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA and National Democratic Front (NDF) purportedly in order to bring the issues
concerning the Hacienda Luisita to an international level.

On January 24, 2005, in a command conference at Camp Macabulos in Tarlac, then Philippine Army Northern Luzon Command Chief Lt. Romeo Dominguez told the national security adviser and the presidential chief of staff that militant groups such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela,under the leadership of Judge Capulong and Tarlac City Council Abelardo Ladera, were the cause of the turmoil at the Hacienda Luisita. Ladera was later killed on March 3, 2005.

Neri Javier Colmenares, secretary general of the NUPL, was
himself a victim of labeling. In 2005, Colmenares has been informed by a colleague working in government that he was included in the OB. In the same year, the long-defunct Protestant Lawyers League of the Philippines (PLLP) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) were among the organizations listed by the military in the security briefing titled “Knowing the Enemy” as an “enemies of the state.”

In July 2006, Attys. Colmenares, Edre Olalia Ingrid Gorre
and other CODAL convenors were falsely linked to the underground movement by members of the PNP’s Task Force Usig. The incident happened during and after an international fact-finding mission on attacks on Filipino lawyers and judges hosted by CODAL.
Meanwhile, sometime in November 2006, Atty. Emil Bermas
found a letter inserted at the gate of his residence, requiring him to attend a workshop so that his name would be deleted in the military’s order of battle.

On October 6, 2006, around 9 a.m., Atty. Robert Tudayan
received an anonymous letter. When he opened the envelope, he saw a black ribbon inside.


Before the incident, on the last week of September, Atty.
Tudayan was labeled as a lawyer for the NPA by elements of the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in a forum conducted at Barangay (village) Burobor, Galimuyod, Ilocos Sur. In separate incidents from 2001 to 2008, human rights lawyers Jobert Pahilga, Tirsendo Poloyapoy, Pergentino Deri-on, Tonyboy Azarcon, Ernesto Peñaflor and David Erro were also labeled as members of the NPA.

Atty. Harry Roque received text messages on January 3, 2007 labeling him as a lawyer of the “communist terrorist group in the Philippines.”
Colmenares said,”Such labeling puts our lives in danger. Two of our colleagues who had been in the military’s OB have been killed and so are the many victims of extrajudicial killings in the country.”

Colmenares said the Arroyo government did not heed one of the most important recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. In his final report, Alston said, “The Government should immediately direct all military officers to cease making public statements linking political or other civil society groups to those

engaged in armed insurgencies…They must be based on transparent criteria, and conform with the human rights provisions of the Constitution and relevant treaties.” Alston also said that transparency must be introduced to the “orders of battle”, “watch lists”, and similar list of individuals and organizations maintained by the AFP, PNP, and other elements of the national security system.

These forms of attacks on lawyers, said Colmenares, prove
that the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency program targets civilians, including lawyers who are defenders of human rights. The NUPL, together with CODAL, is hosting the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation’s International Verification and Fact-Finding Mission (IVFFM) on the Attacks against Filipino Lawyers and Judges. The 9-day Mission of Dutch and Belgian judges and lawyers will culminate tomorrow, November 12, 2008, at which time the delegation intends to come up with a statement at a press statement in the morning.#

Reference:Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares – 0918350459

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Press Statement
November 11, 2008

Lawyers’ group denounces attempted slay of Negros
Judge; Asks that IALAG be abolished as recommended by UN Special Rapporteur Alston and vows to raise anew attacks to the UN

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) strongly condemned the recent attack on a Regional Trial Court judge in Negros Oriental and the killing of his security aid. The attack only confirms the need for the Arroyo government to take immediate measures to punish the perpetrators rather than imposing on the judges the burden of protecting themselves.

There is now a renewed need to raise the issue of the escalation of attacks and harassment of judges and lawyers and the inability of the Philippine government to prosecute the perpetrators to the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.

According to news reports, Judge Mario Trinidad of the RTC Branch 64 was ambushed Nov. 8 by unidentified armed men in Guihulngan City. Trinidad was wounded but his security escort was killed.

Neri Javier Colmenares, NUPL secretary general, said, “We condemn the frustrated attempt on the life of Judge Trinidad including the killing of his security aid. This recent attack shows that perpetrators of extra-judicial killings are not afraid of punishment. They have been emboldened by the Arroyo government’s failure to curb impunity in the country.”

Fifteen judges and 22 lawyers have been murdered since 2001.
The recent arrest of labor and human rights lawyer Atty. Ming Saladero on trumped up charges of multiple murder and arson is another example in the list of attacks and harassment suffered by progressive peoples lawyers by the Arroyo government. Worse, Atty Saladero was prosecuted by a government which is unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of attacks against lawyers. Many of the cases of killings of judges and lawyers are in a deadend, the real perpetrators still to be held to account for their crimes.

The continuing impunity with which these attacks continue only highlights the need for the intervention of UN bodies to hold the Arroyo government to account for its failure to curb impunity in the country and provide for the protection of judges and lawyers. The NUPL will prepare a complaint before Leandro Despouy, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. The NUPL will follow-up again the long standing request of the UN special rapporteur to the Philippine government to make an official visit and fact finding mission in the country on these attacks.

Colmenares further said that the Arroyo government continues to ignore important recommendations by UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston.

Alston’s recommendations include the abolition of the
Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG). In his final report, Alston
maintained that the reason that such an ad hoc mechanism was established for bringing charges against members of these civil society organizations and party list groups is that they have seldom committed any obvious criminal offence.

He said, “IALAG should be abolished, and the criminal justice system should refocus on investigating and prosecuting those committing extrajudicial executions and other serious crimes.”

“IALAG should have been gone by now if only the Arroyo government were serious in putting an end to rights violations. The
continuing existence of this body only shows that the Arroyo government’s skewed sense of justice remains in place,” Colmenares said.#

The NUPL is currently hosting an international fact finding mission organized by the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation to look into these attacks. The Mission is currently winding up its 9-day itinerary which includes meeting with lawyers and judges who are victims of attacks and various relevant government agencies

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NUPL AND CODAL TO LAUNCH INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN ON ATTACKS ON LAWYERS AND JUDGES: THANKS THE IVFFM FOR ITS CONTINUING CONCERN OVER HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE PHILIPPINES

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) express its gratitude to the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (L4L) for its continuing concern over the attacks against lawyers and judges and the human rights situation in the country. The launching of the International Verification and Fact Finding Mission (IVFFM) has never been more timely than now, when there is a resurgence in extra judicial killings and more blatant attacks on human rights. The Arroyo government has made strong efforts to delude the international community into believing that the human rights condition in the country is improving, and the holding of an objective and independent international fact finding mission will expose the contrary reality—that the human rights situation is deteriorating. In fact, extra judicial killings are once again on the rise, and attacks on human rights defenders through the filing of harassment cases and trumped-up criminal charges has increased.
Continuing attacks and human rights violations

The attacks against lawyers and judges continue two years after the 2006 first International Fact Finding Mission concluded that “ The primary duty of the Government is to protect the life of the people, including lawyers and judges. The Arroyo administration, however, has hardly done anything to address the extrajudicial killings effectively.”

There was a sharp 68% increase in the killing of lawyers since 2001 from fifteen in 2006 to twenty-two lawyers brutally murdered by 2008. Six of the 22 lawyers killed are human rights lawyers. There was a 66% increase in the killing of judges from ten in 2006 to a total of fifteen judges killed by 2008 the latest of which is Judge Navidad in Samar.

The attacks and harassment of lawyers also escalated, the latest of which is the abduction, detention and the filing of trumped-up harassment suit against labor and peoples’ lawyer Atty. Remigio “Ming” Saladero Jr. Atty. Ming was illegally arrested for allegedly joining the NPA in an ambush of government troops and for burning a Globe Cellcite. This is nothing more than a ridiculous trumped up charge considering that Atty. Ming is a columnist of a weekly news magazine, a high profile labor lawyer handling more than 700 cases and was in fact one of those who personally argued before the Supreme Court against the constitutionality of the repressive Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) policy of the Arroyo government. There is no other conclusion than that Atty. Saladero was arrested because of his human rights advocacy and scathing critique of Pres. Gloria Arroyo. The international legal and human rights community has in fact been alarmed by this brazen persecution. There were forty-nine attacks and harassment of lawyers recorded since 2001, forty-one of which were committed against human rights lawyers.

Attacks threaten the legal profession and judiciary

An attack against lawyers and judges is an attack against the legal profession itself and the independence of the judiciary, and the constitutional right of the people to access to justice because they aim to discourage lawyers from providing the people their legal services with utmost integrity and independence. Article III, Section 11 of the Constitution provides that “Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.” These attacks only make it more difficult for the people, especially the poor and marginalized, from availing the services of human rights lawyers.

According to Paragraph 18 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eight United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (1990) “lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their client’s causes as a result of the discharge of their functions.” The Philippine government is required to protect lawyers under Paragraph 16 of the above Principles which declares that “governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and consult with their clients freely; (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic and other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”

The Arroyo government has not only failed to protect the lawyers and judges from the attacks but has in fact committed the attacks themselves in the case of human rights lawyers critical of the government’s human rights record.

The need for continuing international concern

The expression of concern by the international community has been a major factor in the decrease of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances. Since practically not one of the perpetrators who committed the killings and disappearances was arrested and the machinery that perpetrated the killings remain intact, the NUPL strongly concludes that the attacks and killings will escalate again. There is therefore a need for the continuing vigilance of peoples abroad over the continuing repression and the IVFFM plays an important role in informing the international community of the human rights condition in the country.

The attacks against lawyers and judges, especially those involved in human rights legal work, will also increase as impunity further engulfs the country. The Philippines has become one of the most dangerous places for lawyers and judges in the world since there are very few countries where 37 lawyers and judges are brutally murdered in a span of 7 years, and, where the real perpetrators have not been held accountable for the crime. The NUPL will prepare a complaint before the United Nations against the failure of the Arroyo government to protect the lawyers and judges from attacks, and the Arroyo government’s actual complicity in the attacks against human rights lawyers.

The NUPL will sustain its strong representations with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Leandro Despouy to visit the Philippines after the IVFFM to conduct a UN fact finding mission on the same. We strongly urge the Arroyo government to allow the participation of the UN by officially granting the long-standing request of Mr. Despouy to visit the country without which the UN Special Rapporteur will not be able to officially conduct the fact finding mission. We strongly demand the release of Atty. Ming Saladero and for the Arroyo government to desist from attacking human rights defenders through the filing of false criminal charges.

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INCIDENTS OF REPORTED KILLINGS OR ATTACKS ON
PHILIPPINE JUDGES AND LAWYERS

January 2001-November 12, 2008

Monitored and Documented by Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) (formerly Committee for the Defense of Lawyers) and the
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), Philippines

Number of Lawyers Killed 2001 to present 22
(6 of which are human rights lawyers)

Number of Judges Killed 15
Number of Paralegals, Law Students Killed 03

Number of Lawyers Attacked 49
Number of Human Rights Lawyers Attacked 41

Lawyers and judges who survived attempted slay 05
Lawyers and judges who received death threats 12
Victims of Labeling/Included in the Military’s
Order of Battle (OB) 15
Lawyers and judges under surveillance

INTERNATIONAL VERIFICATION AND FACT-FINDING MISSION
ON ATTACKS AGAINST FILIPINO LAWYERS AND JUDGES
November 4-12, 2008
Manila and Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation
(Stichting Advocaten voor Advocaten)

Hosted by
the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and
the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL)

Members of the Mission:

1. Atty. Judith Lichtenberg –Head of delegation
2. Judge Thea Gijsberts
3. Judge Nol Vermolen
4. Judge Gerrard Boot
5. Atty. Adrie van de Streek
6. Atty. Hein Karskens
7. Atty. Angela Meijer
8. Atty. Jo Dereymaeker

Lawyers, Judges or Relatives Interviewed:

1. One (1) Central Luzon lawyer
2. One (1) Metro Manila judge
3. Five (5) Metro Manila lawyers
4. One (1) Southern Tagalog judge
5. Two (2) Bicol lawyers
6. Two (2) Visayas lawyers
7. Seven (7) Mindanao lawyers

Government Offices/Officials Visited/Met:

1. Supreme Court
2. Senate Minority
3. Committee on Human Rights in the House of Representatives
4. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
5. National Security Agency (NSA)
6. Philippine National Police (PNP)
7. Inter-Agency Legal Assistance Group (IALAG)
8. Task Force Usig (TFU)
9. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
10. Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
11. Cavite Prosecutor’s Office

Non-Governmental Organisations Interviewed/Met:

1. National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
2. Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL)
3. Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN)
4. Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM)
5. Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
6. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

Diplomatic Offices Met:

1. Royal Netherlands Embassy
2. European Union

Others still to be Interviewed/Met:

1. One (1) Visayas lawyer
2. Ombudsman
3. Department of Justice (DOJ)
4. Amnesty International (AI)
5. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

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

Photo Courtesy of NUPL

Arkibong Bayan


(Photos) World Teachers’ Day

October 13, 2008

Teachers commemorate World Teachers’ Day

with a protest action calling for higher salaries for teachers

and rank-and-file government employees.

