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𝗨𝗿𝘀𝘂𝗹𝗮 𝗦𝘂𝗿𝘃𝗶𝘃𝗼𝗿𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗔𝗸𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗳𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗮 𝗣𝗲𝘁𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗗𝗦𝗪𝗗 𝗥𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝟲

Kalibo, Aklan – Ursula survivors under Rise Up Aklan and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Aklan held a picket rally earlier this day in front of Aklan Provincial Capitol Building along with the submission of their petition to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) VI, Regional Director Ma. Evelyn B. Macapobre through SWAD Team office in Aklan.

The petition stipulates the Ursula survivors’ demand for the government’s food relief, an assistance they should have received right after the typhoon struck. Moreover, they also demand for DSWD’s implementation of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) and livelihood assistance.

After a short program, the group went to the office of SWAD Team and along with the submission of their petition, they laid their inquiries on the status of DSWD’s response for food relief, shelter and livelihood assistance for Ursula survivors. According to the group, they were informed that ESA, as a program, is on the process of being turned over to the National Housing Authority (NHA). On the other hand, their office is also waiting for the copy of the implementing rules and guidelines for the livelihood assistance intended for the Ursula victim.

“Today marks the 2nd month of Ursula’s landfall in Aklan yet, there are still significant number of survivors who have not been provided assistance by the government”, said BAYAN-Aklan Officer-In-Charge, Kim-Sin F. Tugna.

“In fact, there are survivors who were forced bear the inhumane state of living in their damaged houses since they are economically incapacitated to repair their damaged houses and that their sources of living were also devastated by Ursula, that, up to this point, rising up to recover from this condition becomes harder as the government fails to quickly respond to their needs”, added Tugna.

BAYAN-Aklan is also set to hold a march rally tomorrow as their response to the national call of action in the celebration of the 34th year anniversary of EDSA People Power. The government’s negligence in tending the needs of Ursula survivors will be one of the major issues the group will be carrying tomorrow./PT

Study on Monsanto’s herbicide Glyphosate persistence in GM corn farming community in Capiz presented

Iloilo City – Farmer scientist group MASIPAG today have raised alarm over findings on the presence and persistence of Glyphosate in a GM corn farming community in Guinbialan, a small village in the town of Maayon, Capiz. Glyphosate, the world’s best selling herbicide, has been used extensively to suppress or destroy unwanted weeds and is used in tandem with herbicide-tolerant GM corn such as Roundup Ready (RR) Corn by Monsanto. According to the 2012 study by MASIPAG, Glyphosate usage in the country amounts to almost 5.3 million liters in one season of GM corn farming in 2011 alone. Glyphosate is also widely-used among major crops such as rice, corn and plantation crops such as sugarcane, palm oil, banana, pineapples, coffee, rubber and also cash crops such as vegetables. The Philippines Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority (FPA) lists more than 70 glyphosate products marketed in the country.

In 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the weed-killer as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” This pronouncement came at the heels of the various studies that were conducted whose results point to the negative effects of glyphosate. In 2018, Bayer (who now owns Monsanto after the historic merging in 2017) has been sued by victims of glyphosate. In August 2018, the San Francisco Superior Court jurors ruled in favour of Dewayne Johnson, a 42-year-old school groundskeeper suffering from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 13,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against Bayer.

Study results

These information prompted farmer scientist group MASIPAG to study the presence and persistence of Glyphosate among GM corn farming communities, with Brgy. Guinbialan as focus study area. Farmers in Guinbialan have been using RR corn for more than 10 years, making them one of the earlier adopters of the technology. Initial documentation on the effects of the use of GM corn and glyphosate indicates that there are indeed alarming health and environmental effects. There has been no post-release monitoring conducted by the Dept. of Agriculture or other relevant agencies to date, to sufficiently investigate the impacts of GM corn.

Water, soil and corn kernels were taken from different sites in the community prior, during and post planting and harvesting of GM herbicide-tolerant corn. Glyphosate residues were also tested in the human urine samples during the first sampling. Three farmers volunteered and signed the free and prior informed consent (FPIC) before the obtaining their urine samples. On the course of the sampling process community representatives were involved from collecting the samples to the actual sampling, to engage the community in generating data thru citizen science research.

