Pinoy Weekly » Isyu http://pinoyweekly.org/new Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:50:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 A question of sincerity http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/04/a-question-of-sincerity/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/04/a-question-of-sincerity/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:32:00 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28810 Groups call for the resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks. Macky Macaspac

Progressive groups have been calling for the resumption of GPH-NDF peace negotiations. Macky Macaspac

Peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and organizations waging revolutionary struggles once again hit the headlines after military and police elements arrested Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, two senior leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Days after the arrest, the GPH signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). A few people, including pundits in the media, expressed hope that with a peace pact in place for the Bangsamoro, peace and prosperity will thrive in Mindanao at last.

But there is reason for apprehension. While welcoming the peace pact, the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO), a member-organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), reminded their fellow Moro brothers and sisters “not to fall into the trap of surrendering and dividing their ranks” and in “accepting US-Aquino regime concessions” in signing the pact. The group raised alarm that the pact will pave way for more foreign plunder of Mindanao’s wealth.

MRLO is not alone in questioning the GPH’s sincerity in implementing peace agreements. Various peace advocates have pointed to the GPH-NDFP peace process, where the Aquino government has refused to implement previous agreements such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) among other GPH-NDFP agreements, as proof that whatever promises of Moro self-determination the Aquino government have promised would ultimately be unfulfilled.

The communist rebels, led in the negotiating table by the NDFP, have a long experience bearing the brunt of Philippine governments’ failure to fulfill previous agreements. The latest of which is, according to peace advocates, blatant violation of Jasig with the arrests of NDFP peace consultants including the Tiamzons.

Promise of peace in Mindanao

NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni. <strong>Contributed Photo</strong>

NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni. Contributed Photo

With the signing of the CAB in Malacanang Palace on March 27, the Bangsamoro people are promised “self-determination”. This is through creation of a political entity called Bangsamoro, encompassing Moro-dominated areas in Mindanao and replacing the “failed experiment” that was the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

CAB envisions a political entity that will be, in parts, governed by Bangsamoro leaders and in others by both the central government and the local leaders, and will be implemented in 2016. In return, the MILF agrees to turn over their firearms and armaments to a third party for safekeeping.

But for Philippine Peace Center (PPC), a nongovernment institution that monitors and assists in the peace process, it remains to be seen if this new agreement will succeed where previous agreements like the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) failed.

“It remains to be seen whether the CAB will finally satisfy the aspiration and demands of the Bangsamoro (people) to exercise their right to self-determination, the core issue in the struggles of both the MNLF and MILF,” said Rey Casambre, director of PPC and a peace consultant to the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.

NDFP’s chairperson in the peace negotiations, Luis Jalandoni, opined that the GPH-MILF peace process has still a long way to go, from charter change in Philippine congress to actual implementation. Jalandoni was clear in pointing out that the NDFP believes that the government’s peace agreement with the MILF has been borne out of decades of Bangsamoro armed struggle. After the CAB signing, the MILF, he said, went out of its way to inform the NDFP negotiation panel that even with such agreement in place, their forces will not fight against the communist rebels.

“(Nevertheless) we think he MILF’s belief (that) Aquino (will faithfully implement the agreements) is misplaced, because we can clearly see the violations of their agreements (with the NDFP),” said Jalandoni.

MRLO, meanwhile, pointed out to the various interests the Aquino government seem keen on protecting while engaged in the peace process with the MILF. Al-Qursi, spokesperson of the Mindanao-based underground group MRLO, said that administration allies in Congress have been using the CAB as a pretext to change the 1987 Constitution. These Aquino allies have been pushing to change the provisions in the Constitution barring 100 percent foreign ownership of land and businesses. At the same that the administration pushes for charter change to accommodate CAB, it will be pushing for allowing for 100 percent foreign ownership of land that will undermine national sovereignty and patrimony, and the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro peoples.

“Before signing the CAB, there was a memorandum of agreement between the local government of Maguindanao and the Univex Corporation of Malaysia together with its local counterpart the Al Mujahidun Agro Resources Development Inc., for 6,000 hectares of banana plantation. And we know that the United States is interested in Liguasan Marsh which is rich in natural gas,” Jihad Al-Qursi, MRLO spokesperson, pointed out.

The Malaysian government was the third-party facilitator in the GPH-MILF peace negotiations, while the US government has been one of its major supporters.

Who blocks the talks?

In the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, meanwhile, the revolutionary movement under NDFP have stood firm in taking the GPH to account for failure to honor previous agreements. This failure, according the the NDFP, has put the entire process in virtual limbo for the past few years.

The GPH and the NDFP entered into peace negotiations after signing the Hague Joint Declaration on September 1992, during GPH Pres. Fidel Ramos’ term. It defines the agenda and as a framework for the negotiations between the two parties, namely human rights and international humanitarian law, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. Since then, only one substantive agenda has been signed: the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl) in 1999, during the Estrada administration.

Before the Carhrihl signing, the two parties entered into agreement to protect all personalities from harassments, arrests and surviellance those nvolved in the negotiations. This agreement was the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), signed on February 24, 1995 and took effect when the principals of both parties signed it. The NDFP chairperson Mariano Orosa on April 10, 1992 and Pres. Fidel Ramos on April 25, 1995.

Since then, after two decades, the peace negotiations between the two parties have not progressed significantly.

Unlike then President Arroyo, who publicly closed its door to peace talks and declared its all-out war against the communist rebels, Aquino—at least as far as his and his officials’ declarations go—opened its door for negotiations. In October 2010, both parties reconstituted their respective panels, and after the December 2010 Hong Kong meeting between GPH Panel Chair Alex Padilla and NDFP Panel Chair Luis Jalandoni, the two parties began preparing for the formal resumption of talks.

The GPH-NDFP negotiations resumed their formal talks in Oslo, Norway in February 2011, and even formed a special track in the absence of regular tracks. Informal talks also transpired for the next two years.

At the onset, however, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and the rest of the government panel pushed for a different agenda for the peace talks other than that outlined in the Hague Joint Declaration. The government panel, during the Feb. 2012 formal talks, described the said declaration as a “document of perpetual division”. This is despite the government’s commitment to implement the declaration as a signatory.

“The Hague Joint Declaration has effectively served as the framework and foundation agreement, has made the negotiations move forward, and made possible the other major agreements such as the JASIG and the CARHRIHL. Previous GPH panels have acknowledged and reaffirmed this as fact,” the NDFP clarified.

The NDFP said that the declaration is such because it clearly outlines how genuine and lasting peace can be achieved in the Philippines – through both parties committing to addressing the root causes of the armed conflict. Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, himself a former NDFP peace negotiator, said that in 1987, the peace panel of Pres. Corazon Aquino led by Sen. Jose W. Diokno “agreed that we should talk about and address violations of human rights first”.

With Benigno Aquino III as president, the government now wanted a new track. In a move that many peace advocates interpreted as Aquino’s disinterest in addressing the root causes of armed conflict, the GPH, in 2013, pushed for a “new approach” to the peace negotiations. This, they said would involve local peace talks, community-based consultations, and peace zones. The GPH said it will address the issues on the ground, and calls on the NDFP to stop violence.

For the NDFP, this “new approach” is a betrayal of the previously signed agreements like the Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. According to Casambre, “This means that the Aquino government is running away from the GPH commitments and from the Filipino people hoping that the peace talks would lead to just and lasting peace.”

Regarding the NDFP forces’ use of revolutionary violence, Casambre said the Carhihl is the mechanism to check and balance it. Both parties can file cases of abuses and violations to International Humanitarian Law to the Joint Monitoring Committee that should monitor and help implement Carhihl. But until now, the committee has not been convened, despite NDFP’s efforts. “We prodded the GPH to convene the JMC to discuss cases of both parties,” said Casambre.

The NDFP said that the Aquino government’s supposed “new approach” is eerily similar to the US counter-insurgency guide of 2009 – the controversial framework of counter-insurgency operations that the US has been using in their bloody military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This guid, asserted the NDFP, is also the framework for Aquino’s own counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan.

“How can localized talks solve problems that are national in nature?” Casambre said. He said that economic policies do not come from local governments in provinces and regions. Economic reforms, he added, should be examined and reformed in a national scale to achieve genuine peace.

Atty. Rachel Pastores, legal counsel to the NDFP panel: Jasig is operative as long as negotiations are not terminated. <strong>Arkibong Bayan</strong>

Atty. Rachel Pastores, legal counsel to the NDFP panel: Jasig is operative as long as negotiations are not terminated. Arkibong Bayan

Placing negotiators in harm’s way

The arrest of the Tiamzons in March 22, 2014 laid bare GPH’s refusal to implement Jasig. Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the Tiamzons were not accorded immunity from arrest because “there was a failure in the verification process of identities of supposed NDF consultants in the Jasig list.”

Lacierda was referring to the Jasig list of NDFP consultants that were contained in diskettes in the possession of the NDFP that were destroyed in 2007 when the Dutch police, with tacit approval from then Arroyo administration officials, raided the NDFP office in the Netherlands.

“This failure had the effect of rendering the Jasig inoperative for those using aliases and those who are not directly involved in the peace process. If indeed Benito Tiamzon was listed under an alias, he is no longer covered by the Jasig,” GPH negotiating panel stated, after the arrests.

