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ACT, TDC express alarm as DepEd gathers numbers of members

Two teachers’ organizations oppose a Department of Education (DepEd) order to gather numbers of their members in several regions throughout the country.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) expressed alarm at the directive to division level officials on orders from DepEd Undersecretary for Field Operations Revsee Escobedo.

“As per reports, our union leaders in regions 1, 3, 4A, 4B, 6, 10, and CAR have been asked by their division offices to provide the number of ACT members in their area as per orders from Usec. Revsee,” ACT said in a statement Saturday, April 17.

TDC for its part bared that one notice sent through a Facebook chat group in one of the divisions in Region II reads: “Good morning everyone, the DepEd Central Office is surveying thru this online form, teachers, who are currently members of the (TDC) and (ACT). We appreciate receiving your feedback by filling out this Google form today until 12:00 Noon. All PSDS/Districts In-charge are requested to disseminate to all School Heads and Teachers in AOR (area of responsibility).”

Both organizations, victims of red-tagging operations by the police and military, said the order may be another profiling drive against their members.

‘For possible dialogues’

Escobedo confirmed to Kodao he issued the order but said it is in preparation for possible dialogues with both organizations and other teachers’ groups.

Department of Education Undersecretary for Field Operations, Atty. Revsee Escobedo. (Phjoto from DepEd Tayo FB page)

“I only asked for numbers, not names. How can we red-tag numbers?” Escobedo, also DepEd Employees Association Coordinating Office supervising official, said in a phone interview.

The official said they want to know the number of members of teachers’ groups to identify which organizations to initiate dialogues with on various issues such as salary increases.

He said the groups’ statements are overreactions.

‘No clear explanation’

Both teachers’ organizations however said the order, sent only through text and social media messages, lack explanation that gives rise to doubts as to its real intent.

ACT recalled that the Philippine National Police earlier asked school officials for the names of its members, several of whom were later accused of being communists or communist sympathizers.

“This is eerily reminiscent of the 2019 police profiling of our members, which precluded worse attacks on our members and on our very organization,” ACT said.

The group said its members Nestor Ada and Lai Consad have been arrested and charged with trumped-up charges after being profiled and subsequently red-tagged.

Ada, a high school principal, is still in jail in Northern Samar three months after being arrested on charges of illegal possession of guns and explosives in campus.

Assistant Principal Consad was also arrested at her school in Butuan City last November after being red-tagged by the police and the military.

“So we’re understandably alarmed at (the) sudden interest with our members,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.

TDC for its part said it will instruct its members not to participate in the “survey, profiling and inventory” of its members that “has no clear objectives and hastily done through Google Forms, text messages, Facebook messages or phone calls.”

ACT said DepEd has never defended teachers and school officials who fell victim to red-tagging and persecution by other government agencies.

The DepEd is a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Employees and senators fight back vs. NICA, Badoy

The Senate employees union and several Senators condemned National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) director general Alex Paul Monteagudo and communication secretary Lorraine Badoy’s latest anti-communist witch-hunt.

The Sandigan ng mga Empleyadong Nagkakaisa sa Adhikain ng Demokratikong Organisasyon (SENADO) said Monteagudo’s allegation it exists as the eyes and ears of Communist groups in the Senate was malicious, baseless and dangerous that endangers the lives of its leaders.

“We are apprehensive that our leaders will now be the subject of vilification, harassment, arrest as they did to other union leaders affiliated with COURAGE (Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees) and, worse, killing which is happening now against unionists,” SENADO said.

The group said it believes it is being attacked for condemning earlier red-tagging activities by government agencies against legitimate public sector unions.

SENADO demanded that Monteagudo take down his post and apologize to all Senate official and employees “for his disrespect and profanity directed to the institution that is the stalwart of democracy and human rights.”

NICA chief Alex Monteagudo’s Facebook page that earned condemnation from Senators and government employees.

In a Facebook post, Monteagudo alleged that the Senate union serves as the eyes and ears of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines to hijack government projects and plans.

