Archive for the ‘Statements’ Category

More Balikatan Woes in Bicol

April 20, 2009

militants declare:
Probe on Balikatan prostitution a whitewash!
The Bikolano Alliance for Nationalism against Balikatan (BAN BALIKATAN) called the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) probe on the Balikatan prostitution issue as nothing but a white wash.

According to Prof. Jocelyn Bisuña, spokesperson of BAN BALIKATAN, “the AFP is just trying to cover up the misdemeanors of the US troops that is why their so-called probe is just a white wash. Besides they will be investigating themselves so they would just exonerate themselves as well, like what they always do,”

“Their alibi stating that it might be other Caucasians visiting the Magayon festival that may be ordering the women does not hold water because as the head of the Tourism Committee of the Province of Albay Councillor Glenda Bongao said many legitimate tourists are complaining that because of the US troops booking all hotels here, they cannot go to the Magayon Festival,” Bisuña said.

“The top hotels here also say that most of their rooms if not all of them are occupied by US troops which number around 400 and considering the fact that at least 2 batches of 8-10 women are brought to these hotels every night tell us that they cater to a lot of Americans troops she said.”

“We have also received reports that residents of Uson, Masbate no longer have water because the US troops and the AFP consume it all. Just as we said the Balikatan will do more harm than good to the region and now we are already experiencing it,” added Bisuña.(Bicol Mail)

Militant labor center slams AFP’s dirty tactics to red-tag leaders

December 31, 2008

Kilusang Mayo Uno – southern Mindanao region (KMU-SMR) condemns in strongest terms the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for its statement that KMU-SMR vice president Omar Bantayan and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao secretary general Jeppie Ramada have been seen in the company of the New People’s Army in Compostela Valley Province.

We believe that this is not merely a case of rumor-mongering on the part of Major Medel Aguilar of the 5th Civil Relations Group of the AFP. Such is part of a grand plan under the Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (OBL2) to facilitate whatever devious schemes they have against our leaders and legal political organizations.

Omar Bantayan, who also serves as the vice [resident for Mindanao of the Anakpawis partylist, has been designated to take care of our unions. His presence might not be seen during press conferences and rallies since he has to hop from union to another for both Socsargen and the Davao regions. With these, Bantayan would frequent the offices of the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agencies in relation with the cases that are being faced by the unions.

Recently, in his capacity as a member of the national executive committee of the KMU, he attended the 1st Industrial Summit upon the invitation of councilor Edgar Ibuyan of Davao City. He was instrumental in the formation of the Davao Workers’ Alliance which was conceived during that summit.

Aside from looking into and helping our unions with their respective Collective Bargaining Negotiations, Certification Elections and other local struggles, ka Omar prepares the campaign and propaganda materials for the labor center. From time to time, he would deal with media personalities and outfits, other advocates and political leaders to explain and articulate issues concerning the workers and the Filipino people.

It is not a surprise to us that both were targeted since they have figured in many protest actions in the past. Both, Bantayan and Ramada, were members of the “Davao 8″, the 8 Davao militant leaders whom the CIDG attempted to charge with rebellion after the declaration of a State of National Emergency in 2006.

Gunmen, believed to be hired killers, also attempted to kill Bantayan in 2006.

We are outraged by this desperate move of the US-Arroyo Regime and its mercenary AFP. They want to salvage what is left of the botched and failed OBL2. Scenarios such as extra-judicial killings and the filing of trumped up charges against Bantayan and Ramada are not far-fetched. The regime employed such dirty tactics in southern Tagalog wherein they accused leaders of legal organizations through fabricated charges.

One of the victims of such machination is Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr., KMU chief legal counsel, who was arrested and now detained somewhere in Mindoro. We caution the public to be vigilant since the fascist machinery of the Arroyo regime in the region has something tucked under its sleeves.

We will not be cowed by such fascist attacks. All the more, we shall intensify our campaign for the advancement of the people’s interests. We shall mount protests for the toiling masses’ livelihood, land, wages, jobs and rights. The Arroyo war machine shall not be able to stop us.#

The Plunderer’s Escape and the Activists’ Arrest

December 28, 2008

BY HELEN ASDOLO
Secretary General, Gabriela Southern Tagalog
5th Nominee, Gabriela Women’s Party
Posted by Bulatlat

The junking of the impeachment complaint is a glaring demonstration of injustice in this country. It is proof that big time plunderer and murderers in this country can go scot-free while human rights defenders, advocates and activists like me are being persecuted.

I, along with 71 other leaders of progressive and militant organizations in Southern Tagalog, have been charged with multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder for allegedly participating in the New People’s Army (NPA) raid in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental last March 3, 2006.

What irony, what injustice. While we face threats of arrest and detention for baseless and fabricated charges, Congress simply just refused to hear and consider any evidence on the impeachment charges lodged against Mrs. Arroyo.

We in Southern Tagalog continue to hold Mrs. Arroyo responsible for the countless human rights violations, the slaughter of activists, militant leaders and women as well as the destruction of peasant and indigenous peoples communities and in our region.

That she was made to escape these charges by her allies in Congress, some of whom even came from the Southern Tagalog region, is outraging.

Despite the persecution and the attempts to immobilize and silence our organizations, we shall continue to expose the injustices, the violations, the plunder, poverty and violence that the corrupt and tyrannical Arroyo regime has brought upon our people. Posted byBulatlat.com

Migrant Workers Shall Suffer the Brunt of the Globalization-induced Crisis

December 28, 2008

BY THE INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS ALLIANCE
Posted by Bulatlat

Neo-liberal globalization has forced us to migrate and become commodities for sale by sending countries and cheap laborers for the receiving ones. Now, as neoliberal policies induced another global recession, we are again made to carry the brunt of the crisis.

Slowly but surely, the crisis that started in the United States is spreading throughout the world. Considering the US’ position as the global economic master, it is understandable that many of the countries where migrants are working right now and countries where they come from are starting to feel the impacts of the crisis that is expected to intensify in the coming months.

The current recession is but an explosion of the crisis brewing for years. The crisis of overproduction inherent in the economy of the global centers–US, European Union and Japan–and hastened by neoliberal globalization policies, has become more uncontrollable than before. Concentration of finance capital through massive speculation has become more intense and made the crisis imminent.

Even the wars of aggression and occupation that the US led and joined in by many capitalist countries have failed to salvage the capitalist system from collapsing. In fact, these wars justified in the name of ‘anti-terror campaign’ have further aggravated the condition in the world as production and profit became more highly-concentrated while more and more people were displaced.

Now, various countries scramble to save their failing economies with whipped up solutions that are evidently targeted to save big businesses at the expense of the people and the workers who have long-been victims of the very roots of this crisis.

The oppressed and disadvantaged classes and sectors that include the migrants did not cause the global crunch and yet, will be forced into more hardships. Indeed, what is just and right has no place where imperialists rule.

Global crisis spells crisis for migrants’ rights

Job security and wage of migrants are the most immediate casualties of economic crunch. The more recent cases of these are as follows:

– More than 70 workers from Advanced Semi-Conductor Engineering Co. Ltd (ASE) in Taiwan were laid off. Reportedly, about 1,000 more are set to be sent home very soon.
– In Macau, 400 Filipinos have already been fired from their jobs in the construction industry while about 12,000 migrants working in casinos have been told that their contracts will not be renewed.
– In the property sector in the United Arab Emirates, about 500 migrants already lost their jobs while thousands more are set to lose theirs in the construction industry in various countries within the Gulf region.
-Member organizations of the IMA in Australia have reported that many temporary foreign workers are being made redundant.
– In Canada, 70 Mexican and Jamaican temporary foreign workers were fired by the Rol-Land Farms, a private industrial-agricultural corporation.
– In the US, immigrants are losing their jobs and the little properties they own. Who can forget June Reyno, a Filipino immigrant who tied herself to her house after being issued an eviction notice due to the property slump?

In addition to this, the wage of migrants shall surely again be attacked. This was exactly what happened during and after the 1997 Asian Financial crisis. Wage of migrants in Korea, for example, dropped from US$750 to US$300 while foreign domestic workers suffered two wage cuts US$25 in 1999 and US$52 in 2003.

But the impacts of the global economic problems are not restricted to the host countries. In fact, it may even be more severe in sending countries like Philippines and Indonesia whose economies are very dependent on the advanced capitalist countries like the US.

