Panayam ng Kodao Productions, sa pamamagitan ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo, kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison hinggil sa katatapos lang na Halalan 2022.
More than a hundred local farmer organizations and food advocate groups have endorsed the candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis Pangilinan for the presidency and vice presidency, respectively.
Ten days before the May 9 national and local elections, a total of 158 farmers’ organizations said they are supporting the main opposition tandem as they feel the “sincerity of their programs to uplift the lives of the Filipino poor, especially the plight of poor peasants.”
Among those that endorsed the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem are farmer’s rights advocacy groups Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya , Society of St. Paul, Student Christian Movement-University of the Philippines in Los Banos, and Agroecology X.
“We can see their clear plan and platforms for boosting agricultural production in the country along with recognizing the important role of farmers in society,” part of their statement reads.
The organizations cited among their demands the advancement of genuine land reform, opposition to foreign domination in agriculture, uplifting the lives of farmers and the rural population, strengthening of the local agriculture, and upholding justice and peace and rights of farmers.
“We have seen various personalities and groups express support for various candidates. It is high time for small farmers’ voices to be heard,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a press conference announcing their endorsement.
The signatories also cited the tandem’s “clean record and lack of any corruption issue” as among the reasons for their support.
Cecil Rapiz of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan-San Jose del Monte expressed confidence in the tandem’s record on pursuing food self-sufficiency.
“For us, deeds done are more important than any grandiose promise. We are witness to Leni-Kiko’s efforts at addressing rural poverty, especially Senator Kiko who has engaged with us farmers groups, election time or not,” Rapiz.
The organizations also acknowledged the tandem’s stance on human rights.
“We thank Vice President Leni Robredo for standing against extrajudicial killings. We remember how she joined us in demanding justice for the Bloody Sunday Massacre victims where fellow farmers and activists were killed by state forces,” Jerry Luna of Katipunan ng mga Lehitimong Magsasaka at Mamamayan sa Lupang Ramos (KASAMA-LR) from Cavite said.
Lucia Capaducio of the Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras for her part said Robredo and Pangilinan’s platform is “pro-poor.”
“There is no ‘Solid North’ – the rural population suffered tremendously both under the Marcos and Duterte regimes and we are vehemently against their return to power,” Cagayan Valley peasant leader Renato Gameng said.
KMP’s Ramos said they are more organizations to join their declaration of support to Robredo and Pangilinan. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Patreng Non makes call after Senator Zubiri’s ejection from ‘Team Pink’
The founder of the community pantry movement called for the inclusion of Atty. Neri Colmenares in the senatorial line up of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
In a Facebook post, Maginhawa Community Pantry founder Ana Patricia Non in Filipino said, “We need Atty. Neri in Team Robredo-Pangilinan.”
Non said she has known Colmenares since her student days at the University of the Philippines.
“He had always been with us, often leading campaigns on issues about the youth, workers, farmers and human rights,” Non wrote.
She added that Colmenares have served the Filipino people even before the former three-time Bayan Muna Representative had become a politician.
Non also recalled that the Makabayan Coalition president was among the first who offered support to her family when she was red-tagged after founding the Maginhawa Community Pantry.
“I was confused then, I remember, and it was good that someone (Colmenares) assisted us,” she said.
Non’s call came after the Robredo-Pangilinan team announced dropping re-electionist Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri from among its guest candidates.
Robredo spokesperson Atty. Ibarra Gutierrez announced Wednesday Zubiri’s dropping from their line-up for violating their agreement of no direct endorsement of rival candidates.
Zubiri has directly endorsed the candidacy of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Gutierrez said.
Many other Colmenares supporters also took on social media to call for his inclusion in the Robredo-Pangilinan senatorial line-up as replacement for Zubiri.
Colmenares and fellow Makabayan senatorial candidate Elmer “Bong” Labog are included in the parallel 1Sambayan senatorial candidate but are excluded in the official Robredo-Pangilinan senatorial line up, reportedly because of the opposition of other candidates such as former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
‘Journal report is fake news designed to help Marcos Jr.’
National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison condemned as fake news a news report alleging he is a key contributor and an adviser to Vice President Leni Robredo and her spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez.
