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Binay and Honasan answer ‘secret’ in Unang Hirit interview

“Secret,” were the only replies that United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) tandem Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Gregorio Honasan when they were asked about their alternative political bets and possible cabinet members in the first installment of Unang Hirit’s UH Hiritan 2016 last Monday.

In front of a crowd mainly composed of students from the University of Santo Tomas, UNA presidential bet Binay refused to name a possible Executive Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications secretary, and Bureau of Customs Commissioner.

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“Secret,” were the only replies that United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) tandem Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Gregorio Honasan when they were asked about their alternative political bets and possible cabinet members in the first installment of Unang Hirit’s UH Hiritan 2016 last Monday.

In front of a crowd mainly composed of students from the University of Santo Tomas, UNA presidential bet Binay refused to name a possible Executive Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications secretary, and Bureau of Customs Commissioner.

However, Binay earlier said in the interview that he would appoint former cabinet members who have been successful and are known to do their jobs well.

Binay also expressed intentions to appoint running mate Honasan as crime czar and Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, who was with the tandem at the GMA Center and has not been appointed as cabinet secretary, to an unspecified cabinet post.

Binay and Honasan also stayed mum when asked who they will vote for president and vice president if they could not vote for themselves.

When asked if President Benigno Aquino III will be imprisoned after his term, Binay answered, “Hindi ako makikialam diyan.”

Aquino was in hot water for the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and his involvement in the bloody Mamasapano operation.

Corruption allegations, political dynasty

Binay and Honasan are both currently facing corruption allegations. Last year, Binay and his son and namesake axed Makati Mayor Junjun, were among those who were slapped with plunder and graft charges.

Binay avoided Senate hearings and repeatedly stated that he would only answer allegations in the proper forum, but sued Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, among others, for libel with P200 million sought in damages.

“’Yung libel, kaya ka naghahabla, dahil sa pinagbibintangan ka at parang pinapalabas na totoo. ‘Yung imbitasyon para magpaliwanag, nagpaliwanag naman po ako, ‘yun lang hindi nila pinakinggan, ibinasura ho nila,” he said. “’Yung pagharap, kayo na mismo nanonood sa TV. The demeanor is far from being respected.”

He has repeatedly claimed that the Senate hearing is gravely politicized.

The Binays have also been accused of building a political dynasty, with his wife Elenita and son having held the Makati mayor post from 1998 to 2001 and 2010 to 2015, respectively. His daughter, Nancy, is currently a Senator.

The Binays have occupied the top post in the Makati City Hall for almost 30 years, up until Junjun was dismissed from office.

“If candidates are qualified, so what if they are from a political dynasty?” said Binay who says that political dynasties are not an issue. “Hindi siguraduhan na magkamag-anak, nananalo,” adding that some members of political families in Manila do not win in elections.

Honasan was said to have received a P1.75 million kickback from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) through one of the bogus non-government organizations (NGO) of Janet Lim Napoles.

He diverted his answer towards officials and board members of government corporations when asked how the questionable NGO slipped through him and received funding, saying that these officials earn an amount larger than the alleged kickback through their salaries and bonuses.

“Dapat sana’y nag-pass-the-hand na lang ako diyan sa mga kaibigan ko, baka mas malaki pa ang nakuha ko,” he added.

He also said that the allegations against him is just “trial by publicity,” which he said also affects his family.

“Dapat ayusin ito. Ang nag-break down talaga diyan, ‘yung control mechanisms […] Kung may FOI (Freedom of Information) tayo ngayon, sana naiwasan itong sakit at sama ng loob na nangyayari dahil sa trial by publicity.”

Yes to FOI, free Wi-FI and education, same-sex marriage

The UNA tandem said that they are in favor of an FOI bill and if elected, their administration will push for a Department of Information and Technology which will spearhead the installation of free Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.

“It should go transparency (sic) except for ‘yung mga sensitive na foreign policies, security policies,” said Honasan. “We could have spared the nation the pain of this PDAF, DAP, kung may FOI bill tayo.”

