Archive for the ‘All in a day’s work’ Category

Instead of the annual Mass Movement Moments, my last blog post for the year would be about the people I will truly miss, comrades whom I personally knew. This year, there were so many funerals and tributes held, with so many comrades and friends who either passed on or were killed in the struggle.

I’d like to honor their memory one more time before this year ends.

RTC

Atty. Romeo Capulong  , people’s lawyer par excellence, fought to his last breath before succumbing to a lingering illness. A genuine champion of the masses, he was hailed not just for his accomplishments in the legal arena, but also for his commitment to the cause of national and social liberation. Prof. Jose Ma. Sison called him a proletarian revolutionary fighter. For many who belonged to a younger generation, he was a patient mentor. To his numerous clients from the oppressed classes, his death was a great loss.

 

pw-maita-gomez-tribute-featured

Maita Gomez became a legend for being a beauty queen turned rebel. Her passing was unexpected. She had devoted her life to the cause of women, and to the struggle for national democracy. Her sudden passing was mourned by comrades and friends. At the time of her death, Maita was the co-chair of the Makabayan Coalition. She was also one of the founders of Gabriela.

 

arman-albarillo

Arman Arbarillo first came to public attention when his parents were killed by soldiers believed to be acting under the orders of one Col. Jovito Palparan in Mindoro. Arman would go on to become the secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Southern Tagalog. He would lead marches and lakbayans to Manila. He would be at the frontlines of the movement to oust to US-Arroyo regime. Because of the unjust persecution of activists in the region, Arman went underground and joined the revolutionary armed struggle. He died a Red Fighter in the province of Quezon in an military encounter with the military.

 

DSC_1173Willem Geertman was a Dutch development worker who had lived in the Philippines for more than three decades. He was gunned down, execution-style, in broad daylight, at Alay Bayan Inc. office in Pampanga. The suspects are believed to have links with the military. Geertman is the second European development worker killed under the Aquino regime, the first being Fr. Pops Tentorio from Mindanao. I had the chance of working with Willem during a relief mission to Nueva Ecija last year. His death also came as a terrible shock to us. His work in the Philippines, which he considered his home, was indeed outstanding. Hundreds joined his funeral march as he was buried in Aurora province.
ed manalo

Ed Manalo – Tsong Ed’s departure was sudden. He has long been involved in the mass movement through cultural work. He helped in the mounting of Pol-Det, a production on the plight of political prisoners staged in 2011. He was present during major mobilizations, including the recent SONA 2012. He was also our friend. He helped decorate our wedding reception, as we were full-time activists. His wake was attended by media people, artists and activists. I’m sure he will be missed in the annual December 26 “Christmas Party” of his friends who hang out in Conspiracy Cafe.

mamaPacita Maniquis Reyes, our mom, passed away this year at the age of 77. She was one of the strongest women I’ve known, raising three children virtually by herself, from 1992 onward. While she had initially disagreed with the complicated life I chose, she eventually came to accept and support it. It was from her that I got my own copy of the book Philippine Society and Revolution, handed down from her friend who asked her to keep it when Martial Law was declared. She was also the one who influenced me to take up music when I was 6 or 7. In her last years, she helped us raise Dylan. This is our first Christmas and New Year without her.

P.S.

There were many other comrades in the struggle who passed on this year. I may not have personally met them, and I apologize if I may not remember all their names. We celebrate their life, grieve their passing, seek justice for their deaths, and draw lessons and inspiration from their sacrifices. We are ever grateful.

They help make us stronger as we face the challenges of the coming year.

Talumpati sa Forum on Democratization

UP Diliman Sociology Department ,

Setyembre 23, 2012

Magandang umaga po. Ako si Renato Reyes, Jr, isang aktibista na ngayon ay secretry general ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Ngayong 2012 ang ika-20 taon ko bilang aktibista. Maikling panahon pa rin ito kung tutuusin, kumpara sa maraming namulat nung dekada ’60,  ‘70 at ’80 na hanggang ngayon ay kumikilos pa rin.

Nagsimula ang aking involvement sa UP Diliman noong taong 1992, nung freshman ako sa College of Business Administration. Sumapi ako sa League of Filpino Students sa aking ika-3 araw sa kolehiyo.

Lumahok ako matapos kong makita ang isang lightning rally sa University Theater pagkatapos ng freshman orientation. Ang protesta ay laban sa Tuition Fee Increase o TFI. Kami ang unang batch na nakaranas ng P300 per unit, na sa panahong  iyon ay medyo mabigat lalo’t sa mga naunang taon ay P200/unit lang, at bago pa yun ay P40 per unit lang.

Noong una akong sumali sa LFS, aaminin kong medyo na-culture shock ako sa mga aktibista. Galing ako sa isang Catholic school para sa mga lalaki. Kakaiba para sa akin yung mga tibak, at marahil yung UP sa kabuuan.

