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Bayan on Fr. Jun Mercado: ‘Remarkable human being’

Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado Jr. made his mark as a peace champion in behalf of the Bangsamoro. Quite unknown or forgotten however was his past as one of the founding leaders of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

In a tribute, Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo revealed Mercado was one of the first vice presidents of the country’s biggest alliance of progressive organizations. He was a stalwart of the national alliance of patriotic and democratic mass organizations at the height of the Filipino people’s struggle against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, Araullo wrote. She added that Mercado was once of its founding leaders when the alliance was founded in 1985 and served as one of the vice presidents of Bayan’s founding chairperson Senator Lorenzo Tañada.

“[Fr. Jun] spearheaded the formation of the People’s Caucus after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. The People’s Caucus was organized by Bayan in order to form a broad front that would continue to push for fundamental socio-economic and political reforms in the post-Marcos era,” Araullo said.

Araullo recalled that one of the main projects of the People’s Caucus was to put together a blueprint for the conversion of the former United States military bases into productive industrial and commercial hubs once the Philippines would be able to reassert national sovereignty over the sprawling prime real estate in Subic, Olongapo and Clark, Pampanga.

“This was to disprove allegations of pro-US quarters that the local economy built around and dependent on the US military installations would collapse should the US pull out. This was important in the campaign to reject the renewal of the RP-US military bases agreement in 1991,” Araullo said.

Both the former US Navy base in Subic and the US Air Force base in Clark have since become economic enclaves when the Americans left in a hurry as Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the early 90s.

Mercado died last May 23 in a Cotabato hospital of a heart attack as he was battling Covid-19.

 ‘Jovial and untiring’

Araullo remembered Mercado as a “very jovial, unassuming, cooperative, sincere and untiring Bayan official and People’s Caucus secretary general.”

“[He] lent his sharp intellect, articulate voice, persuasive charm and warm hearted generosity for the pursuit of BAYAN’s advocacies through its political education and information campaigns as well as mass mobilizations including people’s strikes under the Cory Aquino administration,” she said.

The priest was born and raised in Bulacan and Manila, respectively. His father was an American -trained World War II pilot.

Far from being a priest, Mercado originally wanted to become a politician. His plans drastically changed when he heard Oblate priest Bertrand de Merz introduce the Oblates of the Missionary Immaculate (OMI) in a visit to his school. The young Mercado entered the seminary in 1964 after high school at age 16 and professed his first vows as an Oblate in 1967. Mercado went on to study Classics and Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas and Theology and Missiology at the Gregorian University in Rome.

As a seminarian, Mercado’s scholarship was drawn to the rituals of birth to death of the Tausug in Sulu province. This influenced his decision to pursue Islamic Studies and Arabic Studies in Italy and Special Studies in Islamic Archaeology in Cairo. In a Philippine Daily Inquirer interview, Mercado described his dedication to study Islam as a “great passion (and) thirst.”

Thus, after his historic role as one of Bayan’s founding leaders and helmsman for the People’s Caucus, Mercado transferred himself to Mindanao from where he became active and well known for his championship of the Bangsamoro. From his Notre Dame University base in Cotobato City, Mercado played the role of peacemaker.

In so doing, Araullo said Mercado was being consistent in his advocacy for the Moro’s right to self determination, a role he played in all of his five decades as a religious.

“[He was] unwavering, if at times critical (in his) support for the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) peace negotiations…[as well as in] his courageous and unflinching role as a human rights advocate and defender of civil and political rights in the troubled island,” Araullo said

She added that Mercado took a principled stand against the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s martial law declaration in Mindanao in the wake of the Marawi Siege and became a convenor of Mindanaoans for Civil Liberties and Barug Katungod Mindanao.

Araullo said Mercado exemplified the activist priest who found and practiced the highest convergence of being the servant of God and service to the people.

“He did not shirk from social and political activism as unbecoming of a man of the cloth but embraced it with scholarly enthusiasm and imbued it with a high moral and spiritual conviction. His life-long focus on the plight, struggles and aspirations of the Moro people is a testament to his profound understanding and embrace of the most exploited, oppressed and discriminated against among God’s people,” Araullo said.

