Posts

Groups vow to go after Mocha despite resignation

Groups welcomed Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson’s resignation this morning, saying the controversial official’s departure is “long overdue”.

Media and arts alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) said it gladly welcomes Uson’s departure as a victory against disinformation.

“[Her resignation] proves disinformation is not forever. Napupuno din ang salop,” LODI said in a statement hours after Uson announced at the Senate committee on finance her resignation.

LODI said Uson had actually been “shown the door, because [President Rodrigo] Duterte knows she is an albatross as an assistant secretary.”

Bayan Muna Representative Karlos Zarate for his part said that Uson’s resignation is long overdue.

“Government service, while it is about trust, is also about accountability. That is what is sorely lacking from her.  She’s an enabler of impunity, be it for fake news or tokhang killings or killings and displacements of the lumads, and many more,” Zarate said in a statement.

After absenting herself from several congressional hearings for PCOO’s 2019 budget, Uson finally attended the Senate hearing Wednesday morning and announced her resignation.

“Every year, I am told to ignore some lawmakers so that they won’t hold the PCOO budget hostage. It angers me, but that is the present system. It is rotten, but we have to go with it,” Uson told the Senate in Filipino.

“Because of that, I am making the sacrifice so that the PCOO budget would pass. I have decided to resign,” she added.

But Uson vowed to continue confronting her enemies, saying her resignation is not the end.

PCOO budget deliberations had been suspended several times by the House of Representatives which demanded a personal appearance by Uson to explain her controversial and “offensive videos produced and distributed using government resources.”

Uson and blogger Drew Oliver uploaded videos showing sexually-explicit dances moves to advocate for a federal form of government as well as hand gestures that offended hearing-impaired citizens.

Since her appointment to the PCOO, Uson continuously faced widespread condemnation as well as congressional inquiries about her so-called fake news posts.

Uson had been one of Duterte’s loudest supporters on social media in the 2016 presidential elections.

“This is a victory for Filipinos fed up with her brand of ‘advocacy’ in support of the corrupt and tyrannical [government],” LODI said of Uson’s resignation.

LODI thanked ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, whose demand for Uson to appear in Congress led to her resignation and dismissal.

LODI said it intends to hold Uson accountable for her acts of graft and corruption as an assistant secretary.

“She will be made to pay for her crimes, regardless of her future plans. She is not legally and politically immune from accountability,” the group vowed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PCOO: Mocha under jurisdiction of President

It seems only President Rodrigo Duterte can do something about Mocha Uson.

Officials of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) revealed at its budget hearing at the House of Representatives Thursday that, as a political appointee, only the President can decide on whether controversial Assistant Secretary on Social Media Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson official stays or goes.

“[Assistant Secretary] Uson falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Office of the President as a political appointee,” PCOO Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Marvin Gatpayat said.

At the hearing, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Ysagani Zarate pressed PCOO Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin Andanar on what has been done over Uson’s many gaffes and posts that drew widespread criticism.

Asked by Andanar to reply to the question, PCOO Assistant Secretary for Operations and Legislative Affairs Ana Maria Paz Banaag said that Uson had been issued a memorandum by PCOO New Media and External Affairs Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy to remind her of rules and policies for government officials.

“A small fact-finding activity was also held,” Banaag said.

Uson again drew widespread criticism of the Presidential Communications Group for her video endorsement of Duterte’s federalism campaign with a blogger that referred to vagina and breasts.

Banaag said that the PCOO officials and employees shall soon undergo gender-sensitivity trainings in response to the frenzy of criticisms it received from Uson’s video.

Questions about Uson drew the greatest interest among those who attended the budget hearing, eliciting laughter from even PCOO officials and staff present.

Arts and media alliance Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) submitted to the committee a letter questioning the PCOO’s proposed PhP1.41 billion budget for 2019.

“Taxpayers bear the burden of paying for the PCOO’s work, whether it is done, not done, or not done well by the agency,” LODI explained.

The group asked if Uson and blogger Drew Olivar’s controversial video was taken inside the PCOO offices and of government personnel and facilities were used in filming, editing and uploading the video.

Explaining the official’s absence during the hearing to personally answer questions pertaining to her, Andanar said Uson is accompanying President Rodrigo Duterte in his official visits to Israel and Jordan.

Andanar made a quick exit and did not answer questions from journalists after the hearing. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

LODI denounces killing of Albay journo: Under Duterte, one journalist is slain every two months

The media and arts alliance LODI (Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity) condemns the murder of Albay broadcaster Joey Llana in Daraga town today.

Reports reaching LODI say that unidentified persons waylaid the 38-year old broadcaster’s vehicle on P6 road, Brgy. Penafrancia around 4:00. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead by emergency rescue staff around 6:00 am.

LODI demands a swift and transparent investigation into this latest murder of a journalist, the 12th under President Duterte.

Since assuming power, Duterte has practically presided over the killing of a journalist once every two months.

In between killings, Duterte orders harassment cases, closures, delays in franchise renewals, verbal attacks, and denial of access to journalists in Malacañang and Mindanao.

LODI also deplores the Philippine Army, for blocking Mindanao journalists from covering the evacuation of more than 1,000 Lumad in Brgy Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The military claims its blockades are for the evacuees security. Journalists are not security threats. Their presence and their documentation of conflict-related incidents actually promote protection for civilians trapped or dislocated by war.

