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Former COURAGE organizers abducted in Bulacan Saturday

A human rights lawyer said the couple reported arrested by the Philippine National Police in Balagtas, Bulacan last Saturday were actually abducted and slapped with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives.

Atty. Kristina Conti said that Rowena and Oliver Rosales were simple former officials and organizers of the Confederation for the Unite, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and were not members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Absolute rubbish to call them NPA members. They are civilians, activists if you may, working in the cities and suburbs for change. Whatever charges alleging violence on their part will fail, as they already have against others,” Conti said on her Facebook account.

“Abductions like this are followed by trumped up charges. We’ve seen this many times before. Stop the ludicrous charges!” she added.

According to Conti, the Rosales couple were on their way home on board a tricycle from selling their wares at the Balagtas Public Market when abducted by five men who did not identify themselves as police and military personnel.

The couple were reportedly blindfolded and handcuffed before being dragged to a car.

It was only when they were taken to Camp Crame in Quezon City that the victims were informed of a warrant of arrest against them.

Their family only learned the couple was taken to Camp Crame when they inquired with the Balagtas Police that informed them it was the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group that were looking for the couple.

The couple were taken to Bulacan Monday morning to face inquest proceedings, Conti told Kodao.

Conti said that couple are being charged with illegal possession of explosives.

“There was instant picture-taking of explosives yesterday [at Camp Crame],” Conti said.

Rowena is also charged with arson in Agusan, the lawyer added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Journalism is NOT a crime

July 31, 2018

It is a dark time for democracy and freedom when journalists are treated as criminals – arrested, beaten up, threatened, charged and prevented from doing their work – as happened to our colleagues who covered the violent dispersal of striking workers of NutriAsia and their supporters in Marilao, Bulacan Monday afternoon, July 30.

Footage obtained by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines tends to show that this brazen assault on working journalists – therefore an attack on press freedom itself – was deliberate and not merely triggered by the heat of the moment.

Our colleagues – four from the alternative media (Hiyas Saturay, Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang and Psalty Caluza) and one from UP campus publication Scientia (Jon Angelo Bonifacio)– were harrassed and arrested. Video footage shows a policeman grabbing Saturay, who was on assignment for the AlterMidya Network, and dragging her away even after she had informed him of who she was.

Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin-Guimba, who is also the secretary-general of our Nueva Ecija chapter, was hit by truncheon. NutriAsia guards also dragged Bonifacio, causing him to stumble and sustain injuries and threatened to beat up Kodao Productions cameraman Joseph Cuevas with police personnel not even attempting to prevent a clear threat to life and limb.

As if these weren’t bad enough, when Jola Diones-Mamangun of Kodao Productions went to the Meycauayan police station where those arrested, including our colleagues, were detained, she was denied access to them as officers uttered the obviously false and ludicrous claim that drugs and guns had been recovered from the people they had picked up.

Superintendent Santos Mera, the Meycauayan police chief, was also quoted as saying media needed permits to cover events at his station, a requirement we are sure he very well knows is unconstitutional. Even after their identities have been established, our arrested colleagues were among those subjected to inquest proceedings by the Bulacan police today.

We reiterate our demand for the authorities to withdraw the charges and release our colleagues and end this outrageous farce against them. Unless the authorities now consider journalism a crime and its practitioners as dangerous felons.

We urge the community of independent Filipino journalists to rally around our beleaguered colleagues and send a clear signal that we will not allow any assault on freedom of the press and of expression to pass unchallenged and will hold anyone responsible accountable.

 

Scores hurt, arrested from violent dispersal by police and NutriAsia guards

Nineteen NutriAsia workers and supporters were arrested as 100 elements of the Meycauyan Police and security guards dispersed the picketline just outside the factory in Marilao, Bulacan.

In a phone interview with Bulatlat, NutriAsia worker William Espiritu said the violence started at around 3. pm. today, July 31.

While an ecumenical prayer by some 300 workers and supporters was being held, company security guards started pushing the workers using police’s shields. After a few minutes, the policemen and guards hit the protesters with rattan sticks and threw stones at them.

“They kept on striking us, even as we raised our hands,” Espiritu said. “They did not have any mercy.”

Espiritu said a dialogue between the management and their union was scheduled today. “We were ready to dismantle our picket if need be. Our only demand is to reinstate all the dismissed workers,” he said in Filipino.

