Archive for the ‘News release’ Category

As another witness in Gerry Ortega case dies: Justice system is dying, needs revival through our vigorous asking for it – CEGP Baguio-Benguet


 

Last Tuesday, Dennis Aranas, another key suspect-turned-witness in the infamous shooting of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega in Palawan was found dead while in prison. He was the second witness to die which the Ortega family fears could hinder the progress of the investigation on Gerry Ortega’s murder two years ago.

CEGP Baguio-Benguet sees this incident as part of the gradual killing of justice in the country where those who forward legitimate calls for change in the face of an increasingly dismal social condition are being persecuted by the powers-that-be. The killing of a vital witness no doubt puts a major blockage in resolving the murder case of Dr. Gerry Ortega who was killed during the height of the controversial Malampaya Gas Project in Palawan. In his radio show in the province, Ortega used to fearlessly brought up the anomaly of funds’ misuse in the said project.

Tied with the duty of journalists is the exposure of all the facts and offering of sharp views concerning the concrete realities that each piece of fact implies. Ortega’s murder can be easily linked to his scathing remarks on what he deemed was an inappropriate transaction regarding the Malampaya Gas Project. Now, more than two years after his murder, justice keeps on being delayed and further tactics are being conducted to maintain the case under gray light.

This latest death of Dennis Aranas is the latest blow to the already frail justice system in the country. The obvious call now is for all of us to come together and inject some life to the sick order of justice in the country by vigorously and vehemently demanding for it from those whose interests are currently protected by this widespread injustice.

 

 

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Think Change 2013: The North Luzon Youth Summit: Youth agenda, network for right to education, employment and democratic rights formed


Press Release:

January 29, 2013

 

Last 2010, more than 100 youth from all over Northern Luzon gathered to build solidarity and synthesize the issues being confronted then by their sector as the national elections approach. The event, dubbed as Think Change, aimed to engage the youth in community-building and provide venues for their concretization of the clichéd “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan” statement.

This year, various organizations led by the Cordillera Youth Center, Anakbayan Cordillera, College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet, National Union of Students of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet and the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation Baguio City, Think Change 2013 was conducted at Teachers’ Camp on January 26 and 27, with nearly 200 delegates from the provinces of Pangasinan, Isabela, Cagayan Valley and the regions of Ilocos and Cordillera. In the two-day summit, the delegates listened to various discussions magnifying the issues they should confront as the emerging sector of the country, exchanged ideas on how to address these issues, paraded all the way from Teachers’ Camp down to Session Road and People’s Park, Malcolm Square where a Jam for Change was also held on the first night .

Participants of the Youth Summit during the Unity March

Participants of the Youth Summit during the Unity March

 

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Delegates from Kalinga during the Unity Parade

Delegates from Kalinga during the Unity Parade

 

Cultural performers during the Jam for Change at Malcolm, Square

Cultural performers during the Jam for Change at Malcolm, Square

 

Keynote: the condition of the youth is a condition for dissent

Einstein Recedes of Kabataan Partylist National delivered the Keynote Address where he elaborated on the various issues of the youth from their schools, to their communities and the workplace. As the perennial problem faced by the youth, most of which are studying in schools, Recedes emphasized the tuition and miscellaneous fees increases, along with the redundant fees in his speech. The rate of unemployment and its aggravation by the lack of jobs created that is suitable to the needs of the country also got attention in the keynote speech. Also, the violation of the human rights of the youth, already touched on the violation of their right to education and employment, is only more brutalized by the vilification of progressive youth organizations that justly advances the interests of the sector in their different areas of life.

Recedes’ booming conclusion includes the exhortation that given these existing conditions that are meant to stifle the energies of the youth, the youth has no better option than to keep on acting together and continue expanding their ranks in order to register a louder voice of dissent. In this venture, the youth should bear in mind the tripartite modes of engagement that they should follow as a more effective way of confronting their issues: arousing, organizing and mobilizing. Invoking and at the same time recasting Rizal’s hackneyed proposition on the youth as the hope of the nation, Recedes ended his speech with a stirring recommendation: kabataan, ‘wag nang hintayin ang kinabukasan, maging pag-asa ng bayan, ngayon!

 

Different workshops and the building of the North Luzon Agenda

In the afternoon session of the summit’s first day, the participants were divided into three workshop groups according to three identified issues: education, human rights and environment. The workshop groups initiated a sharing of experiences among the delegates in order to specify the issues of the youth in specific communities and ultimately to map systematic steps that can be taken to respond to the issues raised.