Sa unang tingin, parang  merong fashion sub-culture yung mga tibak. Gulo-gulo ang mga buhok, punit-punit ang mga pantalon, naka-tsinelas o minsan Our Tribe sandals, o Chuck Taylor sneakers, may tubao, may batik shirt. Pero kung tutuusin, di naman nalalayo ang itsura nila sa mga kilalang personalidad noon sa campus tulad ng Erasersheads, Yano at si Romeo Lee (na mas wild ang itusra noong una kong nakasabay sa jeep).

Yun unang nakausap kong mga tibak, kakaiba din. Yung isa may bandage ang buong braso. Yung isa naman may mahabang scar sa kanyang mukha. Naisip ko, susmaryosep, ang tindi siguro ng mga rally dispersal na dinanas nila. Kinalaunan, malalaman ko na wala palang kinalaman sa rally ang kanilang mga injury. Vehicular accident at rumble ng frat pala ang sanhi.

Unti-unti, nakasalamuha ko ang mas maraming mga aktibista mula sa iba’t ibang kolehiyo. Napagtanto ko na yung problema pala ng UP sa tuition fee increase at mga bulok na facilities ay may kaugnayan din sa mga pambansang patakaran. Sa patakaran sa pambansang budget, sa pagbabayad ng utang at iba pang  panlipunang usapin. Nakita rin namin yung iba pang realidad sa loob at labas ng campus. Medyo nabawasan yung mga stereotype sa mga aktibista ko nung mas malapitan ko na silang makilala.

Nakita ko na may komunidad pala sa loob ng UP campus na dine-demolish din. May mga unionized workers na kinakailangang mag-welga dahil sa di makatarungang mga patakaran sa trabaho. Unang piketline na napuntahan ko ay yung sa mga nagwelgang pampublikong guro habang nasa Philippine Independent Church sila sa Taft Avenue. Nakalahok din kami sa welga sa SM, sa San Miguel dyan sa Aurora Blvd at sa PasVIl  sa may Novaliches. Nakasalamuha din namin ang mga magbubukid mula Gitnang at Timog Luzon.

Nakasama ako sa welga ng mga workers ng SM noong 1994, at dalawang beses na nakaranas ng dispersal sa loob ng SM North (at dahil sa trauma at inis ay ilang buwan din kaming di nanood ng sine dun). Nakaranas na rin ako ng dispersal sa mismong kahabaan ng riles ng LRT sa Maynila.Dun naman sa welga sa Manila Hotel natutuo kaming tumakbo hanggang may lupa dahil hinahabol kami ng mga malulupit na pulis. Nakaranas na rin kaming ma-water cannon, sa loob ng UP campus (Pres. Javier oathtaking).  At syempre, naranasan ko na ding maaresto habang nag-rarally.

Sa mga panahong ito, nakilala ko ang iba’t ibang sektor, mga ordinaryong manggagawa, magsasaka, mga urban poor, mga teachers, health workers at iba pa. Naunawaan ko yung motibasyon nila sa pagpo-protesta. Laging may malalim na batayan kung bakit sila nagpo-protesta, kung bakit kailangang mag-welga, hunger strike, barikada at iba pang porma ng collective action. Kadalasa’y hindi nakasasapat ang mga umiiral na mekanismo ng gobyerno, lalo pa’t hindi pumapabor halimbawa ang sistema ng hustisya para sa mga mahihirap. O di naman kaya masyadong malakas ang pwersa ng employer, o ng landlord kung kaya’t tanging sa sama-samang pagkilos lang pwedeng maisulong yung interes ng mga sektor.

Ah oo nga pala, yung usapin ng interes. Nakita namin yung pag—iral ng mga magkatunggaling interes. Yung interest ng mga makapangyarihan sa ekonomiya at pulitika ay taliwas o kontra dun sa nakararaming inaapi; tulad ng panginoong maylupa at magsasaka sa Hacienda Luisita, yung mga malalaking kapitalista tulad nina Danding Cojuango at Henry Sy at ang kanilang mga manggagawa.

At nakita ko rin na yung pag-protesta ay isang bahagi lamang ng mas malawak na gawain. Malaking bahagi ng oras namin ay inilalaan sa pag-oorganisa, sa edukasyon, sa pagkausap sa mga tao, sa pagbubuo ng mga samahan.

Nabawasan din yung angas naming mga estudyante lalo’t sa maraming pagkakataon, mas malalim ang pagkaka-alam ng mga inoorganisa namin kesa sa aming mga estudyanteng peti-burgis. Mas natutuo kami sa karansan ng mga manggagawa, magsasaka at iba pang maralita.

Isa sa mga inilatag na tanong ng porum na ito ay ang pangangailangang magprotesta at magbuo ng kapangyarihan laban sa mga umiiral na institusyon ng gobyerno. Sa iba’t ibang pagkakataon, kailangan ng mga protest actions para:

  1. maipanalo ang mga immediate demands ng mga sektor sa pamamagitan ng sama-samang pagkilos na magbibigay ng pressure sa mga kinauukulan
  2. maipahayag sa mas makararami ang mga layunin ng kilusan
  3. ma-organisa at ma-konsolida ang mga lalahok tungo sa mas pangmatagalang paglaban

Sa pamamagitan ng sama-samang pagkilos ay nape-pressure ang mga kinauukulan, ang gobyerno, ang administration, ang landlord, para ibigay ang collective demand ng mga nagpo-protesta. Esensyal ito lalo’t kung aasa lang sila sa legal struggle sa mga korte at ahensya ng gobyerno, malamang hindi papabor sa kanila ang resulta.

