November 23, 2008

I still have to wait for a couple of months more before buying what could have been the greatest Christmas gift I can give to myself.

I understand. We need to settle it first.

But I just could not help not to feel sad.

So much for this photography obsession for now.


I was heading on my usual way after getting out of the office at 4:30 pm yesterday. Since it was a Friday and ergo, no work the next day, I decided to go to SM Bicutan (which was only a few minute walk away from the office) to buy a card reader to replace my busted thumb drive.

It was close to 4:45 pm when I arrived there. Where else would I buy a PC related item? Syempre, cd-r king, mainly because of the inexpensively priced items. When I got there, there was a tolerable number of customers falling in line. Surprisingly, cd-r king now has a “system”. You get a disc which contains your “number”. Got mine and it reads “8”.

So there. I waited. Since I left my DS lite at home, I just kept myself busy looking at the other items that cd-r king sells. That was enough to make me forget time.

Well, not quite. When I heard an obviously irked customer cursed, I looked at my watch that reads “5:30”. Then suddenly, one of the salesladies shouted, “number 2!”

At that point, the crowd “went wild”. In unison, we exclaimed, “Tangina, number 2 pa lang?!” That was more likely the scene, of course, sans the cursing.

Well, to cut the long story short, it was already 6pm when I got my turn. It took me an eternity (almost!) just to buy a cheapo card reader. I would have actually had more patience if, for example, there were just two salesladies attending to customers. But that was not the case. There were many of them. Most of the salesladies were obviously chit-chatting with each other, forgetful of a number of anxious customers waiting in line. In Filipino slang, petiks.

I really don’t know why almost all cd-r king outlets have that kind of staff. Most of them are also not knowledgeable with the products they sell. I can, however, forgive that since I know that I know better than them (SOP: Know an item first before buying it). But waiting in line for more than an hour and you see that almost all salesladies were petiks? That’s just unforgivable.

Got the item cheap, but what gives? What was something in return? Anxiety.

True enough, you really get what you pay for. And it does not only apply to the quality of the item per se, but also to the quality of the customer service a store gives to its customers.

As of November 3, almost 30 activist leaders from the Southern Tagalog chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and its allied organizations as well as party list groups are facing arrest warrants for criminal charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder while facing separate charges of arson. First to be arrested was Atty. Remigio Saladero, chief legal counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and a resident of Antipolo, Rizal. Three others were subsequently arrested, including a bed-ridden peasant leader.

The trumped-up charges have targeted many of the prominent leaders of the mass movement in Southern Tagalog. This marks a renewed legal and political offensive against the most consistent critics of the Arroyo administration. It should be recalled that the Southern Tagalog region was among the worst hit by the wave of extrajudicial killings and abductions of activists from 2001-2007. The targets then were activist leaders, union leaders, peasant organizers, environment activists and urban poor organizers.

As of March 2008, human rights group Karapatan -Southern Tagalog has documented 167 victims of extrajudicial killing and 31 of enforced disappearance in the region.

The Southern Tagalog 27

On September 30, 2008, volunteers of the human rights group Karapatan in Batangas stumbled upon a complaint filed against 27 persons who included activist leaders and members of progressive people’s organizations in the Southern Tagalog region. The original complaint was filed on August 12, 2008 at the office of the Batangas Provincial Prosecutor’s Office by a certain Marlo Timbreza on behalf of Globe Telecom Inc., regarding the bombing and burning of a Globe cell site in Lemery, Batangas last August 2. Timbreza alleged that the respondents committed arson, the destruction of private property other than arson and conspiracy to commit rebellion.

The August 12 complaint named 19 respondents which included prominent activist-leaders Bayani Cambronero, 8th party list nominee and Southern Tagalog regional coordinator of Bayan Muna; Rolando Mingo, Vice President of the nationwide transport group PISTON, and president of the Southern Tagalog Region Transport Sector Organization; Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Legal Counsel, member of Pro Labor Assistance Center (PLACE), Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL); Agaton Bautista, Anakpawis, Batangas provincial coordinator; Noriel Rocafort, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Batangas secretary general; Isabelo Alicaya, Chairperson of the Fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA-Southern Tagalog and the Haligi ng mga Batangueñong Anak Dagat (Habagat).

