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Student, youth groups condemn activist crackdown, Lumad food blockade in walkout protest

Progressive student groups marched to Mendiola to condemn the intimidation, harassment, and deaths of student-activists as well as the military food blockade and attacks on Lumad communities in Mindanao.

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Progressive groups from different schools and universities stage a walkout protest against the government’s crackdown on activists at España and Mendiola, Thursday, Dec. 7. Photo by Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

Militant youth and student groups once again stormed to Mendiola last Thursday, Dec. 7, to decry the government’s intensified crackdown on civilians and progressive groups, as well as other “fascist attacks” on the youth.

Unfazed by recent cases of intimidation and harassment of student activists, students walked out of their classes to stage local actions in their respective schools before gathering along España at noon.

“Kung nagkacrackdown si Duterte, dapat magkaisa ang kabataan,” urged John Paul Rosos, national spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS).

Last Tuesday, Dec. 5, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist organizations due to the NPA’s recent skirmishes.

With it, he also threatened to arrest members of progressive groups — which he referred to as the CPP’s “legal fronts” — for terrorism and conspiracy.

The military had reportedly completed their list of targeted individuals and personalities, and were merely awaiting directives from the Malacañang to conduct the arrests.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago retorted in a statement: “If anyone’s a terrorist here, it is the US-Duterte fascist dictatorship,” as she pointed at the spate of extrajudicial killings (EJK) and human rights violations committed by police and vigilante forces under the government’s vicious war on drugs.

Elago continued that the government’s attacks on progressive groups would be “the new drug war,” warning the public to “expect not just activists but [also] civilians to be affected and victimized.”

“Justice for all the victims of extrajudicial killings!” reads a placard from Anakbayan. Photo by Kennelf Monteza/TomasinoWeb.

Harassment, intimidation, red-tagging

Over the past few months, progressive groups from different schools and universities have reported cases of harassment and intimidation of their members and leaders.

Last Sept. 28, a member of Anakbayan — Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) was attacked and robbed by suspected military agents just outside the PUP campus.

Meanwhile, Tanggulan Youth Network— Vito Cruz reported last October that two policemen in plainclothes visited the house of one of its conveners to inform the convener’s parents that their child was under surveillance.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines had also denounced the red-tagging of its member publications in Bicol, which are allegedly being included in the “watchlist” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

However, a few days after the declaration of the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) National Spokesperson Mark Vincent Lim stated they began receiving “numerous reports of harassment towards student leaders.”

Last Dec. 4, Monday, a senior high school member of LFS-UST received a death through a phone call. The same number also sent threats to a member of poetry collective KM64 (READ: Militant student group decries death threat on SHS student amid activist crackdown).

Lim also slammed the recent death threats and harassment of the chairperson of Anakbayan — UP Diliman and the chairperson of the UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences Student Council.

Lumad student Beverly Gofredo condemns the ongoing military food blockade and intensified attacks on Lumad communities. Photo by Mark Darius Sulit/TomasinoWeb.

Lumad schools, food blockade

Meanwhile, Lumad student Beverly Gofredo said the resumption of intensified counterinsurgency operations in their communities were merely excuses by the military to drive the Lumad away from their ancestral lands.

“[K]ung nasaan ang presensya ng malalaking kumpanya ng mina, nandoon din ang presensya ng Armed Forces of the Philippines dahil sila ang protektor at nagseserbisyo hindi sa mga mamamayang Pilipino kundi sa mga malalaking kumpanya ng minang [nandoon] sa Mindanao,” Gofredo said.

Lumad schools — along with its students and teachers — have been persistently tagged by the AFP as “training grounds of the NPA” and their communities have been accused of harboring communists.

However, Gofredo denounced these tags as attempts to justify the military attacks and atrocities on their schools and communities.

“Winawalan nila kami ng karapatan na makapag-aral. Wala na ngang ibinigay ang gobyerno ni piso sa mga eskwelahang Lumad, pinapatuloy pa ang pang-aatake dito,” she exclaimed.

Last Sunday, Dec. 3, militant human rights group Karapatan reported the killing of eight Lumad farmers in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, allegedly by military forces. Gofredo, along with the activist groups, decried the killings.

They also condemned the reported food blockade on 345 displaced Lumad families that were forced to relocated to an evacuation center in Lianga, Surgiao del Sur due to the counterinsurgency operations.

Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) said military checkpoints were restricting the entry of food and relief goods being sent by non-government organizations and civil society groups to the families in the evacuation center.

The families were also barred by the military from returning to their communities, according to ALCADEV. AFP Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, however, denied the military food blockade.

Protesters carry a bloodied portrait of Duterte. Photo by Kennelf Monteza/TomasinoWeb.

Youth wasting time on ideology

While the protest was being conducted, Duterte mocked the progressive youth groups in a speech before a food festival in Pampanga, saying they were offering their lives and dying for “useless ideologues.”

“Mga bata, nagpakamatay for the belief, for the ideals, for the ideologues na wala naman talagang macontribute,” Duterte said.

His remarks came in the midst of the death of student activists from UP and PUP, who were killed in a military clash in Nasugbu, Batangas last Nov. 28, five days after the government terminated the peace talks with the CPP-NPA.

The AFP tagged all 15 casualties in the Nasugbu clash — including the students — as members of the NPA, based, supposedly, on the high-power firearms recovered from their personal belongings.

However, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Convenor Raoul Manuel lambasted these claims during the protest as futile attempts by Duterte and the AFP to further accuse activists of “terrorism” and justify his crackdown.

“[K]ahit na bansagan na mga terorista itong mga kabataang ito na wala naman palang mga armas at ang tanging armas ay paninidigian at mga placard, hindi kami natatakot na ipagtuloy ang paglaban para sa ating mga karapatan,” Manuel said.

Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo also slammed the President’s remarks in a statement posted Dec. 8, saying: “As always, our hope lies in the idealism and activism of the youth who, open to new ideas and filled with optimism for a better future, are willing to serve the people and fight injustice even it means risking their very lives.”

Crisostomo also warned the President that “[his] repression will only compel more and more Filipino youth to join the Filipino people in struggling against his tyrannical and terrorist regime.”

As of Dec. 3, Karapatan had recorded 25 alleged EJK cases related to various counterinsurgency operations in the country during Duterte’s first year as president.

The group is now looking into the case of the Lake Sebu killings as well as the deaths of pastor Lovelito Quiñones, who was killed by military forces in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro last Sunday, and activist-priest Marcelito Paez, who was shot down by unknown assailants in Jaen, Nueva Ecija last Monday.

With the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao and the recent declaration of the CPP-NPA as terrorists groups, Karapatan expects the numbers to rise.— 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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