Mensahe sa sambayanang Pilipino sa okasyon ng Araw ng ‘Kalayaan’

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

Sa ika-126 na anibersaryo ng Deklarasyon ng Kalayaan ng Pilipinas, nananawagan ang Bayan sa mamamayan na ipaglaban ang tunay na kalayaan laban sa imperyalismo, partikular sa dominasyon ng imperyalismong US sa Pilipinas. Hindi tunay na malaya ang Pilipinas. Ang US ang nananatiling pinakamalaking banta sa soberanya ng Pilipinas ngayon habang ito’y sangkot sa inter-imperyalistang bangayan laban sa Tsina at nag-uudyok ng digmaan sa pamamagitan ng pinalawak na presensiyang militar ng US sa bansa. Ang US ang pangunahing imperyalistang kapangyarihan sa Pilipinas, habang ang Tsina ay isang umuusbong na imperyalistang kapangyarihan at kasalukuyang karibal ng US. Sa pagitan ng dalawang imperyalistang kapangyarihan na nagtatagisan para sa dominasyon sa rehiyon, ang imperyalismong US ang may mas malalim na ugat at mas malaking impluwensya sa Pilipinas sa ekonomiya, politika, kultura at militar. Ang US ang may mahabang kasaysayan ng kolonyalismo at neo-kolonyalismo sa ating bansa.

Sa ating kasaysayan, ang US ang nag-udlot sa pagtatatag ng isang malayang estado ng Pilipinas nang sakupin ng US ang Pilipinas sa pagsisimula ng ika-20 siglo. Pinigilan ng US na makamit ng mga Pilipino ang kanilang pinaghirapang tagumpay laban sa kolonyalismong Espanyol. Nangako ang US na tutulungan tayo laban sa kolonyalismong Espanyol ngunit ang talagang nais nito ay sakupin ang Pilipinas at bilhin ang kolonya mula sa Espanya sa halagang $20 milyon bilang bahagi ng Kasunduan sa Paris. Hindi kailanman naging interesado ang US sa soberanya ng Pilipinas, kundi sa pang-ekonomiya at pampulitikang interes lamang ng imperyalismo.

Ang US ay nagsagawa ng brutal na pananakop sa mga isla, na nagdulot ng pagkamatay ng hindi bababa sa 200,000 sibilyang Pilipino. Pagkatapos ng pagbibigay ng nominal na kalayaan noong Hulyo 4, 1946, ang Pilipinas ay nanatiling isang neokolonya ng US na nagtaguyod sa 2 sa pinakamalalaking base militar ng US sa buong mundo.

Ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas, ang sistemang politikal nito, ang patakarang panlabas at ang establisyamentong militar ay lahat nasa ilalim ng malakas na impluwensya ng US. Ang rehimen ng neoliberalismo na ipinatupad ng US ay nagdulot ng pagkabansot ng ekonomiya. Pinagpatuloy nito ang semi-pyudalismo bilang batayang panlipunan ng imperyalismo. Nanatili tayong isang ekonomiyang nakatuon sa pag-export, umaasa sa pag-import, at nakaasa sa utang – isang tambakan ng mga surplus na produktong imported at labis na kapital habang ang ating pambansang ekonomiya ay nananatiling atrasado at hindi nakakamit ang katayuang industriyalisado. Ang pamamahala ng US sa kolonyal at kalaunan ay neo-kolonyal ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit nananatiling mahirap at hindi maunlad ang ating bansa.

Ngayon ay pinalawak ng US ang presensyang militar nito sa Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng hindi bababa sa 9 na forward military bases sa tinatawag na Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites. Ito ay nagposisyon ng mga kagamitang militar kabilang ang mga Tomahawk missiles at spy drones ng US habang nagsasagawa ng mga military exercises sa hangaring magpalakas ng kapangyarihan sa rehiyon. Ang malawakang deployment ng mga pwersa at kagamitan ng militar ng US sa Pilipinas ay naglalayong udyukan ang Tsina na pumasok sa mas matinding tunggalian militar katulad ng ginawa ng US sa Russia, sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalawak ng NATO sa Ukraine. Samantala, ang “ayudang” militar ng US ay ginagamit sa isang US-inspired counter-insurgency program na ipinatutupad ng iba’t ibang presidenteng sunud-sunuran sa US at nagreresulta sa matinding paglabag sa karapatang pantao at pandaigdigang makataong batas.

