Crossroads: Sovereignty in name

October 21, 2012 in columns, Featured, opinion by emendator


This week I received a text message from friends in Cagayan informing me that US and Philippine troops are staging Balikatan 2012 exercises in Sta Ana, Cagayan. Earlier, I saw TV footages and newspaper reports of Balikatan exercises in Crow Valley formerly of the Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga.

All these Balikatan exercises are approved under the Visiting Forces Agreement – that signed document that virtually gave the United States of America the blanket authority to make the whole archipelago its US base in the Far East. Never mind that we kicked them years ago in the decade of the 90’s to show our nationalism. Never mind that most senators in that now to be dominated by dynaties’ Senate voted against extending the stay of US forces in our land. Never mind. The whole Philippines is now a US military base. So, why worry indeed if China is hoisting its flag in Spratlys? Do we not have the mighty power of Uncle Sam in our shores? They did not leave – they just wanted a bigger space – which we granted to them on a diamond platter.

Never mind that there are Daniel Smiths. Never mind if there will be Nicoles. Just never mind. Our sovereignty is sadly only on paper, only on the Constitution, only in principle, never in practice, never in action, never in the soul. We Filipinos seem to have twisted priorities and rage. We are shouting ourselves hoarse over the Cybercrime act. We are adamantly fighting over reproduction and women’s rights to their own bodies. But are we even raising a ruckus over these Balikatan exercises? Only a few patriotic souls have raged and questioned these joint military exercises. Do we have a senator resigning over the continued violation of our sovereignty?

The TV footage I saw on Solar TV showed the might and strength of the weaponry they used at Crow Valley. Ammunition pounding on that bare landscape that Pinatubo scarred. Big men with big toys in big playgrounds approximating desert lands (Afghanistan perhaps?) in mock battles. Big men with plenty of nice vehicles (yellow painted Humvees that are bomb proof I am told). Big men with microphones on their helmets. Big men like the Men in Black eyes all shaded from the sun and blinding ashes of Pinatubo. Big men in uniform drenching in sweat. In that TV footage, the American soldiers never left. They still OWN Crow Valley.

And the TV reporter ended the coverage of the Balikatan exercise with, “And last came the Philippine Army (PA) who know the terrain and the people for the mopping up operations.” Ha, the PA comes last for mopping up.

Aba, pag totoong buhay yan, mauuna ba naman ang mga sidekick? Hindi ah, sila ang unang pinapasugod. Sila ang pambala sa kanyon. Sila ang mahahagisan ng granada. Pagkatapos, dadating ang mga bida. Photo ops na lang sila. Shake hands dito, shake hands doon. Walang pawis, walang pagod. Di ba marami daw silang hitech hitech na gamit. Nag-exercise pa tayo! Ganito din lang ang kalalabasan.

Doon daw sa Cagayan, medical at relief operations daw ang eksena. Gaya din ng ginawa sa Ilocos noong isang taon. Nagpatayo ng mga eskwela at nag-medical mission din. Wala pa akong nabasa kung ilan ang Pinoy sa mga sundalong Kano. Noong isang taon, marami silang Pinoy. Kasi nakakapagsalita sila ng Tagalog, kahit na may axsent na Kano. Ang importante, naiintindihan nila tayo kung kinukutya na natin sila. O ipinagpapalit ng bagoong. Di ba?

Kailan din kaya aalma ang mga Pinoy kagaya ng pag-alma sa Cybercrime law? Kailan kaya natin matitikman na maging bida sa sarili nating armadong pwersa, kailan kaya matatamasa ang soberanya, ang kalayaan sa sarili nating lupa.#

Honoring Women who fought for life, land and resources. Salute to the grand ladies of the Cordillera who were awarded last Tuesday for being at the forefront of the defense of land and life. The battle for the lands that Chico Dam would have inundated was also a battle of the women. The battle against Cellophil Resources Corporation was also the women’s war. The fight to stop large scale destructive mining is as much a women’s struggle to this day. Congratulations to Mother Petra Macliing who is showing us how to age gracefully and “fightingly”, Leticia Bula-At, Endena Cogasi, Maria Galong who continue to work with the younger generation in educating the people about development aggression.

Salute, salute and may your tribe of indigenous women increase. #

Labor Watch: Making international conference harmonize a stupid local policy

October 21, 2012 in columns, Featured, opinion by emendator


“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.” – Frank Zappa

This week, the Department of Labor and Employment boasted that the two-tiered wage system which is being implemented now in 11 regions including the Cordillera is the yellow administration’s way of harmonizing its labor policies with international labor measures and agreements, and the national International Labor Organizations (ILO) conventions. The government’s labor agency even claims that the new wage system is helpful to the workers of the country as it employs a “floor wage” and encourages wage increases based on labor productivity of each company.

Imagine having a floor wage system where the daily wage of a worker is based on the so-called poverty threshold of his respective region. So instead of being paid an amount based on the national minimum wage law, his daily pay will be adjusted because of the “floor wage” system. Sometimes poverty threshold of each region is produced by so-called surveys where the surveyors get the actual expenses of a family in a day and they collate it and calculate the average and percentage and so on with their formulas. But the actual need of a family of six depends on the actual need for them to survive the day amidst the high prices of basic commodities and services.

Instead of castigating the employers who do not know how to comply with the minimum wage law, the yellow administration seems to encourage the non-payment of it through the “floor wage”. It is like legalizing the violation of the minimum wage law to be exact.

And again, where can you find a capitalist who announces that his company is gaining millions so he is glad to raise the wage and adds the benefits of his employers? The question is to be repeated again as the labor office claims the employers will raise their workers’ wages based on their companies’ labor productivity.

It is like saying that a hungry person can feel a full stomach by just thinking that his hunger is all in the mind, but in reality his stomach is already grumbling.

This is wage system that is not intended to help the workers instead press down the clamor to demand a legitimate wage increase. This is a national wage cut scheme.

Some labor groups especially the national umbrella group of militant unions fight the new wage system and ask for the legislation of P125 wage increase. Some labor unions which can be called with yellow leadership because of their lame stance to the welfare of their members can help but to keep mum.

The workers of the region, just like the others from other parts of the country have all the reason to demand the junking of this new wage scheme, it is undermining their dignity. The yellow administration is confident that any policy they will implement, the public is always accepting them. #

Statements: Papanawen ti militar kadagiti komunidad ti Ilocos!

October 21, 2012 in Featured, human rights, Ilocos, opinion, statements by emendator


Manu pay laeng a bulan manipud idi nagbase dagiti kameng ti 81st Infantry Battalion ti Philippine Army ditoy probinsya ti Ilocos Sur kas paset ti programa ti gobyerno ni PNoy nga Oplan Bayanihan ngem adu a kaso ti panaglabsing ti karbengan-tao ti naaramid dan kadagiti komunidad ditoy Ilocos.

