Sunday, October 29, 2006

DAN CAMPILAN: HUWARANG KABATAANG PILIPINO
Alexander Martin Remollino

Lalaging dahilan ng panghihinayang sa ganang amin ang pangyayaring hindi namin kailanman nakakilala nang personal ang batang-batang kapwa namin mamamahayag na si Dan Campilan, reporter ng GMA 7.

Nakakasabay lamang namin siya sa mga coverage ng mga pambansang kaganapan, lalo na ng mga rali at iba pang aktibidad ng mga grupong aktibista. Hanggang dito na lamang ito. Hindi na namin siya makakakilala nang personal kailanman sapagkat siya’y nasawi sa isang aksidente noong umaga ng Oktubre 7, malapit sa hangganan ng Lunsod Quezon at Bulacan kung saan ang kanyang kotse ay nabangga ng isang bus.

Higit namin siyang nakilala sa mga kinalabasan ng kanyang trabaho. Masasabi naming bilang isang mamamahayag, siya’y hindi yaong tipong pumupunta lamang sa mga lunan ng kaganapan upang huwag masabing hindi siya nagsagawa ng coverage. Mataman niyang sinusubaybayan ang mga ginagawa, mataman niyang pinakikinggan ang mga sinasabi, ng mga pangunahing tauhan sa mga pangyayari; at lagi na’y matapat na matapat sa talagang nangyari ang nagagawa niyang mga ulat.

Ginagawa niya ang nararapat gawin ng sinumang mamamahayag, ang kunin ang magkabilang panig ng bawat usapin. Subalit hindi siya humahangga sa gayon lamang: sa pamamagitan ng pananaliksik at ng natipong kaalaman, mahusay niyang naipakikita kung aling panig ang may higit na bigat.

Sa partikular, kahanga-hanga ang katapatan sa katotohanan ng kanyang pag-uulat hinggil sa kalagayan ng mga aping sektor ng ating lipunan. Kahit sa loob ng tatatluhing minutong mga balita ay malinaw niyang nailalahad ang mga hinaing man o kahingian ng mga taong pinagkaitan ng lipunan ng nararapat sa kanila. Ano pa kaya sana ang naging lalim ng kanyang pag-uulat hinggil sa mga paksang ganito kung siya’y nagkaroon ng higit na maraming pagkakataong gumawa ng mga dokumentaryo at investigative report?

Dapat lamang na asahang ganito ang magiging pagpanig niya sa mga taong tinapakan. Ayon kay Ederic Eder, patnugot ng Tinig.com at nakatrabaho niya sa GMA 7; at kay Renato Reyes Jr., pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), bago naging reporter itong si Dan Campilan ay kasapi siya ng League of Filipino Students (LFS) sa Cebu. Masasabing kahit bilang mamamahayag ay lubos niyang nabigyang-katarungan ang naging pakikibahagi niya sa isang organisasyong pang-estudyanteng nagmarka sa kasaysayan ng pakikipaglaban alang-alang sa soberanya, katarungan, at mabuting pamamahala.

Hindi siya katulad ng ilan diyang mga “aktibista” diumano at kayhihilig na ibandila sa buong mundo hindi lamang ang mga pangalan ng mga organisasyong kanilang kinasasapian daw kundi ang anila pa’y pagiging mga “sosyalista” at “komunista” pa nga, bago’y hindi mo makitaan ng di-mapasusubaliang track record ng totohanang pakikisangkot sa buhay ng sambayanan.

Isang kawalan hindi lamang sa larangan ng pamamahayag kundi sa buong bansa ang biglaang pagkamatay ni Dan Campilan. Isa siyang huwarang kabataang Pilipino at ang mga kagaya niya ay kabilang sa mga tunay na pag-asa ng ating bayan.
FULL CIRCLE: THE PHILIPPINES AND THE PERMANENT PEOPLES’ TRIBUNAL

After Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, the Philippines will only be the third country in history to be the subject of a session twice by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT). In 1980, the PPT convened a Session on the Philippines and found the Marcos dictatorship guilty of crimes against humanity after a trial. In March next year, the PPT will be hearing a case filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the U.S. government, and multi-national agencies “acting as their accomplices in violating the individual and collective rights of the Filipino people.”

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO

Bulatlat

After Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, the Philippines will only be the third country in history to be the subject of a session twice by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT).

In the website of the PPT’s Second Session on the Philippines, the PPT is described as follows:

The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal is an international opinion tribunal, independent from any State authority. It examines and judges complaints regarding violations of human rights and rights of peoples that are submitted by the victims themselves or groups representing them. The Tribunal was founded in June 1979 in Italy by law experts, writers and other intellectuals. It succeeded the Russell Tribunals I and II or the International War Crimes Tribunal, which held two sessions in 1967 to expose the war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people.


The PPT is an organ of the Lelio Basso International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples (FILB). Established in 1976 through the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples at Algiers (also known as the Algiers Declaration), the FILB conducts historical and juridical studies based on what it calls the “Law for the Rights of Peoples.”

“The purpose is to contribute to the elaboration of principles to regulate a new order of relations which aim to promote peace, in that they are no longer based on hegemony but on interdependence,” reads an item on the FILB’s old website.

“The themes broached by the Foundation in these past years are interconnected and cut across the world crisis: democracy and market; environment and development model; relationship between development models and peoples' cultures; minorities and nation-State,” the website item further reads. “The South of the world is the main field for research, in that there more than anywhere else people are deprived of the fundamental rights due to every human being.”

The FILB was set up in 1976 by Lelio Basso, an Italian anti-Fascist activist, philosopher, lawyer, journalist and statesman. Basso sat in the Russell Tribunal, presided upon by internationally-respected British philosopher and human rights advocate Bertrand Russell to judge the crimes committed by the U.S. government in its war against Vietnam. In 1973, he worked to establish a second Russell Tribunal to examine the repression by U.S. sponsored regimes in Latin America. The PPT was established in 1979, a year after his death.

Salvatore Senese, an Italian legislator, is president of the PPT. Italian physician Gianni Tognoni is the PPT’s general secretary.

For its sessions, the PPT selects Member Jurors who are particularly noted for their moral and intellectual stature. It has held 34 sessions from 1979 to 2006.

In 1980, the PPT convened a Session on the Philippines to hear the case filed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) against then President Ferdinand Marcos, the U.S. government, and U.S.-controlled financial institutions, multi-national corporations and commercial banks. The Marcos dictatorship, which was supported by the U.S. government, was specifically charged with violation of human rights and peoples rights, and crimes under international law.

After a trial, the PPT delivered a “Guilty” verdict on Marcos and his government – in effect becoming the first international body to condemn the Marcos dictatorship. It also recognized the NDFP and the MNLF as the “legitimate representatives” of the Filipino and Moro peoples, respectively.

The Member Jurors of the PPT First Session on the Philippines were: Sergio Mendes Arceo, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Guernavaca, Mexico; Richard Baumlin, Swiss legal scholar and parliamentarian; Harvey Cox, professor of theology at Harvard University and author of the book Secular City; Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University and noted environmentalist; Andrea Giardina, professor of international law at the University of Naples; Francois Houtart, professor of sociology at the University of Louvain; Ajit Roy, Indian writer; Makoto Oda; Ernst Utrecht, professor at Sidney University and a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam; George Wald, Nobel Prize winner and president of the First Session on the Philippines; Muireann O’ Brian, Irish lawyer; and Gianni Tognoni, coordinator of the First Session on the Philippines.

Convening in The Hague this Oct. 30 is the PPT’s Second Session on the Philippines. In March next year, the PPT will be hearing a case filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the U.S. government, and multi-national agencies “acting as their accomplices in violating the individual and collective rights of the Filipino people.”

Filing the indictment on behalf of the Filipino people are: Hustisya (Justice), an organization of human rights victims under the Arroyo administration and their relatives; Desaparecidos, a group of relatives of victims of enforced disappearances; Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA or Society of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and for Amnesty); and the multi-sectoral Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance).

The indictment places the highest priority on what the plaintiffs describe as the violations of civil and political rights.

The indictment, in summary, focuses on the following:

* 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.

* 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.

Tognoni will be presiding during the Second Session on the Philippines. Bulatlat

RELATED ARTICLE:

An Urgent Appeal to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) of the Lelio Basso International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples
TRAILING HADJI AKMAD BAYAM

The inclusion of a Hadji Akmad Bayam in the charge sheet in connection with the bomb blast in Makilala, North Cotabato last Oct. 10 has generated considerable controversy. The reason? The Hadji Akmad Bayam included in the Makilala charge sheet works with the office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, said leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

Is it he, or is it not he? That, to paraphrase a well-known soliloquy from the great English poet and playwright William Shakespeare, is the million-dollar question.

The inclusion of a Hadji Akmad Bayam in the charge sheet in connection with the bomb blast in Makilala, North Cotabato last Oct. 10 has generated considerable controversy.

Two separate bombings occurred in Mindanao on that date. 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.

Also included in the Makilala charge sheet were Al Haj Murad, chairman of the revolutionary Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); and Kule Mamagong alias Ustadz Kule; Daud Sarip; Biznar Salahuddin; Atti Lintungan alias Ustadz Atti; Samsudin Demaalo alias Commander Platon Blah; and Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman alias Abdulbasit or Basit Usman; Zahide Abdul alias Zabiri Abdul or Bedz; and Usman Al Majad –- all alleged MILF commanders.

