Arrest of Balingasag 7 draws condemnation from indigenous groups

Jul. 02, 2020 DAVAO TODAY

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Lumad organizations and their advocates are calling for the immediate release of the seven Lumad who were arrested in a raid in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental and are facing what they claim as trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Refuting police report that the detained Lumad are New People’s Army (NPA), the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization in Northern Mindanao said the “Balingasag 7” are staunch defenders of their ancestral lands. 

Arrested were Pilutong Langka, Pablita Hilogon, Reynaldo Ayuma, Dandi Hilogon, Bambi Hilogon, Padod Ayuma, and Glenn Hilogon.

Kalumbay said in their statement that authorities that conducted the raid allegedly planted firearms in the houses of the Lumad to justify the arrest. Similar “dirty tactics” were used to arrest members of other leaders and members of Lumad and peasant organizations in the region, the group added.

READ: Seven Lumad Arrested, Tagged as NPA In Misamis Oriental

Kabataan Party-list Northern Mindanao also belied the authorities’ claim, saying they had met these Lumad who staged a campout at the Provincial Capitol grounds in Misamis Oriental from 2018 to 2019 because of militarization that displaced them from their village. The group witnessed how the Lumad were “disregarded” by the local government on their appeal to pullout the military troops from their communities.

The Balingasag 7 are charged with violating Republic Act 10591 for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and others with violation of Republic Act 9516 for illegal possession of explosives, said Lt. Noel Oclarit, deputy team leader of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-10 in Misamis Oriental.

The seven are transferred to the provincial jail and will face the complaint raised to the local court, Clarit added.

Oclarit claimed an intelligence report alleged that Langka is an NPA fighter known as “Ka Rex.”

More attacks with Anti-terror bill 

Sandugo, a national alliance of Moro and Indigenous People, denounced the arrest of Balingasag 7 and said this could worsen if the Anti-Terrorism Bill becomes a law.

“Even without the bill, our constitutional rights to freedom of speech, information, and dissent have repeatedly been violated by government forces with impunity. We are certain that the Anti-Terror Bill will only further embolden such abuses of power,” the group said. 

Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, a Manobo Lumad, also noted that there have been a series of abuse and arrest against members of progressive groups in the country amid the looming threat of ATB, heavily criticized due to its “unconstitutional” provisions.

Pag naisabatas ang Terror Bill, lalo pang lalala ang pandarahas ng estado sa mga Lumad, magsasaka, LGBTQ+, at iba pang progresibong grupo. Itigil ang pagyurak sa karapatan naming mga katutubo (If the Terror Bill becomes a law, it will worsen the attacks of the state on the Lumad, farmers, LGBTQ+ and other progressive groups. Stop trampling the rights of the indigenous people),” Cullamat said.

President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to pass the Anti-Terrorism Bill early this June by certifying it as an urgent legislation, despite criticisms from the opposition and legal experts and professors on its provisions. The bill will lapse into law on July 9 unless the president vetoes it.

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) demand an independent investigation on the arrest to deliver “justice and accountability”, as they expressed strong concern to this “new wave of State-sponsored crimes to the people.” — With reports from Ken Cagula and Jigger Jerusalem (davaotoday.com)

Indigenous, Moro groups fear Anti-Terror Law repeating past abuses

Jul. 06, 2020 KEN E. CAGULA

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Indigenous Peoples and Moro groups denounced the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which they fear would put them into more danger as experienced in the past.

Recalling that even long before the law was signed, Beverly Longid, officer of the national minority group Katribu, said that the government has already “openly accused” Lumad leaders as “terrorists or communist supporters or sympathizers.” 

Longid pointed out that military intelligence have referred to indigenous communities and territories nationwide as “rebel areas”, “communist infested” and “NPA strongholds” while branding Lumad schools as “rebel schools.”

“This has led to the militarization of our territories and countless civil and political rights violations of killings, arrests, and torture,” she said.

The Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao Region also warned that the anti-terror law could be “weaponized” against Lumad communities in Mindanao who are protecting their ancestral lands.

“Under this law, it would be easy for us to be labelled as terrorists for declaring ‘pangayaw’ (tribal defense) against those who want to plunder our ancestral lands,” the PASAKA-SMR said.

