Sunday, December 24, 2006

THEY WON'T BE STOPPING ANYTHING
Alexander Martin Remollino


They threaten to stop helping the soldiers of this country
because we insist on keeping the rapist of "Nicole"
behind our own bars?
They had better make good on that threat:
they won't be stopping anything to begin with.

What help have they given the soldiers of this republic?
Nothing, except to equip them with enough ammunition and arms
to make them lose in conventional warfare.

To hell with their mutual defense.
Their mutuality is a one-sided affair:
we defend them --
and we defend ourselves.

And they've pulled out of the joint exercises. Good for us!
The joint exercises are just rehearsals,
just rehearsals for the soldiers of this republic
in shooting off the emaciated hands
that feed them
and clothe them.

They won't be stopping anything to begin with,
so they had better make good on their threat
to stop helping the soldiers of this country.
A STEP FORWARD IN WAGE FIGHT, AMID REPRESSION AND VIOLENCE

The approval of the P125 wage increase bill by the Lower House is welcome news for workers, who could use even just a little relief from soaring prices of basic goods and services amid rock-bottom income. It is a gain that came at the price of trade union repression and political killings that victimized labor leaders among others.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

“The P125 wage (hike) bill has finally been approved by the House on third reading at past 8 tonight by a vote of 151-0!”

Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Teddy Casiño, a former staff of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), was evidently elated as he sent around this text message barely three hours before midnight on Dec. 20. And he had reason to rejoice: the bill providing for a P125 across-the-board, nationwide wage increase to private-sector workers had, after all, been pending at the House of Representatives since 2001.

The bill’s main sponsor, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran, was no less elated, and for equally good reason.

“This is a victory for all Filipino workers who have campaigned long and hard for the passage of this bill,” Beltran said in a statement issued from his room at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, where he has been confined for 10 months under police custody. “This is recognition for all their efforts.”

Beltran has been mightily leading the campaign for the passage of the bill as early as 1999, when the KMU –- of which he used to be the chairperson –- first made the call for a legislated P125 across-the-board, nationwide wage increase. It was he who, as a Bayan Muna representative, introduced the bill at the House in 2001.

Wage discrepancies

That the P125 wage increase bill has finally been approved at the House is indeed welcome news for workers, who have for several years been reeling from low income amid continually rising prices of good and services. Though P125 is no longer enough to bridge the gap between income and costs of living, considering how the prices of prime commodities have jumped since 2001, the working segment of the population can nevertheless use even a little relief.

Based on data from the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), the daily living wage for a family of six –- the average Filipino family –- now stands at a national average of P674.93 ($13.70 based on an exchange rate of $1:P49.28) as of October 2006. Of the country’s 15 regions, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has the highest family living wage, with P1,005 daily.

Conversely, the daily minimum wage has been standing at a national average of P283.67 since mid-2005, NWPC data further show. The ARMM has the lowest daily minimum wage at P170 –- a difference of P835 from its daily family living wage as of October 2006.

The required living wage for an average Filipino family was in 2001 a far cry from what it is now. That year, it stood at a national average of P445.53 ($10.89 at an exchange rate of $1:P40.89 in 2001), based on data from the NWPC. The highest regional minimum wage then was in the National Capital Region (NCR), which was pegged at P250. At a national average, however, the daily minimum wage that year stood at P222.42, based on data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

Even then, a P125 across-the-board, nationwide wage increase would have been insufficient to bridge the gap between the minimum wage and the required family living wage. An additional P125 would have brought up the 2001 daily minimum wage to P347.42 –- which is P98.11 short of what an average Filipino family needed to survive daily that year.

Should the P125 wage increase bill fare as well in the Senate as it did in the House of Representatives, the national average family living wage will go up to P408.67. That would still be P266.26 short of what the family of six would need on a national average to survive daily, based on October 2006 data from the NWPC.

Just the same, this would be tantamount to relief that workers could very well use. That would still be a significant narrowing of the gap between income and costs of living.

Getting it was definitely not a walk in the park, and yet there remains a considerable obstacle to hurdle.

Repression and violence

The passage of the wage increase bill by the House can also be seen as a political move by the administration-dominated chamber, given that President Macapagal-Arroyo’s political allies led by Speaker Jose de Venecia suffered a monumental setback in their unilateral move to revise the 1987 Constitution. The charter-change (cha-cha) has been popularly perceived as being politically-motivated and its aim was to perpetuate Macapagal-Arroyo and administration allies in Congress in power.

The workers’ gain in their campaign for a legislated wage increase came at the price of trade union repression which took many forms –- not the least of which was outright physical violence against a number of labor leaders.

The passage of the P125 wage hike bill at the House came less than a fortnight after the killing of Jesus Servida, a union leader at the EMI-Yazaki factory in Cavite, south of Manila.

When Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) presented its 2006 Human Rights Report last Dec. 1, it listed 797 victims of extrajudicial killings from 2001 –- when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising –- to November 2006. Of these, 185 were killed from January to November 2006.

In terms of the number of victims, the top three sectors for January-November 2006 were the peasantry, the labor sector, and the professionals. Of the 185 documented victims for the said period, 104 were peasants, 28 were workers and 20 were professionals (mostly lawyers and teachers).

Servida is the 29th worker killed this year alone and the 74th worker to be slain under the Arroyo administration, based on combined data from Karapatan and the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR). Karapatan and the CTUHR have also recorded four cases of torture of workers from January to November 2006. Likewise, the two groups documented eight violent dispersals of rallies involving workers and trade unionists for the same period –- a jump from one last year.

The repression against the Philippine labor sector this year has also taken forms less than physical but nevertheless equally damaging.

Arroyo’s declaration of a “State of Emergency” on February 24 this year, on the basis of a purported Left-Right conspiracy to overthrow the present administration, took its toll on the labor movement, with Beltran being arrested the very next day after its declaration. With Beltran’s arrest and subsequent detention, the labor movement saw the legislative work of one of its staunchest advocates being derailed.

In several areas in the country, mere membership in the KMU made workers targets for harassment. Several workers’ groups particularly in Central Luzon and in Mindanao reported being harassed by military and police. They reported about their leaders being stopped and interrogated for long hours by soldiers and policemen, and of being told that their “troubles” would stop only if they disaffiliated from the KMU. Karapatan and CTUHR data showed cases of intimidation and surveillance against workers and trade unionists to have increased by almost 73 percent from last year.

Still, a ray of light

With all that the Philippine labor sector experienced in 2006, there almost seems to be no room for bright thoughts. Filipino workers seemed to have been losing an uphill battle this year.

Still, there is a ray of light. The gain that workers achieved in the push for better wages, while still partial, is nevertheless significant. The passage of the P125 wage hike bill at the House meant one less hurdle to overcome in the wage fight –- and a foreshadowing of what may be achieved through determined efforts amid the odds. Bulatlat

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

DO NOT DEMAND RESPECT FOR THEM
Alexander Martin Remollino

After insults were thrown and heaped upon them
for their being bereft of principles,
a shrill voice rang out,
demanding respect for the "representatives."

But it is the "representatives" who should be asked for respect --
they who are a bunch of serial rapists,
they who arrogantly commit crimes in full view of the nation
and declare that their words are the law.
It is they who should be asked for respect
and not a citizen who pointed his finger
at them who deserve much worse than finger-pointing.

Do not demand respect for them:
there can be no respect for those
whose faces deserve to be doused with the murkiest water.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

REHIMEN NG MGA TULISAN
Alexander Martin Remollino

At nang gabing iyon ay naihayag sa buong daigdig
ang pag-iral ng isang Republika ng Saging sa Pilipinas.

Ganap na naibasura ang pamamayani ng mga batas
at opisyal na pinasinayaan sa isang magarbong seremonya
ang isang rehimen ng mga tulisan.
Batas? At hindi ba't sila ang batas?
Ang sinasabi ng mga batas
ay ang kanilang sinasabi,
sapagkat gayon ang kanilang sinasabi.
A! para ano pang sila'y nasa kapangyarihan?

At ngayo'y ginagawa sa ating harapan
at 'pinangangalandakang naaayon sa batas
ang isang kagula-gulantang na krimen.
CHACHA WILL MAKE IMPEACHMENT IMPOSSIBLE, LAWYER SAYS
'CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY WITHOUT THE SENATE IS USURPATION OF AUTHORITY'


The constitutional amendments being pushed by the administration camp at the House of Representatives will make impeachment impossible, the spokesperson of a broad-based group of lawyers, paralegals, and law students says. He also said convening Congress into a constituent assembly to amend or revise the Constitution without the Senate is tantamount to usurpation of authority -- a criminal offense under the Revised Penal Code.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

The constitutional amendments being pushed by the administration camp at the House of Representatives will make impeachment impossible, said the spokesman of a broad-based group of lawyers, paralegals, and law students. He also said convening Congress into a constituent assembly to amend or revise the Constitution without the Senate is tantamount to usurpation of authority –- a criminal offense under the Revised Penal Code.

Lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares, spokesperson of the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), was referring to the proposed amendment creating a Commission on Impeachment from among the members of the unicameral Parliament that would replace the present bicameral Congress.

Under the proposed amendments – of which Bulatlat received a copy courtesy of the office of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Rafael Mariano, a member of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments –- the Parliament would be led by a prime minister to be elected by the members from among themselves. Members of Parliament are to be elected mainly by district and region, and shall have no term limits. Twenty percent of the seats allotted to regional and district members are to be occupied by members representing party-list groups and sectoral organizations.

Commission on Impeachment

The proposed amendment creating the Commission on Impeachment provides that:

There shall be a Commission on Impeachment composed of fifteen Members of Parliament chosen on the basis of proportional representation of the Parties therein. It shall have the sole power of impeachment by a majority vote of all its Members. The Parliament shall try all impeachment cases elevated to it, and a vote of at least two-thirds of all the Members shall be necessary to convict on impeachment.