The charge sheet also included Dulmatin alias Amat Usman and Omar Patek alias Abdul Sheik, alleged members of the Indonesian-based terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Dulmatin’s wife, who had been captured previously in Jolo, Sulu, had said the MILF is linked with the Jemaah Islamiyah –- an allegation the group’s spokesman Eid Kabalu has denied in several media interviews.

In a statement shortly after the bombing, MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal had said that Murad and Bayam could not possibly be charged in connection with the same bombing.

“Anyone who is in his right mind won’t include Hadji Akmad Bayam (on the charge sheet),” said MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar in a TV interview on Oct. 19, reiterating Iqbal’s statement.

The reason? MILF leaders say, citing information they describe as coming from a source in Malacañang, the Hadji Akmad Bayam included in the Makilala charge sheet works with the office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita. “He has been working with Ermita for a long time,” Kabalu told Bulatlat of Bayam, whom he also described as a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), another Moro revolutionary group.

This is not the first time that an official linked to the Arroyo administration has been accused of involvement in Mindanao bombings.

In July 2003, dissident soldiers belonging to the Magdalo group cited as one of the reasons for their armed protest action at the Oakwood Hotel in Makati City the alleged masterminding by then Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes of the Davao bombings earlier that same year. This, the Magdalo soldiers said, was meant to provide a justification for asking the U.S. for additional anti-“terrorist” funds. Early the next year, both the government-initiated Maniwang Commission and the independent Mindanao Truth Commission concluded that a “third party” was behind the bombings.

Following the allegations, several prominent Moro personalities –- among them Arsad Solaiman of the Moro Youth for Bangsamoro Genuine Empowerment (MYBGE) and lawyer Zen Malang of the Bangsamoro Center for Law and Policy –- urged Ermita to make a categorical statement either confirming or denying that Bayam works with his office.

Bayam’s trajectory


Ten days after the Makilala bombing, Ermita told media that there is indeed a Hadji Akmad Bayam working in his office as an assistant secretary. He said he would check whether the Bayam working for him and the one charged in connection with the Makilala bombing are the same person.

The following day, Oct. 21, Ermita said the Bayam included in the Makilala charge sheet is different from the one who works for him as an assistant secretary.

“How could he be a bomber?” Ermita said of his assistant secretary. “Akmad Bayam used to be a Moro National Liberation Front commander. Later he came out of the organization and I recruited him to join our party, the Lakas-NUCD. I recently hired him to be one of my technical assistants.”

Ermita, who was involved in the GRP-MNLF peace talks, said Bayam surrendered to the government through him shortly before the signing of the Final Peace Agreement. He later joined the Moro National Rebel Returnees Association (MNRRA), of which he eventually became chairman.

Bayam’s name had rarely hit the news since his surrender, although it is known that from 2002 to 2004, he worked with the office of Jose Ma. Rufino, then presidential liaison officer for political affairs (now deceased). He resigned from that office in 2004 to run for a congressional seat in his native Maguindanao, but lost.

Nothing would be heard from Bayam since then until mid-2005, when he made headlines as chairman of the Philippine Muslim Solidarity Council (PMSC), a group of Muslims who had called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down in the wake of the so-called “Hello Garci” scandal.

The surfacing of the so-called “Hello Garci” tapes –- a series of recorded and allegedly wiretapped conversations in which a voice similar to Arroyo’s is heard instructing an election official, whose voice sounds like that of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to rig the polls renewed widespread suspicions of fraud in the 2004 presidential election and revived calls for the president’s removal or resignation from office.

Among the groups that emerged in the revitalized campaign for Arroyo’s removal or resignation from Malacañang was the broad coalition Unity for Truth and Justice, launched on July 21, 2005. The PMSC took part in this coalition. In fact, during the group’s inaugural meeting, Bayam was among those nominated to form a caretaker government that would take over in the event of an Arroyo removal or resignation.

When former presidential staff officer Michaelangelo Zuce testified before a congressional investigation later that same month that there was fraud in the 2004 election, Bayam –- who told of having worked with him in Rufino’s office –- was behind him. That is, until Zuce produced an affidavit saying it was Bayam who had endorsed Garcillano’s appointment to the Comelec.

He belied this allegation of Zuce and even accused Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay and former Internal Revenue Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons-Chato –- both convenors of the Unity for Truth and Justice –- of offering him money in exchange for “helping” them. Chato responded by saying it was actually Bayam who had asked for money –- to the tune of P700,000 –- in exchange for his help.

He then disappeared from the scene and even his colleagues in the PMSC could not locate nor even contact him.

Nothing would be heard from or about Bayam since then until September this year, when Ermita in media interviews lauded him for his role in the “recovery” of Grace Gonzales, daughter of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) president Dr. Eldigario Gonzales. Grace had been kidnapped a month before in Zamboanga. In news reports on Grace’s “recovery,” Ermita was quoted as saying that Bayam was his assistant secretary.

Bombing suspect

A month later, a name similar to his appears on the charge sheet in connection with the Makilala bombing.

Bayam has branded as “malicious” the allegations that he was linked to the Makilala bombing, and challenged his accusers to face him and swear by the Koran while making allegations. Ermita has denied the accusation against his assistant secretary.

Bayam has also talked of having had a falling-out with the camp of former Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat, also a convenor of the Unity for Truth and Justice.

MILF leaders swear that the Bayam charged with multiple murder is the same man working for Ermita –- citing information which they describe as coming from no less than a source in Malacañang.

The MNLF and the MILF

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 Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao –- composed of Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Maguindanao –- as a concession to the group. That same year, the MILF began peace negotiations with the GRP. The issue of ancestral domain had emerged last month as the most contentious issue in the GRP-MILF peace negotiations, which are being brokered by the Malaysian government. The MILF is proposing a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity based on an ancestral domain claim over Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan. But the government had insisted that any 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” –- something which, the MILF said, had not come up in any of the signed documents related to the talks since 1997.

The recent bombings in Mindanao took place shortly after the deadlock in the GRP-MILF peace talks over the issue of ancestral domain. Among the suspects is one Hadji Akmad Bayam. Bulatlat

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

ON THE OCTOBER BOMBINGS IN MINDANAO:
‘THESE ARE THE HANDIWORK OF GROUPS OPPOSING PEACE’


The bombings that took place in Mindanao earlier this month are the handiwork of people who want the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to completely collapse, the spokesperson of the Moro revolutionary group said. These, he said, are people who are opposed to the prospects of real peace in Mindanao.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO

Bulatlat

The bombings that took place in Mindanao earlier this month are the handiwork of people who want the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to completely collapse, the spokesperson of the Moro revolutionary group said. These, he said, are people who are opposed to the prospects of real peace in Mindanao.

MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu made this observation in a phone interview with Bulatlat.

Two separate bombings occurred in Mindanao last 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.

“Why are these being carried out at a time when there is an impasse in the GRP-MILF peace talks?” Kabalu said. “The parties could not immediately reach an agreement on the issue of territory, so there was an impasse.”

Ancestral domain


The issue of ancestral domain had emerged last month as the most contentious issue in the GRP-MILF peace negotiations, which are being brokered by the Malaysian government.

The MILF is proposing a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity based on an ancestral domain claim over Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan. But the government had insisted that any 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” – something which, the MILF said, had not come up in any of the signed documents related to the talks since 1997.

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

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.

During his first presidential term, Ferdinand Marcos conceived a scheme which involved the recruitment of between 28 and 64 Moro fighters to occupy Sabah. The recruits were summarily executed repeortedly by their military superiors in 1968, in what is now known as the infamous Jabidah Massacre. According to Moro historian Salah Jubair, this was because they had refused to follow orders.

The Jabidah Massacre triggered widespread outrage among the Moros and led to the formation of the MNLF that same year.

The MNLF entered into a series of negotiations with the GRP, beginning in the 1970s under the Marcos government. In 1996, it signed a “Final Peace Agreement” with the GRP which created the ARMM as a concession to the group.

Impasse and bombings

“These attacks happened shortly after (the impasse arose), so the MILF is being blamed for these,” Kabalu said. “There is something rather suspicious in this. What we see is the intent to make the GRP-MILF peace process collapse.”

In an earlier statement, Hermein Arendain, spokesperson of the party-list group Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Moro People) in Davao City, made a similar observation. “It is highly (suspicious) that the series of bombings in Mindanao came at a time when Congress was debating on the enactment of (the Anti-Terrorism Bill) and the GRP-MILF peace talk is in an impasse,” Arendain said in an Oct. 16 statement.

North Cotabato Gov. Manny Piñol was quick to point the accusing finger at the MILF, whose chairman Al Haj Murad was subsequently among those charged with multiple murder in connection with the Makilala bombing.

The MILF in an Oct. 11 statement condemned the bombings in Tacurong City and Makilala. In his interview with Bulatlat, Kabalu categorically stated that the MILF has nothing to do with the bombings.

When asked who could most likely benefit from a complete collapse of the GRP-MILF peace talks, Kabalu declined to name any specific group.

“It is difficult to speculate, but there are many groups who want the status quo to remain,” the MILF spokesperson said. “They continue to exploit the situation here in Mindanao, and they are the ones who benefit from these.”

Kabalu, however, noted that among those charged by the police in connection with the Makilala bombing was Hadji Akmad Bayam, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) whom he said now works with the office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

In an earlier statement, Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, had said that the fact that Bayam was included in the charge sheet showed that police cannot possibly charge Murad with murder. “It’s amazing that Hadji Akmad Bayam was included,” Iqbal said.

