ELBI STRIPPED: Starbucks Gentrification


Elbi’s Disappearing Act

Less than a year has passed since Cady’s graduation yet when she visited last month, the campus has become a little more unfamiliar to her. A concrete skeleton stands on what used to be the home of We Deliver (or Silog Express), a meat shop, and hidden but loud photocopying shops. Its bottom is dressed in tarpaulin bearing a familiar cosmopolitan logo – Starbucks. Like other UPLB alumni, Cady feels the Elbi she has known is slowly being erased and replaced by a cosmopolitan fantasy. An army of tweets celebrated Starbucks’ arrival citing accessibility of good coffee and the transformation of Elbi to a modern university town. However, like the trojan horse that Troy wildly celebrated as a gift, the arrival of Starbucks is a premonition of much worse things to come.

The Starbucks Effect

Pierre Carapetian, a real estate broker in Canada, has observed that properties that surround a Starbucks store appreciate in value after the store opens. Quartz and The Gaurdian, two western news and opinion sites, have also cited the impact Starbucks and other coffee shops such as Dunkin Donuts have on property value.

Carpetian, Quartz, and The Guardian clarify that even prior to the construction and opening of a Starbucks store, properties that surround the lot are already high in value. Starbucks’ present aggravates the situation and encourages property values to skyrocket because of the personalities that flock the coffee shop.

While rising property values sounds good to property owners, it is the poor and low-middle class that suffer most of the brunt. As customers from upper and middle classes flock Starbucks, businesses would take the opportunity to acquire properties adjacent to the coffee shop to tap a new market. Businesses would offer owners of apartments, dormitories, or establishments that line Grove generous amounts of compensation for their desired properties. This would mean that owners would have to evict their tenants or residents to sell their property. It would also mean that owners will exploit this opportunity to increase rent to either attract a wealthier class to occupy their rooms or encourage big business to replace small sized businesses occupying their space. This is called Gentrification.

In the United States, the construction of Starbucks or a high-end apartment complex, meant that it was time for colored people to pack their bags and bid farewell to a town they called home for centuries if they can not afford the new set of rent prices. These gentrified areas were thriving pots of ethnic cultures but after Starbucks, they have become leisure spots for many of privileged American millennials.

While most of the occupants were able to relocate after the annex of Vega was torn down for Starbucks’ construction, some of the occupants who sold umbrellas and knick-knacks are now left on the pavements of Grove facing a possible threat of eviction from town authorities. Most were able to afford to relocate but those who can not shell out more are those who rely most on their livelihood to survive.

Jose Alejandro Inciong, a BS Biology graduate from UPLB, claims that there are rumors circulating in Los Banos that multinational corporations are on the hunt for property along Lopez and and National Highway for their local branches. He says that Starbucks is just one of the first few chapters of Elbi’s transfiguration.

New businesses opened by Multinational Corporations provide job opportunities and stimulate economic growth but at what cost? Their profits go to their coffers while they can avoid taxes and taxes can become politicized against the provincial poor.

Coffee could warm the sleepless Iskolar but it has left the evicted and financially disempowered cold on the streets.

The Untapped, rising

The renovation of Selina’s, Dunkin Donuts and Paponei’s, the rise of Centtro Boulevard and BonChon, the opening of National Bookstore, and the expansion of Bugong and Seoul Kitchen in the recent years are symptoms that Elbi’s profile has changed. The sudden and unexpected demise of Sulyaw, a legendary establishment known for its cheap meals (and world-class sanitation), could have been a trigger that Elbi was moving away from frugality (this could be true if not for the sudden stardom of Bogart’s Bentelog)

It is safe to assume that the demographic now consists of students who come from middle and upper income classes of the population. While Elbi culture demands one reforms their own ways to adapt to the hermit and frugal life of an Elbitizen, the current demographic’s desire for a cosmopolitan life defined by coffee consumption is about to be tapped. The harms that these desires and businesses bring might be unintended but they have long term implications. Higher property prices and the existence of highly valued establishments affect the cost of living in the university town.

