On October 19, more than a thousand protesters, mainly from indigenous and Moro groups under the Sandugo Alliance, and supported by BAYAN, staged a protest in front of the US Embassy. They were able to reach the front gates of the embassy and proceeded with their program. The peaceful program was disrupted by the police […]
“Pwede ba tayong patalo sa mga yan? Anong mukhang ihaharap natin sa embassy? Kaya i-disperse mo ‘yan”
This was the verbatim quote of the ‘ground commander’ of the Phil. National Police during their violent dispersal of an indigenous peoples-led protest in front of the U.S Embassy yesterday.
While the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, has been making anti-U.S statements and has been leaning towards an independent foreign policy (as opposed to those of all past administrations in the Philippines), the local police have shown pro-American sympathies, or if the above quote is to be believed, even take orders directly from the U.S State Department.
Why do you need to rally at the U.S Embassy when Digong is already kicking the Americans out?
It highlights how deep U.S influence is in Philippine society, especially in ‘critical’ areas such as state security and the armed forces. Indeed, it answers the question by some on “Why do activists have to protest against U.S intervention when Duterte is already taking action?”. How can the president end U.S intervention when the sectors and institutions who are supposed to support him are actually against his policies?
It would not be surprising if there is actually a secret ‘chain of command’ between state security forces (the PNP and AFP) and the American government given how the latter has funded the training of the former, particularly its officers, as part of their supposed ‘foreign aid’ (hello Agot Isidro).
Like all things under capitalism, ‘foreign aid’ to the PNP and AFP had strings attached. And I quote:
“American assistance, according to the Agreement, would be in the form of arms, ammunitions, equipment and supplies… The most important of the assistance given by the U.S along this line consists of: 1) Military Advisory Group… The agreement ensures control over the AFP thru JUSMAG (Joint U.S Military Advisory Group) military advisors – who extend strategic staff direction, logistics, training and intelligence coordination with the AFP”.
Fine, so the Lumads are fighting for their ancestral lands. Why were they in front of the U.S Embassy though? Was it the Americans’ fault?
U.S economic interests dictated the need for a U.S military presence in the country. Around the same time our government signed the first U.S Military Assistance Agreement (1947), we also signed treaties with America ensuring that only foreigners, and a small number of Filipinos working with them, benefitted from the economy.
These included the Bell Trade Act which allowed foreigners to own our natural resources, to the disadvantage of local businesses; and the Laurel-Langley Agreement, which allowed 100% ownership of all corporations. While those agreements now belong in a Museum, newer policies have replaced them with the same effect, such as our entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Mining Act of 1995 (off the top of my head).
The results of these policies are well-known: despite the mining industry being controlled mostly by foreigners and being worth billions of pesos, mining communities have the highest poverty rates in the country; after two decades of membership in the WTO, prices of basic food stuffs have doubled or even tripled, while local farmers producing the same have gone bankrupt.
Hence, another common, though annoying, question is answered: why did the Lumads and other national minorities have to rally in front of the U.S Embassy?
Answer: because it was decades of interference by the Americans in our affairs which caused many of our social problems.
So did the U.S order the Oct. 19 violent dispersal to destabilize the Duterte administration?
Not only is the PNP and the AFP against the pro-independence and pro-Filipino agenda of the Duterte Administration (lacking in many areas as it may be), but they also constitute an active threat against it.
Historically, the U.S has overthrown many governments hostile to their own agenda. There’s Iraq which was invaded in 2003 under the pretext that it had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (hint: no group has ever found one until today), Chile whose democratically elected government was overthrown by a CIA-funded military coup (hint: official U.S documents already spell that out, no use denying it), to name a few.
We even have our own examples: Marcos zombies are fond of saying that America helped remove Ferdinand Marcos from power. Yes, it was true (but only after they got tired of supporting him for two corruption-filled and embarrassing decades).