The Bayan leader said they are privileged and proud to have been a part of Mercado’s life’s journey as a “remarkable human being.”

“May his fine example shine a light on many more religious men and women who aspire to be relevant and contribute significantly to our people’s national and social liberation,” she said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘It is just a sweeping accusation, no different from red-tagging’

“The designation is arbitrary, has no clear standards, with no evidence presented and no specific terrorist acts cited. It is just a sweeping accusation, no different from red-tagging, that violates the rights of those designated. Those listed will also suffer the freezing of their bank accounts, a direct injury. All of this was done without due process.” — Renato Reyes, Secretary-General, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

BAYAN urges Palace to summon, even expel, Chinese ambassador

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) urged the Philippine government to summon the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China and demand an explanation for the Chinese Embassy’s continuing disrespect of the country’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a reaction to the Embassy’s statement claiming the Julian Felipe Reef as Chinese, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Ambassador Huang Xilian should be expelled if his explanation is unsatisfactory.

“The statement of the Chinese Embassy claiming the Julian Felipe Reef as well as dismissal of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the arbitral court decision of the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) is unacceptable,” Reyes said.

Reyes added that the Embassy’s assertion that the Philippines has no rights over its EEZ is disrespectful.

“We have sovereign rights over our EEZ. Chinese fishing vessels must not be allowed there. They should not decimate the riches of the sea that should only be for the benefit of Filipinos,” he said.

Bayan’s remark came after the Embassy dismissed Saturday demands by Philippine defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana for Chinese vessels to leave Julian Felipe Reef off the coast of Palawan province.

‘Chinese fishing ground’

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said Lorenzana’s statement are “perplexing” and “unprofessional remarks.”

The Embassy added that what the Philippine calls the Julian Felipe Reef is called Niu’e Jiao that is part of China’s Nansha Islands.

“The waters around Niu’e Jiao have been a traditional fishing ground for Chinese fishermen for many years. The Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the waters for their livelihood every year,” the Embassy said.

“It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions. Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” it added.

More than 200 Chinese boats have been reported to have stayed near the reef for several weeks since March, raising howls of protest across the Philippines.

The Chinese said the boats have only sought refuge in the reef due to rough waters.

Lorenzana on Saturday said the remaining 44 Chinese vessels that are in Julian Felipe Reef should leave.

“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan,” Lorenzana said.  (You should leave.)

In a later statement Sunday, Lorenza said the utter disregard by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of international law specially the UNCLOS is “appalling”.

Lorenza pointed out that the PRC is a party to the UNCLOS.

“Its nine-dash line claim is without any factual or legal basis. This, together with its so-called historical claim, was flatly and categorically rejected by the arbitral tribunal,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Restless night for rights defenders, activists

It had been a restless night for human rights defenders and activists who had been on alert against more police raids after the arrests of activists on Holy Tuesday, March 30.

“We are on alert tonight and expecting more raids in the offices of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan(Bayan)-Timog Katagaluganand Gabriela Southern Tagalog, all in Cabuyao, Laguna,” KMU’s regional chapter Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik) yesterday said.

 “Residents near the offices have seen police elements in full battle gear roving the areas near the offices,” the group added.

Pamantik’s alert status was announced after operatives of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided the abandoned office of its affiliate, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Engklabo (AMEN) in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna also on Tuesday.

As in almost all raids against activists throughout the country, the police alleged it found firearms and explosives in the property.

“Nagtanim ang mga ito (PNP-CIDG) ng tila isang ‘armory’ ng mga baril, granada, bala at bomba,” KMU said after the Laguna raid. (The police again planted a seeming armory of guns, grenades, ammunitions and bombs.)

The raid came after the Bloody Sunday killings in four Southern Tagalog provinces last March 6, and just two days after the death of Dandy Miguel, Pamantik vice-chairperson.

It also followed the raid and arrests of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon chairperson and concurrent Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas vice chairperson Jose Canlas in Pampanga and Bayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson and KMU vice chairperson for Central Luzon Florentino “Pol” Viuya in Tarlac on Tuesday.

Karapatan paralegal May Arcilla was arrested along with Viuya after vigorously protesting so-called irregularities in the operation.

