Archive | September, 2012

“Do people really have a choice?” Parties challenged to bare platforms

Posted on 30 September 2012 by admin

News Release

September 30, 2012

Candidates from two major coalitions. Photo from

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today lamented that voters may not have any real choice or alternatives between the two major coalitions vying for national positions in the upcoming 2013 elections.

“Right now it appears to be more about personality rather than platform. Name-recall rather than issues. The Filipino people deserve better but it seems they will be getting more of the same from the two major coalitions. It reflects the state of Philippine politics today,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“We challenge these coalitions and parties who are claiming to be different from each other to lay bare their stand on pressing national concerns such as human rights, land reform, wage hike, tuition increases, privatization of health services and the cybercrime law. Candidates should be judged by their position on issues, and not just by their last names,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that the two major coalitions will not provide a counter-force and alternative to the Aquino administration and its policies because both have declared unqualified support for Aquino and his policies.

“There does not appear to be any true opposition among the traditional political parties. With politics-is- addition as the only principle that apparently matters, we see strange bedfellows aligning within these parties and coalitions,” Reyes said.

The group also called on different independent candidates, including those considered “guests” of the two coalitions, to raise a critical voice on people’s issues. “Somebody has to speak up on the issues that the Aquino administration has failed to address. If everybody tows the Palace line, then we can say that these groups may not be different from each other after all. It may boil down to a choice between which faction of the ruling elite will add to our woes for another six years ,” Reyes said.

“For example, do we expect the ruling LP and its coalition to speak up against the MRT fare hike, especially when it was pushed by party president Mar Roxas and will be implemented by party secretary general Jun Abaya who now heads the DOTC?” Reyes asked.

“Will UNA take a stand on land reform when it has Tingting Cojuangco of Hacienda Luisita on its slate? We can also ask the same of the LP coalition, ” he added. ###

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Bayan adds voice to protests vs cybercrime law

Posted on 27 September 2012 by admin

News Release
September 28, 2012

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has called on its member organizations to join the fight against the Cybercrime Prevention Act, saying that the new law signed by President Benigno Aquino III will violate the people’s constitutional rights. Posted on Bayan’s website was the group’s expression of support for free speech on the internet.

The group is also supporting a “day of action by netizens and citizens” on October 2, during the en banc session of the Supreme Court.

“The new cybercrime law reeks with potential violations of our constitutional rights including our right to privacy and right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The government will now have tremendous powers, including the collection of real-time traffic data based simply on ‘due cause’, search warrants based on ‘reasonable grounds’ and not probably cause, the blocking of access to websites and the forcible taking down of websites among others,” said Bayan secretary general.

The group said that the law was an assault on the constitutionally guaranteed right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.

“Imagine that the computer is your virtual “house, paper and effects” and contains all your private activities. Through this law, government can check in on your house and your activities, conduct searches based on ‘reasonable grounds’ (Sec.12), monitor your traffic data based on ‘due cause’ (Sec.12) and then take away your house or prevent you from accessing your own home (Sec.19),” Reyes added.

Bayan also finds worrisome the provisions of the law criminalizing online libel with a heavier penalty, calling it a regression in terms of protecting free speech on the internet.

“With admissions coming from lawmakers that the law is flawed, we are confident that the people’s opposition will succeed. We urge the Supreme Court to give due course to all the petitions filed and will be filed against the draconian cybercrime law,” Reyes said.

The group also assailed a seemingly-catch all provision in Section 6 of the law which states that “All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be”.

“Will we now have offenses such as inciting to sedition with the aid of a computer? Or rebellion committed via the internet? The potential for harassment suits against government critics is so huge under this law,” Reyes said. ###

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Cybercrime law violates our constitutional rights!

Posted on 27 September 2012 by admin

On the failure of the SC to issue a TRO vs. Cybercrime Law

Fight the Aquino regime’s Cybercrime Law! Defend our rights! Uphold free speech on the internet!