Of the three tests done in water and soil samples using the Abraxis Glyphosate strip test*, all resulted positive on the presence of Glyphosate. Glyphosate presence was detected among harvested and fresh corn kernel samples. Glyphosate was also detected among urine samples of three farmers.

Farmers, sectors call banning of Glyphosate and make Monsanto-Bayer accountable

The glyphosate strip test is simply meant to detect the presence of glyphosate in the soil and water. However, due to the ill effects associated with Glyphosate, the confirmation of the presence of the herbicide in soil, water, urine and corn kernels exposes the community to possible problems and should be of serious concern. Environmental scientist Dr Chito Medina, who led the said tests, shared about the potential effects of the persistence of Glyphosate in the environment. “Glyphosate presence can affect the soil ecosystem, such as microbial balance and the uptake of important nutrients needed by crops. Studies also show that it takes about four up to 180 days before Glyphosate degrades. As such, Glyphosate presence can be seen in the whole cropping season. Glyphosate presence in water samples indicate contamination of water sources used by the community for drinking and everyday use” said Medina.

“The use of glyphosate formulations was found to induce DNA damage and has been associated with increased risk of cancer especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, neurobehavioral disorders in children and birth defects and other diseases” said Dr Romeo Quijano, a UP Manila College of Medicine retired professor specializing in toxicology and chairperson of the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific. Dr Quijano furthered that “Glyphosate is included in Pesticide Action Network‘s (PAN) List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides targeted for global phase-out. The PAN monographs detail glyphosate’s adverse effects on humans, ecosystem functioning, pollination services, biological controls, soil fertility and crop health. PAN has strongly urged governments to adopt agroecological approaches to pest/weed management”.

Jennifer Guste, researcher of IBON foundation pointed out the influence of huge corporations on agricultural policies and plans. “Corporate domination of agriculture leaves farmers with few choices and high costs of inputs. The integration and monopoly of corporations, such as Monsanto-Bayer, aggravates the whole chain of food production, from seeds and raw materials to the market. The influence of these wealthy corporations makes them almost invincible to liability and redress, and thus must be countered”.

Farmers and sectors present are urging the local government and the relevant government agencies, particularly the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and the Dept of Health to conduct systematic studies of health and environmental impacts on glyphosate-using farming communities. Local government units and the DA are also called to support farmers to convert to alternative agricultural systems, providing production support for those who are shifting to non-GM corn farming, including providing non-GM corn seeds and promotion of diversified farming.

“We are calling the government to ban Glyphosate, and with it the use of herbicide-tolerant GM corn. Monsanto-Bayer, the producers of Glyphosate should likewise answer to the people who were affected by their product” said Cristino Panerio, National Coordinator of MASIPAG. “The government should enact stringent liability and redress mechanisms to exact responsibility and accountability from the herbicide producers, including just compensation mechanism for the glyphosate-affected farmers and communities” added Panerio./PT

STUDENTS DECRY INTIMIDATION BY SECURITY FORCES

ILOILO CITY – Earlier today, students from UPV Miagao experienced harassment by intimidation and interrogation by members of the UPV Special Security Forces (UPV SSF) after conducting their annual One Billion Rising and Lightning Protest initiated by Sandigan ng Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan (SAMASA UPV) and Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral at Kabataang Kababaihan (SAMAKAKA UPV).

Several members of the UPV SSF stationed at the entrance of CUB where the protest action happened. Two (2) of them approached the participants of the protest action asking to speak to the leader of SAMASA-UPV as they wanted to ask some questions and that “their chief wishes to speak directly to the leader of SAMASA in their office”. The UPV SSF were not able to provide a reason for their interrogation. A few minutes later, the two (2) UPV SSF were seen surveying CCTV Footage to further identify the participants of the protest actions.

