“The Duterte regime knows nothing but to repress the people. Farmers have been demanding aid and production subsidy as the pandemic and economic crisis rages, yet it has repeatedly attacked legitimate peasant leaders and organizations. Si Duterte mismo ang kalbaryo sa magbubukid!” — Danilo Ramos, National Chairperson, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
[UPDATED, 2:47 PM] “Huli” (arrest, capture) Week is in full swing in Central Luzon in the middle of Holy Week as at least three human rights defenders have been arrested and activists’ offices and houses were raided this morning, Holy Tuesday.
Alerts by various organizations said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya was arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in his residence in Barangay Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac.
The alerts said Viuya was presented with a warrant of arrest but no details of his alleged offense had been provided.
Viuya is also Kilusang Mayo Uno vice chairperson for Central Luzon and member of its National Council.
Reportedly arrested with Viuya was Karapatan-Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla.
“As Karapatan paralegal, she fearlessly questioned the validity of the search warrant served and was arrested for speaking her mind. She is currently detained at Camp Macabulos, Tarlac City,” Karapatan said.
In Sapang Maisac, Mexico, Pampanga, the police arrested Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) chairperson Jose Canlas.
In a CLTV 36 interview, AMGL staffer Joyce said the police ordered them to get out of their hut, entered and later claimed to have found a .45 handgun inside.
Joyce said Canlas, concurrent Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas national vice chairperson, was never known to have owned a gun.
She added that Canlas protested his arrest as the search warrant belatedly presented by the police bore the name of Joseph Canlas, instead of his real name Jose.
The police responded by forcibly taking Canlas down to the ground that alarmed even children of the five-house compound, Joyce revealed.
Joyce added that monies amounting to at least P20,000 and other items have gone missing after the police operation.
Canlas had been taken to Camp Olivas in San Fernando City, PNP-Region 3 headquarters.
A source said activists in other provinces are also being arrested this morning, declining to name the other police targets pending verified reports from human rights organizations in the region.
The police had been known to conduct arrests of activists during Holy Week, taking advantage of lulls in activities of progressive organizations.
Meanwhile, urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) demanded that the police surface its Pandi chapter leader Connie Opalla who was arrested last Friday in the Central Luzon province of Bulacan.
Opalla, Kadamay said, was able to inform her colleagues after her arrest she would be held at the San Rafael police station in Bulacan.
The PNP however has subsequently denied being in custody of Opalla despite already announcing her arrest on its Central Luzon Regional Command Facebook page.
The police said Opalla’s lawyers and family are being given the run-around by the police as her whereabouts is being withheld, along with other documents needed to secure her bail.
“They are hiding her from us, her family and lawyers. After two days of being incommunicado, she should be categorized as a missing person already,” Kadamay secretary general Mimi Doingo said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
(This is a developing story. Click for updates.)
Labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemned the creation of police offices in Central Luzon industrial zones, saying the move violates the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to form and join organizations.
The KMU blasted Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region III and the Rodrigo Duterte government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as the agencies announced the creation of the Joint Industrial Peace and Concern Office (JIPCO) to prevent militant labor groups from organizing unions in the region.
“The creation of the JIPCO is a direct attack on workers’ basic right to form unions –our legitimate means to collectively fight for our basic interests and welfare as workers. The JIPCO is meant to stifle not the so-called ‘radical labor infiltration’ but the workers’ very right to exercise self-organization and union work,” KMU Chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog said.
PNP Central Luzon director Police General Rhodel Sermonia last Wednesday, January 22, led JIPCO’s launch at the Clark Freeport Zone in Zambales Province “to act as the first line of defense from radical labor infiltration of the labor force and the industrial zones in support of ELCAC (End Local Communist Armed Conflict).”
With Sermonia as guests of honor and speakers were presidential adviser on the peace process Secretary Carlito Galvez, newly installed Philippine National Police (PNP) Direcor General Archie Francisco Gamboa, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director Charito Plaza.
The KMU however said there can be no peace anywhere in the Philippines if the PNP, known for criminal and deadly practices such as “ninja cops” and “Oplan Tokhang”, are tasked to prevent unionism in factories and workplaces.
The group also noted that both the PNP and Philippine Army have repeatedly accused militant labor unions of being supporters of the underground communist movement in the Philippines. The creation of a JIPCO is precisely aimed to prevent organizing of unions which will affect the entire labor sector, it added.
“The [NTF-ELCAC] has been weaponized to the extent of violating fundamental rights of workers to form unions, which are clearly provided in the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution, as well as International Conventions. The JIPCO in effect bans the existence of any union and all unions in Central Luzon,” said KMU’s Labog.
The militant labor group charged that the JIPCO is a project of the National Task Force- End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which was created through Executive Order No. 70.