Sa proseso ng mga actions na ito, naitatambol sa iba pang sektor ang pangangailangan ng pagkilos. Halimbawa yung pakikibaka at tagumpay ng mga magbubukid sa Hacienda Luisita ay nagsisilbing inspirasyon sa iba pang magbubukid na kumilos din.

Ang mga protesta ay hindi lamang para sa kagyat na mga kahilingan. Paraan din ito para ma-organisa ang mga kalahok. Dito nakikita ng mga tao na may kapangyarihan sa kanilang sama-samang pagkilos, na taglay nila ang tunay na kapangyarihan labas sa mga instrumento ng gobyerno.  Ito yung gusto nating i-develop na empowerment, yung sa pamamagitan ng mga organizations, unions at asosasyon. Kinalaunan, magiging mas malakas ito sa kapangyarihan ng mga naghaharing iilan sa lipunan.

Sa history natin, nagkaroon tayo ng mahabang period ng mass protests laban sa Martial Law at Marcos dictatorship, na humantong sa Edsa 1. May nangyari ding Edsa 2. May naganap ding protest movement laban kay GMA, na tumagal bilang pangulo mahigit 9 na taon. Nagkaroon din ng malakas na protest movement para mapatalsik ang base militar ng US sa ating bansa.

Lumalahok din ba kami sa eleksyon? Oo naman, dahil isang larangan din iyon para maisulong ang interests ng iba’t ibang sektor. May mga local elective posts na nilalahukan, at meron din yung tinatawag na partylist system kung saan may maliit na puwang ang mga marginalized sectors para makapsok ng Kongreso. Pero sa pangkalahatang iskema ng mga bagay-bagay, hindi yung elections ang pangunahing pokus ng gawain namin. Yung pagkakaroon ng elective positions, halimbawa sa partylist system, nakakatulong yun, pero marami ding limitasyon ang larangang iyon. Yung mga traditional parties and personalities, yung mga ruling class pa rin ang dominante sa larangang iyan. At kahit yung maliit na espasyo para sa mga marginalized at underrepresented, winawasak na rin ngayon lalo’t marami nang partlylist reps ang di naman talaga marginalized dahil mga impluwensyal at mega-rich sila. Idagdag pa natin na ang AFP ay nangangampanya laban sa mga progresibong grupo.

Sa dakong huli, ang usapin talaga ay tanging ang mamamayan ang makakapagpalaya sa kanyang sarili, at magagawa lamang ito sa sama-samang pagkilos.

Nung naging aktibista kami 20 taon na ang nakaraan, hindi naman namin hangad na mahalal sa gobyerno o maging bahagi ng gobyerno tulad ng ibang grupo dyan. Ang hangad namin ay makaambag sa pagpapalakas ng kilusan nang mamamayan nang sa gayon ay mapalitan nito ang bulok na umiiral na sistemang panig lamang sa iilan.

Tulad nyo, marami din akong agam-agam noon, marami din akong stereotypes. Hindi ko naman kayo masisisi. Pero bukod sa impresyon na ang mga aktibista ay pampatrapik lang sa kalsada, mahalagang ang papel ng kilusang ito sa pagsisiwalat ng mga isyu, pakikipaglaban para sa kagalingan ng iba’t ibang sektor, at sa pagtutulak ng tunay at makabuluhang pagbabago. At sana po ay maging bahagi din kayo ng kilusang ito.

Maraming salamat po.

1. Bakit sa US kayo nagra-rally at hindi sa China?

2. Baka naman concerned lang ang US sa atin kaya sila nandito?

3. Kaya na ba ng Pilipinas na tumayo laban sa China kung wala ang US?

4. So hindi nyo sinusuportahan ang ideolohiya ng China at North Korea?

5. So kelan nga kayo magra-rally laban sa China?

I encountered all these questions in the course of protest actions and interviews in Manila and Central Luzon. Question number 4 is my favorite.

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In today’s news reports, the word “vandalism” has been used to describe the protest action by militant youth and students at the US embassy yesterday, April 16. The alleged “vandalism” pertains to the paint-bombing and removal of letters from the seal of the US embassy in Manila. One report headlined as “Police caught sleeping as vandals attack US embassy”. (Notice how the usual “militants” tag has been dropped in favor of “vandals” ).

The word “vandalism” is derived from the Germanic Vandals who ransacked Rome and were said to have defaced or destroyed much of the “beauty” of the Empire that was founded on slavery and colonization. Wikipedia says that “The term Vandalisme was coined in 1794 by Henri Grégoire, bishop of Blois, to describe the destruction of artwork following the French Revolution,” The introduction of the term builds on the notion that those destroying art, like the Germanic Vandals, were “barbaric”.

