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OPINION | A Fable in Iloilo City

by Salvi Armada

The governance of Iloilo City is definitely so unlike the democratic management of a poultry farm. In a poultry farm, divergence in ability to fly high exists amongst fowls but feeds are distributed to each according to need. No loud squawks of complaints except of excitement at feeding time. As such, the Parliament of Fowls (Geoffrey Chaucer) stays sane, sober and sublime. So unlike the mishandling of June 10, 2021 incident at Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) substation in Jaro district.

The scandalous incident was the brazen violation of Mayor Jerry Treñas’ Executive Order No. 50 (MECQ status of Iloilo City) by the organizers and attendees. Earlier the Mayor pleaded, “…to stay at home. Please postpone whatever you need to do in the meantime. The cases continue to go up” (1 June 2021, Philippine News Agency). What followed was the outrageous inauguration gathering of crowd “hosted” by the BFP under Regional Director Jerry Candido. Somersaulting in the face of public rebuke, Mayor Treñas sheepishly accommodated Director Candido’s tepid apology. “RD Candido apologised as he DID NOT READ our prohibition on any mass gathering” (emphasis supplied, Panay News 10 June 2021), he intoned.

Such magnanimity extended to a high public official who openly violated health law because of feigned ignorance is something for the archive. Well, if Iloilo City is served by a “non-reading” ranking bureaucrat, it can be asked, “what to him is Plato and the Wings of Pleiades?”. Truly is he a director of a government Regional Office or “The Man with a Hoe”? (Meanwhile, the pesterous presence of a legislator in the said event can be disregarded). In my humble view this ruckus should not easily escape Edwin Markham’s poetic justice!

Enjoyment of liberty will be promoted but at no expense of justice for all.

There’s this reflexive maxim in the Animal Farm fable (1945 by George Orwell), “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”. De Te Fabula Narratur: the moral fingers point back to us citizens and officials of La Muy Leal Y Noble dakbanwa sang Iloilo. Power and authority stand with truth and ought not be coated by lies though mixed with medicinal ingredients.

What about those ordinary residents caught violating the same prohibition? They were under no special consideration of the Mayor, they received just punishments in so far as the public knows. Seems like equality of citizens before the law is in practice a myth. The reversal of order and rationality and now the peripeteia in the poultry farm is what’s sauce for the goose is no longer sauce for the gander.###

(Photo credit to the owner.)

Concha Araneta Bocala of Panay, a poem

By SALVI ARMADA

“No uprising fails. Each one is a step in the right direction. In a long march to final victory, every step counts, every individual matters, every organization forms part of the whole.”

– Salud Algabre

I. STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

reflecting on the self’s subject position
learning tools of class analysis
putting on lens of historical materialism

weaning away from bourgeois ego
remoulding, remoulding, remoulding
on going ceaseless reflexive rectification

finding comfort in rhymes of collective life
ministering caresses on comrade’s hurts
watching sunrise, enjoying sunsets

catching fireflies, gathering stardusts
washing own’s wings on cool moonrains
leading the cell to win the Revolution.

II. CONCHA

they sleuth everywhere but you’re no where
in four directions of the wind
when season of rains come and
when sinigwelas fruits burst forth

they cannot find you in festivals
of mangoes, of seafoods, of muses
lost in the haystack like a needle
sparkingly true yet deadly pointed

they loudly demanded identification
so one-after-another of revolting
slaves rises up: “I am Spartacus!”
for we are the masses of names

“Je suis Charlie” is a deathless name
but in mysterious Holm of Tumandok
names gifted to audacious children
honor her revolution: “I am Concha!”

III. TRUE BEAUTY

it is invisible and unfamiliar,
yet unlimned by the naked eyes
of the impetuous who can’t wait

unconquered by haughty lions
nor subdued by vicious eagles
no maiden’s milk avails bravery to
who struggles with bourgeois self

but at the peak of Panay ranges
after crossing zigzagging rivers
to reach the hideous cliff there
quietly blooms sweetest beautiful

Revolution.

JOHN S. HEREDIA, IN MEMORIAM

2021 AMBON Mural
John S. Heredia, in memoriam
5 X 10 feet
Acrylic on Canvass

Text by Tomas Talledo

The mural is an offspring of collaboration by creative fellows of the honoree, PG Zoluaga, Boy Dolar, Jeline Laporga and Nelson Licoto. They depicted and memorialized their comrade-in-brush-and-paints, John Heredia of the Artista kag Manunulat nga Makibanwahanon (AMBON), himself is a socially sensitive painter and a dedicated public servant.

Heredia’s treacherous murder is an anagnorisis: it announces the deathlessness of his art, the immortality of shared aspirations that captives of oppression and inequality will be finally set free. The killers were abysmal fools, they can never be proud of their deeds. The mural depicted the communion of dreams, a high salute to the artist’s well-lived life and death like “mountain Tai”.