SAMASA UPV condemned the act as it curtails their democratic rights inside the university. SAMASA UPV called on the people to remain vigilant and that the UPV administration stand with the students in protecting their right to speech, expression, and assembly. /PT

ALTERMIDYA CORRESPONDENT IN TACLOBAN ARRESTED

ILOILO City – Altermidya Network just received reports that our colleague in Tacloban, Frenchimae Cumpio of Eastern Vista, is one of the five arrested in an early morning raid today, February 7.

Cumpio were reportedly arrested with known human rights leaders in Tacloban City, including Marissa Cabaljao, spokesperson of People’s Surge Network. They are reportedly being charged with illegal possession of firearms and are detained at the Palo PNP office. 

Just a few days ago, Cumpio reported that the Eastern Vista office was the subject of surveillance, with unidentified persons patrolling the premises. She also reported being tailed by men in motorcycles, whom she believed were military assets.

Cumpio is currently the executive director of Eastern Vista and radio anchor of program Lingganay han Kamatuoran.

On Jan. 31, an unidentified person reportedly visited the premises of the Eastern Vista office. He was reportedly carrying a photo of Cumpio and a band of flowers while asking for the exact location of the office. Human rights groups have noted several incidents where state agents sent flowers to progressive groups as a form of death threat and intimidation. Cumpio has reportedly been under surveillance for several months now. 

The Altermidya believes that state forces are behind the relentless harassment against Eastern Vista, which has continuously reported on human rights issues in the Visayas including on military abuses. 

We condemn the Leyte police and state forces for this latest attack on Eastern Vista, our fellow community journalist Cumpio, and against people’s groups in Leyte. We demand their immediate and safe release, and call on the public to denounce this latest attempt to silence and intimidate independent media and human rights defenders. 

Together with our fellow journalists and the communities we serve, we condemn these rotten attempts that threaten press freedom and free expression./www.panaytoday.net

(Report from Altermidya Network)

[ALERT] Cops arrest, harass Radyo ni Juan reporter

A field reporter of Radyo ni Juan based in Tagum City, Davao del Norte was abritrarily arrested and detained, and harassed by police in Carmen town as he covered a protest by banana workers on Tuesday morning, January 21, 2020.

Interviewed by phone, Glenn Jester Hitgano said three policemen, who he could not identify, cut short his interview with the leader of the striking workers then took him to their station, some 10 meters away from the picket line, where one of the officers tried to handcuff him as the other claimed the reporter had “insulted” them by interviewing the protesters.

“They subjected me to psywar and harassed me, saying I was not allowed to carry out interviews,” Hitgano said.

The policemen also attempted to confiscate his phone and ordered him to erase his interview, but the reporter asserted his rights as a journalist and member of the local media.

After being held an hour, Hitgano said he managed to convince the police to release him by promising not to report on the protest.

The night before Hitgano’s arrest, the striking banana workers said they had been harassed by men in uniform.

Reference: Kath Cortez
Safety Officer, Eastern Mindanao
09398475242 / 09453503459

Relief Delivery Operation for Typhoon Ursula survivors was conducted by PCDR

ILOILO CITY – More than 400 families from Roxas City, Capiz received relief assistance from Panay Center for Disaster Response, Inc (PCDR), a non-government organization that serves vulnerable sectors affected by natural and man-made calamities in all provinces of Panay including Guimaras.

It has been 3 weeks since Typhoon Ursula struck the northern parts of Iloilo, Capiz, and Aklan. However, survivors still complain that they have not received any assistance from the government, while others said that the assistance from the government is not enough for the whole family.

Last January 15, 2020, PCDR together with Buylog Capiz and other volunteers conducted its second wave of Relief Delivery Operation in Roxas City, Capiz.

PCDR has also conducted RDO in Roxas City last December 29, 2019, serving a total of 500 families. According to its beneficiaries, PCDR was the first NGO to respond after Typhoon Ursula has struck.

According to Ms. Armie Almero, the Executive Director of PCDR, the assistance they delivered to the affected families of Typhoon Ursula will not be possible without the unity of its donors, volunteers, and partner organizations. Moreover, PCDR will continue to collect funds to deliver assistance to more affected areas, said Almero.

