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Makabayan bloc opens 18th Congress with 67 bills, resos

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives (HOR) got off to its usual running start and filed 67 bills and resolutions on the opening day of the 18th Congress Monday.

While their colleagues, including other party list representatives, are busy with infighting for the speakership of the HOR, the Leftist lawmakers submitted both new and their old legislative measures and made sure they are among the first to file them.

Makabayan legislative staffmembers were among the first to line up at the HORS’s Bills and Index Service office very early yesterday morning to increase their chance of an early first reading of their measures and referral by the Speaker to their appropriate committees.

Bayan Muna filed 30 bills and resolutions ranging from agrarian refom, human rights, social pension, lowering of prices of basic commodities, wage increases, social services to political reforms.

ACT Teachers Party filed 17 bills and resolutions ranging from salary increases, social services, government services reforms to freedom of information.

Kabataan Party for its part filed 10 bills, mostly on youth and student rights.

Gabriela Women’s Party for its part filed 10 bills and resolutions that the group said seek to uplift women from economic woes and abuse.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said their party prioritizes the repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law due to its disastrous impact on farmers and poor households, as well as measures that seek to end violence against women and children.

“Rice tariffication law sets forth the sharp drop in the farmgate prices of palay which threatens the livelihood of our farmers, as well as the phaseout of the cheaper NFA rice which poor Filipino families rely on. That’s why we want to immediately repeal the law to provide relief to millions of Filipino families,” she said.

“As an alternative, we have filed the Rice Industry Development Act previously filed by Anakpawis Partylist to ensure sufficient support for Filipino farmers and to mandate the identification of rice zones across the country to boost local rice production,” she added.

ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro for her part revealed that their 17 bills are bannered by their teachers salary increase bill she said is long overdue.

“We strongly urge the incoming House Leadership to immediately hear and pass the bill increasing the salaries of teachers and other government employees. Similarly, we call on our fellow legislators in both houses of Congress to champion this cause,” Castro said.

This morning, Bayan Muna filed its 31st measure, a resolution calling for an investigation on the violations of labor rights by detergent manufacturer Peerless Products Manufacturing Corporation, following the series of bloody attacks company guards inflicted on its striking workers.

List of bills

Bayan Muna:

1. Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill
2. Human Rights Defenders Bill
3. 2nd Tranche of SSS pension increase
4. Increasing Social Pension
5. Genuine Partylist Group and Nominee Act
6. Repeal TRAIN Law
7. Renationalization of Petron
8. Investigation of the Recto Bank Incident
9. Unbundling of Oil Prices
10. ₱750 National Minimum Wage
11. ₱16,000 Minimum Wage for Government Employees
12. Anti-Privatization of Health Services
13. Free Hemodialysis
14. Anti-Political Dynasty
15. Investigation on Water Privatization
16. Investigation on the Killings in Bicol
17. Investigation on Electoral-Related Harassments
18. Security of Tenure and Substitute Civil Service Eligibility
19. No VAT in Electricity
20. No Vat in Systems Loss
21. People’s Mining Bill
22. Genuine Small Coco Farmer’s Fund
23. Investigation on impacts of agribusiness to agrarian reform beneficiaries
24. No VAT in Water
25. Manila Bay as Reclamation-Free Zone
26. No Mining Zones
27. SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression) Bill
28. Investigation on HRVs related to Memo 32 
29. Investigation on Kaliwa Dam Project
30. Moratorium on Coal-Fired Power Plants

ACT Teachers Party-List:

