Pinoy Weekly » Liham Philippine news, analysis, and investigative stories Tue, 11 Nov 2014 12:23:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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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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