As the three groups gathered back together, they crafted what will later be called as the North Luzon Youth Agenda which is comprised of the particular demands of the youth to the candidates for the mid-term elections. As a major bloc in the population of the society, the youth agenda is underlined by the framework that the issues of the youth, crafted by members of the sectors themselves, should be a priority among the candidates. The youth should make use of their comprising more than half of the registered voters in order to call attention to their demands. As these demands were articulated after the thorough discussions and sharing of actual experiences of the delegates in the Summit, there is nothing but the collective interest of the youth hankering for a better nation and a better future.

Highlighting the North Luzon Youth agenda is the assertion of the right to education which includes the scrapping of the 300% ladderized tuition fee increase in the Cordillera State Universities and Colleges. This is extended as a critique of the government’s moves to commercialize education as manifested by the decreasing state subsidy and its encouragement of SUC’s to be self-sufficient and to welcome income-generating projects and private tie-ups. Also, the right to decent employment is raised. This includes the creation of jobs that square with the abilities and educational attainment of the youth and more vitally, jobs that attune with the conditions and the needs of the country. Implicitly lambasted is the burgeoning of labor migration which is only a result of the lack of jobs and the inhumane pay of workers in the country. The defense of human rights, including the right to a safe and healthful environment also got into the list of concerns of the youth. The vilification of legitimate youth organizations, the militarization of campuses and communities, the cutting of trees in Luneta Hill to give way to a parking space – all of these were condemned by the North Luzon youth and which they pledge to continue acting against.

Participants shared ides during the caucuses on the second day

Participants shared ides during the caucuses on the second day

Bringing back the 70s and the challenges ahead

The first day was culminated with a unity parade along Session Road and the City Market with the participating organizations bringing on their banners and their funky 70s attire. In fostering the spirit of the First Quarter Storm during the Marcos regime, the 70s theme was upheld to showcase the youth’s continuing commitment to be involved towards the betterment of the society. Several bands and cultural groups such as Salidummay, Kultura and Maxim performed along with the delegates from each province.

In the last day of the Summit, the delegates were grouped according to their province and then shared the specific issues in their communities. The entire Summit was capped by the formation of the alliance called FREEDOM (Fight for our Right to Education, Employment, Environment and Democratic Rights) which will serve as the coordinating body among the provinces and the various organizations as the collaborate in resolving all the issues brought up in the two-day activity. The individuals and member organizations of the alliance are also expected to broaden the network by propagating its ideals and garnering more members.

In conclusion, the 2013 Think Change North Luzon Youth Summit proved to be a success with the delegates it was able to convene in order to discuss the pressing issues the Northern Luzon youth faces and more importantly, set out concrete plans of actions as a response to these issues. This only evinces that today’s youth remain adamant in thinking about change and are even more strong-minded in acting specifically to foster every possible kind of change in their respective communities.

CEGP BB Vice Chair wins Biotechnology Campus Journalism Contest


CEGP Baguio-Benguet would like to congratulate its Internal Vice-Chair Juman Kevin Tindo for being chosen as one of the finalists in the Biotechnology Campus Journalism Contest last week at Gateway, Araneta Cubao. Tindo was one of the seven finalists that joined the Top Three in the contest organized by SEARCA-BIC, AGHAM Partylist and ISAA.

The winning participants were led in a study tour at UP Los Banos, Business Mirror, DZMM, ABSCBN and Radyo ng Bayan. Tindo was the lone winner from the Cordillera region out of more than 90 submissions nationwide for the competition that was opened both for high school and college levels. The contest was held in line with the 8th National Biotech Week Celebration.

Youth orgs challenge Aquino: “prove to us you’re not ‘Noynoying,’ do something!”



The new protest in no longer about senselessly lying supine to the ground with no symbolic implication, it is now about posing for the camera while doing nothing to show one’s indignation over inaction and indifference.

Various youth organizations in Metro-Baguio took it to the streets last Monday but this time not armed with placards and the loud shouts of various calls and challenges. Instead, they enacted the emerging way of protesting against the lack of visible change in the ways the current administration deals with the problems of the people – Noynoying.