Also included in the original complaint is Romy Aguilar of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Rizal who is now in a wheelchair due to diabetes.

The complaint would later be amended in September 5, 2008 to include 8 of the 9 grassroots activists who were abducted and tortured by elements of the Calabarzon PNP’s Regional Special Operations Group last August 31, 2008 in Tartaria, Cavite. They include 63 year old Renato Alvarez, Chairperson of the Katipunan ng mga Magbubuikd sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka), who experienced torture at the hands of his abductors.

The supposed witness to the crime of arson is a certain Arvin Leviste who claims to be a Deep Penetration Agent of the military who infiltrated the organization and planned and worked with the respondents in the burning of the cell site.

The Mindoro Case

On October 23, 2008, Atty. Remigio Saladero was reported missing. Later, his colleagues would learn that he was being detained in Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba City by virtue of a warrant of arrest.

The next day, Nestor San Jose, another ST 27 respondent would also be nabbed in Teresa town in Rizal.

The warrants of arrest were issued by Judge Tomas Leynes of the Calapan City Regional Trial Court in accordance with a criminal case filed against Atty. Saladero, San Jose and 70 others.

It was only then that lawyers discovered this separate case of multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder filed against 72 persons, including most of the Southern Tagalog 27. The information cited an NPA ambush in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental in March 3, 2006.

The charge was originally filed against a certain Rustum Simbulan, and was later amended to add 71 others. Around 30 of the 71 additional names are active leaders, and members of progressive people’s organizations in Southern Tagalog.

On October 27, 2008, in a court proceeding regarding Atty. Saladero’s case, provincial prosecutor Josephine Caranzo-Olivar admitted that no preliminary investigation was conducted when the names of the 71 were added to the amended information. This means that no inquiry was held to determine if there was probable cause against the additional 71 individuals.

The same day, Crispin Zapanta also among the 72 accused, was arrested in Antipolo City.

Saladero, San Jose and Zapanta are now detained at the Calapan City Provincial Jail.

On November 4, Anakpawis Provincial Coordinator and spokesman of the Katipunan ng Magbubukid sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka) Rogelio Galit was arrested by the PNP in his house in Kaong, Silang, Cavite. Galit is bedridden and is suffering from diabetes.

Also included in the complaint are victims of human rights violations themselves. They include Arman Albarillo, who lost both his parents after they were murdered by military forces, and Orly Marcellana, whose wife Eden Marcellana (Karapatan ST Secretary General) was killed in Mindoro by soldiers under Gen. Jovito Palparan. Albarillo has been a consistent complainant in the impeachment cases filed against Mrs. Gloria Arroyo.


The current legal offensive against progressive leaders and activists in Southern Tagalog is not an isolated incident. It has been preceded by similar baseless criminal charges against Bayan and other mass leaders such as in the provinces of Negros and Davao. It should also be recalled that trumped-up murder charges were filed against Rep. Satur Ocampo, peasant leader Randal Echanis and other progressives in relation to alleged mass graves in Hilonggos, Leyte. Rep. Ocampo is out on bail while Echanis is detained at the Manila City Jail. New cases have recently been filed against Ocampo, Echanis et al in Hilongos.

The cases against the ST activists is particularly alarming because of their wholesale and sweeping nature: Almost all high-profile regional and provincial leaders have been charged. Even more disturbing are the legal shortcuts that were resorted to by the prosecutor in implicating 72 respondents without the benefit of any preliminary investigation and the hasty issuance of arrest warrants by the Calapan RTC .

It appears that the principal impetus for the filing of these new cases against the 72 is consistent with the communist-labeling/demonizing being resorted to by the Arroyo regime and the state security forces. The cases portray and subsequently accuse legal activists to be members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. But instead of simply filing rebellion cases against them, they are instead charged with common crimes such as murder and arson.