BAYAN et al file petition vs Cybercrime Law

Bayan adds voice to protests vs cybercrime law

Sign petition

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Bayan asks Makati LGU, national gov’t to stop Guatemala demolition

Posted on 24 September 2012 by admin

News release
September 24, 2012

Multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today asked Makati City mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. to immediately stop the forcible eviction of urban poor residents along Guatemala St. in the city’s Barangay San Isidro. Bayan called on Mayor Binay to honor the earlier commitment of the city government that it will not resort to violent demolition and instead engage the residents in peaceful dialogue.

The group stressed that since no private interest is involved in the issue, it should be easier for the local government to reconsider its planned demolition based on humanitarian grounds and respect for the basic human right to shelter and livelihood of the residents. It also said that Malacañang and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should intervene and halt the demolition.

“Especially since the property in question is public, it should be uncomplicated for Mayor Binay and the national government to uphold the bigger public interest, in this case the people’s basic right to shelter and livelihood, than the plan of the city government to build a multi-purpose hall and basketball court,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said.

Bayan argued that the people have the right to resist the demolition despite the supposed relocation offers by city officials, especially given the grim track record of government relocation programs that are often hampered by the lack of basic services and sustainable sources of income.

“It defies reason and justice that the city government insists on evicting the residents when the affected families have repeatedly rejected the relocation proposals and financial assistance offered to them. The residents are not simply importunate; it only means that they find the options made available to them unacceptable. For instance, the main source of livelihood of many of the affected residents is vending. Did the city government offer them an alternative source of income in the relocation site?” asked Reyes.

Bayan said that the urban poor have been forced to migrate to the cities due to the absence of livelihood opportunities in the provinces. “Forcing them to leave through violence is a further injustice,” Reyes said. ###

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Martial Law anniversary: 40 years and still no justice

Posted on 21 September 2012 by admin

News Release

September 21, 2012

They haven’t stopped fighting after forty years.

Activists from the 70’s and 80’s joined cause-oriented groups Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Karapatan today in a march to the historic Mendiola bridge to mark the  40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. At the forefront of the march were human rights victims from the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship. They were joined by a younger generation of activists from different organizations.

“Today we say, ‘Never again’! But in the same breath, we demand justice for all rights victims then and now. Martial Law should never be forgotten. Its bitter lessons and the heroic struggle of the people to overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship should be told to future generations,” said Bayan chair Carol Araullo who was also arrested and detained during the Martial Law years.

“One of reasons for remembering is to recall the unfinished struggle and unfulfilled aspirations of the people. We decry the failure of all post-Marcos regimes, from the first Aquino regime to the current regime of Benigno Aquino III, to render justice for the victims of Martial Law. That is forty years without justice. Even the indemnification bill is still pending in Congress. Noynoy Aquino has not shown any keen interest in achieving justice for the thousands of victims of the dictatorship,” Araullo added.

Bayan was founded in 1985 at the height of the struggle to topple the US-Marcos regime. Its first chair was Senator Lorenzo Tanada, Jr and its secretary general was Lean Alejandro whose 25th death anniversary was observed last September 19.
“We offer our September 21 march to the memory of all martyrs who fought for genuine freedom and democracy. We dedicate our march to Lean, the recently departed people’s lawyer Atty. Romeo Capulong and to all fighters for national and social liberation. We continue to be inspired by their courage,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes , who was born three years after the declaration of Martial Law.

Vestiges of martial rule

“There are those in government who say that it is pointless to compare Martial Law and the present. But some of the vestiges of martial rule can be seen today. We have more than 350 political prisoners in jails all over the country. We still have extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. And we now have  a law that makes restrictions on freedom of expression over the internet,” Reyes added.

“An activist in a remote town in San Jorge, Samar was picked up by the military because he looked different, did not speak the language and seemed out of place. This is not 1972. This is 2011. Political prisoners like Ericson Acosta remain in jail today because of their political beliefs, even as the government denies their existence,” Reyes said.  ###

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Palace should address Trillanes allegations vs DFA

Posted on 20 September 2012 by admin

News Release

September 20, 2012

The recent clash between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV show that Malacanang may not have been truthful to the public on the issue of China.