“It is also easy to call us terrorists for joining protests to demand to stop the militarization of our communities which the government has not yet resolved,” they added.

President Duterte signed the law a day after calls from the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority appealed for its rejection.

Many of the Moro people in Mindanao have already been victims of the government’s counter-terrorism campaign in the past, said the group Suara Bangsamoro.

The group recalled the incidents in the early 2000s where the government declared Moro areas as the “second front in the global war on terror” following 9-11 and the spate of Mindanao bombings.

“(There was) terror-tagging which resulted to discrimination and rights violation such as illegal arrest, detention, filing of trumped-up charges, airstrikes and mortal shelling to communities accused of coddling terrorists, and categorizing organizations and assertion for self-determination as terrorism,” the group said. 

Suara Bangsamoro said that the anti-terror law is “worse” than previous campaigns and laws on counter-terrorism.

“If they made the destruction of Marawi City and other Moro communities legal, and disregarded the deaths of children who died due to the military’s mortal shellings on communities–they can further do it to the wider number of people,” the group said.(davaotoday.com)

Maria Ressa and an attack on the free press in the Philippines

Maria Ressa speaks during a press conference after attending the court's verdict promulgation in Manila.
Maria Ressa victim of Duterte’s war on Press Freedom

One of the most prominent journalists in the Philippines has been convicted of ‘cyberlibel’ in a court process condemned by human rights groups. Journalist Carmela Fonbuena in Manila describes the chilling effect the verdict has had on free expression 

Maria Ressa is one of the most prominent journalists in the Philippines with decades of experience in print and TV reporting. She is also executive editor of Rappler, an online news site. 

In June she was convicted in a criminal court of the recently created offence of ‘cyberlibel’ over an article published in 2012 – before the law had come into effect. The article had subsequently been updated to correct a spelling error, allowing prosecutors to argue it had been republished. 

It was the latest of many incidents that human rights groups have pointed to as evidence of an attack on the free press in the Philippines under its populist president Rodrigo Duterte. 

Journalist Carmela Fonbuena has worked for Rappler under Maria Ressa and describes an inspirational figure who has supported countless young reporters like herself. She tells Rachel Humphreys that, despite the ruling which is now being appealed by Ressa, Rappler will continue fearlessly reporting on the government’s activities and its deadly ‘war on drugs’. 

Ressa has vowed to continue fighting. She says: ‘Freedom of the press is the foundation of every single right you have as a Filipino citizen. If we can’t hold power to account, we can’t do anything.’

Listent to the Guardians Podcast on the issue using the link below.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/audio/2020/jul/06/maria-ressa-philippines-attack-on-free-press-podcast

As COVID-19 Fears Grow, 10,000 Prisoners Are Freed From Overcrowded Philippine Jails

Source: NPR, May 5, 20201:04 PM ET

Julie McCarthy

JULIE MCCARTHYFacebookTwitter

Prison inmates gather in cramped conditions in Manila’s Quezon City Jail. Guards and inmates at the notoriously overcrowded Philippine jail tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, officials said last month, sparking urgent calls for the release of some prisoners.Maria Tan/AFP via Getty Images

As COVID-19 sweeps through many of the world’s prisons and jails, the Philippine Supreme Court has ordered the release of nearly 10,000 inmates in one of the world’s most congested prison systems.

Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta said in the order, released over the weekend, that granting bail and releasing indigent prisoners on “recognizance” would help staunch the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected both prisoners and staff.

Barely a month after a Philippine official publicly declared that jails were the “safest place” amid the deadly pandemic, at least 330 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. The International Committee of the Red Cross noted that a significant proportion of the country’s prison population suffers preexisting heart and respiratory diseases, which may exacerbate the severity of the coronavirus.

Social distancing is impossible in Philippine jails. There is so little space that inmates at the Quezon City Jail are said to sleep in shifts. As of November, the country’s seven national prisons and 900 local jails housed more than 215,000 inmates in space intended for just 40,000.

With occupancy at more than 450% over capacity, the Philippine penal system is the second-most congested in the world, recently edged out by the Republic of Congo, according the London-based World Prison Brief.

