Tag Archives: Government

[Featured site] www.facebook.com/KonTRAPOrk

KonTRAPOrk
Malawakang Progresibong Multi-Sektoral na
Kilusang Masa KONTRA PORK, KONTRA TRAPO
KonTRAPOrk logo1 small
Malawakang Progresibong Multi-Sektoral na
Kilusang Masa KONTRA PORK, KONTRA TRAPO.Ang pagkasiwalat ng P10Billion Napoles-Pork Scam ay parang PANDORA’S Box na nagbukas ng higit na malaganap at malalim na suliranin ng katiwalian sa loob ng pamahalaan at sa sistemang pulitika ng ating lipunan. Ang sunod-sunod at tuloy-tuloy na pagkilos at protesta ay patunay ng determinasyon ng mamamayan labanan ang SISTEMANG PORK, patunay ng pagnanasa sa makabuluhang pagbabago.

Ang PORK ay tanda ng bulok na sistemang TRAPO at nagpapalala sa patuloy na paglawak ng kahirapan ng masa at pagpapayaman ng iilan, Ang paglustay ng kabang bayan para sa interes ng iilan at kawalan ng batayang serbisyong panlipunan.

ANG LABAN SA PORK AY LABAN NG MASA!
LINISIN ANG GOBYERNO, WALISIN ANG TRAPO!

Makiisa! Like and share konTRAPOrk @ https://www.facebook.com/KonTRAPOrk

3rd Human Rights Pinduteros Choice Awards

3RD HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE AWARDS
Theme: Internet Freedom… our rights, our choice, our freedom.

For the third time, Human Rights Online Philippines or HRonlinePH.com will give recognition to human rights defenders’ efforts to promote, assert and defend human rights by maximizing online platforms. This year the event will celebrate the assertion for freedom of expression and opinion online and offline with the theme “Internet Freedom… our rights, our choice, our voice.”

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The successful online campaign against the unconstitutional RA10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Act of 2012 that temporarily stopped its actual implementation and the very recent August 26 #MillionPeopleMarch in Luneta, initiated online by netizens against the PDAF scam revealed the undeniable capacity of the Filipino people to assert its rights and the use of ONLINE MEDIA as a powerful tool. The power of the people that was manifested both online and offline in both instances had proven the world how true that Philippines indeed is the social networking capital of the world. Alongside, it exposes that the recurring and continuing threat of suppression of freedom of expression also holds true, thus the need to be on guard, more vigilant and assertive in defending for these freedoms.

The government has announced its intent to refile the amended version of the Anti-Cybercrime Law come the opening of the 16th Congress while Senator Meriam Defensor had initiated the Magna Carta of Internet Rights which according to her and the supporters of the proposed measure would protect the rights of the people online.

As issues like cyber bullying and many others plagued the cyberworld, and while it is the obligation of the government to come up with measures to stop crimes including those in the internet, we have to remain steadfast in asserting that the freedom of expression and speech in the internet or offline be respected, protected and fulfilled by the Government at all times.

THE 3RD HUMAN RIGHTS PINDUTEROS’ CHOICE AWARDS

To contribute in the promotion of the Human Rights Week celebration every December, HRonlinePH.com holds an annual HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards that recognizes HRDs online efforts in promoting, defending and asserting human rights.

As an online event, the HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards aims to give recognition to human rights defenders’ (Individuals and groups) relentless efforts to inform, inspire and mobilize the online readers to our common cause for HR that utilizes the internet as a tool. The event will also provide HR networks glimpses of how widely and effectively does their advocacies and issues reach the readers or segment of the internet world.

Online polling and popularization of the event also hopes to contribute in increasing awareness and build up for the international HR day celebration in December 10 through encouraging the netizens to visit and learn more about human rights issues, campaigns and etc. posted and featured in HRonlinePH.com with links to different HR sites months before the HR day.

Held for the first time last December 1, 2011 during the public launch of HRonlinePH.com initiative in Crystal Shift Restaurant in Quezon City, the event became our way to give thanks to the networks of human rights defenders who continued in contributing to the initial success of the site.

On December 10, 2012, the 2nd HR Pinduteros’ Choice Awards was held during the Active Vista Awards Night of DAKILA held in PETA complex.

Human Rights Pinduteros is a name we coined referring to HR community of internet users, HR advocates and activists and HR issues followers that as a network- promote and defend HR and believe in HRonlinePH.com’s call to inform, inspire and mobilize our readers to our cause.

THE PROPONENT -HUMAN RIGHTS ONLINE PHILIPPINES or HRonlinePH.com

Established in March of 2011 and was officially launched on December 1 of the same year, Human Rights Online Philippines or HRonlinePH.com was initiated by a group of individual human rights defenders working in different HR NGOs.

It started with the intention of creating a site that would help in popularizing Human Rights issues and concerns by mobilizing concerted efforts of individual defenders coming from different HR groups.

HRonlinePH.com aimed at organizing different campaigns through the building of an online HR network that will be working together with the call to inform, inspire and mobilize people to HR causes.

By generating readers and followers online the group aims to contribute in putting human rights online, thus making human rights issues, information and resources available and visible to the internet.

In its 2 year of existence, the HRonlinePH.com blogsite has generated a good number of reads. According to the wordpress.com’s statistics as of September 2013, the site has reached 398,015 hits, 1,618 subscribers and an estimated average of 600 visitors a day.

The site’s busiest day was on October 27, 2012, it was visited by 2,294 readers.

The site has 1,066 followers on facebook and 256 on Twitter. TopBlogs.com.ph consistently ranked HRonlinePH.com among the top 5 political blogs based from its unique visitors measured a day.

HRonlinePH.com was also nominated as “Wiki-Pinoy of the year” in 2011.

We may not be the best blog in the Philippines, but through the concerted efforts of HR pinduteros and pinduteras, we are one of the most promising Human Rights online-community right now!

MECHANICS
Nominees were chosen from the top items per category posted in HRonlinePH.com based on the hits generated (site statistics) from the period of September 20, 2012 to September 20, 2013.

Scores for winning posts were based on HRonlinePH.com statistics combined with an online voting/polling results which will be held from the period of October 15, 2013 up to November 15, 2013 at the HRonlinePH.com FB page and Blogsite.
Winners will be awarded during the 2013 Human Rights week celebration (Date and venue to be announced).

RECOGNITIONS/CATEGORIES FOR HRONLINEPH.COM’S 3RD HRPINDUTEROS CHOICE
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR NETWORK‘S POSTS
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR PINDUTERO‘S POSTS
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR BLOGSITE
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR WEBSITE
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR EVENT
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR PHOTO
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR VIDEOS
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR FEATURED OFF THE SHELF/RESOURCES
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE MOST CLICKED FEATURED SITE
• HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE FOR HR CAMPAIGN

NOMINEES FOR THE 3RD HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE AWARDS

HR NETWORK‘S POSTS
1. [Press Release] Teachers ask DEPED to expedite the release of bonus -TDC
2. [Statement] Human Rights Watch reaction on PNoy’s SONA 2013
3. [Press Release] DIGITEL Employees Shave Heads in Protest, Motion for Execution Pushed -Kilusan
4. [Press Release] Mining operations in Salcedo, Eastern Samar is “out of control” -PMPI
5. [Statement] Ibasura ang Pork Barrel! Pondo ng Bayan, Direktang Ilaan sa Serbisyo at Kabuhayan -KAMP
6. [Statement] Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law: A Precious Christmas Gift to All Filipino Desaparecidos -AFAD
7. [Statement] CYBER MARTIAL LAW -Dakila
8. [Press Release] Support Snowball for Digitel Employees -DEU
9. [Statement] Stop Cyber-dictatorship! SCRAP the cybercrime prevention act now! -SANLAKAS
10. [Statement] New Compensation Law (RA10368) for victims of human rights violations: right step but not enough to end Marcos impunity –PAHRA
11. [Featured Story] Political Prisoner Longs for Freedom, The Story of Juanito Itaas (Part 1)- TFDP
12. [Press Release] Children advocates to push for “child-centered” elections -Bata Muna
13. [Press Release] Summit on Credible Cebu Elections 2013 to Propose Concrete Actions for Electoral Reforms -Visayas Clergy Discernment

FOR HR PINDUTERO‘S POSTS
1. [Tula] Patula ng Pandaigdigang Pahayag ng Karapatang Pantao ni Greg Bituin
2. [Blog] THE SABAH ISSUE: The Betrayal to the Republic of the Philippines of Mr. Aquino by Jose Mario De Vega
3. [Blog] An Unconstitutional Law: A Discourse on the Cybercrime Law by Jose Mario De Vega
4. [Featured article] Ang Litrato ng Tatay Ko (Isang Pagbabahagi sa Araw ng Mga Nawawala) by Ron De Vera
5. [Statement] Isang Bukas na Liham para sa Lahat ng mga Mamamayang-Pilipino by Mario De Vega
6. [Blog] The most outrageous use of “Doublespeak”: The People’s Daily as the warmonger mouthpiece of China’s so-called ‘Communist Party
7. [Appeal] An Open Letter to Pond’s and All Whitening Products by Renee Juliene M. Karunungan
8. [Blog] Maid abuses and human exploitation: the highest form of dehumanization and barbarism by Jose Mario De Vega
9. [Blog] The Casiguran Marchers, tired and disappointed but not defeated! by Jofti Villena Delizo
10. [Blog] War on War: The House of Common’s Historic Vote and Question of the US impending war on Syria by Jose Mario De Vega

FOR HR VIDEOS
1. [Featured Video] Feminist Flashmob for Women’s Rights -PH TakeBacktheTech
2. [Featured Video] Liwanag Sa Dilim (by Rivermaya) feat the Bilibid Dancing Inmates by Baliklaya
3. [Featured video] March 8, 2013 International Women’s Day by ClydieCandy
4. [Video/Film] BALITOK goes to Nueva Vizcaya

