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Farmers March for Land, Aid, and Justice

October 22, ILOILO Farmers held protest actions across the country last October 21 to voice out their call for land, aid and justice.

Together with progressive organizations led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP), the protest action is the culmination of the group’s October Peasant Month campaign. The protest action also commemorates the signing of Presidential Decree 27 or the land reform program of former Ferdinand Marcos.

According to Danilo Ramos, the chairperson of the KMP, PD 27 and subsequent agrarian reform programs have failed to destroy monopoly on land that has pushed farmers into extreme poverty.

According to KMP’s data, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program does not cover various lands especially those with 8% slope. The group added that the total 5.4 million hectares covered by CARP is only 44% of the total 12.4 million hectares of arable land. As of August 2021 alone, there were only a total of 2.9 million CARP beneficiaries and did not include the nearly 10.75 million farmers registered on various agrarian reform lists of the government.

Farmers from Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are demanding that agricultural lands, especially paddy fields, be protected against land use conversion. According to the KMP, Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary has become the hotspot for land conversions.

Farmers also called for a Php 15,000 production subsidy. According to PAMANGGAS, the pandemic has worsened their situation but they have not received adequate support from the government. The P5,000 cash assistance provided by the DA to the farmers is selective and not enough to address the production losses of the farmers.

Amihan, meanwhile, challenged those running for the presidency to address the farmers’ demands for land, aid and justice. The group challenges the candidates for presidency to lay concrete platforms that will address the decades-old call for genuine land reform, support services and production subsidies, and justice for all the victims of human rights violations.

The protest and call were joined by farmers from the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Panay and other parts of the country./PT

OPINION | FRUSTRATE DUTERTE’S DYNASTIC SUCCESSION BID IN THE 2022 ELECTIONS

OPINION | FRUSTRATE DUTERTE’S DYNASTIC SUCCESSION BID IN THE 2022 ELECTIONS

By Siegfred Deduro, former Bayan Muna Representative, is a human rights defender, environmentalist, and fair-trade advocate.

 

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte running for Vice President in the 2022 elections is unprecedented in the country’s history. Political observers view such move as a circumvention of the ban against the re-election of a President under the 1987 Constitution.  Duterte claims that, if he wins, he will be gain immunity from suit from the International Criminal Court and local courts.

Mayor Sara Duterte’s public pronouncements as to her uncertainty in running for president does not concur with her own actions.  She has been busy visiting potential allies in vote-rich regions, organized a nationwide campaign network, and her supporters have adorned strategic areas with posters and billboards bearing the message “Run Sara, Run!”.

Duterte’s playbook involves confusing the public and his opponents and using squid tactics to obfuscate and deflect politically damaging issues. He played the public by discouraging Sara from running for president, and having Sen. Bong Go chosen as the presidential candidate for the Cusi-led faction of PDP-Laban. Eventually, Bong Go declined the nomination for presidency and offered himself to Sara Duterte as a potential VP candidate, should President Duterte withdraw his own VP candidacy under the Cusi-led faction.

Duterte brags that he would again trounce the Opposition in the 2022 elections, like he did in 2016 and 2019. But can he do it under the present circumstances?

Duterte has a seemingly formidable advantage in terms of the resources and machinery that come with the presidency. He posted high ratings despite so many negative issues against him in dubious poll surveys conducted amidst a climate of fear and impunity and waves of extra-judicial killings and militarized restrictions during the pandemic.

Effectively using pork barrel and intimidation, Duterte controls a supermajority of congressmen in the House of Representatives.

He caused the ouster of former Supreme Court Justice Sereno and the overwhelming majority of the Court are justices he appointed.

Two months before the upcoming elections, after Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho retire on Feb. 2, 2022, all COMELEC Commissioners will be Duterte appointees, joining Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo and Antonio Kho Jr. – the three incumbent commissioners previously appointed during his term.

Moreover, Dennis Uy, the owner of F2 Logistics and Duterte’s rising crony and biggest campaign contributor in the 2016 elections, won the bidding for a ₱1.61-billion contract with the COMELEC to transport 2022 election paraphernalia.

The Anti-Terrorism Act, though still pending review by the Supreme Court, is now in effect, further aggravating the impunity in red-tagging, persecution, and extra-judicial killings targeting critics of the government.

As the pandemic worsens, militarized lockdowns are used to justify the repression of protest actions.

Duterte has an organized and competent core of personnel effectively playing the public towards their desired goal.

Strategic Communications Laboratories or SCL Group, which owns the political consultancy at the centre of a Facebook data-harvesting scandal linked to the 2016 US presidential race, boasted on its website that it helped get Duterte elected in 2016 by rebranding him as a tough crime fighter.

Facebook has shut down over 100 fake accounts traced to police and military units in the Philippines for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior”, according to Nathaniel Gleicher, cyber-security policy chief of the said social media organization.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Kris R. Ablan confirmed that the PCOO hired 375 contractual employees which cost the office P70 million last year. These contractual employees are suspected to be trolls or people paid to anonymously interfere in shaping political opinion online.

