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DUTERTE’S FINAL SONA, GREETED BY PROTEST ACTIONS IN PANAY DESPITE RAINFALL, ECQ STATUS

ILOILO CITY – Together with President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26, 2021, thousands marched and protested all around the world under a unified call to #DuterteWakasanNa (End Duterte Now!).
In the international, progressive groups led by Migrante and ILPS protested in Washington, Texas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York in the USA, Toronto in Canada, and Hongkong.
Thousands have also protested in different regions in the country. Despite threats of COVID-19 pandemic and the intimidation of the state forces, protesters still pushed through with their activity and marched in Metro Manila, Bicol Region, Cebu City, Bacolod City, and Davao City.
In Panay, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay together with other progressive organizations staged a decentralized protests in Iloilo City, Northern Iloilo, Kalibo in Aklan, and Roxas City in Capiz, despite intermittent rain showers, being under ECQ status, and threats of the state forces.
Iloilo City protesters called for 10,000 pesos subsidy to those affected by the pandemic lockdown, additional budget and improvement of healthcare system in the country, safe resumption of face-to-face classes, and the lifting of the ECQ status in the region. The group also called to junk the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which only worsens the economic impact of the pandemic.
In Northern Iloilo, farmers and fisherfolks under Paghugpong sang Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS) also called for cash subsidy to those not only affected by the pandemic lockdown but also to those greatly affected by the Southwest Monsoon or Habagat. Fisherfolks said that they have been dislocated from their livelihood for almost a month now as they cannot go to the sea to fish due to large waves. Peasant group further called for genuine agrarian reform, to defend West Philippine Sea, and to junk the Rice Liberalization Law as well as the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Moreover, Aklan protesters led by BAYAN-Aklan brought to their protest the call to junk the proposed bill of creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). According to Kim-Sin Tugna, BAYAN-Aklan’s Chairperson, BIDA as a GOCC would only result in the displacement of the locals and of the workers. The group also called to abolish the NTF-ELCAC and to end all forms of state sponsored harassment and red-tagging, which has just experienced by one of its members, George Calaor.
“We will exert all our efforts to frustrate the administration’s maneuvers to hold on to power and hold them accountable for their crimes against the people,” said BAYAN-Panay.
REACTION TO DUTERTE’S LAST SONA
To BAYAN-Panay, Duterte’s last SONA is just a reiteration of what he usually says, and only focused on two problems in his mind: drugs, and insurgency.
“More than 30,000 have already been killed in his drug war, and more than 400 political activists, human rights workers, farmers, workers, indigenous people, and many other mass leaders were extrajudicially killed. About 30 of these are from Panay,” said Bryan Bosque, BAYAN-Panay’s deputy spokesperson.
The group also called Duterte a liar when he said that 17,000 rebel communists have surrendered during his time when the state forces only claimed before that there were only 3,000-4,000 or less rebels left in the country. “They [state forces] are the ones that benefitted from the ‘surrenderers’,” said Bosque.
“What he boasted as ‘economic growth’ is nothing but lies,” Bosque added. The group cited IBON Foundation’s report wherein the GDP growth of the country has consistently decreased from 2016-2019, when pandemic still did not happen. From 7.1% in 2016, GDP became 6.9% in 2017, 6.3% in 2018, and 6.0% in 2019.
Bosque further added that a lot of Filipinos still suffer from severe hunger, poverty, and unemployment. Meanwhile, the group said, Duterte and his ilk prioritizes their preparation for the upcoming 2022 presidential elections, in a desperate attempt to extend its power and evade accountability for his gross neglect of the Filipino’s sovereign and democratic rights.
BAYAN-Panay was also dismayed during Duterte’s final SONA as he failed to even mention his plans of distributing assistance to those affected by the pandemic, and on how to improve the overall state of the country’s healthcare system.
The group challenged all Panayanons to unite and take inspiration in the online Tumindig movement inspired by artist Tarantadong Kalbo, and called to realize this movement offline. /PT