Noynoying protest at Skyworld, Session Road (March 19, 2012)

At around noon in Skyworld, Session Road, several members of the youth from Anakbayan, National Union Students of the Philippines and Kabataan Partylist set-up a human size picture frame where each one of them posed alternately to depict inactivity and indifference. Called Noynoying, this is becoming a trend among the people, especially the youth who are fed up with the performance of the Aquino administration in answering to the needs of its constituents. In the protest action last Monday, the several youth organizations lamented Aquino’s lack of action in stopping the commercialization of education. Tracy Anne Dumalo, regional secretariat of Anakbayan Cordillera cited the case of the 300% tuition fee increase proposal that will take effect in all State Universities and Colleges in the region.

“Habang sa pambansang antas ay patuloy ang pagbabalewala ni Noynoy karapatan ng mga kabataan na makapag-aral tulad ng tinuturo sa atin ng patulyo na pagbabawas ng budget para sa edukasyon at pagpaprioritize sa utang-panlabas, ang mga kabataan sa Kodilyera ay mararamdaman ang epekto nito simula sa susunod na pasukan kung saan magiging minimum na 100 na ang babayarin nila kada yunit. Tunay ngang inutil si Noynoy at ang administrasyon niya. Lahat sila nagno-Noynoying,” Dumalo stressed.

The youth organizations also touched on the issue of the continuing increases in the oil prices, resulting to the approval of the provisional fare increase this week in the National Capital Region and some other regions in the county. Last Wednesday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approved the fare increase from P8.00 to P8.50 which took effect in ten regions in the country, including NCR. In the Cordillera where the minimum jeepney fare was already P8.50, there was no increase that took effect.

Despite of this, the youth organizations still see the implications of the increase to the Cordillera youth. Cielo Marie Bayson of NUSP said, “With an increased transportation fare resulting from the unceasing increases in oil prices, it would be not hard to foresee the prices of basic commodities increasing as well, especially the agricultural products being transported from other parts of the region. Also, with the jeepney drivers getting the fare increase, we can also expect the bus operators to request for the same increase which will affect the citizens of the region.”

The youth closed the program with the continuously challenging the Aquino administration. “Proved to us that you are not Noynoying; that you are doing something to buffer the impact of the economic crisis to your constituents who are day after day threatened by the barest means of subsistence,” they said.


The unflinching stance of the campus press in the face of state repression and terrorism


February 28, 2012

Press Statement:  

Recently, the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet has received reports from the CEGP National Office about an incident of surveillance in Catarman, Samar during the Samar-wide CEGP Convention at the University of Eastern Philippines last February 23-26.

Pauline Gidget Estella (CEGP National Deputy Secretary General), Angelo Karl Doceo (chairperson of CEGP Samar Island), Micah Susana Rubenecia (secretary-general of CEGP Samar Island Chapter and editor of The Pillar, official student publication of University of Eastern Philippines) and Darrel Tibre (staff writer of The Pillar) were followed and interrogated by suspected intelligence agents of the military on February 26, the last day of the convention. This prompted them to pass time in the house of one Guilder in Brgy. JP Rizal. While the CEGP Samar Convention had already concluded, suspected military intelligence agents conducted a “house-to-house” inquiry/inspection in the housed in the said barangay. They claimed to be looking for three campus journalists who have been under surveillance since February 26.

Just today, the local chapter received yet another report of harassment being experienced by n editor of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa’s The Warden. According to the report, recurring cases of surveillance in the said editor’s house have been recorded.

CEGP Baguio-Benguet is extremely alarmed by these reports it has been receiving in the past days. These cases are not new to us and only appear to manifest the systemic tactic of harassment against campus journalists, particularly members of the Guild which is known for its patriotic and democratic orientation. With its long, unflinching tradition of making a critical stance against the government and its anti-people policies, the Guild and its members have become targets of state fascism. Exploiting the military institution at their advantage, the administration resorts to tactics like this in order to quell the potentials of the campus press to tackle issues  rarely delved into by the mainstream media, propagate alternative perspectives on these issues and eventually, instigate the formation of an alternative consciousness among its readers.

In the increasing call of our times to get outside and express our discontent and clamor for meaningful change in the face of growing poverty, unemployment, incessant violation of human rights  and political malaise, we have seen how the youth has courageously rose to the occasion. As shown by the recent Occupy and Strike movements, the youth has actively registered its voice along with the other sectors of the country. With CEGP at the forefront, the campus journalist has also participated in these storms of protest, dismissing the old notion that the writer must stay at the middle, merely documenting the events around her.