Ang US ay kasalukuyang nahaharap sa kabiguan na makamit ang tagumpay militar sa Ukraine matapos tanggihan ang negosasyon ng kapayapaan noong 2022. Ang US ay nahihiwalay din sa politika dahil sa walang kapararaang suporta nito sa Israel sa patuloy na genocide sa mga Palestino. Sa buong modernong kasaysayan, saanman sangkot ang US, mayroong kaguluhan at digmaan. Ito’y totoo para sa mga bansa tulad ng Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, at Afghanistan. Hindi maaaring maging tagasuporta ng genocide at tagaudyok ng digmaan ang US sa isang bahagi ng mundo at titignan bilang mabuting tagapagligtas sa kabilang bahagi. Tiyak na ayaw natin na gamitin ang Pilipinas ng US sa isang proxy war laban sa Tsina.

Ang rehimeng Marcos ay nagpapakita ng sarili bilang tagapagtanggol ng soberanya ng Pilipinas kahit na pinapayagan nito ang walang hanggang presensiyang militar ng US sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng hindi pantay na mga kasunduan tulad ng Visiting Forces Agreement at EDCA. Inilagay nito ang patakarang panlabas ng Pilipinas sa ilalim ng patakarang panlabas ng US, sa maling paniniwala na ang pambansang interes natin ay katulad ng imperyalistang interes ng US. Pinapayagan ni Marcos na gamitin ang Pilipinas bilang tuntungan ng US upang itaas ang tensyon sa Tsina, sa halip na agresibong isulong ang diplomatikong solusyon sa alitan sa West Philippine Sea, sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatupad ng arbitral ruling sa ilalim ng UNCLOS.

Tinututulan natin ang mga agresibong aksyon at ilegal na pag-angkin ng Tsina sa mahigit 90% ng South China Sea. Higit na tinututulan namin ang paggamit ng US sa ating lehitimong isyu sa Tsina bilang dahilan para sa mas malaking interbensiyong militar ng US sa rehiyon, na nagtutulak sa Pilipinas papalayo sa mapayapa at diplomatikong resolusyon ng alitan, at papalapit sa armadong komprontasyon na nagsisilbi sa imperyalistang layunin ng US sa rehiyon. Noon at lalo na ngayon, ang US ang pangunahing pwersang lumilikha ng kaguluhan sa rehiyon.

Nanawagan ang Bayan sa sambayanang Pilipino na ilantad at tutulan ang imperyalismo, pangunahin ang imperyalismong US, at ipaglaban ang tunay na kalayaan at demokrasya sa Pilipinas. Nakikiisa kami sa mga mamamayan ng mundo na lumalaban sa makinarya ng digmaan ng US, mula sa Palestina hanggang sa Pilipinas. Pinaparangalan namin ang lahat ng ating mga bayani na nakipaglaban para sa tunay na kalayaan laban sa kolonyalismo, mula sa mga rebolusyonaryo ng Katipunan hanggang sa mga rebolusyonaryo ng kasalukuyang pakikibaka. #

Pagpupugay at pasasalamat kay Rene Saguisag

By Fides Lim, Kapatid – Families and Friends of Political Prisoners

Yesterday (April 30), (former senator) Rene Saguisag, human rights lawyer, nationalist and servant of the people was laid to his final resting place beside his beloved wife Dulce. Our support organization of Kapatid – Families and Friends of Political Prisoners, and my husband Vic Ladlad and I would like to thank Rene with all our hearts for every help that he extended to us and for his legacy of nationalism, honesty, dedication and service. There is no counting his good deeds particularly for victims of human rights violations, which include the political prisoners, from the period of martial law until his last breath.

One indelible memory of Rene was when he would join us during court hearings on the “Case of the Traveling Skeletons” in RTC Branch 32 at the Manila City Hall. That case about corpses that literally sprung out of one grave in 2000 and surfaced in another graveyard in another town in Leyte six years later is straight out of the martial law dictionary of legal hocus-pocus. Vic was a political prisoner in Camp Nakar, Lucena throughout the time period of that case.