One of the supporters of NutriAsia workers hit by the police. (Photo courtesy of Anakbayan)

One of the supporters, identified as Leticia Espino, a member of Kadamay from Pandi, Bulacan was among those hurt. A photograph posted by Anakbayan shows blood all over Espino’s mouth, spilling on her scarf and blouse.

Two others, Espiritu said, were brought to the hospital in critical condition. At least 20 more were wounded and given first aid.

Nineteen were arrested and brought to Meycauayan Police Station, according to Karra Taggaoa, spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). Among those arrested were Anakbayan Secretary General Einstein Recedes and LFS Secretary General Mark Quinto.

After the arrests and beatings, Espiritu said the policemen and security guards destroyed the workers’ makeshift tents and confiscated their laptops, cellphones, bags containing cash and personal belongings.

Espiritu said at least 20 motorcycles and some bicycles owned by NutriAsia workers were also taken by policemen and security guards and brought inside the NutriAsia compound.

NutriAsia workers began their strike on June 2 after management dismissed 50 workers. The NurtiAsia workers are also demanding regularization.

Journalists hurt, arrested

Also apprehended were journalists covering the incident.

Rhea Padilla, national coordinator of Altermidya, said one of their volunteers, Hiyas Saturay sent her a message informing her that she and her colleagues Eric Tandoc, Avon Ang, Psalty Caluza were being taken by policemen.

A campus journalist, Jon Angelo Bonifacio of the Scientia publication of the College of Science of UP, was also arrested.

The five were among the 19 arrested and are currently detained at the Meycauayan Police Station.

Another journalist, Rosemarie Alcaraz of Radyo Natin Guimba, was hurt when NutriAsia security guards hit her with rattan sticks and pushed her away. While filming the dispersal, a policeman hit her camera, a Canon 70D.

“They knew that I’m a journalist. I’m wearing my ID,” Alcaraz told Bulatlat.

Kodao reporter Joseph Cuevas was also told by a company guard to stop filming or his camera would be destroyed.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the arrest of the five journalists, the attack on Alcaraz and threat against Cuevas.

“We denounce the security personnel of NutriAsia for deliberately targeting journalists and the Bulacan police not only for failing to prevent or stop this outrage from happening but, even worse, arresting five colleagues, making false claims about them, and then preventing other journalists from inquiring after them and covering their detention,” the NUJP in a statement said.

The group demanded the release of the five detained journalists by the Meycauayan police and forget plans of filing trumped up criminal charges against the journalists.

The NUJP likewise called on Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde to initiate an immediate investigation into this clear abuse of authority by his subordinates.

Kodao tried to interview NutriAsia guards after the dispersal and arrests but was refused. At the Meycauayan PNP station, the Kodao team was told to leave the precinct when it inquired about the arrested journalists. # (Len Olea/Bulatlat and Raymund B. Villanueva/Kodao)

‘There’s no such thing as tambay culture’

“There is no such thing as a tambay culture. That practice is a result of workers’ ways of dealing with precarious work, it’s how the jobless deal with joblessness, and joblessness as we all know is a result of a backward non-industrial economy based on export orientation and import-dependence.” —Prof. Sarah Raymundo, sociologist

A meme by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers on the issue of President Duterte’s order to the Philippine National Police to arrest loiterers in communities.

‘Actors can enter Marawi, why can’t we?’ residents ask Army, Police

About a thousand displaced residents of Marawi City were prevented from visiting the so-called ground zero Friday by combined elements of the city police and 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

Wanting to hold a M’balingan (Meranaw for “coming home”) and Jumaat (Friday Congretional Prayer), the residents wanted to march from the city center to the most devastated parts of Marawi but were blocked by security forces at the foot of Pumping Bridge at about nine o’clock in the morning.

“We just want to visit the destroyed homes and hold a prayer event. Why are they still preventing us?” Tindeg Ranao national coordinator Aida Ibrahim told Kodao.

Police and army personnel blocking displaced Marawi residents who want to hold a prayer event inside the city’s so-called ground zero. (Kilab Multimedia photo)

The military has identified at least 24 Marawi City barangays as off limits to residents and landowners due to so-called security issues.

Some of the baranggays are Marinaut, Padian, Pamping, Lilud Madaya, Raya Madaya, Kibulog, Banggolo, Proper Madaya, Tolali, Upper Tolali, Pangarongan, Norlaya Village, Baryo Paypay, Baryo Naga, Monkado Colony, Kadingilan, West Marinaut, Upper Marinaut, Timbangalan, Papandayan.

