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Activists commemorate 33rd EDSA anniversary ‘amid new tyranny’

Various groups commemorated the 33rd anniversary of EDSA People Power 1 in a protest action last February 23.

The “Tayo ang EDSA, Tayo ang Pag-asa” rally was attended by progressive groups, opposition leaders and religious sectors who unanimously remarked that a new tyranny has descended on the Filipino people once more.

BAYAN said that the rotten social system remained 33 years after EDSA that the country is still confronted with gross human rights violations.

BAYAN warned that the people will not allow and will resist a repeat of the Marcos dictatorship under the signboard of “Duterte”. (Video by: Maricon Montajes and Carlo Francisco)

EDSA at diktadurya

“Tayo ang EDSA! Tayo ang pag-asa, ang totoo at ang pinakamakapangyarihang pwersa laban sa diktatura!“–Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. during a commemoration of the first People Power Uprising at EDSA last Saturday, 23 January.

Children vs convicted criminals

Several members of the Philippine House of Representatives want the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility lowered from 15 to nine years old while powerful personalities such as former First Lady Imelda Marcos convicted of graft remain free. (Cartoon by Mark Suva)

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)

Groups hit Marcos-Duterte alliance on dictator’s 101st birth anniversary

The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) and groups belonging to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) denounced what they call an alliance between the family of the late dictator and President Rodrigo Duterte in a picket protest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on the 101st birth anniversary of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Tuesday, September 11.

The protesters said Duterte sponsored the wholesale accomodation of the ousted tyrant’s family by allowing him burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and enabling them to be firmly entrenched back into power.

BAYAN also slammed Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos’ statement that those against their family should “move on and accept the reality.”

“How can we  forget the atrocities under Martial Law and the ill gotten wealth amassed by the late dictator and his family? The Marcos regime was a curse to the Filipino people and the dictatorship  that devasted the people are now treated by President Duterte as heroes,” BAYAN said in a statement.

They also warned Duterte against attempts to revise the history and impose his own Marcos-inspired brand of dictatorship.

“Almost one third of the country is under Martial rule and Duterte has already surpassed Marcos in terms of extra-judicial killings,” the protesters said.

CARMMA and BAYAN called on the Filipino people to join the United People’s Action Rally in Luneta on September 21 to thwart “threats of another dictatorship.” (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)

The ignorance that kills

By Luis V. Teodoro

Within months of his coming to power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte’s profanities, tirades, threats, outrageous remarks about women, human rights, heads of foreign states, and what he was actually doing, had called the attention of international media — in Japan, the United States and Europe — to what was happening in the Philippines.

As early as his first 100 days in office, and as the number of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug users and pushers including women and children from the poorest communities escalated, they called him “serial killer,” “the punisher,” and a human rights violator indictable before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. In his second year in power they called him a “populist dictator” and a tyrant (“strongman”) in the same company as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Edrogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

In almost every case, however, the journalists who were mostly reporting on the human rights crisis in the Philippines reminded readers that Mr. Duterte was “democratically-elected.” Some also pointed out that the 16 million votes he amassed in a field of five candidates for president (Manuel Roxas II, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay and Duterte), although less than 40 percent of the total votes cast, was practically a landslide.

Both why he won, despite his admitted links to the Davao Death Squad and his threat to kill 100,000 during the anti-illegal drug campaign he vowed to launch once in power, and his continuing popularity despite the police bloodbath he encouraged, were among the questions they tried to answer.

Among the answers they proffered, based on their interviews with Filipino sources and their own analysis, was that the voters were weary of the corruption and inefficiency of past administrations, and that the tough-talking Duterte appealed to the millions of Filipino poor who have long wanted change, particularly an end to the criminality that haunts both city and countryside, and who saw no other way to achieve it except by killing criminals without recourse to legal niceties.

To this day, 70 percent of adult Filipinos think that the “war” on drugs is Mr. Duterte’s crowning achievement despite its horrific cost in lives and its enshrinement of the use of State violence as the first and at times the only “solution” to the country’s problems. Although it has always been every regime’s weapon of choice against critics, protesters, human rights defenders, political and social activists, environmentalists, indigenous peoples defending their right to their ancestral domain, and anyone else committed to the democratization of Philippine governance and society, killing as State policy has never been as openly endorsed by any president and as widely supported by his partisans than today.

Both its adoption as State policy and the support for it are premised on the assumption that crime, the drug problem included, can be eliminated by simply doing away with suspected wrong doers. That those killed in anti-drug police operations were denied their right to due process and a fair trial has been dismissed so often and so loudly on the argument that they’re necessary it has endowed lawless violence with a cloak of legitimacy. The policy ignores the social and economic roots of criminal behavior, the persistence of the culture of impunity which too often penalizes the innocent and absolves the guilty, and in many cases, the demonstration effect of the wealthy and well-connected’s literally getting away with murder that encourages gangsterism and criminality.

