Continuous war against the poor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

August 14, 2018

As the Congress approves House Bill 7735 or the Rice Tariffication Bill on third and final hearing, the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc. (PNFSP) expresses its strong indignation as it will definitely not address the root cause of continuous food insecurity, rice shortage and worsening poverty in the country. The bill is systematically, mechanically and logically favorable to domestic and international rice cartel operators. It will further exploit the already exploited Filipino farmers and fishermen by forcing them to produce big bulk of rice, meat and fish just to meet global dictum and for importation which are all within the mechanism of HB 7735.

The House Bill 7735 has an intention to put safety nets for Filipino rice producers by imposing tariffs in lieu of quantitative restrictions on rice imports including fish and meat. It was pursued in line with President Duterte’s order to the Congress last July 23 to immediately pass the measure which targets to arrest inflation for at least 1% thus, minimally affecting the reduction of commodity prices. Though the bill mandates the National Food Authority as the sole authority to undertake the direct importation of rice for the purpose of ensuring food security and maintaining sufficient national buffer stocks, there’s no big assurance for common Filipinos to have food security due to neo-liberal agreements signed by the past administration.

The Rice Tariffication Bill will remove tough government control in all agricultural commodities and will oblige our domestic market to join and spend unnecessary resources to global rice market and competition. It will be a burden to all Filipinos especially the 60 million poorest of the poor families because of the high possibility of price increase on all basic commodities like rice, fish, meat, canned goods, vegetables, bread, etc. due to bloating rice import and unstable status of the global market which was further intensified and legalized by the TRAIN Law. In a country where landlessness, joblessness and homelessness are proliferating, the bill will not be of help to the majority of Filipinos. It will lead to farmer’s bankruptcy, drowning in debt and displacement from their lands. It will put farmers at a disadvantage situation especially that the government have minimal support to our rice producers.

In order to address poverty, food shortage and inflation, it is very timely to pass the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill for it has the capacity to uplift the lives of the poor majority Filipinos. Rural aid like free water irrigation, free calamity subsidy, post-harvest facility, agrarian mechanization and boosting of local market. Land conversion must stop because it contributes to the unceasing decrease of tillable land which affects the annual productivity rate of agriculture including aquaculture that shakes our food security.

Lastly, we want to reiterate that the right to safe, healthy and sustainable food system is a basic and universal human right which the Philippine government must abide with. There is no need to pass the Rice Tariffication Bill including the TRABAHO Bill for it is not favorable to all common Filipinos both in public and private sector. We must act and pray that the Senate will hear and consider our intention.

 

RENMIN VIZCONDE

Executive Director, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc.

Journalism is NOT a crime

July 31, 2018

It is a dark time for democracy and freedom when journalists are treated as criminals – arrested, beaten up, threatened, charged and prevented from doing their work – as happened to our colleagues who covered the violent dispersal of striking workers of NutriAsia and their supporters in Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon, July 30.

Footage obtained by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines tends to show that this brazen assault on working journalists – therefore an attack on press freedom itself – was deliberate and not merely triggered by the heat of the moment.

Our colleagues – four from the alternative media (Hiyas Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang and Psalty Caluza) and one from UP campus publication Scientia (Jon Angelo Bonifacio)– were harrassed and arrested. Video footage shows a policeman grabbing Saturay, who was on assignment for the AlterMidya Network, and dragging her away even after she had informed him of who she was.

Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin-Guimba, who is also the secretary-general of our Nueva Ecija chapter, was hit by truncheon. NutriAsia guards also dragged Bonifacio, causing him to stumble and sustain injuries and threatened to beat up Kodao Productions cameraman Joseph Cuevas with police personnel not even attempting to prevent a clear threat to life and limb.

As if these weren’t bad enough, when Jola Diones-Mamangun of Kodao Productions went to the Meycauayan police station where those arrested, including our colleagues, were detained, she was denied access to them as officers uttered the obviously false and ludicrous claim that drugs and guns had been recovered from the people they had picked up.

Superintendent Santos Mera, the Meycauayan police chief, was also quoted as saying media needed permits to cover events at his station, a requirement we are sure he very well knows is unconstitutional. Even after their identities have been established, our arrested colleagues were among those subjected to inquest proceedings by the Bulacan police today.

We reiterate our demand for the authorities to withdraw the charges and release our colleagues and end this outrageous farce against them. Unless the authorities now consider journalism a crime and its practitioners as dangerous felons.

We urge the community of independent Filipino journalists to rally around our beleaguered colleagues and send a clear signal that we will not allow any assault on freedom of the press and of expression to pass unchallenged and will hold anyone responsible accountable.

