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‘Ang kalaban natin ay virus’

“Ang kalaban natin ay virus… Kailangan marami ang mga doktor, nurse, health workers na gumagabay at nangunguna sa atin. Ang kailangan natin ngayon ay sistematiko para tiyak ang kaligtasan ng mamamayan… Hindi po ‘yan masasagot ng deployment ng pulis at militar.” – Joms Salvador, Secretary General, GABRIELA

Maricon Montajes

TIMELINE of the struggle for ABS CBN

The Senate conducted a hearing on the ABS-CBN issue last Monday, February 24, obviously in reaction to the series of mass actions calling for the network’s franchise renewal. The Senate Committee on Public Services, chaired by Senator Grace Poe, again showed the Upper House’s more independent character than the House of Representatives that still refuses to schedule hearing on the 11 bills pending before its Committee on Legislative Franchises. And while Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano called the Senate hearing “a meaningless and brown-nosing spectacle,” even his fellow administration allies were compelled to attend and expressed support for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal at the end of the hearing. Resource persons from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Justice also clarified that ABS-CBN did not violate laws that warrant its closure.

The giant media network may now heave a sigh of relief, its position and future clearer than when the issue blew up middle of January.

Here is a timeline of how organizations have been helping the network weather its worst storm since it was sequestered during Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law:

December 3, 2019

– President Rodrigo Duterte threatend he will “see to it that you’re (ABS CBN) out.”

December 30, 2019

– Duterte tells ABS-CBN management in a speech to just sell the company.

January 16, 2020

-The Manila Times reports that Solicitor General Jose Calida plans to file a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court questioning ABS CBN’s franchise.

January 17, 2020

-The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) holds a Black Friday protest at the Boy Scout Monument in Quezon City to denounce the threat. They People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya), Defend Jobs Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), members of the ABS CBN Rank and File Employees Union (RFEU), the Photojournalists Center of the Philippines (PEP), Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), International Association of Women in Radio and Television-Philippine Chapter, Rappler, and progressive organizations under Bagong Alyansang Makabayan join the action. The entire Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives attend. Several ABS CBN reporters participate.

January 18, 2020

-The NUJP launches its one million signature campaign on the online petition platform change.org. Within 24 hours, 100 thousand signatures were gathered as several ABS CBN artists ask their fans for support.

January 24, 2020

-The NUJP and the ABS CBN-RFEU hold a “silent protest” at the network’s Sgt. Esguerra gate. Several network reporters join. Participants light candles and distribute petition forms. Defend Jobs Philippines, Altermidya and CEGP attend.

January 31, 2020

-The NUJP, PCP members, Altermidya and several ABS CBN fans gather at the Boy Scout Monument and later proceed to one of the network’s Mother Ignacia Avenue gates to conduct its third Black Friday protest. CEGP, CAP and Defend Jobs Philippines join.

February 7, 2020

-The NUJP holds its fourth Black Friday protest at the employee’s Mother Ignacia gate and gather hundreds of signatures from employees. Meanwhile, the NUJP and other employees gather petitions inside the network since January 18. Altermidya and the ABS CBN-RFEU attend the rainy fourth Black Friday.

February 10, 2020

-Calida files quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court. NUJP and Altermidya denounce the solicitor general’s action, as well as his harassment of ABS CBN reporter Mark Navallo. NUJP calls for a quick reaction protest action at the Boy Scout Monument. Altermidya, ABS CBN RFEU, CEGP, PCP, Rappler, Kadamay, Defend Jobs Philippines and other progressive organizations under Bayan attend.

February 11-14, 2020

-Media groups, schools and other organizations issue statements issue statements supporting ABS CBN and denouncing threats against the network. Several newspapers publish editorials supportive of the embattled company. ABS CBN report interviews of fans loyal to the network. ABS CBN management issues statement. Several NUJP chapters hold their own protest actions but complain of surveillance by unidentified men who take their pictures even after their activities.

February 12, 2020

-Committee on Legislative Franchises vice chairperson Isabela 1st District Representative Antonio Albano admits pressure from both the Duterte administration and ABS CBN supporters.

February 14, 2020

-NUJP and ABS CBN employees jointly organize the fifth protest action named “Red Friday Protest” as the day fell on Valentine’s Day. Hundreds of network officials and workers participate. Reporters prepare food for the increasing number of supporters. PCP conduct interactive activities during protest. CAP, LODI (Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity) Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, Makabayan, and other labor federations attend.

February 19, 2020

-NUJP officers submit to the House of Representatives copies of 200 thousand signatures to the authors of the 11 bills for ABS CBN franchise renewal as well as to the Committee of Legislative Franchises secretariat and chairperson Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez. Bayan Muna Rep. Karlos Ysagani Zarate receives the copies in behalf of his fellow authors.