Expensive rents would mean lesser options for current and prospective students who come from low income backgrounds. Education is free but students and parents also weigh in cost of living as part of choosing a university. Expensive restaurants might not kill all budget-friendly establishments but it trims down cheaper options for students. Much worse is the threat of eviction faced by established but cheap restaurants by big corporations and profit-driven property owners. In this scenario, the solution of providing stipends for low-income students is good but how far those stipends can go is the next question that needs to be resolved.

If Elbi refuses if not fails to address this, the university student population becomes less heterogenous by being composed more by the middle and upper classes. The consequence for academic freedom and diversity are harmful because it would mean a community who would have lesser boundaries of difference with regards to lived experience, thinking, and lifestyle. Much frightening are the lost talents and intellect who refuse to pursue Elbi because of high cost of living.

It is not Elbi’s obligation to adjust to the demands and desires of the middle and upper class for high priced coffee or Korean fried chicken. If market forces become the Oracle of our faith as a community, patronizing the remaining local cheap establishments could be a weapon to signal a strong demand.

If Elbi becomes a town of the privileged, does a state university then fully serve its purpose?

Like many alumni, Cady plans to visit Elbi annually because she still considers it as home. But she has to confront the question – “Is it still home when the parts of pieces of it have changed?”

She just hopes, Elbi doesn’t pull off an entire disappearing act.[P]

Words: John Albert Pagunsan; Graphics: Maria Maxine Jaleco


FEATURES: Boundaries


Every night, Emmanuel religiously portions his daily earnings to put food for seven on the table, to send five to get attractive college diplomas, and to pay for the house’s water and electricity.

Ruel and Emmanuel make roughly around ₱500 daily as drivers.

In jeepney modernization program by the government, Ruel and Emmanuel have to feed one more mouth – debt.

Environmentally friendly but anti-poor

Bibilhin daw nila yung jeep namin sa halagang ₱30,000 tapos bibilhin namin sa kanila yung higit ₱1.5 milyon bagong jeep tapos may tubo pa yun kaya aabot ng ₱2 milyon (They say they will purchase our jeep with ₱30,000 and we will acquire the new jeeps for ₱1.5 million but if you add interest it will be worth ₱2 million),”

Ruel describes the scheme.

Under this scheme, jeepney drivers will only receive ₱30,000 as salvage fee for their old jeepneys which the government will dispose. Drivers will also receive ₱80,000 as subsidy from the government for the acquisition of new jeepneys. However the ₱110,000 they receive is still peanuts compared to the amount of ₱1.5 million they will be paying in 7 years. According to IBON, a progressive think tank, the current jeepneys cost only ₱200,000-₱400,000. The current jeepney costs almost one-seventh of the new jeepney.

Jeepney units include non-air conditioned, air conditioned, solar powered, and produce lower emissions. The new jeepney units are Euro 4 compliant meaning they emit less smoke and pollutants. Currently the jeepneys that dominate the Philippine roads are only Euro 2 and 3 compliant. The government claims to lessen pollution, the country needs to transition to new jeepneys.

The government says that it will provide loans to jeepney drivers. However, Ruel and Emmanuel think that the price of environmental protection are their livelihoods.

They pay the daily boundary or rent of  ₱450-500 and usually bring home ₱500. In the new scheme, they have to pay ₱800 as boundary to compensate for the incurred debts.

With the new jeepneys, Emmanuel says the costs of purchasing new jeepneys are also passed down to consumers who will have to pay a minimum of ten pesos to ride the jeepney. Emmanuel estimates the minimum fare will be around ₱10, higher by ₱3 from the current regular fare.

Lalaki pa huhulugan namin araw-araw (Our daily contributions will balloon),” Ruel is pertaining to the interest they have to pay every day to compensate for the possible debts to be incurred.

Jeepney drivers are made to choose between transition to modern jeepneys or loyalty to old jeepneys at the cost of their registration.

