Tag Archives: SPARK

[Statement] AFP, Get out of UP! -Spark

#HumanRights #DefendUP

AFP, Get out of UP!

SPARK condemns the illegal and tyrannical unilateral decision of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to terminate the 1989 Sotto-Enrile Accords, which prevents the entry of military personnel into campuses of the University of the Philippines. The AFP claims that this was prompted by the presence of the CPP-NPA – which it has recently classified as terrorist organizations – inside University of the Philippines campuses, thus incurring the need for UP campuses to be garrisoned by military forces.

The recent decision to brand the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization was recently taken by the Anti-Terrorism Council, a presidentially-appointed body created by the Anti-Terror Law which is empowered to brand any organization and/or individual it deems to be “terrorist.” The AFP, as usual, has failed to back up its claims on the presence of the CPP-NPA within UP campuses.

That this action has been taken by the AFP at a time when campus activities have been moved completely online exposes not only the paranoia of state forces, but also the grossly-misplaced priorities that the Duterte administration continues to have, even as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.

Furthermore, the scaled-up repression and harassment of members of the opposition is happening a year away from the 2022 Elections. Whether or not the Duterte administration intends to strangle the space for free political organization and participation in the run-up to the elections, such actions do contribute to this. This is utterly unacceptable, and once more shows the predatory nature of the elite: while they maintain the ruse of democracy through electoral systems, in truth, such practices are marred by widespread violence, intimidation, and corruption instigated by those in power.

The AFP’s demand to militarize UP campuses is an issue that concerns the very basics of our democratic life. Should we let them succeed in UP, the path is open for them to militarize all schools. The relevance of our schools as academic institutions and centers of free conscience and speech is at stake.
We urgently call on all schools to condemn the AFP’s actions in the strongest terms possible, and to consider steps to extend solidarity to the University of the Philippines in resisting these developments.

We call on all students, faculty, and their organizations to likewise condemn the AFP’s actions, and to organize to resist the encroachment of militarization into our campuses, and to defend our democratic rights with all dedication.
We stand in solidarity with the University of the Philippines, its students, faculty, and non-teaching staff. We owe them nothing less than to stand by their side all the way. Rest assured that only our collective action will serve to defend our right to be in our schools.

DefendUP

ResistTyranny

EndEliteRule

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[Press Release] SPARK joins Ateneo student strike, urge others to follow suit

#HumanRights #Education SPARK joins Ateneo student strike, urge others to follow suit

A youth group has expressed its support for the One Big Strike (OBS) mobilization to be held at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) today, November 25.

OBS, a demonstration mainly organized by ADMU students calling for a nationwide academic break as well as accountability from government officials, will be held at Gate 2.5 of the ADMU campus this afternoon.

Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) expressed its participation in the strike and confirmed that its Katipunan chapter will be present at the mobilization.

“When our backs are against the wall, we respond by fighting even harder. No amount of threats from President Duterte or his spokesperson Harry Roque can stop us from criticizing them,” Red Ligot, SPARK national coordinator, declared in a statement.

Among OBS’s minimum education demands, as listed in the Ateneo Student Strike Manifesto, are the sustention of salaries of all teaching and non-teaching personnel during the academic break, as well as providing subsidies to students, teachers, and their families to acquire the necessary gadgets and Internet connection for use in distance learning.

SPARK stated that these demands were “common sense” and should have been implemented right at the start of distance learning in March.
“If education is a right, why are the tools to access it so inaccessible themselves? Why were classes forced through when CHEd and DepEd knew the problems that preexisted?” Ligot asked, referring to the demand to subsidize gadgets and internet connections.

Furthermore, SPARK called for similar mobilizations on a nationwide scale in order to raise the calls for a better normal for education.
“The problems that plague the students and teachers of ADMU are not limited to ADMU alone. The scale of [President] Duterte and [CHEd Chairperson] de Vera’s neglect is national, then our response must be national as well,” Ligot explained.