“This is martial law all over again,” Rene remarked, similar to what his contemporary Joker Arroyo (who also became a senator) said in open court. Joker, Vic’s chief counsel during his political imprisonment in martial law, was Vic’s principal witness for the Leyte case.

What particularly drew Rene’s attention were Wilma and Benito Tiamzon (reportedly top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines) during those court hearings he attended in 2016. Both had been arrested and brought to court. Rene was delighted to find out that, like him, the Tiamzons were products of the Rizal High School. I noted that Wilma and Benny were at the top 3 of their graduating batch, which I read in a Bulatlat article. Benito finished salutatorian and Wilma was the first honorable mention.

Rene was most impressed. “Ang galing! Alam mo ba, pinakamalaking high school yan sa buong mundo,” Rene said. Indeed, no mean feat in what the Guinness Book of World Records lists as the “largest secondary school in the world” until 1993 (current population: over 14,000). “Dito rin nag graduate si Uncle Jovy,” Rene proudly told us, referring to former Senator and another fierce martial law opponent whom he considers his “idol,” Jovito Salonga. (Saguisag was related to Salonga.)

Rene had his differences with the Left but he respected and admired them for their bravery and idealism, not unlike his. In one column, he wrote how he and Joker and the human rights lawyers tapped by (President) Cory Aquino to join her Cabinet after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986 moved to immediately release ALL political prisoners, overriding military objections. “The Left must have a place under the sun,” he told Vic, who was one of those released from jail.

It must have pained Rene to learn that in August 2022, his co-Rizal High alumni, Wilma and Benito, were arrested by military forces and murdered somewhere in Leyte. Their captors tried to make it appear that they were killed in a boat explosion during a military operation. But according to accounts, they were tortured first and then executed. Their lifeless bodies were dumped on a motorboat which was detonated.

In tribute to Atty. Rene Saguisag, following are statements from Vic Ladlad and from Rene himself for the Kapatid re-founding assembly. Rene’s statement is a mirror of his own life and “purity of commitment.”

Statement of Vicente P. Ladlad, MMDJ-4, Bicutan

I will always remember Rene Saguisag and will forever be grateful to him.

Atty. Saguisag did not know me personally when I was arrested during martial law on February 21, 1983. But he did not hesitate to join Joker Arroyo and Fely Aquino and other lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in filing a petition for habeas corpus at the Supreme Court on my behalf.

It had been more than a week after my arrest (at that time) by the Southern Tagalog Philippine Constabulary, but the authorities flatly refused to even acknowledge that I was in their custody.

Upon order by the Supreme Court, the PC presented me in an en banc session. It was there that I first met Rene.

Attorneys Joker Arroyo and Rene Saguisag argued my case in that Supreme Court hearing. Consequently, my mother and lawyers were able to see me in Camp Nakar, Lucena City.

I was among the many victims of human rights violations who benefited from Rene’s human rights lawyering. Mabuhay ka Atty. Rene Saguisag. Ang iyong huwarang tapang, katapatan at dedikasyon ay ang pinakadakilang pamana mo.

Your exemplary courage, honesty and dedication to the poor and oppressed are your greatest legacy. #

Rene Saguisag to Kapatid

(On the re-founding assembly held at the CHR, June 15, 2019)

It’s tough to lose a loved one, as I did in 2007, but at least there was some kind of closure. Not so in the case of desaparecidos, where one hopes that the next shadow in, or knock on, the door is that of the missing beloved.

In the case of political detainees, I can only admire the purity of their commitment, and the reminder that they continue to be ready to give their all to the Motherland, the physical and psychological torment notwithstanding. They continue to love Her with that kind of passion that whips the blood, and hang the costs and consequences.

Keep going.

As Ted Kennedy said in 1980, “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream, shall never die.”

Here’s wishing the event every success. #

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About the featured photo:

Former Senator Rene Saguisag (extreme right)shares a light moment with Makabayan President Satur Ocampo and NDFP consultants Wilma Tiamzon, Benito Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva and Vicente Ladlad during a short break at the Manila RTC Branch 32 hearing on Aug. 10, 2016. Ocampo and the NDFP consultants were included in the DOJ’s terror-listing petition. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/Bulatlat)

Statements on the killing of journalists in Gaza

ALTERMIDYA: On the Gaza information crisis

The worsening conflict in Palestine’s Gaza amid Israel’s unrelenting offensives indicates a humanitarian crisis of global concern.