While fireworks and ringing bells will greet many Filipinos during New Year’s Day next year; announcements of revocation of jeepney registration will knock the doors of many jeepney drivers on New Year’s Day.

H’wag sana kaming pabayaan ng gobyerno. May lima akong anak na nag-aaral. Kung mawawalan kami ng pangkabuhayan, saan pupunta mga anak ko? Hindi na namin kakakayanin yun (I hope the government does not abandon us. I have five children who are studying. If I lose my livelihood, where will my children go? We can not absorb that),” says Ruel.

Hindi kasya yung kita namin ngayon at dadagdagan pa nila yung pahirap (Our earnings are insufficient and they’ll add to our burden),” says Emmanuel.

The issue of money awakened the creases on Ruel’s face. It did not matter to him if he lost count of the attempts jeepney drivers did to demand dialogues with the government as long as he will not see the day counting his daily earnings to pennies as few as his fingers because of debt.

Ruel can not count the number of words they heard from the government with regards to their plight but he could vividly recount the words Duterte threw to jeepney drivers.

“January 1, if you can’t modernize that, leave. You’re poor? Son of a bitch, go ahead, suffer in poverty and hunger, I don’t care.” Duterte said this while addressing soldiers in Marawi last week.

Binoto namin siya dahil gusto namin ng pagbabago sa ekonomiya (We voted for him because we wanted change in the economy),” Ruel admits he and his friends voted for Duterte.

Hindi niya tinupad ang pangako niya na tulungan ang mga mahihirap (He did not fulfill his promise to help the impoverished),” says Emmanuel while repairing his jeepney. Ruel nods in frustration.

If the government would shoulder all or half the ₱1.5 million, Ruel and Manuel said they will support the modernization program. “Kung nakakagaan po ng buhay namin at ng iba, susupportahan namin ang gobyerno (If it eases our life and other people’s lives, we will support the government),” said Ruel.

Students weigh

Paralyzed by nationwide strikes and disappointed with the recent national events, students have weighed their sentiments against the government policy. Denouncing it as ‘non-inclusive’ and ‘favoring only the elites’.

Clarenz Ocampo, a junior human ecology student, thinks that the program is “unfair” as jeepneys are coerced to transition in a very short amount of time without ample government aid. “Mababawasan yung ratio of passengers to jeepneys thus mahirap makasakay. Pangalawa, Mas mahal na bayad para macompensate yung gastos of the “modernization” plan (The ratio of passengers to jeepneys will be lower which worsens commuter experience. Secondly, a higher fare will be imposed to compensate for the cost of the modernization plan),” says Ocampo.

Christian Dulay, a senior agribusiness student, says “It’s a bold and progressive move, but it’s not inclusive. There is a great trade off once it is implemented. For sure implementation would be the greatest bottleneck of the program. I’m not entirely against the mandate of the program, but it is not viable as of the moment.”

It’s not only the drivers who will be affected by this abrupt transition. Students and ordinary workers have to shell out extra for their once affordable jeepney rides.

“Mas mahihirapan kami, wala talaga kaming kakakayanan (We’ll be overburdened, we really do not have the capacity to go against it),” Emmanuel says as tears crawled down his cheeks.

Emmanuel touches the rosary, says a prayer under his breath before his next journey.

He finally says,

“Sana hindi matuloy. (I hope it does not push through)”[P]

WORDS: John Albert Pagunsan; GRAPHICS: Jandelle Cruz


The Difference between Fake News and Satire, and Why It Matters



On September 2017, Philstar.com (The Philippine Star) reported that “spreading fake news [is] now a crime” after President Duterte signed into law Republic Act 10951. They pointed out that Article 154, Section 18 of the act sanctions “unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances”, imposing a penalty of arresto mayor and a hefty fine upon those who publish false news.

This penalty is imposed upon “Any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State,” as stated in the article. But what The Philippine Star got wrong that Republic Act 10951 merely amends the Revised Penal Code, which was passed in 1930, to hike fines matching their 2017 monetary equivalent.

