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Aegis Juris fratmen plead not guilty to hazing charges

All 10 accused members of the Aegis Juris fraternity on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the hazing charges filed against them for the death of UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

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Photo by Angelika Ortega/TomasinoWeb.

All 10 accused members of the Aegis Juris fraternity on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the hazing charges filed against them for the death of UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Facing charges for violation of the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995, the fratmen denied the allegations during the arraignment at Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, Horacio Castillo Jr., Atio’s father, said.

“Expected naman ‘yun ang defense nila, na i-deny lahat ng issues. ‘Yun yung pinaka-alibi nila,” Horacio Jr. told TomasinoWeb.

He also asserted that even though the case is “not bailable,” the accused will try to petition for bail.

“They (fratmen) will try to petition for a bail. They will try. Nagbabakasakali sila na baka makuha nila sa bail,” Horacio Jr. said.

Carmina Castillo, Atio’s mother, meanwhile, expressed her strong resolve to take down the fraternity and give justice to her son.

“Ang gusto ko is matuloy ‘to lahat. I want justice para sa anak ko, and hindi ako titigil… That’s the only justice I can get para sa anak ko,” she told the reporters.

Carmina added: “We are now ongoing with the trial. I’m happy about that. Arraignment has been finished and we are going on now. Ang main goal ko is to erase the name of that fraternity from existence, burahin talaga sila.”

The mother, however, commended the Department of Justice for the “smooth pacing of the case.”

Detained at the Manila City Jail, the 10 accused fratmen are Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, Oliver John Audrey Onofre, Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Munro Hipe, Danielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo, Joshua Joriel Macabali, Marcelino Bagtang, Jose Miguel Salamat and Robin Ramos.

The next hearing will be on August 14, where both sides are expected to present their evidence and witnesses before the Manila RTC.

The arraignment was originally scheduled last May but was postponed and moved due to pending motions filed by Trangia.

Atio died last September allegedly due to hazing rites performed by some members of the Aegis Juris fraternity.—with reports from Angelika Ortega

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Delayed justice in Maguindanao Massacre: ‘Reflection of culture of impunity’

Journalists, along with progressive groups, flocked to Mendiola and held a program to commemorate the victims of Maguindanao Massacre and condemn the continuing culture of impunity and injustice in the country Saturday, Nov. 23.

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Photo by Louise Lampa/TomasinoWeb

Minutes before noon on Nov. 23, 2009, 58 people — 38 of whom were journalists — were massacred in Ampatuan, Maguindanao in what would then be dubbed as the single deadliest attack on reporters and media workers in history. 

A decade later, justice for the victims’ families remain elusive, although already in sight, as the Quezon City Regional Trial Court is set to make its long-awaited decision until December 20 this year, after being granted an extension by the Supreme Court.

Journalists, along with progressive groups, flocked to Mendiola and held a program to commemorate the victims and condemn the continuing culture of impunity and injustice in the country Saturday, Nov. 23.

A reflection of the culture of impunity, injustice

In an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb, Justine Dizon, one of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) board of directors, expressed his dismay over the delay of justice for the victims.

He added that the time spent pursuing justice is a “reflection” of the situation of the justice system and the culture of impunity.

“This time na nailaan na walang hustisya for the past ten years is just a reflection kung paanong ang culture of impunity is plaguing our society right now,” Dizon said.

Dizon further noted: “This is also a reflection of how do we value the freedom of expression […] kung paano i-regard o ituring ang mga media at news organization na kritikal at nagbabalita nang matapat at matapang tungkol sa ating lipunan.”

‘Learn from history’

Bayan Muna representative Carlos Zarate urged people to “learn history” and, according to him, true change can only happen if the whole system that breeds injustices will change.

“Matuto tayong mag-aral ng kasaysayan, na ang tunay na pagbabago ay mangyayari lamang kung nabago rin natin itong umiiral na sistemang nagluluwal ng ganitong mga injustices,” Zarate said.