So did the U.S Embassy order the police to run over and brutalize yesterday’s protesters in order to destabilize Duterte? There is no clear answer which will stand up in court. There is, however, the U.S track record of destabilizing, overthrowing, and even outright invading countries which do not support American interests. In those instances of U.S-supported coups and ‘revolutions’, the military and police have played important parts. There is also a long history of the PNP and AFP working with America.
Are those three things related?
That’s for you to decide.
 Simbulan, “The Bases of Our Insecurity”, p. 80 – 82
In its latest tirade against UP Diliman University Student Council Chairperson Sindayen (published in today’s issue of the Phil. Daily Inquirer in the LTTE section), a certain political minority faction in UP Diliman has claimed that there is a ‘shadow of doubt’ plaguing him due to his ‘academic delinquency’.
However, Sindayen and former Student Regent Co, as two of the most active conveners of the UP Kilos na Laban sa Budget Cut alliance, were able to convince thousands of Diliman students, faculty, and employees (as well as thousands more in other schools) to join the historic strikes last November. Who is questioning Sindayen’s (and Co’s) legitimacy? Certainly not the thousands of strikers. Certainly not the 100 youth organizations and campus institutions of Kilos Na which welcomed them (him and Co) into their fold. Certainly not the seven Diliman deans who endorsed the strike. Certainly not our new UP President Fred Pascual. Only one faction in the entire Campus did: and they keep on insisting that their handful represents the entire Diliman community.
Twice, this non-issue was dismissed by the USC General Assembly precisely because their charge against Sindayen had no basis in the USC Constitution. The minority faction is using the Student Election guidelines as their basis, forgetting that the Elections are over and that Sindayen has already been elected, thus putting him under the USC Constitution. No less than former UP College of Law Dean Raul Pangalanan has said this. It can be said that the minority faction is truly ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’.
With the law absent in their side, the minority faction is raising the specter of ‘admin intervention’ in the various affairs and campaigns of the USC. They should know: for in Diliman history, this minority faction has always served as the student arm of admin intervention against progressive campaigns and movements, such as the present anti-budget cut campaign which this faction has been conspicously absent.
When the rest of the UP Community was calling for the scrapping of the then-proposed 300% Tuition and Other Fee Increase back in 2006, this faction urged us not to call for the junking of the proposal, calling it ‘timely’. It was also the same grouplet which attempted to block the first post-TOFI University Student Council from drafting a stand against the increase in June 2007. They were also the ones who attempted to shut down the Office of the Student Regent through a referendum back in 2009. Since time immemorial, this is the same faction which was absent from the annual campus campaign calling for greater state subsidy for our University. Their token delegate in the November strikes is the first ever time since the grouplet’s founding in 2001.
When this faction insists that Sindayen’s academic standing is paving the way for administration (whether campus or national) intervention in the Council’s affairs, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yes, there is an attempt at intervention: their call for Sindayen to resign is the act of intervention itself.
Batiin natin ang 300% Tuition and Other Fee Increase (TOFI) ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas! Ika-apat na kaarawan na nito ngayong araw. Noong nakaraang Mayo nagtapos ang pinaka-huling batch na nagbabayad ng lumang matrikula ng P300 kada yunit. Sa loob ng ilang buwan, magtatapos na rin ang unang batch na nagbayad ng P1000 kada yunit. Ganitong kaaga palang, marami sa lumahok sa protesta nung ipinasa ang TOFI ang pumapasyal down Memory Lane sa Facebook.
Para sa akin, ang paglalakad sa kalahati ng Acad Oval (mula College of Law papuntang AS papuntang Quezon Hall) pagkatapos maipasa ang TOFI ay parang pinaka-mahabang lakad sa buong buhay aktibista ko dahil sa bigat ng aming pakiramdam. Marami sa amin ang nag-iwan ng trail of tears sa martsa. Marami rin ang gustong magwala at mangwasak ng kahit anong bagay o gamit na parang simbolo ng administrasyon. May iba pa nga na handa ng magtayo ng kampuhan sa mismong Quezon Hall at okupahan ang nasabing gusali.
