Press freedom advocates slam media repression under Duterte admin

Photo by Reiven Pascasio

Text by Jane Bautista

Amid attacks against the press, media practitioners and students gathered at a forum in the College of Mass Communication, UP Diliman to decry state repression on freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Organized by the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), “Pressed Freedom” is the first in a series of fora to be launched at different universities and colleges that aims to discuss the current state of media democracy under the Duterte administration.

The Philippine media saw itself under the spotlight when the first month of the year began.

On Jan. 15, the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered to revoke the registration of Rappler due to its alleged violation on Foreign Equity Restriction. Three days after, 30 radio stations in Mindanao were threatened to be shut down by the National Telecommunications Commission due to technical violations.

“Media does not exist in a vacuum. Neither do attacks in the media,” said Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) convenor Inday Espina Varona.

Varona recapped the specific events when the government tried to challenge the free press and emphasized that just like former President Marcos, Duterte’s assault on media has to do with consolidation of powers and his vision of dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Voltaire Tupaz, spokesperson of Rappler’s Citizen Journalism Arm, called for young journalists to unite to defend the freedom of the press.

“Maging part kayo, ‘wag maging absent sa makasaysayang labang ito dahil dito kayo matututo ng marami beyond the four walls of your classroom,” Tupaz said.

Campus publication crisis

During the forum, the issue on the crisis of Philippine Collegian, the official campus publication of UP Diliman, was brought up by Bulatlat writer Ronalyn Olea.

Jose Mari Callueng, National President of CEGP, explained that the publication is at the brink of being defunded because its current budget was just a carry over from the funds in the previous years.

Since the implementation of the Free Tuition Policy program, the administration considered the Philippine Collegian and University Student Council fees as part of the ‘other school fees.’ Callueng further said that there are offers to subsidize the funds.  

However, Sonny Boy Afable, editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian, said that the publication is against this proposal.

According to Afable, the student fees must still be collected from the students.

“Kaya tinawag na student publications, student council, dahil nagmumula ang fiscal autonomy mula sa mga estudyante. We fear na kapag sinubsidize pa ng government, mas magiging tight sila sa budget,” he said.

When asked if there had been dialogues between them and the UP administration, Afable said that they have been requesting for it as early as August last year.

Olea lauded the stand of the Philippine Collegian and said that these student publications and student councils are products of students movements, hence they embody the complete expression of freedom inside the university.

After the forum, students led by UP College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMCSC) Chairperson Mikko Ringia proceeded to a protest calling for unity in defending press freedom.

This was not the first time that CMC students staged a rally to condemn media suppressions. Last Jan. 18, a candle-lighting protest was held in front of Plaridel Hall to denounce the threats and attacks against press freedom.

Youth slam Duterte admin on 48th anniversary of First Quarter Storm

Photo by Migui Sunga
Text by Kristel Limpot

48 years after the historic First Quarter Storm that saw the youth rise against the repressive policies of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime, protesters gathered on Friday to condemn the similar series of attacks against the people now launched by the Duterte administration.

“Ang mga issue noon ay gano’n parin hanggang ngayon,” said writer-director and former  student activist Boni Ilagan in a protest held at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Ilagan also called the administration’s spate of extrajudicial killings, anti-people policies, and attempts to silence critical voices reminiscent of the Martial Law era.

In a 29-page decision released last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ordered the revocation of news organization Rappler’s license to operate, accusing them of violating the Constitution by allegedly allowing foreign control over its corporate affairs.

Rappler, however, has been firm in saying they are wholly Filipino-owned and that their foreign investors have no say on the company’s operations.

Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), an artists and media alliance dedicated to upholding freedom of expression, denounced this decision, tagging it as “politically-motivated” and a clear attack on press freedom.

“We cannot look at SEC’s decision outside of the political events. This is an attack, since the President and his supporters have long been lambasting and harrassing Rappler for being critical of the administration,” said blogger and newspaper columnist Tonyo Cruz.

Besides Rappler, other media organizations are also experiencing looming threats on their right to report freely.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself has frequently threatened media entities and has called journalists “bastos” for writing pieces critical of his administration.

He has previously decried the Philippine Daily Inquirer after it has published the infamous Pieta-like front page photo of a war on drugs victim, as well as a series of articles on the administration’s bloody crackdown on narcotics.

Months later, the Inquirer was sold to businessman Ramon Ang, a close friend of the President.

Earlier this week, online news site VERA Files also went down after they released a story regarding the Duterte family’s failure to disclose their investments.

Tinig ng Plaridel itself has not been spared from threats made by Facebook trolls after publishing articles and photos on protests against Duterte.

Progressive student organizations also rallied against the newly-implemented Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which leaves poor families at an even greater disadvantage as they are forced to endure the resulting price hike in basic commodities.

The law is said to benefit the Filipinos as it exempts from income tax those with an annual income of P250,000 or less.

However, according to IBON Foundation, as much as 15.2 million families will not be getting these tax exemptions, since most of them are minimum wage earners or are otherwise working in informal work with low incomes.

