Achieving Happiness

February 17, 2010

Acts of defiance and compassion amidst war

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 3:19 am

One could practically see the pavement expanding– the noontime heat was that intense. No one, however, could be heard complaining.

The front of the Court of Appeals building along the street intersecting Padre Faura was full of people: relatives, friends, colleagues of the Morong 43 and members of the media. Everyone was waiting, there was sadness and anger, anxiety and worry in the air.

Colleagues nodded hello, smiled, shook hands. Many exchanged updates, their eyes sad. Were the lawyers inside already? What about the families of the victims? How were the victims? The newsreports are enough to make one’s heart bleed! Is she ok? Is he holding up? Sira-ulo talaga ang militar, but then we all know that already.

Soon enough one, two, three buses arrived as well as army jeeps ridden by soldiers in full-battle gear and the atmosphere was suddenly galvanized. People began raising their fists and crying out “Free the 43! Health workers, palayain!”

The police began their attempts to push people away from the street and onto the sidewalk but to no avail. There were cheers, some clapped, family members wept and everyone there who knew what injustice was raised their fists in salute. It was the least that could be the done for the 43, they who had been under military custody for the past nine days and counting; they who must suffer nightmares asleep and awake.

The convoy of military vehicles entered the Court of Appeals compound and one by one, the Morong 43 came down, handcuffed, looking exhausted but still defiant. Even from a distance, they could be seen holding their heads high, many of them had their own fists raised. Oh the sudden wave of emotion among those outside the gate! The tears that could not be stopped as they saw the friend and colleague they respected and loved being treated like a criminal. The anger that surged at the recollection of accounts of how the 43 were arrested and their sufferings in detention!

The Morong 43 are ordinary civilians who choose to do the extraordinary of working for the poor and the marginalized. For their sacrifice willingly made (so willingly that it’s no longer a sacrifice), they were arrested and kept under close military watch, subjected to torture endless and threatened with prolonged incarceration.

The AFP cannot fight and win in its war against the NPA, so it attacks civilians and presents their arrest as achievements. This is how the military convinces the public that they uphold human rights? This is how they present themselves as defenders of the law and protector of the weak?

It was a long day and it left one wondering: when will this ever end? To do evil is clearly much easier then to commit good, and those who dare to defy this rule are are punished.

The developments in the case of the Morong 43 continue to unfold and the most noticeable among them is this: the AFP is losing. Their officials cannot argue worth a damn even legally, and they have to resort to name-calling and generic accusations. The AFP stubbornly insists that the 43 are NPA members, and have come up with various ludicrous explanations to bolster their charges. Apparently, if one gives free medical treatment to farmers in the hinterlands, one is automatically NPA. It’s a crime to help poor people and keep them alive when the government can’t and won’t.

The AFP changed tack.

“Okay, so maybe they’re not NPA-NPA, but NPA medics. These NPA medics carry acupuncture needles and stethoscopes instead of armalites, they’re still NPA. (This argument is supposedly to show that the AFP knows how to differentiate somewhat the combatants from the non-combatants, but hey, who knew that the AFP knew that there was a difference? ). These NPA medics keep a clinic in Quezon City, give seminars on first aid in urban poor communities in Manila and they work in various hospitals like Jose Reyes Medical Center as nurses in the emergency room. So what? They’re still NPA. They probably keep their day jobs as a cover for their true work as NPA. They were there during the Ondoy relief operations and devoted time and energy to the victims of the typhoon? So what, NPA medics can do that! Their parents, wives, husbands, nieces and nephews and grandchildren, friends and colleagues see them on a regular basis and they watch soap operas together some nights and attend rallies some days? So what, they’re still NPA, albeit medics. Besides, there’s already the MRT and the LRT Line 2– mas madali na silang makakabyahe mula sa kabundukan…”

One could laugh if one weren’t so angry. And now we wait, and the Morong 43 wait, and justice is so long in coming we have to rush out and pull it forward lest it be detained by those who thrive in a culture of impunity.

————-

This is something I wrote way back.

Just and humane: the revolutionary movement’s treatment of POWs

Before his capture, former prisoner of war (POW) of the New People’s Army (NPA) P/Insp. Rex Cuntapay believed that the NPA skinned the faces of their prisoners. He also thought that the NPA killed without reason.

Three months after his capture and upon his release, he admitted he was wrong.

“Sumusunod pala sila sa batas ng digmaan. Sumusunod talaga sila sa kasunduan ng NDFP at GRP, y’ong CARHRIHL na tinatawag (That changed when I was held as a POW. I saw that they are principled people, I saw that they follow the agreement between the NDFP and the GRP, which is called the CARHRIHL.) (From Alex Remollino’s January 2009 article in Bulatlat).

It’s comes as no great surprise that members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) carry the grimmest beliefs regarding the NPA. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and its propaganda machinery work around the clock to ensure that the revolutionary forces are demonized, distorting the NPA’s true nature as a revolutionary institution that abides by Protocol II of the Geneva conventions; the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) that was signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in 1998; the NPA’s Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention; and international humanitarian law (IHL).