Aquino promised to pass the FOI bill at the start of his term, but the proposed measure which would make access to government documents easier did not see the light of day in the six years of the Aquino administration, of which Binay is a part of.

Binay and Honasan also promised free college education and an increase in scholarship programs. Binay said that the money he received for his projects as vice president went to 10 scholars in state universities and colleges.

“So sa’kin, ang libre pag-aaral. ‘Yung mga qualified, eh dahil sa kahirapan ay walang pera, ‘di nakapag-enroll, bibigyan natin sila ng loan assistance tapos dadagdagan din natin ang scholarship programs,” he said.

Honasan said that he is in favor of same sex marriage, but said that it is a legal and moral issue that needs to be discussed to arrive at a consensus.

“Ano ba naman ang napakamali doon sa dalawang tao, nagsasama, may inampon, napapag-aral naman, napapakain – what’s so terribly wrong with that?” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb after their appearance in Unang Hirit.

Last year, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all its 50 states, sparking a worldwide discussion.

The candidates were a minute to answer questions filed by from media partners, students, and netizens, while they were given 30 seconds to answer follow-up questions. -J. Sagcal and X. Gregorio

Watch the full interview here:

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Media, artists back freedom of press, expression

Media practitioners, artists, and various organizations expressed their support in freedom of the press and freedom of expression in response to the possible removal of ABS-CBN franchise and passage of Anti-Terrorism Bill.

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Media practitioners, artists, and various organizations expressed their support in freedom of the press and freedom of expression in response to the possible removal of ABS-CBN franchise and passage of Anti-Terrorism Bill.

“Ang sining ang kaluluwa ng ating bayan. Ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag at pagpapahayag ang kaluluwa ng demokrasya. ‘Pag dumating ang panahon na wala na ang mga ‘yan, wala na ang bayan,” Filipino director Joel Lamangan said in a speech at Cine Adarna Film Center, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman on Saturday, March 7, 2020.

Lamangan stressed that the role of art and film is not just evoking emotions but reflecting the reality in the lives of the Filipinos.

“Ang pinagbabatayan ay ang katotohanang nakikita nila sa araw-araw na buhay, at ang katotohanang nakikita nila ay ang katotohanang nagrerepresenta sa interes ng nakararami,” he said.

The truth, according to Lamangan, is that many Filipinos are still oppressed, remain in poverty, killed, and continuously deceived by government officials.

“Ano ang katotohanan?…Ang katotohanang hindi ka maaaring magsabi ng katotohanan taliwas sa kanilang katotohanang ipinaglalaban,” Lamangan said.

Joel Lamangan speaks in the forum “Malaya” at the Cine Adarna Film Institute in the University of the Philippines-Diliman on March 8, 2020.

UP College of Fine Arts Prof. Neil Doloricon, Chairperson of Concerned Artists of the Philippines, similarly pointed out that artists and journalists play an important role in urging the people to prevent the death of the democracy.

“Ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag at pagpapahayag ay karapatan nating lahat. Ito ang ating sandata laban sa pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan ng oligarkiya,” Doloricon said. “Ang karapatang ito ay dapat maglingkod sa kapakinabangan ng mamamayan.”

Doloricon mentioned that both artists and journalists during the Marcos regime continued to fight for freedom and democracy despite the forceful shutdown of the mass media and the press.

“Uhaw sa tunay na impormasyon at balita ang mamamayan. At ito ay sinikap gampanan ng mga artista, midya ng bayan,” he said.

On ABS-CBN franchise removal

In light of the franchise removal of ABS-CBN network, Doloricon said that the Duterte administration has not given any consideration to almost 11,000 employees who will be directly affected.

“Ngayon lantarang ipinahihiwatig ni Duterte na kanyang pipigilan ang muling pagbibigay ng prangkisa sa ABS-CBN,” he said. “Malinaw na ang kaganapang ito ay pagyurak sa kalayaan nating magpahayag.”

Defend Jobs PH and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) both said that the freedom of the press and search for truth is a struggle in the current administration.