AKLANON ACTIVIST FACED ANOTHER ATTACK FROM NTF-ELCAC

KALIBO, AKLAN – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Aklan’s provincial chairperson, George Calaor, yet received another libelous remark from the state forces during a joint police and military welcome ceremony for the 14 alleged rebel returnees in Libacao town, Aklan last July 8, 2021.
According to Calaor’s statement sent to the media, Atty. Ronilo Inventado, who represented the Department of Justice in the said event, claimed to be in dismay with the activist who, despite being such a gifted student before, has chosen the wrong path. Moreover, Inventado claimed to be closely acquainted with Calaor, who was his former classmate in one of the subjects in AB class during college. However, Calaor said that he was never enrolled in any AB classes as he was taking up Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) back in Aklan Catholic College, formerly Aklan College. Furthermore, Calaor said that Inventado has never been closely acquainted to him nor was his classmate before.
Calaor denounced the malicious vilification by Inventado and condemned the continuous red-tagging perpetuated by the state against him and his fellow activists in Aklan.
“I believe he used his fabricated knowledge about me to build his credibility to convince the people that I am a terrorist,” said Calaor. Moreover, Calaor said that Inventado’s claim “is a blatant lie and clear fabrication to belie his intent to further their efforts to condition the mind of every Aklanons that I am atrocious, that the likes of me [have] no place in this world and that my acts and advocacy should not be followed by every citizen”.
According to Calaor, the continuous attacks against their ranks by the state’s elements in the province of Aklan, clearly manifests the ruthless, barbaric and desperate effort of the National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict (ELCAC) to condition the minds of every Aklanons for the possible events of illegal and warrantless search and arrest likewise extra-judicial killings in the province.
Calaor also declared that Atty. Ronilo Inventado’s prejudgment against the correctness of his political standpoint and principle is malicious and baseless.
“I was not astray and have not wasted my gift of knowledge when I decided to selflessly submit myself to the masses and joined them in their nationalist and democratic struggle for genuine freedom and democracy. I cannot afford to put a price to my service at the expense of the unjust sufferings from landlessness and exploited labor of the peasants and workers,” said Calaor. “I challenge his objectivity to be critical on how the US-Duterte government gallantly wasted people’s money in the NTF-ELCAC while being so inutile in responding to the urgent needs of the Aklanons in this trying time under the pandemic. I also challenge Atty. Inventado prove his allegations in the proper venue to put merit to his representation,” Calaor added.
In a final statement, Calaor challenged Atty. Ronilo Inventado for public retraction of his statement against him. He also calls the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate and make the involved element of the state be made accountable for orchestrating malicious and baseless attacks against him and his fellow activists in Aklan. Calaor also appeals to every citizen to support his plea.
Who is Calaor?
Calaor is graduate of Bachelor of Secondary Education (BSED) not AB, from Aklan College now Aklan Catholic College in Kalibo, Aklan.
He is the Provincial Chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Aklan.
Calaor is also a poet and have published of book entitled Uyayi Ng Himagsik, a collection of poetry of love and struggle. Some of his works are also published in various literary folios and publications, local and abroad.
Calaor is among personalities and leaders of BAYAN and MAKABAYAN bloc in posters red-tagged as organizers of legal front organizations of the CPP and New People’s Army (NPA) posted in the strategic areas of Iloilo in 2018 and 2019, and in Aklan on 2020./PT

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. # # #

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

WESTERN VISAYAS BISHOPS CONDEMN TUMANDOK 9 MASSACRE

ILOILO CITY – Eight (8) bishops across Western Visayas, in their pastoral letter signed 15th January 2021, expressed their strongest condemnation to the massacre of nine (9) Tumandok leaders and the illegal arrest of 16 others during the joint operation of the AFP and PNP last December 30, 2020.
“WE CONDEMN in the strongest possible term, all the KILLINGS and especially, the KILLINGS of our BROTHERS– the TUMANDOKS,” said bishops.
The bishops also empathized with the Tumandoks especially to the family of the Tumandok 9. They demanded for a thorough investigation of the incident by an independent body; for the government, the church, and the business community to “listen to the legitimate cries of the Tumandoks against the construction of the Jalaur Mega Dam;” to stop the militarization of IP communities; for the state forces to follow the ethical standard in their operations; and for the police officers to use body cameras in all its operations to prevent false accusations, and to protect the civilians from the use of violence or abuse of power.
“We also encourage the ILONGGO community to reach out in compassion to our bereaved and displaced TUMANDOK brothers and sisters,” the bishops said.
The bishops ended, “let us all together contribute whatever we can do to: STOP THE KILLINGS; RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE TO LIVE IN PEACE; and STOP THE MILITARIZATION OF THE IP COMMUNITIES!”
Read the Pastoral Letter of Western Visayas Bishops on the Tumandok Killings HERE

BAYAN-AKLAN’S DIALOGUE WITH AKELCO, A SUCCESS

KALIBO, AKLAN – The dialogue launched by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Aklan with Aklan Electric Cooperative (AKELCO) on December 10 was a success. The said dialogue was part of their activities in line with the commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of International Human Rights Day.

