Pinoy Weekly » Liham Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Mon, 06 Oct 2014 18:24:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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Open letter to Aquino, on 7th year of Jonas Burgos’ abduction Sun, 27 Apr 2014 17:04:05 +0000 Photo by JL Burgos

Photo by JL Burgos

April 27, 2014
Divine Mercy Sunday

Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
The President of the Philippines

Mr. President:

Tomorrow, April 28, 2014, as we sadly commemorate the 7th anniversary of the abduction of Jonas, we recall how a few days before you were sworn in as President of the Republic of the Philippines, we were so full of hope. We, my children and I, thought that it would be just a matter of time before we would find Jonas. Our hope was anchored on your promise to do what you could ‘on the basis of evidence’ when I, accompanied by my son, personally pleaded for your help.

This was almost four years ago, June, 2010.

May I refresh your memory Mr. President—just by focussing on the evidence on the Jonas case:

Ø  On March 15, 2011 the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) submitted its report to the Supreme Court (SC) naming Maj. Harry Baliaga as the principal abductor of Jonas. The CHR findings were upheld by the SC in July 5, 2011, directing the military to produce Jonas.

Ø  In June 2011 I filed a criminal case with the DOJ against Harry Baliaga and Eduardo Año, et al based on the CHR findings.

Ø  In Dec. 2, 2012 in spite of this pending preliminary investigation, Eduardo Año is appointed chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), Later Eduardo Año is promoted from Brigadier General to Major General, in spite of my objections filed with the Court of Appointments.

Ø  March 18, 2013 the Court of Appeals has found that: a) the abduction of Jonas Burgos is a case of Enforced Disappearance; b) Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. is held responsible for the abduction of Jonas; and c) the Armed Forces of the Philippines and elements of the AFP, particularly the Philippine Army are accountable for the abduction of Jonas Burgos.   The same findings were later upheld by the Supreme Court in its ruling dated February 2, 2014.

Ø  In the light of the new evidence I have submitted to the SC on April 1, 2013, on April 4, 2013, you issued a directive to the Department of Justice (DOJ)  to order the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a ‘focused, dedicated and exhaustive investigation on the Jonas Burgos case … to ferret out the truth…’.  Mr. President more than a year has passed since this order was given, may I know if this order elicited any result?

Ø  On April 12, 2013, the SC has ordered the chief of the AFP to locate the officers who abducted Jonas, and has issued a Temporary Protection Order to me and members of my family in cognizance of the critical value of the new evidence I submitted to the SC.

Ø  On February 2, 2014, the same CA resolution was upheld by the Supreme Court

o   Jonas was forcibly disappeared

o   Maj. Harry Baliaga of the Philippine Army is held responsible for the disappearance.

o   The AFP-Phillippine Army is accountable for the disappearance of Jonas.

May we highlight the following facts:

Ø  In spite of the unfulfilled SC order to produce Jonas, no one has been penalized or found accountable;

Ø  In spite of the overwhelming evidence that the military is accountable for Jonas’ disappearance, you have not acted on the case as you promised;

Ø  In spite of your Order to the DOJ-NBI, there has been no ‘dedicated and exhaustive investigation’ on the case.

Ø  Meanwhile, those we believe were responsible for giving the orders to abduct Jonas, were promoted and even appointed to crucial positions which could enhance and encourage the climate of impunity, now prevalent in our country.

As we immerse ourselves in God’s Mercy today, April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday, I bring to His most Compassionate Heart the victims of enforced disappearance and other human rights violations, the perpetrators of these inhumanity, all mankind, and you Mr. President, that the Lord of Mercies would touch our hearts and provide the grace that we need most at the moment.  Enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus, may you cast a glance at us victims of, especially Jonas and his family.

I pray that compassion, courage and determination to resolve our cases would embrace your  whole being as you glance at us.

Dasal namin na meron pa ring parte ng puso n’yo na nakikita ang tuluy-tuloy na pagdurusa ng mga maraming biktima,(pamilya at nagmamhal) ng mga sapilitang nawawala.

