Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Heckling, Howie and Hillary

When a Philippine Collegian Editor-in-Chief Marjo Tucay unfurled an Anti-VFA/Anti-MDT banner in Clinton's "Conversation in Manila", he was promptly shown the door and subsequently tagged a heckler. Post-Conversation, he was interviewed by Howie Severino of GMA7, incidentally, one of Conversation's moderators. Did I say interviewed? No, that wasn't the case. Mr. Tucay was BERATED by Howie Severino for not being "old-fashioned" and  for going beyond "covering" the event.

Facebook as been afire with discussion regarding this incident. Progressive teachers and students alike, of course defend Tucay's position, whilst Howie Severino himself engages in the debate. But, lo and behold, Mr. I-Think-Before-I-Click opts to delete his comments (see pic below with his comments on Alaysa's post before Severino deleted them) when the debate got hotter and hotter. This event prompted GMA7 to take down the interview from their site (Therefore, the link below Alaysa's Note now leads to blank video). 

Photo courtesy of The Carcosite. To view, Right click then Open in New Tab. Or  Download by right-clicking then Save as.

Reposted from Alaysa Escandor's Facebook Notes

Reflections on the heckling

That Hillary Clinton herself, the US Secretary of State, was heckled by a Filipino, and a young student journalist at that, triggered a debate of sorts on the role of journalists.  The heckling was done by Marjohara Tucay, incumbent editor in chief of the Philippine Collegian, the student publication of the University of the Philippines.

 A day after the heckling, he was interviewed by Mr. Howie Severino, whose insights include –

Syempre, ang expectation sa isang mamamahayag ay hindi magprotesta kundi magtanong; Yung mga old-fashioned journalists katulad ko, yung training ay nagcocover; May choice ka dun, kung ano ang magiging action mo: mamahayag o protester.”

Okay, so there’s one huge, disturbing conjecture there – that journalists cannot participate in demonstrations. I wonder though where this conjecture has come from, because I don’t know of any code of ethics that bans journalists from protest actions. From receiving gifts and cash, certainly; from moonlighting, sure; from unfair means of information collection, yes. But never from heckling, demonstrations, rallies, strikes. These are, after all, based on the freedom of speech and expression – the very same rights upon which the entire of journalism is founded.

The freedoms that we have, the liberties that journalists like Mr. Severino enjoy, were won through wide and numerous protest actions. Martial law is a constant reminder of that.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reposted: What I think of the NPA's raid on Taganito Mining

I've been planning on writing something along these lines, but she beat me to it. :D Read up and judge for yourself.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

 What I think of the NPA's raid on Taganito Mining

by Kei Valmoria-Bughaw on Saturday, October 15, 2011 at 11:27pm

My uncle was one of the so-called "hostages" during the recent raid of the New People’s Army in a Surigao mine. Of course, being known as left-leaning, I am moved by family and friends to post my stand on the issue. So here it is.


On October 3, 2011, the New People’s Army attacked three mining sites in Claver, Surigao del Sur. These were owned by the following companies: Taganito-Sumitomo, Taganito Mining Corp., and Platinum Gold Metal Corp. These are sister companies, owned by Nickel Asia’s Manny Zamora, and co-funded by Japanese investors.

The CPP-NPA-NDF* stated in their websites that this was a punitive action. For several years now, local residents as well as lumads (indigenous people) have complained of environmental degradation, shockingly low wages, and, for the lumads, refusal to pay royalties for mining on their ancestral lands. Note that in the statements of the group, there were no references to increasing revolutionary tax, which the AFP and Aquino government stated was the reason for the attack.

According to NDF Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos, the residents have written numerous letters to Taganito and the Japanese bosses to heed summons to a discussion but these have been ignored. Furthermore, the Tribal Coalition of Mindanao has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court last May 30, 2011 to hold these 3 companies accountable for violations of environmental laws and ancestral domain.

