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1st Manobo in Congress vows to defend Lumad schools, national minorities’ rights over ancestral lands

The member of the 18th Congress who probably has the least formal education took to the floor of the House of Representatives last Monday, July 29, visibly nervous but delivered the most powerful speech of the night nonetheless.

Neophyte representative Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna delivered her first privileged speech, vowed to defend the Lumad schools that are under attack by government forces, and called for the respect of the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination over their ancestral domains.

Cullamat apologized for what she feared may be mispronounced words, but she soon hit her stride and passionately delivered her seven-page speech.

“I admit I am one of the very few members in this hall who may have only finished elementary education and finds it difficult to understand English words or read them. I am living proof of the government’s failure to provide education for everyone because the nearest school from where I live is 20 kilometers away,” Cullamat said in Filipino.

A member of the Manobo tribe from the mountains of Barangay Diatogon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Ka Femia railed against the attacks on Lumad schools she helped build. She recalled how she witnessed the murder of her cousin Dionel Campos, her uncle Datu Jovillo Sinzo, and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development’s (Alcadev’s) executive director Emerito Samarca on September 1, 2015.

“I was shaking, prone on the ground, while the soldiers and the paramilitary peppered us non-stop with bullets. I clearly saw how Dionel was ordered to lie on the ground by a paramilitary. I clearly saw how his brain splattered when he was shot,” Cullamat said.

“I embraced Dionel’s children as they wailed over their father’s lifeless and violated body.  I saw one of our elders, Datu Bello, bludgeoned several times that caused fractures on his legs and arms,” Cullamat added.

She also narrated how she saw Alcadev’s principal Samarca lying in one of the classrooms, his lifeless body bearing signs of torture. “His body was riddled with bullets, full of cigarette burns and his throat slashed,” she narrated.

Cullamat said the massacre was one incident that shows how the government regards the Lumad’s struggle to establish indigenous peoples’ schools.

“What pains me, Mr. Speaker, is that these horrible attacks are still being perpetrated in our schools, against our teachers, against our children. Not only do they destroy our schools, they file trumped-up charges against our teachers and supporters; they also imprison them,” she said.

“They disrespect, they burn the schools we sacrifice so much to put up,” she added, her voice breaking in pent-up rage.

Cullamat raises fist in tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the national minority groups. (Screengrab from HOR live feed)

Cullamat said that for many decades, the national minority had been deprived of basic social services, including education. She said they have been victimized by their lack of education, as well as the difficulty in obtaining them on the flatlands.

But the massacre goes beyond the government’s false accusations that the Lumad schools are disguised New People’s Army (NPA) training and recruitment grounds, Ka Femia said.

“That massacre was clearly meant to intimidate us into allowing coal mining in our ancestral lands. As a paramilitary trooper once said, ‘it would not have happened if we allowed mining,'” she said. But the Lumad of Diatogon have long decided to defend their land from environmental plunder, a decision that has cost them many lives and the existence of their beloved schools.

Cullamat said 15 coal mining, as well as palm oil plantation companies, are salivating over 200,000 hectares inside Lumad-Manobo communities in the Andap Valley Complex in Surigao del Sur.

Still, Cullamat said, they will fight for their schools. She said they persevered in establishing them and succeeded through blood, sweat, and tears and with the help of the church and non-government organizations. The schools taught them to read, write, and count.

“Because of these schools, our children are being educated in ways that are respectful of our traditions, culture, and our need to improve our lives, especially through agriculture so that we may prosper while we protect our ancestral domains for future generations,” she explained.

Cullamat also cited that many graduates of their Lumad schools have gone on to earn college degrees and have gone back to their communities as teachers, agriculturists, health workers and organizers. They have also become trusted advisers to their tribal leaders.

She added that her children studied in the Lumad schools and taught her and other adults in their communities to read and understand Filipino. “My dear colleagues, I now stand before you, speaking in Filipino, because of these Lumad schools,” she said.

The success of the schools in educating the Lumad have made them targets of harassments and attacks, the neophyte legislator said. She cited the recent decision of the Department of Education to suspend the permits of 55 Salugpongan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Learning Center schools in Davao upon the prodding of national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.

“Esperon accuses the Salugpungan schools of training Lumad children to become New People’s Army guerrillas and how to shoot or dismantle guns, as he accuses other schools run by the Clans (Center for Lumad Advocacy Networking and Services), Misfi (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc.), Trifpss (Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur), and Alcadev. All these are lies that are only meant to close down our schools and shut down our national minority organizations,” she cried, her voice rising in anger.

