Pinoy Weekly » Liham Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Tue, 12 May 2015 22:16:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 LETTER | We demand truth and accountability in the Mamasapano incident Sun, 22 Feb 2015 15:25:27 +0000 Youth Act Now-Manila holds a Unity Walk for Truth and Accountability over the Mamasapano carnage from Kilometer Zero in Rizal Park going to Ermita Church. <b>Kathy Yamzon/Contribution</b>

Youth Act Now-Manila holds a Unity Walk for Truth and Accountability over the Mamasapano carnage from Kilometer Zero in Rizal Park going to Ermita Church. Kathy Yamzon/Contribution

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Forty-four members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), 18 Moro rebels and six civilians are dead. The Mindanao peace process is teetering on the brink with a possible escalation of the armed conflict. Our nation mourns while outrage spreads, as the highest government officials try to cover up events leading to the carnage.

Nearly a month after the January 25 Mamasapano clash, the following details of the top-secret SAF operation are emerging:

  • President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Commander-in-Chief, assigned General Alan Purisima to oversee the entire operation despite the Philippine National Police chief’s suspension on corruption charges;
  • President Aquino’s decision closed off Operation Exodus to all but himself and a few chosen men, violating the chain of command and all notions of responsible oversight.
  • The early morning raid was done without proper coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as well as the GRP-MILF ceasefire committee, which would have helped prevent the loss of so many lives on all sides.
  • The operation involved the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Zamboanga-based US Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) in various capacities and stages.
  • In light of these fatal errors, the President and his men appear to be frantically covering up their roles as well as that of the US government. This is unacceptable.

    The government owes the dead, their bereaved families and the entire nation a thorough and independent investigation.  Aside from the operational failures of Oplan Exodus, the investigation should look into the following:

    1.    The role and accountabilities of the President and everyone else down the line and why entire chains of command were bypassed in the high-value, high-risk operation;

    2.    How the government factored in or failed to consider the consequences to the GPH-MILF peace process;

    3.    The role of the US government in the conduct of the hunt for Marwan and Usman and, in particular,  in Oplan Exodus;

    4.    The accountabilities of the Philippine government, MILF, BIFF and other groups with respect to possible violations of the peace agreements and International Humanitarian Law.

    Justice cannot be achieved in a process shrouded by half-truths and outright lies. Peace itself is threatened by the absence of truth and accountability. Thus do we demand truth and seek accountability — most especially from the highest official of the land — in order for justice to be served and genuine peace to be achieved. 

    This February 25, exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident, and on the anniversary of EDSA 1, we call on everyone to join us in an interfaith prayer and symbolic human chain, to be held from 3-6 p.m., starting at the Camp Crame EDSA Gate stretching all the way to the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas Ave.

    Let us join hands for truth, accountability, justice and genuine peace.



    Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB

    Atty. Vicente Joyas
    Integrated Bar of the Philippines

    Bishop Arturo Asi
    United Church of Christ of the Philippines

    Bishop Elmer Bolocon
    Ecumenical Bishops Forum

    Fr. Rex Reyes
    National Council of Churches of the Philippines

    Fr. Ben Alforque, MSC

    Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo, PhD
    Pagbabago! Movement for Change

    Engr. Jun Lozada

    Col. George Rabusa (Ret.)

    Bibeth Orteza

    Monique Wilson

    Atty. Harry Roque
    Concerned Citizens Movement

    Carol P. Araullo
    Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

    Joel Lamangan
    Concerned Artists of the Philippines

    Atty. Edre Olalia
    National Union of People’s Lawyers

    Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS

    Sr. Lynn Leuterio, ICM

    Fr. Jesus Dumaual, MSC

    Rev. Mariesol Villalon
    United Methodist Church

    Tonyo Cruz

    Peachy Bretaña

    Mae P. Paner

    Maria Isabel Lopez

    Dante LA. Jimenez
    Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption

    Mico Pangalanan
    Youth ACT Now!

    Menchu Sarmiento
    Writers vs. Impunity

    Dr. Ramon Paterno

    Socorro Reyes

    Murphy Red

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    Altermidya Statement | Contractualization in the media: An injustice to journalists, a travesty of public service Fri, 09 Jan 2015 16:52:40 +0000 Instagram image mula kay @lerjohnraphael | Nirepost ng <b>Buhay Media</b> Facebook account

    Media workers in the field during Yolanda disaster coverage. Instagram image from @lerjohnraphael | Reposted from Buhay Media Facebook account

    ALTERMIDYA_LOGO finalAltermidya or the People’s Alternative Media Network was formed to amplify the voice of the oppressed majority who, because of the corporate nature of dominant media networks, are not provided with ample space to present their issues and struggles, as well as their perspectives on pressing national issues being published by these media conglomerates. Our task as Altermidya assumes a particular significance and urgency when it is the plight and struggles of our colleagues in corporate media conglomerates that we are amplifying and supporting.

    Even before the formation of Altermidya, alternative media outfits supported the struggle of ABS-CBN workers who were terminated unjustly after years of service to the Lopez-owned network.

    Now, we are standing hand-in-hand with our colleagues at GMA-7 who have formed the Talents Association of GMA and filed a regularization case before the Department of Labor and Employment.

