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Solons condemn slay of Lumad school leader, wounding of tribe chief

Thursday, 14 July 2016 | Written by

ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro condemned the assassination yesterday of a Lumad school leader and wounding of a tribal chief. They call on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to immediately investigate the attack and hold the perpetrators accountable.

Per reports of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, motorcycle-riding gunmen killed Hermie Alegre and critically wounded Danny Diarog in Sitio Kahusayan, Davao City at around 2 p.m. Friday. They were on their way home from a meeting with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Alegre was an officer of the Parents-Teachers Association of the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land) Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in the sitio while Diarog is the chieftain of the Bagobo tribe there.

“This attack is as despicable as it is cowardly, ” said Tinio. “Through underhanded ways, these perpetrators kill and maim Lumad leaders like Alegre and Diarog who stand with their people in their struggle for land and self-determination. By attacking their leaders, they aim to incapacitate our Lumad brothers and sisters who only want to serve their communities and live according to their own ways, with their ancestral land and resources.”

Castro stressed the welfare of the children, saying that schools like those of the Salugpungan are put up and maintained by indigenous communities

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themselves to fill in the lack of public schools in their areas. “Attacks such as this threaten the right of Lumad children to education and a peaceful life. Lumad school and community leaders being targeted by the military, paramilitaries, and private armies mean that indigenous learning and the Lumad way of life is also under attack.”

Tinio and Castro cited similar threats such as the public maligning and the recent issuance of a warrant of arrest by a Davao court against the “Haran 15,” who are pinned for assisting in 2014 hundreds of Lumad evacuees, including teachers and students of Salugpungan and other mission schools, fleeing from the military encamped in their communities.

“We urge President Duterte to immediately address these latest attacks against the Lumad.”

Students slam China’s refusal to recognize PCA ruling on WPS

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 | Written by

Patriotic students under the League of Filipino Students (LFS) slammed China’s statement rejecting the Permanent Court Arbitration (PCA) ruling on the West Philippine Sea.

On Tuesday, the PCA awarded a landmark victory for the Philippines in the case if filed against China. The tribunal ruled that that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’.

But China issued a statement on Tuesday night insisting that the ruling is “null and void and has no binding force”. The statement also stated that the Philippines, by unilaterally initiating arbitration, violated several principles of international law.

According to China’s statement, “China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards. China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards“. The Chinese government also reiterated that they will not accept any means of third party dispute settlement regarding territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes.

LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos pointed out that China’s pronouncements are like “rants of a spoiled brat justifying an unacceptable act”.

“It utterly despicable that even after the Tribunal’s ruling, China has kept its arrogant and baseless claims. If we are to talk about null and void, it will be their claims and not ours,” said Rosos.

“It is appalling that China speaks of upholding international conduct and respecting sovereignty when they were the ones who were aggressively and exclusively using the territories of other countries. China has also unacceptably installed military bases and vessels in the disputed waters to harass our people – the one who holds the indisputable rights to those territories,” Rosos added.

Rosos told China that their historical claims were invalid. According to him, China has never effectively enforced such claims between 1947 and 1994 when UNCLOS took effect and even after.

“If China is saying that they will continue to abide by international law governing international relations including the principles of respecting state sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful settlement of disputes, then the Chinese government needs to recognize and uphold the Tribunal’s ruling. China should know that they were informed of the arbitration case and the hearing has undergone due process. China should respect the decision,” Rosos said.

“We can only have bilateral talks and agreement with China if they can recognize the Tribunal’s ruling. By recognition, we mean that China needs to cease all activities in Philippine waters and back off our territories. If China can uphold this, then we can start talking,” Rosos added.

Rosos also asked the Duterte administration to uphold the ruling to peaceful and diplomatic means without relying on other foreign power like the United States of America (US). The youth leader noted that the youth will be vigilant in the actions of the administration and will not favour heightened US intervention.

“The people’s collective action will continue so long as there will be threats to our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have a long and proud history of fighting for freedom and we will continue to pursue this struggle against any foreign incursions – China at US, layas!” Rosos ended.