As an indigenous person member of Congress, Cullamat said she must report to Congress that the attacks against the national minority do not only happen in Mindanao. She said the Dumagats who oppose the mega-dam projects in Quezon and the Igorots who with the Chico River Irrigation Pump Project in the Cordilleras are also under attack.

“In spite of all these, the national minority would persevere in defense of our ancestral lands, the source of our life and livelihood,” she vowed.

“We will persevere in defending our schools for the education of our children. We will persevere in our quest for justice for the victims of human rights violations,” she added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

WANTED: An Independent Senate

By Jose Lorenzo Lim

Midterm elections have always been crucial for any incumbent, as results will either affirm or reject the programs and policies so far of the ruling party. The 2019 midterm elections, however, appears to be different, as it happens at the heels of the Duterte administration’s implementation of harshest neoliberal economic policies and undermining democracy. The Duterte presidency has seemingly consolidated the Executive, Lower House and even the Judiciary under its influence, and the Senate could be the last stronghold of democratic processes.

After weeks of campaigning, the 2019 midterm elections is near. Candidates vying for senatorial posts have traveled around the country seeking to convince Filipinos to vote for them. It remains to be seen whether or not we will have a truly independent senate after the May 2019 elections.

Quick voters scan

Looking at data from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) shows that there are 61,843,750 voters in the Philippines with an additional 1,822,173 registered overseas voters for the 2019 midterm elections.

A breakdown of the voters shows that Region IV-A has the highest number of voters with 14%, followed by Region III with 11%, and the National Capital Region (NCR) with 11.4 percent. The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has the lowest number of voters with only 1.6% share of the total number of voters. The poorest regions also have a low number of voters. Both Region IX and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) only have 3.5% of the total number of voters.

For overseas voters, the Middle East and African regions have the highest number of voters with 48.7%, while the European region has the lowest share of voters with only 10.2 percent. 

While the huge number of voters does not automatically translate into voter turnout, in 2016 the country had an 84% voter turnout compared to 2013 with 77.3% and 2010 with 74.9 percent. Unsurprisingly, a high voter turnout can also be an indicator of dubious activities like flying voters.

Finding the right candidate

Instead of dancing around and telling rehearsed jokes repeatedly, what does IBON think candidates should stand for to deserve the Filipinos’ vote in the upcoming elections?

First, candidates should adhere to the advancement of socioeconomic strategies. Filipino industries should be protected and supported instead of allowing foreign companies to dominate the Philippine economy. An example is protecting and promoting the agriculture sector through production and price supports instead of flooding the market with imported agricultural goods, as is the rationale behind the Rice Tariffication Law, to lower inflation.

Candidates interested in genuinely effecting long-term reforms for the country’s production sectors should support genuine agrarian reform. The failure of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to redistribute land to the tillers has only intensified landgrabbing and land use conversions for land market speculation. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) records show that as of January 2019, there were still 549,920 hectares that need to be acquired and distributed. From 1988 to 2016, meanwhile, 98,939 hectares of land were approved for conversion while 120,381 hectares were approved for exemption from land reform coverage–but this is a conservative count as the real extent of land conversion may be underreported. After CARP, majority of so-called agrarian reform beneficiaries still do not own the land awarded to them or are in the process of being dispossessed because they are failing to amortize.

Third, candidates should be upholding people’s rights and welfare. Candidates should be firm in ending contractualization. It is still very much in place: Employment data shows that in 2018, 8.5 million workers of private companies and 985,000 workers in government agencies are still non-regular workers.

Additionally, legislating a national minimum wage of Php750 should also be a major agenda. Raising the average daily basic pay (ADBP) of Php401 nationwide to Php750 will in turn add Php7,649 to employees’ monthly income and Php99,432 to their annual income (including 13thmonth pay). This will cost the 35,835 establishments nationwide just Php465 billion or only 21.5% out of their Php2.16 trillion in profits.

Moreover, Republic Act (RA) 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law should be repealed instead of taking out taxes especially from petroleum products which are socially sensitive. TRAIN means less money in the pockets of 8 out of 10 Filipinos as only 5.5 million Filipino families benefit from lower personal income taxes (PIT) while the remaining 17.2 million poorest households do not benefit from PIT but all pay higher consumer taxes.