But Rachel Pastores, legal counsel for the NDFP negotiating panel, clarified that as long as peace negotiations are not terminated by either party, Jasig will be operative. This is clear in the agreement’s general provision.

GPH’s Alex Padilla complained in public that the NDFP has been invoking Jasig every time a rebel leader is arrested. But Pastores said this is untrue. “There is no truth to that claim, that every time there are arrests of rebels the NDFP automatically claims they are Jasig holders. There are only 85 names (submitted by the NDFP panel). This can only be supplanted if both sides agree to it,” she explained.

The NDFP clarified their demand to release the couple and the other peace consultants is not a precondition the resumption of talks. What it is merely insisting on, in fact, is that the government comply with Jasig. They also, time and again, proposed to GPH to reconstitute the Jasig list that was destroyed. But the GPH dismissed the proposal. GPH chief negotiator,

Padilla, also said that the rebel leaders, after having been freed due to Jasig, merely go back to the undergound movement and assume tasks of overthrowing the government. But many rebel peace consultants, in fact, were released on the strength of their legal defense (and weaknesses of the cases against them). Among those released were Randy Malayao, who had his cases dismissed despite the government’s non-compliance to his immunity status under Jasig.

Elusive next agenda

Deles, for her part, had been harping on the possibility that peace talks with the communist rebels could prosper “now that the Tiamzons had been arrested.” Padilla added that after the arrests, the NDFP is now proposing informal talks with the Aquino government.

This was belied by Jalandoni, who said the statement is “completely untrue and malicious”.

“He knows that in our meeting in Makati on 27 February 2014, we already stated our willingness to agree with the proposal of the Royal Norwegian Government to hold informal talks or consultations with the Aquino government in May 2014,” Jalandoni said, in a press statement.

The NDFP has been consistent in pushing through with the talks, in whatever means—as long as both parties implement previously signed agreements and continue with the substantive agenda laid out in the Hague Joint Declaration, and carry on with the task of addressing the root causes of armed conflict.

Despite this, there is reason to doubt that the GPH is interested in advancing to the most important part of the peace negotiations, said Randall Echanis, a peace consultant and member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committte on Social and Economic Reforms.

Echanis explained that the next substantive agenda after Carhihl is the socio-economic reforms. As early as 1998, after Carhihl was signed by both parties, the NDF submitted its first draft for the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser). It conducted national consultations with different sectors before submitting its final draft in 2004.

Echanis explained that the NDFP’s Caser has two principles: the first is upholding the country’s economic sovereignty and independence; and two is achieving social justice. From these two principles, the NDFP Caser draws the two main programs which to them are crucial in addressing the roots of the armed conflict. These are genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

The NDFP views that the root cause of the armed conflict is the agrarian unrest in the countryside. Large tracts of lands are still monopolized by a few local landlords, while trade has been dominated by multi- and transnational corporations led by that of the US.

But the Philippine government, from the Arroyo to Aquino administrations, has been opposing the NDFP’s proposals on agrarian reform and national industrialization. The GPH drafted its counterpart proposal only in 2011.

“In 2011, the GPH panel presented a five-page proposal (that states) that the fundamental problem of the Filipino is climate change,” Echanis said. The GPH counter-proposal to agrarian reform is “asset reform” and “industrial policy” that includes more foreign investment as a counterpoint to the NDFP’s national industrialization proposal.

Echanis said the GPH is avoiding fundamental changes in the Philippine society, one of which is land monopoly and exploitation of the peasantry by the landed few. A good example he said, is the case of Hacienda Luisita: despite Supreme Court decisions favoring Luisita farmers, the hacienda land has not been distributed.

“What can we expect from the panel that has a landlord principal,” he said, referring to President Aquino.

The NDFP has said it is ready to wait for the next administration for the continuation of the peace negotiations—even as it does not terminate (yet) peace negotiations with the Aquino administration. The prospects for genuine and lasting peace, based on justice, meanwhile, continue to get dimmer under an administration that, among other things, refuses to abide by its own promises.

With reports from KR Guda

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Rights groups slam trumped-up charges vs activists, peace consultants http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/04/rights-groups-slam-trumped-up-charges-vs-activists-peace-consultants/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/04/rights-groups-slam-trumped-up-charges-vs-activists-peace-consultants/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 16:22:45 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28783 Groups call for the resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

Human rights groups call for the resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks. Macky Macaspac

Human rights groups picketed the Manila Regional Trial Court to call for the junking of murder charges against former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and some peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), including Randall Echanis, Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, and the recently arrested Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria.

The clarificatory hearing was conducted after the Supreme Court on February dismissed the consolidated petitions filed by Ocampo and others contesting the charges against them.

Ocampo, in an interview, said the case is merely a revival of trumped-up charges against them during Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo’s presidency.

He said that during Arroyo’s term, the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (Ialag) headed by then National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and then Department of Justice Sec. Raul Gonzales filed multiple murder charges against them. Ocampo was arrested on 2007, and posted bail upon the order of the Supreme Court.

Ialag was deemed by United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston as a means by which the government prosecutes and punishes “enemies of the state.” “The government was forced to abolish Ialag, but to our surprise our case remained,” Ocampo said.

Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center asked the lower court to refrain from hearing the case. “We still have pending motion for reconsideration in the Supreme Court,” she said.

Human rights group Karapatan has documented 570 cases of illegal arrests and detention from June 2010 to December 2013. The group also documented 427 political prisoners, as of December 2013, including 152 persons arrested under Aquino’s term.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said that almost all of the cases, like those of detained NDFP consultants, are criminal charges spuriously filed based on highly questionable evidence and fabricated testimonies.

“Leaders of people’s organizations in Negros, for instance, are constantly threatened with fabricated criminal charges of the (military and police). Under the Aquino government, the assault on political dissenters through the filing of trumped-up charges is on the rise. In an attempt to silence opposition, they make up all sort of charges using the wildest of their imagination,” Palabay said.

The groups called on the government to free all political prisoners, and demanded that the practice of filing trumped-up cases against leaders and members of progressive organizations be stopped.

“Trumped-up charges are obviously meant to stifle the freedom of movement of political dissenters. This is the bigger crime. The Aquino government should stop silencing its critics, or his regime is bound to face bigger protests for violating human rights here and there,” Palabay said.

In a related development, Karapatan also slammed the plan of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Armed Forces to transfer Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late Roger Rosal of the Communist Party of the Phillippines, from the NBI custody to Camp Aguinaldo.

“It is inhumane to transfer the nine-month pregnant Andrea to Camp Aguinaldo, considering her condition and other gross violation of her rights, as if her arrest is not illegal enough,” Palabay said.

Karapatan fears that Rosal might suffer the fate of the two pregnant women of Morong 43 who suffered torture when they were arrested and detained in a military camp in 2010.

“We demand for her immediate release including her companions, so that her immediate admission to a hospital where her urgent needs will be addressed,” Palabay said.

 

 

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‘Gang of Five’ ng gobyernong Aquino, pinapapanagot sa mga biktima ng Yolanda http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/04/gang-of-five-ng-gobyernong-aquino-pinapapanagot-sa-kriminal-na-kapabayaan-sa-mga-biktima-ng-yolanda/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/04/gang-of-five-ng-gobyernong-aquino-pinapapanagot-sa-kriminal-na-kapabayaan-sa-mga-biktima-ng-yolanda/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:35:01 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28788 "Thumbs down" sa imahe ng "Gang of Five" ang ipinakita ng mga miyembro ng People Surge, Tindog, Kadamay at si Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, sa press conference sa Quezon City. <strong>Boy Bagwis</strong>

“Thumbs down” sa imahe ng “Gang of Five” ang ipinakita ng mga miyembro ng People Surge, Tindog, Kadamay at si Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, sa press conference sa Quezon City. Boy Bagwis

“Salamat sa administrasyong Aquino sa pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda.”

Ito ang pakutyang #AprilFools Day na mensahe ng mga biktima ng Yolanda sa ilalim ng People Surge. Kasabay nito, anunsiyo ng grupo ang buong-linggong protesta para panagutin ang administrasyon sa “kriminal na kapabayaan” umano nito sa kanilang mga biktima, maglilimang buwan matapos salantahin ng bagyo ang Eastern Visayas.

“Salamat sa administrasyong Aquino, mas mahirap, mas gutom kami, pero mas mabuting mga tao sa pag-asa sa sarili naming lakas. Kung naghintay pa kami sa mga pangako ng gobyerno, nasa Eastern Visayas pa sana kami sa halip na dinadala sa Maynila ang isyu ng pagpapabaya sa amin,” sabi ni Sr. Edita Eslopor, tagapangulo ng People Surge.

Binansagan ng People Surge ang limang opisyal ng administrasyong Aquino na sina Pangulong Aquino, Interior and Local Government Sec. Manuel “Mar” Roxas III, Social Welfare and Development Sec. Dinky Soliman, Rehabilitation Czar Panfilo Lacson, at Energy Sec. Jerico Petilla bilang “Gang of Five” na pangunahing responsable sa pagpapabaya sa mga bikitma ng Yolanda.