During the Paris Commune, French artist Gustave Courbet proposed before the commune the dismantling of the Vendome Column, a symbol of Napoleon’s empire. Back then, it was a celebrated act of “vandalism”. In certain situations like the Paris Commune, “vandalism” became an act to protest the symbols of the power and conquest. Similar acts would be repeated in history as the portraits of the dictator Marcos would be vandalized in the siege of Malacanang and when the huge bust of the dictator would be destroyed in an explosion launched by the New People’s Army.

But those were exceptional situations because most of the time, the word “vandalism” hewed closer to its ruling-class origins, often connoting an act of barbarism. When I was a young boy, vandalism was a school offense, often referring to writing stuff on the CR wall or on your desk.

The media’s use of the term “vandals” in describing activists was derogatory to the point that it attempts to reduce the protest as  a rowdy mob out to sow mayhem in the streets, much like the German Vandals.

The protesters were targeting the US embassy, long a symbol of US neocolonial rule in the Philippines. They were protesting the opening of the Balikatan war games which aim to use the Philippines as a staging ground for US military power projection in the region. They knew full well that the US war machine has been responsible for so many killings and destruction worldwide. The US has gotten away with mass murder and the unprecedented destruction of public and private property in its bid to be the world’s sole superpower.

The students were trying to tell the US government that it should not  for a second think that it is unchallenged here in the Philippines. Protesters wanted to send the clear message that they were ready to dismantle, figuratively and literally, the symbols of US power in the region.

Some may be shocked or turned off by yesterday’s protest action, in the same way they were probably turned off by the heckling of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. However, the media’s depiction of activists as a bunch of rowdy goons is grossly unfair.

As I wrote before on the heckling of Clinton, protesters sometimes resort to a kind of “asymmetrical warfare” to convey their message and express their outrage. I’ve seen students hurl paint bombs at greedy oil firms’ offices. I’ve seen workers smash windows of workplaces and vehicles during violent suppression of strikes. I’ve seen UP residents topple a guard house to set up a barricade against a demolition team. Protesters defaced or “vandalized” many of Gloria Arroyo’s posters during her reign of terror. Even before that, protesters did the same thing to huge tarpaulins of former president Estrada.

Instead of calling them vandals, media should have asked what it was that caused such outrage on the students that they would get up early from bed and proceed to pick apart, letter by letter, the seal of the mighty U.S. of A.

Yesterday’s action at the US embassy should be taken in its entire political context, and not just viewed based on the specific act of defacing the seal. It was an act of protest– no different from dismantling Napoleon’s Column or blowing up Marcos’ bust– against a neocolonial power that has done the worst acts of barbarism of the past century.   ###

The “heckling” incident that happened at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “Conversations in Manila” stirred a lot of discussions especially since it involved the editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian. I will not talk about the “ethics” of such a protest action. I leave that to the journalists to debate.

I would like to discuss however this protest form called “heckling”. The term of course carries a bit of a derogatory meaning since it assumes that the only intention of the “heckler” is to disrupt a speech. I do believe Marjohara Tucay’s intent was not simply to disrupt Clinton’s speech or disrespect the forum organizers (though that may have certainly been the effect). The protester had a message he wanted to convey and the occasion proved to be the best time to air it. And the message was a valid one. It was about US and Philippine relations, the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

When I was a freshman in UP, and a new member of LFS, I was able to observe and join this type of protest action many times. The first time I saw it was when then National Security Adviser Jose Almonte spoke at the UP Faculty Center about the National ID System. We unfurled banners and denounced the draconian measures being proposed by Ramos at the time. We even had a mock ID with Almonte’s face with a Hitler-mustache.

There would be several more incidents. One time an LFS member confronted Sen. Edgardo Angara who spoke before a huge rally against the 50% tuition increase in 1992. Angara said he was listening to the voice of the UP community. The LFS activist stood up and took the microphone and said that it was during Angara’s time that the tuition rates started rising. (Of course it is debatable if such an action was correct from a ‘united front’ point of view, but that’s how it happened.)

Years later, it would happen again, this time in the halls of Congress. Several activists had gathered inside the session hall. We had wanted to air our demands for greater subsidy for education, so we stood up in the gallery and shouted “Education budget dagdagan!” and we were quickly dragged out of the venue. I remember having my shirt ripped and seeing some of my colleagues’ hair being pulled by the security personnel.

Our violent “dispersal” and the problem of low education budget made the news. An inquiry was sought by the House. I forget which committee it was but we were all asked to appear before the hearing which sought to probe the manhandling we experienced at the hands of the House Security .

The congressman presiding the hearing berated me and asked if that was how things were done in UP. He asked if that was how we acted inside the classroom, if it was normal for us to shout at and disrespect our teachers and so on.

That congressman would later on become a senator and then president of the Philippines.

That was my first encounter with Benigno Aquino III.

