Need for Free Public Education, especially for the Poor

Need for Free Public Education, especially for the Poor

21 March 2013

Kristel Tejada’s suicide last March 15, induced by her forced leave of absence from school due to her poor family’s inability to pay for her tuition fee by the deadline at the University of the Philippines – Manila campus, and the mass student and youth protests following her suicide depict the sorry state of the present rotten and inutile prevailing system’s provision of education for the benefit of the country’s youth and future.

What was behind what happened to Kristal was practically the same thing that also induced another young student, Marionette Amper, to commit suicide a little more than four 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 behimd 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.

Education and the fulfilling of its requirements and support for it are basic human rights and the ruling state has the responsibility and duty to ensure free basic and intermediate education and its adjunct requisites for all at the minimum, as well as free tertiary and higher education based on merit – – and eventually for all.

The highly inadequate, stingy and declining support by the prevailing state for public education and its requisites for the youth and the needy has long been one of the basic problems of the Filipino youth and people.

Education, however, including the fulfilling of its requisites, is a basic human right and the ruling state bares the responsibility and duty to ensure its delivery, including free elementary and intermediate education for all, as well as free tertiary and higher education, based on merit at the minimum and eventually for all.

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 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 profit motive’s interfering with such basic human right, included in the NDF’s 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 all its requisites, so that what happened to Kristel, Marionette and others 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 the 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 the GPH has been stalled because the Benegno S. 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 Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other standing peace agreements.

Alan Jazmines
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 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 the GPH on Februart 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 continues to be suspended).

A Fighter to the End

A Fighter to the End

I write this for Mothers’ Day in fervent dedication to my departed dearest Mom, Cristina Valera Jazmines.

My Mom died under much pain and suffering. Up to her last minutes – – and seconds – – she still struggled to fight for life, and did not want to leave this world, even at her much advanced age and number of ailments. She passed away just a few minutes after the flurry of firecrackers and horn blasts had receded in a bow to the passing of the old year and the assumption of a new year. She died at 92, a fighter to the end.

A month and a half later, on the day before the second anniversary of this my third arrest and detention, she would have turned 93.

I miss her a lot. And so do the others in the family, her friends and colleagues and many others she had been with and had helped in life.

She left deep imprints in me that have been part and parcel of the revolutionary cause I have long been espousing, have cost me a series of imprisonments- – up to my current third- – and a lot of other sacrifices. The deep imprints she left with me will continue to be part of what I am and contribute to my determination to fight and sacrifice even more up to the end, in the interest of the exploited and oppressed masses of the people in our society.

Early in my childhood, I had already began to hear impressive stories about how she was determined fighter for her rights and against feudal norms in the family.

Cristina was the only girl and the eldest among seven siblings. Her parents had committed to the schooling of all the boys and were very proud of how the eldest among the boys excelled in school. The family looked forward to the excelling, too, of the other boys. Cristina wanted to study in school, too. But feudal society did not appreciate the need for the girls to go to school and develop a career outside of the home. They were supposed to be prepared to serve as head servants in their future husbands’ families, aside from being mothers of their children. No preparations and allowance for her schooling and study were made by the family. This, despite her mother’s being a school teacher.

But that did not at all prevent her from going to school and from studying. Even if she was not enrolled in school, early every school day she would wait for her mother to start walking to a nearby school where her mother was teaching and secretly (in a discreet corner) attend not only her mother’s classes but also other classes where she sized up she had the capacity to understand what were being taught.

At home, she was not supposed to be doing any homework for school and reading of books. Thus, for a long time, she had to bring her books and her school notes to the toilet or some other secret nook at home in order to be able to read and do homework for school in freedom- – even if behind locked doors.

After sometime when unavoidably her parents discovered that she had long been furtively going to school and reading books clandestinely on her own, she stood to defend her right. Her parents were open to her position, especially her father who carried in him seeds of progressive ideas and causes. She was, thus, finally accommodated, officially enrolled in school and allowed to read books and do homework for school at home without the need to hide these any longer.

She was able to go all the way up to college, attain a pharmacy degree and even reach the final year of her doctor of medicine course at the University of the Philippines.