Maipalagip nga idi Setyembre, dua a mannalon ti tinortyur dagiti kameng ti 81st IBPA idiay Salcedo, Ilocos Sur. Nagpila ti reklamo dagitoy a biktima iti namnama a magun-od da ti hustisya iti napasamak.

Ngem saan laeng a daytoy ti inaramid dagiti kameng ti 81st IBPA. Kas met laeng kadagiti naglabas a kameng ti Philippine Army, nagkampo da met laeng kadagiti barangay ti Ilocos Sur kas kadagiti ili iti Candon, Sta. Lucia, ken Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur. Kadawyan a pagyanan da ti pampubliko a pasilidad kas dagiti barangay hall, day care ken health centers.

Idi Setyembre 15, simmangpet dagiti kameng ti 81st IBPA idiay Brgy. Bugnay, Candon City, Ilocos. Segun iti datos a nakalap ti IHRA, nagian da idiay Barangay Hall tapno kanu irusuat da iti Oplan Bayanihan. Agarup maysa a bulan dan a nakakampo idiay Barangay Hall a nagresulta iti nalabes a panagbuteng dagiti umili nangruna dagiti babbai ken ubbing. Makitkita da met nga agiinum dagiti soldado lalo no ti rabii.

Nabayagen nga agrekreklamo dagiti umili iti panagyan dagiti militar iti komunidad da. Maapektaran ti gagangay a panagtignay ken malaplapdan dagiti batayan a karbengan dagiti umili. Agipaspasaknap met iti madi nga aramid aglalo kadagiti agtutubo gapu iti panaginom da.

Segun iti katulagan iti gobyerno ti Pilipinas ken iti National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) a Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), “Part 4, Art. 12: Ti sibilyan a populasyon ket addan ti karbengan a masalakniban kontra kadagiti risgo ken peggad nga ited ti kaadda dagiti kampo ti militar kadagiti sentro nga urban ken dadduma pay a lugar nga adu’t taona.” Nalawag a ti panagkampo ti militar kadagiti komunidad ket panaglabsing ti karbengan-tao ken internasyunal a makatao a linteg wenno linteg iti gubat.

Saan laeng nga diay Brgy. Bugnay a nagkampo dagiti kameng ti 81st IBPA. Adu pay a komunidad iti Ilocos ti maap-apektaran iti panagkampo dagiti militar babaen iti manang-allilaw nga Oplan Bayanihan.

Idiay Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur, plano kanu dagiti kameng ti militar a mangitakder ti kampo nga asideg kadagiti balbalay. Saan koma a malipatan dagiti umili ti Conconig East, West, Pila East ken Sapang ti napasamak idi 2010 a dakkel nga operasyon ti militar a nagresulta iti brutal a pannakapapatay kenni Elmer Valdez.

Adu pay a panaglabsing ti namnamaen tayo aginggana agtaltalinaed dagiti militar kadagiti komunidad ti Ilocos. Nadara ken naulpit ti rekord ti 7th Infantry Division a naggapuan ti 81st IBPA, 3rd IBPA ken dadduma pay a yunit ti militar. Responsable ti 7th ID ti pannakapukaw ni Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeno, Jonas Burgos ken dadduma pay a mannalon idi panawen ti kriminal a ni Jovito Palparan.

Makarit dagiti umili ti Ilocos a saan nga agbuteng, ken tumakder para iti karbengan tao ken para iti hustisya. Babaen laeng iti kolektibo a panagtignay dagiti umili a magun-od tayo ti pudno a kappia, babaen iti pannakagun-od ti pangkagimongan a hustisya.

Papanawen dagiti kameng ti 81ST IBPA kadigiti komunidad ti Ilocos!
Ibasura ti Oplan Bayanihan!
Hustisya para kadagiti biktima ti panaglabsing ti karbengan-tao! #

Statements: Message to the delegates of the First All Health Youth Leaders Summit

October 21, 2012 in Cordillera, Featured, opinion, statements by emendator


Greetings to all participants to CHESTCORE’s “First All Health Youth Leaders’ Summit: Asserting the People’s Right to Health”. Congratulations for responding to the invitation of spending 2 days of your treasured sem-break to meaningful activities such as this summit. This is part of CHESTCORE’s “Health 4 d Pipol Brigade” (H4PB), a network that aims to assert the people’s right to health in various issues and situations. These issues and situations are directly our concerns that affect us, not only as students but as citizens of the country: disasters, campaigns against privatization of public hospitals and a fight for a free, progressive and comprehensive health care system.

My humble beginnings and journey as a community health nurse started with my attendance to activities like this. I still could vividly remember the activities I attended in the late 70’s which up to now, I hold on for inspiration, especially when I find myself in crossroads.

My world as a community health nurse revolved around our collective efforts to develop an alternative health care system envisioned to be responsive to the health needs of the people. This alternative health system is one that serves the poor, deprived and oppressed which could not be accomplished unless the dehumanizing politico-economic structures in society is transformed. It was in this journey as a community health nurse that I realized that any health program, including CBHP, in the community, cannot solve the health problems but can only help set up conditions and prerequisites for the achievement of a transformed health system. Thus in laying the foundation for a transformed health system, any health program should be holistic in its approach; people-oriented; encourage responsibility, confidence, initiative and primary decision making at the community level. Its components should include education, organizing, health skills training and appropriate curative medicine, research, appropriate technology and self-reliance.

This is what CHESTCORE is doing in the CAR… it is its mandate to lay down a foundation for an alternative health care system. We call on you to be part of this advocacy and mission. That is why you are here. It is our belief that health professionals today and in the future will need knowledge of the structural and the functional inter-relations of the health care system as well as an awareness of social, political, economic and demographic conditions. Political activities must be seen as a mode of a health professional’s practice, as it is important to identify the barriers that created the system.

The more revolutionary path I have undertaken as a CHN was neither easy nor smooth. I went through and confronted a lot of internal and external contradictions that they were (and I still continue to be confronted at this point). The ability to emerge a victor amidst all these struggles and contradictions has something to do with the level of one’s awareness that determines the level of one’s commitment….a commitment that entails/entailed a lot of self-sacrifice. It is a commitment that views one’s role and task in the health work as liberating the people from the internal and external barriers that inhibit them from enjoying a just and healthy life. This task of transformation would take a long time. But this is the challenge to all of us… to remain steadfast, strong and firm as the mountains…kasing tatag ng mga kabundukan.

I am hopeful that CHESTCORE will provide you learnings and insights that will equip you for a lifetime. I apologize that I can not be with you as I am on my way to Pasil Kalinga, the very first community I was exposed to in 1979 when I graduated from my nursing course. 33 years after, I am going back to see if there is any change in what I saw then…This is memory lane as it was through my Pasil experience that I said “yes” to community health nursing…May you find yourselves in a similar situation few years from now.