“You cannot become a prime minister unless you’re elected by a majority of the Parliament,” Colmenares told Bulatlat. “That means if you’re the prime minister, you have the majority in the Commission on Impeachment. So you'd never be impeached. The proportionality issue there is a problem. The prime minister has the majority in Parliament, he can never be impeached.”

“That’s a formula for unaccountability,” added the CODAL spokesperson, who has taken doctoral units in Law at the University of Melbourne. “Their impeachment rule is very disastrous and is really not conducive to accountability.”

Asked whether he thought the proposed creation of a Commission on Impeachment as a parliamentary body is a reaction of the administration camp to the political crisis that sprang from the 2004 elections and the two failed attempts at impeaching President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the House, Colmenares replied in the affirmative. “It’s designed to ensure that the prime minister will not be impeached,” he said.

Even during her continuation of the term of ousted President Joseph Estrada (January 2001-May 2004), Arroyo had been facing calls for her removal from office for what cause-oriented groups described as her government’s “anti-national and anti-people” policies. These calls intensified in mid-2005 following the surfacing of the so-called “Hello Garci” tapes -- in which a woman with a voice similar to Arroyo's is heard instructing an election official, widely believed to be Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), to rig the polls.

The controversy generated by the “Hello Garci” tapes led to big rallies calling for Arroyo's resignation or removal from office, and two impeachment complaints against her being filed at the House –- one in 2005 and another earlier this year. Both complaints were dismissed on technical grounds.

Constituent assembly

The proposed amendments to the Constitution are to be put forward in Congress through a constituent assembly. The administration-dominated House approved at dawn on Dec. 7, through viva voce or voice voting, House Resolution No. 1450 by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, convening Congress into a constituent assembly to amend or revise the Constitution.

Congress as a joint assembly is set to convene on Dec. 12 to begin the process of constitutional amendments or revisions –- amid indignation from the progressive party-list congressmen and the traditional opposition at the House, the Senate with the exception of Sens. Ramon Revilla, Jr. and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the El Shaddai, and even the Makati Business Club.

Colmenares decried the manner in which the majority at the House pushed for Congress to convene as a constituent assembly.

He said that convening Congress into a constituent assembly without the Senate is a usurpation of authority. HR 1450 had no Senate counterpart, but was passed anyway.

“You change street names and you need two Houses of Congress,” the CODAL spokesperson said. “You change the Constitution and you do it with only one House going through the motions? It doesn’t seem logical.”

Article XVII of the Constitution provides that:

Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:

(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or

(2) A constitutional convention.


“They say the Constitution doesn’t specify that both Houses are to vote separately in the Constituent assembly,” Colmenares added. “But what is the rule? The rule is that we have a bicameral Congress. That is enshrined in the Constitution. Meaning to say, everything has to be done by both Houses voting separately. The exception is if the Constitution says jointly. If the Constitution does not say they have to vote jointly, the assumption is that they are to vote separately.”

He also said that the representatives who pushed for Congress to convene into a constituent assembly without the Senate are criminally liable.

“That’s usurpation of authority under the Revised Penal Code,” Colmenares said. “If a public official misrepresents himself and claims, ‘I have this authority and function,’ when in fact he does not, that’s usurpation of authority. That makes him criminally liable.” Bulatlat
MAKING IT HIT CLOSER TO HOME
Kasaysayan ang Magpapawalang-sala sa Akin
Filipino translation of Fidel Castro’s History will Absolve Me by Carl C. Ala
Published by AMISTAD
63 pages

2006 carries a double significance for AMISTAD. Aside from marking the 80th birthday of Cuban president Fidel Castro, it is also the 60th year of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Cuba. AMISTAD chose to celebrate what its president George Aseniero calls “milestones” by publishing Kasaysayan ang Magpapawalang-sala sa Akin, a Filipino translation of Cuban President Fidel Castro's famous five-hour speech History will Absolve Me by Carl C. Ala.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO

Bulatlat



2006 carries a double significance for AMISTAD, a solidarity organization aiming to forge and promote friendship, unity, understanding, and solid relations between the Filipino and Cuban peoples. Aside from marking the 80th birthday of Cuban President Fidel Castro, it is also the 60th year of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Cuba.

AMISTAD chose to celebrate what its president George Aseniero calls “milestones” by publishing Kasaysayan ang Magpapawalang-sala sa Akin, a Filipino translation of Castro's famous five-hour speech History will Absolve Me by Carl C. Ala.

Delivered in 1953, History will Absolve Me was Castro’s piece in his own defense as he stood on trial for the botched siege on Moncada Barracks.

Ala's achievement in translating Castro’s speech lies in his being able to give it a tinge of greater familiarity within the Philippine context.

The attack on Moncada Barracks was intended as the culmination of the uprising by the Castro-led revolutionary forces against the U.S.-sponsored dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, which had wrested power through a coup backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the previous year.

The uprising that is the subject of Castro’s speech aimed at seizing Moncada Barracks without bloodshed. The revolutionary forces had no plans of shooting it out with the soldiers at the barracks. What they intended was to seize the arms and ammunition through a surprise attack and peacefully convince the soldiers to abandon the dictatorship.

After seizing power, the revolutionaries would have enacted five revolutionary laws that would declare the legitimacy of Cuba’s 1940 Constitution and effect industrialization, land distribution, and reforms in foreign relations, education, housing, and labor and industrial relations. These were the same objectives that the Castro-led revolutionary forces went on to attain after finally succeeding in toppling the Batista dictatorship in 1959.

The 1953 siege on Moncada Barracks was botched because the revolutionaries were vastly outnumbered and were traversing unfamiliar territory. Castro and his companions were arrested and many were tortured and summarily executed. Those who survived, like Castro himself, faced rebellion charges.

In his speech Castro, a lawyer who had opted to defend himself in court, questions the legitimacy and even legality of the Batista regime:

Saang bansa ba nakatira ang Kagalang-galang na (Tagausig)? Sinong nagsabi sa kanya na nais naming mag-aklas laban sa konstitusyunal na kapangyarihan ng Estado? Dalawang bagay ang malinaw. Una sa lahat, ang diktadura na umaapivsa bansa ay hindi isang konstitusyunal na kapangyarihan, ito ay hindi konstitusyunal. Ito ay itinatag laban sa Konstitusyon, kshit na may Konstitusyon at lumalabag sa Konstitusyon ng lehitimong Republika. Ang lehitimong Konstitusyon ay direktang nakaugat sa soberanya ng mamamayan. Patutunayan ko ang puntong ito (nang) buo mamaya, kahit may mga panlolokong gawin ang mga duwag at traydor upang bigyang-matwid ang di makatarungan. Pangalawa, ang tinutukoy ng artikulo ay hinggil sa kapangyarihan na pangmaramihan at hindi pang-isahan. Dahil isinasaalang-alang nito ang kalagayan na ang Republika ay pinamumunuan ng lehislatibong kapangyarihan, ehekutibong kapangyarihan, at hudisyal na kapangyarihan na nagbabalanse at (nagkokontrabalanse). Na (inagaw) at pinag-isa ang lehislatibo at ehekutibong kapangyarihan ng bansa, na siyang nagwasak sa buong sistemang pinagbabatayan ng artikulo sa Kodigo na ating sinusuri, na siyang dapat nitong pangalagaan. Ni hindi ko na babanggitin ang kasarinlan ng hudisyal na kapangyarihan matapos ang Marso 10 dahil ayokong magbiro ... kahit anong paghatak, pagpapaikli o pagkumpuni sa Artikulo 148, hindi ito aangkop sa mga pangyayari noong Hulyo 26. Iwan muna natin ito hanggang lumitaw ang oportunidad na maaari itong gamitin laban sa mga talagang nagsulong ng pag-aalsa laban sa konstitusyunal na kapangyarihan ng Estado.

(In what country is the Honorable Prosecutor living? Who has told him that we have sought to bring about an uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State? Two things are self-evident. First of all, the dictatorship that oppresses the nation is not a constitutional power, but an unconstitutional one: it was established against the Constitution, over the head of the Constitution, violating the legitimate Constitution of the Republic. The legitimate Constitution is that which emanates directly from a sovereign people. I shall demonstrate this point fully later on, notwithstanding all the subterfuges contrived by cowards and traitors to justify the unjustifiable. Secondly, the article refers to Powers, in the plural, as in the case of a republic governed by a Legislative Power, an Executive Power, and a Judicial Power which balance and counterbalance one another. We have fomented a rebellion against one single power, an illegal one, which has usurped and merged into a single whole both the Legislative and Executive Powers of the nation, and so has destroyed the entire system that was specifically safeguarded by the Code now under our analysis. As to the independence of the Judiciary after the 10th of March, I shall not allude to that for I am in no mood for joking ... No matter how Article 148 may be stretched, shrunk or amended, not a single comma applies to the events of July 26th. Let us leave this statute alone and await the opportunity to apply it to those who really did foment an uprising against the Constitutional Powers of the State. Later I shall come back to the Code to refresh the Honorable Prosecutor's memory about certain circumstances he has unfortunately overlooked.)


Translated into Filipino, this paragraph in large part bears similarities with what is happening in the Philippines today. There is something particularly in the reference to an “unconstitutional” dictatorship "that oppresses the people" that sounds extremely familiar. The paragraph could very well have been lifted from a testimony by any of the opposition leaders –- whether Left or traditional –- who were cracked down upon in the wake of the foiled Feb. 24 attempt at withdrawal of support by soldiers led by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim.

