Tag Archives: Supreme Court

[Press Release] Farmers expect pols’ promise to be fulfilled Coco trust fund law sought in Congress -KM 71

Farmers expect pols’ promise to be fulfilled
Coco trust fund law sought in Congress  

At the Agriculture committee hearing in the House of Representatives, members of Kilus Magniniyog followed up on a singular promise made by politicians during the tail end of their march from Davao to Manila – pass the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund Bill into law.

kilus magninyog

KM 71, the group of Kilus Magniniyog’s 71 coconut farmer-marchers who, without let up, trekked for 71 days for the P71 billion coco levy funds declared by the Supreme Court to be rightfully theirs thru a partial entry of judgement last week is ready to slug it out today in the House of Representatives and demand what is rightfully theirs.

The group’s lead convenor Eduardo ‘Ka Ed’ Mora recalls that during their meeting with House Members last 25 November 2014,  Speaker Feliciano ‘Sonny’ Belmonte himself said that “they want the best for the beneficiaries in the coconut industry.”  The Speaker likewise summoned several House Members who will be key in passing the proposed measure who engaged the coconut farmers in a frank exchange of the coconut industry and farmers’ situation.  They were Reps. Walden Bello, Evelyn P. Mellana, Joselito ‘Jonjon’ Mendoza, Mark Llandro Mendoza, Agapito Guanlao, and Josefine Sato.

Before the farmers left Congress that 25th day of November,  Agriculture Committee Chair Mark Llandro Mendoza finally scheduled a public hearing on 16 December, today on the pending coco levy bills.

“We appeal to the Chair and the Committee’s members that they will, this time act fast on our proposed Farmers’ Initiative bill that creates the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund,” Mora adds.  It is tagged as Petition No. 3 in the House of Representatives.

Several House Members have actually supported the filing of the Indirect Initiative Bill of the farmers, including Reps. Arlene ‘Kaka’ Bag-ao and Teddy Baguilat.

The KM71’s call has been backed by Malacañang, led by President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III himself who had earlier expressed the need for a law on the utilization of the coconut levy funds to protect the interest of the farmers and the industry.  The President likewise promised a certification of the bill to ensure its early passage.

Mora said while an Executive Order is in the works to establish the fund after the Supreme Court granted the government’s motion for a partial entry of judgment on the case, a law will ensure the transparent and efficient use of the funds throughout changes in the administration.

“Our proposed bill is also important to make sure that our sector can be widely and meaningfully represented in all decisions and actions regarding the use of the funds,” says Mora.

For further information and to request for interviews, contact:
For Kilus Magniniyog – CAROL PAJARON: 0918-9470996 / carol.pajaron@gmail.com
Please like facebook.com/KilusMagniniyog

PRESS RELEASE: 16 December 2014

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[Blog] The Right to Privacy: FB and the third division of the SC by Jose Mario De Vega

The Right to Privacy: FB and the third division of the SC
by Jose Mario De Vega

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.

Mario De Vega

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. (Article 3, The 1987 Philippine Constitution)

Does it mean that because “nothing is ever private on Facebook”, any creature or bastard or stalker or hacker for that matter can just go to our profile to stalked, peeped, looked, stared and worst, hacked, took and download our private and personal pictures, data and information as against our consent and permission?

I do not think so!

It is widely accepted that “the most frequently quoted statement by a Supreme Court justice on the subject of privacy comes in Justice Brandeis’s dissent” in Olmstead v. U. S. (1928) wherein he stated unequivocally that:

“The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope, and include the right to life and an inviolate personality — the right to be left alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The principle underlying the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is protection against invasions of the sanctities of a man’s home and privacies of life. This is a recognition of the significance of man’s spiritual nature, his feelings, and his intellect.”

I refer to Tara Quismundo’s “SC: Privacy laws do not apply on Facebook photos freely uploaded by Internet users”, PDI, October 23rd with regard to the high court’s Third Division ruling that denied “a petition for habeas data filed by parents of two high school students of St. Theresa’s College (STC) Cebu, citing the protection of their Facebook photos that school officials found objectionable.”

A petition for Habeas data is a remedy provided to “any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened” through the “gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.”

According to the said report:

“The Facebook photos, which showed the students drinking and smoking in a bar, and wearing just undergarments on a street, prompted school officials to ban five students from marching in their graduation rites in March 2012. The photos were uploaded by one of their friends.”

Commentaries:

I cannot understand why the hell the school decided to ban said students from marching on their graduation?

Those students drunk and smoked in a bar and wore undergarments on a street — not inside the bloody school!

Those students posted the said pictures at their own FaceBook page. They did not spread it to the public, so my issue with the bloody school is: what the fuck is your problem with that?

Perhaps the bloody school will retort and say: Hey, Mister, those students that you are defending is our students.

My reply: so what? Yes, they are your students, but do you still have your academic, parental, institutional and religious power or control over them — the very moment they get out of your bloody premises?

Yes, I perfectly understand that while inside your school, those girls must observed and followed all of your conservative and myopic rules and regulations, but outside your ground — who the hell are you to tell them how the hell are they going to live and lead their lives?

It is on this note that I am condemning the lower court and so as the third division of the Supreme Court in ruling in favor of the said school!

It is my fervent and firm view that what the SC did is a stupid ruling that clearly destroys the constitutional guarantee protecting the right of privacy of the people.

Originally, in every act that an individual will do will affect two spheres or domains, namely the public and the private. Now, due to the advent of modern technology, I will argue that there is a third area which is the virtual domain.

My ultimate point is that, no matter how powerful the state or government is, it has no right whatsoever to penetrate, invade and enter the private sphere of the human acts. That zone of privacy must be respected at all cost.

In the critical words of Professor Paul Kurtz:

“Society should respect the right of an individual to control his or her personal life. The zones of privacy that society should not intrude upon without good reasons are a person’s body, possessions, beliefs, values, actions, and associations, insofar as these pertains to his or her own private sphere of interest and conduct.”

The right to privacy is a right guaranteed by the Constitution as a protection against governmental intrusion.

To quote Justice Marshall in Stanley v Georgia:

“Whatever may be the justifications for other statutes regulating obscenity, we do not think they reach into the privacy of one’s own home. If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.”

Comment:

To reiterate the government and so as the school and other institutions have no right to tell people how the hell they are going to live and lead their lives.

For as Justice Kennedy reaffirmed in broad terms the Constitution’s protection for privacy:

“These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life….The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. ‘It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.’”

In my view, the court, in the case under discussion has committed an irreparable damage and injury to the private rights of those students. Instead of simply accepting just like that the assertion of the school that they just saw the said pictures subject of this issue, the court should have ordered the court a quo to investigate further the truth with regard to that specific claim.

The court should have remanded the case to the lower court and ordered the same to investigate fully and pinpoint specifically who were those bastard culprits who invaded the private lives of these teenagers!

Imagine the utterly preposterous scenario, somebody took some of your private pictures against your will, without your consent and worst, without your knowledge, then those bastards (whoever the hell they are) had shown it to your boss, the school, your parents, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. and now, you shall be penalize for that?

This is the heights of shame and the ultimate travesty of justice!

The fact that some nefarious creatures had taken your photo without your consent makes you already a victim of a cyber crime and the fact that your picture were used to punished and penalized you makes you a victim for the second time around!

Talked about adding insult to an injury and double black eyes — to the maximum!!!

The said ruling of the court is idiotic and invasive of the rights of the people.

