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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below; pls. scroll down)

ADVOCATES SEE MORE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER NOY


DECEMBER 11 -Militant groups burn an effigy of President Aquino after marching toward Mendiola Bridge in Manila to mark International Human Rights Day yesterday. MIGUEL DE GUZMAN More human-rights violations will take place as the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan nears its deadline and President Aquino refuses to sit and talk peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF), a rights advocate said yesterday. Nineteen NDF consultants are in jail on false charges, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay claimed. “Instead of releasing detained NDF consultants as its obligation and as a sign of sincerity to pursue the talks, the regime convicted Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza on Sept. 17 for trumped-up charges of murder,” she said. “In 2013, peace consultant Eduardo Sarmiento was also convicted.” Eduardo Serrano has been in jail for more than 11 years for charges against a certain Rogelio Villanueva, Palabay said. “At the very end, the Aquino government continues to violate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees with the arrest of peace consultants,” she said. The government-NDF peace talks have been stalled for almost five years now, Palabay said. “The government is dishing out all kinds of lame excuses that blocked the process,” she said. READ MORE...

ALSO Ortigas road rage: Delivery man shot dead


DECEMBER 11 -With the road rage incident occurring during the holiday rush, authorities admitted worsening traffic is becoming a major cause of concern for motorists as well as for government security forces. STAR/File photo
A driver was shot dead yesterday in Pasig City in what was believed to be a road rage incident. Police said Richard Tuazon was shot in the head and died while being rushed to hospital.
The gunman fled in his black Toyota Innova with license plates APA 9824. Pasig City police chief Senior Supt. Jose Hidalgo Jr. said he had ordered a pursuit. “We have no clear motive as yet. My men are now in the field conducting follow-up operations to identify and arrest the suspect,” Hidalgo said. Tuazon, a courier of the World Class Laminated Inc., left their office in Barangay Maybunga to deliver some items in Quezon City. While driving his Mitsubishi L-300 van along Rosario Bridge in Barangay Rosario, Tuazon almost collided with the gunman’s car. Witnesses said the driver of the Toyota then pulled aside Tuazon before opening fire through the vehicle’s window. The gunman sped away while bystanders rushed Tuazon to the hospital. Hidalgo said investigators are coordinating with establishments in the area to determine if the incident was caught on their closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV).

ALSO Int'l Human Rights Day: Only Poe, Binay presented their platforms on human rights


DECEMBER 10 -Activists protest political killings.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — This International Human Rights Day, only two of the five biggest names in the presidential race announced their priorities when it comes to human rights.
Sen. Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay — although they have differences in leadership — vowed to respect and uphold human rights in the face of challenges. Sixty-seven years ago in Paris, the United Nations (UN) General assembly was made and adopted by the UN General Assembly. The Philippines was among the UN members that drafted the declaration, which is hailed as the most important piece of document to emerge from World War II. Poe, pushing for the rights of foundlings Sen. Grace Poe’s camp has often cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in defending the senator’s right to run for president despite being a foundling. As a foundling, Poe is facing legal challenges that has impeded her rights to run for the highest position in the land. “Lahat ng tao ay isinilang na may karapatan sa mundong ito, mahirap man o mayaman. Kaya dapat ay kasali ang lahat at walang maiiwan sa buhay. Kasama dito ang karapatang pumili ng kanyang lider,” she said. She said the Supreme Court (SC), in its various judgments, had recognized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and considered these rights in force in the country. This is why, she said, she was confident in taking her legal battle to the highest court of the land. Binay: Poverty is a human rights issue At the heart of the issue of human rights is the moral issue of poverty, Vice President Jejomar Binay said in a statement issued on Wednesday (December 9). READ MORE...