Ibrahim said they could not understand why movie actors such as Zanjoe Marudo and other celebrities have been allowed inside “ground zero” but Meranaws themselves are barred from visiting their communities months after the so-called liberation of Marawi.

Marudo played an army officer who participated in the siege of Marawi in a recent television special.

“It is high time for residents to see their homes, salvage what was left of their belongings and rebuild their houses. For 10 months, they were deprived of their right to come back to their homes and were angered at reports that President Rodrigo Duterte would convert their communities into a military camp, a tourism hub and commercial center instead of rebuilding their houses,” Tindeg Ranao’s statement said.

“The Meranaw landowners and residents want to go back to their communities which they considered as their ancestral homes, decades of ownership dates back before it was identified as military reservation area or secured by President Duterte for other purpose than landowners rebuilding their homes,” it added.

The group said landowners were angered at learning that some “ground zero” areas were targeted as military camps such as Brgy. Kapantaran and other areas as economic zones.

Tindeg Ranao said the displaced residents are united in protesting against an additional military camp inside Marawi, saying Camp Ranao already serves as the camp for the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army as well as an undisclosed number of US soldiers under the US-RP Balikatan Exercises.

Landowners are demanding that consultations are held before planning for the reconstruction of Marawi starts, it added.

They are also demanding for the indemnification of landowners whose houses were destroyed by “excessive” military airstrikes, Tindeg Ranao said.

Displaced Marawi residents forced to hold their Jumaat at the foot of Pumping Bridge. (KIlab Multimedia photo)

Humanitarian crisis

Tindeg Ranao said the five-month old siege in June to November last year has caused a humanitarian crisis among the people of Lanao del Sur.

Citing Department of Social Welfare and Development figures, the group said there are at least 7,551 evacuees that have yet gone back to Marawi City four months after its so-called liberation from ISIS-inspired gunmen.

But there are still an undetermined number of evacuees that are still in the evacuation centers or staying with their relatives, it said.

Tindeg Ranao said transitional houses built for these residents at the Sagonsongan area at the boundary of Marawi City and  Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur have been abandoned due to lack of services such as water.

Journalist threatened

Meanwhile, a journalist covering the march was threatened by an unidentified Army officer at the Pumping Bridge barricade.

While taking photos of the displaced residents at the PNP-PA blockade at the city’s Rapitan Bridge, the unidentified officer saw Davao Today reporter Kath M. Cortez Cortez’s media ID and reportedly shouted: “’Uy, taga-Davao. Kumpiskahin ang ID! Kumpiskahin ang camera! Palabasin ‘yan ng Marawi!” (Hey, she’s from Davao! Confiscate her ID! Confiscate her camera! Get her out of Marawi!)

Before soldiers could carry out the order, Cortez had safely retreated to the back of rally where she has been joined by fellow journalists from Davao City.

But even when Cortez was at the back, soldiers kept ordering her to leave.

“Kaha-harass lang ulit sa akin. Pinapa-alis na talaga nila ako. But patapos na ang program,” Cortez told Kodao two hours after the first incident. (They harassed me again. They really want me out of here. But the rally is about to end anyway.) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Treinta

Tula ni Ben Domingo Jr.

Sa mga peryodista
tanda ito ng katapusan,
na kumpleto na ang sinulat
at handa na itong mailimbag.

Kaya kung ang manunulat
ay binawian na ng hininga,
sa pagharap niya sa hukay
tinatatakan din ng ‘treinta’.

Tulad ng batang si Reynaldo
na sa edad na katorse lamang
ay ginawaran ng isang berdugo
ng treintang saksak sa katawan.

Pero hindi lamang si Reynaldo
ang kabataang hinatulan
ng maagang kamatayan;
nauna na ang marami pa,
kabilang sina Carl at Kian.

Ngunit ang treintang ito
na tumapos sa kanilang buhay
ay magbabago ng kahulugan
dahil sa poot ng taumbayan.

Ang treinta ay magiging simula
ng pagkagising, ng pagkapukaw,
ng iniheleng mamamayan,
upang isara na ang maitim na telon
ng teleserye ng pagpaslang.

Hindi ito isang pagbabanta,
kundi isang mariing paalala
at napapanahong aral
na sa diwa ng pagbabago
pati ang mga kahulugan
ay maari ring maiba.

Hindi ito ang dulo,
ito na ang simula.

Treinta.