Padayon! Mabuhay kayo! Mabuhay ang CHESTCORE! #

Weekly Reflections: Some thoughts on Theodicy (3/6)

October 21, 2012 in columns, Featured, opinion by emendator


“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come.” — Psalms 22:1

Responses to questions of Cathryn Taylor of Australia
Third of six parts

Click here for the second part
Click here for the first part

3. What do you believe the life of Jesus tells us about God’s relationship to suffering?

God was with us in Jesus of Nazareth. His life and death had shown to us how God deals with suffering. Jesus wept with those who wept. He was compassionate with those who suffer most in society – the poor, the sick, the sinners, and outcasts. Thus, he spent his life giving hope to the poor, healing to the sick, forgiveness to the sinners, and inclusion to the outcasts. And he himself experienced unspeakable suffering in the process.

Perhaps, there is nothing even more tragic than for this innocent man from Nazareth who spent his life in proclaiming the Reign of God in words and in deeds, to be falsely accused of claiming to be the “King of the Jews,” tortured and crucified by the same people whom he served and gave his life.

But God has turned this tragedy into blessing. By his life and death, we have seen glimpses of hope for this broken world. In the words of Prophet Isaiah, “By his wounds, we are healed” (Is. 53:5). Jesus’ suffering is vicarious and redemptive, because it is a suffering for the sake of others. By raising Jesus from death, God is saying to us that the life Jesus lived is the kind of life that gives hope and salvation to this darkened world, even though the “evil forces of this dark age” claimed that Jesus’ life was evil and deserved to be crucified.

The sufferings experienced by Filipinos working abroad today would reflect Jesus’ suffering. They leave their families behind to look for greener pastures in the concrete jungles of the world in order to provide a brighter future for their children. Some are successful, but many are not. They suffered a lot for the sake of their families and for the country’s economy. Their suffering is also vicarious and redemptive, indeed; for it is suffering for the sake of others.

4. Do people who suffer have a special understanding of who God is? Do you see this in your work or in your relationships with people who have suffered in a particular way?

Theology must be contextual in order to be relevant and meaningful. One of the basic ingredients of theological construction is human experience. Certainly, people who suffer will have a particular understanding of who God is. Interestingly, the various theologies in the Bible are viewed from the perspective of a people who suffered in the hands of ancient empires.

However, people who suffer don’t necessarily have the same views of God. There are least three kinds of suffering people exhibiting three different theologies. Firstly, there are people who suffer but do not struggle at all. They have already accepted that their suffering is their own fate determined by their God. They cannot do anything about it anymore. This kind of theology is prevalent among the poor.

Secondly, there are those who suffer and therefore they struggle. They believe they can do something by their own knowledge and strength to end their suffering. They are self-made people. They would say God help those who help themselves. We can find this kind of theology among middle class people.

And thirdly, there are those who struggle, and therefore they suffer. They believe that suffering is a necessary component of struggle. They are deeply conscious of the root causes of poverty, and are militantly doing something to transform not only their own individual lives but the life of the whole community. They do suffer because there are forces of evil in society that are against genuine transformation. They believe however that God struggles and suffers with them. They view their suffering as vicarious and redemptive. #

Click here for the fourth part

Makan a la Pinoy: Tapa a karne

October 21, 2012 in Featured, food by emendator


Naimas nga armusar ken uray ania nga oras iti aldaw. Ipangan iti kinirog nga innapuy ken atsara a papaya wenno ginisa a natnateng. Mabalin nga usaren ditoy dagiti karne ti baka, baboy, ugsa, manok, nuang ken lames/ikan.


1 kilo a karne, naiwa iti naingpis
2 kutsarita nga asin
¼ kutsarita a paprika (optional)
½ kutsarita a paminta, narumek
3 kutsara a soy sauce
2 kutsara a suka wenno tubbog ti kalamansi
2 kutsara a suka
1 sibuyas, ginadgad
5 ngipen a bawang, pinitpit
2 kutsara nga asukar, brown (optional)


1. Bugguan ti karne ken paik-ikan. Iwaen iti naingpis.

2. Paglaoken amin a ramen. Ikabil iti cellophane bags ken iserra wenno sigloten Iyuper iti dua nga oras aginggana agpatnag. Balikiden sagpaminsan.

3. Mabalinen nga iprito wenno ituno.

4. Para iti namaga a tapa, ibilag aginggana namaga. #

Baguio drivers urge implementation of RTC order on LTO fees

October 14, 2012 in Baguio City, Featured, national, transport by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Drivers and operators here in Baguio City trooped to the regional office of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to reiterate their demand for the implementation of the cease and desist order against Land Transportation Office (LTO) Department Order No. 2008-39 after the court denied the LTO’s motion for reconsideration.

EXHORBITANT. Jeepney drivers and operators protest the non-implementation of Department of Transportation and Communication of a Baguio court ruling against one of the agency’s national department orders. Photo by Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 5 Judge Antonio Esteves denied LTOs motion for reconsideration last September and upheld his earlier decision declaring the department order “null and void” and unconstitutional.

Judge Esteves granted the petition for Writ of Preliminary injunction against the said LTO order last May 2. The Maria Basa Express Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association filed the petition in 2009.

Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operaytors Nationwide (Piston)-Metro Baguio President Lito Wayas reiterated that the RTC decision is a victory for the low income drivers and operators. He stressed that united and concerted action is the only weapon of marginalized sectors like the drivers and small operators against unjust impositions of some government agencies.

Wayas called on the DOTC and LTO to honor the decision of the court and stop collecting exorbitant fees in consideration to the already impoverished drivers and small operators.

Leo Ortiga, a Maria Basa jeepney driver, disclosed that he earns around P400 a day. He said out of his daily earnings P100 is spent for his family’s food, another P100 goes to the baon of his children and the remaining P200 is his savings.

Ortiga further said that last week he was apprehended for obstruction and LTO confiscated his license and requires him to pay around P500 for penalty. He added that he was not able get his license back because he was not able to ply his route since he was apprehended because he did not have a license.

“My driver’s license is still with the LTO because I was not able to raise enough money to pay for the penalty. I have a family to feed and even my whole day’s earning is not enough to cover for my penalty,” he disclosed in Iloco.

Ortiga complained that at the time he was apprehended a private vehicle committed the same violation but was not apprehended.

Anakpawis Partylist Cordillera Regional Coordinator Michael Cabangon stressed that LTO’s department order imposing 100% to 1,000% increase in penalty fees is a legalized form of kotong.

“These fees are unjust and will not serve the interest of drivers and small operators. The LTO and DOTC should respect the court order and stop collecting these exorbitant fees,” Cabangon stressed.

DOTC Legal Officer Brenda Poklay said the RTC decision is not yet final and executory and the agency will continue to implement the department order unless a final decision from the Supreme Court says otherwise.

Poklay explained that the office of the solicitor general will file a motion with the Court of Appeals after the office receives an official copy of the recent RTC order.

She said that as of press time the office of the solicitor general has not received a copy of the court order.

