Nov 30, 2005


World AIDS Day: Red ribbons and more

Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day: Wear a red ribbon. Read about HIV/AIDS and empower yourself with up-to-date and correct information. If you have a friend or relative with HIV and AIDS, give him/her extra special attention. Email your a congressperson or senator to support House Bill 4357 whick would provide better AIDS education and funding for AIDS prevention and control. You could also attend the AIDS concert at The Fort.

This afternoon (Nov. 30, Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo led a red ribbon drive in Congress. More than 40 congressmen and women crossed partylines for this significant political statement and united in wearing red ribbons. Ocampo is the principal author of HB 4357.

People with AIDS in the Philippines number only about 10,000. But this could be a very conservative estimate. More importantly, various agencies and groups fear a possible increase of AIDS and HIV incidence in view of rising drug use and the vulnerability of certain segments of the population: the youth and migrant workers.

Contrary to popular belief, AIDS/HIV is not a "gay" disease. Everyone -- man or woman, straight or not, old or young, rich or poor -- could be infected and die.

The Philippine government should also do its job by ensuring the manufacture and supply of anti-retroviral drugs -- just like what the Cuban and Thai governments did to their peoples. Such drugs are important for the treatments of HIV/AIDS patient and should not be allowed to be mere sources of obscene superprofits by multinational drug companies. Another area the government should look into is the dissemination of AIDS information through AIDS education across all school levels and in workplaces and in orientation seminars for prospective migrant workers.

Nov 24, 2005


Army massacres farmers in Palo, Leyte

Some journalists have told me after the Palo massacre that its like the Marcos dictatorship all over again.

For since when has it become a crime for a group of farmers to gather and stay overnight at a kamalig (hut)?

Well, maybe starting 5:00 am of Nov. 21, because on that time and date, elements of the 19th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army attacked 46 farmers in Bgy. San Agustin, Palo, Leyte, who had stayed in their communal kamalig since the night before to prepare for collective farming.

According to Richard Margallo, leader of the 46 farmers who are all members of the Bgy. San Agustin Farmer Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative, they were there to tend the fields of a 12- hectare plot of land already granted them by the Dept. of Land Reform (DLR).

The Army assault was vicious. Five grenades were lobbed at the hapless civilians who were armed only with bolos and hand tractors for farming purposes. They were shot at for a seemingly eternal thirty minutes. One of the farmers, Richard's brother in law, was hit immediately and died instantly.

"We repeatedly shouted at the Army: "Tama na po! Hindi po kami lalaban! Wala po kaming armas", shared Richard to the Citizens' Congress for Truth and Accountability (CCTA). But the Army had other things in mind.

All in all, five lay dead after the grenade explosions and gunfire ceased. The luckier ones successfully escaped by creeping away from the kamalig.

No effort was immediately made to bring all victims, dead or wounded to the hospital.

Some of the survivors were later hit by rifle butts for making wrong answers to the queries of the Army men. One of those who made repeatedly wrong answers had bloodied eyes due to repeated hits by the Army men's rifle butts.

The repeated question: "Why were you armed?", their repeated answer "No sir, we are not armed."

Richard said that an Army man later brought a sack to the kamalig which yielded World War II vintage carbines, pistols, home-made shotguns and even paltiks. He denied and continued to deny owning or using or even knowing those weapons. (These weapons, observed several media persons, can't be considered as such. They were so old and rusty that no one in his right mind would dare depend his life on them.)

Most probably due to the Army's obvious disinterest to rescue the wounded, two others died on their way to the hospital later. Good for Richard, he was hit by sharpnel only on one of his thighs and three other minor parts of his body. He was able to bring himself and another farmer to the municipal hall. But due to the lack of an ambulance, they were bought on a single improvised motorcycle to Taclocan City for treatment.

Two women were among the total seven casualties: one of them pregnant with child, and another a senior citizen.

Richard also identified those jailed and slapped with rebellion charges as genuine farmers.

This, briefly, is the story of the Palo, Leyte massacre committed by the 19th IBPA which clearly and brutally interfered in yet another land dispute, only a little over a year after the carnage at Hacienda Luisita.

The DLR should be ready to come out, confirm the reality of a land dispute in San Agustin and grant with finality the land ownership certificates to the embattled farmers.