The NPA disarmed guards, herded key personnel for debriefing, and set fire to mining equipment. All the detained employees (not hostages), including my uncle, were released after the punitive action was completed.


As expected, Noynoy Aquino and his mouthpieces in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) crowed about NPA greed, citing the demands for bigger revolutionary tax to be paid by TMC-Sumitomo. Of course, that’s about the only thing they can say to defend themselves.

As NDF’s Luis Jalandoni pointed out, Noynoy chose to ignore these:

  1. Large-scale mining and export of non-renewable minerals via cheap labor and operations that destroy hope of Philippine industrialization;
  2. Dislocation of the Mamanwa, indigenous people of the Surigao provinces, and dispossession of their ancestral lands; and
  3. Widespread environmental impact of the mining operations.

Pollution of the nearby coastlines has long been a complaint of local residents. And Noynoy and his people knew this. Long before the raid, a documentary of the Taganito mining operations was shown to the Presidential Adviser on Environmental Protection Neric Acosta. He can be seen saying on the GMA 7 documentary in a shocked voice: “My God, ano yan (what's that)?”

Well, who wouldn’t be shocked with 160 square miles of exposed earth and unbridled violations of environmental laws? In the petition submitted to the Supreme Court, it is revealed that the UP- Natural Science Research Institute conducted tests on water and soil samples taken from the site and found that nickel levels were way, way higher than acceptable levels. In fact, the samples contained 190mg/liter—a far cry from the 0.02 mg/liter acceptable level.


If you’d listen to the statements from the AFP and the Aquino administration, you’d think that this is a mere extortion case. Some even chose to distort the statement by Maria Malaya, NDF national spokesperson where she said that the company owes the local government 400 million pesos in taxes but gets away with just 40 million by bribing local officials in Surigao. My relatives actually bought the military’s line: the NPA is asking for 400 million! Hahaha. My, my. Read the NDF statement from the links below.

And here's more that the military and Noynoy failed to mention:
  1. Just last September, the Office of the Ombudsman suspended two officials of the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) after they were found guilty of graft and abuse of authority. This includes pocketing millions of pesos worth of royalties to the Mamanwa people, payment for turning their ancestral lands into 160 square kilometers of exposed earth.
  2. Outstanding royalties to the Mamanwas amount to over 200 million pesos. But that’s a pittance compared to the profits Taganito and its foreign investors have accumulated for exporting millions of tons of nickel in 30 years.
  3. Three decades of large scale mining operations have resulted in total denudation of a huge area of the Surigao mountains. Take a look below at the picture generated by Google Earth.
  4. Sumitomo’s coal-fired Acid Leaching Plant, which refines the nickel, spews out toxic fumes daily, resulting from its usage of sulfuric acid in the refining process.
  5. Taganito employees are paid very low wages in comparison to the millions of dollars they get for stealing our natural wealth.
YES! It is OUR natural wealth. The Philippines IS wealthy in natural resources. However, our TRAITORS in government SELL our gold and minerals to IMPERIALISTS like Japan and the USA. And what do we get in return?


I have always been against mining, specifically, large-scale mining. There's little harm in panning or individual mining. Unaided by large machines that carve out the earth, there is less environmental destruction. But once the huge machinery come in, there is no way you can return the earth back to its original state nor can you avoid pollution as an end-result.

The mining officials say, “Oh! We did reforestation efforts!” or “No way, we always clean up our act. See this treatment plant?” I'd say, “Can you really replace full-grown trees, 40-50 years old? Can you stop all the tailings from exposed mines once the torrential rains come?” It’s BS, I say. Total BS.

I will not comment on the revolutionary tax supposedly paid by Sumitomo/TMC to the NDF. I guess they must’ve paid one time or another; most companies operating in NPA-controlled areas do. But I am not going to discuss the political reasons of the NDF for doing so. I can’t speak for them and what’s more, that’s not the real issue here.