He argued that the sheer scale and degree to which distance learning has been mishandled has only led to everyone getting left behind.
“If our demands remain unheeded, there will only be more drastic mobilizations, strikes, and full-scale class boycotts are in order,” he warned.

SPARK continues to advocate sweeping structural changes to the country’s education system along with policies such as greater social aid for students, teachers, and their families, and the nationalization of the telecommunications and power industries to ensure accessibility of education under the new normal.

SPARK says they plan to join the Bonifacio Day mobilizations on November 30 with labor unions, urban poor federations and vendors associations.###

#NoStudentLeftBehind

#AcademicBreakNow

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[Statement] People over profit! Resist big business attempts to lift the ECQ to secure profits at the cost of workers’ lives -SPARK

People over profit!
Resist big business attempts to lift the ECQ to secure profits at the cost of workers’ lives

Last April 12, 2020, Teresita Sy-Coson, vice-chair of the largest corporate conglomerate in the Philippines, SM Investments Corp. appealed to the government to allow all industries to resume 50 percent of their operating capacity even as the country remained on tight guard against COVID-19. She argued that if “appropriate medical precautions” were implemented, such as ensuring the widespread availability of test kits, masks, disinfecting measures in crowded places, social distancing, and sanitation safeguards, then businesses should be allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

Sy-Coson further stated that “employment is key to the health of families, allowing parents to put food on their table”. This statement is in line with the proposals of economists from the Foundation for Economic Freedom. She proposed 18 conditions with the conglomerate’s proposal including the following: prohibiting car-sharing except for passengers coming from the same origin, allowing public transport with disinfection measures, removing checkpoints, and allowing factories and offices to reopen with staggered working hours if necessary.

While some conditions are acceptable and will benefit the people at large (such as prohibiting car-sharing and allowing public transport for essential workers), allowing businesses and factories to reopen this early during the lockdown will lead to the eradication of the gains made in “flattening the curve” of infections.

The proposal to reopen businesses contradicts the World Health Organization’s advice for the Philippines. According to WHO Pacific Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai, “the Philippines is not forced to undergo a large-scale community quarantine precisely because of the lockdown”. He then stated that “the government should try to stay in this stage as much as possible” citing the need to “flatten the curve” of infections. Similar sentiments were aired by UP Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa Jr., though favoring a “modified community quarantine” with “offices and schools closed”. It must also be noted that mass testing for persons under monitoring and patients under investigation had only recently begun, and there may be thousands more unreported cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines.

This crisis has revealed to the world the truth of economic growth, that all social wealth is created by the workers and the toiling masses.

It is clear that SM Investments Corp. and other business conglomerates are panicking at the sight of their profits and imaginary stocks dropping during this crisis. In a bid to continue their endless pursuit for profit at the expense of the toil, sweat, time, and often, blood of their workers, capitalists are foaming at the mouth, lobbying for an abrupt and deadly end to the lockdown.

While it is true that this crisis and the community quarantine has tanked our economy, and has hit the masses the hardest, the government must do everything possible to “flatten the curve” while prioritizing the welfare of the poor and working class.

SPARK dares the government to ensure that hospitals and our frontliners are capacitated to conduct mass testing, that a truly pro-poor and pro-marginalized community quarantine is implemented, that families have enough food on their tables, and lastly that existing social amelioration programs are drastically expanded rather than being scaled down. SPARK also calls on the government to prioritize community and medical solutions, instead of intimidation of critics and those who are merely trying to survive in a time of crisis.

If they continue to fail to do any of these, the working class and the toiling masses will gradually be forced to rise up in ever greater numbers amid hunger and crippling poverty. Contrary to what our elites think, a hungry people amid elite neglect is a recipe for revolution. SPARK therefore calls on fellow youth and all progressive sectors to join the masses in their fight not just for survival, but also for a world where we are no longer beholden to the dictates of the elite.

