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Indigenous peoples demand justice for Lumad chieftain Datu Kaylo

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Manobo tribal chieftain Datu Kaylo, a consistent participant in the indigenous people’s Lakbayan to Manila to air their calls for self-determination, was reportedly killed by elements of the 3rd IB of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command during its military operations in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last April 7.

“He died due to the intensified militarization, bombing and strafing of the indigenous communities,” said Pasaka-SMR in a statement.

Datu Kaylo was in the area visiting the communities and delving into the current situation of his fellow Manobos who had been forced to evacuate from their communities in Talaingod, a village that has gained prominence for its people’s resistance against logging and mining in the Pantaron Range. As a lumad leader, Datu Kaylo was concerned about the plight of the Manobos who are scattered around various communities after Talaingod was hit by successive operations and bombings there and in Bukidnon, said the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon.

In previous Lakbayan, Kaylo helped to translate to Tagalog the statements of female Lumad warrior Bai Bibyaon Bigkay, a Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan Awardee. Kaylo himself was regarded as a fierce environmental defender. [He helped here: ‘We’re all challenged to defend the environment’ — Bibiaon Bigkay]


Datu Kaylo and Bai Bibiaon (Photo grabbed from PASAKA-SMR FB post Apr 11, 2019)

Kaylo was a Lumad leader of the Salugpongan community organization and a member of the National Council of Leaders of Katribu, the national alliance of indigenous peoples’ organizations. He was also the Deputy Secretary General of the PASAKA Confederation of Lumad in Southern Mindanao. PASAKA SMR is a Confederation of Lumad organizations of nine tribes whose name combines lumad words conveying unity and solidarity.

PASAKA expressed its alarm over the “intensifying war being waged by the military” against their communities. They said this war has worsened with Martial Law in Mindanao. “Many from the Lumad have been forced to evacuate, including the children whose schooling has been curtailed by non-stop attacks of the military,” PASAKA said.

“Our plight in Talaingod is comparable to ants being trampled upon and forced to scatter anywhere, because of Martial Law in Mindanao, where soldiers and the paramilitary Alamara have attacked us to no end,” said the Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon in a statement.

Salugpongan mourns the death of Kaylo, who, they said, had sacrificed much since his youth for the defense of our ancestral land and the Lumad schools in Talaingod. “He could have contributed more for the Lumad.”

Amid calls for justice for the untimely death of Kaylo, PASAKA reiterated its condemnation of the Duterte government’s schemes that they said seek to drive them away from their homes so the government could push through with plunderous projects in the Pantaron Range. These projects include mining, plantations and dams. #

Lawyer: No reason for Duterte to suspend privilege of the writ of habeas corpus

President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus has no legal basis and is an illogical reaction to criticism and opposition, a human rights lawyer said.

“First of all, there is absolutely no legal, constitutional, and factual basis to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia said.

Reacting to Duterte’s speech before prosecutors in Puerto Princesa City Thursday, Olalia said that Duterte only validated accusations of his whimsical and vindictive exercise of power.

“[H]is threat smacks of authoritarian reactions of a leader intolerant of dissenting or divergent opinions,” Olalia said.

Outraged at widespread criticisms of his policies, Duterte said he may arrest all his critics.

Pero ‘pag ako ang pinaabot niyo ng sagad, I will declare a suspension of writ of habeas corpus and I will arrest all of you. Isama ko kayo sa mga rebelde, kriminal, pati durogista,” Duterte said. (If you push me to my limit, I will declare a suspension of writ of habeas corpus and I will arrest all of you. I will put you together with the criminals, rebels, and drug lords.)

Duterte also threatened to declare “revolutionary war.”

Pahirapan mo ako, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term. Pasensiyahan tayo,” he said. (If you make things difficult for me, I will declare a revolutionary war until the end of my term. We test each other’s patience.)

Olalia however the president’s reaction to cautionary criticisms to his policies by the opposition is illogical.

“[H]is threat smacks of authoritarian reactions of a leader intolerant of dissenting or divergent opinions,” Olalia said.

“[T]here is no other appropriate people’s reaction but to fight and fight we must against brute despotism clothed in legal garb,” he added.

Other criticisms

Former solicitor general and candidate for the Senate Florin Hilbay cautioned Duterte, saying the last president who did so was ousted.

