Badoy ‘heartless, shameless, irresponsible, despicable’ in red-tagging CNN Philippines amid calamity–NUJP

Despicable, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said of Lorraine Marie Badoy’s red-tagging of CNN Philippines during a calamity.

Reacting to the Cabinet undersecretary’s insinuation that alleged communist fronts exist inside the media company, the NUJP said Badoy “is totally irresponsible and endangers our colleagues in CNN, not to mention the members of LFS (League of Filipino Students) and our affiliate, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP).”

In a post on her Facebook account, Badoy takes CNN to task for retweeting an announcement from the League of Filipino Students, which she labels “a known front of the terrorist CPP NPA NDF,” that it is accepting donations for victims of typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

She then asks: “Wassup, CNN? Is it true there is a LFS/CEGP cell inside CNN?”

Badoy, Presidential Communications Operations Office undersecretary for new media and spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, is among the Duterte government’s most notorious red-baiters.

Local and international human rights organizations have repeatedly warned the government that red-tagging often lead to unjust arrests or, worse, assassinations of government critics.

“By making baseless claims without any proof and casting blanket accusations against a media outfit and, yes, a youth organization, this unelected government official is, in fact, violating two basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution, due process and freedom of association,” the NUJP said in a statement Saturday.

The media group added Badoy actually vilified and practically seeks the criminalization of an act of charity at a time when millions of Filipinos desperately need all the help they can get.

“Such heartless behavior is a disgrace not only to her office but to the whole government she supposedly serves,” the NUJP said.

CNN Philippines did not take Badoy’s apparent slander sitting down, either, strongly objecting to her “misplaced and baseless allusion” that some of its employees have links to underground groups.

The company said in a statement that the LFS is just one of the many groups that have launched a relief drive for the victims of recent typhoons that include Caritas Manila, Kaya Natin PH, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, student organizations from UP Diliman, UP Manila, UP Los Banos and Ateneo de Manila University, among others.

“We believe the back-to-back storms that ravaged our country serve as an opportunity to rise up from the ruins and practice the Filpino spirit of ‘Bayanihan’ in whatever capacity we can, rather than foray into red-tagging that will only sow disunity,” CNN Philippines said.

“We continue to update the list to give as many options for kindhearted individuals because we believe our suffering countrymen need all the help they can get in this time of calamities,” the company added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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Disclosure: Reporter is NUJP deputy secretary general and Kodao is a NUJP chapter.

Filipino seafarer dies of Covid-19 in San Francisco, groups worry about hundreds on board cruise ship

A Filipino seafarer has reportedly died in a San Franciso hospital due to the dreaded corona virus disease, a group of Filipino-Americans in the Californian city reported.

According to the Filipino Community Center (FCC) based in the said city, the seafarer contracted the virus on board the Grand Princess Cruise Ship that has been docked at the San Francisco Cruise Terminal since the early part of March.

The FCC learned of the unnamed sailor’s demise Saturday morning.

Fox 2 KTVU confirmed the crew member’s death, quoting Grand Princes spokesperson Negin Kamali saying: “All of us at Princess Cruises are deeply saddened to report that one of our team members who was working on Grand Princess passed away, from complications related to Covid-19. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, team members and all who are impacted by this loss. All of us at Princess Cruises offer our sincere condolences.”

Another Filipino crew member of the ship has tested positive with the disease, the League of Filipino Students-San Francisco State University said in its Facebook page.

The Grand Princess Cruise Ship was on its way to Hawaii last February 21 when it learned that two male passengers on a recent trip to Mexico have died of the virus.

The ship sailed to Oakland to let off its passengers and then returned to its home port of San Francisco to start its quarantine procedures.

The Grand Princess is a sister ship of the Diamond Princess that was placed under a four-week quarantine in Yokohama, Japan last month.

According to the FCC, there are still 78 Filipino workers of the original total crew of 1,111 on board and are undergoing quarantine.