Hopes high as nation awaits UN arbitral tribunal’s verdict on sea dispute

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 | Written by

“We await with high hopes the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding the West Philippine Sea issue. We are confident that the international arbitral tribunal will junk China’s ludicrous claim over West Philippine Sea through its purported ‘nine-dash line’ argument.”

This is Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago’s statement mere hours before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague hands down its ruling on the Philippines’ case against China’s claims over most of the South China Sea.

China is claiming sovereignty over South China Sea’s 3.5 million square kilometers, part of which falls under Philippine territory. The Philippine government has taken the dispute to arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a case in which Beijing has repeatedly refused to participate.

“We are optimistic that the arbitral tribunal will find China’s frivolous claim as nothing but superstition. Right ahead, we call on China to respect whatever the results of the decision may be, and let the rule of law prevail over the disputed waters,” Elago said.

The lawmaker, who will join progressive organizations in a protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati City later today, also called on Beijing not to further “militarize the issue.”

“We are very much alarmed with China’s aggressive efforts to assert its claim in the disputed seas. First, there was the issue of reclamation and the construction of artificial islands. Now, it is clear that Beijing is also militarizing the area, thereby threatening stability in the South China Sea and further escalating the territorial dispute,” Elago said, referring to the build-up of Chinese armed forces in Paracel Islands, an island group just a stone’s throw away from Philippine boundaries.

“We continue to condemn in the strongest sense Beijing’s brash attempt to militarize the disputed waters. It bodes ill for the stability of the region, and may even escalate the already tense territorial dispute,” Elago explained, saying that the presence of missile launchers near the boundaries of Philippine territory is a “clear threat” to Philippine sovereignty.

“Beijing should once and for all respect international laws. We fervently pray that the arbitral tribunal’s verdict that will be released later today will pave the way to peace, and not escalate the already tense situation in the West Philippine Sea,” Elago stressed.

Students to China: Pull out from PH waters

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 | Written by

On the day when the International Arbitral Tribunal was expected to release a ruling on the territorial disputes with China, students led by the League of Filipino Students (LFS) marched to the Chinese Consulate to assert sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea. Carrying placards with “Atin ang Pinas, China Layas!” and “Hands Off PH” slogans, LFS joined the other groups under Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in the protest Tuesday morning.

“On this historic day, we resolutely assert our freedom and sovereignty. The Filipino youth is united with the Filipino people in standing against China’s territorial claims coupled with acts of piracy and aggression. China should back off our territories,” said LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos.

“The series of escalating incursions and violations committed by the Chinese government shows their desperation as their claims of inherent sovereignty and 9-dash line were baseless. Their aggression shows that they are becoming desperate since their territorial claims cannot be defended by any historical records or reasonable argument,” Rosos added.

Rosos stressed that China do not have any right to take over any island or any part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf. The youth leader reminded the Chinese government that all of their historical rights have been distinguished already by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) because China has never effectively enforced its claim between 1947 and 1994 when UNCLOS took effect and even after.

“Immediately, China should stop their military and other activities in the West Philippine Sea. Their reclamations should not be allowed to continue. Also, China should pull out, keep off our waters, and respect our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Rosos.

Rosos also lambast China for declaring that they have no intention of recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Arbitral Tribunal. According to the youth leader, this arrogance is another testament of their baseless claims.

LFS slammed DFA chief

Rosos chided Depaertment of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay Jr. in contravening the Philippine’s claims on the islands and islets on the West Philippine Sea.

On Sunday, Yasay said that “Dapat lamang malaman ng ating taumbayan na ang isinumite na kaso na dedesisyunan ng arbitral tribunal ay tungkol lamang sa Unclos [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea]… ano ang extent ng ating exclusive economic zone. Hindi ito na kung manalo tayo ay ibig sabihin ay paalisin natin ang kung sinuman ang nandiyan sa area na iyan. We do not have that authority dahil international waters ito.”

“This is unacceptable. It is a treacherous remark. If these we consider these islands and islets as ours, then it is our right to have these areas for our economic needs. If we allow China to remain freely, then our fishermen cannot compete. We should be able to protect our capacity to fish in these waters,” said Rosos.