The issue of prisoners of war is covered by the CARHRIHL, and through the years, the NDFP has worked assiduously to lay down the political basis for the humane treatment of POWs and the guidelines for their safe and immediate release. After all, the release of prisoners of war is not new to the revolutionary movement. History and many, many instances have shown and proven how the revolutionary movement on its own volition and upon its exercise of its political will and authority can release POWs, regardless of the dictates of the GRP.

This will and authority emanate from the democratic people’s government which was founded and strengthened after almost four decades of the revolutionary struggle of the people against the ruling classes.

Former POW Neptune Elequin said that even during his captivity, he was confident that he would regain his freedom because the NPA respects human rights. During the turn-over ceremony that led to his release, he testified as to the kind of treatment he received.

“Maganda ang naging trato sa akin. Hindi man lang nila ako kinurot. Kung ano ang kinakain ng mga kasama ay siya ko ring kinakain,” (I was treated well. I did not suffer even a pinch. What the comrades ate I also had), he said.

The NPA treats its POWs with humanity and kindness. In all the cases included in this book, the rights of the POWs were recognized and respected by their NPA captors.

Brig. Gen. Victor Obillo in a Manila Times April 17, 1999 report was quoted as saying that his captors treated him well, “I could not have asked for more.”

Former POW -Sgt. Ramiro G. Lawas even said that he was grateful to the NPA for being kind to him.

“They treated me well and never laid a hand on me,” he said in Visayan during an interview with members of the press. “They treated me not as an enemy, but almost like a fellow guerilla. They treated my wounds. Their behavior was so different from the behavior of my fellow soldiers in the military.” (Bulatlat Volume 3 June 15-21, 2003)

Lawas shared that he was allowed to move freely around the camp NPA and share experiences with the red fighters. He was even allowed to keep three pet birds. When he developed allergies from eating dried fish and sardines, the usual staple of the guerrillas, he was given corned beef and other suitable canned goods. Once in a while, they would have meat from deer and wild pig. He even had a regular supply of juice and chocolate malt drink; and occasionally he enjoyed a bottle of soda.

Former POW and CAFGU Eduardo Raya also said that he was treated well. “They did not harass me, they even fed me well, bathed, and given lectures on my rights and violations.” (March 21-27, 2004 Bulatlat)

Cuntapay and his fellow ex-POWs PO1 Marvin Agasen and PO1 Alberto Umali in the meantime said that there not a single incident wherein their custodians hurt or threatened them. As Agasen said, they – the NPA – recognized their rights as humans. They also shared that their nearly three months in the guerrillas’ custody gave them insight into why groups like the NPA exist.

“Gusto nila, pantay-pantay ang lahat ng tao sa Pilipinas. Ipinaglalaban nila yung mga magsasaka, mahihirap” (They are fighting for the peasantry, the poor),” Umali said.

The GRP has historically taken a hardline stance against negotiating for the release of POWs in the custody of the revolutionary forces. In some instances, it has even denied the existence of POWs and instead accused the revolutionary forces of kidnapping. This is a clear-cut attempt to criminalize the revolutionary forces by charging them of common crimes and dismiss the political implications and worth of the issue of POWs . Instead of entering negotiations, the GRP often arrogantly demands that unconditional release of POWs in the care of the NPA.

What’s worse, to ensure that no negotiations for the release of the NPA’s POWs take place, the GRP sometimes launches intense military operations in the areas where the POWs are believed to be; or launches rescue operations that directly endanger the security and safety of the POWs.

Police Chief Inspector Abelardo Martin was captured by the NPA’s Apolonio Mendoza Command on December 3, 1999 after a raid of the Dolores police station which he headed.

Because of initial GRP refusal to negotiate and to implement a SOMO, Martin’s release was delayed until his captivity reached 16 months.

From the onset, the NPA had expressed its readiness to release Martin but the GRP refused to negotiate. For the more than one year that Martin spent in the custody of the NPA, he experienced humane and lenient treatment. It was said that in the last months, he Martin was allowed to freely mingle with the masses in the barrio. He was also often seen jogging along the seashore and bathing in the sea. He was also given medical attention: a cataract in one of his eyes was surgically removed by NPA medics.

The AFP matched the NPA’s humane treatment of PCI Martin by killing him in a disastrous rescue operation.

Regimes past and present of the GRP feared and continue to fear the growing strength of the revolutionary government because the latter cultivates and nurtures this strength with the irrevocable intention of putting and end to the existing set-up of exploitation and oppression. This is why the GRP is ruthless and relentless in undermining the revolutionary movement and their judicial processes. The issue of POWs – their capture or arrest, trial, and the processes that lead to either their conviction and punishment or pardon and release – reveal much about the ideology and praxis of the revolutionary movement.