Why? Because this ruling of the court will lead to a dangerous tendency and it will make a sinister precedent.

It is like an invitation to all hackers and virtual criminals to enter the private lives of people on the cyberspace, because as the court claimed “nothing is ever private on Facebook.”

So, if ever a hacker is caught violating the right of another, the latter can interpose the defense that: it is not I who downloaded the same by another friend of mine.

I totally agree with lawyer JJ Disini when he said that “the Supreme Court decision is scary since it creeps into the very nature of online privacy.”

He further said that “Facebook already allows users to customize privacy settings to public, friends only, custom or even completely private.”

According to him, the “privacy settings are there “precisely to control the flow of information.””

I concur with him that this ruling of the court is creepy, dangerous and sinister.

As reported by ANC, “SC junks case of Cebu students banned from graduation rites due to ‘bikini photos’”, October 25th:

“The Supreme Court is saying that even if you attempt to limit the privacy and set the privacy, as long as another person can see it, you no longer have the right to privacy on those things you have posted.”

Comment:

What the hell is this?

Further, he stated in a DZMM interview that:

“Does this mean that all your friends have the right to show all your photos with other people including school officials? Because that is what happened. Ano na ngayon ang right to privacy mo?”

“They are saying that in a social network, if you have 100 friends and your friends have 200 friends, you are essentially sharing your information to 300 friends. It is the same with email. If I email you, does that mean you can forward that to all those in your address book?”

This is judicial stupidity at its worst!

Further, it seems to me that the court is slightly implying that the whole thing is the fault of Mark Zuckerburg!

Why?

Check this out:

“We cannot afford protection to persons if they themselves did nothing to place the matter within the confines of their private zone. [Online] users must be mindful enough to learn the use of privacy tools, to use them if they desire to keep the information private, and to keep track of changes in the available privacy settings, such as those of Facebook, especially because Facebook is notorious for changing these settings and the site’s layout often.”

Comment:

Will it change the court’s ruling if the private pictures were taken, let say from Twitter or Instagram or other social networking sites?

To quote the words of Professor A. C. Grayling:

“No human rights convention is complete without an article that defends privacy, for the excellent reason that privacy is an indispensable adjunct of the minimum that individuals require for a chance to build good lives. One aspect of its importance is that it gives people a measure of control over the front they offer others, and the amount of information that others have about them, concerning matters that are personal, intimate, eccentric or constitutive of the individual’s inner life…But the foremost reason for privacy is that it is crucial for personal autonomy and psychological well-being.”

Suggestion:

I humbly suggest to the parents of those aggrieved students to file a motion for reconsideration to the Supreme Court en banc to review this fiasco and shameful ruling of its third division!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy and Social Science lecturer
Unibersidad de Manila

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[Blog] Mr. Aquino’s attack on the SC over its adverse ruling on the unconstitutionality of the DAP may lead to a Constitutional Crisis. By Jose Mario De Vega

Mr. Aquino’s unpresidential act of unprofessionally attacking the Supreme Court over its adverse ruling on the unconstitutionality of the DAP may lead to a Constitutional Crisis
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the Philippine Daily Inquirer report, “Aquino warns SC of clash”, July 15th concerning the nationally televised address of Mr. Aquino defending his DAP.

I say that Mr. Aquino’s outburst is undeniably an unpresidential act of attacking the Highest Court (also a co-equal branch of the government) of this Republic.

Mario De Vega

I am not saying that the so-called Chief executive have no right or cannot question the said Court’s ruling, yet what I am disgusted was the method used and the manner utilized by Mr. Aquino in defending his economic vision and/or national financial blue-print which primarily anchored on DAP which the Court struck down last week — overwhelmingly for its contravention of the laws and for its constitutional incongruity!

Mr. Aquino used the said televised speech as a platform to castigate the Court and lampoon its ruling by using words which in my view is not only unprofessional, but irrefutably unpresidential, bullish, unworthy of a statesman, uncouth and unmistakably immoral!

His utter disregard of the moral authority of the Court and his unmistakable disrespect of its findings and judgment are acts unworthy of the president.

His arrogance and being stubborn betrays his ignorance and silly idiocy, not only of the laws, but also of the most basic tenets of political ethics and general public morality of civil governance.

Consider the very words expressed by this creature:

“My message to the Supreme Court: We do not want two equal branches of government to go head to head, needing a third branch to step in to intervene. We find it difficult to understand your decision. You had done something similar in the past, and you tried to do it again; there are even those of the opinion that what you attempted to commit was far graver. Abiding by the principle of “presumption of regularity,” we assumed that you did the right thing; after all, you are the ones who should ostensibly have a better understanding of the law. And now, when we use the same mechanism—which, you yourselves have admitted, benefit our countrymen—why is it then that we are wrong?”

Commentaries:

Mr. Aquino, you are wrong because even if your intention is good, but if the means you are using are against the provision of the Constitution, the Supreme Court will do its duty to invalidate and/or declare your “acts and practices” unconstitutional!

On the Question of Threat and Bullying

Mr. Aquino, I cannot help but sharply observed that within your speech, why are you, in a sense, threatening the Supreme Court?

To quote from the blog post of Atty. Harry Roque, dated July 17th:

“I could not believe my ears. There he was- the President of the Republic—acting like the head of the Sputnik gang, with apologies to the gang.

“Sure, no one likes to lose. But when you want to reconsider a loss, you should argue on the basis of law and reasons- at least if its the highest court that you need to convince. But no, the President threw both reason and law and instead acted like a bully telling the members of the Court that if they do not reverse themselves on the DAP, he will ask the Legislature to remove them from office. He even taunted them to a fight, as if the Justices, because of their sheer physical age, could stand up to him.”

On the issue of the legality of DAP

Mr. Aquino you also used that Monday night address to defend the legality of your DAP by quoting a provision on the Administrative Code (Book VI, Chapter 5, Section 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code of the Philippines) and by citing an illustration (the parking zone) which in my view is not only stupid but incontestably impertinent.

Again, let me quote the legal analysis of Atty. Roque to dispute your baseless contention:

“And why did he think the Court was wrong on the DAP? He identified at least two points, both of which do not hold water. One, the administrative code purportedly empowers him to realign funds even on a cross-border basis. The problem with this submission is the elementary principle of hierarchy of laws. Even assuming that the administrative code authorizes him to resort the DAP, all laws must still conform to the Constitution, the latter being the supreme law of the land. Those that do not are declared by the courts as null and void ab initio, or without legal effect from the beginning.

“Second, he argued that at most, the DAP is akin to parking at a no parking zone in order to bring a dying patient to a hospital. Really? Since when did a culpable breach of the Constitution become akin to a breach of a minor local ordinance? Moreover, the Court identified a major breach of the Constitution as basis for invalidating the DAP; that is, that it usurped the exclusive power of Congress over the purse. The DAP involved more than a violation of an ordinance that could result in a parking ticket. The DAP was about the very essence of representative democracy: that there will be no taxation without representation and its corollary, that there can be no spending of public funds without the consent of the people acting through their representatives. That was the full impact of the ruling of the Supreme Court when it reiterated the doctrine in Demetria vs. Alba that the Executive could only realign savings to augment an existing line item and only within the executive or that branch of government that incurred the saving. To sanction what the DAP purported to do, which was to replace projects identified by Congress with other projects identified by the Executive would infringe on the power of Congress to pass the appropriations law which incidentally, is also an important part of the system of checks and balances institutionalized by the Constitution by having three co-equal branches of government.”