“That the JIPCO is a mechanism to defend industrial zones from radical labor in support of the ELCAC is all rhetoric for crushing legitimate people’s organizations carrying legitimate demands, such as unions calling for higher wages, regular work and implementation of labor standards, especially in Economic Zones which are not regulated by the Labor Department,” Labog said.
The labor leader also added that “only the few big capitalists stand to benefit from the eradication of unions in the economic zones.”
The KMU Chairman asked workers and the people to launch actions and engage all institutions to stop JIPCO even as it looks for possible legal actions against the PNP and PEZA. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
ni R.B. Abiva
Halos sa pagtitinda ng tinapa binuhay ni Aling Ason ang kanyang mga anak. Sa kanyang pagkakatanda’y kulang apat na dekada na niya itong hanapbuhay. At dahil nga sa katatagan niyang hinarap ang lumuluray-puno ng pagpapasakit na ganti ng hirap at dusa, napagtapos niya lahat ang kanyang mga anak sa hasykul. Subalit hindi na sila kailanman nakatuntong sa kolehiyo sa kadahilanang inatake sa puso ang kapilas ng kanyang buhay, at sa kasamaang palad ay namatay ito na hindi man lamang nabigyan ng marangal na libing. Lahat ng kanilang impok ay nagamit sa pagpapagamot. Ang masama pa’y nagkandautang-utang sila nang may mataas na interes.
Mula nga noo’y nagkawatak-watak na ang pamilya ni Aling Ason. Namasukan bilang bodegero ng bigas at mais ang tatlo niyang mga anak na lalaki sa Siyudad ng San Jose, Nueva Ecija habang ang dalawa niyang anak na babae ay naging mga muchacha sa San Miguel, Bulakan na paglao’y napilitang mamasukan din bilang mga GRO sa isang kabaret na tambayan ng mga pahinante ng trak na nagluluwas ng kung anu-anong kalakal paloob-palabas ng Maynila. Puro panganay ang mga naging anak at nang malaman ito ng kanilang Ina, wala itong ibang naitugon kundi mabigat-makapal na hagulgol at pagkuyom sa dibdib na puno-mayaman sa pasakit. At mula nga noo’y sinisi na ni Aling Ason ang Diyos at ang kapalaran.
Hulyo 29 ng taong kasalukuyan, isang umagang tirik na tirik ang araw na sinasasabayan pa ng alingasaw ng sanga-sangang imburnal at alingasngas ng mga mamimili, ay umalingawngaw ang megaphone na hawak-hawak ng empleyado ng munisipyo. May kasama itong abugado, mga pulis, traffic aid, at eskirol. Inanunsiyo nitong lahat ng mga may puwesto sa gilid ng Pamilihang Bayan ng Tarlak ay papalayasin na at nakatakdang gibain ang kanilang mga puwesto kinabukasan. Ito raw ang utos ng Hari na nakatala sa Memorandum Circular 2019-121. Marami ang naalarma sa pabatid publiko. Marami ang nabahala kung saan na sila lulugar. Marami ang nag-isip kung paano na ang kanilang pamilya na sa mumong ganansiya lamang sa pagtitinda umaasa. Maraming katawan ang ngayo’y aligaga at hindi mapagsalubong ang katwiran ng utak at kalam ng tiyan!
Bago magtapos nga ang nasabing buwa’y naganap ang inaasahan. Maagang dumating sa Pamilihang Bayan ang empleyado ng munisipyo, ang abugado at ang bando ng mga armadong pulis na may kasamang kalalakihan na nasasandatahan ng maso, bareta, martilyo, at kabra. Totoo ngang babaklasin na nila ang mga istruktura na ayon sa kanilang Hari’y iligal ang pagkakatayo. Nang mga panahong yao’y nasa palengke na nga si Aling Ason kasama ng kanyang mga panindang tinapa.
Sa malas nga nama’y siya pa ang unang sinita. Sinigawan siyang umalis na sa kanyang kinapupuwestuhan kung ayaw niyang masamsam ang kaniyang mga paninda. Sa gulat ay hindi nakagalaw ang matanda at wala itong ibang naiganti kundi isang mukha na puno ng bagabag at pagmamaka-awa at tigalgal. Subalit bakal ang puso ng kanyang kaharap, linapitan lamang siya nito at hinablot nang malakas-pilit ang hawak nitong basket, na yari sa uway na puno ng tinapa. At dahil hamak na mas malakas ito sa matanda, bumagsak si Aling Ason kasama ng kanyang mga tinapa.
Dahil mahina-hina na ang tuhod ay unang lumagapak ang mukha sa marumi-basang sahig ng palengke, at nang i-angat ng matanda ang kanyang sarili’y tumambad sa madla ang duguan nitong ilong at bunganga. Nanginginig ang mga laylay na kalamnan nito habang lumuluha ang malabo na niyang mata. Usal niya sa may kapangyariha’y “ Parang awa niyo na, huwag niyong kunin itong aking paninda,” subalit ang tugon ng kaharap ay “ Katanda-tanda mo na’y hindi ka marunong sumunod sa batas! Mangmang! Hindi niyo na ba kami kinatatakutan?!” Akmang lalapit ang matanda subalit isang sampal-tulak ang kanyang natikman.
