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‘Mananatili kaming tapat na ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan’

“Ang kabataan po ay patong-patong na ang mga umuusbong na suliranin dulot ng bagong learning set-up. Ang mga ito ang dapat na inuuna ng administrasyon sa gitna ng pandemya at mga sakuna, hindi ang mga walang-awa at mga malisyosong atake. Makakaasa kayo na patuloy na ipaglalaban ng kabataan at estudyante ang aming karapatan gayundin ang kapakanan ng sambayanan. Mananatili kaming tapat sa kasabihan na ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.”Sarah Elago, Representative, Kabataan Party-list

Academic Break, hiling ng mga mag-aaral sa buong bansa

Nagsagawa ng student strike ang mga grupo ng mag-aaral mula sa iba’t-ibang unibersidad at kolehiyo sa Gate 2 ng Ateneo De Manila University sa Katipunan, Quezon City bilang bahagi ng International Students Day, Nobyembre 17, 2020.

Pangunahin nilang hiling na magkaroon ng national academic break dahil sa sunud-sunod na sakuna na dumaan sa bansa gayundin ang mga pahirap na sistema sa online classes. Ang academic break, ayon sa kanila, ay maagang deklarasyon ng pagtatapos ng semestre at mass promotion ng mga estudyante.

Binatikos din nila ang Pangulong Duterte dahil sa kriminal na kapabayaan nito na tugunan ang pandemya, edukasyon at sakuna. # (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

Krisis sa COVID-19, lalong tumitindi, ayon sa Makabayan

Ni Joseph Cuevas

Tumindi ang krisis ng pandemyang Covid-19 dahil sa simula pa lamang ay minaliit na ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang epekto nito sa bansa na naging militarista naman ang naging pagtugon ng gobyerno noong nanalasa na ito kalaunan.

Ito ang sumada ng mga kinawatan sa blokeng Makabayan sa isang online forum noong Sabado, May 23, na pinamagatang “Hatol Makabayan”

Inihayag ni Makabayan Chairman Atty. Neri Colmenares sa kanyang pambungad na pananalita na tumindi ang krisis ng pandemyang Covid-19 sa Pilipinas dahil sa simula ay minaliit na ito ni Pangulong Duterte at hindi kaagad gumawa ng karampatang aksyon.

Sinabi naman ni Rep. Sarah Elago ng Kabataan Party na hindi solusyong medikal ang unang naging hakbang ni Pangulong Duterte, bagkus ay isang militaristang Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) o lockdown.

Imbes anila na mass testing, isolation, tracing at treatment sa mga posibleng maysakit ay tinapatan ang unang pagdami ng kaso ng coronavirus ay nagpatupad ito ng malupit na lockdown, bagay na ikinabahala ng United Nations Human Rights Council.

Para naman kay ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro, nakakabahala ang sitwasyon ng mga frontliner dahil sila ang sumusuong sa panganib ng pandemya.

Kulang na kulang ang mga doktor, nars, medical staff pati na din sa mga itinatayong testing centers at kagamitan tulad ng Personal Protective Equipments, dagdag ni Castro.

Kalunos-lunos din ang kalagayan ng mga pampublikong ospital at isolation center para sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers na umuwi sa bansa.

Sa ngayon nasa 13,577 ang kaso ng Covid-19 kung saan mahigit 863 na ang nasawi at mayroong backlog na halos 6,000 na mga pinaghihinalaang kaso ng sakit.

Ang Pilipinas ang may pinakamahigpit at pinakamahabang lockdown sa buong mundo na umabot na sa mahigit 70 araw.

Ang online forum ay pinangunahan ng mga mambabatas mula sa Bayan Muna, ACT-Teachers, Gabriela Women’s Party at Kabataan party.

Pasismo sa pandemya

Ayon kay Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas ang militaristang tugon ng gobyerno para labanan ang Covid-19 ay nagdulot ng 177, 540 na pag-arestosa panahon ng lockdown na umaabot ng average na 2,900 kada araw at higit 52,000 na ikinulong.

