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Nanay Mameng

Mother Mameng delves deep into the character of a woman who has experienced extreme poverty and domestic violence and rose from from it all to become the beloved personality, well-known to the Philippine mass movement.

Written and directed by Adjani Arumpac and produced by Kodao Productions, this 2012 bio-docu was the Gawad Urian Best Documentary that year.

Carmen Deunida passed away due to old age last July 19, still the beloved icon of the urban poor movement in the Philippines. (Featured artwork by Tom Estrera.)

Mga tula para kina Nonoy at Neil

ANG IKALIMANG BULKAN NG NEGROS

Ni Raymund B. Villanueva

Ang Negros ay may limang bulkan:

Kanlaon, Talinis, Silay at Mandalagan

Habang ang iba’y himbing, madalas magbuga ang una

Pinaka-masipag ang panlima, ngala’y Nonoy Espina.

Totoong ang Kanlaon ang pinakamatayog

Ngunit si Nonoy ang siyang bantayog

Siyang walang tabing na ulap at sinag sa tuktok

Ulo’y yukod sa lupa, korona’y puting buhok.

At kung si Nonoy ang nag-iingay

Hindi lamang ungol, hindi lamang dighay

Sabog kung sabog, walang awatan

Tulad ng apat, tunay ring bulkan.

Ngunit ang apoy niya’y biyaya

Liwanag sa karimlan, sa dibdib ay pag-asa

Pampatining ng bakal, pampatibay ng tuhod

Sa mga nanghihina’y pantuwid ng gulugod.

Bawat pagsabog niya’y pagpapala

Alay pagdaka ay matabang lupa

Tayong mortal ay hinikayat magtanim

Sa bukang-liwayway ay may aanihin.

Ating bulkan man ngayo’y himlay

Hindi niya nais ang protracted na lumbay

Bakas niya’y habang buhay na gabay:

“Taena, bok, gapiin ang kaaway!”

–1:20 n.h.

  16 Hulyo 2021

  Lungsod Quezon

= = = = = = = =

PANÁTA NI DOLÓ

(Pagkaraán ng “Alípin ng Gútom”, Linocut, 18”x18”, 2015)

Ni Rene Boy Abiva

(i)

Pinupúnit nitong tínta, pinsél, at kámbas ang bagsík

Ng balutìng púro dugô. Di yatà’t pawang taláhib

Na mabilís makasúgat sa mga paá’t balíkat

Papakín mo man ng halík ay tiyák na magnanaknák.

(ii)

Kung gayon, ang báwat hágod ng patúlis at manipís

Na brótsa ay pawang tukâ ng tandáng na bumabásag

Sa báwat madalîng-áraw. “Doló! May imórtalidád?”

“Walâ! Pantásya lang ito ng pala-túlog na burgís!”

(iii)

Halá! Bángo’t magsigísing kayóng mga maka-síning,

At h’wág sanang ikatwírang ngayón lang kayó nagisíng!

Matutúhan niyo sana na kung kayó’y isáng bagtíng

At sa digmàan gamítin, alípin ay magpipigíng!

(iv)

Ah! Mukhâng tamà nga yatà ang sabi ng matatandâ

Doón sa libís ng Tayug, lupàng mahál ni Calosa,

“Íngatan mo’t parámihin itong mga sambásambá,

Pagkát mínsa’y itinumbá nilá ang gintông kalésa.”

(v)

Ganyán, ganyán ang kamandág! Nakakanginíg ng pálad!

Yaóng para kang bumúhat ng tubó túngong kamálig,

O nagkamáda ng batóng umugáog sa daigdíg;

Ganitó nga kung wásakin ng ’saáng pintór ang ligálig.

= = = = = = = = =

(Ang mga tulang ito ay handog kina Jose Jaime “Nonoy” L. Espina ng National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) at Leonilo “Neil” O. Doloricon ng Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). Si Nonoy ay pumanaw noong Hulyo 7 samantalang si Neil ay namaalam noong Hulyo 16, kapwa sa sakit.