Crowding has grown worse in recent weeks, as authorities arrested thousands for violating curfews and quarantines. The Philippines has reported more than 9,000 cases of COVID-19 and 637 deaths.

Rights groups including Amnesty International have demanded that the Philippine government address the ventilation, hygiene and sanitation conditions in prisons that contribute to the spread of deadly infectious diseases like COVID-19.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had already been receiving reports on the terrible conditions in the jails that made sickness a normal thing,” Chel Diokno,chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group and the founding dean of Manila’s De La Salle University Law School, tells NPR.

Diokno says President Rodrigo Duterte’s notorious war on drugs has swollen the prison population, and some inmates can wait years before going to trial. Seventy-five percent of Filipino detainees are either awaiting trial or their next hearing, but Amnesty International says under international law, “imprisonment pending trial should be the exception, not the norm.”

Diokno says widespread judicial vacancies and in the prosecution service have helped extend backlogs and jail time.

Human Rights Watch says the Philippine government has underreported prison deaths. Inmates told the group that since March 25, at least seven prisoners have died in the Quezon City Jail alone. HRW could not confirm whether the deaths were related to COVID-19, citing the “absence of testing in the facilities and the government’s failure to report them.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on governments not to forsake “extremely vulnerable populations” behind bars.

ICHRP Canada Statement on Duterte Regime’s Passage of Repressive Anti-Terror Law

Philippines passes draconian anti-terror law in the wake of damning UN human rights report

ICHRP Canada adds its voice to the concerns expressed around the world by Human Rights Organizations and UN bodies that the Duterte government’s passage of Anti-Terror legislation is but another cog in the wheel of its ongoing campaign of terror against opposition groups and regime opponents. 

ICHRP Canada and others have documented the regimes abysmal human rights record of: mass murder of alleged drug suspects, mass arrests of opposition groups, murder of leaders of civil society organizations and opponents, the aerial bombing of indigenous and Islamic communities. red tagging opponents in an ongoing campaign of terror and intimidation.

These atrocities that have also been well documented in the recent UN Human Rights Report issued in early June 2020.  

In response to the UN call for a cessation in global hostilities in the context of the global pandemic the National Democratic Front instituted a unilateral cease fire in the Philippines. Instead of taking advantage of the positive space brought by the Duterte regime is doubling down on terror and repression with its Anti-Terror law. 

The Anti-Terrorism Bill

ICHRP-Canada is concerned that the new anti-terrorism law will provide more tools to an already repressive military regime:  

  • allowing longer detentions without charge,  
  • giving the executive branch more power to suppress dissent. 

Among the most repressive provisions are: warrantless arrest; 14-day detentions of suspected “terrorists”; and the creation of an anti-terror council that would determine what is terrorism and order arrests without a warrant – a function usually reserved for the courts.

The new bill also proposes 12 years of imprisonment for any person who “joins” designated “terrorist organisations or group(s)” as determined by the anti-terror council. The bill also removes a provision in existing law on payment of damages for wrongful detention, essentially giving impunity to the military and police to detain without fear of accountability.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) has condemned the bill as “sanctioned state terrorism”.  Given the government’s track record on vilification of political dissenters, anyone could be accused of terrorism.

The national human rights group in the Philippines, Karapatan, expressed concerns that the new Anti-Terror law “will only embolden to commit more human rights violations with more impunity”.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Calls for Duterte to Stop Passage of the Anti Terror Bill

Earlier this week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act 2020, citing its “chilling effects” on human rights and humanitarian work that has been under siege under his administration.

Bachelet made that appeal during her presentation of the Philippines’ human rights situation during the UN Human Rights Council’s 44th regular session Tuesday, June 30 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN human rights chief noted that more than 248 human rights defenders were killed from 2015 to 2019. Duterte assumed the presidency in mid-2016. Bachelet said “Human rights defenders are routinely smeared as terrorists, enemies of the state, and even viruses akin to COVID-19,” Bachelet said.

Bachelet said that the passage of the anti-terror measure intensifies concerns about the “blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality, and terrorism.” “It could also affect humanitarian work in the country “hindering support to vulnerable and marginalized communities”, she added.