Batasan, Quezon CityI

October 6, 2008

Teachers with Speaker Nograles

“We reiterate our call for a P9,000 for public school teachers, to be given over a three-year period, as contained in Senate Bill 2408 and House Bill 4734.At the same time, we support the call for a minimum P3,000 increase for the lowest salary grades to be given in the first year of implementation.”

UP Prof.  Antonio Tinio, Chair, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo

ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS
2/F Teachers’ Center, Mines St. cor. Dipolog St., Bgy. VASRA, Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax 453-9116 Mobile 0920-9220817 Email act_philippines@yahoo.com Website http://www.actphils.com
Member, Education International

October 6, 2008

NEWS RELEASE
Reference: Antonio L. Tinio (0920-9220817)
ACT Chairperson

World Teachers’ Day to be marked by protest at Batasang Pambansa

Hundreds of public school teachers will troop to Congress this afternoon [Monday, October 6] to commemorate World Teachers’ Day with a protest action calling for higher salaries for teachers as well as rank-and-file government employees.

World Teachers’ Day was first inaugurated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994 to commemorate the signing on October 5, 1966 of the Joint UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, a landmark document that sought to establish minimum international standards to promote and protect the teaching profession. The “Recommendation” served as the basis for the enactment of Republic Act 4670, the “Magna Carta for Public School Teachers,” in 1966. World Teachers’ Day is currently celebrated in more than 100 countries. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Teachers matter!”

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers will lead a delegation of over 500 public school teachers to voice out their opposition to Joint Resolution No. 24, the so-called Salary Standardization Law 3 (SSL3), which proposes a package of salary increases for all government employees spread out over the next four years. Joint Resolution No. 24 was filed by House Speaker Prospero Nograles on September 16, 2008 and is currently pending before the House Appropriations Committee.

ACT claims that SSL3 will not provide the lower- and middle-level government personnel sufficient increases in compensation to keep pace with the rising cost of living. “The proposed SSL3 will provide a mere P6,000 increase over a four-year period—that’s too little of an increase over too long a period of time. Teacher compensation will barely keep up with the inflation rate, much less make real gains in purchasing power,” said ACT chairperson Antonio Tinio. “It’s much worse for the lowest-ranking government personnel. A utility worker or clerk will receive a mere P1,800 increase over 4 years according to the SSL3 scheme. Meanwhile, the highest-ranking government bureaucrats will get increases of up to 100%. That’s clearly unjust.”

“We reiterate our call for a P9,000 for public school teachers, to be given over a three-year period, as contained in Senate Bill 2408 and House Bill 4734,” he added. “At the same time, we support the call for a minimum P3,000 increase for the lowest salary grades to be given in the first year of implementation.” Senate Bill 2408 was approved by the upper chamber last July, while its counterpart House Bill 4734 remains pending in the lower house.

“At this point, we’re disappointed with the response of Congress to the series of mass mobilizations held by public school teachers in the past few weeks to demand higher salaries. In commemoration of World Teachers’ Day, we urge our representatives to show that ‘teachers really do matter.’ It’s not too late to revise SSL3 in accordance with the widespread clamor of teachers as well as other government employees.”

The teachers will hold a brief program in front of the main gate of the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City starting at 2:00 p.m., where they will be met by Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party, and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis. Rep. Ilagan, herself a retired teacher, is the principal author of House Bill 4734. They will then proceed to the Session Hall where they will hear Rep. Ocampo deliver a privilege speech to mark World Teachers’ Day.

“With the filing of Joint Resolution No. 24, the salary struggle now involves the whole government bureaucracy,” said Tinio. The ACT chairperson noted that today’s teachers’ protest is part of a series of actions against the SSL3 to be held by government employees at the House of Representatives. On Tuesday, October 7, COURAGE, the public sector union federation, will lead another protest action. This will be followed by a motorcade and rally to be led by the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) on Wednesday, October 8. “We will keep up the pressure on Congress to enact a more just and equitable compensation package for public servants.” #

Unity and Struggle
World Teachers’ Day 2008

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers salutes teachers throughout the globe on World Teachers’ Day 2008. We stand hand in hand with our colleagues in our common struggle to uphold the rights and welfare of educators and the people’s right to education.

Teachers in the Philippines face ever greater challenges in providing a liberating education to the nation’s youth. Under the Arroyo administration, the budget for education continues to decline as the government prioritizes debt servicing and military spending. From 2001 to 2006, real spending for education contracted by an average of 3.5%. The trend continues in the proposed budget for 2009 with further cuts in the maintenance and operations funds of public schools as well as the school building fund.

Teachers have borne the main brunt of these cuts, with the Arroyo administration imposing a six-year salary freeze that has driven them close to the official poverty line. Their working conditions have worsened, with growing shortages of teachers and classrooms resulting in larger class sizes and longer working hours.

The Arroyo administration’s budgetary priorities have had disastrous consequences for Philippine education. Nearly two million more school-age children are out of school. The quality of education has further deteriorated, with Filipino students ranking near the bottom in international benchmark tests.

With teachers and students rising up to fight for the right to education, the Arroyo government has responded by stepping up the repression. In recent years, a number of activist teachers and students have been slain by government security forces in extrajudicial killings. Many more are subjected to harassment by the military and police. In Metro Manila, the Philippine Army is aggressively conducting “school tours” in which they target progressive teacher and student organizations for vilification.

In the months and years ahead, the impact of the ongoing financial crisis in the United States will make itself felt in our own economy, so closely tied to the US as its provider of markets, foreign investments, and loans. As in the debt crisis of the1980 and the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the government’s economic managers will no doubt resort to cuts in spending for education and other social services, passing on the burden of the crisis to the people.

Our hope lies in our unity and in our common struggle. This year, ACT has been waging a vigorous campaign for higher salaries that has received widespread participation and support from teachers nationwide. We are showing once again that our united action is an effective force for upholding our rights and the people’s right to education.

October 5, 2008
ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS
2/F Teachers’ Center, Mines St. cor. Dipolog St., Bgy. VASRA, Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax 453-9116 Mobile 0920-9220817 Email act_philippines@yahoo.com Website http://www.actphils.com

Member, Education International

TEACHERS DO MATTER
Manifestation in Commemoration of World Teachers’ Day

delivered by Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo
at the House of Representatives
on 6 October 2008

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege to salute everyday heroes the world over who play vital roles in shaping every country’s citizenry. The gifts of literacy, knowledge and moral rectitude are passed on from one generation to the next because of them.

Yesterday, October 5, marked World Teachers’ Day. It was an occasion to pay homage to our teachers who, despite the great difficulties and inadequate monetary compensation in their chosen profession, continue to impart values and knowledge to their youth.

World Teachers’ Day was inaugurated 40 years ago to commemorate the signing on Oct. 5, 1966 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – International Labor Organization Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. More than 100 countries now celebrate World Teachers’ Day.

This year’s theme—Teachers Matter!”—aptly gives due recognition to the teachers’ “enormous contribution to learning and social development, ” as the joint statement of the UNESCO, ILO, UNDP and UNICEF put it.

Teachers do matter. Their noble profession as educators is significant in shaping society and a country’s soul.

But as we honor them we must focus on the plight of teachers, especially in the Philippine setting. Last week, two of our distinguished colleagues –Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, herself an educator, and Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III — took the floor to press for a substantial increase in teachers’ salaries as a matter of right on their part and as matter of respect for the teaching profession on our part. I join their call because our teachers have long been denied what is due them.

Most of the half- million public school teachers in the country – 479,893 to be exact – belong to Salary Grade 10 with a monthly pay of P12, 063.00. They need to be raised to Salary Grade 20 in view of the rising cost of living. The ten-percent salary increase given to them last July 23 was simply not enough.

As of August 2008, the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila was at P 911.00 a day or PhP 20, 042.00 per month. The 10% hike for those in the Teacher 1 position (who receive PhP 12,026/month) still leaves a living salary gap of PhP 8,016.00. Additionally, Manila has become a more expensive city to live in than last year. According to the Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living 2008 survey, Manila ranked 110th among 143 cities surveyed in six continents. The ranking is up 27 notches from 137th last year. Done in March, the survey measured the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. Members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, a national organization of patriotic and progressive teachers, are here in the gallery for the second time to lobby for the immediate passage of a legislation that will grant them immediate economic relief, and if I may add, peace of mind. Various measures are pending before this Chamber to address the teachers’ very just demands. One is House Bill 4734 titled “An Act Providing for Additional Compensation for Public School Teachers” principally authored by Gabriela Women’s Pary Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan with this representation as co-author.

HB 4734 seeks a PhP 9,000.00 hike in teachers’ monthly salaries to be carried out in yearly PhP 3,000.00 addition over the next years.

Similarly, there is House Bill 4380 on Additional Support and Compensation for Teachers in Basic Education, authored by Representatives Guingona, Cynthia Villar and Laarni Cayetano.

Speaker Prospero Nograles has introduced House Joint Resolution 24, “Joint Resolution Urging the President of the Philippines to Modify the Compensation and Position Classification System of the Government and to Implement the same Initially Effective July 1, 2009, and Authorizing the Amendment of Existing Laws and Issuances Contrary to the Provisions of this Resolution, ” or the Salary Standardization Law Phase Three or SSL 3.

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, we welcome all moves to address our teachers’ just and legitimate demand for a salary hike, but this should be rightfully hinged on recognizing the fundamental difference between the economic needs of those from SG 1 to 9 from those in SG 26 to 33. Those who currently receive less are the most ravaged by the rising prices of basic commodities and should therefore benefit more from any legislative action on salary increase.

Measures can and should be made to reconcile the differences towards giving our intended beneficiaries the hike they need at the soonest time possible.

Mr. Speaker, I urge this Chamber to prioritize the immediate passage of legislation that will provide immediate economic relief to our overworked yet underpaid teachers. We continue to lose professionals, our teachers included, to the lure of much better pay in foreign shores. ACT pegs the shortage of public school teachers in the country to almost 40,000. We cannot afford to lose more of these noble professionals.

They should be prized and given just remuneration for their distinct legacy of knowledge and inspiration to the young. As they have molded us in our younger years, we leave our children and our children’s children to them for their intellectual and moral nourishment inside the school.
We owe our teachers this much and more. Thank you. #

Arkibong Bayan

Photos Courtesy of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)

Moro human rights group records 245,522 victims of war

October 13, 2008

Moro human rights group records 245,522 victims of war

Cotabato City

October 2, 2008

*Photos courtesy of Kawagib Moro Human Rights Group

PRESS RELEASE
02 October 2008

Moro group records 245,522 victims of war; lambasts AFP’s add’l P10-B budget

COTABATO CITY – A Moro human rights group here expresses fresh apprehension that number of innocent civilian victims will magnify with the persistent military operation against MILF commanders Kato, Bravo and Pangalian, now that Ramadhan had concluded.

