Archive for the ‘youth’ Category

ABRA News: Youth activist killed with father, brother in Abra

March 12, 2014

Freddie Ligiw was supposed to meet with human rights groups to narrate how he was forcibly used as a guide by soldiers from the 41st IBPA of the AFP when he went missing. The bodies of Freddie, his brother and father were later found in a shallow grave.

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Youth groups condemned the killing of Freddie Ligiw, a member of progressive youth group Anakbayan in Abra, his father Licuben and brother Eddie allegedly by members of the Philippine Army 41st Infantry Battalion last March 2, 2014.
“We condemn in the highest terms the murder of Ligiw and his kin. Not content with depriving him of his liberty previously as a virtual military hostage, the Philippine Army deprived him, his brother, and his father of their very lives,” Einstein Recedes, national chairperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, said.

– See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2014/03/10/youth-activist-killed-with-father-brother-in-abra/#sthash.emCYh1j2.dpuf

————————————–
Below is a link of another story that was picked up by GMANews from an army press release apparently.

Mass grave found in Abra province — report
By GMANews Online

Police and soldiers have discovered a mass grave believed to contain remains of communist New People’s Army members in Abra province.

The grave was located in Barangay Duminglay Licuan’s Sitio Sukaw in Ba-ay town, according to a report on Bombo Radyo Saturday night.

The report quoted 1Lt. Rowena Abayon of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division’s public affairs office as saying the grave could have contained the remains of at least three residents previously reported missing.

Read more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/351755/news/regions/mass-grave-found-in-abra-province-report

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Anti-Balikatan Poster

April 17, 2009

Kalbaryong balikatan

http://kalbaryongbalikatan.blogspot.com

NPA leader: Military behind daughter’s slay

March 9, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:55:00 03/09/2009

ka-parago

DAVAO CITY—If the killers of elementary teacher Rebelyn Pitao wanted to shatter her father, Commander Parago of the communist New People’s Army’s Pulang Bagani Command, they apparently failed.

Parago, whose real name is Leoncio Pitao, said the killing of his daughter might have devastated him but did not weaken his cause—the “revolution of the people who have been suffering from the hands of an oppressive government.”

Pitao granted selected journalists an interview in an upland village known to be an NPA stronghold in southern Mindanao on Sunday—three days after the body of his daughter was found in an irrigation ditch in Carmen town, Davao del Norte province.

Wearing a Mao cap and the NPA’s signature black shirt, Parago appeared calm but his eyes were somber. He exchanged jokes with NPA cadres.

The military has consistently denied involvement in Rebelyn’s abduction and killing.

“What they did to my daughter was painful but we must not stop. I am here not only as a father to her but a father to many other poor daughters and sons of the oppressed. Am I devastated? I am not. I am even inspired by her death to be relentless in fighting for the freedom of the poor,” Parago said.

He added: “I will not abandon the people because of this loss. Instead, I will continue the people’s revolution.”

His oldest son, Ryan, also an NPA cadre, said the death of his sister was unacceptable. But like his father, Ryan said, Rebelyn will now become their source of courage and strength to move forward.

“She is now our inspiration to broaden the democratic people’s revolution. My sister will now always be with all of us as we struggle against a bankrupt government,” said Ryan. He joined his father after surviving an attack of suspected government agents three years ago.

Parago said he had expected the military to target his family as government forces continuously failed to capture him. He claimed that the 10th Infantry Division’s military intelligence group was behind the abduction and killing of Rebelyn.

“No one has the intention, motive and track record of the MIG [military intelligence group]. They did this to my brother. They almost got my son. My other daughter, Rio, was tailed by elements of MIG when she was still studying and this continued even when she was already working. It was the 10th ID who said they wanted to get me … now who has the desire to see me weakened or dead?” Parago said.

But he said the NPA would not retaliate and follow the approach of the military. He, however, said that time will come for those who were behind the killing of Rebelyn to pay for their debts.

Rebelyn, 20, was on her way home on board a tricycle from St. Peter’s College in Toril District when she was snatched by armed men. She was forced into a white van and was overheard by the tricycle driver as screaming for help.

Her body bore torture marks and five stab wounds. Rope marks were also found around her neck, which could mean she was strangled.

The medico legal also found injuries in her genitals, believed to have been caused by a hard object.

The militant women’s group Gabriela took the killing as the government’s gift to them on International Women’s Day.

“She becomes the symbol of the entire Filipino women whose equal footing with men has been undermined by the Arroyo regime,” said Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan.

“What made it more outrageous was the fact that Rebelyn Pitao has dedicated her life to teaching, a profession that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken for granted over the years,” Ilagan said.

“Her only fault was being her father’s daughter,” Ilagan said.

In Manila, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano in a statement blamed the President, specifically her anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay-Laya on the murder of Rebelyn. Jeffrey M. Tupas with reports from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao, and Gil Cabacungan Jr. in Manila

Various education sectors in Cordillera assess concerns

March 6, 2009

BAGUIO CITY — Some 110 participants from various sectors in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) attended the regional conference on education entitled “Forging Unity Among Various Sectors Towards Quality education” held on February 21.

The conference became a venue to make steps and plan of actions to address the basic problems in education that the region faces today.

The state of education was viewed from different perspectives. National Union of Student of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet (NUSP-BB) Chairperson Maria Finela Mejia said education system in Cordillera is commercialized, colonial and fascist, as manifested in the rising cost of education and the courses offered today.

She cited the implementation of Commission on Higher Education Memorandum Order 13 (CHEd Memo 13) as major cause of the yearly tuition and other fees hikes for it allows school owners to increase tuition and other fees without limit.

Amid the rising cost of education, the government and schools promote courses that are marketable and the ones with labor-export orientation. In the end, she challenges the youth by saying, “we should unite in fighting for our right to nationalist, mass-oriented and scientific education.”

CHEd recognized the students’ dilemma and said they have and will continue to ask the school owners not to increase tuition and other fees. When CHEd mentioned its assistance programs, some delegates commented they can not avail these scholarships because they do not meet the requirements of being “poor but deserving.”

On this note, CHEd CAR Director Virginia Akiate asked the students to pass a position paper regarding this so that CHEd can review the requirements of its scholarship programs.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), on the other hand, faulted the insufficient budget and government’s misprioritization of education for the declining quality of education.

“There are classrooms, books, and teachers shortages, yet the government allocates almost half of the national budget to debt services,” ACT Metro-Baguio Coordinator Perry Mendoza said.

These problems in education were proved to be true by the delegates themselves during the workshop groups where they cited manifestations of education problems in their provinces of Abra, Apayao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

With the crisis in education, the delegates were then divided into workshop groups and made as to how they can address the problems. Before the conference ends, the delegates came up with “Manifesto of unity calling for the quality and relevant education for all young Filipinos” signed by the delegates. # Adrian Galang

Student groups say tuition freeze no impact

March 6, 2009

BAGUIO CITY — Tuition freeze has not relieved students here with schools now contemplating to increase miscellaneous and other fees.

Student groups here assailed the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) stance on tuition freeze, saying said order is now being used as an excuse to increase miscellaneous and other school fees.

Earlier in the National Capital Region, youth groups dismissed as ‘toothless’ the recent CHEd memorandum appealing for a moratorium on tuition increases. The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), Kabataan Youth Party, Anakbayan and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines held a picket protest outside the CHEd main office, Tuesday.

In a press conference here Tuesday, the fifth of a series of media blitz launched by progressive youth and student organizations based here, representatives of NUSP, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), and student councils of two universities hit CHEd fornot ordering a freeze in all school fees, as well.

NUSP’s Maria Finela Mejia said the youth and student organization has earlier called on CHEd not to allow the increase in tuition and other fees considering the global financial crisis that has obviously affected everyone, especially the poor.

Mejia said, “Di namin naramdaman ang epekto ng pag-apila ng CHEd sa mga paaralan na di magtaas ng tuition, dahil nagtaasan naman ang ibang bayarin,” (CHEd’s appeal for schools not to increase tuition has no impact on us because these increased other fees.)

Saint Louis University (SLU) and the University of the Cordilleras (UC) are among the universities which had drumbeated an increase in miscellaneous fees.

Marcius Aquino, vice-governor of the Kasama Supreme Student Council (SSC) said, with 10% increases in miscellaneous fees, SLU is even getting more than the 2007-2008 increases in tuition (4.5%) and miscellaneous (4.5%), which is only a total of 9%.

Aquino divulged the lack of a genuine consultation with students, saying the administration has not replied on the student request for a dialog.

In UC, the administration has not called for student leaders in a consultation, according to William Mamaglo, UC Supreme Student Government (SSG) president. He said, the student gfovernment would ask that the increases should not be higher than 5% but the proposal is 10%.

STI Computer College asks for a 6% increase in tuition and other fees, while the University of the Philippines proposes a 15% increase in tuition and other fees.

This semester SLU tuition is 357 per unit. Both UC and University of Baguio now collect an average of P370/unit; UPcollects P600/unit. Tuition is P352 per unit in Easter College.

Based on CHEd data, 372 private colleges and universities increased their tuition at an average of P36.75 per unit last year. In the NCR, average tuition is P855.20 per unit. # Lyn V. Ramo

Manila waits for US move on Cpl Smith DFA: Americans not ready to discuss issue

February 14, 2009

By Tarra Quismundo, Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:11:00 02/14/2009

Filed Under: Crime and Law and Justice, Subic rape case, Diplomacy

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine official on Friday said any new negotiations on custody of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith would have to wait until the Americans were ready to talk, and indicated Manila was powerless to compel Washington to sit down immediately.

“Right now, the department is very serious in coordinating with the US embassy. But they had to approach first their experts to get their legal opinion,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Bayani Mangibin said in a phone interview.

Mangibin said: “We don’t have a policy to wait for them … What can we do if they are not ready?”

Earlier, US diplomats made it clear they were firm in their position to keep custody of the American Marine convicted of raping the Filipino woman “Nicole” until the courts had ruled with finality on Smith’s appeal.

Smith has been confined in the US Embassy compound, according to US and Philippine officials, since December 2006 after he was sentenced by a Makati court up to 40 years in jail for raping Nicole during a one-night encounter at Subic Bay Freeport. He has elevated his case to the Court of Appeals.

A new furor erupted over the custody issue after the Supreme Court last week ruled that the US-Philippine executive agreement that allowed the embassy to keep Smith ran counter to the two countries’ Visiting Forces Agreement. The court ordered the DFA to immediately negotiate with the US the transfer of Smith to a Philippine-controlled facility.

Main concern

Mangibin said the DFA had started the “process of coordination” with the embassy on the issue of custody, based on the Supreme Court ruling. He said the DFA was also consulting the Departments of Justice and Interior and Local Government, and the Solicitor General.

“Our main concern is to look for appropriate arrangements for Daniel Smith,” he said.

The embassy has said it is studying the court decision and referred it to government legal experts in Washington.

Mangibin said formal negotiations could begin after the embassy had received the legal opinion from Washington and that in the meantime, Smith would stay at the embassy compound.

3 scenarios

Interior Undersecretary Marius Corpus said yesterday that after his last check on Smith on Feb. 5—or several days before the high court’s ruling came out—he met with an embassy political officer and discussed three possibilities in anticipation of a court decision.

In that meeting, Corpus saw the embassy’s steadfast position to continue holding on to Smith until the appeals process had been completed. After his December 2006 conviction, Smith was briefly held at a Makati jail before the embassy took custody of him—in the middle of the night—based on the controversial executive agreement.

“We talked about the possible consequences of the Supreme Court decision,” Corpus said. The discussion was not prompted by any advance information on the court’s eventual ruling, Corpus said when asked if there was any leak.

“One, that the Supreme Court would declare the VFA unconstitutional. Two, I said it’s highly probable that the court would affirm the VFA’s constitutionality, including the agreement [to hold Smith at the embassy], and that it would order some provisions of the VFA revised,” Corpus said by phone.

“Third, that everything will be upheld, both the VFA and the transfer (of Smith to the embassy).”

Lobby for Smith

Corpus said when the issue of custodial arrangement was brought up, the US side said: “We’ve already agreed on that. We’d like to continue what was agreed upon.”

Corpus said he heard that a congressman from Smith’s home state of Missouri was “lobbying in the State Department for it to take care of Smith.”

“That’s the reason why they defend Smith so much,” Corpus said, adding however that he had no categorical information about the supposed lobby.

Also discussed at the meeting was Smith’s condition while in detention, particularly his having gained a lot of weight, according to Corpus, who said he had been visiting Smith almost monthly.

“They (the embassy officials) said, ‘We should give him work, with your permission,’ so that he will not deteriorate physically,” Corpus said.

Corpus said he agreed, noting that similar activities were allowed local prisoners. He said he just asked that any chores given to Smith should not compromise the terms of his confinement.

‘He is bored’

“You can see the emotional stress in him,” Corpus said. “Every time I talk to him, I can see that he is emotionally suffering. He is very bored. The condition is even better in detention facilities outside, where [detainees] have some company.”

Corpus assured the Nicole camp that Smith remained inside the embassy compound, contrary to claims by some of the rape victim’s supporters that he had been spirited out of the embassy.

“Even if I visit him every day, they will not believe me,” Corpus said.

Send him to Munti

Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo has joined growing calls for Smith’s immediate transfer to a local prison.

“We demand that the Philippine government immediately effect the transfer of Smith to the New Bilibid Prison,” Ocampo said in a press statement. “We cannot understand why a clear-cut exercise of sovereignty, in this case custody over a convicted foreign felon, should be subject to negotiations.”

Ocampo added: “What the Philippine government should do is simply impose its own laws over a foreigner who violated those laws. It should not negotiate but order the US Embassy to turn over Smith to the proper local authority.”

Indefinite delay

The leftist lawmaker said the high court’s order for the DFA to arrange a detention place acceptable to Washington was just a ruse to “indefinitely delay” Smith’s transfer. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Tagumpay ng student-bloggers at malayang pamamahayag

February 6, 2009

Anthony Ian Cruz

MATAPOS magreklamo ang ilang magulang, pinigilan na ng panrehiyong tanggapan ng Department of Education-National Capital Region ang parusang sampung araw na suspensyon na ipinataw kamakailan sa apat na estudyante ng Quezon City Science High School (QCSHS).

Nakatakda sanang ipatupad ang suspensyon sa mga estudyante simula ngayong Lunes, Enero 19, bilang parusa sa mga sinulat na artikulo sa kanilang mga blog na tumutuligsa kay Dr. Zenaida Panti Sadsad, punong-guro ng paaralan.

Ipinaliwanag ni DepEd NCR director Teresita Dimalanta sa GMA News
noong Biyernes na pinigilan ng ahensya ang suspensyon para
bigyang-daan ang kanilang sariling imbestigasyon.

May pag-apruba ng DepEd?

Sa isang panayam, sinabi ng isa sa apat na estudyante sa sila ay
sinuspinde sa utos mismo ni Dr. Sadsad, at may pag-apruba ito ng pamunuan ng DepEd sa dibisyon ng Quezon City.

Ayon sa estudyante, pinarusahan siya dahil sa pagtuligsa niya sa
kanyang blog sa pamamaraan ng pagtuturo ng ilang guro, at sa pagpahayag ng panawagan ng maraming mag-aaral na tanggalin na sa puwesto si Dr. Sadsad.

Ang blog ng nasabing estudyante ay “for private reading” sa Multiply.com at mababasa lamang ng kanyang mga kaibigan.

Nagsimula ang mga protesta at pagtuligsa ng mga estudyante noong
Setyembre 2008 matapos diumano’y pigilan ni Sadsad ang tradisyunal na isang linggong pagdiriwang ng anibersaryo ng QCSHS.

Biglaan din diumanong tinanggal ni Sadsad ang buong staff ng mga
pahayagang Electron at Banyuhay noong Hunyo 2008 at pinalitan ang
gurong tagapayong si G. Rex San Diego.

Kinondena din ng estudyante ang balitang panunuhol kay Sadsad mula sa pamilya ng isang estudyanteng di pumasa sa entrance examinations ng QCSHS.

‘Wala sa student handbook’

Ayon sa ama ng biktima, ang sinasabing mga paglabag na ibinibintang sa kanyang anak ay wala saanman sa student handbook ng paaralan. Kinondena din niya ang di pagrespeto ng administrasyon sa karapatan ng kanyang anak sa due process.

Para naman sa kanyang ina, itutuloy ng kanilang pamilya ang paglaban sa administrasyon.

Ayon sa kanila, haharap ang apat na estudyante, mga kapwa magulang at alumni sa isang press conference sa Martes sa Quezon City.

Ayon sa ina ng biktima, nagmura si Sadsad sa unang pulong na pinatawag ng punong-guro noong isang taon. Ginamit din umano ni Sadsad ang mga printout ng blogs sa paghampas sa mesa sa harap ng mga magulang na kanyang inimbitahan sa QCSHS.

Dinagdag pa ng ina na matapos pumutok ang balita sa midya, nagpadala na ng “feelers” si Sadsad na iuurong na ang suspensyon kung hihingi ng tawad ang kanyang anak at mangangakong hindi na muli susulat ng panunuligsa sa kanyang administrasyon.

Sinubukan ng Pinoy Weekly na kunin ang panig ni Sadsad ngunit hindi ito makontak.

Suporta sa mga estudyante

Mula sa London, Gran Britanya, nanawagan si QCSHS alumnus Rafael
Joseph Maramag sa isang bukas na liham sa lokal na pamahalaan ng
Quezon City at sa DepEd na imbestigahan si Sadsad, sa halip na ang mga estudyante.

Ayon kay Maramag, “sa kanyang lantarang pag-abuso sa kapangyarihan, si Sadsad pa nga ang dapat suspindihin o kaya ay ipatapon mula sa paaralan.”

Nagpahayag naman ang College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) ng pagsuporta sa apat na estudyante at hinamon ang QCSHS at DepEd na respetuhin ang konstitusyunal na karapatan ng mga estudyante sa
malayang pamamahayag.

Ayon kay Vijae Alquisola, pangulo ng CEGP,  dapat ikonsidera ng DepEd ang mga epektong emosyonal, sosyal at sikolohikal ng naunsyaming suspensyon sa mga estudyante.

(Si Anthony Ian Cruz ay isang freelance journalist at blogger. Bumisita sa
kanyang blog sa http://tonyocruz.com)

UP Students May Lose Representation in Highest Governing Body

January 21, 2009

Additional requirements for the selection of the student representative to the Board of Regents – as stipulated in the new UP Charter- have endangered the representation of students in the highest policy-making body of the country’s premier state university.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat

Since 1987, a lone student representative sits as an official member of the University of the Philippines’ (UP) Board of Regents (BOR). From that year until 1997, the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (Kasama sa UP or Association of Student Councils in UP), a system-wide alliance of UP student councils, selects the Student Regent from among themselves. In 1997, the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) formulated and approved the Codified Rules for the Student Regent Selection (CRSRS). For more than a decade, the CRSRS was used as a guideline in the selection of the SR.

In April 2008, the Republic Act 9500 or the UP Charter was enacted. Section 12 letter g of the Charter states: “One Student Regent, to serve for a term of one (1) year, chosen by the students from their ranks in accordance with rules and qualifications approved in a referendum by the students.”

The referendum for the approval of the CRSRS has been set from January 26 to 31 of this year.

In an interview with the Philippine Collegian, Theodore Te, UP Vice President for Legal Affairs said that for the referendum to take effect, a voter turnout of 50 percent plus one of all bonafide UP students must be reached.

Logistical nightmare

In an interview with Bulatlat, Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid said Te did not cite any basis for his proposed 50 percent plus one formula. She said that voter turnout for UP student council elections ranges only from 30 to 40 percent. Thus, she said, reaching the required percentage of voter turnout for a referendum to take effect – even before a Student Regent could be selected – would be very difficult.

Besides, she said, the referendum is a ‘logistical nightmare.’

She said that not all of the 55,00 students in the entire UP system know the existence of the SR. “How would you encourage them to vote in the referendum? They must first understand the relevance of having a student representative in the BOR.”

Abdulwahid said that a failure of the referendum is tantamount to losing the lone student representative to the BOR. “There would be no rules to start with,” she said.

Abdulwahid’s term should have ended in December last year. She has been compelled to hold over until a new SR has been selected.

She said further, “In a way, [the referendum] challenges the present rules [governing the selection of SR).”

Abdulwahid said the referendum places the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) in a disadvantageous position.

Proposed amendments

Abdulwahid related that the proposal for a referendum came from one student leader in UP Manila. She refused to name the proponent. She said that before the enactment of the UP Charter, they opposed the inclusion of that particular provision.

Abdulwahid revealed that ‘pseudo-progressive student organizations’ in UP have been proposing amendments to the CRSRS but were rejected by the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC). She said the same groups wanted to include their proposed amendments to the questions to be submitted in the referendum. She said that these groups see the referendum as an opportunity to push for their amendments.

Among the proposed amendments include the additional academic requirement for SR; deletion of Kasama sa UP; and some proposed changes in the voting mechanism.

“If their proposed amendments have merit, why are these being rejected? The proponents could not prove that such amendments are needed,” Abdulwahid said.

Abdulwahid said she has been accused of being partisan because of her affiliation with STAND UP, a political party in UP. She said however that only six out of 51 student councils in the entire UP system demanded for the inclusion of the proposed amendments to the final questions. “They are a minority. I would be questioned if I accommodate their demand.”

Historical victory

She said the OSR is a product of the long struggle of students for student representation. “As the biggest constituency in the university, the students need to have a voice in the implementation of policies affecting them.”