Candidates should also ensure that basic social services will be accessible to every Filipino. That is why there is a need to build more public schools and public hospitals aside from allotting higher budgets to education and health. But 2019 budget for the Department of Health (DOH) for instance was cut by 8.13% compared to last year.

Lastly, candidates should promote environmental sustainability. For example, a candidate should be firm to stop destructive large-scale mining, as this causes irreparable damage not only to the country’s natural resources but to many indigenous communities. Another part of this is encouraging rational consumption. Our resources are finite – what we produce and consume must only be within our needs. Candidates should also promote an environment-friendly agriculture and industry.

The public has heard the candidates’ stances on various pertinent issues such as the TRAIN Law, Rice Tarrification Law, contractualization, and jobless growth. Now the candidates should bear in mind that whatever promises they made during the campaign period would be remembered by the people, who will hold them accountable when they take their posts this June 2019.

The last stand

The new senate should carry out the task of defending the current constitution against the Duterte administration’s push for federalism, neoliberalism, and self-serving political goals. The most consistent is the intent to fully liberalize the Philippine economy for foreign investors.

Relatedly, pending proposed amendments to the Human Security Act (HSA) aim to prevent critics, thereby putting basic human rights and civil liberties in peril. The HSA could expedite terrorist tagging and linking and subsequent surveillance, arrests, and restricting of legitimate people’s movements. The new senate should stand against this creeping authoritarianism.

The Philippine Senate could be the last democratic institution for the government’s checks and balances, independent of and not beholden to the power ambitions of the presidency and expected to side with the people and defend whatever remains of Philippine democracy, people’s rights and welfare, and the country’s sovereignty.

With all these considered, the 2019 midterm elections could be one of the Filipinos’ last stands for freedom and democracy. Depending on how their favorite candidates have explained these to them, they can now vote wisely. #

Party-list groups: Family Enterprise

(Part two of three)

By Enrico Berdos, Michelle Co, Ara Eugenio, Aimee Lontok, Edelino Mercene, Jr. and Angela Ng

[Read the first part here: Party-list (Mis)Representatives]

Political dynasties have secured their place in the House of Representatives in the last three administrations, occupying close to 55 percent of congressional seats.

Data from online news website Rappler and election watchdog Kontra-Daya show that 31 percent (18 out of 58) of party-list seats were occupied by members of political dynasties in 2015. A study by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center concluded that political dynasties occupied 25 percent of party-list seats (14 out of 56) in the 16th Congress. Meanwhile, out of 65 party-list seats in the 17th Congress, 22 were occupied by political dynasties, accounting for 33 percent.

According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, “a family that has successfully retained political power through maintaining control over at least one elective position over successive generations” can be placed in such a category. A political dynasty is established when a family member occupy different political positions simultaneously, or when a government official and his relative/s occupy an electoral position over the years.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that national and regional parties “do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent any marginalized and underrepresented sector.”This made it easier for members of political dynasties to run as partylist representatives.

Big fish

Having several relatives in power allows political dynasties to exert control and distribute development in their political turfs.

Some party-list representatives belong to political clans whose relatives occupy several government positions in a province. For instance, Sharon Garin has served as representative of Ang Asosasyon Sang Mangunguma Nga Bisaya-Owa Mangunguma (AAMBIS-OWA) since the 15th Congress. Among her relatives in politics are her brother Rep. Richard Garin (1st District, Iloilo), sister Christine Garin (Iloilo vice-governor), mother Nimfa Garin (San Joaquin, Iloilo mayor), father Oscar Garin (Guimbal, Iloilo mayor), sister-in-law Janette Garin (former Health Secretary and former Rep. of the 1st District of Iloilo).

Similarly, Shernee Abubakar Tan, incumbent party-list representative of Kusug-Tausug, is a member of the Tan family of Sulu. She is the youngest daughter of former Sulu governor Abdusakur M. Tan and sister of incumbent Sulu governor Abdusakur Tan II and Maimbung Mayor Samier Tan. Her mother, Hadja Nurunisah Abubakar-Tan, is vice governor of Sulu.

In the case of Democratic Independent Workers Association Inc. (DIWA) Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar who has been in Congress since 2010, her link to a political dynasty is through her marriage to Mark Villar, current Public Works Secretary. This makes her a part of the Aguilar-Villar political clan of Las Piñas and Muntinlupa.

But despite the influence that these personalities wield, they know they cannot hold their political positions forever. They find a way to transfer it to their other relatives such as their children or siblings when their terms end.