And on this, the former POWs are the best resource persons. Their experiences with the NPA are more than proof that in this exercise of its political power, the revolutionary movement is as compassionate and humane as the cause it carries: genuine democracy, freedom, and a just and lasting peace.#

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February 13, 2010

Torture endless at the hands of the AFP

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 2:53 am

The military led Brig. Gen. Jorge Segovia, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division continues to deny that they tortured the 43 health workers they arrested and accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) last Saturday. According to them, the process of arrest and the conditions of the victims’ detention were all well and above-board. Humane, they said. No human rights violations were committed, and certainly no torture!

No torture?

Textbook definitions from the United Nations Secretariat publications: “Perpetrators often attempt to justify their acts of torture and ill-treatment by the need to gather information. One of the central aims of torture is to reduce an individual to the position of extreme helplessness and distress that can lead to a deterioration of cognitive, emotional and behavioral functions. The torturer aims to not only physically incapacitate a victim, but also to disintegrate a person’s personality, his sense of being grounded in a family and society as a human being with dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future.

“The distinction between physical and psychological methods of torture is artificial. For instance, sexual torture generally causes both physical and psychological symptoms even when there has been no physical assault.”

No torture? The victims were arrested and they were not informed of their supposed crime when they handcuffed, blindfolded, then forced into a truck with no knowledge of where they were being taken. In detention, they were kept handcuffed, denied sustenance, subjected to questioning and interrogation for hours on end and threatened with death during instances when they were too befuddled, scared and tired to answer. They were denied legal counsel. They were denied the right to be seen by their families and colleagues who rushed to give aid and rescue. They were treated like the criminals they were not and it was a very long and draining two days of uncertainty. Their lives, they must have felt hung in the balance and it took courage and a strong sense of their own rights to remain silent.

No torture? To be accused of being an NPA member and to be at the hands of the military is torture enough. The victims were constantly ACCUSED of being NPA, they were THREATENED, and they were INTERROGATED without the option of remaining silent as was their right. If it were not for the swift response of human rights organizations and the victims’ own families under the direction of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and the Community Health Development (CHD), who knows what worse things could have happened?

No torture. It makes me sick to hear and read about the excuses of the military and their continued excuse for the illegal arrest, illegal detention, and their continuing insistence that the 43 are NPA members caught in the middle of a supposed training session on bomb making! They twist and violate the very laws they declare they’re precisely upholding and then thrown these out the window. They refuse to adhere to international humanitarian law and the Philippine law prohibiting torture, and they say that the manner by which they arrested the victims and continue to detain them are justified because the victims are NPA — ANO DAW?!

There is no justifying what the military has done and continues to do to the 43. There are laws and statutes governing the conduct of the war between the AFP and the NPA; there are laws regarding arrests and the treatment of suspects. But beyond and more important than all these laws is BASIC HUMANITY. How dare they treat the 43 health personnel in the manner that they did? What does it say about the nature, character and orientation of the AFP but that the very institution, its members and the government the protect and defend are inhumane and inhuman and moronic to boot.

RA 9745 which was principally authored by Bayan Muna Rep and now Makabayan and Nacionalista Party senatorial bet Satur Ocampo was approved only last year, but I guess the government’s armed forces are too busy abducting or killing civilians to have read read about it.

The Anti-Torture Law criminalizes all forms of torture — physical, mental, psychological and pharmacological. It disallows any justification for torture and other inhuman punishments. Torturers will be penalized as principals, as well as their superiors in the military, police or law enforcement establishments who ordered the torture.
The law orders a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Other penalties range from a minimum of six months to a maximum of 12 years of imprisonment depending on the gravity of the offense.

In this case, the AFP’s 22nd IB is guilty of torture and they must be made to face criminal and administrative sanctions. It makes one seethe with the knowledge that we can only demand for these beasts to respect our rights.

—-

The AFP has refused to to present the 43. This is outrageous arrogance in defiance of the law. The AFP’s refusal should not be taken lightly and should be seen as an act of betrayal of the very laws the institution and its members are supposedly upholding. There is no believing the attempts of the AFP to justify its refusal as hinged on logistical problems — that’s hogwash. The habeas corpus order is a sancrosanct measure, and the AFP thumbed its nose at it, this is not to be borne sitting down.

Most likely, the AFP is highly apprehensive at the idea of presenting the 43 because the accusations that they suffered torture at the hands of their captors will be proven true. What are they afraid of? They have so far been arrogant to the point of conceit saying that the 43 are NPA members and that they suffered no mistreatment. Their refusal to present the 43 should be construed as an act of fear: they are now going to force the consequences of their illegal actions and their false charges against their victims.

The Supreme Court should be allowed to hear the testimonies of the 43 victims regarding their ordeal. No doubt, it will be exposed that the military abused its authority and violated civil, political and human rights laws left and right in the raid, the manner of arrest, their handling of the victims and their refusal to present the said 43 to court.

In the meantime, it goes without saying that Morong 43 continue to suffer torture in captivity. Again, the very fact that the victims are constantly being accused of being NPA members while in the hands of the military is torture by itself — everyone knows how the AFP has no respect for international humanitarian law when it comes to the treatment of captured NPA. These civilians are tortured every second while under the ‘caretaking’ of the military. They must be released at once and their captors must be made to face administrative and criminal charges for all the law breaking they have done to justify the victims’ arrest.