For sure, the governments of sending countries shall again turn its eye to the very profitable business of labor export.

This is not surprising considering that labor export bring in billions of US dollars worth of remittance these countries and billions more profit from government charges on top of curbing unemployment inside the country. Both the Philippine and Indonesian governments have already expressed their intention of doubling the target deployment of their nationals to other countries.

Just recently, the Philippine government has proposed to implement a mandatory psychiatric test. While hypocritically claiming that it is for the protection of Filipino migrants, the truth is that it shall only be an additional financial burden to them and its ultimate goal is to make Filipino migrant workers more attractive to foreign
businesses.

Governments of sending countries have tried to placate the restlessness of their people by promising their readiness to face the crisis. This, however, is mere bravado as the economies of these countries are highly-dependent on the capitalist centers. Their so-called readiness will soon be revealed as nothing but readiness to impose more severe taxation to the people, drastic cuts in the budget for social services, even more wanton implementation of neo-liberal globalization and more aggressive exportation of labor. In fact, what these countries, like Philippines and Indonesia, are doing now is to forge more bilateral agreements with labor-receiving countries to ensure the continued sale of migrants as cheap laborers.

The way forward for the migrants

These developments and more that will surely come will be faced squarely by the organized grassroots migrants. The rights of migrants have never been respected. The second Global Forum on Migration and Development held last October in Manila showed the hypocrisy of sending and receiving countries as they tackle the so- called rights of migrants but are actually concretizing steps on how more income can be generated from migration and migrant labor.

The International Migrants Day is a most opportune time to expose the conditions and concerns of migrant workers.

The more than 100 members of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) from 25 countries are gearing up for various actions that will highlight issues of migrants of various nationalities and as a sector.

In this light, the IMA calls on to its members and supporters to:

1. Launch actions that will highlight the issues of job security and wage of the migrants. Policies that make these rights vulnerable to attacks must be targeted while remaining vigilant over new ones that governments will cook up.

2. Conduct a massive education campaign among migrants on the roots and causes of the current global recession. Neoliberal globalization must be further exposed and concretized to the migrants to intensify our opposition against them.

3. Aggressively organize migrants in the grassroots. Only the collective will and actions of migrants can be our effective weapons against the onslaught of attacks to our rights that are sure to come.

4. Gather the broadest unity with other migrant organizations and advocates for the campaigns that we shall conduct.

5. Unite in solidarity with the local workers and other oppressed classes and sectors in host countries by establishing coalitions with their unions and federations that will serve as shields against neoliberal globalization’s attacks to our rights as workers and oppressed people in the host country.

6. Integrate our movement overseas with that in our respective home countries to advance the struggle against imperialism and for genuine democracy, human rights and social justice.

In the coming months, migrants are to face hardships never seen before. It will show how right the people are to oppose neoliberal globalization policies. It will show how imperative it is to do actions for social justice and human rights. It will show how migrants are part of the struggle for change.

Through militant struggles, we can overcome and build a world that we and our people deserve.(Bulatlat.com)

Statement on CARP Extension

December 28, 2008

BY AXEL PINPIN
Former Political Detainee
Indang, Cavite
DEMOCRATIC SPACE
Posted by Bulatat

I was released from prison almost in time for the expiration of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) that paved a crossroad to the majority of farming sectors in the country.

Anent the current raging discourse on Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill proposed by Anakpawis versus extension of CARP backed by some farmers’ groups funded by pro-landlord technocrats, government instrumentalities and the CBCP, as an agriculturist who chose to devote more than a decade of my life into grassroots organizing instead of spending my time in big agro-corporations doing ivory tower research, which I believe remains inaccessible to its intended beneficiary, I have been provided with enough reasons to side with the total scrapping of CARP and against extension of the existing sham land reform program.

Data from a series of agrarian case consultations done by 10 provincial chapters of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog) show that land monopoly in the said region remains rampant and seven out of every 10 farmers stand landless, in spite of 20 years of CARP.

In Batangas, 71,813 hectares of agricultural lands are still under the control of 91 big landlords; while in Quezon province there are 211 landlords owning over 561,626 hectares of farmlands.

In my home province of Cavite, land and crop use conversion became commonplace after CARP was implemented in 1988. My memory of an agricultural Cavite, 20 years ago, remains very clear in spite of the seemingly endless encroachment of industrial and commercial complexes, golf courses and high-end residential subdivisions into the once verdant fields of my province.

I cannot blame the farmers who still pin their hopes on the extension and revival of CARP, despite the barefaced exploitation by the personalities behind their groups because these people are essentially pro-landlords and/or landlords themselves that expect million of pesos of funds if CARP is extended.

Whatever happened to the farmers that marched some 1,200 kilometers? Promises stay etched on their calloused feet, while the pseudo-farmers’ group and non-government organizations (NGOs) that orchestrated the march benefited from the sacrifices of the farmers.

And what happened to the farmers who never depended on CARP but continuously assert for a genuine land reform program? Bitter experience taught them lessons, one of which is that instead of waiting endlessly for CARP implementation or coverage, they decisively installed themselves and tilled the land and kept it productive – an active defense of the agricultural lands that is always threatened by monopoly, “development” and conversion.

Hence, while those exploited farmers wait interminably for CARP extension, farmers under the militant peasant movement in the country are already harvesting fruits of their labor.

We should put an end to the debate. Let us not further exploit the farmers. Let us work with them – not mislead them – for a genuine agrarian reform. Posted byBulatlat.com

No more democracy

December 21, 2008

(Speech of Joni Balao-Strugar at the Holy Mass on the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Cathedral of our Lady of Atonement on December 9 and at the picket at the Camp Allen gate on December 10.)

I am Joni Balao-Strugar, the youngest sister of James.

My other two siblings are in Manila on December 9 and had a meeting with our comrade Igorots and friends. They have gathered there as we gather here today for the same purpose to tell the whole world that there is no safety anymore in the Philippines. It is all about money and greed. The abduction of James is no doubt connected to money. Money shared with the surveillance team, the abductors and whoever is connected.

The Oplan Bantay Laya is a democracy with a death list. They have an order of battle list, wanted list, classified list and highly classified list of heads they want to abduct. There is no more democracy, that is called fascism. Soon intellectuals, media, journalists, organizers disappear. There is no more democracy. The state has to be open to constructive criticism – to be democratic, to learn from these criticisms, to know the needs the people demand. Without freedom of speech and of opinion, the Philippines turns into a country of fascistic rule.

My family was in Europe for a few years. We came back to the Philippines to have our young children learn about our ancestry and culture. And what do i show them? Aside from a smoke-polluted city? Atrocity? Fear? My brother, their uncle James they played and discussed with, was abducted. Where is the safety that my children can have? Their right to life and protection are in jeopardy in this democratic country. Can I have my family’s safety guaranteed for my parents, my siblings, my friends? The military, the police – meaning peace officer, peace-maker, are there to supposedly keep us safe, but they cannot guaranty our safety from enforced disappearances. Or any connections to such. Are they also safe? One wrong move and they are also dead. Where is democracy in this country?

James is not a terrorist. Why is one already a terrorist when one criticizes State politics.

Should we not be happy he is an organizer of the indigenous peoples in this unorganized country? We should be happy to have him here with us as he is a peace-maker in this discomposed and perturbed country. He devoted his knowledge to protect the indigenous peoples. And to protect the indigenous means to fight for the rights of everybody even that of the military and the police. They too are our comrades, our kailians.

I want to make it clear there are bad military men and good military men. You know who you are, and we too know who you are. Some are our friends and some are extremely evil they do not deserve to walk the earth. Jesus said, “Dear God, please forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” The Tibetans say, “What you do unto others will be done back unto you.” I say, “karma strikes back and when it strikes, you will not even see it. It will just strike so fast.” That is a divine rule too. So, to those bad guys there: Release my brother now!

I quote from Honorable Teodoro Baguilat Jr., provincial governor of Ifugao, “True, we live in a world of conflict, a war of attrition, but Cordillerans have for centuries resolved their conflicts respecting the rule of traditional law and human rights. The casualties of our wars were slain in acts of honor, not with treachery. The battles waged by our forefathers were for freedom, not for fascism.”