In a statement, Sison denies the allegations in the article written for Journal News Online by Lee Ann P. Ducusin.
“I have not been advising Leni Robredo although I think that she is a far more qualified candidate for president than Ferdinand Jr. who has no qualification but to campaign with too much money from the bureaucratic loot of the late unlamented fascist dictator, Ferdinand Sr.,” Sison said.
He also denied consulting with Gutierrez.
The article, published by the Journal Group’s online version last Thursday claimed Sison admitted advising Robredo.
The article claimed Sison, through the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) official organ Ang Bayan, “encouraged all partisans to persevere and be steadfast in supporting Leni, who vowed to stand with the people in the fight against an oppressive system.”
The article further claimed that Sison and Gutierrez were engaged in “several phone conversations…where he laid down several pointers on how to initiate a media attack on other presidential candidates, particularly Isko Moreno and Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.”
Sison revealed that he has never been approached or interviewed by Ducusin.
CPP’s chief information officer Marco Valbuena has since denied the CPP had ever published a statement related to what Ducusin and the Journal claimed.
“This is obviously fake news concocted by Marcos in the hope of lending credibility to claims of a ‘coalition’ between the Robredo camp and the CPP in the hope of consolidating the support of the anti-communist military and police officers for Marcos,” Valbuena said.
Gutierrez also denied the report’s allegations.
“Absolute lie. Nabaliw na yata ‘yung writer. (The writer must have turned crazy.) Desperate much?” Gutierrez said on Twitter.
The Romualdez family-owned Journal group of publications is known for its anti-Robredo articles.
The powerful clan from Leyte, headed by Representative Martin Romualdez, is closely related to Marcos Jr. through his mother Imelda who was born a Romualdez. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Vice President Leni Robredo is committed to resume formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) if she wins in the May polls, according to her spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez.
Representing Robredo in the third episode of the Peace and Presidentiables webinar series organized by the Citizen’s Alliance for Just Peace (CAJP), Gutierrez assured that a Robredo administration would call for the resumption of the NDFP with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
A Robredo presidency would avoid militaristic and top-down strategies in favor of enabling marginalized sectors to have a role in governance and decision-making processes, including peace negotiations, Gutierrez added.
Robredo would re-engage communities and basic sectors to create a more conducive environment for peaceful negotiations, he said.
Gutierrez outlined five principles in the pursuit of this goal: the rejection of a purely militaristic approach; strong participation of communities and local stakeholders in the peace process; the primacy of protecting civilians from violence; a peace framework that is in line with national socioeconomic goals and social justice; and, the strategic role of international community, including longstanding partners such as the Royal Norwegian Government.
Reaffirmation of previous agreements
Robredo’s spokesperson also promised that she would uphold the milestone documents previously signed by the GRP and the NDFP.
These agreements include The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
On the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which was jointly drafted and was ready for approval in 2017, Gutierrez said that economic and social reforms should be fundamental to the peace process.
Robredo on the NTF-ELCAC
Gutierrez also clarified Robredo’s stance on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying the Vice President believes that the original intention behind the agency was sound but the implementation of its mandate was marred by abuses.
If the NTF-ELCAC were to be abolished, it would have to be replaced by a body that would pursue the “whole-of-nation approach” while upholding democratic principles, he said.
Gutierrez also explained that Robredo’s support for the “whole-of-nation approach” was not an endorsement of the NTF-ELCAC’s abuses, but an espousal of the idea that the insurgency has to be solved by including all aspects of national governance to address the root causes of the insurgency.
Robredo vowed to put an end to acts of harassment by the NTF-ELCAC, such as in the form of red-tagging, Gutierrez assured, the Vice President being a victim of red-tagging by officials of the NTF-ELCAC herself.
Robredo is also open to revisiting controversial provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
According to Gutierrez, Robredo will also be amenable to a reassessment of the terrorist designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) as so-called terrorist organizations.
Robredo shall also initiate a review of the cases of political prisoners, including jailed NDFP peace consultants, to facilitate their release.
More presidentiables for talks
Earlier, Robredo’s rival for the presidency, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, also said he is amenable to a review of the CPP, NPA and NDFP’s designation as so-called terrorist organizations as part of the creation of an atmosphere for the resumption of formal peace negotiations.