If I may add, it is also written on Article 7 of Republic Act 386 also known as the Civil Code of the Philippines that:

“Art. 7. Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones, and their violation or non-observance shall not be excused by disuse, or custom or practice to the contrary.

“When the courts declared a law to be inconsistent with the Constitution, the former shall be void and the latter shall govern.

“Administrative or executive acts, orders and regulations shall be valid only when they are not contrary to the laws or the Constitution.”

Hence, Mr. Aquino, the fact that your DAP is inconsistent with the Constitution it was declared by the Court unanimously as unconstitutional, for the Constitution is the Highest Law of the land and it is always Supreme!

On the Aquino Regime

I cannot understand the fact that you and your family who suffered gravely under the Marcos dictatorship, with the rest of the Filipino people why are you now acting like a dictator and a bully!?

Why?

Is it the case that ‘a good man’ like you has already turned into a Darth Vader? Does power truly corrupts?

Another issue, if one will deeply analyze the principle of DAP, its inner mechanism and how it works, one can immediately see that the same is nothing but the legacy of Marcos.

Sad but true! The question now is: So, Mr. Aquino, are you now the new Makoy?

Question:

What are you going to do, if on your Motion for Reconsideration, still the Court affirms its ruling?

What can you say to those idiots in Congress who filed bill that seeks to abolish the Judiciary Development Fund?

How about the threat of some moronic Tongresmen of the possibility of impeaching some Justices of the Supreme Court?

I do not know whether you are aware of all these nefarious moves and idiotic acts of vengeance and vindictive hints, but let me warn you and your regime, your acts of bullying the Supreme Court may lead to a Constitutional Crisis!

Is that your so-called “tuwid na daan”?

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

The Radical

 

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[Press Release] Labor group hits DAP defenders, tells lawmakers to abide by the SC decision -BMP

Labor group hits DAP defenders, tells lawmakers to abide by the SC decision

A LABOR group reacted to the avalanche of statements made publicly on the recently concluded Disbursement Acceleration Program by the Supreme Court (SC). The statements, the group says is tantamount to the refusal of Palace allies to act in accordance with the decision and shield Aquino and themselves from accountability.

bmplogo

Among the lawmakers and public personalities which defended the DAP were Senator Antonio Trillanes, Representatives Walden Bello of Akbayan partylist, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Winston Castelo of Quezon City, Miro Quimbo of Marikina and renowned constitutionalist Joaquin Bernas S.J.

“Now that the SC has decided, these so-called representatives of the people have revealed that they are not of the people but representatives of Aquino. They are obviously parroting the statements and positions of Palace officials,” said Gie Relova of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).

“After fattening themselves, the least they could do is shut up and abide by the SC decision. Though we expect them to be kapal-muks, they should instead start admitting their roles in the illegal disbursement of public funds” he added.

The lawmakers’ statements ranged from a mere “administrative lapse” to “done in good faith”, also the statement issued by Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Relova noted that most of the statements made by the lawmakers in defense of the DAP was also contiguous to their positions to whether President Aquino would be held accountable for the juggling public funds without going through Congress.

BMP took exception at the opinion of Joaquin Bernas who was reported to have said that, “It seems to me it’s more of ignorance of the Constitution, and ignorance is not a ground for impeachment”.

“For a veteran constitutionalist and professor of the law, the good Father maybe suffering from mental lapses. Ignorance of the law maybe applicable for petty infringements such as traffic violations since traffic routes are often altered. But the Constitution has not been changed since 1987” he said.

Relova further explained that, “How can Bernas claim Aquino’s ignorance of the DAP’s constitutional violations, when then Senator Aquino filed Senate Bill 3121 or the Budget Impoundment Control Act in March 4, 2009, in his Explanatory Note Aquino cited Article VI Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution acknowledging its existence and limitations of the power of the Executive. The very same provision the Supreme Court says the DAP of Aquino, Abad and Purissima violated in its decision”.

Article VI Section 25 of the 1987 Constitution stipulates that, “Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget. The form, content and manner of preparation of the budget shall be prescribed by law”.

“Bernas is acting as a modern-day Padre Damaso in his defense of Aquino and his abuses’” Relova held.

The militants insisted that Aquino and all the bureaucratic technocrats such as Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Treasury officials Roberto Tan and Rosalia de Leon for they willfully committed blatant constitutional violations and should be held liable.

“We all know that they are not honorable and will not resign from their posts, so the only option remaining for the nation to achieve justice is to oust them from office. No matter the cost, if that is the only way to regain our dignity,” Relova concluded.

Press Release
03 July 2014
Contact Person:
Mr. Gie Relova
0915-2862555

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[Statement] The 15-year RH crusade is capped in triumph when the SC declared the RH Law constitutional and signaled the full implementation of the controversial measure. -Edcel lagman

The 15-year RH crusade is capped in triumph when the Supreme Court declared the RH Law constitutional and signaled the full implementation of the controversial measure.

This monumental decision upholds the separation of Church and State and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development.

Hon. Edcel Lagman, photo source http://ph.yfittopostblog.com/

Hon. Edcel Lagman, photo source http://ph.yfittopostblog.com/

A grateful nation salutes the majority of Justices for their favorable ruling promoting reproductive health and giving impetus to sustainable human development.

The RH Law benefits the entire spectrum of Filipinos, particularly marginalized women, adolescents and children.

The hallmark of this progressive legislation is freedom of informed choice where compulsion and population control are not sanctioned.

The Supreme Court decision strengthens the government’s commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially on improving maternal health, reducing infant mortality and promoting universal access to family planning by 2015.

The High Court’s ruling is a challenge to the Executive to fully and faithfully implement the RH Law and to Congress to provide adequate and meaningful appropriations to fund reproductive health programs and to resist attempts to repeal or weaken the RH Law.

The much-awaited decision positively responded to the consistent clamor of the people for the enactment and implementation of the RH Law and for government to give reproductive health services and supplies to marginalized and poor acceptors of family planning.

PRESS STATEMENT
Former Rep. Edcel C. Lagman
(Principal Author of the RH Law in the
House of Representatives)
08 April 2014

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[Statement] PIFA to SC: “You missed your opportunity to champion Internet Freedom”

PIFA to SC: “You missed your opportunity to champion Internet Freedom”
February 21, 2014

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the majority of the provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175) despite the petition of the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA) to junk the law for being contrary to the democratic values and rights of the sovereign Filipino people.

PIFAdotPH

PIFA expresses regret for the Supreme Court for having missed the chance to become champions of internet freedom. Although reserving the right to allow the high court to reconsider RA 10175 as Cyber Martial Law, PIFA must now shift its advocacy to the arena of Congress to get legislators to repeal RA10175.

PIFA is flabbergasted at the retention of the cyberlibel provision . This repressive encroachment on the freedom of expression propagates a chilling effect across cyberspace, muting or outright silencing dissent and discourse on public matters. Foisting the threat of prison sentences for cyberlibel – increased from four years to ten years imprisonment – is contrary to the global trend to decriminalize libel.

In 2012, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III even told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) that he was considering the global trend to decriminalize libel. During the oral arguments, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio pointed out that no less than the United Nations Human Rights Committee has called the attention of the Philippine government to amend its laws to remove libel from its criminal statutes.