    The talent system in GMA 7, which is also being practiced by other media conglomerates such as ABS-CBN, is the corporate owners’ way of skirting the provisions of the country’s Labor Code. As it is, the country’s labor laws already favor capitalists and are oppressive and exploitative to workers. And yet, these media conglomerates, such as GMA 7, still deprive their employees of the barest rights guaranteed to them by the Labor Code.

    Many of those who have been working for several years up to a decade are still considered contractual employees, with their contracts renewed after every one to three years. They receive no benefits such as SSS, Pag-Ibig, Philhealth, and 13th month pay. Despite the hazards of the profession–which requires many of them to travel to remote areas and to work long hours–they receive no hazard or overtime pay. As contractuals (or “talents,” as the euphemism in the media industry goes), they suffer from the highly exploitative “no work, no pay” policy, and even worse: when their program segment does not air for any reason, they receive no pay at all.

    And now, after terminating their contracts, GMA 7 has been withholding the salaries of its contractual employees.

    The irony is that these journalists and media workers work for the same news and public affairs programs that assume a moral high ground and claim to be society’s watchdogs, purveyors of truth, and dispensers of public service. However, in reality, the corporate media industry is one of the worst violators of the country’s labor laws

    But media companies like GMA-7 practically get away with it, with their image unspoiled, by virtue of their control over the information the public gets and a deafening silence on the issue that reverberates across the industry, across many other media companies engaged in the same labor practices. A few years ago, more than a hundred long-time ABS-CBN employees in news and public affairs programs were illegally laid off after asserting their right to regularization. The news was hardly reported in the corporate media.

    It does not help that the government has not done anything to stop labor contractualization, and in fact, has been implementing policies that worsen it. That the media industry is complicit in the illegal practice spells doom for honest and critical reportage on the state of Filipino contractuals, who now comprise the majority of the country’s workforce.

    It is about time that the “talents” of GMA 7 have united under the organization of TAG and have decided to fight for their rights. Using the hashtag #BuhayMedia, they have been informing the public of their plight.

    As a nationwide alternative media network, we laud and support the fight of our fellow journalists and media workers for basic labor rights. We vow to help in disseminating their stories to the public through alternative media channels. We call on the courts to look into the merits of the case filed by the GMA-7 employees and act immediately to uphold labor rights. Finally, we call on other journalists and media workers with the same plight to tell their stories and like TAG, organize themselves into associations that can collectively assert their rights.

    We believe that journalists should not be victims of injustice, and should fight injustice instead. But the duty of journalists in society to report truthfully and without fear is impeded by exploitative working conditions that do not encourage anything that is not profitable for the corporate media conglomerate.

    Altermidya is a nationwide network of independent and progressive alternative media practitioners in the Philippines that promotes journalism for the people. Pinoy Weekly is a member of Altermidya.

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    LETTER & PHOTOS | Migrant rights advocates’ plea: ‘Pope of the Poor, Fight with Us’ Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:07:24 +0000 Filipino migrant workers and their families march to Mendiola on Thursday, December 18, to read an open letter to Pope Francis asking him to help end human trafficking . Pope Francis is scheduled next year for a five-day visit to the Philippines in January 15 to 19. <b>Boy Bagwis</b>

    Filipino migrant workers and their families march to Mendiola on Thursday, December 18, to read an open letter to Pope Francis asking him to help end human trafficking . Pope Francis is scheduled next year for a five-day visit to the Philippines in January 15 to 19. Boy Bagwis

    (Note: The following is the open letter of migrants and their families under Migrante International to Pope Francis I who is set to visit the country this January 2015. PW photos of Migrante’s protest action at Mendiola, Manila on the occasion of the International Migrants’ Day on Dec. 18 follow the letter.)


    LIHAM iconPope of the poor, fight with us.

    We are Filipino migrants, immigrants, refugees from all over the world who, together with our families, call upon Your Eminence, to bear witness to our struggle. We call on you to speak in behalf of overseas Filipinos in our quest for a better life. We have experienced first-hand human and labor rights abuses and exploitation. Hear our stories and join us in our fight against modern-day slavery.

    Of present, an estimated 15 million overseas Filipinos are found in over 230 countries. Massive unemployment, landlessness, poverty and globalization have been forcing our countrymen to migrate. There exists a widespread desolation, hopelessness and desperation that have caused the Filipino people’s diaspora.

    Pope of the poor, fight with us. In your tenet to build “A Church without frontiers, mother to all”, we likewise reach out to you with open arms and hearts for our common objective to open the doors of Your Church worldwide in the spirit of genuine service to the people.

    Like you, we stand firm that forced migration is an anomaly and a matter of deep concern involving the lives and dignity of our migrant workers. Ours is now an era of modern-day slavery wherein our migrant workers and their families are subjected to most cruel conditions in favor of greed for remittances and the desecration of human rights.

    Pope of the poor, fight with us. We have seen the absence of legal frameworks that genuinely promote and protect the rights and welfare of our OFWs and their families. We have dissected and evaluated the efficiency or lack thereof of existing government programs and discussed ways to bring these to the concern of our authorities. We realize that the Philippines has many policies and laws on migration that need to be translated into concrete action.