Communications secretary Lorraine Badoy also red-tagged the union in a column published by the Philippine News Agency.

Senators have come to the defense of the union.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he should know if the union is hijacking the government from within.

“[Monteagudo]) must have been misinformed. I would be the first to sense of such if ever. I’ve been there (in the Senate) since 1992,” Sotto said. 

He lauded SENADO for having led the passage of three Collective Negotiating Agreements for Senate employees’ rights and benefits.

Four opposition senators also condemned Monteagudo and Badoy’s allegations as “dangerous.”

“These are not just baseless attacks and vilification against the employees but against the institution of the Senate they represent,” minority bloc senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima said in a statement.

The four senators pressed for the passage of Senate Bill 2121, or the proposed “Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging”.  

COURAGE meanwhile said its ranks will not back down under such repeated attacks and vowed to work harder for wage increases, job security, union rights and democratic and nationalist governance. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups welcome Senate bill criminalizing red-tagging

Several groups welcomed a bill filed by Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon criminalizing red-tagging, promising to strongly lobby for its passage.

Both the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said they support the measure that seeks to penalize the act.

“This is a very welcome development in the people’s fight against State-sponsored red-tagging and human rights violations. We are hoping for the approval of this measure. Farmers will lobby for the passage of this bill,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.  

The farmers’ group said it is being consistently red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and its Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

“Many of our leaders and members who were subjected to red-tagging were either extrajudicially-killed, illegally arrested, and charged with trumped-up non-bailable charges. Red-tagging kills. We want masterminds of red-tagging to be held accountable accordingly,” Ramos said.

In a separate statement, the NUJP said it also welcomes Drilon’s bill seeking to define and penalize red-tagging by State actors.

“These dangerous accusations, when done by state agents as part of a so-called counter-insurgency program, are no longer private opinions and conspiracy theories but official actions and policy,” the NUJP said.

Like the KMP, NUJP has been openly and repeatedly accused by government officials of fronting for the Communist Party of the Philippines, an allegation it has consistently denied.

“Red-tagging has often led to harassment and violence against its targets and NUJP welcomes moves that will protect journalists from these threats and hold those making them to account,” it said. Filed on Wednesday, March 24, Drilon’s measure seeks to define red-tagging as “the act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping or caricaturing individuals, groups or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning subversives, communists or terrorists, or as part of counter-insurgency, or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary or military personnel.”

The Senate Bill also seeks a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office for violators. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

IN SUPPORT OF CONG CORRALES AND LADY ANN SALEM

A statement by Fellows of the 2011 UP-CMC Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop

Mindanao Gold Star Daily associate editor Leonardo Vicente “Cong” B. Corrales is again under attack by enemies of press freedom and freedom of expression. Shady people behind Facebook page “Kamatooran” and “Uswag Radio Bukidnon” red-tagged Cong, an abominable act that puts our colleague in grave danger.

We, fellows of the 15th University of the Philippines-College of Mass Communication Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop, condemn the cowardly attacks against our co-fellow Cong. He has not done anything illegal and immoral in voicing out his opinions. It is his attackers who warrant investigation and prosecution for their dastardly deeds.

Like Cong, our Lopez Jaena batch mate and Manila Today editor Lady Ann “Icy” Salem is also being made to suffer for speaking truth to power. She was unjustly arrested last December 10, International Human Rights Day, and slapped with patently trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The State preposterously accused her of being a member of a gun-running syndicate when all she wields is her pen and camera. Icy has yet to be released from prison more than two weeks after the Mandaluyong Court dismissed the charges against her.

The enemies of freedom are mistaken in thinking our colleagues are easily cowed. Both remain steadfast and vow to keep speaking out for truth and justice. We applaud Cong and Icy’s fortitude against efforts to silence their voices. We are proud of them.