But she was not able to graduate in her medicine course and become a full-pledged doctor, as she then eloped with my father-to-be, who was not initially welcome to her landlord mother, because of his lowly class status. He was just a part-time kaminero (road construction worker) before he enlisted as a soldier during World War II, and was still just a rank-and-file soldier when he was courting my Mom, when they secretly got married and when I was born as their first scion.

As my parents both had to work double-time to eke out a living, as soon as I could be weaned up to the time I had to start schooling (in kindergarten), I lived with her parents, who were becoming more and more lower middle class in the city even as they still had dwindling feudal holdings in the countryside.

It was auspicious, as I picked up a lot from my grandfather about sympathy and concern for the poor masses of the people, about the evils of U.S. imperialist domination of the puppet republic and about the need for a people’s liberation movement and revolution as the only means for the country to attain genuine national liberation and fundamental social changes, as was then taking place in Cuba with the downfall of the hated Batista puppet regime and the take-over by the people’s revolutionary forces. I also learned from him a lot about art, especially drawing and painting.

When my parents took me back, my Mom was responsible for now and then discussing with me in time with appropriate circumstances about the family, our individual and shared responsibilities and development, and the running of the household. Nothing was dictated on us, and instead persuasive and democratic means of exchanges and agreements became the norm between us and our parents (particularly our Mom, as our Dad was usually tacit and often talked with us through our Mom).

Our Mom taught us much about self-development and the need to do our best for excellence, about industry, about frugality, about honesty.

When at one time I talked with her in confidence about my feeling insecure that we, their children who do not come from elite families have been brought to study in expensive schools like Ateneo where most of my classmates were from the elite, she explained to me how she and our Dad value education so much that they would do all they can and sacrifice a lot, scrimp on many other things and even go into debt, just to be able to provide us the best education. She said further that even if we lose everything in material terms and are even reduced to our barest bodies, we should be able to remain proud of our education and self-development, and the principles, abilities, and worthy accomplishments that become part of us and cannot be stripped from us.

Much earlier, when we were just starting schooling and were being given allowances for our food and miscellaneous needs in school, our Mom would explain to us that they could afford a very small amount, but we should appreciate even the very small amount as it was equivalent of a worker’s usual jeepney fare from home to work, and that the worker had to labor for that amount.

She would also often drill into us the appreciation of the products of the labor of farmers as the ones who produced the materials that went into our food, and thus the need for us to consume all the food on our plates. Wherever we resided, there were also vegetable plots nearby that we would tend to sustain our need for vegetables, but more importantly to make us always appreciative in practice of the labor of farmers.

Our Mom was also a strong advocate of frugality. She would often emphasize the need to concentrate our resources on the more essential needs and to avoid, as much as possible, diverting meager resources to non-essential and more especially to dispensable luxuries and waste. She would remind us time and again that in our country alone several millions are so poor that they fall very short of their essential needs.

Both our Mom and Dad were always very emphatic about the highest need for integrity and honesty. They always pointed out that what should accrue to us should be earned through our own capabilities and labor, and anything that properly belongs to others but happened to fall in our hands, should be returned to the rightful owners. They always refused to pay bribes, even if their refusal would cost the loss of transactions. and they always returned whatever surplus would be mistakenly included in the change given to them by sellers.

I was still in my later grade school and early high school years when my parents advanced further in the systematization and relation to political and socio-economic advocacies of their ideas. That was when Claro M. Recto’s crusade for nationalism and national industrialization reached my parents, and they became ardent advocates of Recto’s crusade. They also went on to themselves implement Recto’s crusade in practice by pioneering in the setting up of an industrial project to produce tar paper locally (this was, however, swamped after a few years by the plastics industry).

When, in the early 1970’s I joined the revolutionary movement, my Mom had no question about it and fully supported my decision.

Not too long afterward, when she went to her maternal ancestral hometown in Ilocos Norte to look into a few remaining parcels of feudal landholdings of the family that had been put under her charge, the peasants there collectively met with her to relay to the family that a revolutionary peasant organization had already been formed there with the auspices of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and its military arm in the New People’s Army. The peasants formally informed the family through her that revolutionary maximum land reform had been declared on the family’s feudal landholdings, which means that the family’s ownership of the parcels of tenanted land is no longer recognized and the said parcels would all be turned over to the tillers for free. Immediately, without any argument and without any ifs-and-buts, my Mom accepted the declaration. The peasants in the assembly celebrated the agreement and in gratitude gave my Mom a few sacks of rice as a token of their appreciation for her understanding and quick agreement.