 

On its 32nd anniversary: NUJP members attacked by Nutriasia guards July 30, 2018

(UPDATED) On its 32nd anniversary: NUJP members attacked by Nutriasia guards, arrested
July 30, 2018

As the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines marked the 32nd anniversary of our founding, a number of our members, including the deputy secretary general of our Nueva Ecija chapter, were attacked, threatened and arrested as they covered the violent dispersal of striking workers at the NutriAsia factory in Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon.

We denounce the security personnel of NutriAsia for deliberately targeting journalists and the Bulacan police not only for failing to prevent or stop this outrage from happening but, even worse, arresting five colleagues, making false claims about them, and then preventing other journalists from inquiring after them and covering their detention.

Nueva Ecija chapter deputy secretary general Rosemarie Alcaraz was covering the ecumenical service and the violence that followed it for Radyo Natin-Guimba. As she took video of the dispersal, a guard advised her to go behind them. However, when she complied, she was struck on her right thigh with a truncheon, driving her to seek shelter in a makeshift hut erected by the striking workers.

Joseph Cuevas, reporter of Kodao Productions, on the other hand, was confronted by guards who threatened to destroy his camera unless he stopped filming.

Both reporters were wearing identification cards that clearly marked them as journalists.

Meanwhile, colleagues on the ground have confirmed that among the 19 persons arrested during the dispersal and its aftermath were Hiyas Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang and Psalty Caluza, who were on coverage for AlterMidya, and Jon Angelo Bonifacio of the UP Diliman publication Scientia.

Kodao and AlterMiday are NUJP affiliates.

When Jola Diones-Mamangun of Kodao Productions went to the Meycauayan police station, she was denied access to documents. And when she asked about her arrested AlterMidya colleagues, was told that drugs and guns had been recovered from them, an obviously false and ridiculous claim.

Other colleagues also quoted Meycauyan chief of police Superintendent Santos Mera of claiming they needed permits before they could cover events at the police station.

The assault, threats and arrests of our colleagues is a clear attack on press freedom and highlights the increasing dangers journalists face in these increasingly troubled times.

We demand that the Meycauayan police immediately release Saturay, Tandoc, Ang, Caluza and Bonifacio. We demand just as strongly that they forget the ludicrous notion of filing trumped up criminal charges against our colleagues. It will surely backfire – and very badly – on you.

We likewise call on Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to initiate an immediate investigation into this clear abuse of authority by his subordinates, particularly Mera, and impose the necessary sanctions.

It would bode ill for our already imperiled democracy if the very people sworn to serve and protect the citizenry are themselves responsible for violating our basic rights and liberties and flouting the law.

We will extend all possible assistance to our beleaguered colleagues in making sure those responsible for this assault are held accountable.

LODI denounces killing of Albay journo: Under Duterte, one journalist is slain every two months

The media and arts alliance LODI (Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity) condemns the murder of Albay broadcaster Joey Llana in Daraga town today.

Reports reaching LODI say that unidentified persons waylaid the 38-year old broadcaster’s vehicle on P6 road, Brgy. Penafrancia around 4:00. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead by emergency rescue staff around 6:00 am.

LODI demands a swift and transparent investigation into this latest murder of a journalist, the 12th under President Duterte.

Since assuming power, Duterte has practically presided over the killing of a journalist once every two months.

In between killings, Duterte orders harassment cases, closures, delays in franchise renewals, verbal attacks, and denial of access to journalists in Malacañang and Mindanao.

LODI also deplores the Philippine Army, for blocking Mindanao journalists from covering the evacuation of more than 1,000 Lumad in Brgy Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The military claims its blockades are for the evacuees security. Journalists are not security threats. Their presence and their documentation of conflict-related incidents actually promote protection for civilians trapped or dislocated by war.

The pending anti-terrorism measure pushed by Duterte allies in Congress also directly attacks press freedom and free expression by considering coverage of dissenters and rebels as crimes.

Journalists serve the community best if they are free to present the many voices in society, including those involved in civil or armed conflict. To equate coverage with “glorification” is to nothing but censorship at the level of tyranny.

The bill also allows the freezing of funds without giving “suspects” a chance to challenge charges. This provision represents a possible weapon to paralize critical media.

We call on the Filipino people to campaign for a halt to killings of media workers — and all citizens. We also invite our fellow citizens to fight efforts to legislate dictatorship.

This fight should also target Duterte’s planned charter change that would leave professional and citizen journalists to the mercy of a small cabal with powers to legislate and execute policies and, likewise, act as judges.