“Anyone who is in his right mind won’t include Hadji Akmad Bayam (on the charge sheet),” said MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar in a TV interview on Oct. 19, reiterating Iqbal’s statement.

Malacañang has yet to comment on the allegations of Kabalu, Jaafar, and Iqbal on Bayam. But news reports last month cited Ermita as saying that Bayam, whom he referred to as his assistant secretary, was involved in the “recovery” of Grace Gonzales, who was kidnapped in Zamboanga last Aug. 1.

Grace Gonzales is the daughter of Dr. Eldigario Gonzales, president of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU).

Also included in the Makilala charge sheet were Kule Mamagong alias Ustadz Kule; Daud Sarip; Biznar Salahuddin; Atti Lintungan alias Ustadz Atti; Samsudin Demaalo alias Commander Platon Blah; and Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman alias Abdulbasit or Basit Usman; Zahide Abdul alias Zabiri Abdul or Bedz; and Usman Al Majad –- all alleged MILF commanders.

The charge sheet also included Dulmatin alias Amat Usman and Omar Patek alias Abdul Sheik, alleged members of the Indonesian-based terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. Dulmatin’s wife, who had been captured previously in Jolo, Sulu, had said the MILF is linked with the Jemaah Islamiyah –- an allegation Kabalu has denied in several media interviews.

“The Jemaah Islamiyah is believed to be involved in these bombings,” Kabalu said. “That is why we lodged a formal protest against Piñol’s allegations, so that they could be investigated and the persons involved in these incidents could be pinpointed. So we are ready to cooperate with the authorities, with the government for the immediate identification of those involved in these bombings.”

Meanwhile, Arendain said, “The latest spate of bombings in Central Mindanao is consistently interrelated with other cases of unsolved bombings in Mindanao since 2001, which local and police authorities have always attributed as the work of terrorist groups.”

“However, the result of an independent fact finding mission of the Mindanao Truth Commission, which investigated the series of bombings in 2002 to 2003, concluded that a third party was behind all the bombings,” Arendain added. “Apart from the investigation of the Mindanao Truth Commission, the Magdalo soldiers (had) also accused then Intelligence Chief Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus and former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes of masterminding the series of blasts in Davao City. Even the government-backed Maniwang Commission, which was also tasked to investigate the series of bombings in Mindanao, has not dismissed the possibility of a ‘third party’ involvement in the bombings of the Sasa wharf and Davao City International Airport.”

MILF

The MILF was formed in 1978, when a group led by Dr. Salamat Hashim broke away from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari.

That year, the MNLF signed an agreement with the Marcos government in Tripoli, Libya which provided for a grant of autonomy to Muslim Mindanao. The Marcos government had insisted that a plebiscite be held to settle the territories of the autonomous government. The MNLF refused to recognize the results of the plebiscite and negotiations with the GRP bogged down.

The MILF has been fighting for an Islamic state in Mindanao. Peace negotiations between the GRP and the MILF began in 1996, under the administration of then President Fidel V. Ramos. Bulatlat
POLL FRAUD, THE MASSIVE AND SYSTEMATIC WAY
Fraud: Gloria M. Arroyo and the May 2004 Elections
Published by the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
447 pages

Alleged poll fraud has been for the most part the main trigger behind major challenges to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime in the last two years.A new book from the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) – Fraud: Gloria M. Arroyo and the May 2004 Elections – should be expected to make the specter loom more ominously over Arroyo’s head. It shows just how massively and systematically the May 2004 presidential election was waylaid.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

The ghost of alleged electoral fraud has not ceased to haunt President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo since 2004, when she was supposed to have won a fresh mandate three years after being catapulted to power through a popular uprising. In fact alleged poll fraud has been for the most part the main trigger behind major challenges to her regime in the last two years.

A new book from the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) –- Fraud: Gloria M. Arroyo and the May 2004 Elections –- should be expected to make the specter loom more ominously over Arroyo’s head. It shows just how massively and systematically the May 2004 presidential election was waylaid.

Edited by Bobby M. Tuazon, director of CenPEG’s Policy Study, Publication and Advocacy (PSPA) program, the book features analyses by freelance writer Rodolfo Desuasido, information technology expert Roberto Verzola, and lawyer Cleto Villacorta –- as well as major reports and documents from the Citizens’ Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA), the church-initiated poll monitor Patriots, and the minority members of the Joint Committee of Congress.

“Fraud does two exemplary things in addressing the continuing political crisis provoked by the Arroyo administration: it brings together in a convenient collection hitherto inaccessible major documents about the crisis and situates the fraudulent 2004 elections in the context of deeper historical and structural forces,” writes Temario C. Rivera, a professor of comparative politics at the International Christian University in Tokyo and a CenPEG board member, in his preface.

Desuasido’s analysis, “Fraud in the May 2004 Elections,” gives a broad overview of how the fraud was committed in what is perhaps the most hotly-contested election in Philippine history. He shows it all: the reenactment of the 2003 budget, which according to Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. gave Arroyo some P100 billion in infrastructure funds to manipulate, the use of public resources in election campaigns, controversial appointments before the polls to strategic government posts; character assassination against actor Fernando Poe Jr., Arroyo’s main opponent; disenfranchisement of voters, manipulation of election results, canvassing railroad, and trending in the electoral count.

The CCTA report, among other things, shows how electoral fraud was committed through various eyewitness accounts, affidavits, documents, and election materials.

Verzola’s two papers on the tally conducted by the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) show statistical improbabilities that cast doubt on the poll monitoring body’s figures. The report by the minority members of the Joint Committee of Congress centers on the tampering of election documents and the discrepancies that arose as a result.

Patriots’ report focused on irregularities from the precinct to provincial levels, voter disenfranchisement, partisan activities by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as well as their violations of election procedure, and the terrorization of political opponents and their supporters, voters and personnel.

Villacorta’s article on the party-list system, “Has the Party List Law Broadened Popular Participation in Governance?” is an incisive legal study on what he describes as the limited effectiveness of a system supposedly intended to expand representation for underrepresented sectors. His article “The Commission of Fraud: Patronage Politics in the Commission on Elections” meanwhile exposes the poll body’s historical lack of integrity and independence.

All together, the articles and documents in Fraud: Gloria M. Arroyo and the May 2004 Elections give a total picture of how the controversial presidential poll of two years ago was desecrated. The patterns are there, the numbers are there –- all pointing to a wholesale messing with the people’s will. Bulatlat

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

KAHAPON AT NGAYON
Alexander Martin Remollino

Sa sarbey ng Pulse Asia nitong Hulyo hinggil sa mga preperensiya ng mga botante sa pagkasenador, isa si Kin. Imee Marcos ng Ilocos Norte sa mga nagkamit ng 12 pinakamatataas na marka. Nadaig pa niya ang ilang bantog na personalidad na lumaban sa diktadurang Marcos, tulad ni Sen. Joker Arroyo, at ni Kin. Satur Ocampo ng Bayan Muna.

Ibig sabihin, kung nitong Hulyo naganap ang halalan sa pagkasenador na nakatakda sa 2007, magiging senador ang kagalang-galang na kinatawan ng Ilocos Norte at hindi magiging senador sina Arroyo at Ocampo.

Mahirap malaman kung dito nanggagaling ang pagmamataas na mahihiwatigan sa bagong pasaring ni Virgilio S. Almario, Pambansang Alagad ng Sining ng Panitikan ng 2003, sa mga kritiko’t mananalaysay ng panitikan na kamakaila’y nagpagunita sa madla sa naging pakikipagsabwatan niya sa pasistang rehimen ng dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos.

Ngunit isang bagay ang malinaw sa naturang patutsada. Pinapaghihiwalay ni Almario ang kahapon at ang ngayon. Aniya:

Marami na akong ginawang rebisyon sa buhay ko’t pagsulat dahil sa mga natanggap kong kapaki-pakinabang na mga komentaryo. Subalit tulad ni Emerson, kinatatakutan kong lubha ang sinumang alerdyik sa nasyonalismo at gugutayin ang panukala kong pagbasa ng panitikan ng maling-pagbasa sa teksto ko. Kinatatakutan ko ang sinumang santo, bakla man o tomboy, na uupakan muna ako bilang tsikboy, lasenggo, o tuta ni Marcos upang tanggalan ako ng karapatang magpanukala ng landasing nasyonalista para sa panitikan. Kinatatakutan ko rin ang akademikong umaastang may monopolyo ng karunungan o politikong nangangalandakang kinatawan at lehitimong tinig ng masa. Kinatatakutan ko sila dahil parang hindi sila nagkakamali at dahil hindi sila marunong tumawa.


Ito’y matatagpuan sa “Tradisyon at Nasyonalismo sa Pagbasa ng Tula,” ang piyesang pangwakas sa kanyang bagong aklat na Pag-unawa sa Ating Pagtula: Kasaysayan ng Panulaang Filipino. Halos kalalabas lamang ng nasabing aklat.

Maaaring huwag na munang pag-usapan ang paratang kay Almario na siya’y isang “tsikboy” at “lasenggo” pa. Hindi naman ito nalalaman ng karamihan sa mga tagasubaybay ng sirkulong pampanitikan at aywan kung bakit kinakailangan pa niyang ipangalandakang may mga nag-aakusa sa kanya nang ganito.