In an article, JPaul Manzanilla, former UP Student Regent and former chairperson of the University Student Council (USC) in UP Diliman, said that from 1908 to 1968, university policies are determined without the student population’s full knowledge. It was only in 1969 that a “student observer” had been allowed to observe the proceedings of the BOR. From 1970 until 1972, then President Ferdinand Marcos appointed the student council chairpersons as regular members of the BOR concurrent with their student council tenure.

Manzanilla’s article stated that in the early 80s, the Kasama sa UP campaigned for the reinstatement of the position of the student regent. The alliance rejected Marcos’ hand in the appointment of the student regent and demanded that the SR must be selected by the students themselves.

In 1987, then President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 204 modifying the composition of the BOR to include one student representative.

In another interview, Alvin Peters, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), the biggest alliance of student councils in the country, said the school administration must not intervene in the selection of the SR.

Peters deemed that the requirement for a referendum is an imposition provided for in the UP Charter. He said it is a threat to the student movement.

Implications

The NUSP leader said the referendum would have serious implications to the gains of the student movement.

Peters said that other state universities and colleges (SUCs) may also opt for a referendum, thereby undermining the existing rules in the selection of student representatives in highest policy-making bodies of universities. “The UP referendum may be used as a pretext to intervene in the existing mechanism of students to choose their own representatives,” he explained.

Peters said the historical context of student representation in state universities’ highest policy making bodies must be taken into account. “It is a product of a long struggle by progressive student leaders. It is part of the historic struggle of students for democratic reforms.”

Peters challenged the UP students to defend their right to representation. He said the existing rules must be upheld as a reaffirmation of the historic victory of students.(Bulatlat.com)

Photos: Students stage protest at US embassy, hit US role in Gaza bombing and invasion

January 18, 2009

Students stage protest at US embassy,

hit US role in Gaza bombing and invasion

Manila

Video: US Congress votes to back Israel

January 11, 2009

Students hit US role in Gaza bombings; hold protest at US embassy in Manila

January 11, 2009

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) today led a protest action in
front of the US embassy in Manila calling for a stop to the “genocide
and occupation” being conducted by Israeli troops in Gaza. The
students also condemned the US for backing Israel, saying the US is
the financier and operator of the killings.

“The US-Israel child-killing, mass murder tag team in the Middle East
must be stopped. The on-going conflict in Gaza shows how merciless and
brutal the US war machine is, despite its pretensions of being
democratic and humanitarian. Israel and US must be punished as war
criminals,” says Vencer Crisostomo, LFS National Chairperson.

The US provides a large sum for Israel military funding, of up to
almost $4 billion annually.

Crisostomo said that the killing and occupation has also to do with
oil and natural resources, in which the US has big stakes.

“In part, this war is about a right-wing Zionist ideology, but also,
this is about economic interests, particularly oil and natural gas, in
the Middle East. There is natural gas in Gaza, and an oil pipeline
planned to pass through the strip. This is, like Iraq and Afghanistan,
also blood for oil,” said Crisostomo. (Reference:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11680)

Crisostomo said that they will launch an anti-war campaign in schools,
taking part in the international efforts to stop the conflict and end
the occupation.

“We are in solidarity with the protests around the globe against the
war. The students, youth and peoples of the world must unite in
stopping this monstrosity,” says Crisostomo.

Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, at least 854 people
have been killed, including 270 children, 93 women, and 12 paramedics.

www.lfs.ph

MEDIA STATEMENT
14 January 2009
Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-221203

WOMEN UNITE AGAINST ISRAELI ATTACK
ON PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

The women of GABRIELA National Alliance of Women stand in unity with the international community in condemning the Israeli invasion of the Gaza strip.

The vision of hundreds of wounded and lifeless Palestinian children
strewn in Gaza is beyond heartbreaking. In each and every woman, the
death, destruction and overall human suffering in Gaza should stir
rage against the governments of Israeli and the United States. From
generation to generation, the Israeli government repeatedly attacks
with impunity the Palestinian people and the United States government
inspires and supports such inhuman acts of massive proportions.

The current aggression of Israeli troops in Gaza has resulted, so far,
in the death of 910 Palestinians, 292 were children and 75 were women
and the wounding of more than 4,000 others.

This unspeakable violence against the Palestinian people is not unlike
the attacks waged against peoples in the name of political and
economic control over sovereign nations. Wars of aggression, within
which the culture of violence is intricately webbed, victimize women
and children most. In the recent past it has happened in Afghanistan
and in Iraq and in Mindanao in the Philippines. Displacement,
dislocation, hunger, rape and other forms of sexual violence are
suffered most by women and children.

Filipino women must stand together with all freedom-loving people of
the world in protesting this recent violation on the lives and
sovereignty of the Palestinian people and demand for the immediate
pull out of Israeli troops in Gaza and put and end to the death,
destruction and overall human suffering Palestine.

(Photos Courtesy of ANAKBAYAN and news agencies)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Anakbayan and ILPS lead Free Palestine rally in San Francisco

January 17, 2009

Anakbayan and ILPS lead Free Palestine rally

in San Francisco

January 10, 2009

(Photos Courtesy of Anakbayan-East Bay)

Arkibong Bayan

Youth forms HR alliance

January 12, 2009

BAGUIO CITY — The young generation of Baguio is ready to face the new year with the resolve to forge a tough group of human rights defenders come 2009.

“Our resolve to provide avenues for the promotion of human rights by the first quarter of 2009 is as ready as our fireworks for this new year,” said Anjo Rey Cerdeña, member of the committee formed to prepare for the first general assembly of Young Defenders.

He says their generation has read, heard and seen so much about the country’s poor human rights record in the past years. “It is a record too dirty to reflect our generation’s history. We thought, it is about time we forge a wide network of young and fresh defenders who would take on the task of countering this bad record,” he said.

Before going home for vacation, the committee had already mapped out preparations for the assembly. These include the release of promotional materials and the first wave of invitations through campus visits early next year.

“Human rights is a matter of life and dignity. It is everybody’s concern and we aim to involve a broad spectrum of the youth sector in this cause,” Cerdeña said. This spectrum, according to him, includes indigenous youth, students, out-of-school youth, civil society, religious youth and much more.

The initiative is a brainchild of the Indigenous Peoples Day Youth Coordinating Committee which gathered different indigenous youth groups in the city to learn about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in line with the celebration of its first year last August 9. Months later and 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last December 10, they meet again for the Youth Leadership Training on Human Rights Education and Advocacy. This is where the preparations for a general assembly was formally launched.

“It is amazing to finally have this initiative that will redeem us from the grim record of our country in human rights. With this, we are sure to start the new year with a bang,” Cerdeña claims. # IPDYCC Release

Editorial Cartoon: Campus Terrorists

January 8, 2009

anti-academic-freedom

Campus Fascism

Scarred Souls, Lost Innocence: Stories of Children Victims of Human Rights Violations

December 31, 2008

At first glance, they looked like ordinary children. But deep within them are scarred souls and lost innocence because they are children-victims of human rights violations. On December 9, they went to see the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy to tell her their tragic stories.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

(Bulatlat.com)

Seventeen-year old Jerome (not his real name) comes from Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. On March 23, 2007, at around 9 a.m., Jerome and his five cousins were on their way home from a nearby village when they heard gunfire. They immediately ran for cover.

When the gunfire ceased, they came out from hiding. Jerome said he saw soldiers armed with long rifles, three 6 x 6 military trucks and an armored personnel carrier. The soldiers belong to the 29th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA).

The soldiers asked Jerome and his cousins where their firearms were. All of them said they did not have any gun. The soldiers told them, “Hindi, mga NPA talaga kayo.” (No. You are really members of the New People’s Army.)

Jerome related, “Natatakot ako, umiiyak ako.” (I was so afraid; I was crying.)

He said the soldiers repeatedly asked them questions like: “How long have you been in the service as NPA fighters?” “Who are your companions?” “What are the names of your comrades?”

Jerome said they insisted that they are not members of the NPA. The boy explained to the soldiers that he was just helping his parents in the field.

Jerome quit school after finishing Grade 3 to help in the farm.

Jerome and his cousins, all of whom are minors except one, were brought to the headquarters of the 29th IB and detained there for almost two weeks.


Children join the protest commemorating the International Human Rights Day in Manila. (Photo by Angie de Lara)

The children’s families only learned about their arrest when notified by a tricycle driver. Their parents immediately went to the military camp but the children were not released to them. Jerome said his mother was crying while pleading for his release but the soldiers refused to set him free.

On March 27, five of the children, including Jerome, were presented to members of the local media in Cagayan de Oro City. They were introduced as child soldiers of the NPA. He said the soldiers placed long firearms, materials for making a land mine and medicines on the table in front of them.

Again, Jerome and the children told the media they are not child soldiers and they know nothing about the NPA.

The next day, the children were brought to Manila for a press conference.

Jerome could not identify the exact location but said he saw several policemen and members of the media. They were presented as child soldiers of the NPA who were arrested by the military.

Again, the children said they are not NPA fighters. He related that members of the media and the soldiers just laughed at them because they could not speak fluently in Tagalog.

They were released to their parents only on April 2.

Witnessing a father die

On April 29 this year, at around 10:15 p.m., Junior, 14 years old, his siblings and parents were sleeping when they were awakened by gunfire. Their house at Sitio Kahusayan, Manuel Guiangga, Tugbok District, Davao City was being strafed by bullets.

Junior’s younger sister peeked outside and, through the light generated by sparks of lightning, saw the armed men wearing Task Force Davao armbands. Elements of the Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA) under the 101st Brigade of the Philippine Army wear such bands.

After the shooting, Junior’s father was found wounded and soaked in his own blood. His mother and two sisters, four years old and eight years old, were also wounded. Junior was unhurt.

Junior said they carried their father, with the help of some neighbors, on the way to town. They walked for three hours. Junior’s father died along the way due to severe loss of blood.

The boy said that before the incident, his father, a leader of the tribal group Bagobo-Klata, refused to sell their piece of land to Apollo Quiboloy who owns the prayer mountain near their place. Junior said the village captain of Tamayong, Greg Canada, was pressuring his father to sell their land to Quiboloy.

After the incident, the villagers left the place and went to a banana plantation at the adjacent village. “Hindi na makapunta sa taniman ang mga tao, kumakain na lang ng saging.” (The people could not go to their farm, they just ate bananas.)

Since then, Junior’s family has been staying at the house of a relative.

He said all he wanted is to attain justice for the death of his father.

A victim of sexual abuse

If Junior lost his father, their home and livelihood, 15-year old Ivy lost her innocence.

Ivy came from Surigao City. On January 14 this year, Ivy went to the house of her classmate to borrow a book. She was in third year high school then.

At around 7 p.m., Ivy passed by the village’s day care center near the military camp of the 30th IBPA

Ivy related, “May humila sa braso ko, mag-uusap lang daw kami…May mahabang baril siya, natakot ako.” (Somebody grabbed my arm, he said we would just talk…He had a long firearm, I got scared.)

Ivy continued, “Dinala niya ako sa loob ng day care center, pinasok sa CR at hinawakan ang maseselang bahagi ng katawan ko.” (He took me inside the day care center, then to the comfort room where he touched my private parts.)

The young girl told the man, “Sir, maawa na po kayo sa akin. Ang bata-bata ko pa.” (Sir, have pity on me. I am still so young.)

Ivy recalled the man saying,“Wag kang mag-alala, pakakasalan kita. Magagawa ko lahat dahil sundalo ako, may baril ako, kayo wala.” (Don’t worry, I will marry you. I can do everything because I am a soldier, I have a gun while you don’t have any.)

After a while, Ivy said the man allowed her to go home. When the man saw many people outside the day care center, he grabbed Ivy again, pushed her against the wall and touched her private parts again.

Ivy went home crying. She could not sleep that night. Then, she received a text message from the soldier. She said the soldier managed to get her number from her friend.

Ivy said the soldier said, “Pumunta ka rito, uulitin natin ginawa natin kanina. Kung di ka pupunta, papatayin ko mga magulang at mga kaibigan mo.” (Come here, let us do it again. If you do not come, I will kill your parents and your friends.)

Out of fear, Ivy went back to the day care center. She was raped.

After the incident, Ivy said she cried, traumatized by what happened to her. She did not immediately tell her mother about the incident because of fear. On January 20, when her mother finally learned about the abuse, they immediately filed a rape case against Private First Class Reynaldo Pagios of the 30th IB.

When they confronted Pagios, Ivy said, the soldier had the gall to tell her, “Eh ikaw ang gumahasa sa akin.” (You were the one who raped me.)

Ivy said Pagios refused to attend the hearings.

The girl said they were also threatened by Pagios through text messages. “Pasasabugin daw bahay namin.” (He said he would bomb our house.)

Ivy said soldiers also told the public that the rape case was just a show orchestrated by the NPA to discredit the military.

Gusto kong makita na nakakulong siya,” (I want to see him behind bars.) said Ivy of Pagios.

Kapag nakakakita ako ng naka-unipormeng sundalo, natatakot ako. Mapagsamantala sila. Porke may mga baril sila, nagagawa nila gusto nila,” (When I see soldiers in uniform, I feel scared. They are opportunists. Just because they have guns, they do whatever they please.) Ivy said.

Being shot at

Janice, 17 years old, was with her mother when they first got caught in the middle of a military operation being conducted by the 17th IBPA on January 21, 2007 in Baggao, Cagayan Valley.

Janice related, “Sunday iyon, 1 p.m., kasama ako ng nanay ko sa taniman ng yellow corn. Hinahawan namin ang mga damo. Bandang 1:30 p.m., may narinig kaming putukan. Nagtakbuhan kami para magtago.”(It was a Sunday, 1 p.m. I was with my mother at the yellow corn plantation. We were clearing the weeds. At around 1:30 p.m., we heard gunfire. We ran for cover.)

Some 23 families in their sub-village went to the two nearby subvillages to seek refuge. After three hours, Janice and ten neighbors went back to their homes, thinking that the soldiers have left.

Janice said,“Umuwi kami para kumuha ng gamit sa school at magpakain ng alagang hayop.” (We went home to get our things for school and to feed the animals.)

While waiting for their companions, Janice said they heard gunfire. Minutes later, she felt her thigh bleeding. Her friend Katrina was also wounded.

She recalled,“Nanginginig na ako, napahandusay sa daan, punong-puno na ng dugo.” (I was shivering, I fell to the ground bleeding profusely.)

She continued, “Dinaan-daanan lang kami ng mga militar.” (The soldiers did not bother to help us.)

It was only at around 5 p.m. when neighbors managed to bring them to the nearest hospital. By 2 a.m., they were transferred to a hospital in Tuguegarao City and were confined there for three days.

Days after the incident, Janice said, she heard soldiers being interviewed over the local radio station, accusing them of being NPA fighters and threatening to file rebellion charges against them.

A community threatened

Fourteen-year old Joy had a different story. Joy comes from Sitio Bermuda, Bgy. Nabuk in Compostela Valley.

On May 2 this year, at around 10 a.m, soldiers from the 28th IBPA arrived at their sub-village. Joy was then manning the cooperative store of their community. The soldiers asked her, “May NPA bang bumibili ng softdrinks dito?” (Do NPA guerrillas buy soft drinks here?)

She replied that the last time they saw NPA fighters was a month ago. The soldiers told her, “Sinungaling ka! Kahapon lang narito sila.” (You’re a liar. They were here yesterday.)

The soldiers then asked for water. Joy replied that she would have to fetch water first. A soldier replied, “’Pag NPA humihingi, bibigyan n’yo agad.” (If the NPA ask for water, you immediately give them water.)

Joy said a resident who just bought rice for the cooperative was held by the military who accused him of giving rice to the NPA. Joy said she also saw a soldier point a gun at her nine-year-old cousin. When the boy’s mother came to get her son, the soldiers said the child is a member of the NPA. The mother asserted her right to get her son.

Joy also said that her uncle was mauled by soldiers. “Nilagyan ng cellophane at ng kaldero and ulo niya.” (The soldiers suffocated him with a plastic bag and a cooking pot.)

On May 12, the soldiers went back to the community. They warned the residents that they would be killed if they saw NPA fighters in the area.

At around 4 p.m., Joy said, they heard gunshots. Upon hearing the shots, some 58 families decided to evacuate from the place immediately.

Joy related,“Bandang 9 p.m., umalis kami sa lugar para pumunta sa Valma, 3 a.m. kami nakarating. Kahit ang mga matanda at bagong panganak, nakapaglakad dahil sa takot.” (We left our place at around 9 p.m. and arrived at Valma by 3 a.m.. Even the old and those who just gave birth were able to walk because of fear.)

They slept by the road. Hours later, they were transferred to the town’s gymnasium and stayed there for three days. Then, they transferred to Davao City, at the Bangkerohan village and stayed there for one month.

It was only by June 17 that they came back to their place. “Wala na ang mga hayop, pati mga tanim. May mga nawawalang gamit sa bahay. Sa coop, ubos ang paninda.” (All our farm animals were gone even our crops. We lost some belongings from our homes. All the items for sale at the cooperative were also gone.)

Children’s rights violations

Jerome, Junior, Ivy, Janice and Joy are but five of the 948 children victims of human rights violations under the Arroyo administration, which were monitored by the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC).

In its report, the CRC said that from 2001 to 2008, 66 children were killed, 49 were victims of frustrated killing, 50 were tortured, five were raped, four were forcibly disappeared, and 55 were illegally arrested and detained. The NGO also estimated that about two million individuals, including children have been affected by forced displacement due to armed conflict.

The CRC said the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is the main violator of children’s rights, whether in situations of armed conflict or not.

Tribute to Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008), press freedom fighter and nurse for the people

December 22, 2008

After getting her nursing license Mae-Mae immediately volunteered for a three-month medical mission to the hinterlands of Negros.  Mae-Mae barely finished her volunteer work in Negros when her dreams died with her.

Mae-Mae was killed by elements of the AFP on September 18, 2008 in an alleged encounter with New People’s Army rebels. Her face was barely recognizable; she was shot at point-blank range. Her feet and legs were black and bruised, signs of torture evident elsewhere in her beaten body.

— from the CEGP statement

Rachelle Mae Palang

http://www.arkibongbayan.org/2008-11Nov28-Maemae/cegp_small.jpg

September 24, 2008

PRESS STATEMENT

Justice for Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008),

press freedom fighter and nurse for the people

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, in behalf of its National Office, regional formations and chapters, all member publications and affiliate organizations nationwide and across the globe, expresses its most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008).

Rachelle, or Mae-Mae to her closest friends and colleagues, was beloved to the Guild for her bubbly, tongue-in-cheek demeanor. She graced the Guild’s gatherings with her easy banter and infectious smile, but was always brisk and business-like in her leadership. She has served as a valuable pillar and driving force in all of the conventions and gatherings she has attended and helped organize. To most Guilders, she was not only a colleague but a precious friend and confidante.

Shock for her untimely demise are evident in her Friendster and Multiply accounts, riddled with comments ranging from disbelief, grief, and even anger – all directed at her, as if to attest that even at the time of her death her friends and colleagues still go to her for conciliation.

Such was Mae-Mae’s legacy and brand of leadership. She has always been easy to approach, a rational adviser and generous in her time and efforts.

Mae-Mae was also an outstanding student at the Velez College in Cebu City where she took up and finished her nursing degree. She became editor-in-chief of Vital Signs, the official campus publication. As campus journalist and student leader, she exemplified deep commitment to uphold press freedom, freedom of speech and students’ democratic rights and welfare. She is respected by her fellow campus journalists nationwide for her wit, intelligence and sharp grasp of issues.

She was elected as Vice President for the Visayas during CEGP’s 67th National Student Press Convention and 33rd Biennial Student Press Congress held in Albay, Bicol in 2005.  She served her term for three consecutive years before she finally relinquished her post May of this year. The CEGP will without end be honored and grateful to have had someone as dedicated as Mae-Mae as one of its leading officers.

Mae-Mae worked hard to help re-open closed campus publications, establish student papers in universities who had none, and expose and fight campus press freedom violations as well as other forms of campus repression nationwide.  She led, organized and participated in countless poetry readings, cultural nights, Writers’ Trips, journalist skills workshops and protest actions and activities. Even after her stint as VP for the Visayas, she proved instrumental in gathering and collating cases of campus press freedom violations in the region for CEGP’s quarterly digest.

Mae-Mae had to cut short her attendance in CEGPs’ 68th National Student Press Convention and 34th Biennial Student Press Congress in Davao City for her scheduled nursing licensure exams in May 2008.  She passed with flying colors and eventually became a registered nurse. Even before she left, she announced to the Guild her desire to pursue an alternative medical career, one that she would devote to the less-privileged. Mae-Mae also took and passed the National Medical Admission Test. She dreamt of becoming a doctor.

It therefore did not come as a surprise to the Guild to learn that upon achieving her nursing license Mae-Mae immediately volunteered for a three-month medical mission to the hinterlands of Negros.  Mae-Mae barely finished her volunteer work in Negros when her dreams died with her.

Mae-Mae was killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on September 18, 2008 in an alleged encounter with New People’s Army rebels. Her face was barely recognizable; she was shot at point-blank range. Her feet and legs were black and bruised, signs of torture evident elsewhere in her beaten body.

Mae-Mae’s untimely demise reminds the Guild all too painfully of the same fate that another CEGP alumna suffered under the hands of the AFP.

In April 2002, Benjaline ‘Beng’ Hernandez, former CEGP Vice-President for Mindanao and a human rights volunteer, was murdered by the military while conducting a fact-finding mission in Cotabato province. Investigations revealed that the AFP, after wounding Beng, raped and shot her at close range. The AFP later on insisted that Beng was an NPA rebel.

Beng, like Mae-Mae, was also only 22 years old when she died.

