UPLB PERSPECTIVE OPISYAL NA PAHAYAGAN NG MGA MAG-AARAL NG UNIBERSIDAD NG PILIPINAS LOS BAÑOS
NEWS | 5
BOR rejects calls to end the semester
EDITORIAL | 2
FEATURE | 6
Behind the walls of repression
PANAHON NG PAGHUHUKOM
◆ TOMO XLVI, BLG. 6
CULTURE | 8
Lingering horrors of ‘Aswang’
OPINION | 11
Science and politics: A tale of two predicaments
DECEMBER 3, 2020 | UPLB PERSPECTIVE
Panahon ng paghuhukom
alinaw sa kalagayan ng bayan ngayon na hindi magkalayo sa aspeto ng ekonomiya, pulitika, at kultura ang diktadurang Marcos at rehimeng Duterte. Katulad ni Marcos, binigyang-diin ni Duterte ang pagpapatayo ng mga imprastraktura sa ilalim ng ilusyon ng kaunlaran na pinapalaganap ng estado. Sa Timog Katagalugan, niraratsada na ng rehimen sa loob ng programang Build Build Build ang isang proyekto ng diktadurang Marcos: ang pagpapatayo ng New Centennial Water Source o Kaliwa Dam na siyang nilalagay sa peligro ang mga nalalapit na komunidad sa Quezon at Rizal, lalo na ang mga pamayanan ng pambansang minoryang Dumagat at Remontado. Naging laganap din ang matinding pangungutang ng pamahalaan sa ibang bansa at sa mga transnasyunal na institusyong pang-ekonomiya tulad ng World Bank at International Monetary Fund (IMF), na siyang patuloy na binabaon sa utang at hirap ang taumbayan. Naging konsolidado na rin ang kapangyarihan ng rehimen sa iba’t ibang sangay ng pamahalaan, dahilan ng pagwawalang-singil ng pananagutan sa mga pasistang atake ng ehekutibo sa mga mamamayan. Naging konsolidado na rin ang kapangyarihan ng rehimen sa iba’t ibang sangay ng pamahalaan, dahilan ng pagwawalang-singil ng pananagutan sa mga pasistang atake ng ehekutibo sa mga mamamayan. Naging malinaw ito sa mga kamakailang desisyon ng Kongreso na ipasara ang ABS-CBN at ipasa ang mga anti-mamamayang polisiya tulad ng Rice Liberalization Act, TRAIN Law, at ang madugong Anti-Terrorism Law. Mistulang hindi pa sapat para sa administrasyon ang kahirapan, gutom, at pamamaslang - kailangan bintangan pa ang mga nakikibakang sektor bilang mga terorista. Katulad din ng martial law ni Marcos, naging matindi ang mga paglabag ng estado sa mga karapatang-pantao sa ilalim ni Duterte. Ayon sa pinakabagong isyu ng Karapatan Monitor, umabot na sa bilang na 308 ang mga biktima ng extrajudicial killings sa kasulukuyang rehimen, karamihan nanggaling sa Timog Mindanao, samantalang 12 naman sa Timog Katagalugan. Maiuugat itong mga pasistang programa ng pamahalaan tulad ng Oplan Kapanatagan na pinangungunahan ng berdugong kapulisan at militar, at ang ‘wholeof-nation approach’ ng Executive Order 70, na siyang nagtatag ng National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict na nagsisilbing braso ng propaganda ng estado. Maiuugat itong mga pasistang programa ng pamahalaan tulad ng Oplan Kapanatagan na pinangungunahan ng berdugong kapulisan at militar, at ang ‘whole-of-nation approach’ ng Executive Order 70, na siyang nagtatag ng National Task Force to End Local Communist
SINCE 1973 • TOMO XLVI, BILANG 6 Ang opisyal na pahayagan ng mga mag-aaral ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas Los Baños • uplbperspective.org Room 11, 2nd Floor Student Union Building, UPLB 4013 Miyembro, UP Alliance of Student Publications and Writers’ Organizations (UP Solidaridad) at ng College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)
[P] GRAPHIC BY RALPH CANEOS
Ang pagsupil, pagmimilitarisa at pambobomba sa mga komunidad, at pamamaslang sa mga lider-masa at inosenteng sibilyan, ang siyang mismong tumutulak sa kanila lumahok sa pakikibaka.
Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) na nagsisilbing braso ng propaganda ng estado. Sa pamamagitan ng makinarya ng propaganda, ang NTF-ELCAC, AFP, PNP, at mga bayarang troll, ay patuloy na kumakalat ang disimpormasyon at black propaganda sa mga mamamayang nakikibaka bilang parte ng digmaang sikolohikal ng rehimen. Ito ang ginagamit na sandata ng estado upang makuha ang suporta ng mga taong pinagkait ng impormasyon, o kung di kaya ay ginagamit ito bilang panakot sa mga komunidad na huwag sumuporta sa mga progresibong grupo partikular sa mga pambansa-demokratikong pangmasang organisasyon. Subalit, walang magagawa ang estado sa paglalantad ng tunay na katangian nito. Patuloy na lumalawak sa hanay ng masang pinagsasamantalahan ang nakakaalam kung sino
JUAN SEBASTIAN EVANGELISTA Punong Patnugot
SOPHIA PUGAY Patnugot ng Kultura
DEAN CARLO VALMEO Patnugot sa Online
MARK ERNEST FAMATIGAN Kapatnugot
SONYA MARIELLA CASTILLO Patnugot ng Produksyon
KENNLEE OROLA Patnugot ng Opinyon
MAC ANDRE ARBOLEDA AT DIANNE SANCHEZ Tagapamahalang Patnugot
JANDELLE CRUZ Kapatungot sa Grapiks
KENNETH REMENTILLA Patnugot ng Orgwatch
CYRIL CHAYANNE CHAN Kapatungot sa Litrato
AESHA DOMINIQUE SARROL Tagapamahala ng Sirkulasyon
IAN RAPHAEL LOPEZ Patnugot ng Paglalapat
KRISTINE PAULA BAUTISTA Tagapamahala ng Pinansya
REUBEN PIO MARTINEZ Patnugot ng Balita MICHAEL JAMES MASANGYA Patnugot ng Lathalain
ang tunay na kalaban ng sambayanang Pilipino. Ang pagsupil, pagmimilitarisa at pambobomba sa mga komunidad, at pamamaslang sa mga lider-masa at inosenteng sibilyan ang siyang mismong tumutulak sa kanila lumahok sa pakikibaka. Ito ang nangyari noong batas militar ni Marcos, at umabot pa sa libo-libo ang kumilos nang lihim upang patalsikin siya sa pwesto at baguhin ang sistema. Hindi lang ang rehimen at ang malubhang kalagayan ng bansa ang maihahalintulad sa nakaraan. Habang tumitindi ang mga atake sa mga mamamayan ay higit na lumalakas din ang hanay ng mga lumalaban at nakikibaka. Lubusang nag-oorganisa ang taongbayan, bumubuo ng alyansa, at nagkakaisa sa mga panawagan upang patalsikin ang neoliberal na diktador na si Duterte. Sa gitna ng de facto Martial Law ni Duterte, mistulang araw-araw na ang mga kilos-protestang nagaganap sa buong bansa, at muling nangyayari ang Sigwa ng Unang Sangkapat. Patuloy na lumalala ang mga salik na nagtutulak sa mga mamamayan upang makiisa sa pakikibaka. Sa pagkonsolida ni Duterte ng kanyang diktador, ay nagpapatibay din ng hanay ang masang bumabalikwas. Bagamat may pandemya at pagdami ng presensya ng mga pwersa ng estado sa kanayunan at kalunsuran, hindi nagpatigil ang sambayanang kumikilos sa pagrehistro ng kanilang mga panawagan sa pagawaan, bukirin, at lansangan. Sunod-sunod ang mga naging kilos-protesta sa mga pamantasan tulad ng UPLB, UP Diliman, at ADMU bunsod ng pagsasawalang-bahala ng rehimen sa sangkaestudyantehan. Kumilos din ang mga magsasaka ng Lupang Ramos sa Dasmarinas upang kundenahin ang pagpapatayo ng transmission tower sa kanilang lupa, at kinalampag din ng mga manggagawa ng Nexperia Philippines, Inc. ang kanilang pamunuan para sa hazard pay at makabuluhang Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Kamakailan lang ay lumagablab muli ang militansya ng mga sektor sa Timog Katagalugan sa paggunita ng ika-157 na araw ni Bonifacio. Tunay na hindi pa nawawala ang palabang diwa ng mga mamamayan para sa pagbalikwas mula sa mapang-aping sistema. Ilang dekada man ang lumipas, patuloy pa rin na lumiliyab ang sulo ng rebolusyon. Ani Lenin, may mga dekada na walang pangyayari at may mga linggo na dekada ang pangyayari. Ang kasaysayan ng ating lipunan ay patuloy na hinuhubog ng walang katapusang tunggalian sa pagitan ng nananamantala at pinagsasamantalahan. Nasa panahon na naman ang bayan kung kailan patuloy na nilulugmok ang mga mamamayan sa gutom at hirap. Dali-daling lumalapit ang panahon ng paghuhukom. Ito’y pantayan natin ng makabayang pagkilos, paglaban, at pakikibaka.