“Ser, remind lang kita: nung last time na ginawa ‘yan, may diktador na nasipa sa pwesto,” Hilbay posted on his Facebook wall. (Sir, may I remind you: the last time that was done, a dictator was ousted.)

Fellow senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares for his part called President Rodrigo’s threat “baseless” and “senseless.”

Colmenares, a human rights lawyer, said criticism of the president does not meet the constitutional or legal requirements to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

He said Duterte’s “inordinate reaction to so innocuous a statement from Senator Drilon” led him to suspect the president’s anger stemmed from recently released videos accusing him and his son Paolo, who is running for congressman in Davao City, to the illegal drug trade.

“If so, the charges in the videos can only gain traction,” Colmenares said.

“This is the first time I’ve heard a government threatening revolutionary war,” Colmenares said.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison also said Duterte cannot engage in a revolutionary war “because he is a counterrevolutionary agent of foreign monopoly capitalists, big compradors and big landlords.”

“He is a bureaucrat capitalist of the worst kind,” Sison wrote in his quick reaction to Duterte’s speech.

Sison added Duterte “should not misappropriate and besmirch the noble calling of revolutionary.”

“He is a tyrant, traitor, plunderer and mass murderer hell-bent on imposing a fascist dictatorship on the Filipino people through charter change to a bogus kind of federalism,” Sison added.

Sison said Duterte is already engaged in de facto martial law nationwide and in the de facto suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Duterte is increasingly engaged in mass intimidation, mass arrests and mass murders, the president’s former political science professor said.

Sison added that if Duterte formally proclaims the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or even martial law nationwide, he will only succeed in further enraging the people and inciting them to wage all forms of revolutionary resistance.

“The real revolutionary war is against his ongoing counterrevolutionary war,” Sison said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva, with JJ Espina)

Si Ate Melod at ang patuloy na pakikibaka ng SUMIFRU workers

Si Ate Melody “Melod” Gumanoy, 43 taong gulang, ay isa sa mahigit 300 manggagawa ng Sumifru, isang Japanese company sa Mindanao na nag-eexport ng mga prutas. Nagtungo sa Maynila ang mga nagwewelgang manggagawa ng Sumifru upang ipanawagan ang pagpapatigil ng kontraktwalisasyon ng kumpanya.

Mahigit 23 taon nang manggagawa si Melod sa Sumifru. Siya rin ang secretary ng Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA-NAFLU-KMU). Nagsimulang magwelga ang mga manggagawa sa iba’t ibang planta ng Sumifru noong Oktubre 1, 2018, dahil ito sa pagmamatigas ng management ng kanilang kumpanya na gawin silang regular.

Sa kawalang suporta ng LGU sa kanilang lugar sa Compostela, Compostela Valley at patuloy na pandarahas sa kanila sa ilalim ng batas militar sa Mindanao, sa Maynila na nila ipinagpapatuloy ang kanilang laban. Isa lamang si Ate Melod sa marami pang kababaihang manggagawa na biktima ng hindi patas ang pagtrato, walang sapat na sahod at hanggang ngayon ay kontrakwal pa rin.

Patuloy na ipinaglalaban ng mga manggagawa ng Sumifru ang kanilang karapatan sa sapat na sahod, regularisasyon at pagkakaroon ng sapat at tamang benipisyo para sa mga kababaihan at matatanda. (Bidyo ni: Jo Maline D. Mamangun/ Kodao)

Mindanao Bishops ask Duterte to stop attacks against IFI

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) in Mindanao published an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte asking him to stop ongoing harassment against their clergy in the island.

Gathering in Cagayan de Oro City last March 25 and 26 for a conferential meeting with the Church’s Supreme Bishop, the Most Reverend Rhee M. Timbang, the 14 IFI bishops they have been attacked through red tagging, vilification, surveillance, harassment and intimidation and worse, killings they suspect are the handiwork of government security forces.

“We saw at the highways and even walls of our churches desecrated with graffiti maligning the IFI and its leaders, Bishop Antonio Ablon of Pagadian and Bishop Felixberto Calang of Cagayan de Oro,” their letter said.

The bishops said the most recent attack against their Church happened last February 22 where leaflets or hit list bearing names of the bishops including that of Fr. Chris Ablon, Fr. Rolando Abejo, Fr. Khen Apus and their friends openly identified these people as members of underground revolutionary groups.