Zarate further added: “[D]apat baliktarin natin ito, iyang sistemang iyan na nagluluwal ng walang kapanagutan, ng panggigipit, ng maramihang papatay ay baguhin natin.”

Zarate, however, stressed that more Ampatuan massacres and other injustices, especially to the marginalized and the innocent are bound to happen if the state of impunity is continued to be normalized.

“Habang hindi nagbabago, habang ine-enable, ginagawang normal ang pagpatay, marami pang mga Ampatuan Massacre ang mangyayari sa ating bayan, marami pang mga mahihirap at inosente nating mamamayan ang magiging biktima ng inhustisya at impunity,” Zarate said.

Meanwhile, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National President Daryl Baybado iterated the importance of a critical campus media, especially during these times.

“Bahagi sa kasaysayan [ng mamahayag pangkampus] ang paglaban sa diktadura ang paglalantad ng inhustisya ng korupsyon at iba’t-iba pang mga usaping panlipunan,” Baybado said. 

He added: “Asahan na magkakaisa hindi lamang ang mga mamamahayag pangkampus kundi lahat ng mga manggagawa sa media upang tutulan, labanan, at kundenahin ang mga harassment.”

Furthermore, Baybado also challenged the Duterte administration to give the people their rights.

“Simple lang ang hamon natin sa administrasyon: ang ibigay ang nararapat sa mamamayan. Hindi natin gusto ang isang lipunan na ipinagangalandakan at ipagsisigaw pa kung ano ang mga karapatan natin,” Baybado told TomasinoWebWith reports from John Aaron Pangilinan

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Abandoning the promise of PH sovereignty an act of betrayal to the country—Ex-Bayan Muna Rep

Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that President Duterte neglecting his promise to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty is an act of betrayal to the country.

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Photo taken from PHILSTAR

Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that President Duterte neglecting his promise to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty is an act of betrayal to the country.

Ocampo stated in an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb that the issue regarding the West Philippine Sea should not be disregarded and undervalued for it concerns the exclusive rights of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Ang naging issue riyan ay yung nakipag-usap si [President Duterte] kay Xi Jin Ping, pumayag siya na pwede kayo mag-fishing diyan. […] Kung payagan mo ‘yan mangisda sa atin, pakikialaman natin, maliliit lang ang ating boat, malalaki ang kanila. Sila, sasairin na nila yung laman ng dagat. Para sa atin ‘yon,” Ocampo said.

“Balikan niyo ‘yung campaign promise niya noon, on the West Philippine Sea, ang sabi niya ia-assert nya ‘yung Philippine sovereignty, tamang paninindigan iyon. Aayon tayo sa paninindigang iyon. Pero kung ia-abandon niya ‘yon, pagtataksil na iyon sa bayan,” he added.

Moreover, Ocampo mentioned that President Duterte’s prioritization of the anti-drug campaign and his response against the United Nations Human Rights Council were improper.

“Mali ang kanyang prioritization ng anti-drug campaign. Gayong inamin na niya ay hindi niya maso-solve. Pero sabi niya tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang campaign. Sige patay-patayan. Kung alam niya na hindi maso-solve sa pagpatay, bakit ipinagpapatuloy niya ang pagpatay?,” Ocampo said.

Last year, the president admitted that he cannot solve and end the problem with illegal drugs during his term, contrary to what he promised that he will finish it in 3 to 6 months and later on changed to 2 years.

“Mali ang response ng presidente na nagagalit,” the former Bayan Muna Representative said regarding the resolution of UNHRC to review the state of the Philippines during the war on drugs.

“Ang principle dito [ay] sumanib at na-elect ang Pilipinas sa United Nations Human Rights Council. So, bound siya sa action o resolution ng bagay na ‘yon, hindi ‘yun tatanggihan. So, taliwas siya sa ginagawa niya,” Ocampo added.