MGA KAWANI Felipa Cheng, Lindsay Peñaranda, Aynrand Galicia, Andrei Gines, Angelin Ulayao, Aubrey Carnaje, Caren Malaluan, Ma. Victoria Almazan, Paul Carson, Ruben Belmonte, Caleb Buenaluz, Jericho Bajar, Joaquin Gonzalez IV, Jermaine Valerio, Lora Domingo, Taj Aguirre, Gabriel Dolot, Noreen Donato, Patrice Bianca Yapjoco, Claire Denise Sibucao, Jed Matthew Palo, Gerardo Jr. V. Laydia, Abel Genovaña DIBUHO NG PABALAT Jermaine Valerio
UPLB PERSPECTIVE | DECEMBER 3, 2020
Bicol still in the dark after ‘Ulysses’ Weeks after three typhoons ravaged the Bicol region, challenges posed by the pandemic have worsened. WO R D S A N D P H OTO S BY R U B E N B E L M O N T E
IRIGA CITY — Since the last week of October, in the days leading up to All Saints’ Day, the whole Bicol region remained shrouded in darkness due to three consecutive typhoons that entered the Philippines in November. Tropical cyclone Quinta, super typhoon Rolly, and Category 4-equivalent typhoon Ulysses carved their way through the country, with Bicol being the first to witness their intense wrath. Strong winds, heavy rains, and flash floods brought upon by Typhoon Ulysses greeted the Southern Tagalog region as early as November 11. This came after two previous storms, Quinta and Rolly, made their way through the country only less than a few weeks apart, leaving several homes destroyed and families displaced. Week after week, Bicolanos seemed to grow accustomed to bracing for another typhoon, even with the need to fix their ruined homes and properties. City- and region-wide blackouts were felt, signal reception was nowhere to be found, and week-long floods in downtown areas of the region were reported. Roughly a million families were evacuated to safe areas, despite the threat of Covid-19 still looming. Most middle-class houses partly braved the storms while a lot of bamboo-made homes were blown away by strong gusts of wind and washed by heavy rainfall. All of these, while fathoming just what the families had to go through. The fallout lingered for a couple more weeks as it has been catalyzed by how several local government units behaved during these trying times. Some were “missing-in-action” or have been taken advantage of by using tragedies as a platform for political campaigns. Worse, students in Bicol continue to endure pre-existing anxiety and stress brought about by online classes. The typhoons made it more only palpable, primarily due to missing academic responsibilities. The struggles were too intense that figuring out how to reach the University and their professors was just one of the significan’t causes of mental strife. Almost a month has passed since the storms, and even now, Bicolano students still struggle to secure Internet connection, while other families fight to survive in this newer normal. While hope remains for the people of the region, there is still a long way to go towards recovery. But for now, Bicol remains in the dark. W E LGA
Numerous trees were felled by the typhoon’s strong winds.
Electric posts and other structures were not spared by the wrath of ‘Ulysses’.
Flooding continues even after the storm, may it be on a road or in a farmland.
Quarrying has to be stopped in Rizal after enormous floods there. https://bit.ly/37rJX6X
UPLB students try to ‘stay afloat’ amid recent calamities and the demands of remote learning. BY J OA QU I N G O N Z A L E Z I V, REUBEN PIO MARTINEZ A N D GA B R I E L D O LOT
DECEMBER 3, 2020 | UPLB PERSPECTIVE
STUDYING AMID THIS RUBBLE?
U P L B P E R S P E C T I V E S TA F F W R I T E R S
UPLB student leaders called for an academic strike last NovemUPLB ber 17, in an effort to hasten the UP administration’s sluggish response to consecutive typhoons that made the process of “remote learning” harder than ever. The UPLB Council of Student Leaders (CSL), the consultative arm of the UPLB University Student Council (USC), officially declared the strike, echoing the calls of UP constituents system-wide to end the semester and pass all students. UPLB was the first campus in the UP system to declare an academic strike. “Kung ayaw ng UP na i-end ang sem, tayo ang mag-eend ng sem natin… Hangga’t hindi nila hine-heed ang demands natin, naka-welga tayo,” UPLB USC chairperson Jainno Bongon explained. The decision to declare a strike was made after deliberating with students from various organizations, including college student councils, organizations, party alliances, and the Perspective. The demands for the campaign that were discussed included the immediate ending of the semester, as well as mass promotion and a no fail policy for all students. (See related story on Page 5.) The creation of bridging programs, an assessment of the current semester, the crafting of a comprehensive plan for the next semester by December this year, and the exclusion of the current semester in the limit for free tuition were also included. The campaign also raised the option for students who filed for leave of absence to retract their application and instead become part of the mass promotion. UPLB USC said that it will soon be giving further clarifications on the campaign. As a member of the UPLB faculty present in the meeting, Prof. Mariyel Liwanag provided her suggestions for the strike and encouraged unity among students and teachers, who were also accounted for in the strike. “Kausapin ang buong klase. Magkaroon ng kaisahan. Alamin ang sitwasyon ng bawat isa sa klase,” Liwanag said. She encouraged students to discuss their situations with their faculty-in-charge and explain why there is an ongoing call for a strike. W E LGA
Support for strike growing As of press time, more than 2,500 students have already signed an online petition to end the semester now. But some professors already acted on their own. “Matalas, nakaugat sa lupa, at malinaw ang artikulasyon – TAPUSIN NA ANG SEMESTRE,” Department of Humanities’ (DHum) Dr. Emmanuel Dumlao wrote to his WIKA 1 class, one of those professors from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) to end the semester. Another CAS professor, Jethro Pugal was also one of the first to do so, even before the declaration of the strike. Pugal highlighted how students have to focus on matters outside of the class given that the circumstances are “not normal.” For the remaining sessions in his ETHICS 1 and
Kami-kami na rin lang ‘yung nagtutulungan... Wala kaming oras, enerhiya at kapasidad dahil inubos na ng bagyo G I O SA BA D O U P L B S T U D E N T A F F EC T E D BY F LO O D I N G I N C A GA YA N
students. “Sabi nga ng isang colleague, hindi naman nag-exist lang ang guro para magbigay ng grades. So maari pa din namang magtuloy ang education kahit walang requirements,” Pugal elaborated. More members of the faculty have ended their classes, like professors from the Department of Social Sciences and even the College of Veterinary Medicine. Last November 19, the All UP Academic Employees Union – Los Baños released an open letter addressed to the UPLB faculty, appealing to join the collective call to end the semester. “We have approximately 800 students residing in typhoon-ravaged provinces... this is not the kind of education that our students deserve,” the union said. The letter continued by list five results from “opening classrooms” no more graded assessments, continuous distribution of materials and sessions online, ungraded discussions or consultations with the students, and to craft a bridging program that would help in improving backloging skills.
