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Farmers demand agrarian reform, end to farmer killings in Lakbay Magsasaka

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Around 4,000 farmers from all over the country were joined by various progressive groups as they marched from Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola in culmination of the nine-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka para sa Lupa at Laban sa Pasismo, Wednesday. Oct. 25. Photo by Audrey Janelle Fontilla/TomasinoWeb.

After camping outside the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for nine days, around 4,000 farmers from all over the country trooped to UST last Wednesday, Oct. 25, in culmination of the Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka para sa Lupa at Laban sa Pasismo.

Joined by various progressive groups, farmers marched along España Blvd. to demand “genuine” agrarian reform policies promised by President Rodrigo Duterte and to protest the killings of activist farmers under his administration.

The groups assembled at Welcome Rotonda where they held a symbolic meeting of peasants and workers in commemoration of the centennial year of the Soviet October Revolution as they highlighted the need for unity among the working class.

As the groups marched from Welcome Rotonda, UST welcomed 100 farmer-leaders from the caravan in a solidarity mass at the Santisimo Rosario Parish celebrated by Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr., co-convenor of the Coalition for Land, Against Martial law and Oppression.

The groups then camped outside the University for a solidarity lunch with students and the farmer-leaders before proceeding to Mendiola.

Speaking before the peasant groups, UST Simbahayan Community Development Office Director Mark Anthony Abenir urged support for the rights of farmers.

“Kami po ay nakikidalamhati sa mga pamilya’t mahal sa buhay na namatayan na magsasaka. Napaka-importante ng mga magsasaka sa Pilipinas; sila ang bumbuhay sa mga nasa siyudad, pagdating sa pagkain, pagdating sa mga pangangailangan natin sa pang-araw-araw,” Abenir stated in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Chairman and former DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano stated that the Makabayan bloc is one with the farmers in their calls for justice.

“Kami [sa Makabayan bloc] ay nakikiisa sa panawagan na ‘stop the killing of the farmers’ at siyempre, ang pananawagan sa hustisya para sa lahat ng biktima ng pulitikal at extrajudicial killings,” Mariano said in an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb.

Human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights recorded the killings of 91 activist farmers from July 2016 to Sept. 2017, the first 14 months of Duterte’s term.

Karapatan also claims that, as of Aug. 31, some 81 farmers have been killed out of 88 victims of extrajudicial killings in the country.

Mariano, moreover, urged the execution of “genuine” agrarian reform.

“Hindi magkakaroon ng pundamental na repormang panlipunan at ekonomiya kung hindi mapapatupad ang tunay na repormang agraryo at pambansang industralisasyon,” he added.

The former secretary mentioned that “genuine” agrarian reform can only be achieved through cutback of land taxes, increase in the price of farmers’ products and the wages of the farm workers, and development in the production of goods.

“Until now thousands of hectares of land are under the control of hacienderos,” Anakpawis Partylist Representative Ariel Casilao, who was also present in the rally, said in a gathering of farmers in Naga City last Oct. 23.

Farmers demanded for the passage of House Bill No. 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, which was filed by Casilao along with other members of the Makabayan bloc.

The bill seeks to distribute free land to tillers and would cover all agricultural lands, regardless of crops.

Abenir, meanwhile, stated that UST Simbahayan would continue to support movements for human rights.

“Patuloy [ang] pag-suporta sa mga kilusan na kung saan pinapahalagahan ang karapatan ng mga tao para mabuhay. Ito lang din naman ang palaging panawagan ng Simabahan na tayo ay maging Simbahan para sa mga mahihirap, para sa mga naaapi,” he said.

Pambansang Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka para sa Lupa at Laban sa Pasismo was held in commemoration of Peasant Month. Simultaneous protests were also held in Cebu, Davao, Cagayan De Oro, Iloilo, and Surigao. — A.O, P.J

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Atio’s parents hopeful as trial continues

With “strong” evidence paired with the assembly of a “good” prosecution team, parents of the slain UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III remained hopeful that justice will be served for their son as the hearing of the case continued on Tuesday, Sep. 4.