Imagine it were your friend, your colleague, your husband, your wife, your mother, your father, your sister OR YOU the military had arrested. They charge you of being an NPA member, they threaten your life, the lives of those nearest and closest to you. You deny the accusations, you plead for mercy and within you, bewilderment grows and so does fear as you realize that you are in the hands of the ruthless, relentless and unthinking. They slap you, punch you, won’t allow you to sleep or even just close your eyes and hence make a temporary escape from the hell they have been thrown you in. They refuse to acknowledge your rights. They refuse to hear your explanations that your are but a civilian, albeit one who serves the poor and commits to the cause of the genuine democracy and freedom for the oppressed of this country. They tell you, “You’re an NPA member –you have no rights,” and they deny you legal counsel. Your very humanity is being stripped away from you with every insult, every slap, every punch or kick on your body exhausted beyond the strength you usually devote to your work. In the eyes of the military you are no one and nothing.

This is the message the AFP is making with its refusal to present the 43: they are above the law. Truly, monsters recognize nothing and respect nothing but their own monstrosity.

February 10, 2010

Lest we forget: Macapagal-Arroyo is still president

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 7:42 am

In the frenzy surrounding the national electoral campaign, many Filipinos including those running for the presidency and the senate seem to have forgotten that there is still the Macapagal-Arroyo regime to contend with. People, lest we forget, Gloria is still president and though she may be running for a lower post, as of this writing and until the new president is declared, she’s the one in the top seat, she’s the one running the show, and she’s the head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who will eagerly implement dark and deadly orders in her name.

Last Saturday, members of the 202nd Infantry Brigade and the police arrested 43 health workers, including doctors, nurses and midwives allied with the Community for Health Development (CHD). Officials of the CHD and umbrella organization of health workers Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) insist that the 43 were attending a health training and seminar, but the morons in the military say that the health professionals were members of the New People’s Army and were caught in the act of making explosives.

Dr. Eleanor Jara, a general physician and currently the executive director of the CHD , said that the soldiers arrived very early in the morning and stormed into the venue of the seminar. Many of the participants and soon-to-be victims had just woken up or had finished their morning rituals and none of them had eaten breakfast. The military rounded them up like cattle, blindfolded them and forced them into a truck, all the while refusing to heed the victims’ protests and questions regarding the legality of the arrest.

Three days later, there are now confirmed reports that the AFP used torture on the victims. According to the HEAD secretary-general Dr. Genevieve Rivera-Reyes, the victims were handcuffed and blindfolded for more than 36 hours after being forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd IB. They were denied food and prohibited from using the toilet on their own. Imagine the indignity and the abuse as the victims were forced to urinate or defecate with military escorts and these so-called custodians were the ones who removed the victims’ underwear every time they had to use the toilet.

Dr. Alex Montes, one of the victims and the one being charged of heading the supposed NPA group, was electrocuted and repeatedly hit on the chest while being questioned. Dr. Montes is 60 years old.

The rest of the victims were kept in handcuffs like criminals. The military took pictures of them against their will. All throughout the questioning and interrogation process (wherein many of the victims were slapped whenever they refused to speak), the victims had no legal counsel present.

Human rights group Karapatan issued a partial list of the victims: Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, health and education training services coordinator for CHD; Dr. Montes; Gary Liberal, R.N. a nurse for the Jose Reyes Medical Memorial Center in Manila; Teresa Quinawayan, RMW; community health workers Lydia Ubera, Reynaldo Makabenta, Delia Ocasia, Jane Balleta, Janice Javier, Franco Remoroso, Ailene Monasteryo, Pearl Irene Martinez, Ellen Carandang, Dany Panero, Rayom Among and Emily Marquez.

The Macapagal-Arroyo government already has a lot to answer for by way of attacking the human rights of the Filipino people — human rights which also includes the right to benefit from adequate and affordable health service. Who isn’t aware of how expensive medicines are, how difficult it is to get treatment for even the simplest illnesses because of the exorbitant rates hospitals charge? Instead of increasing allocations for health and developing the country’s public hospitals, the government resorts to privatizing these same hospitals, making health services way beyond the reach of ordinary Filipinos. Now here’s the AFP illegally arresting and harassing health personnel and professionals, people who have done nothing but dedicate their lives and efforts to providing health care for the poor and marginalized and making health services more accessible to these sectors.

One cannot help but rage against the accusations the AFP are making. The CHD is a known non-government organization focused on providing health services to the poor. The doctors, nurses and health personnel affiliated with it are dedicated to the cause of helping the poor gain access to health treatment. The AFP, however, accuse them of being members of the NPA and that the victims were caught in the act while making explosives! And who the hell keeps a grenade under their pillow?! The military report mentions finding one such grenade hidden under a pillow.