Since October 7, military operations between Israel and Palestinian armed group Hamas have killed over thousands of Palestinians and injured many more in the Gaza Strip. Compounding the conflict is a total Israeli blockade of food, fuel, and other necessities to millions of people in the occupied territory in what is grounds for an international war crime.

Now, an information crisis threatens to further distort the conflict’s causes and consequences. Gaza is experiencing a near information blackout with internet and phone services cut. Israel is to blame for cutting the communications, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Independent journalists like members of the Altermidya Network urge the United Nations and other human rights bodies to immediately intervene by doing everything possible to restore access to communications in Gaza.

In the same vein, we express deep concern for our fellow media workers who are covering the ongoing conflict from the front lines.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 29 journalists were killed in such operations. Most of these were Palestinians, as well as three Israelis and one Lebanese. This is on top of dozens of journalists who are injured, detained, or reported missing. Addressing the information crisis necessitates that the safety of journalists is upheld and guaranteed.

We call on all involved parties to stop killing and targeting civilians, including media workers based in Gaza. By extension, entities within the UN such as the Special Rapporteur to immediately investigate such brazen killings and attacks in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1948.

Protecting the media would serve to aid them in their job to report and explain the decades-long Palestine occupation.

Tens of thousands have been killed, while millions have been displaced in this conflict rooted in colonial acts. Unfortunately, this historically drawn out narrative will be buried along with the bodies of innocent civilians, media included, if we all silently wait as this conflict continues. The time to act is now. Those in observance of the conflict must speak out, while those in power must do all to address the very roots of this systemic violence.

For the UN and all related rights entities, the urgency to restore communications in Gaza cannot be understated. # (October 30, 2023/Quezon City, Philippines)

AMARC Asia-Pacific Condemns the killing of media workers and civilians in Gaza

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, AMARC (Asia-Pacific) strongly protests the ongoing indiscriminate killings of civilians and media workers in Gaza by US-backed Israeli forces. Records show that the period since 7th of October 2023 has been the deadliest period for media workers.

The genocide in Gaza is also one of the most terrible media crises in recent times. International sources estimate that approximately 48 journalists have lost their lives while reporting from Gaza. According to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 48 journalists and media workers have been confirmed dead including 43 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, and 1 Lebanese. According to sources, the deceased media workers include those representing media organizations as well as freelancers.

Since the 1940s, the political claims and cause of Palestinians has been subject to disinformation and distortion at the highest levels of international governance and law to justify violence in Gaza and West Bank. Since the recent Al-Aqsa Floods operation, there have been various kinds of moral obfuscations and disinformation on mainstream and social media platforms to justify genocide against the Palestinians. Free, independent, and critical-minded media organisations and journalists are one of the few factors that has helped mobilise large-scale protests against this genocide. It is no surprise that media workers are heavily under attack. Issuing this statement, Dr. Ramnath Bhat, President of AMARC Asia-Pacific has called the situation in Gaza as one of the gravest conditions for freedom of journalists and other media workers.

“Independent journalists reporting from the heart of the conflict in Gaza are the only source of any credible information that is received by the rest of the world. Targeting media workers is a clear sign of genocidal intent that does not wish to see itself exposed; creates an information blackout at the global level fostering disinformation; and finally lays the ground for further intensification of genocide”

AMARC Asia-Pacific deeply mourns the deceased media workers and condemns the mass killings going on in Gaza, specifically the blanket targeting of civilians. It calls upon all concerned, especially the Government of Israel and the US to immediately stop hostilities, affect a ceasefire and end the genocide.

Statement issued by the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, AMARC (Asia-Pacific), [email protected], November 22, 2023/Kathmandu, Nepal

Conference affirms role of community radio in human development

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Asia-Pacific concluded its 5th Regional Conference and Assembly — held in Bangkok, Thailand from 27-30 September 2023 — by electing a Board of Directors for the next term.

The newly elected Board is led by Dr. Ramnath Bhat (India) as its President. The other members are Supinya Klangnarong (Thailand) Deputy President; Raymund Villanueva (Philippines) Treasurer; Arti Jaiman (India) Representative, Women International Network; Subas Khatiwada (Nepal) Vice President, South Asia; Sinam Mitro Sutarno, (Indonesia) Vice President, Southeast Asia; Asuka Hashizume (Japan) Vice President, East Asia; and Shane Gregory Elson (Australia) Vice President, Pacific. The newly elected Board of Directors will serve for the next four years.