Photograb of Altermidya video of the February 21 “White Friday” protest.

February 21, 2020

-Thousands of ABS CBN employees light candles and form a human chain around the network compound in an unprecedented mass action in defense of a media organization. Thousands more supporters from other organizations join earlier supporters in a two-hour program in front of the network’s broadcasting center. NUJP, CAP and ABS CBN employees jointly conduct program. Film and television stars attend this sixth protest action. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

[Disclosure: The author is NUJP deputy secretary general.]

Ulat sa isinagawang national solidarity at fact-finding mission sa Negros

Nagsagawa ng National Solidarity and Fact Finding Mission ang mga progresibong grupo sa naganap na pagsalakay sa mga opisina ng mga organisasyon at pag-aresto sa 57 na aktibista sa Negros noong Oktubre 31.

Pinuntahan nila ang mga opisina ng Bayan Muna, National Federation of Sugar Workers, Gabriela, Anakpawis at Kilusang Mayo Uno sa Bacolod City. Binisita din nila ang bahay ni Makabayan Negros coordinator Romulo Bito-on Jr. na isa rin sa inaresto ng mga pulis at militar.

Nalaman nila na maraming iregularidad sa mga ginawang raid gayundin ang ilegal na pagtanim ng mg baril at granada para makulong ang mga nasabing aktibista. Nakalaya ang 21 na manggagawa ng Ceres Bus Line at 11 miyembro ng Teatro Obrero matapos i-utos ng Prosecutors Office na walang basehan ang kaso para sa kanila.

Sa ngayon ay 13 pa ang nakakulong kung saan 9 ang kinasuhan ng illegal possession of firearms and explosives. (Background Music For Videos TV and Radio – by AShamaluevMusic Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Activists vow legal pushback vs state forces

By Visayas Today

BACOLOD CITY–Those responsible for the October 31 mass arrest in Bacolod City, from state security personnel to the judge who issued the search warrants, should expect a wave of countercharges to hold them accountable, activist groups have vowed.

“We will make sure there will be countercharges,” Bacolodnon Neri Colmenares, who chairs the Bayan Muna party-list and used to represent it in Congress, told a press conference Thursday, November 7.

In all, the joint police and Army units under the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that carried out the raids on three offices and a private residence in Bacolod City arrested and detained 57 persons, among them a dozen minors.

They claimed to have recovered more than 30 firearms and some explosives from the offices of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, women’s organization Gabriela – both in Barangay Bata – and the National Federation of Sugar Workers in front of the Libertad market, and the home of Romulo and Mermalyn Bito-on in Barangay Taculing.

The security forces said the offices, particularly the compound that houses the office of Bayan and other groups, were being used to train “recruits,” including minors, of the New People’s Army.

However, on November 6, 32 of those arrested – 21 laid off workers of Vallacar Transit who were consulting the Kilusang Mayo Uno and 11 members of cultural group Teatro Obrero, all arrested at the Bayan office – were released after the city prosecutor dropped the charges against them.

Only 11 persons remain in detention, seven of them facing non-bailable charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Colmenares said the release of the 32 “proves the falsity of the charges” that those arrested were rebels and that the offices were training facilities.

He said those they intend to charge, both before trial courts and the Office of the Ombudsman, include the “generals, colonels,” and enlisted personnel of police and Army units that carried out the raids, prosecutors, judges who issue “fake” warrants, and the “false witnesses” on whose testimonies the warrants were based.’

The search warrants covering the Bacolod raids were all issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert. She also issued the warrants that led to the arrests of two other activists in Escalante City and at least five others in Manila around the same time as the Bacolod raids.

While there is a special rule issued by the Supreme Court allowing the RTC executive judges of Manila and Quezon City to issue warrants for areas outside their jurisdiction, activists accuse Villavert of abusing this privilege and issuing “wholesale” warrants that abet human rights violations.

Colmenares said among the charges the security forces can expect are those related to their alleged “planting” of evidence and violations of the anti-torture law. #

Pag-aresto sa maraming aktibista, kinondena

Mariing kinundena ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan at iba pang aktibistang organisasyon ang pag-aresto sa mga kapwa nilang aktibista sa Lungsod ng Bacolod at Maynila kamakailan.

Nagprotesta sa harapan ng Camp Crame ang mga aktibista upang ipanawagan ang agarang pagpapalaya sa 57 indibidwal na anila’y iligal na inaresto. (Bidyo ni Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

21 sacked Ceres workers among Bacolod raid detainees – Bayan

By Visayas Today

Twenty-one laid off workers of the Ceres Bus line who were consulting a labor leader were among the 55 persons (not 62 as earlier reported by authorities) arrested and detained in simultaneous raids last week on four locations in Bacolod City that state forces claimed harbored communist rebels in training.