ALSO: SUSPECTED REBELS BLOW UP NGCP TOWER; Cotabato, Maguindanao endure 5-hour total blackout


DECEMBER 11 -SUSPECTED rebels blew up the transmission tower of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), cutting off electricity in North Cotabato, Maguindanao and the entire city of Cotabato. There were no reported casualties, officials said Friday.
The attack occurred late Thursday in Pagangan, Aleosan of North Cotabato, plunging NGCP’s franchise area of Cotabato Light and Power Company (Colight), including towns in the PPALMA area (Pigcawayan, Pikit, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap and Aleosan) into a total blackout. Pikit town is where Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and jihadists actively operate. Aleosan Mayor Vicente Sorupia, Jr. said NGCP’s Steel Tower No. 68 was toppled by an improvised explosive device (IED). He said residents reported hearing loud explosions at about 9:20 p.m. on Thursday. Some areas covered by Cotabato Lights and Power Company reportedly regained their power supply as of noontime Friday. Cotabato city residents have been dealing with rotational brownouts of two to three hours a day for the past two weeks. Thursday’s blast was the 11th bombing incident involving NGCP’s power transmission towers this year. Previous tower bombings in the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato have been blamed on radical jihadists such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Al Khobar extortionist group. READ MORE...

ALSO: Christmas caroling: Is tradition fading?


DECEMBER 13 -Christmas is in the air, you can hear the season’s cheer in every street where carolers walk around singing the familiar songs of the season. That’s aside from the children who sing Christmas carols to motorists stopping for a red light along the traffic-choked streets of Metro Manila.
While caroling is still practiced in many parts of the country as a part of the Filipino Christmas scene, there are signs the tradition is slowly fading away. For 16 years, Yoly Ituriaga has been spreading Christmas cheer with the Angels’ Choir, singing carols with the rhythm of a guitar and tambourine at many random houses. Ituriaga is the choir master-cum-guitarist of the Sagrada Familia sub-parish church. “It’s merrier to use tambourine and guitar in our caroling. Most people prefer to hear carols that way,” Ituriaga, 50, said after a practice session recently. Indeed, when one hears the clicking of thin steel plates and the strumming of guitar strings – it’s Christmas! Two weeks before Christmas, the choir of at least 15 members in San Jose del Monte City, usually starts its caroling sessions at 7 p.m., walking from one house to another, to keep the tradition of Christmas caroling. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Advocates see more human rights violations under Noy


Different human rights group burn an effigy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino to mark International Human Rights Day GETTY IMAGES

MANILA, DECEMBER 14, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Rhodina Villanueva December 11, 2015 -  MANILA, Philippines - More human-rights violations will take place as the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan nears its deadline and President Aquino refuses to sit and talk peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF), a rights advocate said yesterday.

Nineteen NDF consultants are in jail on false charges, Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay claimed.

“Instead of releasing detained NDF consultants as its obligation and as a sign of sincerity to pursue the talks, the regime convicted Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza on Sept. 17 for trumped-up charges of murder,” she said.

“In 2013, peace consultant Eduardo Sarmiento was also convicted.”

Eduardo Serrano has been in jail for more than 11 years for charges against a certain Rogelio Villanueva, Palabay said.

“At the very end, the Aquino government continues to violate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees with the arrest of peace consultants,” she said.

The government-NDF peace talks have been stalled for almost five years now, Palabay said.

“The government is dishing out all kinds of lame excuses that blocked the process,” she said.

READ MORE...

Palabay criticized the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) for allegedly serving as a conduit of the Armed Forces in the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, instead of pushing forward the peace negotiation.


BRING BACK OUR LOVED ONES. Relatives of political detainees and torture victims call for the immediate release of their relatives from detention. GOOGLE IMAGES

“Under the Whole of Nation Initiative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which involves several civilian government agencies in carrying out Oplan Bayanihan, OPAPP representatives enter militarized communities with pseudo peace and development projects, especially in Mindanao, to complement the combat operations of the Philippine Army,” she said.

The OPAPP receives billions of pesos for the government’s peace process, both from the regular budget and from the Development Acceleration Program, Palabay said.

“OPAPP is not only the regime’s deodorizer but an active machinery in the psywar component of Oplan Bayanihan,” she said. “Definitely, there is no room for OPAPP in the genuine pursuit for justice and peace.”