FOR “OFF THE SHELF”
1. [Off the shelf] Mga rekomendasyon ng Komite Laban sa Tortyur ng U.N. para sa Gobyerno ng Pilipinas
2. [Resources] Myths and misconceptions about Filipino Sign Language (FSL) -Philippine Deaf Resource Center
3. [Off the shelf] Dissidente! by Jose Mario De Vega
4. [Off-the-shelf] Children of the Sunshine Industry: Child Labor and Workers’ Condition in Oil Palm Plantations in Caraga-CTUHR
5. [Off-the-shelf] Read less know more Primer on the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 published –CLRD

FOR HR PHOTO
1. [Featured Photos] Igalang ang Karapatan ng mga Katutubong Ati -photos by Bro. Martin Francisco
2. [Featured Photo] Rated PG at PETA Arts Zone: Love Does Not Hurt campaign launch

FOR HR EVENT
1. [Advisory/event] Rally for the recognition of Filipino sign language & Deaf access Nov. 5, 830am. Philcoa to Batasan -PFD
2. [Featured Event] Million people march to Luneta August 26: sa araw ng mga bayani. Protesta ng bayan!!!
3. [Event] Rock for a Fully Abled Nation Concert –Dakila
4. [Event] Protest Rally to stop DepEd Teacher Training on an artificial sign system in the education of Deaf students – Philippine Federation of the Deaf
5. [Event] Love is…Freedom from Violence!- World March of Women – Pilipinas
6. [Event] Forum on Effective Implementation of Republic Act No. 10353: A Collective Endeavor -AFAD, FIND
7. [Event] Rock against political dynasties! -Agaw Trip Komiks at Laya Sining
8. [Event] FIND’s press forum and 27th founding anniversary, 23 Nov 2012
9. [Event/Advisory] National children’s forum -Save the Children
10. [Event] Groups launch Anti Mining Solidarity Week of Actions -ATM

FOR HR CAMPAIGN
1. [Featured Event/Campaign] Million people march to Luneta August 26: sa araw ng mga bayani. Protesta ng bayan!!!
2. [Urgent Appeal] About the killing of family members of a B’laan tribe leader opposed to the entry of SMI in their ancestral domain area -TFDP
3. [Petition] No to cremation of medico-legal cases
4. [Appeal] for ACTION: Warrantless Arrest of Fourteen Farmers and Six other person in Mindanao -TFDP
5. [Campaign/Event] DIGITEL Employees put up a Protest Center in front of the DOLE Office
6. [Appeal] Panawagan para sa kalayaan ni RODELIO “DONDON” LANUZA, OFW on Deathrow, KSA -Barya Mo Buhay Ko
7. [Campaign] “Rights All- You-Can” campaign –UPJC
8. [Campaign] Tao Muna Hindi Mina – TFDP
9. [Campaign] Freedom Ride –Dakila
10. [Featured Site/campaign] Hey Coke! RESPECT workers’ rights! -APL

FOR FEATURED SITE
1. [Featured Site/campaign] Hey Coke! RESPECT workers’ rights! -APL
2. [Featured Site] PIFA FB Group
3. [Featured Site] MD4HR.net
4. [Featured Site] Visual Spectrum by Carlo Dimaano

HR WEBSITE
1. clrdc.wordpress.com
2. philrights.org
3. phildeafres.org
4. ctuhr.org
5. find.org.ph
6. amnesty.org.ph
7. philippinehumanrights.org
8. alyansatigilmina.net
9. humanrightsdefenderspilipinas.wordpress.com

10.balayph.net

FOR HR BLOGSITE
1. renatomabunga.wordpress.com
2. taomunahindimina.wordpress.com
3. koihernandez.wordpress.com
4. anakngdesaparecidos.wordpress.com
5. rodrigo75.wordpress.com
6. digitelemployeesunion.wordpress.com
7. rodgalicha.com
8. dars0357.wordpress.com
9. matangapoy.blogspot.com
10. cannotallowtorture.blogspot.com

[Blog] Fat-free Philippine Legislative Agenda by Rod Rivera

Fat-free Philippine Legislative Agenda
August 17, 2013

Rod Rivera

Rod Rivera

The fat politician is a metaphorical portrait, of greed and corruption. Pork-barrel creates such politicians.

Infrastructures, livelihood, social-welfare, scholarships and other developmental projects for a district or for the country are not to be expected from congressmen/women and senators of any democratic country. The primary function of legislators is to strengthen the country’s legal system by reviewing, filing and passing pertinent laws that will ensure the nation’s growth and stability. With those premises there is no need to allocate priority development funds or country-wide development funds that disguise as pork barrel to any member of the Philippine Congress.

The executive government has in itself the institutions to provide the basic services, build the needed infrastructures, and extend assistance for community development. However, the needed budget is not adequate, because those who pass the national budget will have to scour for means to sustain their perks from the pork that they allot for themselves. Such breeds corruption.

Read full article @rodrigo75.wordpress.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Blog] Intellectual Revolution: The Necessity of the Thinkers and the Revolutionary Minds by Jose Mario De Vega

Intellectual Revolution: The Necessity of the Thinkers and the Revolutionary Minds

Mario De Vega

This humble paper is an affirmative response to the lucid and scholarly essay of Ms. Natalie Shobana Ambrose’s “Empowering our thinkers”, The Sun Daily, July 12th.

Though I overwhelmingly concur to her general proposition, I beg the indulgence of the reader that I may be allowed to adumbrate and elaborate on the various theses that she laid down.

Indeed, “throughout history, the most dangerous people to any regime have not been the thugs, thieves or murderers but rather the thinkers and the intellectuals. For centuries governments have crafted laws limiting the opinions and vetoing findings of studies from being publicised or rubbishing theories that do not fit with their agenda. So much so modern academics find that they constantly self-censor or thread far away from what is deemed sensitive or controversial subjects as a form of self-preservation and survival.”

Said dangerous people, namely the thinkers, the intellectuals, the iconoclasts, the mavericks and independent observer has always been the irritating thorn to any regime, especially a state that is perceived to be unjust, unfair and perverted.

More often than not, said regime’s program to neutralize these individuals is to either eliminate them or silence them by sending them to the dungeon or by banishing them altogether from the territory of the said country.

Another vicious method being resorted into by these kinds of regimes is to enact laws that stifle, delimit, impede and denounce the unorthodox opinions of the said intellectuals.

Added to this is the Macheviallian act of the said regimes of harassing, questioning and denying the very position of these intellectuals whose radical views do not subscribe or follows the “official” program of the state.

These evil regimes also forced the thinkers and the independent observers to conform to the state-sanctioned policy.

Some, gave in due to pressure, hence instead of pursuing their research and project up to its conclusion; they engage in an internal conflicting act of censoring themselves, editing their work, doctoring their data, altering their findings and worst, some even decides not to proceed with their endeavor at all.

The reason is plain and simple: they have to engage in all these preposterous and ridiculous means for purposes of self-preservation and survival.

This is a shame!

As the writer contended:

“This missing voice is a great tell-tale of how authoritarian a government is and how much or little such talent is valued in the society. We see this throughout the world – talented academics who would rather bypass the red tape of taking on local issues as study topics instead embark on ground-breaking research in other lands so as to not rock the boat back home.

Malaysia has not been spared in this respect. Not only have we lost bright stars to other lands by limiting the very essence of their work, we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods.

“Malaysia is going through fascinating transformation both socially and politically. In the last 10 years, the change has been profound. Yet so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony, and the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet. We have to ask the question why.”

Comment:

By reason of fear and reprisal, persecution and state violence, some scholars, instead of embarking on ground-breaking enterprise and earth-shaking endeavor would rather avoid the great possibility of offending the powers that be and instead leave their country of origin and hesitantly exile themselves to other lands that is more tolerant and appreciative of their talents, potentialities and bright ideas.

This is a tremendous lose to the native land of the said researcher and a big goldmine to the adopted country.

Why?

This is a clear case of brain drain to the country of origin and as already noted; a gold mine to the new country or sanctuary.

The one that will benefit from the product of the intellectual labor and academic insights of the said scholar will not be his/her own native country but the nation that is presently adopting the said researcher.

This is not a new phenomenon, when Socrates was condemned to death unjustly by the stupid mob, his student Plato cannot bear the thought to stay in the city that killed his teacher so he decided to leave Greece for a while.

The same is true of Aristotle, when his student Alexander the Great dies, he also decided to leave Athens, saying thus that his act of leaving is his way of “saving the Athenians from sinning twice against Philosophy.”

The writer’s question is totally in point: why is it that despite the fact that Malaysia is going through a fascinating transformation both socially and politically in the last 10 years wherein the changes has been so rapid and utterly profound; ironically so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony and why the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet?

This is irony of all ironies, indeed!

It is beyond dispute that it is the author herself that squarely answered her own query.

Undeniably, the local bright stars are leaving the country due to the lack of equal opportunity, unfair policy, unjust government selection program, social injustice and the stupid conception of the state of affirmative action.

Added to these list of grievances and complaints is the irrefutable fact that “we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods.”

This is a shame!

Again, we return to the perennial social evils of the problem, namely: the act of the state in belittling, mocking, irritating, questioning, and harassing the thinkers through fear, bureaucratic brouhaha and economic blackmail.

Not added to this is the state’s act of political persecution such as dismissing the academic from the university or college, suing the said lecturer, teachers or professor and engaging in a character assassination of the said intellectual by using the vast powers of the government to disrepute the integrity of the thinker and put into doubt the product of his/her labor and scholarly work, when the only fault of the said academic is that his or her work is critical of the government or run counter to “the official line” being promoted by the state.

For those who decided to stay and confront bravely the perverted system of corruption, they must also face the full wrath of whole state machinery.

This is precisely the reasons why the thinkers and intellectuals had not taken advantage of this hotbed of potential study topics and areas of possible research.

Imagine an academic that will write a thesis which title is: How could the BN form the government when they are only voted 49% of the population?