The mural makers unmistakably painted him singing with his guitar, “Ang kalinong nga akon ginahandom/ isa ka kalisod sang tagipusuon/ ang kasanag sang paalabuton/ luyag ko maangkon sa sining panahon” while sailing to the haven of all yearnings. In our archepelagic setting, the flowing river is a transcendent motif of what passes for time, spaces, generations of energies that were aroused, organized and mobilized. As such the mural depicts the characteristic of our people’s war.

Bouquets of flowers are send off gifts by those left behind now carried by waters as solemn ornaments of John Heredia’s final journey. Thus our eyes behold a signature of studied beauty, an expression of quiet elation, the template of what isn’t yet that will soon be.

From his group AMBON the perfect honor for John Heredia is in its public testimony: “His composition and art works are reflective of his unwavering stand to serve the people, especially the workers and the peasants”.

The grand design is to depart when the sun sets to certainly arrive with the trembling dawn. # # #

Ang Teorya ng Invisible Hand

ni Mark P. Dorado

Nang akinse ng buwan,
bitbit niya ang pinutol niyang kamay
upang ipanghapunan sa mga supling.
Minaigi niya itong pinulupot sa diyaryo
bilang panabik sana sa mga dilang
nagkalasog-lasog na sa pagdidildil sa asin,
ngunit nilamutak na ng dugo
ang nakatapal na mukha ng sikat na artista.
Pinunit. Binura ang mga balita
na tila wala ng kasaysayang naganap.
Wala na ang balita ng patayan. Ng kahibangan ng politika.
Ng mga nagmamahal. Ng mga nagmamahalan.
Ang kasalukuyan ay nakasilip lamang sa butas nilang sikmura.
Sapat na marahil iyon. Para sa panglingguhang konsumo.
Panghuli ang mabuto’t kinakalyo na mga daliri
na hindi madaling nguyain at tunawin
na ilang araw pa ang itatagal.
Sa katapusan, aasahan niya namang
mapuputulan siya ng isa pang kamay.
First published in Pagbutlak, the official Student Publication of the UPV CAS.

TANGGULAN: Portraits of Filipino Environmental Defenders

As the world celebrates the 51st Earth Day, Center for Environmental Concerns – PhilippinesKalikasan People’s Network for the Environment350 PilipinasSama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang AgraryoCouncil for People’s Development and Governance, and Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines presents TANGGULAN: Portraits of Filipino Environmental Defenders.
This coffee table book offers different stories of environmental rights defenders across the Philippines ranging from community health volunteers, conservationist groups, indigenous peoples, to fisherfolk communities and others.
The book is divided into 4 sections namely 1) Tanod Gubat, which covers the stories of different environmental defenders and organizations who protect our forests; 2) Tanod Lupa, which covers the plight of land rights defenders against destructive “development” projects; 3) Bantay Dagat, which covers the stories of faces and groups who protect and conserve marine biodiversity; and 4) Manghahabi, which highlights the importance of grassroots community development workers.
Environmental defenders and development workers protect the world and the people hand in hand. Their role, aside from the promotion of sustainable use of limited resources and its preservation, is also to uphold the rights of the people and the land, including its sovereignty.
This project is made possible through the assistance of the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the CSO Partnerships for Development Effectiveness, and the Shared Resources, Joint Solutions Partnership.
Download Tanggulan HERE

Iloilo Legislatures Slam Attacks Against Law Practitioners

Iloilo City – Iloilo Province and Iloilo City legislatures slam the continuing attacks against lawyers, judges, and other law practitioners during their respective regular sessions held last March 09, 2021.
Both the city and provincial legislatures expressed their strong condemnation on the acts of violence committed against legal practitioners. To the Iloilo Provincial Board, the attack against NUPL’s Atty. Angelo Karlo “AK” Guillen “sends an alarming message and shows an increasing cases of violence against law practitioners and manifests a culture of impunity.” The board also added that such “violence against law practitioners does not only endanger the lives of individual law practitioners but also sends a chilling message to deter and silence those who are working to pursue legitimate causes.”
Moreover, Iloilo City council said that cases of violence against lawyers, judges, and other officers of the Court are still prevailing in Iloilo City and in Western Visayas for the past three years despite provisions in the Constitution as to their protection. The council added that the attack against Atty. Guillen “does not and should not have a place in the City of Iloilo.”
The city council also urged the law enforcement authorities to “thoroughly investigate” the incident involving Atty. Guillen, pursue the perpetrators, and solve the case. Furthermore, the council calls for the creation of measures and programs for the protection of lawyers, judges, and officers of the Court./PT

FILIPINO PROGRESSIVES IN FRANCE, FORBIDDEN TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EMBASSY

Yesterday, March 09, 2021, Dhaizie Joie Bongay, coordinator of the Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya (NPSP), a non-profit and progressive organization of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and other Filipino nationals based in Paris, submitted a letter of appeal to Philippine Embassy in Paris, France Ambassador Ma. Teresa P. Lazaro. However, Bongay was forbidden to enter the embassy.