Together with the promotion of killing as State policy, however, is mass indifference to, and even support for, the return of dictatorship, which Mr. Duterte himself has proposed as the quick-fix solution to the country’s complex problems.

No one can blame the foreign press and other observers for being deeply surprised at the seemingly wide support for the dictatorship option. After all, did not Filipinos overthrow the Marcos terror regime only 32 years ago? Didn’t that regime imprison 100,000 men and women and kill over 3,000 of the Filipino people’s best and brightest sons and daughters? Didn’t it bloat the foreign debt from less than a billion US dollars to 30 billion? Didn’t it so empower the military it made civilian supremacy over the country’s security forces a joke?

Filipinos did oust Marcos in 1986 — and the Marcos dictatorship did all that, and worse. But many Filipinos today think that the period from 1973 to 1986 was some sort of golden age.

Their ignorance of that time proceeds from a number of causes, among them the failure of the administrations after that of Marcos’ to make sure that succeeding generations will understand what really happened. The creation of a truth commission in the manner of similar bodies in South Africa after apartheid, or in Chile after the collapse of the Pinochet dictatorship, was ever contemplated by the fragile, coup-threatened Corazon Aquino administration. The administrations that succeeded hers were focused on remaining in power, hardly cared about the threat of dictatorship, and were in fact more than willing to welcome the Marcoses back after Ferdinand Marcos’ death in 1989.

The Marcoses’ return to power — in fact the possibility today that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could be actually be president — is as difficult for foreign observers to fathom as many Filipinos’ support for a despotic president. Both are quite simply based, not solely on lack of information, but also on false information.

But that false and misleading information has become deeply rooted in the minds of many Filipinos isn’t due only to the failure of the generation that lived through the dictatorship to impart its lessons to the next. It’s also because of the unwillingness of the dynasties in control of the Philippine State to break from that sordid past, they being one and the same in economic and political interests as the Marcoses and their cronies, many of whom are back in power in both the national and local governments. Mr. Duterte’s pro-Marcos idolatry and declared preference for martial law and dictatorship have also contributed to his partisans’ clueless support for the Marcoses and for the return of authoritarian rule.

Quite openly and often accompanied by threats of physical harm against those who disagree with them, however, the apostles of “strong government” justify murder as a State prerogative in combatting crime, in the process intensifying the country’s descent into chaos and even worse violence.

Because support for what amounts to fascist rule is based on ignorance — of history, human rights, and democratic ideals — what is clearly needed is a campaign to educate the vast majority on such issues as what happened during the Marcos dictatorship, its economic, social, political and cultural costs, and the imperative of resisting any attempt to restore a rehashed version of it. What this country needs in these times of lies, hate speech, unreason and the unprecedented use of State violence is an information revolution.

Now the unashamed advocate of that foul period in history, government is so obviously unwilling and incapable of doing it. On the media, the churches, the schools, human rights defenders and on non-governmental, sectoral and people’s organizations has therefore fallen the task of combatting the ignorance that kills, and replacing it with the understanding of issues and events that can stop the ongoing slaughter of the poor, regime critics and protesters, and halt the rise of another homegrown tyranny.

First published in BusinessWorld. Photo from PCOO.

Martial law victims start claiming compensation

Hundreds of Martial Law human rights violations victims trooped to the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City Friday to start claiming their compensations.

Following the release of the initial list of 4,000 eligible claimants by the Human Rights Victims Claims Board earlier this month, cheques are now being distributed to survivors of Martial Law atrocities under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s to the 1980s.

The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) approved 11,103 of about 75,730 claims filed with the board, its chair Lina Sarmiento announced.

Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 ordered the payment of reparation to the thousands of victims from the 10 billion pesos Marcos funds given back to the Philippine government by Swiss banks.

The amounts being paid to claimants range from P176,000 for illegal arrest victims (1 point) to as much as P1.76 million for killed relatives (10 points). # (Raymund B. Villanueva / Photos by Mon Ramirez-Arkibong Bayan)

Marcos all over again, women journalists on Women’s Day say

History is repeating itself, Filipino women journalists said at a forum on the role of women in Philippine media at the University of the Philippines last Thursday, International Working Women’s Day.

Eminent women journalists likened the Rodrigo Duterte government to Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law for its many attacks against press freedom at the Women Talk Back: We are not All Vagina forum at the College of Mass Communication Auditorium.

“The media may seem free but many are afraid. There is a chilling effect,” broadcast journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon said.