The Kawagib Moro Human Rights Group has documented, since June, 14 types of human rights violations and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) that has affected 245,522 individuals from the three provinces of Central Mindananao – North Cotabato , Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan.

Bulk of these cases are victims of forcible evacuation due to indiscriminate firing, shelling and aerial bombing while the gravest human rights violation transpired was the massacre of Daya family in Barangay Tee, Datu Piang, Maguindanao, where six are killed – four are children and a pregnant teenager.

Bai Ali Indayla, the group’s spokesperson, said, “Moro residents of Datu Piang and Datu Saudi Ampatuan, reported that around 70 houses were conflagrated and 18 families were divested of their properties by military elements designated in their communities. And these violations transpired while Muslims observe Ramadhan.”

Moreover, Kawagib criticizes the Armed Forces of the Philippines ’ (AFP) additional P10 billion-budget in the ground of an effective hunt against their so-called ‘rogue MILF commanders’ and materiel upgrade. Defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr.. proposed the additional budget which amounts to a 17.7% increase in the P56.6 billion already earmarked under the 2009 national budget.

Indayla stressed that instead of additional war paraphernalia, the proposed additional budget is of big help to supplement assistance to affected civilians.

“The AFP’s bombs and bullets target not only Commanders Kato, Bravo and Pangalian but large number of innocent people. Much has been killed and it’s very disheartening that our military troops that supposed to be the ‘people’s safeguard’ only treat the victims as collateral damage,” Indayla lamented.

Further, the group appeals to the conflicting parties (GRP and MILF) to heed the cry of innocent civilians, respect the rights of the Bangsamoro people and return to the negotiating table.

A National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission, to be spearheaded by Kawagib and several rights and church groups, will be conducted this month in Central Mindanao .

“We call all sectors to support the mission so that we can give a little relief to our Muslim and Christian brethrens,” Indayla concluded. #

For Reference:
BAI ALI INDAYLA
0921.906.4699/(064)421.5680

Victims of the war in MIndanao

By the numbers (since June 2008):

■   14 types of human rights violations monitored

■   245,522 individuals affected

■   3 provinces — North Cotabato , Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan.

■   Massacre of Daya family in Barangay Tee, Datu Piang, Maguindanao: 6 killed, 4 of whom are children and 1 a pregnant teenager.

■   In Datu Piang: 70 houses were burned, 18 families were divested of their properties by military elements

Arkibong Bayan

LFS-Lanao, STAND-IIT and LKM-Lanao join the evacuees in Duyog Ramadhan in Munai, Lanao del Norte

October 6, 2008

LFS-Lanao, STAND-IIT and LKM-Lanao

join the evacuees in Duyog Ramadhan

in Munai, Lanao del Norte

When will the war come to an end for this boy and the hundreds of thousands of evacuees in Munai and elsewhere in Mindanao?

On the toad to Munai

——-

Report from LFS Lanao:

Thirty members of the LFS-Lanao, STAND-IIT and LKM-Lanao travelled four hours of rugged road from Iligan to Munai, Lanao del Norte, to join our Muslim brothers and sisters in their culmination of the Holy Month of Ramadhan on September 30, 2008. We were joined by the National president of Suara Bangsamoro, Ms. Amirah Ali Lidasan.

Aside from joining the Duyog Ramdhan, we were there also in preparation for the NATIONAL INTERFAITH HUMANITARIAN MISSION on October 21-25, 2008 in Lanao del Norte.

Because we were new in the place and because most of us are Christians, the thousands of evacuees initially were not very enthusiastic. But during the Solidarity gathering where we presented cultural presentations related to the Muslim culture, we were warmly welcomed. They asked us to sing one song after another that we almost run out of songs to sing. The speech of Suara Bangsamoro national presdient Ms.Amirah  Lidasan helped  in making the evacuees understand the causes of their present problems.

In the morning, we had breakfast with the evacues and organized parlor games for the children while preparatory work for the humanitarian mission in late October was conducted.

Munai is a highly-miklitarized community crawling with soldiers; nevertheless we learned to love it because of the people we met and because it is such a great, cool and beautiful place.

Interviewing the evacuees

National president of Suara Bangsamoro, Ms. Amirah Ali Lidasan.

Entertaining the evacuees with songs.
LFS-IIT Chair Marvin Urey Antiquina with the children of Munai.JPG

Cultural Presentations for the evacuees, parlor games for the kids.

(Arkibong Bayan)

(Photos) SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns: Children Take Small Steps Towards Peace in Mindanao!

October 5, 2008

SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns:

Children Take Small Steps Towards Peace in Mindanao!


NEWS RELEASE
1 October 2008
REFERENCE: Alphonse Rivera, Spokesperson, 0929-6076157

Children Take Small Steps Towards Peace in Mindanao!

Footprints of children in armed conflict in Mindanao queued up towards a sign of peace at the Peace Bell inside Quezon City Circle this morning. The footprints symbolize the call of children and child rights advocates to stop the Arroyo government’s all-out war and restart the peace negotiations with the MILF.

SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns took the lead for today’s activity, gathering about 100 children, including Moro children from urban poor communities in Metro Manila. The group, together with other child-focused organizations referred to a peace that is based on justice and not a peace of the graveyard.

Alphonse Rivera, Spokesperson of SALINLAHI, said, “While October is celebrated nationwide as children’s month, Salinlahi and its allies see no reason to celebrate it with festivities. Today is the last day of the Ramadan and we mark this 1st day of October as a day for calling peace for the sake of the Filipino children, especially the Moro children. The Moro people of Mindanao have long been struggling for their right to self-determination and for their ancestral domain and yet the government responds with bombs, bullets and massive displacement of the Moro people from their homes and sources of livelihood, time and time again.”

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported at least 500,000 families so far displaced by this conflict and crowding out limited spaces in evacuation centers. “Children are getting sick and have stopped schooling. Children have also died because of indiscriminate firing and air strikes by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” continued Rivera.

Now that Pres. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo and the AFP are asking for the declaration of MILF leaders Bravo and Kato as terrorists by the United Nations (UN) and with the pull-out of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace negotiating panel from the Peace Talks, SALINLAHI and other child rights advocates are expecting a continuous rise in the numbers of war victims, especially women and children. “Women and children are vulnerable to this kind war and terror that our government has created. They are most prone to deaths, abuses, harassments and other military atrocities because the AFP does not recognize and respect their human rights,” added Rivera.

“In this kind of war that the government is waging, there is no bright future for the Moro children. We call on other children and child rights advocates to join hands and call for peace!” Rivera concluded. ###

MALUNGKOT AKO KAPAG MAY DIGMAAN
(Ang digmaan sa Mindanao sa isipan ng isang Bata)
Ni: Mary ann Ordinario-Floresta

Story narrated by: Gabriela Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan

Ba’t kaya ganito ang aking nararamdaman? Kapag naririnig ko na ang malalakas na Putukan, ang ating mundo ay hindi ko na maintindihan.

Nakikita ko ang nag-aalalang mukha ni Ina. Umaagos ang luha sa mga mata, habang si Ama ay nagahahanda upang madala ang aming mga alagang manok at kambing.

Tatakbo na naman kami at hindi ko alam kung saan papunta.  Nandyang sasakay kami sa kariton na hinihila ng kalabaw, o kaya ay sa traysikel, sa dyip o Ford Fiera at makikisakay na lang sa kahit anong sasakyan na mapadaan basta’t makalayo lang sa putukan. “Digmaan, digmaan,” naririnig kong sigaw ng mga tao sa aking paligid.

Ano ba itong Digmaan? Ano man ito, nalulungkot ako. Alam ko, matatagal na naman bago ako muling makapaglaro. Iiwanan na namin namin ang aming maliit na bahay, ang aking saranggola, bola at aking mga aklat.

Nag-iisip nga ako, muli ko pa kayang makikita ang aking manika sa aking pagbabalik?

Hindi ko maintindihan ang digmaan.  Pinagmamasdan ko at tinitingnan ko na lang. May mga sundalo at rebelde. Parang sine, o kaya’y
tulad sa telebisyon. Naglalaro kaya sila? O umaarte lang? Pero may mga baril sila at tangke de gyera pa. Tiyak mayamaya biglang may sasabog na naman at kami ay muling magtatakbuhan.

Kung minsan, hindi ko mapigilan ang umiyak. lalo na kung naiisip ko ang kaibigan kong si Khalil  na nawalan ng kamay dahil sa digmaan. Makakapasok pa kaya siyang muli? Paano kaya niya gagamitin ang kanyang lapis at krayola? Ewan ko. Hindi ko talaga maintindihan.

Hindi ito ang buhay na nakagisnan ko. Dahil sa digmaan, nagtatago kami ng matagal, palipat lipat sa ibang bayan. Akala ninyo madali?…
Nakakapagod. Naghahanap kami ng lugar, o ng gusaling masisilungan, at kalimitan ay mga paaralan.

Ang daming tao, sama-sama kaming natutulog sa isang silid-aralan. Hindi kami magkakakilala. Maraming lamok, wala kaming kumot, walang kulambo at walang banig. Nakahiga ako sa semento, ang lamig sa likod. sina Ama at Toto? Sa labas sila natutulog.  Dahong niyog ang banig.

Kadalasan sa aking pagtulog, nagigising ako at nagugulat sa malaksa na pagsabog. Minsan, ginising ako ni Ina. “Gising anak! Binabangungot ka.”  Sabi ko sa kanya, “ang laking baril, hinahabol ako…. tumakbo ako ng mabilis upang makapagtago….natatakot ako.”

Hindi kami makapagpalit ng damit at wala kami ni isang gamit.

Hindi nga kami makapaligo dahil wala ring tubig. Kaya siguro marami ang nagkakasakit sa amin. Nakita ko pa nga, may isang ina, nanganak siya. Kaya lang ang sanggol ay hindi gumagalaw. Sabi nila, wala raw kasing doktor nanag-aasikaso sa kanya.

Dahil sa digmaan sumasakit ang aking tiyan. Pero ang sakit, tinitiis ko na lang. Wala kasi kaming pagkain kahit na kapirasong tinapay man lang. Minsan wala akong agahan o pananghalian. Buti na lang may mabubuting tao na napapadaan at may dalang pagkain tulad ng noodles, tuyo, sardinas o kaunting bigas. Naririnig kong sabi nila, donasyon daw yun. Pero kulang na kulang. Hindi magkasya para sa lahat. Pero anong magagawa namin kundi makuntento na lang.

Malungkot ako kapag may digmaan. Nakikita ko may mga taong nasusugatan o kaya ay namamatay. Sumusigaw ang mga tao. May nadadapa, may umiiyak, at mayroong hindi na kumikilos.

Habang si Ina, sa kamay ako ay hila-hila. Nababangga pa ako at naaapakan ng kahit sino. Pero kahit mahirap, kailangan na ako ay tumakbo at humakbang kahit ako’y nakapaa lamang.

Ang lalo kong ikinatatakot ay ang isiping, sina Ama, Ina, Toto at Nene… paano kung isang araw sila ay mawala o dili kaya’y biglang magkasakit? Kaya’t sa palda ni Ina, mahigpit akong kumakapit. Baka kasi ako ay mawala at maiwan.

Ako ay nalilito, nalulungkot at nanghihina. Wala na bang katahimikan? Wala na bang Kapayapaan? Kailan titigil ang putukan? Kailan ba matatapos ang digmaan? Hindi ko na alam ang aking gagawin. Nagtataka bakit ang mga tao’y nagkakaganito. ang dami kong tanong ngunit hindi kayang sagutin ni Ama sa akin.

Pagod na ako… Gusto ko nang umuwi… gusto ko nang magpahinga… maglaro…kumain ng maayos..at..bumalik sa paaralan. Tumawa at maging masayang muli. Hindi kaya nararamdaman ni Digmaan na ako ay nahihirapan? Hindi ko na talaga maintindihan.