We will bring the calls for justice for Llana and other slain journalists at the United People’s SONA on Monday. Duterte must be held accountable for his failure to protect them, and more accurately for inciting or justifying violence against them. #

Position Paper on the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2017 (House Bills 7141 and 5507)

Your Honors:

Following is a more complete version of NUJP’s position paper delivered during the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting of June 18, 2018.

The NUJP opposes these bills, as well as the working draft currently being discussed by the TWG, asthey include provisions that may be later used against the people’s right to freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. If passed and implemented, this will make the practice of journalism in this country impossible and extremely dangerous.

Specifically:

  1. Section 4, wherein Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Law, specifically its Chapter II, item 4 on Libel, is included as a predicate crime on terrorism.

The NUJP and the mass media industry in general is on record to be opposed to libel as a crime, as it in fact being used to harass journalists. We have petitioned congress to decriminalize libel, as we are on record to have opposed the Cybercrime Law. We surely cannot agree to making libel an even stronger law by making it a predicate crime for the crime of terrorism.

In addition, almost all media outfits nowadays have online platforms. The inclusion of the Cybercrime Law as a predicate crime to the crime of terrorism would endanger journalists the most. We fear critical reports and opinion may already be called terroristic acts. Why pass bills that may constrict the exercise of free journalism in this country when, in fact and in practice, it is increasingly being subverted already? May we remind the TWG that according to our Constitution, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of the press.”

  1. Section 5(b). Inciting to terrorism. – Any person who incites another person by any means to commit terrorism whether or not directly advocating the commission of any of such act, thereby causing danger that one or more such acts may be committed, shall be punished with the penalty of life imprisonment.

(We note that the National Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Council propose that the words “inciting to terrorism” be defined and that the NBI has said that the penalty of life imprisonment is excessive and places inciters at the same level as those who actually commit terrorism. On the basis of the gravity of offense, inciting to terrorism warrants a lighter penalty.)

We ask, who determines incitement? Would a news article explaining the roots of “terrorism” or rebellion, which terms the government often interchanges freely, qualify as incitement? Past governments certainly viewed it this way.

  1. Sec. 5 (f). Glorification of terrorism – Any person who, not being a conspirator, accomplice or accessory under Sections 5, 6 and 7 of this act, shall by any means make a statement or act, through any medium, which tends to directly or indirectly encourage, justify, honor or otherwise induce the commission of terrorist acts (as proposed by the department of defense) by proscribed or designated individuals or organizations, or shall by any means honor glorify proscribed or designated individuals or organizations (as proposed by the AMLC), shall suffer the penalty of ten (10) years of imprisonment.

We offer the same comment as above. Who determines glorification and terrorism? Might not this provision be used by state forces to charge and harass members of the press who would write something about so called terrorism, misconstruing such as glorification?

  1. Sec. 5(g). Membership in terrorist organizations. – Any person who shall knowingly become a member or manifest his/her intention to become a member of any Philippine Court-proscribed or United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist organization shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment.” (House Bill No. 5507)

The government, particularly state security forces, have time and again tagged legal organizations, including the NUJP, as “fronts” or even “enemies of the state.” If these agencies have been so cavalier in endangering the lives and reputation of legitimate media organizations in the past, these bills would further embolden them to violate our rights.

  1. Sec. 9. Section 8 of the same act is hereby renumbered and amended to read as follows:

“Section[8] 9. Formal application for judicial authorization. – The written order of the authorizing division of the court of appeals and/or regional trial court.

(The Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association – Eagle Chapter proposes to change the references to Court of Appeals and RTC to “proper judicial authorities” and the phrase “probable cause based on personal knowledge” to “probable cause based on reasonable ground of suspicion of facts and circumstances.”)

To track down, tap, listen to, intercept, and record communications, messages, conversations, discussions, or spoken or written words [of any person suspected of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism] in Section 8 hereof shall only be granted by the authorizing division of the Court of Appeals and/or the Regional Trial Court upon an ex parte written application of a [police or of a law enforcement official] law enforcement or military personnel [who has been duly authorized in writing by the anti-terrorism council created in sec. 53 of this act to file such ex parte application], and upon examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and [the] his/her witnesses [he may produce to establish]: (a) that there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that any of the [said] crimes [of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism] in section 4, 5, 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), 5(d), 5(e), 5 (f) and 5(g) hereof [has] have been committed, or [is] are being committed, or [is] are about to be committed; (b) that there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that evidence, which is essential to the conviction of any charged or suspected person for, or to the solution or prevention of, any such crimes, will be obtained; and, (c) that there is no other effective means readily available for acquiring such evidence.

(On the phrases “In case of imminent danger or actual terrorist attack,” we note that the Department of Information and Communications Technology proposes to define the terms “imminent danger” and “actual terrorist attack.)

The Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology / National Telecommunications Commission (as proposed by the DOJ) the Court of Appeals or the Regional Trial Court, upon the certification of the Anti-Terrorism Council based on reasonable ground of suspicion on the part of the law enforcement or military personnel, (as proposed by the Philippine National Police) shall have the power to compel telecom and internet service providers to produce all customer information and identification records as well as call and text data records and other cellular or internet metadata of any person suspected of any crime in section 4, 5, 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), 5(d), 5(e), 5(f) and 5(g) hereof.

Again, Your Honors, this is dangerous. It would open the floodgates to a widespread violation of people’s rights, including journalists. Also, if the proposals of Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association–Eagle Chapter to change the references to Court of Appeals and RTC to “proper judicial authorities” and the phrase “probable cause based on personal knowledge” to “probable cause based on reasonable ground of suspicion of facts and circumstances” are adopted, this could expose practically anyone to invasion of privacy.

  1. Section 18. Period of detention without judicial warrant of arrest. – The provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code to the contrary notwithstanding, any [police or] law enforcement or military personnel [, who, having been duly authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Council] has taken custody of a person [charged with or] suspected [of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism]of committing any of the punishable acts in section 4, 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), 5(d), 5(e), 5(f) and 5(g) hereof shall, without incurring any criminal liability for delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities, deliver said [charged or suspected]arrested person to the proper judicial authority within a period of thirty (30) days (security reform initiative proposes a maximum of fourteen (14) days.) Counted from the moment the said [charged or suspected] person has been [apprehended or] arrested excluding Saturday, Sunday and Holidays.[, detained, and taken into custody by the said police, or law enforcement personnel: provided, that the arrest of those suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism must result from the surveillance under sec. 7 and examination of bank deposits under sec. 27 of this act.]

Thirty days is too long and open to so many potential abuses of basic rights. As you know, Your Honors, journalists are victims of harassment suits and arbitrary arrests and detention for the flimsiest of reasons. On the inclusion of the cybercrime law as among the special laws that may be applied against suspected terrorists.

Your Honors, it was clear to the NUJP during the June 18, 2018 meeting that these bills were merely cobbled up versions of anti-terrorism laws by other countries such as Australia. This much the proponents admitted. What they dishonestly withhold from the TWG, however, is that the laws they copied have very clear definitions and exemptions as safeguards against abuse, something they did not bother to copy in their dangerous versions. Many provisions of House Bills 7141 and 5507 are bullets aimed to kill people’s civil, political and human rights.

And so, while the NUJP was encouraged by the Honorable Chairperson Rufino Biazon’s opening statement last June 18 that people’s rights must be guaranteed, we, however, declare our opposition to the bills.

Thank you.

NUJP National Directorate

Nonoy Espina                                    Marlon Ramos                                   Dabet Panelo

      Chairperson                                       Vice Chairperson                              Secretary General

     Raymund Villanueva                       Jhoanna Ballaran                             Ron Lopez

Deputy Secretary General                           Treasurer                                          Auditor

 

Directors

Nestor Burgos                   Gerg Cahiles                       Kath Cortez                        Virgilio Cuizon

Justine Dizon          Sonny Fernandez        Kimberlie Quitasol         Richel Umel          Judith Suarez

The NUJP on the number of media killings

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) stands by its findings that nine (9) journalists have been killed under the Duterte administration. NUJP bases its stand on independent investigations done by its Media Safety Office and chapters nationwide.

NUJP considers all cases of media killings as work-related, unless duly proven otherwise.

This is the Union’s response to the article by Vera Files that media groups erred on figures on media killings (VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Media groups err on figures on media killings; Roque claim on press freedom wrong, May 9, 2018).

The names reported to the media during a press conference on World Press Freedom Day last May 3 was a consolidation of reports from the NUJP and the Center For Media and Resposibility. NUJP is surprised that Vera Files came up with its story without verifying with our Media Safety Office.

Below are the case profiles of the nine journalists killed under the Duterte administration:

  1. Surigao broadcaster first killed under Duterte administration

Just two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, newly-elected Surigao provincial board member and broadcaster Apolinario Suan Jr., became the first journalist to be murdered under the new administration.

Suan, a radio anchor at Real FM station in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, was on his way home from the radio station when attacked by men aboard a van along the national highway in Sitio Tandawan, Barangay San Vicente, Bislig City on July 14, 2016 at around 2 in the afternoon.

He was critically wounded during the attack, while his brother and escort, Dodong Suan, died on the spot. The broadcaster’s two other escorts were injured.

Suan slipped into a coma and died two weeks later on July 28.