UP professor Danilo Arao urged the students to keep the vigorous spirit of youth activism present during the Marcos regime alive and to safeguard our nation’s democratic rights.

Magkaisa tayo sapagkat tayo ay armado ng pinakamatalas na antas na pagsusuri hinggil sa nangyayari sa ating lipunan,” said Arao.

Students, journalists to Duterte admin: We are not afraid

Photo by Red Carao

Text by Kim Muaña and Jeuel Barroso

Standing for press freedom, students and media practitioners rallied against the Duterte administration’s attacks on the media in a series of protests last week.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), a nationwide alliance of tertiary-level student publications, led the protest at the Mendiola Peace Arch last Wednesday after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suspended Rappler’s license to operate.

In a decision dated Jan. 11, the SEC said Rappler violated laws on restrictions of foreign funding to Philippine mass media as they “sold control to foreigners” and did a “deceptive scheme to circumvent the constitution.”

Aside from Rappler’s imminent shutdown, the National Telecommunications Commission is also planning to close around 30 radio stations in Davao for violating broadcasting laws and not having necessary permits.

Burning a photograph of President Rodrigo Duterte, the media students publicly condemned the administration’s activities that constrain news agencies from exercising press freedom.

“Nagkakaisa at hindi natatakot ang mga mamamahayag pang-campus, ang mga pahayagan, na bagamat maliit, ay may tinig pa rin,” CEGP national president Jose Mari Callueng said.

“Ito ang panahon para magkaisa… para lakasan pa ang ating tinig, para lakasan pa ang ating panawagan na ipagtanggol ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag,” Callueng added.  

The SEC decision covered both Rappler, Inc. and Rappler Holdings Corporation.

The agency claimed that Omidyar Network, an investment firm owned by the founder of  online auction firm eBay, has control over Rappler by being one of their investors.

They argued that Rappler violates laws on Foreign Equity Restrictions in Mass Media.

“If not for returns, for what purpose then is the investment? Control,” the decision said.

However, last Wednesday, Callueng said that SEC’s decision is an “attack” above anything else. While they accuse Rappler of being owned by a foreign company, the government is already leaning towards opening the country more to foreign businesses.

“Sobrang ironic kasi ang naging standard nila para ipasara ‘yung Rappler ay yung constitutionality on ownership samantalang ung sinusulong sa Kamara ngayon na federal constitution ay siyang nagsasaad ng full foreign ownerhsip ng mga media entities.”

Relaxing restrictions on foreign ownership of local business is one of considered changes in the federal constitution, proponents from House of Representatives said last year.

Meanwhile, UP student journalists then joined in protest with campus publications from Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) and other universities at Ateneo Gate 2 on Friday. It was organized by the Confederation of Student Publications, including The GUIDON, Matanglawin Ateneo and Heights Ateneo.

The GUIDON editor-in-chief Robbin Dagle said that campus publications won’t stop fighting for democracy, freedom and every Filipino as they claimed that the issue with Rappler is similar to what campus publications currently face.

“Hindi ho ito isolated case eh, ‘yung sa Rappler,” Callueng said, “Nakita natin sa ngayon na kung gaanong iniikutan maski ‘yung legal system natin para i-legitimize ‘yung pag shutdown, pagsupress sa media.

“Maging naman ‘yung sa ating mga pahayagang pang-campus at ibang independent press e ginagawa ito,” he added.

As 2017 drew to a close, Tinig ng Plaridel itself received threats from Facebook trolls after publishing stories regarding protests against Duterte..

“Ang aming kolehiyo daw ay nagsusulong ng isang midyang malaya at mapagpalaya…ngunit mismong administrasyon namen ay pilit na pinapatahimik ang kanyang mga estudyante,” UP Diliman film student Revy Marata said.

Students stand with Diliman community in fight against tax reform, jeepney phaseout

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Beatriz Zamora

With a new semester in tow, UP Diliman students and multisectoral groups urged the UP community to fight against the anti-people policies of the Duterte administration in a series of protests held yesterday.

“Nakabilin sa ating mga kabataan ang paglaban sa pamamasista ng rehimeng Duterte. Kasama natin ang mga maralita, kasama natin ang iba’t ibang sektor,” Student Regent Shari Oliquino said.

Progressive youth groups expressed their support for the UP community— vendors, jeepney drivers, and personnel— in light of the recent implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

The TRAIN Law increases take-home pay of employees, cutting off tax reductions for those whose annual income amounts to P250,000. However, the prices of basic commodities are set to inflate, particularly petroleum and sugar-based products. In addition, not everyone with income lower than P250,000 will benefit from the TRAIN law because most of them are minimum wage earners.

While not getting increased take home pay, they [the poor] will have to endure price hikes as a direct or indirect effect of higher consumption taxes,” stated think tank IBON Foundation.

The protests also condemned the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) closure order of Rappler. Inc, wherein the online news organization is accused of violating the Constitution which mandates local media to be owned by Filipinos.