Kaya dasal ko sa Diyos Amang Makapangyarihan na nagmamahal sa mga batang tulad ko, na kami sa ay kaawaan. Kasi nalulungkot kami kapag may digmaan. Susubukan kong itong hilingin. Sana pakinggan Niya ako. Magdadasal ako na kapayapaan na lang ang umiral sa pusot’ diwa ng buong sangkatauhan.

(Arkibong Bayan)

Photos: Protests on the 36th Anniversary of Martial Law

October 3, 2008

NEGROS

Protest rally in Dumaguete City, Guihulgnan and Escalante City….

News Release —- September 21, 2008

GROUPS DENOUNCE HUNGER, POVERTY AND MILITARIZATION OF NEGROS TO MARK MARTIAL LAW DECLARATION

Shouting anti-government chants and carrying placards with anti-militarization slogans, 700 militant members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros (BAYAN), KARAPATAN, September 21 Movement and the Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA) marched in downtown Bacolod yesterday to remind the dark period of Martial Law in the country.

The groups also burned the effigy of Uncle Sam and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom the militant activist considered as the brains behind the total war campaign and human rights violations.

More than 300 join the protest action held today in Guihulngan and Dumaguete City while more than 1,000 participate in a rally commemorating the Escalante Massacre was held last Saturday in Escalante.

“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is comparable to the late dictator in terms of human rights abuses, corruptions and unpopularity. Her regime committed gross and systemic human rights violations with 910 victims of extrajudicial killings and 195 victims of enforced disappearance”, says BAYAN Secretary-General Felipe Levy Gelle Jr.

“The incarceration of Randall Echaniz, Emilia and Maricris Quirante, the poor upland farmers of Cadiz, Calatrava and Cauayan and rising numbers of political of conscience across the country are hallmarks of a fascist regime who considers political dissenters as “subversives and “enemies of the state”. KARAPATAN recorded 19 political prisoners in various jails in Negros Island.”

Randall Echaniz, deputy secretary-general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) was illegally arrested by plainclothes police and army intelligence operatives in Bago City while attending a land reform conference.

Gelle added that “like Marcos, Arroyo relied on the trusted military and police generals to prop up her weakening and unpopular governance. She made possible the increasing budget for AFP modernization and launch total war campaign against the Moro people and the Filipino masses through the Oplan Bantay Laya 2”.

“The regime answered the people’s struggle for just wages, security of jobs and opposing landgrabbing by mining and biofuel agribusiness with additional army troops, bullets and bombs and the militarization of Negros countryside. The horrors of martial law are coming back”.

The people must courageously resist the worsening repression and oppression as well as to call to an end to the vicious attacks on the democratic rights of the people. We must continue to fight for justice not only for the victims of the Marcos and Arroyo regime but to put an end to the system that breeds this oppression.

BAYAN Press Statement

September 20, 2008

Activists, old and new, mark Martial Law anniversary in Mendiola

Activists spanning several generations converged at the foot of the Don Chino Roces (Mendiol) Bridge today to commemorate the 36th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The groups are demanding justice for the victims of the Marcos dictatorship and as well as the human rights victims under the Arroyo administration. In particular, the protesters are calling for the release of 218 political prisoners, 198 of whom were arrested under the Arroyo regime according to human rights group SELDA.

“The Arroyo regime has gained the sole distinction of being the regime closest to the Marcos dictatorship in terms of its human rights record, corruption and foreign policy. The Arroyo regime is the best argument that we should never allow a return to a fascist dictatorship, no matter what the pretext is,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Despite its claims of an improving human rights climate in the country, hundreds of victims are still being denied justice. Scores of activists are incarcerated in jails all over the country, a grim reminder that the vestiges of Martial Rule are still here,” Reyes said.

The militant group cited the case of detained peasant leader Randall Echanis who was also jailed during Martial Law and is now facing murder charges under the Arroyo regime. Echanis has been in detention since January.

“It is a basic feature of a fascist dictatorship that all those who disagree with it are treated as enemies and criminals. This explains the huge rise in the number of political detainees under Mrs. Arroyo’s watch,” Reyes said.

Bayan and human rights groups Karapatan, SELDA and Hustisya converged on Mendiola Bridge for a wreath-laying activity and a short program. The veterans of Martial Law marched from Lepanto Recto while the younger generation of activists marched from the Bustillos Church.

“The fear of a return to Martial Rule by any name is not unfounded. We see the desperation of the regime to stay in power at all costs. We see the unrestrained role of the military in government. We see the continued backing of the United States for an unpopular regime,” Reyes said.

“The only thing that stands in their way is the people. Our people have learned enough from Marcos and they will never allow such a monstrosity to return. Our people will resist,” Reyes added.

THE FILIPINOS’ OATH
(Inspired by the works of Amado V. Hernandez, Rio Alma, Jose Lacaba and Bienvenido Lumbera)

Joi Barrios-Leblanc, BAYAN PHILIPPINES Women’s Desk

Never again.
Never again to barbed wires.
A stretch of sky from a prison cell[1],
The constant fear of fascist rule

Never again to the grasshopper queen[2]
Her opulent feasts as the masses starve.
She who thinks she wears a crown,
Hesitates not when she tramples upon the poor.

Never again to the amazing adventures of Juan de la Cruz,[3]
From the rice fields to the factory, he seeks for work
Yet, at each turn, a sign:
“Bawal magreklamo!” “Bawal magwelga”
No complaints, no strikes, no dreams of freedom
nor prosperity allowed.

I gaze at the photographs taken by the lens of my youth[4]
Then and now in my beloved land,
and I ask, what the difference is
Of Martial Law declared
And Martial Law creeping in.

Never again, not today, nor tomorrow[M1] .
Our eyes wide open in the darkness of the night,
We stand guard, learning from the past.
The masses can drive away kings and queens,
Pretenders to the throne
Armed with love for the land,
The people shall never hesitate to revolt.

PANATA NG PILIPINO

(Pasintabi sa mga makatang Amado V. Hernandez, Rio Alma, Jose Lacaba at Bienvenido Lumbera)

Joi Barrios-Leblanc, BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) Women’s Desk

Hindi na kailanman.
Hindi na kailanman ang alembreng tinik,
ang bilanggong pulitikal na tumatanaw sa kapirasong langit[5]
ang takot sa pasismo na namamahay sa dibdib.

Hindi na kailanman ang kondesa del tipaklong,[6]
Ang magagarang pista habang mamamayan ay gutom,
Ang pagtapak sa mahirap niyang nag-aakala
na korona ang sa ulo nakapatong.

Hindi na kailanman ang isang Juan de la Cruz na may pakikipagsapalarang kagila-gilalas,[7]
Mula sa bukid hanggang sa pabrika, trabaho ang hinahanap,
Ngunit sa bawat hakbang, ay may karatulang nagsasaad:
“Bawal magreklamo!” “Bawal magwelga!”
“Bawal ang mangarap ng laya at gihhawa!”

Pinagmamasdan ko ang mga kuha ng aking kamera:[8]
ang noon at ngayon sa aking bayang sinisinta,
at nagtatanong: ano nga ba ang pagkakaiba,
ng Batas Militar na hayag at binabandila,
at Batas Militar, na palihim, dahan-dahan
na gumagapang upang sakmalin, ang ating kalayaan.

Hindi na kailanman. hindi ngayon, hindi bukas.
Pagkat tayong ang mga mata’y nakadilat
sa kadiliman ng magdamag,
Tayong nakatanod at handang kumllos,
Tayong naturuan na ng kasaysayan,
Batid nating walang hari o nagrereyna-reynahan
Ang hindi mapatatalaksik ng bayang nagnganalit,
Bayang ang bawat himagsik, ay nakasalig sa lupang iniibig.

[1] From Amado V. Hernandez’s “Isang Dipang Langit.”
[2] From Rio Alma”s “Kondesa del Tipaklong.”
[3] From Jose Lacaba’s “Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Juan dela Cruz.”
[4] From Bienvenido Lumbera”s “Tatlong Kuha ng Aking Kamera
[5] Humahalaw ang imahe na ito sa “Isang Dipang Langit” ni Amado V. Hernandez
[6] Humahalaw ang imahe na ito sa “Kondesa del Tipaklong” ni Rio Alma.
[7] Humahalaw ang imahe na ito mula sa “Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Juan dela Cruz” ni Jose Lacaba
[8] Humahalaw ang imahe na ito mula sa “Tatlong Kuha ng Aking Kamera” ni Bienvenido Lumbera.

Press conference of BAYAN, KARAPATAN and Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates announcing the protest actions for the 36th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law

FIRE-GABRIELA USA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2008
Reference: Joanne Alcantara, GABRIELA-USA, National Coordinator
(206) 859-7525, email gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA DENOUNCES ARROYO’S MARTIAL LAW OF TODAY

Thirty-six years ago, on September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos, the
former US-supported dictator of the Philippines, declared Martial Law
in his country. The political repression, liberalization of economic
policies and social constriction following his declaration claimed the
lives of hundreds of Filipinos. Today, the historical trauma of that
period and the continuation of backwards economic and political
policies still resonate. Filipino American women denounce the ongoing
militarization of the Philippines and the undeclared state of Martial
Law in the Philippines under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA).

The resonance of Martial Law can be more accurately described as an
extension and continuation of graft and corruption from the Marcos
dictatorship all the way through the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.
While she sits in her stolen presidential seat, GMA has washed her
hands in the blood of over a thousand community leaders, activists and
common people. GMA’s eagerness to bend over backwards to the dictates
of United States politics and its IMF/World Bank appendages have
outdone the assaults of Marcos on his own people.

The increasing conflict in Mindanao, falsely assigned religious
undertones as its source, finds its origins in the years of Martial
Law when Marcos engineered Philippine policies and legislation to open
up to the demands and orders of countless transnational, multinational
corporations and the then emerging IMF/World Bank. These grievances
exacted on the people of Mindanao pushed the Bangsamoro people to
fight against economic and state aggression to protect their land,
life and resources.

The very same fight exists today in Mindanao, the violence erupting is
from a people defending themselves and their land. The easy fallback
story of Christians versus Muslims is one of the fables in GMA’s
fictional legacy in her presidency, just like her claims to appease
the poverty and labor situation in the Philippines. US-backed foreign
intervention and the return of permanent US military bases is again a
reality for the Philippine people under the watch and permission of
the GMA administration.

The direct impacts of GMA’s foreign diplomacy results in the
displacement of women and children in Mindanao, beginning with the
arrival of US military occupation in 2001. Family homes, children’s
schools and community spaces have been readily disposed to be replaced by military development and corporate aggression. The “collateral damage” and the lives of women and children taken by these settlements are shocking and continue to escalate.

The entrance of US military bases in Mindanao opens the doors for the
proliferation of bases elsewhere in the Philippines, Zamboanga being a
site for expansion. These conditions, tried and true, leave women more
vulnerable to prostitution, sexual terrorism and rape with the arrival
of military servicemen in the thousands.

GABRIELA-USA, consisting of babae, San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in New York, unite to call for a serious investigation of the US military encampments in the
Philippines and a restoration of constitutional law and Philippine
sovereignty. GABRIELA-USA demands that respect be reinstated to the
people of Mindanao, that they be granted their ancestral domain and be
able to live with the dignity of their full human rights.

On September 20, 2008, at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center,
FiRE-GABRIELA USA hosts “On Martial Law.” This event features special guest Bebot Galvan from KABALIKAT, support network for Filipina domestic workers. Together, community members remember the conditions of Martial Law under Marcos, his overthrow during People Power I in 1986 and discuss today’s conditions of ongoing militarization and the call to oust Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES! US MILITARY AID OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!
NO TO ANOTHER GENERATION OF WAR ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN!
OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO!
SELF-DETERMINATON FOR THE BANGSAMORO PEOPLE!
###

http://www.firenyc.org
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is a mass-based women’s organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women’s struggle in the Philippines. By bringing woman-born and woman-identified people together, we challenge pervading stereotypes and create self-defined Filipina identities. For more information, please visit http://www.firenyc.org


FiRE is a proud member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about the only overseas chapter of BAYAN, and the other organizations in our alliance, please visit http://bayanusa.org

News Release
September 21, 2008
Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

Arroyo Worse Than Marcos, But Undeclared Martial Law Won’t Save Unpopular Administration– BAYAN USA

On the 36th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines under the US-backed dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Filipino-Americans under BAYAN USA are vowing to support the current movement to remove the current “undeclared dictator” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from her presidential seat.