  1. HB 219 – salary increase for public school teachers and other government employees
  2. HB 220 – The Teacher Protection Act of 2019
  3. HB 221 – lowering the optional retirement age of government employees
  4. HB 222 – The Teaching Supplies Allowance Act of 2019
  5. HB 223 – mandatori na mga yunit ng Filipino at Panitikan sa kolehiyo
  6. HB 224 – Act Mandating Free Health Services for the People
  7. HB 225 – exempting from taxation all amounts granted to persons rendering election service for national and local elections
  8. HB 226 – The Freedom of Information Act
  9. HB 227 – The Public School Class Size Law
  10. HB 228 – The Revised GSIS Act of 2019
  11. HB 508 – shorter probationary period of teaching and non-teaching personnel in private schools
  12. HB 509 – guidance counselors in public schools
  13. HB 510 – repealing the anti-professional CPD Act of 2016
  14. HB 511 – The COMELEC Reorganization Act
  15. HB 512 – expanded paternity leave
  16. HB 513 – National Education Support Personnel Day
  17. HR 20 – inquiry in aid of legislation into the status of implementation of the K to 12 Program

Kabataan Party:

  1. Students Rights
  2. Campus Press Freedom
  3. University Services
  4. Human Rights Education
  5. Anti-No Permit No Exam
  6. FQS Day and FQS@50
  7. National Youth Day
  8. Mandatory Bonifacio Subject
  9. National Filipino Youth Museum
  10. Philippine Cinema Appreciation

Gabriela Women’s Party:

  1. Repeal of the Rice Tariffication Law
  2. Rice Industry Development
  3. Magna Carta for Daycare Workers
  4. Amendments to the Solo Parents Welfare Act
  5. Repeal of VAT on oil and other products
  6. Resolution seeking to review the concession agreement of the MWSS
  7. Amendments to the Anti-Rape Law 
  8. Electronic Violence Against Women and Children (EVAWC) 
  9. Repeal of the Human Security Act (HSA)
  10. Divorce bill

The progressive parties said the 67 bills are just their initial submissions. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan bloc set to win 6 seats

The Makabayan bloc may still get as many as six seats in the House of Representatives as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) is set to proclaim the winners of the party list race tonight.

Despite relentless harassment and vilification by the military and police throughout the campaign period up to election day last May 13, the progressive parties amassed a total of 2,236,155 votes that may give the bloc up to six seats in the 18th Congress, just one less than its current number of representatives.

Bayan Muna is set to have three seats after garnering 1,117,403 votes representing 4.01% of all party list votes cast.  

It placed second behind high-spending ACT-CIS Party, the only other party to win three seats.

Gabriela Women’s Party placed 12th in the race, garnering 449,440 votes representing 1.61% of all party list votes cast and winning one seat.

ACT Teachers Party came close behind at 15th place, with 395,327 votes representing 1.42% of all party list votes cast and winning one seat.

Gabriela Womens’ and ACT Teachers’ each have two sitting representatives in the current 17th Congress.

Both groups are the only parties in their respective sectors elected to any legislature in the entire world.

At 51st place and the last group to win a seat is Kabataan Party, garnering 196,385 votes representing 0.70% of all party list votes cast.

Anakpawis, however, failed to win a seat, placing at 62nd place with 146,511 votes representing 0.53% of all party list votes cast.

The NBOC is set to proclaim all 51 winning parties at seven o’clock tonight at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Gabriela Womens’ Party has two seats, ACT Teachers Party has two more while Bayan Muna, Kabataan and Anakpawis have one each in the current 17th Congress.

The bloc lost one seat in May 13’s elections.

Relentless attacks

Earlier, the Makabayan Bloc complained of threats and harassments of its campaigners, members and supporters by the military and police.

A massive “zero vote” was also launched in Mindanao prior to the elections while Davao City mayor Sara Duterte openly called on her constituents not to vote for Makabayan parties.

Makabayan members also suffered two massacres in Negros Island and arrests of supporters in Bulacan and Bohol whiles its supporters were prevented from voting in several regions across the country.

On election day last May 13, Philippine National Police officers distributed newsletters tagging Makabayan parties as communist fronts.