Kung pakasusuriin ang siniping mga pangungusap mula sa bagong aklat ni Almario, ganito -- humigit-kumulang -- ang talagang nais niyang iparating sa mga nanunumbat sa kanya hinggil sa naging papel niya sa diktadurang Marcos at nagtatanong tungkol sa kanyang pagpapakilala ngayon sa sarili bilang isang diumano’y makabansa:

“Dahil ba sa naging tauhan ako ni Marcos ay wala na akong karapatang magpanukala ng landasing nasyunalista para sa panitikan? Ang titindi naman ninyo. Katulad kayo ng mga alerdyik sa nasyunalismo, na gugutayin sa maling-pagbasa sa teksto ko ang panukala kong pagbasa ng panitikan. Katulad kayo ng mga santo at santa riyan, bakla man o tomboy, na inuupakan ako bilang tsikboy o lasenggo at tinatanggalan ako ng karapatang magpanukala ng landasing nasyunalista para sa panitikan. Katulad kayo ng mga akademikong may monopolyo ng karunungan, ng mga pulitikong nangangalandakang kinatawan at lehitimong tinig ng masa. Parang hindi kayo nagkakamali. Hindi kayo marunong tumawa.”

Ang “ipinagmamakaawa” ni Almario, samakatwid, sa mga naghahalungkat ng kanyang kasaysayan bilang isang naging alagad ng pasistang rehimeng Marcos at sa kanyang pagpiprisinta sa sarili bilang isang “nasyunalista” ay ito: na dapat papaghiwalayin ang kanyang pagiging maka-Marcos noon at ang kanyang pagiging “makabansa” ngayon.

Balik-tanaw sa rehimeng Marcos


Nagiging mahalaga sa yugtong ito ang pagbabalik-tanaw sa naging pangungulo ni Marcos.

Ang sinundan ni Marcos sa pagkapangulo ng Pilipinas ay si Diosdado Macapagal, ama ng kasalukuyang pangulong si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Kilala si Macapagal sa pagpapatupad ng patakarang dekontrol sa ekonomiya: pinababa niya ang mga taripa sa mga angkat na produkto, at hinayaan niya ang walang-sagkang repatriyasyon ng mga tubo ng mga korporasyong multinasyunal.

Ang mga empresa natin, kung saan lamang ang mga multinasyunal pagdating sa dami ng kapital at taas ng teknolohiya, ay natalo sa kumpetisyong idinulot nito, at bumilis ang pagkalagas ng kapital ng bansa. Ayon sa istoryador-ekonomistang si Ricco Alejandro M. Santos, humantong ito sa pagkakapinid ng 10,000 empresa at malawakang pagkawala ng mga trabaho.

Ang mga kalagayang nilikha ng panguluhan ni Macapagal ay nagluwal din ng isang malawakang makabayang kilusang protesta.

Papalakas ang kilusang ito nang maging pangulo si Marcos noong 1965, at nang muli siyang mahalal noong 1969 ay sumuot na ang adyenda nito maging sa mga bulwagan ng kairalan.

Nang taong nabanggit, ang Kongreso, dama ang matinding pagtutulak ng mga makabayang sektor, ay nagpasa ng isang Magna Carta na nagsusulong ng makabansang industriyalisasyon laban sa mga dikta ng Kambal ng Bretton Woods (International Monetary Fund at World Bank o IMF-WB). Noong 1971-1972, malakas ang dating ng mga makabayang puwersa sa Kumbensiyong Konstitusyonal. Noong 1972, pinawalang-bisa ng Kataas-taasang Hukuman ang lahat ng pagkakapagbili ng lupang Pilipino sa mga dayuhang korporasyon matapos ang 1945 (kasong Quasha), at pati ang mga pagtataas ng presyo ng langis ng mga dayuhang kumpanyang nagbebenta nito.

Ang kauna-unahang hakbang ni Marcos matapos ang pagpapatupad ng Proklamasyon Blg. 1081 ay ang pagbabaligtad sa kasong Quasha. Mismong isang ulat ng Kongreso ng Estados Unidos ang nagsabing noong panahon ng batas militar ay nag-ibayo ang mga pribilehiyo ng mga banyagang korporasyon sa Pilipinas.

Sa panahon ng batas militar, maraming dinakip at ibinilanggong lider at kasapi ng mga kilusang nagsusulong ng soberanya at katarungang panlipunan. Kabilang sa mga ito ang mga kilalang makabayang estadistang sina Lorenzo Tañada at Jose W. Diokno.

Ang batas militar ay tugon ng gobyernong Marcos sa palakas nang palakas na panawagan para sa batayang pagbabago ng lipunan.

Si Almario at ang diktadura

Nagiging matingkad sa bahaging ito ang anti-nasyunalistang katangian ng rehimeng Marcos. At pinaglingkuran ni Almario ang rehimeng ito.

Noong 1986, gayong siya’y kasapi at tagapayo ng progresibong organisasyong Galian sa Arte at Tula (GAT) na lumalaban din sa diktadura, sinuportahan ni Almario ang kandidatura ni Marcos sa ginanap na snap election. Pumirma siya sa deklarasyon ng pagsuporta kay Marcos ng Coalition of Writers and Artists for Freedom and Democracy. Anim pang kasapi ng GAT ang kasama niya sa pagpirma sa deklarasyong ito: sina Teo Antonio, Lamberto Antonio, Ruth Elynia Mabanglo, S.V. Epistola, Manuel Baldemor, at Mike Bigornia.

Pinaniniwalaan noon na isa si Almario sa mga nagbuo ng koalisyong ito. May sapat na batayan ito: nauna nang makitaan ang kanyang opisina, ang Aklat Adarna, ng mga lampoon ng magasing Mr. and Ms. at Malaya -- mga publikasyong lantarang kontra-Marcos. Itinanggi niya noon na siya ang may pakana ng mga ito at sinabi niyang nakita na lamang niya ang mga ito sa kanyang opisina.

Sa sumiklab na debate ng mga kontra-Marcos sa GAT at ng mga manunulat na maka-Marcos, si Almario ang nangunang tagapagsalita ng huling panig.

Sa isang artikulong sinulat niya noong Pebrero 6, 1986 sa Philippine Daily Express -- diyaryong pag-aari ni Benjamin “Cocoy” Romualdez, bayaw ni Marcos at siyang pangunahing tagapamansag ng kanyang rehimen -- winika ni Almario ang ganito:

Maliwanag naman ang saligan ng pagkampi kay Marcos ng koalisyon. Sa halalang ito ay naniniwala silang dapat iboto ang may karanasan kaysa isang nobatos na tulad ni Aquino. Ano ngayon ang masama kung ang isang makata ay pumanig kay Marcos dahil sa nabanggit na kadahilanan?


Ikinapoot ito ng mga manunulat ng pakikisangkot, lalo pa't hindi isinaalang-alang ng nasabing artikulo ang katotohanang marami sa kanila -- tulad nina Lorena Barros at Eman Lacaba -- ang ipinapatay ng rehimen, habang marami namang tulad nina Jose Maria Sison, Bonifacio Ilagan, at Jose Lacaba na ipinabilanggo at marami sa mga nabilanggo ay pinahirapan pa.

Sa nasabing artikulo, kapansin-pansin ang sumusunod na bahagi, na tumutukoy sa kanyang mga kapwa manunulat:

Pero ngayong may koalisyon na para kay Marcos ay maaaring tumindig na ang mga ito at ipakita sa madla na ang pulitika ay hindi nakukuha sa uso.


Ang tinutukoy niyang “uso” rito ay walang iba kundi ang pagtutol sa rehimeng Marcos, na noon pang huling hati ng dekada 1960 nagsimulang lumaganap. Kabilang dito ang tipo ng aktibismong noon man at ngayo’y tinatawag na pambansa-demokratiko, na siya namang kinahanayan ng GAT -- na isa sa mga nagtatag noong 1973 ay si Almario mismo.

Matapos ang isang serye ng mga pulong, napagpasyahan ng mayorya ng GAT noon ding 1986 na patalsikin si Almario mula sa kasapian nito.

Pagpapatuloy

Gayunma’y hindi roon nagtapos ang naging pagkakalat ng kamandag ni Almario. Patuloy niyang pinulaan ang mga dating kasamahan sa hanay ng mga progresibong manunulat, at hindi na dahil lamang sa paggulong ng ulo ng kanyang patron noong makasaysayang araw ng Pebrero 25, 1986 kundi dahil na rin sa mismong pagiging progresibo. Isa sa mga tampok na halimbawa nito ang kanyang paunang salita sa Ikatlong Bagting, koleksiyon ng mga tula ng Linangan ng Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA) na kanyang itinatag noong 1985, kung saan ganito ang pananalitang kanyang pinakawalan:

Hindi masamang maglingkod sa bayan ang pagtula. Subalit masamang maniwala lamang ang pagtula sa pinaniniwalaan nito. Humihina ang sarili nitong bait, bumababaw ang pangangatwiran, at nabubulag sa lohika ng salungat na panig. Ito ang bitag ng partidistang pagtula ng mga pangunahing makata ng GAT. Laging tama ang PKP, laging rebolusyonaryo ang masa, at laging mali't magdaraya ang kapitalista't pinuno ng gobyerno. Anumang masaklap na katangian ng bayan ay dapat isisi sa kolonyalismong Espanyol at anumang masaklap na nagaganap sa bayan ngayon ay bunga ng umiiral na imperyalismong Amerikano. Masama ang pagtulang may monopolyo ng katotohanan.