BAYAN-Aklan laid out their suggestions regarding the Power Supply Disconnection Freeze signed by the members of different organizations who are also consumers of the AKELCO.

AKELCO immediately responded to some of the group’s appeals  such as agreeing to accept a promissory note addressed to AKELCO’s administrator from its consumers for a staggered basis of payment or an installment based on the capacity of the consumers to pay.

The said dialogue was pushed through as many consumers were worried about their combined bills from April 2020 to December 2020. AKELCO also agreed to reduce the cost of the installment of electricity meters.

Moreover, AKELCO promised that their administration will discuss other matters and concerns submitted to them by their consumers through BAYAN-Aklan, and that it will be open for future dialogues as soon as possible.

According to Kim-Sin Tugna, BAYAN-Aklan’s spokesperson, victory can only be achieved through the unwavering support and mobilization of the people. He added that such victory of the Akeanon people will serve as an inspiration to achieve real social change./PT

RED-TAGGED CITY HEALTH OFFICER, HUSBAND GUNNED DOWN IN NEGROS ORIENTAL

ILOILO City – Guihulngan City top health officer Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan and husband Edwin Sancelan, also a government employee, were shot dead around 5:20 this afternoon by a riding-in-tandem near their residence at Carmen Ville Subdivision, Brgy. Poblacion, Guihulngan City. Dr. Sancelan served as an incident commander of Guihulngan’s Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID).

According to human rights group Karapatan Negros Island, Dr. Sancelan was named number one in the so called “hitlist” of Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (KAGUBAK), an anti-communist vigilante group in Negros Oriental in 2017.

Dr. Sancelan was tagged as JB Regalado, the spokesperson of Leonardo Panaligan Command of NPA-Central Negros.

Karapatan condemned the killing and believed that this is part of the liquidation operation of the NTF- ELCAC.

The “hitlist” also included Public Attorney’s Office lawyer Atty. Anthony Trinidad who was killed on July 2019 and activist Haide Malalay Flores who was killed on August 2018./www.panaytoday.net

 

(Photo from from Dr. Sancelan Facebook account)

TUMANDOKS FORCED TO SIGN PERSONA NON GRATA AGAINST CPP-NPA-NDF

ILOILO – The NTF-ELCAC is now forcing the Tumandoks (Indigenous Peoples) to sign a declaration stating the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona-non-grata.

According to Barangay Captain Jobelyn Giganto of Barangay Lahug, Tapaz, Capiz, they have been visited or summoned, several times already, by members of the NTF-ELCAC and the military to force to them to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF as persona non grata in their barangay.

Barangay Lahug is the only remaining barangay in the municipality of Tapaz that have not signed nor agreed in the said declaration.

According to Captain Giganto, they have no bases to work it out. If they have to ban somebody from entering their community, it should be the members of the military and the NTF-ELCAC who have been spreading fear and panic among the people since they entered the village in June.

The council and the people have presented the problem to Mayor Roberto Palomar of Tapaz but the Mayor himself also forced them to sign the declaration.

The people were disappointed with the Mayor’s reaction, who they thought would defend their rights even more as the military pressures them.

According to the threats of the military, they may increase their forces in the community or replace their forces with even more violent groups, however, the Tumandoks are firm with their stand to defend their rights and be free from the dictates of the military and the NTF-ELCAC.

In Tacayan, also in Tapaz, the military took control of the Barangay Council and ordered the people to relocate near the center of the barangay or along the road. They were only given until December to move and the Tumandoks view that it will have an intense impact on their farming.

Many leaders of the Tumandok organization have been summoned and interrogated by the military several times already.

The victims sought refuge in the office of the Commission on Human Rights last week to seek assistance for the ongoing military harassment in their community./PT

EX-SOLON APPEALS WITH SUPREME COURT FOR WRIT OF AMPARO

ILOILO City – Former Bayan Muna Representative Siegfred Deduro has asked yesterday, November 4, the Supreme Court to grant his petition for the writ of amparo after it was dismissed by the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court Branch 24 last October 26.

Deduro filed the petition on October 22 but RTC Judge Nestle Go dismissed the petition for “lack of substantial evidence”. The court further ruled that the petition was “baseless and untenable”.