Castro goes on to elaborate on the siege itself: How it was done, why it was done in the manner that it was, and what the revolutionaries sought to accomplish had they succeeded. This is all summed up in the following paragraph:

Kaya ng (Cuba na) pangalagaan ang populasyong tatlong beses ang laki kaysa sa ngayon. Walang dahilan para sa kahirapang nararanasan ng kasalukuyang naninirahan dito. Ang mga palengke ay dapat na umaapaw sa mga produkto, ang nga eskaparate ay dapat na puno, ang lahat ay dapat na may trabaho. Ito ay hindi pangarap lang. Ang di kapanipaniwala ay may mga taong natutulog (nang) gutom, samantalang may masasakang lupa, ang mga bata ay namamatay dahil sa kakulangan sa medikal na pagkalinga; ang di kapanipaniwala ay 30% ng mga magbubukid ay di man lamang kayang isulat ang kanilang pangalan at 99% sa kanila ay walang alam sa kasaysayan ng Cuba. Ang di kapanipaniwala ay kalakhan ng mga pamilya ng mga magbubukid ay nabubuhay sa mas masahol na kalagayan kaysa sa mga Indian na natagpuan ni Columbus sa pinakamagandang lupa na nakita ng tao.

(Cuba could easily provide for a population three times as great as it has now, so there is no excuse for the abject poverty of a single one of its present inhabitants. The markets should be overflowing with produce, pantries should be full, all hands should be working. This is not an inconceivable thought. What is inconceivable is that anyone should go to bed hungry while there is a single inch of unproductive land; that children should die for lack of medical attention; what is inconceivable is that 30% of our farm people cannot write their names and that 99% of them know nothing of Cuba's history. What is inconceivable is that the majority of our rural people are now living in worse circumstances than the Indians Columbus discovered in the fairest land that human eyes had ever seen.)


Again, an eloquent passage that, when translated into Filipino, could have been an indictment –- if not condemnation –- of the Philippines’ own wretched conditions, were it not for the direct references to Cuba and to statistics particular to the Cuban experience.

Ala’s shortcomings in the way this book was done lie chiefly in his having fallen prey to the grammatical errors most commonly committed by non-native speakers of Tagalog, on which Filipino is largely based -- as can be found, for example, in his frequent interchanging of "nang" and "ng." There are also some parts where his translation gets too literal, as in his having translated “edible oil” as "nakakaing langis" –- a phrase that is absent from the Filipino lexicon – when he could have easily used "mantika." There are a few hyphens where there should be none, as in "Taga-usig" which should be written as "Tagausig."

These shortcomings, which could easily be corrected for the next printing, are however small compared to his success in translating the most important parts. By and large Ala’s main achievement in this translation is in making a 1953 Cuban speech hit closer to home for today's Filipino readers.

Ala is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila, where he was an active member of the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA) Youth. He is now the public information officer of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement). Bulatlat

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

HE DIDN'T SAY WHY HIS BLOOD WAS WANTED
Alexander Martin Remollino

"The people wanted the blood of a young man, and that's what swayed the decision."

--- L/Cpl. Daniel Smith, on Makati RTC Judge Benjamin Pozon's decision convicting him of the rape of "Nicole" in Subic, Zambales last year


Of course he didn't say why his blood was wanted,
and that has made us look
like a big bunch of bloodsuckers.
Lest it be erased from the pages of the mind,
it has to be said again:
his blood was wanted because the dirt
with which he and three others smeared the honor
of a young woman and an entire nation
cried out to the ends of the earth
for his blood to cleanse it.

Of course it was a derogatory remark.
But in deprecating us,
he complimented us.
He acknowledged with his insult to the nation
that there's still a sense of justice in this land.
His calumny was a tribute.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

MILITANTS ON SUBIC RAPE VERDICT:
'IT FALLS SHORT'


BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat
Posted 6:25 p.m., Dec. 4, 2006

The victory is only partial, as the decision falls short of what the verdict should have been.

This was how the leaders of the militant groups that rallied outside the Makati Regional Trial Court today described Judge Benjamin Pozon’s decision on the Subic rape case.

Pozon found the principal accused Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith guilty of raping “Nicole,” the court-assigned name of the Subic rape victim, on Nov. 1 last year. His co-accused S/Sgt. Chad Carpentier, Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, and Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis were acquitted.

“We could have been happy that at least one was convicted,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) secretary-general Renato Reyes, Jr. “But this only showed our limited ability to prosecute offending U.S. soldiers for as long as we have the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).”

“For as long as we have difficulty getting custody of offending U.S. soldiers, it becomes harder to file and pursue charges against them, it becomes harder to haul them to prison,” Reyes added.

The VFA, which was ratified in 1999 by the Senate and grants extraterritorial and extrajudicial privileges to U.S. troops visiting the country for joint military “exercises” with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), provides that Philippine authorities shall waive their primary right to exercise jurisdiction upon request by U.S. authorities, except in cases the government considers to be of particular importance to the Philippines.

“We feel a limited satisfaction (with the decision), as there was one who was found guilty,” said Gert Ranjo-Libang, spokesperson of the women’s group GABRIELA. “But it’s limited, because the three others were not found guilty as charged. We think all four of them should have been convicted.”

“We are also demanding the abrogation of the VFA,” she added. “Because under this agreement, even if Smith was found guilty, there is a question on where he is to be jailed. Under the VFA, the Philippine and U.S. governments still have to confer on where the guilty party is to be jailed.”

Reyes expressed a similar view. “That is what is sad about the whole thing: whatever will be agreed about with the U.S. will depend on the political will of the Arroyo administration, and that is not the justice that we want,” the Bayan leader said.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr., a noted nationalist, hailed the decision as a “partial victory,” but stressed that the Philippines should have custody of Smith as the crime of rape, he said, “is of particular importance” to the Philippines.

“There are imbalances that should be corrected,” Guingona said when asked how he expected the decision to affect RP-U.S. relations. “The sovereignty should belong to the Philippines in crimes of particular importance.”

Pozon also decided that Smith should be temporarily detained at the Makati City Jail. However, as of 4 p.m. –- more than an hour after the verdict was promulgated –- Smith had not been brought to the said detention facility. Bulatlat

Monday, December 04, 2006

SA PILIPINAS LANG YATA
Alexander Martin Remollino

Dito lang yata sa Pilipinas maaaring mangyaring kapag ang isang mamamayan ng bansa ay ginahasa ng ilang sundalong Amerikano ay ang mga opisyal pa ng pamahalaan ang kauna-unahang magbubuhos ng asin sa kanyang sugat.

Nakita natin ito sa kaso ng dalagang tinatawag ngayon ng “Nicole,” na ginahasa ng ilang sundalong Amerikano noong Nobyembre 1, 2005 sa Subic, Zambales. Sa usaping ito’y walang kahiya-hiyang ipinamalas ng matataas na opisyal ng ating pamahalaan ang pagiging “gulugod-dikya,” sa wika nga ng manunulat na si Rogelio L. Ordoñez, sa harap ni Tiyo Samuel.

Mula nang pumutok ang balita hinggil sa panggagahasa kay “Nicole” walang isang linggo matapos ang insidente hanggang sa mga araw na ito, wala tayong naririnig na anuman mula sa Pangulong Arroyo hinggil sa bagay na ito.

Kahit sa Hapon, na bagama’t nakalaban ng Estados Unidos noong Ikalawang Digmaang Daigdig ay napakalaki ng ipinakinabang sa Marshall Plan — na ang ibinunga’y ang pagiging higante ngayon ng mga korporasyong Hapones sa pandaigdigang ekonomiya, ilang dekada matapos na malumpo ang kanyang ekonomiya — ay hindi nangyayari ang ganitong mga kasalarinan nang walang naririnig na matitinding pananalita mula sa punong ministro, kundi man sa mismong emperador.

Ang nagsalita para sa Pangulong Arroyo hinggil sa usaping ito ay si Sekretaryo Ignacio Bunye, tambulero ng Malacañang, na ang sabi’y “huwag gawing pulitikal” ang naturang pangyayari. Ito lamang ang sinabi ni Bunye — na nanguna pa naman sa klase nang magtapos sa Muntinlupa High School maraming taon na ang nakalilipas — hinggil sa isyung ito, at wala nang iba pa.

Ni kapirasong dura man lamang na magtatangkang ipaliwanag kung paano hindi magiging pulitikal ang isang kaganapang nakukulayan ng di-patas na ugnayan ng Pilipinas at Estados Unidos ay wala tayong narinig mula sa mahusay na kalihim sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa pabatirang-madla.

Kung ano ang katahimikan ng Pangulong Arroyo hinggil sa pangyayaring ito ay gayundin ang katahimikan tungkol dito ng noo’y pinuno ng Hukbong Sandatahan ng Pilipinas na si Hen. Generoso Senga, at ng ngayo’y namumuno ritong si Hen. Hermogenes Esperon — na kayhusay pa namang magmalaking naging “aktibista” siya bago pumasok sa militar. Gayundin ang naging pananahimik ukol dito ni dating Sekretaryo Avelino Cruz ng Kagawaran ng Tanggulang Pambansa.

Si Sekretaryo Raul Gonzalez ang salita nang salita kaugnay nito, ngunit sa bawat buka ng kanyang bibig at ito ang napag-uusapan ay wala naman tayong marinig kundi ang tunog ng bunganga ng isang abugado para sa Estados Unidos.

Noon pa mang una’y pakawala na nang pakawala si Gonzalez ng mga pahayag na nagpapahiwatig na hindi siya naniniwalang ginahasa nga si “Nicole.” Ito’y kahit may malakas na ebidensiyang nagpapatunay na siya nga’y ginahasa.