In the love of the God of Mercy,

Mother of Jonas

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LIHAM | Mga empleyado ng DSWD, hinggil sa Bagyong Yolanda Tue, 08 Apr 2014 05:24:11 +0000

Mga mamamayang nabiktima ng bagyong Yolanda noong Nobyembre 2013, naghihintay ng relief goods mula sa gobyerno. Pher Pasion/PW File Photo

LIHAM iconLagi na lang binabatikos nang matindi ang ating ahensya sa ating pagresponde sa mga kalamidad tulad ng nangyari nitong nakalipas na taon na kinatampukan ng apat na kalamidad–pinakagrabe ang Typhoon Yolanda na kumitil at naminsala sa buhay ng libu-libo nating mamamayan sa kabisayaan. Sobrang kapaguran, kalituhan, sama ng loob, galit at demoralisasyon naman ang sa hanay ng mga kawani na karamihan ay kabilang din sa biktima ng disaster ang nangyayari sa kasalukuyan.  Marami at iba’t  ibang klase pang “unos” ang kakakaharapin natin. Bukod sa mga natural na kalamidad, nariyan din ang kalamidad ng sunud-sunod na pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, pasasapribado ng mga pampublikong serbisyo, kawalan ng trabaho, demolisyon ng mga tahanan, at bulok na pamamahala ng gobyerno.

Napakahalaga, kung ganoon, na magkaroon tayo ng malinaw na pananaw at paninindigan sa harap ng mga ito.

Ang burukrasya o pamahalaan ay binubuo ng mga kawani at opisyal na parehas dapat na tungkulin ay maglingkod sa mga mamamayan.  Subalit may saligang pagkakaiba ng tunguhin o orientasyon sa pagitan ng kawani at opisyal na burukrata na naihahayag sa iba’t ibang aspekto at pagkakataon sa umiiral na burukrasya. Ito ang nasa kaibuturan ng di-pagkakatugma ng pagnanais ng mga kawani na isagawa ang kanyang tungkulin sa isang panig, at ng pagkukumahog ng mapagsamantala at burukratang opisyal sa mga layuning  gamitin ang yaman ng bayan para sa pansariling kapakanan na malayo sa kapakinabangan ng mga mamamayan. Ito’y lagpas sa usapin ng antas ng kakayahan lamang.  Ilan sa mga iniinugang konsiderasyon ng pulitiko ang sistema ng patron/patronage politics at korupsiyon, pagpabor sa pampulitikang partido o paksiyon na kinabibilangan, pagtalima sa impluwensiya ng dominanteng patakaran ng status quo na labis na bukas at palaasa sa dayuhang puhunan.

Burukrata kapitalista ang pinaka-angkop na katawagan sa mga opisyal na ito at ng kanilang mga kasabwat. Sila ang mga nasa gobyerno upang magpayaman at madagdagan ang kapangyarihan.

Sa kasaysayan ng  burukrasya nitong kamakailan lamang, may mga punto ng signipikanteng pag-igting ng pagkakaibang ito. Tampok na  halimbawa nito ang pag-aalsa ng mga mamamayan noong EDSA Uno at Dos. Mga yugto ito sa kasaysayan na ang pagkakaiba’y nahinog ang pagkakahati na sumalamin sa polarisasyon sa ating  lipunan.  Oo, may mga pagkakabitak rin sa hanay ng kawani at doon sa mga opisyal. Ngunit sa pangkalahatan, dahil sa katayuan, mas dugtong sa pusod ng kabulukan at korupsiyon ang mga burukrata kaysa sa kawani at makikitang naging mas progresibo ang mga kawani. Mahalagang punto ito na dapat maging bahagi ng kamulatan ng empleyado na ang ating pananagutan ay sa publiko at di sa pulitiko.

Mahigit tatlong buwan pagkatapos ng bagyong Yolanda, hindi pa rin signipikanteng nakabangon ang mga nasalanta. Wasak pa rin ang mga istruktura. Wala pa ring kuryente at tubig. Hirap pa rin ang mga tao na makakain.  Walang kabuhayan, at marami pa rin ang umaasa sa pana-panahong relief goods lamang.  Ang bunkhouses na itinayo ng Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), pati hayop ay parang mahihirapang tumira.

Ang balangkas ng opisyal na tugon ng administrayon ay ang pinag-uugatan ng pagpalya nito na tumugon o maging makabuluhan. Hindi ito simpleng mahinang pamumuno, bagamat isa rin itong katangian na maglalarawan sa kasalukuyang liderato. Ano ang mga tinutukoy nating kontra-mamamayang balangkas na bukal ng kriminal na pagpapabaya na pananagutan ni Aquino? Ito ang sumusunod: a) mas prayoridad ang  political gains sa kanyang pamamahala; b)  pribatisasyon at hindi state responsibility ang motibasyon ng mga solusyon;  k)  bigong patakarang devolution dahil kaparehas lamang ng pambansa ang lokal na ehekutibo na nakatali sa landlord politics at mentalidad.