Quite simply, the AFP continues to fail in its campaign to defeat the NPA hence its trains its guns on hapless civilians and human rights advocates including progressive-minded doctors and health professionals and accuse them of being NPA. Just when you think the AFP can sink no lower. I suppose there is no point to telling the AFP to fight fair and to not pick on civilians and non-combatants: after all, soldiers have been known again and again and again to harass, hurt and kill children. They wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to adults.

In the last five years, the regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) has claimed a large number of victims. From January to October 2009 alone, human rights groups documented 77 victims of extrajudicial killings were documented, more than half of the recorded number of victims of the same period in 2008. Fifty were also killed in the horrific Ampatuan Massacre. In the last eight years and 10 months under the Arroyo regime, 1,118 Filipinos fell victim to extrajudicial killings. There were also total of 204 victims of enforced disappearance and 1,026 victims of torture. There is no arguing with the conclusion that the Macapagal-Arroyo government’s human rights record continues to be characterized by continuing political killings, abductions and various forms of harassment against civilians and human rights activists.

The arrest of the Morong 43 and their continued unjust incarceration all the more strengthens charges that the Arroyo government has no qualms about attacking those even remotely activist in their advocacy. This is an attack not against the human rights of those arrested, but one that extends against those they serve, against those whose interests the Morong 43 have committed to uphold. Behind the attack is, you guessed it right, the Macapagal-Arroyo government.

Now, even as support our candidates and engage in the electoral battle for a new presidency and a new administration, we shouldn’t neglect to remember that it remains our duty still to defeat the incumbent regime and to make sure that it does not succeed in, say, throwing a monkey wrench in the polls and declare a failure of elections.

Arroyo is still not of the equation and things may still drastically change. The AFP, under her command, can still pull off bombings to justify the declaration of a state of emergency, then martial law, and a free-for-all crackdown on the opposition and all critics of the administration. Where will the elections be but in the wastebasket?

Then, most importantly, we should not neglect to ensure that Macapagal-Arroyo PAYS for all her crimes and spends the next decade in jail and not in the House of Representatives. She has to be made to account for all the corruption, the electoral fraud of 2004, and the bloody campaign the AFP waged in furtherance of her government’s political agenda of extermination.

February 5, 2010

Why Villar and not Noynoy and other musings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:45 am

Whatever would we do without Booksale? It would be a miserable life, forever going to Powerbooks and wishing in van for copies of novels and short stories and trying to read and finish them in one sitting (an impossible feat, unless you intend to pitch a tent right there and seek permission from the management to stay the night).

There are days when I don’t find anything interesting (for me), then there are days when whoa! I end up spending P500 for four books that would’ve ordinarily cost me at least P350 each had I gotten them from Powerbooks or Page One. Not that I’d ever buy from those stores: kahit gustusin ko pa, alaws pera.

I wish I knew who owns Booksale so I could talk to them and thank them a million times over.
—–
Finished watching Season 2 of True Blood. Am no end amused by Jason Stackhouse. An episode a day is simply not enough, but hey…
—-
Bought Miko four tubs of Play-Doh. I wonder if she’ll try to eat it… Wag naman sana.
—-

I confess to becoming really annoyed with the assertions of Noynoy Aquino supporters that the Left backed the wrong person in the 2010 presidential elections. That the Left committed nothing short of a crime by throwing its lot with Sen. Manny Villar and having Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza hitch their respective senatorial campaigns to that of the Nacionalista Party.

It’s been at least three months since Makabayan came out with its explanations (not justifications, explanations), and also since then countless bloggers and writers of the progressive mass movement have also come up with their own correct analysis as to why Villar and not Noynoy.

But none of this seems enough. Nothing will ever be enough because the Noynoy fans (many of whom were never fans of the Left, either) simply hate Villar’s guts. They don’t want explanations — they will not accept them — they want Makabayan and national democrats to change their position and support Noynoy. That’s it, in a nutshell. Noynoy supporters want to rub our faces in our supposed mistake, they really don’t care to hear any explanations (but some are pretending that they do; although there are others who really do want to know); and even if they do listen, their minds are already made up that we are wrong wrong wrong.

I am quite, quite in admiration of friends and colleagues who still have the patience and the good grace to continue explaining. Because frankly, I myself have become tired of this debate. The Left owes an explanation? Okay, so it gave a very comprehensive one. But did Noynoy’s supporters accept it? By golly gee whiz, no! And some have even taken to insulting Satur and Liza, saying that they don’t deserve to be elected.

How narrow-minded, subjective, and ignorant can you get? Some people really have the perspective of house flies! As if Satur and Liza’s records were ever tarnished or diminished simply because of their willingness to work with Manny Villar. As if Satur Ocampo’s long and faultless history of fighting for human rights and a just and lasting peace in the Philippines can ever be negated by this issue alone. I hope political myopia isn’t catching, because it’s certainly spreading among Noynoy’s most vocal defenders. (I’ll just bet that they’ll counter — yeah, well, Villar’s supporters in the Left have political naivete, haha!)

