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Matatakot Pa Ba Kami?

Ni AP

Dinukot n’yo na ang mata ng mag-asawang Albarillo.

Binasag ang bungo ni Eden.

Tinadtad ng bala ang katawan ni Tata Pido.

Binaril sa likod si Gerry at Fort.

Ikinarsel ang siyam na magsasaka ng Silang.

Pakyawang kinasuhan ang pitumpu’t dalawang aktibista.

Ilan sa mga panganay at bunso nila ang pikit-matang

tinanggap ang pangyayari, lumuha sa tabi?

Ilan sa mga kaanak nila ang tumigil mag-isip

at pumili ng tama?

Ilan sa kababayan nila ang nakaramdam ng pagkadurog?

Ilan sa kapwa aktibista nila

ang tumanggi sa alok ng kabundukan?

Ilan sa amin ang natakot?

Ngayon ay pinahirapan n’yo pa palang maigi

ang mag-asawang Evangelista. Binasag ang bungo,

niyupi ang mukha

at dinurog ang puso at baga.

Kinaladkad ang duguang katawan ni Manny.

At sinabing sila ay nanlaban.

Ilan pa ang nakahandang mandamyentong-walang-ngalan?

Tandaan ninyo,

Mahirap pahirapan ang matagal nang naghihirap.

Wala kayong maibibilanggong

hindi maghuhulagpos.

Hindi ninyo kayang paluhurin at durugin

ang isang bayang nagbabangon

at nagbubuo ng bagong lipunan.

Bingi na kami sa sabog ng kanyon

at ulan ng bala sa aming mga bubong.

Hindi na namin dinig ang kalabugan

ng nag-uunahang daga sa dibdib.

Pag-ibig sa katarungan

ang itinitibok ng aming puso.

Tandaan ninyo,

Tatanda rin ang sampung taong gulang

na anak ng mga Evangelista.

Lagi niyang maaalala, mula sa dilim ng ilalim ng kama

magaganap ang paghihiganti para sa katarungan

na maghahatid sa aming lahat sa liwanag.

Kung gayon, matatakot pa ba kami?

***

Marso 10, 2021

Mensahe ng may akda: Ayaw ko sanang sumulat nang ganito kadilim na tula, kung kailan kaarawan ko pa man din. Pero malinaw ang dapat piliin ng isangmakata sa ganitong panahon? Maari naman sigurong alalahanin ko na lamang ng tahimik ang pagsilang ko, sa gitna ng kamatayan ng marami.

Mass killing of Filipino activists appalls United Nations

A few weeks after the Rodrigo Duterte government assured the international community of its commitment to uphold human rights, the United Nations (UN) said it is appalled by the series of mass killing of activists throughout the Philippines.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva, Switzerland said the international body is “appalled by the apparently arbitrary killing of nine activists in simultaneous police-military operations” across four provinces last Sunday, March 7.

WATCH: Human Rights Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters the Office of the High Commissioner was “appalled” by the killing of nine human rights activists in the Philippines.

Shamdasani noted that the latest mass killing and arrest of activists, like in the December 30, 2020 massacre of nine Tumandok in Panay Island, was conducted at nighttime.

“We are deeply worried that these latest killings indicate an escalation in violence, intimidation and harassment and red tagging of human rights defenders,” she said.

Shamdasani added there is a history of human rights advocates of being red-tagged or being accused of being fronts for the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, an allegation unanimously denied by the families of the victims of the various massacres.

 “In our June 2020 report, the [UN] high commissioner (for human rights Michelle Bachelet) warned that such public labeling has proved to be extremely dangerous and she urged the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and others at risk,” Shamdasani said.

“In recent months, there has been dozens of activists and journalists who have been arrested, including on human rights day on December 2020,” referring to recently-freed Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem and six labor union organizers arrested with her.

Making his spokesperson a liar

The international body’s condemnation came merely two weeks after justice secretary Menardo Guevarra assured the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last February 24 the Duterte government had adopted measures “to minimize loss of lives during legitimate law enforcement operations.”

Guevarra added that the Philippines “strongly emphasizes that its legal and judiciary system and domestic accountability mechanisms are functioning as they should.”

Guevarra had been the designated spokesperson for the Philippine government at UNHRC sessions since late 2020 after combative statements by officials earlier failed to deflect criticisms of the Duterte government’s mass murder of suspected drug users, critics and other civilians.

At the 44th General Session of the UNHRC last June 2020, the international body severely criticized the Duterte government for its woeful human rights record.

In a 26-page report last June 4, the UNHRC said the Duterte government’s heavy-handed focus on countering national security threats and illegal drugs has resulted in serious human rights violations, including killings and arbitrary detentions, as well as the vilification of dissent.

The UN also condemned Duterte’s ill-defined and ominous language, “coupled with repeated verbal encouragement by the highest level of State officials to use lethal force, may have emboldened police to treat the circular as permission to kill.”