“In many ways, she is worse than Marcos,” states BAYAN USA Chair Chito Quijano. “While Marcos imprisoned his opposition, Arroyo’s death squads just kill them in broad daylight in front of the civilian eyes. It is still an undeclared martial law in our country.”

According to the most recent reports from Philippine human rights monitoring group Karapatan, approximately 1000 extrajudicial killings of civilian dissidents have been documented as of June 2008 under the Arroyo administration, while an additional approximation of 200 abducted. In the last nine months alone, more than 230,000 Filipinos have been have been victimized by forced evacuation and massive displacement due to extensive militarization in the countryside, which also spawns other terrorizing acts such as indiscriminate firing at civilians, hamletting, as well as harassment and intimidation by the US-backed Armed Forces of the Philippines on poor farming communities in the far-flung regions of the country.

“The US government is as responsible for the human rights atrocities committed in the last seven years of Arroyo’s regime, as it was guilty for crimes against humanity committed during the Marcos dictatorship,” declared Quijano.

Since 2002, hundreds of millions of US taxes have been allocated to the Philippines. This escalation of US-intervention followed the Philippines’ designation by Bush and his war-criminal cabinet as the “2nd front of the war on terror.”

Corruption is also remains at an all-time high under Arroyo. While the ZTE-NBN scandal has plagued the administration since last year, numerous cash payola bribery schemes and misappropriation of billions in government funds are strongly latched to Arroyo as well.

“It’s as if Arroyo is trying her best to mimic her idols, Ferdinand and Imelda, in terms of lavishness of lifestyle, human rights violations, and government corruption,” Quijano added.

“Now with armed conflict escalating in Mindanao, Arroyo is once again living up to the Marcos legacy,” Quijano continued. “Marcos spearheaded the all-out war in Mindanao by opening it up to the neoliberal dictates of transnational corporations. Arroyo continues the legacy by pitting the conflict as strife between Muslims and Christians. It is not. In fact, it is Arroyo’s and the US military who are the most violent aggressors in the region, seeking to evacuate Muslim and Christian communities alike in favor of mining companies, golf courses, and forced land conversions.”

Arroyo is set to come to the United States for the second time in the past 3 months, with her last visit in June raking in millions in expenses on hotels for herself and her 50+ entourage. She will be in the US again by September 23.

Despite the ongoing economic and political crises, Filipino-Americans are confident martial law tactics won’t defend Arroyo’s seat from a broad opposition movement. As in 1986 and 2001, Filipinos are once again clamoring for another unseating in Malacanang.

“There is a formula that has been proven time and time again in Philippine history. Repression against the people breeds resistance. Arroyo’s repression will be her own undoing, because it is forcing more and more Filipinos into action,” Quijano ended. ###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2008
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment
(FiRE), (925) 726-5768, email fire.nyc@gmail.com

FILAM GENERATIONS REMEMBER MARTIAL LAW, PAST AND PRESENT

New York, NY–In the middle of a busy Saturday at the Filipino community hub of Woodside, Queens, a younger generation of Filipino Americans gathered to hear the stories of a different generation. The generation that lived through a dark chapter in Philippine History, Martial Law, helped piece together a story that sometimes is easier to forget.

Bebot Galvan, a member of KABALIKAT Domestic Workers Support, was one of the guest speakers of the event organized by a Filipino women’s organization, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE). Galvan started the sharing by telling the crowd that we “can’t remember Martial Law without remembering family, friends and comrades.” Galvan recounted the added dangers women had to face under Martial Law, detention meant sexual torture and rape under the hands of the fascist government. She went on to tell about the blatant injustices perpetrated by the Marcos regime to the common Filipino people: the curfews, the lack of freedom of speech and press, constant surveillance, to say the least.

Another invited speaker was Ramon Mappala, a former detainee during arbitrary sweeps of Martial Law, shared his experiences as a student at the University of the Philippines in Baguio City and how activism on campus was an invitation for government scrutiny. He told the younger generation that gatherings like the one we were having would be warrant enough for arrest and detention. As the young people in the audience looked around in disbelief, Mappala insisted that any critical stances of the government was undoubtedly punished.

Thirty-six years ago today, on September 21, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos, the former US-supported dictator of the Philippines, declared Martial Law in the Philippines. And today, the historical trauma of that period and the
continuation of backwards economic and political policies still resonate. Both Galvan and Mappala commented on the state of Martial Law and its continuation throughout the years.

Galvan stated, “Martial law hasn’t ended at all. Martial law has existed through Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and especially Macapagal-Arroyo.” The height of the human rights violations in the Marcos
dictatorship has been surpassed by the Macapagal-Arroyo regime in her 7 years in office, GMA’s record has a over thousand violations reported in 2008. GMA’s eagerness to bend over backwards to the dictates of United States politics and its IMF/World Bank appendages have outdone the assaults of Marcos on his own people.

“Martial law still exists because those in power during Marcos’ administration is still in seats of power,” said Mappala, “But the
difference today is the government don’t care to make excuses for
disappearing activists.” The disappearance of 2 young women, students at the University of the Philippines and activists, Sheryl Cadapan and Karen Empeno, doing field research with famers in 2006 is evidence to the brutality of state repression under the Arroyo regime.

This inter-generational exchange ultimately led to the question: how has
Martial Law affected subsequent generations, especially those Filipinos born in the US? Jackie Mariano, the educational officer of FiRE, stated, “Our lives as Filipinos in the US are connected to Philippine history and current struggles as the US-Philippine regimes come closer and closer together.”

GMA’s policy of political repression, foreign diplomacy and economic
strategies mimic the very steps that Ferdinand Marcos to drive the Philippine into unending debt and social unrest. Despite, these odds, in an afternoon commemorating the deaths and disappeared during the Martial Law era, these generations of Filipinos in the US came together to also remember the resilience of the Filipino people.

“Remembering our history through the experiences of members in our
community is the best way learn,” Mariano added, “As FilAms we have
inherited this history and the right to change our future.”
###

NETHERLANDS

(Arkibong Bayan)

Photos: Surface James Balao

October 3, 2008

SURFACE JAMES M. BALAO NOW!

The CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE urgently demands that those responsible for the enforced disappearance of JAMES M. BALAO should immediately and unconditionally surface him. We are specifically calling on the military intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to surface James. James’ surveillance leading to his abduction was executed only by means of the joint operations of the military intelligence groups-the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU), Military Intelligence Group (MIG) and the PNP. Balao is not simply a missing person but a victim of enforced disappearance, and this is an urgent issue of the right to life that must be upheld and respected at all times. We challenge the AFP and PNP that if they truly are defenders of human rights and are mandated to serve and protect the Filipino people, they MUST immediately surface James Balao.

Balao is a founding member of the CPA in 1984 and worked in its Research and Education Commission, extending his services and expertise in this area in the Cordillera provinces such as in Ifugao. He is the president of their clan association, the Oclupan Clan Association. He hails from Atok and La Trinidad in Benguet. Balao is the second victim of enforced disappearance in the CPA, with Ama Daniel Ngayaan who was first abducted in October 1987 in Pasil, Kalinga. Balao was first arrested in 1988 for allegedly possessing “subversive” documents. The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Intensified Surveillance and Harassment Towards Extrajudicial Killings
Balao’s enforced disappearance is not an isolated incident. It is part of a systematic and desperate move of the State against members and officers of the CPA in its “counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency” campaign. The ultimate end-all of being unjustly branded as a “communist front” or “terrorist” is surveillance and harassment towards extrajudicial killings. In recent months, our members, including innocent civilians, became victims to the state terror unleashed thru the Oplan Bantay Laya. Through the OBL, the Arroyo regime has mercilessly claimed the lives of CPA members Markus Bangit and Alyce Claver in June and July 2006, and nearly, the life of Dr. Chandu Claver.

In November 2007, human rights worker Vangie Tadeo from the CPA-Abra chapter was abducted and it was very fortunate that Vangie escaped from her abductors. In March 2008, a youth member of our cultural member organization was abducted. She was surfaced after four days when her captors could not probably get anything from her. She was severely interrogated and remains in trauma. In their massive military operations in Tubo, Abra last March 2008, the 50th IB killed 60-year old farmer-hinter Mariano Galisen. In April and June 2008, elements of the 77th and 21st IBs mercilessly gunned down farmer-hunters Rey Logao and Rocky Aboli, both of Lubuagan, Kalinga, in what the military senselessly calls a “legitimate encounter with the NPA”. The circumstances of their deaths show that they are innocent civilians merely attending to their daily routine of farming. If the military can commit such a gruesome act to Aboli who is in fact a councilman of Upper Uma barangay, the ordinary civilians are also subject to the AFP’s mad terror tagging. The 5th Infantry Division has in fact manufactured a list of 25 alleged NPA surrenderees that includes names of civilians like Max Liyang Finmon-as of Tonglayan, Natonin, Mt. Province. The barangay officials immediately issued a resolution, also signed by Natonin Mayor Ana Rafael Banaag and the Natonin PNP Chief Eusebio Aclupen, stating that Finmon-as is NOT an NPA but a local resident whom they know.

Undaunted vigilance is very necessary at these crucial times. The regime is desperate in its attempt to prove that it is successful in quelling the revolutionary NPA, because it cannot. That is why it is manufacturing a list of NPAs which are actually innocent civilians and carries on attacking legitimate people’s organizations like the CPA.

The surveillance never stopped, and now, with James’ enforced disappearance, more suspicious looking drivers, taxi cabs and private vehicles have been parking near the CPA regional office and its network of organizations. The extrajudicial killings came to a lull in 2007 as a result of the sustained multi-level pressure at the extremely isolated Arroyo regime and its OBL, and while the regime underwent review for its human rights record in the Universal Periodic Review. The Philippine government’s report to the UPR contained barefaced lies and half truths about the real human rights situation in the country, claiming credit for the decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances through supposed “measures” undertaken by the Philippine government.

Defy State Terror!

Once an innocent civilian or a member of a legitimate people’s organization such as the CPA is labeled as a front organization of the CPP, an NPA supporter or a terrorist, that is already laying the ground towards surveillance, harassment and extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance. In James’ case, let the public know that an AFP dossier has actually tagged James an alleged position as head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Education Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions. This is outrageous and an outright desperate attempt of the AFP to claim that indeed, the State’s “counter-insurgency” is yielding positive results!

We challenge the AFP and PNP to immediately and unconditionally surface James Balao. Each day that you, the PNP and AFP remain silent and indifferent to the enforced disappearance of James only validates further your accountability in his disappearance.

We, along with the Balao family, appeal to the public for support in our effort to have James immediately surfaced. This is our task as Filipino citizens to always uphold and protect the right to life and not deny it to anyone.

A State that violates basic human rights and brazenly denies the right to life must not be tolerated. We will not tolerate each passing day with passivity nor will we tolerate the impunity bred in this fascist regime. We will heighten our vigilance and most especially, resist and defy state terrorism. We will not be lameducks waiting for prolonged surveillance and harassment and the next extrajudicial killing. We will resist all forms of state terror and if necessary, through self defense as an assertion of our rights to life and self determination!

SURFACE JAMES BALAO NOW!
RESIST AND DEFY STATE TERRORISM!

CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE

Reference:
Beverly Longid
Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance

BALAO FAMILY LETTER SENT TO THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

22 September 2008

Hon. Leila De Lima
Chairperson
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Ave. Diliman,
Quezon City

Dear Honorable Leila De Lima:

James had been missing since Sept. 17, 2008. Today is the fifth day of his unexplained disappearance – the fifth agonizing day of waiting for our family. We are a family gripped with absolute fear. Each passing moment without knowledge of our James’ whereabouts makes us more hopeless.