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Photo by Robert Lionel Garcia/TomasinoWeb.

With “strong” evidence paired with the assembly of a “good” prosecution team, parents of the slain UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III remained hopeful that justice will be served for their son as the hearing of the case continued on Tuesday, Sep. 4.

“Pinakamalakas na ebidensya [is] me discovering our son dead, na meron siyang tama sa braso. Indication na ‘yan ng hazing,” Carmina Castillo, mother of the 22-year old alleged hazing victim, told the reporters.

The parents also lauded the prosecution for assembling a “strong and great team” fighting for Atio.

“With a lot of people na tumutulong naman. We are very happy and we’re very glad na nakita n’yo naman ang gagaling nung prosecution. They assembled a very good team to fight for Atio,” Horacio Castillo Jr., Atio’s father, said.

They, moreover, believed that there would be “perfect conviction” of the accused.

“And talagang sigurado ako perfect conviction. Even those na hindi pa nandon, yung idadagdag pang mga tao perfect conviction pa rin ang kalalabasan,” Carmina said.

‘A piece of wooden trash’

One of the evidence presented during the hearing was the paddle which was allegedly used to hit Atio.

It was “painful” to see the evidence, particularly the paddle, Atio’s mother expressed.

“Mas masakit na makita namin yung paddle, and you know for Aegis Juris (AJ), for them, [it is their] crowning glory. But to us, it’s a piece of wooden trash na ginamit nila sa pagpatay sa anak namin,” Carmina said.

According to hazing suspect-turned-state witness Marc Ventura’s affidavit filed on Oct. 24 last year, Atio received a total of five hits from the paddle, where the fifth strike resulted in Atio’s collapse.

Carmina also claimed that the accused waited for Atio to die, saying AJ members “didn’t do anything when their son was getting weak.”

“I will stress hinintay nilang mamatay. Mahina na ‘yung anak ko, nanghihina na, wala pa rin silang ginawa. Talagang the purpose was to wait for him to die,” she said.

Aside from presentation of evidence, AJ member Ventura stood in today’s hearing for his cross-examination.

In the first hearing last Aug. 14, Ventura appeared before the court and testified against the fraternity.

Meanwhile, all 10 accused AJ members were present in today’s hearing, namely: 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.

Last July 24, the accused pleaded “not guilty” in the violation of the Anti-Hazing Act of 1995. (READ: Aegis Juris fratmen plead not guilty to hazing charges)

The hearing was conducted at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20. With reports from Angelika Ortega

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Ikalawang bersyon ng NSH, Straw HelpDesk, inilunsad

Inilunsad ng Student’s Rights and Welfare (Straw) ng bansa ang ikalawang edisyon ng National Student’s Handbook (NSH) at ang Straw HelpDesk, Martes, ika-14 ng Agosto.

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Inilunsad ng Student’s Rights and Welfare (Straw) ng bansa ang ikalawang edisyon ng National Student’s Handbook (NSH) at ang Straw HelpDesk, Martes, ika-14 ng Agosto.

Layong protektahan ng mga nasabing proyekto ang mga mag-aaral laban sa pang-aabuso ng kanilang mga karapatan.

Nakatala sa NSH ang mga karapatan ng bawat mag-aaral at ang mga batas na kayang prumutekta sa kanila mula sa mga natatampok na mga isyu tulad ng pagtaas ng matrikula, hazing at kalayaan sa pagpapahayag.

Bagamat halos katulad pa rin ng naunang bersyon ng NSH, ilan sa mga kalakip ng bagong bersyon ay mga impormasyon ukol sa karapatan ng bawat mag-aaral na bumuo ng organisasyon, sa kalidad na edukasyon at laban sa diskriminasyon.

Upang masigurado na magiging inklusibo ang nilalaman ng NSH sa lahat ng Pilipino, binabalak na ng organisasyon na maglabas din ng bersyon na nakalathala sa iba’t ibang diyalekto.

“In terms of NSH sa iba’t ibang dialects at iba’t ibang languages, we’re looking for partners that could help us. Since we’re just starting, our volunteers are not that much,” wika ni Foronda sa TomasinoWeb.