Ni hindi na nga niya pinapaghiwalay sa organisasyunal na aspeto ang ligal na pakikibaka (sa sinisiping talata’y kinakatawan ng GAT) at ang kilusang lihim (na sinasagisag naman dito ng PKP o Communist Party of the Philippines) -- na makikita sa kanyang paglalarawan sa pagtula ng GAT bilang “partidista” -- at pagkatapos ay pawalis niyang hinusgahan ang buong pagtula ng GAT, at samakatwid ng mga nagpapatuloy sa kasalukuyan ng ipinamana ng nasabing organisasyon ng mga makata, bilang pagtulang naniniwala lamang sa pinaniniwalaan nito at “may monopolyo ng katotohanan” kaya “masamang” pagtula kung gayon. Hindi naman niya ipinaliwanag ang mga “kamaliang” itong nakita raw niya sa progresibong panulaan.

Sa isang interbiyu naman sa kanya ng isang estudyanteng gradwado ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP) noon ding 2003, sinabi niyang si Jose Maria Sison, tagapangulong tagapagtatag ng CPP, ang nagpakana ng pagbomba sa pulong ng Liberal Party sa Plaza Miranda noong 1971. Itong pagbomba sa Plaza Miranda ay isa sa mga pangunahing dahilang ginamit ni Marcos upang ideklara ang batas militar.

“Y’ong Plaza Miranda bombing, pinalitaw nilang si Marcos ang gumawa, makita mo ngayon NPA (New People’s Army) pala,” ani Almario sa nasabing interbiyu. “Operation pala ng mga bata ni Joma ‘yon para mapagbintangan lang si Marcos ng bayan.”

Ni hindi ipinaliwanag ni Almario sa nasabing interbiyu kung bakit kaya ang Liberal Party, na isang partidong noo’y nasa oposisyon, ang “binomba” ng NPA gayong noo’y kapareho nila ito sa layuning labanan si Marcos at nakita naman sa kasaysayan na hindi naging istilo ng CPP-NPA ang manakit ng mga puwersang napataong may katulad na hangarin upang maisulong lamang ang adyenda nito.

Bagama’t “inamin” na ni Almario sa isang artikulo sa UP Newsletter na “mali” ang ginawa niyang pakikipaghalikan sa diktadurang Marcos, hindi pa rin niya binabawi hanggang ngayon ang kanyang pagpapawalang-sala kay Marcos sa pag-iimbento nito ng isang senaryo ng “destabilisayson” upang mapangatwiranan ang pagpapalakas sa kapangyarihang militar –- na humantong sa malawakang paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Hindi rin niya binabawi nang tahasan ang mga pinakawalan niyang matalinong pagkukuro laban sa progresibong panulaan sa pamamagitan ng naging pagpula niya sa pagtula ng GAT.

Paano ngayong hindi masisilip kay Almario ang kanyang nakaraan bilang isang tumulong sa pasistang rehimeng Marcos -- na isang anti-nasyunalistang rehimen? Dahil nga sa kanyang kasaysayan bilang isang tumulong sa diktadurang Marcos -- na hindi natin makitang tapat niyang pinagsisisihan -- lalaging nakapagpapataas ng kilay ang anuman niyang “pagpapanukala” ng “makabansang landasin” sa ating panitikan.

Lalo pa kung ang “nasyunalismong” ipinapanukala ay hindi mabigyan ng matinong depinisyon upang maitangi sa balbal na “makabansang” diwang pinalaganap ng diktadurang Marcos sa pamamagitan, halimbawa, ng mga kantang tulad ng “Ako ay Pilipino” at ang buhay na manipestasyon nito’y hindi nakikitang lumalampas sa “pagkakampeon sa wikang pambansa” at sa “natibistang” pagbasa sa panitikan -- mga bagay na maaaring bitbitin kahit na hindi tutulan ang dayuhang dominasyon sa ekonomiya at panghihimasok sa pulitika -- kagaya ng ginawa ng nangunang “Pilipinistang” si Blas Ople, na isa ring alipures ni Marcos at sa mahabang panaho’y naging pangunahing tagapagsalita ng US Department of State sa ating pamahalaan.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

IGLESIA FILIPINA INDEPENDIENTE: A REVOLUTIONARY HERITAGE

It is not surprising for the IFI to have so many priests and even bishops who are at the same time also high-profile activists. The involvement of these IFI clerics in the cause-oriented movement is but a reflection of their church’s activist orientation, which is a product of its revolutionary heritage.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

During this year’s June 12 rally commemorating Independence Day, Bp. Alberto Ramento –- the ninth supreme bishop of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI or Philippine Independent Church) –- expressed some pride at being the chairman of his church’s Council of Bishops. In so being, he said, he was the chairman of what he described as a group of “revolutionary bishops.”

In the first eight days of this month (October) alone, the IFI lost two of its men of the cloth. One of them was Ramento himself who at the time of his death was bishop of his church’s Diocese of Tarlac. The other was Fr. Dionisio Gingging of Tago, Surigao del Sur. Both died violent deaths, with Ramento succumbing to several stab wounds in the chest and back on Oct. 3 and Gingging being stabbed and shot five days after.

Though Tarlac police have “closed” Ramento’s case, dismissing it as a mere “robbery with homicide” perpetrated by four drug-crazed youths they recently presented to media, people who knew the IFI’s ninth supreme bishop are convinced there is something else to the killing.

An independent fact-finding team led by lawyer Rex Fernandez found that the DVD players and mobile phone supposed to have been taken by the killers from Ramento were actually stolen on two separate incidents before the killing. The killing, the fact-finding team found, took place when there was nothing more to be stolen from the dilapidated rectory where Ramento stayed.

As early as mid-2005, Ramento had said of having received information from his military contacts that he was on the Order of Battle, together with four IFI priests: Fr. Mario Quince, parish priest of Paniqui, Tarlac; Fr. Gregorio Lacanaria, parish priest of Victoria, Tarlac; Fr. Marshal Bautista, parish priest of Pura, Tarlac; and Fr. William Tadena, parish priest of La Paz, Tarlac. Tadena had been shot to death on March 13 that same year.

That same year also, an IFI priest -– Fr. Allan Caparro of the Diocese of Samar – was ambushed together with his wife Ailyn. Both fortunately survived.

In Gingging’s case, Chief Supt. Antonio Nanas, Caraga regional police director, immediately issued a statement saying “personal grudge” was behind the killing.

Two days before Gingging’s death, Fr. Antonio Ablon of Cagayan de Oro City – also belonging to the IFI –- had received a threat on his cellular phone. “Fr. Ablon, patay gain ang supreme bishop ikaw pa kaha i sample ka namo dinhi sa CDO” (Fr. Ablon, even the supreme bishop was killed, all the more can you be made an example here in Cagayan de Oro City), read the message which was reportedly sent from the number 09203546270.

Activist clerics, revolutionary origins

Ablon, Quince, Lacanaria, Bautista, and Caparro are all known as activists and human rights advocates –- as were Gingging, Ramento, and Tadena.

Ramento, in particular, was at the time of his death the co-chairman of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) together with Roman Catholic Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan City and a convener of the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL). He and Tadena were staunch supporters of the Hacienda Luisita farm and mill workers, who staged a historic strike in 2004 demanding land distribution, higher wages and more benefits.

It is not surprising for the IFI to have so many priests and even bishops who are at the same time also high-profile activists. The involvement of these IFI clerics in the cause-oriented movement is but a reflection of their church’s activist orientation.

The IFI’s activist orientation is clear in the value that it places on liberty. “Liberty is one of the most precious gifts with which the Creator has favored us; therefore we may in no way set more limits to it than those, which the purest morality and right conscience impose on all things,” reads part of the1903 Doctrine and Constitutional Rules of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.

The said document goes on to state that:

Our morality consists of loving the good for its own sake, and in saying this, we mean specifically that we ought to love, practice, and defend philanthropy, justice, honor, liberty, labor, and the sciences.

Philanthropy and justice are the distinctive characteristics, if it is true that we differ in some way from the other animals, which elevate our moral level with theirs.

Labor products us what we need and is the untouchable front of well-being. We must therefore love it and seek it always.

Honor dignifies and ennobles us.

The sciences provide our minds with necessary knowledge, and are the most valuable factors for our progress in all their branches.

Liberty and the noble ambitions, which it arouses, are the indispensable elements and the potent means for our exaltation for progress, for science, for civilization, and, in short, for our general perfection.


The IFI’s activist orientation as expressed in this concept of good is a product of the church’s revolutionary origins.

Historian Teodoro A. Agoncillo described the IFI as “the only living and tangible result of the (1896) Revolution.” And rightly so, for it was founded by people who were key players in the ferment of 1896 – a revolutionary armed struggle against Spanish colonialism.

Religion and resistance

With religion historically having taken deep root in the Filipino consciousness, it is not at all a wonder that nationalism in the Philippines has at times taken religious aspects.

In the early revolts, which were all localized struggles, the rejection of the Spanish-imposed Roman Catholic religion often took the form of a return to pre-colonial religious beliefs and practices. As Roman Catholicism sank deeper and deeper into the popular psyche, rebels began blending some Roman Catholic doctrines and rites with their old religious beliefs and practices. The combination contained more and more Roman Catholicism and eventually, the religious aspect of resistance took on the demand for equal rights for Filipinos within the Roman Catholic Church.

In the controversy between regular and secular priests, lay Filipinos generally sympathized with the latter because native priests were seculars. The campaign for the Filipinization of the clergy became an important part of the nationalist agitation which resulted in the 1896 Revolution. Filipinization called for an end to the monopoly of Spanish priests in the Roman Catholic Church and granting their Filipino counterparts the same rights and positions they enjoyed.