Kahit anong pagkutkot sa aking utak ang aking gawin, wala akong maalala na presensya ng Akbayan sa protesta nung araw na iyon. Wala sila sa mismong barikada sa Quezon Hall kung saan hinamon ng pangulo ng USC noon ang Board of Regents na ilunsad ang pulong nila sa harap ng mga estudyante, guro, at kawani. Wala sila nung pinalibutan ng mga estudyante ng UPLB ang College of Law para kumprontahin ang BOR (na palihim na tumakas gamit ang tambakan ng basura ng kolehiyong yun). At wala sila nung umikot kami pabalik ng Quezon Hall at parang ipo-ipo na nahigop lahat ng estudyanteng nadaanan naming.
May mga ilang aral ang Dec. 15, 2006 na nananatiling makatotohanan hanggang ngayon: Una, hindi makakaasa ang kabataang Pilipino na igagarantiya ang kanilang karapatan sa edukasyon ng gobyerno sa kasalukuyang panlipunang sistema. Bago ipatupad ang TOFI, kinaltasan ang badyet ng Pamantasan ng mahigit P300 milyon. Ngayon, sa unang taon ni Noynoy, kinaltasan muli ang UP ng P1.39 bilyon.
Pangalawa, mas lalong hindi makakaasa ang mga kabataan sa kahit anong suporta mula sa mga organisasyong nagpapanggap na progresibo tulad ng Akbayan. Noong araw na iyon, tahasan nilang ipinanawagan na wag ibandila ang islogan na “Junk TOFI” at bagkos ay “pag-usapan” ang maaaring mga ‘reporma’ para daw umayos ang epekto ng dagdag-matrikula. Ang kanilang pangako: kapag nagtaas ng matrikula ang mga mayayamang estudyante, makakapasok naman ang mga mahirap. Apat na taon pagkatapos ng kanilang pangako, sa bawat isandaang estudyanteng nagbabayad ng bagong matrikula, halos isa lang ang nakakatamasa ng libreng tuition.
Pangatlo, tanging ang sama-samang pagkilos ng mga kabataan at estudyante ang makakapigil sa kahit anong atake sa mga karapatan, hindi lamang ng kabataan kundi ng mamamayan. Bagama’t naipasa ang TOFI, ang rali ng libo-libo ang nagtulak sa UP Administration na umastang parang magnanakaw at gawin ng patago ang pagtataas ng matrikula. Ang mga ‘strike’ naman ngayon ng libo-libo rin ay nagdulot ng pagbabawas sa halagang kinaltas sa badyet sa edukasyon.
Sa puntong ito, naaalala ko ang kantang “Closing Time” ng bandang Semisonic. Ani nila, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. Ang muling pagkabuhay ng diwa ng protesta sa UP ay hindi nangangahulugan ng agarang katapusan ng TOFI, pero ito ang “some other beginning’s end” na naghuhudyat ng muling pag-diskubre ng kabataan kung ano ba ang kailangang gawin para makamit ang tunay na pagbabago.
O ika nga ng 15-taong gulang na estudyanteng Inggles sa isang kumakalat na Youtube video, “We are no longer the post-ideological generation. We are no longer the generation that doesn’t care. We are no longer the generation that sits back and take whatever they give us. We are now the generation at the heart of ‘Fight back’. We are now the generation that will stand with everyone who’s fighting back”
Habang naghahanda ang libo-libong mga estudyante, guro, at kawani para sa mga ngayo’y-makasaysayang campus strikes laban sa pagkaltas sa badyet ng mga State Universities at Colleges (SUCs), iba ang tinig ng mga ilang grupo sa iilang kampus ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. “Alyansa”, “Bigkis”, at “Buklod”: maraming silang mga pagkakapareho. Lahat sila’y mga partido na lumalahok sa halalan ng konseho ng mag-aaral, lahat sila’y dinadala ang kulay asul, at sa halos buong buwan ng Nobyembre, walang marinig na pahayag mula sa kanila hinggil sa budget cut.