For me, the real issue, which breaks my heart, is the dislocation and the corruption of the Mamanwa culture by 3 decades of mining issues. I am disheartened that ancestral lands are given a specific VALUE to be paid out in pesos. No, let me revise that—I am OUTRAGED!

Long before the arrival of the colonialists, the proud Mamanwas lived in this land. And now, they are reduced to the indignity of asking for royalties from foreigners. This is not a Filipino value, its clearly Western. Our forefathers knew that LAND cannot be owned. It is owned only by God, whoever and whatever he was, according to their beliefs. Land is revered for its ability to give life, to provide food, fresh water, and wood for shelter. Now some foreigners and their local counterparts can rape our sovereign land, they just have to pay 200 million pesos for stealing it from the Mamanwas? 200 million for the land of our fathers? FTS.

In July 2010, Mamanwa warriors trooped to TMC and burned some mining equipment in protest of the unreleased royalties. The AFP went after them as if they were terrorist fugitives. The mines were more important than some puny, black-skinned, kinky-haired taga-bukid (mountain-dwellers). Isn’t that tragic?

In an interview, Nickel Asia president Gerard Brimo laughed off as “populist rhetoric” the NDF statements. “TMC stands by its exemplary social and environmental record for the past 24 years, which have earned the company various awards in these fields,” he said.

Oh, Mr. Brimo, we watched GMA’s documentary and clearly, you are caught in a big fat lie. As for Noynoy and his mouthpieces, they are either deaf-blind OR they are big fat liars too.

And as for my Uncle being detained by the NPA, I have never doubted for a second that he would be safely returned to his family. I am sorry he had to go through the ordeal, after all he’s just my second most favorite uncle in Surigao, but I’d worry more if it was the AFP who abducted him.

The NPA doesn’t have a reputation for abducting, raping and torturing, and murdering unarmed civilians. But guess who does?

*For international readers: CPP-NDF-NPA means Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People's Army. The New People's Army is the armed component of the party and carries out military actions.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love of Country

What Alvin Gale Tan started with is commendable! I love his project of finding 7,107 reasons why he loves the Philippines!

It's funny how other nationalities find more reasons than Pinoys themselves why they love the Philippines. Yes, there are a lot not to love about the our country, but hey! Every country has its own problems. The story that Alvin shared on how he was inspired to started on this project shows just that!

I have a similar story to tell. I was riding the jeepney from Bontoc to Sagada. It was half full of foreigners and half by the locals. A group of tourists were talking amongst themselves. I wasn't trying to eavesdrop but I did hear what they were saying. Afterall, they weren't talking in whispers. It turns out that two of them, who look like bestfriends if not partners in life, have been going back to the Philippines every year. The guy they were talking to is visiting for the first time. So the two guys talk about how each year they allot a month to travel to the Philippines. They've been to Cebu, Palawan, Boracay etc. And this year, they're going to Sagada and then to Batangas. I was amazed at how much they've travelled. But I was even more amazed at how they made a comparison and observation of how pig's blood stew (that's dinuguan!)is cooked depending on the locality. They said that as you go down the Philippines, dinuguan gets more "soup-y" (yup, i invented that word, sorry)!

I think the perception that every other country is better than the Philippines still stems from our colonial past. Ambeth Ocampo even wrote once that Filipinos do not refer to us natives, but to the Spaniards born in the Islands.

This video will show the indio-Filipino relations better...

(I'm sorry, I just had to! I lurv Cherie Gil!)

Three hundred plus plus years of being told that we are second class citizens will no doubt take root in our psyche. This is not counting the time when the Americans "benevolently assmilated" the Philippines, which is just a new term for colonialization.

If we understand this part aof our history, we will understand why Pinoys today find it hard to feel good about themselves. We do love to flagellate ourselves. We tend to bring ourselves down. Ang Pinoy kasi ganito-ganyan (fill in with self-deprecatory remarks).

