Posts Tagged ‘jun lozada’

The March 14 rally proved to be interesting not just because of the numbers and the sectors who were present. It was also a musical/cultural experience of sorts for the protest movement against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

There was no Jun Lozada in the last rally since he was speaking in Bacolod and Iloilo. The expected presence of Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo didn’t materialize as he was believed to be suffering from some pulmonary infection.

But then, there were the youth. Coming from various schools and communities, they showed up for this “huling hirit” just before the Lenten break. They provided energy that day.

There were also a good number of urban poor from various Manila communities who held their version of “Kalbaryo”, carrying wooden crosses symbolizing the burdens of the people.

Those who attended the rally included bishops and religious leaders from various faiths. There were the Concerned Citizens Movement dresssed in green, former secretary Josie Lichauco, Manay Gina de Venecia, Manay Ichu Maceda, Joey de Venecia, former NEDA chief Felipe Medalla, Grace Poe-Lamanzares, partylist representatives, and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

There were also very interesting performances that day.

Peter Parker again took the stage for his anti-corruption rap. However, the real rap superstar that day was Gloc 9. The “Simpleng Tao” from Binangonan, Rizal just finished his exams in Nursing school when he performed to tracks on stage, Sumayaw Ka and Lando.

For me, the most interesting and surprising performance came from Music Front and their vocalist Arnold Morales. They sang two songs from the old 80’s punk group Urban Bandits. I first listened to them from my classmates in sixth grade. I did not know it was them until I heard the familiar intro to “Nagpapansin” and when they started singing “Lumilindol na naman….” . They ended their performance with the punk battlecry “No Future sa Pader”. Morales and company are contemporaries of punk group The Wuds who are frequent guests during protest action. This is was the first time though that Morales and friends were invited to perform at an anti-Arroyo protest action that we organized. I did hear one story that Rivermaya (with Rico Blanco) wanted to do a remake of Nagpapapansin and No Future sa Pader for their Isang Dugo album but sadly this did not push through. It would have bridged the previous generation of punk rockers with today’s generation, proving that “punk’s not dead”.    

 Datu’s Tribe gave a solid performance and I particularly liked their second song. This is their third time to perform. Salamat ng marami!

The Jerks got the young audience on their feet when they finished their set with the Dylan Thomas-inspired “Rage”. This is also their third time to perform.

Jess Santiago gave a powerful performance of an anti-corruption folk song I think was entitled “Salot”.

There were interesting performances too from UP Repertory though I think they tend to overdo the “soundtrack” of their tula-dula and that this becomes too distracting.

The Dulaang UP “war dance” was something you don’t see often at rallies.

The PUP Pep Squad was a refreshing sight.

Nanding Josef’s reading of Palanca-winner Joi Barrios’ poem “Nunal” was entertaining as it was sharp.

The DLSU students should be congratulated too for providing important support for the program. Same goes with Youth ACT NOW!

We hope to see new acts for future activities. I remember in 2000 and 2001, Slapshock and Radioactive Sago would perform in Mendiola. Fatal Posporos also would rock at the foot of Chino Roces Bridge (their vocalist is now with Cambio).

This is truly a great time to rock and roar for truth, accountability and change.

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The February 29 Ayala rally produced some interesting music highlights. There were more bands and other cultural performers than February 15 activity. The fight against corruption and the Arroyo regime continues. This time the numbers were bigger.

First the rally estimates. Organizers reached an initial consensus of 75,000 as the figure to be announced to the media. The crowd was really big, filling up the main streets and the sidewalks. Scientific estimates by Agham friends calculate the rally to have reached 50,000 plus. Then there is also the “replacement factor” being mentioned by Prof. Gani Tapang which simply states that people come and go and that you can’t get an accurate figure of participants simply by looking at the photo at one given time. The rally lasted 4 hours and so people came and went throughout that time.

Now for the acts that day.

