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BAYAN warns against police disinformation as SONA approaches

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) warned of a disinformation campaign that may be orchestrated by government forces to dissuade people from coming out and joining the protests on President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on June 22.

“Fake news regarding the protest actions and rally organizers are expected to be on overdrive as SONA day approaches,” BAYAN said in a statement today.

The group, one of the organizers of Monday’s United People’s SONA, said the Philippine National Police have warned participants not to bring jackets and backpacks during the rally as a security precaution.

“Protesters see this as unreasonable and may only be intended to sow fear among the public,” BAYAN said.

The group said the organizers expect a generally peaceful yet militant mass action on Monday, with national sovereignty, human rights and the economy as key issues in the protest.

Bayan calls on the Duterte government to respect freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble.

“The practice of harassing protesters, attacking human rights defenders and criminalizing dissent should stop immediately,” BAYAN said.

The United People’s SONA will be held at Commonwealth Avenue at three o’clock in the afternoon.

Various groups will however mass up at points along the broad avenue starting at eleven o’clock in the morning.

“After the passage of a crucial UNHRC resolution on human rights the Philippines, the world will be watching how the SONA protests will turn out on Monday,” BAYAN said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Black Friday Protest laban sa ‘dayaang Duterte Magic’ sa Halalan 2019

Isang Black Friday Protest ang isinagawa ng mga progresibong grupo para tutulan ang anila’y naganap na malawakang dayaan at karahasan noong eleksyon ng Mayo 13.

Ayon sa Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, hindi katanggap-tanggap sa kabataan ang resulta ng halalan kung kailan ang mga nominado ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang karamihan ng mga nananalo. Tiyak na maisusulong lamang ng mga ito ang mga pakana ng pangulo tulad ng ng pederalismo, ayon pa sa mga kabataan.

Para naman sa election watchdog na Kontra Daya, ang eleksyong 2019 ang isa sa pinakamalalang automated elections sa nakalipas na dekada, hindi lamang umano sa maraming pumalpak na vote counting machines, mga sirang sd cards at delay sa transmission ng resulta kundi automated na rin ang paraan ng pandaraya. Kontrolado ng Malacañang ang Commission on Elections sa anumang kahihinatnan ng bilangan, ayon sa grupo.

Itinuring ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan na isa sa pinakamarumingsa kasaysayan ang naganap na halalan noong Mayo 13. Ginamit umano ng pamahalaan ang tinaguriang “Duterte Magic” para maghasik ng pandaraya, takot at karahasan sa mamamayan upang ipanalo ang mga kandidato nito lalo na sa Senado. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Groups demand junking of TRAIN Law

Progressive organizations and Partylist groups held protested at the office of Bureau of Internal Revenue in Quezon City Wednesday, February 12, demanding the junking of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN) and Oil Deregulation Law.

Saying both laws have severely eroded the people’s economic wellbeing, the protesters also demanded an increase in the wages of both private (P750 per day) and public (P16,000 per month) workers.

In his speech, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr urged candidates in the coming local and national elections in May to fight for people’s issues.

Makabayan senatorial candidate Atty. Neri Colmenares for his part vowed to push what he calls the people’s agenda if elected in the Senate. He added that he will protect ordinary Filipinos against high prices and taxes. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

Catholic shrine, activist organizations report police, military ‘harassment’

A revered Catholic Church shrine in Parañaque and a building housing activist organizations in Quezon City complained of harassments Thursday, reporting that police officers and suspected military agents are out to further intimidate institutions and organizations critical of the Rodrigo Duterte regime.

In an alert, human rights group Karapatan said its national officers and staff members observed increased presence of suspected military and police agents within the vicinity of Erythrina Building in Barangay Central in Quezon City since morning.

The building houses Karapatan, National Union of People’s Lawyers, Kodao Productions and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, among other organizations.

Aside from armed men in civilian clothing surrounding the building, a small Philippine Army truck was seen parked nearby.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police officers had been swarming the Baclaran Church compound in Parañaque since Wednesday, forcing a bazaar meant to raise funds for indigenous peoples to suspend operations.

Instead of staying at the church gate, the police reportedly insisted on visiting the clergy’s living quarters because of an alleged bomb threat.

Baclaran Church, formally known as The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, is known to regularly host indigenous peoples who suffer forced evacuation by the military.

The Redemptorist priests administering the shrine has yet to issue a formal statement but has reportedly asked the police to stay outside the church gate.

A police car in front of Erythrina Building. (Photo by Jinky Mendoza-Aguilar/Kodao)

Karapatan blamed the activities on President Duterte’s latest tirade against human rights defenders.

“We are warning government forces – stop harassing rights defenders, lawyers and alternative media practitioners; and do not plant evidence in our offices. We shall make you accountable in different fora in time,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan later reported that suspected military and police agents circling the area have already left as of seven o’clock in the evening.