As soon as she returned home, my Mom shared with me what took place. I expressed full acquiescence. She also shared the same with her siblings, who also gave their consent to her agreement. With their careers and work concentrated in the Big City, they had anyway long lost interest in those land parcels in the province.

When I was imprisoned (twice) during Martial Law, my Mom made sure of her visiting me at least once a week. She was most active among the family in supporting me and other political prisoners, all the way from Camp Crame to Camp Bagong Diwa. She was one of the leading members of the Committee of Relatives of Political Prisoners and with other advocates of human rights, fully supported our struggles as political prisoners, in the fight for justice, in campaigns for our freedom and the defense of our human rights. She helped raise funds not only for the work of the committee and the campaigns for the freedom and support of political prisoners, but also for the support of families of political prisoners who were much in need of help.

I confided to her that our struggle for freedom was not only to be able to physically get out of prison, but more importantly so to be able to more effectively work for the greater freedom of the people in the wider society – – the very thing that was the reason for our imprisonment. She understood very well.

When I regained my freedom and went back to the ground, whether in the open or in the revolutionary underground, our communication was confined mostly through letters. She would, however, do whatever was necessary for the sake of security for us to be able to see each other even once in a couple of years, and even just for an hour or a few minutes. She would give up all her previous appointments, go through various tedious detours and walk long distances just to be sure she was not being followed by state intelligence operatives. She would give whatever I needed urgently for assistance.

For more than a decade before this my third arrest and detention, we had not seen each other. But she still often had to keep on evading shadows trailing her even to different churches she would go to. She did not want shadows sticking to her back.

This my third arrest was maliciously just a few hours before the resumption of the long stalled formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) on February 14, 2011. The arrest was made despite my supposed protection from arrest, detention and other antagonistic acts of the state, as I am a consultant in the peace talks. The day before was my Mom’s 91st birthday.

The day right after my arrest and the same day I was transferred from the Bulacan Provincial Jail in Camp Alejo Santos to the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, she was immediately there to see how I was. Since then, she had been visiting me weekly as much as she could. Those who had been taking care of her had been saying that she was most happy and excited, and always had a much earlier day every time she was scheduled to visit.

Our discussions during her visits showed how she continued to give highest value and concern to education of her kin. She was always very proud of those of her children and grandchildren who excelled and continue to excel. During the last few times we were able to discuss at length about the need to ensure the completion of the schooling of the rest of her grandchildren who still have not finished their schooling, she vowed that the completion of their schooling should be guaranteed by the family and that they should be given all the help they need.

At the opening of the Painting Freedom art exhibit at the Sining Kamalig in December 8, 2011, where two of us NDF peace consultant detained at Camp Crame exhibited a number of our paintings, someone who was there wrote that my Mom’s sweet smile the whole time showed how much she was moved by the great appreciation and love showed by those who attended the launching.

Much more than the longer distance, from where she used to stay, up to my present detention camp, it became very difficult for her to visit me here as, after her first slip and fall, she had become totally dependent on her wheel chair, thus, it was impossible for her to cross the tight zigzag rail visitors have to go through to enter the detention area and for her to climb four flights of stairs to reach us political prisoners here at the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) jail.

An arrangement was once was made so that we could see each other for a short time by the gate. But that was just for one visit, when she was already at the gate hoping to be allowed to see me there. That was her last visit.

Her second slip and fall happened sometime after then, followed by further severe damages and intensive sufferings, until she went through more complications and was no longer able to survive her fight against death.

Two days after my Mom passed away, I was given four hours to be able to make a brief visit to her wake under very tight watch by 18 guards. In the interviews and eulogy I gave (but was not able to finish – – as I reached a point where I could not contain my grief and was crying inside), I recalled some memorable anecdotes and experiences with her and the many, many things I have been very appreciative of her.

I miss my Mom very much. My love and thoughts of her and the many valuable lessons in the interest of the people, that I learned from her and progressed with much further, will always remain with me.

12 May 2013

*The author is a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) peace consultant and a member of its Socio-Economic Reforms Committee. He is supposedly protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) but was nevertheless still arrested on February 14, 2011, just a few hours before the resumption of the long stalled formal peace talks between the NDF and the GPH. He is presently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology – Special Intensive Care Area (BJMP-SICA) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City.

