CMCSC: Prioritize mental health awareness in Maskom

Photo grabbed from the UP CMC Student Council Facebook page

Text by Mayumi Paras

The UP College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMCSC) held a weeklong campaign to highlight mental health awareness through various workshops in the college, Nov. 7-9.

Students Rights and Welfare committee head and UP CMCSC film representative Rocky Morilla said that Mass Communication students are one of the most frequent visitors of the Office of Counseling and Guidance, based on testimonies of those from the OCG themselves.

“Maskom is reported to have one of the highest number of visits to the OCG, and yet we still have to deal with discrimination issues within the college,” Morilla said, citing incidents wherein certain professors banned students with mental health issues from enrolling in their classes.

Under the theme of “Do Mind Me”, UP CMCSC kicked off the weeklong eventwith a three hour workshop on mental health awareness Nov. 7.

This was then followed by another workshopon resilience and stress management, the next day. These workshops also  tackled both giving and receiving support in times of concern surrounding mental health.

Morilla also added that the demands that the college often imposes upon its students may contribute to the amount of stress University students already undergo; “Each department of the college is subjected to incredible amounts of responsibility that can really affect us negatively at times.”

“Mental health awareness within the college needs to be a priority,” she emphasized.

With a recent study showing that one in every three Filipinos suffer from mental health issues, more emphasis is placed upon students’ awareness of their own mental health and how they may be able to tend to it.

“There were times I felt like what I felt wasn’t worth discussing… and this event is trying to tell everyone that that is the last thing that anyone should feel,” Morilla said.

With the fight for free, accessible, and quality healthcare still underway, Morilla hopes initiatives like “Do Mind Me” are a step towards awareness and, by extension, progress: moving in the right direction, that everyone may avail of the support and guidance they need.

“#DoMindMe was a project that was held in Maskom so that the students could find a nearer avenue and could feel like mental health is an important issue within the college—it’s not a taboo topic,” she said.


Reconnect: Mental health in the age of apathy

Photo and text by Kristine Chua

To have your suffering invalidated is an almost unbearable form of violence.

For the six million Filipinos who suffer from mental health disorders, it was a sucker punch to hear Joey De Leon treat their reality as his favorite genre of entertainment–comedy.

“Filipinos are still backwards in viewing mental illness,” said Marc Eric Reyes PhD, a clinical psychologist, during a panel discussion centered on raising awareness on mental health organized by the UP Psychology Society to celebrate National Mental Health Week.

“Which is why what Maine Mendoza did, when she shut down Joey de Leon and defended mental health, was an immensely powerful thing. Millions of people saw that,” Julia Maan̄o, a journalism student in UP Diliman, said.

Maan̄o was diagnosed with depression when she was only 13 years old. She mentioned that her mental health state can be traced from their family’s predisposition; her mother’s death nine years ago also contributed to it.

“I’ve sent too many apology emails to my professors na ‘sorry ang dami kong absent, daming kong missed deadlines,’” Maan̄o shared, explaining how the pressure at the university overwhelmed her.

System error

Millions of Filipinos, however, suffer not only verbal invalidation but systemic as well.

Only about seven percent of all public and private hospitals in the Philippines have a psychiatric unit or ward. Up to now, mental health has not been included in any insurance packages offered by the government.

Filipinos may have to wait a couple more years for a health package that includes a little more sprinkle of support and care from the government.

Depiction in the media is another problem altogether.

“Media can make or break,” remarked Felicitas Soriano, MD, acting chief of Veterans Memorial Medical Center.

Inaccurate depictions of mental health on media can lead to further increasing the stigma that already exists. Media plays a major role in educating the public about the reality of mental health and how it affects the lives of those who suffer from it.

58-percent of the Philippine population are active social media users on a monthly basis, the 15th highest penetration rate in the world, the study said.

Television shows and movies such as 13 Reasons Why and Last Night received critique as they were said to contribute to the growing stigma that surrounds mental health. Hannah Baker, the main character in 13 Reasons Why, was bullied and assaulted when she was still alive. The show centered on how she left tapes for the people responsible for her suicide.

13 Reasons Why also glamorizes suicide, with decorated lockers, pep rallies, students taking selfies by Hannah’s locker, mysterious packages, audio taped travel hunts, and even flashback scenes that keep Hannah “alive” in the series,” Psychology Today reports in a review of the controversial series.

“Mental health shouldn’t be exploited or commercialized,” Reyes said. People suffering from mental health illnesses should be portrayed more than their diagnoses, Jarvin Tan, RPh, the Director for Research at Youth for Mental Health Coalition said.

Likewise, Maaño said that private individuals and even media could battle stigma.

“Negativity should stop with you,” Reyes stressed. He advised everyone in the room to avoid posting or sharing negative content that can possibly harm or offend others.

UP labor, transport groups question TRAIN bill implications

Photo by Cleverlyn Mayuga

Text by Kim Jem Muaña

Despite experts’ emphasis on its importance, the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman labor sector contended some provisions on the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill proposed by the Department of Finance (DOF).

TRAIN bill aims to reform the 20-year-old tax system. Under the DOF proposal, 99% of personal income taxpayers will be paying lower tax.