Kapwa silang kasaping tagapagtatag ng kani-kanilang organisasyon at mga kagyat na dating tagapangulo ng mga ito sa panahon ng kanilang kamatayan. Si Nonoy ay tagapangulo ng NUJP mula 2018 hanggang Marso 2021 at si Neil nama’y tagapangulo ng CAP mula 2019 hanggang Mayo ngayong taon.

Mga nangugunang tagapag-tanggol ng kalayaan sa pamamahayag at ekspresyon, huling nagkasama sina Neil at Nonoy sa pinakalamalaking pagkilos para sa karapatang ito ng bansa noong 2020 sa harap ng ABS-CBN sa Lungsod Quezon.)

Eminent artist Neil Doloricon dies

Leonilo “Neil” Doloricon, eminent visual artist and social realist, died early Friday morning, July 16, his daughter announced on Facebook.

Doloricon died in a hospital at past three o’clock this morning, his daughter Kat said. He was 63 years old.

“At 3:40 am we woke up from a call from my papa’s doctor that he just passed away. They tried to revive him but he didn’t make it,” the younger Doloricon announced.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Artists’ Circle describes Doloricon as a social realist painter, printmaker, social critic and educator.

At the time of his death, Doloricon was a professor at the UP College of Fine Arts which he served as Dean from 1998 to 2001.

He was also chairperson of the Committee on Arts and Humanities in the Commission on Higher Education.

A print by Neil Doloricon.

Doloricon was an awardee of Gawad para sa Sining Biswal of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and holder of the Fernando Amorsolo and Guillermo Tolentino Professorial Chairs at the said college.

From 2017, he served as chairperson of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines  and was named the organization’s chairperson emeritus at the end of his term in May this year.

He was a long-term editorial cartoonist of several newspapers, including The Manila Times and Malaya Business Insights. He was working at the former at the time of his death.

He also served as managing editor of alternative newspaper Pinoy Weekly.

The UP Artists’ Circle said Doloricon was one of the pillars of social realism in the Philippine art scene and was popular for his paintings, murals, and relief prints that depicted the struggles of the masses.

In one of the first tributes to the artist, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo described Doloricon as a true people’s artist.

“So, so sad. Grieving from the moment I heard the news. Paint the heavens in rainbow hues, Neil Doloricon. Or better yet, redesign the heavens through your social realist and sharp political lens,” Araullo wrote.

BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Doloricon was a pillar of progressive visual art in the country.

Doloricon had many exhibits throughout the country and abroad, among the latest of which were in Berlin and Moscow.

Both his prints and paintings are most sought after by many collectors. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups urge SC to act on attacks against rights lawyers and clients

Human rights and civil society organizations petitioned the Supreme Court (SC) to take urgent action against threats, red-tagging and killings of judges and lawyers as well as their clients.

In a letter to the SC Tuesday, May 18, Karapatan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advance of Government Employees said the attacks against court officers continue despite clear condemnation by the High Court last March 23.

Addressed to Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, the petition said the “attacks against human rights lawyers violate the basic principle that lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”

The groups said that attacks against the lawyers and judges deprive them of effective access to legal services and adequate protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The letter reminded the Court that there have been 147 reported attacks against court officers in recent years.

Eighty-four or 57% of the victims are human rights lawyers affiliated with the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Public Interest Law Center, Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and the Free Legal Assistance Group, the petition said.

In its March 23 statement, the SC acknowledged that members of the bar and the bench have been attacked and asked the lower court to submit reports on the matter.

The SC statement also came after NUPL member Angelo Karlo Guillen was stabbed with a screw driver on his lower left temple and back by two unidentified assailants in Iloilo City.

“The court condemns in the strongest sense every instance where a lawyer is threatened or killed, and where a judge is threatened and unfairly labeled. We do not and will not tolerate such acts that only perverse justice, defeat the rule of law, undermine the most basic of constitutional principles, and speculate on the worth of human lives,” the SC said.


‘State sponsored’

In their submission, the signatories also asked the Court look into the attacks suffered by the lawyers’ clients “and to understand the overarching government policies that cause them.”

The signatories asserted that the lawyers who represent activists, human rights defenders and ordinary people also become targets of the government’s counterinsurgency drive.