Like in the previous rebellion cases against partylist lawmakers and activists, the current multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges were filed through highly irregular procedures thereby denying the accused their right to due process.

These trumped-up charges have all the imprints of the Department of Justice, the InterAgency Legal Action Group (IALAG), the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

What the Arroyo regime could no longer accomplish through extrajudicial killings and abductions, it now tries to accomplish through the filing of non-bailable criminal charges. The objective is clearly to neutralize the activist leaders by detaining them illegally or forcing them to go into hiding. At the same time, there is the intention to terrorize the remaining leaders, activists and the political mass base of Bayan and other progressive organizations and party list groups.

It is therefore necessary that freedom loving Filipinos oppose this crackdown on progressive activists with the same vigor as when we opposed extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Four people have already been arrested and there is a great possibility that there may be more in the near future. While the issue is being fought in the legal arena, it is of crucial importance that people rise up and speak out against these abuses and outright political persecution and repression. It is important that pressure be made to bear on the Arroyo regime to put a stop to its drive to put democratic and nationalist leaders behind bars and out of commission.

Activists included in the list of the accused 72:

1. Arman Albarillo

§ Secretary General, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog

§ Signatory in the 2008 impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

§ In April 2002, Arman’s parents Expedito Albarillo (Bayan Muna municipal Coordinator) and Manuela Albarillo (Gabriela member) were brutally killed by suspected elements of the 204th brigade, then led by Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan. Before his death, Expedito was incarcerated for 9 months Judge Tomas Leynes regarding an alleged murder case.

§ After his parents’ death, Arman, his family and relatives became internal refugees who had to fled their hometown in Mindoro due to continuous threats by the military.

2. Bayani Cambronero, 48 yrs old

§ 8th Partylist Nominee and Southern Tagalog Regional Coordinator, Bayan Muna Party

§ A student activist leader during his college days in UP Los Baños, Bani was Chairperson of the University Student Council

§ After leaving college, Bani joined the labor movement. He became the Deputy Secretary General of Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Pamantik-KMU) and the Executive Director of the Institute for Workers Leadership Development.

§ former Secretary General of Bayan-ST

§ ST 27 Respondent

3. Orly Marcellana,

§ Secretary General, Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK)

§ Chairperson, Bayan-ST

§ In April 21, 2003, Orly’s wife, Eden Marcellana and colleague Eddie Gumanoy were abducted in Mindoro Oriental along with 9 other human rights volunteers, while they were conducting a Fact Finding Mission. The following day, the brutally murdered bodies of Eden and Eddie were found in a shallow ditch near the Strong Republic Nautical Highway, Suspects to the crime were elements of the 204th brigade then led by Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan.

4. Romeo Legaspi,

§ Chairperson, PAMANTIK-KMU

§ National President, Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (OLALIA-KMU)

§ President, Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Honda ( NLMH- OLALIA),

§ Chairperson, Anakpawis-Timog Katagalugan

5. Rolando Mingo,

§ President, Southern Tagalog Region Transport Sector Organization, (STARTER)

§ Vice President, Pinagkaisang Lakas ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON)

§ ST 27 Respondent

6. Doris Cuario

§ Secretary General, Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Southern Tagalog (KARAPATAN)

7. Helen Asdolo, 41 yrs old

§ Secretary General, National Alliance of Women’s Organizations in the Philippines (GABRIELA) – Southern Tagalog

§ 5th partylist nominee, Gabriela Women’s Party

8. Atty. Remigio Saladero

§ Legal Counsel, KMU

§ Founding Member, National Union of People’s Lawyers

§ Labor Lawyer, Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE)

§ Regular columnist, Pinoy Weekly

§ ST 27 Respondent

9. Emmanuel Dionida

§ Board of Director, LEADERS (Labor Education Advocacy Development Research Services Inc.)