Rosos also explained that it is natural for the Philippines to protect its area from foreign countries who takes away our natural resources as they please. The youth leader added that it violates our national patrimony. He added that the fight for sovereignty would have been for nothing if we simply allow Chinese vessels to stay in West Philippine Sea.

“Secretary Yasay should be the first to uphold our rights over the sea. This means that the government should be able to guarantee that we will not be limited in our own territories because of the presence of foreign vessels,” said Rosos.

“Our claims in the West PH Sea our not simply claims. These territory and waters hold an integral part in our economy. The government should ensure that we are able to gain the wide array of resources in these waters by ensuring that there are no foreign power that stays in our territories which exploit these resources for themselves,” Rosos added.

Continuing fight for sovereignty

Rosos pledged that whatever the decision of the International Arbitral Tribunal, the youth will always be standing for sovereignty and territorial integrity. He noted that more protests will be launched if China or other foreign countries like US continue to violate our sovereign rights.

“The Filipino people have a rich history of fighting foreign occupation in our lands. We will not bow down to any display of arrogance by foreign entities. We cannot allow China to trample our territorial integrity and national sovereignty. So long as they continue their acts of piracy and aggression, the Filipino people will continue to fight,” Rosos ended.

NOT ON OUR WATCH: Neophyte lawmaker vows to draw first blood on pork

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 | Written by

Rep. Elago: P3.35-T national budget for 2017 will ‘go through the eye of a needle’

First-termer Rep. Sarah Elago of Kabataan Partylist vowed to “fight the big fight” against all forms of pork barrel, whether congressional or executive, just as reports of an P80-million pork allotment per legislator in the 17th Congress come to light.

“Not only will we refuse to dip our hands in any form of pork, this representation also vows to be the first one to draw blood on the reemergence of the pork barrel system,” Elago said.

The lady solon said that she and her team are prepared to thoroughly study the upcoming P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017 while at the same time keep watch on the disbursement of the 2016 budget.

“We’ll keep a close watch on all forms of pork. Strong oversight functions are needed if we want this system of institutional corruption to truly stop,” Elago said.

The lady solon said that “pork barrel” is not only about the so-called post-enactment identification of projects. “We can classify as pork every item in the budget that is vulnerable to corruption and political maneuvering, and funds of which the manner of allocation and disbursement are left to the sole discretion of particular officials the departments they lead, thereby leading to the funding of programs and projects that favor select allies,” Elago explained.

Elago said that she should not be taken lightly by veteran lawmakers when it comes to analyzing the national budget and exposing pork.

“I may be a freshly-minted legislator, but the team behind me is the same team who analyzed millions and millions of cells of data each budget cycle to look for questionable allocations. The same team that previously exposed the Disbursement Acceleration Program in its totality. The same team that grill heads of agencies on the House floor for agonizing hours every budget season. So the Executive Department better prepare,” she quipped.

Rep. Elago meanwhile also called on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the “pork tradition” and draw up a “pork-less” national budget for 2017.

“President Duterte, institutionalized corruption through the pork barrel system is a monster that we should slay for good. Excising pork and corruption within the bureaucracy is part and parcel of the genuine change our people demand and deserve,” Elago said.

Pagpapasara ng Fabella, pagkitil ng buhay

Thursday, 7 July 2016 | Written by

Sa pamamagitan ng sama-samang pagkilos ng mga manggagawang pangkalusugan at ng mga sumusuportang mamamayan, pansamantalang naudlot ang napipintong pagpapasara sa Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital noong Hunyo 9.

Tagumpay ito ng tuloy-tuloy na pagbabarikada at protesta sa harapan ng ospital sa kalye ng Lope De Vega. Ngunit ayon sa Save Fabella Hospital Movement (SFHM), tuloy pa rin ang laban lalo’t kinumpirma na ng mismong direktor ng Fabella na si Dr. Esmeraldo Ilem na tuloy na tuloy pa rin at pinal na ang planong ilipat ang Fabella.

