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Thomasians, progressive youth groups welcome Lakbayan delegates

The University will host a Lakbayan satellite camp at the Central Seminary Gym from Sept. 11 to 21.

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Photo by Mark Darius Sulit/TomasinoWeb.

Various groups of indigenous peoples and cultural minorities trooped to Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio last Thursday for the third year of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya.

Under the banner of Sandugo, the groups marched through the streets of Manila despite scattered rain showers to demand an end to the attacks on their communities and to lobby their right to self-determination

“Kami ay pagod, gutom, at pinipigilan sa aming pagpunta dito [sa Maynila],” said Windell Bolinget, leader of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), regarding their struggle.

Several students and progressive youth groups welcomed and joined the protest of more than 3,000 members of national minorities as contingents marched from Blumentritt and Vito Cruz before converging at Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio.

Progressive groups from the University joined the mass mobilization at Mendiola and led the Thomasian community in welcoming delegates from CPA along España.

They were joined by the UST Yellow Jackets, the Central Student Council (CSC), UST SIMBAHAYAN, various University student organizations, and progressive student groups from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in front of the Arch of the Centuries, where they held a short program.

Bolinget expressed gratitude for students that welcomed their delegation.

“Kapag may sumasalubong tulad ninyo at may maalab na pag-welcome sa amin, nakakatulong ‘yun para matagumpay naming maisulong [ang] Lakbayan 2017 para sa makatarungang kapayapaan at sariling pagpasya ng pambansang minorya,” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

“We are happy at nagagalak na may kumikilos na kabataang estudyante sa loob ng University of Santo Tomas,” Bolinget added, “sana tuloy-tuloy ito.”

The Igorot delegation will be hosted by the University in a satellite camp at the Central Seminary Gym from Sept. 11 to 21, where programs and discussions will be held as part of the month-long caravan.

University of the Philippines (UP) — Diliman will continue to host the Lakbayan main camp.

CSC Public Relations Officer Francis Santos said that the satellite camp will be enlightening for the Thomasian community.

“Para sa akin, malaking tulong ito para sa ating [mga] Tomasino para mamulat [tayo sa] kung ano ba talaga ‘yung sinisigaw ng pambansang minorya at kung bakit kinakailangan pa nilang pumunta dito sa Maynila,” Santos stated in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

CSC Secretary Therese Gorospe delivered a solidarity message on behalf of the Council in an earlier program.

Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Jane Elago, who was present during the program, told TomasinoWeb that she was pleased with the welcome of the students.

“Nagagalak ang Kabataan [na] ang University of Santo Tomas ay nagbukas ng pintuan para salubungin ang pambansang minorya, partikular ang delegasyon ng Cordillera,” said Elago.

She added, “Malaking bagay na makita ng mga estudyante na meron tayong mga mamamayan na naglakbay pa nang malayo upang mapagtanggol [ang] kanilang isyu at kanilang panawagan for their right to self-determination and just peace.”

Nicolo Bongolan, Tanggulan Youth Network – UST convenor, also called for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

According to Bongolan, indigenous peoples and minority groups are often red-tagged and harassed by the military for demanding and fighting for their rights.

“[The peace talks are] already part of [the minorities’] struggle for just and lasting peace because, in the first place, all the things they ask for are clearly stated: Land, [fair] salary, work, education and rights,” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

However, Bongolan acknowledged that the hope of resuming the talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF “is low right now,” given that Mindanao is currently under martial law.

Nonetheless, Bongolan stressed that the peace talks are a necessity to end poverty in the country, which he deems as “the main root of our nation’s woes.”

Since 2015, national minority groups have conducted and organized the Lakbayan to protest the spate of harassment, killings, red-tagging and intensified militarization in their communities.

Last May, Lumad communities fled to camp in the UP International Center following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23 and its subsequent extension until Dec. 31.