Ilan sa mga ito ang ginawang pag-aresto at pagkulong sa mga relief worker ng Tulong Anakpawis sa Bulacan noong Abril 26 at Lingap Gabriela sa Marikina at Tulong Kabataan sa Quezon City noong Mayo 1.

Dagdag pa ni Brosas, dahas din ang naging tugon katulad nang pagpaslang kay Jory Porquia ng Bayan Muna sa Iloilo at pagpatay sa isang dating sundalo na lumabag umano sa quarantine sa Quezon City. Hindi rin nito pinaglagpas ang ilang netizen sa Online Tokhang tulad ng ginawa sa isang guro sa Zambales.

Wala ring tugon ang gobyerno sa planong magpalaya ng mga bilanggo na kumakalat na ang sakit sa mga kulungan. Hanggang ngayon, wala pa ring tugon ang petisyon na inihain ng mga kaanak ng political prisoner sa Korte Suprema sa halip ay tinutulan pa ito ng Office of the Solicitor General, pahayag pa ni Brosas.

Tinalakay naman ni Rep. Eufemia Cullamat ng Bayan Muna na bukod sa pasistang pananalakay sa mamamayan ay walang humpay din ang counter-insurgency na atake ng gobyerno.

Ilan na dito ang naitalang pambobomba at pagkakampo sa ilang komunidad ng mga katutubo sa CARAGA region, pag-aresto sa mga lider ng progresibong grupo at kaso ng red-tagging, maging pekeng pagpapasurender.

Kapos na ayuda at lumolobong badyet

Naging tampok din sa forum ang tugon ng gobyerno sa kabuhayan ng mamamayan. Inilarawan ni Rep. Ferdinand Gaite ng Bayan Muna ang programang Social Amelioration Program o SAP ng gobyerno na makupad dahil sa napakabagal at burukratikong proseso nang pamamahagi nito.

Ayon kay Gaite, nasa apat na milyong Pilipino pa ang hindi nakatanggap ng nasabing ayuda mula sa target nitong 18 milyon. Maging ang tulong para mga manggagawa ay napakabagal din.

Nasa tatlong milyong manggagawa lamang ang ayuda ng DOLE na Covid-19 Adjustment Measures Program o CAMP mula sa tinatayang 10 milyon na apektado sa buong bansa.

Pinuna naman ni Rep. Carlos Zarate ang napakalaking pondo na nakalaan para sa pandemya subalit hindi naramdaman ng taumbayan.

Kabilang na dito ang halos P275 bilyon na pondo ni Pangulong Duterte kahit pa umutang ito nang aabot sa $5 bilyon mula sa iba’t-ibang multi-lateral agency tulad ng World Bank at Asian Development Bank.

Itinutulak pa aniya ang mga bagong panukala sa Kongreso na “stimulus program” tulad ng Enhanced Build Build Build na magpapasidhi ng patakarang neoliberalisasyon sa ekonomiya, ani pa Zarate.

Nagbigay reaksyon naman ang iba’t-ibang grupo kabilang na dito ang mga mungkahi at panukala na:

– ng health care system sa bansa at paglalalan ng malaking pondo rito hindi lamang sa panahon ng Covid-19.

-Re-alignment ng pambansang badyet sa mga ahensya at mga target na pagkukunan kabilang na ang mataas na pagbubuwis sa mga mayayaman at malalaking korporasyon.

-Direktang ayuda sa mga manggagawa na apektado at pagbibigay trabaho sa mga natanggal kabilang na ang mga kontraktwal at job-order.

-Production subsidy at direct cash assistance na P10,000 sa mga magsasaka, mangingisda at maralita sa kanayunan.

-Pagbibigay ng SAP kahit sa panahon ng GCQ o General Community Quarantine at kabuhayan sa mga maralita.

-Paggiit  sa “No Mass Testing, No School Opening” para naman sa mga kabataan at guro sa pagbubukas ng klase sa darating na Agosto at

-Pagpapatigil sa mga dagdag bayarin at pagpapahirap sa mga estudyante tulad ng Online Classes.

