No evacuation plan

Even if we move all Filipino migrant workers in Lebanon to different churches, miracles won’t be enough to save them from Israeli bombs. The government should stop dragging its feet to facilitate an immediate evacuation of our workers in Lebanon.

Instead of buying off support in Congress or hosting ‘envelopmental’ dinners with some Bishops, the President should instead use her resources to finance the immediate evacuation of our workers in Lebanon. Since the conflict continues to worsen, evacuation is our only option. (more…)


July 19, 2006 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment

A divided Church under attack

The allegation against Bishop Tobias is shrewd, manipulative and, in light of Malacañang’s theatrics about the separation of the State and Church, is simply ridiculous. What it seeks to do is cleanse the Catholic body of anti-GMA bishops while it is still not endorsing the impeachment complaint and while it is still divided on what to do with persistent questions on the legitimacy of President GMA.

Malacañang is acting like the Borgias and de Medicis of Medieval Italy. It wants to remove from the Catholic leadership those who neither accept gifts nor tolerate deception in politics – in short, those who can tip the balance against her favor. Malacañang as usual is willing to fabricate stories to control an institution that is still deemed as one of the kingmakers in Philippine politics. (more…)

July 19, 2006 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Make the government accountable for authoritarian adventurism, CHR urged

The Commission on Human Rights started it’s hearing for the complaint we filed against the PNP. Read below our press release:

AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros urged today the Commission on Human Rights to determine the full extent of the government’s accountability over its draconian policies, as the commission begins its investigation on PNP’s illegal arrests during a Women’s Day rally. Rep. Hontiveros said that the government’s recent pronouncements on the validity of its dictatorial actions after an alleged coup attempt gives the CHR a good chance to slap the wrist of Malacañang and hopefully clip its authoritarian adventurism. (more…)

July 14, 2006 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

Killing of farmers has to stop!

Another peasant leader from Task Force Mapalad in Negros got killed on June 26, 2006.

He was killed not only by the murderers. He was also killed by the government’s apparent inertia and apathy in solving agrarian violence. With so many unresolved killings of farmers and beneficiaries of agrarian reform, the government seems to be tolerating and supporting this brutal strategy of landlords to block the full implementation of CARP. (more…)

July 14, 2006 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Searching for ‘Toto’

A day before the filing of the civil society-led impeachment complaint, children from urban poor communities in Quezon City joined the search for ‘Toto’, a dog that was kidnapped by an Evil Queen. ‘Toto’, short for ‘katotohanan’, is the main protagonist in AKBAYAN’s children story-telling activity to teach the future generation of vital human values like truth and justice.”

Written by AKBAYAN lawyer Jae dela Cruz, the story tells of an Evil Queen who stole the sun, moon and the stars and kept a village in perpetual darkness. It was only through the barking of Toto, a defiant and brave dog, that the villagers were able to keep track of time, but even Toto was kidnapped by the ruthless Evil Queen. Toto was saved and daytime was restored when the villagers united and marched in protest of the Evil Queen’s deeds. (more…)

June 25, 2006 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment

anti-prostitution bill sent back to technical working group

The House Committee on Revision of Laws, chaired by Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, Jr., decided in a meeting last Wednesday, June 7, 2006, to send back the consolidated Anti-Prostitution Bill to the Technical Working Group. Rep. Roilo Golez and Rep. Domogan, among others, proposed that the draft consolidated version be brought back to the Technical Working Group to answer questions on the culpability of the prostituted person. In short, they are questioning one of the premises of the bill: that a prostituted person is a victim of violence.

We filed the Anti-Prostitution Bill (HB 2419) to shift the blame from the prostituted person to the perpetrator and the patron of prostitution. It does not seek to legalize the industry; rather, it wants to criminalize the industry and not the prostituted persons, the only ones being penalized under our current laws.

The bill seeks to:

  • Decriminalize prostituted persons by repealing anti-vagrancy and white slavery provisions of the Revised Penal Code. This shifts culpability from the victims of prostitution to the buyers and perpetrators (pimps, organizers, etc.) of prostitution.
  • Affirm the principle of equal protection by protecting anyone, regardless of sex, gender and sexual orientation, from prostitution.
  • Impose harsh penalties on the perpetrators and patrons of prostitution. The penalty for all acts of prostitution is 20 years imprisonment, one to two million pesos in fines, and mandatory human rights education. If the perpetrator or patron is also a victim of prostitution, the years of imprisonment is reduced to 15 years imprisonment and the fine is lowered to five hundred thousand to one million pesos. Mandatory human rights education is also imposed to all perpetrators and buyers of prostitution.
  • Give mandate to the national government to develop “healing programs” for victims of prostitution. It creates the National Anti-Prostitution Council to enforce the law, with DTI, NEDA and DOLE as members to address access to opportunities for prostituted persons.
  • Establish trust fund from confiscated properties of sellers for the state’s anti-prostitution education and livelihood programs.

To punish prostituted persons is to negate the exploitation that governs that prostitution industry. Women in the prostitution industry are oftentimes victims of trafficking and other forms of violence – to put impose culpability on them is a form of injustice that reflects a prevailing bias against women.

The Committee on Revision of Laws has not scheduled a TWG for the bill yet. But this recess, we, along with anti-prostitution advocates like the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), would try to convince members of the committee to expedite the approval of the bill.

June 10, 2006 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

anti-insurgency campaign or a broad crackdown against the opposition?

We’ve been informed by Bulacan Rep. Lorna Silverio that last weekend, a ‘peace rally’ organized by the military burned effigies of opposition leaders, including myself. The peace rally was the culminating activity of a 3-day anti-insurgency workhop that the military organized in a town in Bulacan. It was attended by about three thousand people, and local government officials and former communist rebel leaders spoke during the mobilization.

This method, which was also employed by the military during the Martial Law, is by no means a simple propaganda strategy. It seeks to intimidate opposition groups and prime local communities of the possibility that the target of the witch hunt would eventually expand. The core message of the anti-insurgency workshop, including these “peace rallies”, is for the communities to fight the New People’s Army and the Communist Party (labanan ang CPP-NPA). It is a dangerous call, especially since the military allegedly leaves the decision to the communities whether they want to take up arms and build paramilitary groups or not.


May 30, 2006 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

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