“This baseless and malicious accusation strongly believed to be orchestrated by state forces has openly identified these people as members of the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines).

“We as episcopal leaders of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Mindanao are very much alarmed that wanton extra judicial killings may fall on our church leaders. God forbid!” they said.

The bishops blame Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao for causing the “evil acts” as well as the refusal of the police to investigate their complaints.

“Worse, illegal arrest and detention, trump up charges and forced NPA surrenderees of peasants and lumad who are partners of our church in our community work and mission are conveniently presented to the public as prima facie evidence of the IFI’s and bishops’ affiliation to the rebel group,” they said.

The church leaders also complained that several active church lay leaders now fear for their lives and security as they are constantly under surveillance and are possible subject to warrantless arrest.

The bishops asked Duterte to end the attacks against peasant and labor leaders, against lumad and their communities, against defenders of lumad schools, lawyers, media and the Church.

The letter was signed by Timbang, Ablon, Calang, Cabadbaran Bishop Delfin Callao Jr., Davao Bishop Denny Dapitan, Libertad Bishop Rudy Juliada, Surigao Bishop Noel Lorente, Dinagat Bishop Mervin Jose Elimanco, Siargao Bishop Romeo Tagud, Koronadal Bishop Redeemer Yañez, Tubod Bishop Raul Amorcillo, Cortez Bishop Julius Dacera, Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales, Oroquieta Bishop Victor Batoy, and Malaybalay Bishop Gil Dinapo. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Martial law in Mindanao victimizes more Lumad children—NDFP

President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, extended for the second straight year this 2019, continues to wreak havoc in the lives of Lumad children, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Southern Mindanao Region said.

In a statement posted on its website today, the NDFP reported that a platoon of the 88th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army accosted and seized 17-year old Loujean Antian Lumbatan, a Grade 7 student of Sinuda High School, and 10-year old Ara Mystica Antian Pangcat, a Grade 5 student of Cabalansihan Elementary School at Sitio Sanggiapo, Brgy Sinuda, Kitaotao in Bukidnon province at around 11:00 in the morning last February 18.

“For no apparent reason, the two unarmed Lumad minors were arrested and held incommunicado at the unit’s camp in Sitio Sanggiapo between 11:00 in the morning and 11:00 in the evening,” the NDFP said.

Early in the afternoon, the parents and some relatives searched frantically for the missing children and proceeded to confront the soldiers but were turned away by the soldiers who insisted they knew nothing of the children’s whereabouts, the group added.

The girls were released in the afternoon of the next day, February 19, but not after being subjected to harrowing interrogation and were brought to the 88th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Maramag, the NDFP said.

The girls reported that they could hear their parent’s voices outside the camp in Sitio Sanggiapo but were warned by the soldiers not to make any sound.

When confronted why they arrested and detained the two girls, the soldiers reportedly claimed they were only after “the[ir] safety,” the NDFP said. 

The Bukidnon incident followed the January 30 seizure of two toddlers, a one-year old and a two-year old, and their subsequent forced separation from their parents and guardians by AFP and PNP troops following a raid on the office of the Misamis Oriental Peasants Association (MOFA) in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, the group said.

“In Lumad areas in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and elsewhere in the Southern Mindanao, bombings, shelling and indiscriminate firing within populated communities by AFP troops and their paramilitaries Bagani and Alamara have terrorized hundreds of children,” the NDFP said in its statement. 

The NDFP also scored the arrest of three civilians of the 71st IB last February 20 at Sitio Binogsayan, Brgy. Napnapan in Pantukan town.

Eddie Avila, Graciano Embalsado and Pulpy Lariwan were later forced to “surrender” as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), even as local government officials insisted that the three were in fact civilians, Rubi del Mundo, NDFP-SMR spokesperson said.

‘Localized peace talks’

But Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año said the so-called surrenders are real that stem from the continuing success of localized peace talks between local government officials and the revolutionary groups.

“Dahil sa sipag at pagpupursigi ng ating mga local officials, natanggal na ang kaliskis sa mga mata ng mga dating rebelde at naliwanagan na sila,” Año said in a statement posted on the DILG website today, citing the reported surrender of more than 200 alleged Communist supporters in Negros Island last month.

The DILG secretary claimed the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict by Duterte will also lead to more rebel surrenders because of its focus on localized peace engagements.