Affected by the typhoon
The house of Leo Verdad, a student from the College of Development Communication, was reduced to rubbles during the onslaught of ‘Ulysses’.
Philosophy of Language classes, Pugal no longer required further assessments and had moved existing deadlines. He also opted to have remaining sessions be optional (and will be recorded and uploaded for the students) and be dedicated to discussions on current matters, as a means to have students learn without having to remove the context. Aside from Pugal and Dumlao, Mr. Daryl Pasion announced to his SPAN 10 classes that he will be ending the semester as well, thanking his students despite the short duration of their class. Mr. Josef Adriel De Guzman, meanwhile, told his STS 1 class that a brief “recovery week” will not be enough for his students to recover from recent events. “Surely, one week is not enough to recover for someone who lost all their possessions in a flood or typhoon. One week is not enough to mourn the loss of one’s loved ones, is not enough to go back to normal,” De Guzman said. Pugal called for other members of the faculty to be more understanding to the
UPLB students affected by November typhoons
UPLB’s diverse studentry poses a challenge to the continuation of remote learning. 1,732 students live in affected areas by the typhoon.
There are currently 1,732 UPLB students residing in the affected areas in Southern Tagalog and Cagayan, according to the Office of the University Registrar’s (OUR) Student Academic Information System team (SAIS) Team. According to the University Student Council’s (USC) survey last August, four out of five students were in situations unfit for online learning. Respondents noted having a lack of learning spaces, unreliable Internet connectivity, experiencing family problems including domestic violence and abuse, and them and their families experiencing financial instabilities. This survey was taken before the typhoons hit Luzon this November, and the calamity have surely brought more students in difficulty. Gio Sabado, a second-year Agricultural Biotechnology student from UPLB, was one of those severely affected by the flood in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. In an interview with the Perspective, he narrated the horrors of floodwater gushing from the Cagayan River. “Even with the updates we only saw from the internet [sic] of how Magat Dam would release water or open several gates. We did not have any idea which areas would be affected, how high the water would be, [and] what we needed to prepare. The water kept on rising even after the storm happened and our house’s first-floor was fully submerged in the flood,” Gio lamented. The calamity was a huge blow to their community, Gio said, mentioning that several barangays were still flooded and it took them three days to clean their house of mud. When asked about the plans to continue the semester, Gio seems to be focusing more on their recovery and a conscious effort to help the community. “Kami-kami na rin lang yung nagtutulungan. Pero napakahirap kasi magbigay ng bagay na wala rin sayo. Wala kaming oras, enerhiya at kapasidad dahil inubos na ng bagyo,” Gio added. “Please do not wait for storms to come to you before you realize how much we have suffered. We are grieving not only for our families but for our futures.”
Source UPLB OUR SAIS Team Infographic Ian Raphael Lopez
Netizens slam gov’t for ABS-CBN Regional absence in Typhoon Rolly https://bit.ly/2JjyGgo
UPLB PERSPECTIVE | DECEMBER 3, 2020
Chancellor faces dialogues with USC, while expresses his support for ending the semester. BY I A N RA P H A E L LO P E Z , A R O N M I TC H E L L S I E RVA A N D TA J SA M U E L L A G U L A O U P L B P E R S P E C T I V E S TA F F W R I T E R S
Amid recent typhoons that have battered weary students even more, newly-selected Chancellor Jose Camacho Jr. and his administration’s stance on a more compassionate UPLB administration was put into a test. Recent dialogues with the UPLB University Student Council (USC) centered on the dire state of 1,732 UPLB students in typhoon-ravaged areas. The question of whether to continue studying was raised by student leaders when discontent with the Duterte administration’s response to the pandemic intensified and reliability on the online set-up of learning dwindled day-by-day. Camacho’s vocality on one of the most prominent issues in the university is a far different stance from his predecessor Fernando Sanchez, Jr., who closed his term amid a perception of being “tone-deaf ” with the studentry. But with several groups calling for the end of the semester, and the recent declaration of an academic strike supported by more than 2,000 students, Camacho is continually challenged to uphold his promise of compassion in the university. W E LGA
Camacho’s vows tested in response to twin calamities
negotiate.” In the same vein, Silva encouraged students to “haggle” with their professors on their demands.
Online assessments ‘banned’ On November 20, Memorandum No. 173 was issued by the Office of the Chancellor stating that “giving online assessments are strictly prohibited” from that day on. This was followed by a clarification from Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Jean Loyola, saying that online assessments meant “online quizzes and exams”. “Even if some of our students were not directly or seriously hit by any of the typhoons ... they are still affected and distracted by the difficulties which more than 1,732 of our students have continued to experience,” the memorandum said. But reports received by the Perspective since the release of the memorandum shows that some members of the faculty are still giving out online quizzes, papers and examinations. A memorandum for clarification is yet to be issued by the UPLB admin. One freshman who requested confidentiality said that major adjustments in entering college was worsened by the pandemic and recent calamities. “The pandemic itself is bringing so much hardships not just academically pero in our life as a whole na. Dagdag pa ang recent typhoons na tumama sa’tin specifically sa’min sa Catanduanes,” she said. Notwithstanding the confusion, Camacho had expressed his support on calls to end the semester but saying that the overall stand of the UP System relied on the higher-ups. “It is still the president who will give the official stand of the university,” Camacho said in a dialogue with USC last November 19.
BOR won’t end the sem The Board of Regents (BOR), in their meeting last November 26, released the adjusted
A thorny issue
Chancellor Jose Camacho, Jr. in this year’s commemoration of the Martial Law anniversary in September (topmost). Camacho held a dialogue with the USC and the AVO. (above) [P] FILE PHOTO BY PAULA BAUTISTA/SCREENSHOT BY MARK FAMATIGAN
academic guidelines for the remainder of the current semester, as well as the succeeding semester and midyear. These include a “no-fail policy” that prohibits grades equivalent to 4.0 or 5.0, and continues the semester as scheduled, despite system-wide calls to end the sem early and pass all students. Also included was a provision wherein students who would not be able to comply with requirements before this semester ends will be given an “INC” grade and a year to fulfill the backlog. Before the BOR meeting, Camacho noted in the November 19 dialogue that faculty members have been giving varying opinions on the question of ending the semester. “Personally, there are already faculty who called to end the sem… it’s the faculty who would know well the situation of the students,” he said. On the other side, Camacho also said that faculty members were also concerned
that remote learning materials will be unused once the semester ends early. Juan Raphael Evangelista, convenor of the UPLB Alliance of Varsitarian Organizations (AVO), expressed that students would have liked to continue submitting their outputs but “not to the point na baggage na siya”. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Janette Silva said that there should be a consultative relationship between the students and faculty on these issues. “Ang concept ng academic freedom ay problematic as of this moment. P’wede niyong ipanawagan sa mga teachers ‘yun.” When Evangelista said that the power relations between students and teachers are unequal, Camacho vowed to reiterate his call for compassion. “I will cite specific instances ng mga ‘di makataong requiements ng mga faculty. Differentiated ang appreciation ng faculty. Ito uli ang ating magiging panawagan. Narecognize ko na you are powerless to
When Camacho was selected by the Board of Regents as UPLB’s tenth chancellor last September 24, students with pending MRR and readmission cases hailed the decision, after he vowed a swift resolution of these cases. In a Perspective Live interview, Camacho explained that the administration would need to gather essential pieces of information from the students, including the circumstances surrounding their cases. He also said it will only take two to three weeks to resolve all cases. “Mahalaga [ang pagresolba ng MRR/readmission cases] sa atin sapagkat kailangang maihanda ang ating mga estudyante para sa second sem, so kailangan nilang malaman ang resulta ng review nito.” The Perspective received reports that some students’ cases have already been resolved. However, some students were reported to still be waiting for updates regarding the progress of their MRR and readmission cases. “Wala pang update [sa amin] kung may approved na or wala pa,” wrote Cyril Chan, who belongs to the group of students processing the said cases. The Perspective will reach out to the OVCAA to request for data and developments on the process for MRR and readmission cases.