“An urgent and decisive action from the Supreme Court is a matter of life and death for activists and human rights defenders especially now when we are being increasingly targeted in the government’s counterinsurgency and counterterror campaign for our work and causes,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, one of the signatories, said.

“Despite the Supreme Court en banc’s much-needed statement two months ago, we are concerned that the attacks have only continued, if not worsened to even more alarming forms.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Right to water activist arrested, accused with illegal gun possession

The wave of search warrants served in the dead of night that lead to charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives victimized another activist, this time a government employee based in San Pablo City, Laguna.

Ramir Endriga Corcolon, an officer of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and an employee of a local water utility, was arrested by the police at 4:30 AM this morning.

Corcolon, a campaigner against the privatization of water services, is a COURAGE national council member and secretary general of the Water System Employees Response (WATER).

The federation of government employees unions said in an alert that Corcolon’s house was raided and searched by Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) operatives.

Corcolon was taken to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang town at 8:30 AM.

Corcolon in a police detention cell. (COURAGE photo)

A search warrant alleging the activist possessed a rifle grenade was issued last February 23 by Sta. Cruz, Laguna Executive Judge Divinagracia Bustos-Ongkeko.

The search warrant used to raid Corcolon’s house. (COURAGE photo)

Pictures posted by COURAGE on its Facebook page show that a handgun and ammunitions were also allegedly found in Corcolon’s house.

Guns and ammunition the police allege were found in Corcolon’s house. (COURAGE photo)

Dozens of activists had been issued similar warrants and charged with violation of Republic Act 9516, the anti-illegal possession of firearms and explosives law, in a sustained crackdown against Leftist critics of the Rodrigo Duterte government.

COURAGE demanded the immediate release of Corcolon and condemned what it calls the terror-tagging of activists.

“Corcolon is an employee that vehemently opposes the privatization of water districts. He also stands for the advancement of the rights of employees and the people,” COURAGE said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Aklan activists warn of more SEMPO-like raids by police, seek help from local leaders

Activists in Aklan province asked local political and church leaders to stop a repeat of mass killings and arrests of civilians by the police.

In an open letter to Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, Representatives Carlito Marquez and Teodorico Haresco Jr., the Diocese of Kalibo, and the local media as well as to residents, members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Aklan and the Makabayan bloc appealed for the preemption of a repeat of the massacre of nine Tumandok tribespeople and the mass arrest of 16 others last December 30.

“[W]e are conveying our appeal to all of you to take necessary actions so as to preempt the perceived occurrence of a SEMPO (Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations)-like operation in the province of Aklan that might cost lives of civilians,” the activists said in their January 24 letter.

The activists explained they suspect that another SEMPO is about to happen, this time against leaders and members of both BAYAN-AKLAN and the MAKABAYAN Bloc in the province.

Makabayan is a group of progressive political parties that are members of the House of Representatives, including Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan Youth Party and ACT Teachers Party.

“We are making the public aware that the gale of red-tagging campaign of the NFT-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) is blowing strongly in the province of Aklan amid (the) crisis of COVID19,” they said.

The activists said tarpaulins demonizing their groups abound in Kalibo City while surveillance and monitoring of their activities increased since January 4.

The activists suspect that State forces are behind the harassments.

The 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army also increased its harangues against their organizations on its Sunday block time radio program, the activists complained.

The Tumandok had been subjected to the same threats and harassments before the Rizal Day massacre and mass arrests, the letter explained.

“The current red-tagging and subjecting of activists under intense surveillance are incidents that serve as preludes to warrant-less search and arrests, massacre and killings,” the activists said.

The appeal added that local political and church leaders personally know the activists who are engaged with them in dialogues and humanitarian activities for Aklanon’s welfare.

“Yes we are activists, but we are not terrorists,” the letter said.

“[W]e are appealing to the provincial government of Aklan through Governor Florencio T. Miraflores and to the Chairman of the Committee of on Human Rights in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan to immediately take necessary action to protect our civil, constitutional and human rights as your constituents in the province,” the activists said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Winds of democracy in the Philippines

By Sonny Africa

Delivered at the International People’s Research Network (IPRN) Webinar on “Building People’s Democracy” held on November 27, 2020

What struggles to build a democratic society truly fulfill the aspirations of the people? IBON will briefly share our experience in the Philippine context and look forward to discussions to enrich this from different perspectives. The winds of democracy are blowing strong here.