As in the Sta. Rosa raid, the police alleged it found guns and explosives in the houses it raided in Central Luzon.

The “huli” (arrest, capture) week actually started in Bulacan province last Friday with the arrest of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Pandi chapter chairperson Connie Opalla by the police.

The police have yet to announce Opalla’s whereabouts despite announcing her arrest on its Facebook page.

“Huli Week” had been a moniker invented by Karapatan human rights workers since the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to describe the spike in the number of arrests of activists during Holy Week.

The PNP is known to favor the filing of so-called trumped up charges such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives, an unbailable criminal offense, to frustrate human rights lawyers from securing the victims’ early release. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups: ‘New ECQ is display of gov’t’s incompetence’

Groups condemned government’s announcement of plans to put Metro Manila and and provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal under the strictest quarantine measure anew.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte for another round of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is a display of “never-ending cycle of incompetence.”

“We are going back to ECQ but without the government assurance that there will be increased free mass testing, better contact tracing and increased capacity of our hospitals including more health workers. We are going back to ECQ without the assurance of aid for the economically displaced,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Reyes said the IATF recommendation again places the burden and sacrifice squarely on the people.

“We cannot merely rely on lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID. The lockdowns are only supposed to buy government time to beef up the health care system,” Reyes added.

In a Facebook post on March 27, Presidential spokesperson Herminio Roque Jr said the ECQ shall again involve the heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce community quarantine protocols.

Curfew shall also be imposed from six o’clock in the evening to five o’clock the next morning.

Nearly 10,000 new cases daily are being reported in the Philippines in the past few days, the worst in the Western Pacific.

Migrante International also scored the announcement, saying the new lockdown measures only show the Duterte government has failed in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Migrante said the government’s militaristic response is to blame for the country’s failure to check the spread of the virus, including its new variants.

“Kaya po sa pagbabalik ng ECQ sa ating bansa, ang kailangan po natin ngayon ay panagutin ang mga nagkasala, ang mga nagkulang at naging palpak mula nang unang ipatupad ang lockdown noong isang taon,” Migrante International said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BAYAN, ipinaliwanag ang #DutertePalpak sa pandemya

Ipinaliwanag ni Renato Reyes, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), ang aniya’y maraming kapalpakan ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte sa isang taong pagharap ng bansa sa pandemyang coronavirus. Sa harap ng Commission on Human Rights sa Quezon City noong Marso 17, 2021, inilahad ni Reyes ang kawalan ng maayos na sistema sa pagharap sa pandemya na nagdulot ng isang taong nagdurusa ng mamamayan sa mga hakbangin ng pamahalaan. Kabilang dito ang matinding pagbagsak ng ekonomiya, malawakang pagkawala ng trabaho, walang sapat na ayuda sa mga maralita, at patuloy pagdami ng nagkakasakit ng COVID – 19.

2ND UPDATE: Massacre and mass arrest as SEMPO rampages in Southern Tagalog

By Joseph Cuevas

(This is a developing story. Refresh for more updates.)

Five activists were killed while four others were arrested in a joint Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations in Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and Batangas provinces Sunday morning, eve of International Women’s Day, March 7.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted joint Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) in the four provinces that resulted in the massacre and arrests.

In Rodriguez, Rizal, Michael Dasigao, officer of a Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-affiliate organization and a Mark “Mak Mak” Lee Coros Bacasno were shot dead by the police, an alert from human rights organization Karapatan-Southern Tagalog said.

Manny Asuncion

In Cavite, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Cavite coordinator Manny Asuncion was brutally killed after police and military raided the Workers’ Assistance Center in Dasmariñas.

Photos released by Kilusang Mayo Uno’s Southern Tagalog chapter Pamantik show that Asuncion’s body appear to have been dragged from the center’s upper floor, leaving streaks of blood on the floor and stairs.

In Nasugbu, Batangas, activist couple Anna Mariz and Ariel Evangelista were found dead in a funeral home hours after police raided their house in Nasugbu.

Their 10-year old child was able to escape.

In Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna, Steve Mendoza, executive vice-president of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno, was arrested at his house at around 3:15 this morning.

