Tag Archives: Jesse Robredo

[Featured Article] 28 killed in alleged political killings in Escalante under mayor’s term By Merck Maguddayao

28 killed in alleged political killings in Escalante under mayor’s term
By Merck Maguddayao

escalante poster

They always left their gates open.

In this rural village of Libertad in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, the only forbidding entity for village chief Fernando and wife Teresita Damalerio were the neighborhood drunks who, after long drunken stupors would engage in shouting matches, chases, and fistfights. Being the elected peace maker, Fernando would step in to settle the tipsy men, most of the time within the gates of his home.

Other than those occasional fracases, the people of Libertad lived their life slowly by tending their own farm or construct projects in good old bayanihan (collective labor) fashion, unlike the atomized atmosphere of the Metro. That’s why in the peripheries of urbanizing Escalante, it is okay to leave the gates open.

But not until November 8, 2007. Elected a month earlier as barangay captain, Fernando, together with his son Ferjun and kagawad (village councilor) Neptali Narvasa, went to the Commission on Elections branch office in downtown Escalante to file his statement of campaign expenses. At nightfall, as they approached home, violence occurred, but not the type carried out by drunkards.

In an interview, Teresita Demalerio narrated in a mix of Cebuano and Filipino that six armed men emerged from a curve at the corner of their house.

“One person approached our gates, went straight to Fernando who was on his way home, aimed his gun at him while shouting ‘Hapa! Hapa!’ (lie down) My husband raised his two arms and tried to thresh the matter out with the gunman. A second man entered our gate,” Teresita narrated.

Moments later, Teresita witnessed the first gunshot. It felled her son, Ferjun.

April 20 mobilization against killings in Escalante. Photo from Merck Maguddayao

April 20 mobilization against killings in Escalante. Photo from Merck Maguddayao

“Ferjun went out of the gate with his arms raised and uttered ‘Unsa may problema?’ (What’s the problem?) but was unable to finish his question when he was shot on the chest,” she continued.

In a snap, Fernando shoved the gunman who was aiming at him, and ran for cover inside his compound to his house. He was shot on the waist but the wound was miraculously shallow as his belt seemed to have dissipated the impact of the bullet.

Teresita followed her husband and while on her way, she noticed one of the gunmen lying down on the ground, who most probably was accidentally shot by his comrades during their attack, according to her account. She noticed a grenade in the hands of the felled assailant, picked it up, ran inside the house through a backdoor, and handed it to Fernando, who threw the grenade at the three other assailants. They disappeared after the blast.

The couple survived the ordeal, but not their youngest son Ferjun, who was a fresh college graduate with a degree in customs administration. He was felled down by a seemingly emerging gang of vigilantes, who would kill 27 other men in a span of six years leading to the May 2013 elections, which included Teresita’s brother Sergio Villador, who was killed a few months later.

September 21, 2013 Mobilization against killings in Escalante. Photo from Merck Maguddayao

September 21, 2013 Mobilization against killings in Escalante. Photo from Merck Maguddayao

28 felled men in six years, under two consecutive terms of incumbent and newly-elected mayor of Escalante City, Melecio “Beboy” Yap. The common denominator of the killings is that 18 of the felled men, as well as their surviving immediate relatives, were supporters of former mayor Santiago “May-May” Barcelona, whose term expired in 2007 but ran and lost in 2010 and 2013. Ferjun, though not an active supporter of Barcelona—his parents are—was an unfortunate fatality who absorbed a cheap but fatal shot from a trigger-happy gunman. Nine other victims were para-military volunteers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, locally known as Cafgu, who were likewise killed in an organized manner.
Yap has continuously denied responsibility of the killings, repeatedly saying in local news reports that it is mere demolition job against him.

Such bloodbath last occurred in the City last September 20, 1985, when at least 20 farmer-activists were killed allegedly by state agents in a protest rally in commemoration of Martial Law in front of the town hall. It is forever immortalized in history as theEscalante Massacre. However, this seemingly second version of Escalante Massacre did not happen in a single event–the killings were organized and followed a pattern.

Activist Luke Espiritu of the socialist Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), who documented the killings and
assisted the victims’ families in filing criminal charges against Yap and his alleged henchmen, explained that this constituted “circumstantial evidence” to charge Yap for murder and frustrated
murder before the prosecutor’s office of Escalante.

“There is a pattern to the killings. Most victims were from the camp of Barcelona,” Espiritu said.

“The victims’ family will first receive a warning from an unknown source: Switch allegiance or death,” he continued. “And indeed, the victims followed this pattern of threat followed by actual execution.”

“You think those who killed my son were common village drunkards? They were armed, and most of them attacked in groups. The killing operations seemed to be organized,” he concluded.

From their end, Espiritu assisted four other families in filing multiple murder charges against Yap, retired Army Major Tupas, Angel Sinadjan, Santiago Rapiz, and several John Does.

As the killings escalated, some families of the murdered men and some survivors brought the issue to then Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Jesse Robredo, who in 2011 created Task Force Escalante, an inter-government effort to investigate the killings and prevent possible killings. During this time, Yap was stripped of his police powers which he strongly opposed, claiming that the DILG’s measure was against his human rights. His allies from the pro-Maoist Bayan Muna even staged a rally in that year in support of Yap, branding Robredo’s order as a violation of Yap’s rights.

Task Force Escalante, though, withered away after Robredo’s untimely death in 2012 as current DILG secretary Mar Roxas seemed to have backpedalled in the investigation of the cases.

“We have sent follow-up letters to Secretary Roxas and even to PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) but we have not received any action from the national government,” Teresita Damalerio lamented. “It was a far cry from Robredo’s response to our ordeal.”