Losing my brother is my pain. Equally, it is all our pain. We have done all we could and we will continue to do even more until we see James again. Losing our friend is our pain, we don’t want to feel this pain. We will do whatever we can to embrace our friend, again. Losing our clan president is our pain, James is not yet finished with the Ngalatan and Calis clan family tree books. Our love for him is never ending. We defend him from any harm done towards him. We direly need him back in our lives as soon as possible. Losing our kailian is our pain. Cordillera is demanding the immediate release of James. Isakit mi ti kailian mi nga Igorot. We still have many things to do together so release James now in the name of the Cordillerans. #

Letters: James Balao is important to us

December 20, 2008

October 24, 2008

We in the clan wish to inform the press that the work of James in the clan is so important and we need him so much.

His work in the clan is to gather data of the clan members and complile these in a book, gathering household members so we could form the clan book. As a matter of fact, we plan to finish data-gathering by the end of the year, and so it is so sad that James is not here.

Together with other clan officers we plan for the yearly clan reunion programs and activities. It is a gathering of blood relatives, in order to see how we could help each other in terms of social obligations.

Actually, the whole family loves him, that is why we voted for him as president of the clan for three consecutive terms.

We are pleading to those who abducted James to please release him safely. We want him this coming summer when we shall have a reunion on May 1, 2009.

I believe that every person is entitled to due process of law.

We are praying that our sleepless nights, fear and tension ends. May the Lord bless us all. Thank you and God bless.

Letty Quileme
Clan Secretary
Ngalatan-Yammi Clan Association

End mining plunder

December 20, 2008

By CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE (CPA) and ITOGON INTER-BARANGAY ALLIANCE (IIBA)

November 27, 2008

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and the Itogon Inter-Barangay Alliance (IIBA) welcome the development that Australian mining company Anvil Mining will be suspending all its exploration activities in Itogon, Benguet, particularly in barangays Ampucao and Poblacion due primarily to the global financial crisis. This, however, is only temporary. As such, the people’s opposition to further mining plunder in Itogon municipality shall not rest.

Itogon has long been a haven for plunder of land and resources. Benguet Corporation (BC, which has been mining since 1903 employed bulk mining methods through its open pit mines in the latter part of the 20th century, largely putting at high risk and danger indigenous communities nearby. BC, along with other mines that operated and continue to operate in Itogon (Atok Big Wedge, Philex Mining Corporation and Itogon Suyoc Mines, now Itogon Suyoc Resources) are largely accountable for the displacement of the Ibaloi and Kankanaey indigenous peoples; the plunder of their ancestral land and resources leading to their displacement; and economic dislocation as a people from their ancestral domain.

Anvil may have taken the backseat for now but will definitely attempt to re-enter, including other companies – both new and renamed. In fact, the whole of Benguet province is seemingly up for sale by the Philippine government with the various mining applications, through maneuvered and fraudulent Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes.

Thus, we reaffirm our call to stop all kinds of large and destructive mines in Itogon and Benguet. We fear for another Itogon landslide or another Colalo sinking if these persisted. We call on our kailian in the rest of Benguet province to be vigilant and resist all forms of mining plunder and firmly disallow any attempt for mining activities in your ancestral land and resources.

We also challenge the officials of Benguet and the municipal governments and the provincial governments to be part of the Benguet people’s struggle for the defense of land, life and resources and put a moratorium on large and destructive mines in Benguet province.

End mining plunder in Itogon!

No to destructive, large-scale mining in Benguet and the Cordillera! #

HR Day awaits amparo resolution

December 20, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Regional Trial Court (RTC) here Thursday agreed to send the petition for the writ of amparo, filed after the abduction of James Moy Balao, for resolution in 10 days, in time for this year’s Human Rights Day.

Balao, a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and president of the Oclupan Clan, was abducted on September 17 here. His family and CPA strongly suspect James was a victim of an enforced disappearance perpetrated by state security forces, as a part of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), a state policy which targets legitimate people’s activist organizations as part of counter-insurgency operations.

Balao’s family and CPA filed a petition for the writ of amparo on October 8, asking for a court order to search state security force camps, to produce James and to produce all military and police records referring to him, particularly the military order of battle (OB) .

RTC Branch 63 Judge Benigno Galacgac has already presided over two hearings on the petition. During the first two hearings on October 23 and 30, the Balao family and CPA presented witnesses who attested to the heavy surveillance that CPA and its members have been facing since the implementation of OBL.

Their witnesses also testified to the surveillance Balao was subjected to before his abduction.

At the end of the second hearing the Balaos rested their case and requested the court to bring the case to a quick resolution. The third hearing Thursday was scheduled for the 13 respondents, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), to present witnesses.

“The strategy of the OSG throughout the first two hearings was to delay the resoplution of the case. Insisting on a third hearing to “possibly” present witnesses was just to delay the case resolution,”said Atty. Mary Ann Manja Bayang of the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples Legal Center (Dinteg).

Bayan maintain the petition for the writ of amparo is not a normal case,but rather involving a person’s life, liberty and security. “It is a case that requires proper care and speed. Any attempt to delay it is unprofessional and irresponsible,” she added.

Bayang and Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, appearing for the Balaos and CPA, filed a motion that waived the right of the petitioners to cross-examine any witness presented by the respondents, accepting their affidavits as their testimony and requested the court to resolve the case,hoping it would make the third hearing unnecessary.

The court, however, chose to push through with the third hearing. Balao lawyers iterated the importance of a speedy trial in this case and the desire to have the case resolved.

In an apparent change in strategy the OSG also asked the court to move for a resolution.

In regular proceedings a judge has 90 days to resolve a case. In a petition for the writ of amparo a judge must present a resolution within 10 days.

Jude Baggo, secretary-general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said, “We need a resolution as soon as possible. We want James out of state custody and out of danger as soon as possible.”

Beverly Longid, CPA chairperson “It is important to remember that the writ of amparo is not accusatory and is not a proceeding on criminal charges. The granting of the writ does not define guilt.” She added it is a proceeding intended to protect Balao from any further harm and to release him from illegal detention,” she said, wondering at the government’s antagonistic response.

As this developed, there is a significant pressure for the immediate surfacing of Jame from national and international indigenous and human rights advocates s.

November 28 marked the International Day of Action to Surface James Moy Balao, when hundreds of groups and individuals who support the Surface James Balao! Campaign simultaneously faxed and emailed the Philippine government to increase the pressure for his immediate release.

At the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, students led by Takder, an organization of Cordilleran students, lit candles symbolic of hope for the surfacing of James. # CHRA Release

AFP at CEGP: Dalawang ‘bukas na liham’

December 15, 2008

MAY dalawang liham na kumalat kamakailan sa internet na tumatalakay sa isyu ng panghihimasok ng mga elemento ng AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) sa mga kampus ng mga pamantansan para siraan ang mga aktibistang organisasyon ng kabataan.

Ang una, isang di-nilagdaang “bukas na liham” diumano ng AFP sa Philippine Collegian, lingguhang pahayagan ng mga mag-aaral sa UP Diliman, at mga mambabasa nito. Ipinamudmod diumano ang naturang liham sa UP Diliman. Kamakailan, lumabas ang ilang bahagi nito sa mga balita sa diyaryo. Kinilala ang awtor ng liham na isang Army Lt. Col. Leopoldo Galon Jr., kumander ng 7th Civil Relations Group ng AFP.

Ang pangalawa, mula sa College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP). Bilang tugon sa liham diumano ni Galon, naglabas ang CEGP ng “bukas na liham” din para sa AFP at “lahat ng kabataan at taumbayang nagmamahal sa demokrasya.”

Narito ang dalawang liham:

Open letter to the Philippine Collegian and its readers

This is a feedback to the Philippine Collegian’s story entitled, ‘Crossing the Line of Duty: Accounts of Militarization in Campuses” dated 08 October 2008. After reading the article, I noticed that there had not been any side of the military presented, not to mention the bad light it has unfairly shed to the military. It is for this purpose that I may impart a perspective other than what the article has presented.

As an Army officer, there were cases where student youths were among those who fired their guns against us in combat up there in the mountains; student youths who have completely abandoned their studies in lieu for the armed struggle. The Philippine Collegian itself, in its website, has the story of “Gemalyn Lacadin @ Gemma” (not her real name) – she started out as an activist, she ended up carrying a gun, and… dead. Based on the article-tribute to her, she has shed off the luxury of her life devoting to her cause. The devotion for the betterment of the people is remarkable, but the cause to resort to armed struggle is not. The fact is, she will no longer be able to distinguish that there would have been other, more peaceful means of caring for the country.