Nang sina Carpentier, Silkwood, at Duplantis ay maisakdal bilang mga pangunahing akusado kasama ni Smith, nagwika pa itong kagalang-galang na Sekretaryo Gonzalez na dapat sana’y higit na mababa ang sakdal sa tatlo, subalit siya raw ay yumukod upang “papayapain ang nagwawalang madla” — kahit pa may sapat na batayang ligal upang ituring silang pangunahin ding akusado.

Samantala, niluwagan nang husto ng pangkat ng mga tagausig na itinalaga ng gobyerno — sa pamumuno ni Senior State Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos at, ayon sa ina ni “Nicole” at sa kanilang pribadong abugadang si Evalyn Ursua, liban kay State Prosecutor Hazel Valdez — ang pagtatanong sa mga nasasakdal na sina Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, S/Sgt. Chad Carpentier, Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, at Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis. Dahil dito, nahirapan ang kampo ni “Nicole” na basagin ang palusot ng depensa na si “Nicole” diumano’y kusang nagpagalaw kina Smith.

Nang sa isang bahagi ng paglilitis ay waring nakalamang sina Smith, muli sanang isasalang si “Nicole” upang makapagharap ng rebuttal evidence, ngunit ang hakbang na ito’y kinansela ni De los Santos, ayon kay Valdez. Sa magiting na pagbubunyag na ito, gantimpala ni Gonzalez kay Valdez ang pagtatanggal sa kanya mula sa lupon ng mga tagausig.

Dapat silang mahiya roon sa gobernador ng Okinawa na noong dekada 1990, nang gahasain doon ng isang sundalong Amerikano ang isang lalabindalawahing taong gulang na babae, ay nanguna pa sa pananawagan ng mga higanteng kilos-protesta.

Tunay na isang malaking kahihiyan sa ganang atin ang tayo’y madaig ng Hapon sa ganitong mga bagay. Bagama’t matapos ang Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig — kung saan napilay ang kanyang ekonomiya — ay malaki ang ipinakinabang niya sa ayuda ng Estados Unidos, hindi pa rin siya nangiming panindigan ang dapat panindigan.

Malayo roon ang Pilipinas. Kayrami nating kababayang nagbuhos ng dugo noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig alang-alang sa “alyansang Pilipino-Amerikano” at ngayon, ilang dekada na ang nakararaan matapos ang giyera, ay wala tayong nakikita ni anino ng kagaya ng Marshall Plan, at sa halip ay natali pa nga tayo sa isang bungkos ng mga kasunduang hindi makatarungan. Sa kabila nito, ang ating pamahalaan ay pangunahing pandaigdigang tanghalan ng pamamanginoon kay Tiyo Samuel — sa ngalan ng isang katawa-tawang “natatanging ugnayan.”

Dito lang yata sa Pilipinas maaaring masaksihan ang ganitong antas ng pangangayupapa ng mga opisyal ng pamahalaan sa mga dayuhan at lalo na’y sa mga Amerikano.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

ON EVE OF DECISION ON SUBIC RAPE CASE:
JUSTICE IS ABOVE 'SPECIAL RELATIONS,' WOMEN'S GROUP SAYS


BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat
Posted 8:55 p.m., Dec. 3, 2006

“Ensuring justice for our aggrieved fellow Filipino should come first before what President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo perceives as good relations between the Philippines and the U.S.”

This was what Joan Salvador, chairperson of GABRIELA Youth, told reporters on the eve of the promulgation of the verdict on the Subic rape case. Salvador was the main speaker in a brief rally and candle-lighting activity held by members of the women’s group GABRIELA early evening today at the Boy Scouts’ Circle along Timog Avenue, Quezon City.

The GABRIELA members mounted candles on the sidewalk, arranged to form the word JUSTICE. “Jail the rapists!” they chanted as they brandished placards calling for justice for “Nicole,” the court-assigned name of the Subic rape victim.

“Nicole,” the daughter of a prominent family from Zamboanga, was raped allegedly by four U.S. Marines on Nov. 1 in Subic, Zambales last year. Her case is expected to bear implications for RP-U.S. relations as it is said to be the first against U.S. soldiers to be brought to any Philippine court.

Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Regional Trial Court, Branch 139 is set to promulgate the verdict on the case of “Nicole” tomorrow afternoon –- a week after the original schedule he had committed. GABRIELA will be joined by other groups under the banner of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) tomorrow in a rally in front of the Makati RTC.

Salvador also chided the Arroyo government for not asserting custody of the principal accused Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith and accomplices S/Sgt. Chad Carpentier, Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, and Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis –- as she said it could have done.

“The Philippines made accommodations and compromises favoring America,” Salvador said. “We have seen how the government, especially Gloria, shied away from asserting the dignity and rights of our fellow Filipino and showed more concern over protecting the relations between the Philippines and the U.S.”

“Our assertion is whatever happens, justice should come first,” Salvador added. Bulatlat
ANTI-CRIME GROUP CALLS FOR ARMY PULLOUT FROM BICOL
BICOL PEASANT 'AUTOPSIED ALIVE,' SHOT DEAD


The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has called for a “complete pullout” of Army troops from the Bicol Region amid what he described as “the alarming number of tortures and extrajudicial killings” in the area. This call comes in the wake of the torture and killing of a Bicol peasant accused by his Army captors of being a member of the New People's Army (NPA).

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has called for a “complete pullout” of Army troops from the Bicol Region amid what it described as “the alarming number of tortures and extrajudicial killings” in the area.

Dante Jimenez, who hails from the Bicol Region, said this in an interview with Bulatlat last week. “Instead of winning the hearts and minds of the people, they are the problem,” the VACC leader said of the Army troops in the Bicol Region.

His call comes in the wake of the torture and killing of Toribio Mesa, a Bicolano peasant accused by his Army captors of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The VACC leader said Mesa's case had been reported to the VACC’s office. He also told Bulatlat that one of Mesa's children is a former student of his.

In a Nov. 23 letter to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, of which Bulatlat was given a copy, Jimenez narrated the details behind the case of Mesa, a resident of Jamorawon village, Bulan, Sorsogon. Wrote Jimenez:

Mesa died while in the custody of the 92nd Recon Company, 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, under extremely dubious circumstances last Nov. 16, 2006.

The said Mesa –- father of 13, had been forcibly taken from his family without warrant of arrest, and his home was arrogantly searched without any valid search warrant on Nov. 15, 2006. The following day subject was declared dead and found sustaining two gunshot wounds and deep cuts on his left arm.


“We found that extremely suspicious, so we requested Sorsogon and Bulan police to re-autopsy the victim’s body,” Jimenez told Bulatlat. “It turned out his captors had performed a live autopsy on his arm and then they shot him.”

“We are calling for the complete pullout and replacement of the Army in the Bicol Region because of the alarming number of tortures and extrajudicial killings there,” the VACC leader also said.

In his letter to Esperon, Jimenez said the VACC calls for the “immediate relief” of the unit's commanding officer, as well as the preventive suspension of Pfc. Warren Mangubat and Pfc. Jonathan Ongog pending investigation of the case.

“We suggest that the Philippine Army be replaced by the Philippine Marines of the Navy, or Philippine Air Force until such time that Army soldiers in the region learn the basic knowledge of due process, rule of law and above all, respect for human rights,” Jimenez wrote to Esperon.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that Army soldiers have been directly identified as perpetrators of extrajudicial killings in the Bicol Region.

On May 7, 2004, Mylene and Raymond Golloso –- then 13 and 6 years old, respectively -- were killed by armed men within the sanctity of their own home in Brgy. Recto, Bulan, Sorsogon.

Mylene and Raymond, together with brother Resty, had hid in their parents’ bedroom upon hearing gunshots near their house that day. In the end that failed to protect them: they were later found dead, their heads shattered by gunshots.

In a written and signed statement, a copy of which was received by Bulatlat, 11 officials and 42 other residents of Brgy. Recto said no other armed group was in the village that day except seven soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Battalion, 901st Infantry Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division; and two members of the paramilitary Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU). The Brgy. Recto officials and residents specifically identified among them Cesar Luares, a CAFGU member.

Adelia, Mylene and Raymond’s mother, identified Luares in a sworn statement as a native of Bulan. Bulatlat received a copy of her sworn statement.

Army soldiers were likewise positively identified by no less than the municipal police of Daraga, Albay as the perpetrators of the killing of Methodist Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa last Aug. 3.

Based on sworn statements and affidavits by Sta. Rosa's wife Sonia, his brothers Jonathan and Ray Sun, and neighbor Alwin Mirabona, a number of hooded armed men barged into the house of Jonathan and Ray Sun, at around 7:30 p.m. that night, and took them hostage.

After a few minutes, Jonathan was dragged at gunpoint to Isaias’ house nearby, where the pastor was watching videos on a laptop computer with his daughter. Jonathan was brought to a room together with Sonia and her children, while Isaias was dragged into another room and beaten up. A few minutes later, they saw the armed men dragging Isaias out. Sonia called for help from her sister Madelyn, who lived nearby. Madelyn roused the neighbors with her cries for help.

After a while, nine gunshots were heard nearby. Isaias’ corpse was found about 50 meters from his house, beside one of the assailants.

A responding team from the Daraga Municipal Police Office recovered from the hooded man's body an ID card revealing him to be Cpl. Lordger Pastrana; as well as a mission order issued to the ID card bearer by the 9th Military Intelligence Battalion of the 9th Infantry Division, authorizing him to carry a firearm outside the headquarters. The mission order – of which Bulatlat received a copy – was issued by Maj. Ernest Rosal, commanding officer of Pastrana’s unit, which is based in Pili, Camarines Sur, and referred to a “secret mission” with duration from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2006.

A news item from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and data from military sources show that the 9th Infantry Division has been under the command of Maj. Gen. Ricardo Nobleza since December 2004.