What “Rising Tiger” are the World Bank and the Aquino regime talking about? – Part 1

What “Rising Tiger” are the World Bank and the Aquino regime talking about?

Alan Jazmines

11 March 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 economy of late is deceptive and what is more factual and real is that the Philippines remains Asia’s economic laggard, its economic base has only been getting worse and worse, and the mass of its people have all the more been suffering amidst many prettifying cover-ups.

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 $24 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 of their foreign and comprador exploiters.

The most that the performers of cheap labor get are crumbs from the table of their i, that in the case of the Philippines span from increases in consumer purchases (including more purchases of imported or multinational-patented commercial products to the likes of condominium flats). Thus, the big rise in commerce and services plus sales of condominium flats over more solid industrial and agricultural production have been leading the Philippine economy since the surge of re-exports of semi-processed electronic parts, esport of surplus cheap labor and influx of BPOs.

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 covering the country’s wealth and more and more the masses are suffering 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 (now more than 30% and further rising) of the available workforce. Without the export of labor overseas, the unemployment and underemployment rates would practically double or even be a lot worse,

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 fair living family wage. The actual average wag is even worth much less in present terms, and becoming more less due to inflation.

It is because of all this and more (including the widespread and increasing landlessness and joglessness of the great majority of peasants) that the mass of the people are getting poorer and poorer.

Indeed, the number of local comprador capitalists who have made it to the Forbe’s list of the world’s billionaires have risen to 40. They have done this to the point of amassing 76% of the Philippine economy. Compare this to Japan where the richest 40 own only 2.8% of the economy, and to Malaysia where the richest 40 own only 5.6% of the economy. The Philippine comprador, bureaucrat and feudal elite and their imperialist masters have been exploiting the people more and more greedy, and in turn have made the people all the more poor and miserable.

What “rising tiger” are the World Bank and the Benigno S. Aquino III regime myopic now talking about?

Drastic fundamental overhaul of the entire bankrupt, rotten and moribund semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system in the country will have to be made to reverse the prevailing socio-economic crisis that has long been overly burdening the Filipino pople.

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 that since the mid-2012, 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, which is supposed to center on socio-economic reforms. The meetings, however, have not taken place because of Jasmines’ arrest and continuing detention since February 14,2012, and the arrest and continuing detention of about 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 and the GPH are, however, at odds in regard to its implementation – – or present non-implementation by the GPH.

So Much Remains to be Seen for Peace

So Much Remains to be Seen for Peace

Today, February 14, 2013, is the second anniversary of “Black Valentine”—when two years ago the present ruling government’s armed forces, with the explicit go-signal of higher-ups, treacherously stabbed in the back the peace process between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH).

Just a couple of hours before the resumption of the long stalled formal peace talks between the NDF and GPH, an official peace consultant of the NDF and member of its socio-economic reform committee, and who had been coordinating closely with the NDF leadership and comrades involved in the peace talks abroad, was surreptitiously suddenly arrested by combined forces of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police.

The arrest was made in utter disregard of the peace process, in arrogant violation of standing peace agreements between the NDF and GPH, and even in blatant violation of the GPH’s own laws. Among the NDF-GPH peace agreements violated were the Joint Agreement of Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) for the protection of peace consultants and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) for the protection of the people’s human rights.

Waste-basketing the JASIG , which is supposed to guarantee the security of peace consultants from surveillance, arrest, detention and other antagonistic acts, in arrogant spite at the peace process, and without even a warrant of arrest, GPH armed forces forcibly barged into a house I was temporarily staying and working in and arrested me in the early evening (Manila time) of February 14. The arresting forces were very much in a hurry to make the arrest and it was then early in the morning of February 14 in Oslo, Norway and the arrested had to be made before the peace process between the NDF and GPH were to take place there shortly, so as not to cause a walk-out by the NDF peace panel and a bigger blame placed on the GPH for the break-up of the peace talks, had the arrest been made after the peace talks had started.

I firmly protested the treachery behind the arrest, insisting that I am an NDF peace consultant, a participant in the peace process to commence shortly, and one protected by JASIG. I also demanded my right to be able to immediately talk with my legal counsel in the Public Interest Law (PILC), which also sits in the NDF peace panel as legal consultant in the peace process. All this was accordingly relayed by the head of the arresting forces to his higher-ups.