Hopeless that their appeals for help fell on deaf ears, the victims’ families stumbled upon Bacolod-native Espiritu, who was busy in campaigning for PLM’s electoral bid in Negros Occidental.

“I think we were blessed to meet a man who took us seriously,” Teresita said.

News about the killings infuriated Espiritu as the number was alarming. But what made him angrier was the fact that the DILG and Malacanang seemed to have discontinued Task Force Escalante after the death of its initiator. Worse, he heard a common notion blaming the insurgent New People’s Army as the perpetrators of the killings.

“Many of these killings were dismissed as insurgency-related. Then case closed. This is an excuse not to undertake further investigation,” he lamented.

The new collaboration resulted in the formation of the local human rights formation Save Negros Movement (Save Negros), which held its first rally in front of Escalante City Hall last April 20 attended by at least 8,000 angry citizens of Escalante denouncing the purported atrocities of Yap and his men.

The gathered crowd called for the continuation of the pending investigation of the killings, the quick prosecution of Yap and the other suspects, and placing Escalante under the control of the
Commission on Elections.

“It seemed like People Power,” Espiritu recalled. “The people were angry, they seemed to want to barge in City Hall and take over the city.”

“They want Mayor Yap to answer the allegations, at the very least, air his side. But he didn’t, which made us angrier,” he said.

Despite this seemingly popular discontent against him, Yap won by a comfortable margin on 9,000 votes over Barcelona in the elections a month after the rally.

It seemed to have been a reaffirmation of the Escalante people’s trust to their mayor, but Damalerio begs to differ.

“We believe Barcelona’s machinery was severely weakened by the killings since 2007, so what do you expect? He became politically dead,” Damalerio explained.

Damalerio insists that his family’s support for Barcelona was because the mayor simply addressed their basic demands—agricultural infrastructure, healthcare, school buildings, and scholarship for
their children. This, she believes, was the reason for Barcelona’s erstwhile political success, having served for three terms from 1998 to 2007.

However, she and the victims, she asserts, have gone beyond being supporters of an ex-mayor. Currently the spokesperson of the Save Negros Movement and PLM-Escalante, she believes that the most viable way to end institutionalized violence in Escalante a movement independent from
traditional political rivals in their city.
Thus, she, along with more than a hundred relatives of EJK victims and some survivors, went beyond the human rights alliance Save Negros and joined PLM, as they believed that justice is served not in the courtroom, but through the direct empowerment of the Escalante masses. In a rally to commemorate the 1985 Escalante Massacre last September 21, the now PLM-Escalante chapter mobilized 300 of its members in front of the City Hall, calling for empowerment and direct democracy as the replacement of warlordist rule in the city. Still fearing for their lives, they braved the scorching weather and a possible rain of bullets.

“We still love Mayor May-May, and we are forever indebted to him,” Damalerio said, recalling her days as supporter of the former mayor. “But we victims have to unite as an independent force
in this city. The issue has gone beyond politics for our lives are at stake. The only way for us to move forward is to organize, no longer perceived as simply Barcelona supporters, but as an independent force of the oppressed.”

She still fears for her life and that of her husband and relatives, though.

“Heaven forbid, but when I return to Escalante, I might be a dead woman. Or maybe, one or two more will be killed.”

She concluded her story with these simple words: “Sending Yap to jail is not enough. Real justice is achieved by changing the system. Leave the masses alone to decide on their own fate, to decide on the fate of our beloved city, for we are the builders of this city.”

Six years may have passed since the death of Teresita Damalerio’s son and brother and the death of 27 others, but for the families of the victims of extra-judicial killings in Escalante, the fight has just begun. They continue to knock on the locked gate of justice while literally dodging bullets fired behind them.

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[Press Release] NoyMar Community sa Pasig nahaharap sa demolisyon -SRNFI

NoyMar Community sa Pasig nahaharap sa demolisyon

Santolan-Tawiran, Pasig City: Ang mga residente ng Riverside, Bgy. Santolan ay muli nanamang naghahanda sa isang pigil-demolisyon laban sa banta ng lokal na gobyernong Pasig na ipapatupad sa ika-13 ngSetyembre 2012.

May higit sa 600 pamilya ang nakatakdang pwersahang i-demolish dahil sa ang kanilang mga tirahan ay nasa loob ng 30 meters sa kahabaan ng tabing ilog. Kabilang dito ang ilang mga pamilya na lehitimong awardee ng proyektong pabahay ng syudad ng Pasig. Ang mga naturang “lot awardees” ay binigyan ng 15 araw na palugit ng Pasig Action Line sa pamamagitan ng abiso ng pinirmahan ni Norman Luis de Leon, upang kusang maggiba ng sariling bahay.Taliwas sa tamang proseso, walang clearance mula sa local housing board o di kaya’y court order ang pagpapatupad ng lokal na pamahalaan ng demolisyon. Kaugnay dito, nag-isyu ang PCUP (Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor) ng isang sulat na humihiling sa lokal na gobyernong Pasig na pag-usapan ang isyu na nabanggit sa abiso katulad ng mandamus, water code of the philippines at danger zone.

Ayonsamgaresidentengtabing-ilog, maliwanag na angkabahayan na sakop ng 30 meters ang puntirya ng lokal na gobyerno, at ito ay hindi nakatutok lamang sa pabahay ng lokal na gobyerno sa purok Doroteo. Dagdagngmgaresidente, “Handakamingipaglabanang aming mga tahanan.