Killings in Bicol

Based on data from Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), there have been 797 victims of extrajudicial killings from January 2001 –- when Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising –- to November 2006. Of this number, at least 340 are confirmed to have been affiliated with cause-oriented groups.

The total number of extrajudicial killings for this year alone, Karapatan data further show, is 185. Of these, 53 were perpetrated in Central Luzon, 30 in the Bicol Region, and 20 in Southern Tagalog –- making these the top three regions in terms of the number of extrajudicial killings.

Last June, Arroyo declared “all-out war” against the Left and directed the AFP to finish off the “communist insurgency” in two years. Arroyo named Central Luzon, the Bicol Region, and Southern Tagalog as “priority areas” in her directive to the AFP.

“Perhaps there is a plan, or it’s part of the strategy,” Jimenez said when asked whether he thought there was any connection. “But you cannot win the hearts and minds of the people that way.”

“It’s worse than the death penalty because in the death penalty, they follow due process,” added the VACC leader, a known capital punishment proponent. “In extrajudicial killings there is no due process, that’s why they are called extrajudicial killings.” Bulatlat

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

ON GOLLOSO KIDS' SLAY:
'ONLY SOLDIERS WERE IN OUR VILLAGE THAT DAY'


When Mylene and Raymond Golloso (then 13 and 6 years old, respectively) were killed by armed men on May 7, 2004 in their own home in Bulan, Sorsogon, no other armed group was in the village except seven Army soldiers and two members of the paramilitary Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO

Bulatlat

When Mylene and Raymond Golloso (then 13 and 6 years old, respectively) were killed by armed men on May 7, 2004 within the sanctity of their own home in Baranggay (village) Recto, Bulan, Sorsogon, no other armed group was in the village except seven soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Battalion, 901st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division; and two members of the paramilitary Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

Eleven officials and 42 residents of Baranggay (village) Recto stood by this claim this in a signed statement. Bulatlat received a copy of their statement through the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), whose lawyers Rachel Pastores and Amylyn Sato will form part of the panel that will prosecute President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal (PPT) in Den Haag, The Netherlands this coming March for violations of the Filipino people's individual and collective rights.

Data from Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) show that there have been 791 victims of extra-judicial killings from January 2001 – when Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising – to November 2006. At least 340 of the victims are with known political affiliations. Of the 791, 58 are children, among them Mylene and Raymond Golloso.

Based on reports from human rights groups and the media, Mylene was cooking minatamis with her eldest sister Melody who was then 17 years old. Meanwhile, brothers Raymond and Resty were playing outside the house a few minutes before 3 p.m. on May 7, 2004.

Melody was getting a glass when they heard gunshots. Mylene rushed towards Melody and they called out to her brothers to get inside.

Melody told her three siblings to hide in their parents' room. Mylene and Raymond sat on the bed while Resty stayed by the door, peeping out. They could not see anyone outside the house. They then heard two more gunshots.

When Resty looked back at his siblings, Raymond was wounded and had blood gushing from his head. He was almost dead and Resty was frantically trying to stop the bleeding. When he turned to Mylene, the left part of her face had been shattered and she was calling out to their mother.

Melody and Resty ran as fast as they could toward the nearest relative's house, that of Vilma Gracilla, who lived almost 100 meters away from their place. However, the two children took several detours and negotiated slopes, so the total distance they traveled was about 1.5 kilometers.

As they were coming down from the house, they heard someone say, “Pasukin natin ang bahay, baka may buhay pa” (Let's get inside the house, there might be others still alive). They had run a considerable distance when they heard another volley of shots and then a single loud shot.

Meanwhile, based on the account of Adelia Golloso (mother of the slain children), she had gone out at around 2:35 p.m. that day. She saw soldiers at the baranggay hall and at the house of Baranggay Captain Eduardo Adamos. She recognized one of them as Cesar Loares, a CAFGU member from Baranggay Quirino, Bulan.

She stopped at a friend's house to take a rest. About 10 minutes later, she heard gunshots and ran to her house, hearing a volley of shots as she ran. The gunshots stopped for a few seconds, and then she heard two more shots. From a distance, she saw her house and noticed there were soldiers there. One of them saw her and asked her who she was.

“Ako po ang nagmamay-ari ng bahay na 'yan! Ang mga anak ko nasa loob ng bahay!” (I own that house! My children are inside!), she answered.

The soldier told her to take a different route, but she insisted on going what she believed the easier way and ran straight to her house. She saw Mylene and Raymond slumped in the bedroom, with Raymond's head resting on Mylene's stomach. Both were bleeding. Mylene was able to open her eyes and call her. She cried for help from the soldiers, but no one came to the rescue, she said.

“Sabi nila, NPA ang pumatay sa mga anak ko” (They told me it was members of the New People's Army who killed my children), Adelia said.

After the incident, the soldiers went to the house of barangay captain Adamos and asked him to draft a certification saying they had an encounter with the NPA and that the NPA guerrillas were the first to open fire and it was they who killed her children. Adamos complied with the request and signed the certification, a copy of which was received by Bulatlat. Aside from Adamos, others who signed the document were baranggay councilors Mila Sorio, Emily Martirez, Ricky Hernandez, Melchor Grajo, Antonio Hernandez, Remedios Magillo and Nora Hallig.

The incident was reported to the Bulan Municipal Police Station at 5 p.m. that same day. “Suspects up to this writing still unknown,” read an excerpt from the police blotter dated June 7, 2004, signed by SP02 Adolfo O. Villaroya. “And motives not yet certain.”

In a later written statement, however, Adamos and the councilors– together with Baranggay Secretary Virginia Graydo, Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) Chair Edwin Martinez and Barangay Treasurer Ailyn Maquiniana – identified which armed group was in their village that fateful day. The statement was co-signed by 42 other Baranggay Recto residents, including four tanods (watchmen).

''San Mayo 7, 2004, wara man kamisin iba na naimod digdi sa amo baranggay na nagsulod na armado kundi yadto na siyam na Army. Ang nakilala mi lang didto yadto na si Cesar Luares saro na CAFGU. Nag-abot sira sa Recto mag-aala-una ng hapon. Mala ngani kay nagpaluto pa sin kaonon kay nagkaraon pa sira kina Kapitan. Pagkatapos mga alas-tres na hapon nagharale na pairaya san baryo an lakaw'' (On May 7, 2004, we saw no other armed group that came here except the nine Army men. The only one we recognized among them was Cesar Luares, a CAFGU member. They arrived at Recto a little before 1 p.m. They even went and had someone cook food for them at the Captain’s house. Then, at about 3:00 p.m., they went off to the village on foot), the Baranggay Recto officials and residents said in their statement.

The death of Mylene and Raymond Golloso is among the cases to be heard March next year by the PPT in Den Haag, The Netherlands where Arroyo is to be tried for the following offenses:

* Violations of human rights, especially civil and political rights, with particular focus on summary executions, disappearances, massacres, torture as well as other vicious, brutal and systematic abuses and attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people;

* Violations of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people through the imposition of “free market” globalization to exploit them; transgression of their economic sovereignty and national patrimony; various forms of economic plunder and attacks on their economic rights; and the destruction of the environment; and

* Violations of the rights of the people to national self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the U.S. war of terror; U.S. military intervention; as well as the perpetration of crimes against humanity and war crimes; misrepresentations of the people's right to national liberation and self-determination as terrorism and the baseless “terrorist” listing of individuals, organizations and other entities by the U.S. and other governments.

The PPT will be hearing the cases based on the suit filed by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA or Society of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and for Amnesty), Desaparecidos, an organization of relatives of victims of forced disappearances; and HUSTISYA, the organization of victims of the current administration's human rights violations. Former UN ad litem judge Romeo Capulong is the chief prosecutor and lawyers Pastores and Sato of the PILC will be part of the prosecution panel in the PPT session. Bulatlat

Friday, November 24, 2006

COLLATERAL DAMAGE
Alexander Martin Remollino

They say that all wars are bound to inflict
collateral damage.
This is what they say when queried
about the rising piles of non-combatant corpses
across the land.
No less than seven hundred all in all --
and all of these, they say,
are collateral damage.
So expect every war to take the heaviest toll
on the likes of Mylene and Raymond Golloso --
thirteen and nine years old, respectively,
who were shot to death in the sanctity,
in the sanctity of their parents' bedroom
by soldiers fighting a legitimate encounter
with ''rebel'' forces.
For as they say,
all wars are bound to inflict
collateral damage.
HINDI LAGING PINAGPAPALIGUAN ANG UNANG ULAN NG MAYO
Alexander Martin Remollino

Ang sabi nila'y mainam pagpaliguan ang unang ulan ng Mayo.
Ang sabi ko nama'y maaaring oo't maaari ring hindi:
ang salalayan nito ay kung ano ang bumubuhos.

Hindi dapat na maligo sa unang ulan ng Mayo
kung ang bumubuhos ay mga bala,
tulad ng umulan kina Mylene at Raymond Golloso,
mga paslit na pinasok sa silid ng mga magulang
at binaril sa mukha, binaril sa mukha
ng mga sundalong napalaban sa mga rebeldeng komunista
noong hapon ng Mayo 7, 2004.

Hindi laging pinagpapaliguan ang unang ulan ng Mayo.
Hindi dapat na maligo sa ulan
kung ang bumubuhos ay kamatayan.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

THE HUMAN KINETICS BEHIND A KILLING
Alexander Martin Remollino

There is human kinetics involved in the killing
of Andy Pawecan, a UCCP pastor in Nueva Ecija.

The soldiers of the Philippine Army's 48th Infantry Batallion, "D" Coy,
deserve our salutes --
not only because they are protectors of the people
but because they have made a monumental discovery
in the realm of human kinetics.
Through their painstaking research, we learn
that a man carrying a child eight months old
can fight back at three soldiers who blocked his way,
because they were just going to ask him some questions
and then let him go home anyway,
and eight more surrounding him;
that the right protection against such a menace
to the lives of eleven soldiers
is to shoot him to death.