If we get something positive out of these recent cases of harassment, it is that it shows  the status quo is being shaken vigorously and those elite few who benefit from it at the expense of the majority are more threatened than ever at the people’s rage and call for meaningful change. Still, we are not forgiving. These cases shall only be condemned and stopped. While we remain in this system where those in power exploit the majority, we shall continue writing the most critical of articles to expose the deceit and the evils of this system and those who wish to maintain it. We shall continue forging a liberating consciousness that can eventually prod our readers into decisive actions. Not even cases like these can dampen our spirits. With the unity among the ranks of campus journalists, we shall continue writing and working for the change this country deserves.

300% Tuition increase impending in Cordi SUCs: Regional youth orgs unite in call for higher state subsidy



Starting next school year, students of State Universities and Colleges in the Cordillera might be needing a thicker wallet if they still wish to continue their studies. That is after the Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC) ratified a proposal that would escalate the tuition rate for all SUCs in the region to 100/unit for school year (SY)2012-13 and another 20% every year thereafter until the tuition rate per unit stands on 300/unit on all Cordillera SUCs. This proposal is passed even amidst rising prices of other basic commodities in the nation.

When this proposal takes effect this June in time for the new school year, the tuition rate per unit for all CAR SUCs will be at 100 per unit. This will increase to 120/unit on SY 2013-14, 144/unit on 2014-15, 172.80/unit on 2015-16, 207.36/unit on SY 2016-17, 248.83/unit on SY 2017-18 and finally, 298.59.unit on SY2018-19.

 

Lack of National Subsidy taking its toll

In their meeting last year, the school administrators under CARASUC admitted themselves the impact of the continuing decline of subsidy from the national government to the operations of SUCs. Quoting the rationale of the proposal as stated in the minutes of the meeting: “It is vision of CAR SUCs to provide quality education to its constituent, however, the realization of this vision is facing a dilemma because of the continuing decrease in the MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures) subsidy and no appropriation for Capital Outlay for SUCs from the national government.”

In the budget allocation for all SUCs this year, the funds for Personal Services (PS) has been decreased by P403.3 million despite the supposed automatic increase in PS for each year, due to the Salary Standardization Law. In the region, there is a minimum 8% cut in the Personal Services. The zero allotment for Capital Outlay (CO) is likewise carried on to this year. The budget for Capital Outlay is supposedly where the funds for the construction of new facilities are obtained. All in all, there has been a 230 million budget cut from the budget of all 112 SUCs in the country for 2012. Among the SUCs in the region, an accumulated P79 million is slashed on their total budget. This trend has been started by Gloria Arroyo during her term and is continued by Aquino’s when he assumes office.

“This trend merely manifests the orientation of education that Aquino has been pursuing. Also, it shows once again that he is no different from the anti-people president he has replaced. Aquino is only continuing Arroyo’s agenda of making SUCs more “self-sufficient” and “less dependent” on the national subsidy as stipulated in policies like the Long-term Higher Education Development Plan and Higher Education Modernization Act. Evidently, these are only their guises for their actual abandoning of their duty to provide quality and affordable education to their constituents. Again we ask, is this how Aquino perceives the “tuwid na daan? If this is so, then we’d rather not join him in his crusade for short-sighted reformism,” Tracy Anne Dumalo, Chair of Anakbayan Cordillera said in an interview.

 

 Another proposal: “socialized” tuition fee

Aside from the increase in tuition fee, another proposal by the CARASUC in their meeting is the Unified Socialized Tuition Fee for CAR SUCs. As stated in the minutes of the meeting, this proposal, “is in line with the principle of social justice and narrowing the economic gap between marginalized individuals and well-to-do individuals in the whole Cordillera region, and nearby regions.” This proposal claims to base the tuition fee to be paid by a student on his family’s economic and social status, with a series of processes needed to be undergone to determine this status. Every enrolling student of any CAR SUC shall be required to submit a copy of their parents’ income tax return (ITR), list of acquired property or fixed assets and a certification from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

For students whose parents’ annual income is 100,000 and above (Class A), they will need to pay 30% more than the set tuition fee; for students whose parents’ annual income is 50,001-100,000 (Class B), 25% more than the set tuition; and for students whose parents earn below 50,000 annually (Class C), they shall pay the base amount of tuition rate. So for instance, when the base tuition rate per unit is set at 100/unit next school year, Class A students would have to pay 130/unit, Class B, 125/unit and Class C, 100/unit. These rates are to escalate as the base tuition rate per unit also increases 20% every year thereafter.