Marami nang naumpisahang proyekto ang dating Secretary Jesse Robredo, nung siya ay pumanaw ay bigla nanamang nag-init ang mata ng LGU sa amin. Kami ay ang puwersa ng NoyMar nuong nakaraang eleksyon. May kinalaman kaya ito sa paulit-ulit na tangkang pag-giba sa amin?”

c/o Santolan Riverside Neighborhood Federation, Inc. (SRNFI)
24 Masikap St., Tawiran Ext., Santolan, Pasig City
Contact: 0918-466-4591 (Secretariat)
SRNFI2012@gmail.com

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[People] Last lap for the RH Bill? By Walden Bello

Afterthoughts

Last lap for the RH Bill?
By Walden Bello

Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 27, 2012

With Congress resuming deliberations after the nation was united in response to the unending rains of early August and brought together in mourning the untimely departure of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, the battle over the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill will again move to center stage.

Let me try to answer the most frequently asked questions on where Congress is at on the bill.

What is the status of the bill?

House Bill 4244, better known as the Responsible Parenthood or Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, is now being discussed in plenary, and we are in the period of amendments in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It was reported out of the Committee on Population of the House as early as January 2011, but the anti-RH forces forced a very long period of interpellation. This ended only when President Aquino, at a special luncheon in Malacanang on August 6, pleaded with members of the House to vote to end the period of interpellation. With the House agreeing to the presidential request and voting viva voce to end the period of interpellation, we advanced to the period of amendments. The Senate has done likewise. But the process has again been delayed by anti-RH forces, like Senator Tito Sotto and Rep. Roilo Golez of Parañaque, who have been filibustering in an effort to prevent the amendment process from moving forward.

What is the strategy of the anti-RH group?

The anti-RH lobby knows that at the moment the pro-RH forces are likely to be in the majority. So their strategy is to prolong the parliamentary process and bring it as close as possible to the national elections in May 2013. There are two reasons behind this strategy. The first is that they hope some of the pro-RH forces will waver and decide against voting for the bill for fear that the Catholic Church hierarchy will tell their Catholic constituents to vote against them. The bishops are stoking the fear of legislators that though there may not be a significant “Catholic vote,” even if as low as three per cent of the electorate listen to their bishop, this can make the difference in close elections, which is often the case in congressional races. The other reason is that once we get to early October, it will be very difficult to muster quorums to take up legislation since most members of the House will be busy with their electoral campaigns.

What is the Church hierarchy up to?

The Catholic Church hierarchy is vehemently against the bill, and this is the reason the bill was bottled up in congressional committees for 14 years. It is only in the current 15th Congress that the bill has been able to reach the plenary. Despite the ecclesiastical campaign against family planning, surveys have shown that the population, more than 80 per cent of which is Catholic, is overwhelmingly in favor of family planning, including artificial contraception, and against efforts by the Church to interfere with couples’ personal decisions on family planning.

With things coming to a climax, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has stepped up its campaign of lies against the bill. For instance, it is attacking the bill as a measure that would lead to abortion. However, the bill is explicitly against abortion, and, if passed, would actually contribute decisively to reducing the estimated 450,000 abortions that now occur annually by giving people seeking to limit their family size access to contraceptives that would prevent unwanted pregnancies. The hierarchy is also asserting that RH would lead to immoral behavior, and that use of condoms would spread HIV-AIDs. These are just three of the many falsehoods and distortions the bishops have spread against the bill.

In addition to actively coaching the anti-RH legislators, the bishops have been mounting demonstrations “of the faithful,” though these have fallen flat in terms of numbers. They have even taken to lobbying Congress directly. Recently, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa City distributed statues of the Virgin Mary to pro-RH legislators, a move that many congressmen interpreted either as a threat or a bribe. My office returned the statue to Arguelles, as we would a monetary bribe.

How will the pro-RH forces cope with delaying tactics?

The pro-RH forces are not without weapons. We are halting the consideration of all other legislative matters, including privileged speeches, unless the bill moves forward to a vote. We will place the onus for the legislative stalemate on the anti-democratic dilatory moves of the anti-RH minority. Some of us are considering even suspending the consideration of the national budget, but only as a last resort, if the anti-RH lobby does not see the light.

What are the chances of the bill passing?

I estimate that we have about 140 sure votes and another 15-20 leaning our way. There are 285 House members, and of this, I think that the solidly anti-RH forces probably number no more than120. So we are battling for some 30-35 undecided or wavering forces. A majority of senators are for the bill. So it’s not the numbers we fear. It’s the delaying tactics, the move to prevent a vote from being taken at all. In my view, however, procedural derailment will not succeed, and we will be able to bring the bill to a vote before the end of September. I am confident that vote will be one that will uphold responsible parenthood, reproductive rights, reason, science, and the national interest,

*INQUIRER.net columnist Walden Bello represents Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the House of Representatives and is one of the main authors of the Reproductive Health Bill (House Bill 4244).

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[Press Release] Death of Sec. Robredo a big loss to urban poor cause – Kilos Maralita

Death of Sec. Robredo a big loss to urban poor cause – Kilos Maralita

Urban poor groups will be missing a man who stirred the process of involving grassroots organizations in the formulation of a more humane policy in addressing the housing problems of informal settlers. The death Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (DILG) Secretary Jessie Robredo, the groups said, is a big loss to the cause of the urban poor.

As DILG Secretary, Robredo also heads the inter-agency Technical Working Group created by President Aquino in 2010 tasked to formulate recommendations on how to address problems of the urban poor sector. With participation of Kilos Maralita and other urban poor groups, the TWG was able to formulate a new housing policy contained in a memorandum submitted to the President on March 15, 2011.

Said memorandum covers proposals for on-site/in-city relocation with people’s participation as a major element in formulating concrete
proposals for socialized housing projects. Unfortunately said memo has not yet been approved by Malacanang.