UP College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMCSC) chairperson Mikko Ringia compared this with Marcos’ martial law era, wherein major news outfits were forced to shut down due to the dictatorship.

“Ang atake sa mga peryodista ay atake sa demokrasya, atake sa mga mamamayan,” Ringia said. He encouraged media practitioners to be one with the masses’ fight for democratic rights.

Union of Journalists of the Philippines – UP (UP) chairperson Mark Kevin Reginio emphasized this plea, saying that the recent turn of events are manifestations of the state’s refusal to side with its people.

Students carried over the protest to Village B and C, where they joined the local community in calling for the  junking of the tax reform law.

UP Diliman students slam ‘anti-poor’ TRAIN law

Photo by Jamme Robles

Text by Merryll Phae Red Carao

Kicking off the start of the semester, University of the Philippines-Diliman students held a protest against the Duterte administration’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Progressive student groups led by Anakbayan UP Diliman denounced the newly passed TRAIN Law and called for its junking due to its effect of raising the price of basic commodities.

The TRAIN law exempts those who earn less than P250,000 annually from income tax, which spells a bigger take home pay for minimum wage earners. According to the Department of Finance, the law is expected to help 99% of Filipino families because of the exception to personal income tax.

This is coupled with an increase in excise tax, or taxes on products that use sugar, salt, oil, and coal. This paves the way for even the most basic commodities to inflate. The cost of transportation is also expected to increase given the oil price hikes that will follow the passing of the TRAIN law.

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that higher excise taxes should not be feared because it will be ‘minimal and temporary’ only.

According to think tank IBON Foundation,, only 7.5 million FIlipinos are expected to benefit from the income tax exemption, with 15.2 million Filipinos expected to bear the burden of the increase in excise tax.

Moreover, not everyone who earn below Php 250, 000 will feel the impact of the income tax exemption, as many of those workers earn minimum wage and do not pay taxes.

“Most of the country’s total 22.7 million families do not pay income tax because they are just minimum wage earners or otherwise in informal work with low and erratic incomes,” said Sonny Africa, head of IBON Foundation.

“Even if TRAIN reduces income taxes paid by most of the reported 7.5 million personal income taxpayers, this still leaves as much as 15.2 million families without any income tax gains,” he added.

Presyuhan sa Diliman

The UP community is already experiencing the TRAIN Law in every meal; prices of sweetened drinks and student meals have gone up, especially among the ranks of the many kiosks or food stalls inside the university.

Sweetened drinks have gone up by as much as 5 pesos, and meals with processed food like hotdogs and instant noodles are expected to inflate by the same amount in the coming months.

Students denounced the Duterte administration for neglecting to consider the worsening poverty in the Philippines through the implementation of neoliberal policies that are more detrimental to the Filipino people’s situation.

Irene Hilario from the League of FIlipino Students-UP Diliman said that the TRAIN law is just one of the many anti-poor policies that the Duterte administration are subjecting his constituents to, and that from the start, Duterte was insincere about helping the Filipino people.

“Kung titignan natin, sino nga ba ang makikinabang sa mga neoliberal na polisiyang ito? Malinaw na ang mga dayuhang kumpanya lamang,” Hilario said.

He added that the ‘anti-poor’ projects and programs of the Duterte administration are in no way for the development of the country, but instead a profiteering scheme of foreign companies.

According to Anakbayan UP Diliman, the collected taxes from the increase in excise tax will not reach the Filipino people in the way that they should. The money will go into foreign debt servicing and into Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program, which is expected to see a rise in infrastructures such as malls and, but not of basic social services such as affordable medical facilities or housing.

However, this is just the first step of four of the Duterte administration’s tax reform program. Packages 2-4 are expected to be implemented in the next years.

Free education from TRAIN?

Students are also hard pressed to avail of the free tuition inside State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) such as UP because of the lack of budget. UP has started prompting their students to opt out of free matriculation to receive, for example, allowance or stipend from the school.

Last year, Duterte said that the budget for free education will come from the tax collected under the TRAIN law. This statement was decried by progressive groups, saying that the government pits the interest of students for free education against the interest of poor Filipinos to afford basic commodities.

Part of the money collected from excise tax will also go to Duterte’s Martial Law and Oplan Tokhang, which continue to claim lives in the streets and to deal human rights violations against the Filipino people, according to Kate Raca of Alay Sining.

‘Ganito ang itsura ng rehimeng US-Duterte. Gigipitin niya ang nga mamamayan para tumaba ang kanyang bulsa sa pagpatay,” she said.

According to the student groups, they are planning bigger protests against the TRAIN law, and the impending jeepney phaseout in the coming weeks to show the administration that with every fascist and neoliberal attack, their fight grows stronger.

‘Dapat malinaw sa atin na habang tumataas ang mga bilihin ay tumataas ang militansya ng mga kabataan laban sa pasistang rehimeng ito,’ said Raca.

 

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).