    We have seen that the continuation and intensification of the government’s labor export policy would only add more to the sufferings of our people, making them more vulnerable to human and labor rights abuses. We ask of you to speak out against this policy. We need to address the fundamental conditions of our society, especially the unequal distribution of wealth and work among nations which drives our people to forced migration.

    Pope of the poor, fight with us. We agree with you that human trafficking is indeed “a crime against humanity”. It is a violation of our fundamental rights. It breeds the evils of discrimination, criminalization of undocumented migrants and all forms of violence, oppression and enslavement.

    We are also greatly disturbed and moved by the tragedy of the separation of families. We cry for the sufferings and pains of children left behind and growing up without proper guidance, parents and couples estranged from each other, and the resulting economic, emotional and psychological implications of loved ones being uprooted from their families.

    We call on you to work hand in hand with migrants’ organizations and advocates in support of the plight of our Filipino migrants. There are still many things that need to be done. Pope of the poor, fight with us.

    We call on Your Eminence, that through Your Office, you can help us in organizing and broadening our reach and making our voices resound. There is a dire need to consolidate our efforts in various parts of the world. Together, let us face the challenge of holding the cause of Filipino migrants and their families.

    Pope of the Poor, fight with us. In the spirit of service to the people, together, let our aspirations and advocacies be realized.

    Migrante International


    Migrante International has joined calls from different sectors for President Aquino to step down from office. <b>Boy Bagwis</b>

    Migrante International has joined calls from different sectors for President Aquino to step down from office. Boy Bagwis

    Migrante International describes the Philippine government's Labor Export Policy as "modern-day slavery". Because of lack of job opportunities and livelihood in the country, millions of Filipinos are forced to seek jobs abroad. Away from their families for long periods, the Filipino migrants are vulnerable to abuse, discrimination and repression in countries where they work. <b>Boy Bagwis</b>

    Migrante International describes the Philippine government’s Labor Export Policy as “modern-day slavery”. Because of lack of job opportunities and livelihood in the country, millions of Filipinos are forced to seek jobs abroad. Away from their families for long periods, the Filipino migrants are vulnerable to abuse, discrimination and repression in countries where they work. Boy Bagwis

    The past years have seen the rise in cases of abuse of Filipino migrants, as exemplified by the case of dozens of Filipino teachers trafficked by a notorious Filipino recruiter in Washington DC, USA. <b>Boy Bagwis</b>

    The past years have seen the rise in cases of abuse of Filipino migrants, as exemplified by the case of dozens of Filipino teachers trafficked by a notorious Filipino recruiter in Washington DC, USA. Boy Bagwis

    Migrante International blamed the Aquino government for perpetuating the policy of labor export while providing scant service for protection of FIlipinos working abroad. <b>Boy Bagwis</b>

    Migrante International blamed the Aquino government for perpetuating the policy of labor export while providing scant service for protection of FIlipinos working abroad. Boy Bagwis

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    Letter | Brace ourselves for ‘Typhoon Noynoy’ Sat, 06 Dec 2014 11:52:06 +0000 Leaders of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, with leaders of survivors of typhoons Pablo in Mindanao and Yolanda in Eastern Visayas. <b>Boy Bagwis</b>

    Leaders of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, with leaders of survivors of typhoons Pablo in Mindanao and Yolanda in Eastern Visayas. Boy Bagwis

    Three years ago it was Sendong, then Pablo and Yolanda, now it’s Ruby. While a new super typhoon is getting closer to make a landfall in the Philippines, we, contingent of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, have already evacuated from our camp in Liwasang Bonifacio to different hospices offered by church people in Manila.

    We don’t want to experience again the wrath brought by disasters as most of us are survivors of previous typhoons that hit Mindanao. More than 130 lakbayanis were typhoon Pablo survivors from Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental while around 30 individuals came from Northern Mindanao who were affected by typhoon Sendong.

    LIHAM iconThe Pablo and Sendong tragedies have haunted us since we have been experiencing evacuations way back home.  We are victims of a twin disaster — natural calamities which are aggravated by the unabated destruction of the environment through large-scale mining and big logging operations, and man-made disaster brought by militarization in our communities.

    Typhoon Sendong claimed 1,268 lives of our loved ones in Northern Mindanao while Pablo killed over 1,901 individuals in Southern Mindanao. Most of them were farmers and lumads.  While taking the whip of evictions due to these calamities, the survivors are further deprived of their abodes due to intensified militarization.

    Data gathered say that there are already more than 12 incidents of forcible evacuation of 39 Lumad communities in Mindanao, affecting more than 1,112 families with over 4,735 women, men and children in 2014. The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ aerial bombings, artillery bombardments and strafing of homes and farms have also displaced thousands and killed civilians, including Moro residents during the infamous Zamboanga Siege.

    With all these figures, the Aquino administration doesn’t learn. This is why we are here in Manila to bring to the broadest public’s attention our sufferings and struggles in Mindanao. As long as the government will remain sticking its bias to big foreign companies and continue its poor performance in relief and rehabilitation for disaster-affected areas, we would rather expect that Ruby just like other typhoons would again result to displacements and a large number of deaths.

