As a multimedia group, Kodao publishes news stories, opinion essays, cartoons, photos and others here.

NDFP’s Vic Ladlad arrested


National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) senior peace consultant Vicente Ladlad has been arrested by the police, his wife Fides Lim announced on her Facebook account.

“My husband VIC LADLAD was arrested today, November 8, around 12 midnight based on a text I got. Status: MISSING,” Lim said.

Lim added Ladlad was arrested together with a couple in Doña Tomasa, Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches in Quezon City quoting the unnamed couple’s daughter.

“Arresting unit can only be the CIDG (the Criminal Investigation and  Detection Group of the Philippine National Police) which tailed me last week. PLEASE HELP ME LOOK FOR VIC,” Lim said.

Lim earlier publicly accused government intelligence agents of casing their house and tailing her around Makati City in their bid to look for Ladlad.

She added that her husband is a chronic asthmatic which has degenerated into emphysema and needs his medicines badly.

Lim warned the police not to “plant” firearms or explosives on her husband.

The police is known to charge NDFP consultants with possession of guns and explosives to prevent them from posting bail.

In a later post, however, media outfit Pinoy Weekly said Ladlad is being held at the PNP’s Camp Karingal in Quezon City.

Kodao sources said that Ladlad may be brought later today to Camp Crame.

Ladlad’s lawyers said he and other NDFP consultants have been taking “precautionary security measures” since President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled peace negotiations between his government and the NDFP last November.

Ladlad was later accused of being one of the top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines in a government petition to have the group proscribed as “terrorist”.

Ladlad is supposed to be immune from arrest as a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees-protected peace negotiator.

Earlier, senior peace consultants Rafael Baylosis and Adelberto Silva were also arrested by the police and military in January and October, respectively. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Human rights lawyer killed, groups condemn killings and harassments

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) condemned the killing of one of its officers in Kabankalan City Tuesday night, November 6.

Atty. Benjamin Ramos, secretary general of NUPL-Negros Occidental Chapter died from four gunshot wounds fired by two motorcycle riding men.

“We are shocked, devastated and enraged at the premeditated cold-blooded murder of our colleague and fellow people’s lawyer, Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos, our Secretary General for the NUPL Negros Occidental Chapter,” the NUPL said in a statement.

Ramos was taking a break by a store in Barangay 5, near the public plaza of Kabankalan City, 103 kilometers south of the provincial capital Bacolod City, when shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen around 10:20 pm, Clarizza Singson of human rights group Karapatan said, quoting the victim’s wife, Clarissa.

Singson said Ramos was rushed to a hospital but was already dead from four gunshot wounds, three in the front and one in the back.

“Ben is the 34th lawyer killed under the two-year administration of President [Rodrigo] Duterte. Excluding judges and prosecutors, he is the 24th member of the profession killed and the eigth in the Visayas,” NUPL said.

Ramos was also the lawyer for six young activists accused and arrested of being New People’s Army fighters last year in Mabinay town in neighboring Negros Oriental.

The father of three was also a peasant advocate and had founded the farmers’ organization Paghiliusa Development Group.

“These beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on. Not a few of our members have been attacked and killed before while literally practicing their profession and advocacies in the courts, in rallies, in picket lines, in urban poor communities, and in fact-finding missions,” the NUPL said.

NUPL said Ramos was earlier “maliciously and irresponsibly tagged” in a public poster by the Philippine National Police as among the so-called personalities of the underground armed movement.

Ramos’ co-counsel for the Sagay massacre victims and survivors, Atty Katherin Panguban, was charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention reportedly filed by Vic Pedaso, biological father of “Lester”, a 14-year old witness-survivor of the Sagay massacre.

Human rights group Karapatan strongly condemned against Panguban, NUPL Women and Children’s Committee Head.

“These charges, which we can only presume to have been wildly concocted by the Negros police and other forces who want to divert the accountability of paramilitary forces and private armies of landlords, have no legal and factual basis, and are ill-intentioned and manufactured. It is lamentable that they have been using Mr. Pedaso to peddle and insist on lies regarding the roles of Atty. Panguban, NUPL and Karapatan in the case,” Karapatan said in a separate statement.

Karapatan said their group and the NUPL merely assisted Lester’s mother in obtaining custody of her child from the Sagay City Social Welfare and Development Office last October 25.