Piyudal pa ang mga pag-iisip nila kaya napakababa ng pagtingin sa mga mamamayan. Kita ang ganitong pananaw ng mga burukratang opisyal mula sa antas ng disaster preparation, relief hanggang rehabilitasyon. Wala na ngang tunay na konsultasyon ay di-maitangging pagkamuhi ang ipinamumukha sa masa:  Matigas daw ang ulo ng mga iskuwater sa shorelines, mga looter at magnanakaw daw sila, mga palaasa sa dole-out, madaling namamanipula ng iba’t pampulitikang puwersa, at iba pa.

Mga empleyado ng DSWD na miyembro ng SWEAP. <strong>Kontribusyon</strong>

Mga empleyado ng DSWD na miyembro ng SWEAP. Kontribusyon

Sa hanay naman nating mga kawani, ang rank-and-file at pati na rin ang middle managers ang nakadarama, nagiging tampulan ng sisi at nadidismaya sa mga nangyayaring kapalpakang ganito.  Ang mga kawani’y walang kapangyarihan sa pagtakda ng patakaran; sinusupil ang pagpuna at pag-ayon sa publiko; itinatali sa sistema ng patronage; maaaring tanggalin sa trabaho, harangin ang promosyon  o kaya ay ibuwis ang buhay kung maglalantad ng korupsiyon at anomalya. Ultimong ang sistema ng kontraktuwalisasyon, job order o contract of services na iskema ng empleyo na lumalabag sa mga karapatan at dignidad ng kawani ay sumusuhay din sa sistema ng burukrata kapitalismo. Walang accountability at laging may banta ng tanggalan sa hanay ng mga kontraktuwal, casual at mga manggagawang job order o MOA.

Ganun pa man, bilang mga tunay na lingkod ng bayan ay hindi tayo dapat pumayag na manatiling ganito ang sitwasyon. Ang empleyo natin bilang mga kawani ay hindi dapat maging marupok na tabing ng panlilinlang sa mga mamamayan.  Dapat na isulong at itaguyod natin ang isang gobyernong may pananagutan sa mga mamamayan. Manindigan tayo, magsalita, isiwalat at harapin ang mga nakikita nating kabulukan at kapalpakan upang maiigiit ang dapat ay para sa ating publiko.

Matagumpay na maisasagawa natin ito kung tayo’y magkakaisa at sama-samang kikilos bilang isang tunay na aktibistang unyon ng mga kawani ng pamahalaan.  Militante, progresibo at makabayang unyonismo ang mga prinsipyong papatnubay sa SWEAP bilang unyon ng mga kawani sa DSWD.

Lagi na tayong haharap sa mga natural na kalamidad na pinalala ng pagkawasak ng kalikasan dahil sa geographical at pulitikal na katayuan natin sa daigdig. Pinakamalaking bulnerabilidad natin ang kahirapan ng mga mamamayan na ang ugat ay ang bulok na sistema ng ating lipunang pinaghaharian ng mga panginoong maylupa, malalaking dayuhan at lokal na mamumuhunan at negosyante, at burukrata kapitalistang tulad ni Noynoy Aquino at ng kanyang mga alipores at galamay. Mga mamamayang mulat, aktibong nakikisangkot, at nakikibaka ang pananggalang at panglunas natin laban dito.

Tayo, bilang mga kawani ng DSWD, bilang mga kasapi ng SWEAP, at bilang ordinaryong mga mamamayan ay dapat na maging kabahagi ng mga mamamayang nakikibaka at dumadaluyong para sa tunay na kapangyarihang bayan.