Several rights groups yesterday marched from España Boulevard in Manila to Chino Roces (Mendiola) Bridge, across Malacañang, to demand that the administration answer for the dire human rights situation in the country. – With Sheila Crisostomo, Ghio Ong


PHILSTAR

Ortigas road rage: Delivery man shot dead By Non Alquitran (Associated Press) | Updated December 11, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


With the road rage incident occurring during the holiday rush, authorities admitted worsening traffic is becoming a major cause of concern for motorists as well as for government security forces. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - A driver was shot dead yesterday in Pasig City in what was believed to be a road rage incident.

Police said Richard Tuazon was shot in the head and died while being rushed to hospital.

The gunman fled in his black Toyota Innova with license plates APA 9824. Pasig City police chief Senior Supt. Jose Hidalgo Jr. said he had ordered a pursuit.

“We have no clear motive as yet. My men are now in the field conducting follow-up operations to identify and arrest the suspect,” Hidalgo said.

Tuazon, a courier of the World Class Laminated Inc., left their office in Barangay Maybunga to deliver some items in Quezon City.

While driving his Mitsubishi L-300 van along Rosario Bridge in Barangay Rosario, Tuazon almost collided with the gunman’s car.

Witnesses said the driver of the Toyota then pulled aside Tuazon before opening fire through the vehicle’s window.

The gunman sped away while bystanders rushed Tuazon to the hospital.

Hidalgo said investigators are coordinating with establishments in the area to determine if the incident was caught on their closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV).

READ MORE...

“We are searching the CCTV cameras that might have recorded the shooting incident for us to get a clear picture of the shooting,” he said.

Worsening traffic With the road rage incident occurring during the holiday rush, authorities admitted worsening traffic is becoming a major cause of concern for motorists as well as for government security forces.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said the military is willing to assist the police in dealing with this concern.

“For now we don’t have any troops deployed to help in easing traffic congestion because we know that our police counterparts can still handle the situation,” Padilla said.

Padilla said the military is ready and willing to deploy the needed troops for traffic duties to assist their counterparts in the police Highway Patrol Group (HPG).

He added troops from the AFP’s Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTFNCR) are on standby and ready to render service if the need arises.

In 2006, the AFP deployed a battalion of troops in Metro Manila to assist the PNP in securing the entire metropolis from mounting threats of terrorism. – Jaime Laude


CNN PHILIPPINES

International Human Rights Day: Only Poe, Binay presented platforms on human rights By Fiona Nicolas, CNN Philippines Updated 16:22 PM PHT Thu, December 10, 2015


Activists protest political killings.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — This International Human Rights Day, only two of the five biggest names in the presidential race announced their priorities when it comes to human rights.

Sen. Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay — although they have differences in leadership — vowed to respect and uphold human rights in the face of challenges.

Sixty-seven years ago in Paris, the United Nations (UN) General assembly was made and adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The Philippines was among the UN members that drafted the declaration, which is hailed as the most important piece of document to emerge from World War II.


Poe, pushing for the rights of foundlings


Sen. Grace Poe’s camp has often cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in defending the senator’s right to run for president despite being a foundling.

As a foundling, Poe is facing legal challenges that has impeded her rights to run for the highest position in the land.

“Lahat ng tao ay isinilang na may karapatan sa mundong ito, mahirap man o mayaman. Kaya dapat ay kasali ang lahat at walang maiiwan sa buhay. Kasama dito ang karapatang pumili ng kanyang lider,” she said.

She said the Supreme Court (SC), in its various judgments, had recognized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and considered these rights in force in the country.

This is why, she said, she was confident in taking her legal battle to the highest court of the land.


Binay: Poverty is a human rights issue

At the heart of the issue of human rights is the moral issue of poverty, Vice President Jejomar Binay said in a statement issued on Wednesday (December 9).

READ MORE...

In the same statement, Binay said his vision is for every Filipino to have “an equal share in the nation’s progress.”

“No one should be left behind. Together, let us continue to transform with our hands the ideals of human rights into reality where all have the freedom to live their lives and thrive,” he said.

Binay was a human rights lawyer during the Martial Law years, and fought the dictatorship side by side with fellow human rights lawyers Joker Arroyo and Rene Saguisag.