“Kumpara sa nakaraan, kakaiba ang naging karanasan ng maralita sa pamumuno ni Sec. Robredo. Nasa kanya ang senseridad at matibay na
paninindigan na malutas ang problema sa pabahay ng mga maralita sa mas makatao at maayos na paraan. Kaya naman napakataas ng respeto ng mga maralita sa kanya,” stated Kilos Maralita spokesperson Teody Gacer.

Kilos Maralita joined the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), the Caritas of Novaliches and other informal settlers in the 5:00 pm mass offering held at the St. Parish Cathedral in Commonwealth Quezon City.

Kilos Maralita and the Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP) opted to engage the TWG when it was formed on the ground that a new housing policy must depart from the previous policy of off-site relocation that denies informal settlers the right to the city.

At the moment and before the flooding and the untimely death of Sec. Robredo, urban poor groups under Kilos Maralita were in the thick of
preparing people’s proposals for in-city relocations of informal settler families living in the danger zones.

“Nakakapanghinayang lang na nawala si Sec. Robredo sa panahong ang proseso sa paglutas sa problema sa pabahay ng maralita ay umaandar na sa tamang direksyon”, added Gacer.

Gacer said urban poor groups do not want to see the TWG–led process stalled with the absence of Robredo. They appealed to the President
to assure the continuity of this process by approving the March 15 TWG recommendations and by assigning a likely-minded official in charge of the urban poor.

PRESS RELEASE
Kilos Maralita
21 August 2012
Contact: Bubuy Magahis
Coordinator, Kilos Maralita
09228877634

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[Press Release] Active Vista Human Rights Film Festival in Naga pays homage to Secretary Robredo as staunch defender of human rights -DAKILA

Active Vista Human Rights Film Festival in Naga pays homage to Secretary Robredo as staunch defender of human rights

The human rights film festival, Active Vista, traveled to Naga City last August 22 with the screening of the films Bunso by Ditsi Carolino and Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa by Alvin Yapan at the Arupe Hall of the Ateneo de Naga University.

Active Vista Program Director, Kristine Kintana, said, “The screenings of Active Vista today is a tribute to Secretary Robredo who best exemplifies a life dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights.” The former Mayor who led Naga City to social progress implemented programs that provided security of tenure to the squatters of the city and institutionalized structures and mechanisms to allow democratic participation, transparency and accountability in local governance.

“While Active Vista joins the entire nation especially the City of Naga in mourning for the untimely demise of a true public servant, we also pay homage to Secretary Jesse Robredo, whose life has inspired the Filipino people. The screenings of Active Vista today in his hometown is but a fitting tribute to the man whose public service has paved the way for the people of Naga to live a life of dignity.”

Secretary Robredo is a known figure in the social movement, first and foremost, as a model public servant advocating for good governance and as defender of human rights. Among his advocacies include the right of Persons with Disabilities, the right to freedom of information and education. He is considered a reliable ally of the urban poor and marginalized sectors.

Kristine further said, “Active Vista aspires to impart to our young audiences the truth about the human rights situation in our country through cinema. And hopefully, they may be inspired to follow the path that Secretary Robredo has threaded. In his commencement message for Ateneo students in 2003, Secretary Robredo said “It is your contribution that really matters – paying back what you owe the community that nurtured you”.

Active Vista is a human rights film festival organized by the artist collective Dakila – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism and supported by AusAID, Movies that Matter Netherlands and the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The Naga City screenings is the 6th leg of the 20-city tour of the film festival, which started last July and will end on December 2012. 

DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism
Unit 3A, VS1 Bldg., 34 Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City
Cellular: (0905) 4292539
Tel. No.:(02) 4354309
E-mail: mabuhay@dakila.org.ph
Website: http://www.dakila.org.ph
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dakila.philippines
Follow us on Twitter: dakila_ph

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[In the news] Gov’t threatens to blow up illegal structures, pens -INQUIRER.net

Gov’t threatens to blow up illegal structures, pens.

By Michael Lim Ubac, Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 14, 2012

Action speaks louder than words when it comes to almost everything, including issuing threats to squatters’ homes that clog waterways.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson on Saturday said the national government would go to the extent of blowing up structures that block waterways to ease flooding in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

Tough talk

If only Malacañang can translate his words into action and finally muster the political will to relocate 125,000 families in the metropolis alone.

Following a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Aquino, Singson disclosed plans to “blast all of the illegal pens in waterways” in Laguna Lake and to “remove” all obstructions within water channels in Luzon to solve, once and for all, the perennial flooding in these areas.

At a briefing, Singson said the government would forcibly remove all illegal structures to clear water channels of all “obstructions,” be they houses or fish pens.

The President created an interagency body headed by Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to implement this plan.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

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[In the news] Demolisyon ng mga bahay sa Metro Manila, ipinatigil muna ni Robredo -GMA News

Demolisyon ng mga bahay sa Metro Manila, ipinatigil muna ni Robredo.

April 28, 2012

Nagpatupad ng pansamantalang moratorium nitong Biyernes si Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo sa paggiba ng mga bahay ng mga informal settler sa Metro Manila.

Sa isang pahayag, sinabi ng kalihim na mananatili ang moratorium habang isinasagawa ang pagrebisa sa lahat ng patakaran ng mga kinauukulang ahensiya na may kinalaman sa demolisyon kasama na ang Philippine National Police at local government units (LGUs).

Matapos ang isasagawang pagrepaso, kailangang magkaroon ng a “pre-demolition meeting” ang PNP, LGUs, National Housing Authority, mga may-ari ng gigibaing bahay, at iba pang stakeholders bago ipatupad ang anumang kautusan ng korte.