In layman’s terms, this law already exists, and the outdated penalty for Article 154 was simply adjusted from 1,000 pesos maximum to a fine ranging from 40, 000 to 200, 000 pesos plus up to six months jail time. In layman’s terms, President Duterte did not sign an entirely new law on fake news and that The Philippine Star more or less misled its readers into believing there was, in fact, a new law on fake news.

Short quiz: Does this mean The Philippine Star actually published fake news for posting that headline? Should The Philippine Star be penalized under the law for spreading false news and arguably causing damage to the credit of the State? Wait, if they didn’t write it intentionally, does it actually count as fake news?

There is no doubt that the prevalence of fake news has had a negative impact on our society and that there needs to be a solution. However, the lines remain blurred in the current law and in the proposed Senate Bill No. 1492 or “Anti-Fake News Act of 2017” introduced by Senator Joel Villanueva. Considering how the current administration has been, the arguments against and the descriptors for “fake news” could be used by those in power to take away press freedom and our right to freely express ourselves.

DEFINING ‘FAKE NEWS’                                

Academics Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow in their article “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election” published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2017 defined fake news to be “news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false, and could mislead readers.”


Immediately, so many articles come to mind. We have the more “blatant” political propaganda fake news that’s used to damage the credibility of both the State and the opposition. We have fake science news (or poorly-communicated research findings) that have been around way before the Duterte-Trump era. We’ve seen unverified news posted by social media users claiming there’s a thing happening somewhere, like a terrorist attack, or a bomb threat. There’s also tabloid news, hybrids of factual-and-fake news, and even satirical news (more on that later).


In the case of The Philippine Star, the headline is verifiably false and has certainly already misled some its readers; however, we can’t say for sure whether the author did it intentionally. While Philstar is among the Philippines’ most widely-circulated

newspapers that have been around for decades alongside The Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Manila Bulletin, to name a few, we should always be reminded that mass media is prone to conflict of interest.

First and foremost, mass media is a business that needs the occasional sensationalist, click-snatching headline to gain website views and ad revenue. Secondly, mass media is monitored and controlled by certain individuals and individual groups who could very easily twist facts and churn out disinformation. And lastly, although it is in the interest of journalism to deliver factual and substantial news, sometimes we make mistakes in an effort to provide it as soon as it happens.

So what if it was a mistake? UP College of Mass Communication Associate Professor Danilo Arao says “honest mistakes should not be classified as fake news.” Errors in media reportage could be linked to editors and writers who fail to uphold the professional and ethical standards of journalism. Some might also need to have a background on law or whatever topic in order to communicate a story better. There also needs to be self-regulation among journalists and concerned citizens, who can point out bad practices. Initiatives and organizations such as VERA Files, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and IBON Foundation regularly do fact-checks. Ideally, media organizations that have been called out shall correct and apologize for their errors.


Another form of “fake news” that should not be classified as such is satire. You’ve probably seen satirical news on your Facebook timeline, posted by The Onion or The Superficial Gazette. If you haven’t heard of them, you can also check out our lampoon issue called UPLB Defective. Arao says that satire professionally-done can help shape public opinion by making audiences think through an exaggerated depiction of reality. Unfortunately, satire done badly exists, and they are often misinterpreted by readers.

If you look back at history, satire was used in times of crisis, particularly during the Martial Law Period where the Marcos regime closed down several broadsheets and radio stations. Campus publications like The Philippine Collegian and Ang Malaya as well as underground publications Pahayagang Malaya and Veritas were among those used satire to voice out against the authoritarian government. Even in the American Colonial Period, satire existed in the forms of prose and editorial cartoons when writers did not have press freedom. Perhaps the most historical and well-known satire is Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere, which were crucial in winning our independence.