DOF Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Habitan talked about the tax reform bill as a priority of the Duterte administration in the Kapekonomiya forum held in the UP School of Economics last Thursday.

“The framework of the TRAIN really is an aspiration to give back money to the people, [specifically] those who are considered middle income groups,” she said.

Organized by UP School of Economics Student Council and UP Economics Towards Consciousness, Kapekonomiya was held to “inform students about the proposed TRAIN bill, give different perspectives on this proposed tax reform and give an opportunity for our audience to  come up with their own stand/opinion on the bill given,” according to Fiona Layson, convenor of Kapekonomiya.

However, the labor sector questioned the goals and implications of the said bill.

National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) Executive Director Kristina David said, “Noon pa, may problema na iyan kasi kinakargo ng mamamayang mahihirap ang mga taxes ng malalaking kompanya, diba, naipapasa lang naman iyan sa atin eh.”

National Executive Vice President of All UP Workers’ Union (AUPWU) Connie Marquina also stated that increase in tax collection would not necessarily mean well until wages [for government employees] have not increased to strike the balance.

Oil Excise Tax

Additionally,TRAIN also aims to increase excise tax on petroleum products and luxury cars.

According to the DOF proposal, oil prices will gradually increase by six pesos for three years. It will target the wealthiest citizens since the highest 10% taxpayers consume 51% of oil consumption.

“Kapag tumaas ang langis, lahat tataas. Ultimong asin tataas, kasi lahat yan gumagamit ng oil, pagtransport,” Marquina said.

David further stressed that oil excise tax increase would attack the livelihood of fishermen and farmers due to the high price of crude oil which fuels transportation costs essential to their source of income.

“Yung product nila to the market, higit sa doble ang transportation cost nila,” she added.

Mass transportation

DOF adapted to their proposal the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program where jeepney units will be phased out and be replaced with electrically-powered jeepney engines or e-jeep.

Ikot jeepney driver Edwin Dela Cruz, 37, said that this program under the TRAIN bill will also be another burden to jeepney drivers.

“Kung kunwari, [five years rent to own] itong hawak ko, tapos wala pa sa kalahati yung naibabayad ko rito, bibigyan na naman nila ako ng panibagong utang. May utang na ako sa taong pinagkuhaan nito, tapos may utang pa ako sa gobyerno,” Dela Cruz said.

“Bago ka makapag-e-jeep dito, … hindi ko alam kung paano tatakbo ang e-jeep. Hindi pa nakarating sa kabilang kanto, wala na yung baterya [dahil sa traffic]…,” Marquina added.

According to the DOF website, PUV modernization, Pantawid Pasada and other programs were added by the department to mitigate the effects of the increase in oil excise tax.

Habitan said that jeepney passengers are exposed to danger with the old structure of the jeepneys.

“Kailangan natin ng PUV modernization. Kaya lang, maraming jeepney driver, mga operator, nagra-rally. Nagiistrike, diba? Ayaw nila ng pagbabago. And one wonders why they do not want to change,” Habitan said.

However, as direct stakeholders, jeepney drivers perceive the issue differently.

“Di naman pagbabago kasi gusto nila eh. Hindi naman pagbabago eh. Gusto nila yung electric agad. Mahirap naman kasi yung sinasabi nilang electric,” said Dela Cruz, who has been driving the Ikot route around the campus for almost 20 years now.

David agreed with the need for a tax reform but questioned its implementation. Whether it is progressive or not, she said, should be a big determining factor.

“Kailangan muna nilang siguruhin na ang basic necessity ay naibigay ng gobyerno bago sila magtaas.” Marquina said.

UP Pride 2017 soars to colorful heights, demands ADB passage

Photo by Jvee Alcayaga

Text by John Patrick Manio

Culminating this year’s Pride Month, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) groups and supporters advocated the call for equality and the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) into law in the University of the Philippines (UP) Pride March last Friday.

The ADB promises to tend to the ongoing struggles of minorities including but not exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community as they strive to fight against discrimination in their workspaces, family, and community. The bill does not, however, seek to legalize same-sex marriages.

Just Wednesday, the ADB was approved in the second reading in the House of Representatives.

“The Anti-Discrimination Bill is not only for the LGBTQIA+ community but also for the common people and that LGBTQ+ rights are also human rights. Events like UP Pride mainstreams the idea that gender should be equal and that opportunities should be non-discriminatory towards a person’s SOGIE,” said UP Babaylan Punong Babaylan Vince Liban.

The legislation was crafted 17 years ago by late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Akbayan Representative Etta Rosales with the help of Lesbian and Gay Legislative Network (LAGABLAB), the country’s first LGBT lobby group.

In 2006, Rosales filed it to Congress as House Bill 5687, but it only reached the second hearing in the lower house. The ADB was again revived as House Bill 267 with Bataan First District Rep. Geraldine Roman and Senator Risa Hontiveros as its champions.

In a 2013 Pew Research Center (PRC) report, 70 percent of Filipinos said that homosexuality should be ‘accepted’ by Filipinos, however, Manila-based activist Ging Cristobal together with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said that although “there is high tolerance here, there’s not real acceptance”.

