Dec 25, 2005
Makabuluhang Pasko sa inyong lahat
May Christmas continue to inspire and renew our faith in ourselves as a people so that we could all work for the birth of a new Philippines that is peaceful, free, just and prosperous.
All foes of progress seek to consign Christmas to commodification, selfishness and cynicism because they fear the people would realize the powerful images and messages of the season.
Our best wishes may not be just that -- wishes -- if we take hold of the images and messages of Christmas. Peace, freedom, justice and prosperity are attainable goals of any people. Sans corruption and sans the stumbling blocks called "compradors and landlords", we would attain these long sought after "gifts" and bring hope to the nation and the world.
I am especially addressing this to the Filipino youth. The future belongs to us. Let us not allow the most malignant forces in society to hijack the future and to tell us that nothing could be done to improve the situation. A new one should replace the corrupt, rotten and putrid social order. Let Christmas be an occasion to refresh our beliefs in just social change, in bringing change in every fabric of society, and in waging revolution against this old system.
Dec 23, 2005
TXTPower brings gospel of mobile activism to Hong Kong's anti-WTO protests
Nineteen souls gathered for the meeting, coming from Africa, North America and Asia. The meeting focused more on sharing the telecommunications situation on our respective countries and the challenges facing the individuals and movements using mobile technology for social activism.
Those coming from South countries bewailed the stranglehold of multinational monopolies, high prices of handsets and services, and government actions that seek to restrain free and unhampered use of cellular phones.
In Kenya, a basic handset costs US$400 -- so much for the so-called cheap handset program of the worldwide GSM Association that claims to be gunning for a less than US$100 handsets for Third World markets. The Kenyans likewise had to contend with limited cellular service coverage. Many would actually have to go up a hill to get a signal and thereby make or receive a call or a text message.
Indonesians meanwhile now have to face mandatory registration of SIM cards. The Indonesian participant in the meeting said that the new policy may be aimed to identifying the sources of anti-government messages and to track down the activists themselves.
The coordinator of TXTPower-Hong Kong (yes, we do have a chapter there!) shared that most Filipino migrant workers in the former British colony maintain two mobile phones. One would have a Philippine SIM card which would enable their loved ones and friends in the Philippines to send them text messages for just P1.00 a pop. The other phone would have a SIM card from any of the Hong Kong cellular service providers which they use among themselves and for cheap local and international calls.
This was the same tactic some TXTPower convenors and friends from the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) used as soon as we arrived in Hong Kong. We had our Philippine SIM cards on roaming and obtained either Sunday or CSL SIM cards.
The American participant expressed surprise about the sophisticated use of mobile telephony for activist purposes. He said that he will talk to his friends in California on how to integrate mobile phones and texting as media for organizing and mobilization. Meanwhile, a participant from Indymedia-Vancouver but has since been based in Sydney remarked that the reason why mobile phones may not be often used for activist ends in big countries could be the fact that computers, landlines and internet are widely available in those places and have been the standard media for activists.
We expected to see two friends from Bangladesh who come from a group that most resembles TXTPower but the whole Bangladeshi contingent went marching towards the WTO convention center at about the same time the meeting started. Good thing that they left their contact details with us.
The information we gathered and shared among ourselves during the meeting confirmed yet again the two-tiered struggle of activists vis-a-vis mobile telephony. First, the fight for consumer rights and welfare vis-a-vis pricing and monopolies; and second, the struggle to freely use mobile phones without state intrusions through attacks on privacy and on free speech especially in under the backdrop of the US-led war of terrorism.
The meeting's outcome was positive. There's a unity to maintain and expand contacts, create a mailing list and help one another prepare for a MobileActive Afro-Asia meeting in Manila sometime next year.
(On behalf of TXTPower convenors, we wish to thank the following: Agham [Science], the Computer Professionals Union and the Kabataan [Youth] Party List; the Kalikasan [Environment] People's Network for the Environment and the Center for Environmental Concerns; Bayan and the ILPS; MobileActive and Aspiration Tech; and all those who helped make the meeting possible.)
Walden Bello, the FGS and their cohorts show true anti-Red color again in HK
Araullo had flatly denied saying anything bad about the Korean farmer-protesters -- something that is seemingly lost in the minds of Bello and his cohorts in the FGS and beyond.
In fact, on the same night the Koreans were surrounded by police and anti-terrorist troops somewhere in Wanchai, members of Bayan and the ILPS tried their best to march to where the besieged protesters were holed up and sought to give food and drinks.
The following morning, the ILPS led a snake rally around Victoria Park that denounced the arbitrary arrests and violence of the Hong Kong government.