“Basta ako, yung peace talks, we must seek for it as much as possible. Not only the Communist Party but those other,” Moreno, during a campaign sortie in Lucena last Monday, said.
(For me, we must seek peace talks as much as possible. Not only with the CPP, but with other armed groups.)
Moreno served as NDFP Negotiating Panel resource person during talks between the Rodrigo Duterte GRP and the NDFP in 2016 and 2017.
Senator Manny Pacquaio and labor leader Leody de Guzman also said they will resume formal peace negotiations with the NDFP in the first two episodes of CAJP’s forum.
The Peace and the Presidentiable forum is organized in cooperation with the Lasallian Justice and Peace Commission of the De La Salle schools; Father Saturnino Urios University; Silliman University Student Council; St. Scholastica’s College, Manila; and, the University of the Philippines.
More NDFP consultant disappeared
Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan sounded an alarm over the disappearance of NDFP peace consultants Ezequiel Daguman and Edwin Alcid.
Karapatan said 50-year-old Daguman and a companion have been missing since the afternoon of March 7 while they were on their way to a peasant community in one of the banana plantations in New Corella, Davao del Norte to look into the situation of workers and farmers in the area.
Alcid and two farmers were also reportedly accosted by military personnel last March 8 in Catubig, Northern Samar, the group reported.
Both consultants and their respective companions have not been located yet by their relatives, Karapatan added.
“We call on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to help the families of Daguman, Alcid and their companions to search military camps, police stations and safe houses to ensure that they are alive and are accorded their rights,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Daguman and Alcid make three the number of consultants to have been reported abducted since the start of the year.
Esteban Manuel was abducted last February 16 in Villareal, Samar and was kept incommunicado until the CHR found out he is being imprisoned at the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division camp in Calbayog City.
Like fellow NDFP peace consultants arrested, Manuel and his companions are accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives that are the Duterte government’s standard charges against activists and dissenters.
NDFP consultant Ramon Patriarca, already a former political prisoner, was arrested in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental last March 18, along with youth activists CJ Matarlo and John Michael Tecson were.
Karapatan has no details of the charges against Patriarca and companions.
“We assert the calls to surface Edwin Alcid and Ezequiel Daguman and to free Esteban Manuel Jr. and Ramon Patriarca now! These attacks on peace consultants and advocates must stop! We strongly urge the Philippine government and the NDFP to resume the peace talks as soon as possible for the sake of our people,” Palabay demanded.
Palabay reminded the government that peace consultants are covered by the (JASIG) that states peace consultants and peace panel members should be immune from arrests, detention, and harassment.
Despite the suspension of formal peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP, JASIG has not been formally terminated by both parties, she said.
Palabay said that the recent string of abductions and arrests of NDFP peace consultants “signal intensified attacks — and of worst things to come, especially with the Duterte administration’s self-imposed deadline to wipe out the NDFP. We can only expect the arrests, abductions, and even killings of peace consultants and advocates.”
“Our people deserve genuine peace. These attacks not only spoil efforts to advance just peace but instead perpetuates militarism, violence, and injustice. As we assert our calls to surface Edwin Alcid and Ezequiel Daguman and to free Esteban Manuel Jr. and Ramon Patriarca, we also call for the immediate resumption of the peace talks and to stop the attacks on peace consultants,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Senatorial candidate and labor leader Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog urged Senator Panfilo Lacson to withdraw from the presidential race if he persists on red-tagging rivals and other political groups.
In a tweet, Labog said the national elections seek to choose an inclusive president, including activists like him.
“Senator @iampinglacson, mag-withdraw ka na lang. Hindi ito eleksyon para sa Pambansang Marites,” Labog wrote. (You better withdraw. This is not an election to look for a National Gossipmonger.)
Labog added they can not endorse Lacson’s candidacy.
“Ayaw mo sa amin, mas ayaw namin sa iyo,” the Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson said. (You don’t like us, we don’t like you more.)
Labog was reacting to Lacson’s allegations that communists have infiltrated Vice President Leni Robredo’s campaign for the presidency, urging his rival “to take appropriate actions” against it.
Activists, many of whom are supporting Robredo’s candidacy, have called Lacson’s statement as red-tagging.