“A lot of people would like to say that the Philippines is a very LGBT friendly nation, especially here in Asia, and it’s great that we recognize the community but a lot of it is more on tolerance than acceptance,” said Senior Public Administration UP student Mikey Eubanas who is a first time participant at UP Pride.

“We should aim for acceptance and we have a long way to go. But Pride is a great way to get there,” Eubanas added

UP Babaylan Former Secretary and Internal Affairs Committee Head Amber Quiban recognized that their fight for equality is not yet over.

“… the bill is still stuck in the period of interpellation. So for the next steps, UP Babaylan will continue to push for the bill in the House of Representatives, and for our Senators, we will collate the support statements of the UP community for the passage of the ADB in the Senate,” said Quiban in an online interview.  

UP Pride is an annual event organized by premiere UP LGBTQ+ student organization Babaylan, which aims to celebrate gender equality and foster discriminatory-free attitude towards the LGBTQ +community.

The march started from Quezon Hall where a gigantic rainbow display was mounted. The contingent paraded around the Academic Oval and stopped in front of Melchor Hall where the formal program was held.

Performances from UP students and drag celebrity impersonations including those of  Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Adele formed the bulk of the program.

SR Oliquino to students: “The fight goes beyond UP”

Photo by Claudette Chong
Text by Kristel Limpot

Student Regent Shari Oliquino urged University of the Philippines (UP) students to take the fight for democratic rights beyond the university in the Diliman Student Summit held on Wednesday.

The Diliman Student Summit is held annually by the Office of the Student Regent (OSR) to serve as an avenue for the student body to forward their concerns and to tackle issues relevant to the university.

Oliquino highlighted the role of the student movement in the recent victory of the call for free education, as well as in the continued struggle against state repression and fascism.

“Mas nakikita at na-ko-concretize na kung anong naibibigay ng ganitong klase ng mga pagkilos ngayong naipatambol na natin ang usapin ng libreng edukasyon sa loob at labas ng pamantasan,” said Oliquino.

A bill granting full government subsidy to the 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte August this year.  

However, she called for the full realization of this right, stating that under the guidelines approved by the UP Board of Regents, some students are not covered by the no tuition collection.

This includes those who failed to complete their degree within a year after the prescribed period, or who failed to comply with admission and retention rule. Graduate students are also still expected to pay their fees.

“Ang gusto natin ay yung buong pagkilala sa edukasyon bilang isang karapatan – delayed ka man o hindi, undergraduate student ka man o hindi.”

Amidst this significant progress, however, Oliquino asserted that UP students continue to face a repressive system.

She cited the Code of Student Conduct prohibiting freshmen from joining organizations during their first semester in the university, the red-tagging of student leaders, the attack on student organizations, and the militarization in UP Mindanao through the proposal to build Reserve Officers’ Training Corps headquarters inside the campus.

The UP General Education (GE) reform, which has been recently approved reduces the minimum number of GE units that university students should take from 45 to 21, has also been slammed for its “neoliberal orientation”.

Oliquino said that instead of addressing the needs of our nation, the reform is primarily geared towards meeting the demands of the global market for cheap labor.

“Ang mahirap kapag sumasabay tayo sa standards ng ibang bansa, yung mga graduates at professionals natin, mag-aagawan sila sa trabaho. At magiging dahilan ito para sa mga korporasyon na babaan yung kanilang sahod at magpatuloy sakanilang pananamantala,” she said.

Iskolar para sa bayan

On the subject of being iskolars ng bayan, Oliquino called for the students to take part in the fight against state fascism that loom over the Filipinos especially in the current administration.

Anakbayan UP Diliman Chairperson Jann Merlin, who also spoke in the summit, denounced the Martial rule in Mindanao, as well as Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Tokhang, calling it a “war against the citizens” forged by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Merlin condemned police brutality that resulted to the deaths of members of the youth, including that of Carl Arnaiz, a former student of the state university.

“Nakabalangkas lang lahat ‘yan sa pangkabuuang kamay na bakal na pamumuno ni Duterte – pasista at anti-mamamayan,” Merlin said.

The increased militarization and plundering of ancestral lands also led to around 3,000 members of our national minorities to participate in Lakbayan, a national protest caravan which the university is hosting for the third time.

Hailing from different regions of the Philippines, they have come to Manila to assert their rights to lasting peace and self-determination, and bring issues of militarization and harassment to national consciousness.

“Tayong kabataan dito sa UP ‘yong armed with theory, at kailangan natin itong ilapat sa praktika na siya namang dala-dala ng ating mga magsasaka’t mangaggawa na bumubuo sa mayorya ng ating populasyon.”

A national day of walkout against martial law and state fascism will be staged on Sept. 21, the anniversary of  dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial rule in 1972.

Lakbayanis, UP Diliman unite to end state-sponsored violence against nat’l minorities

Photo by Red Carao

Text by Agatha Gregorio

The University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman held a community day for Lakbayan 2017 to be one with the national minorities in their fight to end state-sponsored violence against their communities, Friday.

Along with the UP Diliman students and faculty, they also called for the end of Martial Law in Mindanao and the defense of their human rights in a welcome assembly held yesterday afternoon at the Palma Hall steps.