All of those mentioned could be easily tagged as “fake news” under the law and the proposed Anti-Fake News Act. But what makes them different is that satire essentially performs the function of journalism by educating its readers and showing what is true and just. It is still unclear whether coming up with a clear definition of “fake news” is possible without trampling on our right to exercise press freedom, or if a definition is something that we even need, but for now it is important that we promote free, accessible education for all and critical media literacy so that we can distinguish fact from fiction.[P]


Written by Mac Andre Arboleda. This article was first published on print, UPLB Perspective Vol. 44, Issue 1. 

NEWS: LB-AAW calls for adoption of remaining dogs


Threatened by the local municipality to have the dogs euthanized if not adopted before summer, the Los Baños – Advocates of Animal Welfare, Inc. (LB-AAW) are looking to find ‘furever’ homes for the remaining 23 dogs in the pound.

According to LB-AAW, the Los Baños municipal government wants to euthanize the dogs for fear of diseases like rabies, which they are more prone to during summer months. The municipality is also said to be cutting expenses for the allotment of other projects and that they are making room for a new batch of dogs in the pound.

Reignier Guerrero, LB-AAW Public Relations Head, stated that although the municipality said that there is a big amount allotted for dog food in the 2018 budget proposal, the amount is not disclosed to their organization. Additionally, he said that before their organization volunteered to help the pound, the dogs were not being fed. The food given to the dogs in present-day come from LB-AAW and their donors.

The municipality have long been saying that the dogs that are not adopted will be euthanized. However, it was only last January 13 when they gave their definite word that the current dogs in the pound will be given until before summer to find a home.

Their campaign #Savethe58 started out with 58 dogs that were up for adoption. With LB-AAW’s continuous efforts to find them new homes, more than half have already been adopted.

LB dog pound violates law                                                        

After finding homes for the remaining 23 dogs, LB-AAW wants to have the dog pound closed due to violation of the guidelines set by the Bureau of Animal Industry.

“Bagsak sila sa maintenance of facilities. Walang food for the dogs. Walang vet na nagche-check sa dogs. Hindi rin sumusunod sa required facilities ng cages, dapat stainless steel.” Guerrero explained.

According to Guerrero, there had been a case where a dog had a tetanus infection because of rust and dirt in its cage.

The dog pound is located in the Material Recycling Facility, also known as a dumpsite, which Guerrero said provides for  an unhealthy environment for dogs. He said that the municipality told them that there is no other land available to be converted into a dog pound and the current pound only serves as a temporary shelter.

Guerrero cited the Animal Welfare Act of 1998 which provides that animals in the shelter should have five basic freedoms: freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition; freedom from physical discomfort and pain; freedom from injury and disease; freedom to conform to essential behavior patterns; and freedom from fear and distress.

An adoptionfee of Php 300 paid to the municipality should be used to improve the facilities of the pound but Guerrero observed that with the number of dogs adopted in the previous years, no improvements were seen in the pound.

Not all stray dogs are rabid

In an interview with ABS-CBN last January 18, OIC Municipal Agriculturist Cheryll Gonzales explained the risk of  stray dogs with rabies. Although they want the dogs to be in a better place, she said, they also do not want to risk the chances of rabies spreading and citizens being bitten by the rabid animals.

“Ang rabies kasi, in a few weeks, magmamanifest na dapat ang symptoms sa aso. If the dogs have rabies, it should have died or exhibited the symptoms,” Guerero explained that thedogs in the pound do not have rabies.

Animals infected with rabies die 10 days after the development of its symptoms.


LB-AAW advocates to rescue and find new homes for stray cats and dogs which, according to them, are only victims of irresponsible pet ownership. From 2015, LB-AAW volunteers have helped in maintaining the dog pound—cleaning cages, feeding, bathing, and taking care of the dogs and cars. Since there is no municipal veterinarian, LB-AAW contacts local or private veterinarians for the animals that need immediate medical attention.

Since 2015, more than 50 cats and dogs have been adopted.

If interested to adopt, LB-AAW requires the submission of an application form, an interview, and a visit to the dog pound.[P]

For more information, see the guidelines and reminders in LB-AAW facebook group or contact Reignier Guerrero at 09978539393.