    Until now, hundreds of communities in Mindanao are still vulnerable to natural disasters due to the proliferation of large-scale extractive industries being promoted by Aquino through its existing government policies and programs such as the Mining Act of 1995.

    We hold the Aquino administration and its capitalist masters as accountable for all the crimes they committed to all the victims of typhoons Pablo and Sendong. We also strongly demand for the termination of large-scale mining and other multinational operations and the scrapping of all the liberalization policies by the government as we demand reparations from these companies for all the victims or more aptly, their victims.

    The Aquino administration has further committed a crime by intensifying its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan to pave the way for multinational companies and to suppress the growing resistance to it.  Aquino has deployed 55 combat battalions of the AFP in Mindanao to protect the interest of foreign and local businessmen with its investment defense unit while recruiting lumads and other rural villagers to be part of their paramilitary groups.

    We do not need to be met with bombs and guns. What we need from President Aquino is for him to make concrete actions to our legitimate demands. We are already in Manila for two weeks now but all we got were harassment and violent dispersal by the police armed with truncheons and nightsticks.

    And for the nth time, we reiterate our demands to the Aquino government:

    • Pull out military troops from schools and civilian public places in the community and prevent further AFP deployment to Mindanao.
    • Stop the recruitment of armed paramilitary groups and disband existing ones. Investigate local warlords, private corporations and AFP battalions that provide logistical support and actively instigate the violation of human rights by these paramilitary groups.
    • Dismiss Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) charges.
    • Investigate and suspend the operations of notorious mining corporations for the environmental plunder and blatant violation of the comprehensive human rights of communities, organizations and individuals that are adversely affected by their operations.
    • Immediately revoke Department of Education Memorandum Order 221.
    • Pull out US troops in Mindanao and investigate US enclaves in military camps in Mindanao.

    We have gone this far. The heavy rains, winds, and waves of water with mud brought by typhoons had tested our unity. The military’s bullets and bombs have made us stronger and more fearless to face sacrifices.

    Even Hagupit nor typhoon Noynoy cannot stop us until we get what we deserve:  justice.

    Jomorito Goaynon
    Spokesperson, Manilakbayan ng Mindanao

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    Open letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima Thu, 06 Nov 2014 22:49:54 +0000 Less than two years remain of the Benigno S. Aquino presidency, and you have been with the Department of Justice for over four years.LIHAM icon

    When you were appointed as Justice Secretary, from being Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, we entertained a glimmer of hope that human rights cases would move forward, despite the immense systematic and structural hurdles in the country’s justice system. With the passing of time, however, we and the human rights violations victims and their families, saw our hopes diminished. Instead, we now come to feel extreme disappointment, if not righteous indignation, over the slow progress of many human rights cases.

    In the case of the two missing UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, we now feel a deep sense of dread over the possibility that Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. will not be made accountable. Various groups and individuals, both here and abroad, opposed Palparan’s transfer to the Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, yet the public prosecutors assigned by your office were clearly instructed not to support the motion of the private prosecutors to transfer Palparan to a regular jail facility. Without the support from the DOJ prosecutors, the Court denied the said motion last Monday, October 20.

    We are appalled and indignant that the DOJ has assumed the role of protecting Palparan, by refusing to support the just demand of the mothers of Sherlyn and Karen. This clearly illustrates the prejudice of the Aquino administration on a very important issue of justice – that of the ensuring that no special treatment be accorded, especially for those accused of heinous crimes against the People of the Philippines. With this move, the prosecution of Gen. Palparan is definitely in jeopardy.

    We likewise lament the slow progress in other human rights cases, despite the task force formed by the Aquino administration through Administrative Order 35. Among the cases are:

    a) The extrajudicial killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Datu Jimmy Liguyon, and town councilor Fernando Baldomero;

    b) The massacres of botanist Prof. Leonard Co and his companions Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo, and of anti-mining activist Juvy Capion and sons Jordan and John Mark;

    c) Civil case of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines vs human rights violations of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo;

    d) The killings of Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente and Catholic priest Rev. Cecilio Lucero; and

    e) Torture and civil cases of health workers known as Morong 43.

    Under President Aquino, the human rights situation remains worrisome, to say the least.  Political killings go on as the President himself implements his own version of a counter-insurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, that engenders the continuing human rights violations and impunity and is no better than his predecessor’s Oplan Bantay Laya.

    We are thus constrained to write to you to express our collective frustration and indignation over this dismal state of human rights. We write for the countless victims who have not achieved justice much less attention from the current government.

    Through you, Madam Secretary, we call on the Aquino government – urgently and decisively, while there is still enough time – to address the issues we have raised in this open letter and in previous dialogues officials of the Department of Justice.