She reiterated that the department order went through thorough study and consultations before it was approved. #

Social enterprise to address poverty — Casiño

October 14, 2012 in Cordillera, economy, Featured by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Developing self sufficiency among the Filipino poor through social enterprise is a better poverty reduction program than the present conditional cash transfer (CCT).

TC IN BAGUIO. Makabayan senatorial bet Teddy Casiño addressing small and medium entrepeneurs of Baguio and Benguet. Photo by Brenda S. Dacpano

House of Representatives (HOR) Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Chairperson Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño said during a media forum on social enterprise at City Lights Hotel, Baguio City last October 12.

“The reason why poverty eradication and reduction programs and solutions have failed is due to the programs inability to scale up the marginalized sectors capabilities to manage their own resources and take an active and pivotal role in the upliftment of their situations. Government templates and market solutions have repeatedly treated the poor as mere suppliers, clients, workers who are at the disadvantaged end of an economic value chain,” Casiño said.

Casiño reiterated that the government should instead develop and strengthen social enterprise industry with the marginalized sectors as stakeholders instead of just relying on dole out programs like the CCT. He stressed that social enterprises are more sustainable as it is not dependent on loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The progressive solon was in the city to discuss House Bill 6085 or Magna Carta for Social Enterprises. House Bill 6085 was authored by Representatives Erin Tañada, JV Ejercito, Cresente Paez and Casiño. It has been approved by the SBED Committee in principle and is up for amendments.

According to Casiño, the existing laws on social enterprises are still based on the failed market model that when the rich become richer profit will trickle down to the poor. He pointed out that the current uneven distribution of wealth in the country proves that there is no trickling down of profit.

Magnitude of poor population increased from 22.2 million (3.67 million families) in 2006 to 23.1 million (3.86 million) in 2009 based on government data.

HB 6085, Casiño explained provides a clearer definition of social enterprises to particularly benefit the poor making them the primary stakeholders. He added that its goal is to provide indirect government subsidy for the poor to be able to establish and manage social enterprises.

He also highlighted that the said house bill came from the stakeholders themselves and was created through democratic process.

Casiño is hopeful that the bill will passed at the committee level by November and enacted in the 15th congress.

Foundation for a Sustainable Society (FSSI) Advocacy and Communications Manager Miriam Guerrero Azurin explained that social enterprise is not just about profit. She explained that while traditional business models only focus on profit and answerable only to the owners of capital, social enterprise work for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability and is answerable to everyone involved in the business.

Azurin pointed out that social enterprise do not focus on accumulating profit to enrich the owners of the business but rather ensures beneficial distribution of profit to society particularly among the poor. She added that social enterprise aims to benefit and enhance the lives of the marginalized sectors through enterprises that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

She further said that the government should recognize the relevance of social enterprise especially in addressing the failure of the present market institutions and state programs to help alleviate the lives of the poor.

She stressed that there is a need for a paradigm shift towards inclusive economic development.

“Despite the superfluous and overlapping programs of government at all levels to catapult the poor across the poverty line, the country’s marginalized continue to live in social and economic deprivation. It is about time to seriously recognize and consider social entrepreneurship as one of the sustainable solutions to this never ending dilemma,” Azurin stressed during the forum.

There are about 30,000 social enterprises around the country based on studies by the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) operating through various legal forms as cooperatives, NGO-assisted organizations, microfinance institutions, micro small and medium enterprises registered as stock corporations, partnership or single proprietorship, community finance institutions, and people’s organizations.

The FSSI is currently the co-convener of the Poverty Reduction Through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Coalition that is in the forefront of the social enterprise advocacy.

FSSI is a social investing organization supporting and funding social enterprises using funds from a debt-to-development program implemented with the Swiss Confederation that started in 1995.

In Luzon alone, FSSI provides social investments to 16 partners in Luzon engaged in dairy, microfinance, organic fertilizer production, feed milling, coffee and coco coir. #

One-on-one fight in Kalinga for the 2013 elections

October 14, 2012 in Cordillera, elections, Featured by emendator


TABUY CITY, Kalinga — One-on-one electoral fight for the 2013 national and local elections has become a trend in this province.

According to the official records of the Commission on Election (Comelec) Kalinga, there are only two candidates for the congressional post in the lone district of this province. Incumbent Congressman Manuel Agyao of the Liberal Party (LP) is challenged by Atty. Macario Duguiang of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). Both candidates hail from the Lubuagan tribe.

In the gubernatorial race, Comelec has recorded only incumbent Provincial Governor Jocel Baac (LP) and Conrado Dieza (PDP-LABAN). Baac comes from Tabuk City while Dieza comes from Pinukpuk.

For the vice governorship, only incumbent Vice Governor Sonny C. Mangaoang of the Nacionalista Party (NP) and challenger Farnaw Claver of UNA filed their candidacy. Mangaoang comes from Balbalan municipality while Claver hails from Tabuk City.

For Tabuk City, Comelec has recorded incumbent City Mayor Ferdinand Tubban of the NP and Atty. Laurence B. Wacnang of the LP for the mayoralty race. Tubban is from the Guilayon and Tubog tribes in Tabuk City while Wacnang hails from the Tulgao tribe of Tinglayan municipality. The challenger is a three-termer governor and congressman of this province.

Except for the municipalities of Tanudan and Tinglayan where there are more than two candidates for the positions of mayor and vice mayor, the other municipalities also have one-on-one fight for the said positions.

Aside from the one-on-one fight, there are unopposed candidates like incumbent Mayor James Edduba of Pasil and Tabuk City Vice Mayor Darwin Estranero who filed their candidacy for re-election in the same positions. Incumbent Pinukpuk Mayor Irving Dasayon who is now running for vice mayor is also unopposed.

According to Jimmy Suwagon, secretary general of Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA)-Kalinga, the one-on-one fight in the top elective positions in the province as well as the presence of unopposed candidates indicate the increasing cost of election. “Only few have resources to afford the high cost of election campaign expenses,” he further said.

Jerry Bulaat, secretary general of the Timpuyog Daguiti Mannalon ti Kalinga (TMK) said that the candidates especially for the top elective local positions generally come from the circles of contractors, businessmen, bureaucrats and the rich. “There are no candidates from the peasant sector,” he added.

“The political dynasty in the national politics is also reflected in the local politics of this province,” Bulaat further said. #

Cordi peasant group to study agri sit

October 14, 2012 in agriculture, Cordillera by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — On the month-long observance of October as peasant month, the Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (Apit Tako) and the Katribu Party List spearheads a research with analysis on the current situation of peasants both in the upland and lowland parts in the six provinces of the Cordillera Region.

According to Apit Tako Regional Spokesperson Andres Wailan, the purpose of the study Is to gather data and facts on the present state of Cordillera peasants and the magnitude of exploitation inflicted on them under the current social order. He said this will help the farmers in the region and gathering their thoughts on their plight to come up with a united goal and that is to uplift their lives.