1. A lot of people were impressed and moved by the poem read by Armida Siguion-Reyna.

2. Punk legends The Wuds got the crowd on their feet with renditions of Nakalimutan ang Diyos and Inosente lang ang Nagtataka. Good to know that the younger generation of rockers still know where Pinoy punk’s roots are.

3. The Jerks delivered another solid performance as they sung Sayaw sa Bubog. I think they only sang one song, due to time constraints.

4. Rally first-timer Coffee Break Island sang their single Gahaman and did a cover of Woolly-Boolly.

5. Datu’s Tribe rocked the stage even if they were the last band to perform. I just regret not being able to really listen to their song since I was tied up with other matters.

6. The Spidey-clad Peter Parker, who has of late been heard over DZMM’s Tambalang Failon and Sanchez (the only radio program that plays his song), gave a spirited performance of an anti-corruption rap. The dude is also a Gospel rapper by the way.

7. Crazy as Pinoy did a fist-pounding cover of Stick Figgas’ “Liham sa Panuglo” which really energized the crowd of various classes and sectors. Everyone was bouncing to the beat. We hope the original authors of the song, Stick Figgas, will soon be able to perform in one of these activities.

8. Activist groups Tambisan sa Sining, Sining Lila, Sining Bulosan and Musicians for Peace provided scathing commentaries through original pieces and “spoofs” of popular songs.

9. Anak ni Aling Juana did a cover of a Mike Hanopol classic, modifying it by saying “Kahit na anong mangyari, OUST GMA kami”.

Our one regret is that there was not enough time to accommodate so many artists and performers. Music provided one of the highlights of the rally. It unified the crowd inasmuch as slogans and chants did. Lyrics became as piercing as the fiery speeches we are used to hearing on stage.  A principled stand mixed with youthful rage is truly a volatile combination.

Credit goes to Carlitos Siguion-Reyna and his crew who worked to keep the program together. A big thanks to all the artists who came that night and provided memorable moments in the protests.

Bayan forces will march to Mendiola today, armed with a permit from Mayor Fred Lim. We expect peaceful protests today, the anniversary of EDSA 1.

 

Press Statement

February 25, 2008

 

In the face of worsening crisis, People Power is a necessity

Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

BAYAN Secretary General

 

As the nation commemorates the 22nd anniversary of the Edsa 1 uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship, we join all freedom loving Filipinos in affirming the need for continued collective action in the grand tradition of “people power”. No longer can we allow the perpetuation of a morally bankrupt, moribund and fascist Arroyo regime.

 

Mrs. Arroyo says that the world will not forgive the Philippines if another “people power” takes place. How ironic indeed that the main beneficiary of “people power” is the first one to condemn it now. The president should worry less about what other countries may think and worry more about what her countrymen demand.

 

Mechanisms for accountability have been corrupted or destroyed by the regime. Government tells us to go to the courts instead of the streets only because it knows that the wheels of justice are slow in this country.

 

The necessity of people power stems from the reality that the current government will cling to power at all costs. The present regime has totally avoided any accountability over issues of corruption, human rights abuses and gross puppetry to foreign interests. Simply put, this regime will not fold on its own. It has to feel the collective wrath of the people first.

 

People Power assures us that the people have a say in what will happen to the Arroyo regime. Without “people power”, the crisis would merely be resolved by representatives of the powers that be, sans the voice of the people. Our best hope that reforms will be advanced and a better alternative put in place, is if the people can muster the strength to advance their interests.

 

Right now, the momentum for people power is on the side of the anti-Arroyo forces. The widespread mass actions of recent weeks have shown that there is no such thing as “people power fatigue”. The youth, religious, professionals, workers and farmers are all at the forefront of the rising tide of protest against the Arroyo regime.