Over 3,000 national minorities traveled from various parts of the country to UP Diliman where they are to camp for three weeks as part of their collective movement against the taking of their ancestral lands, as well as the disacknowledgement of their human rights.

These include the Bangsamoro and minorities from the Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Central Visayas, Western Mindanao, Soccsksargen, Northern Mindanao, and Southern Mindanao.

“Ang mga UP students, kapag nagsalita, ang mga UP professors, kapag nagsalita, malaki ‘yung impact na nagagawa niya para mapakilos din ‘yung ibang estudyante, ibang mga paaralan,” said Almira Abril, chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) and main convenor of Task Force Lakbayan.

Mirroring one of the recent Lakbayan 2017 events, the Salubungan, the Community Day began with the meeting of the Lakbayanis coming from Sitio Sandugo and the Diliman students and faculty, as they marched towards each other in front of Palma Hall.

Various performances, such as a community dance led by the Cordillerans, were also done by the different ethnic groups to show unity in cultural diversity. These were joined by calls against state fascism and militarization.

“Tuloy tuloy ‘yung government neglect sa hanay ng mga katutubo, walang health. Kulang na kulang ‘yung service. Kulang ‘yung values na binibigay sa edukasyon.,” Julius Cesar Lagta, a member of the Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera alliance, said.

“‘Yung paglalakbay ay para makiisa nga sa pambansang lakbayan ng mga pambansang minorya para sa sariling pagpapasya at makatarungang kapayapaan,” he added.

“Save Our Schools”, a group advocating for the youth’s educational rights, was also present during the event, as they openly condemned Lumad killings, the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao, and the bombing of Lumad schools.

Johndel Libora, an 18-year old ALCADEV student said, “Kami po ay nananawagan na itigil na po sana ang mga militarisasyon doon sa aming lugar at ibasura ang Order DepEd No. 221 na siyang dahilan ng paghinto ng aming pag-aaral, dahil mismo ‘yung mga militar na siyang kumakampo doon sa aming paaralan.”

DepEd Memorandum No. 221 series of 2013 allows the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct military practices in primary and secondary schools provided they issue a written request beforehand.

UP sectoral leaders, and representatives from All UP Academic Employees Union , Alliance of Contractual Employees (ACE UP), Samahan ng mga Manininda sa UP Campus were among those called onstage to express their message for the Lakbayanis, in an effort to support their calls and advocacies as national minorities.

As the program then closed, the contingent marched to Katipunan avenue to meet with groups from Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College who also support the national minorities’ call for the end of state fascism, accountability from the Duterte administration, and their right to self-determination.

CMC wraps up FST month in culminight, declares freshie council winners

Photo and text by Kim Muaña

Freshies, Shiftees and Transferees (FST) from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman College of Mass Communication (CMC) wrapped up this year’s FST Month with different performances as part of the culminating event at the college auditorium, Friday night.

FSTs handled by different college organizations showcased their talents in Ang Tamang Babaan: FST Culminight 2017.

The Broadcast Communication (BC) department dominated this year’s Be BIDA Tounament, a series of inter-departmental tasks for the FSTs. BC Michelle Villafuerte was given the Be BIDA Best FST Award.

The award for best bloc handler went to UP Broadcasters’ Guild.

Best bloc performance was given to the UP Communication Research Society after a spoken poetry rendition of the song “Tatsulok” by Bamboo. 

FST co-head Reven Bryan dela Peña said that the experience of heading FST Month was fulfilling.

“Natutuwa ako kasi nairaos yung buong buwan. Masaya naman ako all throughout the month lalo na sa pag-oorganize ng activities for the FSTs,” he said

“We are hoping that [the FSTs will] have a great stay in Maskom. Matatapos man ang FST month ngunit hindi natatapos ang responsibilidad ninyo bilang mga Alagad ng Media. Patuloy na maging kritikal, magmulat at maglingkod para sa sambayanan,” dela Peña advised.

Results of the FST Student Council were also announced last night. Second year Journalism student Chelsea “Macy” Cruz is this year’s FST Council chairperson.

Cruz, who is a transferee from UP Los Baños, did not expect to be elected, despite running unopposed. “I feel honored to be able to serve my fellow FSTs and grateful that they entrusted me with this responsibility. I am excited to work with the rest of the council to bring the FST Community together.”

Cruz said she plans to encourage more FSTs to join the activities of the council, especially activities that tackle issues concerning the college and the country. “I believe it is important to be aware of the situation of the community you belong to to be able to do your part to create positive change.”

Other elected members of the FST Council are: Paula Esquillo (Vice Chairperson), Rain Matienzo (CMC Rep to the UFC), Kristoffer Gaspar (Secretary), Villafuerte (Treasurer), Sophia Lopez (Broadcast Communication Representative), Lea Mae Real (Communication Research Representative), Hannah Pagaduan (Journalism Representative), and Heaven Itoralba (Film Representative).

Progressive groups urge IP youth: Fight for genuine natdem

By Michelle Co

Progressive group leaders challenged the youth to assume their role in the struggle for genuine national democracy in this year’s International Youth Solidarity Conference held yesterday at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

National minorities from all over the country attended the conference as part of this year’s Lakbayan, a protest caravan where members of national minorities travel to Manila to forward their demands to the government.