The CEGP condemns in strongest terms accusations and insinuations by the AFP that Mae-Mae was armed and a combatant. She was in Negros in her capacity as a registered nurse and circumstances surrounding her brutal killing should be independently investigated.

The CEGP, in this regard, welcomes initiatives by the Commission on Human Rights Regional Office to conduct an investigation on Mae-Mae’s case.

The CEGP is also reviled at the AFP’s gall to celebrate Mae-Mae’s death by bestowing incentives and acclaim to her killers. It is an awful and terrible reminder of the state and characteristic of our security forces. They who are supposed to protect civilians are the main enemies of human rights defenders and social workers.

The CEGP also condemns in strongest terms the AFP’s malicious attempts to malign the Guild’s name through red-tagging and nasty insinuations. It is precisely this kind of twisted mentality that gives license to the military to repress, harass, silence and kill with impunity. Journalists are easily treated and branded as rebels simply because they are exposed to the ills of society.

The CEGP calls on all its member publications and fellow journalist organizations nationwide and abroad to collectively wield their pens and raise their voices to denounce Mae-Mae’s killers.

The CEGP regards the likes of Beng and Mae-Mae as heroes of the present generation, young martyrs who have chosen to exchange their lives of comfort for their noble convictions.

Highest tribute to Rachelle Mae Palang!

Justice for Beng and Mae-Mae!

Reference:

Vijae Alquisola, National President, 09162034402

Pamilya ng Desaparecidos para sa Katarungan
2/floor Erythrina bldg., #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag sts. Barangay Central, Quezon City
25 September 2008
Reference: Mary Guy Portajada,
Desaparecidos Spokesperson
Telefax 4342837

Impunity reigns as three disappeared in six days
Suspected military men abduct 2 peasant organizers in Bataan

Suspected military men abducted two peasant organizers in two separate incidents in Bataan province on September 21 and 22, bringing to 199 the number of disappeared under the Arroyo regime.

Nelson Balmaña, 29, a resident of Area H, Sapang Palay, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan was abducted Sept. 21, while Florencia Espiritu, 46, of Brgy. Santisima Trinidad, Malolos, Bulacan was abducted Sept. 22. Both are volunteer-organizers of the Sto. Niño Lubao Farmers’ Association (SLFA). The two victims have been organizing peasants from Lubao, Pampanga an adjacent barangay to Hermosa, Bataan .

The two victims were supposed to meet on Sept. 21 at a house in Purok 2, Brgy. Daan Bago, Dinalupihan in Bataan , but Nelson texted Florencia that he could not make it and would meet her the following day instead.

On September 22, Florencia left the house at 10:30 am and was boarding a tricycle, when at least six armed men believed to be elements of the 24th IB PA took her and forced her into a white L300 FB Mitsubishi. Four of the men were armed with .45 caliber pistols, while one carried an armalite.

The abductors fled towards the direction of Pampanga-Metro-Manila. After Florencia’s abduction, several people reported that a man fitting Nelson’s description was abducted at 5 PM the day before at the same spot, and was taken by the same getaway vehicle.

On Sept. 17, another victim, James Balao, 47, of the Cordillera People’s Alliance disappeared in Baguio City . James left his home in Fairview , Baguio City to go to La Trinidad, Benguet at 7am and was not heard of since.

“In a span of six days, three victims were disappeared. The Armed Forces of the Philippines clearly shows that it is untouchable, and continues to carry out enforced disappearances, even after the Court of Appeals had ruled that it is guilty of the disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño and Manuel Meriño,” said Mary Guy Portajada, spokesperson of the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice, or DESAPARECIDOS.

Another victim, Elmer dela Cruz was reported missing on August 23 in Hermosa, Bataan . He is still missing as of this writing.

“We call on the people to be vigilant because this government does not sleep as it commits human rights violations. Impunity reigns as Gloria Arroyo and her military remain unpunished for its crimes,” said Portajada. ###

Rachelle was an intelligent student. She graduated Valedictorian at Mandaue Science High School. While a student she was active in rallies

Photo, rights, shows Rachelle Mae raising her clenched fist at the May 2007 miting de avance of the Kabataan Partylist, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela in Cebu City

“Fil-Am Youths Pay Tribute to Fellow Youth/Fallen Nurse”

Jersey City, NJ – Last September 18, 2008, Anakbayan NY/NJ, LA and Seattle led Fil-Am and Filipino immigrant youths from coast to coast in the making of a protest video against the ongoing and escalating political repression in the Philippines, particularly those violations against the youth. Members from HabiArts, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Sandiwa, Kappa Pi and Pugadlawin, and several supporters including some nurses, and nursing students all coordinated with Anakbayan to make a tribute video for Rachelle Mae Palang who is the most recent victim of the military’s aggressive persecution of student activists and progressive youths in the country.

Rachelle, or Mae-Mae as her friends call her, recently finished her Nursing studies at the Velez College in Cebu and successfully passed the Nursing Licensure Exam in June 2008. Her passion, however, was to become a physician so she can better serve the poor and the oppressed. In pursuit of this dream, she took and successfully passed the National Medical Admissions Test. Sadly, the world will never see a Dr. Rachelle Palang; the Philippines lost one more vessel of hope and righteousness.

In July of this year, Mae-Mae asked her parents’ permission to go to Negros Oriental for a three-month medical mission. Her goal while in the hinterlands was to promote health, treat the sick and to investigate the causes of the people’s demise. Unfortunately, In September 18, 2008 at Dauin town, Negros Oriental, that mission was cut-short. Mae-Mae was shot and killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during an encounter with the New Peoples Army. She was shot at the back of her head at point-blank range; her face was barely recognizable, the rest of her body bruised as evidence of torture. According to the AFP, Mae-Mae was a member of the NPA, and was said to be carrying and using an M-16 during the fight. This claim however, came as a shock to those who are very close to Mae-Mae.

Her friends unanimously expressed disbelief in the AFP’s report. They said Mae-Mae was outspoken but she would never have thought of using a gun. Her weapon of choice was the pen as evidenced by her commitment as the editor of their school paper in Velez College. In 2005, she was elected as Vice President for the Visayas during the College Editors Guild of the Philippines’ (CEGP) 67th National Student Press Convention and 33rd Biennial Student Press Congress held in Albay, Bicol. She relinquished her position last May after three consecutive years of faithful service. Accordingly, she endeavored to reopen closed college publications and established student publications in schools that have none. Her work focused on student rights violations in campus. Her knowledge of the society was further honed when she participated in a Basic Mass Integration (BMI) program of the CEGP where she experienced the forms of oppression endured by the masses.

“What was once called youth activism and nationalism is now labeled as threat to national security by the government. When a young person like Rachelle wishes to genuinely contribute in uplifting the downtrodden and the oppressed, the fascist government led by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo deal with it as if idealism is a menace,patriotism is a plague and serving the people a high crime,” said Kathleen Dy, member of Anakbayan NY/NJ.

In conformity with this recent surge of repression and oppression, the military has invaded the campuses of politically-involved universities. Military personnels are now a common sight in the country’s most prominent colleges and universities particularly in the University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD) and Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa (PUP).

Bea Sabino of Anakbayan NY/NJ and a nursing student expressed her concern as well, “We observed an increase of political harassment lately and one would think that this was a consequence of the newest impeachment complaint filed versus Gloria Arroyo after the one-year ban.” This latest impeachment complaint which was submitted in October 13, 2008 is already the fourth for GMA. Keen observation supports the hypothesis that the increased militarization right before the endorsement of impeachment was not a coincidence but a calculated move by the administration to scare off the opposition. Regrettably, they did not just scare off Rachelle, they killed her.

In their press release, the CEGP asserts that “the act of the military in linking Rachelle with the New Peoples’ Army is a desperate attempt to shadow the real reason why she went to Negros, that is to help the oppressed farmers. We are deeply insulted when the military praised and showered Mae-Mae’s killers with gifts and recognitions. The CEGP admonishes these inhumane and insulting actions of the military, as well as the brutal treatment of her body. We condemn the malicious attempt of the military to mislead the people from the real issue.”

Rachelle was an ordinary person who chose the road less travelled. Yes, she could have chosen a different path and lived to be a hundred but she did not. She chose to become an epitome of a student leader who struggles for genuine freedom and democracy for the people and for that, she will always be remembered.

“In memory of Mae-mae and countless other victims of state terrorism, we, the youth, reaffirm our commitment in the struggle against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s tyranny and against the oppressive system that continue to burden our people. As long as our brothers and sisters in the Philippines are harassed, repressed, disappeared and killed the powers that be can expect more militant actions from the youth to come,” said Yves Nibungco, deputy secretary general of Anakbayan NY/NJ.

tioInstead of a Eulogy
Posted by: karlo mikhail on: September 24, 2008

One of the things I do very early in the morning when I wake up is to read the local news posted in the Internet. I don’t read everything and most of the times I just end up skimming through the mass of headlines lined up on my screen.

Like any other morning, I also went over all the headlines last Monday morning. One item that caught my attention was the news of an armed encounter between the military and alleged communist insurgents. It was titled “3 killed in Negros Oriental clash.”

http://www.arkibongbayan.org/2008-11Nov30-maemae2/doc/news/from%20misreadings/mutiparty-mitng-de-avanse-041.jpgNot that I felt it was something special, I am after all, like most people in this information-saturated society, desensitized to most accounts of violence. It was the proximity of the said event, the conflict occurring only an island away from Cebu, that “seduced” me to read the article anyway.

When I read the news item, I was surprised. I was shocked for I personally knew one of the names listed as casualties in the encounter.

Happier times.

Happier times: Rachelle Mae Palang in the May 2007 electoral campaign.

The front page of the local paper’s hard copy version even carried a different headline of the same story, “Cebu student killed in clash.” I knew Rachelle Mae Palang from two years ago when I was still chairman of the UP Cebu Student Council and later on with the Kabataan Partylist for the 2007 Elections.

Rachelle Mae was a stout, bubbly, but outspoken nursing student who was editor of Velez College’s school publication, Vital Signs. She was also an officer of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) – a national organization of campus journalists.

Needless to say, reading the news was depressing. After all, we were together in several causes – especially those related to students’ rights and the educational system.

The last time we saw each other was during the opening of the school yearhttp://www.arkibongbayan.org/2008-11Nov30-maemae2/rachelle_small.jpg in 2007 at the Arts and Sciences Lobby of the UP Cebu College. She was returning the book about how to write press releases that I lent her.

I cannot say that the military’s insistence on Rachelle’s brandishing of long arms in Negros is true. After all, it is characteristic for contenders of any armed conflict to ornament the truth for their own ends. The news of her unexpected death makes me sad. She was only twenty one.

[Photo] Rachelle Mae raising her fist during the May 2007 multiparty miting de avance of the Kabataan Partylist, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela at Colon St. That’s me in the extreme left.

But what if the military is right: what if Rachelle really carried an M-16 rifle? This hypothesis leads us to question what made her forgo a successful career ahead of her to go to the countryside and take up arms against the State. What made some of today’s youth give up on peaceful means for the attainment of social change?

The lamentable state of the nation is such that our youth either, like most, join the diaspora to other lands or, like a few, are led to believe that the only solution is heading for the hills.

Youth org’n forms Cordillera body

December 20, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Anakbayan, the most comprehensive national democratic Filipino youth organization, recently held its third formal Regional Congress in the Alay ng Kapatid Training Center here on November 28 to December 1.

This congress served as a gathering for members of Anakbayan from all over the Cordillera to consolidate the chapters in Kalinga, Apayao, Abra, Mountain Province, Benguet and Metro Baguio to unite and form a region-wide structure, the Anakbayan-Cordillera.

During the four-day affair, 120 participants shared and discussed experiences in arousing, organizing and mobilizing youth and students throughout the different Cordillera provinces. The Anakbayan-Cordillera made resolutions on the upcoming campaigns of the organization as well as new ways in which to enrich educational discussions, recruitment and consolidation.

Resolutions were passed to launch more trainings for instructors and facilitators to develop discussions in the the nationalist courses in Padepa (Pambansa Demokratikong Paaralan) and to conduct more research on the situation of the youth in the Cordillera.

In answer to the intensifying military reaction to the people’s movement, the body resolved to heighten its campaign to expose and oppose human rights violations and militarization in the countryside. The campaign to surface James Balao was identified as one that will be given utmost attention just as news came out that he is in the hands of the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU) of the AFP.

Delegates also resolved to explore cultural forms in further developing the organization. Also, plans for the next congress in 2010 were set, with Kalinga and Mountain Province vying for hosting rights and the region looking forward to greater numbers and continuing strength amidst repression and violence from the military and other government forces.

The congress formed the regional council with representatives from the provinces.. Anakbayan-Metro Baguio Deputy Secretary-general Sloan Ramos and Pinatud representative Thelma Gallawen are the region’s chairperson and secretary-general, respectively.

“Anakbayan will continue the struggle began by the Katipunan during the 1898 Revolution and by the Kabataang Makabayan during the Marcos Regime,” Ramos declared during the massive 200- torch rally that capped the celebration of Anakbayan’s 10th anniversary and Andres Bonifacio’s 145th birthday.

As Gallawen stated during the solidarity night program, “We, the youth, are the spring that shall never run out for the service of the people,” Anakbayan promises to lead continuous education, organization and action for the Filipino masses, despite intensified militarization, repression and crisis. # Paula Pamintuan-Riva(NorDis)

Kriminalisasyon ng ‘ST 72’ binatikos ng kabataang Pinoy sa US

December 14, 2008

Mariing tinututulan ng kabataang Pinoy sa United States (US) ang umano’y ginagawang kriminalisasyon ng gobyernong Arroyo sa 72 aktibista mula Southern Tagalog o mas kilala bilang ST 72.

Ayon sa Anakbayan-USA, pagpapatuloy lamang ito sa pagtatangka ng gobyernong Arroyo na pahinain ang kilusang anti-Arroyo sa pamamagitan ng pagsampa ng gawa-gawang mga kaso laban sa mga aktibista at lider ng progresibong mga organisasyon.

Mula Oktubre 23 – Nobyembre 13, 2008, sinampahan ng kaso, inaresto at ikinulong ang ilang kasapi ng ST 72. Kabilang dito sina Atty. Remigio Saladero, chief legal counsel ng Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) at kolumnista ng Pinoy Weekly, Nestor San Jose ng Anakpawis Party-list at Crispin Zapanta ng Bayan Muna Party-list, Rogelio Galit ng Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite, Arnaldo Seminiano ng Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa-KMU at Emmanuel Dionida ng Labor Education Advocacy Development Response Services.

Kasalukuyan silang nakakulong sa Calapan City Jail sa kasong multiple murder at multiple frustrated murder kaugnay umano ng pananambang ng mga miyembro ng New People’s Army (NPA) sa Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental noong 2006. Isinampa ito laban sa 72 inbidibwal, mahigit 30 ay mga lider-aktibista sa Timog Katagalugan.

Sa hanay ng kabataan, kabilang sa mga inakusahan sina Pedro Santos Jr, Secretary-General ng Anakbayan Southern Tagalog, at mga dating tagapag-ugnay ng Anakabayan-Cavite na sina Karen Ortiz and Sheryll Villegas.

Isinisisi ng Anakbayan-USA kay Pangulong Arroyo at kina National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales at Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales na siyang namumuno sa Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), sa Armed Forces of the Philippines, at sa Philippine National Police ang panggigipit sa mga aktibistang kasapi ng mga organisasyong masa na pilit umanong iniuugnay ng gobyerno sa mga komunista.

Tiniyak naman ng Anakbayan-USA na patuloy nilang ilalantad ang anumang porma ng paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao at patuloy na makikibaka para sa katarungan sa mga biktima ng ‘walang katulad na brutalidad’ ng gobyernong Arroyo.

pinoyweekly

STATEMENT of Unity and Solidary of Youth in Mindanao

December 9, 2008

Mindanao Youth Peace Conference
Friday, 28 November 2008 21:35
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Statement of Unity and Solidarity of Youth in Mindanao

Davao City, Philippines

November 25, 2008
We, the tri-people youth leaders coming from the different communities of faith and ethnic traditions all over Mindanao, conferred to a 3-day MINDANAO YOUTH PEACE CONFERENCE with its theme “The Muslim, Christian, and Indigenous Peoples youth leaders: looking back, looking inwards and looking ahead”. This conference has presented commonly shared and relevant issues and concerns directly affecting our situation as the youth of Mindanao today. During our sharing, we have been clarified with the social realities; faced with countless challenges and moved toward personal conviction in making a difference through dialogue and peaceful means. Despite the negative reports of the past and present issues between and among our own cities and provinces, we remain firm with our stand that we could come together and remain steadfast blest with our rich cultural and faith traditions though diverse they may be. We realize that a peaceful Mindanao means the absence of social inequality, injustices, and environmental problems. More significantly, the vulnerable sectors, especially the youth, women, and children must also be heard, respected, and enjoined in all forms of peace undertakings. With all these concerns, we unceasingly hope that lasting peace and sustainable development are at hand.

To this, we strongly manifest our personal commitment to take active stand and continue working for peace in whatever forms on the following concerns:

· that Mindanao peace process must be pursued which indicates that all parties involved have to sincerely go back to the negotiating table and adhere (to) the consensus points being agreed by both parties concerned.

· that they all must indemnify the values of high respect to the various cultures and faith, practice forgiveness, and just and lasting peace in Mindanao, and in the country in general.

· that hostilities in Mindanao must be stopped immediately and appropriate interventions and assistance be given to the IDPs.

· that we are one in reiterating our support for the aspirations and the rights to Self-Determination of the Indigenous Peoples, Bangsamoro, as well as the high respect on the rights of the Settlers.

· that every Mindanawon must be given free access to quality education, noble jobs, and decent living.

· that media organizations shall join us keenly and professionally in promoting peace by way of delivering balanced and just news.

· that all private and government sectors must give full support to all forms of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogues and initiatives.

· that Mindanawons see the significance of our partnerships and genuine friendship and that through these, the decades of suffering shall be put to an end.
It is in this present context, therefore, as a manifestation and in the quest of peace and development in Mindanao that we hereby denote and reiterate our dedication and persistently enrich the gains of the dialogue towards a lasting and peaceful Mindanao.

(Radical Pinoy) Pagdaig sa panghahati, pagtapos sa paghahari

November 13, 2008

Vencer Crisostomo

ANG MATAPANG na pahayag ng limang Katolikong obispo na nanawagan sa mga mamamayan na ”maghanda para sa isang bagong gobyerno,” gayundin ang muling pag-init ng kontrobersiya sa pagbabalik ni Joc-Joc Bolante, ay nagiging tuntungan ngayon ng malawak na kilusang anti-Arroyo upang muling magsama-sama at isikad ang kilusang masa para sa pagpapatalsik sa kinamumuhiang rehimen.

Batid ng marami na gagawin ni Arroyo ang lahat para manatili sa puwesto lagpas sa 2010 o kung hindi’y sisiguruhing ang hahalili sa kanya ay magtitiyak ng hindi niya pananagot sa mga kasalanan sa taumbayan. Inaasahan ang muling pag-init ng sitwasyong pampulitika sa mga susunod na buwan habang nakahanay na todong pakawalan ng rehimen ang mga pakanang pang-tiraniya: charter change, konsolidasyon ng kanyang partido at paninira sa oposisyon, kampanya ng pasistang paniniil sa mga progresibo at kilalang personaheng anti-Arroyo, hanggang sa lantarang pagpapataw ng emergency rule o batas militar.

Marapat lamang na tapatan ng higit na malakas at determinadong kilusan ng mga mamamayan ang mga maitim na balakin ng rehimen. Habang higit na nagiging desperado si Arroyo, higit namang umiinam ang sitwasyon para mapagkaisa at mapakilos ang mga mamamayan. Ngunit maraming dapat matutunan ang kilusang anti-Arroyo mula sa mga karanasan kung layon nitong dalhin sa isang bago at mas mataas na antas ang laban.

Matapos ang pagkilos sa Ayala noong Pebrero, hindi na muling nakapagtipon ng kasinglaking bilang sa lansangan — na umabot sa lagpas 80,000 — ang mga organisasyon at pwersang anti-Arroyo. Itinurong salarin ang pagpasok ng bakasyon ng mga estudyante na tintignang balon ng mga napapadalo sa mga pagkilos. Bagamat mahahalagang salik ito, may mga usaping dapat ding tignan hinggil sa naging mga kaganapan sa hanay ng prenteng anti-Arroyo.

Mabilis na nasamantala noon ng administrasyon ang mga sumingaw na negatibong reaksiyon ng ilang kampo hinggil sa pag-akyat ng mga pulitiko, partikular ni Estrada sa entablado ng rali. Bagamat maaaring sabihing may pinagmumulan ang kanilang pagkadismaya, at may mga dahilan kung bakit nila ito piniling ihayag sa publiko, binigyan ang kamaliang ito ng pagkakataon ang administrasyon na pulaan ang makasaysayang protesta bilang pamumulitika, ipakitang hati-hati ang kilusang anti-Arroyo, at maliitin ang tagumpay ng makaysayang pagtitipon.

Nasundan pa ito ng mga paninira at intrigang kumalat sa mga paaralan at mga organisasyon laban sa Kaliwa na pumigil sa higit sanang paglaki ng protesta sa mga sumunod na linggo. Mas malaki pa sana ang makakalahok sa pagkilos na pinangunahan ng mga grupo ng kabataan pagdating ng Marso kung hindi kumalat ang mga tsismis na pinasok ng mga terorista at pinangungunahan ng mga komunista ang mga pagkilos, at kung buong sumuporta ang iba’t iba pang mga grupo na sa panahong ito ay naging malamya ang pagtugon.