After two hours, however, the head of the arresting forces came back to inform me that their higher ups insisted on pushing through with the arrest, no matter the JASIG and the peace talks. I was just told that all that I have raised with them will be relayed to the office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. The chief then of the Philippine Army, Gen. Arnulfo Ortiz, who was also then in direct command of the arrest operation, even issued an arrogant statement that they will continue to arrest NDF peace consultants—no matter the JASIG.

The NDF peace strongly objected to the arrest as well as the continued detention of some dozen other NDF peace consultants; demanded the immediate release of the arrested and detained NDF peace consultants so that the formal peace talks can still continue; demanded, too, the release of then already more than 350 other political prisoners in the country; and pressed for the rectification of all other violations by the GPH of the peace process and of standing peace agreements. The GPH peace panel then promised its best to work out the release of the arrested and detained NDF peace consultants to make way for the continuation and progress of the formal peace talks.

But, except for a couple of detained NDF peace consultants who were released as a result of individual court victories – – and not because of decisive action by the GPH – – all of more than a dozen other NDF peace consultants continue to be behind bars and their rights continue to be violated.

One of those who have suffered the most brutalities and human rights violations upon arrested and under detention is Tirso Alcantara. As soon as he was arrested, with his hands tied at the back, his ankles bound, and forced to kneel down, he was shot at close range at the arms with the bullet exiting close to the crotch. He was then placed inside a freezer for about three hours until taken to the hospital for operation. At Fort Bonifacio where he was detained for almost two years, he was made to suffer daily more atrocities, like depriving him of access to sunning and exercise, to newspaper, radio and writing materials. Most of the time, visitors were discourage if not totally prevented from seeing him, as only one of a maximum of three immediate relatives were allowed to visit him at a time, and most others such as human rights workers, priests and pastors promoting peace and even NDF peace panel members were prevented from seeing him. It takes days before his military jailors would turn over to him food stuffs brought to him by his visitors and many times many items were not even turned over to him. This, even as most of the time he had to totally depend on the food stuffs brought to him by his visitors, as suspicious items like glass shards, matchsticks, lumps of ants, animal feces, dizziness,-causing chemicals and other health-endangering matter were often mixed with food rations given to him, and he thus had to avoid the food rations.

Another NDF peace consultant, Ramon Patriarca, who was abducted and heavily tortured by Philippine Army forces, became a deseparecido for four days until his military abductors were obliged to surface him when his family filed and won a writ of amparo case against his military abductors. He was then transferred from Camp Lapu-lapu to the Davao City Jail in Cebu Province, when very soon after he, in tandem with another political prisoner, led some 200 other inmates at the Davao City Jail in struggles for their rights, including the raising to P80/inmate/day (or 60% higher than the amount budgeted nationally) the daily food ration per inmate, the inmate’s organized monitoring of the quality and quantity of their food rations as well as to ensure that the P480,000.00 monthly budget for 200 inmates was well spent, the regulation of access to areas for adequate sunning and exercise, the setting up of alternative learning programs, and others.

Many attempts to isolate, repress or replace him in the leadership among inmates , suppress their struggles and reverse their victories at the Davao City Jail were defeated one after another, until in Jun.25, 2012, after being brought to a court hearing on the torture case he filed against two generals, two colonels and 24 other personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, he was not returned to his cell at the Davao City Jail, but instead was surreptitiously brought to a bartolina (isolated cell) at the Cebu Provincial Jail without a court order, and a few days later was transferred back to the camp of his abductors and torturers where he was first brought to and initially hidden way back in early February 2009. Jail and provincial authorities were then able to reverse the victories in the struggles led by Patiarca.

There is close similarity in my case as jail and police authorities in Camp Crame where I was detained much of the time since my arrest, have several times made reprisal moves against our efforts at the PNP Custodial Center to expose and seek redress of the grave injustices and human rights violations committed against NDF peace consultants and other political prisoners there, especially in regard to unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution, detent ion and undue restrictions committed against them.

