Congress bid to pass 'terror bill'
ACT Press Release
March 10, 2020
QUEZON CITY – The
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines opposed the
proposed 'draconian' amendments to the Human Security Act (HSA) of
2007, which the group says will 'render teachers' just fight for
decent pay and benefits, better services, and social justice as acts
of terrorism.' The House of Representatives is set to hold a
committee deliberation today on the proposed amendments. Earlier,
Senate already approved on 3rd and final reading the Anti-Terrorism
Bill that sought to overhaul the 2007 HSA.
"This is yet another
attack on our rights and liberties. Not only are we denied livable
wages and dignity with the President's treacherous passing of an
insultingly meager pay hike, now we are at risk of being called
terrorists for demanding more and what is due us," decried ACT
Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
ACT said that both
versions of the Senate and lower house contains 'vague and
overbroad' definitions of terrorist acts with 'grave consequences,'
such that legitimate exercises of rights may be deemed as such
'should the state say so.' Said acts are punishable by at least 8
years to life imprisonment under the proposed amendments.
"Say for instance, we take
to the streets again to call for salary upgrading, the state has the
authority to say that the intentions of such is to 'intimidate the
government to do something' and it instantly becomes terrorism. Even
calling on DepEd to release our benefits can be tagged as terrorism
under these proposals. These are horrid and disturbing affront to
our hard-won rights, and we all should fight back," called Basilio.
The teachers' group
furthered that the proposed amendments to HSA will greatly
contribute to the quickly shrinking democratic spaces amid a time of
unrest in the country due to worsening socio-economic conditions.
"Instead of providing
relief to the people, the government wants to punish us for seeking
redress over the people's suffering, which no less than their own
policies have caused – like the SSL 5, TRAIN Law, Rice Tarrification
Law, war on drugs, EO 70, among others," hit Basilio.
ACT said that the proposed
measure will be 'dangerous at the hands of an administration who is
intolerant of dissent' and is a 'turn for the worse under an
increasingly repressive regime.'
ACT urged the Congress to
junk the amendments to HSA, which it said will make the HSA even
more repressive with much less accountability. The group challenged
lawmakers to 'be on the side of democracy' and refuse to legitimize
further repression of the people.
"As for us, we will push
back against all attacks on our rights and freedoms. Our collective
unity and strength, realized through our unions and organizations,
will stand against repression and will triumph in frustrating a
tyrannical regime, just as we did many times before. We will
continue advancing the interests of teachers, students, and the
entire nation," pledged Basilio.
ACT joined other
freedom-loving groups in a protest action outside of the House of
Representatives today to call for the junking of the proposed
kicks of construction of 2020 infra projects
March 9, 2020
NAVAL, Biliran –
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Biliran District
Engineering Office (DEO) has started the construction of various
infrastructure projects under 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
David Adongay Jr, District
Engineer said that 14 projects are already on-going as of February
29, 2020 with an accomplishment of 3.20% while 61 projects will soon
“With a total of 75
projects to be completed this year under the cash-based budgeting,
this district office is up for the challenge,” said Adongay.
Under local project
implementation, the district office is now implementing the
construction of two multipurpose buildings located at Brgy.
Calumpang and at Brgy. Caraycaray in Naval town. One access road
project at capitol compound also in Brgy. Calumpang has already
started amounting to P1.89M.
In Caibiran town, two
projects have begun construction. These projects are the
constructions of road at Mocorro Street, Brgy. Palenque amounting to
P1.18M and at Brgy. Palenque and Palanay amounting to P2.5M.