With a 3,000-strong contingent, this year’s Lakbayan marks the third consecutive time UP Diliman plays host to participating members of the national minorities.

Despite their continuous efforts, the members of the minority still struggle with problems such as plunder of land resources, displacement, human rights violations, neglect, impoverishment, and discrimination.

A Cordilleran youth in attendance mentioned that he joined Lakbayan 2017 because he sees the abuse inflicted on the national minorities and wants this to change.

He also wanted to shed light on the lack of basic social services such as the availability of hospitals and proper education, emphasizing that drop out rates are high due to their lack of resources.

The source also mentioned that minority groups in the Cordillera region face problems of militarization, the persecution of their leaders and land grabbing by private corporations. He cited an incident wherein a relative’s home was gunned due to their refusal to surrender the land over to a company.

Sandugo co-convenor and Cordillera Peoples Alliance Advisory council member Joanna Carino emphasized that though national minorities face various forms of oppression, self determination is the value they should assert to fight back.

“Ang hamon para sa inyong mga kabataang pambansang minorya ay aralin kung ano ba ang itong mga suliranin na kinakaharap ng ating mga pamayanan,” Carino said.

She then told them to actively seek social change, and to speak up against the oppressor in order to end the current system of injustice in the country.

“Should you stand in the sidelines allowing history to pass you by? Or should you try to make history which is the historical mission of the youth?,” she added.

Even after years of calling out state oppression, the national minorities persist in bringing their calls to the metro as they continue to face abuse, inequality, and discrimination.

For years, the indigenous and Moro people have experienced state sponsored oppression, which have displaced and killed thousands of these national minorities, according to human rights organization Karapatan.

Although laws like the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act exist, the discrimination of national minorities has yet to be quelled. National minorities have formed networks to strengthen their calls, an example of which is Sandugo, an alliance of national minorities around the country, which is also comprised of the Lakbayanis.

UP  Diliman University Student Council (USC) Councilor and Anakbayan member Brian Black said he believes that the youth is essential in this struggle for social justice.

“The youth should be at the forefront of liberating society of its social ills. Equipped with an open mind and heart for service, an empowered youth is one that unites with the basic masses in order to materialize genuine social change,” he said.

Black also emphasized how the youth’s contribution to mass movements have led to success as noted by history.

“History has proven that when progressive and militant youth become one in the struggle of the farmers, workers, and toiling masses, oppressive regimes can be toppled down,” he said.

The Lakbayanis will camp in UP Diliman until Sept 21, symbolic of the 1972 Martial Law declaration and their calls to lift the martial rule in the island of Mindanao.

Alab ng panawagan: Ang pagsalubong ng UP sa Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya 2017

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Andrea Jobelle Adan and Jemelle De Leon

Kasabay ng paglubog ng araw ang pag-angat ng libo-libong mga kamao, paglakas ng mga panawagan at paglagablab ng mga sulonagliliyab tulad ng diwa ng bitbit nilang mga kwento, karanasan, kultura at panawagan.

Narito na muli silanarito na ang sambayanan.

Mainit na sinalubong ng komunidad ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas – Diliman ang humigit kumulang tatlong libong miyembro ng pambansang minorya na naglakbay mula pa sa iba’t ibang rehiyon sa bansa upang dumalo sa Lakbayan 2017. Dito nagkakaroon sila ng pagkakataong palakasin ang kanilang panawagan para sa hustisya, sariling pagpapasya, kapayapaan at karapatan sa lupang ninuno.

Sa nagdaang dalawang taon, nagsilbi ang Lakbayan bilang pagkakataon para sa mga pambansang minorya, na binubuo ng mga Moro, Lumad, katutubo sa Kordillera at ibang mga grupo sa Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao, upang direktang ipahayag ang tunay na kalagayan ng kanilang komunidad at manawagan sa gobyerno.

“Kaya ako sumama dito [ay] para bigyan ng hustisya ang nangyayari sa amin sa Mindanao,” giit ni Bai Jocelyn Agduhan ng Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association mula sa Bukidnon. Sa harap niya, tuloy sa pagbaga ang siga na ginagamit tuwing nakakatamasa ng pagkapanalo ang unibersidad sa mga larong pampalakasan.

Ngunit sa kasalukuyang dinaranas ng iba’t ibang komunidad sa bansa, mahaba-haba pa ang laban patungong tagumpay.

Isa sa mga pangunahing panawagan ng Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya ngayong taon ay ang pagpapatigil ng batas militar sa buong Mindanao. Mariin nila itong tinututulan dahil lalo lamang nitong pinalalala ang pang-aabusong dala ng militar at paramilitar; bala ang nagiging tugon sa kanilang mga lehitimong panawagan.

Ayon kay Geming Alonzo, mula sa Center For Lumad Advocacy Networking and Services Incorporated, 33 eskwelahan ng mga Lumad ang sapilitang ipinasara sa Sultan Kudarat. Kasabay pa nito ang pag-aresto at pagsasampa ng gawa-gawang kaso sa anim na boluntaryong guro. Dahil dito, kinailangan munang maudlot ang pag-aaral ng 1,328 na estudyanteng Lumad.