Such was Gema’s story, and there are others equally, if not more heartbreaking. Our concern for the students is not unfounded. As with Gema’s, there have been many cases where promising students whose lives were ended too soon and too tragically because they have crossed the path to the armed struggle, where, however it is romanticized by the insurgent members, is still a portal to a life of suffering, violence, and crime. It is not the road less traveled by, it is a dead end. And to veer away from that path makes all the difference.

But more than feeling sorry for the loss; we, in the military see it as our duty to prevent such violent deaths from happening. Through the years, we have learned of the schemes of the CPP-NPA to access the youth sector – seeping through educational institutions and campus organizations, and targeting students. Their persistent presence and contact in campus communities speaks strongly of their adeptness in appearing inconspicuous but highly influential to students.

Ours is not to dictate, ours is just to inform our youth that activism and membership to some organizations could lead to this violent fate. Our visit to the campuses and our symposia are for this purpose. Students have the right to be informed, they have a mind of their own, so let us allow them to consider these facts, and decide for themselves. What could be prevented from happening, should be.

All of us are activists in our own ways; somehow at some point in our lives we find advocacies to which we devote our lives with. We are not against activism. What we are against is the armed struggle that lured away activists from their activism. We are glad to see our youth filled with confidence, assertiveness, and who truly care for the welfare of the country. Sometimes, we are even inspired by their idealism. That is why, we find the statement of Vijae Alquisola, National President of the College Editorials Guild of the Philippines, saying that our visits in campuses are to silence students and… to send a chilling message to youth and student leaders” rather inaccurate.

We would like to make it clear that rallies, demonstrations, and other protest assemblies are well-acceptable to us. Demonstrators can continue to argue, oppose, or debate over the merits and demerits of policies, decisions, etc – such are the works of democracy. Our premium concern is those who cross and double-cross the thresholds to armed struggle and illegality.

We, in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, do our level best to keep our students aware and vigilant. Wouldn’t it be a greater disservice to know what we know and leave the students badly informed and susceptible? No matter how many eggs are thrown at us, we continue to strive to prevent the youth and the students from entering into the borders of violent armed struggle. We choose not to lose by default.

Meanwhile, the military is accused of tagging certain legitimate organizations as communist fronts. Actually, the tag did not come from the military; the classification came from the mouth of Communist Party of the Philippine Chairman Jose Maria Sison that was video recorded. In that video record, Sison thoroughly explained the nature and purposes of these groups. Sison could be slighted for the incorrect attribution to the military; it is his brainchild in the first place. Sison sees no harm in tagging these groups, including the League of Filipino Students, as communist fronts, so, there is actually no issue here.

May I also clarify the disparagement made on the film “Batang Aktibista”. Contrary to the article’s criticisms, the short film in fact, presented the issues on the tuition free increase and the lack of school facilities as legitimate issues being raised by the students. Issues that are very much relevant to the students; issues that I, myself, as a parent, is very much affected with. The film was not about discounting these issues, but rather, the film is about groups who are using these issues into luring the students first, into activism, then later on into armed struggle.

We see regular NPA cadres agitate students, the kind of which that pushed the students from mere activism into the use of arms. Students are falsely told that they have become military targets, or that they will be harassed. Such is the paranoia sowed among the student activists for them to become allergic even when soldiers are merely helping communities clean their environment, or giving out free medical/dental services, or carrying out a feeding program, or conducting symposia in campuses for dissemination of information.

In speaking of paranoia, this has been the same obsession which shook the CPP-NPA-NDF when the group purged its own members on mere suspicion. A paranoia that is so deep that it claimed thousands of lives of its own members. There are those who lived from this nightmare and share their experiences; an example of such factual account of these sufferings is contained in the book of Bobby Garcia entitled, ‘To Suffer Thy Comrades”. We should not forget that most victims of these purges were student cadres who abandoned their studies and carried out cadre works.

Today’s students are better empowered, can interface and confront adversities with dynamism and composure. Anchored to what is right and steered towards the right path; with the right ideas, the right choice and proper application of thoughts, our students can create a world of difference and make the country proud. We too are parents who may not have all the answers, but who wants the best educational opportunities and experiences for our children sans interference from dubious groups and personalities.

* * *

This is in reply to “Open Letter to the Philippine Collegian and Its Readers” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Open letter to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and all democracy-loving youth and citizens

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is resurrecting martial law in schools, universities and communities through its program of campus and urban militarization.

This move is clearly meant to silence, harass and repress youth and students who are committed in the fight for meaningful social change.

This is the very reason why the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) stands by its position that the entry and intervention of the military in our schools through the launching of fora and symposia under the guise of ‘information dissemination’ is aimed solely to sow intrigue and division among youth and students and to demonize youth organizations critical of anomalies in government. This is the most accurate depiction of the present situation in our schools, universities and communities at present and there is no other way to perceive it.

We are not for a minute swayed by the diplomatic pitch of the AFP’s ‘Open Letter to the Philippine Collegian and Its Readers.’ Its contents and allegations could not be any farther from the truth.

If the AFP really appreciates student activism as a right and freedom, why are they the prime suspects in the forced disappearance of Karen Empeno, Sherlyn Cadapan, Jonas Burgos and James Balao?

If this were true, what explanation could the AFP give for the results of the investigation conducted by United National Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Prof. Philip Alston on rampant extra-judicial killings of activists and journalists? Why did elements of the military and its intelligence personnel have to infiltrate a peaceful protest action at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)-Sta. Mesa on August 29 to maliciously take photos and harass students who participated in the rally? Was it not the military that shot our colleague and human rights advocate Benjaline “Beng” Hernandez from Ateneo de Davao point-blank in the face in a legitimate fact-finding mission in Arakan Valley last April 5, 2002?

Was it not the military who filed false rebellion charges against the editor-in-chief, student council president and five other students of PUP-Lopez, Quezon who did no crime but to oppose policies affecting their basic rights and freedoms? Since when has student activism, which the AFP claims to accept and appreciate, become an act of rebellion?

Unlike the AFP’s tactics, these incidents are not mere accusations, these are clear and present desperate moves of the military and its “commander-in-chief” to discredit, vilify and malign critical youth and student organizations.

This tactic of the AFP is not new. In 2005, a powerpoint presentation entitled, “Knowing Thy Enemy” released by the military for viewing in campuses and communities named organizations, including our Guild, as “enemies of the state” and baselessly tagged them as “communist fronts.” It is precisely through this twisted interpretation that the AFP seems to gather license to harass, repress, torture and kill with impunity. Where now does the profession to accept activism figure in this scenario?

Because of these, the AFP is sowing an extraordinary “paranoia” – not aimed towards activists but towards any visible AFP element in any area. Kaya’t huwag kayong magtaka kung bakit natatakot ang mga mamamayan sa inyong presensiya; inosente lang ang tanging may karapatang magtaka. And, sadly, the AFP could not convince anyone that it is innocent of the many atrocities hurled at it.

Lastly, we are proud of our activism. We do not and will not apologize for standing up for what is democratic and just. We maintain that it is the AFP, this government and its overly corrupt, militarist and tyrannical ways that are forcing youth and students to take up arms.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines will never apologize for writing about the real situations in society and for the advancement of the youth and people’s rights. To write is already to choose, and we choose justice, democracy and freedom of expression.

COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES

PinoyWeekly

UPLM condemns latest threats on vice chair

December 9, 2008

The Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) strongly condemned the new threats directed against lawyer Emiliano Deleverio, UPLM vice chairperson, amid the still despicable human rights situation of the country.