Ang kautusan ay ipinalabas ni Robredo upang maiwasan umano na maulit ang marahas na demolisyon na naganap sa Silverio compound sa Paranaque City nitong Lunes.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

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[Press Release] Tucuma residents welcome suspension of demolitions but wants moratorium extended till housing program reformed -Tucuma Federation

Tucuma residents welcome suspension of demolitions but wants moratorium extended till housing program reformed

The residents of the depressed community of Tucuma in Barangay Merville, Parañaque who have been preparing to fight off an eviction heaved a sigh of relief and welcomed the temporary suspension of demolitions ordered by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo hours after they held a rally and sought a dialogue with his office yesterday.

“We however call on Sec. Robredo to extend the moratorium till the housing and even jobs policy of the government is reviewed and reformed,” Ramil Asturias, Tucuma Federation president said. This was in reaction to reports that the suspension will only last until the regulations on demolitions are assessed and affirmed.

Leaders of Tucuma Federation together with residents of NIA compound in Quezon City and West Bicutan who face similar land disputes staged the rally and were met with a DILG official named Clarion Paz-Tanghal who received the letter on behalf of Sec. Robredo. Asturias appealed to Robredo to facilitate negotiations between Tucuma Federation, the landowner Molave Development Corporation and Parañaque Mayor Florencio Bernabe.

Renato Magtubo, Partido ng Manggagawa chairperson, supported Asturias’ position and said that “Suspending demolitions until new rules are drafted merely scratches the surface of the problem. The government needs to address the root cause of lack of housing for the poor. The housing program is tied up with the jobs and wages policy. The low wages in the country, as attested by a recent report of the ILO, means that the poor have barely enough income for food much less rent or amortization on housing.”

Magtubo announced that a long march or Lakbayan from Calabarzon to Manila will be held on the eve of Labor Day and banner the call “Stop to demolitions, Housing and jobs for all.” Some 400 workers, youth and poor from Cavite, Laguna and Batangas will march from Zapote early in the morning of April 30 then merge with a contingent from Metro Manila by 3:00 p.m. in Baclaran and stay overnight at the Holy Trinity Church in Balic-Balic. On May 1, the “Lakbayan para sa Pabahay at Trabaho” will join the huge 20,000-strong “historic” rally by the newly-formed Nagkaisa, which unites the country’s major labor center for the first time since the 1980’s.

Magtubo revealed that the number of informal settlers was estimated at half a million families by a HUDCC study in 2007 while the housing backlog is assumed to be 3.7 million units. “Tucuma’s fight is the fight of all. Decent housing is a right not a privilege of all Filipinos. Violent evictions must be prohibited. Land disputes must be resolved through negotiations without the threat of violence, deceit or bribery. Residents must be relocated to better living conditions to ensure that negotiations end peacefully in agreement,” he insisted.

Press Release
April 28, 2012
Tucuma Federation
Contact Ramil Asturias @ 09178092807

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[In the news] Militants welcome suspension of demolitions in NCR, but…-GMA News

Militants welcome suspension of demolitions in NCR, but….

April 28, 2012

Militant groups on Saturday welcomed the order by Department of Local and Interior Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to suspend demolitions in Metro Manila, following a violent confrontation that killed one and wounded 39 in Parañaque City last Monday.

But the Metro Manila chapters of Anakbayan and Kabataan party-list groups said that while Robredo’s decision is a “triumph of urban poor dwellers,” it may be too little too late.

“We welcome the DILG‘s decision to suspend all demolitions in Metro Manila. [But] this victory was won through the militant struggle of the urban poor dwellers,” said Kabataan Metro Manila spokesperson Mark Louie Aquino.

He was referring to the struggle especially by the residents of Silverio Compound in Parañaque City last April 23.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

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[Press Release] Tucuma residents ask Robredo to intervene for expropriation of disputed land

Tucuma residents ask Robredo to intervene for expropriation of disputed land

A delegation of leaders from the Tucuma community in Barangay Merville in Parañaque staged a rally at the DILG head office and sought a dialogue with Secretary Jesse Robredo. A DILG official named Clarion Paz-Tanghal met with the Tucuma leaders and received the letter on behalf of Sec. Robredo. Ramil Asturias, Tucuma Federation president, said that “We asked Sec. Robredo to intervene and persuade Mayor Florencio Bernabe to stay the implementation of the demolition order and refile expropriation proceedings. It is not true that Mayor Bernabe’s hands are tied. The expropriation case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning the city hall can refile it once more. All it takes is political will.”

The Tucuma Federation leaders held the protest and then dialogue with Paz-Tanghal at around 10:00 a.m. in Quezon City in order to prevent another bloody eviction similar to the demolition at the Silverio Compound last Monday.

“We explained to the DILG that Mayor Bernabe is not powerless to do anything except demolish our homes. The local government’s expropriation case was dismissed without prejudice by the courts. This means that all Mayor Bernabe has to do is to refile the expropriation case against the Molave Development Corp which is headed by a certain Cynthia Tinitigan,” Asturias explained.

The Tucuma Federation is banking on City Ordinance 0013 s. 2000 which mandates the local government to buy the disputed land measuring some one hectare for the purpose of a socialized housing project for the informal settlers. Meanwhile some 1,000 families in Tucuma are on a 24/7 alert to defend their homes and livelihood against the expected demolition attempt.

Renato Magtubo, chairperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa, declared its support for the Tucuma Federation. He said “Tucuma’s fight is the fight of all. Decent housing is a right not a privilege of all Filipinos. Violent evictions must be prohibited. Land disputes must be resolved through negotiations without the threat of violence, deceit or bribery. Residents must be relocated to better living conditions to ensure that negotiations end peacefully in agreement.