Free mass testing now! Pagkain para sa lahat! Economic aid, ngayon na!
SINGILIN ANG PALPAK AT PABAYANG GOBYERNONG DUTERTE!

#PeopleOverProfit
#StandWithWorkers
#MassTestingNowPH
#EndEliteRule

Sources:
Garcia, M. A. (2020, April 5). Quarantine extension would flatten COVID-19 curve – UP team. Retrieved April 13, 2020, from https://www.msn.com/…/quarantine-extension-woul…/ar-BB12c1Ac

Dumlao-Abadilla, D. (2020, April 12). Sy-Coson: Allow 50% business operations. Retrieved April 13, 2020, from https://business.inquirer.net/…/sy-coson-allow-50-business-…

Ferreras, V. (2020, April 8). Lockdown saves PH from large-scale community outbreak, WHO says. Retrieved April 13, 2020, from https://cnnphilippines.com/…/WHO-PH-lockdown-prevent-large-…

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[Statement] No to disaster profiteering, Yes to people-centered solutions: On the sixth-year anniversary of the Yolanda typhoon -SPARK

Six years ago, typhoon Yolanda made landfall in the country and devastated regions in Southern Luzon and the whole Visayas. Nearly a million shelters were destroyed, displacing more than 4 million families, and severely affecting more than 13 million people. About 6,000 individuals lost their lives, and up to a thousand are still missing.

Despite these casualties, Filipinos’ lives continue to be threatened by climate disasters. Little has changed to address the systemic roots of the climate crisis, and little has changed regarding how post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction is handled in the Philippines.

The main causes of the climate crisis have not been addressed – rampant neoliberal policies and unbridled exploitation of the environment in pursuit of profit. Worse, the government and the private sector have even worked together to hijack post-disaster rehabilitation policy and favor the profiteering schemes of big businesses. They have displaced the interests of the survivors in exchange for economic gains for themselves.

During the post-disaster rehabilitation process, funds for the government-initiated Reconstruction Assistance for Yolanda (RAY) were mostly expended on contracts with huge corporations, instead of being allocated for funding roads, bridges, public buildings, and other public projects. Three years after Yolanda, it was even reported that nearly 200,000 victims did not receive the emergency shelter assistance allocated for them.

Prevailing government inaction and marginalization sparked the local residents into action. Workers, farmers, and communities from the Eastern Visayas organized to demand basic services and human rights from LGUs and the national government. Farmers mobilized to reclaim croplands, and communities came together to pool resources, supplies, and to build typhoon-resistant shelters to serve as community halls.

The people of Eastern Visayas exhibited the power that the masses wield when united.

As economist and philosopher, Rosa Luxemburg famously said: “Bourgeois society stands at a crossroad, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.” In this time of climate crisis, these words ring ever true as the global climate strike movement rages on in hopes of building a better world that isn’t founded on profit and exploitation of people and the environment. An only radical systemic change towards a world transcending capitalism can ensure our survival from the current climate crisis.

We must continue to fight for a better world. A world where disasters are not made into profit opportunities for the economic elite. A world where the rights of the basic sectors of workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, and others are upheld and advanced. A world free from the rotting systems of neoliberalism and capitalism.

Filipino resiliency can only take us so far: it’s time for those in power to face the vulnerable realities of the people on the ground. As such, we enjoin all youth to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the typhoon Yolanda with SPARK and other groups inside UP Diliman.

Though we grieve today, we also stand with the victims and survivors in the collective effort to address the systemic roots of the climate crisis.

There is still a world to win.
:
SYSTEM CHANGE TO AVERT CLIMATE CHANGE!
DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY NOW!
CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW!

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[Statement] SPARK stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Negros!

On October 31, elements from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, and the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, armed with search warrants issued by a Quezon City court, raided the offices of Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, Anakpawis and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Bacolod City. In these coordinated and simultaneous raids, 62 members of the progressive groups have been taken into custody. The offices were accused of holding firearms, explosives, and subversive documents, and were speculated to be recruitment and training centers for the NPA.