Ayon kay Dr. Darby Santiago, tagapangulo ng Health Alliance for Democracy, “Pinalalabas ng Department of Health (DOH) na ang pamunuan at mga empleyado ng Fabella ang may desisyon sa paglipat na ito. Pero malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw na pinabayaang mabulok ang ospital sa nakalipas na mga taon. Kung meron mang pondo para sa Capital Outlay, hindi ito inilalaan para sa pagpapabuti pa ng kalagayan ng Fabella.”

“Sinadyang unahin ng DOH ang paglusaw dito kaysa sa on-site development dahil ang lupang kinatitirikan ng Fabella ay may mataas na halaga sa real estate, mas malaki ang kikitain ng mga pribadong interes,” dagdag pa ni Santiago.

Ayon din sa SFHM, kasalukuyan nang binawasan ang mga tinatanggap na pasyente sa Fabella. Ang ibang pasyente ay hinihimok naman ng DOH na lumipat sa pansamantala sa Lung Center of the Philippines sa Lungsod ng Quezon pero hanggang 50 kama lang naman ang kapasidad nito.

“Isang matinding krimen ang pagpapasara sa Fabella, na tiyak na magkakait ng kinakailangang serbisyong pangkalusugan ng mga nanay at kanilang mga sanggol. Libu-libong mga nanay at mga sanggol ang mawawalan ng matatakbuhan sa oras ng pangangailangan, “ ani Santiago.

Ang Fabella, na tinaguriang “Paanakan ng Bayan” ay nagluluwal ng 100 sanggol kada araw. Ang iba pa nitong serbisyo, gaya ng out-patient department para sa mga bata ay tumatanggap naman ng 150 batang pasyente kada araw. Nagbibigay-serbisyo din ito sa umaabot sa 200 buntis kada araw para sa pagpapacheck-up.

Kumpara sa P1,000 hanggang P60,000 singil sa serbisyo sa panganganak sa mga lying-in clinic at mga pribadong ospital, wala minsang sinisingil ang Fabella lalo na sa mga mahihirap na pasyente, ayon kay Fe Trinilla, isang nars na 30 taon nang nagtatrabaho sa Fabella.

Mga makabayan sa gabinete ni Duterte

Wednesday, 6 July 2016 | Written by

Magandang balita ang pagtatalaga sa mga progresibo at makabayan sa gabinete ng bagong administrasyon upang maging boses ng masa sa nagbibingi-bingihang gobyerno.

Sa gitna pa lang ng kanyang kampanya sa pagkapangulo, binanggit na ni Rodrigo Duterte na siya raw di umano’y makakaliwa, dahil minsan siyang naging miyembro ng Kabataang Makabayan at may malalapit na koneksiyon sa New People’s Army sa Davao. Ilang beses din niyang sinabi ang balak niyang magsimula ng usaping pangkapayapaan sa Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas.

Matapos mahalal ni Duterte bilang pangulo ng bansa, inalok na niya ang apat na mahahalagang posisyon sa kanyang gabinete para sa Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NDF)—ang Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), at Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Nagmungkahi ang CPP ng mga ligal na personaheng sa tingin nila ay nararapat para sa mga nabanggit na posisyon. Sa huli, iginawad sa kaliwa ang pamumuno sa DSWD at DAR. Hinirang sina Prof. Judy Taguiwalo bilang kalihim ng DSWD, at dating Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano bilang kalihim naman ng DAR. Ibinigay din ang posisyong undersecretary ng DOLE kay dating Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod.

Ang pagtatalaga ng mga makabayan bilang mga tagapamuno ng mga kagawaran–na magiging kahalili ng pangulo sa pagpapatupad ng kanyang mga programa–ay para magkaroon ng balanse sa gabinete, ayon kay Duterte.

Pondong panlipunan
Bago pa man naging propesor at direktor ng Department of Women and Development Studies ng College of Social Work and Community Development ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas-Diliman, aktibista na si Prop. Taguiwalo mula pa noong siya ay mag-aaral pa lang sa UP. Isa siya sa mga nakasama sa First Quarter Storm, at dalawang beses pang nakulong noong panahon ng Martial Law. Ang huli niyang tungkulin, bago siya italagang kalihim ng DSWD, ay bilang tagapangulo ng IBON Foundation, Inc. na nangunguna sa pananaliksik ng mga panlipunan, pulitikal, at ekonomikong aspekto ng buhay sa Pilipinas. Kasapi rin si Taguiwalo sa iba pang mga non-government organization na may kinalaman sa edukasyon at mga manggagawa.