Hindi rin nakatulong na malabo ang naging mga posisyon at panawagang inilabas ng simbahan. Bagamat may ilang mga mas radikal na obispo at sa kalakhan anti-Arroyo ang mga pahayag nila, ang labnaw at kawalan ng kategorikal na mga pahayag ay nagamit ng administrasyon para hatiin ang mga Katoliko at lituhin ang publiko. Mararamdaman din ang paguurong-sulong at hindi buong pagkasa ng makinarya ng simbahan sa pagpapakilos.

Ang ilan pa sa mga mas konserbatibong seksiyon ng simbahan, bagamat pumoposturang anti-Arroyo at kumikilos sa balangkas ng ”katotohanan, katarungan at pagbabago,” ay nagdeklara ng pagtutol sa people power at panawagang talsik. Sa halip, nagpatihulog sila sa bitag ng rehimen na nagsasabing maghanda na lamang para sa 2010 kung kaya’t naunahan pa nila ang mga presidentiable sa pagtanaw sa eleksiyon at nailayo ang atensiyon ng marami sa kilusang masa.

Mahalaga ring banggitin na ang pagsusulong ng gobyerno ng Reproductive Health Bill na sumulpot matapos ang pagdedeklara ng ilang mga obispo laban sa Oil Deregulation Law noong nakaraang buwan, ay maaaring isang pakana para lituhin ang simbahan at ibaling ang atensiyon nito palayo sa kilusang masang anti-Arroyo. Kung gayun nga, ipinapakita ng pagpatol ng simbahan dito ang bulnerabilidad nito sa mga panghahati at panlilito.

Sa huli’t huli, kailangang maunawaan ng marami na ang magiging mapagpasya pa rin sa pagpapatalsik sa remihen ay ang pagpapalakas at pagpapalawak ng kilusang masa. Dapat palakasin ang kampanya at pagpapakilos lalo na ng mga pwersang progresibo sa mga komunidad, paaralan, pagawaan, at iba pa. Ang daang libong bilang na nagmamartsa sa kalsada ang makapangyarihang sandata na tatapos sa gobyernong ito. Kasabay nito kailangang puksain ang pesimismo ng ibang mga kampo at pag-asam sa mga milagro o di kaya’y sa aksiyong militar lamang.

Kailangang matuto ang mga organisasyon ng kabataan at mga mamamayan sa mga karanasan nito ng pagpapakilos nitong nakaraang taon at paghusayan ang mga porma ng aksiyon na magpapakilos sa mas maraming bilang ng mga mamamayan. Sa isang banda, ang pagtitiyak din nito ang magbibigay ng higit namang tatag at lakas ng loob sa iba’t ibang seksiyon ng malawak na prenteng anti-Arroyo at sasalag sa mga panghahati ng rehimen sa nagkakaisang pagkilos ng taumbayan.

Kailangan ding maunawaan ng mga nag-aambisyong kandidato para sa 2010 na higit sa paghahanda para sa pangangampanya, kailangan silang maging bahagi ng kilusang masa laban sa tiraniya. Sa hanay ng mga ito, bagamat alam nila na maraming ipapakana si Arroyo at maaaring pigilan o maniobrahin pa nito ang eleksiyon, namamayani ang pag-iisip na ”maghanda na rin sila kung sakali.” Pero natuto na ang publiko sa Edsa 2, at ayaw na ayaw na nila ng mga hitchhiker at mga mapagsamantala na aani lamang ng tagumpay na kilusang masa ang nagtanim.

Cost of war: 550 students drop out of school in NorthCot

November 11, 2008

Malu Cadelina-Manar/MIndaNews
Sunday, 09 November 2008 06:50
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st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/8 Nov) – Some 550 students in North Cotabato have dropped out of school since hostilities between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) resumed in early August, police said.


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Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, head of the Task Force Palma-Pikit, said most of the dropouts are high school students, numbering 448; the rest are in elementary. Most affected is a public high school in the town of Carmen, where 33 students, all males and all Maguindanaons, stopped reporting back to school.

The principal of Takepan National High School in Pikit town earlier said that 15 of her students failed to return to school when classes resumed.

The police also noted student dropouts in Aleosan, Banisilan, Pikit, Carmen, Tulunan, M’lang, Midsayap, Alamada, Kabacan, and Matalam.

Khu said that based on their initial findings, the students left school mainly because of fear that fighting might erupt again. He added that poverty also prevented the others from going back to school.

“But we do not discount the possibility that some of these students might have been recruited by an armed group operating in North Cotabato,” said Khu, adding that they did receive “disturbing” reports of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Commander Umbra Kato training children for warfare.

Khu stressed that recruiting minors for war is a violation of local and international laws.

The MILF, however, denied the reports, saying it was part of a government propaganda to discredit the rebel group.

“Everybody is using Kato in whatever way possible. I don’t think some of these students who dropped out from school have gone training at one of our camps,” said Eid Kabalu, chief of civil-military relations of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)

3 students drrown in flashflood

November 11, 2008

Williamor A. Magbanua and Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 06:42
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st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/10 Nov) — Rescuers recovered the bodies of two teenagers who were swept by floodwaters Sunday afternoon while taking photographs beside the Saguing River here.


st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } The city search and rescue team found the two cadavers in Barangay Libertad, Makilala, Cotabato, seven kilometers away from this city.

Police identified the victims as Precion Taeza and Janely Antipuesto, both students of Saint Mary’s Academy here.

The victims sustained wounds in the head and other parts of the body when retrieved near the riverbank of Libertad River.

The body of another victim, Krisdan May Dela Cruz, 15, was found today, around 9 am, in Barangay Kalunasan, M’lang, a town next to Makilala.

A team from the Cotabato Electric Cooperative led the search and retrieval operations, according to Marlon Ceballos, head of the 505 Search and Rescue Operations Group in the city.

Dela Cruz’s father, who works at the Cotelco, led the retrieval operations, Ceballos said.

On Sunday afternoon, a group of nine students went to the Landmark River Park to take photographs and celebrated the first anniversary of their friendship when a flashflood occurred.

The students all fell into the floodwaters, but six of them were rescued by Landmark employees and some visitors.

“We were there to celebrate.  We didn’t expect it would end this way,” said Charisse Jane Franco, one of the survivors, in a radio interview.

Franco also swam the Saguing River and was swept by the raging waters.  But a still unidentified man saved her.

“The guy saved my life. I am so grateful to him.  I wish I could thank him.   But until now, I have no idea who that guy is,” she said, adding they already decided to leave the place when one of her classmates again invited them to take a dip.

She said they did not expect the waters at the Saguing River would reach as high as five to six feet because it did not rain.

But Ceballos, in a radio interview, explained the Saguing River serves as a catch basin of many upstream rivers from Makilala and M’lang towns. Early that day, there was heavy downpour upstream.

“At 3 p.m., the waters from the upper portion started to flow downstream. And around 5 p.m., the waters were already high at the Saguing River,” he said.

The landmark is owned and operated by the city government as part of its local tourism promotion.

The Saguing River would usually overflow during heavy downpour.

Landmark River Park, a favorite hangout of many students during weekends, is located along the boundary between Kidapawan and Makilala.

Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco has not issued a statement regarding the incident, although he called for a meeting in response to the incident.

The mayor has ordered the setting up of early warning signs at the riverside.

Ceballos has also suggested that the city government organize a response alert team composed of trained swimmers and rescuers. (Williamor A. Magbanua and Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)

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

My Take:


The City government must learn a lesson or two from this sad event.


They must have a warning device there (such as bulletin boards and intercom-like device where a voice will repeatedly announce the warning) informing tourists, visitors and all, of a heavy downpour upstream that may cause considerable rise in the river’s water level.

(Radical Pinoy) Baguhin ang talakayan: Makiisa sa laban ng bayan

October 21, 2008

Vencer Crisostomo

BINABATI ko ang mga kasamahan sa Bloggers’ Kapihan sa matagumpay na pangunguna sa Blog Action Day 08 sa Pilipinas at pangunguna sa panawagan na manindigan laban sa kahirapan.

Para sa mga progresibo, kakaibang kapangahasan ang kinailangan para pangunahan ang pagpapanawagan ng aktibidad, na magsasalang ng kanilang paninindigan sa kahirapan, – isang usaping masasabing malapit sa puso ng mga progresibo – laban sa mga namamayaning pagtingin dito ng blogosphere.

Kung tatawirin ang blogactionday.org, at babasahin ang ilang tampok na blogs na lumahok, siguro mauunawaan kung ano ang tinutukoy ko sa ”namamayaning pagtingin.” Sa mga mabilis makaamoy, medyo pamilyar na ang eksena na dati nang sinubukang ibenta. May bakas ito ng mga kampanyang pa-cool na gumamit pa ng mga artista at banda sa pangunguna ng mga institusyong pinopondohan ng malalaking kumpanya.

Sa madaling sabi, something’s fishy. Subukan nating unawain saglit.

Hindi magbablog ang mahirap

Hindi na siguro kailangan sabihin, pero sa araw na ito, hindi mga mahihirap ang magkukuwento. Wala namang nagsabi na araw ito para magblog ang mahihirap. Sa madaling sabi, tungkol sa mga mahihirap at sa kahirapan ang istorya, pero hindi mula sa perspektiba ng mga dumadanas. O at least, hindi sa mga aminadong dumadanas nito.

Kung gayon, ang kahirapan ay ineeksamin ng mga hindi dumadanas nito, o at least ng hindi mulat na dumadanas. Parang ”others” na pinag-uusapan ang mahihirap at iba sa mga nag-uusap ang kahirapan. Hindi naman masyadong importante kung anong epekto noon sa mahihirap mismo, dahil hindi naman sila nagbablog at wala ring internet. Pero mas mahalagang tignan, na pinatitigas nito ang posisyon at ilusyon ng middle-class bloggers na hindi sila mahirap, wala silang kinalaman sa mga naghihirap (bukos sa ”concerned” sila sa kanila), at iba sila sa kanila.

Kahirapan sa pag-unawa

Kaya hindi na nakapagtataka kung maliitin ng blogosphere ang usapin ng kahirapan na tila isa lang sa mga topic na isusulat nila sa kanilang entry, kapantay siguro ng usaping pangkalikasan, kultura, TV show, o web design. Tinitignan ang problema ng kahirapan bilang isa lamang sa maraming mga prublema, walang mas matimbang at mas magaan, at hindi ang pangunahing prublemang bumabagabag sa sandaigdigan. Hindi na baleng higit kalahati ng daigdig ang dumadanas nito.

Sa marami, para lamang kakaibang pangyayari ang kahirapan na maaring solusyunan sa balangkas ng kasalukuyang set-up na panlipunan. Kailangan lang natin, halimbawa, magblog, magdonate, bumili ng kape na may flavor of the month na tumutulong sa mahihirap sa Aprika, at iba pa.

Para bagang iilang tao lang ang naghihirap at ”abnormal” ito sa lipunan, gayong sa totoo’y ito ang kalakaran. Dumadami pa nga ang naghihirap habang tumatagal. Para bagang lahat ng tao ay may ”pantay na oportunidad” at may kakayanang yumaman basta mag-sikap-at-tiyaga lang.

Pero malaking kalokohan ang mga pagtinging ito. Sinusubukan nitong burahin ang katotohanan na nabubuhay ang sistema sa kasalukuyan sa pagsasamantala sa nakararaming mamamayan. Ang kahirapan ay hindi exception to the rule, kundi ang rule mismo. Sa ilalim ng sistema na nakokonsentra lamang sa iilan ang yaman at pinipiga ang todo-todong pagsasamantala sa mga manggagawa at mamamayan, natural ang kahirapan. At kahirapan ito na hindi dulot ng kung anupaman, kundi ng pagsasamantala ng naghaharing iilan. At hangga’t hindi nagbabago ang lipunan, hindi matatapos ang kahirapan.

Eto ang ilan sa mga makikita sa mga listahang lumabas sa malalaking sites hinggil sa mga ”pwedeng gawin” laban sa kahirapan: magpayaman (oo, meron nito), magbawas ng pagkain ng karne, mag-ampon ng mga bata, magdonate sa mga institusyon, bumili ng mga produkto na may ”malasakit”, at iba pa. Ito ang hindi matatagpuan: kumilos para sa panlipunang pagbabago, mag-organisa para wakasan ang imperyalismo, ipaglaban ang mga batayang interes at kapakanan ng mamamayan sa sahod, trabaho at karapatan.

Baguhin ang talakayan, patindihin ang pagkilos

Kaya tunay lamang na dapat ”baguhin ang talakayan.” At para sa mga progresibong blogger, hindi lamang ito retorika kundi seryosong usapan.

Layon nating ipakita sa bloggers na kung tunay na gusto nilang gapiin ang kahirapan, dapat na magsimula ng pagbabagong panlipunan. Kung sa estudyante, ang sigaw nati’y “wag makulong sa apat na sulok ng paaralan”, pwede sa bloggers: “wag makulong sa apat na sulok ng computer screens.” Ang rebolusyong kailangan ay hindi virtual.

Sa Blog Action Day ’08, magaganda ang posts ng mga progresibo. Si Anton, nagyaya sa piketlayn ng mga manggagawa ng Kowloon. Si Bikoy at si Prof. Danny Arao, naglinaw hinggil sa mga maling pag-unawa sa kahirapan. Si Tonyo, pinagpugayan ang mga bayani ng mahihirap na nakikibaka at inilantad ang ugat ng kahirapan. Si Nato, pinakita kung paano pinahihirapan na nga, niloloko pa ng mga kinatawan ng mga naghahari ang mamamayan.

Sana pagkatapos ng Blog Action Day, marami pa ang magsimula ng tunay na talakayan. Hindi lang sa blogosphere, kundi sa mga pabrika, komunidad, sakahan at lansangan. Hindi lang para magsalaysay at maglahad, kundi para makisangkot sa pagbabagong panlipunan na tunay na siyang magwawakas sa kahirapan.

Asian youth leaders urge MILF and gov’t to resume peace talks

October 13, 2008

DAVAO, October 12, 2008—If one thinks the enduring conflict in Mindanao is due to religious differences, some 90 multi-religious youth leaders gathered here today believe otherwise.

This is because for the members of the Religions for Peace Asia and Pacific Youth Network, lasting peace and friendship is achievable among the religiously-diversified Mindanaoans had they been peace-loving enough to respect everybody’s ideologies.

To further prove their point, youth leaders of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian and indigenous communities from sixteen Asian countries are convening today until Tuesday (October 12-14) in a pan-Asia summit to formulate multi-religious action plan to help develop the Mindanao peace process.

“(We believe that) the root cause of the conflict in Mindanao is not unique to the Philippines, and can be found in all parts of the world. The process of marginalization of the political, economic, cultural and religious identities needs to be exposed and over-turned. Religious youth leaders are convinced that we need to confront this challenge and become peacemakers now,” the youth network said in a statement.

Meantime, the group has urged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government to “meet halfway” and promote peace talks capable of generating real and lasting solutions in the conflict-laden region.

“The youth hopes the immediate returning to the negotiation table by the Philippine government and the MILF. The international community is paying close attention to the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao of the almost half million internally displaced persons and others affected by the current conflict,” it added.

According to organizers, the outcomes of the Summit will be highlighted in the senior religious leaders gathering in Manila from October 17 to 21.

“(This will definitely) bring the voice of youth and the situation in Mindanao to the 300 participants of the general assembly of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) with the President of the Philippines,” it said. (Kris Bayos)(CBCPNews)

Justice for Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008): Press Freedom Fighter and Nurse of the People

September 28, 2008

BY THE COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES
DEMOCRATIC SPACE
Posted by Bulatlat

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, in behalf of its National Office, regional formations and chapters, all member publications and affiliate organizations nationwide and across the globe, expresses its most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Rachelle Mae Palang (1986-2008).

Rachelle, or Mae-Mae to her closest friends and colleagues, was beloved to the Guild for her bubbly, tongue-in-cheek demeanor. She graced the Guild’s gatherings with her easy banter and infectious smile, but was always brisk and business-like in her leadership. She has served as a valuable pillar and driving force in all of the conventions and gatherings she has attended and helped organize. To most Guilders, she was not only a colleague but a precious friend and confidante.

Shock about her untimely demise are evident in her Friendster and Multiply accounts, riddled with comments ranging from disbelief, grief, and even anger – all directed at her, as if to attest that even at the time of her death her friends and colleagues still go to her for conciliation.

Such was Mae-Mae’s legacy and brand of leadership. She has always been easy to approach, a rational adviser and generous in her time and efforts.

Mae-Mae was also an outstanding student at the Velez College in Cebu City where she took up and finished her nursing degree. She became editor-in-chief of Vital Signs, the official campus publication. As campus journalist and student leader, she exemplified deep commitment to uphold press freedom, freedom of speech and students’ democratic rights and welfare. She is respected by her fellow campus journalists nationwide for her wit, intelligence and sharp grasp of issues.

She was elected as vice president for the Visayas during CEGP’s 67th National Student Press Convention and 33rd Biennial Student Press Congress held in Albay, Bicol in 2005. She served her term for three consecutive years before she finally relinquished her post in May of this year. The CEGP will without end be honored and grateful to have had someone as dedicated as Mae-Mae as one of its leading officers.

Mae-Mae worked hard to help re-open closed campus publications, establish student papers in universities which had none, and expose and fight campus press freedom violations as well as other forms of campus repression nationwide. She led, organized and participated in countless poetry readings, cultural nights, Writers’ Trips, journalist skills workshops and protest actions and activities. Even after her stint as VP for the Visayas, she proved instrumental in gathering and collating cases of campus press freedom violations in the region for CEGP’s quarterly digest.

Mae-Mae had to cut short her attendance in CEGPs’ 68th National Student Press Convention and 34th Biennial Student Press Congress in Davao City for her scheduled nursing licensure exams in May 2008. She passed with flying colors and eventually became a registered nurse. Even before she left, she announced to the Guild her desire to pursue an alternative medical career, one that she would devote to the less-privileged. Mae-Mae also took and passed the National Medical Admission Test. She dreamt of becoming a doctor.

It therefore did not come as a surprise to the Guild to learn that upon achieving her nursing license Mae-Mae immediately volunteered for a three-month medical mission to the hinterlands of Negros. Mae-Mae barely finished her volunteer work in Negros when her dreams died with her.

Mae-Mae was killed by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Sept. 18 in an alleged encounter with New People’s Army rebels. Her face was barely recognizable; she was shot at point-blank range. Her feet and legs were black and bruised, signs of torture evident elsewhere in her beaten body.

Mae-Mae’s untimely demise reminds the Guild all too painfully of the same fate that another CEGP alumnae suffered under the hands of the AFP.

In April 2002, Benjaline ‘Beng’ Hernandez, former CEGP vice president for Mindanao and a human rights volunteer, was murdered by the military while conducting a fact-finding mission in North Cotabato. Investigations revealed that the AFP shot her at close range. The AFP later on insisted that Beng was an NPA rebel.

Beng, like Mae-Mae, was also only 22 years old when she died.

The CEGP condemns in strongest terms accusations and insinuations by the AFP that Mae-Mae was armed and a combatant. She was in Negros in her capacity as a registered nurse and circumstances surrounding her brutal killing should be independently investigated.

The CEGP, in this regard, welcomes initiatives by the Commission on Human Rights Regional Office to conduct an investigation on Mae-Mae’s case.

The CEGP is also reviled at the AFP’s gall to celebrate Mae-Mae’s death by bestowing incentives and acclaim to her killers. It is an awful and terrible reminder of the state and characteristic of our security forces. They who are supposed to protect civilians are the main enemies of human rights defenders and social workers.

The CEGP also condemns in strongest terms the AFP’s malicious attempts to malign the Guild’s name through red-tagging and nasty insinuations. It is precisely this kind of twisted mentality that gives license to the military to repress, harass, silence and kill with impunity. Journalists are easily treated and branded as rebels simply because they are exposed to the ills of society.

The CEGP calls on all its member publications and fellow journalist organizations nationwide and abroad to collectively wield their pens and raise their voices to denounce Mae-Mae’s killers.

The CEGP regards the likes of Beng and Mae-Mae as heroes of the present generation, young martyrs who have chosen to exchange their lives of comfort for their noble convictions.

Highest tribute to Rachelle Mae Palang!
Justice for Beng and Mae-Mae!

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

Joma Sison addresses Baguio students

September 26, 2008

BAGUIO CITY ― After 22 years, Professor Jose Maria Sison once again addressed students of the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) via video conference at a forum conducted Thursday at the UPB Bulwagang Juan Luna.


JOMA MANIA. Student activists pose with Professor Jose Maria Sison, via live video conferencing during the forum on the role of neoliberal globalization at the University of the Philippines Baguio Thursday.

The forum, The Role of Neoliberal Globalization in the Worsening Economic Crisis Of the Philippines, was hosted by The League of Filipino Students (LFS), Anakbayan, and the UPB University Student Council – Nationalist Corps and the Politically Inclined Students, with Sison as its guest speaker.

Intended to solve the issue of stagflation, Sison said, “it is a policy of deception, misrepresenting monopoly capitalism as free market capitalism.” (more…)

Soldier hurt in NegOr encounter; nurse’s death angers youth groups

September 25, 2008

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ANOTHER clash between soldiers and a group of suspected rebels erupted yesterday morning in Oriental Negros, leaving a Cebuano soldier injured.

The gunfight took place hours before two other civilians who were killed in an encounter in the same province last week were buried.