Para kay Kian Loyd “Pulong” Delos Santos, 17 taong gulang

Paano ba pinapalaki ang isang anak?

Pinapakain, binibihisan, pinag-aaral, pinapangaralan.

“Anak, maging mabait palagi.

Huwag sayangin ang sakripisyo ng iyong ina,

Nagpapakaalipin sa ibang bayan.”

 

Itatakbo sa doktor kapag nagkasakit,

Ipinaghihimay ng ulam sa hapag.

“Anak, kumain kang mabuti para laging malusog.

Mamaya, huwag kang hahara-hara sa daan,

Maraming masasamang-loob diyan sa labasan.”

 

Binibihisan ang bunso, sinusuklayan

Sinisigurong pumapasok sa paaralan at binibilinan.

“Anak, mahirap lang tayo, walang kayamanan.

Pag may nangyari sa iyo, Pulong, wala tayong kakayanan,

Delikado lalo ngayon, baka pati ika’y mapagkamalan.”

 

Tinatangisan ang anak kapag napaslang.

Higit lalo ‘pag biktimang walang kalaban-laban.

“Anak, bakit ka nila pinatay?

Paano na ang iyong pangarap,

Maging pulis at maglingkod sa bayan?”

 

At mula sa kabaong ay sumagot ang anak,

Nananaghoy ng katarungan.

“Itay, sinunod ko lahat ng inyong tinuran.

Sadya lamang, hindi lahat ng Pulong ay binibiyayaan

Hindi kasi Digong ang inyong pangalan.”

 

                                                19 Agosto 2017

                                               12:11 n.h.

                                               Lungsod Quezon

Army detains six farmers in Ilocos Sur

BAGUIO CITY–The Solidarity of Peasants against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation) condemned the police and military following the detention of six farmers in Salcedo town, Ilocos Sur Tuesday.

In a statement, Stop Exploitation secretary general Zaldy Alfiler said the 81st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army detained Divino Tabucol, Dhanjor Hagacer, Isaias Anganan, Ricardo Foronda, Sr., Ronald Dagui, Nicolas Acutan, Ricardo Foronda, Jr. from nine in the morning but were only turned over to PNP Salcedo around seven in the evening.

The victims were interrogated and were shown a list of 18 names of Barangay Babayading residents they claimed to be New People’s Army supporters, Alfiler said.

A few days earlier, Lt. Col. Osias, commanding officer of the 81st IB, claimed his unit was able to retrieve documents containing names they alleged to be “sympathizers” of the revolutionary movement.

Alfiler added that on July 26, leaders of the group Timpuyog ti Umili ti Karayan Buaya (TUKB) were asked by a certain police officer Battad from Salcedo municipal police for the names of their farmer-members.

The officer reportedly told the farmers the order to check on the farmers came from the military.

“We believe that this is a ploy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to red-tag, vilify and possibly implicate our members after the reported fire fight that transpired between the government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) in the same municipality,” Alfiler said.

Alfiler added the AFP and PNP wrongfully train their sights on peasant leaders in line with their counter-insurgency operations.

“In fact, leaders of STOP Exploitation have been persecuted and detained for trumped-up charges before,” Alfiler said.

Alfiler said that in 2000, several Stop Exploitation leaders were arrested, detained, tortured and charged with trumped up charges for the death of Conrado Balweg. All the cases were later dismissed.

Trumped-up charges were again filed against four Stop Exploitation leaders for the NPA raid of the Sta. Lucia Police Station in 2003. For lack of evidence, all the cases were again dismissed.

Members of the 7th CMO unit of the AFP based in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur likewise accused members of Stop Exploitation in Brgy. Bugnay, Candon City of recruiting for the NPA.

The PNP and AFP have continuously harassed members of TUKB during the height of the campaign against military encampment in communities and public places in Sta. Lucia, Salcedo and Sta. Cruz from 2012 to 2016, the group said.

Elements from PNP Sta. Lucia and the military also maligned its members from Paoc Norte and Conconig East after its general assembly in October 2015.

“Without a doubt, the frequency and intensity of attacks against peasant communities and organizations will increase after the vile and hateful pronouncements made by President Rodrigo Duterte against the people’s movement in his press conference after addressing the protesters outside the Batasang Pambansa Monday,” Alfiler said. # (Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol)

Victims of violent dispersal at US embassy demand justice

PROGRESSIVE organizations demanded justice for the victims of the brutal police dispersal of protesting indigenous peoples in front of the United States Embassy in Manila Wednesday morning (October 19).

