Recent Arrest of Another NDFP Peace Consultant, in Further Spite of the Peace Process
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and various local and international organizations pushing for the peace process have intently been pressing on with their efforts towards genuine, lasting peace through the attainment of mutual agreements, fundamental socio-economic and political-constitutional changes, and serious end to hostilities.
The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) – – in particular, as of late on the part of the present Aquino regime – – has, on the contrary, treacherously been continuing with its belittling and grave disregard of (to the extent of intently trampling upon) agreements already made from the onset and through the course of the NDFP-GPH peace talks.
This, even in the case of agreements quite crucial to the continuation and progress of the peace process, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The CARHRIHL is supposed to ensure the respect and protection on both sides in the ongoing civil strife in the country. The JASIG is supposed to ensure that peace consultants and staffs of both sides are protected from surveillance, arrest, detention, prosecution and other antagonistic acts that would violate their rights as well as deter their effective participation and work in the peace process.
Yet, the military, paramilitary, police and intelligence forces of the GPH have without let-up been surveilling, arresting, detaining, swamping with trumped-up criminal charges and violating the human, legal and other rights of NDFP peace consultants and other JASIG-protected NDFP forces the GPH forces can lay their hands on.
The latest NDFP peace consultant who has been subjected to such traitorous acts of the GPH forces has been Ma. Loida Magpatoc, an NDFP peace consultant representing the NDFP in Far South Mindanao.
Magpatoc is 52 years old, married and a “Lola” to five grandchildren.
Despite her being JASIG-protected, a P500,000.00 reward was put up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for her capture.
In performance of her work as an NDFP peace consultant, Magpatoc had been immersing and consulting with the local community folk in the barangays of Far South Mindanao in regard to land, production and other socio-economic and political issues, when the 1002nd Brigade (1002ND Bde) of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (10th ID PA) got wind of her presence in Brgy. Zone III, Digos, Davao del Sur and came to arrest her as early as 4am last July 28.
The entire local community, however, immediately learned of the situation and came out en masse to protect her and block the 1002nd Bde. Magpatoc presented her JASIG Document of Information to the 1002nd Bde and claimed her protection from arrest. But the 1002nd Bde only confiscated her JASIG document, ignored her claim for protection from arrest, and insisted on proceeding to arrest her. The barangay folk, who were surrounding her, refused to let the 1002nd Bde forces take her, as the former were apprehensive that the latter would only commit foul deeds against her. Magpatoc and the barangay folk asked if there was a warrant for her arrest, but the 1002nd Bde forces were not able to present any.
The arrest was eventually made, however, when the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Davao del Sur came later in the day to take her, this time armed with warrant of arrest (based on trumped-up criminal charges of “robbery,” “damage to properties” and “double homicide”), and bring her to their Digos headquarters. From there, she was flown on August 4 to Metro Manila and brought for confinement at the Taguig City Jail Female Dormitory in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
After her arrest, the reward for Ma. Loida Magpatoc’s capture by the AFP, suddenly became P5.6 million.
NDFP Peace Consultant
Detained at the
Special intensive Care Area,
Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City
02 September 2013
We, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants to the peace talks presently detained at Camp Crame fully support the campaign of the Philippine Ecumenical Platform for Peace (PEPP) and othe peace organizations and advocates to convince the protagonists in the on-going armed conflict betweeb tge Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP in our country to resume the formal peace negotiations in order to address the root causes of this conflict and attain a just and lasting peace in our hand for the interests of the majority of the Filipino people.
We are also elated and hopeful that this latest initiative among the active campaigners for the advancement of the peace talks between the GPH and NDFP will now be fruitful and beneficial to the Filipino people. In particular, we look forward to our active participation together with the other NDFP peace consultants in the peace negotiations as free man.
Thus, we reiterate our demands to the GPH to grant a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty to all politcal prisoners.
And as we celebrate the 21st year of the historic signing of the Hague Joint Declaration, we are ever hopeful that the five (5) points agreed uipon on September 1, 1992 will be followed by both parties. The following proposals were agreed upon to be recommended to their respective principals:
- Formal peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP shall be held to resolve the armed conflict.
- The common goal of the aforesaid negotiations shall be the attainment of a just and lasting peace.
- Such negotiations shall take place after the parties have reached tentative agreement on substantive issues in the agreed agenda through the reciprocal working committees to be separately organized by the GRP and the NDFP.
- The holding of peace negotiations must be in accordance with mutually acceptable principles including national sovereignty, democracy and social justice and no precondition shall be made to negate the inherent character and purpose of the peace negotiations.
- Preparatory to the formal peace negotiations we have agreed to recommend the following:
- Specific measures of goodwill and confidence – building to creat a favorable climate for peace negotiations; and
- The substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations shall include human rights and international humanitarian law, socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
At this juncture in our history wherein hundreds of thousands of the Filipino people are rising up in outrage against the pork barrel scam and other forms of corruption in the government, the call for a just and lasting peace through a negotiated political settlement is undeniably needed and a must!
Free All Political Prisoners!
Long Live the Filipino People!
Renante M. Gamara, Eduardo O. Sarmiento and Eduardo R. Serrano
September 2, 2013
On the Struggle of Indigenous People for their Ancestral Land and the Struggle for Genuine Reform
Ednar Dayanghirang, who heads the present Philippine government’s part in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines – National Democratic Front of the Philippines Reciprocal Working Committees on Socio-Economic Reforms (GPH-NDF RWCs on SER), has come out either totally lying all the way or else totally knowing nothing, or a combination of both, in his statements to the media in an interview last Saturday with the DZRH radio station.
Dayanghirang stated that the New People’s Army (NPA) has been killing indigenous people, even if what is true is the other way around – – it is the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) regular and paramilitary forces that have wantonly been killing indigenous people and national minorities especially the leaders of these and protectors of their communities and rights, and committing other gross human rights violations against them.
The NDF/NPA (on the part of the armed revolutionary movement) and KARAPATAN (on the part of human rights and legal cause-oriented people’s movement) have, in fact, been coming out with concrete real data exposing the atrocities that the fascist military and paramilitary forces have been committing left and right. The following are just some of such atrocities committed against indigenous people in Mindanao alone:
- In January 29, 2013, Kitari Capion, a well-known and widely respected B’laan leader of the Red Pangayaw, a B’laan tribal movement against the destructive foreign big mining (particularly that of the Xtrata-Sagittarius Mining Incorporated) that has been eating up and destroying the tribe’s ancestral land, was killed by combined elements of the 27th and 39th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army and paramilitary forces of these, who were then conducting security operations in the area last January 29. Kitari Capion was hit by a bullet in the head when the operating army troopers and their paramilitary forces rained bullets at the home of Kitari Capion. Kitari was brought by his family to the hospital, but died on arrival.