Kristine Erika Agustin

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“Mangarap na dapat ‘yung Pilipinas ay maging para sa Pilipino”—Labor Leader

Labor leader Leody De Guzman said that this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte should have tackled deeper issues concerning Filipinos.

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Photo taken from ABS-CBN News

Labor leader Leody De Guzman said that this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte should have tackled deeper issues concerning Filipinos.

In an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb during the United People’s SONA last Monday, July 22, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino chairperson and 2019 Senatorial candidate stressed that ‘economic growth’ mostly benefits only the upper class and ‘Rice Tariffication Law’ opens the doors to more imported rice entering the country, will only make farmers suffer.

This year’s United People’s SONA 2019 was held alongside President Duterte’s SONA in front of St. Peter Parish – Shrine of Leaders along Commonwealth, Quezon City which focused on opposing Duterte’s ruling in the West Philippine Sea, attacks against human rights, unjust economic policies and labor groups’ demands in the workplace.

“Yung patakaran ni Duterte na ginawa ‘yung Rice Tariffication Law na talaga namang magpapahirap sa ating mga magsasaka. Tingin ko nga parang iyon ‘yung huling pako na imamartilyo sa mga magsasaka para tuloy-tuloy silang maghirap,” De Guzman asserted.

Opposite to what President Duterte said that ‘Rice Tariffication Law’ shall ensure full implementation and poverty incidence fell from 27.6 percent in the first half of 2015 to 21 percent in the first half of 2018.

“Yung Contractualization Law ngayon, yung Senate Bill 1826, parang huling pako rin yun, na ipapako, na imamartilyo ni Duterte sa mga manggagawa, magpapahirap sa kanila hindi lang sa sahod kundi ‘yung mga batayang karapatan ng mga manggagawa ay malalanos,” he added.

“May 6.5 [percent] na pagtaas sa economic growth pero may pagtaas sa pamilyang masasabing sila ay mahirap from 38 percent to 45 percent ngayon, kaya nasaan ‘yung pag-unlad? Kasi nga pumunta ‘yung malaking parte sa mga mayayaman, sa iilang mayayaman,” he argued.

Regarding the issue on the West Philippine Sea, Duterte stated: “war leaves widows and orphans in its wake” implying an avoidance of conflict against China.

On the other hand, Ka Leody believed that Duterte and China had a “secret arrangement” and that Duterte is being threatened by China forcing him to give the West Philippine Sea.

He said, “Tingin ko, hawak sa leeg ng China si Duterte, dahil doon sa kanyang mga favor na kinuha, yung sa pondo sa Build-Build-Build, mukhang kasama ‘yon sa mga kasunduang talagang ipapa-ubaya sa China. Ang mas malalim, malamang tinakot si Duterte, ang mas malalim, para bang, ‘pag hindi mo ito ipinagkaloob sa amin, gigiyerahin ko kayo, kasi hindi kayo ang kalaban ko, ang kalaban ko ay US.”

De Guzman also emphasized how China invades the labor industry in the Philippines, citing 200 thousand workers and 3.12 million Chinese who entered the Philippines during Duterte’s term.

Ka Leody is challenging the government to hear the sentiments of the masses, support local agriculture and protect workers’ jobs and rights since many are not benefiting to the ‘economic development’ of the country, for it is the true State of the Nation for him.

“’Yun ‘yung gustong i-rehistro ng pagsasama-sama[…], kasabay nung pangangarap na magkaroon ng isang gobyerno na tatangkilik sa mga manggagawa, sa masang Pilipino, hindi dun mga kapitalista, lokal man at dayuhan, hindi sa trapo, hindi sa dinastiya, kundi mangarap na yung Pilipinas ay maging para sa Pilipino. ‘Yung kaunlaran ay kaularang ang nakikinabang ay ‘yung mga mamamayan,” said De Guzman.

Raheema Velasco

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