Will the government accept that kind of research?

And what do you think will happen to those intellectuals who had undertaken the said studies? How are they going to be treated?

The answer is: either they are dismissed from their posts, or their contract will not be renewed or perhaps they will see themselves at the dock appearing before a court answering some silly and flimsy charges or their books will be ordered to be banned or they may die accidentally or they may disappear mysteriously or they may struggle economically to find some sponsor or funding that will going to support their work.

I concur with the writer that the problem I feel lies in space. The exact term being use in political science is the so-called “democratic space”.

Again, the bold questions posited by the writer are highly in point:

Is there a space where people are empowered to provide evidence-based critique?

Comment:

Yes, there is a certain degree of “space”, but here’s the caveat: be ready and be willing to face the repercussions and consequences of your intellectual actions.

A true thinker and a genuine intellectual that proceeded to present an unorthodox work to the public must be ready and utterly prepare to hear the following idiotic and preposterous charges:

a. “if you don’t like it here, leave!”

b. “go back to where you came from”

c. “what more do you want, ingrate?”

All of these are the price that an intellectual and a scholar have to pay and confront bravely in order to his or her quest of pursuing the truth and consequently spreading his or her ideas and thoughts to the public and the world!

“It seems far easier for a foreigner to write a book, article, thesis on Malaysian issues than it would be for a local. If we don’t agree with their findings – we can rubbish it as not correctly understanding Malaysia since they are an outsider. Of course the other argument is that Malaysians are too emotionally embroiled to carry out such studies. Perhaps there is some truth to it but that is not a good enough reason to leave a gaping hole in research work by local thinkers.”

Comment:

On the Question of Empowering the Intelligentsia?

The great Russian novelist, Maxim Gorky said that the existence of the intellectuals is necessary in any form of society.

In my view, an intellectual has no nationality, because genius is universal. Nonetheless, I concur with the author that a community must produce its own thinkers and intellectuals before the world claim him or her.

Therefore, the Malaysian academic must rise above their “emotional embroidery” and carry out their studies — against all odds and regardless of the adverse consequences — whatever they may be.

To quote the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

The Role of the Intellectuals

Professor Noam Chomsky said that “it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”

To quote from my article:

What is an intellectual?

According to Wikipedia, an intellectual is: a person who uses thought and reason, intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning, in either a professional or a personal capacity and is:

1. a person involved in, and with, abstract, erudite ideas and theories;

2. a person whose profession (e.g. philosophy, literary criticism, sociology, law, political analysis, theoretical science, etc.) solely involves the production and dissemination of ideas, and

3. a person of notable cultural and artistic expertise whose knowledge grants him or her intellectual authority in public discourse.

Based these definition, an intellectual is a person or an individual who is involved or is engaged in creating erudite ideas (whether abstract or not) and making some theories.

The primordial duty of the intellectual is to disseminate ideas. He or she is of notable culture and held some artistic expertise which standing gives him/her a sense of intellectual authority in public discourse.

Who are the intellectuals?

There is no iota of doubt that the intellectuals are the philosophers, the teachers, the writers, the poets, the artists and the like!

The French existentialist philosopher and Marxist revolutionary, Jean Paul Sartre pronounced that the intellectuals are the moral conscience of their age. He passionately believed as he himself lived his life the way he wrote and taught that: the task of the intellectuals is not limited by merely observing the political and social situation of the moment, but undeniably to be involved and engaged actively in all of society’s issues and concerns. Finally, he also maintained that part and parcel of the duty of an intellectual is to serve as a voice of the marginalized, the oppressed, the idiots, the exploited, the lowest members of the society and indeed to speak out—freely—in accordance with their consciences.

Professor Noam Chomsky, like Sartre also subscribes to the belief that a true intellectual must not be silenced nor cowed. They must always stand for the truth and condemn all the injustices and inequalities in the world.

Hence, on this ground, an intellectual is not only a member of his/her community, but a citizen of the world. This is in conformity with Professor Foucault’s concept of the universal intellectual!

Are they necessary for one society?

Answer:

Yes, indeed! The intellectuals are truly necessary and indeed important in one society or political community. Their ultimate function is to serve as the critic of their society’s malaise. It is not an exaggeration to state that the intellectuals are precisely the eyes and soul of the community. (“The Significance of Social Sciences in Education, the University and the making of the Intellectuals”, Etniko Bandido Infoshop, May 5, 2012; “Creating students of substance and character”, February 3, 2013, The Star)

I completely concur with the author that “for a Malaysian though, embarking on potential research topics within the range of race relations, governance, electoral process, human rights, security, migration history and the likes is best left untouched. The retribution is not worth the contribution to the academic discourse – and this happens in a country where we enjoy “democratic comforts”.

The writer then listed her suggestions and what she perceived is the antidote the pressing problem that she saw in the Malaysian society and its academe.

“Malaysian intelligentsia needs to be empowered – both from the inside and out. How though?

“First, our universities, research institutes and think-tanks should be given the mandate to be neutral – not just on paper but also in accepting and engaging in research and study findings that are pertinent to today’s Malaysia, even if it makes the politicians uncomfortable. Of course this should be done within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based.”

Comment:

Indeed, universities, research institutes and various think-tank academic groups must be given mandate, not simply for purposes of neutrality, but most importantly for objectivity.

Our duty is to let the university as free as possible to discharge its social function of creating intellectuals who are critical thinkers that will lead to their being civic-minded and responsible citizens.

The quest to unravel the varied and complicated truths of the social dynamics of one’s society demands that said institution are not shackled by bureaucratic intervention and governmental reprisal.

The universities must be given their independence and autonomy to conduct their own independent research and academic undertaking without thinking of whether the result of their project will please the powers that be or not.

Definitely, the said venture must be done “within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based”. Besides being transparent and evidence-based, said endeavor must also be daring and courageous to make public the product of the said work — whatever its findings are.

“Information should be readily available and funding provided with no swaying strings of political positioning attached. This of course is the ideal, perhaps then we should first, start with undoing the politicisation of administrative posts if genuine change is to happen. Also there needs to be a paradigm shift that thinkers are not traitors but rather people who can contribute knowledge to informed decision making. It is also important for thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias, reducing the gap between the different levels of society.”

Comment:

Let me highlight the various problems listed by the author, namely:

1. the inaccessibility of the information;

2. said information is inaccessible because of lack or deficient funding;

3. lack or deficient funding due to political machinations and attachment of political positioning;
4. the politicization of administrative posts;

5. the tendency for the thinkers to be tagged or called or be accused of being traitors; and,

6. the necessity for the thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias.

In fairness to Malaysia, these problems or dilemmas or imbroglios and conflicts are not exclusive to them!
Universally, intellectuals have face and confronted all or some of these issues, yet they are not a reason and they are not an excuse for the intellectuals to abandon their duty and betray the people’s trust!

The author is correct for demanding a paradigm shift to the powers that be for them to change their view of thinkers.

However, despite the existence of all these problems and challenges that a thinker and/or an intellectual must confront, he or she must resigned to the fact and be prepared that he or she may be tagged or called or be accused of being a traitor, radical, a danger, a menace, etc.

That is the price one has to pay for being an intellectual.

“Second, the public should demand for such high standards in academics and thinkers, only then will our intellectual movement be reliable and powerful enough to support reforms in a peaceful manner. Such public support is important for an intellectual revolution to take place.”

Comment:

I agree that the public should demand for a high standard in academics and thinkers, yet the process should not end there. The intellectuals, the academics and the thinkers themselves must also demand recognition, support and solidarity from the public.

The duty of the intellectual is to study his or her society and everything about it, then craft it into a public discourse for the public’s consumption for their eventual acquisition of higher knowledge, which the thinker hope will lead to the development of the political consciousness and maturity of the people as a whole and all these in the end, if we combine will make the people and the general public responsible citizens, not only of their community, but of the whole world.

The obligation of the public is to listen to the intellectuals and the thinkers with regard to the latter’s view of their society. Besides listening, the people must also act upon the suggestions, studies and programs laid down by the intellectuals.

The intellectuals are researching and studying for their society and the people must study and act accordingly on the said social research to further enhance the validity, accuracy and veracity of these social realities.

The creation of a just society is not only the function of the thinkers; the people themselves must also contribute to attain the said goal.

The intellectual and the masses must forge a dialectical and symbiotic relationship! Undeniably the former serves as the social vital element, while the latter acts as the instrument of the social nucleus!

Why? The intellectual or thinker is nothing without the people and the people will not develop maturity and consciousness that would utterly be necessary in order for them to cultivate their civic-mindedness, sense of community and responsible citizenship (both locally and globally) and corollary to this, the people themselves will be powerless without the helping hand and enlightened guidance of their thinkers, academics and intellectuals!

In theoretical terms, the intellectuals and the masses are theory and practice. They must unite to form a single collective whole! It is only on this way that an intellectual revolution shall ensue!

“Third, the intelligentsia themselves need to restore the confidence that the academic world is untouched by political rhetoric and not governed by fear. Start by reinstating critical discourse and continue by measuring your worth not in local currency but of international standards. Allow students to be involved in substantive debate and empower the younger generation with academic freedom – start within the confines of your own classroom.”

Comment:

One way to restore the confidence of the intelligentsia to the academe is for the government to allow more universities to be independent and autonomous.

The court’s ruling on the Universities Act is a welcome development, but still a lot more is needed to be done.

As I’ve stated then in my article:

I APPLAUD the ramifications of the decision by the Court of Appeal in upholding freedom of expression.
Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 restricts students from “expressing support or opposing any political party”.

The court said this provision was in direct contravention of the Federal Constitution, by virtue of the fact that it violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

Justice Hishamuddin Yunus said he “failed to see how a student who expressed support for or against a political party could bring about an adverse effect on public order or morality”.

I think he said it well.

If we were to limit the sociopolitical exposure of our young to prevailing conditions and social milieu, we would be doing them a disservice.

