Amidst tuition fee proposals and the nearing graduation season: Youth groups to defend right to education “Katipunan style”


Media Advisory:

During the Spanish occupation of the country more than a century ago, a momentous scene occurred in Balintawak which would later become an oft-cited example of the Filipinos’ nationalist spirit in the face of oppression – the Cry of Balintawak.

 

Today, even as the Spaniards are long ousted in the country, the Filipino people continue to be haunted by various kinds of oppression. Among the youth, one of the areas where their rights are grossly violated is in education. As we are now in the first quarter of the year, it is time to be vigilant of the proposed tuition fee increases within higher private educational institutions. The studentry must ensure that these tuition increase proposals undergo proper consultations following the guidelines issued by CHED. Our recent experiences have led to documentation of various means to bypass the proper consultation process such as the lack of information dissemination to the students and the school administration’s inability to show the school’s fiscal report. On the basic levels of education, as March approaches, we must guard against graduation fees which are already forbidden by the Department of Education. The KABATAAN Partylist already created a hotline where complaints against imposition of graduation fees can be made. Lastly, the controversial K Plus 12 program continues to be implemented and Grade 7 will begin this June. However, the old problems of insufficient facilities, books, classrooms and teachers persist and cast immense doubt on the effectiveness of the program. The government is clearly not heeding its constituents.

Tomorrow, February 21, the youth of Baguio City shall voice out their indignation regarding the current plight of the education system. Led by Anakbayan Cordillera, different youth groups will reenact the Cry of Balintawak with a contemporary twist –instead of acting against a colonial power, the youth will denounce the existing policies and mispriorities in education. Join us at 12 noon at the Main Gate of Saint Louis University and at 12:30 at K.M.O as we protect our right to education.

Media Coverage is likewise requested.

 

For Reference:

Tracy Anne Dumalo, Anakbayan Cordillera

09061855247

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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.

 

 

As Cybercrime TRO expires, efforts to junk RA 10175 need to be urgent


Press Release

February 05, 2013

On the last day before the end of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) imposed by the Supreme Court on the immensely questioned Cybercrime Law, the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet continues its ardent call to oppose the law that could largely limit the flow of discourses and the exchange of information in the internet.

We continue to call attention to the libel provision which increases the penalty of the already controversial criminal libel stipulated in the Revised Penal Code. Mere liking or sharing a “libelous” post can now be deemed as a crime under the Cybercrime Law. We see this as posing a significant impediment in the impressive tapping of the internet as a medium for social involvement and dissent.

The consistent increase in internet usage all over the world has been more often touted as the increasing popularity of a supposed democratization of disseminating information and shaping public opinion. While there are legitimate contestations regarding this view, such as the varying extent by which the reactionary businessmen and the oppositional groups appropriate user-generation of content in the internet to advance their respective agenda, it cannot be doubted that the internet has been an effective tool in countering the status quo. This has been manifested in some European countries in the past decade and in there is no considerable lag in the Philippines. We have seen in the recent years how the internet, particularly the social networking sites have once been flooded by oppositional, if not subversive content, relating to current issues and the general condition of the society.

We see the Cybercrime Law mainly as a way to curb these potentials of the internet to be used against the existing order. In a move hauntingly reminiscent of a remodeled Foucauldian surveillance, the Cybercrime Law is threatening to always keep us on guard in our internet use.

We therefore need to recognize that we are being watched. And so before they can even begin to label us and our actions with names that demonize our intentions (libelous, terrorist, subversive), we must oppose this repressive law disguising, as most laws do, to protect the rights of the people

 

For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915

Chair

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.

Days before start of oral arguments: CEGP-BB urges register of opposition against Cybercrime Law


Press Statement

January 08, 2013

 

A few days before the oral arguments on the controversial Cybercrime Law begin on January 15, CEGP Baguio-Benguet urges the continuing campaign against the law that can make libel “Instagram an insta-crime” in the Philippines.

The controversial law created a buzz last year when it took effect on October 03 and with its inclusion of online libel among the punishable acts, it threatened to make a crime out of mere sharing or liking or deemed “libelous” statements or images in the internet, particularly in social networking sites. The law was then greeted with an avalanche of protests and legal petitions clamoring for the suspension of the law. As a result of the vigorous protests launched by different organizations from various sectors including CEGP, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous vote, issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the much-opposed law.

The Guild sees this as the triumph of the collective action of the different groups of people who registered their protests on the Cybercrime Law. While the Guild commends this decision and more importantly the people who have not failed to show its oppositional stance regarding the issue, CEGP Baguio-Benguet is prompt in reminding that the people must not be complacent after this initial triumph. The battle against the repression of “online freedom of expression” is only beginning and we call on the everyone to continuously act together towards amending the questionable inclusions in the law, specifically the Libel provision, if not the outright junking of the law. With the TRO expiring in February 06 and the oral arguments beginning on January 15, it is opportune to reorganize and once again register our arguments against the law. Scattered oppositions led by various groups can be harmonized into one in order to achieve a more striking formation that will echo the interest of the people and can bring a stronger message to the Aquino regime and its cohorts who are behind this repressive law. As earlier evinced by the SC issuance of TRO, the collective action of the people truly brings forth positive outcomes. This should be the lesson to be put in mind as we continue the battle for freedom of expression not only in the internet among our other constitutional rights.