So much for probing the violence done to students protesters. All that seemed secondary to “good manners and right conduct” while inside the august chamber.

Still, that wouldn’t be the last time something like that happened. During a hearing on the budget for tertiary education at the Lower House, we again unfurled banners and shouted slogans. We again were dragged from the room and thrown out of the building. I remember seeing some colleagues dragged across the floor and the metal detector at the South Wing falling over.

There would be other notable instances of “heckling” such as the one done by a Cavite State University student council chair Maria Theresa Pangilinan who led students in unfurling a banner against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during their commencement exercises. There was RC Constantino who attended a press conference by proponents of Arroyo’s charter change and who stood up and criticized former House Speaker Jose de Venecia while the presscon was ongoing. The incident here was when a columnist of the Inquirer stood up and threw water on RC. Then there were the UP students who threw eggs at Gen. Hermogenes Esperon during his visit to UP.

Recently, there was Ces Santos, the student council chair of UP Manila who “heckled” Aquino during his 100 days “Ulat sa Bayan”. Santos condemned the budget cuts in education.

So the practice is not really new. It is a valid form of protest especially since the voices of the marginalized and oppressed are often not given space in mainstream media. Protesters tend to do everything to get their message across especially on most urgent issues or during occasions when issues that need to be discussed are being downplayed by our institutions including the media.

It’s not simply “kulang sa pansin” because that’s just trying to seek attention for no reason at all.

Everyday the ruling system bombards us with lies and half-truths through various apparatus, including the media. It is therefore understandable for protesters to up the ante so to speak.

“May tamang lugar naman para sa protesta. Kailangan bang bastusin yung bisita?”

Ah, but for the protester, that IS the right time and place. That is the perfect opportunity for the message to be aired and heard. That is the perfect time to confront the powers that be.

Call it asymmetrical warfare. The ruling elite have their corporate media and the entire ideological state apparatus while the dissenter only has his voice and a sheet of paper and a few seconds of precious time before being clobbered.

I don’t expect some of my friends to agree with these views, and I respect their opinions. I’m sure many of them mean well, while others are just not used to these types of confrontations.

What I don’t respect however is how the powers that be lecture us on good manners and right conduct when their entire class existence is based on violence and oppression against the majority. When they inflict indignity and humiliation against the poor on a daily basis. When their vast landholdings are just plain obscene.  And when they bomb sovereign nations back to the Stone Age without the slightest hint of remorse.

Para sa akin, yun ang bastos.

As of March 26, based on a list of 112 partylist groups that submitted thier nominees, here are some observations.
Arroyo allies gunning for partylist seats

Heading the pack of Arroyo allies gunning for a congressional seat via the partylist system are Pampanga representative Mikey Arroyo of Ang Galing Pinoy and recently resigned energy secretary Angelo Reyes who was nominated by transport group 1-Utak.

Other groups believed to be associated with Arroyo are PACYAW which counts as its nominees Tourism Asst. Secretary Janet Lazatin and businessman Reynaldo Pineda, both allies of Arroyo from Pampanga. APO partylist has former Ilocos congressman Salacnib Baterina as its first nominee.

Ang Kasangga’s new first nominee is businessman Teodorico T. Haresco who, as one website says, “is primarily known for his involvement in the President’s Bridge Program, a sustained infrastructure and fast-track rural development project spanning over 14 years.” In December 2005, British newspaper The Guardian ran an article about a British firm “accused of making excessive profits in an aid project, by building what their critics call bridges to nowhere”. The Guardian cited Haresco, of the President’s Bridges Program, as the Philippine contact of the British firm.

The Association of Labor and Employees (ALE) has Pampanga provincial board member, businesswoman and known Arroyo ally Catalina Bagasina as its first nominee.

The Abono partylist has Robert Raymund Estrella and Franciso Ortega III, who hail from the prominent Estrella and Ortega political clans allied with the administration. Aangat Tayo’s nominee, Rep. Daryl Grace Abayon is the wife of Rep. Harlin Castillo Abayon (Lakas) of Northern Samar.

Partylist group KABAYAN has Palace exec Ron Salo as first nominee. Salo was undersecretary under the Office of the Executive Secretary of Eduardo Ermita in 2009 Salo was with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office before moving to the OES.

The list of Arroyo allies running for partylist is not limited to the ones cited above. We need to do more research to expose these people.

All in the family

From the latest submission of nominees, Bayan noticed that there were those belonging to the same family who are running in one or two partylist groups.

Partylist group Batang Iwas Droga has Sheryl Genuino-See as its first nominee. Her husband, Gerwyn See is the first nominee of partylist group Abot Tanaw. BIDA was earlier assailed by watchdog Kontra Daya for being ineligible for partylist accreditation because it is a government funded and initiated entity.

In its website, BIDA says it is the brainchild of PAGCOR chair Efraim Genuino. BIDA’s first nominee is the daughter of Genuino. Sheryl See was also a previous nominee of Bigkis Pinoy, a partylist also affiliated with PAGCOR’s Genuino.