This, my friends, is the human kinetics
behind the killing of Andy Pawecan.
SLAIN UCCP PASTOR WAS HOLDING HIS CHILD WHEN LAST SEEN WITH SOLDIERS

Andy Pawecan, a licentiate pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) slain in Nueva Ecija last May, was last seen by witnesses being held by soldiers. The killing of Pawecan is one of several cases to be heard in March next year by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT), where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to be tried for violations of the Filipino people’s individual and collective rights.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO

Bulatlat

Andy Pawecan, a licentiate pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) slain in Nueva Ecija on May 21 this year, was last seen by witnesses being held by government soldiers. Bulatlat gathered this from copies of written testimonies by the witnesses, whose names are being withheld for the meantime for security reasons, as well as with human rights lawyers.

Pawecan is one of the 783 victims of extra-judicial killings from January 2001 –- when Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising –- to November 2006, based on data from the human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights). At least 330 of the victims are with confirmed political affiliation, Karapatan data further showed.

Based on the account of one of the witnesses, Pawecan had just concluded Sunday service in his church at noon in Sitio (sub-village) Maluyon, Barangay (village) Fatima, San Jose City and was on the way to take lunch with some devotees at the house of one of his congregation members in Sitio Maasip, Barangay Tayabo, Pantabangan. The witness was one of those with Pawecan.

“Humigit-kumulang 200 metro na lamang ang layo sa aming bahay nang harangin kami ng tatlong sundalo sa daan at pinigilan kaming umuwi ng aming bahay at sinabihan kami ng mga sundalo na: ‘Huwag muna kayong umuwi, baka magkaputukan e madamay pa kayo,’ kaya kami ay huminto sa daan sa kainitan ng araw” (More or less just 200 meters away from our house, we were stopped by three soldiers and prevented from going home and were told: “Don’t go home yet, an encounter may break out and you might be caught in it,” so we stopped on the road amid the heat of the sun), the witness said.

“Umalis ang isang sundalo at umakyat sa lugar na kinaroroonan ng aming bahay, pagdaan ng humigit-kumulang 30 minuto ay bumalik sa aming kinatatayuan ang isang sundalo at sinabihan kami na puwede na kaming umuwi pero pinaiwan si Andy Pawecan na noo’y kilik pa ang kanyang walong-buwang anak” (One of the soldiers left and went to the area where our house is and after more or less 30 minutes returned and said we could go home except Andy Pawecan, who was still carrying his eight-month-old daughter), the witness added. “Sinabi sa amin na kakausapin lamang siya ng mga sundalo at pauuwiin din pagkatapos” (We were told that the soldiers would just be talking to him and he would be allowed to go home afterward.)

Another witness, who was in Maluyon at the time Pawecan and his congregation members were held, said he was stopped by soldiers in front of a house morning that same day while on his way to the local market for reasons unknown to him.

“Noong ika-21 ng Mayo, 2006, ang oras ay ika-12 ng tanghali, ay pinahinto naman nila si Ptr. Andy Pawecan na noon ay kasama ng kanyang asawa na si Dominga Pawecan” (On May 21, 2006, at 12 noon, they stopped Ptr. Andy Pawecan who was then with his wife Dominga Pawecan), the witness said. “Noong mag-ikatatlo ng hapon, iyon ding araw na iyon, Linggo, ika-21 ng Mayo, ako mismo ay narinig ko na ang magkasunud-sunod na putok na iisang uri ng putok. Pagkatapos ng maraming putok ay mayroong sumigaw nang ganito, ‘Lumaban y’ong maydala ng bata.’” (At 3 that afternoon, that same day, May 21, 2006, I myself heard successive gunshots which sounded the same. After several gunshots, someone shouted, “The one carrying the baby fought back.”)

The first witness quoted in this article saw a soldier carrying Pawecan’s baby a few minutes after the burst of gunfire. She had a scratch on her face, the witness said of the baby.

“Nang hapon ding iyon ay nalaman naming patay na si Andy, sinabi ng mga sundalo na lumaban daw siya kaya siya binaril” (That same afternoon we learned that Andy was dead, the soldiers said he fought back so he was shot), the first witness said.

The next day, Maluyon residents went to claim Pawecan’s remains, and the witnesses said they were told by the soldiers that the pastor was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and that they recovered from him a SIM card marked “NPA,” which was the reason he was suspected of being an NPA member. The residents denied Pawecan was an NPA member, the witnesses said.

A fact sheet from Karapatan-Nueva Ecija identified the soldiers involved in the killing as belonging to the Philippine Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion, “D” Coy, which is part of the 7th Infantry Division then headed by Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. Palparan retired from military service last Sept. 11. Data obtained through military sources point to Lt. Milner Taglinao as having direct command over the 48th Infantry Battalion, “D” Coy.

Pawecan’s case is one of those to be heard March next year by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) in Den Haag, The Netherlands where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to be tried for:

* Violations of human rights, especially civil and political rights, with particular focus on summary executions, disappearances, massacres, torture as well as other vicious, brutal and systematic abuses and attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people;

* Violations of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people through the imposition of “free market” globalization to exploit them; transgression of their economic sovereignty and national patrimony; various forms of economic plunder and attacks on their economic rights; and the destruction of the environment; and

* Violations of the rights of the people to national self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the U.S. war of terror; U.S. military intervention; as well as the perpetration of crimes against humanity and war crimes; misrepresentations of the people’s right to national liberation and self-determination as terrorism and the baseless “terrorist” listing of individuals, organizations and other entities by the U.S. and other governments.

The PPT will be hearing the cases based on the suit filed by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA or Society of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and for Amnesty), Desaparecidos, and HUSTISYA, the organization of victims of the current administration's human rights violations. Former UN ad litem judge Romeo Capulong is the chief prosecutor and lawyers Rachel Pastores and Amylyn Sato of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) will be part of the prosecution panel in the PPT session. Bulatlat

Thursday, November 16, 2006

LUNSAD-AKLAT: SUBVERSO. NOB. 23, 2006

Book Launching of Subverso: Mga Tula at Kuwento Laban sa Pulitikal na Pandarahas

November 23, 2006 (Thursday), 2-5pm, Claro M. Recto Hall, Faculty Center, U.P. Diliman

Mykel Andrada, Joi Barrios and Rolando B. Tolentino / Editors

Contributing Writers and Artists:

Bayani S. Abadilla • Aurelio S. Agcaoili • Mila D. Aguilar • Rio Alma • Mark Angeles • Monico M. Atienza • Romulo P. Baquiran • Don Belardo • Herminio S. Beltran, Jr. • Kristoffer Berse • Ian Rosales Casocot • Dexter B. Cayanes • Piya Cruz Constantino • Gary Devilles • Iris Pagsanjan-Estrera • Tom Estrera III • Eugene Y. Evasco • Melecio Fabros • Jayson Fajarda • Edel E. Garcellano • German V. Gervacio • Genaro R. Gojo Cruz • Vladimeir B. Gonzales • Kenneth Roland Al. Guda • Lisa C. Ito • Estelito B. Jacob • Jose F. Lacaba • Bienvenido L. Lumbera • Cynthia Nograles Lumbera • Maricristh Magaling • Rogelio Ordoñez • Will P. Ortiz • Roselle V. Pineda • Axel Pinpin • Nonilon V. Queaño • Peye Rana • Alexander Martin Remollino • Elyrah Loyola Salanga • Romulo A. Sandoval • Ina Stuart Santiago • Lilia Quindoza Santiago • Soliman A. Santos • Prestoline Suyat • Tomasito T. Talledo • John Iremil E. Teodoro • Enrico C. Torralba • Renato O. Villanueva

From the Introduction:
Tereyn ng Panitikan at Pang-uring Tunggalian
Mykel Andrada, Joi Barrios at Rolando B. Tolentino

Simula nang manungkulan si Gng. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo noong 2001, umaabot na sa halos 800 ang kaso ng mga pulitikal na pamamaslang sa bansa. Ayon pa sa KARAPATAN, isang alyansang nagsusulong ng karapatang pantao, simula 2001 hanggang Nobyembre 2006, humigit-kumulang 200 naman ang bilang ng desaparecidos o iyong mga biglang naglaho dahil sa pandurukot ng hinihinalang mga elemento rin ng militar at gobyerno. Ayon naman kay Purificacion Quisumbing, Tagapangulo ng Commission on Human Rights (CHR), ang limang-taong panunungkulan ni Arroyo ay nagluwal ng mas maraming kaso ng paglabag ng karapatang pantao kumpara sa 15-taong pinagsama-samang panunungkulan nina Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos at Joseph Estrada. Nangangahulugan lamang na ang maikling administrasyon ni Arroyo ang mas pasistang rehimen, kasama na ang diktadurya ni Marcos, sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas.