Enrile’s tirade against Trillanes, based on alleged notes from Philippine ambassador to China Sonia Brady, revealed differences between Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario and Trillanes who was supposedly named by Aquino as a special envoy for backchannel talks with China. The differences stemmed from how the Philippines should handle the tension at Panatag Shoal.

Bayan said that it found most disturbing Trillanes claim that DFA secretary del Rosario wanted to involved the United States in the dispute with China, a move which would certainly escalate tensions.

“There is a lot more here than meets the eye. On one hand you have Malacanang talking tough on China but intent on involving a third party, the US, in the dispute. On the other hand, Malacanang admits dispatching a backchannel negotiator to China to smoothen relations. Trillanes’ allegations versus the DFA should be looked into, regardless of what happens to the tiff between the neophyte senator and the Senate President,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Trillanes should disclose why he thinks del Rosario is trying to bring the United States into the dispute What is his basis for saying so? And if so, was del Rosario acting on orders from someone else? We have always believed that the involvement of the US and their plans to set up military facilities in the Philippines continue to complicate the dispute with China,” Reyes added.

“And if the Philippine president knew of Trillanes’ allegations against del Rosario, what did the President do? Or was this matter covered up again ala-DILG?”  he added.

Bayan also asked how much of Philippine foreign policy is actually influenced by vested business interests. For example, Del Rosario has been accused of acting on behalf of businessman Manny Pangilinan who controls Forum Energy, the consortium that owns the exploratory rights to  the Recto Bank off Palawan, which is believed may have the country’s largest gas reserves and part of the territory claimed by China.

Del Rosario is being accused of using the dispute with China as a leverage to cut a favorable deal with state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC). Del Rosario used to sit on the board of Philex Mining and Forum Energy before his stint at the DFA.

“It is interesting that the name of businessman Manny Pangilinan has been mentioned in relation to the dispute. Also interesting are allegations by Trillanes, based on Brady’s notes, that Pangilinan paid a lobby group during the historic ‘two plus two’ meeting between the US and Philippines in Washington this year. How much of our foreign policy is influenced by these big business interests? These business interests are certainly not synonymous to national interests,” Reyes said. ###

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Posted on 19 September 2012 by admin

September 18, 2012 ML@40: Never again to Martial Law! Tuloy ang laban para sa katarungan!

78 Photos

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On the 25th death anniversary of Lean Alejandro founding secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

Posted on 19 September 2012 by admin

Press Statement

September 19, 2012

The place of honor is in the line of fire – Lean Alejandro,

Twenty five years ago,  on 19 September 1987, Lean Alejandro, the first Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)was killed when armed men opened fire with automatic weapons on his car as it was about to enter the gate of the headquarters of BAYAN.

Lean had just come from a press conference at the National Press Club where he had called for mass protests against the inordinate and increasing say of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the 18- month-old administration of then President Corazon C. Aquino.

Lean’s assassination was one of many grievous human rights violations committed under the first US-backed Aquino regime. While the Cory regime denounced the killing, it remains unsolved to this day.

It is widely believed that the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM) carried out the dastardly act just as they did the assassination of labor leader Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia and his driver Leonor Alay-ay in 1986, with the objective of strengthening the hand of the rightists and militarists  in the Aquino government if not causing its outright downfall.

Earlier this year the long-standing case for double murder of Ka Lando and his driver inched forward with the issuance of warrants of arrest for the accused still at large by RTC Branch 98 Judge Ma. Consejo Gengos-Igualaga.  They are: Eduardo Kapunan Jr., Oscar Legaspi, Filomeno Maligaya, Cirilo Almario, Jose Bacera, Fernando Casanova, Ricardo Dicon, Gilbert Galicia, Dennis Jabatan, Gene Paris, Freddie Sumagaysay and Edgar Sumido – all leaders and members of RAM.

Despite the alleged restoration of democracy, widespread and grievous human rights violations blackened the first Aquino regime.  Mrs. Aquino “unsheath(ed) the sword of war” and launched another brutal counterinsurgency program against the communist-led revolutionary movement.  In the process many civilian communities were displaced and terrorized and many more lives were lost especially due to the abuses of paramilitary forces such as the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) under the direction and control of the AFP.