The Makabayan bloc that is fielding Labog and Bayan Muna president Neri Colmenares in the race for the Senate are endorsing Robredo.
Meanwhile, Robredo denied allegations that she is forming a so-called coalition government with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“To be clear: This is a lie,” Robredo said.
The Vice President said her candidacy is open to everyone who is ready to work to improve the lives of Filipinos.
Robredo said the disinformation and (black) propaganda are targeting members of the uniformed services who are supporting her.
“You want to derail the People’s Campaign’s momentum? Try harder. Better yet, why not join us instead?” Robredo said.
‘No chance of winning’
The CPP for its part slammed Lacson, saying he is merely serving the “tyrant” Rodrigo Duterte’s scenario-building to justify the possibility of imposing martial law as a last resort option to secure power.
“The presidential candidate Lacson, who surely is aware that he has no chances of winning, is using his campaign as platform to serve as Duterte’s attack dog against the Robredo camp,” the CPP said in a statement.
The group said Lacson, a former police general and alleged martial law torturer under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, is a veteran of red-tagging against activists and oppositionists.
The former fugitive was also reported to be behind the Rizal Day bombing of 2000 to derail the mounting protests against the then Joseph Estrada regime, the CPP added.
“For the record, neither the CPP nor the NDFP has forged any agreement with any of the political parties running in the May 2022 elections. Neither are the CPP or NDFP concerned with discussing a ‘coalition government’ at this time,” the CPP said.
“The NDFP, together with various peace advocates, have only publicly expressed hopes that the people will support a candidate that will resume peace negotiations with the NDFP in order to discuss the socioeconomic and political roots of the current civil war,” it added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reiterated its policy against vote buying within areas under its control during elections.
CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena in a statement Thursday said the New People’s Army (NPA) prohibits politicians from engaging in vote buying within so-called revolutionary areas during the conduct of “reactionary elections.”
“Vote buying is one of the starkest manifestations of the rotten electoral system of the reactionary government. In the countryside, it reinforces and takes advantage of feudal social relations and perpetuates patronage politics that favor the ruling classes,” Valbuena said.
Valbuena’s statement is in obvious reference to Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo’s earlier advice to voters to receive monies from politicians wishing to buy their votes but to choose according to their conscience nonetheless.
Robredo’s comment received flak and trended online.
The Commission on Elections said it is both illegal for candidates to buy votes and for voters to receive them.
Valbuena said the CPP and NPA’s prohibition of vote buying in areas they control is aimed at ensuring that election campaigns are conducted in an orderly manner and not used to sow violence and terror among the people.
“Vote buying is prohibited in the revolutionary areas because it is typically accompanied by intimidation or coercion. It furthermore tends to sow disunity and bickering among the people with some receiving more than the others,” Valbuena explained.
The CPP spokesperson warned that politicians who will be caught in the act of vote buying will be apprehended and reprimanded.
“Monies will be seized and immediately turned over to the local organs of political power and reported to higher territorial governmental organs. These will be used to augment local funds used for socioeconomic programs for the benefit of the people,” he said.
Valbuena added that political parties and candidates who wish to conduct election campaigns in the revolutionary territories are also not allowed to bring firearms or have armed bodyguards, including military and police escorts or their own goons.
“This is to prevent them from subjecting people to armed intimidation, as well as avoid armed encounters during their campaign sorties,” Valbuena said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Former Bayan Muna Representative and Senate aspirant Neri Colmenares said he and the entire Makabayan bloc will not be distracted by his non-inclusion in Vice President Leni Robredo’s slate for next year’s national elections.
In a statement following Robredo’s press conference with running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan Friday morning, Colmenares said his resolve to run for the Senate is based on the need to give the poor and marginalized a strong voice in Congress.
“We in Makabayan have always relied on the support of various groups and the people for progressive and pro-people independent candidates like me,” he said.
Team Robredo’s senatorial slate does not include Colmenares even after strong endorsements from allies such as 1Sambayan and former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Colmenares said it is the Vice President’s prerogative as standard bearer on who to include in her team.
“My non-inclusion in her slate at this time is based on what she thinks is best for the interest of her candidacy,” he said.
Colmenares added he is grateful for his inclusion in 1Sambayan’s senatorial slate.