Social Welfare Employees’ Association of the Philippines (SWEAP) – DSWD
Miyembro, Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage)

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Bukas na Liham sa Mamamayan Mon, 31 Mar 2014 03:13:10 +0000
Imahe mula sa People Surge FB

Imahe mula sa People Surge FB

Kami po ay mula sa People Surge, isang alyansa para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda. Mula po kami sa iba’t-ibang probinsya ng Eastern Visayas at nagpasyang lumuwas ng Maynila para mangalampag ng suporta sa gobyerno. Nitong Enero 25, mahigit 12,000 biktima ang nagrali sa lansangan ng Tacloban. Ngunit hindi pa rin kami pinakinggan.Kaya pumunta na kami sa Maynila dala ang aming mga hinaing at kahilingan. Nitong Pebrero 17, sa ika-100 araw ng Yolanda, pumunta kami sa Malacanang para isumite ang petisyon na pinirmahan ng 17,585 biktima, para sa mga sumusunod:

• Ibigay ang P40,000 cash relief para sa bawat pamilyang nasalanta. Nakalaan ito sa dalawang buwang gastusin para sa batayang pangangailangan ng isang pamilya upang mabuhay tulad ng pagkain, pamasahe at araw-araw na pangangailangan;

• Ibasura ang patakarang “No Build Zone” na nagpapalayas sa amin sa aming mga kabahayan at kabuhayan; at

• Ipagpatuloy ang relief laluna sa mga liblib na lugar hanggang sa panahong relatibong istable ang aming kalagayan.

Tatlong lider lang po namin ang pinapasok matapos ang matagal na paghihintay sa labas ng gate ng Malacanang. Subalit hindi rin kami hinarap ni Pres. Noynoy Aquino. Nabalitaan na lang namin ng sumunod na araw na tinanggihan na niya ang aming mga kahilingan. Tinawag pa niya kaming tamad at palaasa sa abuloy. Sa buong buhay namin, banat ang aming buto sa pagtatrabaho. Marami sa amin ay mga magsasaka na lumilikha ng yaman at pagkain ng bansa. Nabubuhay kaming may dignidad sa sarili at sa aming trabaho.

Sinubukan pa rin naming puntahan si Sec. Dinky Soliman ng Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Pero nais lang niya na pumirma kami sa isang kasulatan na kuntento na kami sa relief gn DSWD. Ititigil na rin daw ang relief sa mga pamilyang kaya nang tumayo sa sarili.

Paano po nila matitiyak na makatatayo kami sa sariling mga paa kung wala namang matinong programa ng trabaho at kabuhayan para sa amin? Panandalian ang remedyong tulad ng “cash for work program” at “conditional cash transfers.” Karamihan pa sa mga nasalanta ay hindi naman miyembro ng ganitong programa at sangkatutak ang rekisitos para maging miyembro.

Nais naming maka-alpas na sa relief. Hindi kami mga pulubi, kami ay nasalanta. Pero hanggang ngayon walang oportunidad na ibinibigay para magkaroon ng istable, permanente at disenteng trabaho at kabuhayan.

Maaasahan ba namin ang programang rehabilitasyon ng gobyernong Aquino na pinangungunahan ni Sec. Panfilo Lacson? Kayo po ang humusga. Ginawa po ito nang walang konsultasyon sa mamamayan. Mas malala pinaghati-hatian na ang aming lugar ng malalaking negosyanteng malapit kay Pres. Aquino tulad nila Manny Pangilinan, Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Aboitiz at iba pa. Sa imprastruktura inilalaan ang rehabilitasyon gayong 80% ng mamamayan sa Eastern Visayas ay nakaasa sa agrikultura.

Samantala, ang mga ayaw umalis sa kanilang lugar na idineklarang “No Build Zone” ay hindi kakabitan ng tubig at kuryente. Kaligtasan lang daw namin ang habol ng gobyerno kaya may “No Build Zone”. Pero bakit pwedeng magtayo ng negosyo ang malalaking kapitalista at dayuhan sa mga lugar na mismong kinamatayan ng aming mga mahal sa buhay? Bakit patuloy ang malakihang pagmimina at logging sa mga liblib na lugar na dinaanan ng Yolanda?

Habang nananawagan kami ng patuloy na relief ay patuloy ding itinatapon sa basurahan ang mga nabulok na relief goods. Unang buwan pa lamang matapos ang Yolanda ganito na ang kalakaran ng pamahalaan, pagtatapon hindi lamang sa garbage sites kundi sa karagatan ng Ormoc City. Gayundin, ang mga nabulok na bigas na hindi naibigay sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Pablo sa Mindanao ay ipinamahagi na rin sa mga nasalanta ng Yolanda. At habang nagtuturuan ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno kasabay naman nilang ikinakalat na walang matatanggap na relief ang sumasali sa mga kilos protesta.