In a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bislig City police director Supt. Rainier Diaz said Suan’s killing may be connected to his work as a broadcaster.

 *A friend of Suan told the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines the broadcaster threw hard-hitting commentaries against Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro even before he was elected as board member of the province. Suan had also received death threats before he was killed, the source said. ###

  1. Catanduanes newspaper publisher slain

Larry Que, publisher and columnist of the community paper Catanduanes News Now, was the second journalist killed under the Duterte administration. Que was assassinated by motorcycle-riding killers as he was entering his office in Virac around 9:30 a.m. on December 19, 2016.

Shortly before he died, Que had written a column accusing local officials of negligence following the discovery of a major drug manufacturing facility in the province.

On May 2, 2017, Que’s partner Edralyn Pangilinan filed a murder complaint with the Department of Justice in Manila against Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, police officer Vincent Tacorda, Cua’s aide Prince Lim Subion and several “John Does”.

Tacorda has reportedly admitted having been ordered, alleged by Cua as relayed by Subion,  to kill Que in the guise of the police’s anti-drug “Operation Tokhang.” Subion had reportedly been sending death threats to Que before his murder.

A colleague and close friend of Que, Marlon Suplig, said aside from the murder charge, Tacorda is also robbery and extortion charges because he allegedly asked the slain publisher’s family for P10 million in exchange for evidence in the case.

Despite the charges, Tacorda remained in active service a year after the killing.

A year since the complaint against Cua and the other suspects was filed, Que’s family is still waiting for the Department of Justice’s resolution. ###

  1. Broadcaster-university professor killed in Ilocos Sur

Northern Luzon lost its first journalist under the Duterte administration when Mario Cantaoi was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen on the national highway in Barangay San Ramon, Magsingal town, Ilocos Sur the night of January 7, 2017.

Aside from working at Catholic church-owned radio station dzNS, Cantaoi was also a professor at University of Northern Philippines.

Provincial police director Senior Superintendent Rey de Peralta was quoted in a news report as saying Cantaoi’s work as a journalist was not likely a reason for the broadcaster’s murder, although to date authorities have yet to determine the motive. The victim’s wife also said her husband had no known enemies.

But the environmental advocacy group KALIKASAN PNE believes Cantaoi’s commentaries against the destruction of the environment and the militarization of communities opposed to mining led to his killing. ###

  1. Blocktime radio anchor shot dead in Kidapawan City

Marlon Muyco, who hosted a blocktime program over dxND Radyo Bida in Kidapawan City, Cotabato province, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding killers in Barangay La Suerte, M’lang town the afternoon of February 2, 2017.

His daughter, who was with him, was wounded in the attack.

Police investigators said the killers had been tailing the host of the program “Abyan sa Kalambuansa Banwa Sang M’lang (Your Friend in the Development of M’lang Town)” and struck when the victims reached a secluded area.

Authorities identified one of the suspects as Boyet Patubo, who they described as a “gun-for-hire.” They said Patubo was seen fleeing toward Antipas town where his brother is a barangay chairman.

Police have yet to ascertain the motive for Muyco’s murder. ###

  1. Hard-hitting Masbate columnist gunned down

Remate columnist Joaquin Briones, a former commentator of station dyME, was gunned down as he was heading home around 8:45 a.m. of March 13, 2017 by motorcycle-riding killers on Bombom Bridge, sitio Feeder Road, Barangay Bacolod, Milagros town.

A news report quoted Inspector Anselmo Prima of the Milagros police as saying the likely motive for the murder was either local politics or personal grudges.

But the same story quoted Remate managing editor Lydia Buena as saying the killing was likely triggered by Briones’ hard-hitting reports on sensitive topics like illegal fishing, illegal gambling and the drug trade. Briones had been receiving death threats before he was killed.

In the meantime, Leonardo del Rosario, aka Pandoy, a suspect in the Briones murder was himself killed along with his father and another companion when police tried to arrest them. Del Rosario allegedly led a crime gang in Masbate.

Journalists in Masbate described their colleague’s fate as an extrajudicial killing. However, the Briones family has yet to file charges against the suspects.

On the other hand, Briones’ daughter* says her father might have survived his injuries if responding police had immediately taken him to a hospital. The listed cause of death were not the gunshots but massive blood loss.

She claims her father was taken around the town plaza and allegedly shown to townsfolk by the police before he was brought to the hospital. ###

  1. Broadcaster shot dead in Zamboanga del Sur

On August 6, 2017, Rudy Alicaway, 47, was on his way home after hosting his weekly community affairs program “Tigmo-tigmo” over radio station dxPB in Sitio Lopez, Barangay Culo, Molave town in Zamboanga del Sur, when motorcycle-riding gunmen shot him dead.