T U M U TO K SA [ P ] L I V E
Tuwing Sabado, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Mga pangako ni Chancellor Camacho, alamin! https://bit.ly/3lqm4l2
DECEMBER 3, 2020 | UPLB PERSPECTIVE
One Saturday afternoon, a Perspective writer visits with political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa. BY JA M E S M A SA N GYA F E A T U R E S E D I TO R
VELYN LEGASPI WOULD COMMUTE FROM
General Trias, Cavite to Camp Bagong Diwa in this city to visit her husband Edicel, a political prisoner who is currently detained for illegal possession of explosives. Most, if not all, political prisoners across the country are tried for the same criminal offense which includes but is not limited to Edicel’s case. Legaspi, 60, shared that she was also imprisoned here, particularly in Taguig City Jail Female Dorm. According to her, she was nabbed by operatives of the police and army with a warrant of arrest containing the name of a certain Annabelle Bueno, an alleged high-ranking New People’s Army leader with charges of multiple murder, on February 9, 2012. She was in jail for almost five years, only for her case to be dismissed in December 2016. She insisted that the nature of her arrest was purely political as she was the regional chair of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Southern Tagalog (KADAMAY-ST) at that time. Before Covid, I joined her in visiting Edicel and other political prisoners one Saturday, only for her to be barred from entering because the amount of money she held exceeded what was allowed under jail rules. Fortunately, I was still able to enter, accompanied by her daughter, Cel. As I entered Special Care Intensive Area 1 (SICA-1), the facility where most of the male political prisoners are currently held, I was greeted with a smile by a tall figure. Edicel Legaspi, 61, used to study Agricultural Engineering in the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) but is now into farming. He is a member of Samalenyo Organiko, an organization of organic farmers in Samal, Bataan. Edicel is one of the five individuals who were arrested in Sta. Cruz town in Laguna on October 15, 2018 for allegedly possessing illegal firearms and explosives. According to Edicel, he was with Adelberto Silva, a known National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant, as he was assisting in conducting consultations for the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) across towns in Southern Tagalog. There is already a court order to release Edicel, and two others of the Sta. Cruz 5,
Arrested in 2018 for trumped-up charges of possession of illegal firearms
WALLS BEHIND THE
WHILE OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN PLACE IS BEING WEAPONIZED TO CURTAIL CLASS STRUGGLE, WE SHOULD NOT BE IMPEDED IN OUR DUTY TO ASSERT OUR RIGHTS. released on October 16, 2019. Their case of illegal possession of firearms, after all, was already dismissed. However, the prosecutor amended the order, due to the investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), which yielded the result of the chemical evaluation of the explosives found. Because of this, the prosecutor recommended the court that the five of them should not be able to post bail for illegal possession of explosives. Karapatan, a human rights advocacy group, earlier slammed the arrest of Adelberto Silva and his four companions as “gross violation of the previously signed agreement, particularly the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).” They cited this incident as a sign that the Duterte administration has no intention of reviving peace talks between GRP and NDFP.
UPLB PERSPECTIVE | DECEMBER 3, 2020
citing the overcrowded jails may only worsen the transmission of disease. Along with this, they also sought the administration to declare a state of calamity in prisons to heighten the capability and preparedness of BJMP in responding to the public health crisis. Unfortunately, their five-months-old appeal for the release of vulnerable prisoners was denied by the Supreme Court (SC), delegating the said decision to lower courts.
HILE SITTING IN THE CORRIDORS OF
the building, we were joined by Vicente “Vic” Ladlad, 70, an NDFP consultant who actively participated as part of the negotiating panel in the GRP-NDFP peace talks until its termination in November 2017. Vic is a graduate of UPLB, with a degree in Agricultural Economics and was once the chairperson of the College of Agriculture Student Council. He was arrested on November 8, 2018, along with other NDF consultants, with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Ladlad made a clear distinction between political and non-political prisoners since over time, political offenders are criminalized. According to him, political prisoners nowadays are no longer recognized as people
Also arrested in 2018 for trumped-up charges of possession of illegal firearms
who took part in opposing the current government either as combatants and critics, or the ones who merely expressed their political beliefs. Unlike today, they are charged with theft, murder and other crimes that are committed for the purpose of serving themselves. Vic reiterated, however, that the political prisoners are jailed for no reason aside from advancing their political cause, which is selfless in nature. Under the Hernandez Doctrine, “rebellion cannot be complexed with other crimes, such as murder and arson, because rebellion in itself would subsume these common crimes. The said crimes are inherent and concomitant when rebellion is taking place.” Ever since the Republic Act 1700 or Anti-Subversion Law of 1957 was amended and eventually repealed, the running mechanism of the government is to charge and convict political opponents with common crimes. If a certain individual or party were indeed combatants, caught in legitimate field operations by the state, they should be charged with insurrection or rebellion, or in other cases, inciting sedition under the Revised Penal Code. The effort of the state to criminalize the acts committed by combatants, and to file trumped-up charges of common crimes to political dissidents is in itself a measure in suppressing the opposition by detaining those people indefinitely. Meanwhile, only two months after the Anti-Terror Law was signed into law, cases of arrests and extra-judicial killings of activists and sectoral organizers intensified. In Bicol alone, four progressive individuals were arrested in separate incidents, with trumped-up charges of murder in relation
Tall walls flank the entrance of the prison at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig (right). Rights group KAPATID has been active in calling for a compassionate treatment to prisoners amid the time of the pandemic (top), especially to political ones. PHOTOS FROM KAPATID FACEBOOK PAGE
to an alleged armed encounter with state forces. In August 2020, NDF consultant Randy Echanis and Negros-based activist Zara Alvarez were murdered, just a week in between, by unknown assailants.
