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Health workers press opposition to Fabella “transfer”

Medical professionals held another protest rally last May 26 against the so-called transfer of the Fabella Memorial Hospital from its current location to the Department of Health compound later this year.

Alliance of Health Workers members expressed fears that the hospital may go the way of other public hospitals that ask for payment for every service it renders. Read more

NDFP to Aquino: Ask Deles, Llamas

THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE PHILIPPINES (NDFP) dared President Benigno Aquino III to ask his peace adviser Teresita Deles and political adviser Ronald Llamas why he did not receive reports on the informal talks between his government and the revolutionary group.

Asked to respond to a Philippine Daily Inquirer article published today that quoted Aquino saying he did not formally receive the reports, NDFP negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said Aquino should ask his advisers about the informal talks that happened in 2012 and not in 2011.
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16th Congress fails SSS pensioners

THE LIBERAL PARTY-LED House of Representatives (HOR) again frustrated efforts to override President Benigno Aquino’s veto of the bill giving Php2,000 monthly increase to Social Security System (SSS) pensioners.

Only 189 representatives were present at the final regular session of the 16th Congress as of five o’clock yesterday afternoon, four short of the required 193 to vote on the measure. Read more

Urban poor hold annual procession (contributed video)

Carrying a cross made by acclaimed Filipino artist Toym Imao, urban poor group KADAMAY (Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap) performs a Lenten tradition to deplore the lack of livelihood and housing that they suffer. From Plaza Miranda fronting the Quiapo Church they passed by Sta. Cruz before proceeding to Mendiola.

UCCP, Lumad accuse Philippine Army and Alamara of burning Haran

MANILA–United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) bishops expressed outrage at the arson attack against their church compound at Haran, Davao City where hundreds of Lumad evacuees have sought refuge early morning of Wednesday, February 24.

UCCP general secretary general Bishop Reuel Marigsa said they are angry and worried over the apparent arson that wounded five Lumad evacuees, including three children. The victims suffered third degree burns.

“It is clear to us that the burning of UCCP Haran’s Waltertong and Gonzalez cottages was deliberate, as plastic bottles containing gasoline were found around the compound,” Marigsa said.

Marigsa also said that the part of their cyclone fence has been cut for access into the property.

Six UCCP bishops attended the condemnation rally at the Boy Scouts’ Monument in Quezon City last night, including Marigsa, his executive assistant Arthur Asi, Metro Manila Bishop Marino Inong, Northwest Mindanao Bishop Melar Labuntog and Western and Central Visayas Bishop Jezer Bertuldo. The bishops are gathered in Manila for their regular national executive committee meeting.

Marigsa said the attack may only be part of the counterinsurgency operations by government forces through the paramilitary group Alamara.

“It has always been the Alamara that is trying to intimidate us. They keep on trying, but we are not afraid,” Marigsa said.

The UCCP national executive committee vowed to continue to provide sanctuary to the Lumad refugees in their Haran compound.

The Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao also said the attack was premeditated as they have been receiving information that the Haran compound would be burned to the ground.

Pasaka secretary general Jong Monzon said that a datu who sought refuge inside the Haran compound overheard Philippine Army soldiers and the Alamara planning to burn it down if the Lumad refugees refuse to leave.

Monzon said that Kapalong (Davao del Norte) Manobo Datu Dul-om Tumagsa was among those forcibly taken to Davao City by the Alamara and the 60th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army to join a series of rallies in front of the Haran Compound. They were led by Alamara datus Ongging and Larry Mansaloon.

It was then that Tumagsa heard about the Philippine Army and the Alamara’s plan to burn the church compound and the refugee center to the ground and even kill the Lumad evacuees, Monzon said.

Tumagsa decided to bolt the Alamaras and brought his families to Haran to seek refuge themselves.

“Sadly, the threats Datu Dul-om warned us about were carried out,” Monzon said.

Not involved

The Philippine Army denied involvement in the incident.
“The Philippine Army is not involved in the incident. The accusation is malicious (and) has no basis at all,” its spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said.

“That is part of the figment of imagination of those who are cohorts of the NPA (New People’s Army),” Hao added.

When sought for clarification if he was accusing the UCCP and the Pasaka as NPA cohorts, Hao replied “Only NPAs have the reason to accuse us. Lahat na lang ibinabato sa amin and, up to now, wala namang napapatunayan.” (We are accused of just about anything and, up to now, nothing has been proven.)

History of arson

Monzon enumerated a series of arson attacks against the Lumads, however.

He cited the burning of four Lumad houses and a cooperative center in White Culaman in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last August; the burning of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (Alcadev) cooperative store in Sitio Han-yan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur last September; and the burning of the Alcadev teachers’ cottage in Agusan del Sur last October.