Jail and police authorities made a series of moves to force my transfer to another detention center where they were hoping I could be more effectively repressed. This, in reprisal against moves by political prisoners in Camp Crame to expose and fight the atrocities committed by authorities there. These include the barging into cells of detainees and harassing them in the middle of the night, making moves to molest non-political female detainees by bringing them out of their cells in the middle of the night to join drinking and gambling session in barracks and offices of jail and police authorities; colluding with arresting and other military, police and intelligence units to produce additional cases to continue keeping in jail political detainees whose cases have been dismissed in the court and who have thus been ordered by the courts to be set free.

The exposes and complaints that have caused the biggest juror, triggered automatic denial by Malacanang and sparked the final, determined move to have me transferred – – “no matter what” – – from the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame to where I can hopefully be more effectively repressed and silenced was the documentation, study and expose of foreign, ie. US, intrusion into the cases of political prisoners there. Such included the putting up of U.S. FBI room right inside the detention area, the constant interest and repeated interrogation of political prisoners – – particularly Moro/Muslim political prisoners – – by the U.S. FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies in the said U.S. FBI room, as well as in atleast one secret condominium in the vicinity that is being used by U.S. intelligence agencies. Or as most happened – – if the U.S intelligence agents have difficulties with the non-cooperation of the objects of their interest – – in the office of the chief of the custodial center itself.

Such also included the cases of U.S. rendition victims, in particular the cases of three Indonesians, who were forcibly abducted abroad at the instigation of the U.S FBI with the puppet compliance of the PNP Intelligence Group, smuggled into the Philippines with the use of fictitious identities imposed on them, detained and charged with trumped-up cases as Filipinos and kept in jail for about eight years now. Two of them have recently been transferred here at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA) of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City.

I found out very soon after my transfer here at the SICA ON July 2, that in many aspects the problems of political prisoners here are even much worse than those at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

For one, the number of political prisoners here is much, much bigger – – more than 200, or more than 10 times the number in Camp Crame when I was still there.

The cases of political prisoners here are even more glaring mockeries of justice, human rights and even simple sensitivity – – to the point of utter absurdity and ridiculousness. More gross – – and many times more mind-boggling – – are the cases here of unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution, detention and violations of the rights of political prisoners.

Majority of the more than 200 political prisoners here are innocent civilians; most of them arrested in their respective communities or places of work; charged, detained and treated as “terrorists”, mostly on the basis of intentional “mistaken identities” – – just to give body to fake bounty claims financed in the millions of U.S. Dollars in the form of “anti-terrorist aid”.

Most recent of such cases of arrest, detention and filing of trumped-up charges based on intentional “mistaken identity” has been that of a full time 48 years old security guard named Rolly Panesa, who was arrested at the close of midnight of October 5, together with his wife and two to her members of their family, subjected to heavy torture and two days later was brought for detention at the SICA under the name of entirely different person – – 61 year old Benjamin Mendoza, who is suspected by the government to be the top CPP, NDF and NPA leader in the Southern Tagalog Region. Were he the true Benjamin Mendoza, he should also not have been arrested, tortured and brought into detention, as the real Benjamin Mendoza is an NDF peace consultant representing the Southern Tagalog Region, and as such is supposedly protected from surveillance, arrest, detention and other antagonistic acts.

Most absurd are the cases here of several pairs of intentional “mistaken identity” victims with the same assigned names, arrested, detained, charged and presented before the court handcuffed to one another. In the case. For instance, of Jirin Hatimon of Jolo, Sulo and Abdulhan Ussih of Cotabato City, both were arrested, detained, charged and keep on being brought to court together as “Black Tungkang”.

Many political prisoners here were arrested and detained as minors, elderly and/or sick, and yet have remained for years and continue to remain behind bars. Among these are four minors from Basilan (Muner Tanfic, 14 years old when arrested; Abubakar Bimbas, 14 years old when arrested; Galo Omar, 16 years old when arrested; Palili Jammang, 17 years old when arrested) whom the NDF had demanded in the NDF-GPH peace talks (from March 30 to April 2, 2004 in Oslo, Norway), that they be released.

It was formally agreed upon by both panels in an April 3,2004 joint statement that the four would be released together with 28 other minors, women, elderly and sick political prisoners. Yet up to now, they have remained imprisoned here at SICA.