In the final rally at Victoria Park, Araullo's speech about Korean militancy was welcomed by loud applause from the various organizations then preparing to march to the Wanchai convention center. When the march started, Araullo represented Bayan and the ILPS in the frontlines where she was warmly received by the leaders of the Hong Kong People's Alliance (HKPA).
The acts and words of solidarity of Araullo, Bayan and the ILPS were shared by the Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific, the Women's Village, the Asian Peasant Coalition, the Asian Students Association, Peace for Life and most of the groups that mobilized under the banner and upon invitation of the HKPA.
Of course, Bello, the FGS and their cohorts would not mention anything about these. They would just focus on their pasttime: maligning Bayan, the ILPS and Filipino activists belonging to the national-democratic movement.
Neither will these anti-Bayan, anti-ILPS elemets admit the fact that they were the ones who twice violated the unities forged within the HKPA: That all groups assemble on Dec. 13 and on Dec. 18 at 11:00 am at the Victoria Park main rally stage. Bello, the FGS and their cohorts instead staged their own rally to the main HKPA rally and only joined the HKPA immediately prior to the start of the march.
Bello, the FGS and their cohorts should apologize to the HKPA and its participating organizations for arrogantly staging their own rallies that sought to steal the thunder from the HKPA rally. I have not heard of such news from the HKPA circles. Perhaps, Bello, the FGS and their cohorts feel that they are the overlords of the anti-globalization movement.
While Bello, the FGS and their cohorts were quick to the draw in discrediting Araullo, Bayan and the ILPS based on a misquoted interview, there was only an eerie silence when Araullo and two other Bayan/ILPS activists were harassed and detained by the Hong Kong immigration authorities upon their arrival at the airport. Bello, the FGS and their cohorts did not issue even a one-sentence statement when peasant leader Danilo Ramos also suffered the same fate upon arriving from Manila.
I just wish that our friends within the Our World Is Not For Sale network would not fall for the false and malicious charges hurled by Bello, the FGS and their cohorts against Araullo, Bayan and the ILPS. The real enemy is inside and behind the WTO: US imperialism.
Photo courtesy of Arkibong Bayan
Dec 20, 2005
Postscript to the Hong Kong anti-WTO protests
Filipinos marched and demonstrated at least twice a day. In most of the rallies, I helped the ILPS and Bayan marshalls in leading the shouting of slogans like "Da Dou Sai Mou!", "Junk junk WTO!", "US imperialists, No 1 terrorist" which caught on among other groups mobilizing in the city. All along, I was just wearing a sweater and a jacket, and had no hat or cap to protect my face. I simply had the wrong thoughts that the cold December air in Hong Kong would blunt the heat of the sun.
Long live the militant Koreans
Filipino activists could learn a lot from Korean farmers and workers who were at the apex of anti-WTO militancy.
First, they came to Hong Kong truly prepared to protest. They had hats and headbands, armbands and body placards, flags and streamers. They really looked like rallyists.
Second, when the Koreans went to the streets to rally, they were serious about it. They did not do idle chatter. They followed their obviously pre-agreed conduct of activities. Once, they just had to march all around Hong Kong, walking and then bowing to the ground in perfect cadence to the shouts of "Down down WTO!".
Third, they showed how militancy could target government infrastructure and police personnel and not damage even an inch of private property. Yes, the Koreans fought hard and waged battle to dramatize the worldwide opposition to the WTO. They snatched pepper spray canisters, shields, truncheons, portable fire extinguishers and used all of them against the brutal Hong Kong police.
Fourth, the vivid videos of the Koreans fighting the police inspire people the world over about how we could destroy the so-called "peace" of those who unjustly govern us. Elder Korean women and Korean youth were seen in the frontlines seemingly battling to their death, ignoring the sting of being hit either by police truncheons and pepper spray. Only a handful sustained injuries and had to be hospitalized.
The ILPS banner waves and dances across Hong Kong
Compared with the most militant Koreans, the Philippines-based activists belonging to the ILPS staged militant and rather peaceful protests.
On Friday, five ILPS members donned masks bearing the stars and stripes of the US flag. They led about 50 others in a march where "imperialism" was pinpointed as th culprit behind the WTO. At Victoria park where the march started, and at the gates of the convention center where the protest ended, the ILPS activists used their bodies to spell out the words "Junk WTO".
On the same day, members of the Asian Peasant Coalition burned a US flag at the end of its march.
On Saturday, about 150 members of the ILPS, along with friends from Japan (from the Asia-Wide Campaign), Belgium, Taiwan and other countries, participated in a colorful flag-dancing, flag-waving march that drew crowds along the route. Aimed to project Philippine participation in the protests, the ILPS and Bayan led the marchers in shouting standard Filipino slogans that alternated with anti-WTO chants. It never failed to attract Filipinos working there to paused and wave at their marching compatriots. In this same rally, three ILPS members wore Chinese devil masks labelled "IMF", "WB" and "WTO". The three were making hand movements at cultural activists playing the role of the people. The tableau wanted to signify imperialist plunder and war being pushed and abetted by the three leading imperialist agencies.