Pabayang lima

Joel Abano ng People Surge. <strong>Boy Bagwis</strong>

Joel Abano ng People Surge. Boy Bagwis

Binigyan-diin ni Eslopor na inamin mismo ni Aquino ang kapabayaan ng kanyang administrasyon sa pagsagip sa mga nasalanta matapos ang bagyo. “Pero walang kahulugan ito (ang paghingi ng paumanhin ni Aquino), hangga’t hindi niya tinutugunan ang kahilingan ng mga mamamayan,” sabi pa niya. Pinagpapanagot din nila si Roxas sa kabiguan niya sa rescue sa mga biktima noong panahon ng bagyo.

Pinatotoo ni Joel Abano, isa sa mga lider ng People Surge, ang pagpapabaya ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno noong panahon ng bagyong Yolanda. Noong umaga ng Nob. 8, 2013, biglaan daw ang pagtaas ng tubig sa kanilang lugar sa Tacloban. Napaakyat siya sa kawad ng kuryente, kung saan sinagip siya ng mga kabataan.

“Masakit sa kalooban na marami sa mga kapitbahay, kabarangay mo ang patay,” kuwento niya. Ilang araw matapos ang bagyo, grabe ang paghihirap nila dahil walang makain at di sila pinaaabutan ng relief goods kahit taga-Tacloban lang mismo sila.

Binatikos din ng grupo ang DSWD at si Soliman sa di-pag-abot ng relief goods sa mayorya ng mga biktima, ilang buwan matapos ang bagyo. Sa kabila nito, talamak ang mga balita ng pagkabulok ng “trak-trak” na relief goods na nasa pag-iingat ng naturang departamento.

“Nangako si Petilla na magbibitiw siya kung di mababalik ang kuryente sa mayorya ng mga bahay sa Tacloban noong Pasko. Hanggang ngayon, wala pa ring kuryente ang mayorya roon. Hindi pa rin nagbibitiw si Petilla,” ani Eslopor. Binabatikos si Petilla ng mga residente ng Tacloban at iba pang lugar sa Leyte at Samar sa kabiguan ng Dep’t. of Energy na agarang mabalik ang kuryente sa rehiyon.

Isinama rin ng People Surge si Lacson sa “Gang of Five” dahil sa halip umano na pagtuunan ng rehabilitation efforts ng gobyerno ang pag-ayuda sa agrikultura ng Eastern Visayas na pinaka-apektado sa bagyo, imprastraktura at paggawad ng mga kontrata sa malalaking negosyante pa ang inaatupag ng opisina ni Lacson.

Sabi ni Marissa Cabaljao, tagapagsalita ng People Surge, tinatayang umabot sa P65-Bilyon ang pinsala sa agrikultura. “Otsenta porsiyento ng mga mamamayan sa Eastern Visayas ang nakaasa sa agrikultura,” paliwanag ni Cabaljao. Ang malala pa nito, aniya, nasasangkot sa kung anu-anong anomalya ang mga proyektong pang-imprastraktura, kabilang ang pinagawang bunkhouses na di umano matirhan ng karaniwang pamilyang Pilipino.

Bishop Deogracia Iniguez: Kailangang malaman ng madla ang nagaganap ngayon sa Eastern Visayas. <strong>Boy Bagwis</strong>

Bishop Deogracia Iniguez: Kailangang malaman ng madla ang nagaganap ngayon sa Eastern Visayas. Boy Bagwis

Sinabi rin ni Cabaljao na matapos ang dalawang buwan ng mga lider ng People Surge sa Maynila, nananatiling bingi ang administrasyon sa kanilang mga hiling. Ang masama pa raw dito, tila tinatakot pa ng mga ahente ng gobyerno ang mga miyembro nila sa Eastern Bisayas.

“Sa Albura, Leyte, pinatatanong ng militar kung sinu-sino ang pumirma (sa petisyon ng People Surge,” kuwento ni Cabaljao.

Suporta ng madla

Nagpahayag naman ng suporta si Bishop Deogracias Iniguez sa laban ng People Surge para sa katarungan. “Sana patuloy na mabuksan ang mga mata natin sa kung ano talaga ang nangyayari — marami (sa mga kuwentong pinapaabot ng People Surge ay) di-nakakarating sa kaalaman ng madla,” sabi pa niya.

Sinabi naman ni Carlito Badion, pangkalahatang-kalihim ng Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap o Kadamay, na makikiisa ang mga maralitang lungsod sa malaking martsa ng mga biktima ng Yolanda sa Abril 8.Kalahok din sa naturang protesta ang mga kaanak ng mga biktima ng Yolanda sa ilalim ng Tindog Network, sabi ni Maritess Bacolod ng Tindog.

Sa Abril 8, ani Badion, may misang magaganap sa Quiapo Church na pangunguna ni Bishop Iniguez na iaalay sa mga biktima ng Yolanda ng alas-10:30 ng umaga. Matapos nito, tutungo ng Mendiola ang iba’t ibang grupo ng alas-3 ng hapon para doon magprotesta.

Sugod sa DSWD

Galit at dismayado ang mga biktima ng bagyong Yolanda sa ilalim ng People Surge sa DSWD kung kaya muli nilang sinugod ang tanggapan nito para kondenahin ang ahensiya sa mga nabubulok na relief goods sa kabila ng matinding kagutuman sa Eastern Visayas ngayon.

Bitbit din nila ang pitong pangalan ng mga namatay kamakailan sa Leyte dahil umano sa epekto ng kapabayaan ng administrasyong Aquino sa pagtulong dapat sa mga biktima ng bagyo.

Kabilang sa mga namatay sina Herminia Milar, Elizabeth Adoni, at Dameia Lota, na mula sa Brgy. Danao. Kasama rin sa naiulat ng People Surge na namatay kamakailan ay sina Francisco Salico, Anito Tisgado, Felisa Pantin, at isang tatlong buwan na sanggol mula Brgy. Liwayway.

Imbes na tulong umano ang ibigay, nabubulok na relief goods daw ang natanggap ng mga biktima mula sa nasabing ahensya.

“Tao kami. Hindi kami mga hayop na pakakainin ninyo (DSWD) ng bulok na pagkain. Bakit kami tinatrato ng ganito?” ayon kay Jessica Darantinao, biktima ng bagyong Yolanda na kabilang ngayon sa People Surge, sa panayam ng Pinoy Weekly.

Sa panayam sa Pinoy Weekly, sinabi pa ni Eslopor na namatay kamakailan ang mga biktima dahil umano sa epekto ng kapabayaan ng gobyerno sa mga biktima. Namatay naman ang iba dahil sa sakit at walang matinong silungan para sa kanila. Ang iba ay humina ang resistensiya at nagkasakit dahil sa walang makain.

“Kung inayos lamang sana ng ahensiyang ito ang kanyang trabaho, hindi sana ito nangyari. Ayaw na namin itong madagdagan pa at maranasan ng iba,” ayon kay Marissa Cabaljao, biktima ng bagyong Yolanda mula Western Samar na nasa People Surge ngayon, sa panayam ng Pinoy Weekly.

Ayon naman kay Darantinao, walang natupad sa anumang ipinangako umano ni Sec. Soliman sa mga biktima mula noong kanilang dialogo.

Kasama si Darantinao sa nakipagdiyalogo sa DSWD noong Marso 12 para pag-usapan ang mga hinaing ng mga biktima. Nag-walk-out ang People Surge sa nasabing pagpupulong dahil sa pagkadismaya.

“Yung ipinangako niya (Soliman) na magpapatuloy ang pamimigay ng relief goods…ng bigas at cash for work na sinasabi, hanggang ngayon po ay wala pa. Lalo na yung ibang malalayo (na lugar sa Bisayas) na hanggang ngayon di pa rin naaabotan ng tulong,” aniya.

Nabubulok lang

Habang marami pa rin ang nagugutom sa mga lugar na napinsala ng bagyong Yolanda, lumabas naman ang balitang ibinaon na lamang ang mga nabulok na relief goods dahil sa hindi agarang naipamigay sa mga biktima.

Inamin naman ng DSWD ang paratang na ito, pero nasa isang sako lamang daw ng biskwit, 10 instant noodles, kalahating sako ng bigas, at isang sako ng mga damit ang ibinaon sa dump-site ng Palo at hindi trak trak tulad ng naunang napabalita.

“Talagang kakonde-kondena ang pagkabulok ng mga relief goods. Kung talagang nagkaroon lamang ang DSWD ng sistematikong pagtulong at maiparating hanggang sa mga liblib na lugar hindi sana nabulok ang mga relief goods,” ayon kay Eslopor.

Matagal na raw nilang ipinaaabot na hindi nakakarating sa mga malalayo at liblib na lugar ang tulong ng gobyerno. Pero tila hindi umano nagkaroon ng maayos na pakikipag-ugnayan ang DSWD sa mga lokal na pamahalaan dahilan para mabulok umano ang mga relief goods sa mga bodega, dagdag ni Eslopor.

Nagsisinungaling daw umano si Soliman na konti lamang ang nabulok na relief goods. May nakausap umano silang drayber ng isang trak na nagtapon ng nabubulok na relief goods sa dagat. Pero ayaw umano nitong magpakilala dahil sa takot kung magsasalita ito at balikan.

“Kailangan pa rin ang mga relief goods dahil hindi pa rin nagbabago ang kalagayan ng mga biktima mula ng bumagyo dahil sa wala naman daw pangmatagalang tulong na ibinibigay o plano ang gobyerno sa mga nasalanta,” ayon naman kay Marissa.