LTHOUGH POLITICAL PRISONERS ARE
still far from achieving justice and release, efforts made by themselves and their families and friends, helped them in securing their rights as persons deprived of liberty. For KAPATID, since their reestablishment in June 2019, there has been a couple of gains in issues it faced. Aside from their major success in stopping the BJMP in dispersing political prisoners through dialogues with BJMP senior officials and court motions, they were also able to assert the UN Bangkok Rules and UN Mandela Rules for strip and body cavity search for prisoners as well as visiting females and children. They also conducted investigations on the harassment of political prisoners in Manila City Jail. They also forced to end the lockdown in National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa and restore the visiting rights for the detainees, especially the political prisoners. Amid the Covid-19 scare, KAPATID calls the government for ‘Iran Solution’ — releasing en masse thousands of prisoners,
UNCH IS OVER. VIC LADLAD SUDDENLY
recounted an incident wherein he was tried in 2006 for mass murder in Inopacan town, Leyte in 1985. How could it happen, when in fact he was in jail in Camp Nakar in Quezon Province from 1983 to 1986? The prosecution failed to establish a clear link to him and this incident because of an earlier case of mass murder. A certain Glecerio Roluna, being used by the government as their witness, was previously charged for being involved in a previous case of mass murder in Baybay town in Leyte. He recycled his own testimonies of allegedly uncovering the sites of the mass graves. The names of the victims supposedly found in Inopacan were the same in Baybay. For Ladlad, it was a desperate move for the prosecuting panel to charge him with multiple murder. His legal counsel and other attorneys even called this case the “traveling skeleton.” Dioniso Almonte, 62, is a peasant organizer under Pagkakaisa at Uganayan ng mga Magbububkid sa Laguna (PUMALAG). He is currently being tried for 7 trumped-up cases, currently the most among the political prisoners. Dioniso revealed that he and his wife were arrested by the police in Valenzuela City while they were in a hospital for a check-up, for kidnapping with murder for a certain incident in Mauban town in Quezon. He added that six other random individuals coming from Southern Tagalog, which he didn’t even recognize, were on the warrant of arrest. Meanwhile, Ferdinand Castillo, 60, an NDFP consultant and peasant and workers welfare advocate, is the recognized “mayor” of the political prisoners. He told me they are just following the tradition of assigning a title to the person as the head of the group, but the primary function of the “mayor” is to be the point person for the authorities. “Democratic pa rin ang palakad naming ng mga kapwa kong political prisoners dito, lahat ng decision ay pinag-uusapan naming lahat dito as a group,” he added. He was arrested for charges of murder and illegal possession of firearms for a supposed ambush in Lopez, Quezon. According to the records of human rights group Karapatan, as of November 2019 there are 629 political prisoners in the country. 382 of these individuals were arrested under the Duterte administration. The majority of them are charged with trumped-up common and non-bailable crimes. While our judicial system in place is being weaponized to curtail class struggle, we should not be impeded in our duty to assert our rights, especially those who are marginalized. In our effort to completely overhaul the fabric of the society, we, in our conscientious intention, cannot rely on the laws borne out of the system which has bound many of us in chains for centuries.
This documentary finds a way to unveil the tragic stories of the victims of the drug war. REVIEW
A SWA N G (2 0 1 9) BY K E N N E T H R E M E N T I L L A
U P L B P E R S P E C T I V E S TA F F W R I T E R
hen Rodrigo Duterte stepped into presidency last 2016, he began to institute his highly controversial war on drugs campaign. A surge of death squads resulted in thousands of cases of extrajudicial killings that gave rise to another kind of revolutionary terror. “Whenever they say an Aswang is around, what they really want to say is– be afraid.” In Philippine folklore, “aswang” is a known term that refers to shape-shifting evil spirits such as ghouls, witches, and werewolves. These mythical creatures are mainstays of the modern popular culture that transcends through art and film. In Aswang (2019), Alyx Ayn Arumpac draws a parallel with the Aswang, showing the murderous and sadistic intent of policemen that mimics the behavior of monsters, who also lurk in the night to commence their bloody operations. It sheds necessary light and provides a deeper grasp on the killings that happen in the city of Manila through looking at the aftermath of the scenes of violence. The documentary reminds us of the lingering horrors brought about by Duterte’s drug war and genuinely captures the loss, trauma, and grief of the families who suffered from the bloodshed. “What good are many eyes when they only look at the victim on the ground?” The film tells the stories of the victims and their entwined experiences under Duterte’s drug war. We know over the past years that many innocent lives have already been killed in the hands of police. The government’s state forces serve as a machinery of death that kills, tortures, and kidnaps drug dealers, drug users, small-time street criminals, and suspected drug addicts in the poorest areas of the country. The most gruesome fact is that even innocent bystanders do not stand a chance as too many policemen have been found guilty of murder. While this information is not new to us, the growing violence and the continuous abuse of power paves a more dangerous path as the Anti-terrorism Law is now in effect. Aswang mostly tracks the experiences of a Redemptorist Brother named Jun Santiago who helps victims of the drug war move forward and offers funeral assistance to those who do not have money for proper burials. He is also part of a group of journalists unanimously called “the nightcrawlers of Manila” due to their role in the EJK watch. They saw the need for documentation a few months after the elections, saying it was “crucial” as they have witnessed a sudden change in the political atmosphere in the wake of the reign of the Duterte administration. The film then introduced us to other main characters - a young street kid named Jomari and a woman who was imprisoned in a secret jail at the back of a police precinct. “In this unforgiving city, not even children are spared.” In the documentary, Jomari first appeared in the wake of the death of Kian Lloyd delos Santos, and we are reminded again of how the 17-year-old boy was mercilessly gunned down by policemen for being suspected as a
DECEMBER 3, 2020 | UPLB PERSPECTIVE
ASWANG’S LINGERING HORRORS
WHENEVER THEY SAY AN ASWANG IS AROUND, WHAT THEY REALLY WANT TO SAY IS – BE AFRAID.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF CINEMATOGRAFICA FILMS
drug-runner. Kian was found dead in a dark narrow alley in his own neighborhood in Caloocan City on the evening of August 16, 2017, which was only one of the many deaths that triggered a mass condemnation of the war on drugs. The director interviews Jomari as he mourns his beloved friend’s death. He also tells how the police arrested both of his parents on drug-related charges, causing him to live a life of abandonment. In later scenes, it was shown that he, along with his playmates who are also children on the margins, play around with tokhang-related crimes as they have become too comfortable with the dangers that surround them. The film paces to a more unsettling story as an unnamed woman tells her experiences of being abducted and locked inside a hidden room along with other illegally detained prisoners. She describes and even draws the secret jail from memory. “I still can’t believe that such a place exists,” said the woman as she still attempts to make sense of it all. A seemingly normal bookshelf that hides a cramped space, where a dozen people are held hostage, is one of the many disturbing police-related scandals in mankind history. “But some refuse to be afraid. They choose to stand up and look the monster in the eye.” Arumpac’s documentary finds a way to unveil the tragic stories faced by Filipinos that rightly fuel the audience’s anger without leaving them in despair. A broader context of the struggle comes into light as we face the very same fascist attacks in the disguise of the Anti-Terrorism Law. The monsters or “aswang” have always existed in the dark and are even more bloodthirsty for power as the system of violence and moral bankruptcy allows them to do so. Aswang assures the viewers at the end of the documentary that there are people who resist and stare at the monsters in the eye. This is why we must take courage and fight on.