The Kimlawis, community of the Capions and 150 or so other B’laans in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, protested the ruthless attack at the home of the family of Kitari Capion and the killing of the father of the family. The B’laans of Kimlawis also reiterated their protest at the earlier merciless killing of other members of the Capion family particularly that of Kitari’s brother, Daguil, another well-known and widely respected B’laan leader of the Red Pangayaw and lead protestor against the destructive foreign big mining of the Xtrata-Sagittarius Mining Incorporated in their B’laan ancestral land. (As if to spite the Lumad indigenous people to which the B’laans belong, on Lumad month, the Bravo Company of the 27th IB PA under the command of 1st Lt. Dante Jimenez, raided the home of Kitari’s brother, Daguil Capion, to seize him, and, not finding him there, seized instead his two-month pregnant wife Juvy and their sons Jan-jan, seven years old, and Jorge, eleven years old, tortured them and, right in front of the Kimlawis community, mercilessly killed them. A daughter, Juvicky, and another female relative were also assaulted and hurt).
The entire B’laan Kimlawis community reiterated their long-standing demand for the exit from their ancestral land of the Task Force KITACOM (composed of the 27th IB PA, the 39th IB PA and their paramilitary forces, who have been operating in the area and wreaking havoc on the B’laan community there for the protection of the destructive foreign big mining firm they are serving.
The B’laans were only further threatened by the Task Force KITACOM and ignored by government. They were thus forced to vacate their homes and community in January 1 this year. In the meantime, the Task Force KITACOM and the destructive foreign big mining it serves continue unfettered in their operations against the B’laan and their exploitation and destruction of the B’laan ancestral land.
More indigenous people in Mindanao alone, extrajudicially killed by military and paramilitary forces of the present Aquino regime, include the following:
- Gilbert Paborada, a Higaonon indigenous leader, was killed in October 3, 2012 in Opol, Misamis Oriental for leading his fellow Higaonon’s resistance to the expansion of the A. Brown Oil palm plantation, that would in effect landgrab their ancestral land.
- Genesis Ambason, a Banuaon indigenous leader was killed in September 13, 2012 in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, for leading his fellow Banuaon’s resistance to the Malampay Mining’s destructive exploration of their ancestral land.
- Jordan Manda, a Subanen indigenous child was killed in August 1, 2012, in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, victimized in reprisal for the Subanen’s resistance to the expansion by the Toronto Ventures, Inc. of its mining operations to cover more Subanen ancestral land.
- Totong Mabinsi, a Dibabawon indigenous farmer, was extrajudicially killed in July 22, 2012, in Laak, Compostela Valley, with his killing justified for his purportedly being an NPA fighter, even if he is just an ordinary farmer.
- Jimmy Laguyon, a Matigsalog indigenous leader, was killed in March 5, 2012 in San Fernando, Bukidnon, for his refusal to allow large-scale mining in the Matigsalog ancestral land.
- Dioguino Scuadro, a Tagakaolo indigenous leader was killed in August 4, 2011 in Barangay Ticulan, Malita, Davao del Sur, for his being – – like the B’laans’ Capions – – a leading advocate of opposition by the Tagakaolos to the Xtrata-Sagittarius Mining Incorporated’s destructive mining of the Tagakaolo ancestral land.
- Arpe Datu Lapugotan Belayong and Solte San-ogan, both Higaonon indigenous leaders, were killed in June 30, 2011 in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur for their leading Higaonon resistance to destructive large-scale logging and mining operations in Higaonon ancestral land.
- Ruben Gatong, Itik Auwisan, Nicodemedes dela Peña, Sr. and Nicomedes dela Peña, Jr., Matigsalog indigenous people, were killed in April 27, 2011 for their resistance to destructive large-scale mining explorations in Matigsalog ancestral land.
- Florita Caya, another anti-large-scale mining indigenous leader was killed in April 27, 2011 in Monkayo, Compostela Valley for resisting the operations of destructive large-scale mining in their ancestral land.
- Rudyrick Dejos and Rudy Dejos, B’laan indigenous people were killed in February 27, 2011 for their active organizing of B’laan farmers in their ancestral land.
- More than a score more of indigenous Lumads have been killed from the onset of the present Aquino regime in June 2010 to the present for resisting the landgrabbing and destruction of their ancestral land.
While it is the destructive foreign large-scale mining, logging and other extractive interests and their puppet military and paramilitary that have actually been grabbing, exploiting and destroying the ancestral land of indigenous people and national minorities in the country, and, on the other hand, it is the NDF/NPA which has been supporting them in their struggles for their claim to their ancestral land and their other rights, Dayanghirang goes further with his lies to claim that the NDF/NPA proscribes the eventual state ownership of all land.
Dayanghirang is again a total liar, or is totally ignorant, or is a combination of both. The NDF/NPA vigorously promotes and pushes for genuine land reform, starting from the free distribution of land to the tillers and indigenous people as the real owners of land and not the feudal lords, the capitalists and/or the state; the increasing cooperativization of labor, administration and production in the land; and the eventual communal ownership of the land. Claiming that the objective and end product is the state ownership of the land is a total falsity.
We, in the NDF part of the GPH-NDF RWCs on SER, strongly suggest that Dayanghirang seriously read the NDF’s proposal for a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), long ago submitted to the GPH peace panel. This, so that our exchanges and commentaries should be based on actual facts and ideas, and not on lies, ignorance or a combination of both.
detained NDF peace consultant
and member of the NDF part in the
GPH-NDF RWCs on SER
07 August 2013
ADVANCE OUR STRUGGLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND PEACE!
We, consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH)) and the NDFP join our fellow political prisoners, human rights defenders and advocates, friends and relatives of victims of human rights violations, and other personalities for the defense of human rights in expressing our militant support to the success of the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines which will be held on July 19-21 at the Great Eastern Hotel.
We extend our congratulations and thanks to the sponsors (International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, KARAPATAN and the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights) of this historical gathering that will uphold and defend the human rights of the Filipino people in particular and of mankind in general.
We salute our martyrs who have paid the supreme sacrifice with their lives in the defense of human rights.