Tinatanggihan po ng gobyernong Aquino ang cash relief na hiling namin. Pero nasaan ang bilyon-bilyong pisong donasyon mula sa mga bansa na pinadaan sa gobyernong Aquino? May pondo rin na pambili ng bilyong pisong Jet fighter plane at pantustos sa militar na naghahasik ng lagim sa mga nasalantang lugar. Kamakailan, aming napag-alaman na ipinagtatanong na ng mga sundalo ng AFP kung nasaan at sinu-sino ang mga lider at pumirma sa petisyon ng People Surge sa Malacanang.

Kalunus-lunos po ang pinsalang idinulot ng bagyong Yolanda, pero mas kagimbal-gimbal ang kainutilan at kapabayaan ng gobyernong Aquino. Libo-libong mamamayan ang nangamatay dulot ng kapabayaang ito. Nakaligtas man kami sa pinsalang dulot ng bagyong Yolanda, pero hindi kami ligtas sa kahirapan at kagutumang bunga ng kapabayaang ito. Nananawagan kami ng hustisya sa kriminal na kapabayaan ng gobyernong Aquino.

Nag-“sorry” si Pres. Aquino sa kabagalan ng kanyang pagresponde sa Yolanda. Pero hindi po nito mabubura ang pananagutan niya sa mamamayan, kasama na ang pagtalikod niya sa mga kahilingan ng mga nasalanta ng Yolanda.

Dumudulog na kami sa ating mamamayan. Nais po naming hingin ang inyong suporta na tulungan kaming kalampagin ang Malacanang at iba’t-ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan para tugunan ang aming mga kahilingan. Hindi po namin kakayanin ito nang kami lamang. Pero kung mas marami tayo, nagkakaisa at determinado, tulad ng pagtugon ninyo at pagtulong sa mga nasalanta ng Yolanda simula pa noong Nobyembre, makakayanan po natin ang mga unos sa ating buhay.

Maaari niyo pong gawin ang alinman sa sumusunod:1. Sumulat at/o ipaabot sa mga sumusunod na ahensya ng gobyerno na tugunan ang mga kahilingan ng mga nasalanta ng Yolanda:
a. Sec. Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
b. Sec. Panfilo Lacson, Office of the Presidential Assistance on Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR)
c. Sec. Carlos Jericho Petilla, Department of Energy (DOE)
d. Sec. Manuel Roxas, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
e. Pres. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino

2. Ipaalam ang inyong pakikiisa sa People Surge sa pamamagitan ng radio, TV, diaryo, text, at social media.

3. Sumali sa kampanyang “black ribbon para sa hustisya.” Tingnan at maging miyembro ng People Surge. Bisitahin ang . I-Like at i-Share ang .

4. Pumirma, at magpapirma, sa aming manipesto ng suporta para sa mga biktima ng kapabayaan ng gobyernong Aquino.

5. Sumali sa “Global Day of Protest sa Abril 8.” Mag-upload ng inyong larawan na nananawagan ng hustisya at/o naniningil sa gobyernong Aquino kung nasaan na ang tulong/donasyon sa mga nasalanta ng Yolanda. Ipalaganap ang panawagang ito sa inyong mga kamag-anak, kaibigan at kakilala sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo.

6. Lumahok at/o sumuporta sa kilos protesta sa Abril 8, 2014, ala-una ng hapon, sa Plaza Miranda patungong Mendiola. Ang Abril 8 ay ikalimang buwan ng Yolanda. Magsuot ng putting damit at black arm band.

Mamahalagahin po naming ang anumang suporta na maibabahagi ninyo.

Maraming salamat po!

Para sa pagkamit ng hustisya at karapatan,

Sr. Edita Eslopor, OSB
Chairperson, People Surge Alliance for Yolanda (Haiyan) Survivors

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NUJP on the Supreme Court ruling on Cybercrime Law Tue, 18 Feb 2014 16:03:12 +0000 STATEMENT iconA half-inch forward but a century backward.

This best describes the Supreme Court’s decision on the petitions to declare the Cybercrime Prevention Act unconstitutional.

For while the high court rightly declared a number of provisions of the statute unconstitutional, it otherwise upheld the law and, worse, online libel, thus adding yet another element — ironically the very frontier we all believed would be most immune to attempts to suppress free expression — to an offense that former colonizers had, a hundred years ago, declared criminal in nature to stifle dissent, and which succeeding governments have conveniently retained in our Revised Penal Code for the very same reason and as a convenient tool for the corrupt and the inept in power to harass and muzzle those with the temerity to bring their venalities to light.