“The turn-over of custody was duly documented and Pedaso was present in the said turn-over, Karapatan said, adding Panguban represented Lester’s mother.

“There is absolutely no truth to allegations of Pedaso and the police that mother and son are being held against their will by Atty. Panguban, NUPL and Karapatan,” the group said.

Karapatan explained that the charges against Atty. Panguban are among the forms of intimidation by state forces against people’s lawyers.

“This incident once again exposes the vile intent of the police to go to great lengths to exploit relatives of victims and survivors and to use them for their slanted narratives,” Karapatan said, adding the charges against Atty. Panguban should be withdrawn or dropped immediately. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Acting as drug war witnesses endangers journalists—NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) launched an online petition asking that journalists be spared from acting as witnesses in the government’s so-called anti-drug war.

In its petition on change.org, the NUJP called on law enforcement units to immediately end the practice of requiring journalists to sign as witnesses to the inventory of contraband and other items seized during anti-drug operations.

“Our opposition to this practice stems from the fact that it unnecessarily places journalists at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates, on the one hand, and also exposes them to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities in the conduct of anti-drug operations,” the NUJP said.

Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, requires witnesses to these anti-drug operations from a representative of the Department of Justice, the media, and an elected public official.

The law was subsequently amended by Republic Act No. 10640, enacted in 2014, which made witnessing optional between a representative of the National Prosecution Service and the media.

NUJP however reported that law enforcement units continue requiring media workers to sign on as witnesses, often as a condition for being allowed to cover operations.

“Worse, there are reports that they are made to sign even if they did not actually witness the operation or the inventory of seized items. Those who decline can find their sources or the normal channels of information no longer accessible,” NUJP said.

The group urged Congress to further amend the law to completely free journalists from the practice.

NUJP said it is willing to dialogue with the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Congress to discuss guidelines, ground rules and other procedural issues concerning coverage of their operations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

33 percent rise in rice allowance for QC teachers

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed elation over the approval of a bigger quarterly rice allowance for Quezon City public school teachers and employees.

“This is a victory for the long campaign of the Quezon City Public School Teachers Association (QCPSTA) and the ACT Teachers Union-National Capital Region,” ACT national president Joselyn Martinez told Kodao.

The local government of Quezon City announced Monday that Mayor Herbert Bautista approved City Ordinance 2754-2018 increasing the rice allowance of the city’s public school personnel from P1,500.00 to P2,000.00 “in recognition of their valuable services to society.”

The new ordinance amended City Ordinance 2312-2014 that granted a P1,500 quarterly rice allowance to teaching and non-teaching personnel of the Division of City Schools of Quezon City.

The increased benefit will be implemented in the first quarter of 2019, the QC government said.

Martinez cited QC Councilors Ally Medalla and Raquel Malangen as authors of the ordinance.

“This is the result of QCPSTA’s alliance work with the city councilors. [It] talked to all members of the City Council as well as Mayor Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte,” Martinez said.

Martinez called on the city government to revert to Landbank in dispensing teachers’ local allowances citing delays caused by local government unit’s transfer to BPI Globe Banko. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP-Negros identifies Sagay massacre gunmen

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Negros Island identified four suspects in the massacre of nine farmers in Sagay City last October 20.

In a statement, NDFP-Negros spokesperson Frank Fernandez said the killers behind the massacre were Vito Lotrago, Eduardo Linugon, Rexi Robles and a certain Rako, former members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA) and active members of the Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA).

Fernandez said the Roselyn Pelle Command of the New People’s Army (NPA)-Northern Negros Front conducted an exhaustive investigation into the incident and identified the four as the perpetrators.

The NDFP official said the gunmen are under the employ of local politicians, such as the Marañons, specifically Negros Occidental governor Alfredo Jr. and Sagay City mayor Alfredo III.

“It is common knowledge that for decades the Marañon family and their kin (the Tolentinos, Sumbincos, Lumaynos, Zarosas, Javelosas, Jaojocos and Cuevas) have maintained and expanded their land holdings in Sagay City and neighboring towns and cities using violence and brutality by conniving with the AFP/PNP (Armed Forces of the Philippines/Philippine National Police) and employing armed mercenaries like the RPA and SCAA,” Fernandez said.