Many native priests thus sympathized with the Revolution, even as they had to resolve the conflict between their patriotic sentiments and their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church which opposed the Filipino people’s anti-colonial struggle.

Gregorio Aglipay

One of the priests was Fr. Gregorio Aglipay. Born in Batac, Ilocos Norte, he was orphaned at an early age and grew up as an agricultural worker in the tobacco fields. He had deep grievances against Spanish colonialism, having been arrested at 14 for not meeting his tobacco quota.

He had been a priest for only six years when the Revolution broke out. He would be the only priest to attend the Malolos Congress.

When the U.S. intervened in the war with Spain, Aglipay accepted from Abp. Bernardino Nozaleda the mission of trying to win over the Filipino revolutionary leaders to the side of Spain and against the American forces. Failing to convince them, he decided to join them and Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the Revolutionary Government, appointed him as military vicar general on Oct. 20, 1898.

Before that, cabinet president Apolinario Mabini had prevailed upon the Revolutionary Government to declare civil marriages valid, based on the doctrine of separation of church and state.

Also at Mabini’s instance, the Revolutionary Government served notice that it no longer recognized Nozaleda’s authority. It even instructed Filipino priests not to occupy vacant parishes nor perform religious services without its approval.

Aglipay followed this up with a letter urging Filipino priests to rally to the side of the Revolution and create a council that would work for the Filipinization of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines while retaining its loyalty to the Vatican.

Aglipay found himself being excommunicated by Nozaleda in May 1899 though he had not expressed schismatic intentions. In a subsequent manifesto, Mabini supported Aglipay and urged Filipino priests to elect an Ecclesiastical Council to set up a provisional organization for the Filipino National Church –- one which, though still loyal to the Vatican, would work in harmony with the Revolutionary Government.

On Oct. 23 that year, Aglipay called an Ecclesiastical Assembly in Paniqui, Tarlac. The body adopted a temporary constitution for a Filipino Catholic Church and that the body would not recognize any foreign bishop unless he had the approval of a majority of the Filipino priests –- a position the Spanish hierarchy refused to give in to.

The Roman Catholic Church authorities’ inflexibility and the pro-friar leanings of the first American Apostolic Delegate, Msgr. Placido Chapelle, gained more supporters for the idea of a Filipino church independent of the Vatican. But soon after the Paniqui Assembly, Filipino-American hostilities intensified and Aglipay left for the Ilocos to fight as a guerrilla general. He surrendered in May 1901.

Birth of the IFI

In August 1902, the revolutionary scholar and journalist Isabelo “Don Belong” de los Reyes –- who a year before had founded the country’s first labor union, the Union Obrera Democratica (UOD or Democratic Labor Union) –- proposed to his membership the establishment of the IFI with Aglipay as supreme bishop. Aglipay headed the new church a month later.

De los Reyes was arrested the next year after a series of strikes by the UOD. He was, however, pardoned by Gov. Gen. William Howard Taft and released after a few weeks in detention. Shortly after, he retired from unionism and ran for public office.

Aglipay ran for president in the 1935 Commonwealth election, but lost to Manuel L. Quezon. He died shortly after.

Continuing activism

But the legacies of De los Reyes and Aglipay have not been lost to succeeding generations of the IFI faithful.

Through the years, the IFI has been able to maintain its ties with its revolutionary origins. It remains a pillar of church activism in the Philippines, and was described in a recent Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial as “perhaps the most political of all the Christian churches, given to political activism and organizing and often taking strong positions against the establishment.”

The IFI is a founding member of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), a conciliar body of various churches advocating what it describes as a society that is “just, egalitarian, self-reliant and sustainable.”

The IFI is perhaps the largest among the NCCP member churches, with various estimates placing its membership at two to three million scattered in 35 dioceses throughout the country.

Enjoying Concordat relations with the Old Catholic Church and the Anglican provinces, it is described as “the largest church alternative to the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines” in a recent statement by Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) and a former professor of literature and the social sciences. Bulatlat

References:

1. Doctrine and Constitutional Rules of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, 1903.

2. Fr. Apolonio Ranche, “An Introduction to the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church),” 1999.

3. Official website, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (http://www.ifi.ph/).

4. Renato Constantino, The Philippines: A Past Revisited, Manila: 1975.

5. Teodoro A. Agoncillo, History of the Filipino People (8th Edition), Quezon City: Garotech Publishing, 1990.

6. “Death of a Bishop,” Editorial, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Oct. 10, 2006.

7. Jose Maria Sison, “Tribute to Bishop Alberto Ramento: The Bishop of the Workers and Peasants,” Oct. 6, 2006.
SISON THE POET SINGS HIS POETRY
Poetry in Songs: Jose Ma. Sison Sings His Poems
Produced by the Euro-Philippine Inter-Cultural Solidarity
2006

While the album Poetry in Songs is not Jose Maria Sison’s “first shot” at having an album, this is the first album where he sings his own poems –- set to music by himself together with Levy Abad Jr., Danny Fabella, Jos Linnebak, Tony Palis, Empiel Palima, Chickoy Pura, and Aldeem Yanez –- with musical accompaniment by classical pianist Ariel Caces and arrangement by Josefino Chino Toledo.


BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO

Bulatlat

Jose Maria Sison –- current chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and award-winning poet –- has said in a number of interviews that if he had not become an activist, he would have wanted to be a balladeer.

He had a “first shot” at that in 2004, with the release of Joma Sings: Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa, produced by multi-media group Kodao Productions, where he renders songs by different artists. Among the songs he performs in the album is Andres Bonifacio’s “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Bayan,” set to music in the 1970s by Luis Salvador Jorque into the song “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa.”

He now gets a “second shot” at that wish with the release this year of Poetry in Songs: Jose Ma. Sison Sings His Poems, produced by the Euro-Philippine Inter-Cultural Solidarity (EPICS).

While this is not Sison’s “first shot” at having an album, this is the first album where he sings his own poems –- set to music by himself together with Levy Abad Jr., Danny Fabella, Jos Linnebak, Tony Palis, Empiel Palima, Chickoy Pura, and Aldeem Yanez.

Those who have been able to listen to both albums would notice a marked improvement in Sison’s singing style.

In Poetry in Songs, Sison’s vocalization has more power and is able to express a wider range of emotions. He is now also able to tackle more difficult notes. The voice lessons he is reported to have taken in preparation for this album appear to have paid off well for the man.

Singer’s style

But there are still aspects of the singer’s style that could use a little additional work. In some of the more melodically-challenging songs –- like the rally favorites “In Praise of Martyrs” and “What Makes a Hero” –- Sison’s vocalization comes across as tense. A little more work in this area could surely enable him to be more relaxed, and thus come across as more natural, without necessarily reducing the emotional expression.

The musical accompaniment for all the 15 songs in the album is done by classical pianist Ariel Caces. As in the earlier albums which featured or included Sison’s songs set to music –- Songs of Love and Struggle and Songs of Struggle and Liberation –- Caces with his sophisticated piano moves does justice to the Sison poems set to music. As a pianist, he knows just when to hit the keys strongly and when to just almost tap them.

Poetry in Songs includes all the Sison poems in Songs of Love and Struggle: “The Guerrilla is Like a Poet,” “The Giant Oak,” “What Makes a Hero,” “In Praise of Martyrs,” “Sometimes, the Heart Yearns for Mangoes,” and “The Bladed Poem.” In addition, we are given classical-music renditions of “The Coming of the Rain,” “A Cool Breeze,” “The Forest is Still Enchanted,” “A Furnace,” “Gold,” “In the Dark Depths,” “The North Star is Always There,” “Poems and Rest,” and “Rose for a Waking Woman.”

As in Songs of Love and Struggle and Songs of Struggle and Liberation, the musical arrangement for Poetry in Songs is done by Josefino Chino Toledo.

The artists


Sison, who took a degree in English Literature from the University of the Philippines (UP) with honors in 1959, has been noted as a writer since his university days. Considered the Philippines’ leading revolutionary, he has authored several books, including two poetry anthologies: Brothers and Other Poems and Prison and Beyond. He won the Southeast Asia WRITE Award in 1986 in Thailand.

Fabella, Abad, and Palima are members of Musikangbayan, a protest folk group that has released three albums: Rosas ng Digma, Anak ng Bayan, and Songs for Peace. Fabella is also with Sining Bulosan, the cultural arm of Migrante International.

Linnebak, a Dutch composer, provided the original Dutch rendition for “Sometimes, the Heart Yearns for Mangoes.”

Pura is the frontman of the progressive-oriented band The Jerks, and has portrayed slain activist leader Leandro “Lean” Alejandro in a musical play. The band is well-loved by activists and non-activists alike for its protest rock classics like “Rage” and “Sayaw sa Bubog” among others written and composed by Pura.

Pacis is an English teacher based in Laguna, who believes English should be taught to the poor, and is also an organic agriculturist.

Yanez is a member of the church-based activist chorale Haranang Bayan. He was national president of the Youth of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI or Philippine Independent Church) and vice chairperson of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

Toledo, who teaches at the UP College of Music, is the founding director of the Metro Manila Community Orchestra and the UP Festival Orchestra, among other music groups. Caces, besides being an accomplished classical pianist, is also a conductor. Bulatlat

Sunday, October 15, 2006

SA ARAW NA GANAP NATING BAWIIN ANG ATING PAGPAPAHINTULOT
Alexander Martin Remollino

Kailangan daw natin ang kanilang pahintulot
upang makapagpahayag,
maging upang makapaningil ng katarungan
alang-alang sa isang obispo,
sa isang obispong katulad ni Kristo
ay ipinako sa krus
dahil pinanigan niya ang mga inapakan.
Kailangan daw natin ang kanilang pahintulot.