The said communities are planning to continue camping in UP beyond the Lakbayan due to intensified military and paramilitary threat in their areas, and threats of bombing Lumad schools coming from the President himself.

They expect to return to their communities by the end of the year, when martial law is expected to be lifted.— A. Ortega, with reports from P. Jamilla and T.D. Aquino

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Abandoning the promise of PH sovereignty an act of betrayal to the country—Ex-Bayan Muna Rep

Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that President Duterte neglecting his promise to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty is an act of betrayal to the country.

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Photo taken from PHILSTAR

Former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said that President Duterte neglecting his promise to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty is an act of betrayal to the country.

Ocampo stated in an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb that the issue regarding the West Philippine Sea should not be disregarded and undervalued for it concerns the exclusive rights of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Ang naging issue riyan ay yung nakipag-usap si [President Duterte] kay Xi Jin Ping, pumayag siya na pwede kayo mag-fishing diyan. […] Kung payagan mo ‘yan mangisda sa atin, pakikialaman natin, maliliit lang ang ating boat, malalaki ang kanila. Sila, sasairin na nila yung laman ng dagat. Para sa atin ‘yon,” Ocampo said.

“Balikan niyo ‘yung campaign promise niya noon, on the West Philippine Sea, ang sabi niya ia-assert nya ‘yung Philippine sovereignty, tamang paninindigan iyon. Aayon tayo sa paninindigang iyon. Pero kung ia-abandon niya ‘yon, pagtataksil na iyon sa bayan,” he added.

Moreover, Ocampo mentioned that President Duterte’s prioritization of the anti-drug campaign and his response against the United Nations Human Rights Council were improper.

“Mali ang kanyang prioritization ng anti-drug campaign. Gayong inamin na niya ay hindi niya maso-solve. Pero sabi niya tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang campaign. Sige patay-patayan. Kung alam niya na hindi maso-solve sa pagpatay, bakit ipinagpapatuloy niya ang pagpatay?,” Ocampo said.

Last year, the president admitted that he cannot solve and end the problem with illegal drugs during his term, contrary to what he promised that he will finish it in 3 to 6 months and later on changed to 2 years.

“Mali ang response ng presidente na nagagalit,” the former Bayan Muna Representative said regarding the resolution of UNHRC to review the state of the Philippines during the war on drugs.

“Ang principle dito [ay] sumanib at na-elect ang Pilipinas sa United Nations Human Rights Council. So, bound siya sa action o resolution ng bagay na ‘yon, hindi ‘yun tatanggihan. So, taliwas siya sa ginagawa niya,” Ocampo added.

Kristine Erika Agustin

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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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Colmenares: Duterte is a failure as a President

Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares slammed President Duterte’s first three years in office as a scam, described him as a failure as a President on Monday, July 22.

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Larizza Lucas/TomasinoWeb

Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares slammed President Duterte’s first three years in office as a scam, described him as a failure as a President on Monday, July 22.

Colmenares’ accusation came from the President’s campaign promise of defending the country’s sovereignty from China in which the latter now seems to have abandoned after recent happenings surrounding the West Philippine Sea dispute.

“Walang nangyaring pagbabago katulad ng pinangako niya. Ang malala pa, nangako siyang dedepensahan ang ating sovereignty laban sa China pero ang nangyari pinagkanulo niya tayo at pinamigay niya ang teritoryo natin sa Tsina,” Colmenares told TomasinoWeb in an ambush interview in the United People’s SONA.

“So, if there’s anything that [can] describe President Duterte, [it] is that he is a failure as a President,” Colmenares said.

For Colmenares, President Duterte should focus more on the issue on the dispute with China, and completely abandon his submissive foreign policy. 

However, he took note that upholding the country’s sovereignty does not necessarily mean an invitation to war.

“We should continue to search, of course, the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute without surrendering our territorial integrity. Secondly, we should chart an independent foreign policy—hindi maka-Amerikano, hindi maka-Tsino, kundi maka-Pilipino,” he said.

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