The renewed threats on Deleverio, a Pagadian City- based human rights lawyer,  was delivered Tuesday through text message on his cellular phone, warning him to take things easy.
“Atorni au au ha ang imo batasan ky ampay ra ba na sa tagabukid. (Attorney, watch your manners, the people up the hills will surely like you),” the clearly veiled threat reads.
Deleverio received the said threats while he was attending a hearing at Camp Crame, Manila, over an administrative case against Pagadian Police Chief Oscar Buenaobra.
UPLM believes that this renewed threat on Atty. Deleverio came from the same elements who consider public interest lawyering as anathema to their anti-democratic activities. In the past, Atty. Deleverio has been at the receiving end of the military’s ire in Western Mindanao because of  his advocacies.   He has been subjected to surveillance and harassments for handling human rights cases, including that of  Angelina Bisuña Ipong, the oldest political detainee in the country today.
Atty. Deleverio co-handled with Atty. Tirsendo Poloyapoy the country’s first successful Writ of Amparo case  on the abduction of  Ruel Muñasque in October 2007.
UPLM is gravely alarmed that  attacks on peoples’ lawyers, especially from its ranks,  is still happening despite the close scrutiny and criticism made by both domestic and international human rights  institutions on the administration of Pres. Arroyo.    The recent international mission of foreign lawyers and judges last November 4 to 6 clearly pointed out that killings and harassment of lawyers and judges carrying out their legal duties are continuing, contrary to the rosy “praise releases”  and  self-serving denials coming from the Arroyo government.
From January 2001 to October 2008,  the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) has recorded 22 lawyers and 15 judges who  were killed, while 41 human rights lawyers have been subjected to various degrees of attacks.

UPLM

20 Nov 2008

For Reference:
Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate
Secretary General

Statements: Another Cordillera son missing

October 22, 2008

By TEODORO B. BAGUILAT, JR.
GOVERNOR, PROVINCE OF IFUGAO

Yet another son of the Cordillera, another activist for our rights, has disappeared.

I do not know James Balao personally, but I know his kind. There are only a few of us who have the courage to devote one’s life to pursuing difficult causes. Yet he craves no praise or gratification. Just a desire that the coming generations of Cordillerans will live in a region of genuine peace, sustainable development and self-determination.

Thus, I join all those who have manifested their indignation over his disappearance. I condemn forces of political intolerance and brute force who have sought to silence Balao’s crusades with an act of terror.

For whatever ideology, political belief or religious persuasion that propels our actions, the value of non-violence and human rights must be upheld.

True, we live in a world of conflict, a war of attrition. But Cordillerans have for centuries resolved their conflicts respecting the rule of traditional law and human rights. The casualties of our wars were slain in acts of honor, not with treachery. The battles waged by our forefathers were for freedom, not for fascism.

These were the things James fought for. Despite the fears and the solitude, he struggled. We owe him this much to pray and demand that he be returned to the family and community he so loved. #

Letter of Concern from Filipino Scholars in the US: On the Enforced Disappearance of James Balao

October 12, 2008

Letter of Concern from Filipino Scholars in the US: On the Enforced Disappearance of James Balao (Cordillera People’s Alliance)

We are alarmed and disturbed with the enforced disappearance of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) member James M. Balao since September 17, 2008. His family has no information regarding his whereabouts up to this moment. We urgently call for the immediate and unconditional surfacing of James, in the spirit of upholding our basic human rights, very basic of which is the right to life and security which must not be denied to anyone.

His enforced disappearance is being attributed to his work with the legal people’s movement advocating indigenous peoples rights, human rights and social justice. Balao has reported that he was being surveilled since June and this heightened until his disappearance last week. The CPA and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) point to military intelligence agents as the perpetrators of this violation.

Since the Arroyo government implemented its Operation Plan Bantay Laya in 2001, members and leaders of legal and legitimate people’s organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) have been targeted for neutralization by agents of the state and are unjustly labeled as communist fronts and terrorist organizations. Innocent lives have already been claimed as a result of this State policy of political and extrajudicial killings, and Balao is the second case of enforced disappearance to a CPA member or officer, since Ama Daniel Ngayaan was abducted in 1987.

We ask the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines to fully assist the family, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance in the search for James Balao.
The State policy Oplan Bantay Laya which has labelled legal progressive organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance as “sectoral fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New Peoples Army should be immediately terminated.
We call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to sincerely implement the recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston – “As Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the President must take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations”.

We call on the Philippine Government to observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other international human rights laws and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The search for James Balao gets more and more urgent by the minute. He must be immediately and unconditionally surfaced.

Sincerely,

RICK BONUS, Ph.D ?Associate professor

American Ethnic Studies?University of Washington

SARITA SEE, Ph.D.?Associate Professor?University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

CYNTHIA TOLENTINO, Ph.D.?Assistant Professor?Department of English?University of Oregon

RICHARD T. CHU, Ph.D.?Five College Assistant Professor?History Department?University of Massachusetts

SHARON DELMENDO, Ph.D.?Professor of English?St. John Fisher College?Rochester, NY

MARIA HWANG?Doctoral student?Department of American Civilization?Brown University, RI

LUIS H. FRANCIA?Faculty?Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program?New York University

BENITO VERGARA JR., Ph.D.?Anthropologist

DYLAN RODRIGUEZ, Ph.D.?Associate professor?Ethnic Studies?University of California, Riverside

JOI BARRIOS, Ph.D.?Writer?Lecturer for the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies?University of California Berkeley

PETER CHUA, Ph.D.?Associate Professor of Sociology?San Jose State University

FRANCISCO BENITEZ, Ph.D.?Assistant professor of Comparative Literature?University of Washington

LUCY BURNS, Ph.D.?Assistant professor, Asian American Studies?University of California Los Angeles

ANTONIO TIONGSON JR., Ph.D.?Assistant professor?American Cultural Studies?Colorado College

NERISSA S. BALCE, Ph.D.?Assistant professor?Department of Asian and Asian American Studies?State University of New York at Stony Brook

US Troops Out Now! Mindanao

October 6, 2008

US Troops Out Now! Mindanao

Statement on the 17th anniversary of the rejection of the US Military Bases Treaty

Reference:
Bishop Felixberto Calang
Convenor
Mobile # 0918-929-4244

Seventeen years since historic “Magnificent 12” vote Senate should curb US military’s unconcealed, uninterrupted presence in Mindanao

The Out Now! Mindanao Coalition condemns American insolence towards Philippine national sovereignty with the unconcealed and uninterrupted presence of US military forces and their obvious involvement in local counterinsurgency operations.

We call on the Senate to live up to the nationalist stance of the Magnificent 12 senators who voted to oust the US Bases in September 16, 1991 by moving to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement and the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.

There is more than enough evidence of US transgression of Philippine sovereignty especially in Mindanao . These involve engagement in combat operations, intelligence-gathering, and “social reconnaissance”, not to mention US meddling in the government’s peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). These evidences should lead to the scrapping of the VFA, ten years after it has legalized the reentry of American forces on Philippine soil.

The US-led Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines holds headquarters in Camp Navarro , Zamboanga City . US military forces have special infrastructure there to cater to its personnel, war equipment and vehicles.

Scores of human rights violations perpetrated by US troops have also been reported since the shooting of Buyong-buyong Isnijal in 2002 in Basilan. The most atrocious of these is the incident in Maimbung, Sulu last February 4, 2008 where four US soldiers were sighted joining an operation that killed eight civilians in a fishing community that included two children and a pregnant woman.

These violations have been kept under the rug either because victims were no longer interested to litigate or they entered into amicable settlements to avoid prolonged and costly litigation.

US military vessels have had limitless access to Philippine territorial waters. The USS Vandegrift made port calls in Cotabato City , General Santos, and Cagayan de Oro City. They were closely guarded in these ports and media access was limited. The Arroyo government never disclosed the terms of reference governing these port calls.

US civilian and military officials themselves have uttered policy remarks that verify US troops operations on the ground that go beyond the nature of war exercises.

Francis Ricciardone, then US ambassador, had claimed in 2005 that the US is involved in ‘intel-ops fusion,’ an operation which has all the marks of espionage. A paper by Astrid Tuminez, senior research director at the US Institute of Peace, also pointed out US military intelligence support to the AFP during airstrikes against MILF forces in the Butilan Marsh on three separate instances in 2004 and 2005.

The Arroyo government has tried to exhibit so much bravado to defend Philippine sovereignty in relation to the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). But it shrugs its shoulders with the wanton display of arrogance of American forces with their patently illegal basing on Philippine soil. Secretary Eduardo Ermita justifies the continued stay of US military forces with the most trivial reasons. But Ermita’s levity only belies the gravity of violations on the national sovereignty committed by American troops with the approval of the Arroyo government.