Maging sa kanilang lugar sa Samar nagugutom pa rin ang mga tao dahil sa wala pa ring kabuhayan, dagdag ni Marissa.

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Pulong para sa pagsasapribado ng Orthopedic Center, ipinrotesta http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/pagpupulong-para-sa-pribatisasyon-poc-sinalubong-ng-protesta/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/pagpupulong-para-sa-pribatisasyon-poc-sinalubong-ng-protesta/#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 16:09:26 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28705 "Isa

Isa sa mga ward sa Philippine Orthopedic Center sa Quezon City. KR Guda/PW File Photo

Sinalubong ng protesta ang pulong ng pamunuan ng Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) at Megawide World Citi Consortium para umano pag-usapan ang nakaambang pagsasapribado nito.

Pinangunahan ng National Orthopedic Hospital Workers’ Union-Alliance of Health Workers (NOHWU-AHW) ang nasabing pagkilos sa loob ng bakuran ng POC kasama ang mga pasyente at mga mamamayan na sumusuporta laban sa pribatisasyon ng POC.

Isinailalim ang POC sa build-operate-transfer o BOT na isang porma ng pribatisasyon. Binigyan-daan ito ng Public-Private Partnership na programa ng administrasyong Aquino. Ang Megawide ang pribadong kompanya na siyang mangangasiwa sa bagong gusali na itatayo sa bakuran ng National Kidney and Transplant Institute sa Quezon City.

“Pagpapakita ito na hindi welcome dito ang mga nais pagkakitaan ang serbisyong pangkalusugan. Hindi welcome dito ang Megawide ni Henry Sy para gawing negosyo ang ospital na takbuhan ng mga mahihirap nating kababayan,” ayon kay Sean Velchez, tagapangulo ng NOHWU-AHW.

Ayon kay Velchez, malinaw na pagnenegosyo ang gagawing modernisasyon diumano ng POC dahil pribado manggagaling ang pondo nito. Tiyak na babawiin nito ang anumang pondong inilagak; pagkakakitaan ang mahihirap na mga mamamayan na tanging sa publikong ospital lamang umaasa.

Dagdag pa ni Velchez, hindi lamang ang mga kawani sa kalusugan at mga pasyente ang maapektuhan nito kundi maging ang maliliit na negosyo at kabuhayan na nakapaligid sa POC. Sinang-ayunan naman ito ng mga naghahanapbuhay sa paligid ng ospital.

Apektado rin sila

“Mahirap para sa amin dahil dito kami nabubuhay. Kung matutuloy na ilipat ang Orthopedic baka humanap na lang ako ng ibang trabaho,” ayon kay Jun Jun Quisoy, 29, traysikel drayber sa POC na nakapanayam ng Pinoy Weekly.

Ayon kay Quisoy, kumikita siya ng P300 kada araw sa loob ng 5 taon niyang pagmamaneho. Pero karamihan sa mga pasahero niya ay mahihirap. Walang pamasahe daw ang kadalasan sa mga ito o kulang ang pambayad.

Para naman kay Joel Quilang, 21, nagtitinda ng kakanin sa paligid ng POC, magiging mahirap para sa kanya dahil kakailanganin niyang lumipat ng pwesto kung saan maraming tao para kumita.

Nilapitan na nang mga kawaning pangkalusugan ang Korte Suprema noong Pebrero para maglabas ito ng temporary restraining order (TRO) laban sa pagsasapribado ng POC, pero hindi pa ito naglalabas sa kasalukuyan.

Nakatakda namang muling magtungo ang mga kawani sa kalusugan sa Korte Suprema sa Biyernes para hilingin na maglabas na ang nasabing korte ng TRO laban sa nakaambang pagsasapribado ng POC.

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THROWBACK | Revolutionaries in enemy hands http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/throwback-revolutionaries-in-their-enemys-hands/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/throwback-revolutionaries-in-their-enemys-hands/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:05:58 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28691 A scene from the film

A scene from the film “The Guerrilla is a Poet” (2013), recreating the military torture of Jose Maria Sison in 1977.

What happens after Philippine military and police forces arrest a leader of what it claims to be the biggest security threat to its existence?

A “tactical interrogation” ensues, said Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine defense secretary. He said this after Benito Tiamzon, alleged by the military to be the chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and Wilma Austria, Benito’s wife and alleged CPP secretary-general, were arrested in Carcar City, Cebu, along with five others (plus cats and puppies, their lawyers say) on March 22.

A member of an underground women's revolutionary organization holds a sign calling for the release of detained revolutionary leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, with a photo Tiamzon and Austria raising their fists after their arrest. <strong>Macky Macaspac</strong>

A member of an underground women’s revolutionary organization holds a sign calling for the release of detained revolutionary leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, with a photo of Tiamzon and Austria raising their fists after their arrest. Macky Macaspac

Gazmin’s use of the term “tactical interrogation” is a curious one, as this is a term that often puts fear in the hearts of many an interogatee. Although this is largely denied, the Philippine military takes its cue from the its US counterparts in its use of “harsh interrogation techniques“, from sleep deprivation to outright physical torture, in extracting information from “high-value” detainees. A former political prisoner and the AFP’s “big fish” catch in 2007, Elizabeth Principe, once detailed her own horrific experiences while in the hands of the military. So did many political prisoners, who now languish in jails, charged with trumped-up common crimes. 

Way before the US military’s Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib jails gained notoriety for its “harsh interrogation techniques” (sometimes euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques“) on prisoners, the Philippine military, of course, perfected the use of torture during Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law from 1972 to 1981. President Aquino, the son of the most prominent anti-Martial Law politician and Marcos’ political rival in Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., has unfortunately carried on this shameful military practice. This is most evident in the case of the Tiamzons’ arrest, where Gazmin inadvertently admitted that the couple were “interrogated” without the benefit of legal counsel. In the next few days and months, we hope that the arrested couple will be able to recount to the public what sort of “harsh interrogation techniques” the military, under Gazmin’s and Aquino’s watch, employed on them after their arrest.

To have an idea of the torture a “big fish” experiences in the military’s hands, however, we look back at the last time Philippine state security forces boasted of catching a CPP chairman. That was way back in 1977, when Marcos’ military captured and detained Prof. Jose Maria Sison and his wife and comrade, Juliet de Lima.

In 1979, Sison was able to write to the Supreme Court his experiences during the first days of detention. Dated March 13, 1979 (or 35 years ago this month), the letter recounts, in harrowing detail, the torture he endured, as well as the heroic resistance he showed in the face of severe cruelty. Many of the details of Sison’s capture, including the lack of an arrest warrant, are eerily similar to that of the Tiamzons’ capture. Here is that letter, in full:

Photo of Jose Maria Sison, taken during one of the military commission hearings in 1981. Photo courtesy: <strong>Josemariasison.org</strong>

Photo of Jose Maria Sison, taken during one of the military commission hearings in 1981. Photo courtesy: Josemariasison.org

 Most Honorable Court:

I would have liked to speak on a broad range of issues pertaining to the political charges against me. But considering the limited time allotted to me, I shall concentrate on the essential facts of my experience in captivity, as they relate to the violation of certain constitutional rights.

I point out, among others, the unjust redundancy of the charges of subversion and rebellion, with the double jeopardy involved. Most importantly, I deal with the illegitimate foundation of the autocratic government and its military commissions and the falsity of such claims as that a Republic has been saved by a monarchy and a New Society has been built by the preservation and aggravation of the same semicolonial and semifeudal society.

I was arrested together with my wife and three other persons on November 10, 1977, at Barrio Pagdalagan Norte, San Fernando, La Union.

The arresting officers did not carry and did not show any judicial warrant or an executive order specifying the persons and things to be seized, in violation of Section 3 of the Bill of Rights of the 1973 Constitution.

I take lightly the intimidatory acts and words of those who arrested me. I was pushed so hard into a vehicle that my eyeglasses were broken and destroyed at the risk of damage to my eyes. My shins were gashed and bruised.

Soon after I was brought to the C-2 office at Camp Crame, then Captain Virgilio Saldajeno, who said he was a PC legal officer, asked me to make a written statement. I said I could not make a statement until I had a lawyer of my choice. My companions and I jointly and separately asked for access to legal counsel and relatives.

Dictator Ferdinand Marcos (leftmost) met Sison (second from left) before the latter's torture in the hands of his military captors. Fourth from left is Marcos' top military man, Gen. Fabian Ver. <strong>From Boy Bagwis' photo collection</strong>

Dictator Ferdinand Marcos (leftmost) met Sison (second from left) before the latter’s torture in the hands of his military captors. Fourth from left is Marcos’ top military man, Gen. Fabian Ver. From Boy Bagwis’ photo collection

I had a chance to meet and talk with a number of generals and Mr. Marcos no less soon after my arrest.

Past 11 PM on November 10, 1977, I was blindfolded and brought to what I later found out after several months to be the Military Security Unit of the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio. I was pushed into a small, suffocating room with a boarded-up window.

For two days, I was subjected to relays of interrogators who kept asking me who was supposed to be my successor in the Communist Party. I refused to answer any of the questions and cited my right to legal counsel.