The pending anti-terrorism measure pushed by Duterte allies in Congress also directly attacks press freedom and free expression by considering coverage of dissenters and rebels as crimes.

Journalists serve the community best if they are free to present the many voices in society, including those involved in civil or armed conflict. To equate coverage with “glorification” is to nothing but censorship at the level of tyranny.

The bill also allows the freezing of funds without giving “suspects” a chance to challenge charges. This provision represents a possible weapon to paralize critical media.

We call on the Filipino people to campaign for a halt to killings of media workers — and all citizens. We also invite our fellow citizens to fight efforts to legislate dictatorship.

This fight should also target Duterte’s planned charter change that would leave professional and citizen journalists to the mercy of a small cabal with powers to legislate and execute policies and, likewise, act as judges.

We will bring the calls for justice for Llana and other slain journalists at the United People’s SONA on Monday. Duterte must be held accountable for his failure to protect them, and more accurately for inciting or justifying violence against them. #

Group assails FB for taking down accounts critical of Duterte

An arts and media group has slammed social media platform Facebook for taking down accounts of Duterte critics Mae “Juana Change” Paner and the popular Pinoy Ako Blog (PAB) creator Jover Laurio.

The Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), itself critical of attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression under the Rodrigo Duterte government, today assailed Facebook for the move against Paner and Laurio, two well-known critics of President Duterte.

“We demand that Facebook immediately and unconditionally restore Mae’s account,” veteran journalist and LODI convenor Inday Espina Varona said.

Mae’s takedown followed a similar action last week against Jover, LODI in a statement said.

It took two days of “bombardment” by Laurio and many supporters to restore her account.

“We call on Facebook to stop being complicit in the silencing of President Duterte’s critics,” Varona said.

She noted that Mae’s posts in the last few days have been largely on #BabaeAko , a campaign against President Rodrigo Duterte’s misogyny.

“This is not the first time Facebook has taken down accounts of activists and politically-involved Filipinos, and Facebook Pages maintained by activist organizations and campaigns. Facebook has also been censoring content, as we saw in the taking down of posts critical of the Marcoses,” Varona said.

“Facebook recently announced that it would take steps to combat the proliferation of Fake News. But what has been more pronounced, as in the case of Mae and the others, is that it is wittingly or unwittingly helping silence voices exposing and fighting Fake News,” she added.

Facebook’s ‘dangerous’ Real Name policy

Another LODI convenor, newspaper columnist Tonyo Cruz, in the statement said that the implementation of Facebook’s Real Name policy is apparently doing more harm than good especially in the Philippines.

“Many activists and campaigners in other countries ruled by dictatorships have long asked Facebook not to deny citizens the right to use pseudonyms which prove important in protecting dissenters,” said Cruz.

“I didn’t expect that we’d need it in 2018, but there sure are legitimate reasons for many Filipinos to use pseudonyms amid Duterte’s rising tyranny,” Cruz added.

Cruz said the application of the Real Name policy on Paner could not have been a result of due diligence or even the most basic investigations.

“A simple Google search about Mae Paner would lead Facebook officers and staff to plenty of stories, images and videos about her, including links to her Facebook account,” Cruz said.

Cruz added that Facebook should also check reports that the takedowns of the accounts of Mae and Laurio are a result of “mass reporting” by Duterte supporters.

“If this is true, Facebook should take steps against those who game its reporting system. There are lots of accounts that spread Fake News and hate speech that should be taken down. Accounts of activists should be spared and protected,” Cruz said.

Paner is among LODI’s co-founders and co-convenors. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sereno slams attacks against judicial independence

Beleaguered Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno slammed “bullying tactics” against her and the judiciary in a speech before civil libertarians last April 9 on the occasion of the Araw ng Kagitingan.

In this video, Sereno asked her audience to join her in the defense of judicial independence.

Activists march for justice at the start of quo warranto hearings vs chief justice

The Coalition for Justice and Movement Against Tyranny, among other groups, led a March for Justice in Baguio City last April 10 at the start of the Supreme Court’s deliberations on the quo warranto petition against its Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

 

Groups award rights defenders at Araw ng Kagitingan

Civil liberty groups honored groups and individuals they said uphold human rights despite wanton violations by the Duterte regime.

On the occassion of the Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor honoring heroes who fought against Japanese imperialism in the Philippines, the groups said the honorees embody courage as they stand up against abuses of the government.

Among the honorees were journalists Raffy Lerma and Pia Rañada who are being vilified for their photos and reports critical of the government.

Chief Justice Ma Lourdes Sereno, facing impeachment moves by Duterte allies, was also honored.

An extraordinary gathering

A day after the predominantly Catholic Philippines celebrated Easter Sunday, hundreds of activists, artists, journalists, past and present government officials and leaders of sectoral organizations gathered at a place in Makati City.

It was an event rarely seen in many years. Most of those who attended would rather not be seen together, much less talk to each other. They have been at odds with each other most of the time as they belong to different political colors.

But they came nonetheless, willing to find out if their love of country can make them talk to each other. They were brought together by the realization that tyranny once again rules the country.

There event had no prepared program, just songs. There were no prepared speeches, just announcements of future events. They spent hours telling stories and the need to stand up for truth, justice and human rights.

They ended the night singing songs and raising fists.

Something extraordinary happened Monday night somewhere in Makati. #