“We attribute this temporary respite to the vigilance of NUPL lawyers, human rights workers and staff members of Karapatan, Bayan and Kodao Productions, and allied lawyers and members of the media who responded to the call to monitor the increased presence and activity of suspected military agents and police in our offices,” Palabay said.

Karapatan said it will remain vigilant and defiant against any attempt to intimidate and harass their ranks as well as all human rights defenders and communities who bear witness to the Duterte regime’s repressive policies. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Protest greets Xi Jinping visit

Various groups held a mass action at the Chinese consulate in Makati City last Tuesday (November 20) to denounce the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping as they expressed outrage against the Rodrigo Duterte government for its subservience to the Chinese government.

The Pilipinong Nagkakaisa Para sa Soberanya o P1NAS called Duterte a traitor to the Pilipino people as it pointed out that his government is virtually surrendering Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea to China.

Even after losing in an international tribunal that determined the disputed areas are part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone three years ago, China refuses to recognize the decision  proceeded to militarize some islands.

China’s presence in the area includes so-called “ joint development” schemes with the Duterte government seen as a  weakening of the Philippine claims.

In the said rally, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) expressed concern that Duterte’s economic deals with China may push the Philippines under deeper debt.

In his visit to the Philippines, Xi took home 29 agreements, including an understanding on joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea and the construction of mega dams, including the Chico River Pump Irrigation, the New Centennial  Water Source Kaliwa Project, and the Agus-Pulangi Mega Dam project.

Indigenous peoples earlier raised fears that the China-ODA projects will cause their displacement from their lands and livelihood.

“Pawning our lands to an imperialist country like China is a serious crime that may lead to ethnocide,” Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas said. # (Joseph Cuevas)

Activists hold relief operation in Rizal

The Makabayan bloc, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other activist organizations organized a Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (BALSA) relief operation for flood victims in Rodriguez, Rizal last Thursday, August 16.

Beneficiaries of the two-day relief operations were former residents of urban poor communities in Metro Manila who were located by government to the province, but in flood-prone areas.

UNITED PEOPLE’S SONA 2018: ‘Walang forever na diktador!’

Tens of thousands of protesters filled the main avenue leading to President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address last July 23, 2018.

The march and protest rally, dubbed the broadest SONA protest against arroyo gathered groups from many political colors and stripes, leading Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. to quip that they should thank Duterte for uniting them.

Former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares’ speech was greeted with cheers when he announced that Duterte’s address had been delayed due to the tug-of-war for the Speakership of the House of Representatives.

‘Basher’ ng lider ng Bayan, humingi ng tawad

Binisita ni Gabriel Ilano, may ari ng Facebook account na nagpost ng pekeng kwento tungkol kay Renato Reyes Jr., ang lider-masa upang humingi ng tawad Hwebes ng hapon, Hulyo 26.

Humingi ng dispensa si Ilano sa naturang post at nilinaw nito na na-hack lamang ang account niya at hindi siya ang gumawa. Wala umano siyang galit kay Reyes.

Nagpasalamat naman si Reyes sa matapang na pagharap ni Ilano. Inahayag din nito na may kaukulang kaso ang pwedeng isampa sa kung sino man ang may kagagawan ng pang-hahack at pati na rin sa nagpakalat ng post na ito.

Sa pakikipagtulungan kay Atty. Krissy Conti, nagpasya ang dalawang grupo na magsasampa sila ng kaso sa mga nagpakalat ng kasinungalingan laban kay Reyes para hindi na maulit pa ang ganitong pangyayari.

Nato on trolls: ‘Let us not allow them to win’

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. is pushing back hard against online bashers he believes are “Duterte-Marcos trolls,” adding he has already consulted lawyers for appropriate legal action.

“I decry the orchestrated online slander campaign instigated by Duterte-Marcos trolls against me and the broad United People’s SONA,” Reyes told Kodao.

Reyes cited lies and a death threat posted online by bashers who also accused him of profiting from protest actions he helped organize.

He said the trolls altered photos of the huge SONA rally against President Rodrigo Duterte’s planned Charter change to make it appear as a pro-Duterte rally.

“Then, several accounts posted false and slanderous accounts about me concerning alleged purchases that I never made,” he said.

The post’s originator, a certain Gabriel Ilano, claimed he was asked by Reyes to “mark up” the declared price of a projector machine.

Ilano’s Facebook account since been deactivated after Reyes reposted Ilano’s accusation on his own account.

“However, [Ilano’s] false claims continue to make the rounds of Duterte sites. As a result I have received an online death threat from one Carl Espiritu,” Reyes said.

“Nagmamalinis kang animal ka! Kawatan ka pa rin palang hinayupak ka! Dapat bala ibaon sa ulo mo!” Espiritu wrote. (You want people to believe you are upright when you are corrupt yourself. You deserve a bullet to the head!)

Espiritu’s wife has called Reyes to apologize and explain that her husband is suffering from depression.