He revealed that one of the demands to be raised in the coming May Day rally of workers is a moratorium on demolitions. A long march or “Lakbayan” of informal settlers and community youth from Calabarzon will start on April 30 and merge with the May Day rally. The Lakbayan will banner the call “Stop demolitions. Housing for all.” ###

——————————————————————————

Mga residente ng Tucuma magsusumbong kay Sec. Robredo sa planong demolisyon ni Mayor Bernabe

Isang delegasyon ng mga lider mula sa komunidad ng Tucuma sa Barangay Merville sa Parañaque ang magtutungo ngayong umaga sa opisina ni DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo upang idulog ang kanilang kahilingang huwag ituloy ang demolisyon sa kanilang mga tahanan. “Kami ay umaapela kay Sec. Robredo na makialam at itulak si Mayor Bernabe na huwag ituloy ang demolisyon at sa halip ay ipatupad ng local government ang expropriation ng lupang tinitirikan ng aming mga bahay,” ani Ramil Asturias, presidente ng Tucuma Federation.

Magrarali ang mga lider ng Tucuma Federation sa pambansang opisina ng DILG mamayang 10:00 n.u. at makikipagdayalogo kay Robredo upang maiwasan ang madugong ebiksyon gaya ng naganap sa Silverio Compound noong Lunes.

“Ipapaliwanag namin kay Sec. Robredo na di totoong walang magagawa si Mayor Bernabe. Ang sinabi ni Mayor na natalong kaso ay dismissal without prejudice ng expropriation case. Ibig sabihin, ang kailangan lang gawin ni Mayor ay muling isampa ang expropriation proceeding,” diin ni Asturias.

Pinanghahawakan ng Tucuma Federation ang City Ordinance 0013 s. 2000 na nagsasaad na bibilhin ng local government ang humigit-kumulang isang ektaryang lupa para maging socialized housing project para sa informal settlers.

Samantala patuloy ang pagbabantay ng isang libong pamilya sa Tucuma sa bantang demolisyon na maaring maganap anumang oras. Nagpahayag sila ng kahandaang ipaglaban ang kanilang paninirahan at hanapbuhay.

Sinusuportahan naman ni Renato Magtubo, tagapangulo ng Partido ng Manggagawa, ang laban ng Tucuma. Aniya “Dapat ipagbawal ang mararahas na demolisyon. Lutasin ang mga usapin sa lupa sa kaparaanan ng negosasyon nang walang karahasan, panunuhol at panloloko. Isa sa hiling namin sa Mayo Uno ay moratorium sa mga demolisyon at pabahay para sa lahat.”

Press Release
April 27, 2011
Tucuma Federation
Contact Ramil Asturias @ 09178092807

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[In the news] Make voting convenient for PWDs, groups urge -RAPPLER.com

Make voting convenient for PWDs, groups urge.

BY REYNALDO SANTOS, JR., RAPPLER.com
April 22, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The government and some civic groups are aiming to increase the participation rate of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in elections, especially with the mid-term polls in 2013 about a year away.

According to Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, there are around 2.6 million PWDs in the country qualified to vote in 2013, potentially making them a key voting bloc.

However, going by the 2010 national elections experience, wherein only 345,000 PWD voters registered and, of this, only 53% actually went to cast their ballot, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Rene Sarmiento said there is more to be done to promote the voting rights of PWDs.

This is the aim of a 3-year program of the Asia Foundation, with support from the Australian  Agency for International Development (AusAID) that aims to increase voting participation of PWDs in the 2013 midterm polls.

In the launch of the Asia Foundation’s Fully Abled Nation campaign on April 18, civic group members and government officials claim that there is a need to make voting practices convenient to PWDs, especially that their participation rate decreased in the recent election.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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[In the news] President Noynoy Aquino names Zamboanga mayor peace council chairman | Sun.Star

President Noynoy Aquino names Zamboanga mayor peace council chairman | Sun.Star.

January 29, 2012

 MAYOR Celso Lobregat was named by President Benigno Aquino III as chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in Zamboanga Peninsula.

The RPOC is the body that ensures a more comprehensive and effective coordination of government efforts and the active participation of citizenry in the campaign against criminality and insurgency.

Lobregat’s appointment, dated November 28, 2011, was signed by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo by virtue of his authority as the chair of the National Peace and Order Council.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

[In the news] Pantukan tunnels ordered closed down – RAPPLER

Pantukan tunnels ordered closed down – RAPPLER – Philippine News | Multimedia | Citizen Journalism | Social Media.
by RAPPLER.COM
January 7, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines – All high-risk mining tunnels in Pantukan, Compostela Valley will be closed down within the week, following orders of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and local government units.

This comes on the heels of a landslide Thursday, January 5, in Sitios Diat Uno and Dos in Barangay Napnapan that left at least 30 dead. According to a report from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, as of 4:30 pm, Saturday, January 7, 16 persons were rescued while 45 others were still reported missing.

Earlier, weather forecasters and disaster management officials warned that more landslides are likely to occur nationwide as heavy rains could persist until August.

Graciano Yumul, supervising undersecretary of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, said the country will be in for a “wet summer” because of La Niña which raises temperatures and causes drought in other parts of the planet but brings heavy rains with it.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo gave the go-signal for the closure of the mining tunnels after meeting with local officials and municipal Mayor Celso Sarenas.

Compostela Valley Gov Arthur Uy said owners of mining tunnels were given 90 days to bring down to the mineral processing site in Lower Pantukan their ball mills.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

[In the news] Philippines to shut some mines after landslide – h.news.yahoo.com

Philippines to shut some mines after landslide
AP – 11 hours ago

 MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government on Friday ordered the shutdown of gold-mining tunnels threatened by landslides in a southern town where a chunk of a mountain tumbled down on sleeping residents, killing at least 27 people.