ICHRP Canada calls on the Canadian government to respond in the strongest and unequivocalterms to the subversion of human rights and democracy by the Duterte government by ending Canadian support for it.  Specifically, we call on the Canadian Government to: 

  • Sanction members of the regime and military implicated in human rights abuses, under the Magnitsky Act. 
  • Publicly support the UNHCR process and investigation of human rights crimes in the Philippines under Duterte and actively lobby other governments to support the process.
  • Hold hearings on the human rights situation in the Philippines through the Parliamentary Human Rights Sub-committee during the current session of Parliament. 
  • Establish a Philippine Peace secretariat at Global Affairs Canada, including a Senior Peace Liaison officer to conduct liaison work between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).   The Peace Secretariat would support restarting discussions for some of the tables examining social and economic reforms as part of the peace process and provide logistical and research support to the two sides as well as host meetings in Canada for the discussion of technical issues. 
  • Play a facilitating role in the peace process between the Philippine government and the NDFP by removing the Communist Party of the Philippines and Jose Maria Sison from its own so called terrorist and proscribed lists (i.e. FINTRAC) and allow for safe passage of all NDFP negotiators to Canada in support of the Philippine Peace Process. 
  • Challenge the Duterte Regime on its abysmal human rights record with concrete and measurable steps. The Canadian government should make representation to the Duterte government to: reverse the terrorist listing of Indigenous and other civil society leaders; revoke Executive Order #70 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation counterinsurgency approach; and stop the anti-terror legislation.

The Canadian government should end all Canadian support to the Duterte government, including financial, socio-economic programming, tactical, logistical and training support, military sales and defense cooperation.

ICHRP Canada calls on the Canadian government to provide leadership in the international community to call the Philippine government to account for widespread and systemic human rights violations, and give substance to its own commitment to global human rights!

No to the recently enacted Anti-Terror Law!

No to the ongoing repression and intimidation!

No to the failing policies of militarization of government and society!

No to the criminal Duterte regime!

Another Gross Injustice of the Tyrannical Duterte Regime: The Case of Reina Mae Nasino/Une autre injustice flagrante du régime tyrannique de Duterte: le cas de Reina Mae Nasino

Another Gross Injustice of the Tyrannical Duterte Regime: The Case of Reina Mae Nasino

Statement of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines Canada

In November 2019, Reina Mae Nasino, along with two other youth organizers, Ram Carlo Bautista and Alma Moran, were arrested in Tondo, Manila’s largest urban poor community. The three community organizers were arrested for alleged possession of guns and an explosive. 

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, issued the search warrant and has earned the reputation of rubber-stamping military arrest warrants enabling the military and police, to mount a dirty war against activists and opponents of the regime under the guise of legality. 

Arrests using fake or trumped up charges to repress those critical of the Duterte regime are a pattern with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police. The more serious the charge filed, the more likely that the accused will be denied bail requiring political prisoners spend years in prison fighting false charges.  

This is a common situation for the majority of the 610 political detainees who languish in the Philippine gulag.  Most have been charged with a cornucopia of non-bailable offenses.  While judges are quick to issue arrest and search warrants, they are very slow to process cases. As a result, Philippine prisons are packed with individuals awaiting trial.  Prisons are now at more than 500% of capacity.  As of November 2019, there were 218,000 political prisoners in a system with a capacity of just over 40,000.   

Reina Mae Nasino is a community organizer, working among the urban poor of Tondo, Manila. Her arrest has made her a political detainee, but her situation is much more complicated than that of most political prisoners.  At the time of her arrest, Ms. Nasino was in the early stages of her pregnancy.  She delivered her child while detained at the Manila city jail on July 1, 2020.  

According to the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, Ms. Nasino is one of many clients facing false criminal charges based on planted evidence.  As a political detainee, her treatment by the Philippine Bureau of prisons created a risk for her child.  She was not provided any prenatal care while in detention and is now in danger of being separated from her newborn baby. During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, the congestion in jails pose a grave danger to the new mother and her baby. 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada calls for the immediate and unconditional release Of Reina Mae Nasino on humanitarian grounds. Further we call for the release of all 610 political prisoners incarcerated across the Philippines and an end to the tyrannical Duterte regime’s use of political incarceration as a tool to eliminate dissent. 