 

Repeal Cybercrime Law!

Fight for Freedom of Expression!

 

College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet

For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, Chair

09268105915

 

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.

On the third year of Maguindanao Massacre: CEGP exhorts press to be involved in fight for justice, press freedom


Press Statement

November 16, 2012

On Friday, three years would have passed since the bloody Maguindanao massacre and up to now, no prosecution of any viable suspect has been made. The search for justice continues to move snail-paced. Last year, a key development happened when November 23 was declared as the International Day to End Impunity through the initiative of various media groups all over the world led by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). However, the Philippine government does not seem to be pressured by the growing outcry from the international community of journalists especially since the death of 32 journalists in the Maguindanao massacre was the chief basis in marking November 23 as the International Day to End Impunity.

Media groups in the Philippines, including the CEGP has been consistently campaigning for justice for the massacre victims and their families. Last August, Datu Ulo Ampatuan and Ipeh Ampatuan, grandsons of Andal Ampatuan Sr. became the 101st and 102nd suspects to be apprehended.  While these arrests are not what we are ultimately clamoring for since both are mere accomplices and not masterminds on the notorious massacre, we welcomed this feat and regard the mass movement of the mainstream and campus press, the Church and other concerned groups as the principal catalysts in advancing the trial.

On the other hand, the reversion of the Supreme Court last October on the issue of live media coverage is a new downside in the progress of the case. With the High Court disapproving the live media coverage of the dubbed “trial of the century,” several factors like transparency and the public interest are being overlooked. The resolution cited reasons like “prejudicial effects of telecasting on witnesses” and even on the defendant and the public judgment for its decision. However, at the expense of the comforts of the witnesses and the defendants is the public’s right to information regarding a national issue of great vitality. The absence of live media coverage of this case can dampen the awareness and consequently, the actions of the public regarding the issue. While the live media coverage is not a primary determining factor to the advancement of the case, it can help in fixing in the memory of the Filipino people that some time in the past, while they were doing their duty to report the truth, 32 journalists were inhumanely killed because of the culture of powerplay that only breeds political avarice, or worse, needless violence.

 

Warlordism and the political landscape in the Philippines

The 2009 Maguindanao incident is inextricable from the electoral atmosphere that was already forming then approaching the 2010 national elections. We can recall that the massacre occurred when an Esmael Mangudadatu was about to file a certificate of candidacy in an attempt to challenge the Ampatuan’s long reign in the province of Maguindanao. Before arriving at the Commission of Elections, the convoy was met by a band of armed men and was savagely murdered in an instant.

After the massacre, the warlordism in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao was severely highlighted. Not a few key politicians have a vast stock of armaments and hired gunmen. This is rampant not only in Mindanao but also in some provinces in the Cordilleras such as in Abra. During election time, the armed forces of these politicians are mobilized to harass opponents or coerce the public and demand their votes. Aside from causing occasional deaths, this also emphasizes the culture of terror being put on the general public to which mere speaking, much more opposing, could mean sudden extermination. Worse, those who perpetrate these heinous crimes do not even have the slightest feeling of being fazed as they run free doing their acts and if charged and put on trial, can still twist the judicial procedures to their advantage.

In the end, the electoral process is being bastardized as aside from gold, one seems to need to have goons and guns in order to have a decent chance to win. Thus, the democratic character of elections is lost and it only becomes a game for those who have the funds and the conscience to demonize rivals and sometimes, execute the opposition.

 

The position of the campus press

On the third year since the horrifying Maguindanao Massacre, CEGP Baguio-Benguet continues to call for justice for the victims and their families and the condemnation of election-related violence which inevitably affects the press as well. This serves as an added threat to journalists who are already beleaguered by criminal libel and other forms of harassments in their professional practice. Deciding to be a journalists is already a tall order because in doing such, one already commits to the truth above all else and ideally with disregard to whoever’s interests that can warp the reportage of truthful events. With the perennial pressure exerted on them by the status quo where a few benefits from the travails of the majority, the press must maintain its valiant stance against all designs that aim to limit the truth it can express. At the same time, the press must be actively involved in protesting against designs and acts such as the criminal libel and media killings that hinder their practice of journalism.

One Maguindanao Massacre should be enough to show us how those who brandish the truth suffer at the hands of those who are greedy of power. To end the impunity, active involvement must win over sitting on the fence and resignation.

 

JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF MAGUIDANAO MASSACRE!

STOP ELECTION-RELATED VIOLENCE AND MEDIA KILLINGS!

FIGHT FOR PRESS FREEDOM!

 

For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915

Chair

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