Abot Tanaw second nominee Mario Cornista is actually the chairman of the board of directors of BIDA, according to their SEC registration, yet he is running under a different partylist group. BIDA, Abot Tanaw and Bigkis Pinoy all have one thing in common, the PAGCOR connection and Genuino.

Kontra Daya is preparing to file a disqualification case against BIDA for violating the guidelines set by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Bagong Bayani vs Comelec that expressly prohibits government-funded entities from becoming partylist groups. BIDA’s accreditation, despite being a government project, was done by the Comelec Second Division of Nicodemo Ferrer.

Meanwhile, Bagong Henerasyon (BH) partylist has husband and wife as its first two nominees. Former Quezon City councilor Bernadette Herrara-Dy and her husband businessman Edgar Allan D. Dy are the first two nominees.

BUHAY partylist has father and son Mariano Velarde , Jr. and evangelist Bro. Mike Velarde as the first and fifth nominees respectively. ANAD partylist has Pastor Alcover, Jr. and Pastor Alcover II as the first and third nominees respectively.

The Alliance of Bicolnon Party has father and son tandem of architects Enrique Olonan and Henry Steve Olonan. ABROAD partylist lists as its first two nominees Danilo Magsino Dy, Angela C. Dy .

While there may be nothing in the law which prohibits members of the same family from being nominees of the same partylist group, it does seem strange that a system claiming to distribute power to the powerless ends up concentrating power the hands of a few.

Marginalized?

ANAK partylist, which claims to represent the urban poor, has former Police Senior Superintendent Eduardo Octaviano, Jr. and infamous “euro-general” Eliseo dela Paz as the first two nominees.

APOI partylist has Maj. Gen. Melchor Rosales the administrator of the Office of Civil Defense and current DILG exec.

ARARO’s nominee is former PNP Regional 3 chief PC/Supt Quirino dela Torre. Many have pointed out the irony that it was during his stint as police chief that the Hacienda Luisita massacre happened.

National Security adviser Chavit Singson’s brother, Jose Singson, Jr, is also running as the second nominee of 1st Kabagis partylist.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are still many more.

Kasama ako sa EDSA2!

January 16 marks the start of a historic period in Philippine history known as the Edsa 2 People Power uprising which culminated in the ouster of then president Joseph Estrada from Malacañang on January 20. The protests started on the evening of January  16 when youth and students and different groups marched to the Edsa Shrine and held a protest program. Dormers from the University of the Philippines Diliman even marched from their school all the way to Edsa, arriving a bit late but just in time to claim their mark in history as among the first to march to Edsa that night.

 

I joined the protest actions on January 16, joining the march of UP students and teachers that some estimate to have reached 15,000 people. We stayed at Edsa till past midnight only to return early the following day.

 

We were part of the Estrada Resign Youth Movement (ERYM) at that time. There was Anakbayan, LFS, NUSP, CEGP, SCM and other student councils and organizations. We were joined by Mon Pagdangangan (may he rest in peace) and China Cojuangco (who hosted some of the meetings at her parents home in Forbes).

 

Our official ride was a passenger jeep from a driver in Sampaloc who lived beside the Anakbayan HQ. Our cell phones could be described as “pangkaskas ng yelo” by today’s standards. And we didn’t really have a lot of resources except for a portable table, some chairs, and a tent we borrowed from some local politician (God bless him). But we had that fire burning in us, the strong desire for change.

 

We had our speakers in the main program. We did our photo-ops, including the memorable brown envelopes at the steps of the Shrine.

 

We got by because of the support of many friends and allies. We had our field HQ at the 17th floor of some building in Ortigas through the help of some friends. Nope, not Linden Suites (that’s what Gloria used). We held office in a much older building. We could only use it after office hours of course. We had some late meetings at that place.

 

Black was the official protest color. I did hear some stalls in Robinsons’ galleria running out of black clothes, even the more expensive ones. I never did wear black though.

 

I remember a lot “balimbings” at that time, those who withdrew support from Erap at the last minute and went to Edsa. Some of them were booed by the people. Others were prevented from speaking on stage.

 

I spoke before the crowd on the fourth day, it was almost 6am. I was asked to provide some agitation before the march to Mendiola. At that time, not everyone was convinced we had to march to Mendiola, but a good majority was already raring to go. I could tell from the reaction of the crowd during the speech.

 

We already dispatched an advance team of several thousand activists from various sectors to go to Manila to prepare the people for the coming of the main march in the morning of January 20. That was at the dawn of January 20. The main body of the Bayan forces were already in marching formation from the corner of the POEA Edsa and up along Ortigas Avenue. It was a very formidable and solid looking contingent among the different forces assembled at Edsa on that day.

 

The signal to march was given at 6pm. Our forces were ready and in formation and we started moving. Some smaller group I think identified with Roilo Golez wanted to march ahead of everyone else. Some overeagerness I think.

 

It was a loooong march from Edsa, to Shaw, to Sta. Mesa then Nagtahan, then Forbes then Morayta then Recto. Everyone knew it wasn’t wise to go through San Juan.

