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Human rights lawyer debunks claims of no EJKs in PH

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Human right lawyer Abel Jamal Disangcopan defines extrajudicial killings. Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo/TomasinoWeb.

A human rights lawyer lambasted some public officials on Wednesday for dismissing the existence of extrajudicial killings (EJK) in the country.

Abdel Jamal Disangcopan, former coordinator on the legal issues of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, debunked claims of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano that there are no EJKs in the country.

“For me, extrajudicial killing is ‘yung hindi talaga sumusunod sa due process ‘yung pagpatay. In the context [of] war on drugs, pinapatay ka na hindi man lang napatunayan na totoo. Kung napatunayan man, hindi ka rin naman pwedeng patayin kasi wala namang judicial killing sa Philippines,” Disangcopan said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

He added, “Administrative order ang [ginagawa nilang] basis, pero…noong time ni Justice Secretary De Lima, [ang] extrajudicial killing talaga [ang] common understanding [ay] pinatay ka na walang paghahatol.”

Following an independent probe of the DILG last year, Densing said that such killings cannot be called as EJKs because there are no judicial killings.

Cayetano has also been justifying the bloody war on drugs, citing Administrative Order 35 under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III. The order states that killings that involved common criminals cannot be as classified as extrajudicial.

Moreover, Disangcopan said that the public officials are forced to defend the drive against drugs to secure the reputation of the country.

“Kung hindi nila ‘yun (EJKs) ide-deny, aside sa liability, it will open a can of worms,” Disangcopan said.

He also stated that the war on drugs has led to the culture of impunity.

“It’s true…hindi lahat ng napapatay [ay] extrajudicial killing, but now…you can always blame anybody about [a trouble],” Disangcopan said.

Commission on Human Rights and various human rights groups, such as Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, claim at least 12,000 deaths in the campaign against drugs — including alleged vigilante-style killings.

Meanwhile, in a recent data released by Presidential Communications Operations Office, 3,967 drug personalities were reportedly killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, last year to Oct. 25 this year.

The forum titled, “WHOStisya: Mananagot ang May Sagot” was organized by the UST Sociological Society, the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office, and the Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council.

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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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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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Militant groups call for land justice in Mendiola massacre’s 33rd anniversary

Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday said that the call for land justice and distribution remain until today and expressed her concern on the agrarian policies of the Duterte administration.

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Photo by Nathaniel Salcedo/TomasinoWeb

Different multi-sectoral groups flocked to Mendiola street in Manila to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Mendiola massacre that took the lives of 13 farmers Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020.

In an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb, Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday said that the call for land justice and distribution remain until today.

“Hanggang ngayon naman kahit 33 taon na ang nakakalipas mula nang mangyari ang kalunos-lunos na Mendiola massacre nananatili na ang panawagan ng mga magsasaka yung tunay na reporma sa lupa […] hanggang sa libreng pamamahagi ng lupa sa mga magsasaka,” Danday said. 

Moreover, Danday expressed concern on the agrarian policies by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, specifically on the Rice Liberalization Law. 

“Isa dyan ay ang Rice Liberalization Law […] na naging malaking dagok sa kabuhayan ng mga magsasaka,” Danday said when asked which policies of the current administration must be changed or removed. 

She further noted: “Hanggang ngayon, talagang yung mga magsasaka pa rin ang mga walang masaing sa pang-araw-araw dahil sa liit ng nakukuha nila mula sa kanilang mga ani.”

33 years ago, on January 23, 1987, 13 farmers were killed while more than 50 others were wounded in Mendiola street as they demand for genuine land reform and social justice under the administration of the late Corazon Aquino. 

Taal relief ‘fiasco’

Danday also vehemently condemned the government for its failure to efficiently distribute relief goods to the affected communities and becoming peddlers of fake news.

“Pinapasweldo siya [Lorraine Badoy] ng mamamayang Pilipino, pero sa aktwal, yung ginagawa nila ngayon sa panahon ng napakaraming mamamayan yung nasalanta ng pagputok ng Taal […] yung gobyerno natin busy silang magpakalat ng fake news, manira ng mga tao, grupo na tumutulong sa nasalanta nating mga kababayan,” Danday said. 

Danday added: “Nakikita naman natin na sa aktwal, wala silang ginagawa at sa panahon na pumutok ang Taal mas inuna nilang kaltasan ng budget ang calamity fund at doblehin ang pondo ng intel.”

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