Noynoy. The man refused to dialogue with Makabayan; he chose to offer the weakest, most insulting excuses for Hacienda Luisita and his family’s refusal to finally and decisively put an end to the misery and injustice they have inflicted on the farmers, farmworkers and their families. He sees himself as cast in the mold of his parents, and believes his own propaganda that by being the son of Cory and Ninoy is enough reason for him to be elected.

The man is a blank slate. He promises to do good, to fight corruption, to never steal. For all this, I commend him, but the fact that he has turned his back on the very valid issues presented to him by the farmers of Hacienda Luisita is unforgivable. The man also has a secret but slowly blossoming hatred for the national democrats, and how can I vote for a man who resents us?

Manny Villar. He isn’t my first choice for president. To be truthful, I’d much rather vote for Bro. Eddie Villanueva (like I did in the 2004 polls). But I have come to admire Villar in the last few months.

Villar has shown political maturity and intelligence in his willingness to be allies with Makabayan. While at first I resented the message his ads carried (he will be the one to end the Filipino people’s poverty), I thought long and hard and reconsidered: the man is brave and honest enough to make all these promises again and again — surely, he will at least make a genuine attempt to make good on them? Because the commitments he made — to provide housing, health and education to the poor; to help OFWs, farmers, to provide the unemployed jobs — they’re quite heavy. And the repercussions, surely, too, he is aware of what he will face if he wins and he fails to deliver.

Because there will be hell to pay if he fails. Because accountability is not just a word, and Filipinos ARE sick and tired of corruption and abuse, the disgusting pigsty of lies and cover-ups that is the government. Para saan ba ang sama-samang pagkilos? At para saan ba ang ating mga karapatan na tumuligsa, magprotesta at lumaban?

To Noynoy’s supporters — those who will not vote for Noynoy are NOT idiots, and if you want to insult us or the poor who have been ‘fooled’ into believing Villar’s sincerity and his vision for the country, it’s your call. I would, however, wish that you guys would strive to maintain MANNERS in the midst of heated debate. And keep self-righteousness to a minimum, please I implore.

(I was particularly shocked when a journalist whose work I like and whose stands — so far– I have respected retorted to a thread on the Villar vs Noynoy debate: Kung gusto nyo lang pala ng kausap, marami namang GRO dyan. Okaaaaaaaaay. So much for respect. Mapanghati talaga ang eleksyon; but does it have to mean that we embrace rudeness? We’re not convincing each other anyways, but others who read the stuff we write. It doesn’t reflect well on Noynoy, either, that his supporters have become shrill, defensive and sometimes offensive.)

In the meantime Villar doesn’t strike me to be anything similar to Joseph Estrada who issued the same promises but delivered the lines like they were movie dialogue (and none of the promises came to pass, either). The man is determined to win, he is in single-minded pursuit of the presidency and he says he wants to serve the country because he has already achieved his own dreams for himself and his family.

Trivia: Villar holds the record as top filer of Senate bills and resolutions among those running for prez. In contrast, Noynoy Aquino had the lowest output. As of Jan. 27, 2010, Villar’s output was 744 proposed measures and resolutions. Aquino filed 69 bills and resolutions.

In the meantime, according to a study conducted by Dr. Ebinezer Florano, chair of the Master of Public Management Program of UP Open University, of the 21 Republic Acts approved by both Houses of Congress and signed by Malacanang, Villar authored and co-authored 10 original bills that eventually became laws.

Siguro naman this should stand for something that the man wasn’t just twiddling his thumbs in the Senate.

(Maybe Noynoy’s supporters resent him because he’s rich? Just a thought. That’s class hatred for you. I find it funny in this context. Mayaman pero baduy yata ang tingin nila kay Villar. The man came from a poor family, got rich, but he’s still jologs? Noynoy, in contrast, has pedigree? And that’s what’s called elitism.)

On the issue of corruption. The C5 issue. Noynoy’s supporters say that it’s a big deal, that its a glaring red flag, a sign of what Villar is capable of doing if and when elected. I agree; there is a need to investigate the issue and get down to the truth of the matter. But Villar has denied all involvement, all corruption; and Noynoy’s supporters are outraged, and they want everyone else, including Makabayan supporters, to feel the same.

But is this issue enough to dismiss the man and his willingness to work with Makabayan?
It’s not. It’s really not.

Sino nga ba sa kanilang mga pulitiko ang talagang malinis at tapat at walang nagawang kahit isang kasalanan sa panunungkulan? Ang mahalaga sa ganitong panahon ay ang makabuo ng pagkakaisa kung ano ang dapat gawin sa gobyerno pagkatapos ang termino ni Macapagal-Arroyo. I have no doubt that Makabayan would have been open to working with Noynoy Aquino, but it would still have been a principled unity. Noynoy was not prepared, he was not willing. And here we are.

This entire piece strikes me as simplistic to a fault, but hey, let’s think horses and not zebras. The 2010 election and whatever its results will not end the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine social change. I will not give myself more headaches than I already have thinking of ways to convince those who will not even listen.