Major Christopher Tampus, Central Command spokesperson, identified the wounded soldier in the latest incident as Private First Class Recto A. Moboayaen Jr., a resident of Barangay Pandacan, Pinamungahan, Cebu.

Moboayaen is recovering from gunshot wounds in the left knee and left hip.

He was taken to a hospital in the province. He would have been airlifted yesterday to Cebu but the transfer was put on hold upon his doctor’s advice.

Also yesterday, the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) released an official statement on the death of 21-year-old nurse Rachelle Mae Palang.

When she was killed in an “encounter” between the military and armed rebels last Thursday, she died serving the poor and the deprived, her peers said.

“We shed our tears for Rachelle who was ruthlessly killed by armed goons of cold-blooded and self-serving tyrants. Her only fault, if it is a fault at all, was her love for those who are suffering because of an unjust system. Her only crime, if at all it is called a crime, was to give up her dreams of living a life of comfort in exchange for serving those who need her the most— the poor and the deprived. For this, she paid with her life,” read the CEGP statement.

Tampus said yesterday’s encounter happened around 7 a.m. in Sitio Mansugban-on, Barangay Manlukahoc, Sipalay City, Oriental Negros.

A section of Army troops under 61st Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Mc. Gary Dida traded gunfire with an estimated 17 suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

This occurred about five hours before the burial of Bernardo Villalonga and Jerry Cabungcag.

Villalonga, Cabungcag and Palang died in an alleged encounter between soldiers and rebels in Sitio Langub, Barangay Malungcay Dako, Dauin, Oriental Negros last week.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 is investigating the reported encounter, following a resolution passed by the Cebu Provincial Board.

Villalonga, who hailed from Sevilla town, Bohol, was buried at noon yesterday at the Carreta Cemetery, Cebu City.

At 2:30 p.m., Cabungcag, who resided in Sitio Lawis, Barangay Pasil, was buried in the same cemetery.

According to a radio DyLA report, the Municipal Council of Consolacion, Cebu, where Palang was a resident, passed a resolution supporting the Provincial Board’s call for the CHR 7 to dig deeper into the incident.

The council also passed a separate resolution extending their sympathy to the family of Palang. Palang’s father Elenito is a former municipal councilor.

In the encounter in Sipalay yesterday, Tampus said the troops led by Lt. Mc. Dida were on patrol when they spotted the 17 suspected rebels.

The gunfight that followed reportedly lasted 30 minutes.

Shortly after the gunfight, three suspected rebels were arrested.

Soldiers also confiscated an M16 Armalite rifle.

Those caught were identified as Meralyn Pedrosa Mahinay, alias Angel, 20; Robelyn Gelacio Aba, alias Geya, 22; and Roseby Fondador Cañete, alias Dyna, 19.

Tampus said the three were turned over to the Sipalay Police Station.

Lt. Gen. Pedro Ike Inserto, Centcom commanding general, sent two Huey helicopters to the area to assist the troops in the operation.

Two Marchetti planes were also put on standby to be deployed if there was a need to provide air cover.

Inserto, however, reportedly told his men to “strictly observe rules of engagement and absolute respect for human rights.”

The CEGP, however, condemned the “malicious” attempt of the military to confuse and mislead the people, and for refusing to see the difference between CEGP as a legitimate alliance of student publications and those organizations calling for armed struggle.

Palang was the CEGP’s vice president for the Visayas while she was still a student of Velez College and editor-in-chief of their publication, Vital Signs.

“We are deeply insulted when the military praised and showered Mae-Mae’s killers with gifts and recognitions. Like barbarians, they celebrate in the death of a peace and freedom-loving person who helped more people than they ever will in their lifetime,” read the statement.

Mark Ray Sison of the Student Christian Movement at the University of San Carlos (USC) said in a press statement that he was dismayed by how the military transported the bodies, which hung from bamboo poles, covered in plastic and cloth.

“It’s as if they (the dead) were animals,” he said.

Chuck de los Santos, chairperson of the USC League of Filipino Students, said he hopes that others would be as principled as Palang was.

“We will continue what Rachelle struggled for. Her death did not create fear in us but rather, made us more militant and courageous in serving the people, whatever the cost may be,” he added. (JTG/EPB)

‘Batang mandirigma’ ng MILF?

September 24, 2008

Kenneth Roland A. Guda

MUKHANG bata nga sila. Nagmamartsa, nasa pormasyon, matikas. Bitbit ang matataas na kalibre ng baril.

Ganito ang ipinakitang bidyo ni Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, tagapagsalita ng 6th Infantry Division ng Army, sa midya kamakailan bilang patunay daw ng pagkakaroon ng mga “batang mandirigma” sa MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). Nakuha raw ang bidyong ito sa inabandonang kampo ni Kumander Umbra Kato sa Maguindanao.

“Ipinakita ng bidyo ang mga batang lalaking Muslim na sinasanay ng mga rebeldeng MILF. Malinaw na paglabag ito sa tratado ng UN (United Nations) na nagbabawal sa mga bata na lumahok sa pakikidigma,” pagbibigay-diin ni Ando.

Ang problema lang, hindi ipinaliwanag ni Ando kung paano niya nasabing nasa edad 17 pababa nga ang mga “batang” nagsasanay na maging rebelde. O kung sumasangkot nga ba ang mga “batang” nagsasanay na ito sa pakikidigma. O, kung totoo man ito, bakit nahihikayat ang mga “batang” Moro na lumahok sa MILF.

Pinaiimbestigahan ni Ando at ng AFP sa mga pandaigdigang ahensiya tulad ng UN ang MILF kaugnay ng sinasabing mga “batang mandirigma.”

Pero ang hindi alam o hindi binanggit ni Ando, naglabas na ng masusing pag-aaral ang Unicef (UN Children’s Fund) hinggil dito noon pang 2007.

Sa pag-aaral na ito, kaanib ng Unicef ang Ibon Foundation, Children’s Rehabilitation Center at Center for Women’s Resources. Pinuntahan ng mga mananaliksik ang walong komunidad sa walong probinsiya sa Pilipinas para pag-aralan ang kalagayan ng kabataan at kababaihan sa mga lugar na may digmaan.

Giyera kontra sa New People’s Army ang inilulunsad ng AFP sa pinuntahang mga probinsiyang Abra, Mindoro Oriental, Capiz, Leyte, Surigao del Sur, at Compostela Valley. MILF naman ang kalaban ng gobyerno sa mga probinsiyang North Cotabato at Maguindanao.

Narito ang sinaling sipi mula sa Uncounted Lives: Children, Women & Conflict in the Philippines, librong inilathala ng Unicef at Ibon hinggil sa naturang pag-aaral. Malawak ang saklaw ng libro, pero pinili naming sipiin ilang bahagi lamang ng Part II ng libro, hinggil sa mga probinsiyang may presensiya ng MILF: North Cotabato at Maguindanao. PW ang nagpaiksi at nagsalin mula sa orihinal na Ingles.

Sa amin nanggaling ang anumang di-sinasadyang pagkakamali. (Ed.)


Isinaling sipi mula sa Uncounted Lives: Children, Women & Conflict in the Philippines

North Cotabato

Isang dosenang barangay ang matatagpuan sa Kalaong (sa North Cotabato), at malaking bahagi nito ang sumasakop sa Liguasan Marsh. Tatlo sa limang katao dito ay Moro; ang iba’y kalimitang Kristiyano. Pangunahing kabuhayan ng mga tao ang pagsasaka, pag-aalaga ng mga hayop at pangingisda.

Ang komunidad na binisita, Barangay Pantawan, ay may mahigit 500 kabahayan…

Ang MILF at ang paglaban nito

Hindi man nila direktang sinasabi ito, lumalabas na simpatetiko sa MILF at sa ipinaglalaban nito ang mga bata sa FGD (focused group discussion). Ayon sa kanila, [“Ang] itinuturo ng Islam ay kabutihan lamang. Nangyayari ang jihad kapag niyuyurakan ang karapatan.[“] Inamin ng ilan na sinusuportahan ng mga pamilya nila ang mga mandirigma ng MILF sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng bigas. Anila, boluntaryo ang pagsali sa MILF. [Pero] tuwing nakasasagupa nito ang militar, nananalangin sila para sa mga mandirigma ng MILF.

Bagamat hindi pa lubos na naiintindihan ng mga bata ang giyera, naihahayag nila kung bakit may giyera, at kung bakit may matinding presensiya ng militar sa kanilang mga komunidad. Ayon sa isa, “Hindi binibigay ng gobyerno ang karapatan ng Moro sa Mindanao. Hindi nangingibabaw ang Islam.”…

Abdul: Natulak [sa pakikidigma] pero determinado

Si Abdul, 22, ay isang magsasaka sa isa sa maliliit na bayan ng North Cotabato. Anim na taon na ang nakararaan, sa edad na 15-anyos, isa siyang nakababatang mujahideen sa Camp Abu Bakr – malaking base ng MILF na inatake ng gobyerno noong 2000…

Noong 1991, lumipat ang pamilya ni Abdul mula sa Kabacan, North Cotabato, isang bayang dominante ang mga Kristiyano, tungong Camp Abu Bakr dahil sa mga oportunidad na pangkabuhayan na inaalok ng MILF…

Noong siya’y pitong taong gulang, alam na niya ang tungkol sa mga nakababatang mujahideen. Naiintindihan niya na tinutugunan ng mga ito ang mahalagang gawain sa ilalim ng Islam…Pero di tulad ng kapatid niyang isa sa mga nakababatang mujahideen, wala siyang balak na humawak ng armas. Kuntento na siyang mag-aral at pana-panahong tumulong sa pamilya…

Naririnig niya mula sa mga nakakatanda na samantalang hindi lahat ng sundalo [ng gobyerno] ay abusado, may ilang sadyang tumatarget ng inosenteng mga sibilyan. Dagdag niya: “Kapag nakapasok na [ang mga sundalo sa aming komunidad] walang pagtatangi silang papatay ng mga Muslim…Lumaban man kami o hindi, papatayin nila kami.” Nang inatake ng militar ang kanyang komunidad, walang magawa ang napilitang si Abdul kundi ipagtanggol ang komunidad…

Noong 2000, itinalaga [si Abdul] bilang bahagi ng blocking force na guguwardiya sa kampo. Sa alala niya, may 30 mandirigma ng MILF na kaharap ang humigit-kumulang 800 sundalo…Nang nagsimula ang sagupaan, ang unang karanasan sa palitang-putok sa murang edad ni Abdul, marami sa mga kasamahan niya ang nabuwal hanggang lima na lamang silang natira…Bumalik si Abdul at ang apat na natitirang mujahideen sa malaking kampo. Bumalik si Abdul sa kanyang ina…


Maguindanao

Matatagpuan ang Barangay Bentingaw malapit sa Liguasan Marsh at, ayon sa matatagal nang mga residente, itinuturing na bahagi ng Rajamudah Camp ng MILF. Pagsasaka at pangingisda ang pangunahing kabuhayan dito…

Naranasan ng lahat ng bata sa FGD ang masamang epekto ng armadong tunggalian. Isang umaga noong Hunyo 2000, ginising ang komunidad ng pagsabog at pagputok ng baril. Dinagsa ang tahimik nilang komunidad ng mga sundalo ng AFP na, ayon sa mga residente, lumalabas na nagpapaputok nang walang pagtatangi…Ayon sa 9-anyos na si Halid, “Sinunog ng mga sundalo ang bahay namin. Kinuha din nila ang mga alaga naming hayop tulad ng baka at iba pa. Ipinahabol kami sa aso.”…

Amin: Nag-aarmas para ipagtanggol ang sarili

Isang 16-taong-gulang na sundalo ng MILF si Amin na pinakabata sa apat na magkakapatid. Isang insidente na ikinasawi ng buhay ng kanyang ama at mga kapatid na lalaki ang nagtulak sa kanya na mag-armas at lumahok sa MILF. Nang magsimulang bombahin ng militar ang mga karatig ng Barangay Bentingaw noong 2000, lumikas ang pamilya ni Amin patungong malapit sa Liguasan Marsh. Pero pati ang lugar na ito ay binomba rin.

Naaalala pa ni Amin ang lahat: Tinamaan agad ang kanyang ama at nakababatang kapatid sa shrapnel pero hindi agad nasawi…Walang doktor sa lugar dahil lahat ng health personnel ay nasa evacuation centers. Ang nakatatandang kapatid niya, na mujahideen na noong panahong iyon, ay namatay rin sa pakikidigma. Tatlong kaanak agad ang nawala kay Amin na 11-taong-gulang pa lamang noon…

Sinabi ni Amin na nag-armas siya para ipagtanggol ang sarili at ang ina… “Walang ibang dahilan (ang paghawak ko ng armas) kundi ang ipagtanggol ko ang aking pamilya dahil sa nangyari. Hindi ako napilitan.”…

Hindi niya maalalang dumaan sa isang proseso ng pagrerekluta…Matapos na lamang ang malungkot na insidente nang unang maisipan ni Amin na humawak ng sandata, pero 13-taong gulang pa lamang siya noon. Pero kahit noong panahong ito, binibigyan na siya ng mga simpleng gawain sa kampo ng MILF. Dahil hindi pa siya tuwirang mandirigma, madalas pa niyang bisitahin ang ina na nagsasaka…

Sa una, ang gusto lang niyang gawin ay ipaghiganti ang pagkamatay ng ama at mga kapatid na, ayon sa kanya, walang labang pinatay…”[Pero] sa paglaki ko, nalaman kong hindi pagpatay ang dahilan ng pakikidigma. May mas malaking dahilan sa paglaban sa giyerang ito: ang pananampalataya sa Islam.”…

Dr. Iqbal: Hinggil sa mga bata at sa armadong pakikibaka

Inilinaw ni Dr. Mohagher Iqbal, kasalukuyang hepe ng public affairs ng MILF at punong negosyador nito, ang posisyon ng MILF hinggil sa mga batang mandirigma: “Hindi dapat lumahok ang mga bata sa giyera dahil dapat nasa paaralan sila.” Pero sinabi niyang may ilang kaso na kinukuha ng MILF sa kustodiya ang bata kapag namatay ang mga magulang nito dahil sa armadong labanan at walang ibang kaanak na susuporta sa bata.

“Sa halip na itaboy sila para maging social deviants, kriminal o adik sa droga, mas mabuti pa silang nasa pangangalaga ng organisasyon…” ani Dr. Iqbal…

Sa mga kasong ito, aniya, ang mga bata sa MILF ay hindi narerekluta bilang full-time na mandirigma kundi nabibigyan ng auxilliary tasks sa kampo nito. Kabilang sa mga gawain nila ay ang pagiging kuryer o tagadala ng pagkain ng mga mandirigma ng MILF sa panahon ng digmaan. Hindi ibig sabihin, ani Dr. Iqbal, na walang karanasan sa pagpapaputok ng baril ang mga batang nasa kustodiya nila. Hindi malayong nakagamit na ang mga ito ng baril bilang paglaban sa militar, laluna tuwing brutal na inaatake ang kanilang mga komunidad…

Pinasubalian ni Dr. Iqbal ang paniniwalang napipilitan o nabi-brainwash ang mga bata na sumali sa kanilang organisasyon… (PinoyWeekly)

Catholic Education Bits

September 20, 2008

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CEAP elected new officers

The Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), on its National Convention held on September 11-13 at the Ateneo de Davao University, has selected its new set of officers for 2008.

Msgr. Gerardo Santos is the new president. He is currently the head of the Ministry of Education and Catechetics(MECS), and president of the Manila Archdiocesan And Parochial Schools Association, Inc.(MAPSAI). He is also the executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education(ECCCE) of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines(CBCP).

Here are the names of the new officers:

Vice-President-Fr Gregorio Banaga Jr, CM, Corporate Secretary-Dr. Carmelita I. Quebengco, and treasurer: Mo. Assumpta David, RVM.

Board of Directors are —David, Banaga, Quebengco, Atty. Ulpiano P. Sarmiento III, and Br. Armin Luistro, FSC.

Regional Directors are Region-NCR—Santos, Region 1-Fr. Ambrose L. Ponce, SVD, Region 2-Fr. Romeo B. Gonzales, MS, Region 3-Fr. Rufo Ramil H. Cruz, Region 4-Fr. Teodulfo B. Baria, Jr., Region 5-Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, Region 6- Fr. Antonio Limchaypo, OAR, Region 7-Fr. Roderick C. Salazar Jr., SVD, Region 8-Mrs. Sonia C. Palami, Region 9-Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, SJ, Region 10 -Fr. Aureo A. Pati-An, Region 11- Fr. Danny C. Montaña, RCJ, Region 12-Fr. Eduardo Tanudtanud, OMI, ARMM Mr. Nestor J. Lemana Sr., CARAGA-Fr. Edito N. Alcala, DCS, CAR, Sr. Lourdes M. Dulay, ICM, and Superintendent Fr. Paquito G. Gallego

Formed in 1941, The CEAP clims to be the biggest organized group of Catholic schools in the country, with about 1,194 members.

According to its documents, the CEAP upholds quality Catholic education in the spirit of communion and service, guided by Gospel values and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. But a number of student’s rights violation, campus press freedom violation and other labor-related cases are hounding some of CEAPs member-school.

CEAP seeks to advocate for government and NGO support to small member schools on issues affecting Catholic education, ensure effective and efficient delivery of services and programs in the national and regional levels, work towards financial viability of member schools, find ways for collaborative efforts among member schools, increase its visibility in national and regional levels while maintaining credibility and integrity in projecting its views and positions to the general public.

And yet CEAP is not so active on BEC organizing inside its campuses and the community surrounding them.

Teaching as a Ministry

Bishop Honesto Pacana, SJ, of the Malaybalay Diocese, urged the CEAP Convention delegates to view teaching as a sort of ministry.

In his homily, Pacana reminded the educators of the phrase, “Feed my lambs; Feed my sheep.”

Pacana explained that ‘feeding the lambs or sheep’ means influencing the students by good example, living the values of Christ and not just by words and deeds.

“It also means inspiring them to face and approach and face life full of joy, fulfillment and generous giving,” he said.

Pacana added, “feeding also means giving more attention to ‘the least, the last and the lost’ for lack of intellectual giftedness, social connections, culture endowment or economic standing.”

“You have to help them think with the Church and make them proclaimers in words and deeds of her social teachings of truth, peace and justice,” he said.

Ironically, The Jesuit-run Ateneo schools are popularly known for its high tuition and other fees. A number of Ateneo drop-outs pointed to this financial aspect of Catholic education as the culprit.

This tuition-thing has successfully transformed the Ateneo system into an elite academe for the elite class and the middle class, both capable of churning out wads of cash for a Christ-centered Catholic education.

COCOPEA blabbers on Eucharist in Education

The chairman of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), Fr. Roderick C. Salazar, Jr., SVD, has urged Catholic educational institutions in the country to continue to view the Eucharist as the sacrament that is the source of inspiration and strength in Education.

But Salazar is so intent on promoting the Eucharist that he deliberately forgot to state the equal importance of forming Bsic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) inside their member-schools.

The BEC, as a necessary pastoral program of a Diocese and Parish should find ample space also inside the very academe. The BEC, is the ultimate praxis of transforming a community into a living Catholic community, a community of churches made of flesh and blood.

(BarangayRP)

Torture Survivor Files Charges vs Perpetrators

September 19, 2008

Survivor of torture and abduction filed administrative, criminal and civil charges against his captors, including retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and Maj Gen. Juanito Gomez.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 32, September 14-20, 2008

A survivor of torture and abduction filed administrative, criminal and civil charges against his captors, including retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and Maj Gen. Juanito Gomez.

Raymond Manalo, together with his lawyer Rex Fernandez, filed criminal and administrative cases against his military captors September 12 at the Office of the Ombudsman, and a civil case at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

The respondents were accused of kidnapping, arbitrary detention, physical injuries, threats, involuntary servitude, torture, among others.

Administrative complaints for gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, gross oppression and for acts unbecoming of a public official were also filed.

Other respondents were soldiers of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and members of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

Ordeal

In an interview, Raymond said he and his brother Reynaldo were held captive from Feb. 14, 2006 until their escape on Aug. 13, 2007.

In his sworn statement, Raymond said they were abducted in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, and were detained in three military camps and two safehouses. They were first brought to Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija before being transferred to Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan and later in a safehouse in Zambales. They were again transferred to the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Battalion in Limay, Bataan and finally, to another safehouse in Pangasinan where the brothers escaped on Aug. 13.

He also said that he personally saw Palparan participate in the torture of activists.

He said he had long been planning to file charges against the perpetrators. “Ngayon lang ako naka-recover sa trauma inabot namin.” (I have just recovered from the trauma we experienced.)

Raymond said they were subjected to various forms of torture: “Nilulublob sa tubig, minamartilyo ang kamay, hinahampas ng dos-por-dos, iba-ibang klase… Nariyang pasuin ng apoy, buhusan ng mainit na tubig, buhusan ng gasolina, paluin sa likod ng barbed wire o kadena.” (Our heads were forcibly submerged in water, our hands were hit with hammers, we were clubbed with wood 2inches wide by 2 inches thick, we had hot water and gasoline poured on us, we were whipped at the back with barbed wire and chains.)

He said the soldiers were forcing them to admit that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA is a revolutionary armed group under the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Raymond continued, “Hangga’t hindi nagdurugo, hindi nila kami nilulubayan. Ang iba, di na nila nakayanan ang karahasan” (They did not stop until we bled. Others were not able to withstand the violence.)

Raymond witnessed the torture of two University of the Philippines (UP) students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño inside a military camp. He testified during the hearing of the writ of amparo case filed by the mothers of the two UP students before the 11th Division of the Court of Appeals. The two women and their companion Manuel Merino are still missing up to this day.