We can start by affirming the essential character of the Philippine state. It remains as it has always been – political and economic elites inextricably intertwined and using the powers of government to advance their narrow interests. But it may be useful to look at some major developments over the last four decades of neoliberal globalization. This may help clarify authoritarian trends seen today and also point to areas needing particular attention.

Globalization and democracy

The 1980s saw hype about the “end of history” and the supposed triumph of Western liberal democracy with its distinct blend of free markets and private property, civil liberties and human rights, and supposed political freedoms. (Even then, giant China was of course a conveniently disregarded outlier.) Since then, there has been an increase in pluralist electoral democracies enshrining the popular vote for choosing leaders – as in the Philippines upon the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. (Even Russia started choosing its president by popular vote in 1991.) There has also been a huge expansion in mass media and then the internet which, it was argued, strengthened liberal democracies by democratizing information.

In economic systems, free market policies of neoliberal globalization were promised to unleash economic potential, develop backward economies, and bring prosperity to all. In reality, we’re all familiar with how neoliberal globalization has resulted in greater exploitation, greater destruction of natural resources and the environment, and greater wealth and economic power in the hands of a few. Hundreds of millions or even billions of people exploited, abused and left behind made the rumble underfoot grow stronger as economic crises erupted and deepened.

Elites however twisted this dissatisfaction, went on an all-out disinformation offensive in mass media and the internet, and manipulated elections to rise to power as today’s populist authoritarianisms – the Philippines’ own Pres. Duterte is a case in point. In too many places around the world, demagogues of different degrees are elected and have risen to the top of falsely democratic political systems.

They mostly keep the forms of liberal democratic institutions in place – free elections, the branches of government, mass media, even civil society. But these are wielded self-interestedly, subverted in practice, and any portions particularly inconvenient are carved out. But they are fundamentally authoritarians and we see everywhere the growing use of state violence, against any and all opposition, to protect elite economic interests and to retain political power.

These processes have played out in the Philippines as elsewhere. In our specific circumstances, how do we build a democratic society?

People, most of all

The most critical foundation remains people’s organizations with a vision of a democratic society. The Philippines is fortunate to have a long-standing core of this in the mass movement built up over decades. These include the country’s largest organizations of politicized peasants, formal and informal workers, youth and students, women, indigenous people, teachers and academics, and more.

The mass movement combines concrete struggles on immediate concerns with constant education work on systemic issues. Concrete struggles and constant education are both essential to build solid core constituencies for genuinely transformative change for the better.

These organizations are at the forefront of challenging anti-people social and economic policies and countering neoliberal globalization. They are also an army that reaches out not just to their direct constituencies and networks but also communicates to the widest number of people through mass media, social media, and other internet platforms.

They are supplemented by tactical formations and alliances on urgent issues to more immediately reach out to and mobilize the wider public. For instance, the steady assault of the regime on accustomed liberal democratic institutions creates wide opportunity for this. The attacks on senators, congressional representatives, the Supreme Court chief justice, the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), major broadcast and internet media outfits, civil society, activists and others have stirred wide outrage. This scattered dissent needs to be brought together.

Progressives in government

At the same time, people’s organizations have enough strength and flexibility to also directly engage in traditional elite-dominated governance through elected parliamentarians such as via the party-list system in Congress. Progressive party-list groups have always been among the frontrunners in Congressional elections and already form a solid pro-people bloc in the House of Representatives.

While fully part of the traditional institutionalized political system, progressive parliamentarians remain solidly grounded in people’s organizations and are relentless in challenging the boundaries of the country’s so-called democracy. As real representatives of and from the people, their legislative measures and political work are consistently biased for the people. They seek to deliver concrete benefits while consistently seeking to weaken the economic power and fight the political abuses of self-serving elites.

Through their visible public service, they enable the general public to see that more democratic economic and political policies are possible. But they are also the beachhead of democracy in the authoritarian Duterte government for launching attacks from within. They are valuable for reaching out to other progressives and potential allies within the government, and for organizing efforts to push for democratic changes in the centers of reactionary politics.