Wailan said that staff and member organizations in each provincial chapters of the peasant organization will conduct research and interviews in peasant communities. And when the needed data will be sufficient, he added, they will collate them and collectively study it.

Wailan explained that in a society where the few elite rule and control the economy, the peasants are among the most exploited people. Their lives get harder and harder every time because of the unequal distribution of wealth.

He said that the exploitation of peasants from lowlands differ to that of those from the uplands.

He described that the relationship of the landlords and the farmers of the lowlands is like a master and slave because of the unfair division of inputs, labor and unequal share of produce. He further explained that the common practice is a 75%-25% sharing wherein the farmer will be in charge of the preparations of the land prior to planting, the planting, and the everyday tending of the fields.

“Ti lang bagi diay landlord ket diay inputs, panagpagapas ken panagpakiskis, santo aguray laengen ti bingay na ken diay abang ti mannalon nu agaba-bang man,” (the landlord will only do is take charge of the farm inputs, hire some people for the harvesting, have the harvest milled, and then wait for his share and the rent if ever the farmer is renting) he added.

Wailan cited an example of a harvest of 100 sacks of rice, then the landlord will say that 40 sacks of rice are for his expenses for the inputs; so that means 60 sacks will remain, the landlord will get 45 sacks as his share and the farmer will receive only 15 sacks. “Awan pay a ti 20 a sako ti maala jay mannalon a diay, saan pay a naibilang dagidiay ginastos na met ti inaldaw a panagmintina na idiay talon,” (The farmer will get lesser than 20 sacks as his share, this does not even pay his daily expensesof maintaining the rice fields), Wailan said.

According to Wailan, the upland peasants suffer from the backwardness of the agriculture industry and the lack of accessibility to the market, the exploitation by the middlemen and greedy businessmen.

He also said peasants of the Cordillera who mostly are also indigenous peoples are being displaced and denied of their right to their ancestral lands because of the development aggressions followed by intense militarization.

Wailan said that these are the focal points that serve as guidelines for deeper research on the impacts of heightened forms of exploitations and repression of the peasants.

The output of the research he said will further the understanding of the plight of the peasants here in the Cordillera. #

Youth key in the recognition of indigenous peoples rights

October 14, 2012 in Baguio City by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Pinatud-Anakbayan hosted a cultural gathering and discussion forum on indigenous people’s struggles and the role of the community youth in the celebration of Tribal Filipino Week, in Bonifacio Elementary School this October.

The activity was attended by 110 youth from different barangays of Baguio including Pico La Trinidad and some of them even came in their cultural attire.

According to their speaker, Gerry Doco of Katribu Indigenous People’s Partylist, the elders pass the responsibility of continuing the struggle for the recognition of their rights as indigenous peoples and citizens to the youth. Doco reiterated that the youth hold the future of the country and the success of their organizations and projects depends on their decision to take up responsibility to lead and to continue the programs the elders have started long ago.

Doco added that they must take into consideration the lessons of their elders in drafting of their programs, be determined and encourage active participation of the youth particularly in organizing events for IPs, like dialogues, petition signing and protests on issues.

Julius Daguitan, Dap-ayan ti Kultura ti Kordilyera (DKK) deputy-secretary, shared that youth must stand for what is right in the pursuit of the truth towards genuine social change by strengthening their leadcrship at empowering the marginalized sectors like the elders did in the fight for their rights.

Doco narrated stories of peoples struggles in the urban poor and workers sector and challenged the participants to learn, work with and support the wider community resolve current issues affecting them.

After the discussion and lecture, the participants formed the youth chapters in their respective barangays. #

Bontoc celebrates IP month

October 14, 2012 in Cordillera by emendator


BONTOC, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE — Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC), Bontoc Campus, Celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) month at the MPSPC Auditorium on October 6, 2012 on the theme “Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Month with pride of our history and culture as we continue to struggle for our rights”, the said activity was attended by three hundred individuals mostly students from different communities, organizations from MPSPC, Poblacion, Bontoc, Mt. Province.

Starting the celebration with a parade of placard bearing stuents who marched from the Bontoc Municipal Hall to the MPSPC Auditorium for the indoor event. To set the tone of the celebration, students of MPSPC and some members of Mountain Province Youth Association (MPYA) reiterated issues affecting their rights as students and indigenous peoples specially on education, health and others through their placards.

The celebration was to commemorate the history and cultures of the indigenous peoples’ in the Philippines with the help of Beverly Longid, the Katribu National president and 1st Nominee. Engr. Francisco Armas who gave the Welcome Remarks, Tracy Anne Dumalo, the Anakbayan Regional Coordinator gave a Solidarity Message and Petra Makliing who inspired the audience with a short but loaded message.

Longid, challenged her audience as she laid out before them the socio-economic situation of the Cordillera and the struggle for the recognition of the right to self-determination. She told her audience, “As Indigenous Peoples, it is our role to educate, organize and campaign for Genuine Regional Autonomy and for Self-Determination” among ourselves and the wider population.

Macliing, who was one of the veterans during the defense of the Ancestral Land and against the Chico River Dam project during the marcos dictatorship encouraged the audience and participants to “Maorkanisa tako am-in ta chepencharan tako nan chaga tako ay fiyag tako, siya nan macapuan nan kaen tako tay ulay no wacha nan siping ya laing tako no maid makan, matumfa tako. Tay faken nan siping si ma-ap-apat sina no chi ket nan chaga, nan fiyag, nan eges, nan makan! Makarit tako ta menkaykaysa tako ay mangituloy sin rinugyan nan Apo tako, nemnemen tako ay nan daga nan kinafaknang tako ay igorot, siya nan fiyag tako. (Continue and organize ourselves in order to Defend our land, Life and Resources. Our land is the basic source of our livelihood. So I challenged everyone to unite to continue the struggle started by our ancestors and our elders, so bear in mind that being an igorot, our land is our Life).

The program drew to conclusion with cultural presentations from the different geographical student organizations like Changyasan, UBAYA, SSO, LPS, KPL, and many others. And a reitieration of the messages delivered by the speakers closed the activity with a call to the youth. #

Church, IP organizations celebrate Tribal Filipino Week

October 14, 2012 in Baguio City by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — With the theme: “Advancing the Indigenous People’s Agenda for Self-determination Towards Progressive Social Change”, multi-sectoral organizations led by the Regional Ecumeical Council of Churches in the Cordillera (Reccord) a celebration and an ecumenical service dedicated to the Indigenous Peoples martyrs of the Cordillera struggle.

Members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Metro Baguio Tribal Elders and Leaders Assembly (MBTELA), Organisasyon dagiti Nakukurapay nga Umili ti Siyudad (Ornus), Dap-ayan ti Kultura ti kordilyera (DKK), Panagtignay dagiti nakukurapay nga Agtutubo para iti tarigagay ti Umili a Demokrasya (Pinatud-Anakbayan) and different church denominations and individuals partake in the celebration. The activity was held at the Diocesan hall, Cathedral of the Resurrecton of the Episcopal diocese of the Northern Philippines (EDNCP) on October 12, 2012.