 

Patterned after UP?

It can be remembered that last 2007, a 300% tuition increase also hit the University of the Philippines System and from this latest proposal from CARASUC, one can figure out semblances. Simultaneous to the implementation of the tuition increase was the re-bracketing of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), first devised on 1989 to adjust the tuition fees paid by UP students according to their family’s income. From the original nine brackets, it was reduced to five in 2007. This raised doubts, especially from among the student leaders, on whether the STFAP can still be implemented as it is billed to be.

As it can be argued that the Unified Socialized Tuition Fee proposed by CARASUC is patterned after the STFAP mechanism at work in UP, this proposal can also be analyzed by the same remarks regarding STFAP.

“To begin with, this measure is not called-for as it only serves as a band-aid solution hiding the actual, more important problem to be addressed: higher tuition rates imposed on students. While it purports to foster “social justice” by asking for a tuition rate based on one’s capacity to pay, the process by which this “justice” can be obtained is already tedious, and not to say, requiring numerous expenses (i.e. for photocopying certain documents) which some families cannot afford. Moreover, as in the case of UP, the existence of a measure like this cannot be guaranteed to work in the favor of the underprivileged students since they can be overlooked due to technicalities in the process. For instance, there is a deadline for submitting the necessary documents for the tuition discount which usually work against the students especially to those who do not have the money to reproduce the required documents easily. Also, there is question in the integrity of the bracketing since there are a lot of reports stating that some students from more well-off families are able to acquire a lower bracket and hence, pay a lower tuition,” Cielo Marie Bayson of National Union of Students of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet said. “Even with disregarding these glitches, we must return to the more vital point undermining the merits of a socialized tuition scheme – this scheme shall not be devised at the first place if tuition rates are kept at a low level and farther, if only the national government allots more budget for education and prevent the need for school administrators to look for other means to generate funds for its operations,” she concluded.

 

Call for Higher State Subsidy remains

In line with this issue, different youth organizations in the Cordillera like Kabataan Partylist, ANAKBAYAN, College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines and National Union of Students of the Philippines conducted a Cordillera Youth Leaders Assembly last February 11 and 12 at Bengao, Baguio City where they invited student leaders from all over the region to discuss the education crisis and the actions they can take regarding this. In the assembly, the participants came up with a unity declaration addressed to the President of the Philippines, the Senate and the Congress condemning the budget cuts and calling to rechannel funds allocated for debt servicing and military expenditures to the budget for education, health and other social services. Twenty participants from the provinces of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra and Benguet participated in this youth leaders’ assembly.

 

 

CEGP Baguio-Benguet elects Execomm members in Lunduyan 2011


Press Release

November 09, 2011


Editors and staff members from BSU Mountain Collegian, KASC Earthline, KCP Loquitor, SLU White and Blue, UC Alternative and UPB Outcrop participated in Lunduyan 2011 held at Dioko Resort, Butterfly Farm, San Pablo City, Laguna last October 22-26. Out of the 187 total delegates in the annual Luzon-wide event of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, 26 delegates from six publications came from CEGP Cordillera. The latest Lunduyan has former CEGP National Chairperson VIjae Alquisola, UP Diliman Professor Michael Andrada, Alex Padilla, Palanca Awardees Mark Angeles and Jun Cruz Reyes topping its list of speakers. Journalism skills trainings and socio-political discussion were conducted in the five-day gathering. Twenty-three months after it shocked the nation, the Maguindanao Massacre was also commemorated in the event. The daughter of slain environmental activist and mediaman Gerry Ortega also came to speak about the death of her father and the continued campaign for justice and the stopping of the culture of impunity in the country.

For CEGP Baguio-Benguet, the only provincial chapter in Cordillera, the election for the vacated positions in the Executive Committee was also held. Elected Internal Vice Chairperson was Juman Kevin Tindo of Mountain Collegian and for External Vice Chairperson was Jesusa Paquibot of UPB Outcrop. Meanwhile, appointed by the Chair as Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General were Jordan Mappang and Lois Bellingon respectively, both from UC Alternative.

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