Human rights group KARAPATAN suffered a massive and prolonged Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack for three weeks. The attack came only a month after waves of DDoS attacks targeting the alternative online publications Bulatlat and Altermidya.

Qurium Media Foundation, a Swedish non-profit digital security solutions provider linked the attacks to the Philippine government.

The DDoS attacks are taking place amid the online solidarity campaign #StopTheKillingsPH co-hosted by KARAPATAN, which marks one year since human rights organizations and advocates across the world launched the call to stop the killings in the Philippines and to prosecute Duterte for his crimes against the Filipino people.

On the other hand, Duterte is fast losing his grip on political initiative and is becoming increasingly isolated.

He is now trapped in the quagmire of obviously-fraudulent transactions red-flagged by the Commission on Audit involving executive agencies like the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Services, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, among others. The people are aghast with this blatant waste of billions of public funds in the middle of a pandemic, even as the government incurs trillions in debt.

The “smoking gun” goes up to Malacanang!

Like a boxer successively hit by a combination of haymakers, Duterte appears to be “losing his buttons” in his daily press conferences, ranting and vilifying the COA and the Senators conducting a legislative inquiry into these suspicious transactions, and appealing to the people to trust him. Duterte has no moral authority in his avowed fight against corruption.

Duterte is unrepentant and in denial of his administration’s epic failure in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The utter failure to contain the spread of the virus is the hallmark of Duterte and his militarized Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID).

As of Sept. 5, there are 20,019 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total infections to 2,080,984 with 157,438 active cases; 20,089 new recoveries bringing the total to 1,889,312; and 173 new deaths, bringing the total fatalities to 34,234.

On September 2, according to the Pharmaceutical Technology webpage, only 13.2% of the country’s population is full vaccinated, five months after first jabs were administered.  This is too slow if the target is to vaccinate 70% of the population to achieve herd immunity. The vaccines administered include a slew of various brands, a large portion of which were donated by the WHO COVAX facility and China.  The so-called “Vaccine Czar”, ex-General Carlito Galvez, showed his incompetence in ensuring a prompt and steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines.  With the current rate of vaccine roll-out, herd immunity may not be achieved until the May 2022 elections. The much hyped “vaccine hesitancy” is a minor problem; the biggest problem is the lack of vaccines.

In a recent congressional budget hearing, a former DOH Secretary and now party-list representative, revealed that “Vaccine Czar” Galvez has been sitting on a multi-party (LGU, private sector, national government) signed purchase order of 10 million doses of vaccines.

The government has now realized the folly of imposing militarized general lockdowns after the Gross Domestic Product decreased by 9.5% in 2020. It is the sharpest dip on record since data dating back to 1947, and also the first GDP decline since 1998 (-0.5%).  According to epidemiology experts, general lockdowns is like “burning a house to kill a rat”.

The Coalition for People’s Right to Health asserts that lockdowns are ineffective if contact tracing and mass testing are not effectively undertaken to identify hot spots of infection. Insufficient assistance to affected communities aggravates hunger among the poor.

Before the end of her term, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court sought authorization from The Hague tribunal to open a full investigation into Duterte’s ongoing war on drugs that killed thousands of people, including innocent children. She said preliminary probe that began in February 2018 determined “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019, which was when Duterte ordered that the Philippines withdraw from the court.

As an ordinary citizen, Duterte faces a real possibility of imprisonment for his numerous crimes against the people and the nation, in the same manner that his predecessors – Estrada and Arroyo – were imprisoned.

With Duterte’s tolerance of Chinese incursions into Philippine maritime areas, the latter is getting bolder in claiming portions of Philippine patrimony. Reports now point to the possibility that in crafting a Code of Conduct for all Asian claimants in the West Philippine Sea, China would likely insist on formalizing its claim and military bases in the Spratly islands and Panatag Shoal where it seems intent on setting up similar installations. Duterte has said he will not oppose China if they do that. The vast majority of Filipinos are infuriated at this treasonous collaboration with China.

Defying risks and threats of militarized policies and lockdowns, the people nationwide launched militant protest actions against repressive policies, continuing extra-judicial killings and the persecution of dissenters, and demand just compensation for their work, among others. The ban on rallies is the only reason why gigantic protest actions don’t happen. As direct street protests are banned, the social media and mainstream media is rife with people’s gripes against Duterte’s incompetence, corruption, human rights violations and betrayal in the West Philippine Sea.

The rift among the local elite is widening. Former allies, notably Sen. Pacquiao, Sen. Lacson, Rep. Alvarez and former Sen. Pimentel have joined the opposition. The anti-Duterte broad opposition is increasingly gaining traction.

