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‘Ninakaw na sa atin ang lahat-lahat’

“Napakasaklap na sa bansang ito ang mismong paggamit ng sariling wika—pagsasalita, pagsusulat—ay isang anyo ng protesta. At ngayon, ipinagkakait na pati ang pag-aaral ng wika at ng yaman at hiwaga ng panitikan. Ninakaw na sa atin ang lahat-lahat.”–Mayette Bayuga, manunulat

‘Pinapatay ang wikang Filipino’

“Ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema at CHED na patayin ang wikang Filipino sa kurso ng General Education ay walang iba kundi ang pagtalima sa neoliberalismong patakaran tulad ng globalisasyon at internationalization ng rehimeng Duterte. Bahagi ng labor export policy, ninanais nilang sanayin tayo sa lenggwahe ng mga makapangyarihang bansa upang epektibo taong makapag-lingkod sa kanila.”—Neil Doloricon, tagapangulo ng CAP

Kung isasantabi ang wika

“Ang wika ay isang simbolo ng iyong matayog na pinanggagalingan. Kung ito ay isantabi natin, malamang wala tayong patutunguhan bilang mamamayan. Ipagbunyi, mahalin, yakapin, pagyamanin ang sariling atin.”—Bayang Barrios, mang-aawit

‘Unti-unti na tayong binubusalan’

“Sa wika at panitikang Filipino ay mas malayang naipapahayag natin ang ating mga puso at kaluluwa. Sa pagtanggal ng mga araling ito ay unti-unti nila tayong binubusalan.”—Ricky Lee, manunulat

Concerned Artists of the Philippines

Nakakadismayang desisyon ng CHED at Korte Suprema hinggil sa asignaturang Filipino at Panitikan

“Kaya nakakadismaya ito sa ating mga Pilipino dahil imbes na tatagan ang ating pagkatao sa pamamagitan ng edukasyon at kulturang Pilipino ay inilalayo tayo sa posibilidad na higit nating makilala ang ating pagkatao.”—Dr. Roland Tolentino (guro, manunulat, kritiko)

Karapatan, RMP at Gabriela, naghain ng petisyon sa Korte Suprema

Nagtungo sa Korte Suprema ang mga grupong Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines at Gabriela noong Mayo 6 para maghain ng petisyon na writ of amparo at writ of habeas data.

Ito ay kaugnay sa paninira, red-tagging at pananakot na ginagawa ng administrasyon at Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Sinamahan sila nang kanilang mga abugado mula sa National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer o NUPL.

Kabilang sa kanilang mga respondent ay sina Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at AFP Civil-Military deputy chief M/Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.

Ayon sa Karapatan, tugon nila ito sa tumitinding atake at pananakot laban sa mga human rights defenders.

Sunod-sunod ang atake laban sa kanila kabilang na ang pagpaslang sa upisyal ng Karapatan sa Negros na sina Bernardino “Toto” Patigas na pinatay nito lamang Abril 23.

Para naman sa Gabriela, target na sila ng ganitong paninira simula nang maitatag ito noong dekada 80.

Dapat na umanong matigil ang ganitong atake laban sa kababaihan at mamamayan.

Umaasa sila na tutugunan ito nang Korte Suprema tulad ng inilabas na utos nito pabor sa NUPL na dumulog noong nakaraang buwan para sa katulad na petisyon. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Rights, religious, women’s groups seek protection vs govt red tagging

By Visayas Today

The human rights group Karapatan, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, and women’s organization Gabriela have filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to issue writs of amparo and habeas data against their continued vilification by President Rodrigo Duterte and officials of the government and security forces.

The petition, filed Monday, May 6, with the help fo the National Union of People’s Lawyers, “is a response to the worsening attacks, terrorist-tagging by the Philippine military and the ongoing smear campaign against human rights defenders,” Karapatan chair Elisa Tita Lubi said in a statement.

It names Duterte, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Brigadier General Fernando Trinidad, Major General Erwin Bernard Neri, Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, Major General Antonio Parlade Jr., Alex Paul Monteagudo, Vicente Agdamag, Senior Superintendent Omega Jireh Fidel, and Undersecretaries Joel Sy Egco, Severo Catura and Lorraine Marie Badoy.

The petition sought the high court’s protection for the petitioners “who are constantly threatened and harassed, red-tagged and maliciously terrorist-labeled only because of their advocacies in various fields of human rights work” and to order the respondents to “produce and, if necessary, to update and rectify, or to suppress and destroy, data, information, and files in their possession, under their control, or contained in their data base that relate to or which concern (the) petitioners.”

It cited six speeches in which Duterte himself accused Karapatan of being a “communist front.”

Karapatan pointed out that, from 2001 to 2019, 48 of its human rights workers have been killed. These include three under the Duterte administration.

The three are Elisa Badayos, Karapatan Negros Oriental coordinator, who was killed on November 28, 2017 by motorcycle-riding gunmen along with peasant leader Eleuterio Moises while they were with a fact-finding mission; Mariam Uy Acob, a paralegal of Karapatan member-organization Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance, who was shot dead by two gunmen while riding a motorcycle home on September 23, 2018; and Bernardino Patigas, councilor of Escalante City, Negros Occidental and a founder and former officer of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, who was murdered on April 22 this year.