Buti na lang at sa pamamagitan ng Lakbayan, nabibigyan ng pagkakataon ang kabataan makapag-aral nang hindi nakukulong sa libro at silid-aralan.

“Nakikita nila na iba’t iba ring mga tribo ang apektado na iba’t iba ang isyung binibitbit, importante yan sa mga bata lalo na sa social studies na subject nila kasi hindi natin nilalayo yung mga kabataan na malaman yung tunay na kalagayan ng lipunan”, sabi ni Alonzo.

Para naman sa isang 17 taong gulang na Moro, ang Lakbayan ay isang pagkakataon para maituro sa iba ang katotohanan ng kanilang dinaranas sa Zamboanga.

Sariwa pa sa alaala niya ang pagkakadakip ng kanyang tiyuhin, pinuno ng kanilang komunidad. Kinuha umano ito ng mga armadong grupo, tinawag na miyembro ng Islamic State at inilayo sa kanila. Higit tatlong buwan matapos ang insidente, hindi na ito muling nakabalik pa.

“Isa siyang mabuting pinuno na pinatay na walang kasalanan. Lahat ng ginagawa niya ay para sa ikabubuti ng kanyang pinamumunuan,” giit niya. Naririto siya upang malinis ang pangalan ng tinitingalaan niyang tito. Naririto siya upang sabihing makatulong sa pagpapaliwanag sa ibang hindi maintindihan ang kanilang pakikibaka.

Sagot ng sambayanan

“In many ways, kahit na wala pang declaration ng martial law nationwide, marami ng katangian ng dictatorship ang openly nagagawa ni Pangulong Duterte,” paliwanag ni dating Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño.

Ayon kay Casiño, kahit limitado sa Mindanao ang deklarasyon ng batas militar, marami sa nangyari noong panahon ng dating diktador at pangulong Ferdinand Marcos ang nangyayari muli ngayon sa pamamalakad ni Pangulong Duterte, katulad na lamang ng mga extrajudicial killings, pagsasampa ng gawa-gawang kaso, at pinatinding giyera sa kanayunan.

At kung may isa pang itutulad sa madugong mga dekada ng batas militar noon, ito ay ang hindi natitinag at hindi mabubuwag na samahan ng masang inaapi.

Mula Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao ang mga miyembro ng pambansang minorya. Lahat sila’y may sariling karanasan, sariling kuwento. Ngunit noon pa ma’y kinilala na nilang hindi nila sarili ang pakikipaglaban para sa kanilang mga karapatan.

Nitong nakaraang taon lamang unang nakasama ang ibang miyembro ng pambansang minorya na hindi Lumad. Ayon sa panayam kay Sonny Serano noon, sa Lakbayan niya nakita na mali ang pag-aakalang terorista ang mga Moro, na iisa lang naman pala sila ng ipinapanawagan.

“Hindi pala kami nag-iisa, marami pala kami”, ani John Mar, isang Lakbayani mula sa Mindanao habang nakatingala sa unti-unting nagdidilim na kalangitan.

Natapos na ang paglagablab ng siga at lumalalim na ang gabi. Pero hindi  pa mahihimbing ang diwang mapagpalaya, ang diwang dala ng sama-samang pakikibaka.

Students condemn war on drugs, demand accountability for state-sponsored violence

Photo by Mark Kevin Reginio

Text by Red Carao and Franchesca Persia

University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman students held back-to-back protests yesterday denouncing President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody War on Drugs, a campaign which left thousands of alleged dealers and users dead since Duterte’s term started.

The two protests were spearheaded by Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) and the UP Law Student Government (UP LSG) respectively, which both called for the administration to stop the killings under the pretense of battling illegal drugs in the country.

These protests were sparked by the recent peak of the death toll after more than 50 civilians were killed in one of the PNP’s anti-illegal drugs operations, including 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.

The Duterte administration’s War on Drugs has already killed 3,451 suspected drug personalities according to the Philippine National Police (PNP); if the deaths by vigilante killings were to be included, the death toll would rise to more than 7, 000.

The call for due process

UP LSG President Jules Herrera-Lim said that the College of Law students were awakened from their quiet after visiting Delos Santos’ wake. Their anger has sparked the flame in them to mobilize and forward their calls to the legislation, she claimed.

“[Ang nangyari kasi is] nung lumabas yung story about Kian, bumisita yung ibang members ng UP College of Law student body and nakita naman talaga yung reality that exists beyond hashtags [and] beyond anything else you see,” said Herrera-Lim.

She added that they planned meetings with lawmakers to forward their concerns as students and promised that they will continue to call for accountability from the government for those who fell victim to the drug-related killings under the present administration.

Various organizations in UP Diliman attended the protest held by the LSG, such as the University Student Council (USC), UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP Alyansa), Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA UP), and the League of College Councils, among others.

Herrera-Lim also expressed the law students’ disappointment with the widespread injustice especially since the president is a lawyer.

“Gusto namin paniwalaan na maganda yung idadala niya sa bayan natin pero recently kasi hindi talaga. Kung anong mga natutunan namin from the classroom hindi yun yung ginagawa niya and sa’min nag-aral din siyang maging abogado so sana lang ay dinggin niya yung mga panawagan naming ngayon…,” she said.