By extending the reach of the antediluvian libel law into cyberspace, the Supreme Court has suddenly made a once infinite venue for expression into an arena of fear, a hunting ground for the petty and vindictive, the criminal and autocratic.

We can only hope that the Supreme Court will not remain blind to this when appeals to the ruling are filed.

But if it does, then there can only be one response lest we be forced to surrender all our other rights — resistance.

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)

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Letter to the Editor | On Aspartame and MSG: FDA again serving as instrument of corporate interests Tue, 03 Dec 2013 06:13:52 +0000 Aspartame, an artifical sweetener, is used in many food and beverage products. (Wikimedia Commons)

Aspartame, an artifical sweetener, is used in many food and beverage products. (Wikimedia Commons)

This is in response to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory declaring categorically that the artificial sweeteners Aspartame and Monosodium glutamate (MSG) are safe. The FDA’s apparent justification is that  the WHO/FAO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) had approved the inclusion of aspartame and MSG in the Codex General Standards for Food Additives (GSTAN) 1992-1995 and that these additives are being used globally.

The FDA is again showing its gross ignorance of real science and is despicably acting as an instrument of corporate interests, as it has repeatedly demonstrated in the past. Just as the FDA has become the mouthpiece of Monsanto and Syngenta in promoting genetically modified food, it now promotes Monsanto’s profit-maker aspartame as safe when in fact it is harmful.

Aspartame and MSG are well-established by independent scientific studies as brain toxicants. They are called “excitotoxins”, a term popularized by Dr. John Olney,  a well-respected neuroscientist who demonstrated the neurotoxicity of MSG, aspartame and other excitotoxic amino acids commonly used as food additives.  These excitotoxins have the ability to penetrate the brain and excite or destroy brain cells.  There is in fact an enormous amount of both clinical and experimental evidence that has accumulated over the past years showing various adverse effects of aspartame and MSG, including,  migraine, seizures, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, dementia, episodic violence, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and abnormal involuntary movements, among others. Recent studies studies on aspartame in animals suggested an increased risk of lymphomas, leukemias, and cancer of the pelvis, ureter, and bladder in a dose-dependent manner within ranges that are considered to be safe for human consumption. Additionally, significant brain damage (corroborating earlier findings) and malignant brain tumors were also observed.

The  WHO/FAO JECFA evaluation and approval of aspartame and MSG cannot be relied upon as a basis for the conclusion of safety. Apart from being outdated, the JECFA evaluation considered only the data submitted by the manufacturer. JECFA did not even examine the numerous independent studies available at the time of their evaluation showing contrary results to the industry submitted studies which expectedly found no adverse effects. For example, a review of studies on aspartame in the peer reviewed medical literature showed that 100% of the industry funded studies attested to aspartame’s safety, whereas 92% of the independently funded research identified a problem. Industry studies submitted and accepted by JECFA included many studies of unknown authorship and studies of questionable validity and relevance, with multiple instances of the same study being cited up to 6 times.

This recent advisory from the government’s FDA again illustrates how government instrumentalities that are supposed to protect people’s health and well-being are being used to advance corporate interest. Government policies guided by WHO and FAO have proven to be more effective at protecting vested interests than in protecting health and the environment. The reality is that corporate interests and political expediency are the dominant considerations influencing regulatory decisions where socio-political circumstances are conducive for powerful chemical companies to exert influence and manipulate public policy.  Decisions that tend to protect health and environment are allowed only in so far as these do not threaten significantly the dominant economic interests or only when strong public pressure is exerted on government.  Even intergovernmental bodies are not immune to corporate influence as technical committees are packed with corporate scientists or scientists under their influence.


Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine University of The Philippines Manila

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Letter to the Editor | Ericson Acosta on the arrest of activists, land reform advocates in Hacienda Luisita Tue, 17 Sep 2013 17:30:29 +0000 (Mula sa Hacienda Luisita Campaign Facebook account)

(Mula sa Hacienda Luisita Campaign Facebook account)

Activists, including a militant legislator, cultural workers and church people, were arrested yesterday in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac while conducting a fact-finding mission there. Among those still detained as of this writing is artist and former political prisoner Ericson Acosta. The group that helped campaign for his release in Samar, the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC), released Ericson’s series of text messages narrating the arrest and their ordeal:

We were charged with malicious mischief, illegal assembly, direct assault, and trespassing. I lost my slippers during the violent arrest and we were only read the Miranda rights at the police headquarters where we are currently detained.