The 5th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conference has reiterated the significant role played by community radios in furthering human development and the expression of and support for human rights.

Endorsing the Bangkok Declaration , community radios of the Asia-Pacific region have resolved to deepen interactions with regional inter-governmental bodies, donor organizations and supporters, national associations, and United Nations organizations, to develop strategies, programs, and training opportunities for community radio stations to be better equipped to serve local communities. Community radios have reaffirmed commitment to participating in disaster planning, mitigation, response, and recovery.

Calling on the governments of the Asia-Pacific region to recognize the vital role community broadcasting plays in developing a vibrant, responsive, and democratic society and to create a regulatory and legislative environment that supports the stable operation, growth and sustainability of community radio, the Regional Conference has highlighted the commitment of community broadcasters towards the promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples to establish their own community radio stations in their own languages and have access to non-indigenous community radio without discrimination.

Members of AMARC have renewed their commitment towards creating spaces on the airwaves for peasants, workers, fisher folk, refugees, displaced people, and asylum seekers, the stateless, the trafficked and diverse and marginalized voices, irrespective of cultural, ethnic, religious, social, class, caste, disability, gender or sexual or political identification or age. While reasserting the role of community broadcasting in countering disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Regional Conference unequivocally denounced all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly during times of conflict from the domestic sphere to war that is waged on the bodies of women and minorities.

Earlier, the 5th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional released the ‘State of Community Radio in Asia-Pacific Report, 2023 .’ The first of its kind regional report presents an overall picture of the state of community broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific region based on information collected through comprehensive surveys and interviews conducted across several countries of the region.


The Regional Conference was participated by 152 members representing fifteen countries of Asia-Pacific as well as Africa, Europe, and North America. Altogether twenty-five workshops and strategic meetings were held in the Regional Conference. Topics covered ranged from digital transformation of community broadcasting to setting up online stations, tackling fake news to effective content creation on social media for social cause, indigenous broadcasting to gender relationships and intersectionality, broadcasters’ safety to climate change adaptation to Rebuilding Global Movement of Community Broadcasting. AMARC Asia-Pacific has thanked its members, donors, and partner organizations for their support for organizing the 5th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of Community Radios.

Filipino cycling households rise to 10 million

Does your place support cyclists?

In a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Filipino cycling households rose from 29% in 2022 to 36% in 2023 that is equivalent to 10 million households using bicycles for both transportation and recreational activities. Filipinos taking up cycling are driven by factors such as saving on fares, other difficulties brought by ever-worsening problems in the country’s public transport system, and, to a large extent, health.  

This development drove bike advocate group Mobility Awards to press its call to local government units to prioritize cyclists and people over cars. Such shall prioritize the needs of 88% of households in Metro Manila that do not own private cars, it said.

Mobility Awards national coordinator Arielle Celine Tabinga said the latest SWS survey proves that cycling is not only persisting but steadily gaining momentum. The group said it is time for a safer and more inclusive transportation system that takes into consideration cyclists’ safety and welfare. This call is echoed by another advocacy group, PARA – Advocates of Inclusive Transport.

In a 2021 Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) report, 2,397 cyclists were involved in accidents in the metropolis, 33 of which had been fatal. There is also the recent viral road rage incident involving a cyclist and a Supreme Court employee that adds to the perception that Philippine roads remain unsafe for cyclists.  

Tabinga urged the government to advance inclusive, responsive, and clean transport options that include cycling.  “We invite citizens and road users to join us in our effort to challenge the status quo: nominate deserving cities, establishments, and workplaces for this year’s Mobility Awards. And no matter what you use to travel, respect each other on the road—we all want each other to safely reach our destinations,” Tabinga added. #

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The Mobility Awards is co-convened by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), The Climate Reality Project Philippines, 350 Pilipinas, MNL Moves, and Pinay Bike Commuter Community.

They encourage the public to submit their nominations through mobilityawards.ph/nominate until today, September 7.