UPLB PERSPECTIVE | DECEMBER 3, 2020
Why are civilians red-tagging other civilians? The state’s suspicion has turned into an ugly psychological war. BY F E L I PA C H E N G
U P L B P E R S P E C T I V E S TA F F W R I T E R
ur government is always suspicious of us. It does not shy away from revealing its distrust, whether through public death threats or slight aggressions. The State’s message to us is clear: its citizens are not trustworthy. Such is the chilling presence of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) and its arrogantat-best-fatal-at-worst red-tagging spree. This useless government agency is proposed to receive P19.13 billion in funds next year, despite a pandemic that has left 27 million or nearly half of Filipinos jobless. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor is set to receive only P15.9 billion. We might also be familiar with the President and other government agencies’ reckless redbaiting. Remember, in 2018, the Department of Justice filed and publicized a “terror hit list” with 656 individuals and legal organizations? Or when the Department of Education closed 55 Lumad schools, because they were allegedly teaching left-leaning ideologies? Remember how both times they were baseless and illegal, but nevertheless the damage has been done?) This blacklisting has only grown bolder, deadlier, as we go deeper into the pandemic. Aside from Parlade’s infamous troll propaganda against red lipstick actresses, there are also anonymous ‘wanted’ posters red-tagging activists around cities, state-funded tarpaulins associating legally recognized organizations as fronts for the CPP-NPA-NDF, and the “red tag challenge” on official PNP Facebook pages. And of course, the Anti-Terror Law that institutionalized red-tagging and extrajudicial killings. All of these have been used to vilify political opposition. This kind of propaganda has encouraged many other civilians to red-tag fellow civilians. Red-tagging has become a common threat. “You’re a terrorist” is now a counter-argument for even the most outof-context disagreements. On Twitter, a user revealed a list of names of her sexual harassers, to which one person suggested, “Red-tag mo gurl, message mo parents,”
A WAR OF THE MINDS
while another responded “Red-tag din si girl pag na-prove na ‘di totoo ah?” On a slightly lighter note, one user shares her grandmother’s support, “Nire-redtag ako ng kapitbahay namin at sinabi na ‘Yung apo ni Lina, kasama na sa Anakbayan, komunista na’. Nagulat ako nang may tumindig para sa akin at sinabing ‘Hindi siya komunista, aktibista siya. Hindi mo alam na pati ang karapatan mo inilalaban niya’. Lola ko pala ‘yun.” A government suspicious of its citizens creates citizens suspicious of itself. As IBON Foundation put it, red-tagging, a form of political vilification and has two types of victims: first the person, organization or community being vilified, labeling as them as enemies of the state outside the protection of the law; the second is the civilian population being conditioned to discourage the logic of human rights. As the government tags dissenters as “terrorists,” it distorts our understanding of otherwise legitimate political criticism — all forms of opposition, whether legal or armed, are now one and the same: acts of terrorism. In other words, the government’s deliberate red-tagging is engaging its own citizens in psychological warfare. The state uses tactics like disinformation, deception, fear, gaslighting, and outright lying that breeds doubt within its citizens and encourages the same behavior. Tagging legitimate dissenters as terrorists follows the same logic as red-tagging an outspoken niece or someone’s sexual harassers. It is flawed and fallacious reasoning. What happens are cases like that of fulltime activist Irix Romero, in which she was “abducted” by her own family and illegally taken to military bases for interrogation. The last recording Romero was able to take before interrogation was a conversation with her father. Her father says, “gusto ka namin iligtas” she replies, “wala ako sa panganib pa, nasa panganib ako [sa militar],” “‘yun nga eh.” We can already see the confusion between the intentions and actions of her family. They have at least some idea of the dangers that Irix and her organizations face from the military, and yet the solution was to bring her closer to the threat. Why? Because the military offered “counselling,” another tactic in psychological warfare — fake sincerity. The state forces are simultaneously vilifying civilians while also using civilians as an instrument to stifle dissent. The sooner we realize that the state is what’s killing our citizens, the sooner we can come forward and assert we will no longer be pawns of war. [P] GRAPHICS BY JERMAINE VALERIO
DECEMBER 3, 2020 | UPLB PERSPECTIVE
Are we truly learning? KWENTONG FRESHIE
KENNLEE M. OROLA
or months, I was anxious about how I and my classmates were going to push through our education as we juggle the hardships of this pandemic. Despite all our calls to postpone the opening of the classes this school year, the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) remained deaf to our dissent. They turned a blind eye on our existing problems like lack of preparation at the national level, and lack of resources and devices for thousands of students. I can’t help but think about the thousands of students who are currently struggling with slow internet, or the complete lack of it. Parents are troubled, thinking how they will provide these services for their children on top of the constant need to provide necessities and the pressing anti-poor policies of the government. I also want to point out that not all students can focus 100% on their schooling, I can only imagine the burden it causes to working students, students who also have other responsibilities to look out for other members of their family and learners with a different desired style of learning. Moreover, skill-based degree programs are heavily affected in terms of the quality of learning. I still remember back in my high school years, chemistry and biology laboratory experiments require you to have some vivid “imagination” since my school lacks laboratory facilities. As a result, I struggled in my chemistry and biology classes especially in the laboratory components of the said courses. I can still remember that embarrassing moment when my professor asked us to use the microscope and I stared at it – not knowing
[P] GRAPHIC BY JERMAINE VALERIO
what to do. Today’s educational situation is not far from that experience. We are forced to settle for online videos or do-it-yourself experiments and most of the time it does not work if we try to actualize it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming professors for giving us a little extra reading material to supplement the learning modules or some home-based experiments. I know how much hard work was poured out to create learning
materials. It’s just that learning wasn’t meant to be this way. Furthermore, isn’t it unfair that the administration’s decisions did not even bother to have student or faculty representatives on devising plans for the online setup. As the pandemic goes on, we see rising domestic abuse and violence. In a report written by Rappler, they said that on average, eight people are raped during the quarantine, most of them are minors and studying. How do
you expect them to learn when they have to deal with their own battles at the same time? Mental health is also highly compromised right now. The amount of internal and external stressors like how the government poorly handles their response also contribute to our already heavy baggage. A number of students from all over the country were reported to commit suicide because of problems in relation to online classes. Students are dying and lives are being cut short. With everything happening simultaneously, we, students and faculty members alike, shout for postponement of the classes until the pandemic is addressed properly. We call for a Ligtas Balik Eskwela. We need to prepare learning materials, find support to our underprivileged students and teachers, bridge the gap between lacking resources and devices, establish a psychosocial support system, weave policies and regulation, roll out mass testing, and device a concrete national crisis management plan. I will never get tired to remind everyone that we deserved better from all of this. We must demand accountability from all the wrong decisions that this government committed to the nation. The notion is not about continuing the school year but the quality of delivering education. In the duration of this lockdown, we learned enough not to trust the egocentric decisions of bureaucrats. I do believe that halting education is not a choice, but the real question stands – are we truly learning? I don’t understand why CHED has to force everything down our throats and sacrifice the real essence of education, which is to learn. I am not afraid to continue the school year. What I am scared of is to pass this semester without learning at all.
Science and politics: a tale of two predicaments HODGE PODGE M A R I A M K R I S T E L L E LU C E S
he field of science and research in the Philippines is in jeopardy. One does not have to look much further than the words and actions of our current president, Rodrigo Duterte, his cabinet members, and political appointees. As Bayanihan to Heal as One Act was passed, funding slashes to multiple departments and institutions have been enacted, including the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to name a few. Cuts to DepEd and CHED have drastically impaired the agency’s response in online and remote learning and a reduction of scholarship approvals. A cut on CCC funds could end a research program on climate change. The budget for DA and DENR reduced by P11.7 billion and P68.7 million, respectively, have unequivocally put the country’s food security and forest management at risk. There are tremendous implications for longterm growth and economic development in cutting budgets in these departments. It could lead to the attrition of researchers and graduates. It
also highlights the administration’s priorities given that the President has recently passed the Bayanihan Act 2. DENR has been left out from the government agencies that have received funding under this act. This is despite the P389 million budget allocated for the beautification of Manila Bay which could have been rechannelled for essential services like academic scholarships for the poor and financial assistance for the unemployed. The urgency of the situation is further highlighted by the fact that most of the top science and technology positions throughout the Duterte administration have no formal scientific background. The act of dumping dolomite sand as part of the beautification project of Manila Bay is a clear manifestation of how the government overlooks the importance of proven scientific research and environmental studies at the expense of our taxes and public funds. We can rehabilitate Manila Bay in a more cost effective way by taking into account that it is a catch-basin. Improper waste disposal management, the lack of massive community sewage treatment facilities, and the cleaning and dredging of the rivers and esteros that flow into the bay should all be properly addressed to gear the beautification project in the right direction. Money is a very sensitive topic now especially when the government claims it does not have any left to spare for healthcare yet suddenly we have the
budget for a beautification project. The intention is there but the timing let alone the purpose is undeniably missing. Academe, in the case of UP, has done an amazing job of trying to get as much information related to the dolomite issue and has disturbed it into the policymaking process as possible. However, DENR Spokesperson Benny Antiporda, has been quick to jump on premature and fabricated findings, publicly touting futile remarks of the superficial benefits of dolomite sand in improving one’s mental health. The pandemic has underlined not only the lack of scientific knowledge among elected officials but the devaluation and dismissal of scientific expertise, as well as the consequences of budget cuts in government’s science and environmental agencies. An increased focus on science and research has resulted, which ironically had an associated risk of further eroding the public’s trust in our scientists, especially those who do not understand the nonlinear, consensus-establishing nature of scientific research. A government that actively silences scientific voices has developed a growing dependence on social media and fake news outlets for information. Last month, Facebook took down fake China-based, pro-Duterte accounts. These accounts have also been found to be condemnatory of Rappler and have been
providing support for the possible presidential bid of Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Acceptance of misinformation can result in a cascade of dangerous events, such as spraying masks with petrol, encouraging public gatherings to boost mental health, government disregarding important scientific work, scientists and researchers facing serious online harassment, and the loss of public trust in our scientists and researchers, who are crucial to help us keep safe now and during future national crises. I express my deepest concern over the lack of scientists in the administration, and how it is critical for policies and projects to be made based on the best available evidence and research. But research funding is not the only thing concerning scientists. Science, and the scientific method itself, are under attack. We are continuing to pay the price for a government with no concrete plan. They focus on populist issues and later call it a success. It is absurd and is pure negligence. This is not about any political party or color. It is about doing the job. ―――――――― Mariam Kristelle Macabanding is currently finishing her Forestry degree from the College of Forestry and Natural Resources. Her interest in forest laws and governance began during the summer of 2016 where she had the opportunity to volunteer at a Lumad community in Pampanga.