Of course, the women's groups held their own march. Nobel Prize nominee Irene Fernandez led the women-marchers from across Asia even if she was on a wheelchair. That she was undeterred by the anti-riot police blocking her at the frontlines only agitated the women activists even more.
On Sunday, thousands of Filipino migrant workers joined the final rally and march led by the Hong Kong People's Alliance. True to form, the ILPS brought as its centerpiece visual a rather huge effigy bearing the face of an eagle and its body in the form of a US flag emblazoned with the words "US imperialist, No. 1 terrorist". Flames engulfed this same effigyat the end of the HKPA rally.
The Hong Kong protests provided the ILPS a good chance to project itself as an international anti-imperialist campaign center. It attracted a wide array of political groups and movements tio march under or beside its banner. More importantly, the ILPS successfuly brought to the world stage its view that the WTO is a mere instrument of imperialist powers, and that ultimate it is imperialism, led by the US, which the world's peoples should slay in order to restore/attain sanity, freedom, justice and democracy across the world.
(Photo courtesy of BBC and AP)
Dec 10, 2005
Hodge-podge: Human rights day, stupid generals and Garci
Make Mrs. Arroyo pay for her many crimes against civil liberties and human rights: the Calibrated Preemptive Response, Executive Order 464, the Fertilizer Fund scam that victimized yet again the Marcos human rights victims by way of raiding the recovered loot of the late dictator, among others.
Many activists and revolutionaries still languish in jail. They were slapped with criminal cases instead of rebellion. These are the political prisoners really. The government jails its worst opponents and accuses them of being mere criminals. Add to these our Moro brothers and sisters who have since been victimized in greater numbers by arbitrary arrest and detention just because they have Arabic names especially at this time of the US-led war of terror.
Our heroes and martyrs didn’t make supreme sacrifices just so Mrs. Arroyo could destroy the Bill of Rights in her selfish drive to keep herself in power. Let’s make GMA take back her CPR, the EO 464 and the draconian Anti-Terrorism Bill.
All in all, these three constitute terrorism for they murder in a wholesale manner the most important civil, political and human rights that we deserve to enjoy.
The head of the Nolcom is such a coward. If he really has the goods against Bayan Muna Satur C. Ocampo regarding his absurd claims that the activist solon was behind the financing of bombing operations and, lately, the execution of a soldier somewhere in Central Luzon, why don’t he take Ka Satur to court.
It seems the Nolcom chief is interested only in a propaganda blitz to demonize Ka Satur and Bayan Muna.
Worse than this top Nolcom official is someone surnamed Cuerpo in Davao City. This military man has been blabbering away at Bayan Muna solons and even came out with a statement urging Congress to expel its three activist congressmen.
This Cuerpo is a lunatic. Can’t he still not believe that Bayan Muna topped the 2001 and 2004 partylist elections inspite of anti-communist propaganda and military campaign work against it?
Virgilio Garcillano said a mouthful starting when he resurfaced via a really professional-looking PR blitz.
No one believed that his appearances were not scripted. That’s because we are not as stupid as his principal and handlers would like to delude themselves into thinking.
Garci in Congress was an altogether different story. He was arrogant and refused to answer questions. He didn’t care that the nation was waiting for the whole story and the whole truth five months after he hid himself like a pugante.
Also at Congress, Garci would have saved tens of thousands of pesos in lawyers’ fees had he come alone.
The pro-Arroyo members were only too happy to act as his battery of lawyers. The shameless solons were more defensive of Garci than Garci himself.
It was like the marathon impeachment vote one again. The solons did a good job – protecting Garci and his principal Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Joke of the day: If the First Gentleman would don boxing gloves and join the support, what would be his nick name? What else but MONEY PAKYAW!
Dec 2, 2005
"New Politics" and Bayan Muna
Bayan Muna propagated this program in the 2001 and 2004 partylist polls. The party won overwhelmingly and convincingly in both contests - inspite of losing members and leaders to death squads, and despite anti-communist hysterics.
The phrase "New Politics, the Politics of Change" best encapsulizes the content and intent of the Bayan Muna program which I am putting out here in full:
We have pursued this program through the bills, resolutions and campaigns pursued through partylist representatives and the party headquarters and chapters. Sadly, the bigger and more powerful political forces (including rabid anti-communists) refuse to accept or support measures such as wage hikes, price controls, the continuation of the peace process and the like - measures Bayan Muna have long wished to be implemented in order to bring a reprieve to oppressed Filipinos.