He said he wants justice not only for himself but also for other victims of human rights violations.

Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, joined Raymond in the filing of cases. She said, “Maraming involved. Isinawalat ng survivor na marami siyang nakitang dinukot, tinotortyur at tinatratong hindi makatao. Sana makatulong ang Ombudsman sa mga kaanak ng biktima.” (Many are involved. The survivor testified that he saw victims of abductions being tortured and treated inhumanely. I hope the Ombudsman will help the families of the victims.)

Strong case

Raymond’s lawyer Fernandez said that the Office of the Ombudsman should act swiftly on the case. He said that the fact that Raymond was granted the writ of amparo means that the evidence is strong.

The Manalo brothers filed a petition for the writ of amparo on October 24, 2007.  The Court of Appeals (CA) granted their prayer for protection.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights) secretary general, said that Raymund deserves all the support. “He is courageous. In spite of all odds, even if his enemies are powerful and even if the Ombudsman has a bad record, Raymond is determined to obtain justice.”

Enriquez explained that previous cases filed by victims of human rights abuses before the Ombudsman have not yet been resolved. She cited the cases filed by Lourdes Rubrico and Oscar Leuterio. Both were abducted by state agents in separate incidents. Leuterio also witnessed the torture of Empeño and Cadapan. He also saw the Manalo brothers inside Fort Magsaysay.

Enriquez also mentioned the cases filed by Hacienda Luisita workers and by the victims of the violent dispersal of a rally in October 2006.

Enriquez said, “I hope they will not deny the existing remedies to the victim.”

Raymond said, “Kahit gaano katagal, hindi kami susuko. Ang mahalaga mabigyan ng katarungan ang nangyari sa amin.” (However long this takes, we will not give up. What is important is that we get justice for what was done to us.)  Bulatlat

Youth Under Siege

September 19, 2008

Youth organizations have been targets of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign. Besides killings and enforced disappearances, other forms of political repression are hurled against young activists.

BY JEFFREY OCAMPO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Contributed to Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 32, September 14-20, 2008

Youth organizations have been targets of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign. Besides being targets of killings and enforced disappearances, youth activists also suffer from other forms of political repression.

According to the human rights group Karapatan, out of the 910 killings, 23 victims come from the youth sector.

In 2006, Karapatan documented the most number of cases of extrajudicial killings. Three of its most distressing cases had young activists as victims.  Students Rei Mon Guran and Cris Hugo, both from Sorsogon, Bicol, were victims of summary execution during that year. Guran and Hugo were both regional coordinators of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) when they were shot by their assailants in separate incidents. Guran sustained four gunshot wounds after a gunman fired at him inside a bus, which had a stopover at Bulan, while Hugo was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding men while walking home with his professor. In Negros Occidental, Anakbayan organizer Peter Angcon was killed allegedly by military agents.

These young activists were youth leaders known for their sharp criticisms of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. The national leadership of Anakbayan and LFS held Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the military directly responsible for the killings. The groups say that all evidences point to the military as the perpetrators, and Arroyo is the commander-in-chief.

Recent reports of various youth groups indicate that the efforts of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration in quelling dissent among the people, including the youth, have not ceased. State agents are employing surveillance, harassment and other tactics against young activists.

Executive order 731: of “hideous intentions”

Last June 10, an executive order (EO) was publicly announced by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration but only after the president had signed it three days earlier. Entitled “Activating and Reorganizing the Energy Operations Board into a Contingency Task Force Under the National Food and Energy Council”, EO 731 aims to monitor the national security situation amid continuous oil price surges within the past months and the people’s active response against it.

The task force has Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as its head and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes as its operations officer. Both retired military men are close allies of the president. Meanwhile, the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) is directed to “issue timely intelligence assessments of political and security developments” and “provide advice on matters affecting national security.” Its current commander Brigadier General Romeo Prestoza is known to be a former member of Military Intelligence Group (MIG21), a special military unit for technical intelligence.

Critics of the administration point out the “hideous intentions” behind the EO 731. For the members of progressive youth organizations, this is but a camouflage that legitimizes military intelligence operations within academic institutions. The ulterior motive is to spy on student activities, instill fear among the youth and discourage students’ active involvement in national affairs.  Further, they question the inclusion of the Commission on Higher Education in the task force.

Anakbayan National Chairperson Ken Ramos links recent cases of military presence in school premises and the series of political harassments experienced by students to the issuance of EO 731.

Military presence

Ramos added that youth activists are also being singled out and harassed during  “educational forums” held by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in different schools. During the said forums, progressive student organizations are branded by the AFP as “front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).”

The AFP singles out the LFS, Student Christian Movement (SCM) and Anakbayan.  The AFP, through the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) in universities, has conducted these forums at the Philippine Normal University (PNU), Centro Escolar University (CEU), Jose Rizal University (JRU) and University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD).

Part of these educational forums is a film-showing of a documentary, which tackles the stories of young people “deceived by the CPP-NPA-NDF.” A “former NPA member” in the documentary named Ka May pinpoints the LFS and Anakbayan as legal fronts of the NPA. She then discourages students from joining these organizations saying that her life has been destroyed because she joined these groups, which led her to join the NPA. The documentary ends with a slide show of names and information about “other student-victims of the deceptions of the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

SCM counters this accusation by saying that red baiting has been the “dirty tactic” of the AFP to prevent youth and students from joining their organizations. This ploy, however, will not stop their organizations from moving on with their tasks of exposing the realities of the times and presenting alternatives to the current system, they say. “If the AFP thinks that they can fool youth and students with this forum and documentary, they are wrong,” the group adds.

Meanwhile, these youth groups attest to the presence of military in schools and universities. Their claim is confirmed by a recent incident at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Sta. Mesa. Four identified members of the Philippine Army were cornered by a mob of enraged students last August 29 after they were caught in the act of spying on the activity being organized by student groups. The messages stored in the cellular phone recovered from the military agents confirmed the intelligence operations the four men were carrying out.

In a statement released by PUP Student Regent Sophia Prado and Ramos, they said that “the presence of military units are meant to monitor student actions, pinpoint the organizations and sow fear inside the campus and ultimately disrupt the student movement.”

Cases of harassment escalate

Recent reports from different youth groups show that there have been alarming cases of harassment among their members. On July 13, TANGGULAN Youth Network for Civil Liberties and Human Rights convened a meeting to gather these reports.

One of the most alarming cases of harassment was experienced by a student of Jose Rizal University (JRU). Ella, a freshman Hotel and Restaurant Management student was reportedly harassed last July allegedly by a military agent who enfolded her in his arms and pointed a knife at her stomach. The incident happened twice, first at Damca in Sta. Mesa and then along Shaw Boulevard. In the second incident, the victim screamed, making her assailant run away.

Meanwhile, a LFS UPD chapter member was discussing national issues with a student she was recruiting when the student asked if they could go somewhere far so they could talk about the matter well. As soon as they were away, the student called “a friend” and said that the person on the line was from ISAFP.

Another case happened to a UP Manila student who, aboard a bus, was threatened allegedly by a military agent who sat beside her. Shaken, the student was not able to do or say anything except “‘Wag po” (Please, don’t).

TANGGULAN along with the victims of political harassments and different youth groups would file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights on Sept. 15.

Silencing voices, killing “the hope”

In the provinces, repression experienced by youth and students is more blatant and often includes grave harassments and killings.

Last year, Criselda Josena of Tandem, the official student publication of the University of Northern Philippines (UNP), was charged with robbery and subsequently with theft by the publication’s adviser without sufficient evidences. According to her colleagues, she is now suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome after she was continuously summoned by the university’s administration.

Meanwhile, a student of Polytechnic University of the Philippines branch in Lopez, Quezon was recently charged with rebellion without enough evidence to justify the charge.

Resistance

Anakbayan, LFS and SCM along with various student councils, student publications, student organizations and individuals condemn the “fascistic means of the Mrs. Arroyo” in silencing groups and individuals critical of her administration. In her “desperate attempt to stay in power, she makes no qualms in using extra legal means to control the people,” the groups said.

The youth groups are to mount protest actions in the following weeks to counter the “heightened political repression.”  Bulatlat

Big-time drug lords using child couriers

September 15, 2008

By Dexter A. See

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet — Police and anti-narcotics operatives here have intensified operations against big-time drug syndicates which are using minors as pushers and couriers.

The campaign against drug syndicates came after the arrest of a 17-year-old boy from Cavite who was found in possession of “shabu” worth at least P140,000.

Last week, agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the Cordillera arrested the boy from Cavite after he tried to sell 10 grams of “shabu” during a “buy-bust” operation in front of the Quezon Elementary School here.

Chief Supt. Eugene G. Martin, director of the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera, said there is an urgent need to step up the joint police-PDEA operations against big-time drug syndicates operating in this city to spare the youth from the ill-effects of drugs.

Investigators said the arrested minor delivered “shabu” of various weights in the city at least three times.

The minor is believed to be a member of a big-time drug syndicate which is based in Dasmariñas, Cavite and which is involved in large-scale distribution and sale of shabu in Luzon.

Earlier, two women, also from Dasmarinas, were apprehended in this city for possession of shabu worth P165,000 in an entrapment operation conducted by PDEA agents and policemen.

At present, PDEA and police assets are tracking down the main source of the illegal drugs.

Martin said use of minors as couriers of illegal drugs by syndicates taking advantage of the leniency of the law on young offenders was alarming.

He said under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2000 in relation to Republic Act 9344 and the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, youth offenders, aged 15 years old and below, are not criminally liable, while those 16 and 17 years old can be charged only upon proof of their discernment of the act upon assessment by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Under the same law, the use of minors as runners, couriers, and messengers, or in any other capacity directly connected to the dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, is an aggravating circumstance in drugs cases.

From January to August, this year, PDEA and other law-enforcement agencies in the region arrested six minors for drug-related crimes.

Martin said that collective efforts must be exerted to put a stop to the use of minors as couriers and pushers because it is jeopardizing the future of the youth. (NorthernPhilippineTimes)

Youth Speak: Ka Bel: the grand old man of Philippine labor

September 13, 2008

By LUTHER E. VILLANUEVA

As August 31 is a day to commemorate Filipino heroes, we remember the life of one of the most respected leaders in the country and a vital figure in recent Philippine History: Crispin Bertiz Beltran or popularly known as Ka Bel to the labor sector. He was a man, who I believe, had strictly observed in his lifetime, the Kartilya ng Katipunan.

Ka Bel was born to a simple family on January 7, 1933 at Bacacay, Albay. A taxi driver during daytime and a student by night time, he was taking up Civil Engineering at the Far Eastern University though he was not able to finish his course due to lack of finances.

Ka Bel began his involvement in the labor movement in his 20’s. He was president of the Yellow Taxi Driver’s Union (1955-1963); vice administrator of the confederation of labor Unions of the Philippines; and vice president of the Philippines Alliance of Nationalist Organizations (1963-1972).

As August 23 is historical date in 1896 when Filipino revolution against the Spaniards sparked in the “Cry of Pugad Lawin,” I remember Ka Bel’s union involvement as a realization of the Katipunan teachings as contained in their kartilya. Among the teachings: “A life not dedicated to a noble cause is like a tree with out a shade or a poisonous weed.” This teaching is reflective on Ka Bel’s cause which is in its noblest form is a selfless act of offering his life and his family’s at that for the service of the oppressed workers because he continued to be a shining beacon, a voice for the masses.

In his quest for social change, Ka Bel detested the Marcos dictatorship, a gargantuan task that time. As a result, he experienced the iron fist of Marcos’ Martial Rule. He was arrested and detained at Camp Crame, Quezon City from August 1982 until 1984. While in detention, he found ways on how to be with the people’s movement against the Marcos dictatorship. His wife, Ka Osang, delivered his speeches at rallies, a move which eventually led his wife to do volunteer work at the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.

Ka Bel’s life and struggle manifested his principle of justice and that all men should be equal regardless of race, creed or socio-economic status. He took the consequences of being jailed rather than being free but with a futile purpose.

In 1984, amid kidney ailment, Ka Bel had a daring escape from his military imprisonment. The escape was realized after he had it well-planned with his wife Ka Osang. As a result of the escape, Ka Osang endured blows, punches and kicks from Ka Bel’s military guards. Beltran became “fugitive of justice,” based in Central Luzon, and protected by armed revolutionaries. In his experiences, Ka Bel showed that Ka Osang was not just an ordinary woman serving household chores but a “partner” in his quest of liberty from dictatorship.

He was recaptured though by Marcos military. When the 1986 Peoples Power Revolution removed Marcos from power and installed Corazon Aquino to the presidency, Ka Bel with other political prisoners were released. The move was a gesture for reconciliation by the new administration and to start talking peace with the armed revolutionaries or the New People’s Army.

Back with the masses struggle, Ka Bel carried their issues to party list elections as a second nominee of Bayan Muna in 2001. BM won three seats in the House of Representatives – the most influential bastion of conservatism in the country. Ka Bel won a second term in 2004 and third in 2007 as Anakpawis representative. In 2006 he was detained in the Batasang Pambansa because of concocted charge of rebellion due to failed military mutiny.

Despite the political power he had in the congress, he did not use it as a ticket for corruption (in the form of Public Development Funds or the pork barrel). He turned down, and exposed, bribes for him to support a weak impeachment complaint against Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. As a matter of fact, he was the poorest of all the congressmen in 2007 lifestyle check of public officials. Again, it all boils down to how honorable a man he was.

Ka Bel’s allotted funds reached far flung areas and the needy, including the Baguio General Hospital and Lumad’s settlement in Mindanao. At the dusk of his life, Ka Bel proved that he was exemplary servant worthy of gratitude and honor or even emulation. #(NorDis)

SLU students adopt century-old paper bark tree

September 13, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — A group of college students recently embarked on a project to help preserve century-old, historically significant and endangered tree species at the Burnham Park here.


SAVING THE TREE. University students adopted this rare paper bark tree, grown only in Baguio City’s Burnham park. A tree surgery on the diseased trunk was assisted by the environment department. Photo by Lyn V. Ramo/NORDIS

Adopting the 80-year old paper bark tree along Lake Drive in Burnham park, the College of Accountancy and Commerce Ecological Society (CACES) of the Saint Louis University (SLU) allotted some P5,000 to P6,000 to help preserve the said tree.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) provided technical knowhow for the tree surgery, which took two days to perform.

Tree surgery involves the discarding of the rotten tree pulp until all the dead parts have been removed. Alkitran, a wood preservative, is then painted over the exposed trunk and later the exposed part is covered with concrete and then left to dry.

Historical, endangered, exotic

Forester Imelda Ngaloy, who assisted in the tree surgery, said the 80-year old tree is among less than 50 paper bark trees along Lake Drive in Burnham Park. She added, in the country, this species is found only in Baguio City.

“This tree was introduced by the Americans,” Ngaloy said but did not mention the country of origin of the paper bark tree. It is worth preserving because aside from being a historical tree, it is also among the world’s endangered species, she added.

According to Ngaloy, the paper bark tree is the first tree to be adopted for tree surgery. In the past, the DENR has “operated” on other trees but on government funds.

“It makes it significant because this is the first tree surgery done with the help of students,” she told Nordis in an interview.

Service-oriented

CACES President Joanna Marie T. Ballesca said the group asked CEPMO of projects where the students could help implement. Earlier, the 500-strong student group has been into tree-planting, community service and extended some school supplies to day care, elementary and high school students of barangay Happy Hallow.

The organization also adopted the Rotunda Park near SLU and has helped build the Gawad Kalinga, a poor man’s village, in Tuba town.

Three advisers, Marc Oliver B. Castañeda, Edwin P. Baquiran and Victor B. Lamug assist CACES in its projects. They were among those who supervised the tree surgery on August 23 and 24.

Romy Doctolero, who helped in the tree surgery project said he is happy helping preserve the paper bark tree, which he said is far older than him. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorDIs)

Students square off with UP president

September 13, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — “Yes to better UP, no to tuition and other fee increases!”

This was the call of the students of the University of the Philippines Baguio as they come face to face to the state university president last August 29 during an informal dialog in the campus here.

According to Student Council chairperson John Silverio Saligbon, UP is supposed to be for the Filipino masses but the tuition and other fee increases (TOFI) is showing otherwise thus, is anti-poor.

The university Board of Regents (BoR), the highest policy-making body of the whole UP system approved the TOFI in 2006 with the 100% increase in tuition bloating it from P300 two years ago to P600 per unit last school-year. TOFI was implemented for the incoming freshmen last year.

Students, however, point out the increases in miscellaneous fees went as high as 300%.

UP President Emerlinda Roman said aside from the TOFI there is an automatic yearly tuition increase based on the country’s inflation rate, which the university started to implement also last year.


SQUARE OFF. University of the Philippines President Emerlinda Roman (Left) faced the students of UP Baguio in a dialog to clear issues on the state university’s fee increases. Photo by Cye Reyes/NORDIS

“For this school year, we did not implement this automatic increase because we also considered the economic hardship of the people,” said Roman.

She also cited TOFI is not fully implemented yet thus not fully maximized for the university’s other financial needs.

According to Roman, the BoR is also currently studying the university’s socialized tuition under its system-wide Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) where more affluent students pay more than the less fortunate ones.

“Also through this program, funds from campuses that have more collection are shared with other campuses,” said Roman.

Meanwhile, UP Baguio Chancellor Priscilla Supnet-Macansantos said it is not expected for the majority of the students to favor these increases and that the school officials could only do so much.

“Mahal talaga mag-aral,” (It is really expensive to study), she said eliciting adverse reactions from students.

Government subsidy

Roman said education should be fully subsidized by the government as mandated by the constitution but in reality it is not given any priority.

According to the Philippine constitution the government should prioritize the education sector in the budget allocation. At present, bulk of the government’s budget is allocated to debt servicing.

“Most of the education budget goes to the basic education and the higher education sector gets only 13%, which continues to decrease every year,” said Roman adding that 112 state colleges and universities (SCU) share this meager budget.

Saligbon on the other hand said the BoR should assert increases in the education budget especially for SCUs by submitting a petition to the House of Representatives for consideration during budget hearings.

“Sirang plaka”

Meanwhile, some students were disappointed with the dialog because according to them Roman and other school officials keep telling them the same old stories.

“It is like listening to a ‘sirang plaka’ where the song keeps on playing,” said Michelle Santos of Anakbayan UP Baguio.

“We want action and not just excuses for justifying the increases in school fees,” added Santos.

Roman and other members of the BoR were in the city to meet and discuss different issues of the state university. # Cye Reyes (NorDis)

Panibagong paninikil sa kampus

September 8, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

NAGPROTESTA sa harap ng tanggapan ng Ched (Commission on Higher Education) sa Lungsod Quezon noong Agosto 27 ang suspendidong mga estudyante ng JRU (Jose Rizal University), kasama ng iba pang tagasuporta mula sa iba’t ibang eskuwelahan, para hilingin ang aksiyon ng komisyon sa anila’y hindi makatarungang pagpapatalsik mula sa naturang unibersidad.

Hindi inalintana ng mga mag-aaral ang pagbuhos ng ulan nang magmartsa sila mula sa Philcoa papunta sa tanggapan ng Ched sa bungad ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas sa Diliman.

Nabulabog ang mga guwardiya at mga empleyado nang makita ang paparating na mga estudyante. Ayon sa mga guwardiya, ngayon lamang sila dinumog ng mga nagpoprotestang estudyante.

Gusto sanang pumasok ng mga estudyante pero agad silang pinagsarhan ng pinto ng mga guwardiya. Nakipagdayalogo ang mga lider ng grupo at nakipagkasundong lima lamang sa mga estudyante ang papasukin para pag-usapan ang kanilang hinaing.

Di makatarungang pagpapatalsik

Nandito kami ngayon para hilingin sa Ched na aksiyunan ang ilegal na pagpapatalsik sa amin ng administrasyon ng JRU,” sabi ni Louie Galang, fourth year student sa College of Commercial Science at isa sa 19 na estudyanteng pinatalsik sa nasabing unibersidad.

Pinatalsik sa JRU si Galang kasama ng kanyang mga kapwa mag-aaral nang magsagawa sila ng isang ‘snake rally’ noong Hulyo 17.

Ang naturang snake rally ay bahagi ng kanilang kampanya laban sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, pag-alis ng VAT (Value-Added Tax) at suporta sa P125 dagdag-na-sahod na hinihingi ng mga manggagawa. Karamihan sa mga naturang estudyante ay kasapi ng Anakbayan, SCM (Student Christian Movement) at Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan o Karatula.

Ayon kay Galang, mahigit 10 guwardiya ang nagtangkang dumapot sa kanila habang isinasagawa ang kanilang protesta. Nagkaroon ng komosyon dahil tumanggi silang sumama sa mga guwardiya at dahil na rin ayaw silang ibigay ng kanilang mga kapwa estudyante.

Bandang huli, sumama rin sila sa tanggapan ni Maria Luisa Saba, dekana ng Student Affairs, na siyang nag-utos na damputin sila. Katwiran ng administrasyon, hinuli nila ang mga estudyante dahil wala silang permit para magsagawa ng isang rali.

Pero ayon sa mga estudyante, tinakot sila ng administrasyon. Sinabihan silang wala pang kasong isinampa ng mga estudyante laban sa isang pribadong eskwelahan ang nanalo sa korte. Saka pinatawan ng preventive suspension ang nagprotestang mga estudyante.

Matapos ang anim na araw, dininig ang kaso ng nagprotestang mga estudyante para malaman kung ano ang aksiyong pandisiplina ang ipapataw sa kanila. Makalipas ang isang linggo, 15 sa mga sinuspinde ang pinayagang makabalik sa unibersidad. Samantala, ‘forced transfer’ naman ang parusa kina Galang, Kester Ray Santos, Danica Dimayacyac at Michael Anthony Dantes.