Meanwhile, one seawall
project at Brgy. Baso in Cabucgayan town is also ongoing amounting
Under regular project
implementation, six flood control projects are underway. These
projects are the construction/ rehabilitation of Amambahag flood
control in Culaba town (P19.4M), Kaulangohan Flood control in
Caibiran town (P18.6M), Mapula flood control in Caibiran town
(P18.6M), Ungali flood control in Kawayan town (P9.3M) and Santol
flood control (P27.9M) and Busali flood control (P28M), both in
The district office is now
also in full swing in the construction of Biliran Provincial Police
Office (BPPO) Building at Brgy. Larrazabal in Naval town in
convergence with the Philippine National Police (PNP) amounting to
P24.15M and the rehabilitation /reconstruction of national road with
slips, slope collapse and landslide in Caibiran town amounting to
Adongay always reminded
contractors to speed up the project implementation to complete
projects before the year ends without compromising the quality of
78th IB encounters remnants of Communist NPA
Terrorist (CNT) in Sogod, Southern Leyte
Battalion, 8ID PA
March 8, 2020
BURAUEN, Leyte –
78th Infantry (Warrior) Battalion had a series of encounters with
the Communist NPA Terrorist believed to be remnants of Front 42,
Sub-Regional Committee, LEVOX, Eastern Visayas Party Committee under
Communist NPA Terrorist Leader Roberto Opo @Resty/Migo/Lowie in Brgy.
Pancho Villa, Sogod, Southern Leyte on March 5, 2020 and March 7,
Said series of encounters
resulted to the capture of one (1) M1 Garand Rifle with six (6) live
ammunition, one (1) ammunition clip and two (2) fired cartridges.
The troops also discovered the enemy harboring site in vicinity of
Brgy. Pancho Villa, Sogod, Southern Leyte along with the following
items: six (6) kilos of rice; one (1) plastic bottle of cooking oil;
four (4) pieces 3n1 coffee; one forth (1/4) pack of brown sugar; and
eight (8) pieces coffee stick.
The security operations
are in response to the civilian populace reported presence of
terrorist groups who were conducting illegal activities, such as,
extortion and recruitment. Said presence and illegal activities of
Communist NPA Terrorist in the area affects the peaceful living
conditions of the populace and their livelihood and expose their
children to recruitment.
These actions of the
Communist NPA Terrorist shows their clear defiance to the
government’s initiative on peaceful resolution of conflict intended
to advance development, boast economy, and sustain peace and order
through the effective implementation of the Executive Order Number
70 or the Institutionalization or the whole of nation approach in
order to uplift the social status and living conditions of the
This successful engagement
with the Communist NPA Terrorist is attributed to the timely
information provided by the people in the area who refused to
believe the futile struggle and propaganda of the terrorists. They
are already tired of the extortion and propaganda activities
conducted by the said terrorist group.
According to Lieutenant
Colonel Roberto B Obaob, Commanding Officer of 78th Infantry
Battalion, “the said military security operations against the enemy
of the state will be relentless in order to finish the remnants of
Communist NPA Terrorist. However, our door is open for the peaceful
return to the folds of the law of those Communist NPA Terrorist who
will opt to lay down their arms and join the mainstream law abiding
society. They can avail of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local
Integration Program (E-CLIP). Our priority remains to be the overall
safety of the people of Leyte and Southern Leyte. Thus, whoever will
attempt to endanger the people must be ready to face our full
Narratives of how
is it really back home reverberate in the halls of UN rights body
March 7, 2020
– With three oral interventions one after the other last Friday and
another last Monday, a team of Filipino rights defenders further
strongly urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to
look into the state of human rights in the Philippines.
The four speakers from the
Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice)
also unanimously supported the reports presented by UN experts in
calling for further investigations on rights violations in the
country, contrary to the rather confrontational stance employed by
the government in the ongoing 43rd UNHRC session here.
co-leader and Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said she
welcomes the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of
human rights defenders that noted “wide-ranging and cumulative
violation of the rights of defenders.”
“This rings true in my
particular case and that of human rights defenders of Karapatan.
Twelve of my colleagues were killed by suspected State forces under
the current administration, three have been arrested the past four
months, and many more are facing trumped up charges. Women defenders
face misogynist attacks, driven by discriminatory pronouncements of
government officials,” Palabay added.