Even after the High Court’s ruling last Tuesday, Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy of the Cybercrime Office affirmed that the cyberlibel provision is an unwanted burden on government authorities because such was never considered to be a cybercrime at all under the Budapest Convention. It must be recalled that in the House of Representatives, a cyberdefamation provision was deliberately deleted; but unfortunately in the Senate, the cyberlibel provision was rudely inserted and somehow became part of RA10175.

PIFA is dismayed that the cybersex provision was also retained in RA1017. It will be recalled during the oral arguments, Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta pointed out that contrary to Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza’s claim that what the cybersex provision meant to prohibit was “cyber pornography”, nowhere at all is the term “cyber pornography” found in the law. This is crucial because even the intimate private acts of consenting couples would be prosecuted as public crimes.

In instances where at least one of the parties does not consent to the sexual act imposed on them by force or deceit, the cybersex provision would penalize the victim together with the perpetrator – failing to distinguish one from the other. This would dilute if not obliterate the substantial progressive strides made under the Anti-Human Trafficking Law the Anti-Child Pornography Law, and the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Law in protecting the rights of sex crime victims.

PIFA is just waiting for the copy of the official Supreme Court decision to firm up its arguments and file for a motion for reconsideration. We believe that even though the 12 justice majority won’t probably be swayed to correct the ruling, the legal arguments why the majority opinion is wrong must be shown to the public and be recorded for posterity, in hopes that the high court in some future date will realize how wrong it was to uphold Cyber Martial Law.

When the Supreme Court during the Marcos Regime tied its own hands to allow “no legal impediment” to the march of Martial Law rule, the drafters of the 1987 Constitution imposed on the high court the duty to strike down any government act committed in excess of lawful jurisdiction. That duty includes declaring as void and unconstitutional laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the Chief Executive that are, however, in violation of human rights as recognized by international treaties and customary law.

PIFA reiterates that human rights offline – the freedom of expression and the right to privacy among them – are the same as human rights online, and the State is duty-bound to recognize, defend and promote these rights held by individual citizens in cyberspace.

PIFA reiterates that the infirmities of RA10175 cannot be cured by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) that are currently being drawn up by the Executive branch. In other words, the Department of Justice cannot “correct” or “remedy” a bad law by means of IRR. Bearing this in mind, PIFA will still engage the DOJ which has called for the public’s participation in the drafting of the IRR of RA10175. PIFA will attend to point out to government officials and put on record the repressive nature of Cyber Martial Law, while maintaining steadfast the continuing principled objection to an unjust law is a moral obligation of the sovereign people.

No to cyber martial law! Never again will the Filipino people let their own government rule with impunity.

Visit pifa.ph for more.

[From the web] Media, netizens to mark EDSA with ‘Black Tuesday’ protest -PCIJ

Media, netizens to mark EDSA with ‘Black Tuesday’ protest
February 21, 2014

MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS, netizens, and civil society groups will commemorate the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolt on Tuesday, Feb. 25, with a coordinated online protest against a recent Supreme Court ruling affirming the constitutionality of online libel.

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The “Black Tuesday” protest was agreed on during a roundtable discussion held by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and other media and online organizations that had questioned the constitutionality of Republic Act 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The groups say Tuesday’s protest highlights the “regression” of both press freedom and freedom of expression since press freedom was restored after the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos on February 25, 1986. The protest also comes exactly a week after the Supreme Court ruled on R.A. 10175.

Read full article @pcij.org

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[Press Release] Legal but not legit says Amnesty International on SC ruling for cyber-libel -AIph

Legal but not legit says Amnesty International on SC ruling for cyber-libel

“News of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the cyber-libel provision of the Cybercrime Prevention Act is a cause of concern for the enjoyment of freedom of expression as it cements the further expansion of the reach of the highly questionable Philippine Libel Law handed down from penal laws of former colonial administrations,” said Romel Cardenas De Vera, Human Rights Officer of Amnesty International Philippines, in a statement.

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In September 2012, the Cybercrime Prevention Act was signed into law. A month after, a temporary restraining order was issued, which was later on extended pending the decision of the Supreme Court after 16 petitions questioning the law were filed by human rights groups, Internet users, journalists, bloggers, and academics. Oral deliberations followed in January 2013.

“The Supreme Courts’ decision to strike down provisions that are unconstitutional but leaving space for online libel, which is constitutional as far as the original author is concerned, gives mixed signals as it still rolls back protections for free speech in the Philippines. It remains that under this provision, a peaceful posting on the Internet could still result in a prison sentence,” explained De Vera.

The law has broadly extended criminal libel to apply to acts committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

“There is so much that the citizens of the Philippines have to speak out about as the country suffers from widespread corruption and poverty and also having one of the worst records on extra judicial killings of activists and journalists in the Maguindanao Massacre,” recalls De Vera.

De Vera added that the cyber-libel provision is a late inclusion to the Cybercrime Prevention Bill when it was still in both Houses of Congress.

“Many of the multimillion peso libel cases filed in our Philippine courts were by legislators, executive officials and even a sitting Supreme Court Justice. It is not farfetched that the cyber libel provision will be used against anyone seeking state and corporate accountability for abuses and violations of human rights,” De Vera said.

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 UNHRC has already decided on October 2011 that our libel law is inconsistent with the enjoyment of freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the Philippines had ratified,” added De Vera.

Article 2.2 of the ICCPR states that ‘each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present Covenant’.

“The Philippine government must focus on making our laws in consonance with international human rights standards and not strengthen more laws used for stifling dissent against those in authority. Amnesty International believes that the Supreme Court must hear petitions for review of its ruling and abide by our international human rights obligations.” Concluded De Vera.

Source: amnesty.org.ph

Amnesty International Philippines
Press Release
19 February 2014

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[Press Release] Workers to ‘gods of Faura’: Stop power firms’ blackmail, fraud -NAGKAISA

Workers to ‘gods of Faura’: Stop power firms’ blackmail, fraud

While politicians and businessmen have joined President Aquino for the National Day of Prayer and Solidarity to the victims of natural and man-made calamities, workers in Metro Manila belonging to the labor coalition Nagkaisa, trooped to the Supreme Court to seek relief and ultimate deliverance from unjust power rate hikes.

NAGKAISA

The fifteen (15) justices, also known as ‘The gods of Faura’, were set to hear oral arguments tomorrow on several petitions seeking injunctions to Meralco’s P4.15/kWh rate increase. Prime in the agenda to resolve are questions on whether or not the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) committed grave abuse of discretion in approving Meralco rate hike; whether or not automatic rate adjustment is valid; and whether or not the generation sector is not a public utility and therefore beyond regulation by ERC, among others.

“We pray that the justices deliver us from a decade-old fraud and industry blackmail,” said Nagkaisa in a statement released during their picket at the gates of the Supreme Court building. The group was referring to frauds committed under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), including the latest allegations on collusion and market abuse among power firms and the latter’s threat of rotating blackouts had they fail to collect rate increases.

Nagkaisa asserted that since the enactment of EPIRA which led to the deregulation of the generation of generation sector, privatization of Napocor assets, the creation of spot market, and the introduction of performance-based regulation, fraud became the norm in the power industry as shown by rising prices and cartelization.

“It is no secret that owners of power firms, the so-called Voltage 5 (Aboitiz, Lopez, San Miguel, Henry Sy, and Pangilinan) have been earning record high profits from record high tariffs of their power-related firms,” said Nagkaisa.

The labor coalition recalled that lowering the cost of power was the pledge of the Arroyo administration when it prodded Congress to pass the EPIRA upon assumption to power 13 years ago today.