With me arrested are Anakpawis Representative Fernando Hicap, Danilo Ramos of Anakpawis party-list, Florida Sibayan, acting chairperson of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA), Sister Patricia Fox of the Zion Sisters, Kerima Tariman, Rene Blazan, Karl Mae San Juan of Anakpawis, Ronald Matthew Gustillo, Luz Versola, Pong Sibayan of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA),

Walking back to Balete, where the picket line of the farm-workers is located, we were violently arrested upon the order Supt. Razalan. The arresting police force consisted of seven armed men in plain clothing and armed supervisors of Cojuanco-owned Tarlac Development Corporation.

Four women were injured during the arrest including AMBALA acting chair Florida Sibayan, who passed out and incurred a head contusion.

We were practically arrested by the Cojuanco-Aquino family to hide the anomalous and violent implementation of a flawed land distribution scheme.

If the police will not drop charges against us, we will remain here for the night as it is Makabulos Day.

In a desperate move to maintain its illegal and contested ownership of the more than 6000-hectare Hacienda Luisita, the Cojuanco-Aquino family mobilizes the repressive forces of the police and military to terrorize and inflict violence on land reform advocates and famers.

Hacienda Luisita has historically been the economic base upon which the Cojuanco-Aquino built and maintained its political power. With the Supreme Court decision ordering the distribution of this vast land to the farm-workers, the Conjuanco-Aquino family, through no less than President Benigno Aquino III, continues to wield its political power to enforce fascism against the farm-workers and advocates of genuine land reform advocates.

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Scrap The Pork Barrel, The Fount of Patronage Politics Wed, 14 Aug 2013 10:13:33 +0000

from the inbox icon“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”  (Proverbs 29:2)

The amount involved, the outrageous sense of betrayal felt by the general public and the total insensitivity of those involved to the greater majority of the people boggle the mind.  The scandal provokes sadness and anger.  Sadness at the plight of the people in the hands of its leaders.  Anger over the way people’s taxes have been misused.

This political decadence brought about by the pork barrel is not new.  It is a part of the patronage politics that has plagued the electoral and political system in this country.  No less than the Budget Secretary himself said in June 2012 that the “context of pork is ‘patronage politics’ and the logic that drives the selection of projects and the disbursement of many politicians’ pork funds, ‘pautakan lang ‘yan’ or ‘just play it smart’” (PCIJ, July 22, 2013).  The previous dispensation was an example of patronage politics.

Thus, there is every reason to be upset that the President who was elected via an anti-corruption drive and a platform of “daang matuwid” is not keen on removing this scourge.  Instead, it will remain and may even be increased.  Aside from the Php25 Billion for Congress, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) also reported that the office of the President is allotted about Php317.5B for special purpose funds and Php117.5B for unprogrammed funds in the proposed General Appropriation Act of 2013.  PCIJ said “disbursement record on these funds have hardly been published online or disclosed to the citizens, despite repeated requests.”

There is neither justification for the misuse of public funds by leaders while the majority of the people wallow in want and vulnerability to disasters, nor any moral ground in the failure of our leaders to be accountable.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines joins the groundswell to scrap the pork barrel system.  Let the funds be channelled to education, health, housing and other social services.  Let us be vigilant that the calls for investigation will not be muddled by the patronage system.  Let us remain focused on the issue of corruption in high places diverted as we are often by other issues.

To our leaders take heed when you become dealers of the posterity and patrimony of this country:  “When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases; but the righteous will look upon their downfall” (Proverbs 29:16).  Take heed that callous insensitivity and betrayal of the public trust has led many of our people from imploring arms to defiant clenched fists.  The downfall of the foolish is swift.

General Secretary, NCCP

Obispo Maximo XII, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Chairperson, NCCP

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End Impunity Now! Sat, 20 Jul 2013 07:49:45 +0000 Statement of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication on the third year of the Aquino presidency
July 22, 2013

When Benigno S. Aquino III took his oath of office on June 30, 2010 as the 15th President of the Philippines, hopes were high that he could bring about much-needed change. The high expectations, however, remain just that – campaign promises that remain unfulfilled even if he is already in his third year in office. In the context of media, among his many promises is to stop the killing of journalists and to promote and uphold press freedom.

