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Misinformation and endangering journos

Letters .

THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines calls out former Davao City vice mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte on two counts – spreading disinformation and endangering journalists.

On his Facebook account, Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte – Official (https://www.facebook.com/pulongzduterte/?epa=SEARCH_BOX), the son of President Rodrigo Duterte posted pictures of what appears to be an Excel document titled “Anti-Administration Group Oust Duterte Movement” that lists down purported members of this supposed cabal.

The post has since been taken down but not before scores of irate netizens called out the former vice mayor while others recorded it through screenshots.

The former vice mayor, who is seeking to represent Davao City’s first district in next year’s elections, did not claim authorship of the document but said in the post: “Gisend ra ni sa akoa ha… Share lang nako kay para bibo… (This was just sent to me… I am sharing this for fun…).”

This means he knowingly shared what he most likely knew – or if he did not didn’t care either way – was a spurious document.

Why spurious? The dead giveaway is the inclusion of the late Archbishop Julio Xavier Labayen, who died on April 27, 2016, more than a month before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office and who could not, therefore, have been in on any supposed ouster plot even if one does exist. In fact, the document also names at least one prominent Duterte supporter and several major companies, including a large fast-food chain and a telecommunications giant.

Aside from this, column “G” of the fake document is headlined “MEDIA” and includes under it ABB/PDI/Rappler and the names of our colleagues Maria Ressa of Rappler, Ellen Tordesillas of Vera Files, and Ed Lingao of TV5.

We presume ABB is broadcast network ABS-CBN, which along with the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Rappler, have been verbally attacked and threatened by President Duterte, who has proven himself incapable of tolerating criticism or dissent and loathes independent media and journalists.

Given the worsening safety situation for journalists in the country, the former vice mayor has put Maria, Ellen and Ed – all of whom have already been recipients of threats recently – in even more danger by sharing this fake document, given how his family continues to enjoy a level of popularity that, in some supporters, can be described as rabid.

It is a sad testament to the times that someone who has been in public service and seeks a return to it can so cavalierly disregard the tenets of truth and decency, which are, or should be, indispensable to those who purport to serve and lead the people.

The least he should do is take down this irresponsibly shared abomination and apologize to everyone he has heedlessly maligned and endangered. — National directorate, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

 

Violations

FORTY-TWO unionists, farm workers and labor rights defenders killed, strikes violently dispersed, contractualization and poverty among workers increase multifold, and there is no indication that Duterte regime is stopping. Workers must continue to organize and protest harder! This is the best reason to mark the 70th anniversary of Human Rights Declaration and honor those whose lives were lost in the course of struggle.

The most recent victims in the bloody war on drugs, insurgency and terrorism (which essentially is a war against poor and his critics) were Linus Cubol, a former KMU chairperson in Caraga (Nov 27); and Danny Boy Bautista (Oct. 31) worker and unionist from Japanese-owned Sumifru banana plantation in Compostela Valley.  Months before that,  Butch Rosales,  a former CTUHR full-time organizer in Mactan Economic Zone and volunteer for the network Rise Up for Life and Rights (Rise Up), was also killed inside a passenger jeep in broad daylight in Aug. 8 in Mactan, Cebu.

The massacre of nine farmworkers and members of National Federation of Sugar Workers in Oct. 21, collectively known as the Sagay 9 in Sagay, Negros Occidental was extremely brutal. Even their human rights lawyer, Atty. Ben Ramos was murdered. To add insult to the injury, the massacre was used to justify the increased deployment of military troops in Negros, Samar and Bicol as based on Memorandum Order  32.

Human rights alliance Karapatan noted that 196 people, mostly workers, peasants, indigenous people, women, urban poor, youth and human rights defenders were extra-judicially killed under Duterte’s watch. This number does not include the more than 23,000 casualties of war on drugs whose deaths were simply placed by authorities as “homicide under investigation.”

CTUHR expresses alarm that EJK incidences are likely to increase with Duterte himself ordering the formation of Duterte Death Squads (DDS) in communities. This is obsessively insane, the President calling for formation of killing machine against suspected rebels. It’s now so easy to claim that murder victims are rebels, symphatizers or supporters.

The regime’s attacks on human rights are as comprehensive as its control on Congress, the courts have seen defenders on jail for fabricated criminal charges. Labor rights defenders Rafael Baylosis and Adelberto Silva, both consultants to the peace process on economic reforms have been detained and are now facing trumped-up charges. So are Maoj Maga, Juan Alexander Reyes, Ireneo Atadero, Julio Lusania, Oliver and Weng Rosales whose crimes, if they can be called crimes, are to organize people to claim what is rightfully theirs. Karapatan also noted that there are 540 political prisoners in different detention facilities, 203 of them incarcerated under Duterte administration.

Meanwhile, the government continues to let capitalists exploit the workers through its bogus anti-contractualization policies. The Executive Order (EO) 51, a stamp pad of Dole Department Order (DO) 174, is a double prong attack on workers job security. Dole orders regularization of contractuals but is inutile in the actual enforcement of their orders, letting companies fire the workers ordered to get permanent status. The best example is the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), which fired 12,000 agency-hired workers after Dole ordered them to regularize 7,300 employees. Same case with Jollibee Food Corp. (JFC), which terminated 400 workers from agencies Toplis Solution and Staff Search Agencies, few months after Dole ordered them to regularize more than 7,000 of its workers. Dole is doing nothing to address companies defying its orders.

As the administration continues to fail to heed the clamor of the people, resistance arises. And the Duterte administration, responds to the people with tyranny and violence. Apart from EJK and arbitrary arrests; workers organizing themselves to build unions, associations and launching collective action to increase wages and improve conditions are brutally attacked and accused of lawlessness, terrorism and communism. The workers’ strikes at Coca-Cola Davao and Cebu, Nutriasia in Marilao Bulacan, Middleby Philippines Inc. in Binan, Laguna, Pacific Plaza Condominium in BGC Taguig and Sumifru Plantation in Compostela Valley were all violently dispersed.  Scores of workers were injured and a total of 81 were arrested.

The military, police and blind supporters of the regime continue to demonize unions openly and discretely. Anti-union seminars and vilification of progressive union and unionists are conducted while slay attempts on unionists have also been reported. Yet it cannot stop the hard working but poor and hungry working class in protesting, as they are well aware that their strength is in their unity. In fact, 155 notices of strike (NOS) were filed  at NCMB  from  January to June of 2018 alone. This is much higher than the 126 NOS in the same period last 2017.

The Duterte regime miserably failed to improve the quality of life of Filipinos, as it promised. To cover up its romance with China and the US, Duterte hurled invectives and curses against its formidable critics and even the Church, to divert the public attention parallel with naked attacks in an attempt to dissipate resistance. While diverting the attention, Duterte’s minions in Congress are busy passing legislations that perpetuate themselves to power. Meanwhile, the police and military, showered with benefits and privileges are in cahoots with courts are busy concocting crimes against human rights defenders while corporations are amassing wealth in exchange for silence while the country is headed to a debilitating state of human rights day in and day out.

But people are resisting, fighting back wherever they are, no matter how risky it is, and the country’s hope lies on those who resist. CTUHR is happy to join those who resist. — Daisy Arago, executive director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights

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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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