Ayon sa administrasyon, madalas makita ang apat na estudyante sa mga protesta sa loob at labas ng kampus.

“Pati ‘yung mga pag-iikot namin sa mga klase, ginamit nilang ebidensiya. Kasama raw iyon sa mga protesta kaya kami pinatalsik,” ani Galang.

Naghahawan ng landas

Ayon naman sa mga grupong Anakbayan, SCM at Karatula, karapatan ng mga estudyante na magsagawa ng mga protesta para maiparating ang kanilang mga hinaing. Tinawag nilang “tahasang paninikil” sa mga estudyante ang ginawa ng adminsitrasyon ng JRU. Dagdag pa nila, ginagawa rin ng ibang eskuwelahan ang ganitong taktika para pigilan ang protesta ng mga estudyante.

Tuloy naman sa kanilang paglaban para sa kanilang karapatan sina Galang. Ayon sa kanya, tagumpay na ang pagpapabalik sa 15 nasuspindeng estudyante. Pinatutunayan lamang umano nito na lehitimo ang kanilang ginawang protesta.

Umaasa siyang sa pamamagitan nito, nahahawan ang landas para sa isang mas demokratikong sistema sa loob ng kanilang unibersidad at iba pang eskuwelahan.

“Kung sama-sama tayong makikipaglaban para sa ating karapatan, hindi nila tayo basta-basta masusupil,” ani Galang.

Subalit tila walang maasahan sa mga ahensiya ng gobyerno gaya ng Ched ang apat pang estudyanteng pinatalsik na wala ngayong masulingan at humihingi pa rin ng katarungan.

Matapos makipagdayalogo ng mga estudyante noong maulang hapong iyon, sinabihan lamang sila ng mga opisyal ng Ched na magsampa ng motion for reconsideration sa tanggapan ng presidente ng JRU.(PinoyWeekly)

Students Hit ‘Creeping State Fascism in Schools’

September 2, 2008

Four elements of the Philippine Army were recently caught in the act of spying on students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Student leaders criticized surveillance and other tactics employed by state agents to disrupt the student movement.

BY BULATLAT
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Volume VIII, Number 30, August 31 – September 6, 2008

Four confirmed elements of the Philippine Army have been caught in the act of spying on students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), August 29.

They were identified as Jerry Alfon, Emmanuel Belmonte and Nestor Estoesta, enlisted Army personnel. Another one is still unnamed.

In a joint statement, Ken Ramos, Anakbayan national chairperson and Sophia Prado, PUP Student Regent said, “Through the united action of the students, these intelligence agents have been prevented from doing their dirty work. The students’ collective action also barred the armed members of the Philippine National Police from endangering the lives of many youth and students.”

The student leaders added, “Such an act is unforgivable. And the youth will not let this crime be brushed aside.”

They said the four are part of a larger military group deployed in PUP. “As students become more involved in national and educational concerns, the presence of intelligence units are meant to monitor the student actions, pinpoint the organizations, sow fear inside the campus and ultimately, disrupt the student movement,” they said.

Ramos and Prado pointed at Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “It is clear from whom such orders emanate – the commander-in-chief herself.”

“Gloria Arroyo’s militaristic method in confronting the people’s unrest is no longer a secret. The all-out war for her political survival being waged in Mindanao is escalating. Now it has reached the very halls of our educational institutions,” they said.

Besides surveillance, the youth leaders said that ‘Mrs. Arroyo and her cabal in the Armed Forces of the Philippines have also held anti-insurgency forums to tag the legal youth organizations, student councils, and student publications as destabilizers, communists and terrorists.’

Such forums were held at the Philippine Normal University (PNU), Centro Escolar University (CEU) and University of the Philippines (UP).

Unfazed

The youth leaders continued, “We may see more of these attempts in the coming weeks. But the youth are ready to retaliate. The youth will continue exposing these underhanded moves by Mrs. Arroyo and the military.”

The group said they would file appropriate cases against the military personnel. They will also block attempts by the military to enter their schools and communities.

They said, “Mrs. Arroyo and the AFP may fool themselves into thinking that they have doused cold water on the student movement. But they are very much wrong. They have only fueled the burning desire of the youth to end the oppressive Arroyo regime.” Bulatlat

August 26, 2008

By Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 11:06:00 08/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government has told a Supreme Court panel investigating bribery allegations at the Court of Appeals that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo’s lawyer had asked him to call his brother, an associate justice, about the case involving the Manila Electric Co.

Camilo Sabio, who cut short his trip abroad to testify Tuesday, also confirmed that he had called his brother, Associate Justice Jose Sabio Jr., and asked him not to issue the temporary restraining order that was to be handed down against the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was to implement a cease and desist order against the board elections held by Meralco.

The Government Service Insurance System, which is in a dispute for control over the private power firm owned by the Lopezes, had sought the intervention of the SEC.

Quoting lawyer Jesus Santos, Sabio said he was informed that there was a TRO being prepared by the 9th division, which his brother headed.

But the PCGG chief did not link the First Gentleman and justified his action by saying, “I want GSIS to win.”

Following Sabio’s admission, the appellate justices berated the PCGG head for his alleged “violation of the lawyers’ code of ethics.”

Retired Supreme Court justice Flerida Ruth Romero also reminded Sabio that what he did bordered on the “illegal.”

“You are making the Meralco case an exception to so many things. You said you are aware of the judicial ethics and yet you think this is an exceptional situation. You called your brother even if you are bordering into something that is downright illegal,” said Romero.

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

My Take:

Good dog.  Admitting such thing to clear the FG’s name.

Estudyante nag-walkout laban sa Cha-Cha, Batas Militar

August 25, 2008

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

LIBU-LIBONG estudyante sa Kamaynilaan ang nag-walkout sa kanilang mga klase para kondenahin ang umano’y mga hakbang ni Pangulong Arroyo na gamitin ang kaguluhan sa Mindanao para makapanatili sa puwesto lampas sa 2010.

Noong Agosto 22, nagsagawa ng kilos-protesta sa mga kolehiyo at unibersidad ang alysansang Youth ACT Now! (Youth for Accountability and Truth Now!).

Bandang alas-dose ng tanghali, tumungo sa Plaza Salamanca sa Taft Ave. ang mga estudyante ng University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, College of St. Benilde, St. Scholastica’s College, Ateneo de Manila University, University of the East, University of Sto. Tomas, Far Eastern University, Adamson University, Philippine Christian University, Colegio de San de Letran, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Philippine Normal University, Jose Rizal University, at Technological Institute of the Philippines.

Nagmartsa ang mga estudyante patungong Roxas Boulevard para sumanib sa iba pang mga puwersang kalahok sa Truth Festival na inorganisa ng mga taong-simbahan.

Ayon kay Vencer Crisostomo, tagapangulo ng LFS (League of Filipino Students), tumitingkad ang umano’y “game plan” ni Arroyo. “Noong una, (inilako niya) ang Charter Change. Ngayon naman, minamanipula niya at ng kanyang utak-pulbura na mga adviser ang nangyayari sa Mindanao para lumikha ng atmospera ng takot at kaguluhan kahit sa Kamaynilaan,” aniya.

Itinaas ang red alert at naglagay ng mga checkpoint sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Kamaynilaan nang pumutok ang sagupaan sa pagitan ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front at militar sa Lanao del Norte.

“Saanmang anggulo mo tingnan, Cha-Cha o Batas Militar, parehong nagsisilbi ito sa motibo ni Arroyo na makapanatili sa puwesto at iwasang mapanagot sa patung-patong na mga kaso ng korapsiyon at paglabag sa karapatang pantao,” ayon kay Dion Cerrafon, presidente ng Kabataang Pinoy.

Sabi naman ni Ken Ramos, tagapangulo ng Anakbayan, “Sa halip na mga iskemang makasarili, dapat tugunan ni Arroyo ang krisis sa ekonomiya. Mataas pa rin ang presyo ng langis, humahaba ang mga pila sa bigasan ng NFA (National Food Authority), at kumakamal pa rin ng kita ang gobyerno mula sa VAT (Value-Added Tax) na pinapasan ng taumbayan.”

Pinangunahan ng mga grupong National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Student Christian Movement, Kabataang Pinoy, Anakbayan, LFS, Karatula, Liga ng Kabataang Moro, Youth Revolt and Kristiyanong Kabataan para sa Bayan ang walkout ng mga estudyante.(PinoyWeekly)

STATEMENT: Moro Youth Leaders push for Peace

August 23, 2008

STATEMENT: Moro Youth Leaders push for Peace PDF Print E-mail
Bangsa uth Leaders Forum
Thursday, 21 August 2008 23:20
var sburl8991 = window.location.href; var sbtitle8991 = document.title;var sbtitle8991=encodeURIComponent(“STATEMENT: Moro Youth Leaders push for Peace”); var sburl8991=decodeURI(“http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=5010&#8221;); sburl8991=sburl8991.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl8991=encodeURIComponent(sburl8991);The Philippine government is once more trying to dupe the Bangsamoro people in its persistent desire to suppress the Moro’s inherent and legitimate right to govern themselves in accordance with the prescriptions of the Holy Qur’an. Still not contented with giving us bogus autonomy named Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which literally further divided not only the Bangsamoro homeland but the Bangsamoro people themselves, the imperial Manila is again granting deceptive concessions in the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The government has also never showed it can implement agreements it entered into with the Bangsamoro people, like the Final Peace Agreement of 1996 with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

However, with the recent SONA of President Arroyo, worries and frustrations surface all over again for not giving an emphasis on the peace process that the government engages on with the MILF. Further, the situation has been worsened by the issuance of the Supreme Court of the Temporary Restraining Order on MOA-AD instigated by some peace saboteurs and politicians like Cotabato Vice Provincial Governor Emmanuel Piňol, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, Congressman Teodoro Locsin, Senator Francis Escudero and United Opposition Spokesperson Adel Tamano, to name a few, who have vested interests in Mindanao and some cabinet officials of the government who have been praying that the peace agreement won’t be realized.   Obviously, the government as in the previous dealings with other legitimate revolutionary fronts doesn’t want peace to reign in the Bangsamoro Homeland.The present scenario only reminisces the agonies and miserable experiences of the Bangsamoro in the hands of the Philippine Government that added insult, injury and even attacked the dignity of the Muslims not only in the Philippines but through out the globe.

With this heartless and deliberate act of some demons disguised as politicians and with the strategies of the Philippine government on how to deceive the Bangsamoro People, the Bangsamoro Youth Leaders Forum (BMYLF), a broadest alliance of Bangsamoro Youth Leaders in Mindanao and in the country is again expressing its doubt on the sincerity of the government to address the problems of the Bangsamoro people.

Therefore, now, more than ever, is the compelling time for all peace-loving citizens of Mindanao especially the Bangsamoro Youth to join hands and become an agent and a catalyst in achieving peace by all means. This is the idea that binds us together in our commitment and desire to have a lasting peace in our own Homeland. Towards this end, we put forward the following commitment and calls:

1.       Condemning in the strongest term Vice Gov. Pinol, Mayor Lobregat, Rep. Locsin and other allies of PGMA who are anti-Moro and renown saboteurs of peace. Indeed, these personalities deserve to be thrown out of Bangsamoro Homeland;

2.       Appealing to the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on the MOA-AD and finally lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in order for the Peace Process to push through the signing;

3.       Reiterating our all-out support to the Moro Revolutionary fronts in the struggle towards the attainment of Freedom and Right to Self Determination of the Bangsamoro People;

4.       Reminding the MILF to be vigilant and cautious in dealing with the Philippine government which is an expert in the art of treachery and fraudulence;

5.       Reiterating further our call for the Bangsamoro People, MNLF and MILF leadership to unite and to revert to the original objective of struggle, which is “independence” of the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao as an option in order to achieve our aspiration for total peace, justice, development and freedom pursuant to the inalienable right as a people being guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations;

6.       Finally, we appeal to the international Muslim community to help us in pushing the talks forward to attain the kind of peace that we want, not what others want for us.

Irrevocably, the BMYLF shall continue the struggle Fii Sabillah through to the end. Whenever and wherever we are needed, there we must be!

Contact Persons:

Rahib Kudto                                               Ardan D. Sali                    Bobby Benito
National President, UNYPAD                      Secretary General              Executive Director

United Youth for Peace and Development Bangsamoro Youth Assembly  Bangsamoro Center for JustPeace

A Shortage amid the Glut in Nursing Graduates

August 21, 2008

The Philippines has an oversupply of nursing graduates especially with the visa retrogression in the US. But ironically, many government hospitals lack nurses and other health professionals. With low pay and poor working conditions in government hospitals, nursing graduates opt to work abroad or work here even as volunteers with no pay and allowance.

BY RITCHE T. SALGADO
Contributed to Bulatlat
Volume VIII, Number 28, August 17-23, 2008

Jay-R Manzano, 21, is all set for his review. He made sure to wake up early so that he could still go through his notes and not forget the discussion his class had the day before.

Jay-R and his friends, sisters Grethel Ann and Gretchen Mae Tubo, are reviewing for the licensure examination for nurses come late November. Like most of their friends and classmates, they have started their preparation early, the usual being a month before the scheduled exam. They have enrolled at a commercial review center, but by late October they will be undergoing a more intensive review in their school, the University of Cebu.

Despite the effort that they are making, they have already accepted the fact that they may not be able to get their dream job as nurses in the United States of America as soon as they hoped. But they are willing to work as volunteers abroad or even in private hospitals here, with no pay and no allowance.

“Just so we will gain the experience that we will need once the US will start accepting Filipino nurses again,” said Jay-R.

“We know that right now the US is not accepting Filipino nurses because of the (visa) retrogression, but then I am still optimistic that after the elections (in the US) this little obstacle will be lifted, and again they will open their doors for us,” Grethel said.

In order to protect American nurses and other health professionals, the US has set a limit on the number of foreign nurses that will be given access to the US. This created a shortage of nurses and physical therapists in the States and so the US Congress passed H.R. 5924 or the Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act. However, the Hispanic block in the US Congress sets as a condition to passing the bill, the granting of amnesty to Mexican illegal settlers in the US. This created a deadlock in the progress of the bill and in the process, the hiring of foreign-trained nurses decreased, if not stopped.

In an article in The FREEMAN (August 11, 2008), Oscar A. Tuason, administrator of the Cebu Doctors University Hospital, expressed alarm over the decrease in the demand for Filipino nurses in the US. He said that this has a direct effect on the number of enrollees in the nursing program of schools, elaborating that at present most nursing schools are losing students at the rate of five to eight percent.

Tuason cited five reasons for the decrease in demand for Filipino nurses: the worsening quality of graduates, unskilled and inexperienced nurses, attitude problems that include lack of motivation and lack of commitment, signing up with more than one agency, and poor ability in conversational English due to the decline in the standard of education.

Judy Aragones, R.N., PhD., spokesperson of the Cebu chapter of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and a professor at the University of San Carlos, however, expressed disagreement with Tuason regarding the trend in nursing enrollees.

“It is obvious that more and more of our young people are taking up nursing,” Aragones claimed. “There are those whose heart may not be in the profession but they see it as their way out of poverty. Even if the US is closing its doors, there are alternate destinations for our nurses like the Middle East, Singapore, Japan and European countries.”

Aragones, however, maintained that going out of the country for work is not the solution to the country’s economic problems. “I strongly disagree with our government encouraging our people to work abroad. It is the responsibility of our government to take care of our graduates. We are losing skilled and hard working people,” she lamented.

Aragones admitted that the main reason for the decrease, if not stop, in the hiring of foreign-trained nurses is mainly because of the visa retrogression policy of the US. As a consequence, many graduates have found themselves unemployed or under employed; and with schools producing more nursing graduates each year, the health sector in the country is now facing a dilemma in the oversupply of nurses.

“Some of them have to make do with being volunteers, receiving no pay or allowance. Their only consolation is that they would be able to use the certification that they would get from hospitals for possible employment in other countries,” Aragones said.

She admitted that hospitals in Cebu are understaffed. Because they could not afford to hire new nurses, they are forced to accept only volunteers.

“It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that our nurses are employed. To encourage them to stay and serve the country, the government should come up with a good socio-economic package that would include non-monetary compensations,” Aragones said.

She said the government must provide good working conditions, skills development, and such other non-economic benefits, saying that salary-wise the Philippines would not be able to compete.

“The starting pay of our nurses right now, on average, is at P15, 000 ($331) per month. Compare that to the salary they will be getting in the US and other countries (an average of US$20 per hour). This is very small,” she explained.

Jay-R, Grethel and Gretchen are now making efforts to pass the local licensure exam. Soon they will start to process their papers for the US, despite the retrogression. “We know that right now it seems impossible to get a job in the US, but then again, it does not mean that we should also stop trying,” Gretchen said.

Aragones explained that unless the government would do something to encourage health workers to stay in the country, more young people like Jay-R, Grethel and Gretchen would still desire to work in foreign countries like the US. Contributed to Bulatlat

Students to Save P710 a Month if VAT is Scrapped

August 21, 2008

A youth group revealed that an average college student would save at least P710 ($15.805) every month if the value-added tax (VAT) on products and services were scrapped.

BULATLAT
Vol. VIII, No. 28, August 17-23, 2008

A youth group revealed that an average college student would save at least P710 ($15.669 at an exchange rate of $1=P45.31) every month if the value-added tax (VAT) on products and services was scrapped.The Youth for Accountability and Truth Now! (Youth ACT Now!) recently launched its nationwide campaign for the removal of 12 percent VAT on basic consumer goods. Entitled ‘SUMA-TOTAL: Do the VAT Math’, Youth Act Now aims to “reach out to the broadest spectrum of the youth sector to explain how the VAT burden affects them. ’In a statement, the group said, “To justify continuous VAT collections despite growing public outrage, [Mrs. Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo attributed infrastructure investments, government subsidies and economic programs to revenues acquired through VAT collections. We beg to disagree.” Alvin Peters, Youth ACT Now! spokesperson maintained that VAT impositions on power and petroleum products as well as the 12 percent mandatory VAT collection on almost all consumer products are a burden to Filipinos. Peters presented their group’s computations.

Items

Monthly basic expenses

12% VAT

Food/ 3 Meals [P150/day]

P4,500

P540

Cellphone Load

1,000

120

School Supplies

294

35.28

Ballpen [P6 each, 4 pcs]

24

Notebook [P30 each, 3 pcs]

90

Yellow pad

40

Folder, envelope [P15/set, 4x/mo.]

60

Bond paper [P20/pack, 4x/mo.]

80

Toiletries

107

12.84

Soap

22

Shampoo

38

Toothpaste

27

Toothbrush

20

TOTAL

P5,901

P708.12

Peters said that the P708.12 ($15.628) VAT collected from an average college student per month is equivalent to food for five days, school supplies for two additional months, toiletries good for six more months, two weeks’ worth of transport fare, a book, or more funds for photocopying needs and almost half of a month’s cost of bed space/boarding house rentals.

He said that the amount excludes indirect VAT passed on to students through transport fare, printing, internet and boarding house rentals. He said that the VAT on oil and electricity are passed on to students who avail of these products and services.

Youth ACT Now’s SUMA-TOTAL campaign is spearheaded by the alliance’s member organizations namely, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Kabataang Pinoy, Student Christian Movement (SCM), Liga ng Kabataang Moro, Youth Revolt, Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students (LFS). Bulatlat

Youth group challenges Benguet officials to take a stand for the future

August 19, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — A youth group in the mining communities of Benguet Thursday challenged local officials to support the people’s growing opposition to mining ventures in the province.

“Tumakder da koma iti posisyon ti umili nga isardeng ti panagminas a makadadael ti pagbiagan ken pagnanaedan,” (They should take the people’s stand to stop mining that destroys people’s livelihood and communities) Rina Mangili, 25, a resident of Ucab, Itogon told the media during the Mining Conference at the ATI/NTI Training Hall in Benguet State University, here.

Mangili, Anakbayan-Benguet spokesperson, is among the participants to the conference, which also launched the Benguet Mining Alert Network later in the afternoon.

As a young girl who grew up among small scale miners and corporate miners, Mangili saw the dwindling mountain resources. The mines left the people with so little tracts of land on which to plant food crops, she said.

Mineral extraction also caused the lowering of the water table. Upper Ucab of around 3,000 persons, has devised a system of rationing water from a tubed source. According to Mangili, each household is entitled to fill only one five-gallon container per day to avail of the potable spring water.

“No kayat dagiti tattao ti ad-adu, agsakdo da iti rabii,” (If people want more, they have to fetch water at night time) said Mangili. She quipped the usual queue lasts up to 10:00 P.M. or even later.

Mangili also mentioned the sinking areas in Tuding, also in Itogon.

Itogon has been host to big mining companies. Benguet Corporation has been in the town since 1903. Philex Mining Corporation, the only remaining active mine site, in the Itogon boundary with Tuba, has been mining since 1958. Itogon-Suyoc Mines has temporarily stopped operations but is now negotiating with Anvil, and Tiger Company, both foreign mining corporations.

A power point presentation by Mary Carling during the conference carried digital renditions of sinking areas in Mankayan, where Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company has been mining for gold and copper since 1936. Of late, the Crescent Development Corporation has acquired an exploration permit and has been exploring for minerals since last year.

Mangili said the youth has to take a stand for the future. “We shall inherit an environment left scarred by mining operations if we do not act now,” she said.