Catch the last day of nominations: Pick a bicycle-friendly place for the Mobility Awards 2023

Threats to Truth-telling, Free Expression Worsen During Marcos Jr.’s First Year in Office

One year into the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the state of free expression has not improved. In fact, it has further deteriorated in the Philippines.

President Marcos Jr. pledged to uphold press freedom. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, however, recorded 84 incidents of attacks on the media from June 30, 2022 until July 22, 2023. This number is 42 percent higher compared to the documented cases during Duterte’s first 13 months in office.

Three journalists have been killed while four others survived two separate shooting incidents. The July 14 shooting of San Juanico TV reporters in Pastrana, Leyte by members of the local police and the subsequent surveillance and harassment they are subjected to prove that a lot has to be done to address impunity in the country.

Community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio and dozens of artists, including Adora Faye de Vera, Amanda Echanis, JP and Grace Versoza, Lorie Sigua, and Aldeen Yañez among others, continue to languish in jail over trumped-up criminal charges. Their only crime is that they have utilized their skills and talent to amplify the voices of marginalized and oppressed sectors. 

Libel laws continue to be wielded as a form of harassment against journalists. The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr., and even extended the prescription period of cyber libel from 12 years to 15 years. Last December 2022, journalist Frank Cimatu was convicted of cyber libel over a satirical social media post pertaining to former Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol. 

The blocking order against the websites of media outfits Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, and of several progressive people’s organizations stands. For publishing critical news and views, they continue to be censored by the Philippine government. 

President Marcos Jr. also remains silent on various attacks against freedom of expression, especially in support of the right to assemble and seek redress for grievances.

The red-tagging of journalists, artists, activists, and anyone expressing opinion contrary to government narratives persists. The government task force mandated to end the armed conflict and their minions attempt to portray as “terrorists” those who voice out legitimate criticisms and concerns. The entire state machinery, under the guise of the “whole-of-nation-approach” is used to curtail not only free expression but also the right to organization of different sectors pushing for their rights and welfare.  

State forces wield the anti-terror law as a weapon against human rights defenders. The Anti-Terror Council has designated as terrorists indigenous peoples activists in the Cordillera, and a community doctor in Mindanao despite the dismissal of fabricated charges filed against these human rights defenders. In the Southern Tagalog region alone, 15 activists, including two Church leaders, have been charged with violation of the Anti-Terror Act.

Marcos Jr. has not lifted a finger to undo the excesses and abuses of Duterte. His inaction is taken as a go-signal by those who continue to violate the people’s right to free speech and free expression. 

We, journalists, artists and advocates, speak now to challenge the Marcos Jr. administration to reverse the policies of his predecessor and uphold and respect the people’s rights. 

Free Frenchie Mae Cumpio and all detained artists and human rights defenders!

Stop censorship! Unblock the truth! 
Junk the Anti-Terror Law!
Artists and Media, Fight Back!

Altermidya Network 
Concerned Artists of the Philippines 
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines 

STATEMENTS ON THE LISTING OF MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS AS ‘FRONT ORGANIZATIONS’

ALTERMIDYA: On the listing of 3 media organizations as ‘front organizations’: Unconstitutional, dangerous

Altermidya Network denounces the unconstitutional, undemocratic, and dangerous resolution released by the Kalinga Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC).

The resolution, which urges the local government to require permits for activities, comes with a list of 18 so-called Communist Party of the Philippines’ “sectoral front organizations” (SFOs). The list, prepared by the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, included three media organizations.

As shown by photos released by Department of Interior and Local Government provincial director Anthony Manolo Ballug, the list included Altermidya members Northern Dispatch and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), along with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). This has the effect of preventing members of these media organizations from conducting their work as journalists and also puts them in grave danger from the military and the police.

The three media organizations are well-respected and award-winning institutions. The CEGP was established in 1931 and has produced hundreds of venerable journalists. The Northern Dispatch has been producing stories from the communities since 1989, while NUJP, founded by the late Tony Nieva, is known for advancing the rights and welfare of journalists in the country since 1986.

Even the 15 other organizations in the list are known legitimate organizations in Northern Luzon. Preventing them from continuing with their work without a court order is nothing less than undemocratic.

We urge the immediate junking of the Kalinga PTF-ELCAC Resolution No. 2023-04 as well as the 50th IB’s “List of SFOs”. We likewise ask the elected city and municipal officials of Kalinga to reject this dangerous resolution and list.