The raids, done before a special non-working holiday when the courts are not open, are yet another case exposing the Duterte administration’s illegal and violent crackdown on progressive activists under the guise of eliminating communist rebellion. The suspicious circumstances of the raids call to question the validity of the arrests and the possibility of extra-judicial measures in the situation.

Following on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, the national task force was created supposedly to address the root causes of local communist insurgency. However, it has instead shown its true colors as a tool for the state’s repression of its detractors and opponents. This raid is just the latest in a litany of evidence clearly showcasing that the Duterte Administration obeys no higher law or principle than that of naked violence and repression, all in the service of elite self-interest.

Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) condemns the Duterte administration’s continued disrespect for basic human rights, as well as the complete disregard for the legitimacy of organizations promoting the welfare and betterment of the country. We stand in solidarity with the 62 arrested activists, and demand for their immediate release. We demand as well a thorough investigation to the inquiry of Bayan Muna Partylist on the questionable issuance of search warrant done by Quezon City Regional Trial Court and its Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, given that the raids were executed in a region beyond their jurisdiction.

We demand justice that addresses the true roots of social unrest in systemic oppression which necessitate mass organizations in the first place… not the false justice of the fascist Duterte administration and its goons in the military and the police who know nothing but to enact fear and violence through its bloody iron fist.

#StopTheAttacks
#DefendNegros
#EndStateViolence

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[Statement] DUTERTE: Kaaway ng Manggagawa’t Kabataang Pilipino -SPARK

DUTERTE: Kaaway ng Manggagawa’t Kabataang Pilipino

Bubuhos ang libo-libong masa sa lansangan, isisigaw ang mga panawagang naghahangad ng pagbabago. Kasabay ng mga talumpati ng mga lider ng iba’t ibang grupo maririnig ang ingay ng mga sasakyang bumubusina. Ang mga kalsada na kadalasang larawan ng trapik ay magmimistulang naglalagablab na damdaming palaban ng masang patuloy na naghahanap ng kasagutan sa kanyang abang kalagayan. Ito ang matutunghayan sa Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa.

Mangingibabaw ang daing ng sambayanang naniniwalang ang lipunang may ganap na panlipunang hustisya, walang pagsasamantala at masagana, ay hindi imposible sa pinagsama-samang pwersa ng pagkakaisa ng mga aping uri.

Ngunit sa kabila ng mga ingay ng okasyon na ito ay may katahimikang mas madalas, mas malawak at mas maraming bilang kumpara sa dami, ng taunang paggunita ng Araw ng Paggawa.

Ito marahil ang mga buntong-hininga ng masang tila ba namanhid na sa hirap ng pang-araw-araw na buhay, mga Pilipinong tinanggap na lamang ang kalupitan ng sistemang umiiral.

Magta-tatlong taon na mula ng mapwesto ang administrasyong Duterte sa Palasyo subalit hindi maitatanggi na hindi kailanman naging para sa mahihirap ang kanyang pamamahala. Bagkus, puro pretensyon lamang ang laman ng kanyang mga pahayag. Noong panahon ng kampanya, todo yabang niyang sinabi na wawakasan niya ito sa araw na maupo sya sa pwesto. Ang mga pangako ng hambog na Duterte ay nauwi sa pagpapaasa at lantarang pagtra-traydor sa masang manggagawa.

Business as usual pa rin ang kaliwa’t kanang abuso’t kawalanghiyaan ng mga hayok sa tubo gaya ni Henry Sy at Lucio Tan. Nagpapatunay lamang na hindi talaga para sa mahihirap si Duterte kundi isang tuta ng mga kapitalistang nagpapasarap sa pawis at sakripisyo ng mayorya.