§ Despite his “Polio,” Emmanuel has been active in the labor movement for almost 2 decades now

10. Dina Captillo, 28 yrs old

§ Spokesperson, Karapatan- Batangas

§ Staff, Gabriela-Batangas

§ Former Chairperson, League of Filipino Students – Philippine Normal University Chapter

§ Former Chairperson, Student Christian Movement – Philippine Normal University Chapter

§ Member, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

§ ST 27 Respondent

11. Renato Alvarez, 63 yrs Old

§ Chairperson, Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite/Kilusang Magbubuikd ng Pilipinas (Kamagsasa-Ka/KMP)

§ Chairperson, Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Tartaria (SAMATA)

§ ST 27 Respondent

12. Nestor San Jose, 53 yrs old

§ Rizal Provincial Coordinator, Anakpawis

§ Coordinator, Makabayang Organisasyon ng Tsuper at Operator sa Rizal (MOTOR) –PISTON

§ ST 27 Respondent

13. Crispin Zapanta, 60 yrs old

§ Chairperson, Bayan Muna – Antipolo City

14. Romeo Aguilar

§ Secretary General, Kalipunan ng mga Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) – Rizal

§ Organizer, Bayan Muna Rizal

§ Former Chairperson, Bagong Lakas ng Nayon (BALANA)

§ Romeo is suffering from diabetes and is now confined to a wheelchair

§ ST 27 Respondent

15. Rogelio Galit

§ Spokesperson, Kamagsasaka-Ka

§ Public Relations Officer, Kasama-TK

§ On the night of November 3, 2008, Rogelio was arrested by 15 armed men in plainclothes at his house in Kaong, Silang, Cavite. Galit, who is already bedridden due to his diabetic condition, was forcibly taken despite his condition and brought to the PNP Regional Headquarters in Camp Vicente Lim. The following day, Galit was brought to Calapan City Provincial Jail

16. Luz Baculo

§ Secretary General, Pamantik-KMU

§ National Council Member, KMU

17. Pedro Santos Jr.,

§ Secretary General, Anakbayan-Southern Tagalog

§ Regional Coordinator, Kabataan Party

§ Convenor, Youth Act Now – Southern Tagalog

18. Jojo Bernardino, 49 yrs old

§ Secretary General, Bayan-Laguna

§ Secretary General, Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Probinsya ng Laguna (ALMAPILA)

§ Former Chairperson, Bisig at Lakas ng Manggagawa sa Kapalaran Bus Line

19. Berlin Justo

§ Calamba City coordinator, Bayan Muna

§ Secretary General, Calamba Federation Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association

§ Former Baranggay Councilor, Brgy. Palingon, Calamba City

20. Agaton Bautista, 36 yrs old

§ Batangas Provincial Coordinator, Anakpawis

§ Secretary General, Samahan ng mga Magbubukid sa Batangas (SAMBAT)

21. Leng Jucutan

§ Staff, Kongreso ng mga Magsasaka Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo – Quezon (KOMPRA)

22. Amelita Sto. Tomas, 53 yrs old

§ Chairperson, Gabriela-Cavite

§ Cavie Provincial Coordinator, Gabriela Women’s Party

23. Samuel Dizon

§ Coordinator, Samahan Pang-transportasyong Rumuruta sa Kalakhang Probinsya ng Laguna (SPARKPLAG) – Piston

24. Lucio Amarante

§ Staff, Transport Organizer, STARTER-PISTON

25. Henry Halawig

§ Paralegal staff, Banzuela Law Office

§ Former Borad of Director, OLALIA-KMU

26. Emmanuel Assuncion

§ Municipal coordinator, Bayan Muna

§ Vice Chairperson for External Affairs, Spokesperson, Bayan=Cavite

§ Council of Leaders Member, former Public Relations Officer, former Secretary General, former Chairperson, Solidarity of Cavite Workers

27. Karen Ortiz

§ Deputy Secretary General, Cavite Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (CEMJP)

§ Former Provincial Coordinator, Student Christian Movement – Cavite

§ Former Cavite Provincial Coordinator, Kabataan Party

§ Former Provincial Coordinator, Anakbayan-Cavite

28. Sheryll Villegas

§ Secretary General, Bayan-Cavite

§ Former Provincial Coordinator, Anakbayan-Cavite

29. Rommel Valdez

§ Chairperson, Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Intsikan

Prepared by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and BAYAN-Southern Tagalog,

November 5, 2008

If and when former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, suspected architect of the P728-million fertilizer scam in the 2004 presidential election, finally appears before a Senate investigating committee, we urge him to keep in mind the Four-Way Test, the code of ethics adopted by the Rotary Club in 1943. Bolante, like President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband, Mike Arroyo, is a member of the Rotary Club.