Umakyat na ang kapangyarihan
sa kanilang mga ulo.

Kaya nakalimot na sila,
nalimutan na nilang kaya sila naririyan
ay dahil na rin sa ating pagpapahintulot.
Tayo ang unang naglagay ng setro
sa kamay ng reyna.
At umaapaw ang masasarap na pagkain
sa dambuhalang mga hapag nila sa Palasyo
dahil sa mga buwis na ang ipinambabayad
ay ang mga butil ng ating pawis,
ang mga patak ng ating luha at dugo.
Kaya sila naluklok sa kataas-taasan
ay dahil sa atin, dahil sa ating pagpapahintulot.

At pagpapahintulot pa rin ang pananahimik
habang dumaragundong ang tunog ng mga ulong
binabayo ng mga batuta, binabayo ng mga batuta
dahil nagtangkang tumungo sa Mendiola
at ihingi ng katarungan
ang isang alagad ni Kristong ipinako sa krus.

At sapagkat tayo ang sa kanila'y nagluklok
at nagpapapanatiling nakaluklok,
tayo rin ang makapagtatanggal ng setro
mula sa kamay ng reyna,
ng reynang wala nang matwid na mamuno.
Sa araw na ganap nating bawiin
ang ating pagpapahintulot,
ang ulo ng reynang utusan,
utusan ng banyagang emperyo --
ulong ngayo'y labis nang lango sa kapangyarihan
ay gugulong, gugulong tungo sa putikan.

May kopya rin sa http://www.arkibongbayan.org/2006-10Oct12-IFImarch/marchoct12.htm

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
Alexander Martin Remollino

"I consider her out of the panel," (Justice Secretary Raul) Gonzalez said of Prosecutor Hazel Valdez. "How can she still be in the panel if her position is incompatible with the majority?"

Valdez said Friday her fellow prosecution members concealed their last-minute decision to call off a scheduled hearing intended to recall to the witness stand agents Tony Ramos and Guy Papageorge of the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

-- Tetch Torres, "State Lawyer in Subic Rape Now 'Out of the Panel' -- Gonzalez" (INQ7.net, Oct. 9, 2006)


Punishment was your reward for fulfilling your duty.
You were removed from the case for your damning disclosure
of their connivance, behind your back,
to tilt the blindfolded woman's scales
in injustice's favor.
You had to be pulled out of the panel, they say,
since you're now humming a tune different
from that being sung by the others.
And a different song indeed it is --
for unlike the rest of them,
you refused to give in to the temptations
of treasonous prostitution.
For that, punishment was your reward.

This is another piece of evidence
that this government is a government
of criminals, by criminals, and for criminals.
Your plight should prove that
beyond reasonable doubt.
This, beyond reasonable doubt, is a government
that should perish from the face of the earth.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

FOR RIGHTS VIOLATIONS:
ARROYO GOVERNMENT MAY LOSE FOREIGN AID


With human rights violations in the Philippines being laid bare before the bar of international public opinion, the Philippine government could end up losing foreign aid. “When aid-giving countries look into reports showing bad human rights records on the part of their recipients, they would be apprehensive about continuing to give assistance,” Karapatan secretary-general Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.


BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

With human rights violations in the Philippines being laid bare before the bar of international public opinion, the Philippine government could end up losing foreign aid.

This was the observation shared by Marie Hilao-Enriquez, secretary-general of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), in an interview with Bulatlat over the weekend. “When aid-giving countries look into reports showing bad human rights records on the part of their recipients, they would be apprehensive about continuing to give assistance,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez was one of five leaders from non-government and people’s organizations who went to Geneva a few weeks ago to submit complaints of human rights violations against the Arroyo government to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The UN body held its second session from Sept. 18 to Oct. 6. The others were Edre Olalia of the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), Danilo Ramos of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement), Tess Vistro of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), and Rhoda Dalang of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA).

The complaints focused on high-profile cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

“We went there to inform the international community so that strong international pressure would be generated,” the human rights leader said.

Data filed by Karapatan at the UNHRC showed a total of 755 extra-judicial killings and 184 enforced disappearances since 2001, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising.

Karapatan-Central Luzon submitted an urgent alert showing 109 of the extra-judicial killings and 62 of the disappearances occurred in the said region. Of these, Karapatan-Central Luzon records further show, 71 extra-judicial killings and 46 enforced disappearances took place from September 2005 to August 2006 – during the stint of recently-retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. as commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division, which is based at Ft. Ramon Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

Dalang gave an oral presentation concerning the killings of 96 indigenous people’s leaders since 2001. Ramos, for his part, filed on behalf of the KMP 25 cases of extra-judicial killings of peasant leaders before the monitoring body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippine government is a signatory.

At the UNHRC session, the Arroyo administration had come under fire on the issue of enforced disappearances. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, chaired by Stephen Toope, had named the Philippines as one of several countries with “outstanding cases” of disappearance.

“While in the past disappearances could be blamed primarily on military dictatorships, mostly in Latin America, today (these are) also perpetrated in more complex situations of internal conflict, such as Colombia, Nepal, the Russian Federation, Iraq, and the Sudan,” the group said in its report. “In other countries, such as Algeria and the Philippines, political repression of opponents resulted in hundreds of cases of disappearance.”

Classified as crimes against humanity under international human rights instruments are murder, deportation or forced transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture. Other crimes are persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law; enforced disappearance of persons; and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

“Within the community of nations, if you have a human rights record like that, is it not very embarrassing?” Enriquez said. “It could draw what we may call ‘peer pressure,’ if we talk in terms of psychology.”

With that, the Philippine government does not only stand the risk of having its UNHRC membership suspended: it could stand to lose aid from the international donor community, Enriquez said.

It had happened, she said, during the presidency of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. “His human rights record became a measuring stick on whether to continue giving aid to his government,” said Enriquez, who was herself a victim of human rights violations during Martial Law.

Development aid donors have historically suspended assistance to their recipients on account of human rights violations, especially when these draw international outrage.

Various international news reports showed that summary executions, as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions increased in Nepal after King Gyanendra assumed power through a coup in February 2005. Denmark suspended $26 million of development assistance, while the United Kingdom and India suspended military assistance, following international outcries against human rights violations in Nepal.

Burma had a similar experience in 1988. That year, Aung San Suu Kyi of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) led a massive pro-democracy rally in protest against the abuses of the military regime. The rally was suppressed by the military. The NLD won in a subsequent election but the military refused to let its winning candidates assume office. That same year, Japan – Burma’s biggest single aid donor – suspended official development assistance.

As early as May last year, the Reality of Aid Network – an international non-governmental initiative producing analyses and lobbying for poverty eradication policies and practices in the international aid regime – had called for the cessation of all military aid to the Philippines on account of various human rights abuses, mainly the spate of extra-judicial killings. Enriquez said the group that went to Geneva has a similar call.

“We would like all these to lead to a stop in foreign aid to the Philippine government,” Enriquez said. “That is the most concrete thing that can come out of all these, that the Philippine government can get from these.”

“The citizens of donor countries should pressure their governments to cut aid to the Philippine government, with its record of human rights abuses,” the human rights leader added.

Based on data from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Philippines’ top six aid donors are the U.S., Japan, the European Union, Australia, Germany, and Canada. Bulatlat

Friday, October 06, 2006

ON TERRORISM AND MASS MEDIA
Alexander Martin Remollino

Reply to questions by Ms. Roselyn Beltran, BA Journalism student at the University of the Philippines (UP), for a paper on "Terrorism and Mass Media"


1. What is terrorism?
2. Is media an agent or a victim of terrorism?


The widespread use of the word "terrorism" is proof of how one word could mean different things to different people. There has been so much talk of "terrorism" since Sept. 11, 2001 even as there is yet no specific standard definition for the word. Who is and who is not a terrorist more often than not depends on who is using the term: as the aphorism goes, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

It is the US government that uses the term "terrorism" most frequently these days. But if we want a more-or-less accurate definition of the term, the US government is certainly not the authority to look to for an answer.

We need only note how US President George W. Bush practically shouts "terrorist," in the manner of Dr. Ivan Pavlov's dogs, each time the name Saddam Hussein is mentioned.

Bush conveniently forgets that the US government was in the first place responsible for Saddam's rise to power, which started from a coup supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). No one heard the US government calling Saddam a "terrorist" in the 1980s even as his troops gassed Kurds and slaughtered many of his political opponents and attacked Iran's nationalist government.

The world only began hearing the US government calling him a "terrorist" when he refused to allow American corporate control of Iraq's rich oil resources.

As the internationally-renowned legal scholar Lennox Hinds said in an interview I had with him last year, "most regimes who face opposition –- especially if there's an armed struggle –- describe those who fight against them as common criminals, and in today's parlance, terrorists."

It would be convenient for some to dismiss the "terrorist" tag on Saddam as an offshoot of his government's atrocities on a lot of the basic human rights. Indeed his government was never an example of one that respected human rights and international humanitarian law.

But even legitimate freedom fighters had been called "terrorists" or other similarly derogatory things. Former South African President Nelson Mandela was reviled the world over as a "terrorist" when he was leading the African National Congress (ANC) in an armed struggle against apartheid. He is now hailed the world over as a freedom fighter.

