Activities »

[ 18 Jan 2017 | Comments Off on Solons support NDFP’s draft of CASER ]
PRESS RELEASE
18 January 2017
Reference:  ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-922-0817) and  Rep. France Castro (0920-969-8457)
Solons support NDFP’s draft of CASER
ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro support the upcoming third round of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) set to be held in January 19 to 24 in Rome to finalize the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
“Reforms under CASER will tackle proposals that will address poverty, hunger, jobless growth, labor export, rural deprivation, homelessness, wealth disparity, and environmental deterioration,” Tinio said. “The resolution of these issues is what we have long been struggling for.”  “There would only be just and lasting peace if and when the roots of the armed conflicts are addressed,” Tinio added.
“In line with our fight for free education, health, and other social services as well as salary increases and benefits for teachers and other government employees and lower income taxes, we teachers urge the parties to propose and bind themselves to a pro-people CASER,” Castro added.  “It is the NDFP’s 84-page draft of socio-economic reforms that included our peoples demands that will bind government to uplift the lives of the Filipino people by working towards a genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, by ensuring job creation and decent salaries and by providing social services that the people need for a decent life.  It will bind government to abandon its decades-long implementation of neoliberal economic policies which have been proven to only cater to the interests of the elites and not the majority of the Filipino people,” Castro ended.  ###

Activities »

[ 9 Dec 2016 | Comments Off on Dialogue with DepEd on the Status of the Assistance Fund to Victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda and the Bohol Earthquake ]

Rep. Castro and the Visayan leader-teachers had a dialogue with DepEd regarding the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) assistance fund:

– Dir. Ronilda Co of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Service (DRRMS) explained the nature of the Presidential Social Fund (PSF) given by the PMS to the victims of the supertyphoon Yolanda and the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which hit provinces of Visayas. She presented the timeline of events regarding this assistance fund from January, 2014 onwards. Dir. Co reiterated that the whole amount of the assistance per teachers will not be released without full liquidation of all teacher-beneficiaries in all divisions belonging to the same batch.

– Rep. Castro probed into the problem of the delays since the PMS created the assistance fund in January, 2014. She asked about the reasons behind the delays of the liquidation in the division level. Dir. Co pointed out that the auditing by field COA is a factor in the delay. Co reported that in Bohol, Cebu and Tagbilaran, there are thousands of liquidation documents tabled in the local COA office. As per PMS issuance, they may accept the certification by the Division Accountant pursuant to COA Guidelines to hasten the audit process.

 

Commitments/Resolutions:

  1. USec. Muyot said that he will ask the PMS to take a “liberal interpretation” of their agreed policies for release. To make it equitable to all, those who have submitted complete documents in time of the deadline should be given the full amount of assistance, regardless if the others in the same batch were not able to comply.
  2. Dir. Co will call the attention of the SDS of those divisions who have not yet submitted their liquidation of the 1st tranche or have incomplete documents.
  3. The parties in the dialogue agreed that they will lobby for a 3rd batch of beneficiaries to cover those who were excluded but are qualified beneficiaries. All those not included upon the Dec 1, 2016 deadline set must be included. DepEd will ask PMS for the terms of evidence to be required for a 3rd batch.
  4. Usec Muyot asked Dir. Co to immediately contact Dir. Domingo Flores of the PMS to set a meeting with an Associate Secretary to negotiate with. DepEd, along with a representative of ACT Philippines will set a meeting with PMS on December 19.
  5. DepEd agreed to provide ACT coordinators in the field a list of teachers who have deficiencies in their liquidation requirements and what are their specific deficiencies. A one week deadline was set by DepEd for the compliance of divisions with deficiencies.1 2 3

Activities »

[ 8 Dec 2016 | Comments Off on Regularization is the best gift this season for JOs and COSs – Solons ]

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 | Comments Off on Uphold Human Rights, Free all Political Prisoners! ]

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.