    Signed by members of End Impunity Alliance

    Concepcion Empeno, Erlinda Cadapan, Glenda Co,Orly Marcellana, Fr. Peter Geremia, PIME, Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, NCCP Sec. Gen. Rev. Fr. Rex RB. Reyes, Jr., UCCP Sec. Gen. Bp. Reuel Norman O. Marigza, Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Bayan chair Dr. Carol Araullo, Karapatan chair Marie Hilao Enriquez, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Maria Isabel Lopez, Bibeth Orteza, Atty. Evalyn Ursua, Prof. Danilo Arao,Prof. Rolando Tolentino, Pete Lacaba,Ricky Lee, Raye V. Baquirin,Karapatan Sec. Gen. Cristina Palabay, Dr. Romeo F. Quijano, SIBAT Dep. Dir. Shen R. Maglinte, Rev. Jerome Baris, Prof. Leonilo Doloricon, Gabriela Krista Dalena, Sari Dalena, Prof. Carl Marc Ramota, Bp. Elorde M. Sambat, Bp. Hamuel G. Tequis, Bp. Emergencio D. Padillo, Bp. Joel Tendero, Bp. Jaime R. Moriles, Bp. Jezer E. Bertoldo, Bp. Melzar D. Labuntog, Catherine Abon, Maria Finesa Cosico


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    Statement | On the first UN Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists Sat, 01 Nov 2014 18:09:17 +0000 1016481_10152505309949779_5617294221866694223_nToday, November 2, we observe the first United Nations Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, with sorrow and rage.

    That the UN has to declare such a day, just as IFEX in 2011 declared November 23, the date the 2009 Ampatuan massacre happened, the International Day to End Impunity, says much of how freedom of the press and of expression, and those who not only wish, but whose duty it is, to exercise these freedoms have come under increasing attack.

    Thus far this year, the International Federation of Journalists has recorded close to 100 media killings worldwide.

    Ironically, the assaults have increasingly come not only from parties traditionally seen as hostile to a free press — autocratic and corrupt governments, terrorist organizations, crime groups — but also from those that justify repression as part of their professed intention to protect basic rights and freedoms, particularly governments engaged in the so-called “war on terror.”

    These two days — November 2 and 23 — strike a deep chord within the community of independent journalists in the Philippines, who have lost 171 of their number since 1986 as government apathy and even hostility continue to feed the impunity with which assaults on the press are committed.

    It has not helped that President Benigno Aquino III has not only broken all his promises of justice and good governance, presenting lame excuses for taking back his vow to enact the Freedom of Information Law and even bungling the number of media victims — 32 — of the single deadliest attack on the press in history but, worse, time and again making the media a whipping boy for fulfilling its duties of informing the people of what his administration is doing or not doing for them.

    Indeed, under Mr. Aquino’s watch, 33 of our colleagues have lost their lives, one of the worst records of any sitting president. Yet, instead of ordering an end to the killings, he has again and again offered what amounts to a justification for the murders, hinting without providing any evidence that the victims were either not killed for their work or were engaged in less than ethical undertakings.

    From this day until the 23rd, and way beyond that, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, together with other media organizations and freedom of expression advocates, will remind Benigno Aquino III of how badly he has failed to fulfill his pledge to protect our rights and freedoms and, because of this, how his hands are stained with the blood of our fallen colleagues.

    Rowena Paraan
    National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)

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    LETTER | Assessment on Pope Francis’ one year papacy after His Easter message Fri, 24 Oct 2014 03:03:31 +0000 Pope Francis I during the World Youth Day celebrations in July 2013. <strong>Wikimedia Commons</strong>

    Pope Francis I during the World Youth Day celebrations in July 2013. Wikimedia Commons

    LIHAM iconPope Francis has captured the attention of millions including the international media with his simple and tradition-breaking lifestyle.

    A year after his election, the world including Christians and non-Christians are still studying the different changes he has started within the Vatican bureaucracy and the Vatican financial institutions. His pronouncements on the need of a Church that is missionary, compassionate and inclusive have been analysed by theologians from different countries and how these will affect the current problems of a increasingly deserted Church. His statements on social issues such as the war in Syria, the plight of migrants in Europe and the capitalist system that is driven by greed have also been well published.

    The current changes being instituted by Pope Francis can be a crucial turning point in the 2000-year history of the Roman Catholic Church. However, as we very well know, this turning point cannot be achieved by mere Papal pronouncements and administrative reforms no matter how well meaning. There will definitely be obstacles coming from different sections of the church structure and society that will be threatened by these changes. All possible doctrinal and theological precepts will be thrown at Pope Francis to derail if not totally stop the reforms. A US oligarch has already warned that donations to the Church can stop and some Vatican watchers have already hinted at the physical dangers the Pope is risking.

    As such, how should we approach these changes? Cognizant that these are reforms that will not radically alter the reactionary character of the Roman Catholic Church, it is still incumbent upon us to study and act upon these, analyzing, making a balanced evaluation and propagating those that will benefit the poor, deprived and oppressed.

    What needs to be done?

    The administrative reforms such as the revamp of the financial institutions, the appointment of the eight Cardinals who will propose restructuring to the Vatican Curia, the Papal announcement that more authority will be given to the national episcopal conferences, we can support since any changes in the fossilized bureaucracy can contribute to a Church that is more compassionate in deed.

    We should also support the call for justice for and indemnification to the victims of clerical sexual abuse. Beyond these there should be discussions within the formation centers and other scholastic institutions how these crimes can be prevented.