Instead of creating critical-minded and civic-oriented citizens, who are responsible, bold, dynamic and proactive, we are moulding apathetic, lazy and passive people, who by virtue of their inadequacy and being puerile, cannot contribute to society.

Universities should be the breeding grounds for reformers and thinkers, and not an institution to produce students trained as robots.

A true democratic society is not afraid to allow its citizens to enjoy and exercise their rights to the maximum, so long as the citizens themselves use those said rights intelligently and responsibly.

Universities gear students to become independent and critical-thinkers so that they can become responsible members of society and cosmopolitan citizens of the world. (“Universities and University Colleges Act: Breeding grounds for reformers”, The New Straits Times, November 9, 2011)

It is my firm and ardent view that a great way to reinstate critical discourse in the university is to offer compulsory the subject of Philosophy and other Humanities subjects to all our college and university students nation-wide.

My core suggestion to the Malaysian educators and policy makers is for them to support and encourage the Liberal Arts programme.

Why? What is the importance of this subject/programme for the advancement of critical public discourse?

As I said then in one article:

THERE is no doubt that the subjects of Liberal Arts education, such as Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Sociology, Anthropology, etc, – the Humanities as a whole – is the branch of knowledge that specifically deals with the study of what makes us human.

Hence, the value and importance of a Liberal Arts education.

In the words of Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University: “Liberal learning introduces them to books and music, the science and philosophy that form disciplined yet creative habits of mind that are not reducible to the material circumstances of one’s life (though they may depend on those circumstances)… The habits of mind developed in a liberal arts context often result in combinations of focus and flexibility that make for intelligent, and sometimes courageous risk-taking for critical assessment for those risks.” A Liberal Arts’ education is the source of critical thinking. Critical thinking is the capacity to think independently beyond the ordinary conception of prevailing reality.

Its mind is reason; while its heart is humanism. The precise utilisation of critical thinking will undeniably lead our students to the joys of critical analysis which in turn will certainly give them the philosophical tools necessary and pertinent for the conscious and bold exercise of complex insights.

In the words of Chris Hedges, “The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralised authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think.”

It is in this exact sense that I overwhelmingly subscribe to the contention advanced by Professor Azhari-Karim of Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang (“Arts on the losing end” – NST, May 9).

He said, “One way is to teach Philosophy once again. This subject has been long absent from the curriculum for undergraduates. The idea is to refocus attention on the Arts and Sciences as being in the very rubric of knowledge and re-emphasise the philosophy of knowledge as a starting point for all academic pursuits.”

This is in conformity with the argument of Ganesan Odayappen (“Education is beyond race and politics” – NST, May 2,) of Kuala Lumpur who said in his letter: “When we talk about educating a nation, we must understand clearly what it means, how it is going to be achieved and its objectives. A nation which is striving to be a developed one needs tremendous human intellect and knowledge.”

A Liberal Arts education is absolutely necessary for the continuous progression and development of a country. There is no shadow of doubt that this type of education, which centres on humanism and universal reason, is truly beyond race, politics, religion, sex, gender, cultural background and other discriminatory categories.

Humanism is the study of being a good man in the truest sense of the word; while the central aim of a Liberal Arts education is to further cultivate and harness the humanity of Man’s humanism. (“Nurturing Critical Thinking”, The New Straits Times, May 11, 2011)

“Most importantly, do not hide behind the protection of the Chatham House Rule (When a meeting, or par thereof, is held under the rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.) – use it sparingly so that your work is exposed for the betterment of the country.”

Comment:

I would like just to add that a true academic and intellectual is a brave soul. He or she must not be afraid to pursue the ultimate conclusion of his or her studies and projects and he or she must be prepared to be mock, ridicule, antagonize and even ostracize.

The same thing happened to Einstein, Galileo, Tesla, etc. they were isolated, persecuted, hounded, mocked, etc., but where are they now? Hence, just be brave and carry on with your studies.

The intellectual is like the individual which Friedrich Nietzsche said “has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

“It’s a long road ahead yet one that is vital and necessary in our democratic process. Malaysia in this instance pales in comparison with the vocal scholarly voices in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It’s time we studied ourselves, our communities, our societies, our politics, our beliefs, our history and our democracy without fear – who better than someone with local knowledge, who better than a Malaysian?”

Commentaries:

Yes, it may be a long road ahead for the Malaysian academia, yet to paraphrase a Chinese saying: the first great step on a long journey begun with the first step itself.

The March of Reason must continue at all cost…

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Blog] No stones unturned-Stories of victims and their families’ relentless search for truth and justice by Candy Diez

No stones unturned
Stories of victims and their families’ relentless search for truth and justice

candy diez

“Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” – Elie Wiesel

Documenting cases in Northern Sri Lanka
The heat greeted me one afternoon as I sat in a vehicle patiently absorbing the passing scenery. My mind was set on the seriousness of the task before me, strangely in contrast with the calmness of the day.

I was on my way to meet the father of one of Sri Lanka’s disappeared human rights defenders.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj worked in the North and East of Sri Lanka as the Jaffna Coordinator of the Movement for People’s Struggle (MPS). The movement mobilizes people to stand against state repression of the Tamil community.

He devoted his time campaigning against human rights violations of civilians and human rights defenders in the North. He assisted the issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) as well. But most notably, Lalith extended support and worked on the issue of disappearances. The forming of several committees of Familiesof the Disappeared was attributed to his efforts in the districts of Trincomalee, Mannar, Vavuniya, Killinochchi and Jaffna.

He was travelling back and forth to his home and the northern areas during the conduct of his work. His father, although expressing alarm and concern, satisfied himself with asking Lalith to call each morning at 9:00 a.m. Lalith agreed and updated his father on his work and well-being.

It came as a shock one day when an unidentified person called and threatened Lalith’s father. His message was clear. Lalith should leave Jaffna or else he would be forcibly removed.

Lalith travelled to Jaffna on 9 December 2011 and needed to organize a press conference for the MPS for the International Human Rights Day on 10 December. He was with KuganMuruganandan, a close colleague. Both were seen to have left Muruganandan’s place at Avarangal around 5:00 p.m. They have not been seen since.

Allegations that the Sri Lankan army was behind the disappearances increased when Lalith’s engagements with the army were made public –these started before he went missing. The threatening call to his father was actually part of a series of threats Lalith suffered from both the military and the police in the North.

He was previously abducted by men claiming to be members of the army as he was putting up posters on 25 March 2011 in Mannar town. The posters demanded the Government release information on Sri Lanka’s disappeared. He was then blindfolded and detained overnight.

Another incident occurred on10 April 2011 when the Vavuniya police arrested him and a friend for putting up the same posters.

Two months later, the officers of the Killinochchi Army (Depo Junction) abducted him and he was interrogated for six hours. On 14 November in Jaffna, he was severely injured due to extensive beatings by unidentified men at a rally with the families of the disappeared.

Lalith attempted to file complaints and reported the incident. In his first attempt, the Mannar police refused to accept the case for the reason that he could not identify the persons involved in the act .The last incident of beating was filed at the Jaffna police station, but there was still no news on the progress of the case.

Lalith’s father shared that once,Lalith had asked him to come to Jaffna and see the pain of the Tamil families searching for their loved ones. He replied then that there is no need, for just the thought of the dangers associated with Lalith’s work and the possibility that he might disappear himself already brought him the same unbearable pain.

Aside from the emotional trauma, the family’s financial capacity was affected. The tea estate where the father works only pays 385 LKR (3 USD) each day. Before Lalith disappeared, he was helping the family in buying medicines, food, and paying for electricity bills.

The cost of witnessing the 1998 Riot in Indonesia

The rain was pouring when I met Nurhasanah.

Nurhasanah is the mother of YadinMuhidin, an Indonesian youth who disappeared in 1998.

In the morning of 14 May, Yadin was eager to watch theriot taking place in GriyaIntiSunterAgung. He soon returned home to eat lunch and to pray. At 1:00 p.m., however, a friend came and invited him again to witness the riot. He asked his older sister if he could still go. She responded positively and cautioned him to wear shorts instead of pants so he could move faster in case the mob would be dispersed and chased by the police.
By 2:00 p.m., Nurhasanah returned home and asked for Yadin. Upon learning that he was at the riot, she instructed the family to search and bring him back. For the next hours, the family scoured the area for Yadin, but he was nowhere to be found.

They later learned from one of Yadin’s friends that he was seen around GriyaIntiso. They sent a message through the friend instructing Yadin to return home. The friend named Rudi was able to speak to Yadin and relay the message. Shortly after, Rudi saw how a group of army members started arresting the people around the area.

After waiting for several hours, the father began checking with the local police at Gorontalo for news of their son. The police officer confirmed that Yadin was arrested but he was already released. When asked whether there was any official document about the arrest and release, the police officer denied his responsibility on the matter.

Still without Yadin, Nurhasanahand the rest of the family resumed their search. However, in spite of their efforts, he remains disappeared to date, his fate unknown to his family.

She was retelling this story the afternoon I came to see her. And unlike the rigid hard facts by which the incident was summarized, Nurhasanah was crying when she spoke of Yadin and how she longed to see her only son again.

She struggled and tried to keep her voice firm,her hands steady, as she recounted how her husband eventually became sick and broken with their son’s disappearance. He passed away without ever finding out what happened to Yadin. She spoke of how she remembers Yadin every night, and prays that if indeed he is dead, that he may be in peace, and that Allah may forgive his sins and bring Yadin to his side.

She told me how, in spite of extensive efforts to search and demand the Indonesian government’s attention and action on the disappearance cases, no positive action has been undertaken.

As we bade our farewells, she drew me to her and embraced me. In the midst of such grief, one always seems to be at loss for words. She whispered, “Please don’t forget us. Come back and don’t forget us.”

Despairing for decades

He is Thai and gradually became a friend last year. I knew his father was a victim of enforced disappearance. He had told me so himself, but still it surprised me that the case – that happened way back in the 70s, has not been documented. I asked him again to be sure, and he replied with the same statement, that it has never been documented.