According to Maureen Loste of RECCORD, the first part of the month of October is dedicated as the Trbal FilipinoWeek (TFW). She says the church of the people in this special week recognizes the struggle of the IPs in the defense of land, life, livelihood and resources. She added that the church and the christian community should be with the people as God is with his people in the aspiration of a better society.

Katribu Partylist National President Beverly Longid presented the updates of the Phlippine IP situation and the continuing struggle for the protection of ancestral lands. She said that the biggest problem of IPs are the encroachments to their ancestral domains and territorties by large mining corporations and energy projects.

According also to Longid, it is sad that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) where most of its personnel are IPs themselves serves as agents for development aggressions over ancestral lands. She added that the most abused and misused government policy which is supposedly to guard the welfare of the Flipino IPs is the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) where the NCIP seemingly push it as a nod from the people affected by a certain project. She stressed that FPIC is a right of the IPs to decide whether they like or not the entry of projects or corporations to their lands.

An ecumenical service followed giving tribute to the martyrs of the IPs and the Filippino masses dedicated in advancing the right to self determination and the protection of the ancestral lands.

The son of Kalinga elder and leader Daniel Ngayaan spoke on behalf of his siblings and relatives on the continuing search for justice for two and a half decades.

On October 5, 1987, Daniel Ngayaan was abducted by members of the paramilitary group Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA). From that day, his remains are never to be found. Ngayaan Jr. said that his family stll wants to find his father’s remains and give a decent burial. Ngaya-an was been the vice-chairperson of CPA and at the same time chairperson of Cordillera Bodong Association(CBA) whose forerunner is the Kalinga Bontoc Peace Pact Holders Association (KBPPHA).

He said that for 25 years, justice has been elusive. And even though CPLA chairman Conrado balweg who had admitted he is the brain behind his father’s murder was already dead, the other perpetrators are yet to be brought to courts. #

Students hit Baguio mayor’s pro-Cyber law stance

October 14, 2012 in Baguio City, human rights by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — The College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Baguio Benguet (CEGP-BB) in a statement said Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan’s remarks of being a victim of cyber-bullying resounds the claim of Senator Tito Sotto who was accused of plagiarizing that prompted him to support the controversial cybercrime law.

According to CEGP, the incumbent mayor raised concerns that the law can redress “acts of ridicule and malicious attacks” which could become rampant especially that the national and local elections are months away. The group added that Domogan and Sotto seems to be so divested of power that they are easily maimed by remarks made against them in the internet.

“They are in fact reversing the situation by making themselves look like the victim of discourses which they control and where they actually dominate. As the internet becomes a viable and widely-used tool to participate in the discourses in the community, a participation that is already stifled in other avenues through bureaucratic measures such as the No-Permit No-Rally policy and the constant breaching of the people’s right to peaceful assembly, opinions of the people with regard to their community and their public officials are conveniently aired online,” the statement read.

The CEGP stated that Cybercrime Law masks the potential quelling of propagation of critical discourses in the internet.

The gorup see the law as public officials’ tactic in protecting their “reputation” which is often rightfully subjected to criticisms due to their anti-people policies and attitude towards governance.

“With the objective of protecting their presently beneficial positions, these public officials mistake valid criticisms with so-called “malicious attacks,” the group added.

The CEGP statement also said that Domogan seems to be prematurely defensive in assuming the role of the helpless sheep in the face of ferocious attackers which can be expected as the mid-year elections approach and as he continues to fall short in addressing key issues in the city such as the waste problem, the privatization of Baguio General Hospital and Baguio Convention Center among others and the cutting of trees in SM Baguio.

“Supporting the Cybercrime Law is only logical for a public official continually threatened by a growing unpopularity and criticism that is increasingly launched online. With his aspirations for reelections next year, we can see that this stance towards the controversial law is nothing but driven by his self-interests and not his true concern to the needs and interests of the people,” the statement read. #

No fake Baguio titles says new registry of deed officer

October 14, 2012 in Baguio City by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — Newly appointed Noel Perez Aperocho vowed no fake titles will enter the City Registry of Deeds (ROD) in his term of office during the flag raising ceremonies in the Baguio City Hall, October 8.

Aperecho said they identified 20 fake titles being sold to unsuspecting victims. He said they already referred the matter to the police for investigation and appropriate actions. He added that the dealers of fake titles are claiming to be victims of enterprising individuals. He said these are alibis of real estate brokers to fool prospected buyers.

According to Aperocho, the City ROD plays an important role and contributes a big part in the collection of taxes. He said that from January to September of this year, the City has collected some P36 million from the registration of land patents. He also said they were able to process 100 patents. He added there will be no transfer of Certificates of Title without the required payment of taxes.

He however advised applicants to be patient as processing of patents takes some time. He said the processing reaches up to one year because they have to go thoroughly over the technical descriptions and other necessary steps. He said there are three types of applications which they scrutinize namely residential, town site and miscellaneous.

He said that in the processing of applications and registrations, the usual problem they encounter include tie lines, projection maps and overlapping.

Meanwhile, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan advised land and property buyers to be extra cautious. He said they should verify the authenticity of the documents and other requisites of the property being offered to them. He said that they should coordinate with the ROD to avoid problems in the future. #

Celebrating the courage of rural indigenous women

October 14, 2012 in Cordillera, Featured, people by emendator


BAGUIO CITY — On the 5th International Day of Rural Women in 2012, the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC) highlights the critical roles rural women play in transforming the world into a just and sustainable society. This year, ARWC honours exceptional rural women and advocates from several countries across Asia who have continuously fought for survival, justice and freedom.

Innabuyog, a founding member and steering committee member of the ARWC has chosen four Cordillera women to stand among other Asian women receiving recognition on this 5th International Day of Rural Women.

They are Maria Galong of Conner, Apayao; Leticia Bulaat of Kalinga; Endena Cogasi of Agawa, Besao, Mountain Province and Petra “Tannaw” Macliing of Bontoc, Mountain Province. The many other women leaders who had similar contributions will be given honour as well in their respective organizations.

The Cordillera awardees:

PETRA MACLIING. Photo courtesy of CWEARC.PETRA MACILING, 77, children 10 of Mainit, Bontoc, Mountain Province; Activist, Campaigner, Organiser, Elder-Adviser of Innabuyog, Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA). Issues working on: Human Rights, Land Rights, Indigenous Women And Children’s Rights, Women’s Empowerment, Environment.

Mother Petra is a leading figure for the defense of land, life, resources, and for self-determination. In her advanced age, she is still very active in the campaign against destructive projects affecting the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera Region. She has never wavered in her understanding that the identity and life of the indigenous peoples are intrinsically tied to the protection and conservation of the land. She is a living representation of the role of how rural women protect land and culture. For her, land is the source of life. For her, ensuring life is the role of every woman. Her simple logic is to defend the land in order to ensure life. Her life’s work led to the formation of the Montanosa Women’s Federation (now Binnadang-Innabuyog), and the Cordillera People’s Alliance of which she is a founding member.