Nimfa Lanzanas

Nimfa Lanzanas of Kapatid-Southern Tagalog, and aide for political prisoners in the region, was arrested in front of her grandchildren at her house in Calamba City.

Elizabeth Camoral, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Laguna, was also arrested after the police raided the office of farmers’s group Defend Yulo at around 4:30 in the morning in Cabuyao.

In Antipolo City, Rizal, Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE)-Rizal member Eugene Eugenio was also arrested.

Eugenio is president of the Advancement of Rights and Responsibilities of Organized Workers LGU (ARROWS) – Antipolo City Hall.

Meanwhile, Lino Baez of BAYAN-Batangas missed being arrested as he was absent when his house was raided where the police said they found illegal guns.

Elizabeth Camoral

Karapatan Southern Tagalog is investigating reports of other arrests, including of Dumagat tribes people in Tanay, Rizal.

Manila Regional Trial Court First Vice Executive Judge Jose Lorenzo De La Rosa issued the search warrants used in the SEMPO.

The massacre and mass arrest today followed the simultaneous arrests of unionists Ramir Corcolon in San Pablo City and former Lakas ng Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda union leader Arnedo Laguinas in Sta. Rosa, both in Laguna province, last March 4.

SEMPO, previously implemented in Negros and Panay islands, has consistently resulted in massacres and mass arrests of activists.

Its latest implementation before this morning’s incident resulted in the massacre of nine and the mass arrest of Tumandok tribes people in Iloilo and Capiz provinces last December.

The Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan said it condemns the “tokhang-style” attacks against progressive groups in the region and demanded justice for those killed today. # (With Raymund B. Villanueva. Photos provided by Karapatan ST)

Muling pagsusulong ng Charter Change, mariing tinutulan

Nagtungo sa tarangkahan ng Batasang Pambansa ang iba’t-ibang grupo kahapon, Enero 13, upang tutulan ang muling tangka ng mga kaalyado ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na baguhin ang Saligang Batas.

Ayon sa Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, bukod sa economic provisions na nagreresulta sa 100% pagmamay-ari ng mga dayuhang korporasyon sa mga lupa at mahahalagang industriya sa bansa, nais din ng Charter Change o Cha-Cha na magkaroon ng term extension sa mga pulitiko mula kongresista hanggang kay Pangulong Duterte.

‘Pinatay siya dahil sa kaniyang paghahangad ng tunay na kapayapaan’

“Pinatay siya hindi dahil siya ay rebelde, hindi [dahil] siya ay may ginagawang krimen. Bali pinatay siya dahil sa kaniyang paghahangad ng tunay na kapayapaan. Saan tayo nakakita, anong klaseng sistema ito, na ang mga taong naghahangad ng kapayapaan ay marahas na pinapatay?”Teddy Casiño, Spokesperson, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)

ITANONG MO KAY PROF: COVID-19 at si Duterte

Panayam ng Kodao Productions kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison sa pamamagitan ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo ng BAYAN National hinggil sa COVID-19 at paano hinaharap ito ng pamahalaang Duterte.

______________________________________________________________________________

ITANONG MO KAY PROF

TOPIC: Covid-19

March 18, 2020

SARAH: 

Opening: Kamusta sa ating mga tagapakinig! Sana ay nananatili tayong ligtas at nasa maayos na disposisyon sa gitna ng krisis pangkalusugan na dala ng   bagong Corona Virus Disease na lumitaw noong 2019 o COVID-19. Sa mga nakaraang araw, nasaksihan at naranasan natin ang pagkadeklara ng COVID-19 bilang isang global pandemic, ibig sabihin ay kumakalat ito sa maraming bansa sa buong mundo. Isa sa mga dumagdag sa ating ligalig ay walang iba kundi ang naging tugon ng gobyernong Duterte rito.

Marami ang hindi naaabot ng ayuda ng gobyerno, o halos walang ayuda, matumal at hindi malinaw ang impormasyon hinggil sa COVID-19.  Minarapat natin dito sa Itanong Mo Kay Prof na makasama kayong muli lalong-lalo na ang ating mga mahal na tagapakinig sa kanayunan at maralitang lungsod, na nananatiling kumakayod sa harap ng COVID-19.