 

It was still dark when we marched. The sun had not risen. None of us felt tired. The people of Mandaluyong lined up along the streets were giving us water and food.

 

We marched along Recto to Mendiola. The Estrada supporters scampered. We took Mendiola. We held a program on top of a flat-bed truck. We received news Erap left the Palace. In a few hours, Mrs. Arroyo was sworn in at Edsa. Nope, we didn’t go back to Edsa to witnesses the oathtaking. It wasn’t about GMA to begin with. The Mendiola march was the climax for us. Around 75,000 joined that march with started at 6am and ended by noon.

 

After the rally, I remember resting inside a movie house along Recto, watching the Joyce Jimenez-Rica Paralejo flick “Balahibong Pusa”. I slept through most of it. I also discovered I wasn’t the only activist who thought of taking a snooze in the movie house.

 

Some lessons I learned since that time include:

 

  1. There’s no single formula for people power. It’s always about the existing conditions at a given time and how subjective forces interact with these conditions. It is difficult to artificially replicate these conditions in the hopes of getting the same results.
  2. From its very name “people power”, we can conclude that the only thing constant in these upheavals are the people. The most decisive force is the people. Mass movement ang kailangan, more than anything. The fact that Malacañang is still terrified sh*tless by the mere mention and hint of people power tells us that this is still the most effective weapon in combating tyranny. What irony though that they are terrified by the force that brought them to power in the first place.
  3. It was never about Gloria. To those who say that Edsa 2 was about bringing Gloria to power, please, give us a break. It was never about her. She just happened to be the main beneficiary but we sure as hell did not spend four days shouting at Ortigas just so she could be president. Do we regret what we did? NO. But maybe one regret was the lack of a better alternative at that time. Sure, Gloria turned out to be a really bad president but at that time, people had high hopes and were willing to give her the chance to do some good. She blew are her chances.
  4. I don’t really subscribe to the theory of people power fatigue. That is a cynical way of trying to explain why the anti-Arroyo forces have failed to muster the people power necessary to replace Arroyo with a better government. There are many problems facing the anti-Arroyo front, but people power fatigue doesn’t even rank high among these problems. There’s the basic problem of unity and struggle within the anti-Arroyo front, the ability to unite on alternatives, the clashing political and economic interests and so on.
  5. The Arroyo government will do everything to prevent a repeat of people power, even if this means widespread bloodshed. We have seen it before. It gives us something to ponder on, and prepare for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just completed our mission in Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan. For two days, we held meetings and protest actions against the US military bases in the small city of Iwakuni.

Incidentally, last October 14, a 19-year old Japanese women was raped by four US Marines. The circumstances of the rape were not unlike the Subic rape case in the Philippines two years ago. The Marines met the woman in a bar, brought her to their van and there raped her. It is quite sad that the local government in Yamaguchi are now trying to shift the burden on the victim, citing alleged inconsistencies in her statement. The Japanese authorities are not keen in filing a rape case against the four Marines.

Iwakuni is a small city with a population of only 152,000 and is six hours by bus from Osaka City. What sets it apart from other coastal cities in Japan is the presence of the US Marine base and several hundred American troops.

The road going to the main gate of the base was lined up bars, reminiscent of the red light district in Olongapo in the Philippines. The US forces levelled a hill so thet they can reclaim an area off the coast where they plan to expand the base and put up a new airstrip.

The protest action was relatively peaceful and unlike in the Philippines, we were actually able to march right up to the main gate of the US military facility. However, as the contingent refused to move (we were only supposed to pass by the gate), the police threatened to disperse us. They started with around 10-20  police men trying to convince us to move. When this failed, they called in a platoon of riot police to standby. A confrontation was averted when the group started to march, though very slowly, trying to maximize the time in front of the US military base.  

The city mayor is a staunch critic of the bases and now faces a recall petition from some pro-bases groups. The city council is divided on the bases issue. One council member spoke at the rally.

There were some unusual sights at this protest action. Costumes seem to be popular among the younger activists. The chant leader and cultural performer wore a black body suit or something resembling a wet suit. One marcher was dressed up as a French maid, another as US military serviceman with a heavy metal motif and of course there was this one marcher dressed in a blue penguin suit. The French maid and the US serviceman were part of a street play. The guy in the blue penguin suit, in don’t know what that was about.

All in all it was an interesting protest action and experience.

  

Like most people, I am happy that Manny Pacquiao won his  fight against Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera.  And like most people, I was terribly pissed off with the excruciatingly long commercial breaks during the entire broadcast of the fight and even the under card matches.

One example how patently stupid the commercial breaks are was during the singing of the national anthem. The fight ended by lunch time and so the TV broadcast was already delayed. But the promoters of the show here in the Philippines saw it fit to subject their captive TV audience with a deluge of commercials. There was a commercial break after every national anthem sung (I saw two anthems sung. Someone told me three anthems were sung.) Even before the actual fight starts, at least three commercial breaks were aired.