When social injustices reign, critical voices like Cong and Icy’s could only spark hope. There should be more voices like theirs, not less. #

SIGNED:

-Joseph Ben “JB” R. Deveza                             -Rev. Fr. Ritche T. Salgado, OCarm

-Ronalyn “Len” V. Olea                                     -JM Agreda

-Michelle Castro Zoleta                                    -Raymund B. Villanueva

-Bobby Q. Labalan                                            -Renato “Macky” Macaspac

-Winnie Aguilar                                                -Kim Arveen Patria

-Ryan D. Rosauro

-Ed Lingao (Resource Person)

‘Instead of red-tagging, address the root causes of armed conflict’

“Let’s not forget the ‘2018 Red October’ plot. The Duterte regime is repeating its old and cheap narrative to hide its incompetence in handling the pandemic and economic issues. Instead of red-tagging these (18 SUCs) schools, address the root causes of armed conflict and heed the people’s demands.” Regina Tolentino, Deputy Secretary-General, College Editors Guild of the Philippines

Mga progresibong grupo, naghain ng reklamo laban sa NTF-ELCAC

Nagtungo sa Office of the Ombudsman para maghain ng kasong administratibo at kriminal ang Altermidya Peoples’ Network, Bulatlat, Kodao Productions at Pinoy Weekly laban sa mga opisyal ng National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict o NTF-ELCAC.

Ito ay hinggil sa red-tagging kamakailan ng NTF-ELCAC sa mga alternative media organizations. Naging resulta ito nang pag-aresto at pagkakulong nila Frenchie Mae Cumpio ng Eastern Vista noong Pebrero 2020 at Lady Ann Salem, editor ng Manila Today, na inaresto noong Disyembre 10 sa Mandaluyong City.

Ayon sa kanila, ang red-tagging ay nagdudulot ng panganib sa mamamahayag at sa malayang pamamahayag. # (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/Kodao)

Duterte red-tags late mother in yet another invective-laced rant

Even his late mother is not spared from President Rodrigo Duterte’s red-tagging and invective-filled rants.

In his late-night address Monday, December 7, Duterte revealed the late Mrs. Soledad Roa Duterte regularly met with alleged Communists who have plotted for the downfall of a sitting president.

“Ang hindi ko alam, ‘yung nanay ko, may pagka-aktibista…Every weekend makita ko sila sa bahay, doon sa terrace. May mga madre, ganoon. Nagmi-meeting. Akala ko, nagdadasal ang mga y***.  Iyon pala p***** i**!” Duterte said.

(What I did not know, my mother was herself a bit of an activist. Every weekend, she met with them at our terrace. There were nuns and others. They had meetings. I thought the devils were praying. But, son-of-a-bitch!)

Duterte said that her mother “was really passionate about good government.”

The late Soledad was active in anti-tyranny struggles in Southern Mindanao even if her late husband Vicente Duterte was Davao Province governor and said to be allied with then president Ferdinand Marcos.

Popularly called Nanay Soling, the President’s mother led the Yellow Friday Movement, a regional group credited for having helped oust the dictator in 1986.

Soledad is immortalized as a hero at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani for her role in restoring democracy in the country.

Among those President Duterte identified as Soledad’s comrades were Fr. Orlando Tizon, a Roman Catholic priest who reportedly joined the underground Communist movement.

Tizon died four years ago.

Duterte also named his former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. as among those who regularly met with his mother’s group.

Like Tizon, Evasco is a Roman Catholic priest who joined the Communist underground and the New People’s Army.

Both were political detainees in Davao.

In his latest Monday night address, Duterte intensified his verbal attacks against those he accuses of being Communists, including the two priests and those he described as his former friends.

“I am identifying you because I have seen the records. You are really Communists…So I have to destroy you,” Duterte said.

Duterte also said there will no longer be ceasefires between his government and the New People’s Army even during the Christmas and New Year season.