Duterte ignored the condemnation again when he issued shoot-to-kill and “ignore human rights” orders against alleged communists to state forces when he presided over a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict meeting at Cagayan de Oro City last Friday.

Families of the nine killed last Sunday vow the victims were civilians, however. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CHR: Duterte’s kill order emboldens impunity

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order “to shoot and kill right away” may have encouraged the massacre and mass arrest of activists in Southern Tagalog on Sunday, March 7.

CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said the national human rights institution expresses concern on Duterte’s statement on Friday, 5 March, to not only kill communists but to “ignore human rights.”

De Guia said: “Words matter and such words can embolden some to act with abuse and impunity.”

The mass killing and arrests of prominent activists and unionists in Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas in an operation called Conduct of Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants was launched two days after Duterte ordered the police and military at a meeting in Cagayan de Oro City of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“If there’s an encounter and you see them armed, kill! Kill them! Don’t mind human rights! I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms,” the President said.

‘Brutal deaths’

Reacting to the brutal deaths of nine activists across three provinces, however, de Guia said, “CHR finds the number of deaths most concerning in light of the pattern of prevalent red-tagging and escalating attacks against activists,” de Guia said.

De Guia said the government is primarily obligated to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of everyone.

“Where the right to life is concerned, the government has the utmost obligation to fulfil its obligation—no matter which side of the political spectrum one belongs,” the lawyer added.

The CHR called on the government to urgently investigate, “given the brutal nature of the deaths and allegations of irregularities in the said law enforcement operations. “

De Guia also reminded the government to honor its domestic and international commitment to uphold, respect and protect human rights.

“We have yet to see concrete response to our repeated plea for tangible reduction of violence on the ground,” she said.

De Guia added that its Region IV-A (CALABARZON) office CHR is pursuing independent probes into the bloody operations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

ASVAL is Southern Tagalog bloodbath’s name

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has revealed the name of the operation in four provinces in Southern Tagalog that massacred nine and arrested several other activists Sunday, March 7.

The police said it served search warrants in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal provinces in a Conduct of Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants dubbed COPLAN ASVAL.

The PNP in the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region bragged it “scored big time during the Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants” against alleged communist groups.

It said it “implemented” all 24 search warrants issued by trial courts that killed nine and arrested six activists. Nine others are still at large.

According to human rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, the names of those killed include:

  • Michael Dasigao and Mark “Mak Mak” Lee Coros Bacasno in Rodriguez, Rizal;
  • Manny Asuncion in Dasmarinas, Cavite; and
  • Couple Anna Mariz and Ariel Evangelista in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Among those arrested were:

  • Steve Mendoza and Elizabeth Camoral in Cabuyao, Laguna;
  • Nimfa Lanzanas in Calamba, Laguna;
  • Eugene Eugenio in Antipolo city.

Activist Lino Baez was among those who eluded arrest.

The police refused to divulge the names of the four others killed, five others arrested and eight others at large.

The PNP said all targets are communist “terrorists” who allegedly illegally possessed guns and explosives.

In press releases and television interviews, the PNP claimed those who turned up dead “fought to the operatives (sic).”

Human rights defenders condemn the massacre and mass arrest in Southern Tagalog. (Bulatlat photo)

Legal activists as counter-insurgency targets

PNP-CALABARZON director B.Gen. Felipe Natividad admitted that the killing and arrest of the activists are part of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign.

“We have to act together to end the 51 year-old communist insurgency in the country. This is just one of the many initiatives and programs of the present government, and the Philippine National Police together with our counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Natividad said.

The police added ASVAL is part of “collaborative efforts” with the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to address insurgency.

“We have intensified our cracked down against members of CTGs (communist terrorist groups) in the region along with our counter-white area operations to convince these individuals to lay-down their arms and voluntarily surrender to authorities,” Natividad added.

COPLAN ASVAL was launched as two days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the police and military at a meeting in Cagayan de Oro City of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“If there’s an encounter and you see them armed, kill! Kill them! Don’t mind human rights! I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms,” the President said.

Human rights defenders call for justice for the victims of the PNP-AFP’s COPLAN ASVAL. (Bulatlat photo)

Known legal activists

COPLAN ASVAL’s victims are known legal activists, however.

Dasigao, a community organizer and an officer of a Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-affiliate organization, led relief operations after massive floods hit Kasiglahan Village in Rodriguez, Rizal late last year.

Asunsion was a well-known Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Cavite coordinator whose cadaver appear to have been dragged by the police from the upper floor of the Worker’s Assistance Center in Dasmarinas, Cavite, leaving streaks of blood on the floor and stairs.