Johanna dela Cruz of the
National Council of Churches of the Philippines said they are also
grateful for the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the
situation of human rights defenders and support his conclusions and
Dela Cruz said church
people’s rights in the Philippines are violated, primarily those
“doing their Christian mandate and mission of ministering to the
poor and the marginalized. Bishops and Parish priests, particularly
from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), were red-tagged,
harassed by soldiers implicating them as rebels.”
EcuVoice head and
International Association of Democratic Lawyers interim president
Edre Olalia for his part reported to the UNHRC that in the 44 months
of the Duterte administration, at least 48 lawyers including judges
and prosecutors have been murdered.
“Human rights lawyers like
Ben Ramos as well as lawyers handling drug-related cases continue to
be brazenly attacked in various forms. Orchestrated smear campaigns
and vilification by red-tagging, labelling and reprisal charges
against human rights defenders at every opportunity in different for
a continue with impunity,” Olalia said.
The three defender’s
reports Friday, March 6, brings to four the successful oral
interventions presented by EcuVoice before the UNHRC. Earlier in the
week, Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan People’s Network for the
Environment reported that there are serious challenges to life,
security and liberty of environmental defenders in the Philippines,
“which redound to transgressions on the rights to a safe, clean,
healthy and sustainable environmental of communities, including that
of indigenous peoples and peasants.”
“It must be noted that the EcuVoice delegation have welcomed all the
UN special rapporteurs’ reports presented thus far, quite different
from the bellicose stance of the Philippine government in the
ongoing debates,” Olalia said.
EcuVoice is enjoining the
UNHRC to ensure that Filipino human rights defenders have access to
the UN free from reprisals and provided with safe environments for
the exercise of its work. The group also said it supports the
special rapporteurs’ recommendations to enable official visits to
countries in conflict situations such as the Philippines.
DTI to champion
loom weaving industry
March 5, 2020
MAKATI CITY – In an
effort to revive the Philippine weaving industry and provide
livelihood opportunities for local weaving communities, DTI key
officials, led by Secretary Ramon Lopez and Regional Operations
Group Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona, met with Cabinet
Secretaries’ and Congressional Spouses last March 2, 2020 at the
Heroes Hall of the Malacañang Palace to present samples of native
woven textiles from across the country and to propose a project that
will aid and promote Filipino weavers.
The meeting was initiated
by Madame Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, through the Office of the
President. The project was birthed from a previous dialogue with
Madame Avaceña and DTI officials, including selected DTI Regional
Directors, last February 26, 2020.
The project, with the
working title “MODA: Modernong Obra, Disenyong Atin”, will be
championed by the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Program, under the
leadership of Assistant Secretary Demphna Du Naga. The word “MODA”
is a Filipino term which means “fashion”.
The MODA project will
focus on two components – a showcase of designed wearables made from
natively woven textiles and a sustainable marketing space to display
featured hand and loom woven fabrics for prospective buyers.
Cabinet Secretaries’ and
Congressional Spouses lauded the initiative and echoed the call for
increased patronage for weaving communities. OTOP, through DTI
Regional Offices, will be coordinating with local governments and
the Cabinet Secretaries’ and Congressional Spouses Group, through
the Office of the President, to reach these weaving communities and
monitor the progress being made in the project. Further meetings
will be taking place leading up to the completion of the project by
This effort aims to
kickstart the series of initiatives that could place the local
weaving industry in the frontlines of Philippine fashion, arts, and
commerce. The MODA project also hopes to encourage younger
generations to keep native crafts alive and relevant in an
DTI, Google, tie
up for MSME digitalization
March 3, 2020
MAKATI CITY – The
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) finally inked deal with
Google Philippines in upgrading the micro, small, and medium
enterprises (MSMEs) through the power of digitalization, creating a
strong online presence and training them on digital skills to grow
their businesses globally.
Through Google’s MSME
Caravan, the goal is to conduct training sessions among MSMEs
nationwide so they can be well-informed of the digital landscape,
latest consumer insights and tools such as Google My Business, a
free online listing on Google maps and Search to help MSMEs connect
with more consumers in the digital space.