Such double-speak points to the unconscionable subservience of the Arroyo government to the United States . And Arroyo’s approval to the unabashed operations of US troops in Mindanao and the rest of the country is a disservice to the Filipino people’s historic struggle to oust foreign troops in 1991.

Statements: Ilocos HR group denounces Philippine Army’s vilification cmapaign

October 5, 2008

By ILOCOS HUMAN RIGHTS ALLIANCE (IHRA)

Human Rights group Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA-Karapatan) strongly condemns the statements made by the 50th Infantry Battalion (IBPA) Civil Military Operations branding Karapatan as “legal front” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

We view these statements of the 50th IBPA as part of the dirty tactics of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to discredit and harass legal progressive organizations who are steadfast in asserting the rights of the people.

In their radio program Timek ti Soldado (The Soldier’s voice) aired in July and August 2008, certain Lt. Kigis and Sgt. Garcia consistently slandered Karapatan and its regional chapter, IHRA and tagged it as “communist front that “protect and defend the rights of their fellow NPA’s.” Kigis and Garcia also stated in their program that Karapatan destroys the moral values of the youth because it influences the youth “to do harm to their families and to the community.”

The said “soldier-broadcasters” also accused party list group Bayan Muna and Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) of using projects as “legal fronts” to deceive the people and recruit them to join the CPP-NPA.

These malicious and slanderous statements of the two “soldier-broadcasters” only proved the desperation of the AFP to crush the people’s movement. It is undeniable that the military disrespects civil and political rights of the people. The AFP specifically the 50th IBPA irresponsibly used the media to directly malign the CPP-NPA without even analyzing and acknowledging the root-causes of nearly 40-year old armed conflict. As such, these irresponsible accusations served as a license to attack legal progressive organizations as it directly these organizations such as Karapatan to the CPP-NPA-NDFP, the target of the counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya 2.

The vilification campaign made by the AFP is a component of OBL 2, the continuation of the failed counterinsurgency program of the US-Arroyo regime that resulted in the killings of more than 900 unarmed civilians and members of the legal democratic organizations, disappearance of more than 198 and other gross human rights violations. These statements clearly show that the military is behind the spate of gross and systematic human rights violations.

For more than 13 years, Karapatan has been in the forefront of human rights advocacy in the Philippines. It has exposed and opposed state terrorism and fought hard to attain justice for the victims of human rights violations committed by state agents such as the AFP and PNP. It has served the marginalized sectors of the society by fighting for the people’s nationalist and democratic interests. No amount of disparagement can stop Karapatan from asserting the people’s civil, political, socio-cultural and economic rights.

It is no surprise that the Arroyo regime and the military’s state terrorism will be met with outmost defiance by people struggling for peace anchored on justice. #

Statements: The Itogon Landslide: A Result of Prolonged Large Mining Operations

October 5, 2008

By Windel Bolinget
Secretary General, CPA

There is much for Benguet Corporation (BC) to account for in the horrendous disaster in Itogon that severely affected the lives of local residents from 80 households in the indigenous community of Beda, and in Antamok last September 22. Putting the blame solely on natural calamities like Typhoon Nina and small-scale mining as done by BC, the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is both lame and weak, when we know for a fact that BC’s socially and environmentally destructive large mining operations since 1903 is to answer for the disaster.

What had happened in Itogon already happened in Colalo, Mankayan in July 1999, where Lepanto Mining has operated for the past 72 years in massive underground operations which softened and weakened Colalo grounds, such that any typhoon can aggravate a disaster waiting to happen.

The 16 miners trapped must be immediately rescued, because BC is accountable for this and to their families. Their effort to rescue is the least they can do and it must not cover up their responsibility and accountability in the whole disaster — loss of lives, the environmental disaster, displacement of the families and the demolished ili that will never be built again. What future awaits the displaced families who have lost their loved ones, their home and ili (village)? Is BC going to pay for the long term effects of its destructive operations? As do other mining companies, BC will resort to a media blitz of corporate responsibility through technical assistance to the victims. That however, is not a long term solution but a coverup of the real situation.

This is what happened in Itogon. The environment and the mountains should never have been disturbed in the first place. The mining disasters in Rapu-Rapu where Lafayette Mines operated since 2005 and in Marinduque, where Marcopper created the country’s largest mining disaster in 1996 prove that the Itogon landslide is not an isolated, naturally occurring incident.

This as well is the very nature of large and corporate miningdangerous and unsafe, and the companiesf claim of any social responsibility is not a commitment of restoring the environmental, economic and social damages loss they have committed. There will always be environmental and social disasters in areas of large mining operations in the same manner that there will always be militarization and human rights violations also therein, as long as the mining policies of the Arroyo administration are based on the Mining Act of 1995 or RA 7942.

We have no hope of any sort from the DENR, when it is DENR Secretary Lito Atienza himself who serves as the company’s spokesperson, when it said blame should not be put on the company, especially in the case of the 14 miners trapped underground. What kind of public official puts last the interest of the public it should be serving?

We call on the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Commission on Human Rights (CHR-CAR), including the municipal and provincial governments to look into the interest and welfare of the Itogon community — both those directly and indirectly affected. The provincial government must decisively act to put a stop to such disasters, for environmental protection and socio-cultural preservation by placing a ban or moratorium to large mining operations in the province. Otherwise, there will soon be no Benguet province to speak of in the future — only a wasteland of mine waste and abandoned communities.

The historical injustice done to the Ibaloi and Kankanaey in Itogon as a result of development aggression — large and destructive mining, in particular must be corrected. This shall emanate from the concerted action of the people of Itogon to aggressively resist and oppose large and destructive mining operations therein, and to reject impending threats from various applications. Otherwise, there will be always be a disaster waiting to happen, hastened by natural calamities.

Other Cordillera provinces, especially those threatened by large and destructive mining operations and overlapping applications, must unite and be vigilant and resist these to defend the Cordillera homeland from further plunder and destruction.

Benguet Corporation, including Philex and Lepanto must be accountable for the environmental and social damages they have caused in indigenous communities in Benguet. An independent investigation that will not again be another case of impunity must be urgently carried out. #

Pinoys in Austria support Ferdie Gaite’s crusade

September 24, 2008

CORRUPTION in the Philippine government has undeniably reached catastrophic proportions. This is manifested in the controversial case of GSIS-Meralco-Court of Appeals being investigated by the Supreme Court, wherein one of the lawyer involved is connected to the First Gentleman.

On the other hand, GSIS Chief is Winston Garcia who filed the libel case against Ferdinand Gaite, Chirperson of the Conferedation for Unity of Government Employees (COURAGE) at Pasay City Court, that issued the warrant of arrest.

We, and all democracy-loving Filipinos around the world, will not allow this to further worsen. We uphold people like Ferdinand Gaite who have principles and enough guts to stand up whatever the consequences.

We at PINAS FIRST hold the Arroyo administration responsible for the repressive warrant of arrest issued for COURAGE Chair Ferdinand Gaite and call on the authorities to drop the charges against him. This is an obvious attempt to silence people who exemplify courage and moral force. It is an assault on our human and constitutional rights.

Manuel Sarmiento
Chairperson,PINAS FIRST (Pinoy in Austrian Society For Integrity, Reforms and Social Transformation)
Vienna Austria
www.pinas-first.com

PCID Opposes Decision to Dissolve Peace Panel; Sends Wrong Signal for Peace in Mindanao

September 19, 2008

BY THE PHILIPPINE COUNCIL FOR ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY
DEMOCRATIC SPACE
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 31, September 7-13, 2008

Government has just announced that it has dissolved the peace panel negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which according to the Palace is “consistent with the President’s new policy of no longer talking with armed groups but authentic dialogues with communities.”

The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy strongly disagrees with this latest decision from the government that ironically came a day after the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Final Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), an agreement that was successfully signed in 1996 but problematically implemented. This is a decision that we feel is not motivated by the desire to achieve peace in Mindanao but is intended to sanitize the mess it created with respect to the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domains (MOA-AD).

PCID views this as a serious setback to peace in Mindanao. It lay to waste the efforts of both peace panels over the past ten years. PCID commends the efforts of the GRP Peace Panel through the leadership of Gen. Rodolfo Garcia and the MILF Peace Panel chaired by Mohagher Iqbal for their indefatigable commitment to reach a just agreement for peace in Mindanao.