So then, we began the process of our work. He was briefed about how we assist the families in our capacity to document, monitor and report cases of enforced disappearances and he told me how his father disappeared.

He was a young kid in school, when he came one day to find his mother crying and telling them that their father had gone. It was striking and heartbreaking to see, for he had never seen his mother cry and looking so broken.

Earlier that day, his motherwas with the father accompanying him to a bus stop for he was on his way out of town. Suddenly, two men from the bus stop approached her. Their words sounded menacing and she was told that the husband would be brought to the provincial administrator’s office for questioning. She protested and told them the village chief should first be informed, but the incident happened very fast. Two other men came out of a pick-up truck, handcuffed her husband and took him into the truck.

She was about to board the vehicle as well, when one of the men assured her that there was no need to come with them and she could follow them to the provincial administrator’s office later.
When she did go, there was no evidence of her husband, no information about the arrest and where he was taken. She didn’t realize then, that the incident at the bus stop was the last time she would lay eyes on her husband – handcuffed and brought to the pick-up truck.

She searched relentlessly, went to various police stations and spoke to different people – politicians, civil society, neighbors and others who would have knowledge of her husband’s whereabouts. But the search did not result in positive leads. Devastated, she suffered a breakdown after that but was forced to resume her work, her life for the sake of her three children.

Life took a seemingly normal course, until my friend resumed her mother’s search. He searched long and hard but similar to his mother’s experience, he soon faced a blank wall.

Then, he told me how empty it was growing up without a father to teach him things, no father to help in his education, no father to guide him in his early adolescent stages and towards adulthood. It brings him pain, he said whenever he remembers. This was something I could sense. But he has been strong and in the years without any word, evidence or support, he has made peace with the situation. . If in case he comes into contact with the person responsible for his father’s disappearance, he will tell him that he was already forgiven.

He told me as well, that the documentation was welcomed by him and his family. And it brings him peace knowing the search would continue and the incident be put in writing.

He also wished to keep certain identities confidential, thus the lack of names for the persons mentioned in the incident.

———————————————-
Recalling these stories and remembering each of these people I have met, I thought of how one cannot help but bleed – a little and then some more, when hearing about the families’ stories. From how they learned of their beloved’s disappearance, the denial soon followed by anger and frustration with the endless search to locate their disappeared loved ones,coupled with that waveof grief, seemingly stretching out from every waking hour and towards the rest of their lives.

But as one colleague frankly phrased it, perhaps it is not enough for people to feel sad. While never forgetting the capacity to forgive and be at peace, one should allow one’s self to be angry – mad at how loved ones were snatched from families, never to be seen again.

As I was bringing the interview with Lalith’s father to a close, I asked for Lalith’s photograph – a standard practice in documentation work. His father was quick to say that they have no recent picture of him. I was prepared to accept that perhaps I could manage with an old photo, when suddenly one of Lalith’s sisters came up to me and handed me his picture.

It was a clearer copy, a recent one, the sister told me. She spoke of how, in one of Lalith’s visit, he took her aside and gave the photo to her. Lalith had purposely gone to a photo studio to have his picture taken so that he could leave it to her with instructions, that in case something happens to him, people might come searching. And that she should give the photo to whoever would come.

Perhaps it was that certainty in Lalith’s actions that left an ache. He knew that soon, the consequences of his extensive documentation work and organizing of the families in the North would catch up with him. And with that inevitable fate, he knew with the same certainty and hope that is humbling, that other human rights defenders would come searching, demanding for government action and continuing the struggle to stop enforced disappearances from further robbing a family of a loved one.

I came across a copy of Elie Wiesel’s writings recently. He was a survivor of the holocaust and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Reading his speech about the lessons from the holocaust, a particular paragraph stood out from the rest…

“…the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

It still rings true to this day.

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[Press Release] Uphold RH law, best gift for Mother’s Day – PM

Uphold RH law, best gift for Mother’s Day – PM

pmLogo1The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) joined RH leaders and advocates from the Purple Ribbon for RH to a rally at the Supreme Court, Padre Faura, Manila. In commemoration of Mothers’ Day on Sunday, May 12, PM and women’s groups called on the SC justices to heed the call of mothers and uphold the RH law (RA 10354).

“Ang pagkaantala ng implementasyon ng RH law ay patuloy na nagiging mitsa ng buhay ng maraming inang Pilipino. Nananawagan ang PM sa ating Supreme Court justices na maging bukas sa matagal nang hinaing ng kababaihan para sa RH, lalung-lalo na ng mga ina. Upholding the RH law is the best gift our SC justices could give to millions of Filipino mothers this Mothers’ Day,” asserted PM Secretary-General Judy Ann Miranda.

Eleven (11) deaths of women daily attributed to pregnancy and childbirth complications have increased over the past decade. The passage of the RH law, if immediately implemented, would have stepped up the efforts to address the problem. The status quo ante issued by the Supreme Court has stalled said process.

PM reiterated that the lives of women should be the utmost concern in the decision of the Supreme Court on the RH law rather than the Catholic Church’s disagreement that is not based on the real needs of women, especially poor and working women.

PRESS RELEASE
Partido ng Manggagawa
7 May 2013

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[From the web] Karapatan and Bayan raise alarm on attacks vs activists via series of robberies, surveillance -www.bayan.ph

Karapatan and Bayan raise alarm on attacks vs activists via series of robberies, surveillance
February 22, 2013

bayan1Human rights group Karapatan and umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), together with members and leaders of several organizations today condemned in strongest terms the series of attacks against people’s organizations and partylist groups, disguised as break-ins and robberies. The groups decried what they described as the “rising and systematic forms of state repression and harassment of government critics”. They said that the recent incidents were made to appear as common crimes but were actually targeted attacks on activists and their organizations.

From March 2012 up until last week, Karapatan and Bayan documented twelve(12) cases of break-ins of houses of activists and peace advocates, and offices of progressive organizations; robberies involving items such as laptops, USB/flash drives, video cameras, and the like; and surveillance of known personalities and members of such organizations.

Read full article @www.bayan.ph

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[From the web] Bragging Rights -InterAksyon.com

MARIE YUVIENCO: Bragging Rights
By Marie Yuvienco, InterAksyon.com
February 9, 2013

InterAksyon logo2To some extent, members of the House of Representatives have every reason to pat themselves on the head for enacting “historic and game-changing” laws.

The 15th Congress, before it adjourned for the campaign period, did pass a number of statutes significant for, first, the amount of opposition they garnered, and second, their controversial subject matter.

On top of the list is Republic Act No. 10354, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, which squeaked by the halls of Congress despite massive opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.

Also contentious was Republic Act No. 10351, the Sin Tax Reform law, which was passed despite massive opposition from tobacco lobbyists and pro-smoking advocates.

And perhaps most poignantly, the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 hurdled massive indifference brought by a short memory and the passage of years to give justice to the untold number of victims of martial law.

In all, since Noynoy Aquino assumed the presidency in June 2010 until this month, Congress passed 219 laws, but this achievement dims in light of one abysmal failure: the failure to pass the Freedom of Information bill.

Read full article @www.interaksyon.com

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[Press Release] A Year of Pluses, Minuses on Rights. Decrease in Killings, But Impunity for Abusers -HRW

Philippines: A Year of Pluses, Minuses on Rights
Decrease in Killings, But Impunity for Abusers

200px-Hrw_logo.svg(Manila, February 1, 2013) – The Philippine government adopted landmark human rights legislation in 2012, but failed to make significant progress in holding the security forces accountable for serious abuses, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2013.

In its 665-page report, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including an analysis of the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

In the Philippines, Human Rights Watch spotlighted the disturbing trend of increased threats and attacks on environmental and anti-mining activists by alleged members of the security forces.

“The overall human rights situation in the Philippines improved in 2012 with fewer extrajudicial killings and the passage of historic laws promoting rights,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But the government has failed to address impunity for the most serious abuses. On prosecuting rights abusers, it needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

In late 2012 the Philippine Congress passed, and President Benigno S. Aquino III signed, a landmark law that makes it mandatory for the government to provide reproductive health services. They also enacted a law that criminalizes enforced disappearances, the first such law in Asia, and one that could end the scourge of such abductions that have destroyed countless lives. On January 18, 2013, Aquino signed a law instituting policies for the protection and welfare of domestic workers. Other bills promoting human rights are pending in Congress, with at least one other, a bill compensating victims of abuses during the martial law period in the 1970s and 1980s, awaiting Aquino’s signature.

However, Congress also passed the Cybercrime Prevention Act in September, which, if enforced, could severely undermine freedom of expression and the Philippines’ status as a regional leader in internet freedom. The law allows for stiff criminal sentences for broadly defined online defamation. Aquino signed the law into force, but the Philippine Supreme Court suspended its enforcement in October, after a public outcry led by free-expression groups and bloggers.

“The Philippine Congress has shown the capacity to craft laws that promote and protect human rights,” Adams said. “But it also passed a poorly thought out cybercrime law that could prove disastrous for internet freedom. The challenge now is for the government to implement these good laws in an effective manner while working to immediately overturn the cybercrime law.”

In the past year, the Aquino administration said it would “actively engage international bodies in seeking ways to improve the criminal justice system,” and promised to expedite human rights investigations and improve the justice system.

No progress on accountability for extrajudicial killings, disappearances
Little progress was made in successfully prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, Human Rights Watch said. Since 2001, hundreds of leftist activists, journalists, rights defenders, and clergy have been killed by alleged members of the security forces. Local human rights organizations reported approximately 114 cases of extrajudicial killings since Aquino came to office, though the number dropped sharply with just 13 reported in 2012.

Environmental activists appeared to bear the brunt of threats and attacks during the year, Human Rights Watch said.