In a press conference held last October 20 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the groups called on President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa to take action and punish Manila Police District officers for their violence against the victims.

According to Makabayan vice chairperson Neri Colmenares, Senior Superintendent Marcelino Pedrozo and PO3 Franklin Kho as well as other MPD personnel are guilty of violating Batas Pambansa (BP) 880 and of attempted murder.

“BP880 is about illegal assembly.  But there is nothing in it that allows the use of brutal methods. Does a group not having a permit make it alright to violently disperse them?” Colmenares asked.

“That kind of behavior is illegal, especially with the way they manhandled medics, minors and (members of the) media. The Manila police are clearly guilty of violating the same law they are trying to use against the rallyists,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares added, “BP880 states that you cannot file a case against a participant of a rally. You can do so against a leader, but not a simple participant like how they tried with this protest.”

“The fact that there was premeditation, superior strength and even treachery in play also means we can also charge them with attempted murder – at the very least,” Colmenares said.

The Makabayan bloc has filed a resolution to investigate the incident and condemning the police force for the violence. Progressive groups also call for accountability and firing of the policemen involved.

Police brutality

The protest was about to conclude when Pedrozo ordered the dispersal of the rally and the arrest of its participants, in violation of the agreement between the police and the ralyists before his arrival.

The police then fired teargas and began clubbing the demonstrators.

A police mobile unit, driven by Kho, ran over rallyists several times.

Police officers then proceeded to violently pursue, harass and arrest demonstrators, medics, media personnel and even bystanders filming the events.

At least 50 were injured, 18 of whom needed hospitalization.  At least 20 were arrested, including five medics, two minors and one media practitioner.

The arrested were released after at least three hours at MPD Precinct 5 along United Nations Avenue.

PNP’s lies

The PNP claimed that the violence was unintended, the protesters did not have a permit and who incited the violence.

PO3 Kho, for his part, said he did not intentionally run over the protesters whom he accused of trying to steal the police vehicle.

Their victims, however, presented video footage from various media outfits which they said showed Kho’s criminal intent to maim or kill as well as of Pedrozo ordering the dispersal and arrests for the MPD to save face with the US embassy.

According to Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes, there was no provocation from their side.

“We were down to our final speaker, but Pedrozo showed up and said that the police had shamed the US embassy, that the rally must be dispersed and that there must be arrests,” Reyes said.

“There were even policemen who hesitated to act because they understood that violence was senseless as the protest was peaceful and ending anyway. They were not provoked. They attacked first under Pedrozo’s orders,” Reyes said.

Reyes said they believe there was no need for a permit to protest.

“President Duterte has been fine with it all this time. Besides, we had been protesting for over an hour by the time they began their assault,” he said.

Colmenares added that the videos showed that the police violence was premeditated.

“In the videos, Pedrozo clearly ordered to disperse the rally, with or without provocation, because they would apparently shame themselves with the US embassy by allowing the rally to go for so long,” he said.

“Is Pedrozo ashamed, then, of President Duterte for condemning the US, telling Obama to go to hell, pursuing a strong foreign independent foreign policy?” Colmenares asked.

Why protest?

Majority of the protesters were indigenous peoples and Moro participants of the ongoing Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2016 who travelled to Manila to demand for respect of their right to self-determination over their ancestral domains and culture.

They were joined by progressive organizations led by Bayan as they also called for the immediate pullout of US military forces and corporate interests from their lands, as well as to express support for president Rodrigo Duterte’s call for an independent foreign policy.

“We have experienced the imperialism of the US, the massacres of our people and those who fight for us. This is why we were at the US embassy yesterday,” said Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson for the newly-formed indigenous peoples alliance Sandugo, said.

“We have been dishonored and brought to poverty by the control and meddling of the US in our areas,” Malayao, who was among those run over by Kho, added.

“We already face brutality and violence in our communities. Why must we be confronted with violence in the city as well, when we were only asserting our rights?” she lamented. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)

Peoples’ lawyers to file attempted murder charges vs MPD

National Union of People’s Lawyer chairperson Neri Colmenares explains why they intend to file attempted murder charges against Manila Police District officers who violently dispersed protesting indigenous peoples in front of the United States embassy in Manila last October 19.

In a press conference at the University of the Philippines a day after the incident, Colmenares explained there the police actions were unwarranted and with criminal intent. Read more