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[ 8 Dec 2016 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE
08 December 2016
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio (0920-922-0817) and Rep. France Castro (0920-969-8457)

Regularization is the best gift this season for JOs and COSs – Solons

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and France Castro welcome President Duterte’s approval of Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Taguiwalo’s recommendation to give cash gifts to Job Order (JOs), contract of service (COSs), and project-based (PB) workers in the government. However, the solons maintain that the government has yet to regularize these workers in order to realize Duterte’s promise to end “endo” or “end of contract” in the country.

Taguiwalo originally recommended a minimum of P10,000 incentive for each worker but upon the remark of Department of Budget and Management Sec. Benjamin Diokno that it would cost the government around P3.5 Billion, the President approved giving only P2,000 bonus each to more than 100,000 COS, JO and PB workers.

“We laud the President’s move but the only way for government to fully recognize the contributions of COS, JO and PB workers is to make them regular employees,” said Tinio. “It is high time that we give those who are qualified for plantilla positions the same status as regular employees for they are actually performing regular functions of the agencies they serve.”

The solons are staunch advocates of the rights and welfare of these contractual employees in the government. During the 2017 budget deliberations, Rep. Tinio castigated the Civil Service Commission for the alarming data of 595,162 employees in the government hired under job order in 2016. Their number had doubled in the span of two years since 2014.

Tinio pointed out that the practice of hiring COS, JO and PB workers to perform regular functions of government agencies violates the Administrative Code and other laws. He also scored the failure of CSC and COA to issue regulations that will protect their rights. Rep. Castro had been urging the increase of the number of plantilla positions in the different agencies.

“Ending “endo” in government is protecting the rights of thousands of Filipinos who toil in government agencies, including state colleges and universities or SUCs without security of tenure,” Castro ended.

Activities »

[ 7 Dec 2016 | No Comment ]

Privilege Speech of ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro | 07 December 2016

 

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of personal and collective privilege as I ask each and everyone — hanggang kailan po natin hahayaan ang pagtapak sa mga karapatang pantao ng mga bilanggong politikal?

Allow me to begin with the words of a colleague in the teachers’ movement:

Anecdote: Rene Boy Abiva Case

“Isa akong social worker Lunes hanggang Biyernes [sa Baggao, probinsya ng Cagayan, DSWD Field Office 02], Sabado’t Linggo’y ginugol sa pag-aaral sa Graduate School ng Cagayan State University.  Dahil batid na kailangan ang paglahok ng sektor-guro sa panlipunang pagbabago, tumulong ako sa pagmumulat, pag-oorganisa, at pagmomobilisa ng pampublikong guro sa ilalim ng Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).  Isang makabayan, militante, at progresibong organisasyon ng mga guro para sa katuparan ng kanilang nasa na maging ahente ng kamulatan…Ang karanasan nila sa araw-araw ay karanasan din ng mga pesante at manggagawa–mga karanasang nagpapatibay sa kung anong klaseng lipunan mayroon ang Pilipinas.  Mapanupil, mapang-api, at komersyalisado ang sistema ng edukasyong kanilang kinikilusan. . .

“Disyembre 28, 2013, araw ng pag-igkas ng lahat–araw ng pag-aresto sa akin…

“Isa akong bilanggo ngayon, suot ay kamisetang dilaw…Ngayon, sa probinsya ng Ifugao, dito sa piitang ginawang garison, kasama’y tatlo pang detenidong pulitikal na miyembro ng kilusang pesante, isinasailalim sa nakapanlulumong kalagayan…

“Ito ba ang sukli sa pagsisilbi sa sambayanan?  Ang kapalit sa ating kolektibong paghahanap ng tunay at batayang kabuluhan ng pagiging tao?  O ganti sa paglalahad sa katotohanan na sa likod ng mga slogang ‘daang matuwid’, ‘demokrasya’, ‘kalayaan’, at ‘kawalan ng korupsyon’ ay eksklusibong kagandahan, karangyaan, kapangyarihan, gara, at luho para sa iilan na pinaghaharian ang bansa?”

