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]

 

 

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ST farmers launched series of bungkalan, balik-saka activities

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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]

CNS-UPLB launches October Revolution Centennial Celebration (ORCC)

ORCC

The Center for Nationalist Studies-UPLB (CNS-UPLB) launched its month-long centennial celebration of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia on October 4, 2017 at the UPLB Oblation Grounds. A joint singing of the “Do You Hear The People Sing” from the musical Les Miserables, served as the highlight of the event.

The October Revolution in Russia was brought to fruition by the valiant struggle of the Russian people led by the Bolshevik, the revolutionary proletarian party, against the exploitative conditions shaped by the expansion of monopoly capitalism in the twentieth century.

The centenary of the October Revolution, which successfully installed the socialist order in Russia for four decades before it was overpowered by internal revisionist forces and US imperialism from the outside, is a significant occasion to reflect on the enduring legacies of this historical episode. The October Revolution continues to inspire emancipatory movements in different parts of the world.

Various UPLB organizations delivered solidarity messages during the ORCC launching, University Student Council (USC) emphasized the need to continue our struggle for our democratic rights, “hanggang sa ngayon, marami pa ring kinakaharap ang mga mamamayang Pilipino…kaya patuloy nating pag-alabin ang paglaban [para sa] ating mga karapatang pantao,” Charmane Maranan, UPLB USC Chairperson said.

Anakbayan UPLB said that the October Revolution serves as an inspiration for us today. Anakbayan Chairperson, Mackie Valenzuela said, “tayong mga mamamayang Pilipino ay ginagawang inspirasyon ang nangyari sa Ruso, 100 years ago. Ating ipinagdiriwang ang isang rebolusyon na isinulong ng uring proletaryado”

Organizations also condemned the systematized fascism of the Duterte Administration, ang pasismo ang sistematikong pag gamit ng dahas ng estado na ang Philippine National Police (PNP) at Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)”, UPLB Development Communicators’ Society (DevComm Soc) said.

UPLB DevComSoc also called for continued vigilance and involvement as we are also victims of fascism “hindi porke’t malayo sa atin ang pangyayari, hindi na tayo makikialam. Kasama tayo sa nangyayaring pasismo ng estado, Kalakip ng sistematikong pasismo na ito ay pang-aalipusta sa ilang pamantasan sa student institutions sa ilang pamantasan sa Maynila.”

CNS-UPLB has lined up events for the whole month of October up to the first week of November. These include a forum on “National Situation and People’s Struggle” on October 12, a forum on “Lenin’s Imperialism in the 21st Century” on October 16, and “Mga Berso ng Oktubre: Rebolusyonaryong Pakikibaka Sa Iba’t Ibang Panig ng Mundo,” a poetry writing contest. UPLB Babaylan’s Pride March on October 19 will also serve as part of the commemoration. [P]

Hundreds of civilians affected as AFP military ops in Batangas continue

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Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice (YAPJUST-UPLB) and KARAPATAN – Southern Tagalog along with different progressive organizations condemn the continuous aerial bombings and ground operations in Batangas City-Lobo area since Sunday.

Based from initial reports of the fact-finding mission led by KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog, a combined 137 families from Brgy. Cumba and Talahib Pandayan were forced to evacuate. Classes were also suspended in at least 15 schools in the said barangays and nearby areas. This came after the alleged encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. At 10am today, fact-finding team reported 2 choppers circling around Mt. Banoi.

“Use of excessive force such as aerial bombings seem to be the norm for AFP troops whenever there are conflicts. Thus, civilians are not spared,” said Pastor Edwin Egar of KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog.

Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice – UPLB headed the protest action at the University of the Philippines Los Banos while KARAPATAN – Southern Tagalog trooped to Department of National Defense to decry military operations and the clear violation of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL).

At 1pm, KARAPATAN – Southern Tagalog and other sectoral, provincial organizations went to Commission on Human Rights to file a formal complaint against the state forces.

Currently, AFP and PNP operatives continue to prevent and harass fact-finding teams. The said fact-finding teams aim to assist civilians and further investigate the situation.

‘MABIBIGYAN BA TALAGA KAMI?’ | A look at coop’s claim of distributing Marcos wealth

IN SUMMARY:

  • One Social Family Credit Cooperative used to operate as Bullion Buyer, Ltd.
  • OSFCC claims they were tasked to implement a program aiming to distribute Marcos wealth
  • Bullion Buyer was already a subject of many complaints from Baguio in the north to Bacolod in the Visayas

[FIRST UPDATE: 2:19pm, September 24] People, mostly ordinary masses, were promised a million pesos. Those who were to give the money away said the funds are from the wealth of the Marcoses.

One Saturday, they converged in an unlikely place: a campus which served as one of the hotbeds of militancy, opposition, and struggle during Martial Law.

Thousands of people, almost all clad in white shirts, arrived at the UPLB campus on September 23 for what is touted to be a general assembly of the One Social Family Credit Cooperative (OSFCC). Their program was held at the grandstand of the lower Freedom Park.