While martial law had been rescinded and the fascist Marcos dictatorship overthrown, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and torture still took place at an alarming rate and frequency. The first Aquino regime continued and even exacerbated the anti-people policies of the Marcos regime, notably in relation to agrarian reform, foreign debt service and economic liberalization, deregulation and privatization.

Mrs. Aquino also called for the retention of the US military bases, reneging on her position when she was not yet president and even marching in a Malacanang-organized rally to pressure the Philippine Senate to vote in favor of bases retention.

It is no surprise that the people’s struggles against exploitation and oppression and for nationalism and democracy continued and even grew in strength.

As we commemorate the death of Lean, we also remember the declaration of Martial Law 40 years ago and the people’s heroic resistance to the Marcos dictatorship whose victims continue to seek justice.  Justice remains elusive as well not only for the family and kin of Lean, but also for the thousands of victims of human rights violations committed under the first Aquino regime.

In remembering Lean and his unjust and untimely passing, we note the failure of the first Aquino regime and the succeeding regimes up to the second Aquino regime of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, to render justice and indemnification for all victims of human rights violations. Such failure, along with the continuing anti-people policies carried over from one regime to another, fuel the people’s continuing struggle and resistance.

Concretely, the Noynoy regime has failed to deliver on its promise of indemnification for the victims of Martial Law. It has also not taken any step to release the more than 350 political prisoners all over the country while it had amnestied and set free more than 300 military officials and personnel who had rebelled against the preceding Arroyo regime

Today we honor Lean and all our martyrs and heroes who valiantly and steadfastly fought for the cause of national and social liberation. We offer our multisectoral march on September 21 to the memory of all those who fought against the US-backed Marcos fascist dictatorship, as we pledge to continue their unfinished struggle for genuine freedom and democracy. ###

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Joblessness belies claim of growth – Bayan

Posted on 19 September 2012 by admin

News Release
September 19, 2012

With unemployment remaining unchanged and underemployment now at its highest in six years, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan believes that claims of economic growth will remain hollow and unfelt by the poor.

“During the period when the Aquino government was boasting of economic growth, unemployment remained at 7.1% of the labor force. The so-called contributors of growth are not contributing new jobs. The Filipino people have not truly benefited from these claims of growth,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Even more disturbing now is that underemployment stands at 8.54 million or 22.7% of the labor force, which is the highest in six years. Again, the so-called economic growth is not translating into meaningful employment for the people. This is not the inclusive growth being claimed by the regime. So who then are really benefiting from the so-called growth?” Reyes said.

The Philippines registered a 6.1% GDP growth in the first quarter of 2012 and 5.9% in the second quarter. However, unemployment remained basically unchanged as of July 2012, with underemployment reaching a six-year high during the same period.

Bayan decried the absence of national industrialization and land reform which could help absorb the growing labor force and provide sustainable economic growth for the people. The group said that the national government has opted to rely on business process outsourcing, call centers, tourism and mining to generate jobs.

The group also said that the official records may still be understated since the National Statistics Office do not count as part of the labor force those who have given up looking work.

“Government should focus on developing domestic industry and agriculture to provide for growing domestic consumption. Relying primarily on external factors such as foreign investments, foreign debt and OFW remittances has obvious limitations insofar as growth is concerned. For example, our being an export-oriented economy has not spurred massive job creation.

Our manufacturing for exports are feeling the crunch of the global economic slowdown,” Reyes said.