 “Despite many reports of fraud, the Rodrigo Duterte regime cannot defeat the people’s will,” Bayan Muna second nominee Ferdinand Gaite earlier told Kodao. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Protesta ng mga aktibista kontra sa malawakang pandaraya sa halalang 2019

Nagtungo sa Commission on Elections o COMELEC ang iba’t-ibang grupo para magprotesta kaugnay sa naganap na dayaan sa nakaraang eleksyon noong Mayo 13.

Ayon sa Bayan Muna, dapat ipaliwanag ng COMELEC kung bakit madaming pumalya at nagka-aberya na precint count optical scan o PCOS machine sa ibat-ibang presinto. Marami ring reklamo ng vote buying, pananakot at paninira laban sa mga progresibong partylist at kandidato.

Nais nila na managot ang COMELEC dahil sa kapalpakan nito sa pangangasiwa ng eleksyon. Hinayaan din umano nito na makapamayagpag ang administrasyon at magbuhos ng rekurso ng taumbayan para manalo lalo na sa Senado.

Nauna namang nagprotesta ang mga kabataan sa Philippine International Convention Center o PICC noong Mayo 13 dahil sa napaulat na paninira ng PNP sa mga progresibong partylist. Iniulat na namamahagi ng babasahin ang ilang pulis sa mga botante na laban sa mga nasabing partylist. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Makabayan files bill seeking exemption of journalists from anti-drug ops

The Makabayan Bloc at the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking the exemption of journalists from acting as witnesses in police anti-drug operations.

House Bill 8832 was filed Wednesday by ACT Teachers’ Party Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus, Anakpawis Party Rep. Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Kabataan Party Rep. Sarah Elago together with National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) officers.

The bill seeks to amend Section 1 of Republic Act 10640, otherwise known as “An Act to Further Strengthen the Anti-Drug campaign of the Government,” which orders that journalists act as “optional witnesses” to drug operations.

The law amended section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” which earlier ordered that journalists act as mandatory witnesses to the police inventory of seized items in drug operations, along with elected officials and members of the National Proecution Service.

HB 8832 stemmed from an ongoing NUJP campaign against ordering journalists to as witnesses to police anti-drug operations.

According to the NUJP, journalists throughout the country report that law enforcement units continue requiring them to sign on as witnesses, often as a condition for being allowed to cover anti-drug operations.

“Worse, there are reports that they are made to sign even if they did not actually witness the operation or the inventory of seized items,” the NUJP’s “Sign Against the Sign” campaign said.

Journalists who decline can find their sources or the normal channels of information no longer accessible, the media group added.

HB 8832 said that aside from the obvious coercion and attempts to control information of vital interest to the public, the media’s opposition to this practice also stems from the fact that it unnecessarily places journalists at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates, on the one hand, and exposes them to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities in the conduct of anti-drug operations, on the other.

The proposed measure said that journalists must be protected from harm and the anti-drug laws must help ensure that reportage on the government’s anti-drug operations must remain objective and factual.

Rep. Tinion said the Makabayan Bloc will ask Committee on Public Information chairperson Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar to schedule a hearing on the bill as soon as possible.

The NUJP for its part will ask Senate Committee on Public Information chairperson Senator Grace Poe to file a counterpart in the Senate. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan to field Neri in next year’s Senate race

The Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan o MAKABAYAN held its fourth National Convention at the  Quezon City Sports Club last September 25, unanimously voting to again field former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmanares in the 2019 Senate race.

Themed “Bagong Pulitika, Demokrasya Hindi Diktadurya,” Makabayan said it aims to win not only in the next elections but also defeat Rodrigo Duterte’ s looming dictatorship and tyranny.

MAKABAYAN also presented nominees from its member parties—Gabriela Womens Party, ACT Teachers Party, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Kabataan.

It also announced Newly formed member parties—Manggagawa Party, Aksyon Health Workers Party, and Peoples Surge Party.  (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)

Para sa kabataan, ang pumikit ay kasalanan

Sanaysay at mga larawan ni Denver del Rosario

Umulan ma’y hindi nagpatinag ang sambayanan, at kanilang isinigaw ang patuloy na panawagan, “Never again!”