An old company changing names

It was revealed during the program that the OSFCC is the new name of a former entity called Bullion Buyer, Ltd. (BBL) Bullion has been existing since 2004, as mentioned during the program.

A woman speaker explained during the program that Bullion Buyer simply handles the documents for the turn-over of the alleged wealth of the Marcoses. OSFCC was chosen as a beneficiary, and thus, was tasked to distribute the money to the people.

However, it was not clear when BBL was transformed into the OSFCC.

So, where’s the money from?

The woman speaker said that there is a Grand Advisory Council that supposedly handles the wealth of the Marcoses. She also said that there are three sources of the said wealth, as follows:

  • Ferdinand Marcos Cash Account (FMCA);
  • Marcos Foundation and Trust Fund; and
  • The Redeemers Group

UPLB Perspective was unable to verify the legitimacy and veracity of the last two groups mentioned. However, the FMCA was the subject of a case in 2014 in the District Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Reading a letter thanking these groups, she told beneficiaries during the program: “As the trusted recipient of the [Marcos] legacy, we are expressing our deepest gratitude for trusting us to implement your program to benefit the Filipino people.” She then ad-libbed, “Programa ito ni Apo Marcos, e. Ngayon lang natin ‘to nalaman.”

Apo Marcos refers to the former President Ferdinand Marcos. Apo is a term of endearment for revered people in family or in power in the Ilocano language.

The same speaker also mentioned making the Philippines a great nation again, where no Filipino will be “financially discriminated” anymore.

How will they distribute the money?

The cooperative claims to have the following workforce for the distribution of wealth to the people:

  • 2,396 coordinators in Luzon and Visayas
  • 1,024 provincial implementers (PIs) and participating leaders (PLs) in Luzon and Visayas
  • 939 coordinators in Mindanao

Each coordinator should have 300 beneficiaries before their area can become eligible for the supposed cash dole-outs, UPLB Perspective has learned.

Supposed beneficiaries were told that each family beneficiary will be given P1 million each. The money will be split in half:

  • P500,000 will be distributed to the beneficiary for four years and two months; that’s P10,000 per beneficiary per month.
  • The other P500,000 will be contributed to the cooperative as the beneficiary’s capital share.

The cooperative will open a bank account for the respective beneficiaries, where the latter’s shares of the wealth that’s supposed to be distributed will be deposited.

During the program, the beneficiaries were promised to be given P10,000 cash advance.

Being a beneficiary ain’t easy

To become a beneficiary, one has to have a booklet titled Life and Acheivements of Ferdinand E. Marcos. The booklet serves as the proof of membership to the cooperative. The booklet has to be stamped or signed as proof that the holder of the said booklet is eligible to receive the money supposedly due them.

But getting that booklet, which it seems is marketed as the key to the wealth of the Marcoses, is not as easy as it looks. The registration to become a beneficiary is done per barangay.

  • First, interested parties have to submit copies of his/her birth certificate and marriage certificate to the coordinator assigned to their barangay. They also have to accomplish a registration form. The coordinator will then put the person’s name on a list.
  • When the person is about to get a copy of the Marcos booklet, the coordinator will check his/her name on the list.
  • Once registered, they also have to attend a membership seminar.

Typically, the booklet contains the name and 2×2 ID photo of the beneficiary.

Pinili ng Diyos?

In another part of the program, one man explained that he has been a member of the former Bullion Buyer since 2012. He then said he has been waiting for five years to claim the promised wealth from the Marcoses.

He then linked the word grace to his years of waiting. Grace has five letters. Each letter represents the number of years he’s been waiting. “Naniniwala akong ang taong 2017 ang huling letra kaya matatanggap niyo ang biyaya.”

The same man said that in the National Capital Region, there are four million supposed beneficiary families. But he said during the program: “Ang nag-fillup lamang at pinili ng Diyos at ang mga hindi nagrereklamo ay 22,672 beneficiaries lang.”

“Dapat sama-sama tayong magtiis. Ayaw niyo nun? Mamaya, malalaman niyo na kayo ay malapit nang tumanggap talaga ng mga biyayang hinihintay natin,” he added.

How big can they be?

There were two noteworthy figures mentioned during the program:

  • 22,672 beneficiaries in the National Capital Region alone; and
  • 281,476 people included in the first batch of beneficiaries.

If we are to believe OSFCC’s claim about the number of beneficiaries and the supposed procedure that each beneficiary will have P500,000 in capital share, they could be easily classified as a large cooperative, with billions merely in capital.

Assuming that all 22,672 beneficiaries in the National Capital Region will give P500,000 in capital share to OSFCC, the total capital from these supposed beneficiaries is P11,336,000,000.  In comparison, ACDI Multipurpose Cooperative, the largest cooperative in the country according to the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), has P12.29 billion in assets as of December 2014. OSFCC’s figure is P954 million shy of the total assets of ACDI MPC.

Meanwhile, assuming that there are 281,476 beneficiaries who are supposed to give the same amount in capital share, the total capital would be P140,738,000,000. This figure would clearly surpass the P12.29 billion total assets of ACDI MPC.