Hindi nga ba, kung hindi lumalabas at magtatrabaho, walang gobyernong Duterte ang susuporta sa gitna ng kinakaharap nating sakuna? 

Pag-uusapan at uunawain din natin ang nangyayari sa atin at sa buong mundo kasama na ang ilang mga hakbang na kaya nating pagtulungan. Kagaya ng lagi, kasama natin ang Chairperson Emeritus ng International League of Peoples’ Struggle at Chief Peace Consultant ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines si Professor Jose Maria Sison dito sa Itanong Mo Kay Prof. 

Kamusta sa inyo, Prof. Joma?!

JMS: Maalab na makabayang pagbati sa inyo Prop. Sarah Raymundo at sa lahat ng ating kababayan. 

Mga Tanong:

SR1: Prof Sison, ipaliwanag muna natin sa ating mga tagapakinig kung ano nga ba itong tinatawag na coronavirus o Covid-19.

JMS:  Ang Covid-19 ay isang tipo ng sakit sa anyo ng virus na lumitaw  sa Wuhan, China noong Disyembre 2019 at nailathala ito bilang epidemya sa Wuhan noong Enero 2020. Ang mga mayor na sintomas nito ay lagnat,  ubong tuyo, hiráp sa paghinga at bulós. Nauuwi ito sa pneumonia na puedeng humantong sa kamatayan para sa 2 hanggang 5 por syento sa mga nagkakasakit ng Covid-19 sa ibat ibang bansa. 

Mabilis makahawa ang virus na ito sa mga tao sa pamamagitan ng paghawak sa iba at paghawak sa hinawakan ng maysakit o may dala ng virus.  Pinakabulnerable ang matatanda at  dati nang  may sakit sa baga.  Madaling kumalat bilang epidemya sa isang bansa tulad sa Tsina kung saan nagsimula.

At dahil sa mga byaherong may dala ng sakit, kumalat na ang virus sa higit ng 160 countries at naging pandemya o epidemya sa maraming bansa. Ayon sa Worldometer noong Marso 18, 198, 739 na ang nagkasakit sa Covid-19, 107,971 ang recovered at 7,989 ang patay.   Kabilang sa mga bansang may pandemya ng Covid-19 ay Tsina, Italy, Iran, South Korea, España, Estados Unidos  at iba pa.

Unang nahalata ang virus sa Pilipinas noon pang Enero nang namatay sa virus na ito ang matandang lalake sa mag-asawang  turistang Tsino.  Nahawa pa ang ilang Pilipinong doktor na nag-asikaso sa kanila. Ayon sa Department of Health (DOH) noong Marso 18, 193 na ang  nagkasakit sa Covid-19, 14 ang namatay at 4 ang recovered sa kanila. Hindi tumpak ang mga bilang na ito dahil sa kumalat na ang sakit sa buong Pilipinas sa nakaraang dalawang buwan at kung kailan lamang nag-umpisa ang bilangan sa mangilan-ngilang lugar.

SR 2.: Marami na pong mga bansa ang apektado ng kumakalat na Covid-19. Sa panahong tinatalakay natin ito sa ating programa, 14 na ang namatay at 187 at positibo sa COVID-19. Lockdown ang naging tugon ng gobyernong Duterte. Enhanced Community Quarantine ang utos niya sa lahat ng residente hindi lang sa National Capital Region kundi sa buong Luzon. Ano po ba ang ibig sabihin ng Enhanced Community Quarantine? At ano po ang inyong masasabi dito, Prof. Sison?

JMS:  Kasalanan ni Duterte at kanyang buong rehimen na kumalat na ang Covid-19 sa buong Pilipinas, lampas sa  opisyal na sinasabing bilang ng nagkasakit sa virus.  Noong ikalawang linggo pa lang  ng Enero, may alerto na ng World Health Organization tungkol sa epidemya ng COVID-19 sa Wuhan, Tsina.  Pero pinayagan pa rin ni Duterte na  pumasok sa Pilipinas ang mga biyaherong mula sa Tsina, higit sa 14,000 mula Wuhan at kalahating milyon mula sa buong Tsina. Katwiran  niya na kailangan ang kita  mula sa mga turistang Tsino at sa  tinatawag na mga POGO o mga kasinong Tsino.