Political isolation, failed management of the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening economic crisis, treason in the WPS, human rights violations and international isolation, growing strength of the people’s movement and widening rift within the local elite will weigh heavier that Duterte’s advantages. The people will prevail in the 2022 elections. ###

EX-ILOILO CITY TOP COP, MASTERMIND BEHIND MULLER MURDER, SAYS SUSPECT

ILOILO CITY – “Although this is not surprising, it is a scary thing to know.” This was the reaction of BAYAN Panay when former Iloilo assemblyman Salvador Britanico revealed former ICPO Director Police Colonel Martin Defensor’s involvement in the murder of Alain Muller last January 19, 2020.

Police Colonel Defensor is now serving as the chief directorial staff of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6).

Britanico’s exposé of Defensor’s involvement was based on the sworn testimony made by Police Corporal Joseph Andrew Joven, one of the four suspects and the one who served as the driver of the car used in the murder.

According to Salvador Britanico, Joven also claimed that Defensor offered him between P5,000-P50,000 to stay silent on Defensor’s supposed involvement in the two cases. But the former assemblyman clarified that Defensor did not order the murder of his son, Delfin, who was killed minutes after the murder of Muller.

According to BAYAN Panay, this only proves the public’s speculations that there exist a kill, kill, kill policy within the police where they execute individuals who are allegedly involve in cases of illegal drugs.

BAYAN Panay also adds that it would not be farfetched to assume that the police also had a hand in the murder of Jory Porquia as he was under surveillance operations by Villa Police Station weeks before his death.

BAYAN Panay urges the swift investigation of these cases so as to give justice to the victims. The group further said that the police should not wonder why there is public distrust and disgust towards the them as they are the top human rights violators, which is in contrast to their mandate “to serve and protect.”

BAYAN Panay also demands that all murderers should be made accountable for their crimes, most especially the ultimate mastermind who is President Rodrigo Duterte. /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)

MGA HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP, DISMAYADO SA RESOLUSYON SANG UNHRC!

SYUDAD SANG ILOILO – Nadismaya ang mga human rights group sa pungsod matapos nga gin-adoptar sang United Nations Human Rights Council ang isa ka resolusyon nga indi na pag-imbestigahan ang madata nga paglapas sang tawhanon nga kinamatarung sa pungsod.

Imbes sang imbestigasyon, ginaduso sang resolusyon nga suportahan ang mga tikang sang gobyerno sang Pilipinas sa pagpangapin sa tawhanon nga kinamatarung.

Suno sa grupo nga EcuVoice, ang pag-atras sang imbestigasyon kag pagsuporta sa gobyerno sang Pilipinas isa ka pagpanginwala sang matuod nga itsura sang kahimtangan sang tawhanon nga kinamatarung sa Pilipinas.

Dugang pa nila, mangin makahulugan lamang ang ini nga bag-o nga resolusyon para sa mga pamilya sang biktima kung mapasabat ang mga may kahimuan sang sini nga mga human rights violations sa pungsod.

Madumduman nga madugay na nga naga request ang mga human rights group sa pungsod sang internasyunal nga imbestigasyon tuhoy sa kahimtangan sang tawhanon nga kinamatarung sa Pilipinas bangud sang kapalpakan sang justice system sa Pilipinas nga mahatagan sang hustisya ang mga nabiktima sang human rights violations.

Suno naman kay Atty. Edre Olalia, presidente sang National Union of Peoples Lawyers, kulang ka tama ang mga tikang sa pagpangapin ukon pagkilala sang tawhanon nga kinamatarung sa pungsod kag indi ini mahingabunan sang anuman nga resolusyon.

Suno naman sa Chief of Staff ni Senador Leila de Lima nga si Atty. Fhilip Sawali, ang nasambit nga resolusyon ang tuman na ka ulihi, tuman ka gamay, kag tuman ka huyang nga indi gani makahatag sang silot sa mga human rights violators.

Sa pahayag naman sang grupo nga Karapatan, kulang ang resolusyon sang mga desaysibo nga tikang para sulbaron ang nagalala nga kahimtangan sang tawhanon nga kinamatarung sa pungsod.

Suno kay Cristina Palanay, secretary general sang Karapatan, nagapati sila nga ang technical cooperation kag capacity-building ang indi makapugong sa administrasyong Duterte sa paglapas sang tawhanon nga kinamatarung.

Dugang pa niya, mapa-untat lamang ini kung mapa-untat man ang madata nga pagpamatay, pagpreso sang may kahimuan sini, pagbasura sang mga layi nga naga-perpetrar sini kag ang mismo pagkundukta sang independent ivestigations.

Suno sa ila, kung gusto sang United Nations nga mauntat ang madata nga human rights violations sa pungsod, dapat iduso nga makasulod sila sa pungsod agud nga mag-imbestiga.

Ginhangkat naman ni Palabay nga kung wala ini sang ginatago kag kung matuod ini nga nagasuporta sa tikang sa pagpangapin sa tawhanon nga kinamatarung, dapat pahanugutan ni Duterte ang pagsulod sang mga manug-imbestiga sang UN diri sa pungsod kabahin na ang pila ka mga rapporteurs kag mismo ang opisina sang UN Human Rights High Commissioner./PT