“Safeguarding human dignity and the rights of individuals is an issue which I championed in my early years as a lawyer and activist,” he said.

The Vice President lamented that while significant strides have been made in upholding and promoting human rights, the Philippines is still “a long way off from a society that truly respects and protects the human rights of every man, woman, and child.”

“Many of our people continue to remain at risk of harassment, acts of violence, cruel treatment, and even death. Our task therefore is to put a stop the long culture of impunity that perpetuates abuses,” he said.


MANILA TIMES

SUSPECTED REBELS BLOW UP NGCP TOWER; Cotabato, Maguindanao endure total blackout December 11, 2015 10:34 pm
by JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL AND AL JACINTO Senior Correspondents

SUSPECTED rebels blew up the transmission tower of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), cutting off electricity in North Cotabato, Maguindanao and the entire city of Cotabato. There were no reported casualties, officials said Friday.

The attack occurred late Thursday in Pagangan, Aleosan of North Cotabato, plunging NGCP’s franchise area of Cotabato Light and Power Company (Colight), including towns in the PPALMA area (Pigcawayan, Pikit, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap and Aleosan) into a total blackout.

Pikit town is where Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and jihadists actively operate.

Aleosan Mayor Vicente Sorupia, Jr. said NGCP’s Steel Tower No. 68 was toppled by an improvised explosive device (IED). He said residents reported hearing loud explosions at about 9:20 p.m. on Thursday.

Some areas covered by Cotabato Lights and Power Company reportedly regained their power supply as of noontime Friday.

Cotabato city residents have been dealing with rotational brownouts of two to three hours a day for the past two weeks.

Thursday’s blast was the 11th bombing incident involving NGCP’s power transmission towers this year.

Previous tower bombings in the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato have been blamed on radical jihadists such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Al Khobar extortionist group.

READ MORE...

The NGCP blames the recent tower bombing in Lanao on local land owners previously seen planting trees below the transmission lines, but the military is not discounting the possibility of the involvement of another radical jihadists group, the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement.

The NGCP said it has teamed up with local governments in Mindanao in efforts to solve the escalating right-of-way (ROW) violations in the region, and in pushing for the passage of a provincial ordinance backing up their proposals.

It said the intentional planting of trees under its transmission lines adversely affects power delivery to the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Zamboanga City, and the rest of the grid.

“ROW violations, along with the bombing attacks, have become significant problems for NGCP in Mindanao. It will be very difficult for us to deliver the available power supply to distribution utilities if we continue to encounter these problems,” it said.

Landowners have repeatedly rejected NGCP’s demand, but said they would agree to an offer of a reasonable compensation for the use of their estate. NGCP holds a 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network.
WITH REPORT FROM MOH SAADUDDIN


MANILA BULLETIN

Christmas caroling: Is tradition fading? by Mark Anthony O. Sarino December 13, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share1

Christmas is in the air, you can hear the season’s cheer in every street where carolers walk around singing the familiar songs of the season. That’s aside from the children who sing Christmas carols to motorists stopping for a red light along the traffic-choked streets of Metro Manila.

While caroling is still practiced in many parts of the country as a part of the Filipino Christmas scene, there are signs the tradition is slowly fading away.

For 16 years, Yoly Ituriaga has been spreading Christmas cheer with the Angels’ Choir, singing carols with the rhythm of a guitar and tambourine at many random houses. Ituriaga is the choir master-cum-guitarist of the Sagrada Familia sub-parish church.

“It’s merrier to use tambourine and guitar in our caroling. Most people prefer to hear carols that way,” Ituriaga, 50, said after a practice session recently.

Indeed, when one hears the clicking of thin steel plates and the strumming of guitar strings – it’s Christmas!

Two weeks before Christmas, the choir of at least 15 members in San Jose del Monte City, usually starts its caroling sessions at 7 p.m., walking from one house to another, to keep the tradition of Christmas caroling.

READ MORE...

“We make it a point to start our caroling as early as possible in the evening so that we can sing to more homes, [because] if we get there late, no one will listen to us anymore [for] they’re already fast asleep,” she said.