Real winners are…

Bayan said that the real winners in the so-called economic growth achieved by the Philippines are the big business interests, both foreign and their local partners.
“While unemployment remains unchanged and underemployment is on the rise, it should be noted that the country’s 40 richest people now have a combined wealth of $47.4 billion according to Forbes magazine in June 2012. They are the ones reaping the benefits of the so-called growth. The workers and peasants are left out as usual,” Reyes said.
“So much for Aquino’s inclusive growth. The rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer,” he added. ###

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Romeo T. Capulong: human rights lawyer extraordinaire, beloved champion of the masses

Posted on 17 September 2012 by admin

Press statement

Reference: Dr. Carol Araullo, Chairperson

We deeply mourn the passing away of our beloved people’s lawyer and champion, Attorney Romeo T. Capulong. He was a human rights defender extraordinaire, described by admirers as having the “rare combination of brilliance and skill, fearlessness, and an unwavering commitment to serve the poor and downtrodden”. Indeed, a person like Ka Romy comes only once in a generation.

While we are saddened by his demise, we are nonetheless grateful for having the chance to work with him; for being guided in countless times by his sharp insights not only on the legal issues, but more importantly, on the political aspects of the many cases and campaigns that Bayan had faced and handled.

The long list of high-profile cases he had handled speaks volume about the character and caliber of the man, and by themselves are indisputable testament to the legacy of Ka Romy as a people’s lawyer, human rights defender, a Filipino patriot and champion of the masses. One of the last cases he handled was the Morong 43 that forced the military to release the detained health workers.  But before that, he was also the counsel of thousands of Martial Law victims who filed a landmark case against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

He also lawyered for Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, Satur Ocampo, the late Ka Bel Crispin Beltran, murdered labor leader Rolando Olalia and numerous other victims of state terrorism and repression from Martial Law up to the time he fell ill. He handled controversial cases that underscored the sorry state of the nation like those of OFW Flor Contemplacion, AFP General-turned-NPA Raymundo Jarque, the Payatas dumpsite tragedy, Hacienda Luisita, and union struggles in PLDT, Meralco and countless banks, among others. He led efforts questioning the constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and handled consumer issues as well like privatization and water and power rate hikes.  And this is just a partial list.

Meanwhile, as counsel for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in its peace negotiations with the Philippine government, Ka Romy’s “sharp legal expertise, unwavering standpoint for the fundamental interests of the Filipino people and outstanding negotiating skills” are credited for the forging of landmark agreements between the NDFP and the government. Furthermore, his vast experience as a human rights lawyer earned him an appointment as a member of the United Nations (UN) International Criminal Tribunal. He was also a member of the 1970 Constitutional Convention before he was arrested when Marcos imposed Martial Law.

Ka Romy was regarded as a lawyer’s lawyer, highly respected by his peers in the legal profession – both allies and adversaries. He was a master of the justice system in this country even if his attitude and approach to practicing under such a reactionary body of laws and judicial processes was nothing short of radical, if not heretical. Still, he had one of the highest batting averages in terms of winning cases, including the seemingly unwinnable ones.

Many bear witness to the fine qualities and sound approach to his work that are keys to his success as a lawyer, in both the conventional sense of winning legal battles, and in the unconventional sense of gaining the moral and political high ground for continuing struggles and eventual victories. Even when the cases do not prosper in the courts, Ka Romy made sure that in the bar of public opinion and in terms of the struggle to uphold human rights, freedom, democracy and social justice, panalo pa rin.

Ka Romy had developed an unusually keen political sense honed through years of rich practice as a trial lawyer and as an outstanding progressive political leader. He had a vast network of friends, allies, colleagues and supporters domestically and internationally, from which he was able to draw the most useful information and assistance. He was a stickler for a careful and methodical mustering and documentation of the facts and circumstances; of an assiduous study of the applicable laws; and of a very deliberate and all-sided analysis of the political and other relevant factors impinging on each and every case.

But what really set him apart was his unshakable faith in the masses. He used to always remind young activist-lawyers and even experienced mass leaders about the importance of listening to and then organizing the aggrieved, the victims of human rights violations, to fight for themselves and help win their own legal and political battles. Time and again he had pointed out that without the people’s movement, there can be no people’s lawyers; that the people’s movement is the secret weapon, if not equalizer, in an existing justice system biased for the exploiter, the oppressor, the unconscionably rich and the ruthlessly powerful.

Our dear Ka Romy will be missed but his legacy will forever live in our continuing and unwavering struggle to serve the people and end oppression and injustice. ###

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