They should vote for whoever they want to, and since choose Noynoy, not a problem — no skin off my nose, and the man isn’t evil after all. But all in all, I would much rather work and help in Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza win the senatorial race. And after the elections, well, there’s more work. To borrow a phrase from the master showman Kuya Germs, Walang tulugan ang pagrerebolusyon at pagbabago ng lipunan.

February 1, 2010

Pagkain at pagluluto ni Satur Ocampo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:02 am


Tanong: May mga bulong-bulong po na may alam ka daw sa pagluluto. Marunong ba talaga kayong magluto?

Sagot: Oo, pero di naman magaling. Kaya kong iluto ang mga simpleng putahe na kinalakhan ko sa Sta. Rita, Pampanga. Noong panahon na nakulong ako ng militar sa Bicutan, natututo din akong magluto nang maramihan. Nagluluto kami noon nang grupo-grupo.

Tanong: Saan kayo natutong magluto? Marunong po ba kayo ba dahil Pampanggo kayo? Ano-ano ang mga specialty sa probinsya mo?

Sagot: Sa pamilya namin ng mga magsasaka, hindi kakakaiba na ang mga lalaki ang matutong magluto mula sa aming nanay. Pinapanood namin at tinutulungan siya noon na iluto ang araw-araw na pagkain namin. Ang mga matrabahong putahe naman, niluluto lang sa mga ispesyal na okasyon gaya ng pista gaya ng sa Mayo 22.

Natuto akong magluto ng mga karaniwang pang-araw-araw na ulam: sinigang sa bayabas (isda o hipon) at sinigang sa sampalok, kamyas o manggang hilaw (baboy o baka) na may kasamang gabi; tipe kamanyang (ginisang stringbeans at talbos na may baboy na hiniwa nang manipis at hipon na di binalatan — dinididik sa almires ang balat ng hipon at ang katas naman ay nilalagyan ng kaunting tubig. Hinahalo itong katas sa baboy at hipon bago ilagay ang gulay); adobong manok/baboy; bola-bolang tugak (meatballs na gawa sa palaka sa isang malinaw na sabaw o hinaluan ng misua); betute (piniritong palaka na may stuffing); paksiw na isda (hito, dalag, bangus na may dahon ng alagaw); ningnang bulig/hito/bangus; gisadong kamaru/sibaung (gisisang earwigs o water beetle); tidtad o dinuguan; burung talangka at ginisang tabang talangka.

Nagluluto lang ako pag kinakailangan, at hindi dahil mahilig ako sa pagkain o mahilig magluto. Masaya naman akong magluto, pero di rin kasi ako mapili sa pagkai. Simple lang ang mga pangangailangan ko, kahit sa pagkain.

Nakakain lang naman ako sa mga restaurant noong naging peryodista na ako sa Manila Times. Ang ilang mga una kong karanasan nang pagkain sa labas ay sa Aristocrats’ sa Roxas Boulevard. Nanlibre noon si Juan Ponce Enrile na noon ay customs commissioner pa lang. Nilibre niya ako kasama ng ilan pang business reporters. Naalala kong masarap ang chicken honey, fresh lumpia at kare-kare.

Sa mga panahon na nakakalabas kami noon ng maybahay kong si Bobbie, kumakain kami ng gambas at fried squid, minsan steak na may kasamang malamig na malamig na beer. Ang nakakatawa, matagal naming pinag-iipunan ang mga ganung date — buwan din kaming nagtitipid para makakain sa labas! Maliit lang kasi ang political allowance, at kailangang tipirin.

Noon namang political prisoner pa ako, natututo akong mag-imbento o magrecyle ng pagkain gamit ang mga tira-tira at mga dahon-dahon sa paligid. Nagtanim kaming mga detainees ng alugabti, kamote, kulitis, kangkong, pansit-pansitan, saluyot at sili. Nagtanim din ako noon ng ampalaya, kaya okey ang dahon at bunga. Sa paso naman, nagtanim ako ng kutsay.

Nang makalabas ako, simple pa rin naman ang pagkain.

Kadalasan, nag-i-isteam lang ako ng dahon at ng tangkay ng gulay, hinahalo sa kamatis, carrot at pipino; minsan naman sa sibuyas at kaunting suka. Minsan naman, lalagyan ko ang salad ng curry powder at sesame seeds, o hiwa-hiwang pinatuyong seaweed.

Sa ordinaryong ginisang munggo, hinahaluan ko ng malunggay, alugbati, o talbos ng kamote, celery. Pag may tirang manok, nilalagay ko din, o tinapa o chicaron.

Sabi ng mga anak kong sina Silahis at Anto, masarap daw ang sinangag ko — may strips ng tuyo at chopped na hilaw na mangga; strips ng ham at manok na may chopped na celery, green onion leaves o kutsay; strips ng scrambled na itlog, manok at curry powder; o minsan mga pinaglutuan ng adobong baboy.

Marunong din akong gumawa ng fruit salad, fruit-yoghurt shake at fruit juice.