James is the eldest of our four children and was born in April 10, 1961. He has remained single into his late 40’s as a result of his dedication to his work. For James, his service to the people has always come first. But regardless of his status, he has always been a family man. His desire to serve extended as well to his clan and James has always been a pillar upholding our family.

In 1981, James, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio. In college, he was the Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop, the UP Baguio campus newspaper. After graduation he worked as a research staff for the Cordillera Studies Group (CSG), based in Easter School (1981-1984), then as a staff of Pons Benagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. James was especially involved in the drafting of the provisions on indigenous peoples rights in the 1986 Constitution.

James was one of the founding members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in June of 1984. Prior to that, James had been working as a research staff of the Cordillera Resource Center (CRC). An expert in research, James subsequently worked as member of the CPA’s Research and Education Commission as a researcher and trainer until 1993. Between 1994 and 1997 he was based in Ifugao, first with the Ifugao Research and Development Center and later with the Ifugao Leaders Forum. He has frequently extended his research and training skills to CPA member organizations in other provinces. James has significantly contributed to the CPA’s research in particular on the issues of tribal war, agricultural liberalization and ancestral land. As an active member of the CPA, James makes it a point to attend the CPA’s Annual Cordillera Day celebration such as in Tocucan, Mt. Province (2004) and Baguio City (2007). At present, he is the president of the Oclupan Clan Association.

In his work with the clan association James has played an even more important role in our family. He was tasked with looking into the registration and documentation of clan properties. He has also served as a mediator in clan and tribal conflicts. His selfless willingness to use his education and skills in the service of his family and his people has greatly contributed to the Cordillera’s collectivity and connectivity.

James’s sudden absence is extremely alarming. Starting the first week of June this year, James and the rest of our family have been under regular surveillance by unidentified people. Vehicles with heavily tinted windows have been regularly seen tailing him and us from our residence to wherever we went during the day. We believe that his years with the legal progressive people’s movement has made James the target of state terrorism.

We absolutely fear for his safety and for his life.

We humbly ask your attention, and request your services. Your assistance in immediately locating James is vital to his survival. If he is still in captivity, we believe that his captors will release him, knowing that you have interceded in this delicate situation. If he is being mistreated, we hope that his captors will cease their actions and spare him anymore harm, knowing that the Commission on Human Rights is behind us.

Please help us find James. We, Arthur and Jane, parents of James, Nonette his younger sister, Winston his brother, and Joni the youngest of the family, will exhaust all efforts and resources to locate our James. Together with his colleagues, all the people he has helped and supported in his life, all the clans and tribes he has been a part of we are calling on you to join our search. We will all be lost unless James is found. We fear that the more time we spend searching the less time he will have. We will not cease until we find our James.

We will not lose hope or faith. Please help us find James Balao.

With utmost respect,

The Balao Family
and the people of the Cordillera

JAMES BALAO PROFILE

James Balao is a founding member of the CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE (CPA) when it was established in June 1984. Before the founding of the CPA, James was concurrently a researcher of the Cordillera Studies Program (CSP), the research and documentation arm of the Cordillera Schools Group (CSG), and a member of the Cordillera Consultative Committee then chaired by Atty. William Claver. The CSG published IGOROT: A People Who Daily Touch the Sky in 1986, and James’ name appears in the acknowledgment to the CSP staff. At present, he is the President of the Oclupan Clan Association and one of his tasks is to look into the registration and documentation of the clan properties.

Even before the founding of the CPA, James was working as a research staff of the Cordillera Resource Center (CRC), then Cordillera Consultation and Research (CCR). His forte and expertise in education and research were reflected in his work as head of the CPA’s Research and Education Commission as a trainor and researcher. He has invaluably contributed to CPA’s Research and Education work, especially in defining the particular manifestations of national oppression and the particular features of self-determination in the Cordillera.

James was with the CPA Regional Office until 1993, and then devoted his skills and expertise to the research and education work of the CPA

chapters and network in the provinces such as in Ifugao from 1994 to 1997, with the Ifugao Research and Development Center (IRDC) and later with the Ifugao Peasant Leaders Forum (IPLF). Then onwards, and up to present, he extends the same services to other provinces in the region, carrying out CPA’s research and education work particularly in agriculture and the Cordillera peasant situation, and his main contribution has been in helping to clarify the features of semi-feudal exploitation in the Cordillera.

At the same time, James has been actively attending to family affairs as clan president of the Oclupan Clan Association. As an active member of the CPA, James makes it a point to attend the CPA’s CORDILLERA DAY Celebrations, such as in Tocucan, Mt. Province (2004) and Baguio City (2007).

Balao graduated BA Psychology from the University of the Philippines Baguio in 1983, with a double major in Psychology and Economics. In college, he was the editor-in-chief of the Outcrop (campus newspaper). James had also worked as a staff of Pons Benagen, of the 1986 Constitutional Commission on the drafting of the 1986 Constitution especially on provisions on indigenous peoples.

He is the eldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur and Jane Balao of Atok and La Trinidad, Benguet and is the eldest of four children. He was born in April 10, 1961. #

Download Profile in PDf format

OPEN LETTER OF THE ALL-UP ACADEMIC EMPLOYEES UNION and SUPPORTED BY THE ALL UP ACADEMIC UNION NATIONAL

September 27, 2008

SURFACE JAMES BALAO NOW!

2008 is the Centennial Year of the University of the Philippines. Since January, the entire University System has been celebrating. In fact, in UP Baguio, one of the culminating activities is a Grand Alumni Homecoming on December 5, 2008. But Alas! The preparations to turn this activity into a memorable, major celebration is theatened. One of the University of the Philippines Baguio’s harvests of intelligent minds, of true Iskolars ng Bayan who take to task genuine service to the people, is missing.

JAMES BALAO graduated in1981 with the degree BS Psychology. As a student, he served as editor-in-chief of the official student paper, Outcrop. After graduation, James involved himself into research and writing projects for both academic and non-government organizations. One of his major research outputs has to do with “The Land Problem of the Cordillera National Minorities.”

No one could just disappear in thin air. James could not disappear voluntarily without informing his family and frIends. James loves life. In fact he has been an advocate of the defense of life and land of the Cordillera Peoples, for the protection of his people from oppression and exploitation. James could have only disappeared involuntarily, forcibly.

The UP community appeals to the highest authorities of the Philippines to find the whereabouts of James and send clear signs of the Government’s adherence to justice by surfacing him immediately. If any state agency suspects him of any violations of the laws of the Philippines, James must be allowed to defend himself. The law enforcers must adhere to due process.


We also appeal to all concerned individuals and organizations to sign the on line petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/CPAjamesbalao/
.

You may also forward letters of solidarity to the Balao family through and through the CORDILLERA HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION email address (chra@cpaphils.org)

ALL UP ACADEMIC EMPLOYEES UNION BAGUIO CHAPTER supported by ALL UP ACADEMIC EMPLOYEES UNION NATIONAL

DETAILS OF JAMES BALAO’S DISAPPEARANCE

The family of JAMES BALAO, a member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), has reported that he has been missing since 17 September 2008. He left his residence in Fairview, Baguio City at around 7:00 AM on the said date and since then, has not been in contact with his friends and family; nor can they contact him. This is very unlikely for Balao, who his friends and family know to be conscientious as to informing them of his whereabouts.

James is of medium-built, 5’7”-5’9” tall, is chinky-eyed and was last seen wearing a black jacket, brown pants, visor, black hiking boots and eyeglasses. He was carrying a yellow and blue backpack and red travelling bag. He was going to spend the following days in the family residence in La Trinidad. His absence is very alarming, as he has reported regular surveillance to his family starting first week of June 2008 and has increasingly heightened until his disappearance. He has
even observed white and blue vans that regularly tail him from his residence to his daily chores.

We are urgently calling on the authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police, and the public who know him (former classmates, friends), to aggressively assist the Balao family and us in our search for James.

Any information in relation to James may be forwarded to the Balao family at 09175069404; the offices of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (442-2115); and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (445-2586 and 09189199007). #

(Arkibong Bayan)

Photos: Pastor Berlin Guerrero’s Thanksgiving

October 1, 2008

Bishop Eliezer Pascua, UCCP General Secretary:“Thanks be to God for Pastor Berlin’s release from detention”


September 13, 2008

Court of Appeals’ Favorable Decision Foreshadowed
PASTOR BERLIN GUERRERO GAINS FREEDOM FROM DETENTION

On September 11, 2008, in a courtroom packed to capacity with bishops, ecumenical church leaders, clergy, and human rights defenders, the honorable Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. delivered an immediate resolution releasing Pastor Berlin Guerrero to the custody of his lead counsel Senator Jovito Salonga and co-counsels Atty. Emilio Capulong and Atty Evelyn Dominguez . A Temporary Restraining Order barring the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Bacoor, Cavite from conducting further proceeding on the murder case levied against Pastor Berlin was also immediately granted.

The decision brought an eruption of applause, after which many, both inside the courtroom and keeping vigil outside of the Court of Appeals, cried with tears of happiness. “Today is a story that we must tell again and again. This is a moment of great inspiration to be remembered,” shared misty-eyed Father Rex Reyes, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Inside the courtroom Pastor Berlin Guerrero tightly embraced his wife Mylene and his three teenage children. The parents and siblings of Pastor Berlin also huddled close to celebrate the moment.

Lead counsel Senator Salonga gave way to co-council Atty. Emilio Capulong to present the points of the case. Atty. Capulong raised defects on the information of the warrant—most disturbingly that Judge Myrna Lim Verano who originally issued the warrant in the early 1990s never questioned or saw the supposed witness to the murder identifying Pastor Berlin Guerrero as a suspect. Then, Atty. Capulong also presented evidence of the torture of Pastor Berlin.

Justice Villarama focused the bulk of his questions to the opposing counsel on the preliminary hearing conducted by Judge Myrna Lim Verano with the only supposed witness never being presented to the court. He probed if the only ‘evidence’ was merely hearsay. Finally, Justice Villarama asked if the opposing counsel had any objection to our petition for a TRO; there being none, the TRO was granted. Then, Justice Villarama asked Senator Salonga and Atty. Capulong if they would be willing to take Pastor Berlin Guerrero under their custody and Justice Villarama granted the same.

After processing the legal paperwork, Pastor Berlin Guerrero walked free from the Cavite Provincial Jail linked arm-in-arm with his eldest son. A family that has had to endure more than fifteen months of unjust detention and separation took their first breaths of reunion together. As Pastor Berlin awaits the next action of Justice Villarama’s Court and praying that it will be a Resolution of Quashal, Pastor Berlin savors these first precious moments with his family.

“We are extremely pleased with the result of this hearing,” says Bishop Eliezer Pascua, UCCP General Secretary, “we will remain prayerful and vigilant until we hold official papers confirming that the murder case has been quashed. Thanks be to God for Pastor Berlin’s release from detention.” The United Church of Christ in the Philippines has scheduled a Press Conference and Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service for Pastor Berlin to be held 10 am, Tuesday, September 16, 2008, at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

Update by: Rebecca Lawson, Staff, United Church of Christ in the Philippines

Edith Burgos, mother of abducted activist Jonas Burgos, had reserved the day for herself, being a special day for the family, but admitted that she could not refuse an invitation to a thanksgiving service for Pastor Berlin.

Parents and brother of Pastor Guerrero

PRESS RELEASE May 26, 2008

One Year in Jail for Pastor Berlin Guerrero;
Family leads Pilgrimage Walk for Freedom and Justice

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the family of Mr. and
Mrs. Samuel and Flora Guerrero, parents of Pastor Berlin Guerrero, led a
Pilgrimage Walk for Freedom and Justice on May 26, 2008 to dramatize the
call for the immediate release of Pastor Berlin.