The Four-Way Test states: “Of the things we think, say or do … (1) Is it the Truth? (2) Is it Fair to all concerned? (3) Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? (4) Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?”

The test was written by Chicago Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 and adopted by Rotary International 11 years later. He wrote the test primarily for his bankrupt Club Aluminium Co. in 1932. He gave up his job in another company to join 250 other employees aboard the so-called “sinking ship.” Taylor said: “To win our way out of this situation I reasoned we must be morally and ethically strong. I knew that in right there was might. I felt that if we could get our employees to think right they would do right. We needed some sort of ethical yardstick that everybody in the company could memorize and apply to what we thought and did in our relations to others.” And so he wrote the 24-word test.

When a company advertisement was referred to Taylor declaring their aluminum product “the greatest cooking ware in the world,” he said, “We can’t prove that.” The ad was rewritten to simply state the facts.

Bolante will soon be facing a Senate investigating committee, unless the administration can devise other delaying tactics or come up with a strategy that would permanently prevent him from testifying. He being a member of the Rotary Club, we expect him to apply the Four-Way Test to his testimony.

Is it the Truth? What is the truth about the P728-million fertilizer scam? Is it true that the President authorized the release of P728 million shortly before the May 2004 election to “favored” congressmen, governors and mayors to buy farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticides? Is it true that 53 governors were allotted P5 million each, 105 congressmen P3-P5 million each, and 23 city and town mayors P2-P5 million each? Bolante should tell the truth, because, as the saying goes, the truth will set him free.

Is it Fair to all concerned? The disclosure of the truth about the P728-million fertilizer scam will be fair to all concerned, and most especially to the people, the taxpayers, whose money was used to carry out the project. They have the right to know whether their tax money was really used to benefit the agricultural sector or a certain candidate in the 2004 presidential election. The disclosure of the truth will be fair to Bolante himself because finally, he will be able to unburden himself of some secrets, if secrets they really are, that are causing him so much mental and psychological torment. It will be fair to the Senate, which can finally write finis to this case which is actually still hanging because it has not heard his testimony.

Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? The truth may not always be pleasant, sometimes it may hurt some people, but ultimately it will promote goodwill and better friendships. People in government have to make truthfulness and trust the basis of their relationship with the people. Goodwill and better friendship can never be built based on dishonesty and falsehood.

Will it be Beneficial to all concerned? Yes, it will be beneficial because we should now be able to put a closure to a case that has festered like a sore these past four years. It will not be beneficial to those who committed irregularities and whose crimes will be exposed in the Senate inquiry, but as Taylor said, what is important is that everybody should be morally and ethically strong. Everyone has to disclose the truth, even if he or she will be hurt. Everyone should be responsible for his or her decisions and actions. The Senate inquiry would be beneficial to the nation because it could result in legislation that prevents the use of public funds to promote the candidacy of a candidate for any elective post.

The Four-Way Test is a simple, clear and straightforward ethical and moral code. We hope it will be applied in the prospective resumption of the Senate inquiry into the P728-million fertilizer scam.



November 2, 2008

I could not believe the holiday is now over. It did not actually feel it was one at all. It was just, well, a normal weekend.

/me sighs. Wala lang. I’m just sad I did not get to enjoy this so called holiday. I had some important tasks to do since I’m currently juggling two jobs. So yes, this is what I get from trying to save some money for a future project.

I don’t know why weekends seem to pass by sooooo fast while weekdays always seem to take forever.