Rigodon

The act of switching government posts among two politicians is known in the Philippines as political rigodon, named after a formal Spanish dance where two people exchange positions until the music stops.

Switching places as party-list representatives occur across first and second generation relatives, such as among siblings, among couples and among parents and children. Sometimes, the switch also involves siblings-in-law or children-in-law.

Party-list representatives are replaced by their relatives because an outgoing representative plans to run for a position in his or her province’s local government or because he or she has reached the three-term limit in Congress.

Nicanor Briones was Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (Agap) party-list representative for the 15th and 16th Congress (2010-2016). In 2016, he attempted to run as governor of Batangas but lost. His daughter Kathleen Briones tried to replace his place as party-list representative but was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Maximo Rodriguez, Jr., Abante Mindanao (ABAMIN) party-list representative of the 15th and 16th Congress (2010-2016) and current ABAMIN president, replaced his brother Rufus Rodriguez as Cagayan de Oro’s (CDO) 2nd district representative in 2016.

Rufus Rodriguez tried to run as CDO mayor in 2016 as he reached the three-term congressional limit, but lost to Oscar Cruz.

Maximo Rodriguez, Jr.’s wife, Mary Grace Rodriguez, is also currently running as a party-list representative for ABAMIN in the coming elections.

You Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP) Rep. Benhur Lopez, Jr. replaced his sister Carol Jayne Lopez, who served during the 15th and 16th Congress.

Some political families also send two or more representatives to sector-oriented and regional/national-based party-list groups which means that they can replace outgoing relatives with other members of the family.

During the 2016 national elections, two of Kalinga party-list representative nominees, Kristen Michelle Ferriol and Arturo Ferriol failed to win seats alongside incumbent representative Abigail Ferriol-Pascual.

A family enterprise

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr., warned that political dynasties have an unfair advantage against other groups during the campaign period. “Bibitbitin na nila ‘yung mayor, governor, congressman – tapos party-list. So… Isang buhos na lang iyan. Tapos most likely, doon lang sila sa region nila kukuha ng boto, or in many cases nga namimili ng boto.”

“‘Pag nakita mo na kasi sila – silang magkakapamilya, that’s not a real party-list group, that’s a family enterprise,” Reyes said.

Anti-Dynasty Law: Failed Attempts

The Senate and the House of Representatives dropped the Anti-dynasty Bill in 2015, describing it as a “mere showpiece” and a “toothless measure” that strengthens instead of removes political dynasties.

House Bill No. 3587, which was up for second reading at the time, proposed that two members of a political dynasty be allowed to run for politics, while the Congress pushed for a third member to be allowed to run in the national and local polls simultaneously.

“There will be no Anti-dynasty Law. There’s no more time to consider and approve it,” former Senate President Franklin Drilon told ABS-CBN News Channel at the time. “Besides, many in Congress are against it. There’s strong opposition to it. That’s the reality of our politics.”

With research interests along the lines of legislative dynamics, executive-legislative relations, electoral politics, institutional reform and political economy, UP Diliman Political Science Assistant Professor Alicor Panao said that political dynasties are mere symptoms of a larger political dysfunction. “Our rules, electoral laws, push people to establish dynasties. When your legislator legislates, no one in his right mind would sign his own death warrant.”

Party-list groups are now used as a backdoor for candidates to perpetuate themselves in power, Panao added. The law only allows a three-term limit, and when a candidate reaches his outterm, this could be passed down to other members of the family.

Panao said such actions do not reflect on greediness, but mainly because of how the institution permits the continuation of making these families relevant to society. “If you’re out-termed, you’re toppled, it would be difficult to get back into the scene; there is a difficulty in name-recall, and such candidate will be out of circulation.” #

ANNEX

This table lists down all members of political dynasties in the party-list system who served during the 15th to 17th Congress (2010-2017):