The series of missteps the government has taken including the decision to renege on its commitments by not signing the MOA-AD and the dissolution of the peace panel are serious blows to the government’s credibility in talking peace. How can any rebel group now be assured that the government will not turn its back on its commitment because of the political hysterics of some personalities? Isn’t the dissolution of the peace panel an admission of the failed peace policy of Arroyo’s administration?

Mrs. Arroyo also stated: “We must bring stability in the region and regain order before we can effectively reactivate the peace process in earnest.” She added, “Let me take this opportunity to be very clear to those elements who seek disruption and destruction. There will be no peace gained through violence. No peace agreement will be reached through intimidation or the barrel of the gun.”

We couldn’t agree more. But if she were sincere in that pronouncement, why doesn’t she exert effort to ensure that a ceasefire commences which would put a halt to the conflict in Mindanao? Is government’s strategy of achieving peace accomplished by destroying it? Government cannot advocate peace through press releases. It has to institute confidence-building measures so that the fighting will stop. And dissolving the peace panel at this time is certainly not the correct signal to send for peace.

PCID would like to reiterate its vehement condemnation of the violence that has cost the lives of civilians in Mindanao. We believe that the perpetrators should be brought to justice. But there is already a ceasefire mechanism in place that has been very effective in reducing violence in the past.

Government cannot raise an olive branch with one hand and carry a gun with the other.

From the Office of Amina Rasul
Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy
Unit 2D Tower 1 Governor’s Place Condominium
Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City

Posted by Bulatlat

Statement Against the Unjust Arrest, Detention, and Enforced Disappearance of Anti-displacement Activists in Orissa, India

September 17, 2008

BY THE KILUSANG MAYO UNO (KMU or May First Movement Labor Centre)
DEMOCRATIC SPACE
Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 31, September 7-13, 2008

As freedom and justice-seeking workers and trade unionists in the Philippines, we declare our complete opposition to the unjust arrest and enforced disappearances of anti displacement activists in Orissa, India. We demand for the immediate withdrawal of the trumped up cases and demand for the instant and unconditional release of Davendar Das, Protima Das, Amin Maharana and Pradeep or the “Orissa 4″ who in their quest to support indigenous peoples and farmers in their fight against displacement, were arrested along with David Pugh, a social scientist and teacher from the U.S. on 12 August 2008.

KMU asserts that their hard work in fighting against the displacement of adivasis, dalits, and poor farmers’ communities to give way to mining and other industrial operations does not merit such brutal harassment and repressive measures in an attempt to dampen their struggle for deprived communities in India.

Unfortunately, the unfair treatment suffered by the Orissa 4 under the anti-people and fascist Orissa government is the same underhanded formula used against human rights defenders and liberation fighters all over the world, especially in underdeveloped countries like India and the Philippines.

After being held illegally by government security forces for 28 grueling months on a non bailable charge of rebellion, the Tagaytay 5 political prisoners were finally released last week on August 28 largely due to the non-stop support and strength from progressive human rights advocacy, the militant mass movement in the Philippines, with help from international solidarity networks. There still remains to be more than 200 political prisoners all over the country however, and nearly 900 victims of extra-judicial killings for whom justice remains elusive.

For workers in the Philippines, there have been five documented violent assaults on labor actions victimizing 1,025 individuals. These assaults resulted in the subsequent death of a worker, arrest and detention of ten others, including a woman, and fatal injuries of more than 58 people from January 1 to July 15, 2008 alone. At the start of this year, Melvin Yares, chairperson of KAKABAS (a union of semi-workers and urban poor in Lapu-Lapu City) was abducted on January 4 by seven suspected agents of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

As we marked the August 30 International Day of the Disappeared last week, there are still a total of 193 desaparecidos since Gloria Macapagal-Arryoyo assumed the presidency in 2001, while there has been 2,000 desaparecidos since the 1972 to 1986 Marcos dictatorship. It is unacceptable that these families remain in the dark where their loved ones are, without certainty or closure, without genuine recourse for justice.

KMU therefore joins all progressive and peace-loving people of the world in demanding that the trumped up cases against Protima, Devendar Das, Amin Maharana and Pradeep be immediately withdrawn and they be released unconditionally. We also call for a public apology from Orissa authorities for unjustified harassment of anti-displacement activists.

Free all political prisoners!
Justice for victims of unjust arrests and enforced disappearances!
Free Indian anti-displacement activists!  Free the Orissa 4!

Imelda Marcos’s Presence Too Much for F. Sionil Jose

September 7, 2008

National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose reportedly walked out of the recent tribute to Lucrecia Kasilag at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. In the following email, which we reproduce from the Philippine Star that first printed it, Jose explained to CCP bigwigs Emily Abrera, Nestor Jardin and Chris Millado why he did what he did. In a nutshell, the multi-awarded and prolific author siad he couldn’t stand the fact that he was in the company of Imelda Marcos.

Permit me to tell you of my regret and anger the other day when I was at the CCP for King Kasilag’s necrology. Before the start of the service, I was ushered to the backstage — a departure from the usual manner by which we honored our departed National Artists. After I had offered my bouquet to King, I walked to my assigned seat and was surprised to see Imelda Marcos before me. Had I known that she would be there, I would not have attended the necrology anymore. But in deference to King, who I loved dearly, I decided to suffer her presence. Then she mounted the podium and started bragging about herself, how Chairman Mao welcomed her in China. That was too much, so I decided to leave.

I have known King since 1948 when she was the piano teacher of the girl I married. I regret that I had to leave her last presence with us.

Enclosed is the article I wrote years ago on Imelda (for the Philippine STAR). I hope that you will remember. May I beg of you this one favor. In the future, please do not honor Imelda in any of the CCP activities. In ostracizing her and denying her honor, you honor the memory of Ninoy Aquino and the thousands upon thousands who were unjustly jailed, tortured, killed or salvaged by the Marcos dictatorship.

In honoring the plunderers of this nation and letting them off easy without any punishment (like Erap) we not only condone their infamy; other rapists of this nation will also feel redeemed, convinced that they did no wrong. Then, they pave the way for future criminals to do the same, sure that, like Imelda and her gang, they will not be punished and that after their foul deeds, they can even preen in the limelight before a people without memory.

The Marcoses were in power for more than 20 years — they gave patronage with the people’s money to many. These recipients of their patronage are grateful. I can very well understand that, but keep in mind that the evil that they did far outweighs the miniscule good that they achieved, the Cultural Center is one and the appointment of King is another.

The Center and King helped deodorize a little a murderous dictatorship. And don’t you ever forget, it was your money, my money, OUR money that built the Cultural Center — not Imelda’s.

Sincerely yours,
F. Sionil Jose

KMP: Blame the cartels, not the farmers

June 8, 2008

DAVAO CITY (KMP-SMR/04 June) — “To blame the farmers over the soaring price of rice in Mindanao is an insult to injury for it is the farmer’s sector that suffers most from this worsening rice crisis. Instead of blaming the poor farmers, it should expose the rice cartels, the hoarders which are in government or protected by high-ranking government officials,” decried Pedro Arnado, vice-chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Southern Mindanao Region.
He added, “The DA should be ashamed for its obvious bias against the sector that it should serve, for passing on the blame to the people when it should in fact hang itself for its inutility to solve the rice crisis, just like its big boss in Malacanang.”

Arnado pointed out that farmers in Mindanao, as in the rest of the country are victims of the abusive buying prices set by big traders, stressing that most farmers do not own the land they till, are victims of usury and of wanton neglect due to the lack of government subsidy to farmers.

He also dismissed as “ludricrous” Paras’s justification that “tech-savvy” farmers who are able to access the internet can actually base their prices with imported rice.

“The DA is completely out of touch with the reality farmers live in. He must realize that majority of the Filipino farmers, if not all, are in far – flung areas with no access to even the most basic social services, much more to the internet. He is merely confusing us in order to cover-up the real issue that rice cartels are the powers-that- be in the agriculture business and they are well protected by this corrupt government,” Arnado said.

KMP said the DA and the Malacanang has played a deaf ear to the farmer’s calls to stop rice importation, to increase the National Food Authority’s procurement of locally produced rice, to stop the agri-business plantations such as banana and jathropa and other extractive industries that has encroached on agricultural lands.

The farmer’s group, which members around 200 local farmer-organizations in the region, said there was no genuine effort from the side of the government to solve the rice crisis.