Iba ang kampanya ng mga nasabing grupo: nananawagan sila ng ‘academic excellence’ sa mga lider-estudyante. Ang Alyansa, may direkta pang panawagan na pinagbibitiw ang pangulo ng University Student Council ng UP Diliman dahil umano sa ‘academic delinquency’. Binabanggit nila na ayon sa batas ng halalang pang-konseho, bawal tumakbo ang mga nasabing ‘delingkwente’. Ang sagot naman sa kanila, hindi na kandidato ang pangulo, kundi opisyal na. Kaya sa Saligang Batas na ng konseho siya nakapailalim.
Kailan unang umimik ang mga nasabing grupo hinggil sa isyu ng budget cuts? Sa tanghali ng Nob. 25, sa tanghali ng unang araw na mismo ng strike sa UP, habang nakatipon na ang libo-libong mga estudyante at guro sa UP Diliman at UP Manila. At tanging sa Facebook lang! Labas sa kanilang mga miyembro na nakaupo sa ilang mga konseho ng mag-aaral sa Diliman, walang presensya ang kanilang mga partido sa buong strike nung 25 at 26.
Hindi mo talaga maaasahan ang suporta ng mga ‘asul’ sa nasabing isyu: matagal ng may negatibong kasaysayan ang mga nasabing partido hinggil sa mga isyu ng edukasyon. Para sa hindi na naabutan ang taong 2006 sa UP, naglabas ang Alyansa ng pahayag nung Disyembre 8 na nagsasabing napapanahon na ang pagtaas. Inulit ito ng kanilang kandidato sa pagka-pangulo ng konseho ng UPD nung sumunod na eleksyon sa isang interbyu sa Phil. Collegian. Ani niya, inaamin naming napapanahon ang pagtaas ng matrikula.
Ang mga nasabing partido ay kaanib rin ng Akbayan, isang pseudo-progressive na organisasyon na itinuturing ang sarili bilang ‘junior partner’ ng bagong rehimeng Aquino. Apat sa kanilang mga lider ay may mga posisyon sa gobyerno: ang kanilang taga-pangulo na si Joel Rocamorra ay taga-pangulo ng Nat’l Anti-Poverty Commission; ang kanilang presidente na si Ronald Llamas ay miyembro ng board ng Dev’t Bank of the Phils., habang ang mga dating representante nila sa Kamara na sila Etta Rosales at Mario Aguja ay nasa Commission on Human Rights at GSIS. Samantala, ang kanilang natalong senatoriable na si Risa Hontiveros ay pinangakuan rin daw ng isang antas-Gabinete na posisyon sa susunod na taon.
Higit pa sa pagkakaroon ng mabigat na ‘utang ng loob’ sa rehimen ang dahilan na sa kanilang pananabotahe sa kampanyang kontra-budget cut, ang kampanya na matagumpay na nagbagsak sa ‘ilusyon ng pagbabago’ sa ilalim ni Noynoy para sa marami. Sa totoo lang, nakasugal ang buong kredibilidad ng kanilang organisasyon sa kredibilidad ng rehimeng Aquino. Sinuportahan nila si Mar Roxas, at pagkatapos ay si Noynoy, bilang mga kandidato ng pagbabago. Ngunit nailantad ng kampanyang kontra-budget cut na kung may pagbabago man na nagaganap sa ilalim ni Noynoy, ito ay pagpapalala ng sitwasyon imbes na pagpapabuti!
Kaya ibang kampanya ang isinulong ng mga nasabing partido sa halos buong Nobyembre: hindi nila maaaring birahin ang rehimeng Aquino bilang pampulitikal na padron nila at bilang simbolo ng ipinangako nilang pagbabago. Tusong-tuso, ang kanilang kampanya ay kalkulado para atakehin ang kredibilidad at mismong posisyon ng mga nangungunang lider ng kampanyang kontra-budget cut. Pero nung nakita nilang bigo ang kanilang kampanya ng panghahati, bigla silang bumaliktad! Kelan unang nagpahayag ang mga nasabing partido hinggil sa mga ‘strike’? Tulad ng nabanggit kanina, nagsalita lamang ang Alyansa nung tanghali ng unang araw ng strike. Sa UP Manila, wala pa rin pahayag ang Bigkis. Ganun rin ang Buklod sa UPLB.