OPINYON: Magsulat, Maglingkod, Magpalaya


Kamakailan lamang ay ating nabalitaan ang pagbawi ng Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ng lisensya ng Rappler dahil sa di umanong pagmamayari ng dayuhan sa naturing online news media na lumalabag sa mga nakapaloob sa konsitusyon. Dagdag pa rito ay ang nabalitaang pag rekumenda ng National Telecommunications Commision (NTC) na ipasara ang 30 stasyon ng radyo sa Davao region dahil sa di umanong paglabag sa mga probisyon ng communications and broadcasting laws.

Kinikilala ang Pilipinas bilang isa sa mga ‘world’s freest media’, ngunit sa pag atake ng administrasyon sa mga mamamahayag ay umuusbong na ang mga nakakadudang elemento na nagpapahiwatig na ang naturing titulo ay di akma para sa mga pahayagan ng Pilipinas dahil sa mga kasalukuyang pangyayari sa bansa. Hindi lamang ito atake sa pahayagang Pilipino kundi atake ito sa pambasang demokrasya. Ito lamang ay isa sa mga paniniil ng mala-diktaduryang gobyerno sa patuloy nitong pagpwersa sa naisin na patahimikin ang mga malayang mamamahayag ng katotohanan para sa mga mamamayan.

Hindi lamang Rappler ang natatanging news media na nakatangap ng atake sa karapatan ng malayang pamamahayag, kundi pati na rin ang iba pang mga alternatibong pahayagang tina-tag ng Pangulo bilang mga komunista o miyembro ng New People’s Army. Dagdag pa rito ay ang pang haharass ng mga trolls sa mga progresibong indibidwal na nagpapahayag sa social media.

Ang atake sa mga media institutions ay isa lamang sa mga pamamaraan ng administrasyon upang mabaluktot ang katotohanan. Sa hangarin nitong maisulong ang diktadurya, napakaraming buhay na ang nakitil at dumanak na dugo, dagdag pa rito ay ang patuloy na unti-unting pagpatay sa mga Pilipino sa pamamagitan ng gutom at pangigipit – hindi na lamang naroon sa kanayunan ang pagatake sa karapatang pantao, makikita na rin ito sa kalunsuran sa porma ng extrajudicial killings at human rights violations na pinaigting ng War on Drugs ng Administrasyong Duterte.

Sa patuloy na pag-supil sa mga pahayagan na kiritikal na naghahatid ng balita at may mga pahayag na sumasalungat sa administrasyon ay unti-unting nailalantad ang pagnanais ni Duterte na mamonopolya ang katotohanan. Patuloy ang pag-gapos, pagpiring, at pagputol ng dila sa ating kalayaang magsalita at maghatid ng balita. Tila mahapong ginagamit ang lahat ng paraan para mapatahimik ang media, mainstream man o alternatibo, na sumasalungat sa propaganda ng estado.

Hindi maipagkakaila na ito ay sumasalamin sa nangyari noong panahon ni Marcos. Sa pagsulong ng ‘national security’ ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ay ang pagtulak ng censorship at pagsasara ng maraming media institutions, kolektibo, at pati na rin mga student councils. Sa malinaw na hangarin ng Pangulo na palawakin sa buong bansa ang Batas Militar ay dapat na mabahala ngayon pa lamang at manindigan ang mga Pilipino laban dito.

Sa panahong harap-harapan nang  binubusalan ng administrasyon ang mga mamamahayag at mamamayang Pilipino, pinapakita lamang na hindi ito panahon ng pananahimik ngunit ito na ay panahon para sa mas paigtingin ang mga panawagan at ang mas kritkal na pagsusuri sa mga polisiya ng ating administrasyon. Sa panahong harap-harapan nang tinatangalan ng karapatan sa malayang pamamahayag at inaatake ang ating mga demokratikong karapatan, ang mga media institutions ay mas paiigtingin at papalakasin ang boses ng mamayan at mga estudyanteng kanilang nirerepresenta.