We congratulate also the various human rights organizations and other advocates in launching this activity amidst the continuing impunity of the state agents in violating the basic human rights of the Filipino people and the brittle status of peace in this troubled land.
As political prisoners here in Camp Crame, we have witnessed so many human rights violations against political prisoners and other detainees here and other detention centers all over the archipelago. Women detainees are subjected to sexual molestations and other means of harassment in order for them to submit to the caprices of some jail officials.
Muslim detainees also experienced various unjust restrictions and discriminatory policies that are synonymous to penalties or punishments for so-called “terrorists” labeled by US and Philippine Authorities under their “war on terror” campaign. So many Muslim detainees are incarcerated due to mistaken identity fiasco of the government police and military operations. Many more detainees languished in jails and detention centers due to lack of financial resources and right connections that will assist them in defending themselves in courts or in facilitating their early release based on the absence of probable cause or insufficient evidences.
In our particular case as political prisoners, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer (NUPL) in its press statement last September 14, 2012 for the 5th year of its founding and on the occasion of the 40th year of Martial Law stated: “In concurrent jail visits across the country, NUPL highlighted the plight of political prisoners. In the conduct of its advocacy, NUPL has discovered that the alleged acts of prisoners are political in nature. Only a slim minority of political prisoners have been changed with rebellion. In most cases suspected political offenders are improperly charged with non-bailable ordinary crimes.” Furthermore, the same NUPL statement stressed that: “The NUPL has assessed that most of these (cases) are actually improper, false or fabricated charges that further persecute these detainees, degrade their stature, and mock the basic rules of evidence. This is a travesty of justice on top of the multifarious violations of their rights including torture and harassment.
On the other hand, the majority of the Filipino people especially those coming from the workers and peasants are suffering various human rights violations especially their socio-economic and cultural rights. They are being denied their right to health, housing and education. As expounded by Ex-Chief Justice Reynato Puno in his speech at the general assembly of the NUPL NCR last July 6, 2013, he said: “Filipinos must be able to demand from their government their right to housing, education and health or these socioeconomic rights would remain mere words on paper.” He further stressed: “We all know that a right that has no remedy is not a right at all.” He even cited the President Aquino’s veto of the Magna Carta of the Poor and the bill of the traditional view of socioeconomic rights not being demandable and because of a lack of funding to support the enforcement of these rights.
Against the backdrop of massive demolitions of urban poor communities especially in the metropolis to give way to the proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects of the government that will be established along esteros, ex-CJ Puno cited the experience of South Africa wherein a “South African housing activist who had sought relief before the high court and filed a case against the government after it failed to respond for applications for housing assistance and after it demolished the shacks that Irene Grootboom and her neighbors were occupying. In the end, “the Constitutional Court ruled that the issue raised was justifiable or could be entertained. Thus, “poor people could go to court and ask that their socio-economic rights in this case their right to housing be implemented by the appropriate government officials.
In our country, this will be a long shot target considering the political and economic bias of the justices of the Supreme Court and its lower courts. We can only rely on the militant actions and resistance of the people against these attacks on our democratic rights and freedoms. As stated by the CPP: “Oppression is a necessary concomitant of class exploitation. It is thus in the nature of the monopoly bourgeoisie to carry out attacks on the democratic rights and freedoms of the working class and the rest of the people In order to preserve the system of exploitation.”
We call on all human rights defenders and advocates to rise up the banner in upholding the human rights and raise the demand for “reforms to serve the immediate needs of the people for employment, decent income, better working and living conditions, and the availability of basic social services.”
We must collectively fight for the defense and advance of our human rights – civil, political, social, economic and cultural – for the benefit of the exploited and oppressed people. We must be able to act accordingly as the socio-economic crisis results in political crisis, and the forces and agents of monopoly capitalism malign and try to discredit democratic protest as unlawful rebellion or even as terrorism, and thus justify political repression. We must unite and fight for our human rights and strive to attain a just and lasting peace in our land!
Free all political prisoners!
Advance our struggle for human rights and peace!
Renante M. Gamara
Eduardo O. Sarmiento
Eduardo R. Serrano
Political Prisoners, Camp Crame, Quezon City
July 10, 2013
As the Court of Appeals said in the case of Joanne Urbina (who was detained at Camp Crame for five years since 2007– until just recently ordered by the court to be released for having been detained that long without actual charges against her — and who was backed up by the Gabriela Women’s Party in her courageous, well-documented and successful resistance and complaint against attempts at sexual molestation by a high ranking Camp Crame police intelligence director): “More than five years of detention without a valid information filed in court, is unreasonable; it is intolerable; it is shockingly unimaginable… and what she had gone through smacks of persecution rather than prosecution… It conjures up images of Guantanamo Bay detainees who have never been allowed a speedy trial, a civil right…”
The injustice she went through for half a decade is not in any way a rare and isolated case in the country. In fact, thousands have gone through, and thousands continue to go through the same – and even worse.
Throughout the country, political prisoners most particularly have been going through even worse persecution in the hands of their arrestors, in jails and in courts. This, despite the Aquino regime’s barefaced denial of the fact that there are political prisoners – – actually, a great many of them – – in the country.
As the country’s leading human rights organization, KARAPATAN, has meticulously been identifying, monitoring, documenting and strongly protesting, there are at present more than 400 political prisoners in the country, more than half of them arrested and detained since the onset of the current regime and the rest assumed from the previous regime.
Most of these more than 400 political prisoners at present have been going through and suffering cold-hearted persecution, injustice and human rights violations, even worse than what Urbina had gone through. Practically all of these political prisoners comprise victims of unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, detention and swamping with numerous intentionally made-unbailable, trumped-up charges, following the ruling state’s long-standing institutionalized policy of suppressing and criminalizing political dissent and the advocacy and struggle for substantive and fundamental political and socio-economic-cultural reforms; and the arresting commands’ widespread practice of victimizing even ordinary community folk, just to be able to claim victories in “anti-terrorist” operations and “all-out wars” and collect huge bounties for the arrest of these victims.
Practically all of these victims have been arrested without warrants of arrest, and the supposed warrants were supplied to the jail authorities and the courts only after the arrests.
Most of these victims were arrested, detained and charged not as their real selves, but – – intentionally – – as different persons, and in many cases even just as aliases of different persons. There have also been several cases, where different victims arrested in different circumstances and In different places, have been detained at the same time or at different times in the same jails or in different jails, and charged in the same courts or in different courts. There have also been a number that may look funny but are actually deeply angering cases, where pairs of intentional “mistaken identity” victims detained together in the same jail are brought to court handcuffed to each other and made to stand together, whenever their supposed names are called out in court.