“Human rights advocacy is not a crime, yet human rights workers are being killed, threatened, harassed, and jailed on trumped up charges,” Lubi stressed, noting that Duterte and his officials’ “dangerous rhetoric,” accusing Karapatan of being a rebel “front,” has led to murder and other abuses against human rights workers.

“Most, if not all, of our human rights workers, even our former colleagues, are subjected to threats, surveillance, harassment, red-tagging, and judicial harassment,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“These attacks can only come from those who see our work and advocacy for people’s rights, our monitoring and documentation of human rights violations, our direct assistance to victims and kin, and our provision of platforms for human rights education as threats to the current status quo. Human rights defense and activism is not a crime; it is a right protected by international covenants and agreements as well as the Philippine Constitution,” she added.

The petition said the Duterte and his officials have persisted with their vilification of activist groups despite concerns raised by United Nations special rapporteurs, particularly “over the impression that such alleged statements, which distort the public narrative on human rights defenders and conflate their work with threats to national security, may have on the public and civil society, especially when delivered by the Head of State.”

In fact, the government went so far as to send a delegation to Europe where they accused several activist organizations, including schools for indigenous people in Mindanao, of being communist fronts.

Reacting to these, a number of Belgian NGOs spoke up in defense of their vilified partner-organizations. #

‘I do not have to be chief justice to defend our laws and institutions’ –Sereno

Hours after her colleagues denied with finality her motion for reconsideration, ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno vowed to continue the fight against the ‘vicious’ Rodrigo Duterte administration even as a private citizen.

With hundreds of supporters at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni Tuesday, June 19, Sereno recounted the attacks against her during the hearings at the House of Representatives after Duterte himself led the call for her ouster as chief magistrate.

Duterte was later joined by Sereno’s colleagues at the High Court who refused to inhibit themselves during deliberations on her case and voted eight against six for her ouster via a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

“In the words of my colleagues, the Supreme Court has committed seppuku without honor,” she said.

Hours earlier, the Supreme Court voted via another eight to six majority to deny with finality Sereno’s motion for reconsideration on the decision ousting her as chief magistrate.

The Court upheld its earlier decision to grant the quo warranto petition against Sereno on the basis of her so-called failure to file at least nine statements of assets and liabilities as a professor of the UP College of Law.

Opponents of the decision, however, argued that a chief justice may only be ousted via the Constitutionally-mandated impeachment proceedings.

A mirror and a warning

Sereno said that her story is not unique, but instead a mirror of what is happening to the country as a whole.

“It is also a warning and a call to action for each of us and all of us together as a nation,” Sereno said, adding that her story echoes the experiences of Filipinos who have had the odds stacked against them because of poverty, injustice or the misfortune of being called enemies by those in power.

Sereno also noted that the attack on her and her office was preceded by attacks against other departments such as the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Commission on Elections, and the Commission on Higher Education.

She also criticized the blatant disregard of the administration for the Constitution and the rule of law, citing the concern of the international community for the alarming lawlessness in the country.

“The responsibility for the week ending of the rule of law is his,” Sereno added, pointing at Duterte himself.

Demanding answers

“I stand before you now stripped of my authority and position by an unjust decision. But I do not have to be Chief Justice to defend our laws and institutions,” Sereno said.

Sereno said that it is time to demand answers to the nagging questions that every Filipino has been thinking of.

She inquired about the economic future of the country with the poverty becoming pervasive due to price inflation and how much financial difficulties the people have to bear when more tax reform measures are passed by Congress.

The ousted chief justice also challenged Duterte on his programs including his shift to federalism, his relationship with the government of China, his position on the West Philippine Sea, the killing of more than 27,0000 extrajudicial killing victims, disappearance of thousands more, the situation of the people in Marawi, and the freedom of speech and of the press.

Sereno said that the day of her ouster was a good opportunity to open new chapter in the life of the Filipinos, coming as it did on the birth anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. #

It’s not just about Sereno

By Luis V. Teodoro

The unprecedented removal through quo warranto proceedings of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno from her post isn’t only about her, or solely about the Supreme Court, the rule of law, the Constitution, or the Duterte regime and its autocratic pretensions. Even more crucially is it about the fate and future of the democratization process that at least twice in history has been interrupted at its most crucial stage, and, driven by the need to address political and economic underdevelopment, has had to twice start all over again in this country.

The democratization of Philippine society began with the reform movement of the late 19th century and reached its highest point during the Revolution of 1896, which was as much for independence, equality and social justice as it was against Spanish colonial rule. Through the worker-led Katipunan, the Revolution was on the verge of defeating the Spanish forces and had achieved de facto independence when a near-fatal combination of betrayal by the Magdalo faction of the rural gentry and foreign intervention prevented its fruition despite the First Republic, and left it unfinished.