“I know for a fact that, for the right price, P2,000 or thereabouts, SCAA elements are willing to kill anyone,” he added.

Fernandez, a former priest, is a long-time leader of the revolutionary groups in the island.

Fernandez said the elder Marañon is the “kingpin of big despotic landlords in the province” who colludes with the AFP [and] PNP and other government agencies to downplay the Sagay massacre.

“Marañon continues his vain attempts to divert the public from the real issues of land monopoly, tyranny and exploitation,” he said.

The Marañons and the PNP have yet to reply to Fernandez’s statement.

Earlier, the local police filed multiple murder charges against two National Federation of Sugar Workers officials, alleging Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo recruited the victims into their organization and later killed them as part of the destabilization plot to oust President Rodrigo Duterte.

Fernandez said the police “script” stinks of deceit and ill motives that is “evidently demented.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

IAWRT, charging towards the future

Travelling almost 10,000 kilometers to the other side of the globe, four members of the Philippine chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) attended the organization’s Regional Conference in Entebbe, Uganda from October 2-5, 2018

Themed “IAWRT Looking into the Future,” the global event gathered 50 participants from five continents representing 11 of the 14 IAWRT chapters worldwide.

IAWRT International President Violet Gonda in her opening speech underscored the importance of the conference as a milestone in IAWRT’s events calendar.

“It is here that we will share with the members the work done in the last 10 months of the new leadership. More importantly, it is here that members will get involved in mapping out the road ahead for the association,” Gonda said.

IAWRT is moving quickly into the future, its officers said. At the conference, two new chapters were formally acknowledged, Afghanistan and Iraq-Kurdistan, represented by their respective chapter heads, Najiba Ayubi and Awaz Salim Abdulla.

The conference also created a new Committee for Chapter Development with the objective of strengthening chapter capacities and capabilities.

This brings the number of committees created by the current leadership to 12 in the span of just 10 months, which Gonda noted is the biggest in IAWRT history.

Some of the other committees created are the following: 1) Committee in Relation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women; 2) Scholarship Committee; 3) Gender Mainstreaming Committee; 4) Asian Film Festival Committee; 5) Rural Women and Media Committee; 6) Community Radio Committee; and 7) The Gender Based Online Harassments Committee.

Meanwhile, IAWRT’s 2018 full-length video documentary “Displacement and Resilience: Women Live For A New Day” was launched at the conference that features the stories of five women refugees from Syria, Tibet, Myanmar and the Philippines. Segments of the video were directed by five individual members from the said countries.

“Displacement and Resilience” presented the following:

  1. The stories of Mariam and Haifa, two Syrian women who fled Allepo and are now seeking refuge in two different countries, as told by Eva Anandi Brownstein and Khedija Lemkecher, respectively;
  2. The story of Namgyal from the Tibet Movement for Self Determination, as told by Afrah Shafiq of India;
  3. The story of Lumad indigenous peoples leader Bai Bibiaon, as told by Erika Rae Cruz of the Philippines; and
  4. The stories about the Rohingya Refugee Crises of Myanmar, as told by IAWRT Board member Archana Kapoor together with Chandita Mukherjee.

Mukherjee also served as the executive producer of the entire project who was responsible for combining these five stories into one documentary.

The International Board and the Philippine chapter launched Amplifying the People’s Voices: The Philippine Community Radio Experience and Challenges, a handbook on community radio prepared by IAWRT-Philippines recounting three decades of community radio experience in the country at the conference.

A workshop on community radio was conducted during the conference that showed participants how a community radio narrowcast program is organized and held. It was facilitated by IAWRT-USA’s  Sheila Katzman with the Philippine Chapter delegates.

In addition, the conference approved two new organizational documents: the Code of Conduct and Election Guidelines.

Lastly, the membership also affirmed the International Board’s decision to set-up an International Secretariat office in the Philippines.

IAWRT-Philippines head Jola Diones Mangun welcomed the decision, saying “the Philippine chapter is elated and honored with the decision.”

“We will do our best for IAWRT as it charges towards the future,” Mamangun added.