Google will train MSMEs
build their online presence, control their business information, and
create a free website and posts.
The series of workshops
have already started, training more than 2,780 MSMEs in over 20
cities across eight regions nationwide.
“DTI shares same vision of
Google on enhancing the skills of our entrepreneurs to become
digital-savvy. That’s why we want to thank Google for this program
that lets MSMEs maximize Google My Business to manage their online
presence in Google Search and Google Maps. We laud them for their
program goal of trying to reach 500,000 businesses by 2020 from the
current 125,000 businesses registered in Google My Business,”
expressed Trade Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona, speaking on behalf
of Secretary Ramon Lopez during the launch of MSME Caravan at the
Google Philippines Office, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig last
February 26, 2020.
DTI and Google target to
reach more throughout 2020 as empowering MSMEs plays a vital role in
driving the economy forward.
“Filipino MSMEs have the
drive, the passion and the dedication to succeed. Combine that with
the new tools and opportunities of the internet, and there is no
limit on what’s possible for them! We hope that the MSME Caravan
will help bring on board more trainees, visit more communities, and
give more business owners the digital skills they need,” said
Bernadette Nacario, Country Director of Google Philippines.
Furthermore, the three (3)
MSMEs who were also products of DTI’s Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME)
Program – Gerome Panlilio, a chili oil manufacturer from Quezon
City, a Michelle Mariano, a calamansi juice bottler from Isabela
Province and Beltranalmendral, a dried pork producer from Quirino
Province – shared their inspiring stories on how they were able to
leverage the power of digital tools in growing their businesses and
reaching their consumers.
Brgy. San Joaquin, Calbayog City, Samar and (R) Legislative
Building-Phase II, Brgy. Poblacion C, Tarangnan, Samar.
Multi-Purpose buildings in barangays of First District of Samar
GISSELLE G. PARUNGAO
March 3, 2020
CALBAYOG CITY –
Samar First District Engineering Office completed ten (10)
Multi-Purpose Buildings (MPB) in different barangays within the
First District of Samar with a total appropriation of 39 million
under the General Appropriations Act of 2019.
Completed MPBs are located
in Calbayog City at Barangays Bagacay, Hamorawon, San Joaquin, San
Rufino, and Rawis. Another completed MPBs are situated in Barangay
Villahermosa Oriental in Pagsanghan, Samar as well as Barangays
Poblacion C and Tigdaranao, Tarangnan, Samar. MPBs are also finished
at Barangay Hinugacan in Gandara, Samar and Barangay Aurora, San
They are primarily used
for hosting events in the barangay, meetings, seminars and can also
be used as evacuation centers during emergencies.
The Legislative Building
at Poblacion C will house the Sangguniang Members of the
Municipality of Tarangnan. It will serve as a place for where the
members can formulate municipal orders and decrees that will be
beneficial to the development of Tarangnan and its people.
Moreover, the MPB at
Barangay San Joaquin is a flourishing coastal village with over
6,000 residents. Based on interview with residents, the MPB will be
utilized as barangay council office and venue for community-based
programs such as livelihood seminars and day care. The MPB is easily
accessible and PWD friendly.
SA-BEST-Centre Alliance investigation:
pornography material being sold over the counter in Australian
March 2, 2020
ADELAIDE – Sickening child pornography material is being sold widely
over the counter in popular Australian retail outlets, a special
investigation by SA-BEST and Centre Alliance has found.
A range of
animated movies and “comic books” showing sexually-explicit images
of young girls and connotations of incest and rape involving minors
are being freely sold in some of the country’s most popular retail
outlets, and online.
The investigation found that some of child exploitation material has
been reviewed and classified legal by the Classification Board -
despite falling within the meaning of child abuse material under the
Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 which makes it illegal to both
sell and buy some pornographic items – while other graphic material
has not been reviewed and/or classified due to disturbing loopholes
in current laws.
