NDFP will not be swayed by Duterte’s ultimatums–Agcaoili

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is mistaken to think that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) would be swayed into signing a bilateral ceasefire with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said.

Reacting to Duterte’s threat that he will not release political prisoners without a signed bilateral ceasefire agreement, Agcaoili said the NDFP cannot be forced by ultimatums by the GRP President.

“The NDFP cannot be swayed by threats or ultimatums from its principled stand that all political prisoners should be released as a matter of justice and in compliance with signed agreements such JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) and CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law),” Agcaoili said. Read more

Progressives lead ‘Black Friday’ anti-Marcos rally

Progressive organizations came out in force to lead the Black Friday protest at the Quirino Grandstand last November 25.

Led by the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang (CARMMA), the rally steadily grew until tens of thousands eventually flocked to the venue participated by students and private and government office workers.

Protesting the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos with full military honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the rally was the biggest protest action so far against a Rodrigo Duterte decision in his five-month presidency. Read more

Old and young meet at Black Friday anti-Marcos protest

“Millennials” and “Gen Z post-millennials” meet up with martial law veterans in an anti-Marcos march and rally at the Rizal Park on “Black Friday,” November 25, 2016.

Among the speakers who expressed elation at the huge turnout from the youth and student sector were Bonifacio Ilagan, Wigberto Tanada, Sr. Mary John Mananza, Edita Burgos, and Satur Ocampo.

Tens of thousands participated in the Quirino Grandstand protest excluding 34 other protest actions across the country, according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan which led the activities along with the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang. Read more

Black Friday: A fiesta of furious and funny placards

Thousands of youth and students who grew up with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram stamped their mark on the Black Friday protest at Rizal Park with both enraged and funny placards that became one of the focal points of the event.

Tirelessly holding the placards aloft, the young protesters tried to outdo each other with the funniest and angriest quips they hoped would be read aloud by the emcees during the program.

The placards did not spare President Rodrigo Duterte, calling him the Marcoses’ puppet for ordering a hero’s burial for the late dictator.

Veteran activists who fought Martial Law expressed elation at the huge turnout of anti-Marcos youth at the Black Friday protest at Rizal Park last November 25. (Photos by Raymund B. Villanueva) Read more

Black Friday protests rage throughout the Philippines

FOR THE thousands of participants at the “Black Friday” protest at Rizal Park last November 25, Ferdinand Marcos’s heroes burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is part of a plan to fully reinstate his family as the country’s most powerful political clan.

Braving rains brought by Typhoon Marce, the massive rally participated by thousands of activists, university and high school students, government employees and regular citizens went on until well into the night.

The rally also turned into the biggest protest action so far against President Rodrigo Duterte who the protesters said is acting as a puppet of the Marcos clan.

“Marcos’ burial was never the endgame for his clan. Their endgame has always been to return to Malacañang and they have been trying to twist and compromise history and politics to that end,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

“Duterte must choose between his declarations to work for genuine change for the Philippines or his alliance with the Marcoses,” Makabayan stalwart Satur Ocampo for his part said.

Rage throughout

Thirty-three other cities and provinces throughout the country also held protest actions marking the Left’s first nationally-coordinated mass action against a Duterte government policy.

“We declare this day a day of unity and rage,” Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) lead convenor Bonifacio Ilagan said in his opening speech at the main Quirino Grandstand rally.

“The return of Marcosian thought – that our country needs a strongman rule, whose ruler cannot be doubted or questioned because he has the best interests for the country – has become real. We who believe in democracy must fight that,” Ilagan said.

Neri Colmenares, one of the youngest torture victims under Marcos’ Martial Law, criticized the burial’s purported objective goal of from the division wrought on the people by the latter’s strongman rule.

“There can be no reconciliation when the Marcos clan does not even acknowledge the existence of human rights violations during their patriarch’s rule. There will be no reconciliation if the Marcoses refuse to return the billions of dollars they stole from the Filipino people,” Colmenares said.


‘The future is secure’

Elderly protesters such as Mo. Mary John Mananzan, OSB and Edita Burgos expressed elation at the huge turnout of youth and students at Rizal Park.

“We are old—who knows we could be gone in a year or two—but we can go happy with the thought that you (the youth) would carry on the fight we have started,” Mananzan said.

For their part, various youths spoke on the importance of their generation joining the struggle.

“We feel Martial Law never really ended. We still suffer the effects – in our expensive education and social services, the fascism against activists. Our generation and the next generations will suffer as well if we do not act now,” League of Filipino Students (LFS) secretary-general JP Rosos said.

“We, the youth, accept the challenge to arouse, organize and mobilize, and explain the need for the struggle against fascist and oppressive leaders,” Anakbayan – De La Salle University Vince Simon said.