“Ang pakikibaka para sa kalayaan ay pakikibaka din para sa kasiguraduhan sa trabaho, nakabubuhay na sahod, at disenteng kabuhayan. Kasabay sa paghahanap ng katotohanan ay ang pagkakamit ng hustisiyang panlipunan…Hindi ito makakamit sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang rehimen.” Thadeus Ifurung of Defend Jobs said.

Dabet Panelo of NUJP said, “Mas malala yung sitwasyon sa ibang mga media companies dahil…karamihan ay bawal magpakita ng suporta sa kompetisyon.”

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago expressed her support, citing that the youth have become the usual target of fake news, disinformation, profiling, and red-tagging.

“Ang kabataan ay nakikiisa sa lahat ng layong ito na naninindigan kasama ng mga alagad ng medya sa pagtatanggol ng mga kalayaan sa pamamahayag at pagpapahayag.”

Despite the attack on press freedom and freedom of expression, according to Doloricon, it only indicates the effectiveness of the criticisms of both media and artists.

“Ang ating karapatan at kalayaan sa pamamahayag at pagpapahayag ay hindi panlilimos kundi ito ay iginigiit at ipinaglalaban.” he said. “ Ito rin ang hamon ngayon. Huwag tayong matakot at ipaglaban natin ito.”

The event, Malaya: Gathering for Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression, was organized by College Editors Guild of the Philippines, in cooperation with Altermidya – People’s Alternative Media Network, Defend Jobs Philippines, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Kadamay, Active Vista, Movement Against Tyranny, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, Dakila, and Kabataan Partylist.

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Be vigilant of looming dictatorship —Party-list representatives

“Ang pinakanakakabahala na hindi na lang tayo basta nagto-throwback kundi nararanasan na natin ngayon ang mga dating nababasa ng natin sa history books.”

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Jeric Mataga/TomasinoWeb

Party-list representatives encouraged Filipinos not to let Duterte administration imitate the dictatorship of late President Ferdinand Marcos as they pointed out similar patterns of oppression and violence in today’s administration. 

During the 34th anniversary protest of the EDSA People Power Revolution on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said that there is a parallelism between today’s administration and of Marcos. He said that even Duterte himself idolizes the late president, and declaring martial law is just what is missing.

“Papayag pa ba tayo na kung ano ang ginawa sa atin ng diktador na si Marcos ay gagawin ngayon ni Pangulong Duterte sa pamamagitan ng mga tiranikal na mga pamamaraan?” Zarate told TomasinoWeb in an interview.

He also challenged Filipino whether they will allow another dictator who launched the war on drugs which led to thousands of deaths, harassed progressive groups, media, and church people to lead for decades.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago echoed the same sentiments especially with the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN still remains uncertain.

“Ang pinakanakakabahala na hindi na lang tayo basta nagto-throwback kundi nararanasan na natin ngayon ang mga dating nababasa ng natin sa history books,” Elago said. 

Isagani also said that the ABS-CBN franchise renewal is now the people’s issue. He also encouraged the Congress to assert their independence as an co-equal branch of the government. 

“Ang talagang hamon ngayon ay hango sa liderato ng kamara na hindi dapat kami nadidiktahan. If we are an independent co-equal branch of [the] government, [k]ailangang tumindig kami bilang co-equal branch ng government. [H]indi dahil galit ang Presidente at ayaw niyang i-renew ang franchise ng ABS[-CBN] ay hindi na rin kami kikilos,” Zarate said. 

On mandatory ROTC

Isaganani and Elago also expressed their disapproval of the implementation of the mandatory ROTC.

“Ang tinuturo ng ROTC ay pekeng nasyonalismo bagkus ay pasismo. Sa ngayon pa lang, hindi pa ginawang mandatory. Mag-iba iba man ang pangalan niyan, ito’y gagamitin ng nasa security sector ng militar para isulong ang konsepto ng development and progress na naka ugat sa pasismo,” Zarate said. 

Elago also encouraged to stay vigilant amid the ‘looming dictatorship’ in the country.