Militarista at pasistang katarantaduhan ang lockdown na ipinataw ni Duterte sa National Capital Region. 40,000 ang bilang ng militar at pulis na dineploy para harangin ang mga tao sa napakaraming checkpoint.  Sinisita ang bawat isa para magpresenta ng ID at kunwari may isang gumagamit ng thermal scanner sa noo ng napakaraming tao.  Ang masama pinagtitipon ang mga malusog at mga posibleng maysakit. Nagagambala ang hanapbuhay ng mga tao at lalong kakalat ang Covid-19 dahil pinaghahalo ang may dala ng sakit sa mga  walang  sakit.

Lalo pang masama ang Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) na sumasaklaw na sa buong Luzon. Ipinagbabawal  na ang mga tren, bus, jeepney, taxi, SUV, P2P bus at tricycle. Lalong hindi nakakarating ang mga tao sa trabaho nila. Lalong patay ang ekonomya, mga pagawaan at mga serbisyo. Ang pinakamasama ay hindi makarating sa mga ospital at klinika ang mga may sakit ng Covid-19 o anupamang seryosong sakit. Pati mga doktor, nars at medikal supply ay mahirap  o hindi makarating sa mga ospital, klinika o health center. 

Katarantaduhan ang panghaharang ng mga armadong alipuris ni Duterte sa malulusog na tao, mga health professional at mga maysakit.  Ginamit ang Covid-19 bilang dahilan para gambalain at takutin ang mga tao.  Mas masahol pa ang Duterte virus sa Corona virus. Sa totoo lamang, nakapatay na ng higt sa 30,000 ang Duterte virus magmula pa 2016. Kung paghambingin, kakarampot pa lang ang pinapatay ng Covid-19.

SR 3: Sa unang araw ng mga checkpoints na ginawa ng mga pulis at sundalo, lumikha ito ng mahabang pila at trapik. Marami ang nagalit dahil sa nahuli sa trabaho ang maraming commuters. Ano po kaya ang marapat talagang gawin para sa maraming nagtatrabaho sa Metro Manila mula sa mga kalapit na probinsya, Prof. Sison?

JMS:  Dapat medikal ang solusyon sa Covid-19, hindi militar.  Antemano dapat nagdeploy ng mga doktor, nars, health attendants, face masks, personal protection equipment, thermal scanner, testing kit, mga oxygen tank, mga gamot at mga bed space para sa mga pasyenteng nasa malubhang kondisyon sa mga quarantine centers sa antas ng mga komunidad.  At dapat libre ang testing at treatment. Nagawa ito sa Tsina, Vietnam , Cuba, Singapore, South Korea at iba pang bansa.

Sa gayon, naihihiwalay ang mga may sakit  at malayang magbiyahe ang mga malulusog para makapunta sa kanilang mga trabaho. Masama na pinagbabawalang magbiyahe ang malulusog. Mamamatay sila sa gutom dahil walang kita. At babagsak ang ekonomya.  Pinamakasama para sa mga may sakit na hindi sila makarating sa opspital, klinika o health center. O kaya ihinahalo sila sa mga walang sakit sa mga military at police checkpoints.

SR4: Ayon sa Alliance of Health Workers o AHW, kulang ang mga health workers at doktor ng mga tamang kagamitan para sa monitoring ng mga pasyenteng posibleng may Covid-19 . Face mask nga ay halos wala o tumatagal ng tatlong araw imbis na ilang oras na paggamit lamang sa isang araw. Dahil sa budget cut sa pangkalusugan kung bakit lalong gipit ang kalagayang ng mga health workers. Ano po ang inyong masasabi sa bagay na ito, Prof. Sison?

JMS: Totoo ang sabi ng  Alliance of Health Workers o AHW, kulang ang mga health workers at doktor,  mga tamang kagamitan para sa monitoring at testing ng mga pasyenteng posibleng may Covid-19. Pati face mask ay halos wala at kung mayroon, ginagamit ito nang maraming araw imbes na ilang oras lamang. Mas masahol pa ay walang sapat na public health workers at kagamitang panggamot sa mga positive sa COVID-19.