Research matters

The superstructures of power are defended not just by sheer violence but by the hegemony of self-serving and reactionary knowledge. We of course give special attention to the invisible power of ideas, values and beliefs in reproducing capitalism and today’s worsening authoritarianism. Among the most important ways to challenge this is with solid research from the perspective of and upholding the aspirations of the people for social justice, equity, and a decent life for all.

The struggle of ideas is one of the most urgent realms of political struggle. Solid research and tenacious advocacy are vital to overcome the dominance of ruling class ideas and values. More and more people must unlearn that oppression is just to be accepted and that the only improvement in our material conditions is what ruling elites will allow.

Solid research is vital to support the campaigns of people’s organizations and of progressives in government. For instance, research on economic issues reveals what changes decades of imperialist globalization have wrought as well as confirms what remains the same. And we know that ideas are meaningless if not transformed into a political force so these need to be formed with or by the mass movement and then taken up by it.

Solid research is vital to credibly challenge anti-people policies and to articulate our new ideas and visions for a more just and democratic society. We challenge capitalism not just because it is exploitative and oppressive but also because it isn’t immutable, can be replaced, and should be replaced. We look to the socialist alternative not just because we imagine it as just, humane and liberating, but also because it is possible and can already start to be built. Research makes our critique potent and also makes our alternative real.

Research is about ideas and we are today facing a deluge. What does it take to be dynamic in the digital age with its endless tsunami of trivialities and information? It isn’t enough that our analysis is correct and that we are credible – to communicate today we have to be real-time, interactive, and nimble with text, photos, graphics, audio, video and animation. And while we will continue to distribute our research, we also have to be ever more accessible not just conceptually but also literally. More than ever, people constantly seek information with a mere click of their finger or a swipe of their thumb.

Democracy in progress

Finally, we all know the value of seeing that oppressive structures can be changed and that what is accepted as ‘normal’ can be replaced. In the Philippines, the most radical flank and most direct challenge to the oppressive status quo are the scattered but growing sites of democratic governance in the countryside. In many rural areas across the country, communities are undertaking examples of how local political and economic democracy can be interlinked to benefit the majority people and not a few elites. These are areas where landlords, agri-business, and mining corporations do not dominate and where people’s organizations have taken control of their communities and their lives. They push the envelope of our democratic struggles.

On a historical scale, there’s no doubt that the world is changing for the better. There’s too much creativity, energy and bravery committed to that for it to be otherwise. Perhaps in fits and starts, or with setbacks big and small – but, still, we’re inexorably moving forward on the back of millions of steps and struggles every day around the world. #

Red Red Whine

by Sonny Africa

IBON staff reflect on red-tagging and its attack on the ideas of the Left

Two weeks ago, as floodwaters reached a new high to trap thousands of Filipinos on the roofs of their homes and force hundreds of thousands more to evacuate, red-tagging reached a new low.

The nation struggled to mobilize help beyond what the government was giving but the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) saw it as just another day at work to whine about Reds. It tried to dissuade donations for relief work of youth activists, took a swipe at CNN Philippines for being infiltrated, and even thought it worthwhile to meddle in a call for support among co-parents in a high school group chat.

The sad episode is a case study of the depths the Duterte government goes to in calling people Communists or terrorists and organizations as fronts or infiltrated. The hysterical claim last week is that the call for donations is “extorting money and goods to fund and support their terrorist activities”. Go figure.

But it also prompts deeper reflection on what red-tagging is and why we all lose from it. It isn’t the mere labelling that the government and its security apparatus like to pretend it is and which, they insist, even the Left does to itself. Red-tagging is labelling to attack not just people and organizations but also the very ideas and values so needed to make tomorrow better than today.

Fear of ducks

These are the coordinates of their lunacy: Communists are terrorists, Communist ideas a.k.a. Leftist ideas are passé, and anyone spouting Leftist ideas is a terrorist or a brainwashed puppet.

But the thing is, with the world and the country the way they are, it’s obvious what anyone concerned about humanity will cherish for their absence – social justice, equality, and a decent life for all. An honest grasp of history, politics and economics also points to what’s needed for these values to become real – people taking control of society and their lives.