The question we ask, are there limits to these awfully long commercial breaks that take away the fun from watching the match. For those of us who do not have an extra P200-300 for viewing the match “live”, we have no choice but watch the fight on TV. Of course we can always listen to the radio, but that doesn’t even come close to the excitement of watching the match on TV, where you can actually see the fighters and punches they land.

Is it ethical for a TV station or a cable program to be showing too much commercials to the point that it ruins the TV viewing experience? Is there no limit to the number of commercials that these networks can air? How many commercials are they required to show so that they can make a clean profit? And how many commercials beyond that can be considered too much? Is it simply corporate greed that drives these networks to make TV hell for consumers? In the end, who are responsible? Is it just GMA7? or SOLAR sports? What’s the NTC doing by the way?

There was as time when I was irked that ABS-CBN also showed too many commercials during their airings of the Pacquiao fights. When it was GMA7′s turn to air the fights, I was pleasantly surprised that they showed two rounds in succession, that there were no long commercial breaks for each round. That was then though. Last Sunday, GMA7′s coverage (at least the one I saw because I wasn’t watching SOLAR on cable), showed the same abnormally long breaks as the previous carrier of the Pacquiao fights.

Network executives will try to justify the long breaks by saying that they have to earn a profit. (Though none of us have actually seen how much these networks make during the airing of the match.)  The networks will try to explain that they shell out a hefty sum to mobilize satellites and personnel and what not so that we can enjoy the match in the comfort of our living rooms.

True. But one thing they may have overlooked over time was the word “enjoy”. One can’t help but ask if the networks still have our “enjoyment” as a major consideration in the airing of these matches. Or were they were ever a consideration at all.

I got to meet senator-elect Antonio Trillanes IV during his victory party last Sunday at the Marine Headquarters brig or detention facility where he and 29 other rebel soldiers are being held. There were a lot of groups and personalities coming from different political causes present during the affair. Leaders of the opposition were also there. Families of the soldiers were present too.

Going inside the Marine Headquarters wasn’t easy as we had to get clearance first from the J2 or intelligence staff of the base. Seems all names of visitors go straight to the intel folks.

Trillanes joined our table for a short chat on the elections and his stand on different issues. There were around seven people in the round table listening in. After the usual congratulatory greetings, we got down to talking about the probe on extrajudicial killings and the death squads in the military.

As a professional soldier, Trillanes did not agree with the policy of killings non-combatants using “death squads” who operate “outside the chain of command.” News reports earlier quoted him as describing these “death squads” as composite teams from various intelligence units of the different service branches of the AFP.

No other military officer, active or retired (or resigned), has openly admitted the existence of such informal units. It was therefore a major revelation coming from the neophyte senator. Trillanes knew where to start in his investigation. He knew the death squads existed and that some very powerful and influential official/s is/are behind them.

“We have to go after the policy makers,” he said. However, this is easier said than done because he knew the Arroyo government would try to block investigations into the truth about the killings. He was right.

True enough, AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon is already invoking EO 464 as his defense when he is called upon to testify before the Senate. Weird really because it is the President who decides and gives clearance, if ever required, for officials who are called to testify. The decision will be made by GMA as chief executive. So it is really premature for Esperon to be invoking anything at this point especially since his participation in the probe is not his decision to make.

Back to Trillanes. Not many know that he opposes the anti-terrorism law recently signed into law by GMA and set to take effect in July. When asked if he thinks the law will be abused and used against the Opposition, he replied, “definitely.”

Trillanes has a very simple and reasonable approach to terrorism and that is resolving  social injustices especially in places like Mindanao. He believes that terrorism takes root in these areas because of the violence and oppression faced by the people. He cited a story of a fellow detainee in Camp Aguinaldo who threw a grenade at a public market in Mindanao. His reason for throwing a grenade? It was getting even for the losses he suffered after the military indiscriminately bombarded his town in the course of their ant-insurgency operations. The man was offered the job by some rebel group and didn’t think twice of accepting the offer.

From the short discussion, it was clear that one issue he really felt for was the issue of peace in Mindanao. Establishing peace in Mindanao by addressing the injustices will take away the breeding ground of the terrorists. He said that a lot of killings happen in the region but do not get publicized as much as the extrajudicial killings of activists.

Of course Trillanes also felt the need for a comprehensive national internal security framework under which anti-terror legislation would fall. “The country doesn’t have one right now,” he said. “But isn’t the Bantay Laya the implementation of the National Internal Security Plan,” I asked. He didn’t seem impressed with Bantay Laya and its authors.

The chat with Trillanes was interrupted by frequent photo op sessions with guests. In true Pinoy fashion, everyone lined up the wall for photo sessions with the new senator. Families, friends, guests, supporters, all had their picture taken with a very game and accommodating Trillanes. You can see from their wide smiles that the people were truly happy with the proclamation of the Magdalo leader.

As we prepared to leave, another detainee approached us and wished us luck in our undertakings. “Balik kayo ha.” he said with a smile.