Even the people’s culture is endangered and is facing extinction due to mining. “When people are displaced from their traditional livelihood, they lose their identity as a people,” Mangili said. # Lyn V. Ramo(NorthernDispatch)

Indigenous youth converge to celebrate IP Day 2008

August 19, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — In celebration of the 14th World’s Indigenous Peoples Day, more than 150 indigenous youth of the Cordillera gathered to learn, understand, unite and commit in promoting the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) on August 9 at the Multi-Purpose Hall of the University of the Philippines Baguio, Philippines.


Photo courtesy of Joy Siapno

The Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN) organized the event with the support of various local youth organizations that includes the Progressive Igorots for Social Action (Pigsa), Pinatud, Program for Indigenous Culture-Pagawisan Tako Am-in, Salidummay-University of Cordillera and Benguet State University, Cordillera Cultural Performing Group-Saint Louis University, University of the Philippines Baguio University Student Council-Indigenous Peoples Desk, Student Parliament-Baguio Central University, Anakbayan-Kordilyera, Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (DKK) and Cordillera Youth Center.

In the afternoon was a Forum-Workshop on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP). Lawyer Jose M. Molintas, an Ibaloi, member of the UN Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, discussed the importance of the UN DRIP to IPs and what this declaration covers regarding the protection of rights of IPs.

Jennifer Awingan, a Kalinga, coordinator of APIYN, imparted the situation of Indigenous Peoples of the Cordillera and of the world in general and challenged the indigenous youth to act regarding the issues faced by the IPs.

After the inputs, a workshop was held to make a plan of action as an output of the celebration. A unity statement was made and a coordinating body was formed to ensure the monitoring and implementation of the plans. This includes capacity building on the strengthening of indigenous youth organizations through cross-learning between and among indigenous youth on various topics that affect IPs, youth-elders dialogs and many more.

The body also united in taking actions on IP issues and concerns at local, national and international levels. As part of the plan, a resolution was seated asking the City Government of Baguio to declare August 9 as an official red-letter-day and allocate resources for its celebration.

“Lambakan” (cultural night) followed in the evening. Indigenous music and gongs, community dances and chants, trivias on IP issues and solidarity messages filled the occasion. It also became a cross-learning experience among indigenous youth from different tribes of the Cordillera. Advocate groups such as National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Maryknoll Sanctuary Choir and Agi Band delivered solidarity messages and rendered meaningful cultural performances. # Keidy Transfiguracion(NorthernDispatch)

The Youth’s View of the 2008 State of the Nation Address

August 13, 2008

The Arroyo government has been dismissing surveys showing that the satisfactory rating of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is at an all-time low of –38 and that majority of Filipinos think that the SONA is untruthful.  Do these reflect the views of the people?  The following are write-ups from two high school students, which was sent to Bulatlat.

Why is GMA’s SONA a False Pretense?
BY AMEE FLORENCE P. PAYNO
Arellano University Plaridel High School

The 2008 State of the Nation Address is the 8th SONA of our “President” Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and it is perhaps the most abysmal address that she has ever done in her entire term considering that this time is supposed to be a crucial situation.

Firstly, her so-called deceiving advertisement is a flaw of her Public Relation’s People. A SONA that has got to do with individual personalities such as Federico Alvarez – a jeepney driver; Rodney Berdin – 13 year-old boy; Edwin Bandila – a rice farmer; Rosario Camma – chieftain and mayor (in tribal attire); Jessica Barlomento, Shenve Catana, Mary Grace Comendador, Marlyn Tusi – all welders of Hanjin (a private firm); Victoria Mindoro – a farmer and factory worker; Pedro and Concordia Faviolas – rubber farmers; Justice Vitug and Francis Lim – of Texas Instruments and Philippine Stock Exchange, respectively; Allan Amanse – a fisherman turned whaleshark watching officer; and Joey Concepcion – a partner entrepreneur, is probably a publicity stunt to make herself appear like she’s doing a good job. Too bad this kind of deceiving doesn’t really work anymore.

This exploitation of these kinds of people from different walks of life is more about saving the president’s face than actually saving the people. She is implanting (or at least tried to) an idea on the minds of the citizens that everything is all right by showing illusory success and development in standard of living of these people. Moreover, we cannot use specific developments of people as individuals to prove success and improvement in our country’s state. A SONA is about the nation’s situation and NOT of an individual.

Another attempt of camouflage is bringing up the current oil crisis. She pinpoints the blame on the oil crisis for the nation’s current downward spiral so much in order to cover-up the misgivings of her government. Isn’t her government supposed to be finding concrete solutions to this problem instead of blabbering and defending it that it isn’t the government’s fault that people are suffering?

Because of her persistent stubbornness regarding the removal of VAT, believing that this will save the people, there is still no apparent solution to the nation’s problem though oil prices had already decreased. VAT would be really helpful if the people of the country she is suppose to be governing has money. But at this current state, how can the people carry the burden of paying the VAT if they have barely enough money to SURVIVE? Ideally, the said value added tax is to benefit the Filipino people but let’s not kid each other in facing the reality that the people pay their taxes but they aren’t really getting the benefits they should. It’s like dumping the citizens’ money in an endless pit.

Where does the money go? The pit that I’m talking about is the hungry pockets of our government leaders.

And there is the P 0.50 cents text messaging. This is the one project that gathered the most number of applause. But this reward is not even close to an inch of what the nation really needs. This is another deception because following the SONA, we all found out that it’s a promo – a promo that will probably last for 3 months or so.

Mrs. Arroyo spoke generally about what her government aims and what it has achieved for the past year. The issues in Mindanao were expected to be tackled in the first place since they have been issues way before her term. In history, one way of getting the sympathy and love of the people is when you talk about uniting the Moslem and Catholic Filipinos. It’s not surprising if she attempted to use this issue to gain the people’s love.

I don’t know if anyone else considers the president’s statement, “I will let no one – and no one’s political plans – threaten our nation’s survival,” an irony or not. Considering that the president has been involved in controversies, including the infamous “I am sorry” speech, isn’t this a proof that she herself has political plans? And up to now it remains a question mark if her plans are for the nation’s survival or for her family’s wealth.

The Sona 2008 made the 9th Sona on 2009 less anticipated since it gave no impact to the people. Maybe because the people are too tired to listen to words that are so good to hear but bear no action, or maybe the people feel that the government has already lost its integrity. They choose to depend on themselves because the government’s promises bear no fruit for them. This is probably the most critical problem of all – to regain the nation’s trust, which the government officials had long ago killed.

Critique of the 8th State of the Nation Address
BY RONAH JANE M. VIDAL
IV-Einstein
Arellano University Plaridel Campus

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo delivered her 8th State of the Nation (SONA) last July 28, 2008 at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

Another fairytale story has ended. The SONA of Pres. Arroyo for this year 2008 was so full of unbelievable reports, all were a fiction maybe that even me, I don’t know if I can still believe or trust those words.

In her 8th SONA, Pres. Arroyo said that we ended 2007 with the strongest economic growth in a generation, inflation was low, the peso strong and a million new jobs were created that we were all looking to a better brighter future. Do we all look to a better brighter future? It seems that our president was joking when she said that thing. The records from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) showing that millions of Filipinos are “mired in poverty, have no work, and are being punished by high food and oil prices. “Seven years after the she made these promises, poverty further worsened, prices of commodities increased, and many lost their jobs”, Binay read from his five pages SONA entitled “Ang Tunay Na Kalagayan ng Bayan” (The True State of the Nation) at the Makati City Hall. And DOLE Statistics reveal that almost three million Filipinos are unemployed while nearly seven million are underemployed, contrary to Pres. Arroyo’s promise to create one million job opportunities every year. There is only one truth that our economy is getting worse and nearly to fall. According to national statistics, the inflation rate this month of July which is 12.2 is the highest in 17 years ago which only means that food prices and other necessities of people are getting higher and higher that cause suffering on the side of Filipino people and additionally the truth that job opportunities in our country are not enough to employ all Filipino people.

According to her, we built a shield around our country that has slowed down and somewhat softened the worst effects of the global crisis. What kind of a shield? A shield that are made up of fragile materials. In other words, a solution that is only for short period just like a pain reliever. Our nation doesn’t need an alternative or ephemeral solution just to ease the worse effects of the global crisis. What we need is an unhurried action. Our nation needs a definite answer which serves as a long-lasting solution to this global crisis. Because the worse effects of the global crisis will be felt by our nation again and again if there is no definite solution to solve it and we are not prepared for its coming.

Pres. Arroyo mentions that we have the money to care for our people and pay for food when there are shortages; for fuel despite price spikes. I believe that there is really money obviously a larger amount of it. The question is that, where is the money that she is talking about? Why does every Filipino still endure the sad fate rooted in poverty? Open your eyes and take some time to look at your surroundings and you will see and realize how our nation is poor. For the past years, even until now, our nation has been in the financial tight spot, a problem that the previous and present administrations failed to stamp out. In every highways, streets and places you are walking, you will see a large number of Filipino people with no food to eat. The answer is that the money our president is talking about was already in the pocket or wallet of every abusive public servant. The fact is that the money is being used in the wrong way, received by wrong hands and reserved for wrong people.

In the speech of Pres. Arroyo, she said that the telecoms responded to her pleas to cut the cost of messages between networks; it is now down to 50 cents. Paradoxically, right after the speech, headlines said that there was actually nothing in the 50 cents reduction in text messages.

She said she cares for our teachers and for our OFW. But why do some teachers sell food or anything to his/her students or co-teachers to earn additional income if Pres. Arroyo really cares for them? Why do some teachers bear and suffer from the low wages they receive? Teachers don’t need praise like the government programs intend to do. What they need is action for the betterment of all teachers. If Pres. Arroyo cares for our OFW, why are there so many news showing that many of our OFW are being abused and violated abroad? Why are there are so many helpless OFW who can’t come back to their home? If she really cares, she must do something for the goodness and improvement in the conditions of our teachers and OFWs.

Pres. Arroyo said that rice production since 2000 increased at an average of 4.07% a year, twice the population growth rate. If that’s true why are there food shortages and the Philippines continues to buy rice from other countries? She can’t say that it is merely because of nature that according to her puts our islands ahead of our neighbors in the path of typhoons from the Pacific. There is a way that we can fight and avoid the disastrous effects of typhoons. The government just need to improve our drainage to where all waters flow. We don’t need to import rice. Improvement in technologies is a must and full support to our farmers is necessary. In importing rice, Filipino people are not the one consuming the benefits and take the advantage out of it because imported rice is higher than our own rice. So the person taking the most benefits is the one who is going to sell the imported rice.

She strongly said that VAT or E-VAT is so important and without it we can’t survive and should not dispose of it. We can’t deny that the Expanded Value Added Tax (E-VAT) has contributed to the oil price increase, but instead of giving the people immediate relief by suspending the E-VAT, Malacañang opted to use the windfall from E-VAT collections to extend more subsidies. In her exhaustive enumeration of the amounts of money taken from E-VAT for various programs of government, it becomes crystal clear that without E-VAT, her administration should have long succumbed to death.

President Arroyo’s SONA 2008 is replete with fake economic gains and band aid solutions to the worsening poverty. There is nothing to be thankful for in the programs being implemented by this government.

To end, let me quote what the great Augustine once said in The City of God be alluded to: “I think I have now, by God’s help, discharged my obligation in writing this large work. Let those who think I have said too little, or those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I said just enough join me in giving thanks to God.” We may have said too much about this thing of urgency, but that’s only a faithful accomplishment of our duty. However, few words are enough. We don’t have to be verbose about a national concern at all times. Actions are still better than words. Actions would suffice. “Amen.” Posted by Bulatlat

1 M pirma para sa dagdag-na-sahod, pagtanggal sa VAT, inilunsad ng Kristiyanong kabataan

August 10, 2008

Rodalyn Capilo

NANGANGALAP ng isang milyong pirma ng pagsuporta sa P125-dagdag-sahod at pagbasura sa VAT (Value-Added Tax) ang SCMP (Student Christian Movement of the Philippines), organisayon ng progresibong Kristiyanong kabataan.

“Magsisilbing pantulak ito sa pambansang kampanya laban sa kahirapan at krisis sa lipunan,” ayon kay Biyaya Quizon, tagapangulo ng SCMP.

Nagtayo ang SCMP ng desk sa harap ng simbahan ng Quiapo sa Maynila, upang hikayatin ang mga estudyante, mga palasimba, manggagawa, mga nagtitinda at mga dumadaan upang lumagda sa manifesto.

“Ngayon higit kailanman, kinakailangan ang dagdag-sahod. Ipinahahayag namin ang aming matinding pagkadismaya sa pahayag ng Malakanyang na hindi na mapapahintulutan ang panibagong pagtataas ng suweldo ngayong taon, habang ang mga mamamayan ay naghihirap araw-araw dahil sa tumitinding krisis,” dagdag pa ni Quizon.

Ayon pa kay Quizon, ipapadala sa Kamara at Senado ang mga pirma upang mapresyur ito na isulong ang panukalang batas sa P125 dagdag-sahod at pagbasura sa batas sa VAT.

Kinumpirma ng SCMP na humihingi sila ng tulong sa sa CBCP (Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines) sa pangangalap ng pirma sa mga parokya nito. Hiniling kamakailan ng CBCP sa gobyerno ang pagrepaso sa VAT.

Samantala, hinihikayat ng National Executive Committee ng Katipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas ang mga miyembro ng simbahang nagpoprotesta na sumuporta sa signature campaign sa pamamagitan ng paglagda sa manifesto na ipadadala sa lahat ng simbahan sa bansa.(PinoyWeekly)

CHEd head wants public colleges run like businesses

August 4, 2008

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:02:00 08/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines—All 111 state universities and colleges, or SUCs, nationwide should be run like corporations, according to the new head of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

By “promoting corporatization, the SUCs can be freed from the shackles of government bureaucratic provisions,” said CHEd officer in charge Nona Ricafort.

Citing Republic Act No. 8292, the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997, Ricafort in a statement said SUCs were “empowered to engage in business ventures, raise endowments and other income-generating activities.”

But militant teachers and students see it otherwise.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers chair Antonio Tinio said, “Her support for the continued corporatization of SUCs can only mean higher costs that will push tertiary education beyond the reach of even more students.”

Alvin Peters, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, and Ken Ramos, chair of the Anakbayan youth group, echoed Tinio.

“By announcing corporatization as a cornerstone of her leadership, it is evident Filipino students and their parents shouldn’t expect much in the way of meaningful and much-needed reforms in tertiary education,” Peters said.

Contrary to Ricafort’s claim, Peters said corporatization “will further drive the profit-oriented nature of education in the country.”

Ramos said corporatization was “tantamount to the state’s abandonment of its role of ensuring an education for all. It promotes the notion that government’s role in the delivery of basic social services is limited to subsidizing a select few.”

But in a phone interview, Ricafort explained corporatization “does not mean we’ll push for the privatization of SUC-owned properties.”

“With the country’s food security problem in mind, we’re seriously considering converting idle SUC lands into agricultural estates. We’ll put them to good use,” Ricafort told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

Conducting an inventory of idle SUC lands was one of the commission’s priorities, she said.

By INNABUYOG-GABRIELA Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan condemns the massive military operations and human rights violations against the Aetas of Porac and Floridablanca, Pampanga, where the 72nd Infantry Battalion and the 3rd Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been deployed since July 10 as part of the Investment Defense Force scheme of the Arroyo government. “The deployment of military troops in indigenous communities under the guise of protecting the national economy but at the expense of the IPs is ridiculous. It is unlawful as it violates the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which state that the rights of indigenous cultural communities should never be compromised for the sake of development, “ Ilagan said in a press conference with the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP). The Mindanaoan solon pointed out that it is not only the Aetas of Pampanga who experience state-perpetrated abuses. Since the Revitalization of the Minerals Industry Program was launched in 2004 and 18 indigenous territories were selected to be part of the 24 priority mining areas in the Philippines, complaints of human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples have increased. “In Mindanao, for example, the Lumads of Compostela Valley and Subanens of Zamboanga del Norte are being pushed away from their homes by the easement rights granted to foreign mining firms by the Arroyo government. Any resistance is immediately quashed through the deployment of military and paramilitary forces and men, women and children who show the slightest hint of opposition are tortured, harassed, raped and murdered,” the militant party-list representative said. In the Cordillera, military operations had been going on in Abra. The militarized areas are also the areas where mining companies have their applications, the Innabuyog, an alliance of indigenous women’s organizations in the Cordillera reported. “This situation not only sows terror among indigenous women and children but also destroys the key source of livelihood and identity for the indigenous peoples,” comments Innabuyog chairperson Vernie Yocogan-Diano. GWP Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan added that as of 2007, 130 cases of extra-judicial killings that victimized IPs have been recorded. Ilagan, together with KAMP, supports the call of the Aetas and other indigenous peoples in the Philippines for the government to pullout the elements of Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed in their ancestral lands. #

August 3, 2008

By MIRIAM U. GUILLERMO*

From the dictionary the word misunderstand means “to take a wrong meaning; to define wrongly; or to take in a wrong sense.” As the word grew to its existence, it evolved in this meaning. But does the definition makes you naïve?

I am a teenager in a judgmental world called earth filled with critics, opinionated eyes and a tight social standard. As I grew and evolved, the word misunderstood has acquired me different, more complex and deeper meanings.

Getting out from the house , old people will stare at your dress, you will hear voices telling how bad you actually looked. Those criticisms like mirrors are about to kill you. For this side, you suddenly realize that being misunderstood meant a big voice shouting, “How thick can you get?”

Getting into school, forgetting your ID turns out to be a crime. Guards will reprimand you and teachers scold you. Your parents do not have any luck having a child like you. They are sending you to school to study and not to lose your memory. Analyzing it, you will know that being misunderstood meant a whole lot of embarassment- disgusting you in the middle of nowhere when you have not fought for your reasons.

Getting into the canteen, they will call you spender- burning money just for food not thinking the value of thrift. In here, when you are misunderstood, your rights are taken away.

Getting into a department store to entertain yourself, they call you a flirt for getting in such places to sight guys. Telling, you do not have any right roaming there. Misunderstood meant discrimination.

Getting home after being judged by the world, you get home being judged by the last people you expected for understanding. They ask you why you were late and where in the world were you wandering despite their hard works. They call you names and feed you with shouts and sermons. Being misunderstood is being misunderstood.

The society always had a typical judgments to teenagers- that they are too hard to be understood and that they are the worms of destruction. But is it really that?

Misunderstanding exists because the society’s standard cannot try to understand. Being misunderstood causes pain. But when you feel pain, you learn to fight. In the end, being misunderstood is not that bad. #

* Mirriam Guillermo is a 4th year AB Communications student of Mariano Marcos Memorial State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Teachers’ group supports Council reso asking military to stop using public schools as camps

July 29, 2008

MindaNews
Wednesday, 23 July 2008 22:26
var sburl9107 = window.location.href; var sbtitle9107 = document.title;var sbtitle9107=encodeURIComponent(“Teachers’ group supports Council reso asking military to stop using public schools as camps”); var sburl9107=decodeURI(“http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=4782&#8221;); sburl9107=sburl9107.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl9107=encodeURIComponent(sburl9107);DAVAO CITY (KamKen 20 July) –The Kahugpungan sa mga Magtutdlo ug Kawani sa Edukasyon sa Mindanao – Alliance of Concerned Teachers Davao (KAMKEM-ACT Davao) supports the resolution passed by the Davao City Council asking the military to stop using public schools as militar)y encampments. “The presence of military in school premises does not only pose threat to the students but to the teachers and other personnel in school as well. We don’t want to be turned into human shield when armed encounter strikes, ” says Mr. Elenito Escalante, spokesperson of KAMKEM-ACT Davao.

“Notwithstanding the threat for safety, their presence also disrupts normal school activities,” Mr. Escalante added.

The teachers’ group also anticipates the possibility that the military might come across armed groups in areas nearby schools. “We are disturbed with the fact that during military operations, schools are being used evacuation centers resulting to interrupted classes that may last up to months. We worry that our students will not be able to sustain their schooling,” the spokesperson further explained.

KAMKEM-ACT Davao urges the military to stand by their oath to protect the civilians by leaving school premises.

for reference:
Mr. Elenito Escalante

Youths slam decline in education subsidy

July 28, 2008

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:46:00 07/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Did you know that the Arroyo Administration spends only P12 on every public school student per day—or P2 less than what it allots for the purchase of an M-16 rifle bullet.

That, militants say, is the sad truth about government priorities.

“The truth is, government subsidy to education has been on a consistent decline since [President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] came to power in 2001,” the League of Filipino Students and the Anakbayan youth group said in a joint statement Sunday.

“In 2001, government spent a measly 3.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product on education. The amount, which already falls short of the United Nations prescription of a minimum 6 percent of the GDP, dropped to 2.4 percent,” they said.

For LFS and Anakbayan leaders Vencer Crisostomo and Ken Ramos, “a bleak future has become the legacy of the Arroyo administration.”

Crisostomo, Ramos and other leaders of left-leaning youth organizations are to raise the issue in Monday’s protest rallies to coincide with Ms Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address.

“For the past seven years, education has become less accessible to Filipino students as a result of the rising cost of tuition and other school fees. Besides the worsening crisis in the education sector, we also face rising food and fuel prices, bringing along with them the cost of other basic commodities,” Crisostomo and Ramos said in the statement.

They said that since 2001, the national average tuition rate had risen by almost 70 percent.

“In the National Capital Region, it has risen by 118.53 percent,” they said.

“But it is not only rising tuition and school fees that students have to cope up with. Students and their parents have to bear the brunt of the economic crisis,” they added.

Thus, it is no longer a surprise that more and more students are dropping out of school each year, they said. Jerry E. Esplanada(PDI)