Ang UPLB Perspective, bilang isang pahayagang umusbong sa karimlan ng Batas Militar ay patuloy na magsusulat, maglilingkod, at magpapalaya, dahil may kalayaan sa katotohanan. Kasama ang masa at iba pang institusyon ng pamamahayag – sa larangan man ng imprenta, brodkast, o online – patuloy ang UPLB Perspective sa militante at progresibong pagtuligsa at paglaban sa tiranya, pasismo, at namumuong diktadura ng rehimeng Duterte.

Southern Tagalog groups launch 1917 Revolution-inspired protest against imperialism, fascism

BTPH1Groups from the Southern Tagalog region led by militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Timog Katagalugan trooped to the National Capital Region (NCR) this morning with red flags and streamers, a throwback to the atmosphere of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Groups organized a Russian-themed protest to “remember and emulate the people’s triumphs against imperial domination and fascist rule.”

Peti Bautista, BAYAN-TK spokesperson, said that they adopted the theme as part of the October Revolution Centennial Celebration worldwide and in treasuring the lessons of how the people went on to oppose and topple the Tsarist monarchy.

Protesters registered their disgust against the arrival of US President Donal Trump, a “hallmark of destructive and murderous imperialist foreign policy,” in a program held about three kilometers from the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the venue of this year’s ASEAN East Asia Summit.

Groups condemned the effects of US Imperialism on different sectors of the society such as the labor sector, youth sector, peasants, and indigenous people citing attacks on different sectors in the Southern Tagalog region.

Kabataan Partylist (KPL-ST) highlighted how neoliberal attacks on education affects the curriculum in state universities and the K-12 program’s agenda to produce graduates for the international market. “Imbis na tugunan ang interes at pangangailangan ng sariling bansa, ang mga estudyante ay tinuturuang magsilbi sa pandayuhang interes,” KPL-ST said.

NNARA Youth-ST condemned the exploitation of our natural resources by foreign corporations and how the government protects the interests of these corporations instead of the interests of the indigenous people who are being displaced. “Tuloy-tuloy ang pagpasok ng mga iba’t ibang korporasyon upang magpatuloy sa pandarambong ng ating mga likas na yaman, umaabot sa puntong binobomba na ng imperyalistang US at pati narin mismong gobyerno ang mga kabundukan upang magkamal ng likas na yaman, tulad ng nangyari sa Mt.Banoi sa Batangas.”

Protesters condemned Duterte’s partnership with Imperialist countries such as the US and the worsening crisis in the society brought about by imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. “Bread, land,  and peace was the call of the millions of peasants and workers a hundred years ago. A century hence, it remains the cry of the people of the world – fueled by anger against the dominating imperialist plunder and war led by the ‘Tsarist rule’ of the US ang through its conduits like the ASEAN,” Bautista of BAYAN-TK says.

Meanwhile, groups expressed their dissent on the massive police barricade set up in securing the perimeter of venue of the summit saying that it further legitimizes the exclusion of the wide majority of the people from their policy-making and called on the police force to serve and protect the interests of the Filipino people instead of foreign interest.

Youth Advocates for Peace and Justice (YAPJUST) called on the police force saying, “isang hamon sa kapulisan na patuloy na paglinkuran ang sambayanang Pilipino, pakinggan natin ang hinaing ng ating mga mamamayan.”

The protest begins the crusade of the people of Southern Tagalog in the national capital against lopsided economic partnerships and tyranny. By the afternoon, they joined the wider delegation from BAYAN and from other delegations such as peasants, workers, and national minority groups from the island of Mindanao.

The delegation from the Southern Tagalog will join the nationwide campout and the upcoming protests against ASEAN, to which Bautista of Bayan-TK stated that they will push through as near as the PICC as they can. “Massive police barricades are nothing to a people resolved to push through,” Bautista said. [P]



ST farmers launched series of bungkalan, balik-saka activities


Over the past months, hundreds of farmers in Southern Tagalog (ST) participated in a simultaneous Bungkalan or collective land cultivation activities as a show of solidarity and protest amidst the long struggle for genuine land reform.