Events took a drastic turn between 8 and 9 PM on November 13, 1977. Alleged that I was trying to escape, I was blindfolded with my own shirt and handcuffed behind my back by Lieutenant Melchor Acosta (I came to know his real name only on June 23, 1978). Another person came in after a while and I was hit with fist blows on the chest and floating ribs.

I was asked who were the AFP officers connected to the CPP, the armed strength and disposition of the NPA, sources of funds, houses and barrios where I would go in case of successful escape and so on. I was given several blows for every question asked. The punching session must have lasted at least an hour.

Later, I was chained to a cot by one hand and one foot, with handcuffs. The room was dark when I removed my blindfold with my free hand. A large flashlight was constantly on and focused on my face. I was kept awake by two young men in their twenties who made death threats and insults while asking me questions that had been asked before. I was repeatedly told I would be killed as if I had been in the act of escaping if I did not cooperate.

A pistol was always pointed at me by one of the two men. He said from time to time that I would be disposed of the following day. He kept kicking the foot of the cot. He would make a motion of wanting to hit me and the other man would pretend to hold him back. They cursed whenever I told them to let me sleep or to learn methods of investigation from Hawaii Five-O.

Throughout the morning, noon and early afternoon of November 14, 1977, two men, apparently MSU staff officers, alternated in interrogating me, keeping me awake and making veiled threats to finish me off. I can identify these two officers again if I see them because I was not blindfolded.

At about 4 PM of November 14, I was blindfolded again as a swarm of men came into the room. I was able to seem some of them, especially the one who looked like a senior officer (he was later identified to me as Colonel Miguel Aure when he came to my room with Captain Saldajeno on July 14, 1978). I can identify at least three more of these men if I see them again.

My free hand and foot were shackled by handcuffs to the cot, completely binding me to the cot. A pail of water was brought in. A face towel was placed across my nose and mouth. I had to be pinned down by the shoulders as I kept on struggling, lifting the upper part of my body, moving my head vigorously and at times succeeding in loosening the blindfold and seeing the faces of my tormentors. Someone sat down on my stomach to hold me down as the water cure was in progress.

Water was poured into my nostrils through the towel and my mouth was held shut for strangulation effect in order to force me to seek relief and answer questions. When I did not answer or said something they didn’t like a gun barrel was poked into my mouth. They threatened to subject me to electric shocks before they killed me.

The water cure took some six hours. I was asked about 85 questions which I was later able to tabulate. These are listed in my June 23, 1978 account.

My answers or lack of answers appeared unsatisfactory to my tormentors. I had to suffer for names and pseudonyms I was completely ignorant of. I also had to suffer for the names of mountains and barrios I was not aware of. Questions were interrupted by death threats and insults.

Near the end of the water cure, when I was about to fall asleep from exhaustion, one of them tried hypnosis but failed. I was without food and sleep for about 26 hours, from the beginning of the punching session to the end of the strangulation session. Even after the water cure, two relays of interrogators still came after my meal so I was not able to rest until midnight.

Up till November 17, 1977, interrogators came into the room every morning, afternoon and evening. The first ones came at 5 or 6 AM and the last at 1 or 2 AM. I had to maintain my wits and integrity even though I was in a daze. I was not allowed to recover completely from the punching and water cure. I suffered chest pains due to the water cure and my hands were numb from the wrist down as a result of the overtightness of the handcuffs during the torture session.

It was two months before I fully recovered from my chest pains and three months before the numbness left my hands.

On the morning of November 17, someone came to offer a deal, a reunion with my wife for one regional secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. I merely ground my teeth at him.

Late afternoon that day, Captain Saldajeno came with another officer to make an offer. The torture and interrogation would stop if I made a statement that would incriminate myself and no others. All I was to do was declare that I am Amado Guerrero, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Although Captain Saldajeno and his companion conducted themselves like gentlemen it was clear that the statement was being extorted from me. In view of what I had already undergone and was still undergoing and also in view of the danger that anything could be done to me and could be claimed of me while I was in solitary confinement, I accepted the offer on the additional condition that the statement would include a part declaring that I would not be making any other statement while I did not yet have a lawyer of my choice, while I was still in the custody of the military and that I would soon be present in court.

I was actually compelled to sign a death warrant. I was not concerned with saving my life because I was aware that the death penalty would be applied under Republic Act 1700 by incriminating myself as the CPP Central Committee Chairman. My uppermost concern was to preclude the possible fabrication of a statement that would incriminate others and make me appear as one shamelessly untrue to the democratic cause.

In gross violation of Section 20 of the Bill of Rights, I was under duress and I was compelled to be witness against myself. Though Captain Saldajeno and Agent Calayag saw it fit to induce me to make such a statement, they did not see it fit to allow me to consult with a lawyer of my choice and did not inform me of my right to remain silent and to have a lawyer.

They took advantage of my forced isolation and the force, violence, threat and intimidation applied on my by offering relief in exchange for the self-incriminatory statement. A person of my educational background and political experience could not have refused to remain silent and to have a lawyer as a matter of right had he been allowed to exercise it.

After the statement on November 18, 1977, I was relieved of the frequent interrogations and I was allowed to recover physically. But I was continually subjected to what turned out to be a worse form of torture. It was mental torture through physical isolation, constantly in chains and other straining conditions. It was clear my tormentors still wanted me to break my nerves or my principles.

I repeatedly asked for access to a lawyer, my wife, others arrested with us and our relatives. My custodians never gave an answer, except some mocking remarks from inspectors who looked through a bay window of my cell door.

The days, weeks and months passed until August 7, 1978, when my mother, father, sister and lawyer were allowed to visit me.

One or two officers would come to my cell once every two weeks from December 1977 to the middle of February 1978. Then they ceased to come to complete my isolation. My guards were prohibited from speaking to me except when they say something in behalf of their superiors.

I was kept in a fully enclosed cell, a small room with a boarded-up window. From 11 AM to 5:30 PM during November to January, it was oppressively hot. In the summer months, it was practically hell during the day and even at night. During the day, a wet cloth dried up in a few hours’ time.

I was shackled to my cot by my right hand and foot from November 13, 1977 to June 23, 1978 for 24 hours a day. I consider that even more savage than the punching and strangulation sessions. I was told by an officer and guards that I had to be chained because I had refused to cooperate or because I would escape or commit suicide.

For four months I was deprived of my eyeglasses despite the unequal visual capacity of my eyes. I had to suffer eyestrain and headaches every day. I was told I did not need eyeglasses because I had nothing to read from the ceiling and walls.

I had nothing to read for four months. I was given something to read for a few days and again I had nothing to read for a longer stretch of time.

Until now, I remained in chains in the same cell. Since June 23, 1978, I have been disconnected from my cot but I am still shackled on both feet by handcuffs during my waking hours, limiting my movements. At night, I am chained to the cot. The inspectors still come often to flash a light on me.

From November 10, 1977 to January 17, 1978, I was not allowed any sunshine. The next 11 months I had just 24 hours total of sunshine. The standard prison rule is one hour daily sunning even for criminals already condemned to death. Only since December 1978 was I allowed to have some sunshine but still only three times a week for an hour each day.

Whenever I am brought out of my room for any reason, I am blindfolded. The blindfolding sometimes becomes painful when I am bumped into things by careless or mischievous escorts. I feel it is designed more to humiliate me than anything else.

I have not been allowed to read even the Marcos-controlled newspapers of Manila. Reading materials from relatives and friends are not allowed to reach me. When Attorney Joker Arroyo gave me a copy of the pamphlet “Legal Rights of Political Detainees” last February 23 during a hearing, it was immediately confiscated as soon as I was out of public view. When Attorney Juan T. David, my lawyer, gave me a copy of his Habeas Corpus petition to the Supreme Court involving my wife and me, it was also taken away as soon as he left the MSU reception room last February 28.

Sison, with his lawyers Joker Arroyo (left) and Juan T. David, during his trial by a military commission for rebellion. Photo courtesy: <strong>Josemariasison.org</strong>

Sison, with his lawyers Joker Arroyo (left) and Juan T. David, during his trial by a military commission for rebellion. Photo courtesy: Josemariasison.org

Visitations by lawyers and family allowed to me since August 7, 1978, have been so restricted that in effect there is only one person in my family who can visit me.

My wife and I are detained in the same compound. After more than 15 months since our arrest, we have still not been allowed to meet and talk by ourselves at some reasonable length, despite precedents which allow not only conjugal meetings between co-accused husband and wife but even temporary release on account of children.

My mother and sister wanted my wife and me to be visited by religious people. I have agreed to welcome their visit since August 7, 1978 but my custodians do not allow them. I was told one time that communists do not talk to religious people. Another time, I was told that religious people are in collusion with communists.

My requests for medical and dental treatment from MSU medical personnel have not been attended to for periods as long as five months. Each time that my dental treatment was allowed, the attention was superficial and incomplete. The last time my two lower front teeth were treated for filling, my dentist practically busted these plus one more tooth, dealing permanent damage to them. I am also skeptical of the medical treatment I last received concerning an obstruction in the pupil of my left eye.

In isolation, minor vexations that might be dismissed as trifling can spell misery. Once I was asked to undress completely in my cell to be inspected thoroughly before meeting a visitor. When I was chained to my cot 24 hours a day I was not allowed to clean my cot and get rid of bugs. I was not allowed to have my hair or nails cut for as long as five months. While eating, my guard would tell me to hurry up because he had a loose bowel movement.