These victims of intentional “mistaken identities” have been arrested, detained and charged in court, just in order for their arrestors to be able to make big money from “wanted” lists of supposed “terrorists” with huge U.S.-funded bounties for the arrest and “neutralization.” None of those who have been collecting such huge bounties have been made to account, much less be penalized, for making intentional “mistaken identity” claims, as the collection of bounties for the arrest and “neutralization” of supposed “terrorists” are made confidentially.
There have also been a number of foreign (Indonesian) political prisoners forcibly and surreptitiously smuggled from imprisonment abroad (in Malaysia) and transferred to Philippine imprisonment through the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group PNP IG) under the tight direction and supervision of the U.S. FBI. The PNP IG provided fake Filipino identities for these U.S. rendition victims. As the victims were resisting, they were beaten up, injected with drugs to render them unconscious, straightjacketted, blindfolded, gagged, loaded into a private plane, flown into the country and brought straight to detention under PNP custody in Camp Crame, where they were hidden from the public for more than a year, and only after then (after a number of other detainees have seen them) were they surfaced and allowed to get in touch with their families through the Indonesian embassy. All the time, they kept on being subjected to pressure and interrogation by U.S. FBI and PNP IG operatives together in torture cells of the PNP IG headquarters in Camp Crame, and by U.S. FBI operatives alone in a secret U.S. FBI room right beside their cells in their detention area in Camp Crame.
It was only four years later when they were brought to court and swamped with trumped-up charges supposedly as Filipino terrorists (i.e., as Abu Sayyaf bandits) – who they never were.
In the case filed against one of them (Ahmad Saifullah Ibrohim), the case had actually already long been decided by another court, and the original one accused (Ibrahim Ali) in the same case had already been convicted for life and is now serving sentence in a regular penitentiary for convicted criminals. And yet the same case is again undergoing trial, where the accused is another person from another country and is absolutely innocent of the charges.
In the meantime, these U.S. rendition victims have been detained in the Philippines under intentional “mistaken identities” for eight years now. For up to seven of those eight years, they were detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame. One was transferred earlier (in 2010) to the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) jail for “high risk” prisoners, at Camp Bagong Diwa. The others were also transferred to the SICA jail one-by-one, after their ala-Guantanamo detention, the U.S. FBI intrusion into their cases and that of other political prisoners and the existence of a secret U.S. FBI room right in their detention area in Camp Crame were documented and exposed in the mass media last year.
Malacanang at once had to lie and deny all these, and order the immediate clean-up of the exposed ala-Guantanamo detention area in Camp Crame, and the getting rid particularly of the one responsible for the exposé. A political prisoner and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) peace consultant, who had been detained together with these U.S. rendition victims for more than a year and was then able to document and expose the injustice, falsifications and other anomalies and human rights violations against these U.S. rendition victims and other political prisoners in Camp Crame, was – – on order of Malacanang – – transferred surreptitiously and in a rush within a week after the mass media exposé.
Many other political prisoners have been arrested and detained as minors, or as elderly/sickly – – without any humanitarian concern in regard to their ages and medical conditions.
Many of the elderlies/sickly have suffered severe ailments and further deterioration of their health, because of the poor, cramped conditions; poor food rations; lack of medical attention; and the indifferent treatment and severe restrictions they have been undergoing in jail. A number of these have died in prison.
One of the latest death in prison (last Good Friday, March 29, at the SICA jail) was that of Intong Amirol, past 70 years, who suffered a hypertensive stroke more than two years ago and became totally paralyzed and bedridden since then. He was not brought to any hospital or given adequate medical attention, and had to totally rely on his cellmates for full-time caregiving, feeding him, helping him with his toilet functions and washing him – – all in bed. His family could not assist him at all or even just visit him, as they are poor and too far away. State authorities were asked to release him, as his precarious health condition would surely only deteriorate much further in jail, and as his further detention was not only inhuman, but illegal, since he was totally innocent of the charges against him. But the indifference finally killed him. He was just a Muslim Imam, who depended mainly on coconut farming and copra production for a living in his farm in Lumbang, Isabela City, and also devoted time to actively assisting Christian priests administering and teaching at the Claret High School in Tumahobong, Sumipsip, Basilan. He was in no way connected with the Abu Sayyaf terrorist bandits operating in the mountain areas. But he was arrested as “Intong Aninol,” a full-time Abu Sayyaf Group bandit. A huge bounty was collected for his arrest in the name of that other person.
He had been detained for more than a decade. But, since then, his case hardly moved at all and was totally at a standstill for more than a decade until his death.
Intong Amirol was just one of hundreds of ordinary community folk arrested arbitrarily and erroneously, with huge bounties paid to arrestors, tortured in an effort to force them to admit to crimes they did not commit, detained indefinitely and swamped with trumped-up criminal charges attributed to them as other persons or as some aliases in the lists of those “wanted by law” for “terrorist acts.”
Stretching further the injuries to practically all of more than 400 political prisoners at present in the country, justice has crawled exceedingly slow – – actually one of the slowest in the world – – and, in many cases, has not moved at all for years and even up to a decade or more, rampantly and gravely violating human rights and the law on speedy trial.
The mendicant, rotten, aloof and repressive character, attitude and practice of the ruling state, its military, police and jail authorities, and its justice system, have been at the root of all these problems victimizing not only political prisoners and those aspiring and struggling for socio-economic, political, judicial and other basic reforms, but also victimizing many innocents and, more broadly, the great mass of the Filipino people.
In the face of all this, the need for decisive, radical, fundamental reforms in the state, government, justice system and the whole of society has been all the more urgent.
NDF Peace Consultant
detained at the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA)
Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan,
10 July 2013
Softened and weakened a lot by “free market” neoliberalization since the 1990s, the Philippine economy under the present semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system has more and more become like a wimp of a kitten that has long been noted to be one of the sickest and most laggard in Asia.
The Benigno S. Aquino III regime has been meowing all over with a bullhorn in an effort to appear to be roaring before the nation and the world, and has been boasting as hype to its fourth State of the Nation Address about its having achieved such “great economic success”: that, with the ‘”stunning” 7.8% year-on-year growth rate of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of this year, it has beaten even if just by the tip of a nose that of the region’s mightiest tiger and also the world’s second largest economy at present – – that of China.