• To establish a democratic, nationalist and popular government by empowering the people, ensuring their representation and participation in all levels of government decision-making.
• To assert national sovereignty and independence and protect the national patrimony from foreign domination and control.
• To promote a self-reliant and sustainable socio-economic development through the integrated programs of genuine land reform, national industrialization and protection of the environment
• To uphold and defend the people’s basic human rights and freedoms and ensure justice for all victims of human rights violations.
• To improve the social and economic welfare of workers, peasants and other marginalized sectors by providing a comprehensive and progressive program in basic social services and livelihood.
• To promote a national culture that is progressive, patriotic, scientific and popular and develop research and development in science and technology.
• To guarantee the right to self-determination of the Bangsa Moro, Cordillera and other indigenous peoples and ensure their participation in all matters that directly affect them.
• To remove all forms of gender oppression and discrimination against women and promote their full involvement in national affairs and other fields of endeavor.
• To advance a national comprehensive policy on peace negotiations to address decisively the root causes of the prolonged armed conflict that has historically beset our country.
• To foster a just policy of international relations that is independent, peace-oriented and mutually beneficial to our integrity, security and prosperity as a nation.
We challenge Bayan Muna detractors to debate us on the basis of this general program.
Dec 1, 2005
The banner "Erap acceptable to Left" is wrong
[Background: Ka Satur, himself a Manila Times veteran of 10 years prior to his joining the underground anti-Marcos resistance, accepted an invitation from the newspaper's current publisher for a roundtable discussion with editors and reporters. After two postponements due to the continuing spate of political killings, the encounter finally happened. Which resulted in the controversial and flatly wrong banner story.]For all and sundry, here is Ka Satur's clear, self-explanatory reaction to the Manila Times story:
Bayan Muna is for Transition Council,not Estrada restoration
By Rep. Satur C. Ocampo
Partylist Representative and Party President
I categorically deny ever supporting an Estrada restoration as an alternative to the illegitimate Arroyo presidency. Bayan Muna and its allied parties (Anakpawis, Gabriela, Anak ng Bayan, Migrante and Suara Bangsamoro) are united in the proposal for a Transition Council to take over in the event that Arroyo is removed from Malacañang.While we fully respect The Manila Times and its editorial prerogatives, methinks (and our media friends would most probably support me on this) that Bayan Muna and the Left in general have been clear and consistent in proposing a Transition Council as replacement to Arroyo.
I issue this clarification in the light of misinterpretations of my remarks in a roundtable discussion with Manila Times editors and reporters. What I said as there is no doubt that among the major political forces, the Estradas still command a strong following. And that our experience in joint activities, the Estrada forces have beendelivering on their commitments.
What Bayan Muna has clearly proposed is for the anti-Arroyo movement and the various sectors to first forge a consensus on a program of reform and the process of forming the Transition Council. The Transition Council shall pave the way for credible elections and implement "doable" socioeconomic and political reforms in six months to one year.
All the significant anti-Arroyo forces that commit to pursue the program for reforms would have a role in the Transition Council. Bayan Muna is in no position to stop any significant anti-Arroyo political force from joining such a council.
For Bayan Muna and our allied parties, what is important is to ensure that workers, farmers, the youth, women and other basic sectors and middle forces be adequately represented in the council. [end]
I could now imagine new "commentary" pieces from the usual cast of characters, mostly unrepentant apologists of our rotten system and professional anti-communists who relish and have this avowed commitment to mislead the public with their McCarthyist diatribes. Expect them to churn out the most unfair and one-sided reactions with nary an effort to seek out Ka Satur or to check the veracity of the story they are commenting on. They don't care if they got the facts right. They just want to hit the Left black and blue, to the merriment of the terrorist thugs who have been having their own field day badmouthing and killing activists.
This is to differentiate the reactions of those who have known Ka Satur personally or as an activist leader, those who have supported and continue to support the Left, and our many allies and friends across many issues. Their reactions may range from shock and awe to being downright pissed off but we are sure that they would be open to clarifications or would seek out Ka Satur or the Bayan Muna for the complete story. There is no hate (as in murder-inducing, massacre-fomenting hate a la Gloria, Raul and Norberto) involved in their reactions.
More info on the Transition Council:
Bayan Muna flyer (PDF file)
Let's give Transition Council, not GMA, a chance (Ka Satur)
Transition Council (Bayan chair Dr. Carol Pagaduan Araullo)
Transition Council, best replacement (Ka Satur)
No regret over people power (Ka Satur)
People Power and the Transition Council as Alternative (Gloria Step Down Movement)
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