On the other hand, this also explains why Pinoys tend to play up Philippine prides such as Cong. Manny Pacquiao, Charice Pempengco, Lea Salonga and many others who have made the international scene. To us, being related to these very talented and successful Pinoys makes us feel proud to be Pinoys too. Note too, how we tend to hitch our wagon even on one-half or one-fourth, (or less) Pinoys whom we see on TV. Yes we should be proud of them! But that's not my point. Do we really need some extraordinary person, an extremely talented and persevering individual who made a name for him/herself to make us feel good about ourselves?

Even the "nationalisic trend" today where people go about bearing the Philippine map on their shirts makes me want to puke. It's so hypocritical! I hate to ask them why they're wearing that and hear a "HUh?" answer.

Alvin's project is badly needed! It's about time Pinoys learn to love their country inspite and despite of all its bad. The reasons to love your country need not be profound. The reason can be as simple as an Iloco empanada or the jeepney.

Thanks Alvin, for that vigorous shake you gave us!

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Blogwatch: beyond Campaign Promises

Blogwatch has really elevated blogging in the local scene. I am reminded of other international communities that also use their readership following to keep the public informed about politics. And to think that Blogwatch, according to this interview, just started as a voters education blog.

Watching this made me recall the year that was. The 2010 elections is foremost a statement election. Then “President” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is sufferring from the lowest public approval a President has had since the Marcos Era, going as low as negative thirty-something. The most popular campaign line is of course Anti-GMA, and there were many takers. The handful brave men who ran under the administration ticket were doomed to lose. They received the Kiss of Death with open arms. Most presidential aspirants took the Anti-GMA stance. Any vote for the anti-GMA aspirants is a vote against GMA herself.

And so, P-Noy emerged victorious from the Anti-GMA pack, along the way, spouting numerous campaign promises, like supporting the RH Bill. I know P-Noy, next to his mother the late Corazon Aquino, is probably the most popular President post-Martial Law. But I don’t find myself as ecstatic of him as most people do. He has backtracked on a number of his promises already. I hate to think that he did all that just for rhetorics and rating.

Blogwatch was received warmly throughout the blogosphere and thus post-elections, shifted from being a voters education site to one that monitors the campaign promises of the victorious P-Noy. This I think is a very good move. Bloggers write about anything and everythings, from something as mundane as their pet rats, to food trips, from fashionable finds to the latest gadgets, among others. But political blogging is not as popular. Blogwatch bridged this gap and encouraged bloggers to be more socially and politically conscious. The advocacy for clean elections and post-elections monitoring has made Filipinos more involved and invested in the whole process. It is OUR future afterall that is at stake come election-time.

Having Blogwatch, like a watchdog, would keep P-Noy on his toes. One shouldn’t make promises they couldn’t keep. And Blogwatch makes it clear that the PEOPLE DO CARE and are NOT DUMB. They heard the campaign promises and wanted those promises fulfilled, that’s why he got their votes. And that they won’t just sit back and watch those promises turn to dust.

Blogwatch is indeed a very empowering tool for the masses. How many times have you have someone, anyone, utter a word of disgust for the government’s action, or lack of it, regarding the nation’s problems? How many times have you heard someone, anyone, say “Ganyan naman talaga ang mga pulitiko!” Or, see someone, anyone, shrug their shoulders while saying, “Wala nang pag-asa ang mga pinoy.” Blogwatch serves and will still serve as a venue for these people to rant all they want, but which is properly channeled. The opinions of every Juan and Maria gets arhived and sorted out in the various discussions. And the more they see that they are not alone in feeling duped my false promises, the more they will strive for those promises to be fulfilled. Yay!

Pinoys are said to have very short memories. Imagine this, a dictator that ruled for 20 years and broke so many lives and dreams, is now being seriously considered to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, not counting of course his immediate family that has made a remarking political comeback! Many atrocious and scandalous events in the political history of our country has been buried and forgotten. So too will the campaign promises be if there is no one to keep it alive, to remind the one who made them his responsibility of seeing them through and fought for, if not fully realized.

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