On July 2, Aquino signed an executive order that aims to institutionalize reforms in the Philippine mining sector, but it is silent on the issue of rights abuses arising from mining investments, and on the deployment of paramilitaries at the mines. Aquino defended an earlier directive to allow the use of paramilitary forces to augment the military in its campaign against insurgents, and to secure the operations of mining companies. Members of these forces have been implicated in serious human rights abuses.

The communist New People’s Army and Islamist armed groups in the south continued to commit serious human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said.

Despite strong evidence that military personnel have been involved, investigations have stalled. Not a single case of extrajudicial killing by the security forces resulted in a conviction in 2012, and no such conviction has been reported since Aquino became president in 2010, Human Rights Watch said.

In 2012, Aquino did not keep his election promise to revoke Executive Order 546, which local officials cite to justify the provision of arms to their personal security forces. These “private armies” are responsible for much of the violence that has become common in the Philippines during elections. Although the government said it has disbanded 28 of these “private armies,” nearly 100 still exist, according to the Interior Department.

“If 2012 was the year for new laws promoting human rights, then 2013 should be the year for effective action,” Adams said.

To read Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2013 chapter on the Philippines, please visit:

www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/world-report-2013-philippines

To read a Tagalog version of the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2013 chapter on the Philippines, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/112604

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:

http://www.hrw.org/asia/-philippines

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[Statement] Teachers must be registered voters to serve the elections -TDC

Teachers must be registered voters to serve the elections

Two days before the deadline of registration for 2013 elections, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), does not expect for an extension of voters’ registration. However, we would like to bring to public attention the matter of voters’ registration of teachers and the practice of appointing them as chairmen and members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) during elections. We would like to cite the particular case in 2010 elections, the first ever election where we employed the automated system. Unfortunately, many teachers were not able to cast their votes.

The problem emanates from the usual practice of both the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Education (DepEd) in appointing teachers in the BEI. While election laws explicitly provide that only teachers who are registered voters of the city or municipality can be appointed as chairmen and members of the BEI, the assignments given to teachers are actually based on the places of their work, regardless of their registration. Due to this, teachers cast their votes in the precincts where they are assigned as BEI members during elections and not in the precincts where they are registered as voters. Still, there are cases that teachers are given BEI assignments even if they are not registered voters.

In 2010 elections, the first-ever election that the country fully utilized the automated election system (AES), many teachers were not able to cast their votes for several reasons. Some of them were deactivated for allegedly not having voted for two consecutive national elections. But the truth is, they actually voted in their precincts of assignment but the votes were not recorded in the book of voters in the precinct of their registration. Some of them failed to vote because they are assigned in distant polling places and could not afford to vote in their precincts of registration within the 30-minute limitation. Because in the AES, BEI members are not allowed to vote in their precincts of assignment, unlike in the past that Comelec provides 3 excess ballots for them, and the votes must only be manifested in the minutes of voting and counting.

The possibility of disenfranchisement was formally brought to the attention of the Commission several times- few months before the May 2010 elections.

As an answer to that query, the Honorable Commission promulgated Resolution 8878 on May 7, 2010, or 3 days before the May 10, 2010 elections and the last working day before the election day.

We are, however grateful that the Comelec resolved to reactivate the registration records of the teachers who actually served the previous elections (2004 presidential elections and 2007 mid-term elections) for exigency of service. The Resolution also said that registration records of teachers were inadvertently deactivated, thus, teachers registered or not were deemed reactivated and can be appointed to sit in the BEI.

Prior to the AES, the services of all public school teachers were needed by the Comelec. In 2007 elections for instance, the required number of BEIs has reached 800, 000. But in May 2010 elections, because of clustering of already clustered precincts, the Comelec only needed some 300, 000 BEI members. The problem is, most of the teachers, especially those who already attended the AES training and orientation were found out to be deactivated or non-registered. Comelec Resolution 8878 was made to resolve its own problem. The Commission created a legal remedy to their problem by allowing the teachers, whose registration were “inadvertently” deactivated to still sit as members and chairmen of the BEI. But many teachers were not able to exercise their right to vote. The resolution did not solve the problems of the teachers, and it only provides solution to the problem of the Comelec- the possible lack of teachers to serve as BEIs.

The DepEd estimated the disenfranchised teachers to 120, 000, or almost the same as half of the number of teachers who served the May 2010 polls. A number that could easily elect a district representative if counted.

In 2013 elections, we do not want this to happen again. Thus, we would like to reiterate our earnest appeal to the Deped and the Comelec, respectively, in considering appointment of teachers in BEI:
To verify the status of teachers’ registration to identify those who are qualified to sit in the BEI in the polling places where they are registered voters;
To reactivate the voters’ registration of teachers who have been deactivated, despite consistently performing their tasks in the past elections

We believe that the Commission has enough time, power and resources to preempt yet another massive disenfranchisement of public school teachers- the very facilitators of Philippine elections. Suffrage is a constitutional right of every citizen, and it is quite ironic that we teachers, the frontline workers to assure that every Filipino could participate to this democratic exercise will be deprived of this right.

While the terrible experiences in the past elections give us good reason to lobby for the optional poll duties of public school teachers, we still believe that this is a part of our extended obligation to our people, beyond classroom teaching- it is our patriotic duty. The teachers are more than willing to serve the country. The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) would be very happy to help the Honorable Commission in any way we can. #
—————-
For details:
Benjo Basas, National Chairperson 0920-5740241/ 3853437

PRESS STATEMENT
October 29, 2012

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[In the news] Mga sundalo, dapat may kopya ng ‘rules of engagement’ sa lahat ng oras -GMANews.com

Mga sundalo, dapat may kopya ng ‘rules of engagement‘ sa lahat ng oras
October 26, 2012, GMANews.com

Ipinag-utos ng isang opisyal ng army sa kanyang mga tauhan na magdala ng kopya ng Rules of Engagement sa lahat ng oras, kahit sa panahon ng bakbakan, para matandaan ang mga patakaran sa labanan.

Ayon kay Lt. Col Lyndon Paniza, tagapagsalita ng 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion ng 10th Infantry Division ng Philippinenitong Army, ang kautusan ay inilabas ni Major Thaddeus Obligado, commander ng nasabing battalion.

Dagdag pa ni Paniza, ang kautusan ay kalakip sa “seven rules” na dapat sundin ng mga sundalo sa mga panahon ng bakbakan.

“In January 1, 2011, Army commanding general, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, ordered the issuance of a two ID-sized laminated rules of engaement (ROE) cards, translated in English and in the vernacular, to all troops in field and in headquarters as part of the new counter-insurgency campaign Bayanihan implemented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” ayon sa pahayag ng 10th ID.

Ito’y bunsod umano sa mga pambabatikos na natanggap ng militar ukol sa kontrobersiyal na pagkamatay ng isang buntis mula sa tribong B’laan, kasama ang kanyang dalawang mga anak, at ang pagkasugat pa ng isang batang babae.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

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[Resources] Phil. Government Report on ICCPR

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant
Fourth periodic reports of States parties
Philippines

Introduction

1. This regular report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was prepared in accordance with the consolidated guidelines for State reports under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which replace all earlier versions issued by the Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/66/GUI/Rev.2).

2. The Philippines signed the Covenant on 19 December 1966, ratified the same on 28 February 1986 and submitted the Instrument of Ratification on 23 October 1986. The treaty entered into force on 23 January 1987, three months after the date of deposit of the
Instrument of Ratification. The Philippines submitted its Initial Report to the Committee on 22 March 1988 (CCPR/C/50/Add.1/Rev.1), which was considered by the Committee on 31 March and 03 April 1989.The combined 2nd and 3rd report was submitted to the Committee on 26 August 2002.

3. This report consists of two parts with covering period from 2003 until June 2009. The first part provides information on the current situation in the Philippines. The second part provides specific information relating to the implementation of the provisions of the Covenant.

4. This report provides the background information on laws, policies, programmes and recent developments pertinent to the rights enumerated in the Covenant, the difficulties and problems arising from their implementation, and the prospects for the future.

5. The report was prepared by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the lead agency in the preparation of the ICCPR report, in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), as vice-chair of the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) pursuant to Administrative Order (A.O.) 163, s, 2006 (Strengthening of the Presidential Human Rights Committee).

Read full report @ www.ccprcentre.org

See other reports @ http://www.ccprcentre.org/country/philippines/

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[Press Release] 120 Days of Temporary Victory as Supreme Court Issues TRO on Cyber Crime Law -Dakila

120 Days of Temporary Victory as Supreme Court Issues TRO on Cyber Crime Law

With a unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 on Tuesday, October 9, amidst protests by different organizations, including the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance.

A total of 15 petitions were filed at the Supreme Court. Some grounds of the petitions include: the law as a violation of the right to privacy, to equal protection, and to free speech.

“Dakila lauds the Supreme Court for their decision. However, the TRO is only one step to the long road that lies ahead towards Internet Freedom. While freedom is not absolute, Dakila believes that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 in its current form does not answer the needs of netizens and cyberspace. And as a country that takes pride in democracy, we cannot allow to have a law that sends a chilling effect on Filipinos and which may be used as an avenue for misuse and abuse,” Ayeen Karunungan, Dakila council member and PIFA spokesperson, said.

The TRO will last for 120 days and the oral arguments on the case will be held next year, January 15.

“We call for every citizen to remain vigilant and continue the fight for the law to be repealed. We call for our lawmakers to craft a law, together with the citizens, that will truly answer the needs and address the problems encountered in cyberspace. The Internet has helped transform the face of activism, how we protect it is now up to us,” Karunungan added.

Meanwhile, Dakila has been working with other groups including Access, an international group instrumental in the successful campaign against SOPA and PIPA, to research legislations in other countries that worked to prevent cybercrimes but also protects digital freedom.

Dakila is an organization of artists that teaches Digital Activism, a program that empowers advocates to strengthen their work through digital media and is a member of the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance.

For more info, contact Ayeen at 09175057055.