Political
Clan
Province/ City Party-list Represen-
tative
Party-listCongressional
Term
AbayonSamarDaryl
Grace
Abayon
Aangat
Tayo (AT)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
AbayonSamarHarlin Neil Abayon Jr.Aangat Tayo
(AT)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Antonio Patricio
Antonio
Agbiag!
Timpuyo
Ilocano Inc.
(Agbiag)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
16th Congress
(2013-2016)
Antonio Michaelina “Michelle” AntonioAgbiag! Timpuyo Ilocano Inc. (Agbiag)17th Congress
(2016-2019)
AtienzaManilaJose “Lito” Atienza, Jr.BUHAY16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Batocabe Rodel
Batocabe (+)
AKO BICOL15th Congress
(2010-2013)
16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
BelmonteQuezon
City
Ricardo
Belmonte
Serbisyo sa
Bayan
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Chavez Cecilia
Chavez
Butil Farmers
Party (BUTIL)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Herrera-Dy BernadetteHerrera-DyBagong
Henerasyon
(BH)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
EstrellaPangasi-
nan
Robert
Raymund
Estrella
ABONO15th Congress
(2010-2013)
EstrellaPangasi-
nan
Conrado M. Estrella IIIABONO16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
GarinIloiloSharon
Garin
AAMBIS-OWA15th Congress
(2010-2019)
Gatcha-lianValenzue-laWeslie
Gatchalian
Alay Buhay16th Congress
(2013-2016)
Haresco TeodoricoHaresco Jr.Kasangga sa
Kaunlaran Inc. (ANG KASANGGA)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
Haresco Jose
Ciceron
Lorenzo
Harenzo
Kasangga sa Kaunlaran Inc.
(ANG
KASANGGA)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
HatamanBasilanSitti
Turabin
-Hataman
AMIN16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Lopez Benhur
Lopez Jr.
You Against
Corruption and Poverty
(YACAP)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Lopez Carol Jayne LopezYou Against
Corruption and Poverty
(YACAP)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
16th Congress
(2013-2016)
Macapa-
gal
-Arroyo
Pampa-
nga
Juan
Miguel
MacapagalArroyo
Ang Galing
Pinoy (AGP)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
Magsay-
say
NationalEulogio
Magsaysay
AVE15th Congress
(2010-2013)
6th Congress
(2013-2016)
Magsay-
say
NationalMilagros
Aquino-
Magsaysay
Senior Citizens17th Congress
(2016-2019)
MendozaCotabatoRaymond
DemocritoMendoza
Trade Union Congress of the
Philippines
(TUCP)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Noel Victoria
Noel
AN WARAY16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Noel Florencio NoelAN WARAY15th Congress
(2010-2013)
OrtegaLa UnionFrancisco
Emmanuel Ortega III
ABONO15th Congress
(2010-2013)
16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Pangani-
ban
Pangasi-
nan
Jose
Pangani-
ban Jr.
Ang National
Coalition of
Indigenous
Peoples
Action Na!
Inc.
(ANAC-IP)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
Pizarro Catalina
Leonen
-Pizarro
Arts,
Business and
Science
(ABS)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
16th Congress
(2013-2016)
RodriguezCagayan
de Oro
Maximo
Rodriguez Jr.
Abante
Mindanao
(ABAMIN)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
16th Congress
(2013-2016)
SuarezQuezon
Province
Anne Marie Villeza
-Suarez
ALONA16th Congress
(2013-2016)
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
TanSuluShernee
Abubakar
Tan
KUSUG-
TAUSUG
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
VelascoMarindu-
que
Lorna
Velasco
Ang Mata’y
Alagaan
(AMA)
15th Congress
(2010-2013)
VelascoMarindu-
que
Trisha
Nicole
Velasco
-Catera
Ang Mata’y
Alagaan
17th Congress
(2016-2019)
VillarLas Piñas,Muntinlu-
pa
Emmeline
Aglipay
-Villar
Democra-
tic Independent Workers Association Inc. (DIWA)
15th Congress (2010-2013)
16th Congress (2013-2016)17th Congress (2016-2019)



Position Paper on the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2017 (House Bills 7141 and 5507)

Your Honors:

Following is a more complete version of NUJP’s position paper delivered during the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting of June 18, 2018.

The NUJP opposes these bills, as well as the working draft currently being discussed by the TWG, asthey include provisions that may be later used against the people’s right to freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. If passed and implemented, this will make the practice of journalism in this country impossible and extremely dangerous.

Specifically:

  1. Section 4, wherein Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Law, specifically its Chapter II, item 4 on Libel, is included as a predicate crime on terrorism.

The NUJP and the mass media industry in general is on record to be opposed to libel as a crime, as it in fact being used to harass journalists. We have petitioned congress to decriminalize libel, as we are on record to have opposed the Cybercrime Law. We surely cannot agree to making libel an even stronger law by making it a predicate crime for the crime of terrorism.