LETICIA BULA-AT. Photo courtesy of CWEARC.LETICIA BULA-AT, 42, from Dupag, Tomiangan, Tabuk, Kalinga; Campaigner, Organiwer, Member of the Council of Leaders of Innabuyog, Traditional Village Tribal Leader, Organisation: Innabuyog, Cordillera People’s Alliance; Issues working on: Conflict Resolution, Environment, Human Rights, Land Rights, Indigenous Women and Children’s Rights, Women Empowerment.

“Although we have no money, we have food, good and simple ones on our tables.”

Born in a family of farmers, Leticia knew how hard the job of a farmer is. But despite its back-breaking repetitious movement, she experienced how rewarding it is to till her land. She came to realise that one can live without money as long as one has a land from which to plant and cultivate food. This is the reason for her courage to strong stance against big institutions like the World Bank (WB) and the government when she, together with her people, were once threatened of being displaced in the guise of projects such as the Chico Dam. It was a time when their rice fields were being targeted to be transformed into flower fields and their sub-terrains where being targeted for their gold.

Leticia, along with other communities, stood collectively against the construction of development projects in their lands. From simple dialogues to protest actions and literally blocking the road and trucks with their bodies, they were able to make a strong statement how valuable their land is, and stop the machines from reaching the project site. For twenty (20) years, she did this, along with the communities, until they won. It was a monumental feat since it was the first time in history when a project of the WB and the IMF was shelved. Today, she continues to remain vigilant and campaign for their rights to land, resources and self-determination.

ENDENA COGASI. Photo by CWEARCENDENA COGASI, of Sabiyan, Agawa, Besao, Mountain Province; Organiser, Campaigner, Activist; Cordillera Peoples Alliance. Issues working on: Indigenous Peoples Rights, Human Rights, Women’s Empowerment.

Endena Cogasi raised a family on her own and lived a simple life. But despite her simplicity, she chose to raise her voice and became an invincible icon of the Cordillera region, who continue to struggle for justice. When conflicts arose in the Cordillera area between the armed forces and the community, she rose to become one of the strong leaders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. She advocated for peace and courageously defended the human rights of poor indigenous peoples and women despite the harassment and threats she received from the military. She did not yield to military harassment. She even joined delegations for a dialogue with the military. Her presence during the peace rallies in the Mountain Province was even acknowledged by a former senator.

She inspired a number of Cordillera women, young and old, to follow her footsteps of courage and dedication to serve the women and people. On 9 December 2010, Endena Cogasi was one of the awardees of the Gawad Tanggol Karapatan or Awards for Cordillera Human Rights Defenders during the observance of the International Human Rights Day.

MARIA GALONG. Photo courtesy of CWEARCMARIA GALONG, 58, from Conner, Kalinga-Apayao, Agriculturalist (Backyard Farmer), Organiser, Campaigner, Activist. Organisation: Save the Apayao People’s Organization (SAPO), Innabuyog. Issues working on: Environment, Agriculture, Human Rights, Indigenous Peoples Issues, Women’s Empowerment.

“I invite you to be active in progressive women’s organisations. Our mission is to defend our ancestral land, our rights and resources. Let us defend our natural resources for future generations! Until such social inequities exist, we should not give up.”

In the growing conflict between her people and the military, Maria rose to fight the oppression and harassment that the women in her community were experiencing. Since her first involvement in a leadership training conducted by CWEARC in the 1980s, her mind was broadened and learned about empowerment processes undergone by other women’s organisations and leaders. Now, she hosts trainings herself, and continues to campaign for the rights of the indigenous peoples. With her track record of unceasing militancy, she became one of the founding members of SAPO, a local group set up to combat large mining projects. She is an indefatigable volunteer for SAPO, a member of various women, peasant and indigenous people’s alliances, and simultaneously, working on her farm.

Her friends always chide her with, “Maria should be rich by now if not for her commitment to serve people’s organisations”. But Maria will always say with a laugh, “My wealth is living my value of serving fellow poor people”. Indeed, Maria is woman with fire in her heart.

The 15th of October is observed as World Rural Women’s Day (WRWD) as resolved in the UN Conference for Women in Beijing in September 1995 in recognition of rural women who comprise a quarter of the world’s population and their multiple roles as farmers and food producers.

It was also resolved that the WRWD was to highlight the role played by rural women in food production and food security before the October 16 World Food Day. It was first observed the following year. Since then, annual events were conducted by rural women’s organizations and support groups to raise the profile of rural women and bring them out of obscurity, to sensitize governments and the public to their crucial role, and promote action to their support.

On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly acknowledged World Rural Women’s Day recognizing the “critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women in enhancing agriculture and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty”.

World Food Day was proclaimed in 1979 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO), aimed at heightening public awareness of the world food problem and strengthening solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Farmers, rural and indigenous women’s movements labelled the occasion as World FoodLESS Day to highlight the growing hunger and food crisis arising from neo-liberal policies that stole the food resources and facilitated inaccessibility of these resources from main producers, the peasants and indigenous peoples.

In the Cordillera, the annual observance of World Rural Women’s Day and World FoodLESS Day began in 2002 through the CWEARC, Innabuyog-Gabriela and APIT TAKO, the alliance of peasants in the Cordillera region. It created a forum to raise issues faced by peasant and rural indigenous women on the increasing hunger and poverty amidst abundance of natural resources in the Cordillera and the threats rising from commercial agricultural production, extractive industries such as mining and energy projects.

The annual events convinced government agencies to also celebrate it as well.

On this year’s occasion of World Rural Women’s Day and World FoodLESS Day, Innabuyog-Gabriela and CWEARC with their respective members, partners and organizations of indigenous peasant women and food producers will gather in an occasion to honour indigenous peasant women leaders who have contributed significantly in building the strength of rural and indigenous women’s assertion to their land, food and rights. They have dedicated their voluntary service, stood their ground against state repression and militarization, and led exemplary actions for upholding the common good and selflessness.

All over Asia, similar occasions will also be conducted which will be coordinated by ARWC, a formation of rural and indigenous women to celebrate the leadership, strength, creativity and commitment in pushing for gender equality while improving the lives of the general rural populace. #

Casiño asks Comelec to level playing field

October 14, 2012 in elections, national by emendator


QUEZON CITY — Makabayan senatorial bet Teddy Casiño today called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to level the playing field for candidates in terms of media exposure.

The progressive solon issued the call as Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said candidates must refrain from making their presence felt in the mass media for the sake of observing fair election practices even in the absence of a law prohibiting candidates from premature self-promotion.

“The Comelec itself has the power to do this by strictly implementing the limit on campaign ads and by buying more air time which they will distribute equally among the senatorial candidates,” said Casiño.