 

Arroyo’s admission that she knew of the anomalies in the ZTE-NBN deal even before its signing must not turn out to be another “I am sorry” speech from the president. Instead, it should be the basis of the people in seeking accountability from and the resignation of the president. ###

 

My wife gave birth to our first child on Valentine’s Day, one day before the scheduled anti-Arroyo rally in Ayala, Makati. Despite having almost no sleep for two days, I felt great going into the Friday protest action. There’s this unusual high one gets upon seeing a newborn baby (and knowing that Beng was alright through all of it). I guess that’s where my energy came from. There was also the momentum leading up to Friday’s protest that seemed to energize everyone.

Several protest actions prior to the Ayala action served to drum up support for the big event. There were also important public announcements coming from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, the UP community and other concerned sectors.

The Ayala rally had less than a week of preparation. Plans were only solidified on Wednesday, two days before the mass action. Still, the turn out was really encouraging.

We estimate the crowd to be anywhere from 10-12, 000 people. There were the militant groups, the Makati employees, priests, seminarians, nuns, religious, lawyers, students,  artists, urban poor, workers, farmers, Opposition figures, business folks and of course, the media came in full force (though they weren’t exactly rallyists, we felt their “participation” just the same).

Four bands performed, even if they were given one day’s notice. First to rock the stage was Bobby Balingit of the legendary WUDS. He got the Makati crowd, including the mestizas and business types, up on their feet dancing (and to think Bobby hails from the punk tradition of the 80s).   Next on the stage was Brownman Revival who gave a rousing rendition of “Maling Akala” that got the crowd electrified. Clenched fist raised, Dino Concepcion chanted “Makibaka! Huwag Matakot” as the group wound up the Marley classic “Get up, stand up”.

Veteran rock group The Jerks delighted the crowd with Sayaw sa Bubog, Rage, and Isa pang Kanta. The band Talahib rounded up that day’s performers.   

The politicians were there but they had the good sense of not taking too much of the limelight. It was a good move on their part and it helped neutralize the Malacanang propaganda that this was all politicking.

Bayan delivered one of the biggest numbers among organized groups, but the Makati people (community residents and employees) probably made up the biggest bulk of the participants. The Opposition, including the Edsa 3 coalition, also delivered a big crowd that day.

Confetti rained on the protesters. Last time we saw that was February 24, 2006 when a state of emergency was declared and Bayan forces regrouped in Makati.

A man on a makeshift skateboard rolled ahead of Bayan’s marching forces. The guy has been a common sight during Bayan rallies especially in Manila. I remeber first seeing him in a Free Satur rally last year.

There were various creative placards and signs that day. The biggest one was “Moderate your greed. Exterminate your breed”, which hung near the stage. The extermination obviously referred to the greediest of ’em all, whose picture appeared in the giant tarp. Bayan had colorful placards too, being featured a day before on the news as spoofs of several TV series.  A business group had a sign which simply said “Bring it on!”, a response to threats by Malacanang to unleash the BIR on anti-Arroyo business groups.

The media provided another highlight. The set up of ABS-CBN made you think they were covering the Myx Mo concert series. The cameras, including the ones mounted on cranes, were simply awesome for a rally. Astig and Dos! ABC 5 had their satellite dish at Paseo and Ayala. GMA 7 brought its big vans the size of a small house. Our hats off to all media people who covered and in a way, “joined” that day’s rally.

My pet peeve is how rallyists (and I’m not just referring to one group in particular) try to smother the TV cameras with flags. Instead of having a huge crowd as the background for news reports, what we see are flags competing with each other for 10 seconds of fame, at the expense of the bigger interest of the rally organizers ot project the numbers of the crowd. We’ve been trying to correct this as far as Bayan is concerned, but some groups assembled along Paseo that day just don’t seem to understand that it is better that TV viewers see the big crowd than see just flags in the background.

Joey de Venecia did put some effort in his speech. He’s a businessman and speaking at protest actions is probably a first for him. He did good though and the crowd appreciated him.