Nagkaisa explained further that since 2008, many of its convenor groups have attended, submitted position papers, and argued against the ills of EPIRA before committee hearings of both houses of Congress, including those conducted by the powerful Joint Congressional Power Committee (JCPC). Yet no actions were made to address those concerns.

It likewise chided the Executive for peddling the line that the only choice for now is between expensive power, or having no power at all.

“We hope the Supreme Court brings light to a dark decade of power hikes, naked greed, and blackmail amid unreliability of power supply,” concluded Nagkaisa!

NAGKAISA
PRESS RELEASE
20 January 2014
Reference:
Wilson Fortaleza
09178233956; 09225261138
Louie Corral
09178055487; 09228022396

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[Press Release] Health advocates welcome victory over PDAF’s unconstitutionality -ABI-Health

Health advocates welcome victory over PDAF’s unconstitutionality

Finally, the health of the Filipino people seizes to become just another target for political patronage of traditional politicians. This came as a result of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) is unconstitutional. With this latest development, health advocates have welcomed this as a hard-won gain of the mass movement’s continuing struggle.

ABI Health Cluster copy

Public finance in health is one of the critical issues in the people’s fight against the pork barrel system. PDAF is only 5.5 percent of the Special Purpose Fund (SPF), one of the presidential pork barrel funds. Therefore, the fight to scrap the other lump sum, discretionary funds continues.

Medical assistance for service patients, along with scholarships, has always been the justifications of politicians on why PDAF should stay. However, the recent review of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) of PDAF showed that these items got morsels from the billions of pesos spent for pork, only PhP3 billion or six to eight percent of the total pork released from July 2010 to June 2013.

According to Mercy Fabros, ABI-Health Cluster Coordinator, “for the longest time, poor people knock on the offices of congress representatives and senators like beggars begging alms for medical assistance; Because their mindset has been clouded by the assistance their receiving, the people do not fully understand that PDAF is sourced from their own money (taxes). It is their right to access health services and the obligation of the government to provide them. The evil of the system of patronage lies in the fact that it imprisons people constantly in a morally-degrading relationship with politicians.”

About PhP25.2 billion funds will be freed-up in the 2014 National Government Budget, which can be used to finance programs that would genuinely contribute to the achievement of Universal Health Care (UHC). The Department of Health (DoH) could use this opportunity to make its budget a real leap forward by adopting ABI Health Cluster’s proposed alternative budget.

Now the rendering of PDAF as unconstitutional and forwarding of funds instead to frontline agencies such as the DOH insulates health services from politics.

“For the 2013 additional, PDAF-sourced funds, while we understand the need still for medical assistance through the set-up voucher’s system, DoH could also use the funds to restore basic health systems at least in the Yolanda-stricken areas that could provide more health services for the survivors,” Fabros added.

Access to health services is a right and it is the state’s obligation to do so. Traditional politicians have no business using need for medical assistance as a ticket to buy votes and make people dependent on their bleeding hearts. Clearly, the fight against PDAF is a battle half-won for health advocates because the biggest chunk of the pork barrel remains intact. Because it has opened more spaces for meaningful participation, this is now the best time to influence public health policy and budgeting.

The ABI-Health Cluster is composed of 62 member organizations advocating for Universal Health Care. It is one of the clusters of ABI along with Education, Agriculture, Social Protection, Environment and Persons with Disabilities Clusters. It is attached to Social Watch Philippines (SWP), a network of a hundred nongovernment organizations that, for eight years, has been successfully pushing for increases in the national budgets for social development, called for the realignment of P25 Billion allotted to the unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to national government agencies’ programs to help victims of disasters and prevent more tragedies caused by super typhoons and other calamities.

ALTERNATIVE BUDGET INITIATIVE (ABI) – HEALTH

Press Release
25 November 2013

Contact Persons:
Jofti Villena, Sarilaya, +63949.525.3494 (Media Liaison)
ABI Health Cluster: (632) 9273319, abihealth@gmail.com

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[In the news] SC junks PDAF as unconstitutional -RAPPLER.COM

SC junks PDAF as unconstitutional
BY RAPPLER.COM
November 19, 2013

MANILA, Philippines (8th UPDATE) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 19, declared as unconstitutional the legislators’ controversial pork barrel fund known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

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The High Tribunal also struck down as illegal provisions in two laws that allow the President to use the Malampaya Fund and the President’s Social Fund for purposes beyond the mandate of the funds.

The vote against the PDAF was 14-0, according to Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te. Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr inhibited from the case because his son is a congressman. The ponente, or writer of the decision, is Associate Justice Estela Bernabe, an appointee of President Benigno Aquino III.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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[Statement] Cyber Martial Law Year One: Full Stop, No Mere Pause -PIFA.ph

Cyber Martial Law Year One: Full Stop, No Mere Pause
September 12, 2013

Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance Statement
One Year After the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175) Was Signed Into Law

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September 12, 2013 – One year ago today, Congress and the President would have imposed Cyber Martial Law – ignoring citizens’ outrage online – had not the Supreme Court ordered the Cybercrime Prevention Act (RA 0175) restrained indefinitely albeit temporarily.

Recent events show just how valuable Internet Freedom is in “speaking truth to power,” in particular, in reminding government that it exists to serve the people and not the other way around.

It was only through free and open social media that a multitude of Filipinos from all walks of life got to march to Luneta, calling for an end of the corrupt “pork barrel” system of political patronage.

Just days before the “Million People March,” many Filipinos had been discussing online how the nation’s coffers got plundered. Taxpayers’ money supposedly funded fake non-governmental organizations, only to end up lining the pockets of “well-connected” private individuals to feed their lavish lifestyles.

Internet freedom has allowed Filipino scientists, using open source software, to create “visualizations” demonstrating just how deep the rot goes across party lines. Laid bare on multiple electronic media platforms is a crime committed with the complicit (or else unwitting and inept) help of government officials. Can it be mere coincidence that those “Honorable” senators and congressmen who had pushed the hardest to get this law passed now find themselves in the vortex of corruption?

It is this very freedom that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was designed to restrain. This law expands the government’s powers without affirming the state’s primary responsibility to protect and to recognize the democratic rights of its citizens on the Internet.

Internet freedom flows fundamentally from the human right to freedom of opinion and expression, which includes “the 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.” Last year, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has endorsed the UN Human Rights Council’s affirmation “that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online,” and that States have the obligation to protect and promote the same.

Although the implementation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act remains restrained, let us not forget that the Supreme Court’s order is only temporary. Pending the Court’s final decision, we must remain vigilant and urge the court and our lawmakers to esure nothing less than a COMPLETE REPEAL of this draconian law.

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[Press Release] Solon, advocates call SC to declare mining law unconstitutional -ATM

Solon, advocates call SC to declare mining law unconstitutional
Call current mining tax system a scam

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Anti mining groups called on the High Court to come out with its decision on a 2008-petition questioning the constitutionality of Sections 80-81 of the Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7941) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2007-12.

Specifically, the sections pertain to supposed income derived from Mineral Processing Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) and Financial and/or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs).

Decision despite government pronouncements on new mining fiscal regime

Years after the petition were filed; it was only this July this year when the Oral Arguments were concluded. Meanwhile, Senate President Drilon and executive officials are announcing the government’s initiative to push for a new mining fiscal regime, increasing income from mining produce.