In their letter, NPSP appealed to the said embassy to stand with them and “denounce the terroristic programs of Duterte’s regime” following the Bloody Sunday massacre and mass arrest of activists in Southern Tagalog under the Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations last March 07, 2021.

The group said that similar operations  were also done during the Tumandok massacre in Panay and the massacre of peasant and social activists in Negros island. Moreover, the group also pointed out that the killing witnesses just like what happened to a Tumandok Barangay Captain Julie Catamin, and attempts in the lives of the lawyers just like what happened to Tumandok case lawyer, Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen, have become the norm.

NPSP said that such “massive attack on human rights may spread panic on the part of the uncontrived citizen.” Moreover, the group believes that such norm and attacks are “criminal and grossly unacceptable in [the] international parlance.”/PT

General Luna Street

By ALEXANDER SANGUINIS

A blue and yellow screwdriver was still embedded in the left temple of human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo“AK” Guillen when paramedics took him to a hospital in Iloilo City…Guillen’s colleagues and the human rights community believe the assailants had intended to kill the 33-year-old lawyer who has been red-tagged and represents 16 members of the indigenous Tumandok who were arrested in Capiz and Iloilo Provinces on December 30, 2020 for alleged possession of firearms and explosives and for alleged links to communist rebels.

– Nestor Burgos Jr. “Lawyer for red-tagged tribal folk stabbed; laptop documents taken” INQUIRER.NET

1.
Death shaped the tip
of a screwdriver plunged deep—
wielded as a knife

straight into the left temple,
the head’s frontier, skull bone’s
skin ripped open

in the middle of the night’s
deepening daze. A city’s peace
once more cracked, broken

by a heinous deed
against a barrister of a people’s
rights. Nothing to explain

this scheme than the desire
to kill the targeted brain.
How will this be judged

and remedied
when the Law
cannot protect itself

from blatant lawlessness?
Where does this lead us
when the lawful

is unsanctified, debased?
Bleeding, his blood—
dark liquid crawling

on asphalt and cement,
almost a fatality.
The Law—

stabbed
and gravely wounded, near-
death

in General Luna Street.

2.
Bloodied hole
in the left temple,

a stab wound.
Never a Divine

Will—God

was not even there

when it happened.
Never sanctioned

by Heaven –
you must

remember
that primeval couple

forced to flee
the Garden

ages ago
with their shame

newly discovered
and intact.

The screwdriver
in lieu of the shining,

sharpest blade—
a kitchen knife,

dagger or balisong.
The screwdriver

like those spectacles
used by a former bodyguard

of Michael Corleone
to puncture

an enemy’s neck.
The screwdriver

like those spectacles
is never made

for killing.
The mind can be

criminal. The hands
murderous.

And something
close to murder

is still murderous.
Shamelessly murderous.

Alexander Sanguinis is a pseudonym of the long published poet who is from the Hiligaynon-speaking Region (VI). The poet is an established writer in both languages of the Region and English. With anonymity, readers are enjoined to focus on the pieces rather than on externalities of the texts.

Tokhang: An Improvised Villanelle

By ALEXANDER SANGUINIS

…Three years since President Duterte launched the Philippine War on Drugs, much has been written regarding the degree of violence deployed by State and quasi-state mechanisms to rid the Philippines of an alleged 3.7 million drug users. Approximately 29, 000 deaths attributable to this policy have been recorded as of July 2019…Human Rights Watch (2017) has condemned the punitive treatment of suspected drug users and dealers. The concentration of victims in urban poor communities has led international and local groups …to report that the war on drugs is a war on the poor…

—Pangilinan, MKA et al. 2021. Examining the Effects of Drug-Related Killings in Philippine Conditional Cash Transfer Beneficiaries in Metro Manila 2016-2017. Journal of Illicit Economies and Development 2(2) p. 111 DOI: https://doi.org./10.31389/jied.50

When your voice no longer bears the weight
of what you must say, then language must have gone away,
or forcibly buried underground,
silenced the fascist way.

The eyes deliberately turned towards
a vision blinded by a full unquestioning
acquiescence and the tortured mind seeks
a possible means of utterance, escape,
or even a redress of grievance.

When your voice no longer bears the weight
of what you must say, then language must have gone away,
or forcibly buried underground,
silenced the fascist way.

For whatever you have to say
must be said without ever prodding
the rush of army boots, the camouflage
green uniforms, unwanted police warrants
foregrounded on stereotypes and sheer suspicion.