Duterte also said there is no chance that the stalled peace negotiations between his administration and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines would be revived in the remaining two years that he is President. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP: Stand with AlterMidya, Defend Press Freedom

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calls on the community of independent Filipino journalists and on all Filipinos who cherish freedom and democracy to support the alternative media against the utterly malicious and clearly criminal red-tagging by security officials at the December 1 hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation.

It has always been a matter of pride for the NUJP to have the alternative media with us and count some of their best journalists as leaders of the organization.

These small but courageous news outfits play a vital role in serving the people’s right to know through reportage and analysis that provide fresh perspectives to often under-reported social issues – land reform, human rights, the environment and injustice, to name a few – and oft-neglected sectors – the peasants, small fisher folk, the urban poor, laborers and indigenous people.

The otherwise unheard or ignored voices they bring to the national conversation strengthen our democracy by helping shape a fuller, more accurate picture of our society, of our people.

This, of course, is what those who seek to impose their will on us fear most and why they seek to silence not only the alternative media but independent Philippine media as a whole.

Baseless accusations against the alternative media are nothing new, of course. But the level of vilification from this administration, through the agencies and officials in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, indicates that government and its security machinery are bent on silencing contrary views and voices, and force conformity on our people.

Make no mistake, this assault on the alternative media is no different from the silencing of ABS-CBN and the continued attacks on Rappler and other critical and independent news organizations that insist on fulfilling our role of watchdog, of holding power to account, of speaking truth to power.

We cannot, we must not, allow them to succeed. Let us once and for all show them that we, the Philippine media and people, are free not because we are allowed to but because we insist on being free. #

On the incredulous red-tagging of Altermidya Network at the Dec. 1 Senate hearing

ONCE AGAIN, state forces led the hostile red-baiting of independent media at the December 1 Senate hearing after they presented the Altermidya Network and its members nationwide as so-called communist fronts.

The red-tagging of Altermidya journalists, online and on-ground, has intensified even more in the past months. These incidents, just like the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) presentation at the Senate hearing earlier, were done without evidence and incredulously linked the member outfits of Altermidya to an underground Communist organization.

In fact, the task force, despite its billion-peso-budget, merely copied the publicly-available Altermidya list of members and placed it under an incredible organizational heading.

We are appalled at this irresponsible practice, which is a stark contrast to our ethical commitment of truthful and careful reporting as journalists. The Altermidya Network is the broadest alliance of community journalists, independent media outfits, community radio broadcasters, and grassroots film collectives in the country. Its member outfits have a consistent record of covering underreported issues in communities – some for more than two decades, while other community-based media outfits in provinces join and continually expand the network.

Journalists from the alternative media relentlessly report on the situation in various communities across the country: on environment issues, corruption, human rights abuses, on the situation of farmers and workers, among others. Reporting on these stories have resulted in the non-stop attacks in various forms against our members – from death threats, cyberattacks, harassment, physical assault, detention, and even attempted murder.

Now, these attacks against the independent media are being mounted in a prominent arena at the Senate. But we can clearly see through these tactics of smearing and intimidating truth-tellers and critics into silence, especially in the middle of a growing discontent among the public.

We in the Altermidya are not new to attacks on media freedom. We will pursue legal action against this malicious smear campaign on our members. While we exhaust all means to fight back, we shall continue our journalistic responsibility of truth-telling– and with fellow journalists and freedom-loving Filipinos, persist in upholding press freedom and freedom of expression at all costs. #

‘Mananatili kaming tapat na ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan’

“Ang kabataan po ay patong-patong na ang mga umuusbong na suliranin dulot ng bagong learning set-up. Ang mga ito ang dapat na inuuna ng administrasyon sa gitna ng pandemya at mga sakuna, hindi ang mga walang-awa at mga malisyosong atake. Makakaasa kayo na patuloy na ipaglalaban ng kabataan at estudyante ang aming karapatan gayundin ang kapakanan ng sambayanan. Mananatili kaming tapat sa kasabihan na ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.”Sarah Elago, Representative, Kabataan Party-list