Sa huli, binigyang-hatol ng Makabayan at batayang sekor na maraming kapalpakan, kasalanan at kamalian ang gobyerno ni Pangulong Duterte sa pagharap sa Covid-19.

Hinikayat nila ang mamamayan na kumilos at marapat na paigtingin ang panawagan para sa Kalusugan, Kabuhayan at Karapatan. #

‘Hindi krimen ang lumaban’

“Hindi krimen ang lumaban. Ang tunay na krimen, mga kababayan, ay ‘yong nag=aasta lang diktador na lahat ng sabihin mo ay itinuturing na batas. Walang pakialam sa rule of law. Walang pakialam sa due process.”—Rep. Sarah Elago, Kabataan Partylist

Goons harass farmers’ campout, youth supporters panic

Armed goons harassed a farmers’ campout at Lupang Ramos in Dasmariñas City, Cavite Monday night, causing panic among youth supporters staying for the night, a progressive lawmaker announced.

In an urgent alert, Kabataan Party Representative Sarah Elago said private armed goons fired gun shots in the dead of night, causing University of the Philippines medical students and other youth supporters belonging to Kabataan Southern Tagalog chapter diving onto the ground for fear of being hit.

“[N]akadapa ang lahat kasama ang mga volunteer UP Med students at members ng Kabataan mula Southern Tagalog chapter,” part of Elago’s alert said.

Farmers belonging to the Katipunan ng Lehitimong Magsasaka at Mamamayan sa Lupang Ramos (KASAMA-LR) later reported they heard seven gunshots fired at their direction at around 11 p.m.

The farmers and their supporters are encamped at Barangay Langkaan 1 to defend a 370-hectare land called Lupang Ramos from alleged land-grabbers Nelson Pangilinan and Rudy Herrera.

Condemning the incident, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Pangilinan and Herrera’s group have been continuously harassing the farmers.

Tension escalated last weekend when Pangilinan’s group physically assaulted KASAMA-LR members, injuring one Rosalinda Tapawan Atienza, 62 years old, KMP said.

Lupang Ramos is reportedly being eyed for procurement and development by Ayala Land Inc. with Pangilinan’s group acting as real estate agents, KMP said.

The Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid-Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) for its part said the farmers’ have started collective land cultivation last year.

The farmers are already benefiting from their collective production work months before Pangilinan arrived and started harassing farmers and claiming the land, the group said.

Lupang Ramos in Dasmariñas City, Cavite. (KMP photo)

Around 50-hectares are already planted with root crops, banana trees and vegetables. KASAMA-LR farmers are also planning to plant corn in the farmland, KASAMA-TK said.

Just yesterday, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region IV-Provincial Agrarian Reform Office held a dialogue with KASAMA-LR farmers, KMP said.

DAR officials were only able to promise that they would tell off Pangilinan and his group, the group added.

KASAMA-TK said Monday night’s incident was duly reported to the Dasmarinas City police but were told by the police officers on duty they are “afraid and they do not want to get involved in the land dispute.”

The KMP said it will send a Quick Reaction Team to Dasmariñas to assist the beleaguered Lupang Ramos farmers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘To freely oppose fascist regime,’ Makabayan bolts House majority

To be able to freely oppose the “fascist Rodrigo Duterte regime,” the Makabayan bloc announced Thursday it is bolting from the majority coalition in the House of Representatives.

The group’s sitting representatives and other leaders said in a press conference said they will henceforth be an independent bloc in Congress.

“Today, we, seven party list representatives of the Makabayan Bloc, declare our separation from the Majority Coalition in the House of Representatives to intensify our opposition to the Duterte administration that has now fully unravelled as a fascist, pro-imperialist and anti-people regime,” Makabayan said.

Makabayan is composed of Bayan Muna, ACT Teachers, Anakpawis, Kabataan, and Gabriela Women’s parties.

The group said it joined the Majority last year after being encouraged by Duterte’s reformist and populist actions and pronouncements on a range of issues.