Based on Section 86 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code the Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations regarding the sale of air time for partisan political purposes during the campaign period to insure the equal time as to duration and quality in available to all candidates for the same office or political parties at the same rates or given free of charge.

Also Section 90 of the Election Code states that the Commission shall procure space in at least one newspaper of general circulation in every province or city which shall be known as “Comelec Space” wherein candidates can announce their candidacy. Said space shall be allocated, free of charge, equally and impartially by the Commission among all candidates within the area in which the newspaper is circulated.

Similarly on Section 92, the Commission shall procure radio and television time to be known as “Comelec Time” which shall be allocated equally and impartially among the candidates within the area of coverage of all radio and television stations.

“These are also contained in the Fair Election Act or RA 9006. This simly means that the Comelec has all the legal means to level the playing field for candidates and it should do all it can so that political cartels would not have a very unfair advantage over those who are more deserving of public office,” ended Casiño. #

Bayan Muna urges passage of decriminalization of libel bill

October 14, 2012 in law, national by emendator


QUEZON CITY — Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares urged yesterday the speedy approval of HB 1009 filed by Bayan Muna on July 28, 2010 which seeks to decriminalize libel by repealing Articles 353 to 362 of the Revised Penal Code.

“Other than HB 1009, the only other bill decriminalizing libel is HB 2979 filed by the late Rep. Sonny Escudero. Considering that HB 1009 was filed more than two years ago, it should be prioritized by the House leadership together with HB 2979 and the recently filed bills amending the cybercrime law,” Rep. Colmenares said.

“HB 1009 seeks to delete libel from the Revised Penal Code together with its penalty of imprisonment and fines. The remedy should be a civil case for damages under the Civil Code. Although a person who commits libel should still be held liable, no one should go to prison for the exercise of the constitutional right to freedom of expression or categorized as an ‘ex-convict’ for such act. The remedy should be a civil case under Article 19 of the Civil Code”. There are currently 6 other House bills on libel, including the bill filed by Rep. Sonny Angara, which, although it provided for the elimination of imprisonment for libel, maintained it as a criminal offense in the Revised Penal Code punishable by fines.

Another bill, HB 4031 authored by Rep. Romeo Acop, swings to the other side as it seeks to specifically define and penalize internet libel.

“We also urge the immediate passage of bills amending the cyber crime law. While HB 1009 will repeal libel laws, whether committed through the internet or any other medium, it should be complemented by the repeal of the other draconian provisions in the current cybercrime law” he added.

Review of rules in bicameral meeting

Colmenares also proposed making bicameral committee hearings transparent and the ratification of bills approved by the bicameral committee subject to deliberation in cases were a provision not found in the House version was inserted.

“This deliberation will guide House members in deciding whether to ratify the bill and make sure that unwanted insertions are deleted. If the bill approved by the bicam committee is antagonistic or substantially different from that previously approved by the House, then we have the option to say no to that bill. The House should not be subservient to the bicameral committee,” Colmenares said. “The recent outrage over insertions in the cybercrime law shows that there is a need for the bicameral committee hearings, including those on the budget, to be transparent. Its scheduled meetings should be published and opened to the public. The media should be allowed to cover these meetings and given access to the minutes of the proceedings in these bicameral committee meetings, even those meetings of both Houses finalizing the budget bills.”

“The cybercrime bill approved by the House did not contain the questionable provisions found in the Senate version and the law. The House version did not contain the ‘electronic libel’ provision found in Section 4(c) 4 of the law. There was no mention at all of the DOJ’s ‘blocking access’ power found in Section 19 of the law. Section 4(b)4 (cc) of the House Bill did not contain the phrase “provided that the penalty to be imposed shall be one degree higher than that provided by the Revised Penal Code, and Special Laws”. While Section 9 of the House version allowed ‘real time collection of computer data’ it requires the need to “secure a court warrant’. The Senate version, found in Section 12 of the law, deleted this very important warrant requirement” said Colmenares.

“While there are still many concerns on the issue of cybercrime law sanctions, including those in the House version, the Senate version, which was the worst version practically trampled on the House’ during the bicameral committee hearing. Worse, the House allowed itself to be trampled upon, easily giving up on its version by ratifying the Senate version in the House. We are equal to the Senate in terms of wisdom and intellect and must assert our version during these bicams.” #

Editorial Cartoon

October 14, 2012 in editorials, Featured, opinion by emendator

Editorial: It is Tribal Filipino Sunday today

October 14, 2012 in editorials, Featured, opinion by emendator

In 1978, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines declared every second Sunday of October as Tribal Filipino Sunday. This was in recognition of the historical injustice against the indigenous peoples of the Philippines and the socio-economic conditions these people were made to live in. The celebration of mass on this day has helped in opening the eyes of non-tribal Filipinos, Catholics and non-catholics, to the plight of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, it helped push for the realization of justice for indigenous peoples themselves by building support for their demand to protect the ancestral domains and preserving the indigenous cultural heritage. As once stated, this is the Church’s means of “relating Gospel to the situation of indigenous brethren, respectful of their cultural practices.”

This yearly celebration became a venue to bringing light to the true identity of a proud and freedom-loving people; a forum to recognize the diversities and similarities of the peoples and cultures that bound a nation of Filipinos. It still is a venue and a forum that continues to sharpen the identification of class differences, common resources, biodiversity and environment, indigenous peoples practices of sharing, conservation, defense, respect and humanity.

Tribal Filipino Sunday was also instrumental for the recognition of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, human rights and support the right to self-determination and the Philippines’ Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). It was a venue to ventilate and condemn violations against the indigenous peoples rights to the ancestral lands and domains as well as the right to build, to give or take back the peoples’ free, prior informed consent (FPIC) on any development made in these ancestral domains.

Even with the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples as stated in IPRA and in the United Nations charter, the government continues to sacrifice the indigenous peoples in the name of national development. Multi-million corporations that bring “large scale development projects” in ancestral lands have continually been favored even if indigenous peoples have not given their consent. And to add insult to injury, these “development projects” not only displace indigenous peoples but bring large scale evironmental problems.

Furthermore, discrimation of indigenous peoples continue. They have been ridiculed, called ignorant or uneducated or unschooled and refused certification as legitimate indigenous communities.

Besides, there is the prevailing state of poverty in the country that greatly tips the balance in the negotiation for a free prior informed consent against the indigenous peoples. On top of which are the mispriorities of government programs, unbridled use of military force, graft and corruption that increases depravity.

One prayer for this Tribal Filipino Sunday is for strength and courage for the indigenous peoples to resist the temptation of selling their ancestral lands and their collective culture. Strength to also continue to practice their culture and traditions that have historically been proven to be environmentally sound. And an earnest prayer that their common aspirations and options for the use and development of their ancestral domain the way they collectively want to and when they want to, be recognized and respected. Amen. #