This was bared by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, which held a press conference in Metro Manila on Sunday, November 3, to denounce what it called the “tanim baril, tanim ebidensya” (planting of guns and evidence) tactics alleged used by the Army and police to justify the raids and boost their claims that those arrested are members of the rebel movement.

Also nabbed and detained were 25 youth, among them 13 minors, of the grassroots cultural group Teatro Obrero who were rehearsing for a presentation of their play “Papa Isio,” on the legendary Negros hero of the revolution against Spain and the war against America.

The youth and Ceres workers were among those arrested at a compound in a residential area of Barangay Bata that serves as the office of leftist party-list Bayan Muna and other organizations. The Army and police claim the place, where 30 firearms and explosives were supposedly recovered, served as a “training area” for rebel recruits, including potential “child warriors.”

Also netted in the raids were several officers of progressive groups like the National Federation of Sugar Workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno and Karapatan, all of which the government and state forces openly tag as “legal fronts” of the rebels, and Anne Krueger of the alternative media outfit Paghimutad, all of whom were accused of being part of the rebels’ regional leadership in Negros.

Aside from those arrested in the October 31 Bacolod raids, two succeeding raids in Escalante City on November 1 also led to the apprehension of NFSW staff Imelda Sultan and Ma. Lindy Perucho. As with the Bacolod operations, the Escalante raiders also claimed to have recovered weapons and explosives from the two women.

Also on October 31, Cora Agovida, the Metro Manila chairperson of Gabriela, and her husband Michael Tan Bartolome of the urban poor group Kadamay, were arrested and weapons and explosive also supposedly seized.

Incidentally, all the search warrants used as the basis for the raids were issued on October 30 by Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89.

Bayan, in a statement, said the raids signified “how low the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines have sunk in their effort to comply with Duterte’s orders to crack down on activists and political dissenters.”

It also noted the similarities in the operations:

1. Police gets a search warrant from a friendly, uninformed or intimidated judge, in this case from Quezon City which is outside the area of jurisdiction where the operation is made;
2. Occupants of the raided office or home are forced to go outside while police operatives, some in plain clothes, come in to search the area;
3. Occupants are then allowed back in only to discover illegal guns and explosives that police allege were found in their possession;
4. All persons are then arrested, detained and interrogated for prolonged periods while being denied their right to their lawyer or to be visited by relatives and friends. In the worst case like the Kanlaon, Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina incidents last March 30, 14 farmers were killed by police serving such search warrants;
5. To justify and muddle their illegal conduct, police and military officials go the rounds of the media vilifying the victims and claiming that these are members or supporters of the New People’s Army.

Bayan called the raids “a portent of worse things to come” and predicted “an escalation of the Duterte regime’s fascist crackdown on groups and individuals critical of the government, whose crime is to merely exercise their constitutional right to organize, express and seek redress for their grievances.” #

KMP: Guns, grenade in Bacolod raids are from the police

The firearms and explosives the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it confiscated from its raids of offices of activist organizations in Bacolod City Thursday night are recycled from their old anti-loose firearms operations, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said.

“The loose firearms are from their own ‘Tokhang Kontra Guinadili-an nga Pusil’ that were rounded in previous police operations,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement, adding the “planting” of evidence is an old trick in the government’s playbook of political repression.

“Matagal nang ginagawa ng pulis itong tanim baril, tanim ebidensya,”  Ramos said. (The police had long been known to plant guns, plant evidence.)

Ramos pointed out to the video posted by community journalist Anne Krueger before she herself was arrested as proof the guns and grenades were from the composite police and military raiding teams.

In the video, Krueger, who was then at the Gabriela office, and a companion could be heard saying they do not own the bag police operatives said were found in a dark corner of the office’s backyard.

“We just cleaned that area and this is the first time we are seeing that bag. That is not ours, that is yours,” the unidentified Gabriela member said in the video.

Buking na buking na ang pulis at militar sa mga pagtatanim nila ng mga baril at ebidensya,” Ramos said in his statement. (The police and the military are notorious for planting guns as so-called evidence.)

The Bacolod PNP said it seized 14 caliber .45 pistols, nine caliber .38 revolvers, and a hand grenade from the local offices of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, and Anakpawis in Barangay Bata, and two other offices, including the one occupied by the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Barangay 33.

“It was CIDG operatives who brought and planted the pistols, revolvers, submachine guns, ammo magazines, and live bullets. The Bacolod City Police Office and the PNP Regional Office-7 have an armory of almost 10,000 old and rusty firearms that they usually recycle for planting of evidences,” Ramos added.

Presidential Communications and Operations Office secretary Martin Andanar meanwhile defended the police and the military, denying the guns and grenade were planted.