There are eight others who were arrested and detained as minors, including six more Moro youth (Muner Kusair, Ahmad Totong Macrohon, Ikram Amiruddin, Arman Amiruddin, Divino Buenbrazo and Ibrahim Misuari) who have behind bars for many years now, and two peasant youth from Quezon (Grego Guevarra and Reynaldo Delos Santos) who have been arrested just a few months ago.

There are even more here at SICA who are elderly and sickly. Especially among the elderly and sick who have been overly long confined, the very cramped space limited movement, poor food rations and lack of medical facilities have been contributing much to the fast deterioration of the health of inmates here. In fact, many of these have already suffered heart attacks, hypertensive strokes, arthritic paralysis and other severe ailments, and a big number of them have already died here.

One of the elderly sick innocent civilians arrested in Sipatan, Basilan way back in 2005 and detained for about 8 years now is Estong Ilinol. He suffered his last hypertensive stroke two years ago, and has not recovered since then. In fact, his health has deteriorated more and more. He has to be fed, bathed and helped by his cellmates to do toilet functions. Government and jail authorities have done nothing at all to bring him in a hospital for proper care and to save his life, much less to return to him his freedom unjustly, arbitrarily and illegally snatched from him and long-detained him. Overly prolonging and making more difficult the situation of political prisoners and their fight for freedom, justice and human rights here – – as in other jails in the country – – is the exceedingly rotten and snail-paced process of justice, one of the most rotten and slowest in the world. In many, many cases, there has been no movement at all for several years, in some cases, for close to or even more than a decade now.

The problems range from the typical laggard courts, the overly-delayed replacement of existing judges, the very sparse scheduling of hearings, the highly inefficient subpoena delivery system, the very stingy time allocated per case in overly loaded incompetent as well as lazy courts. All these, plus the numerous problems of the jail management in bringing political prisoners to appear in courts.

There is also the problem of the puppet reactionary military/police as well as political establishment’s effort to influence and manipulate the courts. Aside from these are the perennial problems of criminalizing cases against political prisoners with the imposition of trumped-up charges in continuous violation of the Hernandez Doctrine.

The incalcitrance of the GPH and its puppet reactionary military/police in keeping NDF peace consultants and other political prisoners behind bars and bringing in as many more of these as possible is quite evident in the former’s playing blind to peace agreements and deaf to demands for the freedom of NDF peace consultants and other political prisoners for the sake of prospects for advance in the peace process and in fundamental political, socio-economic and other reforms.

Instead of the GPH rectifying its violation of peace agreements and doing its part to release treacherously arrested and detained NDF peace consultants, it has all the more been arresting others in the field. Renante Gamara, NDF consultant representing Metro Manila, was arrested in early April last year and was even brutally treated. He was carrying a JASIC protection document, but this was not at all respected by the arresting forces and was even confiscated from him, together with other valuable possessions he had with him including the car he was riding in. A little earlier , Jaime Soledad another NDF peace consultant representing Leyte Province was rearrested not long after his release by virtue of the withdrawal of the trumped-up charges against him. But another trumped-up case was produced to justify his re-arrest.

With the objective of arresting and “neutralizing” even more NDF peace consultants, the GPH, through its Department of National Defense and its Department of Interior and Local Governments, came out with an offer of nearly P500 million as bounty for another NDF peace consultants still at large without any regard at all that the new splurge of bounty offers constitute a big, arrogant slap at the peace process.

Some whiff of hope still emanated from a meeting between special representative of the NDF and of the GPH last December 17-18 in the Hague, where there was an agreement to carry on discussions on common declaration of national unity and just peace; further upholding rights; working towards attaining national unity, peace and development, agrarian reform rural development and national industrialization; and aiming for truce.

But, in the meeting, the special representative of the NDF posited that NDF peace consultants and other political prisoners must be released in order to improve the climate and facilitate progress for the peace talks. The NDF special representatives warned that the failure of the GPH to investigate and came out with resolutions on the disappearances and killings of NDF peace consultants, and to effect the release of detained NDF peace consultants and other political prisoners in accordance with the JASIG, CARHRIHL and other peace agreements.

The results of the meeting provide just a slither of light in an otherwise almost totally black night. So much still remains to be seen for peace.

NDF peace consultant
Detained at BJMP-SICA
Camp Bagong Diwa
Taguig City
Feb. 14, 2013