“I have already informed my lawyers and they are studying the appropriate legal action against Ilano, Espiritu and others who are spreading false claims,” Reyes said.

The leader said that two others have already contacted him to apologize, including a 23-year old woman who falsely claimed she was Reyes’s high school classmate who dropped out of school as he was already earning from organizing rallies.

Reyes graduated from Lourdes School of Quezon City and was his class’s Citizen’s Army Training Corps Commander and student publication editor in his senior year. He went on to attend the University of the Philippines in Diliman where he was also a student leader.

Earlier this year, Reyes’ 10-year old son was also accused by bashers of crashing a sports car into an electrical post.

“The end goal of the trolls is to stop critical discussion by hijacking the discourse. Let us not allow them to win,” Reyes said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Ombudsman indicts Abaya, 16 others over P4.2 billion MRT maintenance contract

The Office of the Ombudsman indicted former Department of Transportation (DoTr) secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and 16 others over a P4.2billion contract with several private companies for a three-year maintenance service of the problematic Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3).

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to charge Abaya and the other respondents for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) over the anomalous MRT3 maintenance contract.

Abaya was transportation secretary under the Benigno Aquino administration.

Also facing charges are DoTr Undersecretaries Edwin Lopez,  Negotiating Team head Rene Limcaoco and his deputy Catherine Jennifer Francis Gonzales; MRT3 General Manager Roman Buenafe, Assistant Secretary for Procurement Camille Alcaraz, MRT3 Bids and Awards Committee Vice-Chairperson Ofelia Astrera, Attorney Charissa Eloisa Julia Opulencia, Engineering Division chief Oscar Bongon, Engineer Jose Rodante Sabayle.

Private respondents Eldonn Ferdinand Uy of Edison Development and Construction, Elizabeth Velasco of Tramat Mercantile Incorporated, Belinda Tan of TMI Corporation, Inc., Brian Velasco of Castan Corporation, and  Antonio Borromeo, Jun Ho Hwang and Elpidio Uy from Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) were also included in the indictment.

Rigged for a single provider

The Office of the Ombudsman’s Special Panel of Investigators found that in October 2014 and January 2015, the DOTr conducted two biddings for the three-year maintenance service contract for the MRT3.

Both biddings failed due to non-submission of bids.

On 28 January 2015, Abaya issued a Special Order creating the MRT3 Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) for the procurement of goods, infrastructure projects and consulting services of the MRT3 system, the Ombudsman said.

On March 2015, the MRT3 BAC issued Resolution No. 002 recommending it resort to Negotiated Procurement through Emergency Cases under Section 53.2 of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (RIRR) of the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act No. 9184).

Documents, however, show that the contract was set to be awarded to a single maintenance service provider that would establish a Single Point Responsibility for several services, the Ombudsman said.

Table by the Office of the Ombudsman

On 21 December 2015, the MRT3 BAC issued Resolution No. 14 Series of 2015 recommending that the project be awarded to Busan JV.

On 07 January 2016, the DOTr, the MRT3 and the Busan JV entered into a contract for the long-term maintenance contract.

‘Incapable of undertaking maintenance project’

In its Consolidated Annual Audit Report (CAAR) for 2016, however, the Commission on Audit (COA) observed that the “DOTr still failed to provide the riding public with a safe and comfortable transport system even with the procurement and delivery from August 2015 to January 2017 of 48 new LRVs with a total cost of P3,759,382,400.00.”

“Despite four years in the procurement process and total payments of P527,761,083.00 (equivalent to 14 percent of the contract price) to Dalian, the LRVs remain inoperational and unaccepted by the DOTr as of reporting date  due to glitches in the power supply and signaling system.  These resulted from the DOTr’s poor planning and other major procurement lapses,” the COA added.

The Special Panel of Investigators found that respondents extended unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference to the contractor when it awarded the project to Busan JV, an ineligible and unqualified entity, the Ombudsman said.

“In sum, the Busan JV was not technically, legally and financially capable to undertake the MRT3 long-term maintenance contract.  Despite its being unqualified, the contract was still awarded to it by the DOTr, in violation of Section 53 of the RIRR of R.A. No. 9184, which requires that in negotiated procurement, the procuring entity should negotiate with a technically, legally and financially capable supplier, contractor or consultant,” the Ombudsman said.

The panel said then Secretary Abaya has immediate and primary responsibility for all government funds and property pertaining to his agency at the time of the questioned transaction.

Welcome decision

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. who led the filing of the complaint against Abaya last November welcomed the Ombudsman’s decision

“These maintenance contracts involving what we alleged are unqualified providers were partly to blame for the sorry state of the MRT3,” Reyes said.

“We are still a long way from achieving justice for commuters and taxpayers but we hope that the case will lead to genuine accountability,” he added.

Reyes advised the Rodrigo Duterte government to likewise examine the policy of privatizing the train system, its functions and maintenance.

“This has been routinely abused by both government officials and private groups to the detriment of the commuters and taxpayers,” Reyes said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)