The Duterte government has been condemned for its attacks against critical media outfits such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN, Rappler, Catholic Media Network, Kodao, among others.

Duterte himself has been criticized for his rants and threats against journalists and catcalling broadcaster Mariz Umali on live television.

Broadcaster Kara David for her part criticized Malacañan Palace’s statement that people should look beyond Duterte’s jokes and instead look at his pro-women record as Davao City mayor.

David said that while Davao City has pro-women programs, it still does not look good to see a leader who constantly makes derogatory jokes and sexist remarks.

“These impacts big against women,” she said, adding Duterte should be kicked out if he were a student.

Veteran journalists, Jo-Ann Maglipon, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Cheche Lazaro, Melinda de Jesus, Chuchay Fernandez, Malu Mangahas and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines acting chairperson Jo Clemente were resource persons at the forum.

Recalling her experiences under the Marcos dictatorship, Lazaro said history is repeating itself under the Duterte government. # (Report and photo by Maricon Montajes)

Throng fills Rizal Park for anti-tyranny rally

Speeches, songs and poems filled the air last night at Rizal Park as tens of thousands of protesters condemned extra judicial killings and tyranny on the 45th anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law.

The mass protest rally at Rizal Park in Manila, one of several across the country led by the Movement Against Tyranny, is yet another huge event opposing to Pres. Duterte’s own declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the spate of extra-judicial killings (EJKs), the bombing of Marawi and the militarization of indigenous peoples’ communities.

Music by Bituin Escalante (“Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”), Tubaw (“Kapayapaan”) and Buklod (“Tatsulok”).

Anti-tyranny rallies gather tens of thousands across the country and abroad

The Rodrigo Duterte government received the biggest public condemnation yet of widespread human rights violations in the country as tens of thousands across the Philippines and abroad took to the streets Thursday to protest extrajudicial killings and tyranny.

At least 30,000 protesters braved a downpour midway through the Rizal Park protest in Manila as speakers and artists took turns in condemning Duterte’s drug war and “undemocratic government.”

Earlier, at least 20,000 activists joined 3,000 members of various national minority groups in a protest action in Mendiola that ended the three-week Lakbayan ng Moro at Pambansang Minorya 2017.

Rody’s Cube was the second Duterte effigy to be burnt by the activists. (Photo by Kathy Yamzon)

They burned another Duterte effigy dubbed Rody’s Cube showing the various faces of Duterte as a US puppet, Hitler and Marcos before marching to Rizal Park for the main event.

In her speech before the Rizal Park crowd, Movement Against Tyranny convenor Mo. Mary John Mananzan, OSB said she is heartened by the many young people who attended.

Former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares likened Duterte’s style of governance to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who he said was quick to send opposition to jail.

“The Filipino people should never allow martial law to be imposed again on the entire country,” Colmenares said.

An evacuee from besieged Marawi City demands an end to the aerial bombing of their homes. (Photo by R. Villanueva)

The Rizal Park crowd occupied Roxas Boulevard from Padre Burgos Drive to TM Kalaw Avenue.

In Bicol, 13,000 protesters held simultaneous rallies in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Albay and Sorsogon, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Bicol reported.

Thousands also held protest actions in cities across the country, including Baguio, Vigan, Tacloban, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Cebu, Butuan, Tandag, Davao and others.

In Hong Kong, members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan held a protest rally in front of the Philippine Consulate in the city.

“We (migrant workers) did our part in resisting the old tyrant. We shall do our part in resisting the rising tyranny of the Duterte government. We say no to Duter-tyranny!” Bayan-Hong Kong chairperson Eman Villanueva said in a statement.

A picket protest was also held in The Netherlands as Migrante-Europe members read their statement of condemnation before officials of the Philippine Embassy at The Hague.

Saying it with a placard and shouting it too, (Photo by R. Villanueva)

In Tago, Surigao del Sur, 36th Infantry Battallion-Philippine Army elements held about 400 Tandag rally participants until rescued by United Church of Christ in the Philippines Bishop Modesto Villasanta.

Another Philippine Army unit in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur tried preventing more protesters from proceeding to Tandag while Philippine National Police personnel reportedly harassed protesters in Iligan City.

Meanwhile, the pro-Duterte rally at Plaza Miranda ended early at about six o’clock in the evening.

The Quiapo rally was attended by participants bussed in from Tondo, San Jose del Monte, and Caloocan, among others.

The controversial Lions Club feeding activity on Rizal Park’s Burnham Green appeared to have not happened, however.

Kodao observed no activity near the stage in front of the Quirino Grandstand despite the National Park Development Committee’s decision that the Lions Club needed the space more than the rally. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

The Burnham Green was empty when the Lions Club feeding activity was supposed to be held. (Photo by R. Villanueva)