“Hindi natin kailangan ng maghintay ng isang impeachment complaint para wakasan ang pasismo, ang anti-democratic measures at tiranya sa ating bayan. Ang totoong hamon talaga rito ay nasa taong bayan,” she said. Hazel Camba

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‘Review Citizen Service Act framework,’ student leaders say

Student leaders demand for a discussion of the framework of the ‘Citizen Service Act,’ a bill which is proposed to amend or repeal the Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program Law by making the Reserve Officer Training Corps mandatory.

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Jaime Taganas/TomasinoWeb

Student leaders demand for a discussion of the framework of the ‘Citizen Service Act,’ a bill which is proposed to amend or repeal the Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program (NSTP) Law by making the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory.

The Citizen Service Training Course (CSTC) consolidates all 32 House bills on mandatory ROTC which requires grades 11 and 12, and college students to undergo a combination of military and non-military training.

During the Committee on Higher and Technical Education’s hearing at the House of Representatives on Feb. 24, 2020, National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) President Raoul Manuel stressed the need to discuss the framework of the proposed bill rather than its contents first.

“We wanted to know what service would be required from the students,” Manuel said.

Promoting nationalism and patriotism, as well as youth involvement in disasters, is a goal for the student leaders as well. However, Manuel believes that the provisions of the bill can be done under the NSTP Law of 2001.

“[B]efore we can proceed to amending or introducing new bills, we have to justify why it has to be changed in the first place,” Manuel said.

“Some of us here are undergoing NSTP, some have already finished, and we are looking for ways to be of service to our nation…[W]hat remains to be seen is how the state can systematically make use of the youth,” he added.

University of the Philippines (UP) Board of Regents member Isaac Punzalan believes that the bill imposes the removal of choice from the students.

Academic freedom, according to Punzalan, should not be only exercised in UP but in all universities.

“This kind of bill…[w]ould compromise academic freedom, because it really tries to take away the choice, the free choice of the students,” Punzalan said

He emphasized the need for the students’ liberty to choose on “what kind of way” they would give back and serve the people.

“We really stand that UP, SUCs, and universities should remain zones of peace and academic freedom,” Punzalan added.

Added burden to students

Student leaders believe that the mandatory ROTC will require time and effort from the “already overburdened” students.

Mandatory ROTC, according to James Candila of De La Salle University, will affect students not only physically and mentally, but also financially.

Expenses like uniforms, gears, and other additional contributions will be “a heavy burden” to families living on a tight budget. “[I]t is something that we should consider given the fact that it will still be an additional cost to our parents,” Candila said.

Students also questioned the lack of study in the effectivity of the NSTP Program.

“When we have these certain questions at hand, then, shouldn’t we still focus on these concerns rather than bring up another procedure that we aren’t even sure if it works,” Jaeanne Maranon of Ateneo de Manila University said.

The proposed CSTC bill according to her, has no material evidence to prove that it will “better” the current conditions of the Philippine youth.

Personal testimonies of Senior High School (SHS) students said that the frameworks of the previous programs offered to them do not generate any valuable learnings.

“[T]hey would share to us that they would just stand in line, and they would just march and do horseplay,” she said.

Maranon stands firm on continuously “critiquing and focusing” on how to improve the existing NSTP program instead of introducing another bill.

On passing the bill

Kabataan party-list representative Sarah Elego stressed the need for the House of Representatives to proceed with caution in terms of passing the proposed CSTC bill.

The ROTC, according to an exclusive interview with Elago, has had a long history of abuse, corruption, and discrimination. “We should not allow any such abuses to continue inside our school gates.”

Elago emphasized the need for a grievance mechanism that would respond to cases of abuses. She admittedly found reports of victim blaming on the part of the students alarming.

“[Y]ou know the victim blaming is very rampant… [h]indi dapat ganun, Kung may report ng abuso na dapat tugunan, dapat ma-ensure na may mananagot,” she said.

Elago believes that the ROTC program is rigged with “misogyny, sexism, machismo, and chauvinism.” These issues, according to her, must be properly addressed and perpetrators should be held accountable. Jayziel Khim Budino

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