Two ordinary folks approached the main stage where I was standing, They had a plastic bottle with coins. They said they were collecting Piso para kay Jun Lozada. They turned over their humble collections for that day to the emcee, Bibeth Orteza. Scenes like that give you an idea of the sincerity of the people gathered that day.

Another rally is set on February 25. We hope this one would be bigger and better.

Right now folks are gearing for protest actions and other “communal actions” set to happen in the next few days.

There’s a noise barrage set tomorrow, February 14. Yep, it’s Valentines Day but we’re still hoping that “love for country” will not be lost during the annual affair.

There’s a multi-sectoral rally set on Friday, February 15 at Ayala, Makati, the first in a long time that a protest action was held there. People are excited to come together again in collective outrage over what is happening in the country.

On Sunday,  a Mass will be celebrated in La Salle Green Hills for Jun Lozada.

People are being moved into action because they are seeing and hearing “Live” on media how the government is desperately trying to cover up its corruption and misdeeds.

This morning we saw on the news that the NBI reportedly raided the former office of Lozada at the Philippine Forest Corporation. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales seemed to be defending the actions of the NBI in this one.

If this is how the government hopes to resolve the political crisis, by violating more of its own laws, then the people are all the more justified to protest.

At the hospital last Monday, when I turned on the TV to catch the Senate hearing, on-duty nurses went inside our room and sat and watched and discussed about Lozada and the ZTE. Everyone has been affected by the latest corruption probe.

A lot of people could relate to the feeling of “inaapi”. A lot of people could sympathize with Lozada and his plight.  Many are outraged over the abuse of power the government is capable of doing just so it could save its own skin.

I’ve talked to some friends and they are saying that the cover up is somehow worse than the actual crime of corruption. Why? Because the ZTE deal has been canceled and that sort of mitigates its ill effects. But the cover up, that one is still ongoing and is still claiming victims like Lozada. The cover up continues to insult our collective intelligence as a people.

Whichever you may find worse, the original crime or the cover up, there is no doubt that someone must be made accountable. Heads must roll, so they say. It won’t happen out of the government’s own volition. We have to make it happen.

The government is asking its critics to “moderate” their protests.

The only reason this  government continues to exist is because the ordinary Juan dela Cruz has.

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Jun Lozada’s testimony on how he was abducted by Malacanang agents upon his arrival at the airport reads like a suspense thriller. You thought it could only happen in novels and in the movies but this one here is as real as it can get.

But when the “suspense” subsides, outrage sets in. What happened to Lozada was a cover up most foul. It shows the extent the Arroyo government is willing to abuse its power and break the law.

1. Malacanang interfered with the Senate inquiry by making Lozada leave the country

Lozada was supposed to testify before the Senate on the anomaly-tainted ZTE broadband network deal but he was talked out of it by his boss, DENR secretary Lito Atienza. He was provided with manufactured travel requests and a cover story just so he could be sent to Hong Kong (though it was announced he was supposed to go to London for a “conference”). Atienza was credited with saying that the people will get angry if Lozada’s testimony ever got out.

2. Malacanang prevented the Senate from serving Lozada’s warrant

When the Senate hearing was over, and a warrant had been issued against him, Lozada returned to the Philippines. He had asked the help of religious groups to meet him at the airport. Instead, he was met by Malacanang operatives led by a certain SPO4 Roger Valeroso who now turns out to be a retired policeman working for Lito Atienza. Lozada was abducted at the airport. The people who took him were conscious not to let him fall into the hands of the Senate Sergeant at Arms.

3. Lozada was held against his will

In his statement, Lozada said that he was not free to move or do what he wanted while in the custody of what could be police and military elements. They drove him around Metro Manila and nearby provinces for hours. He had armed escorts.

4. Malacanang conducted illegal wiretapping

The operatives who took Lozada could intercept the radio signals of Senate security forces thus enabling them to evade the Senate arresting team. The operatives also were able to intercept Lozada’s text messages to his family. Lozada said that he was told by his captors to shut off his cellphone because they were intercepting his text messages. Lozada had wanted his family to triangulate his cellphone’s signal so they could track him. His captors were on to this.