Ang kasaysayan ng bansa ay kasaysayan ng protesta’t rebolusyon. Kasaysayan itong naiukit sa imahinasyong pampanitikan ng bansa. Mula sa tradisyong protesta ng Kilusang Propaganda noong panahon ng kolonyalismong Kastila sa bansa, sa rebolusyunaryong panulat ng Katipunan, sa dupluhan at balagtasan, sa panitikang andergrawnd, hanggang sa patuloy na pagyabong ng tradisyong radikal sa kasalukuyan. Ito ay kasaysayang isinulat at isinusulat. Ito ay kasaysayang isinasagawa. Sa ganitong lapit isinusulong ang ikaapat na serye ng Publikasyong Iglap, ang Subverso: Mga Tula at Kuwento Laban sa Pulitikal na Pandarahas. Ang koleksiyong ito ng mga tula at maikling kuwento ay tumutuligsa sa umiigting na paglabag ng administrasyong Arroyo sa karapatang-pantao, kabilang na ang tumataas na bilang ng pulitikal na pamamaslang at dumaraming bilang ng desaparecidos.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

ONE OF BICOL PASTOR'S KILLERS HAD ARMY MISSION ORDER

Army Pfc. Lordger Pastrana, the leader of a group of hooded armed men who tortured and killed Methodist Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa in Daraga, Albay on the fateful night of Aug. 5 this year was a soldier who had a mission order authorizing him to carry a firearm outside the headquarters. The case of Sta. Rosa is one of those to be presented before the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) next year.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat



Army Pfc. Lordger Pastrana, the leader of a group of hooded armed men who tortured and killed Methodist Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa in Daraga, Albay on the fateful night of Aug. 3 this year was a soldier who had a mission order authorizing him to carry a firearm outside the headquarters.

A copy of the mission order was obtained by the Daraga local police in the course of its investigation into the killing. The mission order and the name of Pastrana were recently mentioned in a report by the human rights alliance Karapatan and also reported by a major daily.

Sta. Rosa is one of 780 victims of extra-judicial killings, as of Nov. 11, under the Arroyo administration. His case is one of many to be presented before the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) in Den Haag, The Netherlands, where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to be tried for violations of the Filipino people’s individual and collective rights, next year.

Based on sworn statements and affidavits by Sta. Rosa’s wife Sonia, the victim’s brothers Jonathan and Ray-Sun, and neighbor Alwin Mirabona, at around 7:30 p.m. that night, three hooded armed men barged into the house of Jonathan and Ray Sun.

The men – two of whom were wearing camouflage pants, combat boots, and dark long-sleeved shirts – were looking for Isaias. They ordered the two brothers to lie on the ground, and then stepped on their heads and pointed guns at them. From his position, Ray Sun was able to observe more hooded armed men positioned amid the bushes. Jonathan tried to look around and was hit with a gun barrel in the head.

Jonathan and Ray Sun were both accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA), which they both denied. They were stripped of their shirts to see if they were armed. Jonathan was then dragged at gunpoint to Isaias’ house a few meters away.

In her affidavit, Sonia said that she and her son Philip were watching TV while Isaias and their daughter April Handem (“Dem-dem”) were watching videos on a laptop computer.

Habang nagkukuwentuhan sila, biglang may kumatok sa pintuan ng bahay namin at narinig namin ang ‘Manoy...’ (tawag sa Bikolano sa nakatatandang kapatid na lalaki). Pagsilip ko sa pinto, nakita ko si Jonathan (‘Owie’), bunsong kapatid ni Pastor. Wala siyang damit pang-itaas at parang maysakit ang hitsura. Kaya tinawag ko ang aking asawa. Pagsilip naming mag-asawa, bigla at mabilis na pumasok sa bahay namin ang humigit-kumulang sampung armadong kalalakihan na lahat ay nakabonet, tinutukan kami ng mga baril at pinadapa kaming lahat” (As they were talking, someone suddenly knocked on the door and we heard someone calling “Manoy...” [Bicolano term for elder brother]. When I peeped through, I saw Jonathan naked from the waist up and looking in pain. So I called my husband. When we peeped through, more or less ten armed and hooded men suddenly and barged into our house, pointed their guns at us and told us to drop to the floor), Sonia said.

The men, Sonia said, were all wearing black sweatshirts, camouflage pants, and combat shoes – except for the one commanding them, whom she described as wearing a maroon polo shirt, a vest, black shorts, and black rubber shoes.

Isaias’ hands were tied with a nylon cord behind him. In Sonia and Jonathan’s affidavits and sworn statements, they told of Isaias being beaten up as he was forced to admit he was the “Elmer” they were looking for.

Jonathan, Sonia and her three children Dem-dem, Philip and Mikko were brought to a room while Isaias was taken to another. They could hear the soldiers continuing to beat Isaias up, said Sonia and Jonathan. Ray Sun was then brought into the room where Sonia, Jonathan, and the children were.

A few minutes after, the soldiers went out of the house bringing with them the bloodied and still tied-up Isaias, as well as the laptop computer and the mobile phones of the pastor and Mikko.

Sonia ran out and cried for help from her sister Madelyn, who lived nearby. Madelyn roused the neighbors with her cries for help.

From a distance, six shots were heard, and then a pause, and then another three shots. Ray Sun, Jonathan, and the neighbors ran in the direction of the gunshots.

They found Isaias’ bullet-riddled body about 50 meters away from his house. Beside his body was that of a hooded man wearing a maroon shirt, black short pants, and black rubber shoes, as well as a .45 pistol fitted with a silencer.

After a few more minutes, a group of policemen led by Supt. Jose Capinpin, Daraga police chief; and barangay (village) captain Artita Padilla arrived.

They recovered from the scene the pistol, a spent shell from a .45 caliber pistol, and a .45 caliber slug.

From the corpse of the hooded man they recovered a Philippine Army identification card of one Pfc. Lordger Pastrana and a mission order issued to the ID card bearer by the 9th Military Intelligence Battalion of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division, based in Camp Weene Martillana in Pili, Camarines Sur. The mission order was signed by Maj. Ernest Rosal and refers to a “secret mission” valid July 1 to Sept. 30, 2006.

A photocopy of the mission order was received by Bulatlat courtesy of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), whose lawyers Rachel Pastores and Amylyn Sato are part of the prosecution panel that will face the PPT next year.

Based on a news item from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the 9th Infantry Division – which has headquarters at Camp Elias Angeles in Pili – has been under the command of Maj. Gen. Ricardo Nobleza since December 2004.

However, Daraga police investigators ruled that the case was one of robbery with homicide. “Based on the foregoing facts, evidence at hand and sworn statements of the witnesses Cpl. Lordger Pastrana was among the group who abducted and killed Isaias Sta. Rosa and also the robbery hold up (sic) of Alwin Mirabona, Ray Sun Sta. Rosa and Jonathan Sta. Rosa all of Malobago, Daraga, Albay,” wrote SPO1 Alex Moral of the Daraga police in an investigation report dated Aug. 21.

Subsequent investigations by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region V and a fact-finding team formed by the United Methodist Church (UMC) affirmed that the group led by Pastrana was responsible for the killing of Sta. Rosa.

The findings from both investigations, however, were that there was more to the killing than a mere robbery with homicide. Bulatlat
PUBLIKHAAN: MAKING HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES PUBLIC

Tutok Karapatan (TutoK), a group of artists advocating human rights, will hold a series of upcoming art events starting this month, tackling the spate of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. TutoK was formed late last year as a response to what the group described as the “deteriorating” human rights situation in the country.


BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat



Performance artist Jeho Bitancor came out of a room dressed in dark glasses, slacks and a long-sleeved shirt with necktie. Threatening to burst out from under his shirt, making him look like a heavy-built underworld ninong (godfather), were various objects he had stuffed under it.

He stood by a table and took out from under his shirt a loaf of bread. He next took out a glass object that looked like the top of a cathedral’s steeple. He inverted the glass object and inserted the cross into the bread. He then filled the part of the glass object sticking out with cream. He sipped some and then spit it out, letting it drip over his necktie and shirt.

He took out three apples from under his shirt, and then a plastic doll resembling a baby. With a hammer he also took out from under his shirt, he bored a hole into the doll’s abdomen, stuffed the apples into it, and then crushed them with the hammer. The doll now looked like a bloated and disemboweled corpse of an infant.

He placed the doll into a plastic bag which he hanged with a string from his neck.

Attached to the string was a tag on one side of which read “kapayapaan” (peace), and on the other side read “demokrasya” (democracy).

Bitancor’s performance was the finale in a press conference held by Tutok Karapatan (TutoK) last Nov. 7 at the Newsdesk Cafe in Quezon City. TutoK held the press conference to announce a series of art events tackling human rights starting this month to April next year.

TutoK was formed late last year as a response to what the group described as the “deteriorating” human rights situation in the country.

Based on data from Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), there have been 780 victims of extra-judicial killings under the Arroyo regime from January 2001 to Nov. 11, 2006. Of this number, 339 are with known political affiliations.

The idea for TutoK came up in November last year during a workshop among artists on women, art and healing at Sambalikhaan, Quezon City. In an open forum held after a discussion on the human rights situation in the country, a number of the participants talked about a plan to pay tribute to the victims of extra-judicial killings through a series of portraits.

Artists’ initiative


“This is an artists’ initiative,” explained TutoK project director Karen Ocampo-Flores, a painter, during the press conference. “The art events are to be financed mainly with our group’s own funds, which we raised by selling artworks last year.”

Painters Emmanuel Garibay and Jose Tence Ruiz are the group’s chairman and adviser, respectively.

Other members of the group’s steering committee aside from Flores are: Ruel Caasi, Mideo Cruz, Noel Cuizon, Boy Dominguez, Racquel de Loyola, Cap Reyes, Raoul “Iggy” Rodriguez, Wire Tuazon, Ramon “Chitoy” Zapata, Mike Muñoz, Noell El Farol, Ferdie Montemayor, Alfredo Juan Aquilizan, writers Lisa Ito and Richard Gappi, and Arlene Brosas of the Musicians for Peace.

The first event to be held by TutoK for this year is Publikhaan: Making Human Rights Issues Public, a partnership with the Neo-Angono Artists Collective which spearheads the activity. In this event, TutoK integrates with the third Neo-Angono Public Art Festival, to be held Nov. 16-22.

Participating groups in Publikhaan are Kaktus, Linangan ng Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA), Kalipunan ng Sining at Kultura ng Pasig, Kilometer 64, New World Disorder, Ugatlahi, Komikera, Anino Shadowplay Collective, Sto. Niño Choir, Surrounded by Water, Ideas, Tandang Juancho Museum and the University of Rizal System.