Dagdag pa sa mga atraso ni Duterte ay nang sinadlak niya ang milyong mala-manggagawa o yung mga walang pirmis na kita sa panibagong salot, ang TRAIN Law. Ito ang nagbunsod sa papatinding pagtaas ng presyo ng mga batayang pangangailangan ng pamilyang Pilipino.

Habang binaba nito ang buwis ng mga mayayaman, ipinasa naman nito sa pinakamahihirap na seksyon ang obligasyong tustusan ang kanyang programang Build, Build, Build gayung ‘di naman ito direktang papakinabangan ng mga maralita.

Sa hanay naman nating kabataan, patuloy pa rin ang paghabi ni Duterte sa kasinungalingang matatamasa na ng lahat ng kabataan ang kanilang karapatan sa edukasyon sa papasok na semestre.

Pawang panloloko ito dahil sa dami ng restriksyon ng RA 10931 at mga ‘di kwalipikadong lokal na kolehiyo ay mapagkakaitan pa lalo ang mga kabataang maralita na may katamtamang IQ ng kanilang karapatan umahon sa kahirapan.

Habang ang daan-libong bagong gradweyt nitong Marso ay nabibilang na sa estatistika ng walang hanapbuhay na susugal hanapin ang kanilang kapalaran sa ibayong-dagat.

Ganito pinapaikot ng kapitalistang gobyerno ni Duterte ang buhay ng pamilya ng manggagawa. Hindi tao ang turing, kundi mga instrumento lamang para lumikha ng kanilang tubo at tagatustos ng mga pribilehiyo ng mga pulitiko’t mga nasa burukrasya ng walang kwentang gobyerno .

Nananatiling nakalubog sa kumunoy ng kahirapan ang Pilipinas. Hindi umangat kahit isang pulgada ang buhay ng mga mahihirap. Ito ang lipunang mamanahin nating mga kabataan. Pinalalabas nilang wala tayong ibang mapagpipilian kundi magpa-alipin sa sistemang kapitalismo at manatiling mga maamong tupa na maari nilang lokohin, abusuhin at pagsamantalahan.

Bilang tagapagmana ng bagsik ng kapitalismo, ngayon pa lamang ay basagin na natin ang nakabibinging katahimikan ng pighati at kawalan ng paki-alam sa lipunang ating ginagalawan. Magsilbing boses, mitsa at simbolo ng pag-asa sa sambayanang nagnanais ng tunay na pagbabago. Kailangan nating paglagablabin ang ating ideyalismo para hawanin ang landas tungo sa radikal na pagbabago ng lipunan, tungo sa pagpapabagsak ng lipunang pinaghaharian ng iilan.

Sa makasaysayang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Paggawa, sama-sama nating itakwil at ideklara na si Duterte ay kaaway ng manggagawa’t kabataang Pilipino.

Laban ng Manggagawa, Laban ng Kabataan!

https://web.facebook.com/SparkKabataan/posts/1678671828939212

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[Press Release] Youth demand DOLE to disclose results of their investigation of SM -SPARK

Youth demand DOLE to disclose results of their investigation of SM

SPARK KabataanMore than a month after a mandatory conference was held between the management of SM Supermalls and the labor department to investigate allegations of labor-only contracting, a youth group demanded from the agency to disclose its findings on the extent of contractual employment being exercised in the retail giant’s operations.

The Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) in a statement said that, “A month is more than enough to ascertain the extent and gravity of the 5-5-5 employment scheme in SM and make it public. The DOLE is duty-bound to disclose the results of its investigation since the perverse practice of contractualization has been going on at SM for the past three decades and is only now that anomalies are being unraveled”.

Before the said conference, the Bureau of Working Conditions, an agency under the labor department asked SM Supermalls to submit its organizational chart to address the issue of regularization and labor standards after officials estimated that SM has violated labor standards.

The group fears that a prolonged release of the report may result in a whitewash, utilizing legal loopholes in order for SM to maintain its high profitability and confidence of its investors.