Año also said DILG’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) has disbursed around P488 million in 2018to aid former rebels and their immediate family members

‘PR stunts’

The NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, however, dismissed government’s claims, saying so-called peace and development outreach programs by the Duterte administration are mere public relations stunts that are part of its psychological war tactics.

“They are in fact mere PR stunts which hold neither a grain of truth nor reflect the sentiments of thousands of Lumad who continue to be victimized by the US-Duterte regime’s hated martial law,” Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command spokesperson, said.

Sanchez added it eludes common sense that the Lumad and the peasants should support government troops when it is they who seek to destroy their way of living, sell ancestral land to greedy and exploitative capitalists threaten or kill those who opposes them. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Kampuhan ng mga manggagawang agrikultural, dinepensahan ng kolektibong pagluluto

Ni Roge Gonzales

Nitong Pebrero 10 ng umaga, sa pangunguna ng Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA), inilunsad ang Luto! Laban! Sunday Cookout para sa NAMASUFA sa Liwasang Bonifacio, Maynila.

Tumungo ang mga artistang alyado ng SAKA at mga boluntaryo mula sa industriya ng sining, kultura, at kaalaman sa protest camp ng Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farm (NAMASUFA), ang union ng mga manggagawang agrikultural na higit apat na buwan nang nakawelga sa plantasyon ng saging dahil ayaw iregularisa ng kumpanyang Hapones na Sumitomo Fruit Corporation o Sumifru.

Naglakbay pa mula sa Compostela Valley ang 350 sa mga unyonista upang kalampagin ang nagtutulog-tulugang Department of Labor and Employment pati ang Malacañang.

Ginanap ang salo-salo isang araw bago ang takdang police dispersal at ng Manila city government sa kampuhan.

Katambal ang mga iba pang organisasyon tulad ng Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan Federation of Peasant Women, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Anakpawis Partylist atbp., layunin ng Luto! Laban! na hikayatin ang mamamayan na palakasin ang panawagan sa regularisasyon ng Sumifru workers, ipagtanggol ang kanilang kampuhan mula sa banta ng clearing operations sa utos ng Manila City Hall, at itigil ng pangulo ang pagratsada sa land-use conversion na matapos magkait ng lupa sa magsasaka ay humahantong sa pang-aabuso sa mga manggagawa ng plantasyon.

Sa katunayan, tungo sa pagtatapos ng aktibidad ay dumami ang pulis na nagdulot ng pangamba sa mga welgista.

Nakaugat ang kanilang pangamba sa ilang beses na nilang naranasang dahas ng estado mula pa sa pagpapatupad ng batas militar ni Duterte sa Mindanao.

Ugnayan ng sining at produktong agrikultural

Liban sa pag-aalay ng tanghaliang crispy tawilis, minced pork with basil, at talbos ng kamote salad ng ihinanda ng mga boluntaryo kasama ng mismong mga unyonista, dalawang palihan ang isinagawa sa protest camp.

Habang abala ang ilan sa pagluluto habang nagtatalakayan, ang mga anak ng Sumifru workers at volunteers (edad 5-8) ay nagsanay sa pagguhit samantalang ang mga manggagawa (edad 20-35) naman ay lumahok sa isang writing workshop.

Nagkaroon din ng mabilisang live sketch session ang ilang visual artist sa gitna ng kampuhan tampok ang kalihim ng unyon habang siya’y nagbabahagi ng mga karanasan.

Ang Liwasang Bonifacio ay naging lunsaran sa pagbabahaginan ng kaalaman at karanasan.

Ang drawing workshop ng mga bata ay uminog sa prompt na “pangungulila sa tahanan”, kung saan sa proseso ng pagtuturo sa mga musmos sa pagguhit ng basic shapes at pagkukulay ay ipinatimo sa kanila ang halaga ng pagbabalik-tanaw sa nakagisnan nilang buhay sa kanayunan na ibang-iba sa lungsod kung saan sila nagkakampuhan.

Mainam itong paraan upang sa maagang kamulatan ay di lamang maipakilala sa kanila ang sining ng pagguhit kundi maipaunawa rin ang ipinaglalaban ng kanilang mga magulang at mabigyan din ng oras ang kanilang mga magulang na makibahagi sa mga aktibidad nang hindi pinuproblema ang mga bata.

Karamihan sa mga iginuhit ng mga bata ay mga eksena ng kanilang pamumuhay sa bukid.