The Conference ended with the members extending the term and mandate of the International Board until 2020.  # (Report by Walkie Miraña / Slideshow by Lady Ann Salem)

 

IAWRT, CHARGING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

Bayan Muna proposes free funeral services for ‘extremely poor’ families

Bayan Muna called for the fast-tracking of a bill aimed at giving substantial discounts for funeral services for the poor.

As high inflation rates affect even the dead, House Bill 3028 should be immediately passed to give indigent families a 50 percent discount in funeral services, Bayan Muna explained.

Authored by Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, the proposed measure aims to alleviate the rising costs of services due to the Rodrigo Duterte government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the group added.

Hindi lang mga buhay ang nasasagasaan ng TRAIN, pero pati mga patay na rin. Sa minimum ay tumaas ng P1,000 ang funeral services sa ngayon, hindi pa kasama dito ang kabaong, lupa sa sementeryo at mismong pagpapalibing,” Zarate said.

“Our bill also mandates that dead persons belonging to ‘extremely poor’ families should be given free funeral services,” he added.

The government announced that inflation rates in the third quarter of the year has risen to more than six percent, driving prices of goods and services higher.

Bayan Muna said the House of Representatives shall tackle the proposed measure when it resumes its session this month.

“We hope that the House leaders would also fast track the bill’s passage so that poor families would not have to shell out more just to bury their loved ones. They are already grieving from their lost, it is doubly tragic that they should also be burdened to bury their dead,” Zarate said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Reasons are abundant for peace talks if only Duterte listens’–Sison

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said reasons are abundant for the peace negotiations if only Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte listens to reason.

In his quick reply to Duterte’s challenge to be given reasons to resume peace negotations, Sison said his former student can no longer be swayed by any reason based on the latter’s repeated termination of the talks and despite NDFP’s standing policy to be ready and willing to negotiate.

“You are already crazed by your drive for absolute power and absolute corruption. Every day you rage with your favorite call to your armed minions: Kill, Kill, Kill. You offer no solution to the crying problems of the people but further exploitation and oppression,” Sison said Monday.

Last Sunday, Duterte challenged, “Communists, Jose Ma. Sison, give me a good reason to go back to the bargaining table. If there is none, or if it’s just a repeat of what we have discussed earlier, then that will not suffice.”

Duterte demanded that the Communists should give him “more” to convince him to resume the peace talks as he is “greedy” for proof of their sincerity.

“I need more, I need more. I might be greedy. But I am greedy because I’m [a] worker of the Republic of the Philippines,” Duterte said.

Last June, however, it was not NDFP’s sincerity that Duterte cited as his reason for his last cancellation of formal peace talks.

As announced by Presidential peace adviser on the peace process, Duterte wanted three months to study the documents mutually crafted by both GRP and NDFP negotiators and to “engage the bigger peace table, the Filipino people.”

Set for signing by the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels was an Interim Peace Agreement package that included agreements on agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization and economic development, a coordinated unilateral ceasefire, and an amnesty proclamation for all NDFP-listed political prisoners.

In his subsequent speeches regarding the peace talks, Duterte also demanded that the peace talks should be held in the Philippines if he would agree to its resumption.

Duterte eventually revived previous government’s localized peace talks scheme instead, which was unanimously rejected by Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army (NPA) and NDFP formations throughout the country.

Sison said Duterte’s localized peace talks scheme are nothing fake surrender exercises.

“Your paramilitary agents are the ones posing as the surrenderers,” Sison told Duterte.

“Every local command of the NPA has condemned you offers of bribes for surrender. They have expressed their determination to fight and finish your tyranny, corruption and mendacity,” Sison added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Journalists express outrage at PIA’s promotion of Bong Go

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed outrage over efforts by the Philippine Information Agency’s Negros Occidental (PIA-NO) office to act as public relations arm of senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

In a statement, the NUJP accused PIA-NO provincial information center Lorenzo Lambatin Jr. of insulting local journalists by sending them “suggested questions” to Go who was expected in Bacolod on Saturday, October 27, with President Rodrigo duterte for the city’s annual Masskara Festival.

“Since when have the duties of the PIA included being a public relations arm for political candidates and, as the second question clearly acknowledges, a private citizen ‘no longer with the government?’” the NUJP asked.