Une autre injustice flagrante du régime tyrannique de Duterte: le cas de Reina Mae Nasino

Déclaration de la Coalition Internationale pour les Droits de l’Homme aux Philippines Canada

En novembre 2019, Reina Mae Nasino, ainsi que deux autres organisateurs pour la jeunesse, Ram Carlo Bautista et Alma Moran, ont été arrêtés dans Tondo, la plus grande communauté urbaine pauvre de Manille. Les trois organisateurs communautaires ont été arrêtés pour possession présumée d’armes à feu et d’un explosif.

Le mandat de perquisition délivré dans cette affaire a été émis par le juge exécutif du tribunal régional de première instance de Quezon City, Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, ce dernier étant un instrument indispensable dans le mécanisme de répression utilisé par l’État. Le juge est devenu le signataire officiel pour les mandats d’arrêt des militaires et de la police afin que ces derniers puissent poursuivre leur guerre contre les militants et opposants au régime sous le couvert de la légalité.

Des arrestations pour des charges de cette ampleur vont de pair avec un objectif précis. Ainsi, les Forces armées des Philippines (AFP) et la Police nationale des Philippines (PNP) utilisent des accusations contrefaites pour réprimer ceux qui critiquent le régime de Duterte. Plus l'accusation est grave, plus il est probable que l'accusé se voit refuser une mise en liberté sous caution, de sorte que les prisonniers politiques passent des années en prison à combattre de fausses accusations.
 
Il s'agit d'une situation courante pour la majorité des 610 détenus politiques qui languissent dans le goulag des Philippines. La plupart ont été accusés d'une myriade d'infractions sans possibilités de libération. Alors que les juges délivrent rapidement des mandats d'arrêt et de perquisition, ils sont très lents à traiter les affaires. En conséquence, les prisons philippines sont remplies de personnes en attente de jugement. Les prisons atteignent désormais plus de 500% de leur capacité. En novembre 2019, il y avait 218 000 prisonniers politiques dans un système d'une capacité d'un peu plus de 40 000.
 
Reina Mae Nasino est une organisatrice communautaire qui travaille parmi les pauvres de Tondo, Manille. Son arrestation a fait d'elle une détenue politique, mais sa situation est beaucoup plus compliquée que celle de la plupart des prisonniers politiques. Au moment de son arrestation, Mme Nasino était au début de sa grossesse. Elle a accouché de son enfant pendant sa détention à la prison de Manille le 1er juillet 2020.
Selon la National Union of Peoples Lawyers, Mme Nasino est l'une des nombreux clients faisant face à de fausses accusations criminelles sur la base de preuves falsifiées. En tant que détenue politique, son traitement par le Bureau philippin des Prisons a créé un risque pour son enfant. Elle n'a reçu aucun soin prénatal pendant sa détention et risque maintenant d'être séparée de son nouveau-né. De plus, en cette période de pandémie de COVID-19, la congestion dans les prisons représente un grave danger pour la nouvelle mère et son bébé.
La Coalition Internationale pour les Droits de l'Homme aux Philippines - Canada (ICHRP-Canada) demande la libération immédiate et inconditionnelle de Reina Mae Nasino pour des raisons humanitaires. De même, nous demandons la libération des 610 prisonniers politiques incarcérés à travers les Philippines et la fin des incarcérations politiques comme outil pour éliminer la dissidence par le régime tyrannique de Duterte.

UN human rights chief urges Duterte not to sign anti-terrorism act

Jul. 01, 2020 KEN E. CAGULA

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act 2020, citing its “chilling effects” on human rights and humanitarian work that has been under siege under his administration.

Bachelet made this appeal during her presentation of the Philippines’ human rights situation during the UN Human Rights Council’s 44th regular session Tuesday, June 30 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UN human rights chief noted that more than 248 human rights defenders were killed from 2015 to 2019. Duterte assumed the presidency in mid-2016.

“Human rights defenders are routinely smeared as terrorists, enemies of the state, and even viruses akin to COVID-19,” Bachelet said.

As the country is still reeling against the COVID-19 crisis, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to pass the Anti-Terrorism Bill in June by certifying it as urgent legislation. 