PNP 6 vilification and red-tagging, a desperate move – Bayan Panay

ILOILO City – Progressive group Bayan Panay called “a desperate move” the recent vilification and red-tagging post of the Philippine National Police Regional Office VI in their official Facebook Page Police Regional Office 6.

“The PNP’s desperate move to vilify us calling us “deceivers” speaks of the level of stupidity and ignorance of the PNP,” said Elmer Forro, the group’s secretary general.

In its official account, the Police Regional Office 6 posted a photo collage showing Bayan Panay members in a picket at Camp Delgado yesterday, January 15, 2020, rallyists burning a presumed effigy, a photo of CPP in what appears to be their 45th anniversary celebration and a spray painted wall calling for a revolution and not elections.

According to Forro, the picket at Camp Delgado only happened yesterday where they raised the issue of typhoon Ursula victims on the government’s slow and minimal response because they have not received ample help from the government due to bureaucratic red taping.

“Specifically, the picket was addressed to the Office of the Civil Defense as head of the inter-agency cluster in rescue and relief delivery operations for typhoon victims,” Forro added.

“For the PNP to vilify instead of hearing the issue [we are raising] only shows their fascist intentions to crackdown activists and legal democratic organizations,” Forro added.

For the PNP, Forro exclaimed, the legal mass movement is no different from the armed revolution waged by the CPP-NPA.

“They tend to put in a single basket everyone that they perceived as threats when in fact, they, the fascist troops are the real threats,” Forro said.

”They are the ones killing unarmed and innocent civilians especially farmers,” said Forro.

He added that the PNP is conducting illegal searches borne out from irregularly issued search warrants and worst, they plant pieces of evidence to make the whole thing legitimate.

For Bayan, the PNP is not truly aiming for peace.

”They are the spoilers of peace and are warmongers by nature. They profit from the Task Force ELCAC through thousands of fake surrenders they made up. These are the people that must be condemned,” the group said.

Bayan reminded the PNP that they are working within the metes and bounds of their constitutional democratic rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

”We call on the PNP to stop this madness and make proper use of the people’s taxes they are using to vilify and red-tag us, and serve and protect the people they are tasked to defend,” the group said./www.panaytoday.net

NPA active defense results in PNP casualties in Iloilo

ILOILO City – The New People’s Army Napoleon Tumagtang Command – Larangan Dose admitted to having caused the casualties of the PNP 1st Provincial Mobile Force members yesterday, December 23, around 9:30 in the morning.

In a statement released to the media this afternoon, Ka Ariston Remus said that the military action was in response to the five-day Oplan Galugad by the combined forces of the AFP and PNP that started December 19 in the territories of the people’s revolutionary government.

According to Remus, PNP regional spokesperson Lt. Col. Joem Malong already admitted that their forces, composed of four columns of more than 100 composite members from the 1st Provincial Mobile Force and Regional Mobile Force that came from Janiuay, are conducting the Oplan Galugad.

But the wide mass base support, according to Remus, provided the NPA the upper hand against the offensive attacks of the state forces and turned the situation in their favor that resulted in two harassment actions that resulted in casualties in the PNP.

The first incident happened on December 21 where three casualties were reportedly taken to the hospital by ambulance via Leon route evening of December 22. Yesterday’s incident was a result of a command-detonated explosive that went off in Brgy. Singon, Tubungan.

Remus added that Malong is lying when she said PNP forces have been pulled-out in response to the Suspension of Police Operation (SOPO).

Before the firefight, a column of the state forces was spotted in Brgy. Nagba, Tubungan. Around 6 a.m yesterday, military presence was also reported in Brgy. Ayubo of the same town and as of press time, another column of the Special Action Forces was in Brgy. Cawilihan, Leon. This is clear treachery despite the ceasefire declaration, said Remus.

All units of the NPA according to Remus are ready to implement the order of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its higher command to cease from implementing tactical offensives as a response to the peoples’ celebration of Christmas and New Year. However, the NPA will remain in active defense mode, Remus explained./www.panaytoday.net

International Political Prisoner’s Day Celebration, Visitors Barred from Visiting Political Prioners.