Ituriaga said they only do late night carols when Christmas draws near.

BREAKING SOCIAL HIERARCHY

“What’s good about caroling is it breaks down the hierarchy temporarily, once a year,” University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP) College of Music Dean Dr. Jose Buenconsejo told the Manila Bulletin (MB) in an interview.

Seeing the tradition of Christmas caroling slowly fade away in many highly urbanized areas, he was optimistic to say that it will evolve further in a different context.

“In urban areas, it’s so difficult to just sing to strangers where households are quite impervious [because] the boundary is very strong. [Chances are], no one will pay attention [to the carolers],” Buenconsejo said. “That’s how it goes in the modern life.”

‘LOST ART’

He lamented that caroling may already be a “lost art” in the city.

Some villages nowadays have a ‘no-solicitation’ ruling, discouraging people from being open. It might be forgotten by those who live in high-rise condominiums, for carolers cannot just go up to the units to sing, he said.

For him, carolers can be better appreciated singing in front of houses in rural areas because people there are more responsive and more open to strangers.

Aside from imparting the values of sharing and generosity, Buenconsejo stressed that Christmas caroling promotes social integration, too.

Christmas is very meaningful to most Filipinos for it allows people belonging to different social status to actually come together and sing,” he said.

CAROLING AMID TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN ERA

For UP College of Music Professor Pat Silvestre, singing Christmas carols’ during the Yuletide season is of paramount importance in the life of a Christian Filipino.

“[Caroling] is part of the Filipino identity,” she said. It serves as a unifying factor for Filipinos who love making music together, she added.

“The tradition will always stay [for] that’s part of being a Filipino,” she said. “It will never go away.”

Silvestre said technology will complement the tradition.

Nowadays, some choirs do it with iPads where they base their scores. It facilitates and makes caroling easier,” Silvestre said. “Instead of using traditional instruments, like the tambourine and the guitar, sometimes, groups use mini speakers or sound systems that can amplify the sound, she said.

ANCHORED ON INTENSE FAITH

Noting that the Philippines has the longest Christmas celebratory period worldwide, Centro Escolar University-Manila (CEU) Social Sciences Professor Dr. Maria Myriam Bacud agreed with Silvestre that caroling is here to stay.

Here, we can already hear Christmas songs as early as September, and maybe that’s a part of how Filipinos commemorate it, she said in an interview. “But, if we’re going to put deep meaning to it, it should start during the Misa de Gallo.”

She also attributed it to the Filipinos’ “intense” faith. “The continuity of our [faith] is extraordinary,” Bacud said.

Filipinos use Christmas, particularly the enduring tradition of caroling as a way to take time off from the problems and challenges they encounter every day. “It somehow lightens [their mood] and gives them [the] good vibes,” Bacud said.

WINTER SOLSTICE RITUAL

A staple fixture in a typical Filipino household’s Christmas celebration, Bacud, however, said that caroling did not originate from the Philippines.

“It started in Europe during the ancient period,” Bacud said. “When you say ‘carol,’ it means a paganistic ritual; dancing around a big stone, which is being done during the winter solstice.” In the 13th century St. Francis of Assisi introduced the concept of nativity to Italy.

“From then on, it spread out in France, Germany, and Spain. When the Spaniards came here, [they spread] Catholicism [and] it started in the Philippines during the Simbang Gabi, which was called ‘wait night’ back then,” Bacud said.

Caroling or the singing of songs about the birth of Jesus started being observed in the country to entertain churchgoers before the mass started, she explained.

KEEPING THE TRADITION

People who took caroling as a way to spread holiday cheer usually find themselves doing the ritual every year. Ituriaga said she will continue singing Christmas carols, provided that God continues to supply her energy to do so.

“I will still do this as long as I am alive, and can play the strings well,” Ituariaga said.

In the past years, the choir master said she would spend both her Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations fulfilling her music duties in the church.

Filipinos always look [forward] to the caroling tradition during Christmas because it makes them happy to see carolers sing in front of their houses,” she said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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