Drilling down further shows what makes ‘Reds’ look, swim and quack like the ducks that elites fear so much – the rejection of capitalism, redistribution of wealth, and the imagining (or even building) of a socialist alternative. There’s a diversity of ducks but they all have these feathers.

Reds proudly embrace these ideas, and are famously relentless in putting these ideas into practice as conditions allow. They wear their red hearts on their sleeves and wave their red flags, literally and figuratively, because it isn’t enough for the ideas to be compelling. They have to be grasped and embraced and practiced by as many people as possible.

Which brings us back to red-tagging. Leftist ideas are the floodwaters of social change but instead of homes of the poor they wash away the structures of power. These waters are rising – maybe not like a storm surge but inexorably rising nonetheless.

Red-tagging aims to put a stop to that. Starting with activists and their organizations, including their supporters, and then really anyone daring to think differently and taking a stand. It wants to reduce radical ideas to a trickle of disembodied voices embellishing a fake democracy but threatening no one.

Progressive ideas will be tolerated if spoken from armchairs or as rhetoric in speeches and policy-making. But red flags are raised when these ideas are connected to each other and, especially, when they’re borne by the organized power of politicized Filipinos in a mass movement for change.

Capitalism and wannabe authoritarians don’t want that. They need a blind and docile public that doesn’t question why the economy leaves them behind, nor that opposes unrelenting corruption and the abuse of power.

Duck-hunting

The Duterte administration is averse to Leftist ideas but is incapable of arguing against them beyond shrill banalities. The government admits as much whenever it laments losing the “propaganda war,” as verbalized by the NTF-ELCAC, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and even a militarist senator.

What they don’t see and can’t concede is that they’re losing because they’re on the wrong side of history – so they’ve gone duck hunting instead.

This wouldn’t be a problem if they were going after armed ducks. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-led New People’s Army (NPA) is waging armed revolution in the countryside and, for that, is prepared for an equally armed response. The state can’t seem to defeat them in the battlefield and is in a virtual stalemate. But that’s another story.

The problem is that the Duterte administration is going after anything that quacks, wherever they might be, even if they aren’t doing anything illegal in their advocacies, projects, humanitarian work, law-making, and fiscalizing. In a back-handed compliment, the state is starting with the biggest, most influential, and deepest-rooted mainstream Left forces. The calculation may be that if the powerful radical flank is broken then moderates become more manageable.

The new Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) is bringing a tactical nuke cannon to a duck hunt with the same kind of widespread and excessive damage. Red-tagging today is in cheap posters and flyers, bad PowerPoint presentations, loose media statements, and troll-like social media posts.

The ATL will make red-tagging graduate from these – bypassing courts where they’d just be a mess of inadmissible evidence – to become the first step towards thinly ‘legalized’ surveillance, freezing of assets, warrantless arrests, and indefinite detention. The brazen abductions and assassinations by shadowy state security forces before the new law will still continue.

Fantastic tales

Red-taggers won’t admit it but they know they would never win a battle of ideas. So they fight with twisted fantasies instead and bank on sheer repetition using the vast propaganda apparatus of the government.

Armed Reds and Leftist activists, or armed Leftists and Red activists, are crudely lumped together — this only exposes that it’s Red and Left ideas that they fear most of all. The NTF-ELCAC’s banal propagandists think that they’ve stumbled on irrefutable wisdom and repeat this ad nauseam.

A Philippines that would be idyllic if not for the renegade violence of NPA bandits in the countryside? As if it isn’t the government that’s been killing tens of thousands of alleged drug offenders and unarmed activists. The Duterte government’s state-sponsored and -sanctioned violence against civilians kills more than the guerrilla war does in the countryside.

Families blissfully happy if not for youth brainwashed to hate their parents? As if children, youth and students can’t see for themselves how their families and many others are exploited while a fraction have uncountable wealth and luxury. Our best and brightest love their country and their families. Their choices come from maturity and deserve respect.

Activists whose real agenda is hate, death and destruction? As if they aren’t among the most consistently compassionate, dedicated and productive defenders of human rights or enablers of oppressed and exploited folks wherever they might be. The self-sacrifice is out of a deep love for others.