Sa hiyaw ng madla’y nangibabaw ang isang sektor ng lipunan na walang-sawang kumikilos at nagmumulat para sa kalayaan ng bansa. Halos limang dekada na ang nakalipas mula sa pinakamadilim na bahagi ng ating kasaysayan, ngunit hanggang ngayo’y kasama pa rin ito sa laban. Patuloy sitong nagpapaalala sa mga kasalanan ng lipunan at kumukontra sa pagbubulag-bulagan sa panahong inaapakan ang mga karapatan ng mamamayan.

Ika nga ni Lean Alejandro, patuloy na babalik ang kabataan.

Muling gumawa ng kasaysayan ang sambayanang Pilipino noong nakaraang Biyernes, kung saan kasama ng kabataan ang iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan upang gunitain ang ika-46 anibersaryo ng batas militar sa Pilipinas sa ilalim ng diktador na si Ferdinand E. Marcos. Taas-kamaong pinagpugayan ng sambayanan ang mga taong naglaan ng kanilang mga buhay upang labanan ang diktadurya at tiraniya noong panahong iyon.

Isa si Andrew Mencias, 20, sa naitalang labinlimang-libong nagprotesta sa Luneta. Kasama ang kanyang mga kaibigan mula UP Diliman ay tumungo siya sa Luneta upang sumama sa mas malawak na hanay ng mamamayan. Kasabay ng pag-alala sa kamatayan ng demokrasya ay ang pagkundena sa nagbabadyang pagbabalik ng pamilyang Marcos sa mas mataas na kapangyarihang politikal at ang patuloy na pagtapak sa karapatang pantao ng kasalukuyang administrasyongRodrigo Duterte.

“Pumunta ako ng Luneta dahil naniniwala ako sa kahalagahan ng sama-samang pagkilos,” ani Mencias. “Para sa akin, maraming bagay tayong dapat nating natatamasa pero hindi natin nakukuha.”

Nagkataong itinakda din noong nakaraang Biyernes ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Kapayapaan, ngunit isa itong malaking kabalintunaan sa ating bansa. Sa araw na ito’y binabalikan ng sambayanan ang taong 1972, kung kailan tinanggal ang kalayaan ng mamamayan. Kung iisipi’y ilang dekada nang lumipas, subalit muli itong nagiging tampok ngayon kaugnay ng pamamalakad ng administrasyong Duterte, na inihahalintulad ng mga grupong sektoral kay Marcos.

Patuloy ang pagnupuna at pagkukundena ng iba’t ibang mga grupo sa kasalukuyang administrasyon dahil sa kawalang-respeto nito sa karapatang pantao at ang patuloy na pagsasabatas ng mga anti-mamamayang polisiya. Aktibong lumalahok sa mga pagkilos ang kabataan—kasabay ng pagsama sa iba’t ibang mobilisasyon ay ang pagsulong ng kanilang mga adbokasiya bilang tugon sa iba’t ibang isyung panlipunan.

Katulad na lamang ni Mencias na nakikiisa sa laban ng kabataan para sa libreng edukasyon, na itinuturing niyang pundasyon ng isang progresibong lipunan. Habang malayo na ang narating ng kampanya, patuloy pa rin ang mga dagok na humahadlang upang makamit ang edukasyon para sa lahat.

“Nakakalungkot na pangit yung quality ng maraming public schools dito sa atin,” ani Mencias. “Nakakulong pa rin tayo sa isang sistemang wala tayong napapala.”

Kamakailan lamang ay napagtagumpayan ng kabataan na tanggalin ang Return Service Agreement mula sa Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) ng RA 10931 o ang Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act of 2017. Matagal nang pinupuna ng mga estudyante ang probisyong ito—ayon sa National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), ang edukasyon ay karapatan at dapat walang kapalit.