A total of 438 Filipino workers earlier left the ship, along with 11 Chinese crew members.

The Grand Princess quarantine ended last Saturday, April 4, the California Office of Emergency Services told a press conference organized by the FCC.

Filipinos in San Francisco demands transparency, testing and treatment for hundreds of crew members still on board the Grand Princess Cruise Ship. (FCC photo)

Wrong strategy

Following the Filipino seafarer’s death, however, labor and community organizations amplified demands for transparency, testing and treatment for the hundreds of workers still on board the ship.

Representatives from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF) and other labor advocates described the cruise ship as an “incubator” for the corona virus.

They cited a Center for Disease Control and Prevention study of the Diamond Princess that exposed the disastrous results of quarantining passengers and crew in ships’ tight quarters.

More than 700 of the 3,700 people onboard Diamond Princess tested positive for COVID-19.

Workers remaining on board the Grand Princess are at high risk of exposure and infection until the ship is decontaminated, the ITWF said.

ITWF Northern California Inspector Samantha Levens added, “This is not a problem created by COVID-19. What we are witnessing is existing inequalities and exploitation of seafarers being heighted and exposed by the pandemic.” 

Swati Rayasam of the Alliance for South Asians Taking Action described the treatment of these workers as “appalling” and “inhumane.”

Terry Valen of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns for his part said, “There are no plans in place, as far as we know, from the Office of Emergency Services to house the workers if they can’t get home because of international travel restrictions. Right now they are being asked to stay on the ship.” 

Filipinos in San Francisco demands transparency, testing and treatment for hundreds of crew members still on board the Grand Princess Cruise Ship. (FCC photo)

Fellow Filipino crew members from the Grand Princess who were repatriated in mid-March shared their concern for those still on board.

“I hope that this all ends soon, that they can all go back home to their families here [in the Philippines] who are left wondering, especially the spouses and children,” an audio message from a former Filipino Grand Princess crew member played during the press conference said.

An open letter to Princess Cruises and the Philippine government also said that more than two weeks after being flown back to the Philippines, the workers are still pushing for testing and treatment.

Only a portion of the over 400 workers who were quarantined in a facility in Tarlac, Philippines, were tested for COVID-19. They have since been sent to their home provinces. 

Crew members from India still on board conveyed their concerns in a video uploaded online three weeks ago.

They pleaded to the Indian government to be “evacuate[d] from the ship as soon as possible.”

Community organizations are echoing these concerns.

The Grand Princess Cruise Ship is one of the many ships currently stranded at sea scrambling for safe harbor.

Thousands of passengers and crew members remain on board in at least 15 cruise ships worldwide, with workers representing dozens of countries and nationalities, the FCC said.

Port closures, flight restrictions and border closures add to the direness and urgency of the situation, the group added.

 “As frontline workers, we in the maritime industry literally keep the world running. And our rights and voices must be at the forefront of the fight against this global crisis,” ITF’s Levens said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘I’ll sue you,’ Colmenares warns people behind trafficking raps over ‘missing’ youth

By Visayas Today

Former Bayan Muna congressman Neri Colmenares said he would sue those responsible for filing kidnapping and child abuse charges against him and several others over allegedly “missing” youth activists after the Department of Justice issued subpoenas for the respondents.

While acknowledging he had yet to read the complaint, filed by the Major Crimes Investigation Unit of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Colmenares said it was a “foregone conclusion” that “I’ll file a criminal case” against those responsible for filing the complaint and “witnesses who commit perjury.”

“We will not take this sitting down,” he said.

The complaint alleges violations of: 
• Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 
• RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act
• RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and other Crimes against Humanity

Aside from Colmenares, the named respondents are Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, Anakbayan president Vencer Crisostomo and secretary general Einstein Recedes; Anakbayan members Charie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, and Alex Danday; and, ironically, former Akbayan congressman Tom Villarin, who belongs to a party list group that is known to have been at odds with the organizations his co-accused belong to.