Students from the Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) and Miriam College (MC) joined the LSG’s ranks in a candlelighting ceremony at the UP Sunken Garden Grandstand.

 Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila President Ia Maranon said more united protests will be staged in the future to ask for accountability and justice from the government.

“Bilang mga Atenista, meron kaming mga prinsipyo, meron kaming mga pinaglalaban at dapat nakikita din to sa mga isyung panlipunan, hindi lang pwedeng nasa ere lang kami na nag-uusap pero dapat talaga naka-root siya sa mga experiences ng mga tao, ng mga isyung panlipunan,” she said.

She wants to remind the administration to respect due process and democracy, and recognize the power of the student movement.

“Dapat hindi talaga niya minamaliit yung kakayahan ng mga kabataan,” Maranon said.

A network of Katipunan Schools is already being created between ADMU, MC and UP. The student leaders are hoping this will help strengthen student mobilization and help forward their calls to the legislative body for legal probes and justice.

UPD USC Chairperson Benjie Aquino said the council was planning on creating their own statement to consolidate efforts from organizations both inside and outside UP, but the council reconsidered.

“We were supposed to create our own mobilization. I told them hindi, huwag muna, marami kasing nag-momobilize. Mas maganda siguro, mas magiging malakas yung boses natin kung sama-sama tayo,” he said.

Students against state fascism

Youth groups in UP such as Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Alay Sining, and Student Christian Movement also demanded accountability from the government for Delos Santos’ death, as well as for all who have died because of Oplan Tokhang.

Furthermore, these groups also condemned continuing violence under the current administration, such as the militarization of indigenous people (IP) communities, counterinsurgency operations revolutionary forces, and the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.

JP Rosos, spokesperson of LFS National, said that constant fascist attacks of the state towards its citizens have desensitized the Filipinos to violence. He cited not only the daily reports of deaths of alleged drug suspects, but also deaths of peasant leaders and indigenous people in the countryside.

He also added that because of Delos Santos’ death, the Filipino people have started to gain awareness once again of the violence perpetuated by the Duterte administration.

“Ang kaso ni Kian ay hindi hiwalay na kaso sa mamamayang Pilipino na araw-araw niloloko, pinapasista’t pinapatay ng rehimeng ito,” Rosos said.

From putting Php 100, 000 bounty per head on the New People’s Army (NPA) to pushing for schools to implement mandatory ROTC and mandatory drug tests, the youth groups said they see these mounting “anti-people policies” to be the pillars of a “de facto Martial Law” in the whole country.

“[Makikita ang de facto Martial Law ni Duterte] sa unti-unting pagpapaupo ng mga militar at mga kaalyado sa kongreso, paglalagay ng Suggestion Box sa mga komunidad ng mga pinaghihinalaang NPA o adik, pagpapatupad ng National ID System, pagbuburador ng Federalism Charter Change, at pagpapatindi ng kanyang tatlong gyera: Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Kapayapaan, at Martial Law,” said Anakbayan UP Diliman in a statement.  

College of Social Sciences and Philosophy council member Edmer Martinez lamented that the institutions that were sworn to serve and protect have turned against the people.

Martinez emphasized that in these times that the police and the military are the ones needed protecting from, it is up to the Filipino people to secure their rights and safety.

“Ang mga kondisyon ay hinog na para ang mamamayan ay magising na mula sa kanilang natutulog na diwa. Sa panahong ito ng pandarahas at pagkamatay, tayo at tayo lamang ang mapagpasyang tatangan ng ating kaligtasan,” said Martinez.

College of Arts and Letters representative to the USC Isaac Punzalan urged the students to remain steadfast in their support for the struggle of the Filipino people.

He asked the students to look beyond the deaths in Duterte’s War on Drugs, and to remember that previous administrations have also enacted policies that have led to the death of many other innocent lives.

“Sa panahon na tayo ay sinusubok, sa pahanon na tayo’y ginagawan ng paraan para manahimik, upang matakot, at upang umatras— ito mismo ang panahon na tayo ay patuloy na lalaban,” he added.


UP students to Duterte: Does PNP really serve and protect?

By Abby Zara

The University of the Philippines – Diliman (UPD) students raged against the recent surge of deaths caused by the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) “One time, big time” anti-illegal drugs operation.

The students staged a candle-lighting protest at the Palma Hall steps on Aug. 19 in response to the recent killings of 32 alleged drug users across Bulacan and 20 across Metro Manila.

The police operation was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs, which was set to be Duterte’s legacy— he vowed to end the country’s drug problem in three to six months upon winning the presidential position.

At least 3,451 alleged drug personalities have been killed in police operations after a year of the President’s term, according to PNP statistics, and a total of more than 7,600 in January, including those killed by unknown vigilantes. However, Duterte  recently admitted that his previous deadline was not enough to curb the country’s drug problem.

The protesters highlighted the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student, which recently sparked a renewed outrage against the President’s War on Drugs.

Delos Santos was shot by police when he allegedly drew a gun and fled after they tried to apprehend him on Wednesday in Barangay 160, Caloocan City.