UPLB PERSPECTIVE | DECEMBER 3, 2020
Remembering Reming MUMBLINGS A N A C A TA L I N A PA J E
ne of my earliest memories was getting picked up from bed in the middle of night and spending the rest of it in a Mormon church because our house was flooded. The power was out. The wind was howling, and the rain was coming from everywhere. In my small town, children do not get to celebrate class suspensions from storm signals and alert levels on volcanic activity. At an early age, these dangers are made known to us. The house I grew up in has a wide yard that would fill up with rainwater every time a typhoon hit, which was quite often. As a small child, I didn’t quite understand why there would be fish in the floodwater in our home. I thought that it came down as the rain poured. I asked my father, who explained to me how drainages and canals work, how we lived in a low-lying area. Growing up, we had a system. We would pull out the bottom drawers on our shelves and place them atop chairs and stools. We had a small wooden footbridge from our front door to the gate. We had waterproof plastic containers for all our clothes. You could see water lines on our furniture and walls and anything below that would have to be lifted. Many people in our town had generators, but we couldn’t afford one, so every lightbulb in our home acted as an emergency light that would turn on as soon as the power went out. But nothing quite prepared us for Supertyphoon Reming in 2006. I was fourteen then, and in all of the typhoons we had to endure before, Reming was the only one that made
[P] GRAPHIC BY JANDELLE CRUZ
me fear for my very life. The first day I went outside, I saw the body of a girl my age, muddied, stripped down to her underwear, being pulled out of the debris. At the town plaza, a little way beside the huge machine that was pumping drinking water for evacuees, there were about twenty to thirty dead bodies lined up on top of black body bags, like they were crops that needed to be dried. If nobody
claimed them as relatives in the next few hours, they would be placed inside the body bags, thrown inside a truck, and driven to the mass grave at the cemetery. Then a new batch of dead bodies would be lined up. We had lost power for two months. Food, even potable water, was hard to get by. Trucks with piled dead bodies would drive past our home every afternoon. I will
never forget that stench of rot and dirt. No later than a week after the storm hit, I saw hoards of people running towards the hills behind our home. There were so many. Some were on foot. Others inside overstuffed vehicles. All frantic, all confused. Some thought they were running away from a tsunami. Others thought they were running from lahar. Others thought they were running to a relief mission. None of them were right. Many valuables were lost in that scare. Houses were broken into. Stores were looted. This was the first of many mass hysterias that happened in our town. Months later, when school started again, the numbers that we heard on the radio began to have faces. The horror stories were given names. The total number of deaths was estimated at 1,200. But as someone who has lived through it and known of entire families being washed away, with no survivors able to report them as missing, I know the actual number far exceeds the estimate. This should not be a story of strength and resilience. It is a story of government incompetence and negligence. It is a story of environmental neglect. It is a story that should never happen again.
―――――――― Anca Paje is a BS Development Communication alumna who believes in the butterfly effect. The decisions we make now, will lay the foundation in which our grandchildren will live. ―――――――― [P] is accepting opinion articles that touch on relevant issues concerning news, politics, culture, and personal experiences. Send your articles or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sino ang tunay na kalaban? SKETCHPAD REUBEN PIO MARTINEZ
uwag kang umalis!” Halos isang taon na ang nakalipas, hindi ko malilimutan nang sinabi namin ni Rena sa isa naming mabuting kaibigan . Maaraw ang langit at mahangin ang paligid habang kami’y nasa byahe papuntang Lupang Ramos, nakadantay ang mga kasama sa isa’t isa habang nasa dyip - pagod mula sa puyat ng pagbabalot ng relief goods kagabi. Nakatingin sa direksyon ko si Rena, ngunit alam ko na ang kanyang isip ay nasa ibang mundo. Alam ko iyan. Matagal na kaming magkasama sa Elbi. Habang nakikinig sa radyo ng dyip, biglaang tumugtog ang isang kantang hindi namin inaasahang maririnig:.. “Habang may tatsulok, at sila ang nasa tuktok, hindi matatapos itong gulo.” … Isang pamilyar na tunog … lumaki ang mga mata ni Rena … naalala namin si Karl. Noon pa nakikisama sa labang panlipunan si Rena. Kung naabutan niyo pa si Karl bago siya nakisama sa armadong labanan, sigurado narinig niyo na kung paano dalang-dala siya sa mga salita ni Rena, gaya noong isang araw na narinig niya si Rena nagbigay ng diskusyon ukol sa cultural hegemony ni Gramsci. Hapon na at nakaabot na kami sa aming
destinasyon. Basang-basa pa rin ang mga lupain dahil sa naganap na bagyo. Walang ibang makikita kundi mga sira-sirang tanim, mga punong natumba, ilang bahay na natanggalan ng bubong, at ang mga magsasakang inaani kung ano ang natira sa kanilang nilinang. Rinig ang mga basang bota ng taong lumalapit sa amin, at doon namin nakita si Ka Kiko. Siya ay isang lider-magsasaka mula sa organisasyon ng copra farmers sa Quezon. Ngunit dahil sa sunod-sunod na atake ng mga sundalo sa kanilang komunidad, napilitan siyang tumakas sa Lupang Ramos para sa kanyang seguridad. Dumalo noon sa Feb Fair si Ka Kiko upang mabahagi ng kanyang kwento sa amin. Mahirap isipin na mas humihirap sila sa panahon ng pandemya. Kasabay ng mababang presyo ng kanilang pananim ay kinakaharap din nila ang bantang kawalan ng kanilang mga tahanan, dulot ng planong pagpapatayo ng isang transmission tower sa kanilang pinaglalabang lupain. Gabi. Sinindihan ang mga kandila at inaayos ang mesa upang kami’y magsalo-salo kasama sina Ka Kiko at ang kanyang kapwa magsasaka. Habang kami’y nakaupo, nagkwekwentuhan sa harapang ng mainit na kanin, sopas, at afritada, tumabi ako kay Rena na nasa labas ng bahay, inoobserbahan ang bawat ama, nanay, at anak na inaani pa rin ang kanilang mga nasirang mga palay. Tulad ng kanina, nakatulala pa rin si Rena sa kawalan - tila ba’y meron
siyang inaalala. Nakita ko sa kanyang kamay ang mga liham na gusot-gusot at nawawala na ang mga nakasulat. “Sino ang tunay na kalaban? Alam ni Karl iyon, at alam natin iyon. Pero bakit tayo ang salbahe sa kanilang mga mata?” ani Rena. Inabot sa akin ni Rena ang mga liham. Sa baba ng bawat sulat, may pangalan: Karl. “Tingin mo ba ay kasama pa rin natin dito si Karl kung hindi siya sumama sa akin noong Feb Fair?” Tumingin siya sa akin. Nanatili akong tahimik. Ang pagdalo ni Karl sa Feb Fair ay ang simula na kanyang pagbabagong buhay. Madali niyang maintindihan na ang mga progresibo na tinatawag bilang komunista, terorista, mga salot sa lipunan ay mga tao lamang na lumalaban para sa bayan. Nung naging inaktibo si Rena sa aming org upang magtrabaho, doon na mas nakisama si Karl sa mga pagkilos ng manggagawa sa lungsod, at mga magsasaka sa kanayunan. Dumating din sa araw na hindi ko na siya nakikita sa aming pamantasan. Sabi daw nila ay “umakyat na siya” upang lumahok sa pinakamataas na porma ng pakikibaka noong patapos na siya sa kanyang pagaaral, pero balita ng kanyang mga kamag-anak na nando’n lamang siya upang maka-organisa ng mga programang reporma. Ginagawa niya pareho sa maagang panahon. “Ang paghihirap ng bawat isang durusang Pilipino dahil sa ginagawa ng