Lambatin reportedly sent the following “suggested questions” to the journalists Saturday afternoon:

  1. Sir message ninyo sa mga taga-Bacolod and sa Masskara event?”
  2. What makes you busy now that you are no longer with the government?
  3. Sir,baket ka tumakbo bilang senador?
  4. Sir,tell us about Malasakit Centers?
  5. Sir what would be your legislative agenda, sakaling palarin kang manalo bilang senador?

Go filed his certificate of candidacy for next year’s national elections earlier this month and has resigned as “special assistant to the President,” a unique Cabinet position created for the long-time assistant to Duterte.

NUJP reminded Lambatin that PIA’s mandate is “to disseminate information about government programs, projects, and services to the Filipino public, with the final goal of seeing the quality of their lives improved and empowered to participate in the country’s democratic processes.”

For using the PIA to benefit a private citizen, the NUJP called on PIA Director-General Harold Clavite to immediately conduct an investigation into this matter and make the findings public.

The journalists group added Lambatin owes the Negros media an apology for the affront and should explain who ordered the use of his office to promote Go’s candidacy.

Lambatin has yet to respond to NUJP’s statement issued Sunday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Fact-finding mission says paramilitary killed Sagay farmers

A national fact-finding mission on the massacre of nine farmers in Negros Occidental said suspected government agents are behind the bloodbath last October 20 even as the Philippine National Police insists so-called recruiters of the victims are the suspected perpetrators.

The mission said the likely killers are active members of the Special Civilian Auxiliary Army (SCAA) who are “commonly known” to be engaged in protecting haciendas and are under the control of the local government of Sagay City.

Based on the way the victims were brutalized after being killed and their history of killings and harassments, it is likely SCAA gunmen, numbering 10 to 15, killed the farmers, the mission said.

The group also cited earlier red-baiting statements issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leading to the massacre.

The mission was composed of Salinlahi, Children’s Rehabilitation Center, KARAPATAN National Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Gabriela Women’s Party Congresswoman Arlene Brosas and Atty. Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

Hours before the massacre, the victims started a land cultivation activity to plant vegetables to tide them over in between sugarcane cropping activities.

Police story

The Philippine National Police, however, insisted on its story that the victims were killed as part of a plot to destabilize and oust the Rodrigo Duterte government.

PNP Region VI director John Bulalacao said they filed multiple murder charges Friday against Rene Manlangit and Rogelio Arquillo, both members of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), as well as other John Does.

Bulalacao said Saturday that Manlangit and Arquillo deceived the victims by enticing them to join the land cultivation activity in exchange for a parcel of land once Hacienda Nene is distributed to farmers through land reform.

“[They were] persuading innocent people by promising them land not knowing that they become part of a greater force that would generate outrage to the government,” Bulalacao claimed.

Bulalacao claimed the police have eight witnesses, including the 14-year old massacre survivor Sagay police earlier tried to arrest.

The police general said their “complainant-witnesses” voluntarily submitted their respective affidavits, including the statement of the minor as witnessed by the Sagay development and social welfare office.

Upon learning that the boy was about to be arrested by local police, however, his mother Flordeliza Cabahug and mission members claimed custody of the boy.

Red-baiting and killings before the massacre

The fact-finding mission cited that in April, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has accused the NFSW as a legal front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) and that their land cultivation activities are projects to fund NPA operations.

Last December 21, suspected SCAA members killed and burned the body of NFSW-Sagay chairperson Flora Gemola in Sagay’s Hacienda Susan.

In February 22, NFSW member Ronald Manlanat was shot in the head in Hacienda Joefred, also in Sagay.

The gunmen also shot some Hacienda Nene massacre victims on the head and burned three of them after being killed.

The mission said Hacienda Nene’s leaseholder Allan Simbingco rents 400 hectares of land of different haciendas in Sagay City alone.

“Most of the haciendas that he’s directly involved in are the ones with land disputes, even those already under so-called preliminary activities of Department of Agrarian Reform [prior to being awarded to farmer-beneficiaries],” the mission said.

Simbingco is a close relative of Sagay City mayor Alfredo Marañon III and Negros Occidental governor Alfredo Jr.

The Marañons are known to be actively recruiting former Revolutionary Proletarian Army gunmen to be part of the SCAA, the mission cited.

“In fact, the local housing project in Barangay Bulanon is allotted for SCAA members,” the mission said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)