The landslide struck hours before dawn Thursday on a mountain dotted with mine shafts and crude shanties with corrugated metal roofs in Napnapan village in Compostela Valley province.

It was the area’s second deadly landslide in a year — 20 people were killed in a neighboring village last April — and prompted the environment secretary to call for curbing permits in the region’s small-scale gold-mining industry.

Authorities in Pantukan township, where Napnapan village is located, expect to complete a survey next week that will indicate where landslides are likely to happen. Mines that sit in the danger zone will be ordered shut, and the workers and their families living on the mountain will be relocated, said Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Robredo, who flew over the village in a military helicopter Friday, also ordered that gold ore processing be moved from Napnapan village to the town center so that the miners’ families don’t have to live with them near the mines.
“It will be more expensive, but it will be more safe,” he said. “I am sure there will be resistance — that’s why this will be enforced by the armed forces and the police.”

Read full article @ ph.news.yahoo.com

[In the news] P500,000 reward for Palparan’s arrest – Robredo – InterAksyon.com

P500,000 reward for Palparan’s arrest – Robredo
by Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE – 2:24 p.m.) The Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government have jointly put up a P500,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of former Army general Jovito Palparan, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said Tuesday.

The announcement of the bounty came after the chief of the Philippine National Police said Palparan, dubbed “The Butcher” by human rights organizations who blame him for hundreds of extrajudicial murders, enforced disappearances and cases of illegal detention and torture, sought assurances of safety and security if he gives himself up.

Director General Nicanor Bartolome confirmed that Jovito Palparan had sent “emissaries” to relay his intention to surrender.

Palparan is wanted on charges of kidnapping and illegal detention after a Bulacan regional trial court issued a warrant for his arrest last week. Just before this, he attempted to slip out of the country through the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga but was stopped by immigration officials because he is on a government travel watch list.

Read full article @ interaksyon.com

[In the news] Hunt on for Palparan – newsinfo.inquirer.net

Hunt on for Palparan.
Notorious general goes into hiding
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The tables have been turned: The hunter is now the hunted.

Two days after Jovito Palparan Jr. was stopped at an airport in Pampanga province  from leaving the country, the government launched a manhunt for the retired major general tagged by activist groups as “Berdugo (Butcher)” for the string of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances attributed to him.

A task force has been formed solely to find, arrest and detain Palparan since his foiled attempt to leave for Singapore on Monday, President Benigno Aquino III’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, said Wednesday.

Formed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, the task force is made up of members of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, Lacierda said.

The mother of one of two University of the Philippines students abducted in 2006 said that Palparan was “a coward” and that “we will search you out.”

In a statement issued by his office, Lacierda called on Palparan to stop hiding and surrender to authorities: “Come out, come out wherever you are.”

He said the man “formerly so bold and brazen, and lavishly coddled by the former administration, is now a fugitive from justice.”

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[In the news] 58 human trafficking victims rescued in Sibugay, Tawi-tawi – InterAksyon.com

58 human trafficking victims rescued in Sibugay, Tawi-tawi
Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com

MANILA – Fifty-eight potential victims of human trafficking were rescued by elements of the Philippine Center for Transnational Crimes in various operations in Zamboanga Sibugay and Tawi-Tawi last June, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reported Sunday.

In a statement, the DILG said the victims, 41 of whom were women, were to be shipped off the Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Jordan, Lebanon, and Qatar.

Citing a report submitted to him by PCTC executive director Felizardo Serapio Jr., DILG secretary Jesse Robredo said 15 women were rescued in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay last June 22 while 26 women and 17 men were rescued in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi last June 17. Three of the victims were children.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Press Release] IP Solon, groups enraged by TRO issued by Aurora RTC Judge Bewildered by decision against community right to rally – ATM

Quezon City—Cong. Teddy Brawner Baguilat and civil society groups expressed outrage with a temporary restraint order (TRO) released by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Aurora Branch last June 16, 2011.  The order favored the mining corporation conducting drilling operations in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur. Philippine National Police were further intstructed by the TRO to extend legal assistance to MMSON Mining and Exploration Corporation, the mining company operating in the area.

Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator, Jaybee Garganera said, “This is weird. Instead of hearing the Motion for Reconsideration opposing the TRO filed on behalf of defendants belonging to environmental groups including the IP group Kesalabuukan Tupusumi Organization (KTO), the RTC Judge decided to order the people to stop ‘harassing the mining operators bringing in drilling machines and bulldozers’ there”. Garganera said that the TRO effectively puts on hold the right of indigenous peoples to protest and their right to assemble. “How biased is the RTC and the local government there?”, Garganera concluded.

Kesalabuukan Tupusumi Organization is local community organization of Subanens in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur focused on environmental protection and preservation of cultural identity. They continue to call for a moratorium on mining, especially in their ancestral lands.

“On June 29, at around 9am, more or less 60 policemen accompanied the employees of MMSON to bring the drilling machines to the exploration site,” said KTO spokesperson Wilma Tero.

Cong. Baguilat, Chairman of the Congressional Committee on National Cultural Communities and convenor of Consultative Group of Indigenous Peoples (CGIP) said, “It is inconceivable to think that the very same institution, the courts, who are supposed to be the bastion for protecting peoples’ rights is the one who restricted the rights of the Midsalip indigenous peoples to protest against mining.”

Baguilat further asked, “And why are police men accompanying the mining company? I have visited the place and the people are peaceful. There is no possibility of violence. We will ask Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to look into why the PNP brought excessive force into the area and also validate if the actions of the local government there are ethical,” upon knowledge of Tero’s report.