When your voice no longer bears the weight
of what you must say, then language must have gone away,
or forcibly buried underground,
silenced the fascist way.

Each home, every household—those hastily built makeshift shelters,
tenements right smack in the urban jungle, shacks lining the railroad tracks,
river banks of trash, or beneath bridges, or huts standing wobbly
on bamboo poles in coastal margins unguarded from storm floods,
vulnerable to the surge of the open sea.

When your voice no longer bears the weight
of what you must say, then language must have gone away,
or forcibly buried underground,
silenced the fascist way.

Those parts of the metropolis prone
to the vagaries of the tidal weather where the mid-morning
sun is hotter than the warm suburban midday
or the night darker, more ominous than the lighted
parks, avenues and boulevards at evening time.

When your voice no longer bears the weight
of what you must say, then language must have gone away,
or forcibly buried underground,
silenced the fascist way.

They had become battlegrounds, shacks riddled with bullets,
a shooting spree, blood at the tip of the rifle or gun, “..nanlaban kasi…”
they fought back.. we had no choice but to shoot—everyone
had been singled out: parent, sibling, teenager or child,
a pusher, user, dealer, an addict.

Their voices no longer bear the weight
of what they must say, their language gone away,
or forcibly buried underground,
silenced the fascist way.

The fascist way.
The fascist way.

Alexander Sanguinis is a pseudonym of the long published poet who is from the Hiligaynon-speaking Region (VI). The poet is an established writer in both languages of the Region and English. With anonymity, readers are enjoined to focus on the pieces rather than on externalities of the texts.

Cordillera ‘Tokhang’ Resolution Puts Journalists in Grave Danger

Altermidya* Network condemns the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) for passing a resolution recommending a “Tokhang-style” tactic against individuals, including journalists, who are known Left-leaning personalities.

This development coincides with the ongoing international probe on the deaths linked to the administration’s drug war, with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra admitting in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council that “the law enforcement agents failed to follow standard protocols” in many drug war operations.

And now, the Cordillera RLECC resolution: a dangerous document that explicitly names the media as possible targets in the conduct of Tokhang.

The resolution comes amid non-stop attacks against alternative media practitioners in the Cordillera. In fact, our colleagues in community news outfit Northern Dispatch (NorDis) are facing all forms of attacks and persecution: from red-tagging and filing of cyber libel charges to attempted murder.

In 2019, Brandon Lee, a Nordis correspondent and environmentalist, was shot by unidentified gunmen in front of his home in Lagawe, Ifugao. He was seriously wounded and is continuing to recover.

In 2020, a series of complex, overlapping legal maneuvers have also been conducted against Nordis staff. A cyberlibel charge was filed against Nordis editor-in-chief Kimberlie Quitasol mere days after two courts have already dismissed libel charges filed by the same complainant, Cordillera Police Regional Director Brigadier General R’Win Pagkalinawan.

The same tactic was also employed against another Nordis journalist, Khim Abalos. The subject of the cases involves stories critical of Pagkalinawan, which were published in April 2020.

In June 2020, the La Trinidad Police Station openly red-tagged Abalos as a recruiter of the New People’s Army. Several reports of flyers red-tagging Nordis reporters have also been recorded in several instances. And as far back as 2017, Sherwin de Vera, Nordis managing editor, was also charged with rebellion, a case that was junked in October 2020 for lack of evidence.

Another colleague, Paola Espiritu, our Ilocos correspondent for Nordis, has been linked with the communists and maligned by the military since 2018. Last year, the 81st Infantry Battalion, on three different occasions, accused Paola of being an NPA member. The relentless harassment against her has taken a toll on her emotional state, and according to our Nordis colleagues, she now has to seek refuge.

We have been denouncing these incidents as attacks meant to silence the grassroots, pro-people reporting upheld by Nordis, whose stories shed light on issues that affect the communities of peasants and indigenous people in Cordillera. With the Cordillera RLECC resolution, the situation is expected to get worse, and may even expand to other practicing journalists in the region – at the expense of our freedom of expression and right to information.

Just as we fear for the lives of our colleagues in Cordillera, we also surmise that the Cordillera RLECC is a test case that government officials will use for future plans of employing Tokhang tactics to stifle dissent in other parts of the country.

We call on the national government, as well as concerned agencies to immediately stop the enforcement of the said resolution. This resolution will surely be used in tandem with the Anti-Terrorism Law and would usher in more attacks, if both were not stopped. We call on our fellow journalists, human rights advocates, and the Filipino public to denounce the Cordillera RLECC resolution. We need to jointly, resolutely fight this new attack against our fundamental freedoms.

*AlterMidya – People’s Alternative Media Network is a national network of over thirty independent media outfits in the Philippines. Formed in 2014, AlterMidya seeks to promote journalism for the people.