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[Blog] An Unconstitutional Law: A Discourse on the Cybercrime Law by Jose Mario De Vega

An Unconstitutional Law: A Discourse on the Cybercrime Law

I refer to the burning issue of the day that concerns our society as a whole. This pertains to the new measure enacted by the Legislative and signed into law by the Chief Executive. I am specifically referring to RA 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

I overwhelmingly concur with the contention advanced by the Human Rights Online Philippines in condemning the said law. As they directly expressed it in an official statement wherein they stated that they:

“…stands against the present state of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law and we demand that such law must be consistent with human rights standards and perpetrators behind this spiteful law be held accountable.”

Further, they added that:

“RA 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 is a State crime and an assault against the human rights of the people. HRonlinePH.com is one with the Filipino netizens in condemning its intention to deliberately go against our right to defend human rights online.

“Under the law, activists and human rights defenders will be the obvious and primary target of attacks by guilty politicians and government officials. The intentional inclusion/insertion of treacherous provisions poses great danger to defenders utilizing the internet in its work to promote, defend and assert human rights against violators from the government.

“The law is an obvious assault to many of the peoples’ rights both activists and ordinary citizens like free speech, freedom of expression, due process and among others. It is inconsistent with government’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights as provided in the Bill of Rights under the Philippine constitution and international Bill of Rights.”

There is no shadow of doubt that this law is sinister and nefarious by virtue of that irrefutable fact that it attacks the fundamental basic rights of the citizens with regard to their right to free speech, freedom of expression, political rights and the right to believe.
Hence, the citizens and various cause-oriented groups joined forces and troops to Padre Faura to ask the Supreme Court to questioned before the Highest Court of the law its legality and constitutionality.

In the words of attorney JJ Disini:

“Indeed, various petitions have been lodged in the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of the Act’s provisions relating to libel, increased penalties, real-time collection of traffic data and the so-called takedown provision.”

Undeniably, “the law is also a blatant breach of the Government’s obligation and commitment to the United Nation International Covenant on Civil Political Rights.”

Article 19 of the (ICCPR) clearly states that:

1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
I echo once again the Human Rights Online Philippines on their statement that:

“Certainly we need a law that would protect the people from cyber criminals and it’s our elected officials’ obligation to provide us one. But we cannot allow a law that would be used to suppress any of our democratic rights and freedom may it be on the internet or on the grounds. We must not allow any law that violates standards and protection of our rights.

“We challenge and demand that PNoy government fulfill its duty and obligation to protect us. Protect the people from cyber criminals and from any form of attacks of human rights violators from the government.

“We reiterate and assert that it is our right to defend human rights offline and online and any law that would violate these rights must be junked and perpetrator must be held accountable!”
It is my firm conviction that this law is constitutionally infirm on the following constitutional aberrations:

1. The provision on libel is unconscionable, oppressive and arrogant. Further, the trending in almost all civilized judicial world today is tilting to the decriminalization of this flimsy and stupid law; yet in this country this law is still being used and utilized to the maximum by the powers that be in attacking political activists, journalists, bloggers, etc. this is utterly ironic, “instead of bringing its libel legislation in line with its UN treaty obligations, the Philippines has set the stage for further human rights violations by embedding criminal libel in the “cybercrime” law.” What a shame! The whole world knows that: “It is obviously the intention of the malicious provisions of the law for guilty politicians to protect themselves by depriving the people of venues for airing demands and remedy for their issues.”

2. This preposterous law violates the rule against double jeopardy “since the acts and the crime of online libel are the same as that defined in the Revised Penal Code” hence there is a dangerous tendency for an offender to be penalized twice for the same offense. Consider the following: a person could be sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for posting online comments judged to be libelous. This is indeed, grossly unjust and oppressive, to say the least!

3. This law violated the Protection Clause
In the words of counsel Disini, “”since the online libel law targets the fundamental right to free speech, the onus is upon the government to demonstrate a compelling state interest in penalizing online libel in this manner, and show that there was no less restrictive alternative available to promote that interest.

4. This law violates the constitutional provision against unreasonable searches and seizure. Further, by empowering various state agencies to launch surveillance against suspects and suspicious netizens, this law clearly violates the right of the citizens to their privacy, so as their communication.

5. The so-called takedown provision. Indeed, this is the most sinister and utterly odious provision of this dangerous law. Said provision “authorizes the DOJ to block access to any content upon a prima facie (or first glance) finding of a violation of the provisions of the Act.” Hence, it logically follows that under this scenario, “the DOJ has effectively become the judge, jury and executioner without the benefit of a trial or a conviction established beyond reasonable doubt.”

6. The Question of the Public Interest

Public Interest is defined as “the welfare of the general public (in contrast to the selfish interest of a person, group, or firm) in which the whole society has a stake and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies.”

While Wikipedia defined the term thus:

“The public interest refers to the “common well-being” or “general welfare”. The public interest is central to policy debates, politics, democracy and the nature of government itself.”
From the two definitions given, one can deduced incontestably that public interest means the interest of the whole public and the protection of the general welfare.

I am wondering aloud, where the hell is the advancement or the protection of the public interest in this law?

There is no iota of doubt that this Cybercrime law undeniably threatens free speech and the right thing to do is for the Congress to either review it or repeal its unconstitutional provisions.

In the case of Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S.46 (1988), the United States Supreme Court speaking through Chief Justice Rehnquist stated that:

“At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern.

“The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.

“We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.”

On this juncture, may I highlight that I also agree with the position taken by the Amnesty International in their stand with regard to this issue:

“The ‘cybercrime’ law rolls back protections for free speech in the Philippines. Under this law, a peaceful posting on the Internet could result in a prison sentence.”

Further, Isabelle Arradon, the deputy Asia director at Amnesty International added that:

“The law, which came into effect on Wednesday, broadly extends criminal libel (defined in the Philippines as the public and malicious imputation of a discreditable act that tends to discredit or dishonour another person and which currently exists under the Revised Penal Code) to apply to acts “committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future”.

“It also increases the criminal penalties for libel in computer-related cases.

“In January 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee found the Philippines’s criminalization of libel to be “incompatible” with the freedom of expression clause in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The Philippine constitution establishes that ‘no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech’”.

In the stirring words of Dr. Zosimo Lee, former Dean of College of Social Science and Philosophy at the University of the Philippines:

“The Cybercrime Law is inviting non-compliance because it is perceived to be unfair and undemocratic. Non-compliance from citizens, if it reaches critical levels, should be worrisome to any legitimate government because it can weaken the whole force of the law and hobbles effective administration. And when the force of the law is weakened, the legitimacy of any government becomes suspect on the whole.”

On this note, I would like to commend the Supreme Court in issuing a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) days ago which effectively suspend the execution and implementation of the said law pending the examination and determination of the said Court of its legality and constitutionality.

It is my hope and a great number of our people that eventually the Honorable Court as the last bastion of Freedom, Justice and Fairness will rule that the said law is unconstitutional!

Until then, until that judgment and judicial pronouncement of the Court, it is our passionate and firm will to continue to fight this unjust, unfair and illegal law in whatever means we means necessary.

Hence, it is our collective shouts and screams that:

It is not a crime to criticize government inaction and irresponsibility, it is our right!
It is not a crime to expose government violations, it is our right!
It is not a crime to assert and defend our rights, it is our right!
But it is a CRIME by the Government to violate our internet freedom because it is our human rights!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
October 11, 2012

The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.

Iboto ang iyong #HRPinduterosChoice para sa HR BLOGGERS POST.

Ang botohan ay magsisimula ngayon hanggang sa 11:59 ng Nov 15, 2013.

Ikaw para kanino ka pipindot? Simple lang bumoto:
• i-LIKE ang thumbnail/s ng iyong mga ibinoboto sa HRonlinePH facebook, i-share at ikampanya.
• Bisitahin ang post sa HRonlinePH.com (links sa bawat thumbnail) at pindutin ang button sa
poll sa ilalim ng bawat nominadong post.
• Most number of the combined likes sa FB at sa poll buttons ang magiging 3rd HR Pinduteros
Choice na kikilalanin sa 2013 HR week celebration.

Makiisa sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon hinggil sa karapatang pantao. Pindot na!

WHAT IS 3RD HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE AWARDS? https://hronlineph.com/2013/10/01/3rd-human-rights-
pinduteros-choice-awards/

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[Resources] Executive Order No. 79

Executive Order No. 79, s. 2012
MALACAÑAN PALACE
MANILA

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 79

INSTITUTIONALIZING AND IMPLEMENTING REFORMS IN THE PHILIPPINE MINING SECTOR PROVIDING POLICIES AND GUIDELINES TO ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND RESPONSIBLE MINING IN THE UTILIZATION OF MINERAL RESOURCES

WHEREAS, Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides that the State shall protect and advance the right of the Filipino people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature;

WHEREAS, Section 1, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution seeks a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth; a sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people; an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged; and that in the pursuit of these goals, all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country shall be given optimum opportunity to develop;

WHEREAS, Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution provides that the exploration, development, and utilization of mineral resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State;

WHEREAS, further to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, which recognizes the small-scale utilization of resources by Filipino citizens, small-scale mining shall be recognized as a formal sector of the industry;

WHEREAS, Section 22, Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides that the State recognizes and promotes the right of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development, and Republic Act (RA) No. 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, recognizes further the indigenous peoples’ (IPs) right to develop their lands and natural resources within their ancestral domains, subject to their free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC);

WHEREAS, Section 7, Article X of the Constitution provides that local government units (LGUs) are entitled to an equitable share in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the national wealth within their jurisdiction, and the Local Government Code of 1991 provides that LGUs have the duty and authority to protect and co-manage the environment and enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology;

WHEREAS, Section 2 of RA No. 7492, otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, provides that it shall be the responsibility of the State to promote the rational exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the country’s mineral resources through the combined efforts of government and the private sector in order to enhance national growth in a way that effectively safeguards the environment and protects the rights of affected communities; and,

WHEREAS, as recommended by the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Economic Development Cabinet Clusters in a Joint Resolution dated 16 March 2012, a six-point agenda was adopted, which sets the direction and lays the foundation for the implementation of Responsible Mining Policies, foremost among which is to improve environmental mining standards and increase revenues to promote sustainable economic development and social growth, both at the national and local levels,
Read full EO @ www.gov.ph

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[From the web] PIFA Files 15th Petition vs. Cyber Martial Law -PIFA.ph

PIFA Files 15th Petition vs. Cyber Martial Law

The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) – a broad alliance of organizations and netizens – has filed before the Supreme Court on Monday (October 8, 2012), just a few minutes before the end of office hours, the fifteenth petition against the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, Republic Act 10175.