Station manager Rocel Navarro said Alicaway never tackled controversial issues.

Aside from hosting his program, Alicaway was a councilor of Barangay Miligan in Molave.

The motive for his murder remains undetermined to date. ###

  1. Sultan Kudarat native first Mindanao journalist slain since martial law

On August 7, 2017, Leodoro Diaz, 60, of President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat province became the first Mindanao journalist to be murdered since President Rodrigo Duterte declared the southern island under martial law on May 23, 2017.

The reporter of RMN’s Cotabato City station dxMY and columnist of the tabloid Sapol, Diaz was heading to Tacurong City from his home when ambushed by motorcycle-riding gunmen.

Before this, he had been receiving death threats and had been harassed by armed men at his home in Barangay Katiku, President Quirino.

Diaz’s daughter* believes he was killed because of his hard-hitting columns on corruption, illegal gambling and drugs in his hometown even if, as she pointed out, he seldom, if ever, identified the subjects of his criticism.

Before his death, Diaz had reportedly informed colleagues he was writing about illegal drugs.

His daughter dismisses observations he might have been killed because he planned to enter politics. She said that was just a “joke.”

Murder charges have since been filed against a suspect, “Toto” Tamano, remains at large.  ###

  1. Radioman shot dead day after Ombudsman ousts Bislig Mayor

Christopher Lozada, 29, a program host at station dxBF of Prime Broadcasting Network, was involved in the filing of charges against Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro over the questionable purchase of a P14.7-million hydraulic excavator in 2012.

On October 23, 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered Navarro and 11 others dismissed from the service over the alleged anomaly.

Around 9 p.m. the next day, Lozada was driving home when gunmen in a van opened fire, killing him. His common-law wife, Honey Faith Indog, was wounded in the attack.

According to his sister*, before his murder, Lozada had been receiving a series of death threats sent from an unknown number. One of the texts said: “95 days ka nalang, umalis ka nadito sa Bislig kundi papatayin kita (You have 95 days left. Leave Bislig or I will kill you).”

She said they have not been able to file charges against the suspected killers, Rolly Mahilum and Felixberto Villocino, and Navarro, who the family has accused of ordering Lozada’s death, because the former mayor is monitoring them.

The principal witness, Lozada’s partner Honey Faith, has been enrolled in the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice but her family reportedly lives in fear because Navarro is keeping an eye on them.

Before the Ombudsman resolution dismissing him, Navarro allegedly offered a car and a P50,000 monthly allowance to Lozada to make him withdraw the case but the broadcaster refused, saying: “Kahit mahirap po kami, ayaw kong magkaroon ng ganyang kalaking pera kung galing naman sa masama (Even if we are poor, I do not want to earn that much money from wrongdoing).”

Lozada was insistent about filing charges against Navarro. “Kahit ikamatay ko pa, gagawin ko ang dapat (Even if it costs my life, I will do what is right).” ###

  1. Dumaguete broadcaster declared dead after gun attack

Broadcaster Edmund Sestoso, former chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chapter in Dumaguete City, was shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen late in the morning of April 30, 2018 and died the afternoon of the next day, May 1.

Sestoso was on his way home to Barangay Daro after hosting his daily program “Tug-anan” over dyGB 91.7 FM when he was attacked.

Hit five times, Sestoso was rushed to the Siliman University Medical Center where he underwent surgery.

A friend* who had been assisting the journalist’s family said Sestoso had texted a relative hours before the incident saying someone was out to kill him.

Sestoso’s wife Lourdes also told his colleagues he had been receiving death threats but had refused to discuss these with her.