    More than all of these we must strongly advocate and propagate the pronouncements and moves that relate to issues of social justice. These are the changes that are most necessary, urgent and will be contentious and divisive within the Church. These include the pronouncements on migrants issues, the conference on the Syrian conflict and the condemnation of capitalist greed.

    We must likewise be more active in calling the Pope’s attention to the situation in our country: the continuing misery and escalating poverty brought about by economic policies that favor the elite; the plunder of our natural resources, the continuing and increasing subservience to imperialist control.

    But it is not only the Pope whom we wish to address. We have to reach out to the Philippine Church hierarchy in different dioceses, congregations, parishes and institute dialogues and get their cooperation on the need for radical social transformation. Basic changes namely comprehensive and genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization and the continuing armed revolution that seeks to
    address these has to be explained to them. And beyond any theoretical discussions, we must draw them into actively participating the people’s struggles not only because they are influential opinion makers but also that as members of Philippine society they have a stake in its well being and progress.

    We should also reach out to the numerous Christians, whether nominal or practicing, and involve them in the different national and sectoral issues that will organize and empower them.

    As guided by the tenet that to love God, we must love our neighbor, we continually strengthen our determination and commitment by reaching out and organizing as many as we can to achieve a society where there is peace and justice.

    Christians for National Liberation (CNL)

    CNL is an allied organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and composed of revolutionary church people from the Catholic and Protestant churches.

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    LETTER | Quest for Justice for Engr. Delle Bugarin Salvador Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:16:53 +0000 Engr. Delle Salvador <strong>Contributed photo</strong>

    Engr. Delle Salvador Contributed photo

    We, the family of Engr. Fidela “Delle” Bugarin-Salvador grieve for the untimely death of the mother, a sister, and a wife, who was killed in Lacub, Abra, during the military operations of the 41st Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army (41st IBPA), on 4-6 September 2014.

    Adding insult to injury, the Northern Luzon Command, Philippine Army – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on their social media page, claimed in their September 11, 2014 post that Engr. Fidela Salvador was killed in a legitimate encounter on the night of September 5, 2014. They accused her of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). They unjustly weaved lies about who she was and how she was killed.

    Her body was fetched by the Pineda Funeral Homes in Bangued, Abra from the 503rd Brigade Head Quarters in Brgy. Barbarit, Lagangilang, Abra after a call was made by the 41st IBPA at around 4 P.M. of September 6, 2014. She was reportedly airlifted by the AFP from their Bantugo, Lacub detachment. According to her death certificate, she died on September 5, 2014, at Mt. Kiboot, Guniguinabang, Lacub, Abra.

    Engr. Fidela Bugarin-Salvador was a development worker conducting monitoring activity of the projects previously and currently being implemented by the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Service (CorDis RDS) and the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC, Inc), in Lacub, Abra when she was killed. She was not and had never been a member of the NPA.

    LIHAM iconHer body was brought home to Baguio by staff of Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) on the night of September 7, 2014. She arrived at the St. Peters Chapel, Marcos Highway, Bakakeng Central, Baguio City, at around 11 in the evening.

    Upon seeing her cadaver, we felt the need of an autopsy. We did not believe the story peddled by the AFP on the circumstances of her death. We made this request as a step to establish the truth behind her death. We requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI CAR- Baguio) to conduct the procedure. It was performed by the medico-legal officer, Dr. Ronald R. Bandonill, on September 8, 2014, at 2:30 pm.

    The autopsy report

    The autopsy report was released on 18 September 2014. Prior to this, a case conference with Dr. Ronald Bandonill was held on September 15. Here he discussed salient points of his examination of Engr. Fidela’s body.

    The report states that, Engr. Salvador’s cause of death is described as:


    Nine bullets entered the body of Engr. Fidela. The damage they brought to her vital organs (heart and lungs) might have killed her instantaneously. But the finding that the blunt traumatic injury (comminuted fracture–meaning skull broken into particles) at back of her head as contributory cause of death, and the contusions, massive lacerations, massive hematoma, among the significant findings of the autopsy painted a scenario that directly questioned the validity of the AFP claim that she was killed in an encounter.

    It pointed to the possibility of torture.

    An officer of the legal department of PNP-Abra also stated that the 41st IB did not submit a report on Engr. Delle to the SOCO (Scene of the Crime Officer). Yet they had in their possession her ID – a photo of which is posted in their social media page.

    An image of Engr. Delle's CorDis RDS ID

    An image of Engr. Delle’s CorDis RDS ID, valid until December 2015 (Click on image to enlarge)

    The NSM report

    The National Solidarity Mission, organized by various regional and local human rights organizations and held within various barangays in Lacub, Abra on September 28 – October 1, affirmed that Engr. Delle Salvador was a victim of extrajudicial killing in Lacub, Abra, in the course of military operations by the elements of 41st IBPA. The also found out that:

    * Nobody saw that the body of Engr. Delle Salvador was taken within the vicinity of the encounter on the September 5, 2014;

    * The communities affirmed that there were projects of CorDis RDS, CDPC, Inc., and other NGOs in Lacub. These NGOs and the people’s organizations they are in partner with have long been targets of political persecution mainly from the AFP;

    * On September 6, 2014, the body of Engr. Delle Salvador was airlifted from Bantugo military camp in Lacub to Barbarit, Lagangilang, Abra, the 503 Brigade, PA, AFP. From there, her remains were fetched by the Pineda Funeral Homes and brought to Bangued, where staff of Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) identified her.