Akbayan Rep. Ibarra “Barry” Gutierrez said, “It is my fervent hope that the Supreme Court decides quickly and favorably on our petition against Sections 80-81 of the Mining Law, which are deemed inimical to the national interest. Under the prevailing policy regime, there is a huge inequitable distribution of benefits and costs that puts the host communities and the government at a disadvantage. The 1995 Mining Act favors large mining companies, neglects social, health and environmental problems that mining entails, and has failed to uplift the lives of our people.”

Furthermore, since mining activities are in areas where the most vulnerable sectors reside, such Indigenous Peoples, farmers and fisherfolks, the prevailing policy works to the detriment of the rights and interests of those that need the most in terms of government support and protection, Rep. Gutierrez added.

“The communities who petitioned this, together with the petitioners of the La Bugal case filed in 1997, are waiting for the Court’s decision. We believe that despite initiatives to increase income from mining—the Filipino people is being scammed by the current tax system in mining. There is a need to put an end to all these questions,” added ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.

He also said: “We have heard during the Oral Arguments how the La Bugal-B’laan vs. Ramos case decided in 2004 has failed to give a fair sharing of benefits from mining, between the State and the mining companies. In effect, in our mining contracts, we are at the losing end.”

The two were guest speakers at the Kapihan sa Quezon City held at Annabel’s Restaurant Saturdays.
Push for a new minerals management law

Rep. Gutierrez is also one of the authors of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB)—a bill that seeks to repeal RA 7942. SOS Yamang Bayan Network pushes for the AMMB; it aims to put in place framework for the sustainable and responsible use of our mineral resources.

SOS Yamang Bayan Network National Coordinator Erwin Quiñones added: “What we need is not a piecemeal reform by way of amending the fiscal regime of the flawed Mining Act of 1995 but a totally new policy framework that will not only ensure equitable sharing of mineral products but also ensure the protection of community rights and environmental sustainability.”

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who oppose the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of EO 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995, and passage of the AMMB. (30)

For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator (0927) 761.76.02 nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Erwin Quiñones, SOS YB National Coordinator (0921) 304.48.84 wenquins@gmail.com
Farah Sevilla, ATM Policy Advocacy Officer (0915) 331.33.61 policy@alyansatigilmina.net

Press Release
September 7, 2013

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[Press Release] Anti-mining campaigners led bike tour against Ph mining law -SOS Yamang Bayan

Sikad Padyak Laban sa Mining Act 95 Photo by Susan Corpus Lilak

Sikad Padyak Laban sa Mining Act 95 Photo by Susan Corpus /Lilak

Anti-mining campaigners led bike tour against Ph mining law
Sikaran! Tadyakan! Mining Act of 1995 Wakasan!”

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Manila — Anti-mining advocates and bikers led a bike tour from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Office to the Supreme Court in Manila today to highlight the negative social and environmental impacts of mining and call to repeal the Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942).

This is in relation to the upcoming Supreme Court Oral Arguments on a petition questioning the constitutionality of Sections 80 and 81 of RA 7942 and DENR Adm. Order 2007-12 that establishes the supposed income derived from Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) and Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) set on June 25.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina and one of the convenors of Tao Muna Hindi Mina! Campaign said: “We would like to emphasize the need to revisit the current mining regime, present how mining activities have impacted host communities, and let the public judge if the failed promises of development are worth the social and environmental injustices caused by this destructive industry.”

Tao Muna-Hindi Mina! Campaign puts large-scale mining as a major issue that the government should respond to. It reiterates the cry of mining-affected communities for the government to prioritize people and environment over mining.

Incoming Akbayan Representative Barry Gutierrez also urged the Supreme Court to rule against the constitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995 and vowed to file the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB), a bill being pushed by SOS-Yamang Bayan Network.

The AMMB would serve to offset the negative impacts of mining on the environment, strengthen stakeholder participation in mining contracts and ensure that local communities and the government have a greater share of mining profits.

“The Supreme Court should listen to the millions of voices that are opposed to the current system of mining in the country. The current mining law has only favored the large mining companies at the expense of indigenous peoples, local governments and communities, and the environment,” Gutierrez said.

SOS-Yamang Bayan Network Coordinator Erwin Quiñones further explained: “The petitions for prohibition and mandamus were filed in March 2008 to defend the lives, dignity, livelihood, land, and environment and rights of mining-affected communities and Indigenous Peoples. We believe that we should not allow this policy to legalize the attack against our land and people. Despite our call to the Supreme Court to immediately resolve the constitutionality of Sections 80 and 81 of the Mining Law, we also question the constitutionality of the law as a whole.”

The groups are united in their call to repeal the current mining law and enactment of a pro-people, pro-environment alternative minerals management bill that will be filed as the Congress opens in July 1.

“We’re hopeful that we can pass an alternative mining bill in the incoming 16th Congress and correct the years of disastrous mining policies that came as a result of the current. Mining Act,” Gutierrez concluded.

Garganera and Quiñones spoke in behalf of communities opposing MPSAs and FTAAs in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino Provinces; and South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur. The activity was organized in support of lawyers who will represent the petitioners during the Oral Arguments on June 25—a continuation of the initial hearing last April 16 held in Baguio City.

25 bikers were sent off from DENR in Visayas Ave to Supreme Court in Padre Faura Manila where they were met by a hundred rallyists. (30)

The SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement composed of individual advocates, mining-affected communities, national peoples’ alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, congressional representatives, leaders and personalities advocating for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of a new minerals management bill.

For more information:
Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, 0927.671.7602, nc@alyansatigilmina.net
Erwin Quiñones, SOS-YB Network Coordinator, 0921.304.4884, erwin.quiñones@lrcksk.org

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[Press Release] PLDT Opens Door for Digitel Workers, Protest Center Continues -DEU

PLDT Opens Door for Digitel Workers, Protest Center Continues

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The labor dispute between the management and the affected workers has reached preliminary settlement purposes. This was the result of the latest round of tripartite dialogue between the PLDT Management, DOLE and Digitel Employees Union (DEU) last May 27.

The remaining 88 employees based on the list submitted by the DEU will be subject to PLDT’s medical and interview screening for employment purposes. A coordination committee will be created to oversee the smooth and organized implementation of the activity.

As a sign of trust and confidence to the intention of PLDT management, the Union removed placards, signage and streamers at the picket line.

PLDT estimates that the process of screening will take about three (3) weeks, thereafter, a conciliation proceeding under the auspices of CMO-OSEC will be temporarily suspended until the next meeting on June 28, 2013 at 10:00 AM.

It’s been 49 days now, since the Digitel employees started a picket in front of the PLDT main office at Ayala, Makati last April 10, 2013, because they were illegally terminated from their regular jobs. Armed with the Supreme Court decision, G.R.No. 184903-04 issued with finality last January 21, 2013 and the Department of Labor and Employment order, the Writ of Execution issued last March 19, 2013, these Digitel employees are looking for justice, urging PLDT/DIGITEL management to respect the law.

The preliminary settlement between PLDT and DEU would be a big relief to their struggle; it came at a time where children of the affected employees are waiting and unsure if they would be back to school this June. DEU President Alan Licardo said,” We want to ensure that our kids will have a good future, but we will only be able to do that if we will have our jobs back.”

the DEU workers are still vigilant on the initial settlement offered by the management. They are expecting a speedy resolution to their cause; they are hopeful that PLDT management under the leadership of Manny Pangilinan, PLDT Chairman, and Butch Jimenez, PLDT Human Resources SVP, will abide by the Supreme Court decision and the DOLE order.