We will make sure that these attacks on press freedom and democracy are duly reported to the United Nations Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, who is set to conduct in-country investigations early next year. # (June 14, 2023)

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NORTHERN DISPATCH: On the inclusion of Northern Dispatch and other media groups in the 50th IB list of ‘Threat Groups’

We cannot help but ask: Is the military threatened by Northern Dispatch? Does the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with their guns, tanks, and bombs, find it difficult to face critical reporting that it must resort to malicious and covert labeling of our outfit, other media groups, and organizations?

The latest ‘secret’ list of alleged ‘Sectoral Front Organizations’ from the 50th IB seems to admit so. With all its might and combat training, the military still labels civilian and media organizations – as ‘Threat Groups.’

While their baseless rhetoric has already turned pathetic, its danger remains potent, enough to result in discrimination of groups and individuals, trumped-up cases, detention, enforced disappearance, and murder.

But the more crucial question is: Why the military considers critical media a threat and merits attention? Is it because our reports not only amplify the people’s democratic aspirations but also expose the ills of society that continue to thrive because of the government’s shortcomings?

Since its establishment in 1989, Northern Dispatch has reported on campaigns and struggles against widespread poverty, feudal exploitation, resource plunder, corruption, human rights violations and abuses, anti-people policies, and the government’s subservience to foreign powers. The people’s narratives we publish illustrate state security forces’ historical and continuing role in protecting this order.

While these stories show the root cause of the armed conflict and the social foundation of inequality and lack of justice, they still go through strict editorial standards. We write them with the Journalists’ Code of Ethics in mind.

Thus, we urge the military and the government to cease the practice of red-tagging and engage us under the rule of law and justice, and in an honorable manner. Prove that you are still capable of rational discourse on issues instead of treating critical media and activist groups as enemies of the state. #

Northern Dispatch Board of Directors, Editors, and Provincial Correspondents

June 14, 2023

Don’t pressure journalists to sign drug inventories

Although the Dangerous Drugs Act requires that the inventory and documentation of suspected narcotics that authorities seize in operations is done in the presence of witnesses this should not be taken to mean that law enforcement personnel have the authority to force members of the media to act as witnesses and sign inventories.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has taken the position since 2018 that the law should be amended to remove media workers as official witnesses in drug operations since this can put them at risk of retaliation from drug suspects and of contempt of court if they fail to attend hearings if the case goes on trial. The requirement in the law also means that journalists who cover drug operations could find themselves isolated from police sources or deprived of access to information if they refuse.

We welcome the National Bureau of Investigation’s apology over attempts by its personnel to coerce some of our colleagues — including the use of homophobic slurs — to sign during a recent anti-drug operation.

NUJP reminds the media community that while we may be assigned to cover law enforcement operations and that while it is our duty to report on these operations, the burden of ensuring that these are done according to due process and the law is on the authorities.

Our role as journalists is the best way to act as witnesses to drug raids and other law enforcement operations without signing government affidavits and forms. #

(March 17, 2023)

Kodao mourns the passing of Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Kodao mourns the passing of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, featured resource person of our podcast ‘Itanong Mo Kay Prof.’

The Filipino people has lost its most brilliant political analyst and social scientist. His more than six decades of activism and revolutionary work has given the Filipino people courage and inspiration to hope and struggle for genuine democracy and freedom.

JOURNALISM IS NOT TERRORISM

Journalism is not terrorism. (NUJP image)

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) memorandum ordering the blocking of the two media outfits’ websites, and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s shutdown order against Rappler are part of the systematic campaign against independent media.

These recent incidents aim to drown out the truth on one hand, and to drumbeat disinformation and misinformation on the other hand.

Just recently, the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) once again labeled the NUJP as a communist front.

The red-tagging of journalists is a deliberate attempt to discredit, isolate and render the Philippine media irrelevant. We are not taking all these sitting down.

Today, Bulatlat.com is filing a petition before the Courts to have the NTC order stopped and dismissed. We are fighting back. We will persevere in speaking truth to power. History is on our side. Press freedom will always remain a pillar of every democracy while those who sought to curtail press freedom were always repudiated and consigned to the dustbin of history.

#defendpressfreedom