The good mayor of Palo, who has refused to buy the false stories of the Army that Richard was among NPA's they engaged in a gunfight, should help ferret out the truth and more importantly lead the clamor for the removal of the 19th IBPA from his otherwise peaceful area.

All friends and supporters of Filipino farmers should come to the aid of the Palo massacre victims. We should condole with the families of those who perished in this act of military brutality, and help in the rehabilitation of those injured. Let's add our voice in pressuring the DLR in finally granting their just demands. We should also help put up a fund for the multiple counts of murder, frustrated murder, physical injury, false charges (against those illegally detained and charged with trumped up charges) and other cases that the farmers should file. Other land disputes should be decided in the interest of authentic democracy and equity: land to the tillers, democratize the nation's wealth by empowering the landless majority through actual land distribution.

No ceasefire should be necessary to stop the killings of activists who are all civilians, unarmed and non-combatants. It is against the law and a crime against the people of the Philippines to commit murder, especially multiple murder as what happened in the Palo massacre.

Finally, let's put Gloria Macapagal Arroyo accountable for the terrible war she is unleashing on civilians and non-combatants who merely exercise their rights. Mrs. Arroyo should debate and fight activists on the political plane. The military's firepower should be directed at its armed and combatant opponents and no one else.

There is no higher tribute to the massacred farmers of Palo other than continuing their fight for land and life.

Photo credit: Taipei Times and AFP.

Nov 20, 2005


Dateline: Hongkong

In a few weeks, the world focuses its eyes on Hongkong.

The city will host the 6th Ministerial of the dreaded World Trade Organization led by the most rapcious multinational companies and advanced capitalist nations. It is up to the Third World countries and mass movements to make sure the talks collapse, no agreement is made and that the reverse of what the imperialists want would be the thing that should happen.

WTO-led globalization, which many call imperialism, has been the scourge of nations and peoples. The promises in 1994 about the benefits of the WTO and its predecessor (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade have all proven to be false. We have a seemingly permanent trade and budget deficit. We remain an agrarian backwater kept that way by a combination of liberalized agricultural trade and landlordism. Our local manufacturers continue to die at the assault of subsidized and cheaper imports. Unemployment remains up.

For instance, the advanced capitalist countries and MNCs are courting a worldwide tragedy over the impending bird flu pandemic. How can the world survive when the WTO allows one or two pharmaceutical MNCs to control Tamiflu (the anti-bird flu drug) and -- given the persisting poverty of most countries -- make this available only to rich nations? Why can't local drug manufacturers make generic versions of Tamiflu?

On another note, Philippine agriculture is dying due to an acute lack of genuine agrarian reform and the combined assaults of cheap, subsidized surplus farm products from abroad. Ano ba ang laban ng kawawang magsasakang Pilipino?

No one seeks to be a pariah at this time and age. But neither do we want our nation to be Asia's sick man of Asia. What the Philippines needs is a modicum of self-reliance and self-determination. Onerous agreements such as the founding and successive GATT-WTO agreements should be set aside in favor of fair trade that respects the sovereignty and welfare of individual countries and seeks to stop the exploitative attacks of advanced capitalist countries and MNCs.

The International League of Peoples' Struggle is therefore correct and justified in saying: Junk the WTO! Raise the peoples' resistance!

This slogan will reverberate across the world, straight from Hongkong where the ILPS will lead anti-WTO, anti-imperialist protests this December. Hopefully, the evil forces of globalization, capitalism and imperialism would sustain its third terrible loss after Seattle and Cancun.

Nov 19, 2005


Killings continue under Arroyo

Yesterday, another journalist and activist was gunned down, bringing to 67, the number of Bayan Muna leaders murdered under the reign of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Unresolved and continuing murders of activists and journalists are a hallmark of fascist regimes. Fascist regimes should be deposed and punished in order to spare the people from further assaults and for the free exercise of our rights. We owe it to the other fallen activists and journalists and their orphans to make sure they did not die in vain, and that justice be served.

Know more about the case from the following statements from KARAPATAN and the NUJP:


The attacks against progressive, cause-oriented groups in the country are not stopping. In fact, the attacks have become more frequent and vicious.

