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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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Int’l forum vs ‘lawfare’ tackles democratic dissent

Lawfare — a portmanteau of “law” and “warfare” — has been coined to represent the pervasive weaponization of law to suppress democratic dissenters. 

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Louise Natalio/TomasinoWeb

“No to weaponization of law.” This was the call of the 1st International Forum on Lawfare as it tackled various issues and concerns on the use of legal means to oppress dissenters, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. 

Held at the Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium in De La Salle University, the forum highlighted different speakers and reactors on the weaponization of law in media freedom, labor, women, and LGBTQ+ key issues, among others. 

Lawfare — a portmanteau of “law” and “warfare” — has been coined to represent the pervasive weaponization of law to suppress democratic dissenters. 

Moreover, detained Senator Leila de Lima gave her keynote address through her brother Vicente de Lima II, coinciding with her third year in detention. 

Among the speakers of the plenary were ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, and oppositionist Senator Kiko Pangilinan. 

After her speech, Sereno urged the Filipino people in uniting against the enemy: “Kaya ang sinasabi ko: lahat po tayo ay magbuklod-buklod na at lumaban para sa tama. Hindi na po natin dapat hayaan na […] nagkakahati-hati tayo.”

She further stated: “Kaya dapat natin puntahan ang mga pundamental na pagkakaisa natin bilang bayan.” 

“Kailangan manindigan ngayon ang bawat Pilipino. Tama na itong walang katuturan na panggigipit sa kapwa,“ Sereno further expressed. 

Furthermore, Cambodian opposition leader Mu Sochua, who is currently in exile, shared her story of struggle against lawfare in her home country. 

Media freedom

One of the breakout sessions was a panel discussion regarding the current trend and situation of press and media freedom in the Philippines. 

Representatives from multisectoral organizations and media outlets led the panels, like the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Rappler, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and the Makabayan Bloc from the Congress. 

In an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb, DLSU College of Law Dean Chel Diokno reiterated the importance of mobilization in defending rights, after highlighting the historical perspective of the law as an instrument of oppression. 

“Unang una dapat mag-organize tayo at mag-mobiliza at makiisa tayo sa mga naging biktima ng mga naging paglabag ng mga karapatang pantao,” Diokno said. 

He added that in addressing the repression of the state to the media workers: “Ipaabot dapat natin sa Kongreso at sabihing ‘walang ganyanan.’” he said. 

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Campus journalism enhancement bill filed at House

“Malaki ang role ng mga alternative media na katulad ng campus press. Present ito sa buong bansa at napakamakapangyarihan nito kung magagamit ang kanyang pontensyal doon sa pagtataas ng awareness ng taong bayan tungkol sa mahahalagang isyung panlipunan.”

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Gwen Dungao/TomasinoWeb

Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago led the repeal of the campus journalism law with the filing of Campus Press Freedom Act of the country to uphold genuine campus press freedom.

The Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) formed a technical working group (TWG) to conduct further studies and consultations on House Bill No. 319 or the Campus Press Freedom Bill which aims to repeal the 28-year-old R.A. 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act (CJA) of 1991.

In her statement during CHTE’s hearing on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 at the House of Representatives, Elago said the “inherent flaws of the law” resulted in “even more campus press freedom violations that are even more clever and devious in form.”

Elago said that the CJA “legalizes the non-mandatory collection of publication fee, which is considered as the lifeblood” of student publications and “does not make it mandatory for all colleges and universities in the Philippines to establish student publications.”

Elago also noted that the law does not contain a penalty clause for violators, “leaving erring administrators unscathed.”

“School administrators are able to commit offense after offense yet suffer no retribution,” Elago added.

According to Elago, Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) Order No. 94, Series of 1992’s implementing rules and regulations of CJA “naturally carries the weaknesses of Campus Journalism Act of 1991” as it “cannot lawfully narrow or restrict and expand, broaden, or enlarge the provisions of the law.”

“Kaya ang isinusulong ng Campus Press Freedom Bill ay bigyan ng depenisyon ang technical guidance at tiyakin na talagang ang role ng adviser ay doon lamang sa technical assistance at siguraduhin din na mananagot sa ilalim ng ating batas ang mga lalabag sa campus press freedom,” Elago told TomasinoWeb in an interview.