    Participants of the NSM said that the people of Lacub are being harassed and threatened by elements of the Philippine Army, compromising their socio-economic and psychological welfare. Civilians were used as human shields and guides in combat operations by the AFP. This endangered their lives and put their families in stressful situations. Even children were not spared, as the AFP built their camp near the school.

    Our Prayers, Our Call

    Life is sacred. It is not for man to claim it especially in unjust ways. Given the facts stated by the autopsy report — that her death was not just through the barrel of a gun and that the evidence of her body points to probable torture — we thirst for truth and justice. Already, her death gives us inconsolable grief and unfathomable pain. But the question of how she died and why she died remains a question.

    If it is true that she died in an encounter, how can the contusions all over her body be explained? If the entrance of bullets to her body is at her lower back, why are there contusions in her right lumbar area? Why was the fracture in her skull at the back of her head not caused by gunshot? How can her skull be broken into small pieces? How can the head injury be contributory to the cause of death if she really figured herself in an encounter?

    Why was there no eyewitness to the retrieval of her body in the encounter site when they were retrieved in the morning of 6th September as per report by the AFP? Where was she really taken by the AFP? Was she alive when the 41st IBPA took her? Why is there a need for the AFP to paint a picture of her as the machine gunner according to the report of the AFP to Rep. Luz Ilagan, Gabriela Women’s Party-list, during the budget hearing in Congress?

    There are many questions begging for answers. Reports of the AFP do not address them, but rather produce more painful questions.

    It is our strong belief that Engr. Delle Salvador was taken alive –- mistreated before death as evidenced by the autopsy findings, and unjustly accused as an NPA who died in a legitimate encounter for the AFP to justify the extrajudicial killing.

    Today, on the 40th day of day of her death, as we commemorate the life and works of Engr. Fidela Bugarin-Salvador, and as we try to pick up the pieces and rebuild our life shattered by this tragic event, the family, relatives, friends of Engr. Fidela Bugarin-Salvador, and the UCCP community, long for justice to be served! As long as our questions remain unanswered, so too shall we not cease in our search for truth and justice.

    Justice for Engr. Delle Salvador!
    Justice for the People of Lacub!

    Statement of the Family of Engr. Fidela Bugarin – Salvador
    October 16, 2014


    (ALSO READ: Letter/statement of the family of Recca Monte)

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    LETTER | Justice for Recca, Justice for Lacub Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:17:25 +0000 Photo by <strong>KR Guda</strong>

    Photo by KR Guda

    LIHAM iconOur grief remains without measure and no words can approximate the anguish that we feel with the death of our daughter, our sister, Recca Noelle M. Monte.

    Recca, 33, was a member of the New People’s Army in the Cordillera region. She died along with six other combatants and two civilians in the course of military operations conducted by the 41st Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Guinginabang, Lacub, Abra last September 4, 2014.

    We were informed of her death last September 7 by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance after they had retrieved the remains of Recca and her comrades in Lacub and brought them to Baguio City.

    It was and it still is a difficult time for the family.

    We never had the chance to see her. We had to identify her through photos taken after she was retrieved in Lacub. Recca was barely identifiable if not for her distinct overbite. Half of her face had been blown off. The desecration of her remains was undeniable and apparent.

    Our anguish grew a thousand fold as the autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation confirmed this and more.

    The autopsy revealed that Recca had not sustained any gunshot wound. Not a single bullet passed through her body. Her skull resembled that of a crushed egg and her brains were missing. Her legs bore multiple fractures, the bone practically shattered. Her lungs were severely contused. Massive hematoma covered her torso. Blunt massive traumatic injuries were identified to be the cause of her death.

    Clearly, Recca had been captured alive that morning of September 4 yet she was later left by military elements for local residents to bring to Lacub poblacion lifeless and inhumanely desecrated.

    We believe that she was subjected to much torture, inhumane and barbaric treatment until her last breath.

    Likewise, the remains of six other members of the NPA and two civilians killed in the same military operation appear to have been desecrated as well.

    All these indicate that there were gross violations of international and domestic instruments on the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. War, violent and harsh as it already is should not be so cruel and inhumane that the helpless, lifeless body of one’s enemy should be desecrated. We are appalled that our family bears as direct witness to this brutality of the AFP.

    In the midst of these violations, we find it an insult, even abhorrent, unjust and revolting that the AFP and its commander in chief President Aquino should deem the 41st IBPA and its commanding officers worthy of commendation and promotion. These medals and commendations accorded to 2Lt. Joe Mari Landicho and Capt. Deo Martinez, head of operating troops and operations officer respectively and the rest of the 41st IBPA tell us how these barbaric acts are condoned, encouraged and even applauded by this government.

    We demand that these medals and commendations be recalled.