The next event would be Perspektiba, a series of exhibits on the political killings. Curated by Cruz, it will open at the Beato Angelico Gallery, University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Nov. 21 with a live installation by Bitancor. The exhibit will run at UST until Dec. 2. As part of the Perspektiba-UST event, TutoK will hold a forum in the afternoon on Nov. 29, with multi-awarded novelist Jun Cruz Reyes as the main speaker. At night that same day, there will be performances by artists Jose Tence Ruiz, Jef Carnay, and Cos Zicarelli; and award-winning poets Roberto Ofanda Umil and Angelo Suarez.

Other participating artists in the Perspektiba-UST exhibit are painters Antipas Delotavo, Boy Dominguez, Gene de Loyola, and Manny Garibay; multi media artist Claro Ramirez, Lyra Garcellanno, Don Salubayba, Ed Manalo, Benjo Elayda, Mark Ramsel Salvatus III and Buen Calubayan; and art groups Anting anting and UGATLahi.

The Perspektiba series of exhibits will next run at St. Scholastica’s College in January next year, and at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City in February.

Dos por Dos

In December, TutoK will hold Dos por Dos, an exhibit of 2 x 2 works in media at the Boston Art Gallery in Cubao, Quezon City. It will be curated by Montemayor, Garibay, Farol and Caasi. Dos por Dos will run Dec. 2-30.

In February next year, TutoK will hold Pasang Masid at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The group describes the project as “a critical and historical overview of a national cultural institution and aims to illustrate the CCP’s peculiar role as a cultural instrument of the state and as venue for artistic excellence.” Selections from the CCP art collection will be exhibited side by side with current works, photos and artifacts from TutoK artists. Pasang Masid will be TutoK’s project for National Arts Month next year.

Karapatan secretary-general Marie Hilao Enriquez expressed support for TutoK at the Nov. 7 press conference.

“We laud this effort because art has a way of capturing the imagination of people and arousing interest in them,” Enriquez said.

“It must be remembered that artists and cultural workers played a major role in awakening our people to assert our rights and fight for basic freedoms and democracy under the dark years of martial law,” Enriquez, herself a victim of human rights violations during the martial law years, also said. “Now, that there are attempts to bring back the dark days of the dictatorship and in the wake of unabated killings and disappearances, our nationalist artists are once again rising up to the occasion of being with the people’s side.” Bulatlat

Sunday, November 05, 2006

ANG BALON NG IYONG LAKAS
Alexander Martin Remollino

Dati nang dumapo sa aking mga tainga
ang paglalarawan sa iyo
bilang isang ang kagaya raw ay tingting,
nakatatakot daw na salingin man lamang
sapagkat baka kagyat na mabali.
Ang mga nagsabi niyon
ay pinanawan na marahil ng kanilang mga utak
bago pa man lumisan ang huli nilang hininga.
Sapagkat sino ba ang talagang marupok?
Nasa pagitan ng iyong butuhang mga daliri
ang panulat na di matangay-tangay,
di matangay-tangay
ng gaano man kabagsik na unos.
Ang balon ng iyong lakas
ay isang pinanghahawakang paninindigang
kasinlantay ng araw na naglalagablab sa katanghalian,
di tulad ng marami sa mga bituin
sa langit kung gabi
na mga larawan na lamang,
mga larawan na lamang
ng mga talang matagal nang naubusan ng liwanag.

The Makata, October 2006
HINDI HUKUMAN ANG HULING HUGUTAN NG KATARUNGAN
Alexander Martin Remollino

Sa ikaisang taon ng panggagahasa ng ilang sundalong Amerikano kay "Nicole"


Ang isang taon ay waring isang habang panahon --
isang taon iyong ikaw na nagsasakdal,
ikaw na nagsasakdal ang siyang isinasakdal.
Nagsabwatan sila sa loob ng panahong iyon
upang pakilingin ang timbangang tangan
ng babaeng nakapiring
sa panig ng mga dayo, mga dayong
lumugso sa iyong puri't sa dangal ng bansa.
Ang mga itinalagang magtanggol sa iyo
ay sila pang umusig sa iyo.

Sa panig kaya ng katarungan dudulo ang lahat?
Hindi natin matiyak, "Nicole" --
hindi natin matiyak
sapagkat mahirap tiyaking ang tama'y mangyayari
sa bansa kung saan ang tagapangalaga ng watawat
ang siya ring nagpupunas nito sa mga puwit at paa.

Ngunit kung ang hatol ma'y maging sumpa sa iyo,
pakatandaang lagi
na hindi,
hindi hukuman ang huling hugutan ng katarungan.
CONSTITUTION NOT CURE-ALL FOR MINDANAO STRIFE, SAYS MILF LEADER

“Not all solutions to the ongoing conflict in Mindanao can be found in the Constitution.” This was the observation made by MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu in a phone interview with Bulatlat.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO

Bulatlat

“Not all solutions to the ongoing conflict in Mindanao can be found in the Constitution.”

This was the observation made by MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu in a phone interview with Bulatlat over the weekend. Kabalu, who is also a lawyer, was reacting to a recent statement by Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye that the Arroyo government was willing to grant the MILF’s demands on the ancestral domain claim, but within the framework of the Constitution.

The ancestral domain claim issue has emerged of late as the most contentious subject in the GRP-MILF peace negotiations, which are being brokered by the Malaysian government.

During a bilateral meeting preceding the China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) commemorative summit in Nanning, China last week, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asked Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to tell the MILF that she was willing to grant the group’s demands.

“The president mentioned the current status (of the peace talks and how) we have stalled on some territorial issue, again… The president mentioned that we are willing to provide, we are willing to grant this,” Bunye told reporters in Nanning.

“But this should be done within the framework of the Constitution,” Bunye added. “The President hoped that this would be properly conveyed to the other side.”

Ancestral domain

The MILF is proposing a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity based on an ancestral domain claim over Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan. “These are areas which historically belonged to our ancestors,” Kabalu told Bulatlat.

Kabalu, however, recognized that there are now many non-Muslim settlers in these areas.

“They will be given the option of either joining the Islamized community or remaining with their original groups,” the MILF spokesman said when asked what would become of the non-Muslim settlers in these areas should the ancestral domain demands be granted. “We will not impose on them.”

The government had insisted that areas to be included to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity in addition to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) should be subject to “constitutional processes.”

The ARMM –- which includes Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Maguindanao –- is a product of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Ramos government, which sought to end the MNLF’s 27-year armed struggle for a separate state.

Impasse

MILF leaders say the issue of “constitutionality” had not emerged in any of the signed documents related to the peace talks since 1997. It had only surfaced when the MILF put forward its ancestral domain claim, the group’s leaders say.

The ancestral domain issue had caused the GRP-MILF peace talks to hit a snag last September.

Amid the impasse, two bombings took place in Mindanao on Oct. 10. The first took place at early afternoon in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, wounding four women. The second happened eight hours later in Makilala, North Cotabato, killing six people and wounding 29 others.

Named by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as suspects in the Makilala bombing were:

MILF chairman Al Haj Murad; Kule Mamagong alias Ustadz Kule, Daud Sarip, Biznar Salahuddin, Atti Lintungan alias Ustadz Atti, Samsudin Demaalo alias Commander Platon Blah, Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman alias Abdulbasit or Basit Usman, Zahide Abdul alias Zabiri Abdul or Bedz, Usman Al Majad – all alleged MILF commanders;

Dulmatin alias Amat Usman and Omar Patek alias Abdul Sheik, alleged members of the Indonesian-based terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah; and Hadji Akmad Bayam, allegedly a former MNLF commander now working for Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as an assistant secretary.

Kabalu had warned of a “total breakdown” in the peace talks if the PNP should pursue charges against Murad.

Ermita has said he did not know that Murad was included in the charge sheet. He berated local authorities for not clearing the issue with “higher authorities,” considering, he said, that there are peace talks going on between the GRP and the MILF. “I have to look into this... because it infringes on the higher activity which is the negotiation going on with the MILF,” the executive secretary said last week.

In his interview with Bulatlat, Kabalu cited Ermita as having spoken of the possibility of having Murad’s name withdrawn from the charge sheet.

Government proposal

Government negotiators had asked for a Sept. 30 deadline for coming up with a counter-proposal to the MILF’s demand, but failed to meet it.

The GRP panel subsequently asked for an Oct. 31 deadline for the counter-proposal, but once more failed to meet it.

“They have asked for a Nov. 15 deadline for their counter-proposal,” Kabalu said of the government negotiators.

“We are awaiting their counter-proposal,” Kabalu added. “Whether or not the peace talks will move forward from the impasse depends on that.”

Roots of the Moro war

During the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965), Sabah, an island near Mindanao to which the Philippines has a historic claim, ended up in the hands of the Malaysian government. His successor Ferdinand Marcos later conceived a scheme which involved the recruitment of between 28 and 64 Moro fighters to occupy Sabah.

The reported summary execution of these recruits in 1968 by their superiors, which Moro historian Salah Jubair says was due to their refusal to follow orders, led to widespread outrage among Moros and led to the formation of the MNLF that same year.

The MNLF, which fought for an independent state in Muslim Mindanao, entered into a series of negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), beginning in the 1970s under the Marcos government. Conflicts on the issue of autonomy led to a breakdown of talks between the GRP and the MNLF in 1978, prompting a group led by Dr. Salamat Hashim to break away from the MNLF and form the MILF. Since then, the MILF has been fighting for an Islamic state in Mindanao.

In 1996, the MNLF signed a Final Peace Agreement with the GRP which created the ARMM as a concession to the group. That same year, the MILF began peace negotiations with the GRP. Bulatlat