Lumad communities in picturesque harmony if not for NPA recruiters? As if they don’t know that soldiers and paramilitary goons pave the way for mining, logging and energy projects that won’t benefit the Lumad communities. The government exploits the Lumad many times over when they are paraded as propaganda props.

The NPA are rapists, murderers and extortionists? As if a roving army of such deviants could survive for decades, attracting idealistic youth and getting the support of rural communities knowing them and seeing for themselves who they are.

And an economy made poor by Communist armed conflict? As if the economy wasn’t poor before the rise of rebellion, and isn’t kept poor by neoliberal policy incantations from worshipers of the Gods of Capitalism. And as if the most rapid economic growth in decades hasn’t benefited oligarchs, government functionaries, and foreign capital while leaving the majority poor and farther behind than ever.

The red pill

Part of red-tagging is the Duterte government wanting us to take the blue pill. To swallow their disinformation, stay ignorant, and live in the confines of an unjust, unequal and unchanging world. It’s a pill to make people not just clueless but ultimately helpless and hopeless.

The red pill, on the other hand, frees us from the enslaving control of thinking that there is no alternative to capitalism and the status quo. It affirms the working class coming together as the most powerful force for change for the better.

It also makes us see how everything is commodified where the presidency, elections, legislators and laws, even the judiciary can be bought. And how oligarchs, foreign investors, business cronies, and government officials have become wealthier – as well how the wealth of the president and his family has become suspiciously invisible.

At one level, the NTF-ELCAC propagandists are just indoctrinated military personnel and folks with a quasi-religious devotion to the president (or maybe just a crush). At a deeper level, the NTF-ELCAC is the spearhead of the system trying to put down dissent and the rising waters of social revolution.

A line is being drawn in the dolomite sand. But it isn’t between those for or against ‘Communist-terrorists’ – it’s between those embracing or enabling the status quo and those choosing to change this for the better. More than ever, it’s time to take sides. #

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Kodao publishes IBON articles as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Checkpoints, rains fail to stop ‘Grand Mañanita’ vs Duterte’s anti-terror bill

Scenes at the “Grand Mañanita” protest event against the Rodrigo Duterte government’s anti-terrorism bill at the University of the Philippines, June 12.

Despite many police checkpoints surrounding the sprawling University of the Philippines campus and the rains brought by a typhoon, thousands of protesters attended the event that fell on the 122nd anniversary of Philippine Independence from European colonization.

Organized primarily by the group Movement Against Tyranny, the event may very well be the most creative protest action this year.

(Parody song “Mañanita” by Plagpul of the song “Seńorita” by Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello/Video editing by Jek Alcaraz, videophotography by Alcaraz, Joseph Cuevas, Sanaf Marcelo, Maricon Montajes)

They murdered a jolly activist today

They killed him in the midst of a dangerous pandemic, one that shut down his beloved city and rendered its poor communities nearly helpless.

The person brutally murdered by four burly men in early this morning was one of Iloilo City’s most visible personalities during times of disaster and calamities, often seen organizing and coordinating relief missions. And giving relief to those most affected by the coronavirus lockdown was one of the last public things he did before assassins brutally snuffed out his life.

Jory Porquia was at ease with the poor, both urban and rural. He had a smooth rapport with the people he chose to serve since his student-activist days. He bantered easily with the poor and marginalized, his voice and laughter carrying the Ilonggo’s sing-song and tender accent far, be it in Iloilo City’s poor communities or in the far-flung communities of the Tumanduk, the indigenous people of his beloved Panay Island.

Jory was coordinator of the alternative political party Bayan Muna in his home city of Iloilo, touted to be the “City of Love.” How he lived this love was unconscionable to the enemies social justice Porquia struggled to abide by all his life. The assassins barged into his rented house and pumped nine bullets into him, killing him on the spot.

Bayan Muna immediately condemned the assassination, calling it traitorous. The group suspects Porquia’s murderers could only be of the government. “Prior to this killing, Jory was hounded by elements of Iloilo City PNP (Philippine National Police) for leading relief operations and education campaign on COVID 19 among hungry residents of poor communities in Iloilo City,” Bayan Muna said. “This is part of the impunity in political killings aimed at terrorizing activists critical of Duterte’s administration,” it added.