“It would be a sin for us to sit quietly and accept defeat as Marcos is buried as a hero,” Philippine Normal University’s The Torch editor in chief Timothy Romero said.

Just getting started

The Black Friday protest is the start of the series of activities against the restoration of Marcoses to the peak of power, the organizers said.

“This protest is the second Black Friday. It will be followed by a third, a fourth, and so on. We will ensure that the official rehabilitation of the Marcos and reversal of history never happen,” Ilagan said.

“That is what my generation had sworn to do that this current generation of youth will carry on. We shall never allow our youth to live in a society where history is reversed and dead tyrants’s reputations are rehabilitated,” Ilagan added.

Reyes challenged the participants at yesterday’s protest action to take to the streets to fight against revision of history.

“The courts and politicians have failed us. We the people are the only thing standing in the way of their undeserved return to power. Our fight is no longer in the courts. The fight is in the streets, classrooms, communities, churches, social media and mainstream media,” Reyes said. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)

Massive ‘Black Friday’ protest fight against revision of history, organizers say

ACTIVISTS are asking the Filipino people to join the fight against the revision of history and the total political rehabilitation of the Marcos clan.

In a press conference last November 23, members of Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang (CARMMA) and other progressive organizations called on Filipinos to participate in the planned massive #BlackFriday protest at the Rizal Park grandstand on November 25.

“We shall not let this gross insult and historical distortion pass unchallenged,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo said.

“This is the Filipinos’ fight now. Let us raise our voice and make our stand. Marcos was a thief, fascist and dictator. Marcos was no hero,” Araullo said.

The progressives said it is the most opportune time to prevent the Marcos’s plan to return to power and twist history in their favor.

“When we say ‘never again’, we say it with a greater sense of urgency because the restoration of the Marcoses has just become very real,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

“Like a thief in the night”

The progressives condemned Marcos’ rushed and secret burial as “cowardly” as they expressed frustration that the burial took place before they had the chance to file a motion for reconsideration (MR) to the Supreme Court decision favouring President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to have the late dictator interned at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

Petitioner Neri Colmenares said they will file a motion to have the Marcos family, the military and the police as well as others involved in the burial cited for contempt.

“The decision was not yet final and executory. What happened was disrespectful to our rights as petitioners and to due process,” Colmenares said.

“We still intend to file and MR even if the burial has already rendered it moot and unacademic. It may not win, but it is still important that we put it on the record that we do not accept the decision,” he said.

“The Marcoses have practically foreclosed the legal battle already, which is why we must struggle in one arena they cannot control: the streets,” Colmenares added.

Beyond Friday

The progressives emphasized that the fight does not end with the #BlackFriday protest.

“My hope is that this will not only awaken a desire to participate but make the people constantly aware that there is a threat over our heads,” press freedom hero Edith Burgos for her part said.

“If we do not act, the Marcos and their kind will return again and again.  After all, those motivated by greed will always try to find a way to power,” Burgos said.

Burgos also appealed to Filipinos who are unable to join mass protests.

“We call on those who cannot join the protests to go beyond prayers and act to educate the children on the importance of stopping another tyrant from happening to us,” Burgos said. (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)


NUJP Statement: End Impunity; Justice Now!

by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

November 23, 2009 is a day that will forever live in infamy, not only for the Philippine media community, which lost 32 of its own in what is now acknowledged as the single deadliest attack on the press on record, but also the for the country’s body politic, for which the slaughter was the worst incident of electoral violence in the country’s recent history.

The massacre of 58 persons seven years ago on a hilltop in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao showcased everything that is wrong in the rotten system of governance and disposition of justice in this country, where clans of warlords, criminal kingpins and corrupt politicians wield virtual powers of life and death in what amount to fiefdoms, their thievery and corruption tolerated by the centers of power that have to court their favors to effectively rule over the archipelago.

It is a testament to how entrenched this system of governance remains that, in a country that never tires of proclaiming itself the freest and most democratic in this corner of the globe, seven years after the orgy of violence, justice remains elusive for the Ampatuan 58 as on the day gunmen commanded by a madman who would brook no challenge to the almost absolute rule he and his kin enjoyed over their poverty-stricken province mowed them down in a hail of fire and steel.

Not even the shock and revulsion with which the carnage was greeted not just here but around the world has served to prod government to ensure that this blot to the nation be erased by the swift administration of justice to the dead and to those they left behind.

If anything, the State, which by rights should have taken on the burden of seeing to the futures of the widows, widowers and orphans of Ampatuan – after all its agents were responsible for this most heinous of crimes – has abandoned most of them, particularly those of our colleagues who were their families’ breadwinners, to lives of misery and uncertainty, reduced to wondering where to get their sustenance from day to day.