The SA-BEST-Centre Alliance investigation revealed the explicit
child exploitation material is found in a Japanese form of animation
called anime – both on Blue Ray discs and in Japanese “comic books”
The two forms of media share a unique visual style that is globally
popular - especially among teens.
However, there is a sinister and sickening side to anime and manga
with a significant proportion of the two media featuring child abuse
material containing images of wide-eyed depictions of children -
usually in school uniform – who are engaged in explicit sexual
activities and poses, often being sexually abused.
This is referred to as “hentai” anime and manga which child abuse
experts warn that paedophiles use as a tool to groom children.
SA-BEST MLC and Attorney General spokesperson, Connie Bonaros – who
recently introduced laws to ban childlike sex dolls in South
Australia – and her Federal colleague, Centre Alliance Senator
Stirling Griff, are demanding urgent action by the Federal
Government to ensure laws banning such child exploitation material
are properly enforced.
Connie has written to all of the state Attorneys-General to alert
them to the issue and requesting they take immediate action to stop
the material being sold.
Stirling has written to the Minister for Home Affairs and to the
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts requesting
the government takes immediate action.
Connie said she felt “sick to the core” by the findings of the
“I am horrified that child pornography material is freely available
in Australia despite clearly being in breach of the definition of
child abuse and exploitation material under both commonwealth and
state law,” Connie said.
“Even in cartoon/anime form, this is child pornography and the law
in Australia is explicitly clear about it,” she said.
“Depictions and/or representations that appear or are implied to be
of under 18-year-old children and are depicted in sexual poses or
engaged in sexual activity or is a victim of torture, cruelty or
abuse is child abuse material under both commonwealth and state
“Any retailer who sells such pornographic material is in serious
breach of the law but probably is not aware of it given current laws
are not being properly enforced.”
Stirling said a number of anime (animation) films containing child
abuse material - such as rape scenes – had received classification
by the Classification Board, allowing them to be imported and sold
However, explicit manga (graphic novels) is currently not vetted by
the Classification Board and is freely available due to the fact all
film and video games must be submitted for classification,
publications are only required to be submitted if they are deemed to
be a ‘submittable publication’ putting the onus on distributors and
publishers to determine what they should submit.
This is despite the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 prohibiting
the sale, production, possession and distribution of offensive and
abusive material “that depicts a person or a representation of a
person who is or appears to be under 18”.
“Graphic Japanese manga novels and anime depicting sickening child
abuse, rape, incest and sexualised images of children should be
removed from shelves, streaming services and banned from entering
the country,” Stirling said.
“Child exploitation is a global problem, heightened by modern
technology and the myriad of platforms that are used to access such
material,” he said.
“As legislators, we have a critical role to play in stamping it out.
There is much more to be done, and areas where we need to focus more
attention, such as the child abuse material that comes into
Australia via Japanese anime and manga.
“Experts that advocate against child exploitation have referred to
this type of anime and manga as a gateway to the abuse of actual
children. Experts also say that explicit anime and manga can be used
by paedophiles as tools to groom children.
“Incredibly, in Japan the definition of child abuse material
specifically excludes child porn anime and manga, as these media
don't include real children.
“But the law in Australia is very clear. The Commonwealth Criminal
Code prohibits the sale, production, possession and distribution of
offensive and abusive material that depicts a person, or is a
representation of a person, who is or appears to be under 18. It is
“The Classification Board appears to be making decisions in
isolation to criminal law. This must stop. There is also the issue
of explicit manga graphic novels, which are not vetted at all by the
“I recently made a submission to the current Review of Australian
classification regulation raising issues over the inadequacy of the
current regime to deal with such abusive material but we can’t wait
for the review to report, we must act now.
“The Board doesn’t seem to be following its own guidelines*
The SA-BEST-Centre Alliance special investigation found the shocking
child abuse material is freely available in Australia – including in
well-known electronics store and popular bookstores in Adelaide and
Sydney – as well as online.