Compared to China’s $1.9 trillion, the mere $63 billion (P2,656 billion) 1st quarter 2013 Philippine GDP is only a pittance, a mere 3% of China’s.
It would thus take more than 30 hurried steps for the sick, frail, limp kitten of the present Philippine economy to really match every single stride of the incomparably giant of the Chinese economy.
And yet the sick, frail, limp kitten is now thumping its breast to boast that it has outperformed the giant of a tiger, as the first quarter’s 7.8% GDP growth rate of the former at a very low scale happened to be a wee bit bigger than the 7.7% GDP growth rate of the latter although at a much, much higher scale.
The comparison across scales so very wide apart is actually meaningless. There is no sense at all in comparing the puny pace of the miniscule, ill-managed, backward, shallow, volatile economy of the Philippines at present with the gigantic stride of the heavily state-managed economy of China.
Quite importantly, varied multifaceted contexts of the decimally apparently close growth rates also need to be considered:
For one, the Benigno S. Aquino III regime has glossed over the fact that for the last decade, China’s GDP growth rate was always higher than 9%, many times went up to more than 12%, and occasionally even more than 14%. The present dip has been a new development brought about by much reduced exports as a result of the long pestering crisis of the world capitalist system that has turned into a prolonged Great Recession since 2008, hitting first the U.S., triggered by the subprime and housing crisis; followed by a prolonged slump, grave deficits and severe austerity measures in the European Union, that have all worsened and worsened up to now; and has this recently been inducing its worst effects on the Chinese economy.
The effects of all these on the more advanced and more industrialized economies have been more immediate. However, the backward, pre-industrial, agrarian economies – – like that presently prevailing in the Philippines, subserviently clutching on to the fringes of the monopoly capitalist and other more industrialized and more advanced economies – – are not exempted, but eventually will be suffering more from the dragging effects of the current crisis of the world capitalist system.
A large part of the recent dip particular to the Chinese economy, however, has been the result of major adjustments China has been making just recently in its economy. The adjustments have been geared to fix solutions to problematic areas, crack down on speculative activities that used to only superficially generate double-digit growth rates, and further strengthen state-managed, heavy fixed-asset enterprises to ensure more solid and real growth. This, even if returns on investments would for a time be slower and delayed, and would thus result in the temporary slowing down of China’s present GDP growth – – all in order to gain more solid and lasting growth in the future.
Even as there is no real basis for comparison, the regime’s spin meisters have been projecting such a big, boastful roar about having bettered China’s current GDP rate, that really is only a mirage – – actually just a continuation of the mirage that had initially showed up in the last quarter of last year.
The regime described the 7.8% growth rate as “the largest in a non-presidential year in recent history.” Indeed, the GDP growth rate had artificially shot up to the second highest then at 8.4% during the partial height of the presidential electoral campaign in the first quarter of 2010 and reached its peak, again at an artificial 8.9%, in the second quarter of 2010 at the very height and eve of the electoral campaign. All this took place in the last few months of the Gloria Arroyo regime.
On the other hand, right after, in 2011- – the first full year of the Benigno S. Aquino III regime- – the GDP annual growth rate dived to 4%.
The current regime’s propagandists are now only vainly trying to hide the fact that renewed height in public and private election campaign spending for this year’s mid-term senatorial, congressional and local elections has been one of the principal reasons behind the once again temporary artificial rise in the first quarter 2013 GDP growth rate.
The regime poured out an unprecedented increase of 45.6% in the budget for public infrastructure in the first quarter, as a big boost to the electoral campaign of its candidates from national to local levels. The surge of public infrastructure expenses and additional electioneering expenses, squeezed from here and there out of the state coffers, has boosted by 13.2% overall state spending in the first quarter.
Aside from easily tapping government funds and resources by various means, most politicos also tapped their own, their allies and their backers and financiers’ private funds and resources for their election campaigns.
Notably many among those who won in the senatorial election last May reportedly spent more than P100 million each in their campaigns, and many others spent close to that (the unofficial expenses were actually much more), not only in the senatorial race, but also in many of the governatorial, mayoral and congressional races.
All this has resulted in the temporary big rise in consumer purchases, a phenomenon that has not failed to take place every election campaign period, whether presidential or non-presidential.
Further, on the part of the private sector, as it was in the last quarter of 2012, the biggest boost – – 32.5% – – has again come from private construction, mainly the construction of new buildings and offices, especially as the massive transfers of call centers and other business process outsourcing (BPO) from the U.S.A. to the Philippines have recently left commercial buildings and offices with an all-time average low of 3% to 4% in vacancy – – across Metro Manila. This recent phenomenon has resulted in private construction contributing to overall GDP at least three times more than the rise in public construction.
The influx of transfers to the Philippines of BPO and other labor-intensive, non-core and peripheral business activities (like J.P. Morgan’s move to transfer 17,000 labor-intensive, non-core call center jobs from the U.S.A. or about seven percent of its 258,965 global workforce, and thus generate for the company at least $1 billion in annual labor cost savings) has increased so much, such that total income from BPO – – principally call center – – operations has now replaced remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as the No. 1 boost to the present Philippine economy. The country has now actually become the new call center capital of the world, replacing India, as the cost of labor is much cheaper here and the English accent of Filipinos is closer to the American accent or is at least “neutral,” unlike in India.
Still, OFWs’ remittances have remained a strong second and has now reached more than $21 billion per year, amounting to 7% of the Gross National Product (GNP) – – 8.3% of the GDP – – of the country.
OFWs, who now number more than 10 million documented (plus about 2 million more undocumented) migrant Filipinos, comprise more than 28% of the labor force and more than 31% of the total of both the employed and underemployed in the country. Their remittances have been the main support that more than a third of the population in the country has now become quite dependent on. OFWs’ remittances have for several years now continued to be the single biggest boost to private consumption of commodities and services in the country.
Aside from direct remittances to their families left behind in the country, a large part of OFWs’ enormous other earnings has also been directly funneled into purchases of condominium units by the more high-income among them, accounting for the bulk of the 6.1% increase in international sales last year. The recent surge in the construction of new condominium units has also contributed to a large part in the recent increase in private construction — although now second only to the putting up of new buildings and offices to accommodate the rise of BPO transfers to the country.
What used to be leading the Philippine economy in the past decade has been the re-exports (after applying cheap, sheer assembly labor to imported parts) of semiconductors and other semimanufactures of electronic parts (chips, capacitors, resistors, integrated circuits, among others) for completion in more advanced and industrialized countries.