Samantala, nagbukas ang writing workshop sa pakikipagtalakayan ng mga volunteer sa Sumifru workers hinggil sa kung ano ang espesyal na ulam na kanilang hinahanda kapag dumating ang suweldo.

Nailahad ang simpleng pamumuhay ng mga manggagawa sa pagsasabing adobong manok/baboy, sinigang, at sinabawang gulay ang madalas nilang ihanda kapag may pera.

Kasama rin sa talakayan ang halaga ng kanilang produktong agrikultural na isang esensiyal na sangkap sa merkado at ekonomiya ng mundo (e.g., banana chips, halo-halo, ketchup, harina, cereals, feeds, at marami pang iba.)

Sumunod na ibinahagi ng mga manggagawa ang buong proseso at panahon ng paglikha ng produktong saging.

Sa diskusyon, lumitaw na may dalawang pangunahing pagkakahati ang proseso ng kanilang paglikha: sa “erya” o lupang sakahan, at sa planta.

Umaabot sa halos labing-isang buwan mula sa pagbubungkal, pagtatanim, pagpapalago, pag-ani tungong packaging at quality control upang makapagluwal ng export-grade na Cavendish na saging sa mga bansang Japan, Korea, China, New Zealand, Singapore, at Middle East.

Metikuluso ang proseso ng kanilang paggawa sapagkat kakailanganin pa ng tamang “calibration” ng sukat at kalidad ng mga saging (na kinaklasipika nila sa “small hands” at “big hands”). Sa kalkulasyon ng UMA, binabarat ng Sumifru ang mga manggagawa nito sa pagbibigay lamang ng P365 na arawang sahod.

Samantala, sa barat na halagang P15.75 lamang binibili ang kanilang produkto kada kilo mula sa kinontratang grower. Pero ibinebenta ito sa labas ng bansa sa halagang P212.63 kada kilo ng saging. Sa bawat ektarya ng plantasyon ng saging, tinatayang kumikita ang kumpanyang Hapones ng dagdag P18 milyon kada taon.

Isinalaysay din ng mga manggagawa ang kanilang mga saloobin hinggil sa nangyaring marahas na dispersal sa pitong strike camps sa Compostela Valley noong Oktubre 11 at ang pagpaslang ng mga militar at pulis ng kumpanya kay Danny Boy Bautista noong Oktubre 31.

Si Bautista ay isa sa mga pangunahing nagtaguyod mula noong pumutok ang welga noong Oktubre 1. Sinundan pa ito ng panununog sa kanilang union office noong Nobyembre 30 at ang intensipikasyon ng surveillance at harassment mula sa mga militar.

Hindi nakapagtataka kung gayon na natutulak ang mga manggagawa na tahasang lumaban at manindigan sapagkat maging ang payapang pamumuhay na kanilang hinahangad sa Compostela Valley ay ipinagkakait sa kanila ng estado.

Sa alab ng pakikiisa ng iba’t ibang sektor

Matapos ang masayang salo-salo sa pananghalian at kuwentuhan, nagtipon ang lahat upang maglunsad ng pangkulturang programa.

Nakiisa ang mga estudyante at guro ng Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo College, at UP Los Baños. Tumugtog ang mga musikerong sina Alyana Cabral, Mara Marasigan, at The General Strike. Sa saliw ng makabayang himig at mga mensahe ng pakikiisa mula sa mga kinatawan ng iba’t ibang sektor, naging solido ang hanay at diwa ng sama-samang tanggulan para sa Sumifru workers.

Naging tampok din ang pagtatanghal ng Sining Obrero, ang grupong pangkultura ng NAMASUFA, na inawit ang kanilang orihinal na komposisyon (Padayon, gihapon ang welga sa ComVal!) na punumpuno ng dagundong ng tapang na ipanalo ang welga sa kabila ng pangil ng pasismo.

Naging marubdob din ang pagbasa ng mga manggagawa sa kanilang obra, mga monologue, sa writing workshop.

Saad ni Justy, 25, limang taon nang packer sa plant 220 ng Sumifru, “Hindi po madali ang kalagayan ko doon sa Mindanao dahil sa martial law. Bilang isang manggagawa ay natapakan po ang aking karapatan na ibigay ang dapat sa akin. Hindi rin madali na gumising nang madaling araw upang magtrabaho tapos hindi ka pala makapasok dahil sobra na daw o over-manning. Hindi madali kapag walang katiyakan ang ganitong sistema o porma ng tinatawag na kontraktwal.”