After the killings of the last week of October (labor union president Ricardo Ramos killed on Oct. 25 in Tarlac; partylist group Bayan Muna [People First] coordinator Ricardo Rivera and his two jogging companions, Dr. David and Mr. Maniti in Pampanga; and, transport organization leader Federico de Leon in Bulacan), another wave of killings is now going on in November aimed at leaders of the partylist group Bayan Muna which the military has been vilifying as communist fronts and recruiters of New People's Army rebels. Bayan Muna emerged as the number one partylist organization elected in the 2004 elections despite the military's active campaign against the group.

On November 7, Bayan Muna Ormoc City coordinator Jose Ducalang was shot at the tricycle terminal in Barangay Ipil, Ormoc City, Leyte Island; he died on Nov. 10 at the hospital. On November 13, former Vice Mayor of Maydolong, Eastern Samar and Bayan Muna Eastern Samar chair Bienvenido Bajado was also gunned down and killed in Maydolong, Eastern Samar.

Today, November 18, 2005 at 11:00 AM, MR. RICARDO "DING" UY, 57 years old, Chairperson of Bayan Muna Sorsogon City, President of the Sorsogon Independent Media, Inc. (SIMRI) and Bgy. Kagawad (Village Council Member of Bgy. Basud) was shot dead inside his rice mill (Soledad Corral Uy Ricemill) located at the national highway, Bgy. Basud, Sorsogon City. Mr. Uy is a known businessman in the city.

Reports said that Mr. Uy was alone inside his ricemill when the perpetrator went inside and shot him at the back. Five shots were heard by a helper who was outside of the ricemill. When the shots rang out, the helper ran to the ricemill to see what happened. The perpetrator leveled his gun at the helper and shot him but there was no bullet anymore, so the perpetrator just left and walked to a motorcycle which was parked near the ricemill. The helper said that the perpetrator was a tall man, with long hair, wearing shades and a hat. Mr. Uy had 5 gunshot wounds; 3 in his body, 1 at the chin and 1in his arm.

Mr. Uy anchored the 5-6 am Monday radio program at DZRS Sorsogon radio named "Kidlat Bareta asin Komentaryo" (News Flash and Commentary which runs at 5-6 am Monday to Saturday; Mr. Uy anchors the Mondayslot). He was a hard-hitting critic of the militarization of the towns of Sorsogon and other policies of the government which he considered anti-poor.

Since last year, the military has been vilifying Mr Uy over the military's own radio program titled, "Ugnayan sa Kapayapaan," (Linking for Peace) at DZMS, another radio station, as a communist supporter and recruiter of the NPA. Mr. Uy was even included in the military's leaflets and propaganda materials being distributed in the city demonizing him as a communist supporter. A shadowy group by the name of Kilusan Kontra Terorista (KKT) is signed in the leaflets and statements.

Before his killing, Mr. Uy has been the subject of verbal attacks of the military in their radio program at DZMS for three consecutive Saturdays (the Philippine Army's program runs at 12:30-1:00 PM every Saturday).

Mr. Uy was a very active supporter of KARAPATAN, always participating in the fact-finding missions the human rights group conducted in the province.


Marie Hilao-Enriquez
Secretary General
(Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples' Rights)



The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines expresses its outrage over the killing of radio announcer Ricardo "Ding" Uy of DZRS-AM in Sorsogon City on Friday morning.

"Whatever the motive of Uy's killing, we condemn it as dastardly act against a citizen, a member of media and against press freedom," said Jose Torres Jr., chairman of NUJP's Commission for the Protection of Journalists.

Initial reports received by NUJP said a lone gunman shot Uy outside his house in Sorsogon.

Police reports said a lone assailant shot Uy five times using a .45-caliber pistol around 11 a.m. Friday. The assailant fled on board a motorcycle.

Uy sustained gunshot wounds to the head, mouth and torso.

Reports said Uy was president of the Media Reporters Association of the province and was party-list Bayan Muna provincial coordinator for Sorsogon.

Uy's death brought to seven the number of journalists killed in the Philippines this year.

"Uy's killing only added to the culture of violence towards journalists in the country even as President Arroyo claimed that cases of media killings have been solved," Torres said.

"The pattern of violence against media practitioners emerging in the country is not acceptable. The Arroyo administration should take a stand for press freedom and seriously solve the killings of journalists," Torres said.