"All of those who signed the (American) Declaration of Independence –- the British government at that time had 'Wanted' posters for them –- they were wanted, dead or alive," Hinds also said. "If the American Revolution had been lost, they would have been hanged."

So the manner in which the word "terrorism" is being used today is, for the most part, as arbitrary as can be.

But there are groups –- whether holding political power or not –- that can aptly be described as terrorists. These are the ones that employ violence systematically or threaten the use of violence on a general populace, with the intention of creating an overall climate of fear conducive to the attainment of certain objectives.

The gassing of Kurds by Saddam's forces to stem their separatist agitation was indeed terroristic, as was the murders of all those "capable of bearing arms" –- including ten-year-old boys –- orchestrated by Gen. Jacob Smith in Samar in the 1900s, as was the killings of Tausug boys by troops led by then Lt. Jovito Palparan, Jr. in the 1970s in Sulu supposedly to preempt their "eventual" joining of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

It is a patently terrorist act to bomb a wedding, as US troops did in Afghanistan in 2001. It is a patently terrorist act to drop bombs on hospitals, as US troops have done in Somalia and Hiroshima. It is a patently terrorist act to rain bombs on ricefields, as US troops did in Laos. It is a patently terrorist act to burn an entire village, as US troops did in Vietnam.

In Iraq the US government has shown the same contempt for human life that it displays in Afghanistan, making its "war on terror" a terrorist war.

With these, media can either be agents or victims of terrorism. The Fox News anchors who cheer at every non-combatant death in Iraq can be considered agents of terrorism. The Arab and European journalists who were shot at on various occasions by US toops in Iraq –- while at work on reportage and analysis critical of the war –- are victims of terrorism.

Journalists Tina Panganiban-Perez, Rene Dilan, and Julius Babao –- who had all in the course of their work come into contact with personalities and groups considered by the Arroyo government as "enemies of the state" and thereafter accused by authorities of "sleeping with the foe" at a time when dire legal and even physical consequences are in store for those so accused –- they are victims of terrorism.

The entire Philippine media right now is falling prey to terrorism, what with an Anti-Terrorism Bill under which anyone who would dare utter a single word against the political establishment may be tagged as a "terrorist" looming over the heads of the Filipino people, at a time when government critics are being called "enemies of the state" and being killed left and right.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

AND THEY SAY IT WAS A ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE
Alexander Martin Remollino

In memory of Bp. Alberto Ramento (Iglesia Filipina Independiente), found dead with multiple stab wounds in his convent on Oct. 3, 2006


And they say it was a robbery with homicide.
And so it is, for they say it is so.

For there's a lot to be stolen from a convent,
a convent the construction of which
has been perpetually in progress,
a convent with a damaged door.
There is much to be stolen from such a convent --
much aside from the breath of a bishop
whose heart throbbed with the pulse of the people.

And they say it was a robbery with homicide.
And so it is, for they say it is so.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

PALPARAN IN HOT WATER AT UN RIGHTS BODY'S SESSION

The Arroyo administration appears to consider recently-retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. an asset. But he may turn out to be a liability for the Philippine government at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, which has been in session to hear complaints of human rights violations filed by several cause-oriented groups against the Arroyo administration.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat


The Arroyo administration appears to consider recently-retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. an asset, as is shown by its having considered him for a position as deputy for anti-insurgency campaign at the National Security Council (NSC) and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s own expressed intention of eventually appointing him to a post still related to the counter-“insurgency” drive. But he may turn out to be a liability for the Philippine government at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, which has been in session to hear complaints of human rights violations filed by several cause-oriented groups against the Arroyo administration.

The complaints focus on high-profile cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. Data filed by Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), represented by its secretary-general Marie Hilao-Enriquez, at the UNHRC, show a total of 755 extra-judicial killings and 184 enforced disappearances since 2001, when Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising.

The figures do not include other human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by state forces including torture, forcible evacuations, food blockades, illegal arrests and others.

Based on figures from Karapatan-Central Luzon, 109 of the extra-judicial killings and 62 of the disappearances occurred in the said region. Of these, Karapatan-Central Luzon records further show, 71 extra-judicial killings and 46 enforced disappearances took place from September 2005 to August 2006 – all during Palparan’s stint as commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division, which is based at Ft. Ramon Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

Several of these cases were tackled in an urgent alert submitted Sept. 26 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.

Urgent alert

“We wish to stress that these unabated political killings and abductions have escalated after Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan was appointed by the Arroyo government as commanding officer of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in the region in September 2005,” reads part of the urgent alert, which was signed by Karapatan-Central Luzon chairperson Sr. Cecile Ruiz and Mothers and Relatives Against Tyranny (Martyr) secretary-general Jocelyn Javier.

Palparan has been tagged as notorious for human rights violations allegedly committed by soldiers under his command since the late 1980s. He particularly earned the ire of human rights groups and local government leaders for atrocities reportedly committed against civilians in Oriental Mindoro and Eastern Visayas, where he was also assigned under the Arroyo administration.

These were also cited by Ruiz and Javier in the urgent alert. “Prior to his transfer, General Palparan had been blamed for hundreds of summary killings and involuntary disappearances of political activists, human rights advocates, lawyers, public officials, church workers and other unarmed civilians during his stints in Mindoro, Laguna, Eastern Visayas and other regions where he was assigned,” Ruiz and Javier stated.

The urgent alert also cited the Palparan-led “saturation drive” in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Aurora, in which thousands of residents were forced to secure cedulas (community tax certificates) to prove they were not members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Those who failed to show this document were subjected to intense interrogation, torture or humiliating and degrading treatment by the military,” Ruiz and Javier stated. “This included one who was made to walk home in his underwear and another who was forced to eat her expired cedula. A barangay kagawad (village councilman) in Nueva Ecija was tortured while undergoing custodial investigation by the military, causing him a nervous breakdown which culminated in his committing suicide. Moreover, homes of local members of urban poor organization Kadamay or Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (National Alliance of Urban Poor Organizations) were painted (with) Xs by the military as part of their witch-hunting operations and harassment.”

Two students

Palparan’s stint as commanding officer of the 7th Infantry Division is marked, among others, by the disappearance of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, both students of the University of the Philippines (UP); and peasant organizer Manuel Merino – who were abducted by soldiers on June 26 in Hagonoy, Bulacan and are still missing.

Empeño, a graduating BA Sociology student, was in Hagonoy doing research on a peasant community for her thesis.

It was dawn and she and Cadapan, a youth organizer in the same town, were asleep when soldiers barged into the hut they were staying in. The fact that Cadapan was then five months pregnant did not protect her from a punch in the stomach. Both were blindfolded; in Empeño’s case, her eyes were covered with a shirt that had been forcibly removed from her.

The soldiers then went to Merino’s hut a few steps away and took him as well.

At the UNHRC session, the Arroyo administration has come under fire on the issue of enforced disappearances. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, chaired by Stephen Toope, had named the Philippines as one of several countries with “outstanding cases” of disappearance.

“While in the past disappearances could be blamed primarily on military dictatorships, mostly in Latin America, today (these are) also perpetrated in more complex situations of internal conflict, such as Colombia, Nepal, the Russian Federation, Iraq, and the Sudan,” the group said in its report. “In other countries, such as Algeria and the Philippines, political repression of opponents resulted in hundreds of cases of disappearance.”

Murder, deportation or forced transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture; persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law; enforced disappearance of persons; and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health are classified as crimes against humanity under international human rights instruments.

In high regard

All throughout, the Arroyo administration has held and continues to hold Palparan in high regard. He was given a Medal of Valor in 2004 and a Distinguished Service Star in 2005.

In her State of the Nation Address (SoNA) last July, Arroyo praised Palparan for his work in the counter-“insurgency” campaign.

Sa mga lalawigang sakop ng 7th Division, nakikibaka sa kalaban si Jovito Palparan” (In those provinces under the supervision of the 7th [Infantry] Division, [Major General] Jovito Palparan is battling the enemy), Arroyo said in her SoNA. “Hindi siya aatras hanggang makawala sa gabi ng kilabot ang mga pamayanan at makaahon sa bukang-liwayway ng hustisya at kalayaan” (He will not back down until the communities emerge from the night and rise toward the dawn of justice and freedom.)

A few days before Palparan’s retirement from the military service on Sept. 11, Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor announced that he was to be appointed as deputy for anti-insurgency campaign at the NSC. It was Lt. Gen. Pedro Cabuay, commanding officer of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), who ended up getting the position, however.

But Arroyo has expressed intention of eventually appointing Palparan to a post still related to the counter-“insurgency” drive.

The 47-member UNHRC, formed through a UN General Assembly resolution on March 5, is mandated to ensure the compliance of UN member states with international human rights instruments. It may recommend appropriate actions to the UN General Assembly based on complaints filed by individual victims or non-government organizations.

Among other actions, the UNHRC could vote to suspend the membership of the Philippines in the body for gross and systematic human rights violations. Bulatlat

Monday, October 02, 2006

THE STARS OF VAN GOGH'S NIGHT SKY
Alexander Martin Remollino

When Vincent van Gogh painted the Starry Night,
his brush dotted the evening with stars
that were not like diamonds in the sky.
They were not the ones that ever twinkled,
making children wonder what they were.
No, the stars of Van Gogh's night sky
threatened to fall from the weight of their fury
on a world that wallowed in the darkness.

Did Van Gogh base the Starry Night
on an image that appeared in a crystal ball?

The Makata, September 2006