5. Other Malacanang officials knew of the abduction

In Lozada’s testimony, it appears that the Executive Secretary knew of the abduction. A certain “Ma’am” was also mentioned by his captors which made many wonder if this was in any way a reference to the President. Lito Atienza knew of the abduction. So did Romulo Neri who also asked Lozada not to implicate the First Gentleman in the scandal. A former Cabinet official, Mike Defensor, also knew of the abduction and even attempted to bribe Lozada (panggastos) while convincing him to lie to the public about his abduction (hold a press conference).

6. Lozada was made to sign manufactured documents

First he was asked to make a handwritten note requesting the PNP for security. Then he was made to sign a manufactured affidavit that virtually clears Malacanang officials (saying he never spoke to any official regarding the ZTE deal). Then his sister was also made to sign a document requesting police security for Lozada. These documents were intended to cover up the abduction and to eventually destroy Lozada’s credibility should he ever come out against the regime. Fortunately for us, nobody believed the PNP and Malacanang when they came out with the signed letters. Everyone knew it was all a lie. What is perplexing is that the PNP chief Avelino Razon sticks to his version that Lozada wanted police security, even if no one believes him.

In the end, all Malacanang wanted was to prevent Lozada from testifying. If they couldn’t, they made sure his credibility will be suspect or at most destroyed.

That a government can undertake this kind of cover up in utter disregard for the law and other institutions is a potent argument for the removal of the Arroyo regime.

Postscript

Another disturbing account in the Lozada testimony was one where he said Malacanang was also prepared to do everything to prevent Romulo Neri, former NEDA chair, from testifying. The Palace appeared to have been ready to use force just so Neri wouldn’t be held at the Senate, the day he appeared there. What exactly could have happened if the Senate held Lozada, we can only guess. But we know now that this government is capable of breaking any law and committing any crime.

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Press Statement

February 9, 2008

 

After hearing today’s testimony by Jun Lozada, we wonder which is worse, the original crime or the conspiracy to cover up this crime?

 

 

Lozada provided a credible testimony on the multi-million dollar overpricing of the ZTE National Broadband Network deal. He pinpointed the high government officials and personalities close to the president who were involved in a scam to collect at least $130 million in kick backs from a government project. Lozada affirmed the involvement of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and former Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos in the anomalous deal. It also became clear that despite the anomalies tainting the deal, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo still had it approved.

 

 

What is also most disturbing is the extent government is willing to go to cover up corruption. Lozada’s testimony shows how several present and former cabinet officials, the police, the military and Malacañang, conspired to prevent him from testifying before the Senate. The government believed that it could get away with fraud, abduction, illegal detention, deception, illegal wiretapping and veiled threats against Lozada.

 

 

The Arroyo regime is rotten to the core. It commits crimes with impunity because it seriously believes it can get away with anything. It abuses its power to cover up its tracks, thinking the people are stupid enough to believe anything.

 

 

We condemn in no uncertain terms the conspiracy to cover up corruption involving DENR secretary Joselito Atienza, CHED chair Romulo Neri, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, DILG secretary Ronaldo Puno, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye and DOTC secretary Leandro Mendoza. We likewise condemn the involvement of former secretary Mike Defensor in the cover up. We also condemn the officials of the Philippine National Police who keep insulting the intelligence of the public by peddling lies.

 

 

The crime of corruption and the brazen attempts to cover up this crime must be condemned by the people.

 

 

The calls for the resignation, impeachment and ouster of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are justified given the recent revelations from Lozada. The fact that all these crimes are happening with the knowledge and consent of the president is basis enough for her to step down.

 

 

The people must make Arroyo and all her cohorts accountable. This is the only way out of the current political crisis. Justice cannot wait until 2010. It must come now, at the soonest possible time.