“Ako si Rene Boy Abiva…kasalukuyang nakapiit sa BJMP-Cordillera Administrative Region.  Isa ako sa daan-daang detenidong pulitikal sa buong kapuluan na pinagdurusahan ng matagal ang mga gawa-gawang kaso.”

Ginoong Speaker, si Rene Boy ay isang social worker ng DSWD, organisador ng mga guro at pesanteng komunidad, at aktibista—pero ayon sa militar, siya ay responsable sa isang ambush sa mga sundalo, isang rebelde.

Amidst the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the national Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), around 400 political prisoners are still suffering behind bars on the basis of malicious, fabricated charges.

This Representation maintains that they have suffered long enough behind bars.  In fact, they should not have suffered in the first place—they are only activists from marginalized sectors who, in their struggle with the masses for their economic, social, and political rights, are branded as rebels by past administrations, the military and the police, and the Oplan Bayanihan.  We demand their immediate release so that justice is realized, so that they can return to the communities they serve.

Political Prisoners from the Education sector:  Zara Alvarez, Rhea Pareja, Dominiciano Muyo and Amelia Pond

Si Rene Boy ay isa lamang sa mga detenidong pulitikal mula sa sektor na aking kinabibilangan.  Tiyak na hindi pinaligtas ng karahasan ng Oplan Bayanihan ang sektor ng edukasyon, dahil kabilang sa mga biktima nito ay mga guro at organisador ng militanteng kilusang guro na ang tanging layunin ay lumaban kasama ang mamamayan para sa isang lipunang kinikilala ang kanilang karapatan at kagalingan.  Itinuring na kriminal ang kanilang pulitikal na paniniwala at aktibidad sa pamamagitan ng pagsasampa ng mga gawa-gawa at malisyosong kaso.  Dahil sa ito sa tortyur sa kustodiya ng pulis at militar, at di makataong kalagayan sa piitan, marami sa kanila ay nagkasakit o lumala ang mga dati nang sakit.  Gaya ng tinuran ni Rene Boy, ITO PO BA ANG ISUSUKLI SA KANILA NG PAMAHALAAN KAPALIT NG PAGLILINGKOD SA KAPWA PILIPINO?

One of them is Rhea Pareja, a volunteer teacher for peasants in Quezon, now in jail under false charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. She was participating in the Adult Literacy Program of ACT when she was arrested in March 2010 in Mulanay. When the military arrested Teacher Rhea, they took P70,000, a laptop, fruit, toiletries, pencils, paper, and notebooks—all for the children and barangays in her care—and of course, her freedom.  What the military gave her instead?  Planted evidence, coined aliases, and, to pin her on the charges, a red tag: she is allegedly an NPA.  She developed tuberculosis after physical and psychological torture and six years of difficult and unsanitary jail conditions.

Lumad educators Dominiciano “Dioning” Muya and Amelia Pond are also ailing political prisoners.  Ka Dioning was a school agriculturist and Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) teacher of Salugpungan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI) in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. The military arrested him in October 2014 in Tagum City, presented the teacher as a top-ranking leader of the New People’s Army (NPA), then collected a P4.8 million bounty.  He now suffers from pneumonia and bronchitis, in an isolated prison facility in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. He was reinfected with tuberculosis due to prison conditions.

Teacher Amy was a volunteer teacher, researcher, and curriculum developer for STTICLCI when she was illegally arrested in August 2016 under a defective warrant in the name of one Adelfa Toledo, an alleged NPA official in Davao. The CIDG agents planted fake IDs at the very scene of her arrest then charged her with murder and frustrated murder. This illegal arrest occurred a few months before the first round of the Oslo talks, while the government is supposedly preparing for the resumption of the peace talks. Now 64 years old, she is under hospital arrest at the Southern Philippines Medical Hospital, after an operation on her lumbar spine.  She also has chronic renal infection, osteoporosis, and hyperlipidemia.