Makabayan cited Duterte’s promise to resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), release of political prisoners, ending of neo-colonial ties with the United States of America government, pursuing an independent foreign policy, addressing the roots of the Moro rebellion, ending labor contractualization, increasing government support to farmers, putting a stop to destructive mining practices, reducing income taxes of rank and file employees, and increasing social pensions, and prioritizing basic social services over infrastructure as among the reasons for entering the coalition.

“From the very start, we consistently opposed the Administration’s anti-people bills and policies to the point that we were stripped of our committee chairmanships due to our stand against the death penalty bill. Despite one disappointment after another, we persisted in the Majority in the hope that some socioeconomic and political reforms could be achieved, if not through Congress, then through the Government of Republic of the Philippines-NDFP peace talks,” the group explained.

Duterte has failed on his promises, Makabayan said.

“Worst of all, his ‘war on drugs’ has turned into a campaign of mass murder of the poor, for which he shows no signs of turning back,” the group said.

Earlier, Malacañan said it hoped Makabayan would keep it ties with the Duterte government.

“We hope the Makabayan bloc will stay with the administration and the House majority,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said at a palace briefing last September 8.

Abella said the palace hoped the progressive solons would continue to work with the administration on certain issues, even if they decide dissociate themselves from the Duterte.

“However, if they do decide to go, we wish them well and we hope that they will remain open to working together with others on issues of shared interest,” Abella said.

Makabayan in its announcement today however said the die is cast.

“We shall fight the fascist US-Duterte regime and hold it accountable for its gross violations of human rights and the further oppression and impoverishment of our people,” the group said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Activists defend rights commission, slam 1000 budget by HoR

BANGKOK, Thailand—Activists came to the defense of the beleaguered Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after the House of Representatives (HoR) gave the agency a thousand-peso budget in 2018.

In a statement, human rights group Karapatan said the 119 representatives who approved the punitive budget are “sycophants…(who) are having a field day with their fascist and anti-people schemes in the past days.”

Karapatan added the HoR decision is an attempt by the chamber’s so-called super majority to clip the functions of a constitutional body mandated to check on the human rights violations of State actors.

“We view the recent attempts of the (Rodrigo) Duterte administration to de facto abolish the CHR as a dangerous step that undermines available mechanisms for redress for human rights violations in this so-called democratic form of government,” Karapatan said.

A representative who voted against the budget said Duterte’s HoR wants to cripple the CHR.

“(The thousand peso) budget for the CHR will cripple it amidst the extrajudicial killings, military and police abuse, (and) state-sanctioned violence,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.

In the plenary debate on the 2018 General Appropriations Bill Tuesday night, 1-Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta moved for the P1,000 budget , accusing the CHR for failing to investigate alleged violations by terrorists.

Marcoleta’s move mirrored HoR Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s threat last August 7 to give no budget to the CHR.

“Kung ako ang tatanungin ninyo e, zero kapag ganyan ang performance. Bakit? Hindi natin ia-abolish kasi constitutional budget, eh di wag mong bigyan ng budget yan,” Alvarez said.

Asked to comment on the HoR vote, Alvarez said his desire for a zero budget was not actually granted.

“Hindi naman zero. One thousand. Kasi hindi nila ginagawa ang trabaho nila. Yung mandato nila under the Constitution, hindi nila ginagawa,” Alvarez said.

The speaker said if the CHR wants to protect the rights of criminals, it is better off asking the criminals for a budget.

Duterte, for his part, blamed CHR chairperson Chito Gascon for the HoR decision, saying the agency chief had it coming.

“Dilawan talaga iyan e,” Duterte in a press conference said.

Meanwhile, Gascon said they are saddened by the HoR’s “whimsical and capricious display of vindictiveness” but are grateful to the 32 representatives who voted against the budget.

We were heartened by many members of the House who stood their ground to defy the tyranny of numbers shamelessly exhibited tonight (Tuesday),” Gascon said in a statement.

“We draw strength from their solidarity as we press on with pursuing our mandate to uphold and defend the human rights of all,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)