FOR REFERENCE:
Alan Licardo – President – 09225375689 Fritz Alzuelo – Vice President – 09225342986

Blogsite: digitelemployeesunion.wordpress.com/ Email: digitel.employees.union@gmail.com

Twitter: @DEUbraves or twitter.com/DEUbraves Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/DEUBraves

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/digitelemployesunion/
Petition Site: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/405/755/620/digitel-employees-union-fights-for-its-labor-rights/

Press Release

May 29, 2013

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[In the news] Audit of Hacienda Luisita firm runs late -INQUIRER.net

Audit of Hacienda Luisita firm runs late
Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 20, 2013

inquirer

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A leader of a farmers’ group has accused the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of sabotaging the audit ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) on the financial status of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) after the process was delayed by more than a year.

The high court had directed the DAR to determine whether HLI has P1.3 billion to pay the more than 6,000 beneficiaries of agrarian reform in the sugar estate owned by the family of President Aquino in Tarlac.

Lito Bais, chair of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and one of those who made it to the final list of beneficiaries in March, said the DAR has been insisting that HLI is a party to the selection of the auditing firm.

“HLI was not even present in the May 17 meeting and in effect, the DAR became its spokesperson and defender,” Bais said in a statement. Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the agency has been following the high court’s directive.

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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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[Statement] PLDT/DIGITEL Management… Untouchable? -DEU

PLDT/DIGITEL Management… Untouchable?

DSC01955After continuously defying and snubbing the Supreme Court’s decision (G.R.No. 184903-04, January 21, 2013) and Department of Labor and Employment’s order (Writ of Execution, March 19, 2013) to commence Collective Bargaining Agreement and Back to Work in favor of Digitel Employees Union (DEU), the PLDT/DIGITEL Management filed a case versus DEU, last April 16, for illegal occupancy and trespassing, summons were served the following day, and last Friday, the 19th, a hearing was set at Makati RTC branch 65.

But before any decision or order was issued by Makati Court 65, the management has decided on its own to take action against the DEU’s Picket and Hunger Strike area according to Ramon Alphonsus Morato, Asset Protection Specialist of PLDT.

April 21, Sunday, at around 3AM, more than a hundred (100+) security guards, fully-armed with shields and truncheons, coming from the left side and right side of the RC building, while making a noise by thumping and pounding their shields, ran and rushed toward the DEU Protest Center cordoning the area.

The DIGITEL employees, including the three (3) hunger strikers, namely: Alan Licardo, Arly Montecastro and Jesse Furaque, were driven out of the area toward the streets of Ayala. Morato, who headed the dispersal team, gave the DEU members two (2) minutes to call anyone who could help them regarding the demolition and after which he ordered his security guards to dismantle and demolish the make-shift tent of the hunger strikers. Behind the shoulder-to-shoulder formation of the dispersal team, banners and flags were brought down, some tarpaulins and placards were torn, some belongings of the picketers were scattered, and a perimeter fence was put up in front of the PLDT office occupying part of the sidewalk.

Is the PLDT/DIGITEL management has its OWN LAW outside of the Philippines’ Law? The peaceful protest staged by the DEU started April 10 and the hunger strikes started April 16, it has been two weeks now and counting, but still the management keeps on defying the SC decision and DOLE order. And add to that the case they filed versus DEU at Makati RTC, why did they acted on their own ahead of Makati Court branch 65’s decision came out?

What makes them untouchable? Where is the proper enforcement and implementation of the decisions and orders of our Government Offices?

Respect the law; don’t make a mockery of our law. Or else, SHAME ON YOU!!!

REFERENCES: Allan Licardo – Union President – 09225375689
Fritz Alzuelo – Union Vice President – 09228958758
Picket Direct Landline – 345 5991

PRESS STATEMENT
April 24, 2013

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[Statement] Pahayag ng Digitel Employees Union (DEU)

Pahayag ng Digitel Employees Union (DEU)

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Ayaw namin sa ERP-Rehire, lalong AYAW namin sa SARA-Tanggal!
Integrate and ABSORB Digitel employees – YES!
… at pasimulan ang CBA nego – Ito ang aming GUSTO! Now na!!

Pebrero 2013, wala pang isang taon matapos mabili ng PLDT ang Digitel, ini anunsyo ng PLDT ang pagsasara ng Digitel upang isanib ang operasyon nito sa PLDT! Ang mga empleyado ng Digitel ay pinag a avail ng Voluntary Retirement Program (VRP) Early Retirement Program (ERP) bilang kondisyon para mabayaran ng 190-250% separation pay at may prayoridad daw na ma “re-hire”. Ang di mag a avail ay i- re redundant at ang bayad sa separation pay na ayon na lang sa isinasaad ng batas.

Pagsasara at pagtatanggal upang palitan ang mga regular na manggagawa ng kontraktwal, mula sa dating tuwirang empleyado ay itatalaga at o mula sa outsourcing o manpower agencies. Labag ito sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa na ginagarantiyahan ng batas . Labag din ito sa DESISYON/ RESOLUSYON ng Korte Suprema . Salungat din ito maging sa batas ng korporasyon , na nagsasabing mananagutan sa mga empleyado ng biniling kumpanya ang bumiling kompanya.

Trabaho hindi bayad o mag VRP/ERP. Bakit ba kailangan pang mag VRP/ERP bago i re-hire ng PLDT? Bakit tatanggalin ang mga manggagawang gusto pang manatili sa trabaho para palitan ng mga (dating) manggagagawa ng outsourcing company.

Mga kaganapan bago ang pagbili ng PLDT sa Digitel.

Bago ang pagbili ng PLDT sa Digitel – sunod sunod ang pagkatalo ng Digitel manedsment sa mga kasong isinampa ng Digitel Employees Union (DEU) sa DOLE, NLRC, Court of Appeal hanggang Supreme Court. Sa ganitong kondisyon umentra ang PLDT para “bilihin” ang Digitel kapalit ng 12% shareholding sa PLDT Holding pabor sa DJ Summit Holdings na siya ring may-ari ng Digitel na pag-aari din ni John Gokongwei.

Matapos ang “bilihan” / shareholdings swapping, hindi nagpatumpik tumpik ang PLDT – ipinagpatuloy nito ang Voluntary Resignation Program (VRP) /Early Retirement Program (ERP) na napasimulan na ng Digitel. Nauna dito ang serye ng Mass Lay off – una ay noong Marso 2005, sinundan noong taong 2007, 2008 upang makaiwas daw sa pagkalugi. Mass Lay off naman noong 2010, dahil umano sa restructuring program ng Digitel. Hanggang maganap ang “bentahan” noong taong 2011, ang kakatwa walang taon sa panahong nagtanggal na nalugi ang Digitel. Samantala matapos “ibenta” / sharewap ay nakakuha ng P1Billion na dibedendo sa PLDT si Gokongwei na may ari ng Digitel noong huling kwarto ng taong 2012 na di pa nangyari sa kasaysayan ng Digitel.

Oktubre 8, 2012, sa wakas bumaba na ang DESISYON ng Supreme Court – inayunan nito ang mga naunang DESISYON ng DOLE Secretary, NLRC at Court of Appeal na nagsasabing;

1. For Digitel to Commence CBA negotiation with the union. The pendency of a petition for cancellation of union registration does not preclude collective bargaining.
2. Affected workers be reinstated and with full pay full back wages for –
Digiserv is a labor-only contractor and or just one department of Digitel thus; affected workers due to its closure were illegally dismissed,
3. Pay each affected employees P10,000 moral damages and P5,000 exemplary damages for finding DIGITEL guilty of Unfair Labor Practice for – closure of Digiserve and replace it with I-tech andl dismissal of affected employees mostly union members and officers is illegal and done in bad faith; also violation of the Assumption Jurisdiction Order, .