Spearheaded by Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid – Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), Bungkalan activities were carried out in Lupang Kapdula in Cavite, Hacienda Roxas and Sitio Balakbakan in Batangas, Hacienda Gancayco in Quezon, and Lupang Almeda in Occidental Mindoro “to enrich the lands seized by landlords and big corporations.”

Ang mga serye ng Bungkalan na isinasagawa ng ating mga magsasaka dito sa rehiyon ay nagsisilbing protesta laban sa mga panginoong maylupa na hinahadlangan ang aming mga karapatan para sa lupa,” said KASAMA-TK in a statement.

Collective land cultivation as form of protest and solidarity

Last May 30, 2017, farmers in Maragondon, Cavite successfully occupied the 155-hectare Lupang Kapdula seized by Enrile clan – owned JAKA Investments Corporation along with South Cavite Land Company and Sta. Lucia Realty Corporation.

It has been twenty years since they signed a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with the South Cavite Land Co., promising them an improvement from the traditional farming and granting them ownership to the land. However, it was “under false pretense” as the lands were planned to be converted into a residential area, forcing them to leave the lots.

As form of protest, Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kapdula (SAMAKA) along with other sectoral organizations headed the bungkalan in more than 133 hectares of idle land in which they planted vegetable and root crops.

Matagal na naming ipinaglalaban ang lupang ito. Pitong taon na kaming may abogado ngunit ang kinikilalang may-ari ng lupaing ito ay ang mga malalaking korporasyon,” said Belinda Mujica, a member of SAMAKA.

In Nasugbu, Batangas, the Damayan ng mga Manggagawang Bukid ng Batangas (DAMBA) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa at Magbubukid ng Batangas (ALMMASAN) joined the “balik-saka” in Hacienda Roxas owned by landlord Don Pedro Roxas. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) granted to them the land in 1993 but Don Pedro Roxas refused to recognize it.

In the same plight, farmers in Hacienda Gancayco launched a provincial caravan circling the populous towns of Quezon in support of the bungkalan in their areas. In Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, farmers of Lupang Almeda held a camp-out and bungkalan last June 26, 2017.

Threats and harassment

While doing the bungkalan activities, the farmers did not escape intimidation and harassment from the private guards and state forces.

On June 4, 2017, private guards of JAKA Investments Corp. threatened the farmers of Lupang Kapdula in the middle of their bungkalan activity. The said guards stole their flags and other equipment while destroying the farmers’ huts already in place. Afterwards, they erected their own huts near the farm site.

In Lupang Almeda at Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, around 100 police and private guards arrived in the farm site last July 26, 2017 and demolished the makeshift houses set up by the farmers.

Meanwhile, security guards from Gold Cross Agency tried to block the farmers’ activities in Nasugbu, Batangas. They repeatedly tried to make the farmers leave putting up a ‘No Trespassing’ sign in the area.

Iba’t ibang kaso na ng pagpapaalis at harassment ang aming nararanasan simula pa noon  ngunit hinding hindi kami magpapatinag at itutuloy pa rin namin ang aming karapatan na magbalik-saka at magbungkal sa aming mga lupa,” added Mujica.

Plight under current administration

KARAPATAN, a human rights organization, accounts for more than 64 peasant leaders and activists killed under President Duterte’s term while incidences of harassment still continue.

Kung tunay ngang sinsero ang gobyernong Duterte na tahakin ang landas ng kapayapaan, dapat ay mapagpasya nitong itigil ang tumitinding pagpatay sa mga magsasaka at tugunan ang problema sa kawalan ng Lupa,” said Antonio Flores, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

According to Flores, the struggle for a genuine land reform program is far from over especially with the impending hearing for Ka Paeng Mariano’s confirmation as Secretary of DAR as of press time. However, bungkalan and balik-saka activities will continue amidst the said challenges.  [P]