"The NUJP strongly condemns the murder of Uy as an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression and called on authorities to immediately investigate the incident," Torres added.

"Filipino journalists are at great risk despite government claims of upholding press freedom," Torres added.

The Philippines has been declared second only to Iraq, a war-torn nation, as the most deadly place for journalists to work, coming second on the IFJ's 2004 journalists and media workers killed list.

Jose Torres
Chairman, Committee to Protect Journalists

Nov 18, 2005


GMA's cops beat students on Int'l. Students Day

The National Union of Students of the Philippines and the League of Filipino Students marked International Students Day yesterday with a peaceful march to Mendiola Bridge.

As per the policy of Mrs. Arroyo to ban demonstrations, the police responded with yet another forcible dispersal, beatings and arbitrary arrests and detention of the student marchers.

For students who joined the rally and the public who saw the police brutality, it was yet another "live" lesson in Arroyo civics which in the academe could best be referred as fascism.

Photos of the dastardly acts against Filipino students have found their way in foreign newspapers, showing the world the beastly treatment accorded by the Arroyo government of people who are merely exercising their rights and liberties.

Prior to the Arroyo policy, any group could freely hold marches and rallies at Mendiola Bridge, a bridge leading to the presidential palace. Years ago, a big statue of street parliamentarian and newspaper publisher Chino Roces was installed at the foot of the bridge to highlight the area's historic role as the venue of street protests against government.

Nov 11, 2005


GMA's war on media

Grabe talaga itong si GMA. Hanep sa katalinuhan at kakapalan ng pagmumukha.

Unable to wiggle her way out of the crisis of being caught lying, stealing and cheating, she now portrays the situation as, albeit partly, a handiwork of media. She has blamed media for the woes of the country and claims that the press has only allowed itself to be used by vested interests.

Hahaha! As if the nation would believe her.

The media may have its own faults, but these are generally small compared to the colossal crimes of the Arroyo administration. If there's anyone abusive and a willing tool of vested interests, it is Mrs. Arroyo and she has done and shown it big time. Since 2001, there has been an endless stream of bad news materials emanating from the presidential palace and from Mrs. Arroyo's own sometimes foul and often arrogant mouth.

GMA thinks so highly of herself, she supposes that her administration could surpass the fascism and intolerance of Ferdinand Marcos and post-Marcos regimes. She's in for a surprise because I am sure the press and the people will not take her assaults sitting down.

Pinapahirapan na nga tayo, pagbabawalan pa magsalita? Kapal.

(Photo courtesy of CNN and AP.)

Nov 6, 2005


This is just a test

Yes, I'm just retesting the uBlog software on my Treo 600.

Nov 5, 2005


Text revolution

Something's amiss in the post-meeting discussions among Mobileactivists. There has been too much focus on technologies but the human aspect of mobile activism has yet to be touched. This could be a fatal error of omission.

Millions already have cellphones or use texting but the New World Disorder of US imperialism still holds sway. Dubya is still in power. Here in the Philippines, the murderous US puppet Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has all her tentacles locked around the presidency. Somewhere in the States, rightwing extremists prevent droves of highly-probable new leftwing voters from registering under all sorts of pretext. Meanwhile, in so-called developing countries kept poor by onerous arrangements with developed countries, the poor majorities contend with high prices of basic goods, a lack of control on strategic industries and gargantuan obligations to such modern-day hoodlums called the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. In most parts of the world, the malignant forces of injustice and oppression remain supreme. These forces remain a power to reckon with inspite of the internet and all tools of technology.

The overriding imperative is not to champion technology but to champion the people's welfare. As activists and dreamers of a better world, we should exert all possible efforts to organize or reorganize, revitalize and propel, expand and further enlarge the mass movements of our countries' peoples. We should aim for higher political awareness, explaining to the various existing organizations the need for a cultural revolution, a revolution in outlook. We should champion the progressive views on issues in order to expose the lies of Bush and all the leaders of the sinking New World Disorder. We should bravely organize people -- be it along the lines of class, racial, regional, linguistic, gender, age. The more organizations, the better because there is nothing better than people organized for common purposes. There is no better way to foist an alternative to the status quo than for the people to learn how to set up and maintain their own organizations and set these groups' objectives and directions, map out plans and engage in battles. Multiplied many times over, this would be People Power of dimensions we could only dream of today: People Power that could unseat treacherous and lecherous and incompetent leaders. Eventually, the stronger the movements, the stronger the impact on society. Didn't the social movements of the past successfully capture government power and consequently institutionalized People Power as the means and end to governance?