In a statement, Deduro believed that his petition for the writ of amparo and the evidence submitted with it was sufficient for the issuance of the writ.

Deduro was accused by the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army of being the third-ranking official of the CPP-NPA in Panay, in its so-called “terrorist threat” at the June 19, 2020 meeting of the Iloilo Peace and Order Council at the Old Capitol Building of Iloilo Province.

The said meeting was attended by Iloilo Province Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr., members of the AFP, employees from the provincial capitol and members of the media, among others.

On the same day, the media outfit Bombo Radyo Iloilo thru its Facebook page posted photos wherein the 3rd ID presented a diagram of CPP-NPA leadership in Panay. Deduro’s name appeared twice in one of the slides.

The human rights group Panay Alliance Karapatan said they are alarmed over the quick dismissal by the RTC of Deduro’s petition.

“Given these recent murders and considering the more insidious red-tagging presently undertaken by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and their agents, we fear that Deduro and other human rights defenders are in similarly grave danger,” said Reylan Vergara, the group’s secretary general.

The group added that their concern is not without basis.

Zara Alvarez, another prominent activist in Negros became a victim of extra-judicial killing in Bacolod City early this year. Prior to her murder, Alvarez experienced red-tagging and threats to her life for her work as a human rights defender.

After being included by the Armed Forces in the list of persons subject for proscription as a member of an alleged terrorist organization, Alvarez was a member of human rights organizations that sought protection through a petition for a writ of amparo filed with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court delegated to the Court of Appeals the task of hearing their petition. Last year, the Court of Appeals denied the petition for amparo.

Zara Alvarez was murdered on the evening of August 17, 2020. She was shot multiple times when she went out of her house to buy food. Her assailant left her body lying on the ground amidst the pouring rain.”

Before Alvarez’s murder, on the morning of April 30, 2020, another one of Deduro’s colleagues, Bayan Muna Iloilo City Coordinator Jory Porquia was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen. He was also the subject of repeated red-tagging dating back to December 2018.

“We appeal to the courts to be more considerate of the circumstances of those who seek protection under special proceedings such as the Writ of Amparo. In these times, when the Executive is blatantly targeting citizens who stand up for democratic rights, we look upon the Judiciary as a refuge for those who, as a result of their work, find their lives in peril,” said Vergara.

Deduro added that “even the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights cited, in its report released in June 2020, the pervasive red-tagging in the country and its detrimental effect to civil society.”

“I now turn to the Supreme Court and ask it to set aside the RTC’s order of dismissal and issue a writ of amparo in my favor,” Deduro said.

The Writ of Amparo, as a special proceeding, is meant to be a recourse for those whose lives, liberty and security are under threat.

“I will not cease to seek protection from the court to stop the impunity of the military and PNP from red-tagging activists like me,” said Deduro.

“The recent killings of my colleagues, Porquia and Alvarez, show that the threats are very real, and not baseless,” Deduro stressed./www.panaytoday.net

PANAY FISHERMEN SUE FOR HELP DURING FISH BAN

ILOILO – Food Producers are starving. This was the statement of small fisherfolks in a dialogue held at the office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office 6 on October 16, World Food Day, to present the condition they face and to demand immediate assistance.

According to small-scale fisherfolks, they are facing poverty and hunger. According to them, when typhoon Ursula struck in December 2019 and the implementation of the lockdown due to COVID-19, they lost an average of PHP 3,000 per month in their income. This is due to the high cost of fishing equipment and loans due to the effects of typhoon Ursula. According to them, the start of offseason or fishban in the Visayan Sea will increase their income lost.

According to the data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority this September, the total fisheries production in the region decreased by 0.62% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This adds to the declining production since the last quarter of 2019 at -6.89% compared to the same quarter in 2018, based on the data released last March 2020. There is a significant decrease in production in municipal waters, which is at -16.6% in the first quarter of 2020 and -12.35% in the last quarter of 2019.

According to PAMANGGAS, it is sad that during the celebration of World Food Day, our farmers and fishermen, who are considered food security frontliners, are starving due to government’s negligence. So it is fitting to call the day of October 16 as World Hunger Day since majority of our food producers are hungry.

The group blames the agency for its lack of program to directly help small-scale fishermen.

According to BFAR, their mandate is to secure the oceans not covered by municipal waters, and only assist LGUs with their programs. LGUs should be the ones to approach small-scale fishermen as LGUs have jurisdiction over municipal waters under the law./PT