Sa halip na ipatupad ang DESISYON – na makipagnegosasyon sa unyon at ibalik ang mga apektado/tinanggal na empleyado, tuwirang sinalungat ng Digitel/PLDT ang Kautusan ng Korte Suprema at Writ of Execution ng DOLE Secretary. Ikinatwiran ng Digitel/PLDT wala ng dahilan para makipagnegosasyon pa siya dahil wala ng manggagagawa ang DIGITEL.

Paninindigan ng mga manggagawa ng Digitel – una; i absorb ng PLDT ang mga empleyado ng Digitel at pasimulan na ang CBA negotiation. ikalawa; kung ini-integrate ang operayon ng Digitel sa PLDT, dapat I absorb ang mga empleyado, pangatlo; gusto pa nilang patuloy na magtrabaho at hindi sila nag avail ng ERP/Redundancy, pang-apat; hindi naman totoong nawala ang trabaho na ginagampanan ng mga tinatanggal bagkus pinalitan lamang sila ng kontraktwal.

Pagsusuri ng DEU; Voluntary o Early Retirement, Clossure at integration ng operation- maniobra at palusot para iwasan ang DESISYON ng Korte – kasi po kapag kusang nagresign o nag avail ng early retirement … tapos na ang kwento ng mga nagawang paglabag sa batas o pagyurak sa karapatan ng mga manggagawa (ULP). Ang closure integration naman ay iskema para lusawin ang Unyon at palitan ng kontraktwal ang mga regular na empleyado ng Digitel.

Ang pinakahuli ay ang lantarang pagsuway sa DESISYON at KAUTUSAN ng Korte Suprema at Writ of Execution na ipinag uutos ng Secretary of Labor.

Batid naming mabigat ang labang ito sa dalawang dambuhalang kompanya – DIGITEL at PLDT ! Kung kaya kami po ay umaapela sa kapwa namin kamanggagawa at sa mamamayan na kami ay inyong tulungan at samahan sa labang ito.

Retire/Resign – REHIRE, No Way!!!
Pagsasara at Digitel Integration of operation sa PLDT,
Pwede basta mga empleyado isama sa integration at ‘di redundancy!
Tama na ang mga palusot at maniobra !
DEU kilalanin na, CBA Negotiation simulan na, Now na !

Digitel Employees Union (DEU)
Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN)

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[Appeal] Support DIGITEL workers’ rights!

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Dear fellow workers and Concerned Citizens,

We, the surviving Digitel employees are now embattled with latest move of DIGITEL /PLDT for “permanent closure”, allegedly due to the integration with PLDT. Notices of Redundancy with different dates were served to employees referring to management bulletin dated February 07, 2013 , just two weeks after issuance of the final Supreme Court decision dated January 21, 2013. The Decision affirmed the DOLE Secretary and the National Labor Relations Commission’s 2006 as follows;

1. For Digitel to Commence CBA negotiation with the union. The pendency of a petition for cancellation of union registration does not preclude collective bargaining.
2. Affected workers be reinstated and with full pay full back wages for –
Digiserv is a labor-only contractor and or just one department of Digitel thus; affected workers due to its closure were illegally dismissed,
3. Pay each affected employees P10,000 moral damages and P5,000 exemplary damages for finding DIGITEL guilty of Unfair Labor Practice for – bad faith in closure of Digiserve and replace it with I-tech; illegal dismissal of affected employees mostly union members and officers; and in violation of the Assumption Jurisdiction Order.

We expects that the said Supreme Court DECISION will bring us hope that our 19 years of struggles will be rewarded with success, yet we found it’s not going this way.

The Digitel/PLDT move similarly situated to the action of Digitel in this very case when it lay-off around 100 operators (close down Digiserve one of its department and put up I-tech to take the jobs of laid off employees ).

It makes sound sense for corporate greed to rid the union and regular workers and fill the company with contractuals who would work for much less!

To defend themselves, the union filed four Notices of Strike (NOS) that was slapped by the Labor Department with an Assumption Jurisdiction every time before the end of the cooling- off period.

Last March 18-21, 2013, we staged four day picket in front of DOLE and thereafter up to present staged synchronize protest picket in at least 6 regional business units from Northern Luzon to Bicol Region. This pushed Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to issue an order granting the Motion for Issuance of Execution and a Writ of Execution.

Now, the Digitel made a manifestation before DOLE Secretary’s Office that it will not negotiated as DECISION was already overtaken by supervening event – closure, integration of Digitel operation to PLDT.

Clearly the Digitel/PLDT move towards redundancy and closure is a blind move to avoid the responsibility of negotiating with the workers and replace regular workers with contractuals.

Hunger Strike is our last recourse if DOLE and Court will not push the decision to fruition, especially with telecomm giant Digitel/PLDT bent on choking the life out of the union and mangling the law to unrecognizability. Our experience also reveals that we have nowhere to go under the system, as concerned authorities on their part are just watching until their decision turn to a mere scrap.

Our case maybe a rare land mark decision that maybe useful for your/our struggle against contractualization. However we will be frank enough to say that our own strength do not match with the two (2) Telecom Titans to give lives and blood to this DECISION we call as an opportunity to combat contractualization and capitalists grand scheme in trampling the constitutionally guaranteed rights and stepping on against the Order of the highest court of the land.

In this regard, we are appealing before your office to take whatever actions you can take that may help us our demand to stop Digitel/PLDT breaking the laws and court order, that will encourage chaos. This contravene to our President marching line — Tuwid na Daan…

Help us expose the fact that the move towards redundancy and closure is a blind to avoid the responsibility of negotiating with the workers and replace regular workers with contractuals.
• Closure, Integration of operation to PLDT – Redundancy cum (ERP) Retire – Rehire No Way!
• Absorb Digitel employees in the Integration of Digitel Operation to PLDT
• Negotiate CBA with the DEU immediately, without further delay!

Yes to YOUR Support!
 Circulate this information through your networks
 Write a letter in behalf of your organization or union to Mr. John Gokongwei of Digitel/JG Summit – 16th Flr Cybergate Tower 3, Robinson Pioneer Complex, Pioneer St. Mandaluyong City Phils., and Mr. Manny Pangilinan of PLDT at Ramon Cojuangco Building,Makati Avenue corner Ayala Avenue,Makati City,Philippines, Hon. Rosalinda Baldoz – DOLE Secretary Muralla St. corner Juan Luna St., Hon. Cong Sonny Belmonte – Speaker of the House of Representative, Batasan Compound : Digitel Employees Union (DEU) and Communication Workers of the Philippines (CWP) at # 22 Libertad St. Mandaluyong City.
 Hear us Out – Organize forums and we will come and speak whether in person or virtually (through skype or phone-patch)

 Support – We are also in need of support – financial, materials and moral support as well.

In Solidarity,
ALAN LICARDO
DEU – President

Contact persons: For DEU – Alan Licardo – President – 09225375689 and Fritz Azuelo – VP – 09225342986
: For MAKABAYAN Sect.- Tony Reyes -09237044885 and Joy Tacadena
Email – makabayan2003@yahoo.com or 2003makabayan@gmail.com
Blogsite: http://digitelemployeesunion.wordpress.com/

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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.

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