Tero added, “We travelled for two hours to attend the court hearing, but the court does not hear what we are saying.  What the Subanen want is for our land and our watershed area to be protected, because if mining destroys the Mt. Sugarloaf Ranges, the livelihood of people in Midsalip and surrounding areas will be gravely affected.” Tero also asserted that their territory is located in a geohazard area and that they are prone to natural disasters.  She also observed that the court appeared to be refusing to hear them because they are biased in favor of the mining company. “We would like to know why we who are protecting our environment are being treated as criminals, while the mining company is being assisted by the agencies of government. ”

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. Alyansa Tigil Mina is also a part of CGIP.

Press Release
July 1, 2011

[Press Release] Violence, demolition threaten Calamba community – Partido ng Manggagawa

Shots were fired and stones were hurled at the houses of two leaders of an urban poor community that is being threatened by demolition. The incidents happened late night of Friday as residents of a community at Purok 3, Barangay Makiling in Calamba, Laguna were resting and sleeping.

“We call on Mayor Jun Chipeco of Calamba and newly reappointed DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo to assist the urban poor of Calamba who are being threatened by an illegal demolition,” stated Ramil Cangayo, coordinator of the Calabarzon chapter of Alyansa ng Maralitang Lungsod (AMP), a national network of urban poor organizations that is campaigning for a moratorium on demolitions, reforms in the housing policy and housing security of informal settlers.

At 11:45 pm last Friday three shots were fired at a light bulb in the house of Zeny Martirez, treasurer of the Samahang Magkakapitbahay Magkakaibigan Kapuso (SMMK). The shards fell on the face of her child who sustained injuries. The family recovered two bullet fragments inside their house. Earlier at 10:00 pm stones were thrown at the house of Mike Brendes, auditor of the group. Martirez and Brendes filed a report at the barangay yesterday about the incidents. SMMK leaders suspect the violent harassment is connected to the demolition being threatened by barangay captain Soliman Lajara and a certain Cao of Galaxy Realty Corp which owns the lot on which the community stands.

“Some 86 families are now living in fear because of the harassment and threats. Cao and Lajara are warning the residents that they must leave tomorrow or else be demolished. However there is no demolition order so clearly this is illegal,” Cangayao explained.

The leaders and members of SMMK had staged a rally and held a dialogue with Mayor Chipeco last May 10. Negotiations with the mayor’s office are still ongoing.

file photo source: flickr.com

Renato Magtubo, national chair of Partido ng Manggagawa, called on President Benigno Aquino III to sign a draft executive order providing for a moratorium on demolitions and evictions. “The spate of violent demolitions in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Metro Cebu reveal the need for a moratorium on evictions. During the pendency of the moratorium, government must hold an honest dialogue with the urban poor for strategic solution to the problem of housing for the poor,” he explained.

PM and AMP and are involved in the consultations held by the cabinet level task force headed by Secretary Robredo with the mandate to formulate and recommend policy resolutions on the housing issues confronting the urban poor. An executive order for the moratorium drafted as a result of the consultations has remained unsigned by President Aquino.

Press Release
May 29, 2011
Partido ng Manggagawa
Contact Ramil Cangayao @ 09108676990

[In the news] Ampatuans enjoy VIP treatment in jail — victims’ kin, lawyers – Interaksyon.com

Ampatuans enjoy VIP treatment in jail — victims’ kin, lawyers – Interaksyon.com.

MANILA, Philippines — Former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his relatives accused of the most brutal mass murder in memory enjoy special treatment in jail, including out-of-jail passes, relatives and lawyers of the victims said Thursday.

A shouting match between the opposing parties occurred at the warden’s office when the prosecution team was stopped from going up to the Ampatuans in their detention cells even after Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 22 allowed an on-the-spot inspection at Wednesday’s hearing.

Harry Roque, lawyer of some of the victims’ relatives, said two lawyer-friends told him  they saw Andal Sr. dining at the posh Hotel Sofitel.

Maguindanao Gov. Ishmail Mangudadatu showed pictures of Andal Sr. sitting on a monobloc chair being given a massage by another inmate, of 11 people visiting Andal Sr. (even if an inmate was allowed only a maximum of three visitors each), and of the detention parking lot full of the Ampatuans’ luxury vehicles. He also said he has a video to prove that the Ampatuans get special treatment.

During a break at today’s hearing, relatives and lawyers of the 53 Ampatuan massacre victims rushed to the warden’s office so that they may be able to see for themselves the condition of Ampatuans’ detention.

But they were kept waiting for about an hour by the warden, Chief Inspector Glenford Valdepenas. Tension escalated when a lawyer of the Ampatuans, identified by a sister of one of the victims as Philip Ang, raised his voice, arguing against the on-the-spot inspection and said that only one from the prosecution and one from the defense will be allowed in the detention area.

“Bakit BJMP ka ba (Why, are you with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology)? But we are also protected by law,” Mangungudatu said.

Roque argued that the relatives of all 53 victims are entitled to see the Ampatuans’ detention cells. If the number needs to be limited, there should be at least be a raffle that should also include the media, he said.

“Bakit may mga limit? May tinatago ba sila? (Why are they putting limitations? Are they hiding something?)” Roque said.

The commotion continued but Ang himself was able to sneak out of the warden’s office and go up to the detention area without any difficulty. When asked why he allowed Ang in, the jail guard on duty simply said: “E pumasok sya e (He simply entered).”

After the hearing, Mangungudatu went to the Department of Interior and Local Government to meet with Secretary Jesse Robredo to show him the pictures which indicate special VIP treatment for the Ampatuans.

Roque said he will also ask Robredo to compel Sofitel to show the contents of the closed-circuit television in the hotel that would prove what his lawyer-friends witnessed.

The Ampatuans are detained on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Quezon City Jail Annex inside Camp Bagong Diwa where the hearings are also being heard. The hearings are held on the first floor of the building.

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