Sinusuportahan ni Taguiwalo ang kampanya ng administrasyong Duterte laban sa korupsyon, at pagtanggal sa pork barrel at Disbursement Allocation Fund o DAP ng neoliberal na rehimeng Aquino, na balak niyang ilaan na lamang sa serbisyong panlipunan, edukasyon, kalusugan, at sahod ng mga manggagawa. Pagtutuunang-pansin ng kanyang programa ang pagbibigay-tulong sa mga nasalanta ng El Niño at kontraktwalisasyon ng mga manggagawa, lalo na sa mga nasa ilalim ng DSWD.

Nais din niyang pag-aralan ang mga naitulong at naging problema sa Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program o 4P’s, upang gawin itong programang siyang susugpo sa kahirapan sa bansa na magbibigay ng permanenteng lupa, trabaho, at iba pa–taliwas sa kasalukuyang pagbibigay lamang ng pansamantalang tulong sa iilang sektor ng lipunan.

Lupa para sa magsasaka
Isang anak ng mga magsasaka, bata pa lang si Rafael Mariano, o mas kilala sa tawag na “Ka Paeng,” ay natuto na siyangng tumulong sa kanyang mga magulang sa bukid sa Nueva Ecija tuwing walang pasok sa eskuwelahan.

Hindi man niya natapos ang kursong Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Agri-cooperatives sa Cabanatuan, malawak naman ang karanasan ni Ka Paeng sa paglaban para sa karapatan ng mga magsasaka, na nagsimula noong inilikas ang kanilang buong baryo matapos gawing irrigation canal ang kanilang lugar. Mula noon, lumahok na si Ka Paeng sa mga organisasyong nananawagan para sa kapakanan ng mga magsasaka, hanggang sa maitatag ang Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), kung saan nagsilbi si Ka Paeng bilang una nitong pambansang kalihim noong 1985. At mula 1993 hanggang sa bago ideklarang kalihim ng DAR ngayong taon, si Ka Paeng ay tumayong Pambansang Tagapangulo ng KMP. Nahalal din siya bilang kinatawan ng Partidong Anakpawis sa Kongreso noong 2004.

Nais patatagin at protektahan ni Ka Paeng bilang kalihim ng DAR ang posisyon ng mga magsasaka sa kanilang lupang sinasaka habang iniimbentaryo ang mga lupang umano’y naipamahagi na ng gobyerno. Nais din niyang tiyaking maigagawad ang iba pang lupang hindi pa naibibigay sa mga karampatang benepisyaryo at hindi mapapaalis ang magsasaka sa kanilang lupang sinasaka.

Sa kabila nito, ipagpapatuloy niya pa rin ang panawagan para isabatas ang tunay na reporma sa lupa upang mawala ang monopolyo at alisin ang mga butas sa batas na pumipigil sa tunay na repormang agraryo, lalo na’t marami pa ring malalaking hacienda sa bansa.

Lider-manggagawa
Si Joel Maglunsod naman ay isa ring kinatawan ng Anakpawis noong 2009, na ngayo’y magsisilbing undersecretary ng DOLE. Bago siya italaga sa DOLE, nagsilbi siyang pangalawang tagapangulo ng Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) sa Mindanao. Tulad ni Prof. Taguiwalo, kabilang din sa mga bilanggong pulitikal si Maglunsod noong panahon ng Martial Law. Layunin naman ni Maglunsod na suportahan ang pagpasa ng Regular Employment Bill na magbabawal sa kontrakwalisasyon ng mga manggagawa. Inaasahang mapagtitibay ni Maglunsod ang laban sa kontra-manggagawa at neoliberal na mga programa at patakarang ipinatupad ng administrasyon ni Noynoy Aquino.