United States recognition of Philippine independence in 1946 made the resumption of the democratization process and the completion of the Revolution possible. But thanks to the heirs of the principalia — the handful of families the US had trained in the fine arts of backroom politics and self-aggrandizement during its formal occupation of the Philippines — what instead ensued for two decades was a succession of administrations that prospered while presiding over the country and its people’s continuing poverty and underdevelopment, subservience to foreign interests, and political disempowerment.

Against these fundamental ills there had always been both armed and unarmed resistance even during the country’s captivity to US colonialism. But it was in the mid-1960s when the historic demands of the Philippine Revolution found their best expression in the movement for change initially led by workers and students which soon spread across the entire country and among various sectors. Its demand for the democratization of political power, for authentic independence, gender equality, agrarian revolution, and national industrialization resonated enough among the peasantry, progressive professionals, indigenous peoples, the enlightened religious, and liberated women to mobilize hundreds of thousands.

In the First Quarter Storm of 1970, the numbers of its adherents and the power of their demands were demonstrably enough for the second Marcos administration to use state violence to suppress the strikes, demonstrations and other mass actions that were almost daily challenging dynastic rule by demanding the end of feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism and imperialism. In response to these demands, and to keep himself in power beyond 1973, Marcos suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971 and made good on his threat to declare martial law in 1972, when he placed the entire country under a dictatorship sustained by military bayonets on the pretext of saving the Republic and reforming society while actually doing the opposite.

Despite the worst repression, despite the arrests and detention, despite the torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing of thousands of the best and brightest sons and daughters of the people, it was in the resistance to the Marcos terror regime that democratization continued to find expression.

Many of those in the resistance refused to surrender it during the period of repression, but it took 14 years of armed and unarmed defiance before the Filipino people once more recovered the possibility of exercising the democratic right to shape their own future. However, despite its promise of far-reaching change with the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship, over the last 32 years the 1986 civilian-military mutiny known as People Power or EDSA 1 has failed to deliver on that promise, thanks to the continuing monopoly over political power of the same dynasties that for over a century have prevented the realization of the changes Philippine society so desperately needs.

Over those three decades, people’s organizations and other democratic formations persisted in fighting for those changes. In 2001, outraged over the corruption and incompetence of a plunderous regime, they removed another president from power. While state repression in various forms, and with it such human rights violations as torture, enforced disappearances, abductions and extrajudicial killings continued, the reigns of three of the five presidents after Marcos that preceded Rodrigo Duterte’s have not been openly antagonistic to due process, the bill of rights, press freedom, and the system of checks and balances.

The Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, and Benigno Aquino III administrations at least paid lip service to the desirability of peace and the rule of law. But one cannot say the same of the Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regimes. The former was mostly focused on the use of the presidency in amassing wealth, while the latter was intent on remaining in power, and did not hesitate to use state violence to suppress dissent and opposition in advancing and protecting the personal, family and class interests behind it.

But it is the Duterte regime, with the enthusiastic support of the Estrada and Arroyo cliques, that has most imperiled the realization of the legitimate demands for the democratization of political power and economic opportunity, true independence, and inclusive development. It has become increasingly clear that President Rodrigo Duterte has not bothered to craft any master plan to end or even reduce poverty, or even such of its manifestations as environmental degradation, limited employment opportunities and low agricultural productivity under an archaic tenancy system. But he does have a blueprint for the restoration of authoritarian rule through his accomplices’ and minions’ dominance in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

The abridgment of press freedom, the attacks on human rights, the willful debasement of public discourse, the further erosion of the already erratic observance of the rule of law, and the subversion of the little that survives of the system of checks and balances through the orchestrated attacks on the ombudsman and Chief Justice Sereno are parts of the plot to undermine what little is left of democracy in these isles of uncertainty. By riding the crest of mass disaffection with government and the burgeoning demand for change and revolution to win the Presidency in 2016, Mr. Duterte has managed to hijack all three branches of government.

The ouster of Sereno as Chief Justice is not solely about Sereno. Neither is it about the Maleficent Six. It is about the imminent danger of dictatorship. This is the context in which, with the collaboration of his cohorts in Congress and the Supreme Court itself, Mr. Duterte is putting a stop to the democratization of Philippine society as Ferdinand Marcos did in 1972. For the third time since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, that process is once more in danger of interruption — and worse, its final liquidation.

In these circumstances only the people themselves can put a stop to the latest assault on their right to self-government and the realization of their aspirations for a society of peace, justice and equality. Because the leaders to whom they had previously delegated their sovereign authority had failed them, they exercised their right and duty to remove them in 1986, and again in 2001.

Some events in the political lives of nations can be the turning point in the resolution of the contradictions that afflict them. The Sereno “incident” could be that point.

(First published in BusinessWorld. Photo from the Supreme Court.)

Students hold Black Friday Protest a week after Sereno’s ouster

A week after Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes PA Sereno was ousted by majority of the associate justices of the Supreme Court, students from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College and other groups held another Black Friday Protest along Katipunan Avenue.

Saying the Rodrigo Duterte regime’s looming control of all branches of government does not bode well for democracy in the country, the protesters added the people must be vigilant against the possible declaration of a nationwide martial law.