The complaint also seeks to include “all other officers” of Kabataan and “all other members” of Anakbayan in the complaint as “John and Jane Does.”

The case stems from the complaints of parents who claimed their children left home and went missing after being recruited into activist groups.

Among the complainants in the case is Relissa Lucena, whose daughter, 18-year old senior high school student and Anakbayan member Alicia, belied the claim that she was missing or had been kidnapped.

Alicia, who stressed it was her choice to join the youth group, said she left home in July after her parents refused to let her out and instead took her to Camp Aguinaldo, military headquarters, in hopes of making her “normal.”

Colmenares, who learned of the subpoena on Tuesday, August 20, while visiting Bacolod, dismissed the complaint.

“It is clear I have committed no crime, much less trafficking. This is a trumped up harassment charge,” he said.

(Images provided by the NUPL show pages from the CIDG complaint)

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, which Colmenares chairs, also condemned the “false charge.”

“How in heaven’s name could someone like Neri be even remotely involved, connected or liable for such inane and contrived shotgun charges that have been debunked? Totally absurd,” NUPL president Edre Olalia said in a statement.

Olalia saw a more sinister pattern, linking the complaint to a perceived government crackdown on critics.

“Make no mistake about it: they are lining and rounding up the most voluble and visible people who stand in the way and who fight back against repression and injustice,” he said. #

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)

Youth activists hold ‘National Day of Remembrance’ to honor Martial Law victims

The League of Filipino Students (LFS), one of the country’s most storied youth groups, on its 41st anniversary honored the victims and martyrs of the Martial Law in a forum at the University of the Philippines Tuesday, September 11.

Present at the forum were Nanette Castillo of RISE UP, Prof. Sarah Raymundo of No Erasures No Revisions, LFS alumnus Nathanael Santiago and Datu Tungig Mansumuy-at of Salugpongan Mindanao who compared their struggles during Marcos’ martial law to current President Rodrigo Duterte’s own tyranny.

Also present were Bonifacio Ilagan, Danilo dela Fuente and Carmencitta Caragdag who were martial law survivors.

Danilo dela Fuente, a martial law survivor and vice chairperson of SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) said that, “The 41st anniversary of the LFS is a manifestation that what we fought for as members of the Kabataang Makabayan during the martial law, after 41 years have passed, still continues through the LFS.”

“Our history and struggles during the martial law should not be forgotten. All the experiences and practices we had will serve as lesson on how the youth today must face the Duterte dictatorship,” dela Fuente added.

According to Kara Taggaoa, LFS national spokesperson, “The organization was established during the Marcos regime when students’ right to organize was repressed. Now that we are again facing another dictator in Malacanang, LFS’s commitment is to continue to fight for people and students democratic rights.”

Current LFS members held a protest activity and welcomed leaders of indigenous peoples group in front of the university’s Palma Hall after the forum to start a series of activities called “9 Days of Remembering and Rage: Remembering Martial Law, Rage Against Tyranny” that will culminate on the anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of martial rule on September 21. (Report and photos by Maricon Montajes)

Scholars hold National Day of Action

Nagtipon ang mga estudyante mula sa iba’t ibang kolehiyo ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, Diliman noong Agosto 16, 2018 para sa National Day of Action na tinawag nilang Laban Iskolar para sa Karapatan sa Edukasyon.

Mariin na kinundena ng mga Iskolar ng bayan ang mga atake ni Duterte sa kanilang sektor sa porma ng iba’t ibang iskema tulad ng Socialized Tuition System (STS), Return Service System, Mandatory ROTC, Budget Cuts, at K-12 program.

Ayon sa kanila, ang mga iskemang ito ay paraan ng gubyerno upang pagkakitaan ang bawat kabataang pilipino.

Patuloy na ipinanawagan ng mga kabataan ang kanilang mga demokratikong karapatan, at ang pagpapatalsik kay Duterte. (Aug 16, 2018 / Palma Hall / UP Diliman)–Maricon Montajes