“These burnings have been perpetrated by the paramilitary groups under the direction of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They are the ones who threaten us,” Monzon said.

Meanwhile, victims of the Haran burning suffered a restless night.

“The Lumad evacuees refused to stay inside their makeshift huts here at the refugee center and instead laid on the ground all night. Still, they could not sleep,” Monzon said.

“The two-year old victim was crying all night because of the pain on his hands and legs,” he said. (by Raymund B. Villanueva. Featured image above courtesy of Bong del Rosario/Kilab Multimedia. Video below by Kilab Multimedia)

SSS pensioners: Increase important for our dignity

Senior citizens trooped to the House of Representatives a few days after President Benigno Aquino vetoed the bill for a two thousand peso increase in the monthly pension of member-retirees. They are asking Congress to override the veto by reenacting the measure through a two-thirds vote.

The pensioners said that the increase would have help them reclaim some of their dignity that has been affected by the small amounts they receive from the social security agency.

Ampatuan Massacre: Still no justice after six years

On the sixth year of the Ampatuan Massacre journalists marched from the National Press Club (NPC) to Mendiola to demand justice for the 58 victims, including 34 journalists.

NPC members were joined by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-National Capital Region Chapter.

The Ampatuan Massacre is said to be the worst such incident in human history that killed the most number of journalists in a single day. It is also considered the worst election-related crime in Philippine history.

As a presidential candidate in 2010, Benigno Aquino promised justice to the victims. Very near the end of his six year term, the Aquino presidency still has to deliver on its promise.

NPC Pres. Joel Egco and BAYAN-NCR Sec-Gen. Mong Palatino spoke at the rally before an effigy of “Pnoy-chio” was burned.

ALTERMIDYA EDITORIAL: Ampatuan Massacre, a grim symbol of reigning impunity under Aquino

23 November 2015

It is Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s last year in office but justice remains elusive for the victims of Ampatuan massacre. No perpetrator has been convicted, the victims still cry for justice. Aquino’s vow six years ago to immediately resolve the gruesome massacre has become a hollow promise: the culture of impunity and sheer lack of accountability continues to reign under his administration.

The Ampatuan massacre, considered as the single most violent incident in the history of Philippine media, claimed the lives of 58 people including 32 journalists on November 23, 2009. The case against the alleged masterminds, the Ampatuan warlord clan, moves painfully slow.

The court case, after six years, is still at its preliminary stage at gathering evidence and bail proceedings. One of the primary suspects, Ampatuan patriarch, former governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. died early this year of liver cancer, extinguishing his criminal liability in the massacre case. Another suspect, Sajid Ampatuan, was released and is running for mayor of Shariff Aguak, under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay, in the 2016 polls. Majority of the suspects including members of the clan’s private army and several police officers are still at large or were granted bail.

The gross failure and lack of interest of the Aquino government to swiftly bring justice to the victims and end impunity continues to cultivate a dangerous atmosphere for Filipinos, media worker or not. After the Ampatuan massacre, the killing of journalists persists under Aquino’s term. The recent killing of DWIZ correspondent Jose Bernardo brings the total number of murdered journalists to 30 under the Aquino administration and 150 since 1986.

Extrajudicial killings of political activists, human rights defenders, indigenous people, and community leaders continue. Threats and harassment of state critics are intensifying. All these are a bleak reminder of the escalating impunity in the country and the ineptness of government that breeds it.

Six years of waiting has been enough. The Ampatuan massacre is a pivotal issue in the people’s struggle against growing impunity. Another day of delay in bringing justice to the 58 victims is another license for greater human rights violations and unaccountability in the country. We could no longer allow this government, or the next, to continue this injustice. We hold the Aquino government accountable for this injustice as well as its own crimes against the people.  We would persist in demanding for justice for the victims and their families of the Ampatuan massacre, and all cases of extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations.

Accountability for these murders, for political repression, the absence of justice, and the persisting culture of impunity are all the responsibility of the President and the State. #

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Altermidya-People’s Alternative Media Network is a national network of independent and progressive media outfits, institutions and individuals. Kodao Productions is a founding member of Altermidya.

KODAO RADIO: Ang kabataang Lumad at ang kanilang paaralan

Listen to Manobo high school student Yenyela Undayon explain why she chose to study at ALCADEV. Listen to a 15-year old girl tell and sing the story of the Lumad.

This is Tala-Akayan’s October 29, 2015 episode, originally aired over Veritas846.

Militants hold rally at SC vs EDCA

As the Philippine Supreme Court is about to release its ruling on the petition to declare the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States of America and Philippine government unconstitutional, petitioners belonging to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan staged a rally in front of the Court to reiterate their opposition to foreign military presence in the country.

Here is a video report of the event.