Opposition from the minority lawmakers including the Makabayan bloc objected to the Act’s vague definition of terrorism and provisions that violate the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. They also worry about how the law will be weaponized to suppress critics and citizens alike.

Bachelet said that the passage of the anti-terror measure intensifies concerns about the “blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality, and terrorism.”

“It could also affect humanitarian work in the country “hindering support to vulnerable and marginalized communities”, she added.

“So I would urge the President to refrain from signing the law and to initiate the broad-based consultation process to draft legislation that can effectively prevent and counter violent extremism, but which contains some safeguards to prevent this misuse against people engaged in peaceful criticism and advocacy,” Bachelet said, adding that her office is “ready to assist” in such review.

President Duterte has not yet acted on signing or vetoing the Anti-Terrorism Act but it will lapse into law on July 9 even if he does not sign. (davaotoday.com)

Duterte’s Anti-Terror Bill: The Invisible Terror in Universities

Jun. 22, 2020 ROMA ESTRADA – Davao Today

The point of terror is fear. As if Filipinos aren’t fearful enough of the COVID-19 pandemic’s direct effects to health and livelihood, the Duterte regime has to instill more fear with the Anti-Terror Bill (ATB). It is currently sitting suspensefully at the President’s desk, awaiting to supersede the people’s fear of coronavirus with fear of made-believe threats to national security, unless more legislators take back their vote.

The Duterte logic has always been known for its incongruity–slaughtering small-time drug pushers and users instead of eradicating cartels, attempting to phase-out jeepney instead of improving mass transportation and urban planning, blaming constituents instead of taking accountability. We can only figure out what the ATB has to do with the pandemic that it was tagged “urgent” over mass testing. Once passed, the bill can easily put suspected terrorists under surveillance for up to 60 days, arrest them without warrant and get hold of them for up to 24 days without fear of costly damages for mistaken identity.

The University of the Philippines has been the venue of big protests against ATB. Different mobilizations were held at UP Diliman for the past week, including the Grand Mañanita on Independence Day, a parody event alluding to Metro Manila Police Chief Major General Debold Sinas’ illegally held birthday party on May 8 while NCR was still under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). However, not all universities are safe spaces for dissent, much less where dissent is encouraged. Most universities, especially the obscure ones and the ones reliant on local government funding, have always been under terror.

On the night of June 5, Friday, writer Jerry Gracio called the attention of Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian through a tweet about a faculty member of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV) who had not yet received her salary, which led to the unpacking of more issues that have waited so long to reach public knowledge, which include rampant contractualization and delayed salaries on teachers, and campus repression.

Seizing the attention drawn by Gracio’s whistle-blowing, we, previous and current teachers of PLV drafted an open letter exposing such practices and requested the Mayor for a thorough investigation. The petition letter gained overwhelming support from teachers, students, alumni, and concerned individuals in a matter of 24 hours.

Having been a part of PLV for five years, I was witness to a kind of invisible terror hovering over the university. If teachers are to stay employed, they have to keep mum about their delayed salary, lack of benefits, and security of tenure. Meanwhile, students make themselves content with a wanting library, an administration-controlled campus paper and student council, and school officials who surveil their socio-political opinions to the point of red-tagging.

PLV’s excellent ranking nationwide especially on Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) is not earned by chance because the university is teeming with driven students. While this is a feather in PLV’s hat, it does not in any way justify its existing malpractices, nor does it deserve being called a “factory” by the Mayor himself, as it only reveals his warped views of education.

Over the years, the school officials have managed to manipulate students and teachers into silence – ordering them into their office for the slightest sign of complaint and dissent – and use this submission to keep themselves in power. By conditioning the students to limit their participation in national issues, school officials dwarf the students’ ability to think critically, so that their vision becomes limited as that of a horse’s on a bridle.

Come June 8, Monday, the Mayor held a meeting in which he justified the claims in the letter instead of investigating them. Known for his “disciplinarian” leadership in Valenzuela, Mayor Gatchalian might have found it surprising that he isn’t immune to criticism. On the same day, reports of withholding of Good Moral Character of students who signed the petition letter secretly made rounds, which only proves the notoriety of PLV against dissenting voices.

