Posts Tagged ‘ZTE-NBN’

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.

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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.