As early as July 25, 2011, the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) has issued an official statement on the Aquino regime’s treatment of the media : “(A) scant month and a half in office, in August 2010, in apparent ignorance of the self-regulatory regime in the media, Mr. Aquino threatened to file criminal charges against some of the journalists who were in violation of the ethics of their profession during the coverage of the August 23 hostage taking incident… In the ensuing months Mr. Aquino kept up his criticism of the press, accusing them at one point of irresponsible behavior, while, in a call reminiscent of Joseph Estrada,  he urged the business community to advertise only in `responsible’ media organizations.”

This observation is consistent with an earlier statement of the College on November 23, 2010, the first anniversary of the massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao of 58 people, including 32 journalists and media workers: “The Aquino administration has denied the demands of local and international human rights and media organizations to disband the civilian volunteer organizations and other paramilitary groups that constitute the core of the warlord armies. And yet their disbandment is in most cases basic to stopping the killings…(I)t is an indispensable part of the imperative of trying and punishing the killers of journalists and political activists, and to dismantling the culture of impunity.”

The Aquino administration’s failure to create an environment conducive to ending impunity has resulted in the unabated killing of journalists. Latest data from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) show that 12 journalists have been killed in the line of duty during the first three years of the Aquino presidency. It is interesting to note that during the first three years in office of her predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the work-related killing of journalists was pegged at 11.

While the killings are already a cause for alarm, what proves to be equally disconcerting is the fact that Aquino shares Macapagal-Arroyo’s attitude toward media.  In the past, his predecessor was quoted as saying that the good news is needed “to give more investors confidence in the country.” Aquino’s criticism of the Philippine press at present is not substantially different: “Sa karanasan ko po, tila ba nakasanayan na ng media na magpaulan ng batikos sa mga lumalabas na balita. Allergic po yata ang iba sa good news. Kundi man iiwasan ang mga ito ay hahanapan naman nila ng masamang anggulo.” (In my experience, it appears that the media have gotten used to issuing a lot of criticisms on the news that comes out. It seems that some of them are allergic to good news. If they don’t avoid it, they look for the negative angle of a story.)

While Aquino and other government officials have every right to criticize media, they should do so based on the prescribed professional and ethical standards of the profession. And using those standards, they should be reminded that issues are reported not based on the “good” and the “bad” but mainly on how they affect people’s lives. In the interest of truth, journalists will always strive to air different sides of the story, including those who may not share the views of the government.

If the Aquino administration intends to fulfil the campaign promise to end impunity and to promote and uphold press freedom, we repeat our call in July 2011: “He can start by dismantling the private armies that in over a hundred places in the Philippines were behind or were involved in the killing of journalists. He can also seriously examine the wisdom of the `new’ counter-insurgency policy that his administration is implementing.  Of equal urgency is his making civilian control of the military a reality, as a necessary first step in stopping both human rights violations as well as the killing of journalists, in both of which military men have been involved as perpetrators, torturers, gunmen and co-conspirators.”

Indeed, there is a need to constantly repeat what has been said in the past as the present proves to be no different. The message is clear and the call must be heeded: End Impunity Now!

(This is the statement of the UP CMC in time for the President’s 4th State of the Nation Address on July 22, signed by 22 faculty members (full-time and part-time) led by Dean Roland Tolentino; 9 administrative staff and research personnel; 173 undergraduate students; and 9 graduate students)

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On the turnover of the ‘source code’ to Comelec Thu, 09 May 2013 16:22:51 +0000 How sure are we now that the claimed “source code” is the same one loaded in 70,000 plus PCOS machines that have been deployed all over the Philippines with several already tested for FTS? It will need opening up all PCOS units and running the hash code – a humongous task that only a “superman” will be able to do before election.

Brillantes is just making the legal motions of complying with Sec. 14 of RA 9369 – compelled as he was after AES Watch individual members and other eminent voters filed a Petition against Comelec through the GPH with the UN Human Rights Committee on May 3; and on the same day, reelectionist Sen. Gordon filed a mandamus against Comelec before the SC on the source code issue.

We have demanded from Mr. Brillantes to reveal the terms and conditions that defined the negotiation with Dominion (brokered by the Comelec chairman himself), like, how much in taxpayers’ money was paid yet again? More importantly, is this move in effect paving the way for the Dominion to be the dominant player in the 2016 automated elections (Smartmatic phasing out because of its bungling)? Smartmatic’s Cesar Flores had revealed in a recent JCOC hearing that Dominion wanted to take over the Philippine market in election automation.

 Prof. Bobby Tuazon
UP Manila professor
AES Watch co-convenor

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