Ang ugat na dahilan kung bakit  walang preparasyon at sapat na mga tauhan at kagamitan sa public health ay ang military overspending at korupsyon ng rehimeng Duterte.  Kinaltasan nang malaki ang mga badyet ng Department of Health nang 14 bilyong piso,  gayundin  ang mga badyet sa public education at iba pang social service para mapalaki ang badyet para sa office of the president,  sa militar at mga kagamitan nila ,  sa intelligence at discretionary funds at  sa pork barrel ikinabubusog ng pamilya, mga kroni at mga kongresista ni Duterte.

SR5: Sa talumpati ni Pangulong Duterte, humihingi siya ng ceasefire sa New People’s Army. Ceasefire daw muna pareho habang hinaharap natin ang ganitong kalagayan. Ano po ang inyong opinyon sa kahilingan na ito ni Duterte, Prof. Sison?

JMS:  Mahirap maniwala na sinsero o seryoso siya sa paghingi ng ceasefire sa New People’s Army o NDFP. Kung kailan lamang nag-utos siya sa kanyang mga militar na tapusin ang NPA at kilusang revolusyonaryo bago matapos ang term niya sa 2022. At ‘yong deployment ng militar at pulis sa mga lungsod ay hindi naman para lutasin ang problema ng Covid-19 kundi supilin ang legal na demokratikong kilusan at para palakasin ang kanyang tiraniya at mapili niya ang kapalit kung malubha na ang sakit niya mismo.

Maniniwala ang NDFP na talagang gusto niya ang ceasefire na masasang-ayunan nito kapag itigil  ang pananalakay at panunipil sa mga legal na demokratikong pwersa sa mga lungsod at mga larangang gerilya ng demokratikong gobyerno ng mga manggagawa at magsasaka at palayain niya ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal sa pamamagitan ng general amnesty on humanitarian grounds tulad ng pagpalaya ng Iranian government sa mga gasampung libong political prisoner para hindi sila madali ng COVID-19 sa loob ng preso.

SR6: Sinabi rin ni Pangulong Duterte na pwedeng hulihin ng pulis ang sinumang lalabag sa panahon ng checkpoint. Ang sabi naman ni Atty Chel Diokno, hindi pwedeng hulihin ang taong gustong pumasok sa NCR para magtrabaho. Ano po ang inyong masasabi hinggil sa bagay na ito?

JMS:  Tama ang sabi  ni Atty Chel Diokno, hindi pwedeng hulihin ang taong gustong pumasok sa NCR para magtrabaho, magdala ng pagkain o sinumang may sakit  na dapat pumunta sa doktor para magpagamot.  Pananakot at pagmamalabís ang utos ni Duterte na arestuhin ang sinumang lalabag ng batas sa mga checkpoint. Natural na magalang ang karaniwang tao. Malisya ni Duterte ang kanyang ipinaparatang sa mga tao na basagulero sila, tulad niya.

SR7: Disyembre 2019 nang pumutok ang Covid-19 sa China. Pero ngayong Marso lang naalarma ang gobyerno matapos maitala ang mga naging biktima ng Covid-19. Meron po bang responsibilidad ang gobyerno sa pagkaantala ng paghahanda ng Pilipinas sa pagpasok ng Covid-19 sa bansa?

JMS: Tulad ng dati ko nang sinabi, malaking kasalanan or krimen ni Duterte at mga kasapakat niya sa rehimen ang pagkalat ng Covid-19 sa Pilipinas sa Enero pa lamang.  Pinapasok ang 14, 000 Tsino mula sa Wuhan at 500,000 mula sa kabuan ng Tsina. At walang ginawa ang rehimen para maglaan ng mga tauhang pangkalusugan, mga rekurso at kagamitin para agapan at pigilin ang pagkalat ng COVID-19. Prayoridad ng mga may kappangyarihan ang pangungurakot  ang pagpapabaya sa kalusugan at paglabag  sa mga karaptan at interes ng mga mamamayan.