My handcuffs were replaced with new ones with sharp edges and tightened at the slightest pressure. When I complained they were replaced by handcuffs with only one chain link (usually they have two or three) to limit my movements more.

As a result of this statement, I am almost certain there will be series of retaliations against me. It has been my experience that whenever I make a request or demand and at the same time invoke a certain right my custodians or higher authorities always seem to take offense and react by not only refusing to accede to the request but also doing something to make my situation worse. It seems that in their view I have lost every right.

Upon the good counsel of my lawyer, I insist upon certain constitutional rights in this statement. In another statement, I make a comprehensive and fundamental criticism and condemnation of the antinational and antidemocratic reign of terror and greed. By actively participating in my legal defense, I try not only to expose, delay or stay the hands of injustice about to smite me but also to continue doing my bit in the defense of the people’s democratic cause.

I am aware that so far my ordeal in the hands of the fascists is slight in comparison to the torture suffered by several of my co-accused. It is also nothing in comparison to the torture and murder of thousands of revolutionary martyrs. I am determined to keep on fighting and I am prepared to undergo further brutality until my tormentors finally decide to kill me.

The broad masses of the people will eventually put the whole lot of their oppressors in their proper places. Right now, the organized democratic revolutionary forces are steadily growing in strength and advancing. U.S. imperialism and the local exploiting classes will utterly regret that the fascist regime has only served to accelerate the rise of the revolutionary forces and the doom of the already outmoded system.

 

 

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Cha-cha at pagbenta ng soberanya http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/cha-cha-at-pagbenta-ng-soberanya/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/cha-cha-at-pagbenta-ng-soberanya/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:00:09 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28726 Kamara de Representantes, Plenary Hall ng Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City. <strong>Wikimedia Commons</strong>

Kamara de Representantes, Plenary Hall ng Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City. Wikimedia Commons

komentaryoSa paspasang pag-apruba ng Kamara sa resolusyon kaugnay ng charter change o Cha-cha noong unang linggo ng Marso, hindi ikinaila ng mga nagsusulong nito na “probisyong pang-ekonomiya” lamang ang gagalawin ng Kongreso.

Hayagang pangmamaliit sa soberanya ng bansa ang ipinangangalandakan ng mga promotor ng Cha-cha. Pinakatampok kasi sa isinusulong nito ang 100% pagmamay-ari ng dayuhang kompanya sa negosyo at lupain sa Pilipinas.

Sa hayag, tinutulan ni Pangulong Aquino ang pag-amyenda sa Konstitusyon. Nangako pa si Espiker Sonny Belmonte na hindi gagalawin ang pulitikal na probisyon sa Konstitusyon para mapaniwala ang taumbayan na walang balak si Aquino na pahabain ang kanyang termino.

Pero isa itong panlilinlang o paglihis sa tunay na isyu.

Bagamat sinasabi ni Aquino na tutol siya sa pag-amyenda ng Saligang Batas, ang pagbabago sa probisyong pang-ekonomiya nito ay sang-ayon sa neoliberal na polisiya ng administrasyon na pangunahing itinutulak ng gobyerno ng US sa malakolonyang mga bansa nito tulad ng Pilipinas.

Soberanya ng bansa ang nakataya sa usaping ito. Pero kung tratuhin ng Kamara ay tila isang maliit na tipak lamang ng usapin. Balak alisin ng mga nagsusulong ng Cha-cha ang makabayang mga probisyon sa Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas para sa dayuhang pamumuhunan.

Kung matutuloy ito, ano ang mangyayari?

Isang magandang halimbawa ang pagkakapasa ng Mining Act of 1995 na 19 na taon nang umiiral ngayong taon.

Niliberalisa ng naturang batas ang pagmimina sa bansa. Halimbawa, ang garantiya sa pamumuhunan ng mga dayuhan at kanilang karapatan na sumuway sa mga regulasyon ng pagmimina sa bansa. Binigyan nito ng opsiyon ang multinasyunal at transnasyunal na mga korporasyon para mag-ari ng 100 porsiyento ng mina kapalit ang limos na buwis sa gobyerno.

Hinahayaan ng batas na ito ang dayuhang mga kompanya na magmina sa loob ng 50 taon sa libu-llibong ektaryang lupain ng bansa. May karapatan din ang dayuhang mga kompanya na iuwi sa kanilang sariling bansa ang tubo mula sa mga minang ito. Bukod pa ang tax holidays na tinatamasa nila. (Habang ang karaniwang mamamayan ay hinahabol kapag hindi nagbayad ng buwis).

Ang kapalit nito, pagkawasak ng likas na yaman at pagyurak sa pambansang soberanya. Ang kapalit nito ay karapatan ng mga mamamayan sa pampublikong lupain at serbisyong panlipunan. Hindi na kaila ang pagkalason ng mga katubigan na dating pinakikinabangan ng mga tao, subalit nalason ng mga duming nagmumula sa mga minahan. Hindi kaila ang pagkaubos ng kagubatan para mapagminahan ng mga dayuhan.

Hindi rin kaila ang paglapastangan sa karapatan ng katutubong mga mamamayan sa kanilang lupaing ninuno o ang kaparatan ng mga magsasaka na bungkalin ang lupa para mabuhay. Kung tumutol sila, ginarantiya rin ng Mining Act of 1995 ang karapatan ng mga kompanya na maglagay ng militar at paramilitar na puwersa para protektahan ang kanilang mina.

Ito’y sa industriya pa lamang ng pagmimina; sa panukalang pag-amyenda sa Konstitusyon, kasama sa mga aritkulong nais na baguhin ang may kaugnayan sa edukasyon, siyensiya, teknolohiya, sining, kultura at isports at pangkalahatang probisyon. Ano pa ang matitira sa taumbayan?

Nang niliberalisa ang industriya ng langis, kuryente, tubig, edukasyon, transportasyon, ospital at iba pang batayang serbisyo, ang resulta nito ay pagtaas ng mga presyo na ibayong nagpahirap at nagpapahirap pa hanggang ngayon sa mga mamamayan.

Tandaang ito rin ang mga bagay na nililiberalisa ni Pangulong Aquino sa neoliberal na polisiya. Ngayon, ano itong pagpopostura ng  pangulo na tutol daw siya sa pag-aamyenda ng Konstitusyon?

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Arrests, extra-judicial killing of activists intensify http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/arrests-extra-judicial-killing-of-activists-intensify/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/arrests-extra-judicial-killing-of-activists-intensify/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:22:17 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28713 Karapatan condemned the recent spat of killings and the arrests of revolutionaries and supposed sympathizers. <strong>PW File Photo / Macky Macaspac</strong>

Karapatan condemned the spate of killings and the arrests of revolutionaries and supposed sympathizers. PW File Photo / Macky Macaspac

Human rights group Karapatan condemned the recent arrest of a pregnant daughter of the late Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal–the latest in a series of arrests and killings of supposed revolutionary leaders and sympathizers across the country.

Andrea Rosal, nine months pregnant, was arrested by elements of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) yesterday morning in BF Homes, Brgy. 169, Caloocan City. She was arrested together with Ruben Gatchalian, a barangay captain and member of Anakpawis Party-list, as well as a certain Rafael de Guzman.

Authorities claimed Rosal is a member of the CPP in Southern Tagalog and was arrested by virtue of a warrant for kidnapping and murder. She denied the authorities’ allegations in media reports.

“Karapatan paralegals were not allowed to have access to those arrested when they arrived at the NBI at around 4:30 PM yesterday,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, who condemned the arrest and the denial of the right of the arrested persons to have access in legal representation.

“We demand for the immediate release of Andrea Rosal and that she be given proper medical care and attention considering her condition. We demand that the NBI and all security forces involved in this highly questionable operation respect the rights of Rosal, Gatchalian and Rosal’s companion to access to counsel, their relatives and human rights organizations,” Palabay said.

On Saturday, March 22, Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon, both senior leaders of the CPP, were arrested in Cebu. Lawyers and human rights groups said the arrest was illegal. Austria and Tiamzon have immunity from arrest as peace consultants, in the Joint Agreement on Immunity and Safety Guarantees (Jasig) but government officials and the military claimed otherwise.

Karapatan also raised the alarm over the spate of killings and demanded that President Aquino step down from office for the alleged escalation of human rights violations. The group said the president is accountable for the 169 victims of extra-judicial killings, from July 2010 to December 2013. And in span of 13 weeks for this year alone, 19 more victims were added.

William Bugatti <strong>Contributed photo</strong>

William Bugatti Contributed Photo

Latest additional victim of extra-judicial killings is a human rights worker in Ifugao. William Bugatti a member of Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) was gunned down on March 25, along the Ifugao Highway in Bolog, Kiangan, Ifugao.

According to Karapatan, Bugatti was also listed in a military’s order of battle together with other members of peoples organizations in Tinoc Ifugao.

The CHRA also said that posters bearing faces of members and leaders of progressive organization appeared in Ifugao and other provinces of the Cordillera regions.

Bugatti was killed more than a week after Romeo Capalla, the younger brother of Archbishop Antonio Capalla was killed in Iloilo, and two weeks after the massacre of Ligiw family in Abra.