The face value (without subtracting the cost of imported parts) of the re-exports of semiconductors and other electronic semimanufactures used to have risen to more than 60% of the country’s total exports about a decade ago. But even the face value of the re-exports of these semimanufactures have for sometime continually been dropping (from $2.33 billion, amounting to 39.7% of total exports a year ago, down to 36% in February this year – – the steepest since the 36.6% drop in October 2011). This has resulted in a total drop of exports by 12.08% year-on-year.
The declining re-exports of semiconductors and other semimanufactured electronic parts have been due to several long pestering and worsening major problems, especially of late.
For one, the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system – – with a prolonged Great Recession running for more than half a decade now – – has resulted in a slump in the world market, including that for semiconductors and other electronic semimanufactures, which used to be the lifeblood of this country’s exports and the entire Philippine economy.
The Philippines has also been increasingly losing in competitiveness even in the mere assembly of semiconductors and other electronic semimanufactures, as other countries in a similarly backward state have adapted more and more advanced technologies, while the backward state of technology and industry in the Philippines has more and more been left behind by other increasingly industrializing countries.
The spurts in the seeming growth of the present Philippine economy from time to time without real basis, but only artificially spiked by false boosts such as election campaigns and externally dependent income generators – – such as the massive influx of BPO operations, OFWs’ remittances and re-exports of semiconductors and other assemblies of electronic parts – – indicate the shallowness and lack of real solid grounding of the country’s present economy.
What can we really expect in solidly reliable terms from an economy that is stimulated more by splurgings during election campaigns; pretending to be American staffs answering phone inquiries mostly to U.S. companies; working abroad as domestic helpers, staffs or some other kind of assistants; doing cheap, technologically low-level, labor-intensive assembly work on electronic parts initially produced by and to be completed by more professionally skilled workers in more industrialized and more technologically advanced countries?
The hype about the peripheral 7.8% growth rate, without ever mentioning its temporariness and where it actually came from, only tries to gloss over and hide the many deep-seated long-standing and present problems in the utterly backward basic economic structure and situation in the country, and the dire and further worsening effects of these on the long-suffering and more and more miserable Filipino people.
The gloating over the present Philippine GDP growth rate of 7.8% surpassing China’s by a wee bit and even more so those of other Asian economies (Indonesia’s 6%, Thailand’s 5.3%, Vietnam’s 4.9%, Japan’s 3.5% and South Korea’s 1.5%) only hides the fact that the Philippine economy actually has one of the most backward and weakest economic base and development in the whole of Asia.
Industrialization and the downfall of feudalism have become sine qua non in modern economy since the breakthrough of the world’s industrial and antifeudal revolution more than a century ago. Yet, the Philippine economy has remained pre-industrial and semifeudal up to now.
Except for a couple of “emerging Asian tigers” such as Singapore, the countries in the Southeast Asian region remain among the most backward in the world. And among these, it is the Philippines which has long been the sickest and most laggard. While Singapore is far more advanced, even the other countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which are closest to the Philippines, have already left the Philippines far behind in industrial development. Industry’s share in the 2012 GDP was 48.1% in Indonesia; 47.4% in Malaysia; 41.5% in Vietnam and 40.1% in Thailand. Far below these, it was only 30.3% in the Philippines in the 2012 GDP, down from 31-35% during the last two decades.
One simple illustration of just how utterly backward the Philippines has been compared to these neighbors of ours, is that they all already are now in the manufacture of cars and other motorized vehicles, while the Philippines still keeps on just importing or assembling imports of these.
One big problem that keeps Philippine “industrialization” stunted, very low-level, highly inadequate and laggard is that it has developed very little in terms of strategic, technologically advanced and heavy industries. Actually, not even in terms of medium-level industries.
It has failed to really develop, for one, even just the required basic steel industry – – which for several decades and up to now has remained a crippled failure – – so much so that mining products continue to be mostly simply exported in bulk in their raw forms to monopoly capitalist and other more industrialized countries, and various finished products from these are just brought back in trickles for sale in the country.
There is actually very little real industrialization and manufacturing – – in the full sense of these terms – – in the country. Much of Philippine manufacturing is backward, and actually just consists of cheap, low-value added, labor-intensive cottage industry, sweat shops and the local assembly of some parts to be returned to the mother industrial centers in technologically and industrially advanced countries for essential completion before being sold to various markets, including the Philippine market.
Bulk of such local assembly for re-export is done in secluded special economic zones, where practically all the materials are imported and there is practically no other added local content except labor. There is thus not much interconnection – – much less, integration – – with the rest of the local economy, as the production is linked more with their real industrial centers elsewhere.
Thus, there is not much basis – – least of all is there real effort – – in the comprehensive planning and actual strategic industrial and technological development in the country. This, especially so, as the present Philippine government has no real interest and has not actually been doing much in this regard.
Philippine industry – – in fact, the entire Philippine economy – – has only been adopting to new ways of serving monopoly capitalist and other economies much more advanced and richer than ours. From being just “hewers of wood and drawers of ore” for foreign masters for a long time up to now, the Philippines has now also become as subserviently the assemblers of electronic parts, telephone attendants and domestic servants of the monopoly capitalist and other economies more well-to-do than ours.
With the mass of our tillers still remaining essentially under feudal and semifeudal bondage, and even more and more of them now than ever before having become landless, virtually without work and comprising the biggest bulk of the country’s unemployed and underemployed – – given the many loopholes, inadequacies and general failure of the ruling state’s “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program” (CARP) – – the Philippines’ backward agriculture has also been deteriorating more and more. Its share in the GDP, in fact, has consistently been going down from more than 22% during the last two decades to now below 12%.
Further indicative of how distorted and underdeveloped the Philippine economy is at present has been the overly large chunk of GDP eaten up by the services sector, which has risen from 45% in the 1990s to 57% to date, thus now actually dominating the Philippine economy and drowning the industrial and agricultural sectors.
The accelerating upsurge of BPO services (catering mainly to U.S. businesses) and the big increases in financial transactions and the consumption of commodities and other services have greatly been escalating the scale and share of services in the country’s present economy, dwarfing and all the more keeping underdeveloped the industrial and agricultural sectors.
But the more principal cause of the underdevelopment of the industrial and agricultural sectors has been the long-standing policy of successive monopoly capitalist – and – big landlord-dictated ruling regimes in the country to put their thumbs down against giving determined support and prioritization to the development of these sectors.