Gayunpaman, sa maliliit na hakbang ay patuloy pa rin ang mga banta sa karapatang ito, katulad ng nagbabadyang budget cut sa edukasyon at ang pasuweldo sa mga guro na hindi pa rin sapat.

Isa pa sa isinusulong ni Mencias ay ang karapatan ng pambansang minorya, na patuloy na binubusabos ng kasalukuyang rehimen. “Higit sa lahat, sila yung pinaka-apektado ng mga batas, at hindi rin naman sila pinoprotektahan ng military,” ani Mencias.

Ayon sa Save our Schools (SOS) Network, kamakailan lamang ay pitong kabataang Moro ang pinatay ng mga militar sa Patikul, Sulu sa ilalim ng batas militar sa Mindanao—bukod pa dito ay ang serye ng mga pagbomba sa mga katutubong komunidad at mga kaso ng puwersahang pagsuko sa kamay ng mga puwersang gobyerno, isang manipestasyon na patuloy pa rin ang paglabag ng estado sa karapatang pantao.

Isang patunay si Mencias sa libo-libong kabataang patuloy na nakikibaka para sa tunay na pagbabagong panlipunan at tumatangging kalimutan ang ating masalimuot na nakaraan. Patuloy nilang ginagampanan ang kanilang papel bilang mga pag-asa ng bayan. Ang sabi ng iilan, huwag nang mangialam ang kabataan, hindi naman kayo buhay noong mga panahong iyon.

Ngunit sila’y hindi magpapatinag.

“Hanggang ngayon naman, nararamdaman pa rin natin ang mga ginawa ni Marcos, ngayon pang gusto nilang bumalik sa mataas na kapangyarihan,” ani Mencias. “Dapat naman talaga nating binabalikan at pinag-uusapan ang kasaysayan, para maisakonteksto natin yung sitwasyon na meron tayo ngayon.”

Kung babalikan ang 1970, ang kabataan ang nanguna sa panawagang baguhin ang sistemang pulitikal at pang-ekonomiko ng bansa. Sa Sigwa ng Unang Kwarto, kabataan ang nanguna sa paghingi ng pagbabagong panlipunan sa ilalim ng administrasyong Marcos, na nagpapakita na ng mga tendensiyang diktaduriyal. Maraming kabataan ang nagbuwis ng buhay upang ipaglaban ang kinabukasan ng inang bayan.

Halos limang dekada na ang lumipas, ngunit muli nilang pinatunayang patuloy silang lumalaban kasama ang sambayanan.

Hindi pa rin nagbabago ang lipunang ginagalawan—sa ilalim ng administrasyong Duterte, kinikitil ang mga pag-asa ng bayan at pilit pinipinturahan ito ng estado bilang “collateral damage”. Nariyan si Kian delos Santos, si Carl Arnaiz, at daan-daang kabataang biktima ng pambubusabos at paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng kasalukuyang liderato.

Ganoon pa rin ang sistemang pulitikal at pang-ekonomiko na patuloy na pinoprotektahan lamang ang interes ng makapangyarihang iilan. Patuloy ang pagtatangkang baguhin ang kasaysayan at ilagay sa pedestal ang diktador na kumitil ng maraming buhay at binaon ang bansa sa utang na hanggang ngayo’y pasanin ng mamamayan.

Patuloy pa rin ang laban.

Madalas na tinuturo sa mga paaralan na nakamtam muli ng sambayanan ang kalayaan matapos nilang pabagsakin ang diktadurya noong 1986. Ngunit alam ng kabataang hindi pa tunay na malaya ang bansa—mahaba lang ang tanikala. Sila ang patunay na hindi maaaring magbulag-bulagan ang mamamayan, lalo’t harap-harapan ang paglabag at ang pagsasawalang-bahala.

Ilang buhay man ang kunin, patuloy silang babalik at lalaban. #