“In terms of reaching provinces, far-flung areas and remote areas in the Philippines, we’re looking for partners as well [such as councils and organizations] para ma-reach ‘yun,” dagdag niya.

Bukod sa pagpaalam sa mga mag-aaral ng kanilang mga karapatan, maaring dinggin ang kanilang mga hinaing sa opisyal na Facebook page ng Straw PH at ni Senator Risa Hontiveros.

Si Senador Hontiveros ang nanguna sa pagsampa ng Straw Bill noong 2016. Hanggang ngayon, nakabinbin pa rin ito sa komite. Cielo Erikah Mae Cinco, may mga ulat mula kay Rabin Bote

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Magulang ni Atio nagagalak, nagagalit sa pagdinig ng kaso

Magkahalong galak at galit ang naramdaman ng mga magulang ng nasawing miyembro ng Aegis Juris Fraternity na si Horacio Castillo III sa unang araw ng pagdinig ng kaso sa Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, ika-14 ng Agosto.

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Kuha ni Angelika Ortega/TomasinoWeb

Magkahalong galak at galit ang naramdaman ng mga magulang ng nasawing miyembro ng Aegis Juris Fraternity na si Horacio “Atio” Castillo III sa unang araw ng pagdinig ng kaso sa Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, Martes, ika-14 ng Agosto.

Ayon kay Carmina Castillo, ang ina ng napaslang na UST Civil Law freshman, lubos na nagpapasalamat ang kanilang pamilya nang humarap upang tumestigo si Marc Ventura laban sa iba pang mga kapwa-miyembrong akusado.

“We commend Marc na nagawa niya ‘yun para makamit natin ‘yung katotohanan at justice. We are very happy na he testified and he’s committed na sabihin kung ano yung totoo at ‘yung nangyari para hindi maulit ito,” hayag niya.

Dagdag naman ni Horacio Castillo Jr., ang ama ng 22-anyos na pinaslang umano sa hazing rites, “talagang malaking bagay ang paglabas ni Marc sa pagkakakilanlan ng mga may sala.”

“He felt sorry for the accused pero sabi niya ‘I have to do the right thing,’” pag-ulit ni Castillo Jr. sa salaysay ni Ventura 

Subalit, masakit pa rin para sa ina ni Atio ang sinapit nito kahit isang taon na ang nakalilipas.

“Masakit pa rin siya (ang mga testimonya) pag naririnig mo,” ani Carmina.

“Any moment gusto mo sila sakalin, murahin at sabihin: ‘Bakit hindi niyo dinala sa ospital? Eh ‘di sana hindi tayo nagkakasuhan, eh ‘di sana buhay pa yung anak ko,’” dagdag pa niya.

‘Already in tears’

Emosyonal nang humarap bilang testigo sa unang pagkakataon si Ventura, hayag ni Carmina.

“He was emotional to testify. Mahirap sa kanya kasi sabi niya pamilya na nga niya ‘brods’ niya but he has to tell the truth.” paliwanag pa niya.

“He was already in tears.”

Tikom naman ang bibig ng mga akusado, ayon kay Castillo Jr. sa isang pahayag sa TomasinoWeb.

“Well, the accused were there, they were quiet. They denied everything actually ang nagdeny naman eh yung lawyers eh pero the accused remained silent,” sabi ng ama.

Dumalo naman sa pagdinig ang lahat ng miyembrong sangkot na sila 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 at Robin Ramos.

Noong Hulyo 24, umapela naman ng “not guilty” sa korte ang lahat ng sampung sangkot sa kaso sa kinakaharap nitong paglabag sa Anti-Hazing Act of 1995.

Sa isang resolusyong pinetsahan noong Hulyo 5, ibinasura ng Kagawaran ng Hustisya (DOJ) ang petisyon ng pamilya Castillo na muling panagutin si UST Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina.

Ayon pa sa DOJ, huli na nang makapaghabla ng petisyon ang mga Castillo laban kay Divina dahil 15 araw lamang matapos makapagbigay ng resibo. Mga ulat mula kay Angelika Ortega at Noemi Ann Perez

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