The long standing and pestering underdevelopment, especially of the industrial and agricultural sectors, and of the overall economy of the country, for that matter – – despite much prated ephemeral illusions of growth – – have actually been resulting not in the lifting of the socio-economic conditions of the people or in what is now popularly called “inclusive growth.” Instead, these illusions of “stunning growth” have ironically been accompanied only by bigger and bigger increases in unemployment and poverty among the people:
According to National Statistics Office (NSO) figures, contradicting the supposed 7.8% economic growth in the first quarter of the year, unemployment in the country reached its recent peak at 7.5% and breached the three-million mark last April, from 6.9% in the same month last year and from 7.1% in January this year. Aside from this is the ever increasing underemployment (actually, disguised unemployment) that is additionally three times as large. Joblessness has actually been pestering and worsening since more than a dozen years ago, when the implementation of neoliberalism and “labor flexibility” had been starting to escalate. Since then, average unemployment rate in the country has remained high at 7.6% and additional underemployment has been three times as large.
Pathetically, unemployment and underemployment in the country have for sometime been the highest in the region.
Meanwhile, Social Weather Station (SWS) survey results showed that self-related poverty affected 5.2% of the population (10.6 million families) in March 2013, and that hunger among Filipinos rose from 15.1% in June to 18% in December 2011, to 19.3% in March 2013, and to 23.8% in May.
About 20% of the poorest of the people have to scrimp with only 6% of the total national income while, as culled from Forbes Asia statistics, growth in wealth — amounting to $13 billion or the equivalent of 76.5% of the country’s GDP growth in 2010-2011 — was amassed by just the 40 richest families in the country. There is just some difficulty in obtaining official data to determine explicitly how much of the GDP growth was amassed by big foreign monopoly capitalists, as such is usually hidden in costs of operations, in export and import prices, in capital and in financial transactions.
All these only show how the rotten, backward, semicolonial and semifeudal socio-economic and political system prevailing in the country has been making the mass of the people suffer all the more, while the big foreign and local exploiters have been amassing the bulk of the country’s wealth.
The full development from a subservient, backward, pre-industrial, agrarian, exclusive economy to a self-reliant, modern, industrialized, inclusive one would urgently require first priority policy, decisive action and all-out support to independent, full-scale national industrialization, genuine agrarian reform, rural development and other fundamental socio-economic, cultural and political reforms against the impositions, maneuvers and resistance of foreign monopoly capitalists and local big compradors, big landlords and big bureaucrat capitalists.
NDF peace consultant
detained at BJMP-SICA
Camp Bagong Diwa,
Bicutan, Taguig City
9 July 2013
What “Rising Tiger” are the World Bank and the Aquino regime talking about?
02 April 2013
The Benigno S. Aquino III regime is self-congratulatory about government statistics portraying an unusually high (6.6%) growth rate of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2012 building up from to 6.3% in the first half to 7.1% in the later part of the year.
The regime is even more titillated that with such a showing, the World Bank’s Country Director Motoo Konishi now all of a sudden calls the Philippines a “rising tiger”.
The regime attributes such “good grades” as a result of its promotion of the “straight road” and of “good governance”.
Closer and more objective and truthful analysis and presentation of data, however, reveal that the supposed “outstanding growth rate” of the country’s GDP, the mass of the people have all the more been suffering amidst many prettifying cover-ups, and the country’s economic base have only been continuing to get worse and worse especially at the ground level.
Given the prevailing semi-colonial, semi-feudal, pre-industrial and backward agrarian economy, the Philippines has for a long time been Asia’s socio-economic laggard. The Asian Development Bank has for a long time now been pointing this out, and the OECD Development Center confirms that this has not at all change despite the present delusionary “good grades”.
The OECD Development Center also notes that poverty incidence in the Philippines remains the highest among the ASEAN’s five founding members (including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore), with about 25 million or one fourth of the population in the Philippines living below the world’s poverty threshold of $1/day or P45/day.
In the first place, last year’s supposed growth should better be referred to as a mirage, as its 6.6% was computed from a low base – – the 3% dismal growth rate of the country’s economy the year before.
Such “growth” of 6.6% in the whole of 2012 (and even 7.1% in the latter part of the year) did not show real industrial growth, even if for the first time in many years a significant “boost” was supposed to have come from the industrial sector. Bulk of the supposed “industrial growth” was in construction, jumping by an additional 24.3% from a year earlier, due largely to the rush of late in construction activities – – principally in the raising of new buildings and “property booms” due to the surge of call center and other business process outsourcing (BPO) activities being set up in the country, and in the rise in sales of condominium units boosted principally by the massive inflow of remittances from the now more than 12 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), whose total remittances sent through banks (and not including those sent via other means) have now reached $21 billion a year and have already become the third largest in the world after China and Mexico.
A third major source of supposed “growth” in the last decade or so – – the re-export (after some labor-intensive processing locally) of semi-conductors and other electronic semi manufacturers – – have for the last several years amounted to more than $25 billion annually, and consisted more than 60% of the country’s export.
All these sources of supposed “growth”, however, are characterized by the mere exploitation of cheap labor of Filipinos, whether r locally or abroad. The windfalls of the benefits from the exploitation of such surplus cheap labor, especially in terms of returns to capital and in terms of economic development and growth, are harvested not by those who perform the cheap labor but their foreign and local exploiters.
The most that the performers of cheap labor get are crumbs from the table of their imperialist and comprador exploiters, that in the case of the Philippines span from increases in consumer purchases and services, especially of luxuries (including more purchases of massively dumped imported or multinational-patented commercial products to the likes of condominium units). Thus, the big rise in commerce and services plus sales of condominium units, over more solid industrial and agricultural production for the benefits of the masses, have been leading the Philippine economy since the surge of exports of surplus cheap labor, influx of BPOs and re-export of semi-processed electronic parts.
The irony in all this is more clearly seen in the fact that while all such “growth” based on the exploitation of the country’s surplus cheap labor is building up in the trillions, just a few people are benefiting from the country’s wealth, while more and more the multitude are being dumped to suffer on the wayside.
This is most notably marked in the continuous rise of unemployment and underemployment (i.e., disguised unemployment) which have already be fallen more than 12 million ( more than 30%) of the available workforce. Ironically, when the country’s GDP supposedly grew by 7.1% in the later part of the year, unemployment increased all the more by 900,000.