ILOILO CITY – Yesterday, on the celebration of the International Political Prisoner’s Day, families, friends, IFI priests, Karapatan and Bayan were barred by the Negros Occidental Detention Jail (NODJ) warden from visiting the Political Prisoners (PPs) detained at the NODJ in Brgy. Abuanan, Bago City, Negros Occidental.

In a press release Karapatan said that they were able to send a request letter dated November 27, 2019 to NODJ and was duly received by the warden himself. In the letter, they formally informed the NODJ of their intention to visit the 40 PPs as well as hold a holy mass to be officiated by the IFI priests. However, they only received the feedback last December 2 in the afternoon saying that their request to hold a holy mass will not be allowed and that only the declared family members listed by the prisoners will be allowed to visit. Moreover, only 5 members of Karapatan and another 5 from Bayan will be allowed to visit the PPs. Karapatan tried to appeal for humanitarian consideration since the families traveled far just to see their detained relatives, whom they haven’t seen for a long time, however, their requests were denied.

Karapatan, together with the families of the PPs were outraged with what Jail Senior Inspector Norberto Miciano did to curtail the rights of the PPs to be visited by their families especially on the celebration of the International Day of Political Prisoners.

According to the PPs themselves, Miciano even tried to intimidate and threaten them inside the jail.

According to Karapatan, their clients were all innocent and were only victims of fabricated charges for criticizing the anti-people policies and programs of the rotten administration of president Duterte. Karapatan added that they will not let these inhumane acts to pass and that they will continue to assert people’s rights whenever and wherever it takes.

Free all Political Prisoners!
Activists are not criminals!
Defend Human Rights!
Defend Negros!###

panaytoday.net

POOLED EDITORIAL | Community journalism is not a crime: Stop disinformation on Negros 57! Free Anne Krueger!

Today, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Altermidya Network is calling on the Duterte administration to immediately release Negros-based community journalist Anne Krueger, who was unlawfully arrested with 56 others in simultaneous raids on various offices in Bacolod City last October 31.

That Krueger was supposedly taking part in a military training of the New People’s Army in the regional office of the women’s group Gabriela is nothing short of ludicrous.

A live video broadcast on Facebook by Krueger minutes before her arrest clearly shows that evidence was being planted by the authorities who conducted the raid.

Major General Antonio Parlade, Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, is also peddling outright lies when he named Krueger as “Deputy Secretary for Cultural/Propaganda and Deputy Secretary for Social Media” of a supposed regional committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

First of all, being arrested for doing “social media” work is clearly a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression and of the press. Secondly, the military always red-tags journalists and other activists they want to silence.

Krueger is not a combatant and is in fact a community journalist and one of the founders of Paghimutad, an alternative media group covering the Island of Negros. Paghimutad was formed after the Sagay 9 massacre in response to the growing human rights violations in the island. Despite the culture of fear in Negros, Paghimutad and its volunteer community journalists courageously filled the void of information, publishing audio-visual reports through social media.

During Altermidya’s Third National Congress held in Quezon City last September, Paghimutad, represented by Krueger herself, was recognized as a new member of the network, which currently comprises more than 30 independent and community-based media outfits all over the country.

Krueger is also an organizer for the BPO Industry Employees Network, assisting and helping call center workers in their campaign and legal battle against mandatory overtime. We enjoin the public to join us in exposing the lies being heaped upon the Negros 57, including Krueger.

Many of those arrested are known leaders of mass organizations and have been vital sources of information for the media, such as John Milton Lozande, secretary general of the National Federation of Sugar Workers.

Also included in the mass arrests are more than 20 bus workers who were consulting with the regional labor center of Kilusang Mayo Uno when the raids happened.

We call on our colleagues in the media to get at the truth behind these arrests. Local authorities must provide the media and other human rights defenders access to the detainees, who have a right to be heard.

Right now, we are mostly hearing the voices of those who have monopoly of power, ignoring facts and the rule of law as they please. Let us not let disinformation prevail. If we allow such mass arrests to go unquestioned in Negros, we are in fact allowing it to go unquestioned anywhere in the country today.


Reference: Prof. Luis V. Teodoro,
Altermidya national chairperson

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.