“It is no secret that SM pioneered the circumvention of labor rights to the point that contractualization has become the common employment practice in the retail industry and has been replicated by thousands of other companies in other industrial lines”, says SPARK spokesperson Jade Lyndon Mata, a three-time five month sales utility clerk at different branches of SM Supermalls.

Mata likewise rebuked the SM management for insisting that it is compliant with all labor regulations even if Secretary Bebot Bello of the labor department himself revealed that the retail giant has violated labor standards.

The group alleges that many former SM employees complain that besides undermining their right to security of tenure despite performing ‘usually necessary and desirable‘ in the daily operation of its malls its employees receive only half of their supposed overtime pay and that many of the manpower agencies that SM engages with fail to reimburse employee cash bonds that were deducted from their measly wages.

“The continued attempts by the top honchos of SM to gloss over their anomalous yet surreptitious employment schemes manifest their business-as-usual attitude despite persistent calls to abolish all forms of contractual employment and heavy-worded pronouncements by no less than President (Rodrigo) Duterte.”

SPARK vowed to rigorously campaign for the abolition of contractualization and demand indemnification for decades of exploitation inflicted on its workers.#

PRESS RELEASE
12 November 2016
Contact person: Jade Lyndon Mata 0935-1449575

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[Press Release] Youth group fires back after QC Vice Mayor defend curfew ordinance -SPARK

Youth group fires back after QC Vice Mayor defend curfew ordinance

SPARK KabataanAN ANTI-CURFEW youth organization criticized Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte after she claimed in a live interview that the curfew ordinance in Quezon City has been “very successful” in reducing the crime rate.

Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) spokesperson, Joanne Lim responded by saying that, “In as much that we would prefer that the Mayors-respondents to reply to our petition before the Supreme Court instead of issuing public statements, we will have to disagree with Vice Mayor Belmonte’s assessment. Her assessment is just as vague as her ordinance”.

The group filed a petition before the Supreme Court last Friday, July 22 asking the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on the curfew ordinances of the cities of Manila, Quezon and Navotas for vagueness. overbreadth and runs contrary to a national law, Republic Act no. 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Act.

The three-term Vice Mayor expressed her approval for the continuity of the curfew. She asserted that the success was reflected upon the restored discipline and order at Quezon City, as the youth “were not loitering outside the streets at wee hours in the morning”. Apart from that, the parents were also “reminded … again of their responsibility over their children.”

Lim reiterated that “the ordinance violates the parents’ natural and primary right in the rearing of their children. The parents know best for their children and for them to be penalized with detention for allowing their children to go out during this period either ‘knowingly or by insufficient control’ is unjust”.

Lim wondered what was the basis or means of measurement for Belmonte to claim that the curfew was “very successful”.

“Belmonte is mistaken into believing her own propaganda that the much vaunted peace and order in Quezon City is brought about by their curfew. This can be easily debunked by the twenty-two extra-judicial killings in her city from July 1 to 21 alone,” Lim said.

“Empty streets does not translate that crimes are not happening. Belmonte must first prove that the curfew has a direct correlation to the decline of crime and if there was any decline, it must be because of the heavy-worded pronouncements of President Rody Duterte and Police chief Bato dela Rosa. To think that the Quezon City ordinance was enacted more than two years ago,” Lim maintained.

SPARK reminded the public that the youth engage in many other activities that are vital in their development, instead of assuming that a minor out on the streets late at night is engaged in criminal activities.

Lim stressed that while the curfew ordinances bear the promises of peace and order, in recent experience and actual implementation, the curfew does otherwise.

“It harbors fear among the youth. They know that they are not doing anything wrong, but they also know that the simple act of staying out late entails the label of criminals, and also the subsequent possibility of being detained and punished”.