At ang mga sumunod na pangyayari’y naging laman nga ng balita. Nang umaga ngang yao’y nangagsisayaw ang mga anino, nag-iskrimahan ang mga braso-kamaong may hawak na kutsilyo-itak-tubo-kahoy, at umalimbukay sa mga kanal na tinangay naman ng hangin ang sanghaya ng dumanak na dugo ng mga anak ng araw.
At bago nga lumubog ang araw at ganap na isilang ang takipsilim sa langit na siyang saksi, pinulot ang mga tadtad-warak-tumimbuwang na katawan ng mga mahihirap ng kani-kanilang mga kaanak. Ang isang katawang nakasubsob-basag ang bungo-butas ang leeg sa gilid ng latang basuraha’y ang naka-barong, naka-slaks, at naka-sapatos nang makintab na abugado. Walang pumapansin sa kanya maliban sa pulutong ng bangaw at langaw na sa kaniya’y nagpipiging. #
Oktubre 19, 2019, Lungsod Quezon, Maynila
Eight Aetas died in the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook parts of Luzon last April 22 but have not been included in the government list of casualties, an indigenous people’s group said.
The Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA) said at least eight Aetas, including minors, died in landslides in Porac and Floridablanca towns in Pampanga province due to the earthquake.
The group did not name the reported victims.
An April 26 report by CNN Philippines, however, said one child was killed in Barangay Nabuclod in Floridablanca town while three others (8-year old Landok Serrano, his father Berto Serrano and grandfather Bidong Laya) went missing during the quake.
In a press conference in Angeles City this morning, the CLAA complained that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council did not look into the plight of the Aetas—the indigenous peoples group in Central Luzon.
“[T]he NDRRMC just recorded a total of 18 deaths. Of the reported 18 deaths, five missing person cases, 243 wounded, from the 3,632 affected families or about 7,410 individuals…few or even none of it includes the indigenous people and their communities,” the CLAA in its press statement said.
The CLAA added that the Aetas are the most vulnerable sector in the region and the last to recover from disasters.
The group also bewailed that the Aetas have limited access to state resources, such as quick response and rescue teams when disasters strike.
In the press conference held at the Angeles City Youth Center, the CLAA expressed fears that more deaths may have occurred but remain unreported, especially in farflung indigenous communities.
The group also blamed president Rodrigo Duterte government for his apparent apathy for dismissing the number of deaths as “the barest minimum.”
“I’m not trying to belittle the problem. To me, it’s just maybe a few towns hard hit. Thank God that we have the barest minimum of deaths,” the President said at a situation briefing in San Fernando City, Pampanga two days after the quake.
CLAA chairperson Sonny Serrano said that the severity of the disaster effect of the earthquake may be linked directly to anti-environment projects “along every inch of the entire length of the Zambales mountain range.”
“In the uplands of Floridablanca for example, exploration and earthmoving activities along the ridges of Mount Cuadrado may have caused the weakened soil of the residents of Brgy. Nabuclod and other hard hit barangays of Floridablanca,” Serrano said.
In Porac, the introduction of alien tree species by the government’s National Greening Program and the existence of many quarry operations as well land conversion to roads and subdivision may have worsened the effects of the Earthquake, he added.
The CLAA also denounced Duterte’s “criminal negligence” in perpetuating more intensive environmental plunder of the entire Zambales mountain range under his government’s Build Build Build program, that may have worsened the effects of the earthquake. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
ni Rene Boy Abiva
Kayong lagpas dekada nang binubusabos
piniga’t pinatiwatiwarik hanggang sa dumausdos
at malagutan ng buhay
at damputi’t itapon sa libingang tila bangin
ang bangis at lalim.
Lagpas dekada na rin pala
nang mapangahas n’yong tahakin
ang ipinagkait sa inyong mga tanawin,
ang lahat ng imaheng abot ng inyong paningin
kabilang ang dalumoy na lumalambitin
sa ngala-ngala ng papawirin.
Ah, lagpas dekada na rin pala
nang ang dating kinatatakutan n’yong mga pangitain
ay inyong naitaboy
nang sama-sama n’yo itong dinaluhong
sa gitna ng mga nagbabagang gabi.
At kayong lagpas dekadang dinusta
ng uring tuta ng Amerika,
bigkisin n’yo ang inyong paglilirip
at tibayan ang hanay
nang sa daluya’y inyong masilip
ang kasaysayang naghihintay
at kailangang masagip:
mapalaya ang lupa
at mundo sa kapital at makina.