“Malaki [ang role] ng mga alternative media na katulad ng campus press. Isipin ninyo, present ito sa buong bansa at napakamakapangyarihan nito kung magagamit ang kanyang pontensyal doon sa pagtataas ng awareness ng taong bayan tungkol sa mahahalagang isyung panlipunan,” she said.

College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National Secretariat Ryan Martinez said that CEGP’s stance on repealing the CJA shows how the law failed to respond and uphold its mandate.

“Bukod pa dito ay nagkaroon pa o umusbong pa ‘yung dami ng campus press freedom violations na masugid na tinatala ng College Editors Guild of the Philippines,” Martinez said.

“Ine-expect natin na mabuo ‘yung technical working group at masali ‘yung CEGP as well as ‘yung college publications sa lungsod man o probinsya na maging consultative na tugunan ‘yung mga pangunahing pangangailangan,” he added.

Martinez also noted the lack of a proper association or group for high school publications that can be utilized to ensure and uphold campus press rights in high school level.

The CJA’s implementation, according to Martinez, seems to be focusing on competitions while the issues troubling students are suppressed. 

“Tila kompetisyon, puwersa lamang para makita kung sino ang mas creative gumawa ng statement, ng mga artikulo. […] Parang ito nga ay pagpapabango ng mga isyu na pang-araw-araw,” Martinez said.

Martinez called for the promotion of critical campus publications which tackles issues directly involving students.

“I-promote natin ‘yung kritikal, aktibo at panibagong campus journalism na tunay na sumasalamin sa issue ng mga students. […] ‘Yung tuition fee, ‘yung mandatory ROTC, ‘yung mga ganoong polisiya na dapat lamanin, dapat malaman ng mga mag-aaral. Tapos maganda kung manggagaling ito sa mga mag-aaral na kasing edad nila,” he said.

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Renew ABS-CBN franchise, media groups urge

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also held a signature campaign in support of the network as its franchise is set to expire this March of 2020.

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Deojon Elarco/TomasinoWeb

Different media groups expressed their demand for the current administration to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN network in a candle lighting ceremony in front of the ELJ Communications Center on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also held a signature campaign in support of the network as its franchise is set to expire this March of 2020.

Among the media groups present in the ceremony are the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and NUJP.

Jon Villanueva President of ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees Union said that closing a major network is a violation of press freedom and would lead to its employees losing their jobs.

“Maraming mawawalan ng trabaho. Paglabag sa karapatan ng pamamahayag na ito. Pero may pinaplano kaming gawin, balak naming dagdagan ’yung kaganapan ng pagpoprotesta.”

AlterMidya People’s Alternative Network National Coordinator Lilia Padilla, however, feared that one of the implications of this non-renewal is the stifling of press freedom, especially to community, independent journalists.

“Ang fear namin, if the administration can do this to a big network, like [ABS-CBN], what more to community journalists? Kung kaya palang kitilin ang press freedom at ang right namin to operate,” she said.

Moreover, CEGP National Secretariat Ryan Martinez reiterated the “cascading effects” of Duterte’s attack on press freedom in a separate interview with TomasinoWeb.

“Magpoprovide ito ng precedent, ng cascading effects. Kung papaano ide-define ng administration ang pag-atake niya sa press […] isa talaga itong clear manifestation ng attack against press freedom, regardless kung papaano ito i-frame ni Duterte,” Martinez said.

He further emphasized that aside from the apparent curtailment of press freedom, the move by the administration is a manifestation of Duterte’s attempt to solidify his cronies.

“Bukod sa isa itong blatant na attack on freedom of speech and press in our country, it’s also a manifestation ng pagbubuo at pag-sosolidify ng kaniyang (Duterte) cronies,” he said.

He added: “‘Pag tumumba ang press freedom, na-fifirm up ang hold nung power lalo na kung walag mag-checheck at laganap ang misinformation sa bansa. It’s a clear, organized and orchestrated attempt to secure the foothold of oligarchs of tyrants, such as Duterte.” With reports from Louise Natalio and Len Cy Nagtalon

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