Illegal detention of Calamba 7: Insult to Rizal’s life and death!

June 20, 2011

Press Statement – CEGP Southern Tagalog Chapter

Members of the campus press in Southern Tagalog expressed their dismay on the continued illegal detention of seven individuals collectively known as the “Calamba 7” saying this act by the state is but a “direct insult to the life and death of our national hero, Jose Rizal.”

“It is ironic that 150 years after the birth of Rizal and in his very own hometown of Calamba, the youth and people experience the same political persecution that the Spanish colonial rulers imposed upon the Filipino people hundreds of years ago,” College Editors Guild of the Philippines – Southern Tagalog (CEGP-ST) Chairperson Rogene Gonzales said.

‘Freedom of expression’

Yesterday, during the commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rizal in Calamba, Laguna, protesters registered their dissent to Noynoy Aquino who was present in the ceremony. The militants scored Aquino for his anti-people policies on education and land reform that continues to haunt the Southern Tagalog region. Eight protesters were nabbed by police forces.

Until now, the seven individuals including five youth, who are members of Kabataan Partylist and students of U.P. Los Baños, remain detained at the Calamba Police Station despite petition for recognizance filed yesterday to grant their release.  The other two detained are members of Anakpawis Partylist.

“We urge the local government of Calamba to drop the trumped-up charges of the Calamba 7 since they have only practiced their freedom of expression which is a vital cornerstone to a democratic society,” Gonzales stressed.

Last academic year, CEGP-ST recorded around 170 cases of campus press freedom violations (CPFVs) from 40 publications throughout the region while the CEGP National Office has recorded 187 CPFVs during the recent national convention. 22 publications registered they have experienced censorship from their advisers or school administrators.

“If inside their schools, students are already repressed for speaking and standing up for their rights and welfare, what more outside the academic realm?” he asked.

‘Inheritors of our country’s future’

Meanwhile, CEGP-Cavite Chairperson Rose Sugar Velarde stressed that it is not through the construction of a huge monument that we truly commemorate Rizal’s teachings, but through respecting the rights of the youth and people – whom Rizal sacrificed his life for.

“The youth are the inheritors of our country’s future. But do we still need to be exiled and jailed to Dapitan just like Rizal before the government realizes that it is not living-up for the people’s interests?” Velarde said.

She added that if Aquino only gave in to the calls of the people such as higher state subsidy for education, genuine land reform and just wages, then the people would not have anything to protest about in the first place.

In Cavite, for example, farmers have no choice but to evacuate their lands because of the landowners’ rampant land-use conversion of agricultural lands to subdivisions granted upon by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reforms (CARPER).

“What the 7 has shouted in front of Aquino are legitimate calls of the people. But does the Aquino administration even listens to us – whom he claims as his boss?” she stressed.

‘Rise in human rights violations’

Yesterday, student journalists in Palawan joined multi-sectoral groups in the province in showing their disgust to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ ruled on the case of slain journalist Dr. Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Ortega absolving former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes and five more accused personalities from their crimes.

“We understand that the state has always resorted to nothing else but political persecution to its critics. On June 30, Aquino will mark one year in office, and now we see a rapid rise in the number of human rights violations in the country,” according to Allan Jay Javier, chairperson of CEGP-Palawan and editor-in-chief of The Pioneer of Palawan State University.

Javier stressed that the Calamba-7 is not an isolated case of state violence, but roots from the systematic abuse of power from the government no different from what former president-now-congresswoman Gloria Arroyo did when she was in office. 

In less than a year of Aquino’s presidency, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog accounted 11 cases of extrajudicial killings in the region. In addition, the number of political prisoners continued to rise to 54. Last May 18, trumped-up charges of “murder and frustrated murder” were re-filed in San Pablo City, Laguna for 72 leader activists of Southern Tagalog.

‘Release the Calamba-7 now!’

Different groups stormed in front of the Calamba City Hall starting 2pm today, setting-up a protest camp to call for the immediate release of the detained. The protesters vowed not to leave until the seven individuals are released and all charges have been dropped.

“We call on the youth and the people, most especially campus journalists, to show their support in calling for the freedom of the Calamba-7. Sama-sama nating ipanawagan ang pagpapalaya sa mga tunay na pag-asa ng bayan!” Gonzales stressed. #

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calamba 7, released upon P12k bail; 

Sectors unite for dismissal of trumped up charges

PRESS RELEASE

June 21, 2011

Reference Person:

John Paulo Bautista (09161483935)

KABATAAN PARTYLIST – Southern Tagalog Coordinator

CALAMBA CITY—U.P. Los Baños students are joined today by different sectors in Southern Tagalog to call for the dismissal of the public disturbance and tumult case filed against so-called “Calamba 7”. 

Released at 6:45 p.m. after posting P12,000 bail, the group has served exactly 58 hours and 30 minutes of detention at the Calamba Police Station.

The court rules out the group’s petition for recognizance to waive P42,000 bail provided that their legal counsel shall vouch for their presence in court hearings. 

Calamba 7 is a group of activists who held a lightning rally during Pres. Aquino’s speech on the June 19 commemoration of Gat. Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary. Five are from Kabataan Partylist – U.P.Los Baños and 2 from Anakpawis Partylist – Southern Tagalog. They are identified as students Michael Jayson Mozo, Catherine Gigantone, Ynik Ante, Bhen Aguihon and Ruffa Solano, and workers Joeffrey Barreto and Rodel Badayos. 

A program is held in front of the Calamba City Hall to forge solidarity with the activists. Supporters from the ranks of workers, farmers, students, women and urban poor, marched from the City Hall to Halang despite heavy rain. 

John Paulo Bautista, coordinator of Kabataan Partylist – Southern Tagalog, said that justice to Calamba 7 has yet to be served as the court still pursues the trumped up charges against them. 

“The fight for our right to free speech does not end with the release of the Calamba 7,” he said.

He added that it would be easy to prove that the case does not have a reasonable cause and that the activists were not supposed to be arrested and detained in the first place. “We call on supporters to shift campaign to a call for the immediate dismissal of the charges.”

If convicted, protesters are faced with 6 months to 3 years of jail time.

Kabataan Partylist – UP Los Baños spokesperson Julienne Urrea further call on the UPLB community to intensify campaign against political persecution and repression of student activists and to link it to the worsening education crisis.

“Aquino is set to deliver his state of the nation address next month. Now is the perfect time to express our condemnation of what they did to our fellow Iskolar. State fascism is not new to us but some of us tend to accept it is a norm,” she said. 

Bautista added, “We, at Kabataan Partylist, are going to lobby for an inquiry as regards to the illegal arrest and detention that was committed. We are raising this as an issue of national concern.” ###

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