Authorities have yet to determine the motive behind Sestoso’s murder. ###

*Names withheld for security purposes

Marker at Chicago Haymarket Square honors Kilusang Mayo Uno

A plaque honoring Philippines’s Kilusang Mayo Uno  (KMU) was installed at the Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, USA last May 1  at the monument honoring workers whose deaths led to several labor reforms, including the implementation of an eight-hour work day.
The installation of the plaque was organized by the Illinois Labor History Society.
Raymond Palatino Bagong Alyansang Makabayan represented KMU during the activity. Below is the text of Mong’s speech:
= = = = =
Salute to the working class of the United States! Salute to all working peoples of the world! Mabuhay!
It is an honor to represent the Kilusang Mayo Uno or May First Movement of the Philippines.
Today, we honor the Haymarket workers whose martyrdom did not only pave the way for labor reforms, but more importantly, it empowered and inspired the growth of the labor movement all over the world.
So powerful was the legacy of May One that it eventually became the International Workers Day.
The Philippine labor movement acknowledged the heroism of the Haymarket martyrs when its largest and most militant labor federation chose the name Kilusang Mayo Uno or May First Movement to unite all workers in the Philippines and lead the struggle of the working class.
KMU was established to strengthen the ranks of Filipino workers at a time when the country was under a dictatorship. KMU led the workers in resisting tyranny and linked arms with the farmers, the urban poor, and other freedom-loving Filipinos in ousting a dictator from power.
Since then, the KMU has been at the forefront of the labor movement, and it has consistently and bravely asserted, without compromise, the just demands of workers for higher wages, decent work, safe workplaces; and it has been a strong voice in pushing for democratic rights, an end to feudal oppression in the rural regions of the Philippines, the resistance against foreign control of the local economy, and the realization of the people’s national democratic aspirations.
For almost four decades now, the KMU has been an influential force in the people’s struggle for real democracy and lasting peace in the Philippines.
And so it is fitting that, as we place a KMU marker here in Chicago, we dedicate this in honor of all who devoted the best years of their lives, many of them even sacrificed their lives, in pursuing the revolutionary struggle for national democracy.
This plaque is also for the Filipino migrant farmers who arrived here in the US in the early 20th century. Some of them would become pioneers in union organizing. Their work is remembered today as we continue to fight for immigrant rights and the improvement of conditions of all migrant workers in the US.
This is for the assembly workers in the Philippines’ export processing zones who are toiling in sweatshop conditions, the plantation workers of Mindanao who are herded in militarized camps, the service sector employees denied of benefits, the migrant workers who are forced to be separated from their families because of poverty, underdevelopment, and unjust immigration policies. This is for all the working classes who do not surrender and who continue to march forward to fight for change.
This is for the labor organizers in the Philippines who are fighting a rising dictatorship amid nonstop attacks by state forces. Some of them are in prison yet the only crime they committed was to promote the welfare of workers.
In response, we proudly assert that union organizing is not a crime. Empowering the grassroots is not a crime. Standing up for migrant rights is not a crime.
The real criminal act is the exploitation of the working class, the greedy appropriation of profits and surplus value while workers are subjected to slave-like relations, and the collusion of big capitalists and corrupt politicians in violating labor rights.

KMU stands in solidarity with the American working class in challenging the neoliberal economic policies that drive down wages, destroy unions, and harm the health and well-being of workers.

Raymond Palatino (front row, 5th from right) with members of the Illinois Labor History Society. (Photo by Ciriaco Santiago III, used with permission)

KMU joins all workers in the world in smashing this inhumane system that perpetuates oppression and inequality.
The capitalists have money, the police, the courts, and dirty politicians; but the workers are stronger because we have unity and solidarity and the peoples of the world are one with us in building a better future, a beautiful tomorrow where there is real peace, justice, democracy, and respect for human dignity.
Long live the working class! Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa!

Statement of Solidarity for The Bedan Roar

The Bedan Roar is the Senior High School student publication of San Beda College. Its recent issue that tackled social issues was disallowed by school authorities from distribution because it was deemed “too critical” of the government of San Beda College of Law alumnus Rodrigo Duterte.

The following statement was issued and signed by members of The Bedan Alumni Association, former editors and staff of The Bedan, the official student publication of the San Beda College of Arts and Sciences.

= = = = =

We the alumni of The Bedan student publication loudly express our solidarity with the editors and staff of The Bedan Roar, the student publication of San Beda University Senior High School.

We also strongly protest the repressive actions of the school officials who ordered the censorship of The Bedan Roar’s latest issue.

The issue is being banned from circulation as it was deemed too critical of the powers that be in Malacañang.

This is a blatant betrayal of the values generations of Bedans have been taught: love of the truth and to fear neither fire nor blood.

We alumni of The Bedan are all too familiar when those in power wield their authority to muzzle the voice that dare ask who, what, where, when, how and most importantly why.

Not too long ago, our beloved The Bedan was also under a blitzkrieg of attack and almost ceased publication because of the actions of a few ill-intentioned men with authority.

We now see similar attacks happening to our brothers and sisters in ink who remain critical of men with authority.

There is an old saying that states: “May you live in interesting times.” The phrase is allegedly a translation of a Chinese curse deftly cloaked in the guise of a blessing.

It is not far-fetched to feel and believe that we have indeed been subjected to the curse of interesting times. We say this as we The Bedan alumni observe that no other time in recent history have we been deeply divided as we are now with the current state of the nation.