Sa kabila ng tinangkang paglihis ni Duterte sa reaksyonaryo at kapitalistang gabinete ng mga nagdaang pangulo, mayroon pa rin siyang mga kontrobersyal na itinalaga bilang kanyang katuwang tulad nina Salvador Panelo bilang chief legal counsel, na naging abogado ng pamilya Ampatuan sa kinasangkutan nilang masaker ng mga mamamahayag; Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, na may-ari ng isang malaking pribadong kumpanya sa pabahay, para sa Department of Public Works and Highways; at Hermogenes Esperon bilang hepe ng Armed Forces of the Philippines, na dating nasangkot sa malawakang pandaraya sa eleksyon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo noong 2004.

Samantala, itinalaga naman si Gina Lopez, pinuno ng ABS-CBN Foundation, bilang kalihim ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) na noong una’y kabilang sa mga inalok sa kaliwa. Matatandaang iminungkahi ng NDF si Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate III para sa nasabing posisyon. Samantala, napabalitang ibibigay din ni Duterte sa kaliwa ang National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Rep. Elago: President Duterte wants to work with youth to institute free education at all levels New president open to imposing tuition hike freeze, K-12 review

Thursday, 30 June 2016 | Written by

President Rodrigo Duterte is very much willing to institute free public education at all levels, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago reported Friday.

In the brief meeting in Malacañang with progressive leaders from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and other people’s organizations shortly after the inauguration of the new president yesterday, Elago was able to brief the president on the most pressing issues faced by the youth sector, including the spiraling cost of tuition and other school fees and the burdens posed by the K-12 program.

Elago also told the new president that the youth sector is clamoring for free public education at all levels, and asked Duterte to face the youth in a town hall forum early July to allow youth leaders to expound on the demands of the youth and the people to the new administration.

“Tulungan tayo,” President Duterte said with regard to the push for free public education at all levels, explaining that he will support any initiative by Kabataan Partylist in the House of Representatives to legislate free public education.

“The president also recognized that education in the country is vastly unaffordable, and said that he will study the possibility of imposing a tuition hike moratorium in the immediate future,” Elago said.

“As regards K-12, President Duterte said that his administration will review the implementation of the program, duly noting the youth’s opposition to the said program,” the youth solon added.

“All in all, our very first meeting with President Duterte fills us with hope. He is open to criticism and acknowledges the demands raised by various marginalized sectors. He knows and recognizes that there are systemic problems that need to be addressed. We look forward to working with the

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president towards bringing genuine change in our education system and uplifting the life and welfare of youth and students,” Elago said.

As a welcome gift, Elago presented to Duterte a painting by graphic artist Ivan Reverente which depicted the student movement and is emblazoned with the words “Education is a right. Fight for it.”

“Sabi natin kay President, isabit niya sa opisina niya para maalala niya lahat ng panawagan ng kabataan. Sabi niya, oo ba,” Elago recounted.

On Duterte’s inauguration: Youth groups call for Aquino’s prosecution, scrapping of K-12 program

Thursday, 30 June 2016 | Written by

Youth groups marched to Mendiola on June 30 – the day of inauguration of the new President Rodrigo Duterte – to press for the youth and people’s agenda that they ask the new administration to address in its first 100 days in office.

Bearing the calls “Yes to Free Public Education,” “Yes to the resumption of peace talks,” and “Jail Aquino,” youth groups joined other progressive organizations in welcoming the new president in a program held outside the Palace’s gates.

“On behalf of the Filipino youth and the national youth organizations of the Philippines under the banner of Kabataan Partylist, we extend our warmest congratulations to President Rodrigo Duterte as he begins his term,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.

“We welcome the Duterte administration with high hopes and high expectations. We are looking forward to a responsive administration, a government that is ready to listen to the calls of the youth, a government that will break away from the past administration’s game of nonchalance and deafening silence on issues that gravely affect our sector,” she added.

The youth groups called on the Duterte administration to press charges against outgoing President Benigno S. Aquino III and several past officials for their pivotal role in the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program and the botched Mamasapano operation, among others.