Colmenares and Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog are the official candidates for the Senate of the Makabayan bloc, a group of progressive parties representing marginalized sectors.
“We will employ our 3.5 million voter base, our national campaign machinery, our social media warriors, and poll watchers nationwide to push for the people’s agenda in the Senate and oppose the efforts of Duterte and Marcos to return to Malacañang,” Colmenares said.
Meanwhile, social media reports said both Colmenares and Labog are guest candidates of presidential and vice-presidential aspirants Manny Pacquiao and Lito Atienza.
The Pacquaio-Atienza camp has yet to make a formal announcement however. # (Raymund B. Villanueva
Progressive groups urged 1Sambayan to pursue its “original mission” to unify non-administration candidates into a single slate as a convenor announced the alliance is endorsing Vice President Leni Robredo to be its standard bearer in next year’s presidential elections.
Activist 1Sambayan member organizations said they believe the possible continuation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “incompetent and tyrannical rule” as well the return to power of the Marcos dynasty should compel the alliance to “mobilize the broadest range of forces and inspire the voters to defeat Duterte and Marcos candidates in 2022.”
The Kilusang Mayo Uno, Tanggol Magsasaka, National Union of Student of the Philippines, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Promotion of Church People’s Response, Health Alliance for Democracy and Katribu said in a statement Friday they are concerned that 1Sambayan’s role in contributing to unification will be hampered by the perception that it has sealed support for a particular candidate with its early endorsement of Robredo’s candidacy.
1Sambayan convenor and former Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio announced on the first day of the week-long period for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) last October 1 it is endorsing Robredo as their candidate for the presidency.
The progressive groups’ statement however suggests the decision to announce the endorsement was not unanimous among 1Sambayan members.
“We had expressed on occasion that it would be best for 1Sambayan to make a decision on the endorsement after the period of filing of certificates of candidacy. By then we would have a clearer picture of who are running. This would also allow all unification efforts, including VP Robredo’s, to proceed unhampered,” they said.
The groups said Robredo remains to be among 1Sambayan’s choices as standard bearer and they support the Vice President’s current position to remain engaged in efforts to unite various parties against Duterte and Marcos forces.
Other 1Sambayan convenors have yet to reply to the progressive groups’ statement.
Meanwhile, only Senator Manny Pacquiao among the popular names has formally filed his COC so far while Senator Panfilo Lacson and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno have yet to file after their announcements of their respective intentions to seek the presidency.
Seven other candidates have also filed their COCs the past two days.
In a move that surprised the country, Senator Christopher Go has instead filed his COC for the vice presidency on Saturday despite the announcement of a PDP-Laban Party faction he is its presidential candidate next year.
His announced running mate President Duterte has instead announced he will retire from electoral politics.
Activists however noted that Duterte has a history of announcing his retirement, only to later use the substitution provisions of election laws for his candidacy. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
Vice President Leni Robredo blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’s “finish them off” and “ignore human rights” rant for the massacre of nine civilians last Sunday, March 7.
In a statement, Robredo said she condemns the massacre she likened to the many innocents killed by the Duterte administration.
“There is no other way to describe this: it was a massacre,” Robredo said.
The Vice President noted that the incident came just two days after Duterte himself ordered the police and the military to kill suspected communists in a rant before the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Cagayan de Oro City last frint.
“This is the painful truth: The killing of Filipinos goes unabated,” Robredo said in Filipino.
“The Filipino people deserve better than this murderous regime,” she added.
Churh groups demand justice
Meanwhile, church groups also condemned the massacre and called on Duterte to choose the rule of law over militarization.
In separate statements, the Council of the Laity of the Philippines (CLP) and Caritas Philippines, both groups under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, called for justice.
“The blood of these fellow Filipinos are literally crying for justice as they are wiped-off from the floor tiles of their homes,” CLP, through its president Rouquel Ponte, said.
“We call on peace-loving Filipinos to make strong statements of condemnation against these brutal and organized atrocities,” it added.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the ‘Bloody Sunday initiated by the members of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army,” Caritas for its part said.
Caritas called on the Supreme Court to fast-track the ongoing discussions and review of the controversial Anti-Terror Act the law’s opponents say emboldens the unnecessary use of force “which only victimizes the poor and the vulnerable. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)