A former political prisoner, recently released on bail but still slapped with fabricated charges, is Zara Alvarez, a teacher, political activist, and human rights defender in Negros.  Writing about her arrest on October 30, 2012 by the military in her hometown of Cadiz, she said:

“Around 30 fully armed men surrounded me and pointed their gun at me. Cases of human rights violations where we documented extrajudicial killings or enforced disappearances came to my mind. I thought, maybe this is the moment, this time it´s me. At the police station I learned that I was arrested for the murder of a first lieutenant in the Philippine army. I did not get any other information, they just handed me the warrant. My name was written incorrectly and also my address was wrong.”

Mr. Speaker, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of teachers Rhea, Dioning, and Amy, and the dismissal of the fabricated charges against them, teacher Zara, and the rest of political prisoners this government has baselessly detained.  Their health conditions prove the urgency of their release.  This government should not wait for another detainee to die before fulfilling its commitment under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).  This is not a matter of charity, Mr. Speaker—this is a matter of life and death, and one of honest compliance to commitments already agreed to and yet to be agreed to.  Free them now, in time for the coming International Human Rights Day. Do not let them spend another Christmas behind bars.

Paninigil sa Gobyernong Duterte:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to underscore the government’s failure to release political prisoners since President Duterte dangled the possibility of a general amnesty in May. I reiterate the demand of ACT Teachers Party-List for the government to release around 400 political prisoners, including 130 who are ailing and elderly, some of whom are teachers.

Hindi maaring gawing bargaining chip ng Pangulo ang mga nakakulong na political prisoners para masunod ang kanyang agenda sa negotiating table na magkaroon agad ng bilateral ceasefire habang wala pang mga substansyal na repormang sosyal-ekonomiko na napagkakasunduan. Ang pagpapalaya sa mga bilanggong political ay pagtupad sa mga pinirmahang kasunduan sa pagitan ng gobyerno at NDFP. The release of the political prisoners is a matter of justice and protection of human rights. It is also in compliance with the signed CARHRIHL.

Their detention has no place under an administration that brands itself as one for change. It shows that, far from discontinuing the heinous Oplan Bayanihan, government still implements it as if it were legal and democratic. It proves political repression still remains under the Duterte administration.

Patuloy na Oplan Bayanihan

Mula nang maipatupad ang Oplan Bayanihan sa ilalim ni Aquino lumobo ang bilang ng mga progresibo, aktibista at mga rebolusyonaryong sinampahan ng gawa-gawang kasong kriminal, sa layuning sila’y patahimikin at pigilan sa pagtindig para sa mahihirap na mamamayan.

Kinakailangang patunayan ng Pangulong Duterte ang kanyangng sinseridad sa Peace Talks sa pamamagitan ng pagtigil sa Oplan Bayanihan at ang ibinubunsod nitong red-baiting at vilification, mga walang batayang kriminal na pagpaparatang sa mga aktibista’t tagapagtaguyod ng karapatang pantao at pagtukoy sa kanila bilang mga target ng mga vigilante, paramilitary at mismo ng Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Violations by the Government of its own unilateral ceasefire, Harassment of Schools

Aming ipinapanawagan ang paggalang ng mga sundalo at pulis sa magkahiwalay na dineklarang tigil putukan. Ang pananatili ng mga bata-batalyong mga sundalo ng AFP sa mga komunidad ng mga magsasaka’t katutubo ay nagdudulot ng maraming paglabag sa karapatang pantao at nagbibigay daan para sa ibayong pananalasa ng malalaking dayuhang minahan at plantasyon at pagpigil sa makatarungang pammahagi ng lupa sa mga magsasaka. Ang nangyaring panghaharas sa mga guro, studyante at administrador ng Palimbang Lumad school ng mga elemento ng gobyerno ay mariin naming kinokondena.

Reiterate Plea for Release of PPs, Invite Participation for Dec 3-10 HR Campaign

From December 3, political prisoners in detention facilities nationwide as well as human rights advocates are staging a hunger strike that will culminate in International Human Rights Day, December 10. The hunger strike demands for the immediate release of 400 political prisoners, especially the sick, elderly, and those who have been long detained.

Yesterday, Rep. Antonio Tinio and I joined the nationwide hunger strike of all political prisoners. We fast today in protest of the injustice of a government that considers service to the poor, militancy, and dissent as rebellious and criminal. We call on President Duterte to free them now.