PRESS RELEASE
JULY 25, 2016

Joanne Lim 0906-4045023
Member, National Secretariat

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[Press Release] Student-Leaders challenge Aquino, Duterte to address ‘neglected’ IP issues in country -SPARK

YOUTH GROUPS: HYPE WON’T SOLVE BADJAO GIRL’S PROBLEMS
Student-Leaders challenge Aquino, Duterte to address ‘neglected’ IP issues in country

SPARK KabataanYouth groups expressed concern over the growing hype surrounding rising internet sensations from marginalized sectors in society, particularly Rita Gabiola, popularly known as ‘BadjaoGirl.’

Viral photos of Gabiola, taken while she was begging for alms in the streets of Lucena City, have propelled the young girl to be propelled into popularity. Since then, several personalities and institutions have rushed to shower her and her family with donations and other forms of aid.

SamahanngProgresibongKabataan (SPARK), a national organization of students which engages issues of exploitation and massive inequality in the country, noted several factors which are downplayed by the hype surrounding Gabiola’s rise to popularity.

“Members of the Badjao community, like many other indigenous groups in the country currently face issues of displacement, exploitation and alienation from their very own cultural heritage because of the growing inequalities, violence in their ancestral lands and the destruction of their native environment and livelihood,” said SPARK National Coordinator Arvin Buenaagua.

“As of 2015, data has placed the population of the Badjao community at 26, 400 scattered across Eastern Visayas, Northern Samar, San Bernardino Strait, Capul Island, San Isidro Island and Manila. While they are traditionally a seafaring tribe, some Badjao families have settled in impoverished coastal sections of highly-urbanized areas due to poverty and displacement,” Buenaagua said. “This leaves open the possibility of members of the tribe, especially children and women, to be subject to exploitation and harassment, not to mention the detachment of younger generations to their well-established traditions and culture,” he added.

“The surrounding hype implies that most people only notice IPs when they are ‘photoshoot-material’ and thus, ‘sellable,’” said Alex Castro of NagkakaisangIskolar Para SaPamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA UP).

Castro, currently studying Law in the University of the Philippines Diliman, stressed that the ‘romanticizing’ the plight of Gabiola and her family will do very little difference to the quality of life experienced by indigenous tribes. “Since the passage of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act in 1997, no successful attempt has been initiated to address the issue of poverty and exploitation among these nomadic tribes. Not to mention the disenfranchisement of these groups in policies addressing armed violence and environmental destruction in rural and coastal areas of the country,” she elaborated.

Castro noted that while civil society and individual citizens’ efforts to help the family of Gabiola are admirable, the Philippine government must recognize the societal realities that put Gabiola’s family into such dismal conditions. Castro also noted the fact that education in all levels remain inaccessible to most IPs, with its high cost and discriminatory policies.

“Gabiola’s desire for a quality education is reflective of the desire espoused by all citizens, especially those who see it as a tool for social mobility and self-realization,” said Castro. “We cannot simply address this issue by giving out token scholarships, but by providing free education for all citizens, regardless of where they came from and which group they belong to,” she concluded.

Duterte and PNoy urged to integrate IP issues in development policies
Castro and Buenaagua urged the incumbent Aquino government in its last few weeks. and the incoming Duterte administration to take drastic and immediate action to uplift and secure the lives and livelihoods.

“President-elect  Rodrigo Duterte, as the first President to hail from Mindanao, must be very familiar with the poverty and violence IPs have to face daily and therefore should prioritize the integration of their issues in the country’s policies on development and peace,” said Buenaagua. “This entails a departure from the neoliberal policies espoused by the Aquino PDP, which President-Elect Duterte also professed to adopt, putting business interests ahead of the urgent demands of the people and resulting to massive displacement, loss of livelihood and the concentration of wealth to a privileged few.”

References:
Arvin Buenaagua, SPARK National Coordinator – 0915 352 3951
Ale Castro, KAISA Spokesperson – 0906 404 5023
Email Address: spark.diliman@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/SparkKabataan
Website: progresibongkabataan.weebly.com

 

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