Also in Bicol, Vince Casilihan, Karapatan-Bicol secretary general, said four small-scale farmers were killed on March 22, 2014. The victims Julio Labiano, Rene Labiano, Salem Virtus, and Jessie Brondia, were allegdely killed by Bantay Kalikasan Task Force of Camarines Sur.

“The cold-blooded murder is another chilling case of political killing in Bicol. The poor victims eke out a living by engaging in small-scale mining in their barangay. The perpetrators are members of the Civilian Security Unit (CSU) of the provincial government of Camarines Sur assigned to Task force Bantay Kalikasan. It is hard to dismiss that the killing is an isolated case and has nothing to do with the powers-that-be in Camarines Sur. Small scale mining is hot in the eyes of politicians in the province and of the military,” Casilihan stated.

Aside from this, child rights advocates in Southern Mindanao slammed the military for the alleged abduction and branding of a certain child named by the Military as “Balong”, 14, as a New People’s Army “child soldier” on March 24, 2014 in Magpet, North Cotabato. The military claimed Balong has been active for two years in the communist movement, and allegedly surrendered as an NPA guerrilla.

The alleged military Order of Battle against members of progressive groups. <strong>Contributed Photo</strong>

The alleged military Order of Battle against members of progressive groups. Contributed Photo

According to Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), Balong’s elder brother showed up saying that he just got the Form 137 of “Balong” from Brgy. Guinoyuran Elementary School in Bukidnon in compliance with the child’s requirements for graduation. The child who transferred to Bangkal Elementary School last S.Y. 2012-2013 in Magpet and expected to garduate last March 27, 2014 as Grade 6 pupil.

The group said that the child’s adviser had his complete class records.

“This is not just a branding case but a case of abduction,as for a very long time, the military failed to turn him over to his family or assigned authorities, and even his whereabouts was only known to the family after March 24, 2014”said Rius Valle, advocacy officer of CRC Southern Mindanao Region.

Karapatan said that the latest arrests and the other human rights abuses sabotage the peace negotation between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“Aquino’s duplicity on the issue of peace is further emphasized today. On one hand, he boasts of forging peace with the MILF, while military offensives continue in Mindanao victimizing thousands of civilians. On the other hand, he lies on his administration’s interest on peacetalks with the NDFP, while his government illegally arrests peace consultants, rights defenders and individuals and kills those who are vocal critics of his anti-people governance,” Palabay said.

 

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Nang Piniling Magsulat ng Migrante sa Malaking Mansanas http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/nang-piniling-magsulat-ng-migrante-sa-malaking-mansanas/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/nang-piniling-magsulat-ng-migrante-sa-malaking-mansanas/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:08:21 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28707 “To write is already to choose.”

Hindi ako nag-CEGP (College Editors Guild of the Philippines), pero madalas ko itong naririnig at nababasa noon sa mga kaibigan at kakilalang nagsusulat sa mga pahayagan noong nasa kolehiyo. At dahil mahilig din naman magsulat, at dahil nakapagsulat din naman ng ilang akda noong nasa konseho ng mga mag-aaral sa kolehiyo, isa ito sa mga linyang tumatak sa isip bilang gabay sa pagpili ng mga paksa.

Bilang isang migrante sa New York, maraming maaaring maisulat. Maraming kaganapan dito ang kinakailangang ipamahagi sa iba para mas maintindihan ang mga kalagayan ng mga kababayang narito.

Kuwentong Migrante, Immigrants at Fil-Ams: New York Style<

Hindi natatapos sa mga salitang “I <3 (heart) New York” ang pagtungtong sa Tate. Dahil hindi naman ito kuwento lamang ng kasaganahan at kasiyahan sa hanay ng mga migrante o immigrants, at maging ng Filipino-Americans (Fil-Ams).

Nariyan ang mga kuwento nina Ate Elma Manliguez, Ate Jackie Aguirre, Ate Letty Moratal, Sentosa 27++, Florida 15, Grand Isle Shipyard workers (New Orleans, Louisiana), Washington DC teachers at iba pang biktima ng trafficking at diskriminasyon. Marami sila at dumarami pa ang naglalakas-loob na magsalita laban sa mga abusadong employer at recruiter.

Nariyan ding natagpuan ang mga bangkay ng domestic workers na sila Ate Fely Garcia at Ate Putli Anjali. At nariyan din ang mga Pilipinang biktima ng domestic violence.

Nariyan din ang kuwento ng kabataang Fil-Ams na nag-suicide dahil hindi nakayanan ang pambu-bully ng mga kaklase. Nariyan din ang Fil-Ams na naghahanap ng kanilang mga ugat at cultural identity.

Nariyan ang kabataang Filipino immigrants na nalulong sa droga na maaaring resulta ng matagal na pagkawalay sa mga magulang na nangibang-bansa, peer pressure, o kahirapan o kagustuhang makibagay sa mga kapwa kabataan sa bagong kapaligirang kanilang ginagalawan. At nariyan din ang mga kabataang biktima ng “Stop and Frisk” ng New York Police Department (NYPD).

Mayroon ding mga kuwento ng matatapang na kabataang Pilipino na undocumented o walang papel na nagsusulong ng mga panawagang “Genuine Immigration Reform Now”“No to Deportation” at “Legalization for All”, hindi lamang para sa kanilang mga sarili kundi para sa kanilang mga magulang at buong pamilya.

Lehitimong mga paksa ito na kailangang pag-usapan, bigyang pansin at kapulutan ng mga aral.

Maraming kuwento ng mga migrante, immigrants o Fil-Ams ang maaaring bigyang buhay sa mga panulat. At hindi lamang kuwento ng pagkalugmok, kalungkutan o trahedya, kundi kuwento rin ng paglaban at pakikibaka, ng pagsulong at kolektibong pagkilos.

“Bakit ka pupuntang U.S.? Ayaw mo sa imperyalista, ‘di ba?”

Naalala ko noon, may mga kaibigan ang nagtanong kung bakit daw ako aalis ng Pilipinas at pupunta sa New York gayong galit na galit ako sa mga imperyalista.

Sa totoo lang, sa pareho ring dahilan kung bakit ako narito ngayon at patuloy pa ring lumalaban: dahil ang mga migrante mismo ay biktima ng mga imperyalista. Dahil ang mga migrante ay siya mismong buhay na testamento na ang lakas-paggawa ay ibinebenta ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa mga imperyalistang bansa sa pamamagitan ng labor export policy (LEP). Dahil ang mga migrante ang lumilikha ng mga produkto, serbisyo at yaman na kinakamkam ng mga imperyalista para sa interes lamang naman ng iilan. Samantalang ang kapalit na ibinibigay sa mga migrante ay pang-aabuso ng pribadong mga kompanya o employer at kawalang-proteksiyon mula sa mga sangay ng gobyernong siya mismong nagproseso ng kanilang pag-alis.

Sa parehong dahilan kung bakit kinailangang lumisan. Sa parehong dahilan kung bakit kahit nasa ibang bansa ay patuloy pa rin sa paglaban. Lalo ngayong mas tumitindi ang pang-aabuso at atake sa mga migrante kaya’t kinakailangan ding mas pasikhayin ang paglaban, pagmumulat, pag-oorganisa at pagmomobilisa habang nasa ibang bansa.

Kasabay nito ang pakikipag-alyansa rin sa mga migrante at manggagawa ng mga ibang lahi at maging ng mga tubong Tate. Dahil hindi naman ito usapin lamang ng pagkakaiba sa kulay ng balat kundi sa mas malawak na pagtingin, usapin ito ng pagtindig ng uring manggagawa ng iba’t ibang bansa kasama ang uring magsasaka at ang mas malawak na hanay ng lipunang pinagsasamantalahan at inaabuso, laban sa iilang mga imperyalistang ganid at ng mga kasabwat nilang mapang-abusong mga burukrata-kapitalista, burgesya komprador at panginoong maylupa (o kung anuman ang katumbas ng mga ito sa kani-kanilang mga bansa).

Ang paglaban naman sa imperyalista ay hindi naman nangangahulugang ayaw natin sa mga mamamayan ng U.S. (o ng iba pang imperyalistang bansa). Lagi’t lagi ay kailangang magsuri at itaas ang antas sa usapin ng uri at hindi lamang ng lahi.

Hindi naman din natatapos lang sa Pilipinas ang pananamantala at pang-aabuso ng imperyalista sa mga mamamayan. Maaaring lalo pa ngang tumitindi sa imperyalistang bayan at kung minsan ay para lang itong natatakpan ng maskara ng “pag-unlad” kaya’t hindi kaagad o madaling napapansin.

Hindi na rin naman bago ang mga konsepto at teorya. Kailangan lang ilapat sa kongkretong kalagayan at maging bukas sa mga paraan kung paanong haharapin at babakahin ang mga dambuhalang problema ng bayan, saan mang sulok ng mundo mapadpad.

Hindi ko alam kung napagtanto o naintindihan na ng mga kaibigan kung bakit kinailangang umalis ng Pilipinas at manatili sa New York. Pero hindi ko naman ito isinulat para lamang sagutin ang tanong ng mga kaibigan.