The investigation follows a trip Connie made late last year to Japan
- regarded as the home of the manufacture and distribution of
childlike sex dolls – where she heard disturbing accounts from
people at the frontline fighting the scourge of child sex
exploitation in that country.
Connie said her trip to Japan was an extremely productive and
educative despite attempts to meet with the Minister for Justice
being declined at the 11th hour.
“I was able to meet with several outstanding non-government
organisations advocating against child sexual abuse, child abuse
material and child sexual exploitation in Japan – which is a
significant problem in that country,” Connie said.
“These remarkable women are working in difficult circumstances with
absolutely no government funding and are up against a system that
does not view child abuse material in the same way we do,” she said.
“They were left shocked when they heard about the extent of our
robust child exploitation laws in Australia.
“They all welcomed assistance from external sources and were
grateful that an Australian politician was keen to support them and
assist in any way to achieve legislative change with respect to
child abuse and child exploitation laws in Japan.
“They are desperate for pressure to be exerted on the Japanese
government in order to bring about meaningful change because,
ultimately, child exploitation knows no borders – and that’s what
SA-BEST and Centre Alliance intend to do.”
Connie will return to Japan later this year to continue the dialogue
with these organisations and attempt to raise her concerns with the
bishop: Philippine banks must divest from coal
March 1, 2020
CAGAYAN DE ORO –
Representing the Withdraw from Coal Campaign, a Church leader on
Friday appealed to Philippine financial institutions to stop funding
the expansion of coal operations in the country and support the
development of renewable energy instead.
The call was made during
the 3rd Philippine Environment Summit, an event that presents
current initiatives contributing to the country’s social and
economic development while conserving the environment, held on 26-28
February at the Grand Caprice Convention Center in Cagayan de Oro.
“As fulfillment of their
moral obligation, Philippine banks must have concrete plans to phase
out coal finance in the time required by today’s climate crisis.
They must have clear policies restricting their exposure to coal,
channeling the funds they divest from it into clean and affordable
renewable energy for all Filipinos,” said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of
the Diocese of San Carlos, Negros Occidental.
While praising the SONA
2019 directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to “fast-track” the
development of renewable energy resources and reduce dependency on
coal, the bishop pointed out that the continuing dominance of coal
in the country's energy mix calls for even more ambitious ways
forward from different sectors, including the finance industry.
“Banks financing coal are
not only funding the climate crisis, they are also enabling the
continued suffering of coal-affected communities,” he stressed.
In addition to the 16 new
coal-fired power plants added to the national fleet in the last
decade, the Philippines is still looking to add a total of 12,014 MW
of new coal power, making it the ninth biggest coal expansionist in
the world as of 2019.
13 local banks had been
identified to have loaned or underwritten USD 6.303 billion to coal
interests from 2017 to the third quarter of 2019. Two of these
banks, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco de Oro (BDO)
account for nearly 55% of this finance.
“The IPCC reported that
the world has until 2030 to reduce coal use by 78% from 2010 levels
to avoid even more disastrous climate impacts. As stewards of
Creation, we must unite with our scientists on this and seek to veer
away from a fuel that causes the suffering of our people and
destruction of our Common Home,” Alminaza said.
Alminaza stated that as
the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate
change, it must lead in phasing out coal, and financial institutions
must take their role in it seriously – similar to the commitment of
the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and his
own diocese to divesting its resources from dirty energy
A petition letter
addressed to the Bank of the Philippine Islands, the bank with which
many Church organizations have financial relations, was also
circulated during the event and was signed by hundreds of
participants, including Bishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan De Oro.
“We appeal to all to join
the calls as written in our letter as expression of our care for our
common home and our future generations. For as one saying goes, ‘we
do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our
children.’ We must act swiftly for time is running out,” said
Launched in Manila in
January and in Visayas in February, "Withdraw from Coal" is a
campaign spearheaded by the Church, civil society, and people’s
organizations urging Philippine banks to divest from businesses
involved in coal power generation and coal extraction.