SR8: Ano po ang inyong mensahe sa ating mga tagapakinig? Marami po sa ating mga kababayan ang tila hindi mapakali dahil hindi lamang ang Covid-19 ang kanilang inaalala, kundi ang pagkain sa mesa sa araw araw.

JMS: Dapat panagutin ang rehimeng Duterte sa pagpapasok at pagkakalat ng Covid-19 sa Pilipinas at  sa kawalan ng wastong patakararan at mobilisasyon ng mga tauhang pangkalusugan at mga mamamayan para labanan ang pandemya .  Kriminal na  kapabayaan ito  ni Duterte. Tuwirang kaugnay nito ang mga pangunahing interes ng  rehimeng Duterte sa  pagiging taksil sa bayan, tirano, berdugo, mandarambong at manggagantso.

Dapat ibayong patatagin ng sambayanang  Pilipino ang kanilang pagkakaisa at kapasyahan para wakasan ang rehimeng Duterte. Dapat kumilos pa nang may ibayong militansya para ihiwalay at ugain ang rehimeng ito mula sa pundasyon hanggang sa atip. Dapat ibayong  palakasin  ang mga makabayan at demokratikong pwersa para ibagsak ang rehimeng ito  sa lalong madaling panahon. At maisulong ang mga pwersang ito ng sambayanang Pilipino para sa ganap na independensiya, demokrasya, hustisya sosyal, lahatang panig na pag-unlad at makatarungang kapayapaan.

Sarah: Maraming salamat po Prof. Joma talagang kailangan natin, higit kailanman ang mensahe ng kritikal na pagsusuri sa sitwasyon, kabaligtaran ng “sumunod na lang kayo” na kalakaran ni Duterte. Mas mahalaga, ay ang mensaheng sama-sama nating aksyunan ang ating pagsusuri at napagkaisahan. 

JMS: Ako po’y nagpapaalam kay Prop Sarah Raymundo at sa lahat ng tagapakinig. Umaasa akong makasama kayo muli sa ating susunod na panayam.  Sa kritikal na kalagayan ng ating bayan, laging may malaking isyu na dapat pag-isipan, talakayin at aksyunan. Maasahan ninyong handa akong makipanayam tungkol sa anumang mahalagang isyu. Maraming salamat. Mabuhay kayo!

SARAH: Naririyan ang ating mga organizasyon na sa gitna ng panggigipit ng rehimen ay nakatayo pa rin at ibayong magpapakilos para sa ating mga pangangailangan sa kasalukuyan. 

Mag-organisa, magtiwala sa mga kasama, abutin ang mga pinakanangangailangan sa pamamagitan ng ating mga grupong pangsimbahan, asosasyon, pederasyon, unyon, at iba pang porma ng organisasyon. 

Maraming may pagtingin na lockdown o ang pag-kontrol sa kilos ng mga tao ang isa sa mga solüsyon para pababain ang pagtaas ng mga nahahawa at namamatay sa COVID-19. 

Pero kung tayo ay may isang sistemang buhos ang resources sa pampublikong kalusugan, may mga sapat at libreng testing kits, hospital beds, at maging mga hospital, kung pampublikong serbisyo ang prioridad sa budget ng gobyerno na galing sa ating buwis, makatutugon ang gobyerno sa pangangailangan ng mamamayan kasaba ng pagprotekta nito sa frontliners, mapapaisip din tayo ng mga mas marangal, makatao, risonable, epektibong solusyon bukod sa lockdown.

 Ang lilikha ng sistemang iyon ay walang iba kundi tayo. Kaya ang pagiging kritikal sa gobyerno sa panahong ito ay may layuning makaambag sa bagong sistemang tumutugon sa pangangailangan ng tao at hindi ganitong kumikitil sa laya at buhay ng sambayanan sa gitna ng pisang matiging krisis. 

Salamat sa inyong pakikinig! Ibayong pag-iingat, pangalagaan ang ating mga komunidad laban sa COVID-19 at sa pasistang rehimeng Duterte. Hanggang sa muli, ito si Sarah Raymundo, aktibista ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan o BAYAN at guro ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas-Diliman, kasama niyo at ni Prof Joma dito sa Itanong Mo Kay Prof! 

END.