Nagsusulat ako ngayon dahil pinili ko ito at pinili kong magsulat para maipamahagi ang mga pakikibakang kinakaharap ng mga kababayan dito sa New York, o maaaring sa iba pang mga states sa susunod. Maaari ring marami pang migrante sa Big Apple (o sa buong U.S.) ang pumiling magsulat ng kanilang mga kuwento sa mga susunod pang mga panahon.

Land of Milk and Honey, Land of the Free?

Sa muling pagsisimula ng pagsulat, nawa’y pagsimulan din ito ng marami pang kuwento ng pakikibaka, lalu rito sa Estados Unidos, na “pusod ng imperyalismo” ngunit kilala rin bilang “land of milk and honey”.

Nawa’y mas makilala at malaman ng mga kababayan ang mga karanasan ng mga nasa Tate — na hindi lamang bilang kasing-puting tulad ng gatas o niyebe at kasing-tamis ng pulot-pukyutan, kundi kasama pati ang makukulay o madidilim na mga karanasan, at maging mga mapapait, na sumasalamin sa kung ano ang tunay na mukha ng ating lipunan.

Bukod dito, mahalaga ring maibahagi kung paanong ang mga migranteng napilitang mangibang-bayan ay natututong lumaban at tumindig para sa kanilang mga karapatan: karapatan sa maayos na pamumuhay; karapatan sa makatarungang sahod at trabahong may dignidad; karapatang makasama ang pamilya at manatili sa mahal na inang bayan. At kung paanong unti-unti, hinuhulma at binabago nila ang mundo, kasama ang iba pang sektor ng lipunan, tungo sa mas malaya at tunay na maaliwalas na kinabukasan.

“To write is already to choose.”

May we choose to write for the oppressed and exploited. 
May we write to free us from the chains of oppression and exploitation.
Wherever we may be. Whenever we can.

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Larawan | Kasunduan para sa pagbase ng militar ng US sa PH, ipinrotesta ng progresibong mga grupo http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/larawan-kasunduan-para-sa-pagbase-ng-militar-ng-us-sa-ph-ipinrotesta-ng-progresibong-mga-grupo/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/larawan-kasunduan-para-sa-pagbase-ng-militar-ng-us-sa-ph-ipinrotesta-ng-progresibong-mga-grupo/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 17:24:23 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28667 Sinugod ng progresibong mga grupo sa ilalim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) ang himpilan ng Department of National Defense sa Kampo Aguinaldo, Quezon City para iprotesta ang ika-pitong round ng mga negosasyon para sa "Enhanced Defense Cooperation" sa pagitan ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas at US. Para sa Bayan, lantarang paglabag sa soberanya ng Pilipinas ang naturang kasunduan.

Sinugod ng progresibong mga grupo sa ilalim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) ang himpilan ng Department of National Defense sa Kampo Aguinaldo, Quezon City para iprotesta ang ika-pitong round ng mga negosasyon para sa “Enhanced Defense Cooperation” sa pagitan ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas at US. Para sa Bayan, lantarang paglabag sa soberanya ng Pilipinas ang naturang kasunduan. Nasa larawan si Roger Soluta (kaliwa) ng Kilusang Mayo Uno at Leon Dulce ng Kalikasan. Macky Macaspac

Hinamon ni Renato Reyes Jr., pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bayan, ang administrasyong Aquino na isapubliko ang nilalaman ng mga burador para sa kasunduan."Ilegal ang kasunduang ehekutibo na ito para sa de facto na pagbabase (ng militar ng US)," ani Reyes. Inaasahang malagdaan ang naturang kasunduan sa pagbisita ni US Pres. Barack Obama sa Pilipinas sa huling linggo ng Abril.

Hinamon nng Bayan ang administrasyong Aquino na isapubliko ang nilalaman ng mga burador para sa kasunduan.Ilegal umano ang kasunduang ehekutibo na ito para sa de facto na pagbabase ng militar ng US. Inaasahang malagdaan ang naturang kasunduan sa pagbisita ni US Pres. Barack Obama sa Pilipinas sa huling linggo ng Abril. Nasa larawan si dating Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino. Macky Macaspac

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Arrest of Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria, violates immunity pact, says NDFP http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/arrest-of-benito-tiamzon-wilma-tiamzon-5-others-violation-of-agreement-on-immunity-guarantees-says-ndfp/ http://pinoyweekly.org/new/2014/03/arrest-of-benito-tiamzon-wilma-tiamzon-5-others-violation-of-agreement-on-immunity-guarantees-says-ndfp/#comments Sat, 22 Mar 2014 18:12:49 +0000 http://pinoyweekly.org/new/?p=28610 Photos of Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon released to media by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Photos of Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon released to media by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The chief peace negotiator of the revolutionary umbrella group National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) decried the arrest of alleged Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Chair Benito Tiamzon, his wife and alleged CPP Secretary-General Wilma Austria, and five others in Brgy. Zaragosa, Aluginsan, Cebu as a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

Luis Jalandoni, head of the NDFP negotiating panel in the peace negotiations, said Tiamzon and Austria have been fulfilling “highly significant tasks in the peace negotiations” when they were arrested 3:15 PM on Saturday, March 22.

“The NDFP vigorously demands that Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria be immediately and unconditionally released,” stated Jalandoni. “This latest flagrant violation of the Jasig by the Aquino regime, in addition to so many other gross violations of the Jasig, most seriously prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.”

Confirming arrest

AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista on Saturday evening confirmed the arrest of the Tiamzons and five others “by virtue of a warrant of arrest for their crimes against humanity that include murder, multiple murders, and frustrated murder.” They were arrested by combined teams from the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP), said Bautista.

Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin also confirmed the arrest, and said Tiamzon, Austria, and the others were then undergoing “tactical interrogation” at the headquarters of the Central Command (Centcom) of the AFP in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City.

But human rights defenders under Karapatan and the lawyers group National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) in Cebu that immediately dispatched a seven-man team to assist the arrested persons were stonewalled by soldiers at Camp Lapu-Lapu. They said that the soldiers also denied that Tiamzon, Austria and the five others were in their custody.

Dennis Abarrientos of Karapatan-Cebu said relatives of the arrested individuals contacted them to help in ascertaining the latter’s location.

Abarrientos said that in Camp Lapu-Lapu, a certain M/Sgt. Abuhan and someone in plain clothes who identified himself simply as an Army captain were the ones who denied custody of the arrested individuals.

When their lawyers asked for a written denial of custody, as per the Republic Act 10353, or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, the said soldiers refused to give any, Abarrientos said.

Under RA 10353, arrested persons “deprived of liberty ” also have “absolute right…to have immediate access to any form of communication available in order for him or her to inform his or her family, relative, friend, lawyer or any human rights organization on his or her whereabouts and condition.”

Sa ilalim ng batas, dapat ina-accomodate nila kami, papapasukin para makausap (ang mga naaresto). Ni hindi sa amin pinapakausap ang superior (officer) nila (Under the law, they should have accomodated us, allowed us inside the camp to speak to those arrested. They did not even allow us to speak with their superior officer),” Abarrientos said, in a telephone interview with Pinoy Weekly.

He said that aside from allegedly violating the Jasig, the AFP Centcom also violated the right of the arrested persons to counsel.

    Wilma Austria, when she was arrested by the military in 1989. She escaped from military custody in December 1989. File Photo

Wilma Austria, when she was arrested by the military in October 1989. She escaped from military custody in December of the same year. File Photo

P5.6-Million bounty

“The arrest of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon is another victory for the combined efforts between the AFP, PNP and other stakeholders in pursuit of peace and security,” stated AFP’s Bautista, after the arrest.

But Jalandoni said that their arrest “most seriously prejudices the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations”.

“Wilma Austria is holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND978226 under her real name. She is holder of the Letter of Acknowledgment signed by then GRP Negotiating Panel Chairman Silvestre H. Bello III,” said Jalandoni.

Tiamzon, meanwhile, is a holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND 978227 under the assumed name “Crising Banaag”, and also holds a Letter of Acknowledgment from the government’s then chief negotiator Bello.

The NDFP, in November 2012, condemned the Aquino government’s announcement of placing bounties for the arrest of some 235 revolutionary leaders, including the Tiamzons who have been involved in the peace process.

“What are peace negotiations to the Aquino regime but a meaningless decorative piece when it demonizes and criminalizes the act of waging revolution and armed resistance against the oppressive and exploitative system?” the CPP said in Nov. 2012.

The Aquino administration, in Aug. 2012, announced that a P5.6-Million bounty existed for the capture of Benito Tiamzon, as well as other revolutionary leaders such as NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos.

The bounty for the capture of NDFP leaders totaled P466.88-M, and was authorized under Joint Order No. 14-2012 of the Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government (DND-DILG).

“To list and target our consultants is an attack on the peace process. The NDFP wants to ensure that the JASIG is respected and not violated,” Jalandoni said in Nov. 2012.

Wilma Austria had previously been arrested in Oct. 1989. She escaped from a maximum security prison inside Camp Crame, Quezon City in Dec. of the same year.

The NDFP, which represents the revolutionary movement in the peace process, has been involved in talks with the Philippine government since the 1980s after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. Among the landmark agreements between the two sides is Jasig, which guarantees safety and immunity from arrest and prosecution of all persons involved in the peace process.

The CPP, primarily through its armed wing the New People’s Army, has been waging an armed struggle to overthrow the existing Philippine political and economic system since its the late 1960s.

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