In addition, almost all media outfits nowadays have online platforms. The inclusion of the Cybercrime Law as a predicate crime to the crime of terrorism would endanger journalists the most. We fear critical reports and opinion may already be called terroristic acts. Why pass bills that may constrict the exercise of free journalism in this country when, in fact and in practice, it is increasingly being subverted already? May we remind the TWG that according to our Constitution, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of the press.”

  1. Section 5(b). Inciting to terrorism. – Any person who incites another person by any means to commit terrorism whether or not directly advocating the commission of any of such act, thereby causing danger that one or more such acts may be committed, shall be punished with the penalty of life imprisonment.

(We note that the National Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Council propose that the words “inciting to terrorism” be defined and that the NBI has said that the penalty of life imprisonment is excessive and places inciters at the same level as those who actually commit terrorism. On the basis of the gravity of offense, inciting to terrorism warrants a lighter penalty.)

We ask, who determines incitement? Would a news article explaining the roots of “terrorism” or rebellion, which terms the government often interchanges freely, qualify as incitement? Past governments certainly viewed it this way.

  1. Sec. 5 (f). Glorification of terrorism – Any person who, not being a conspirator, accomplice or accessory under Sections 5, 6 and 7 of this act, shall by any means make a statement or act, through any medium, which tends to directly or indirectly encourage, justify, honor or otherwise induce the commission of terrorist acts (as proposed by the department of defense) by proscribed or designated individuals or organizations, or shall by any means honor glorify proscribed or designated individuals or organizations (as proposed by the AMLC), shall suffer the penalty of ten (10) years of imprisonment.

We offer the same comment as above. Who determines glorification and terrorism? Might not this provision be used by state forces to charge and harass members of the press who would write something about so called terrorism, misconstruing such as glorification?

  1. Sec. 5(g). Membership in terrorist organizations. – Any person who shall knowingly become a member or manifest his/her intention to become a member of any Philippine Court-proscribed or United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist organization shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment.” (House Bill No. 5507)

The government, particularly state security forces, have time and again tagged legal organizations, including the NUJP, as “fronts” or even “enemies of the state.” If these agencies have been so cavalier in endangering the lives and reputation of legitimate media organizations in the past, these bills would further embolden them to violate our rights.

  1. Sec. 9. Section 8 of the same act is hereby renumbered and amended to read as follows:

“Section[8] 9. Formal application for judicial authorization. – The written order of the authorizing division of the court of appeals and/or regional trial court.

(The Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association – Eagle Chapter proposes to change the references to Court of Appeals and RTC to “proper judicial authorities” and the phrase “probable cause based on personal knowledge” to “probable cause based on reasonable ground of suspicion of facts and circumstances.”)

To track down, tap, listen to, intercept, and record communications, messages, conversations, discussions, or spoken or written words [of any person suspected of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism] in Section 8 hereof shall only be granted by the authorizing division of the Court of Appeals and/or the Regional Trial Court upon an ex parte written application of a [police or of a law enforcement official] law enforcement or military personnel [who has been duly authorized in writing by the anti-terrorism council created in sec. 53 of this act to file such ex parte application], and upon examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and [the] his/her witnesses [he may produce to establish]: (a) that there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that any of the [said] crimes [of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism] in section 4, 5, 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), 5(d), 5(e), 5 (f) and 5(g) hereof [has] have been committed, or [is] are being committed, or [is] are about to be committed; (b) that there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that evidence, which is essential to the conviction of any charged or suspected person for, or to the solution or prevention of, any such crimes, will be obtained; and, (c) that there is no other effective means readily available for acquiring such evidence.

(On the phrases “In case of imminent danger or actual terrorist attack,” we note that the Department of Information and Communications Technology proposes to define the terms “imminent danger” and “actual terrorist attack.)

The Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology / National Telecommunications Commission (as proposed by the DOJ) the Court of Appeals or the Regional Trial Court, upon the certification of the Anti-Terrorism Council based on reasonable ground of suspicion on the part of the law enforcement or military personnel, (as proposed by the Philippine National Police) shall have the power to compel telecom and internet service providers to produce all customer information and identification records as well as call and text data records and other cellular or internet metadata of any person suspected of any crime in section 4, 5, 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), 5(d), 5(e), 5(f) and 5(g) hereof.