The Evangelista couple were fisher folk rights advocates who were very much alive when dragged away by the police but later turned up dead in a funeral parlor in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Mendoza is executive vice-president of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno; Lanzanas is a paralegal of the political prisoners support group Kapatid-Southern Tagalog; Camoral is BAYAN-Laguna spokesperson; Eugenio is president of the Advancement of Rights and Responsibilities of Organized Workers LGU (ARROWS) – Antipolo City Hall; while Baez is an officer of BAYAN-Batangas. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(Bulatlat photo)

Pahayag ng mamahayag na si Lady Ann Salem sa kanilang paglaya

Isang araw matapos ang kanyang paglaya, kasama ang union organizer na si Rodrigo Esparago, ikinuwento ng mamahayag na si Lady Ann Salem ang pag-aresto sa kanila ng pulis at kanilang pakikibaka upang makalaya.

Pakinggan ang karanasan ng isang mamahayag sa loob ng piitan habang mayroong pandemya.

EDSA PEOPLE POWER 1: Paggunita sa tagumpay ng mamamayan

Sa komemorasyon ng ika-35 anibersaryo ng EDSA People Power I, ipinaalala ng mga progresibong grupo ang mahabang paglaban ng mamamayan kontra tiraniya at diktadurya. Sa programa sa harap ng Department of National Defense at martsa patungong People Power Monument, hinimok nila ang sambayanan na muling tumindig para sa demokrasya.

‘Nagpapatuloy ang pakikibaka para sa kalayaan at hustisya’

“Talumpu’t limang taon ang nakalipas, kasama sa martsa ng mamamayang Pilipino ang uring manggagawa para ibagsak ang isang diktador. Subalit ang inisyal na tagumpay na magtutulak sana ng mga ekonomiko at pampulitikang reporma ay tuloy-tuloy na nilustay ng mga sumunod na rehimen. Pero isa ang tiyak: Nananatiling buhay ang militansya ng pagkakaisa ng mamamayang Pilipino. Nagpapatuloy ang pakikibaka para sa kalayaan at hustisya ng ating bayan.”Jerome Adonis, Pangkalahatang Kalihim, Kilusang Mayo Uno

Tone deaf and ironic: BAYAN slams ‘Run Sara Run’ motorcade

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) scored the motorcade on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) Thursday morning urging Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to file her candidacy in next year’s presidential elections.

BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said it is “strangely ironic” that the motorcade was held on the 35th anniversary of the 1986 uprising that brought down the 14-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

“While it is their right to hold an event, the timing is tone deaf and seems oblivious to the pandemic and the worsening economic crisis,” Reyes said.

In many ways, the motorcade was inappropriate and tended to insult those who fought against the Marcos dictatorship, Reyes added.

A group calling itself the Alyansa ni Inday Movement (AIM) held a “Run Sara Run” motorcade along EDSA that stopped over at the People Power Monument as various groups and the Quezon City government alternately held commemorative programs.

Some of the group’s placards claimed the Davao City mayor is the “NEW FACE of People Power.”

Reyes said it is strangely ironic that some groups would use the uprising’s anniversary to call for the perpetuation of one family in power that is both “a dictatorship and a dynasty.”

“These are the more pressing matters that need attention, not early campaigning or electioneering,” Reyes said.

Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the incumbent president, has in the past downplayed the uprising’s importance in the country’s history.

“I find it hard to understand why this bloodless revolution has become the standard definition of freedom for our country and this standard is forced down our throats by a certain group of individuals who think they are better than everyone else,” Duterte-Carpio said in a response to Archbishop Socrates Villegas in 2017.

Villegas criticized the Duterte administration as a shame to the spirit of EDSA because of its human rights record.

Duterte-Carpio had also had been repeatedly accused of being pro-Marcos, evidenced by her close friendship with Senator Imee Marcos.

President Duterte himself is believed to be a Marcos supporter.

President Duterte has repeatedly denied that her daughter is a presidential candidate while the mayor herself said she has no plans for the presidency. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Anong klase ang gobyernong Durterteng ito’

“Anong klase ang gobyernong Duterteng ito? May krisis sa kalusugan, may krisis sa ekonomiya, may krisis sa distance learning. Pero walang ginagawa ang gobyernong ito kundi ang Cha-Cha, ang terror-tagging, ang panunupil at panghuhuli [sa] katulad nila Teacher Chad, 25 na Lumad, at iba pang bilanggong politikal.”Vladimir Quetua, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

‘State terrorism ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino’

“Sinasabi po nila (pulis) na itong mga bata (estudyanteng Lumad) ay ni rescue. State terrorism po ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino… Dahil sa track record ng Pamahalaang Duterte, kailanman hindi ito naging kakampi ng kabataang Pilipino. [Kaya naman] hindi po tayo makapapayag na magpatuloy ang ganitong pang-aabuso laban sa karapatan ng mga bata.” Kim Viznar, Children’s Rehabilitation Center