There is a heated if not altogether violent conflict over principles that our so-called democracy is anchored on. In our history, there have always been starkly different views on the rule of law, respect for human rights and freedom of expression. What is disturbing in these most interesting of times is that there is a fast growing number of Filipinos, including our own families and friends, who would gladly surrender these constitutionally-enshrined values in the belief that it will pave the way for a more peaceful and prosperous country.

They would gladly acquiesce their rights to provide the state absolute control over governing the so called “un-governable.” They would gladly silence any voice of dissent that will get in the way of the state’s vision of change.

In their version of the Philippines, there is no room for those who question, those who doubt, and those who dare challenge.

Indeed, we are living in the most interesting, and the most dangerous of times, where criminal justice has been all but replaced by extra-judicial killing, public discourse has been supplanted by social-media trolling and political debates bulldozed by gerrymandering.

We are at a time in our nation’s history when our beliefs and actions will play a critical role in what the future will look like for future generations. The stand that we take now on the rule of law, respect for human rights and freedom of expression will define who we really are as a people.

The young editors and staff of The Bedan Roar took a stand and those entrusted to mold their characters tried to silence their voice.

May we remind these so called educators that history is not kind to tyrants and their minions.

There is another related, again allegedly Chinese maxim that goes: “Better be a dog in peace, than a man in anarchy.”

The clarion is calling, and we Bedans must definitively and unequivocally answer it for we are not dogs but Lions after all.

ALERT: Dumaguete broadcaster shot, in critical condition

Motorcycle-riding gunmen shot and seriously wounded a broadcaster and former Dumaguete City chapter chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in the capital of Negros Oriental late Monday morning, April 30, 2018.

Edmund Sestoso, who hosts the daily blocktime “Tug-anan” on dyGB 91.7 FM, was on his way home to Barangay Daro after his program when he was attacked around 10 a.m., a close friend of his who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, told the NUJP.

Between four to five bullets struck Sestoso, two in the chest, the others in the stomach and leg. The source said the gunmen also shot the tires of a pedicab whose driver had intended to rush Sestoso to a hospital.

Good Samaritans had to wait for another vehicle to take the wounded radioman to a health facility, where he was expected to undergo emergency surgery.

The motive for the attack on Sestoso has yet to be determined by authorities.

Reference:
Lottie Salarda
Media Safety Officer
NUJP hotline 0917 515 5991

Being a lawyer at a turbulent crossroads

‘Redeem what has been lost, repair what has been cracked, and reform what needs to be changed. Lawyer for the people.’

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) heartily congratulates all those who passed the 2017 bar examinations. In the same vein, we also send our sincerest felicitations to those who did not find their names on the list this time. To have hurdled the four gruelling bar Sundays is an achievement in itself.

By this time, especially highlighted with the recent events in our country, we have validated that one’s performance in the bar examinations is never an accurate measure or guarantee of one’s competence to become a lawyer, much less one’s capacity to put into practice the oath that we swore to uphold: to do and uphold justice.

The entire legal system is again now under even more vicious attack. There is an attempt to cripple and hold hostage the country’s entire judicial system. There are continuing direct assaults against judicial independence. Infighting and self-interests are dressed up as principled non-partisan positions. There is an even more intense erosion of people’s trust in the credibility and integrity of the justice system.

Many of these oddities are perpetrated no less than members of the legal profession themselves who have allowed themselves to break and corrupt their oaths to be dispensers of justice by being instruments of the creeping and impending tyrannical rule in the country.

Institutions are under siege, either through brazen threats or insidious manipulation. Legal shortcuts are the rule rather than the exception in fighting crime and in law enforcement. Borderless basic human rights of free expression, free press, and assembly, nay expressions of humanity, are curtailed. International legal norms are scoffed at. Legal remedies are twisted and legal fora are used to persecute those who defy and refuse to toe the anti-people line.

Ambulance-chasers and pretentious legal toads or clowns prancing like invincible erudite authorities or shameless scumbags test our fortitude if not our capacities to suspend disbelief. Facts are replaced by alternative truths and fake news are peddled as the new normal.

Shall we just look the other way and turn blind to reality, content with dealing with our respective devices?

We shall not. All is not lost. Reason, fairness, common sense, honor, truth, dignity and justice must be reclaimed.

As lawyers, we are duty bound, under oath, to be dispensers of justice and as Filipinos, we are morally and historically bound to struggle and protect our freedom and dignity as a people and as a nation.

We therefore call on our present and new pañeros and pañeras to join the ranks of peoples’ lawyers and to unite with the Filipino people in the continuing fight for freedom and democracy.

Redeem what has been lost, repair what has been cracked, and reform what needs to be changed. Lawyer for the people. #

 

Edre U. Olalia, NUPL President

Ephraim B. Cortez NUPL Secretary General ‭