“In the same vein, we invite the new president to hear the call of the youth to fight for genuine change in our education system,” Elago added, saying that youth groups have already formally asked for a dialogue with Duterte to discuss K-12 and tuition hikes.

“We wish to talk to you in person and explain why we are vehemently opposed to K-12 and why we view it as an additional burden to students and their families,” Elago said.

“The Filipino youth is ready and willing to help the Duterte administration towards ushering a new era of peace, unity, and development for the youth and the people. As you begin your term in office, may you remember that in this great game called governance, the interest of the Filipino people should always be top priority,” Elago ended.

Solon reveals layoffs and contractualization of college profs due to K to 12

Wednesday, 29 June 2016 | Written by

Citing testimonies of faculty in public and private colleges and senior high school teachers, ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio revealed that, far from being the “best school opening ever,” the start of School Year 2016-2017 highlighted the fact that the K to 12 Program of the Aquino administration resulted in mass termination and displacement, diminution of salaries and benefits, and widespread contractualization of teachers and other school employees.

Tinio said that, at a recent consultation with his office, representatives of public and private colleges and universities confirmed the mass removal of faculty, contractualization, and government’s failure to deliver its promised assistance to affected employees.

Faculty of Miriam College reported that 21 tenured professors in General Education were forced to resign under its Early Separation Program, touted by the school as “voluntary.” It is now implementing a Mandatory Separation Program for its GE instructors and professors. Meanwhile, the University of Santo Tomas laid off a number of its part-time and fixed-term faculty, allegedly due to “end of contract,” then told them to reapply in its SHS program. The school also still hired new faculty for college, belying the school’s claim of lack of enrollment and confirming the teachers’ view that the school removed them only to prevent them from getting tenured and to cut on labor costs. The UST faculty fear more layoffs in the coming two to three years.

Tinio also revealed that the dismissed faculty cannot avail of the scholarship or livelihood assistance under the Augmented Measures Program from DOLE, belying the recent statement of outgoing Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz who claimed that DOLE will help teachers displaced by K to 12. The faculty that Tinio consulted said that DOLE requires proof that the teachers were dismissed by reason of K to 12, a fact not admitted by school administrations which issue certifications stating “end of contract” as ground for dismissal. As result, DOLE has yet to sufficiently protect the estimated 23,000 K to 12 affected employees. Per Baldoz, DOLE has already given scholarship grants to a little more than 4,000 teachers.

Tinio added that faculty and teachers are now experiencing drastically reduced pay, with DepEd hiring some of the dismissed teachers as Teacher I, a position paid only P19,077 a month. Some of them were previously earning monthly salaries of around P40,000, and/or have masteral or doctoral degrees with long years of service. This is contrary to what Secretary Armin Luistro promised during public congressional hearings—that these displaced teachers will be hired as Master Teachers (minimum of P33,452).

Private SHSs, on the other hand, are reported to hire most, if not all, of SHS teachers as low-paid contractuals. For instance, all teachers of CEU Integrated School were made to sign one-page contracts stating that they will only be hired for three years, as contractual and non-tenured. The contracts can be terminated at the end of the three years, or earlier if the teacher is rated lower than Very Satisfactory.

“K to 12 brought into our schools the practice of ‘endo’ used by employers like factories or malls, which hire laborers for fixed short terms such as six months, with little or no benefits, then repeatedly rehired to cut on labor costs,” Tinio lamented. “With these reports coming directly from our affected faculty, we have seen that K to 12 is an assault on job security, the right to decent salary and benefits, and other rights of labor. This is ironic because while Duterte vowed to put an end to contractualization, it is now becoming widespread in the education sector.”

Tinio said that his group and the affected faculty will be seeking dialogues with the incoming secretaries of education, labor, and higher education in the coming days to demand them to address these issues. They will also be pursuing measures against the Aquino government to exact accountability for its failure to deliver its promises to the K to 12-affected employees.

Tinio also urged the incoming Duterte administration to review the implementation of Aquino’s K to 12 by going down to the field and surveying the actual conditions in public and private senior high schools. “We invite President-elect Duterte and his appointed secretaries to sit down with the affected stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and students who can attest to the disaster that is K to 12.”

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