“When my husband Pastor Berlin was snatched from our family’s arms by
plain-clothed men on our way home from Church one-year ago, I had no idea
how our lives would be uprooted. At first I was unspeakably afraid that
Pastor Berlin would be killed and that I would never see him again. When he
was surfaced under the custody of the police, I was so happy to see my
husband alive. One year has passed and our fight for Pastor Berlin’s
freedom is not yet over. We are determined to fight for justice, for Pastor
Berlin and all victims of Human Rights Violations,” says Mylene
Guerrero—wife of Pastor Berlin.

“Pastor Berlin’s courage and principles are an inspiration. He has always
lived in service of the Filipino people and the Church. I am outraged that
torture-death squads are operating within our government’s intelligence
network. And I am indignant that they are so ‘unintelligent’ as to attack
Pastor Berlin and accuse him as a ‘pastor-impostor.’ My brother deserves
his freedom,” adds Rev. Ephraim Guerrero.

“We keep praying that the Supreme Court will release our son Pastor Berlin.
We have faith that God is always with us as we seek justice,” say Samuel
and Flora Guerrero—Pastor Berlin’s elderly parents.

>From within the Cavite Provincial Jail, Pastor Berlin has continued his
ministry. A new and thriving choir is even expanding their talent to
include educational theatre. Pastor Berlin conducts a weekly ecumenical
service and bible study with the support of the UCCP. Even more
importantly, Pastor Berlin had just finished a Clinical Pastoral
Education course in the weeks before his abduction; he has applied these
skills as counsellor for his co-detainees. Pastor Berlin chooses to take a
very frustrating and unjust detainment with the attitude that God can use
him in this time to serve the imprisoned, their families, and the Church.

“Pastor Berlin was even awarded the Community Empowerment Award from Union Theological Seminary. His work with the people imprisoned at Cavite
Provincial Jail is impressive,” shares Rev. Mary Nebelsick, UTS
Mission Co-worker Professor from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“We are excited to see the growth in UCCP prison ministry at the Cavite
Provincial Jail. It is certainly disturbing that Pastor Berlin Guerrero is
unjustly detained. At least, God is using Pastor Berlin’s persecution for
ministry amongst the marginalized of Filipino society,” says Bishop Eliezer
M. Pascua, UCCP General Secretary.

The persecution of Pastor Berlin Guerrero has dramatically affected his
three children Mark Eugene (18yrs), Lora (16yrs), and Jairus (14yrs). Due
to security concerns, the family has been dislocated and two children were
forced to stop their schooling. Until now, they have not been able to
maintain their own home. The stress and trauma has impacted the family.

The torturers threatened to sexually assault Pastor Berlin’s wife Mylene and teenage daughter Lora in front of him; even with counselling and support, Lora remains traumatized. The youngest son Jairus also had emergency surgery when he experienced life-threatening intestinal adhesions; this complication of an abdominal surgery in infancy was also likely induced by the stress and
trauma of the last year.

“My father has taught us to be strong in the face of adversity. We are
doing our best to follow his example,” says Mark Eugene, the eldest.

“We just want our father home with us. We miss him very much,” echo Lora
and Jairus.

“Pastor Berlin’s abduction, torture, and detention under a trumped-up charge
have presented heavy challenges to our family, but we will not be
discouraged. We will continue to walk in the way of Jesus Christ and share
our lives with others. Our walk to the Supreme Court today is testament of
our faith and determination,” concludes Mylene
Guerrero.

The Pilgrimage Walk begsn from the UCCP National Office, Shalom Center, 1667 Antonio Vasquez St., Malate and culminate at the Supreme Court. The family presented an appeal to the Honourable Magistrates to facilitate the quick resolution of the case.

Pastor Berlin was abducted one-year ago on May 27, 2007. He was tortured and
interrogated as an alleged member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
He was then turned over to the PNP Camp Pantaleon, Imus Cavite where a
warrant for a trumped-up murder charge was presented. Until now, he remains
detained at Cavite Provincial Jail while the Supreme Court deliberates on a
Certiorari for his immediate release.

Contact Person:
Rev. Ephraim Guerrero, brother of Pastor Berlin 09189266839

KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog Secretary General
Pastor Berlin Guerrero and wife Mylene

GOLD
by Alexander Martin Remollino

(For Ptr. Berlin Guerrero)

You have chosen to be like gold.
The rottenness of life behind bars
did not bring you rust.
In prison the custodians foist
a sickly yellow —
but you infused the imposed sickliness
with the brilliance
of the early morning sun’s rays.
You have survived the minepit
and walked a step closer to freedom.
Walk on and enlighten us
with the brilliance of fortitude that glistens
like purified gold.

GINTO

Translated by Norma Dollaga

Pinili mong maging ginto.
Hinid ka kinalawang
Sa kabulukan ng buhay sa likod ng mga rehas
Sa bilanggaun ipinagpipilitan
ang nakaririmarim na kasuotang dilaw
ngunit pinunan mo ang karima-rimarim
ng ningning
sa nagliliwanag na sinag ng araw
Nakaligtas ka mula sa hukay
At nakalakad papalapit sa kalayaan
Humayo ka at papagtibayin kami
Sa liwanag ng iyong katatatgan
Na nagniningning tulad ng dinalisay na ginto.

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Tagaytay 5 Salo-Salo

September 28, 2008

HULING LAGAPAK NG KANDADO

ni Axel Pinpin

Kumupas at kumupis ang kalendaryo
Kumalampag at ipininid ang kandado
Kumupad at bumilis ang oras
Nagasgas at numipis ang rehas
Dumatal at umalis ang lamig
Sumagad at umibis ang init
Nangutya at tiniis ang inip
Nanuya at nanikis ang inis

Walong daan at limampu’t siyam na araw
Paulit-ulit, paikid-ikid lamang na galaw

Dalawang taon at apat na buwan
Pabalik-balik, paikit-ikit lamang na kawalan

Ninakaw, inagaw ang kalayaang inakalang
maitatangkal sa kalaliman ng kadiliman
ng libingan ng mga buhay at matatabunan
ng tambak ng batas na butas
na nauna pang maagnas at ipag-aguniyas
ang kamatayan ng sirkerong testigo na di-bihasa
sa kinabisang panulayan at panimbangan.
Ay! Nagkandudulas sa lubid ng kasinungalingang
ibinuhol ng buhong na piskal, nagkandabulol
at nagkandahulog ang katwiran
na nagiging mahika-blanka
sa tuwing kabulaanan ang bumubulagang
sorpresa sa kahon ng ebidensya at hindi
kunehong puti na sana’y mabilis at malinis
na lilinlang sa namanghang mga
mamamayang bantay sa katarungan
sa sala ng Hukom na nagmistulang karnabal.

Walong daan at limampu’t siyam na araw
Paulit-ulit, paikid-ikid lamang na galaw

Dalawang taon at apat na buwan
Pabalik-balik, paikit-ikit lamang na kawalan

At sa isang iglap, walang nakakurap,
Tapos na ang palabas!

*Kalalaya lamang ng awtor mula sa bilangguan noong Agosto 28, 2008. Si Pinpin ay kabilang sa tinaguriang ‘Tagaytay 5’ na hinuli at ibinilanggo ng mga pulis noong Abril 28, 2006 dahil sa kasong ‘ rebelyon’ na sa huli’y ibinasura ng korte.

CASE NO: 00001

PETITIONERS: Raymond Manalo, et. al

RESPONDENTS: The Secretary of National Defense, the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines

DATE FILED: 8-23-07 (filed with SC)

PERSONS IN WHOSE FAVOR THE WRIT IS BEING SOUGHT: Raymond Manalo and Reynaldo Manalo

PERSONALITY: sons of Rolando Manalo, also known as Ka Bestre, political activist

NOTE: Originated as a special proceedings for habeas corpus commenced on 5-12-06; decision of the Court of Appeals was elevated to the Supreme Court; petition was considered as a petition for the writ of amparo after the Amparo Rule took effect on 10-27-07.

ALLEGATIONS:

On 2-14-06, unidentified armed men [allegedly military personnel and Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) auxillaries] forcibly took the petitioners from their home in Bulacan. During torture, the soldiers asked Raymond if he was a member of the NPA; where his comrades were, how many soldiers he had killed and how (many) NPA members he had helped. Gen. Palparan allegedly talked to them to tell their parents never to attend the hearing [on the Petition for Habeas Corpus], rallies and not to seek help from the Karapatan and the “Human Right.” Raymond was brought to his house to talk to his parents. One Hilario also told his parents that if they disobey, they will not see their children again. On 8-13-07, the petitioners escaped. The Court of Appeals, in its Decision of 21-26-07, granted the privilege of the Writ of Amparo.

DECISION/REMARKS:

  1. Promulgated 12-26-07 – Privilege of Amparo GRANTED; Writ Petition for Review on Certiorari file before the Supreme Court.

  1. Petition filed 8-23-07

  1. Decision 12-26-07

Privilege of the Writ of Amapro GRANTED

The respondents SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE and AFP CHIEF OF STAFF are hereby REQUIRED:

1) To furnish to the petitioners and to this Court within five days from notice of this decision all official and unofficial reports of the investigation undertaken in connection with their case, except those already on file herein;

2) To confirm in writing the present places of official assignment of M/Sgt Hilario aka Rollie Castillo, and Donal Caigas within five days from notice of this decision.

3) To cause to be produced to this Court all medical reports, records and charts, reports of any treatment given or recommended and medicines prescribed, if any, to the petitioners, to include a list of medical and personnel (military and civilian) who attended to them from February 14, 2006 until August 12, 2007 within five days from notice of this decision.”

————–

Press Release – August 28, 2008

Dismissal of trumped-up charges and release of Tagaytay 5, a victory for human rights – KARAPATAN

The human rights alliance KARAPATAN expressed elation over the release of Tagaytay 5 and the dismissal of the trumped-up rebellion raps filed against them.

“The dismissal of trumped-up charges and release of Tagaytay 5 is a victory for human rights,” said Ruth Cervantes, KARAPATAN Public Information Officer.

Aris Sarmiento, Axel Pinpin, Riel Custodio, Michael Masayes and Rico Ybañez, collectively known as the Tagaytay 5 were released from prison at 4PM today, August 28 (Thursday).

Cervantes said of the decision to dismiss the case and free the five, “The stroke of the judge’s pen is a vindication of our conviction that those who work for a better society must not be criminalized and must be set free.”

“We congratulate those who have worked for the freedom of Tagaytay 5 and those who continue to fight the Arroyo regime’s sinister moves to foist false cases against social activists who fight for people’s rights,” Cervantes said.

KARAPATAN welcomes Tagaytay 5 to their new-found freedom and urged them to file criminal charges against state security forces that abducted them, kept them incommunicado and detained them despite their innocence.

“Human rights violations continue to be committed under this regime and it is justified to fight back and combat impunity,” Cervantes said.

KARAPATAN also reiterated their call to implement UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s recommendations to abolish the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) that is orchestrating the fabrication of criminal charges against activists and critics of the Arroyo regime.###

KUNG PAANO PASLANGIN ANG PAGKABAGOT SA LOOB NG KARSEL

ni Alex Pinpin

Ipunin ang agiw sa kisameng kabelya
At isupot sa plastik ng rasyong patola.

Is-isin ang lagkit sa malamig na pader
At kulapulan ng irap ang nakahubong poster.

Dangkalin ang sahig at kunin ang distansya
Ng langit at impyernong tinamasa sa lupa.

Aralin ang kultura ng ipis, langgam at daga,
Ihambing sa buhay mong sa bilibid nakalungga.

Magsubo ng sigarilyo pero huwag sindihan
Hayaang maluray sa ngitngit ng bagang.

Magbunot ng balbas at idikit sa salamin,
Tarahan ang araw nang kawalang-kapiling.

Sagutan ang crossword, Su Doku’t blind item;
Makipagsagutan sa bantay, kalampagin ang karsel.

Taluntunin ang radyo at makinig sa drama,
Lumiham kay Tiya Dely at magpadala ng tula.

Maghinuko, maghiso, maligo at maghinuli;
Masdan ang kuko, ngipin, katawan at hinugasang budhi.