Again, Your Honors, this is dangerous. It would open the floodgates to a widespread violation of people’s rights, including journalists. Also, if the proposals of Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association–Eagle Chapter to change the references to Court of Appeals and RTC to “proper judicial authorities” and the phrase “probable cause based on personal knowledge” to “probable cause based on reasonable ground of suspicion of facts and circumstances” are adopted, this could expose practically anyone to invasion of privacy.

  1. Section 18. Period of detention without judicial warrant of arrest. – The provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code to the contrary notwithstanding, any [police or] law enforcement or military personnel [, who, having been duly authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Council] has taken custody of a person [charged with or] suspected [of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism]of committing any of the punishable acts in section 4, 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), 5(d), 5(e), 5(f) and 5(g) hereof shall, without incurring any criminal liability for delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities, deliver said [charged or suspected]arrested person to the proper judicial authority within a period of thirty (30) days (security reform initiative proposes a maximum of fourteen (14) days.) Counted from the moment the said [charged or suspected] person has been [apprehended or] arrested excluding Saturday, Sunday and Holidays.[, detained, and taken into custody by the said police, or law enforcement personnel: provided, that the arrest of those suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism must result from the surveillance under sec. 7 and examination of bank deposits under sec. 27 of this act.]

Thirty days is too long and open to so many potential abuses of basic rights. As you know, Your Honors, journalists are victims of harassment suits and arbitrary arrests and detention for the flimsiest of reasons. On the inclusion of the cybercrime law as among the special laws that may be applied against suspected terrorists.

Your Honors, it was clear to the NUJP during the June 18, 2018 meeting that these bills were merely cobbled up versions of anti-terrorism laws by other countries such as Australia. This much the proponents admitted. What they dishonestly withhold from the TWG, however, is that the laws they copied have very clear definitions and exemptions as safeguards against abuse, something they did not bother to copy in their dangerous versions. Many provisions of House Bills 7141 and 5507 are bullets aimed to kill people’s civil, political and human rights.

And so, while the NUJP was encouraged by the Honorable Chairperson Rufino Biazon’s opening statement last June 18 that people’s rights must be guaranteed, we, however, declare our opposition to the bills.

Thank you.

NUJP National Directorate

Nonoy Espina                                    Marlon Ramos                                   Dabet Panelo

      Chairperson                                       Vice Chairperson                              Secretary General

     Raymund Villanueva                       Jhoanna Ballaran                             Ron Lopez

Deputy Secretary General                           Treasurer                                          Auditor

 

Directors

Nestor Burgos                   Gerg Cahiles                       Kath Cortez                        Virgilio Cuizon

Justine Dizon          Sonny Fernandez        Kimberlie Quitasol         Richel Umel          Judith Suarez

Joma on Gina’s rejection: Reactionaries in Congress won

ENVIRONMENT and Natural Resources secretary Regina Paz Lopez’s rejection by the Commission on Appointments (CA) diminished the prospects of negotiated reforms for a just and lasting peace, National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.

Reacting to CA’s 15-9 vote against Lopez’s confirmation today, Sison said “reactionaries in Congress cast a dismal shadow on the prospects of legislation that is needed to enable the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to fulfill its obligations under the CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms) now being negotiated,” Sison said.

Despite widespread support of Lopez’s anti-destructive mining crusade, the 25-member commission rejected with finality one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s most popular cabinet appointments.

“The people are left with no choice but to fight even more fiercely against the big compradors, landlords and the corrupt politicians,” Sison said, blaming “reactionaries” in the Duterte government for Lopez’s rejection.

Progressives also expressed dismay at the development, calling it a victory for mining oligarchs.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said an extraordinary chance to protect the environment and the rights of the people has been squandered.

“Bureaucrat capitalism and vested interests triumph once again in the rejection of the appointment of Gina Lopez,” Reyes said.

Reyes said compromises may have been made along the way and questioned how such a rejection can happen under the Duterte regime that wields the majority in both houses of Congress.

“Big business interests continue to hold sway in the Duterte regime, both in the executive and legislative branches,” he said.

Reyes encouraged Lopez to continue her environmental advocacy even as a private citizen once more.

“We thank Gina for her outstanding service to the Filipino people. She is more than welcome to continue her activist role for the environment, in the mass movement and even in the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP,” Reyes said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Activists oppose death penalty

On the day the House of Representatives voted on third and final reading the death penalty re-institution bill, activist groups held a protest rally in front of Congress’ lower house.

Activists say the Rodrigo Duterte government must be held accountable for the deaths of about eight thousand victims of fascist attacks, mostly poor citizens. Read more