How many more students are being gagged in universities? How many more are not aware they are being gagged? Shortly after reporting the withholding of GMCs in PLV, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) reported a case of a student whose scholarship got withheld due to his social media post at the Universal College of Parañaque.

How many more students are at the forefront of terror not only in their own schools but in this country? Sixteen students were arrested in Iligan and seven at UP Cebu for protesting against ATB. Meanwhile, others have found out of fake duplicate social media accounts while a number of them are being red-tagged. On top of these, students are now made to worry of ill-prepared distance learning despite the case of Cristelyn Villance, a student of Capiz State University who was killed from a motorcycle accident after trying to submit school requirements online.

There could have been no better time to begin this column but now, no other way to begin but like this – a kind of exposé, an assertion, a kind of empowerment at the face of existing and impending terror in all its forms. By identifying and unpacking systemic injustices in different levels and contexts, I intend to incite to envision a kind of society stifled voices deserve. For one, where teachers’ labor is properly compensated and students are treated as thinking individuals who are capable of dissent without fear of being silenced. (davaotoday.com)

Understaffed Cebu nurses appeal for PPE, hazard pay amid surge in COVID-19 cases

By CNN Philippines Staff

Published Jun 27, 2020 7:33:25

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 27) — Nurses in Cebu cry for help as they continually run low on supplies and manpower in their fight against COVID-19 in the province.

Philippine Nurses’ Association (PNA) Cebu Chapter President Joseph Descallar admitted in a CNN Philippines interview Saturday night that many nurses in Cebu are already contemplating on quitting their jobs due to unmet benefits and incentives.

According to him, medical institutions either give their hazard pays late or not at all.

“In terms of hazard pay, we humbly urge private institutions to provide the same incentive to all our nurses… and for all government agencies to release such in a timely manner,” PNA Cebu said in a statement

Descallar added that more and more nurses are being sent to quarantine facilities, leaving hospitals with understaffed healthcare workers.

“Totoo po na we are very understaffed. Ang ating mga nurses ay under quarantine… Our nurses are wearing PPEs for eight to 10 hours.”

[Translation: It is true that we are understaffed. Our nurses are under quarantine.]

Descallar also shared that some nurses find it difficult to commute to and from their respective hospitals due to strict border controls. He said most of them resort to walking home.

The country now has 23,667 active cases, with Cebu now a COVID-19 hotspot.

Hard Corona Virus lockdown starts in Cebu City

Virus Rampages across city, medical support in short supply, military in over supply

DILG cancels 250,000 quarantine passes; cops, soldiers man checkpoints

By:  Nestle Semilla – Reporter / @nestleCDNPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:02 AM June 25, 2020

INSPECTION Policemen guarding checkpoints set up around Cebu City stop motorists to inspect their documents and inquire about the purpose of their travel as the government restricts movement of residents due to the rising coronavirus infections in the city. —JOWENCE NIÑA MENDOZA

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines —A mother in her 50s pleaded with a policeman on Wednesday to allow her to cross the street and buy food and medicines for her three children.

The cop reprimanded her for leaving her village of Sambag I, a prohibited act after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año canceled all quarantine passes issued in the city effective 10 p.m. on Tuesday. Although the market and several drug stores were located just across the street, the area belongs to another village, Pahina Central.

The strict lockdown was imposed to contain the rising number of coronavirus infections in Cebu City. On Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte designated Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, a former military chief, to oversee the government’s efforts in fighting the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu City and Cebu province.

At least 93 checkpoints have been set up to ensure that people would stay within their villages. Thirteen of these are guarded by policemen in fatigue uniforms along the main roads and 80 manned by “tanod” (village watchmen) and volunteers in interior roads in each of the 80 barangays in the city.

‘Aerial monitoring’

On Wednesday, military vehicles were seen in Cebu City while two military helicopters dropped leaflets containing the government’s reminders on how to stop the spread of COVID-19. The choppers also conducted “aerial monitoring” of the situation in the city, said Police Col. Cydric Earl Tamayo, officer in charge of the Cebu City police.

Año ordered the cancellation of 250,000 quarantine passes after sensing that several people were on the streets despite the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status.