We urge the government to protect the Human Rights of every Filipino

The ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will be pointless if the previously signed agreements like the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIRL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) are ignored. Government’s disregard of its duties under these agreements is what caused the criminalization of the activism of our political prisoners and the illegal arrests and detention of peace consultants.

Hinihikayat ang lahat na makiisa sa Solidarity Fast na isinasagawa ngayon ng mga bilanggong pulitikal, kanilang mga kaanak at mga nagsusulong ng karapatang pantao.

Palayain na ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal at lansagin ang Oplan Bayanihan tungo sa pagsulong ang usapang pangkapayapaan!

Maraming salamat at magandang hapon sa ating lahat.

Activities »

[ 30 Nov 2016 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE
30 November 2016

Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio and Rep. France Castro

received_10154105565470036

ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro join the November 30 mobilization in Mendiola to commemorate the life of a true national hero, Andres Bonifacio. His legacy remains an inspiration to the filipino people to continue to fight against the neoliberal policies in the country and to struggle for national democracy.

“Bonifacio is a true Filipino hero. His spirit lives in the Filipino people who continue to fight for independence, national democracy and genuine change for the country.” Tinio said, “We also celebrate the modern day Bonifacios, those who genuinely serve and protect the interest of the Filipino people. Not the tyrants, dictators and human rights violators like Marcos.”

Tinio added “The nationalist and democratic struggles of today is not different from the anti-colonial and anti-feudal struggles during the time of Bonifacio. The neoliberal attacks on education and in our society in general limits and binds the Filipino people with policies that robs us from our right to education, and other social services.”

Castro said “We fight with the peasants, workers, youth, educators and other sectors of our society for genuine agrarian reform, the regularization of jobs, accessible and quality education, for the increase in salary and for lower income taxes of our educators and our people. We continue the unfinished struggle of Andres Bonifacio for genuine sovereignty, social justice, and democracy.” Tinio ended.

The protest assembly would be in Welcome Rotonda at 9 am. Participants would then march to Mendiola from 12 noon to 2 pm where they will hold the main program.###

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Activities, Headline, News »

[ 23 Nov 2016 | No Comment ]

PRESS RELEASE

23 November 2016
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro (0920-969-8457)

Stop the attacks on Lumad schools! – Castro

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro joined the protest led by the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, an advocate of alternative education for our Lumad brothers and sisters, calling for an immediate stop to the recent attacks in schools at Sultan Kudarat, November 22 at Department of Education, Pasig City.

Since October 11, students and teachers of Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS), a community school for Dulangan Manobos in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat had been harassed and intimidated by representatives of DepEd, DSWD, DILG, the local government including Mayor Abubacar “Bakre” Maulana, and combined elements of the PNP and the Philippine Marines. Due to this continuing harassment, about 1,003 students including adult learners were affected and have stop schooling up to this writing.

Rep. Castro urged Education Secretary Liling Briones to reprimand Pudja Acub, DepEd Region 12 Director as well as other government officials/personalities involved in the harassment, vilification and intimidation of students, teachers, and community leaders of CLANS in the municipality of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

“Sec. Liling Briones had been consistently reminding us that she is an advocate of alternative education and learning systems. She should prove that by standing for the Lumads and exacting accountability from her colleagues in the cabinet for the actions of their local officials against the Lumad school,” Castro said.

“The new Secretary should scrap DepEd Memo 221 that legalizes the military encampment in schools because this only brings terror to students, teachers, and to the communities who had been deprived of their right to education for so long,” Castro added.

“With the persisting threats to the lives of our Lumad brothers and sisters despite the peace talks between the GRP and NDFP and the government’s own ceasefire declaration, it is clear that the current administration of Pres. Duterte still implements and even intensifies the US-sponsored counterinsurgency war with the rebel groups, or the Oplan Bayanihan,” Castro explained.

DepEd Memo 221, ibasura!
Lumadnong paaralan, huwag kampuhan!
Oplan Bayanihan, ibasura!