Petitioners asked the high court to issue a “Status Quo Ante Order and/or writ of preliminary injunction” to make government “observe the status quo prevailing before the enactment and effectivity of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.”

PIFA claims that its members have “legal standing to sue” because of the “chilling effect” that impacted on their online activities beginning October 3 – when RA 10175 took effect – subjecting netizens to “unwarranted electronic surveillance” by the Philippine government 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Section 12 of RA 10175 provides for “real-time collection of traffic data” which, the petition explains, “refers to [the collection of] ‘any computer data other than the content of the communication, including, but not limited to, the communication’s origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration, or type of underlying service.’ …[which] includes information on the identity of the person sending or receiving computer data.”

“Petitioners have legal standing to file this petition as individual and juridical persons who are lawyers, Internet users, taxpayers, subscribers of Philippine telecommunications companies, bloggers, writers, artists, citizen journalists, traditional media persons with an online (Internet) presence, and concerned citizens,” the 61-page petition reads.

PIFA scores the Cybercrime Prevention Act as “an undue abridgment of the freedom of speech, expression, and of the press” which “authorizes government to conduct an unreasonable search and seizure,” and decries that it “violates the right to privacy of communication and correspondence.”

PIFA warns that “the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act will clog the dockets of our courts arising from a deluge of frivolous lawsuits,” zeroing on Section 6 which raises the penalty for “all crimes” in other penal statutes as long as committed with the use of information and communication technologies.

PIFA said RA 10175 is “contrary to the guarantees of equal protection under the law” and “acts an ex post facto law” while also violating public international law. The petition also pointed out that the United Nations Human Rights Council has recently recognized just last July that the “freedom of expression on the Internet” is a “basic human right.”

The petition explains that even if Congress does amend the law, such corrective legislation would still “not render the issues moot, because [the violations] are capable of repetition, yet evading review.”

The petition also points out that the Cybercrime Prevention Act contradicts the Constitutional mandate for a “balanced flow of information under a policy respecting freedom of speech and of the press.”

The petitioners are personalities known offline as well as online, such as Bayan Muna party-list Representative Teddy Casiño.

Blogger-petitioner Noemi Lardizabal-Dado delivered this statement for her group, Blog Watch Citizen Media: “We believe RA 10175 only increases the lavish power of Philippine libel laws, and that the United Nations Human Rights Council is correct in calling Philippine libel law ‘excessive.’ We join with groups opposed to the Cybercrime Law to amend or repeal the law. We welcome engagement with government so that we can craft a better law which protects women and children and which strives for equal protection for everyone.”

Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) founder Ime Morales said, “As an organization, FWGP believes that RA 10175 is unconstitutional and was pushed to serve certain business interests; and we will continue to fight for our rights as writers and netizens of this country.”

Contact

Ayeen Karunungan
renee.karunungan@gmail.com
0917 505 70 55

Read petition @ pifa.ph

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[Statement] Republic Act No. 10175: legislating “one (1) degree higher” for impunity -PAHRA

Republic Act No. 10175: legislating “one (1) degree higher” for impunity

Our human right to the freedom of information
has not yet been made justiciable,
already a law is readied to curtail
our human right to the freedom of expression.

Republic Act No. 10175 –

AN ACT DEFINING CYBERCRIME, PROVIDING FOR THE PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, SUPPRESSION AND THE IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES –

was drafted, discussed, signed into law with all the good intentions to decisively stop the “perpetuation of licentiousness” ( Petition for Certioriari by members of the Ateneo Human Rights Center or AHRC Petition) and other harmful acts perpetrated within the cyber communities and affecting as well millions of Filipino users of the internet. R.A. No. 10175 was to take into effect last October 3, 2012.

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) “like” / agree with the AHRC Petition arguing that singularly and / or collectively the following provisions in R.A. 10175, as they transgress the …Bill of Rights in Article III of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, are

“unconstitutional”:

Chapter II: Punishable Acts

Sec. 4. Cybercrime Offenses. – The following acts constitute the offense of cybercrime punishable under this Act: xxxxxxx

(4) Libel. – The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

SEC. 5. Other Offenses. – The following acts shall also constitute an offense:

(a) Aiding or abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any person who wilfully aids or abets in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be liable.

(b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime. — Any person who willfully attempts to commit any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.

SEC. 6. 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.

SEC. 7. Liability under Other Laws. — A prosecution under this Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.

SEC. 19. Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data. — When a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data

The above provisions are also non-compliant with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which was ratified by President Corazon Aquino and signed recently by President Benigno S. Aquino III, ironically, days before the 40th anniversary of the imposition of Martial Law which violently suppressed, among other human rights, the freedoms of information and of expression.

Furthermore, in relation to the issue of libel, the U.N. Human Rights Committee states in General Comment No. 34 (2011): “States parties should consider the decriminalization of defamation and, in any case, the application of the criminal law should only be countenanced in the most serious of cases and imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty.”

Even as early as January 24 Senate Session when Senator Vicente Sotto inserted the libel clause, provisions have been made to lodge within the said law that if implemented would be like viruses for impunity. Unwittingly or otherwise, congress has legislated

“one (1) degree higher” for impunity.

One person too many, after exercising one’s freedom of expression, have been a victim of vilification and later became a subject of extra-judicial killing or enforced disappearance or torture. Human rights defenders in exposing also through cyber bulletin boards the anomalies and abuses done by government and / or security forces officials are often harassed and criminalize, as in the case of Cocoy Tulawie. The objectionable provisions, despite protestation to the contrary, can be used to legitimize violations.

If not amended of the objectionable provisions, those directly responsible for the passage of R.A. 10175 will be held also accountable for the human rights violations and criminal acts done in its name.

PAHRA unites with all those petitioners who call on the responsibles of the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government, as well as the Supreme Court, to:

1. Facilitate the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order to desist in implementing R.A. No. 10175;

2. Schedule a Department of Justice public hearing and input its results in the Oral Arguments before the Supreme Court;

3. Amend or declare null and void Sections 4 (4), 5, 6, 7 and 19 of R.A. No. 10175.
October 8, 2012

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[In the news] Petitioners unite as #NoToCybercrimeLaw to mount unified actions -InterAksyon.com

Petitioners unite as #NoToCybercrimeLaw to mount unified actions
By InterAksyon.com
October 6, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Organizations and individuals who have filed petitions against the Cybercrime Prevention Act have agreed to join forces and mount concerted actions to press their demand to scrap the controversial statute, beginning with a rally before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, when they hope the tribunal to issue a ruling.

The petitioners — activist groups, freedom of expression advocates, media organizations, bloggers, lawyers and other sectors — agreed to call themselves by the hashtag #NoToCybercrimeLaw during a meeting at the University of the Philippines College of Law Saturday.

Among those represented at the meeting were the Kabataan party-list, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the law firm headed by lawyer Harry Roque.

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[In the news] Senate inserted Section 19: How the ‘take-down’ clause emerged in Cybercrime Law -InterAksyon.com

Senate inserted Section 19: How the ‘take-down’ clause emerged in Cybercrime Law
By Karl John C. Reyes, InterAksyon.com
October 2, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The notorious ‘take-down’ provision in the Anti-Cybercrime Act which empowers the Department of Justice (DOJ) to restrict or block access to computer data was ‘inserted’ in the Senate version of the bill, details further coming into light now establish.

A review by Interaksyon.com of the May 31, 2012, minutes of the Bicameral Conference Committee that worked to reconcile Senate Bill No. 2796 and House Bill No. 5808 into what would ultimately become the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, shows the provenance of the law’s controversial Section 19.

A provision for “Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data” first appeared as Section 13 in the Senate. This was later moved as Section 18.

“Okay, Now, Section 13 of the Senate version will now become Section 18, Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data,” the minutes quote conference committee member Sen. Edgardo Angara. Sen. Vicente Sotto III had earlier tagged Angara as the man responsible for Section 19 which, among other things, empowers the DOJ to restrict access to computer data, potentially allowing for the blocking of websites, experts say, without benefit of a warrant or court order. “When a computer data is prima facie, et cetera, et cetera,” Angara is on record as saying.

Angara, chairman of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), had sponsored the bill in the Senate.

In the final version of the consolidated bill under Republic Act 101751 signed by President Benigno Aquino III on September 12, 2012, Section 18, as agreed upon in the Bicameral Conference Committee, was then re-numbered as Section 19. It ultimately reads: “Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data – When a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data.”

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[From the web] Cybercrime law violates Intl rights obligations of Aquino Govt -Karapatan

Cybercrime law violates Intl rights obligations of Aquino Govt
by Karapatan
October2, 2012

Karapatan today joined activists, netizens, journalists, bloggers, organizations and individuals in a protest action in front of the Supreme Court, to call on the high court to declare the Cybercrime Law unconstitutional; as the measure, which is due to take effect on Oct.3, “poses serious threats to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and expression, among other civil and political rights.”

Members of the organization flashed tablets with electronic posters tagging the Cybercrime Law as a form of “e-martial law,” likening the law to the forms of suppression on civil and political rights by the military dictatorship imposed by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general and one of those who filed a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Act, said that aside from the law’s provisions on libel, the said measure gives free rein on authorities to monitor internet traffic data of internet users and to take down sites which they deem “libelous.”

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