Without the huge export of labor overseas, the employment and underemployment rates would practically double, or even be a lot more.
With such overly large unemployment and underemployment, Philippine labor has become cheaper and cheaper, and even more expendable. The legal minimum wage is less than half the value of the about P1,000 daily wage required for a family of six to be able to live decently. The actual average wage of a workers is actually even worth much less in present terms, and becoming more less due to the rising prices of essential commodities.
It is because of all this and more (including the widespread and increasing landlessness and joblessness of the great majority in the countryside) that the mass of the people are getting poorer and poorer, while the elite of the country and their foreign masters are fast getting richer and richer.
This has been shown quite concretely and starkly shown in the data former national economic planning chief Cielito Habito has come out with: the country’s 40 richest families’ aggregate wealth was reported by Forbes Asia to have rises by $13 billion 1n 2010-2011 – – equivalent (in value) to 76.5% of the growth then of the whole country’s GDP (which nominally rose then by $17 billion). Habito went on to compare this to Malaysia, where the equivalent number of richest families reported by Forbes Asia amassed a rise in aggregate wealth equivalent to only 5.6% of the country’s GDP growth, and to Japan, where the figure was only 2.8%. – – pointing out that income inequality in our country is much, much worse than that of other countries in the continent. Clearly, the Philippines big comprador, big bureaucrat and big landlord elite and their imperialist masters have been exploiting the people with more and more greed and disdain, more and more miserable.
What “rising tiger” are the World Bank and the Benigno S. Aquino III regime now talking about?
Drastic fundamental overhaul of the entire bankrupt, unjust, exploitative, rotten and moribund semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system in the country will have to be made to reverse the worsening socio-economic crisis that has long been overly burdening the Filipino people.
This article was written by Alan Jazmines, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) and a member of the NDF’s Socio-Economic Reform Committee. Since the mid-2011, the committee should have been meeting with its counterpart from the side of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) for the second round of the formal NDF-GPH peace talks, that is supposed to center on socio-economic reforms. The meetings, however, have not taken place because of Jasmines’ arrest at the very eve of the first round of the formal NDF-GPH peace talks on February 14, 2011 and his continued detention since then, and the and continued detention of more than a dozen other NDF peace consultants,. The NDF-GPH Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) is supposed to protect peace consultants of both parties from surveillance, arrest, detention and other antagonistic acts that would prevent or deter in any way their effective participation and work in the peace process. The NDF demands that, for the formal peace talks to be able to resume and proceed with the substantive agenda, the GPH is obliged to respect and comply first with the JASIG and other NDF-GPH peace agreement.
Education as a basic right of the people… of the youth… and even of the poor
(25 March 2013)
A 16 year old behavioral science freshman’s suicide last March 15 was induced by her having been obliged to take a leave of absence from school and to surrender her school identification card due to her family’s inability to pay a previous loan and to secure a new loan from the school and thus her inability to pay by the deadline her tuition fee for the next semester at the University of the Philippine – Manila.
Kristel Tejada’s tragic death was followed right after by mass protests in school of the UP System all over the country and in some other schools in the country.
Practically the same thing also induced another young student, Marionette Amper, to commit suicide a little more than five years ago. Marionette was then an 11 year old elementary school student in Davao Oriental when she killed herself on Nov. 2, 2007. She left behind a letter to her parents, bidding farewell and explaining that what she did was because of her inability to accomplish her school-required education project, because of her family’s dire poverty. In sympathy with her and millions of other poor students and youth suffering like she did, masses of others students and youth waged protest actions in Mindanao, Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
All these depict the sorry state of the present rotten and inutile prevailing elite system’s provision of education for the benefit of the country’s youth and future.
The highly inadequate, stingy and declining support by the prevailing state for public education and its requisites for the youth and needy has long been one of the basic problems of Filipino youth and people.
Education, however, including the fulfilling of its requisites, is a basic human right and the ruling state bears the responsibility and duty to ensure its delivery, including free elementary and intermediate education for all who need, as well as free tertiary and higher education, based on merit at the minimum and eventually for all who need.
Contrary to this, the highly inadequate, stingy and declining free tertiary education on a highly selective basis for the qualified needy youth has been a problem for a great majority among the Filipino youth and their parents, particularly among the more than 90% who are poor and needy.
The widespread furor caused by the casualty in Kristel of the twin “no late payment” and “forced leave of absence” policies made the school administration withdraw these rigid policies four days after Kristel’s death.
But these twin policies were only a couple of flies amid a swarm of elitist, profit-oriented and anti-poor policies of the ruling state.
While, for one, the United nations stipulates that at least 6% of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) be devoted to public spending on education, in the Philippines this been limited to only 2%. Moreover, the share of the state universities and colleges (SECs) in the GDP has gone down further from 0.4% in 1991 to 0.29% in 2012.
The program for the people’s rights, welfare and development, that the National Democratic Front (NDF) and its allied organizations are fighting for, includes the state’s delivery of free quality education for the youth and the needy, especially among the impoverished and deprived.
To avoid the elitist system, indifferent bureaucracy and profit motive’s neglecting or belittling such basic human right, include in the NDF socio-economic program is the state’s eventual assimilation of private schools into the free public education system, including at the tertiary level, and giving full support for it and its requisites, so that what happened to Kristel, Marionette and other will not happen again to many more of the country’s youth, who want quality education but have only become frustrated because their families are poor and cannot pay for their continuing education and requisites.
This is just one among many fundamental issues included in the socio-economic reforms agenda of the NDF in formal peace talks with the Government of the Philippines (GPH).
A big problem, however, is that the formal peace talks between the NDF and GPH has been stalled because of the Benigno Aquino III regime refuses to release NDF peace consultants and other participants in the peace talks, who were surveilled, arrested, detained and subjected to other antagonistic acts in violation of their supposed protection by virtue of the Joint on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other standing peace agreements.
NDF Peace Consultant detained at the
Security Intensive Care Area
Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig
(The author is a member of the NDF’s Socio-Economic Committee and is supposed to sit in in the meeting of the Reciprocal Working Committee of the NDF and GPH on Socio-Economic Reforms, but was arrested on the eve of the resumption of the long-stalled formal peace talks between the NDF and GPH on February 14, 2011 and continues to be detained up to now – – in violation of the JASIG. Because of the GPH’s refusal to release him and other NDF peace consultants and JASIG protection holders, the formal peace talks between the NDF and the GPH continued to be suspended).