One orphan, that of Gina dela Cruz, died of illness because the family could no longer afford the treatment that would have saved its life. And her mother, Nancy wasted away alone after being left with no other choice than to make the grandchildren she could no longer support wards of the state.

This heartlessness of the State, this unconcern for the plight of the people whose grief it is primarily responsible for, is also what feeds the impunity that has emboldened those who seek to silence those brash enough to seek to unveil their abuses. It is, of course, the same kind of impunity that has marked the murders of hundreds more of our compatriots whose only crime was to dare speak truth to oppressive power.

Today, even as we commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre, we see a resurgence of threats and assaults on the independent Philippine press fueled by the open contempt and hostility of a leader who would brook absolutely no criticism of his person or his policies, not even if these have opened the floodgates to an orgy of bloodletting unprecedented in its savagery and its utter disregard for the rule of law and human rights.

Seven years after Ampatuan, we fear that the worst is yet to come and the seekers of truth will be faced with ever more danger from those who see our work as anathema to their pursuit of an order built not on compassion but brute force, not on the realities we all face but the distorted picture they would force us to accept.

Yet even as we worry, so do we affirm that these are the best times to be journalists, to be the bearers of the knowledge and free thought that the centers of power would seek to suppress. It is in these times, as in the darkest days of the unlamented dictatorship, that the independent Philippine press is most needed by the people. We do not doubt that the Filipino journalist and the independent media community will prove themselves worthy of the calling. #

POOLED EDITORIAL: Seven years of injustice for Ampatuan victims, reign of impunity must end

by the People’s Alternative Media Network

THAT JUSTICE remains elusive seven years since the Ampatuan massacre proves how the culture of impunity persists today. We are alarmed that recent events including the Marcos burial and continuing extrajudicial killings not only of alleged drug personalities but also of activists and journalists feed such an environment under the Duterte administration.

The same environment of impunity is the appalling circumstance that allowed the suspected Ampatuan clan to kill all 58 people, including 32 journalists, in broad daylight on November 23, 2009. This climate of unaccountability continues to embolden perpetrators to continue committing the worst crimes against Filipinos.

We are further concerned that the appointment of former Ampatuan counsel Salvador Panelo as one of Duterte’s top officials makes the struggle for justice for the 58 victims and to make those behind the massacre accountable even more difficult.

All these dampen hopes that justice will be served soon, even as Duterte recently created a presidential task force to investigate media killings. The still unsolved cases of media killings, Duterte’s reckless pronouncement justifying the killing of “corrupt” journalists, and the escalating impunity do not give us any assurance that the country – regarded as among the most dangerous places in the world for journalists – will be a safe environment for media workers soon.

Seven long years have passed since the Ampatuan massacre, but not a single conviction has been made. The slow and flawed judicial process is a source of agony for the bereaved families waiting for justice. The perpetrators, after all these years, continue to succeed in prolonging the legal proceedings and preventing the trial’s conclusion.

We cannot underscore enough the importance of the Ampatuan Massacre in the Filipino people’s fight against the climate of impunity. The prolonged injustice for the Ampatuan victims is unacceptable as it further encourages the continuing attacks against human rights in the country.

We demand that the long-overdue justice be given to the Ampatuan victims and for the massacre trial to be completed without delay. We call on the Duterte administration to put a stop to the killings, harassment and human rights violations not only of journalists but also of human rights advocates, activists, and others. We call on the government to protect and uphold people’s rights, and to immediately end the reign of impunity in the country. #

Journalists and victims’ kin decry impunity 7 years after Ampatuan massacre

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippine and the families of victims of the Ampatuan Massacre trooped to Mendiola last November 23 to demand justice for the mass murder of 58 civilians including 32 journalists in 2009.

The NUJP demanded a stop to the culture of impunity as it noted that journalists are still being harassed and attacked under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

The NUJP also condemened the slow prosecution of the Ampatuan family and their cohorts in what is known as the worst election related crime in Philppine history and the worst singular attack against journalists throughout the world. Read more

Activists vow to continue fight against the Marcoses

In a forum at the College of Law of the University of the Philippines-Diliman a day after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was sneakily buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, activists vow to fight efforts to what they say are obvious moves to revive “Marcosian ideology.”

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang (CARMMA) also announced a giant anti-Marcos rally on November 25, Friday, with the following themes: “National Day of Unity and Rage against the Marcos Burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” “National Day of Unity and Rage against the Revision of History” and “National Day of Unity and Rage against Duterte’s Alliance with the Marcoses.” Read more