Tagumpay ng sama-samang pagkilos

Sa pagsasara ng programa, ipinaalala ni Lisa Ito, secretary general ng CAP, na ang sitwasyon ng Sumifru workers ay nangyayari sa buong bansa. Sunod-sunod ang mga trahedyang ipinapataw ng gobyerno kamakailan sa mga maralitang manggagawa at magbubukid. Aniya, lalo pa’t hindi nakikita sa mass media ang buong kuwento ng pakikibaka ng Sumifru workers, napapanahon at nararapat ang mga pagtitipon tulad ng Luto! Laban! upang magkaroon ng boses ang mga api.

Kinabukasan ng Luto! Laban!, dalawang linggong palugit ang naipanalo ng kolektibong pagtatanggol ng NAMASUFA’t mga tagasuporta nito para manatili ang protest camp sa Liwasang Bonifacio.

Sa pahayag ng UMA, ang extension nakuha ng unyon mula sa city hall ay “bunga ng pinagsamang lakas ng manggagawa at iba’t ibang sektor na sumusuporta at naninindigan para sa kanila.”

Lalong umiigting kung gayon ang pangangailangan na makipamuhay ang mga estudyante, guro, empleyado, lalo na ang mga manggagawang pangkultura, at sa sama-samang tanggulan para sa Sumifru workers, maisulong ang makatarungang panawagan para sa sahod, benepisyo, at regular na trabaho. #

PNP profiling of ACT members part of Duterte’s fascism, teachers group says

Efforts by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to extract a list Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) members are part of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s fascist schemes, the teachers’ group said.

Reacting to visits by police operatives in schools and Department of Education (DepEd) offices last week to ask for a list of ACT members, the group accused both the PNP and the President of creating another “tokhang” list.

“This is part and parcel of the Duterte regime’s grand fascist scheme to suppress all forms of opposition to its tyrannical rule, further legitimized and strengthened by Duterte’s Executive Order 70 which converted the civilian bureaucracy into a fascist machinery,” ACT said in a strongly worded statement.

“This involves profiling, surveillance, identification, and neutralization of organizations critical to the current regime’s anti-people acts and policies,” one of the largest teachers’ organization in the country added.

A copy of a PNP-Zambales memorandum ordering the profiling of ACT members in the province. (ACT photo)

ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro revealed through a series of social media posts over the weekend that police operatives went around schools and DepEd offices to demand lists of ACT members citing a PNP memorandum as basis.

The operations appear to be nationwide in scale and points to the top PNP leadership as the main source of the order, the group alleged.

ACT said the PNP memorandum on the inventory and profiling of ACT members is very similar to the police’s list of drug users and peddlers, tens of thousands of whom ended up dead in nightly police raids all over the country.

“The PNP will have blood on their hands, and the fascist State shall be held responsible if anything untoward happens to any ACT member. We are not afraid. We have been through this time and again,” ACT national president Joselyn Martinez said.

Militant mentors

Founded in 1982, ACT is a nationalist and militant alliance of teachers and education workers that has attracted members due to its consistent struggle for higher salaries and benefits.

Its successes in the last decades enabled the group to create an allied political organization. ACT Teachers’ Party has two sitting legislators at the House of Representatives.

Its teachers’ union, the ACT Union has chapters nationwide and is recognized as a sole bargaining unit of teachers and education workers in several regions, including the National Capital Region.

“ACT is a legitimate teachers’ organization with a long history of service to professional teachers, education support personnel, and the Filipino people in general,” Martinez said.

ACT is known for fighting for higher teachers salaries and benefits. (ACT photo)

As a militant organization, ACT, however, has been the subject of attacks by police and military agents for being a “communist front.” Several of its members and organizers have been killed and jailed throughout the years.

‘Dastardly, illegal’

Profiling operations against ACT members is a Gestapo-style operation, ACT said of the latest PNP scheme against the group.

“The PNP has no business meddling in the affairs of teachers’ organization…Their dastardly act of profiling ACT members is maliciously casting unnecessary doubt on the legitimacy of ACT as an organization,” the group said.

The group also denounced DepEd officials who acceded to the PNP memorandum, “thereby inviting harm to their own employees and even their students.”