For mobile activism to happen and to be effective, it should lean on, depend on, develop, promote and revitalize the mass movements in all our countries. Without a mass movement, we would all be hard put starting national or international mobile activist campaigns. Without a mass movement, we would be nothing.

The Philippine experiences in People Power 2 and the succeeding battles against Mrs. Arroyo have tught TXTPower that it cannot separate itself nor arrogantly foist itself on bigger and more powerful (and ultimately, more important) mass movements of workers, farmers, women, youth and the urban poor. These movements have the membership, have the campaigns and organizations, have the dynamism and have all it takes to seize texting and other technological tools and make them tools to amplify the Filipino people's voice. We could not have succeeded in the Hello Garci ringtone campaign without the initial support of the various organizations under the banner of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance) and the Gloria Step Down Movement. In fact, the majority of TXTPower convenors come from the many groups that compose these alliances.

Mass movements would also be in the best position to provide inputs to tech experts on the feasibility and other factors regarding the use of mobileactive tools for campaigns and organizations. They could provide ready feedback.

Actually, Philippine activist organizations have long used cellphones for their internal and campaign purposes. Internally, activists have long used cellphones to quickly and cheaply coordinate nationwide mass actions, keep contact lines open among chapters spread around 7,107 islands, mount so-called lightning rallies in sensitive government buildings, etc. Externally and in relation to the public, these same organizations have been able to create databases of friends, allies and contacts in media, communities, offices, factories, the churches, the military and police, the executive, judicial and legislative departments. Such databases have made it easy to contact friends and allies on particular issues or a range of issues, and thus enabling more people to join campaigns. These have been done even prior to the birth of TXTPower and at least two years before the "texting masses" marshalled millions in Manila and across the Philippines for People Power 2 in 2001.

Websites meanwhile have provided mass movements in the Philippines a window where they could reach Philippine media, the influential middle class and the international community. Of late, activist groups have ensured that their websites are always up and running, with fresh and engaging content, with many photos and some videos and with the necessary contact information a visitor may need.

Even the mobileactive model in the Democratic Republic of Congo would have failed soon enough had it not for strong organizations of community people across that country backing the noble endeavor.

Mobileactive should help form, develop, revitalize, expand, multiply mass movements. For without mass movements of people, we would lack our audience, our users, our own champions. Too much focus on technology and less on the people we ought to serve would be to the interest our common Enemy that is US imperialism and its partners wherever we may live. We might be shoved up to ivory towers and leave the people alone and without such powerful tools like cellphones and texting.

Nov 1, 2005


Heroes and martyrs

Let's never forget to honor our many heroes and martyrs who have died blazing the trail towards national freedom and democracy.

They are the many stars that inspire us to carry on the noble fight for our people's welfare against the most malignant enemies that continue to frustrate our quest for meaningful change.

Offering one's life to country and people is the highest sacrifice. Our heroes and martyrs who made such sacrifice likewise deserve the highest tribute by way of unrelenting struggle.

I know some of these finest children of the people: Bambi Santos, Beng Hernandez, Eden Marcellana. They are personal friends-turned-paragons of virtue for every Filipino.

Across the nation, we have many orphaned kin of countless others. The entire nation, in fact, is orphaned yet awed by the passing of these many outstanding citizens.

Today, when the rulers proclaim apathy and cynicism as the virtues of choice amid official thievery, cheating and repression, the collective memory of our heroes and martyrs inspire us to think and act in a great and grand manner befitting the very people to whom they offered their supreme sacrifice.

True, our personal and family interests are always important. But as long as the most backward forces prevent the entire nation from attaining progress with jobs and justice, food and freedom, our individual drive for survival would ultimately fail.

Our heroes and martyrs teach us that more important than three square meals, a house, a career, or material wealth is how the nation could first secure its national freedom from alien and local fetters. After having secured that freedom, the nation would be able to ensure our individual and collective welfare.

May the memory of our heroes and martyrs not be drowned by the lies and deceit of today's rulers. May our people cherish them as to ensure their sacrifices do not end in vain.

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