“We assert that any allegations that the raids conducted were a form of harassment are simply false and we have hard evidence secured to prove our argument,” Andanar added.

Bayan Muna Party however said the judge who issued the search warrant used in the Bacolod raids must publicize her special docket book to prove that court procedures were strictly followed.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate pointed out that while Manila and Quezon City (QC) executive judges are authorized to issue warrants upon application by the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation, the applications “shall be personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies.”

“Did the OIC PNP Chief endorse it? Under the rules the judge must ensure that the application is endorsed by the head of agency, otherwise she would be violating the rules for issuing the warrant,” Zarate asked.

Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares also pointed that the executive judges “shall keep a special docket book listing names of Judges to whom the applications are assigned, the details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued.”

“We are calling on the Supreme Court, especially Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, to review the actions of the QC RTC Judge, and for the Supreme Court to provide mechanisms to discipline judges who abuse legal processes and merely accede to baseless applications for search warrant by state forces,” Colmenares said.

Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Branch 89 of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City issued the search warrants. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Manila police arrest activist couple

By Joseph Cuevas

Women and other groups held a quick reaction protest in front of the Manila Police District headquarters against what they allege was an illegal arrest of an activist couple in Manila last Thursday, October 31.

The Philippine National Police (PNP)-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Manila Police District arrested Gabriela-Metro Manila spokesperson Cora Agovida and her husband Mickael Tan Bartolome, campaign officer of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Metro Manila.

The police forcibly entered the couple’s house at around 5:00 o’clock in the morning in Paco, Manila and ordered them, their two children (10 and 2 years old, respectively) and a companion to lie down on the floor. 

The police alleged that a .45 caliber pistol and two hand grenades were found inside the couple’s house after a search.

The police said they had search warrants issued by Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 88, the same judge who issued the warrants used on the mass raids and arrests in Bacolod City late Thursday afternoon.

Agovida’s group Gabriela however allege the search warrants were issued based on spurious police “intelligence” reports.

The group pointed out that the search warrants indicated specific calibers and types of guns and explosives that were the exact guns and grenades presented after the raids.

“Everything was indeed orchestrated,” Gabriela said.

Newly-installed PNP National Capital Region commander Debold Sinas met with Burgos-Villavert Wednesday afternoon, a police Facebook page announced.

Activists call for the immediate release of the arrested couple at the Manila Police District headquaters Thursday night. (Photo by J. Cuevas)

The police refused requests by lawyers and medical workers to visit the couple inside the MPD headquarters as of last night.

Their children were reportedly forcibly taken and brought to the Manila Reception and Action Center, a government-run “shelter” for street-children.

Gabriela and KADAMAY-Metro Manila condemned the couple’s arrest and called for their immediate release.

The groups condemned the Rodrigo Duterte government’s crackdown against women and urban poor activists under its ant-insurgency programs Oplan Kalasag and Executive Order No. 70. # (with reports from Raymund B. Villanueva)

Mga aktibista: ‘Berdugong Esperon,’ walang karapatang akusahan ang mga progresibo

Isang kilos-protesta ang isinagawa ng iba’t-ibang grupo bilang suporta sa grupong Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines at Gabriela noong Agosto 1, Hwebes, kontra sa kasong perjury na isinampa ni national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. laban sa tkanila,

Mariin nilang binatikos ang opisyal sa anila’y pangigipit sa mga grupong nagtataguyod ng karapatang pantao at gawing ligal ang atake sa mga ito.

Anila, ang taong katulad ni Esperon na may maraming reklamong kinaharap hinggil sa paglabag sa karapatang pantao ay hindi dapat nambibintang ng walang batayan. (Bidyo ni Arrem Alcaraz/Kodao)

Protest marks Filipino-American Friendship Day

Isang kilos-protesta ang pinangunahan ng mga kabataan malapit sa US Embassy sa Maynila para sa pagdiriwang ng Filipino-American Friendship day noong Hulyo 4.

Ayon sa League of Filipino Students (LFS), walang ganap na kalayaan ang bansa at nakatali pa rin ito sa patakaran ng US. Isang larawan nito ay ang patuloy na mga pagsasanay-militar sa ilalim ng Visiting Forces Agreement at Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Para naman sa Gabriela Women’s Party, patuloy na nangangayupapa ang gubyerno ni President Rodrigo Duterte hindi lamang sa US kundi sa karibal nito na China. Patunay dito ang mahinang paninidigan sa isyu ng West Philippine Sea at malambot na independent foreign policy.

Nanawagan ang dalawang grupo na igiit ng mamamayang Pilipino ang soberanya ng bansa laban sa dalawang imperyalistang bayan. (Music: Background News / Bidyo ni: Carlo Francisco/ Kodao)