 Bayan Muna revealed that even though Iloilo City mayor Mayor Jerry Treñas welcomed the relief and feeding activities Bayan Muna and Jory initiated, this did not sit well with the government. ”The police did not only prevent activists like Porquia from doing volunteer work against the pandemic, it even spread the blatant lie that the food served by activists to quarantined residents are contaminated with the COVID 19 virus,” Bayan Muna fumed. “Apparently, the PNP gets instructions from their generals ignoring the policies of local chief executives,” the group added.

The lies and harassments did not stop Jory. But the assassins’ bullets did.

Jory Porquia (Supplied photo)

Successful activist career

Jory survived Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law as a leading Kabataan para sa Demokrasya at Nasyonalismo (KADENA) and League of Filipino Students leader. After Marcos was ousted he was appointed by Corazon Aquino to the National Youth Commission. He left his government post when it became clear the so-called People Power government is not one to bring genuine social change.

As a young family man, he had to work as a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia, Singapore and China. In those countries, it was as if Jory was still the Iloilo activist of old as he became active in organizing fellow migrant workers and advocating for Filipino migrants’ rights.

Upon his return, Jory briefly engaged in the construction business and worked as Migrante organizer in Panay. To this day, Migrante calls him its own, expressing grief and anger at his murder. “With pain and sorrow, we grieve with Jory Porquia’s loved ones, friends and his fellow Bayan Muna members for his demise,” Migrante International said.

Jory was an well-rounded activist. Aside from his organizing tasks in various organizations, he was also an active environmentalist. He was among the activists of the Madia-as Ecological Movement, which was instrumental in the banning of destructive commercial mining in Panay.

When Bayan Muna Party was founded in 2000, Jory was among its founding members. As party coordinator in Iloilo City, he actively engaged in developing good relations with local political leaders in Panay. He even was goaded into trying his luck at an elected position in the 2010 local elections, but lacking funds, it was a long shot.

But in 2016, Jory again found himself in government service. In barely a year, he assumed the coordination of the National Anti-poverty Commission and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Panay Island. As he left government in 1987, so he did in 2017.

“Jory is a great loss to the progressive movement for social transformation, but will inspire Bayan Muna members and all activists to persist in advancing New Politics against the tyrannical rule of the current administration. We will always remember you, Kaupod (Comrade) Jory, as we turn our grief into liberating courage,” former Bayan Muna Representative and current vice president for the Visayas Siegfred Deduro said in his tribute.

Jory Porquia (Supplied photo)

Loving father

Even in his very busy schedule as a social activist however, Jory was a loving father to his two children.

In announcing the death of his father this morning, Jory’s son Lean remembered when his father immediately flew to Manila when he needed someone to talk to. He said his dad always supported his decisions but always reminded him to ask himself, “Who is he doing it for?” Lean and his sister grew up sharing their father’s patriotism.

Lean raged at his father’s killing. “They killed my tatay (father) when all he wanted was to help the poor. They killed my tatay in the middle of a crisis when all he did was to give relief to those who need it. They killed my tatay, mercilessly. Nine gunshots to kill him, NINE! He was alone. He was defenseless,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.

But like his father’s friends and colleagues, Lean could not help but remember his father’s jolly nature and easy-going ways with the ordinary folk even when he was facing grave danger and great injustices. “You survived Martial Law. You went in and out of prison because you fought for other people’s rights. Despite that, you gave a smile on the faces of people you helped, people that I don’t know, people that I’m surprised to welcome you in their homes and share their meal, even if it’s just one small can of sardines. You brushed shoulders with bureaucrats, but only to remain grounded in advancing the welfare of the poor people in Iloilo,” he recalled.

At the time of his assassination, Lean revealed Jory was brewing a personal project that was close to his heart. “We were just talking last night about your plans of opening up a small restaurant. You even showed me all the papers are ready. You even took a picture of your own masterpiece dish and I told you to reserve some when I have the chance to go home,” he wrote.

“How can I go home and grieve? How can we cry for justice when justice is elusive for people who fight for justice? I can only place my rage in words that mean nothing to those who killed you,” Lean added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)