administrasyong ito ay hindi dapat natin isinapagwalang-bahala,” binasa ni Rena ang liham. “Ayaw ko siyang mamatay, Mina. Nung umalis lang ako saglit sa org, nakita na niya kaagad yung mga mali sa sistema, at nakita niya na hindi sa usapan lang maayos ang mga ito. Gusto ko pagbalik niya mag-chikahan tayo, magsama-sama tayo kapag nagawa na niya ang kailangan niyang gawin.” Tumingin ako kay Rena na walang masabi. Huminga si Rena nang malalim, at nakita kami ni Ka Kiko, at siya’y lumapit. “Lumalaban si Karl para sa bayan, Rena. Kahit man hindi siya sumama sa Feb Fair, kilala mo naman siya. Mapaglaban. Kahit anong mangyari, mamatay man o mabuhay, hindi.” At doon sa sinabi ni Ka Kiko, nakita ko na ngumingiti na si Rena. Nag-isip ako ng saglitan, at binatid ko na “wala tayong magagawa para siya’y manatili, kundi maging dito para sa kanya. Kahit anong mangyari, hindi ibig sabihin tapos ang laban.” Ngayon nga pala ang cultural night para kay Karl at para sa mga katulad niyang mandirigmang sinakripisyo ang pansariling interes para pagsilbihan ang mas nakararami. Isang pagpupugay para sa lahat ng bayani at patuloy na lumalaban para sa sambayanan. Tinago ni Rena ang liham at siya’y huminga nang malalim. “Sana ligtas si Karl, kung nasaan man siya ngayon,” aniya.
UPLB, and its student movement, has a fair share in the discourse of martial law history. BY A E S H A SA R R O L
U P L B P E R S P E C T I V E S TA F F W R I T E R
P, as a bastion of activism, has always been at the forefront in asserting our democratic rights and in denouncing injustices that permeate society. Class struggle, especially, heightened during the period of Martial Law; an era which placed the Filipino people in prolonged suffering and, in turn, instigated social consciousness and shaped today’s liberal society. UPLB has its fair share in the discourse of martial law history. It also became a target of state repression and tyranny as it fought back against the then dictator. Student activists, at that time, experienced arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings; some were detained as political prisoners and others went missing, of which up to this day, are yet to be found. Hilda Narciso and Maria Bawagan, political prisoners from UPLB who survived Marcos’ regime, at a symposium entitled “Martial Law: echoes from the past” held last 2019, shared that illegal arrests, torture, salvaging, and desaparecidos were rampant during this time. Bawagan narrated that common forms of torture were electric shock, water cure, “russian roulette”, premature burial, and sexual abuse among others. Bawagan said, “Maging mayaman ka, maging mahirap, basta taliwas sa kagustuhan ni Marcos ang iyong ginagawa, pwede kang mamatay.” Since their disappearance after the suspension of the privileges of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, some student activists are still nowhere to be found. The narratives of the Southern Tagalog 10—desaparecidos coming from Southern Tagalog who disappeared in 1977— albeit in the past, are still alive today. Among these desaparecidos include Rizalina Ilagan, Gerry Faustino, Jessica Sales, and Cristina Catalla, all of which are UPLB students and faculty members. According to Bantayog—a memorial foundation which commemorates Martial Law heroes—the Southern Tagalog 10 is considered as the “single biggest case of involuntary disappearances” committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during martial law. Two years prior, Leticia Ladlad, a UPLB agricultural chemistry student and first woman editor of Aggie Green and Gold, precursor publication of the UPLB Perspective, fought alongside the agricultural workers of Laguna and Quezon in the hopes of attaining genuine agrarian reform; she was last seen in 1975 and has been missing since then. On September 22, 2020, Dr. Ma. Victoria Espaldon, UPLB professor and former editor
DECEMBER 3, 2020 | UPLB PERSPECTIVE
RECALLING UPLB IN MARTIAL LAW
Decades have passed but the traumatic memory under Marcos remains fresh in the minds of the Filipinos.
UPLB’s militant history traces back to the heady days of martial law, where institutions such as the University Student Council and the Perspective was formed. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
of the UPLB Perspective, recalled the state of campus press and how the media was censored during martial law. She stated that the Perspective spearheaded the re-establishment of press freedom in Southern Tagalog and how this movement founded today’s College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Southern Tagalog (CEGP-ST), an alliance of tertiary campus publications in Southern Tagalog.
Struggle for student representation Marcos authorized the establishment of student councils with the condition that only UP will be given this “privilege” however, students were still surveyed. Elections were held and the UPLB University Student Council (USC) was formed through
the Council of Student Leaders in 1987, making it the first student council to be created across the UP system. Atty. Filemon Nolasco, first UPLB USC chairperson, recalled in an interview with the Perspective how Marcos was able to monopolize power through the imposition of General Order No. 1 within the premise of martial law. Nolasco recalled the time when his roommate, Gerry Faustino, one of the Southern Tagalog 10, suddenly disappeared. He even said that detainment was a better option rather than being a desaparecido, in which the latter’s relatives do not receive proper closure. Nolasco added that during the Marcos administration, to be able to use facilities for symposiums such as classrooms and even the Student Union (SU) building, students needed to secure a permit. It is said that the history of the February Fair—a yearly event shedding light on various societal issues—stemmed from this mandate that students were not allowed to convene or mobilize themselves. He shared
that they placed booths on the field showcasing different student organizations in defiance of the existing rules and regulations. He also said that even before he studied in the university, prior to martial law’s implementation, UPLB students set up a barricade to counter its effectiveness. He mentioned that one night, when SU—a building dedicated for student activities—was vacant, it suddenly burned down; files and documents from the student institution offices were also incinerated. Large protest rallies were organized, at that time, but other accounts went missing since some archive photos from the Perspective were burned. Marcos’ tyrannical rule, inarguably, is considered as one of the darkest periods in history. Different sectors, including the youth, forwarding legitimate advocacies were silenced and repressed. Decades have passed but the traumatic memory of the countless human rights violations, oppression, and abuses that transpired under the Marcos administration remains fresh in the minds of the Filipinos.