    We strongly appeal that the 41st IBPA, all units involved in the military operations in Lacub, and the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippines Army (IDPA), from which the 41st IBPA takes its command, be investigated, prosecuted and brought to justice. Urgent and necessary steps should be taken to make those responsible for these gross violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law are meted out with the utmost disciplinary action and are made accountable.

    We call for the immediate pull out of troops and an end to military operations in Lacub, Abra and for peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to immediately resume.

    We shall fight for justice and we shall not rest.

    The family of Recca Noelle M. Monte,

    Capt. Noel Monte Sr PCG (ret)
    Rebecca Monte, MD
    Janice Lee M. Monte
    Noel Monte, Jr.

    We commemorate the 40th day after her death on October 14; however, the public memorial service will be held on October 18, Saturday, 3:00PM at the St. Peter Parish Columbary, Commonwealth Quezon City. Do join us once more in celebrating her life and in affirming our commitment to fight for justice.

    (ALSO READ: Letter/Statement of the family of Engr. Delle Salvador)

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    LETTER | Luisita landgrabbers cited ‘labor-law compliant’ by DOLE Mon, 06 Oct 2014 04:36:55 +0000 Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz helps inaugurate Luisita Industrial Park. Photo courtesy: <strong>DOLE Region III</strong>

    Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz helps inaugurate Luisita Industrial Park. Photo courtesy: DOLE Region III

    LIHAM iconWhat kind of message is the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz sending to the public in conferring unprecedented distinction to the Luisita Industrial Park – a hub widely-known to be part of the still dispute-ridden and controversial Hacienda Luisita estate?

    While it is up to the workers themselves in the Luisita Industrial Park (LIP) to contest the ostentatious designation made by the DOLE in naming the LIP as the very first “Labor Law Compliant Eco-zone” in the country, this does not belie the fact that aggressive land grabbing and brazen human rights violations are continuously being perpetrated by the LIP administration under the Luisita Realty Corporation (LRC).

    The LRC is one among the many notorious corporate avatars of the Cojuangco-Aquino family in Hacienda Luisita, where presidential sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz is director while Pinky Aquino-Abellada and Viel Aquino-Dee sit as top stockholders.

    DOLE’s conferment may be used to prop up the LRC’s pending application before the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s (PEZA) Board to incorporate 260.4 hectares of agricultural land in Barangay Balete, Luisita to the existing Luisita Industrial Park complex. The PEZA granted the LRC a pre-qualification clearance on February 13, 2014, barely a week after the Cojuangco-Aquinos ordered the burning of farmers’ homes and the bulldozing of crops within the contested property.

    Another Cojuangco-Aquino firm, Tarlac Development Corporation (TADECO) ordered the aggressive attacks against Hacienda Luisita farmers in Balete.  Violent eviction of farmers, bulldozing of ready-to-harvest palay crops and fencing off of the 260-hectare area from its tillers continued even after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) affirmed the agricultural nature of the said property by issuing a Notice of land reform coverage (NOC) on December 17, 2013. The DAR did not lift a finger to stop TADECO’s assaults against Luisita farmers.

    The headquarters of the 31st company of the 3rd Mechanized Battalion of the Philippine Army was constructed within this 260-hectare area last year with the blessings of the LRC. Soldiers have, since then, been practically deployed to serve in the Cojuangco-Aquino private army, intermittently mobilized to harass and evict farmers from the area. Bulldozers of the Cojuangco-Aquino family which were used to destroy farmers’ crops and homes are usually  parked right beside the army headquarters.

    In successive incidents from September 2013 to March 2014, TADECO was able to evict tillers even without a court order through the deployment of private security guards, local police and fully-armed SWAT teams. The attacks resulted in the death of one of our members, Dennis dela Cruz, several cases of mauling, attempted murder and unlawful arrest, and the filing of harassment suits against hundreds of farmers.

    Personnel – thugs – hired by the Cojuangco-Aquino family from the Great Star Security Agency, one of the Luisita Industrial Park’s subcontractors, are directly responsible for the violent attacks against farmers in Barangays Balete and Cutcut.  Great Star Security Services, Inc. was also declared compliant with General Labor Standards and issued Certificates of Compliance (CoC) yesterday, October 1, in a high-profile ceremony at the LIP compound which was graced by Baldoz herself.

    Security guards from the Great Star Security Services Inc. are also involved in the shooting of a group of farmers in disputed farmlands in Barangay Maimpis, San Fernando, Pampanga on July 28, 2014. It seems that violation of human rights is their forte.

    The Cojuangco-Aquinos are hell-bent on maintaining control of the Luisita estate and in implementing their grand master plan to convert the sugar plantation into a giant commercial hub, in contempt and complete reversal of the 2012 Supreme Court decision for total land distribution.

    Ten years after the Hacienda Luisita Massacre, Luisita farmers are still denied land and justice. President BS Aquino’s alter-egos like Baldoz of  DOLE and Gil delos Reyes of DAR, act like extensions of this insatiable landlord family in ruthlessly extracting every last drop of blood, sweat and tears from Luisita farmworkers.

    AMBALA – Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
    56 K-9 St., Kamias, Quezon City

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