It urged DepEd officials to oppose the “unconstitutional” police operations that may violate teachers’ rights.

“DepEd must order the withholding of any information about ACT members which may be used by the PNP to intimidate and harass teacher-unionists who fight for decent salaries and benefits, for the people’s right to education and other basic services, and for the rights and well-being of the people,” it said.

As of this writing, the DepEd has reportedly ordered its officer in charge in the Manila Division of City Schools to rescind her order supporting the PNP memorandum.

CNN Philippines also reported Monday that PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered the relief of intelligence officers over the “leak” on the profiling of ACT members in Manila, Quezon City and Zambales Province.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm over the PNP’s operations against ACT and called on the police to adhere to the rule of law.

“Reports of alleged profiling of members of ACT are alarming as it violates rights to privacy and association, which are guaranteed freedoms in the Constitution among others,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia in a statement said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Free Satur and France; free the Lumad children

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) condemns the illegal detention of Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and other delegates of the National Solidarity Mission (NSM) in Davao del Norte since 9:30 pm last night November 28 by the combined elements of the 56th IB, Philippine National Police and Municipal Social Work and Development Officers.

CRC also denounces threats of Anti-Trafficking and violation of RA 7610 charges against the NSM delegation, after rescuing the Lumad people from further harassment of the army and ALAMARA in their community following the closure of the main school of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkakanon Learning Center Inc (STTILCI) in Dulyan, Davao del Norte yesterday November 28, 2018.

The escalation of military attacks on schools spread fear and paranoia among children in the schools of STTILCI and the Lumad communities in Mindanao.

CRC calls for the release of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Rep France Castro and the rest of the NSM. End Martial Law in Mindanao. Let the children study in their schools, pull out military troops from the Lumad communities. #

Charges against Satur and aid group has no basis–LODI

The Duterte regime has reached a new low with the filing of preposterous human trafficking and kidnapping charges against veteran journalist, activist and human rights advocate Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro as they were on a fact-finding to aid beleaguered indigenous people in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

The arts and media alliance, Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity demands the immediate release of Ocampo and Castro and their 17 companions.

The charges are baseless, meant to cover up the truth: That it is the paramilitary groups Alamara and Magahat Bagani, commanded by the Philippine Army, that lay waste to Lumad communities. They should be the ones facing charges as they have killed Lumad leaders, shut down schools, and driven off communities from ancestral lands that President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to business and foreign patrons.

Ocampo is a a columnist with The Philippine Star and chairperson of the Board of Directors of Bulatlat.com. He joined the 19-member National Humanitarian Mission that went to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring aid to the Lumad.

Ocampo and the rest of the mission accompanied the Lumad evacuees at the Talaingod police station to lodge complaints against the paramilitary group Alamara. To preempt the human rights case, cops concocted their lies.

The charge has no basis. The parents of 29 Lumad students provided written statements of recognition for the mission’s presence and purpose.

This afternoon, Ocampo and the others were taken to Kapalong District Hospital and eventually to the Tagum City Prosecutors Office for inquest proceedings.

We repeat: accusing Ocampo, who is all of 79 years old, of trumped-up charges of kidnapping and human trafficking is preposterous. We demand that the Talaingod PNP withdraw its charges against Satur Ocampo and he is set free immediately.

We warn the Duterte government that detaining an elderly journalist who is only acting on his convictions that are well within his rights would earn the greater condemnation of the journalistic community in the Philippines and the world. #

Martial law victims want Imelda behind bars

Martial law victims and activists held a picket protest outside Sandiganbayan office in Quezon City to demand for the arrest warrant for Imelda Marcos following its guilty verdict against the former First Lady.

Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) welcomed the conviction and asked the court to immediately put Marcos behind bars.

The group also reacted to the statement of PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde that Imelda might not be arrested because of her age and health conditions.

Albayalde’s statement did not surprise the martial law human rights victims since the Rodrigo Duterte government has been giving the Marcos family special treatment, SELDA said.

SELDA added that Sandiganbayan’s guilty verdict is a landmark decision that should be upheld.

SELDA called on the Sandiganbayan to stand by tits decision and not be cowed by the Marcoses’ alliance with Duterte. # (Report by Joseph Cuevas / Video by Carlo Francisco / Featured Image by Jinky Mendoza-Aguilar)