Nung digmaang sibil sa Espanya nung 1936-1939, sinabi ng pasistang heneral na si Emilio Mola: May lima akong kolum na nagmamartsa papuntang Madrid, habang may ika-lima na magmumula sa Madrid mismo. Dito nagmula ang terminong fifth column, na tumutukoy sa mga indibidwal/grupo na nangwawasak sa pagkakaisa ng iba pang grupo mula sa loob nila. Malinaw na ang mga ‘asul’ na partido ang fifth column sa kasalukuyang kampanyang kontra-budget cut.
Fifth column refers to undercover agents operating within the ranks of an enemy to undermine its cause… Their activities include spying, sabotage… The term fifth column was first used during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to describe the work of Francisco Franco’s followers in Loyalist Madrid. Emilio Mola, a general under Franco, said, “I have four columns moving against Madrid, and a fifth will rise inside the city itself.” – World Book, Volume 7
- Last September 24, more than two thousand students in Metro Manila alone walked out of their classes to protest a proposed P1.1 billion operating budget cut to State Universities and Colleges for next year. They were led by youth groups Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Karatula, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, National Union of Students in the Philippines, and Kabataan Partylist.
- From October 1 to 8, the same groups held daily anti-budget cut protests in various gov’t agencies, culminating in a lightning rally inside Noynoy Aquino’s town hall meeting to report on his 100 days in office.
- By the 27th of the same month, Anakbayan calls for a ‘storm’ of protests against the budget cuts. This was reiterated by the Sept. 24 organizers on the 7th of November. By the 17th, more than a hundred youth organizations and personalities banded together to form the KILOS NA LABAN SA BUDGET CUT alliance.
- Meanwhile by November 14, the Akbayan-affiliated UP Diliman party, Alyansa, begins its barrage of online and offline propaganda calling for the removal of the campus University Student Council chairperson based on a clause in Diliman’s student election rules, instead of the Council’s constitution. In UPLB, the same barrage was done by their University Student Council, which is dominated by the anti-‘red’ Buklod party. The said parties are curiously absent when the KILOS NA alliance was formed.
- By the 18th of the month, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, with the support of its President, begins its strike. On the 24th, the Phil. Association of State Universities and Colleges announces its support for the mammoth December 1 rally to the Senate. And by 8am the next day, UP Diliman and Manila started their strikes.
- Only on 12:27 pm of that day did the UP Diliman Alyansa announce its ‘support’ for the strike. Yet the organization, or any of its individuals, was absent in the Strike program and in the program the next day. On the evening of that day, the first ever statement by any member of the UPLB University Student Council regarding the budget cuts were made: and it was not a statement by the entire Council, but only of the Chairperson.
- Going back to the 1st day of the UP strikes, at 3pm, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano visited the UP Manila strike area at the invitation of KILOS NA. There, he expressed his support for the anti-budget cut campaign.
- On the 1st of December, while 10,000 students, teachers, and SUCs’ employees held a rally outside the Senate, he and other Senators introduced an amendment adding P146 million to the 2011 SUCs’ budget.
- Around 3pm – At the invitation of the KILOS NA LABAN SA BUDGET CUT, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano visits the UP Manila strike area to express his support for the strike.
- During the evening – the UPLB USC chairperson releases a personal letter expressing ‘concern’ regarding the budget cuts.
- December 1 – 10,000 students, teachers, and SUC employees march to the Senate to demand the removal of the budget cuts. By the evening, an amendment adding P146 million to the total 2011 SUCs budget cut is introduced and adopted by the Senate.
- December 4 – UP School of Economics professor Winnie Monsod virtually echoes the statement of the Alyansa-dominated UP School of Economics Student Council in her column, calling for the removal of the UPD USC chairperson.
*Meanwhile, not a single statement has been heard from the ‘blue’ UP Manila party, or any of the student councils that it had dominated.