Hindi ako gaanong mahilig kumain sa labas. Iniiwasan ko ang mga pagkain mamantika. Iba pa rin talaga ang sarap ng lutong bahay; mas masarap at mas magana kang kumain sa iyo kapag ang tanghalain o hapunan mo ay niluto at hinain sa yo ng mahal mo sa buhay. #

Satur Ocampo’s battle with the courts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 5:49 am

This is why we cannot rely on this government’s justice system to dispense justice.

In January 1991, the defense lawyers sought Bobbie Malay’s provisional freedom on juidical recognizance after a national and international campaign for her release that began in August 1990 gained momentum. The campaign made a breakthrough that led to Bobbie’s releaseon on November 5, 1991.

In December 1990, the Department of Justice took the position that Bobbie may be freed on humanitarian grounds — she hadto attend to her Satur’s two teenage children and her own ageing parents. The courts hearing the cases of murder and violation of PD 1866 readily ordered her release sans bail. The two other courts hearing the identical kidnapping charges denied her motion for release. Instead they required bail hearings to determine if there was strong evidence to warrant the military prosecutor’s objection to Bobbie’s being released on bail.

“It was important that one of us got out of prison to take care of teh children.They were near and yet so far,and Bobbie’s parents were not getting any younger.It didn’t matter if Bobbie got out earlier than I did– what mattered if that one of us at least got out,” Satur recalled.

Philippine jurisprudence allowsjudges the discretion to grant bail in a non-bailable case if the evidence against the accused is not strong. In both hearings, the military prosecutor presented the same set of witnesses,who were cross-examined by the defense lawyers.

“Walanaman talaga silang witnesses.Gawa-gawa at imbento ang lahat ng kaso.It was a generic set of charges na handa silang isampa sa kahit sinong aktibistang mahuli nila.In that sense it was obvious that the legal system of the GRP as it was was a sham.There wasno truth involved — all it boiled down to was pinning me and other detainees down with the laws they crafted but they also twisted beyond recognition,” he said.

On February 1,1991, one of the courts granted a bail of P50,000 for Bobbie’s release. This was already a strong indication that there was no strong evidence against her or Satur. The other court decided to hear out all the witnesses of the prosecution before deciding on the bail question.

Meantime, the court hearing the murder charge wound up the trial. On July 30,1991, the court acquitted both Satur and Bobbie for insufficiency of evidence. It was a significant victory.

On October 30,1991, the court completed hearing the prosecution’s kidnapping charge alsoacquitted Satur and Bobbie. The court found no evidence of kidnapping because the supposed victim himself DENIED that he was kidnapped and dclared that he had no complaint against either Satur or Bobbie. Another victory.

A partial victory was also won in the PD 1866 case. After sitting on the defense motion to quash the charge and the search warrant issued by a lower court that was used by the military to raid Satur’s rented room from where they alleged to have found two handguns that were presented as evidence, the court issued a ruling on July 8, 1991. The court quashed the search warrant for having been improperly issued, and ordered that PD 1866 be changed to ‘simple rebellion.’

As was expected, the military prosecutor moved for a reconsideration of the twin decisions favoring Satur. Satur’s lawyer moved for the dismissal of the case in view of the quashing of the search warrant that, in effect, barred the military from using any item taken during the raid as evidence against the accused. The court required both sides to submit their written arguments on the basis of which it would rule.

It was at this point that the military prosecutor offered Satur a proposal for his early release. Acting on instructionsof his superiors, the military prosecutor offered Satur his freedom, “but after the May 1992 elections” and in exchange for his pleading of guilty to subversion. The offer supposedly took into account that Satur had already been detained for 11 years.

Satur, in turn, was incredulous.Why should he plead guilty to subversion and not to rebellion for which he should have been immediately freed, given that he had been held almost for the equivalent maximum penalty for rebellion?

“Parang lokohan na talaga.Ano ako,sira ulo na biglang aamin sa salang rebelyon e kahit kailan di naman nila ako kinasuhan nang ganung krimen?”

The prosecution could only give the lame reply that ‘rebellion was more difficult to prove.’

He was also told point-blank that the military did not want him freed before the polls because he might foment trouble.

On that,Satur rejected the proposal and declared he would rather fight out the two remaining cases.

By December 1991,the the military prosecutor revised his offer: Satur’s immediate release after he pleads guilty to rebellion. He countered — ‘why not charge me with rebellion first?” He wanted to see what was behind the military’s offer, he knew there was a brewing scheme. He had not been charged with rebellion ever because it was a bailable offense.

The military prosecutor backed off, again giving the lame excuse that he was authorized to only make the offer and if Satur refused, the military will continue to oppose all his moves for release on bail or will file additional charges to keep him in prison.

Satur saw malevolence in the military’s move and decided that he would never agree to a plea bargain.It was clear to him that after failing to convict him of rebellin for the last seven years, and failing to convict him for murder and kidnapping, the military will also fail to convict him on the two remaining charges.The military, Satur was convinced, wanted Satur to bow and admit defeat. He vowed he would not allow that. He would not give the military or the Aquino regime the right to say that his incarceration in the last almost 12 years was correct. #

TOBE CONTINUED