Meanwhile, CCTV footage showed Delos Santos being carried away by the police, contrary to reports that the boy fought back.

Eyewitnesses also debunked the PNP’s claims and said that the police handed Delos Santos a gun, ordered him to fire it, and run.

To serve and protect?

“Nakakapanlumong malaman na ang isang musmos na tulad niya ay papatayin na lamang na basta-basta. Pinatay ang kanyang pangarap, pinatay ang kanyang kinabukasan, sinira ang kanyang pamilya,” said Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) College of Mass Communication Chairperson Nickolo Domingo

Furthermore, Domingo questioned where the PNP’s loyalty lies.

“Itong mga institusyon tulad ng PNP, ang kanilang slogan ay Serve and Protect. Pero sino nga ba ang kanilang pinagsisilbihan? Sino nga ba ang kanilang pinoprotektahan?” Domingo added.

Other protests were simultaneously held by students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines Sta. Mesa, and University of Santo Tomas, led by progressive youth group Anakbayan.

“If this campaign of mass murder continues, then we are not shy to predict that Duterte will easily become the most hated Philippine president regardless of his supposed popularity. More and more are realizing how the anti-drug war has largely killed the poor even as big drug lords and protectors in the bureaucracy, police and military are untouched,” said Vencer Crisostomo, chairperson of Anakbayan National, in a Facebook post.

Anakbayan UPD Chairperson Jann Merlin noted that Oplan Tokhang does not only do nothing to solve poverty — it targets the poor alone and contributes heavily to worsen their suffering.

“Diba sabi ni Duterte kamakailan lang na hindi naman talaga mapupuksa yung kahirapan sa pagpatay sa mga mahihirap, pero bakit pa rin niya ipinagpapatuloy yung Oplan Tokhang? Bakit pa rin niya ipinagpapatuloy yung pagpatay sa mga inosenteng sibilyan imbis na ibigay sa kanila yung hanapbuhay?” said Merlin.

Not an isolated case

Although Malacañang called Delos Santos’ death an “isolated” case, data from Children’s Rights and Development Center show that he is just one of at least 31 others aged 18 and under killed in police operations and vigilante killings since Duterte’s term started.

Youngest in the list is four year-old Althea Barbon, who died from gunshot wounds after a buy-bust operation intended to capture her father Aldrick Barbon in Guhuilngan City, Negros Oriental.

Five-year-olds Danica May Garcia and Francis Mañosca, on the other hand, were both victims of vigilante killings.

Also among the list are seven-year-old San Niño Batucan, 12-year-old Kristine Joy Sailog, 16-year-old Michael Diaz, 17-year-olds Erica Fernandez and Hideyoshi Kawata, 18-year-old Joshua Cumilang, and two unidentified minors in Ampatuan, Mindanao, according to an article by Rappler.

Renz Pasigpasigan from the League of Filipino Students said that although the killings are rampant because of the War on Drugs, it is not the only form of attack by the state to look out for.

The Duterte Administration launched its counter-insurgency program “Oplan Kapayapaan” in January, replacing former President Benigno Aquino’s “Oplan Bayanihan.”

Pasigpasigan claimed that while Oplan Kapayapaan is supposedly a way to suppress terrorists, the administration is also using it to kill ordinary citizens that speak out against state violence.

“Ito ay isang malinaw na instrumento ng pamahalaan para supilin ang mga mamamayang lumalaban, ang mga magsasaka, ang mga katutubo doon sa kanayunan,” Pasigpasigan said.

One of the calls forwarded by the protesters was the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao, which caused an increase of human rights abuses in the area, according to human rights group Karapatan.

Pasigpasigan stressed the need for students to continuously stand up against injustices during these times.

“Kung sila [estado] ay may mahabang kasaysayan ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao, kailangan ang mga iskolar ng bayan ay may mahabang kasaysayan ng pakikibaka at ipagpapatuloy natin ito hanggang sa kasalukuyan,” Pasigpasigan added.

Some UPD students visited Delos Santos’ wake today before proceeding to the People Power Monument for the “Himagsikan Justice For Kian” rally.

Two more protests are set to be staged in UPD this week: one on Aug. 22 as a response to state violence, and a unity march on Aug. 23 against state fascism, and for just and lasting peace. The protests will be held at the Malcolm Hall steps and Palma Hall step respectively.

Lumad communities displaced after bomber threat

By Beatriz Zamora


Nine Lumad communities were forced to flee from their homes in Lianga, Surigao del Sur after the threat of a surveying bomber plane atop mountain communities in the area, Wednesday night.


At least 2,000 individuals were displaced, 633 of which were Lumad students affected with the suspension of classes in the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV).


Military operations have been underway in Lianga since Monday. Checkpoints have also been established in the area since the President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law last May 23.


With this policy, residents and visitors are required to prove their identity to the authorities.


Along with 17 other communities, the nine displaced groups have also been forced to evacuate last 2015 after paramilitary men killed Lumad leader Dionel Campos and ALCADEV executive director Emerito Samarca.


The Lumad evacuees are currently at the Simowao Tribal Community School, nine kilometers from the national highway in Surigao del Sur.