Humiga nang patihaya saka dume-kuwatro.
(Ganito ang sunod na gawin, pero wag magpabuko:)

Hintaying magka-agiw ang ipis sa kisame, sipingan ang langgam sa dingding;
Makipagniig sa daga sa sahig, sigarilyo’y muling sipsipin.

Kapain ang kinis ng pisngi, ikumot ang bali-balita;
Wag nang buhayin ang radyo, palayain ang diwa.

At saka ka makipaghabulan sa bagal ng oras
At sa di-maabutang kupad nang gulong ng batas.

(Mapapawi ngayon ang limbo ng iyong panglaw
At malilimutan mong wala na sa iyong dumadalaw.)


ON THE RELEASE (Finally!) OF THE TAGAYTAY FIVE

Today, e-mails went back and forth with the happy news that Riel R. CUSTODIO, Aristides Q. SARMIENTO, Axel Alejandro A.PINPIN, Enrico Y. YBANEZ, and Michael M. MASAYES, collectively known as the “Tagaytay Five,” have all been released from detention and that the rebellion charges against them have been dismissed in court!

It has been a difficult period for these political prisoners from the day of their illegal arrest in April 28, 2006 and all throughout their detention. They were tortured, rendered incommunicado and denied counsel for days after their arrest, subjected to inhumane prison conditions and plagued with numerous delays to have their day in court. For their work with the peasants and farmers, they have been targeted and vilified as terrorists. As political prisoners, they were treated by the military and the government as being guilty until proven innocent.

Men of lesser principles would have succumbed to despair but not these men. The “Tagaytay Five” fought with the weapons they wielded behind bars – their fasting and hunger strike, their poetry, and their militancy. Their fierce determination and strong faith that pressure from inside and outside of prison would ultimately unlock their prison doors never wavered.

While the judicial ruling released the “Tagaytay Five,” we see this order as the culmination of the arduous campaign that these detainees, their families, supporters, human rights groups and people’s organizations have worked on for over two years.

Truth is stronger than evil. Truth outweighs lies and falsehoods anytime, anywhere. Truth finds allies and friends everywhere in the world. And the “Tagaytay Five” proved just that.

However, justice for these detainees will not be complete until punishment is meted out to those state security forces who abducted them, tortured them, kept them incommunicado and detained them despite their innocence. The unjust detention has caused the detainees and their families a lot of emotional suffering as well. No less than the Commission on Human Rights recently recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against the Cavite Police and the Naval Intelligence and Security Force for human rights violations committed against the “Tagaytay Five.” It is time that the military learn that they are not above the law.

We join the “Tagaytay Five” and their families in their celebration of their freedom from detention.

29 August 2008
CANADA-PHILIPINES SOLIDARITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (CPSHR) Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Email: cps_hr@yahoo.ca

DA MISADBENTYUR OP BILLY

ni Axel Pinpin

Humagunot ang hagot ng putok

magkalabang panig ay napalunok

isa man sa kanila’y walang tepok

Pak-pak! Lagapak ang rat-ratan

nang sa gitna’y may tumimbwang

Hiyaw: Huwag! ‘Wag! Si Billy yan!

Nag-init ang daliri sa gatilyo

ang malansang dugo ay sumubo

Patay! Sabing si Billy yan! Hesusmiyo!

Nag-ceasefire: tumambak ang kaswalti

Kulang ang body bag para kay Billy.

ANADER MISADBENTYUR OP BILLY

ni Axel Pinpin

Dalwampung magsasaka’y dinakip

Kinargang parang baboy sa dyip

Ser! Si Billy yan! Hesusmaryosep!

Limang biyahero’y diniskaril

sa Camp Vicente Lim ay ikinarsel

Nakupo! Sinabing si Billy yan. Ser!

Patas ang bilang ng pinapaslang,

Dinukot at nasa bilangguan

Susme! Si Billy yan! Si Billy yan!

Binuriki ng baril ang lawanit

dugo ni Billy ang sumilarit

INA KA NAMIN

ni Axel Pinpin

O, Inang Gloriang maluwalhati

Ina ka ng lahat

Ina ng awa

Sa kayraming naging kaawa-awa

Ina ng laging saklolo

Sa iyong asawa, anak, kaanak, inaanak

O, Ina, Ina ka ng lahat

Kaina-Inahan kang nagluwal ng

Inalipin

Inaba

Inapi

Inabuso

Inaglahi

Inagawan

Inalimura

Inalipusta

Inakupu! Tanging Ina ka namin

Bukod tangi ka nang walang inamin.

Arkibong Bayan

LFS-Lanao Feeding Mission

September 27, 2008

Children’s Rehabilitation Center
Southern Mindanao Regional Office

Press Statement:
September 16, 2008

The Armed Forces of the Philippines consistently sings the same old tune as excuse for their merciless actions

The AFP is again using their same old lines of “collateral damage” and tagging children as “child soldier”, as alibi to escape from accountabilities of violating children’s rights.

These lines were again used by the AFP particularly by Col. Marlou Salazar of the 601st Brigade and Maj. Gen. Hernanie Perez of Philippine Air Force 3rd Air Division after the September 8 incident when 6 person including 4 children with an age range of 2 years old to 10 years old, were killed after an OV-10 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force randomly bombed the civilians who were on board a motor boat, evacuating from their community in Barangay Tee, Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

The AFP is habitually known of using it as an excuse every time they commit atrocities against civilians especially children, just like what happened to Grecil Buya, the 9 year old girl child whom they killed and tagged as child combatant . They alleged that Grecil was doing a maneuver with an M16 riffle while shooting at the soldiers. When their allegation was proven wrong by the parents and friends of Grecil, they immediately justified that Grecil was just caught in crossfire of a legitimate encounter between the AFP troops and the NPA, thus making her a collateral damage.

The lives of civilians especially the children are put into grave danger with these arrogant yet cowardly excuses. These would mean that children will become legitimate targets of the government troops who are already known of their cold blooded human rights and children’s rights violations. The arbitrary military actions that the AFP launched and to be launched will continue thus, there will be no distinction between their armed enemy to the civilians. In fact, these scenarios are already happening in Mindanao amidst the escalation of the military offensives ordered by President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.

Based on report, there are already 21 civilians killed including 7 children and 13 others including 7 children were wounded due to indiscriminate firing and indiscriminate artillery shelling and bombings perpetrated by the government troops particularly under the 601st Brigade.

The present all out war of the Arroyo administration in Central Mindanao has already affected and displaced more than 360,000 Moro and Christian individuals and they are still increasing.

We, together with other child rights organizations held the Arroyo government liable for the escalating conflict in Mindanao which only victimized civilians especially women and children.

As civil society organization, we demand justice and indemnification for the victims brought about by the callous actions committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the leadership of President Arroyo. Prosecution should undertake to those who are liable for violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

We challenge the Commission on Human Rights under the leadership of Commissioner Dillema to conduct a speedy and impartial investigation on the death of innocent civilians particularly children and to the other human rights violations, and to file appropriate charges to the perpetrators.

The government forces as well as the MILF forces should stand firm in protecting the civilians especially the children, in undertaking military action by observing and respecting the protocols of war as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions.

The government should be serious in realizing its mandate in protecting the children as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which the Philippine Republic ratified, by means of initiating the resumption of peace talks with the MILF.

We call for the stoppage of war in Mindanao and for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

For Reference:
John Birondo
Advocacy Officer
CRC-SMRO
Contact no. 09184417947

NEWS RELEASE
10 September 2008

For Reference: REP. LIZA LARGOZA MAZA 0920-9134540
Jang Monte (Public Information Officer) 0917-4049119

RISING CIVILIAN DEATH TOLL SHOULD PROD PEACE TALKS, IMMEDIATE
ABANDONMENT OF DDR -MAZA

“The deaths of women and children, the evacuation of hundreds of
thousands and the destruction of communities: This is what President
Arroyo’s obstinate DDR framework for peace has spawned. Only the
callous and the inhumane would insist for the AFP’s pursuit operations
and indiscriminate aerial bombings to continue.”

Thus said Gabriela Women’s Party representative Liza Maza as she
called for the immediate resumption of peace negotiations between the
government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, not on President
Arroyo’s DDR or disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation
framework but on a policy of peace that recognizes basic human right
and international protocols for the conduct of war.

Following the deaths of Aida Manunggal and her four children in the
indiscriminate bombing of Datu Piang communities, the militant
lawmaker sought an investigation into the Armed Forces of the
Philippines’ conduct of its pursuit operations in the ongoing military
offensives in Mindanao.

“With their aerial bombings and indiscriminate firing, the AFP has
continued to harm more civilians than their purported targets,” said
Maza who is set to file a resolution this week.

Maza noted news reports where a pregnant woman, Aida Mandi, 18, along
with Bailyn, 10, Zukarudin, 7, Adtayan, 5, and Faiza, 2 died Monday
morning as they were fleeing military bombardments in Datu Piang,
Maguindanao. Last August 28, the Children’s Rehabilitation Center –
Southern Mindanao Region reported that indiscriminate bombing in
Sambulawan, Midsayap that led to the death of 9 year old Homidi
Abdurrahman and injured his 7 year old sister Samera Abdurrahman.

“For as long as the AFP’s all-out war and military offensives
continue, peace remains an even more unconceivable concept for
Mindanao, especially for women and children victims of this conflict.” #


NEWS RELEASE
11 September 2008

DEATH OF 6 CIVILIANS IN DATU PIANG, MAGUINDANAO VIOLATION OF
INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, AFP SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE

For Reference:
REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Abby Valenzuela (Public Information Officer) 0915-7639619

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan condemned today the
irresponsible attack of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a
civilian area in Datu Piang, Maguindanao last Monday, which killed six
people, wounded and displaced many others, in the continuing effort to
hunt Moro Islamic Liberation Front Commander Umbra Kato.

“What the AFP did is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law
which states that the State is responsible for the protection of the
people living in conflict areas and not participating in the war. They
are especially accountable for the safety of women and children who
are the most vulnerable targets of war. As it turned out, it is the
supposed guardians who violated this law,” the Mindanaoan solon said.

“The government should conduct an investigation into the irresponsible
actions of its military, especially after reports that the forces
hunting down the MILF used bomber aircrafts to indiscriminately fire
at civilians resulting to the death of six members of the Manunggal
family, including four children and an unborn child.”

Ilagan wants the government to immediately conduct an investigation
and punish the military personnel involved in this recent atrocity to
give justice to Aida Mandi Manunggal, 23, pregnant, and her children
Bailyn, 10, Zukarudin, 7 Adtayan, 5 and Faida 2.

The victims, along with their neighbors in Barangay Te, were caught in
the crossfire and were fleeing for safer ground on board a banca when
an OV-10 aircraft dropped a bomb which exploded near their location.
Their bodies, once recovered, were riddled with shrapnel.

Manunggal’s husband, Daya, and her son, Khneg, both wounded, are still
missing.

“To stop the human rights violations against innocent people in
conflict areas, the Malacanang should immediately order a ceasefire
and a pull-out of AFP troops from Mindanao,” Ilagan said.

__._,_.___

ARKIBONG BAYAN

Lanao All-Youth Rally VS Mindanao War

September 27, 2008

The Philippines This Week: In Fotogs

August 20, 2008

Iligan City – LFS, LKM call for an end to all hostilities in Mindanao, Aug. 18, 2008

Iloilo – Relatives and friends celebrate the  birthday of Luisa, desaparecido for more than a year, August 10, 2008

North Cotabato – Kawagib hits AFP for continuing offensives, dares Arroyo to prioritize evacuees

KMU marks the August 13th, 1982 mass arrest and detention of a hundred KMU leaders with a rally at DOLE

BAYAN marks the 110th birth anniversary of Sen. Lorezzo Tañada, Aug. 10, 2008

Victoria, Canada – Marking the 2nd anniversary of the killing of Filipino mother and activist, Alyce Claver, August 2, 2008