Teachers denounce military surveillance on National Artist Lumbera

(Originally posted on September 17, 2009)


The Alliance of Concerned Teachers today denounced the military for conducting surveillance operations on National Artist for Literature Prof. Bienvenido Lumbera.
Lumbera is currently the national chairperson of ACT Teachers Party-list and a former national chairperson of ACT. He is also a convenor of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines. Recently, Lumbera played a prominent role in protesting Malacanang’s intervention in the National Artist awards.

At around 6 a.m. today, a group of men were seen taking photographs and asking questions about the residence of Lumbera in a subdivision in Quezon City. One of the men was approached and apprehended by subdivision security guards. The man admitted to being intelligence personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Upon inspection of his identification cards, he was identified as Corporal Guerrero Hannival Mosura Mondido of the Philippine Marines.

“We denounce the military surveillance targeting Prof. Lumbera,” said ACT national chairperson Antonio Tinio. “We believe that he is being monitored due to his leadership role in ACT Teachers Party-list, a newly formed progressive Party-list of teachers that intends to participate in the 2010 elections.” Tinio noted that Lumbera’s residence is publicly registered as the national headquarters of ACT Teachers Party-list.

“We consider this a serious threat to the safety and security of our colleague, given the AFP’s track record of human rights violations against leaders and members of progressive Party-list groups and people’s organizations. We will hold the AFP and the Arroyo government accountable should Prof. Lumbera or any member of ACT Teachers Party-list or ACT come to any harm.”

Tinio called on the commanding general of the Marines, Maj. General Juancho Sabban, to publicly explain why his soldiers were monitoring the Lumbera residence. “In the first place, why are the Marines using its personnel to target a civilian? Does the military consider Prof. Lumbera a so-called enemy of the state because of his involvement in ACT Teachers Party-list? Gen. Sabban must explain how such an operation can be justified.”

ACT vowed to raise the matter with the Commission on Human Rights. “The branding of those critical of the Arroyo government as ‘communist fronts’ and ‘enemies of the state’ is an ongoing practice used by the military to justify surveillance, harassment, and violence against progressive organizations and individuals. This is what Prof. Lumbera is experiencing. This practice must stop,” said Tinio. ###