Arnado said the poor’s limited access to NFA rice, the absence of a price ceiling and the aggravating food security of the people is proof that the government has done nothing but to save face and “deceive” the people through band-aid solutions.

Arnado challenged the DA saying that instead of blaming the poor, it should rally beside the Filipino people in calling for genuine and long term solutions to the rice crisis embodied in the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, or House Bill 3059 that is pushing for free land distribution to farmers.

June 4, 2008

Reference:
Pedro Arnado
Vice-Chairperson
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – SMR

Evacuees reiterate call for local gov’t; church to broker MOA with military for pull-out

June 8, 2008

DAVAO CITY (Nabokasa/6 June) — Lumad and farmers who evacuated to Davao in search for safer grounds are appealing to the local government of Compostela Valley Province as well as church leaders to support their demands for a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the military so that they may finally be able to back home.

“We appeal to the local government and other agencies to heed our demands for peace. We’ve been here for 21 days, knocking on doors of the NCIP, the church, and the local government. We’ve also picketed the military command in the region but our calls for peace are unheard. We want to go home but only if there is an assurance that abuses won’t happen again,” Rey Guimboloy, the chairperson of the NABOKASA, the local Ata-Matigsalug organization in Compostela said.

Aside from safe passage, the evacuees demand a complete military pull-out from their communities, a stop to the human rights violations such the use of civilians as military guide and the use of civilian places such as homes, schools and places of worship for military purposes.

The evacuees also challenged the regional offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to perform their duties.

“What now is the response of the NCIP to the petition and human right cases we filed at its office? The only clear answer they told is that they do not have funds to help us. But more than that, what have they done?” Jimmy Saipan, a farmer from Brgy. Ngan also in Compostela town which has also been affected by the spate of military operations from April to May this year.

In some reports the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has already looked into the alleged series of abuses against Allan Autan who is one of the evacuees now staying at the Bankerohan Gym.

The report said that this may be “the first documented case of human rights abuses to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI.”

Reverend Jurie Jaime, a UCCP pastor and convener of the recently-formed Exodus for Justice and Peace supported the demands of the evacuees.

He said “The evacuees are yearning to go back home, especially since the children don’t want to miss school. But they want a strong agreement that they can hold on to.”

He added, “Our peace building efforts only go as far as the victims pursue peace. Here we see people who are fighting for justice and peace. They need the support of the civil libertarians and rights defenders especially the church and the real public servants in the local government.”

The Exodus for Justice and Peace was formally launched on May 27 in response to the series of forcible evacuations that happened in the Davao region since the start of the year.

Its head conveners are members of the major religious organizations and civil libertarian groups in Davao City , namely, Sr. Luz Mallo, ma, and Sr. Irene Kaharian of the Missionaries of the Assumption, Bishop Delfin Callao of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Bishop Constante Claro of the UCCP – Southern Mindanao Jurisdiction Bro. Noelvic H.. Deloria, sc, Bro. Jose Godofredo G. Sapigao, sc and other church workers.

June 6, 2008.

Reference:
Rey Guimboloy
Chairperson, NABOKASA
(Ata-Matigsalug lumad organization)

CEGP to UNP Administrators: The fight will continue until Tandem re-opens, repression ends

June 5, 2008

04 June 2008

PRESS STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference:

Vijae Alquisola, President, 09162034402

CEGP to UNP Administrators:
The fight will continue until Tandem re-opens, repression ends
This should be the prime agenda of today’s University of Northern Philippines Board of Regents meeting: to hold the violators of students’ democratic rights accountable.
The closure of TANDEM, the official student publication of UNP is nothing but a desperate attempt by UNP President Lauro Tacbas and his cohorts to prevent the issue of the “illegal” 33% tuition increase last year from reaching the students and thwart the possibilities of collective resistance against the said increase.
TANDEM members have been experiencing various cases of harassment from the school administration. Editor-in-chief Criselda Diocena was banned from taking her final examinations and was even charged with a baseless accusation of theft.
The CEGP strongly denounces the latter. The Guild considers the attack as part of a greater plan to further silence the TANDEM from voicing out different student issues inside the university and exposing the bleak future of the youth under the Arroyo regime.
Such move by the school administration leads to the illegal 33% tuition fee increase. This is a clear violation of the regulation that students should be made aware of such tuition hike. Instead, no consultation took place, which left the students totally unaware of this sudden increase. Aside from this, miscellaneous fees also increased.
For 33 years, the TANDEM has fulfilled its duty of being the vanguard of academic freedom and has never faltered in its commitment to the entire UNP community, which gained the publication numerous awards in campus journalism.
It has been steadfast in its task of informing students about different anomalies inside the university brought about by the evil schemes of this Arroyo government to hinder accessible and quality education.
This trend of silencing student papers has been imminent since the administration sees the power and ability of student publications to inform and mobilize the student population.
This issue does not call for a new student publication; thus the need for reforms in handling not only the publication but also the entire UNP community should be addressed.
UNP administrators should bear this in mind: freedom of speech and the practice of student’s democratic rights will never waver despite numerous attacks made against it. Such a move only strengthens and unifies the ranks of students against an oppressive administration.
This fight will continue until perpetrators are deemed liable, the Tandem re-opens, and repression ends. ###
COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES
Rm 305, National Press Club Bldg., Intramuros,
Manila, Philippines
Tele Fax.: 524-3937
Email: cegpnational@ yahoo.com
“To Write Is Already To Choose”

Child rights group fear rise in children victimized by armed conflict and development aggression

June 1, 2008

The KABIBA Alliance for Children’s Concerns is alarmed over the increasing number of children affected by armed conflict and development aggression in the countryside of southern Mindanao.

According to KABIBA’s monitoring, for January-May 2008, an estimated 2,380 children have been affected by militarization and development aggression. These are in the areas of Talaingod, Davao del Norte; Baganga and Cateel, Davao Oriental; New Bataan, Compostela and Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province; and Brgy. Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, Davao City.

Among the young victims, two from Brgy. Mangayon, Compostela, ComVal Province were physically assaulted and harassed by military elements last May 2, 2008. Another two children were wounded due to a crossfire in San Isidro, Monkayo, ComVal Province. Two children were also wounded in a massacre in Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, Davao City. Meanwhile, four children died while evacuating from their homes in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and New Bataan, ComVal Province. The four fell sick from the lack of food.

Undeniably, there is an ongoing civil war in the country instigated by chronic socio-economic crisis, bad governance and wanton violations of human rights. However, armed conflict in the countryside is being escalated by the Arroyo government’s all-out war policy through the Oplan Bantay Laya 2. The implementation of Investment Defense Force (IDF), which results in massive deployment of military and paramilitary troops to clear the way and/or protect the interests of large-scale mining and pesticides-dependent monocrop plantation companies.

Militarization is happening now in southern Mindanao, particularly in the mineral-rich and alluvial soil-rich Compostela Valley Province, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte. Indeed, the Arroyo government has declared southern Mindanao as a hub for mining and agribusiness plantations and one of the priority areas for IDF implementation. The massive deployment of troops in rural areas to facilitate development aggression and landgrabbing is displacing hundreds of families of peasants and indigenous peoples.

These non-peaceful and unjust situations in the countryside make children further vulnerable. Already, rural children are burdened by poverty and lack of social services. Indeed, they are more vulnerable because they are physically weaker, still in the process of developing their own competencies. They are usually dependent on adults. They are greatly affected by the ongoing armed conflict not only in terms of the dire consequences of shooting wars and combat operations, but also in terms of rights abuses.

Child-focused groups under KABIBA are calling the parties of armed conflict to strictly observe Geneva Protocols on War, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

We are also demanding the cancellation of all large-scale mining applications, stoppage of expansion of monocrop plantations and other pseudo-development projects. Likewise, we are also demanding the pull-out of all military and paramilitary troops who are being used by mining and plantation companies and influential people to displace the peasants and indigenous peoples in the rural areas.

We are also calling for an impartial and no-nonsense investigation on the increasing number of violations against children’s rights in the course of militarization and development aggression cum grabbing of peasants’ and indigenous peoples’ lands, most especially the involvement of Task Force Davao-trained SCAA of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in the massacre of a tribal chieftain’s family.##

For reference:

HONEY MAY IDUL-SUAZO

Executive Secretary, KABIBA Alliance for Children’s Concerns

Contact Number: 09284917899