Bullion no clean company

Bullion Buyer Ltd., as it turns out, is plagued with complaints from various supposed beneficiaries, to the extent that the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an advisory against the company.

In its advisory dated March 8, 2017, SEC describes BBL’s operations as follows: “Those recruited are asked to pay thirty pesos (PhP30.00) in exchange for receiving ten thousand pesos (PhP10,000.00) per month through their Landbank ATM accounts for four (4) years and eleven (11) months starting February 2017.  This also entitles them to a grant of five hundred thousand pesos (PhP500,000.00) for livelihood programs.”

SEC then said that BBL “is not registered with the Commission as a corporation or partnership.” The commission warned the public to stop investing in the company.

As early as 2013, there have already been reports about BBL’s illegitimacy. Two members of the company were recommended to face estafa charges, a Philippine Star report  published in March that year said. The same report cited that these two members, named Felicisima Cantos and Emmanuel Destura, “introduced themselves to the complainants as caretakers of the assets of the late President Ferdinand Marcos” and that they “enticed the victims to invest” in BBL. Also in 2013, columnist Tony Calvento wrote a piece detailing the modus operandi of the said company.

In June 2013, Lingayen, Pangasinan Regional Trial Court Branch 37 issued warrants of arrest against Destura and Cantos.

In February 2017, Bombo Radyo reported about the proliferation of Bullion Buyer, this time in Baguio City. Having received many complaints about the company, city mayor Mauricio Domogan had ordered an investigation into the company. At around the same time, Sun.Star published a Philippine News agency report saying two other members of BBL were also arrested in Mangaldan, Pangasinan. The modus operandi: buy a Marcos booklet for P30, and you can claim P10,000 a month.

BBL was also able to reach Visayas. The modus operandi remains similar: submit documents, pay for a booklet, and you’re eligible to get P10,000 monthly. RMN Network reports up to 100,000 people were recruited by BBL in Negros Occidental.

In Saturday’s event, OSFCC said that they used to be Bullion Buyer Ltd. In fact, the registration forms given to the supposed beneficiaries still had the name of BBL in its header, UPLB Perspective has discovered [see photo below].

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Marcos’ son: Distribution a scam

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. denied the supposed distribution of Marcos wealth, saying in a statement that it is “a fraudulent and massive scam.”

“We have repeatedly warned the public against unscrupulous individuals who have been using our family’s last name to advance their interests. Today’s event is a classic example,” his statement reads.

Yet another case of false hope?

In the middle of an interview with some supposed beneficiaries, one of them asked the UPLB Perspective correspondent talking to them, “Mabibigyan ba talaga kami?” Before asking the question, they told the Perspective that they were promised to be given something once they attend the program, but it was only during the program that they knew about the P10,000 cash advance.

They were promised money, wealth coming from a former President who plundered the people’s money. Whatever the motivations of those who went to the UPLB campus on that Saturday morning may differ from one another, but one thing is sure: they hoped for something that will change their lives, and we’ll never know if their hopes, just like all the other hopes of a nation marred with poverty and inequality, will transpire to reality. [P]

“Promised cash” from coop drives thousands to UPLB

[FIRST UPDATE: 5:38pm, September 23] It was an unusual start of the weekend in the University of the Philippines Los Baños this Saturday as thousands of supposed beneficiaries of a cooperative went into the campus in droves as early as 5am.

The beneficiaries – who arrived in the campus through jeepneys, vans, and buses – were told that they will be given P10,000 cash advance by the One Social Family Credit Cooperative, formerly known as Bullion Buyer Ltd. A program held at the lower Freedom Park’s grandstand was touted as a general assembly of OSFCC.

Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a statement sent to reporters that the University “approved the letter of Mr. Jeffrey S. Fortuna, National Inspectorate/Cooperative Secrateriat of [OSFCC] to hold general assembly meeting at the lower field managed by the [Department] of Human Kinetics.”

The vice chancellor added that UPLB Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. had previously approved “sectoral groups in the past such as the lumads, peasants, [boy] scouts, sports events, plus others from communities to use UPLB grounds as community sharing.

All of the supposed beneficiaries that the UPLB Perspective has encountered are holding a booklet with a photo of former President Ferdinand Marcos on the cover. The booklet, titled Life and Achievements of Ferdinand E. Marcos, supposedly contains the accomplishments of the late dictator. Bullion Buyer is the publisher of the said booklet.

IMG20170923130700“Unity could not be achieved by President Marcos during his term that’s [sic] why the peace of mind of President Marcos was only attained during Martial Law followed by all the good things he achieved during his reign as President,” the booklet’s preface reads.

The beneficiaries were told that those who have a signed copy of the Marcos booklet will be given a cash advance. Furthermore, they were told that each family will be given P1 million, which will be divided equally.

“Lahat ng beneficiaries, meron kayong cash advance. How are we going to do that? Yung inyong one million each per family, i-divide natin into two. Yung P500,000 we’ll give it to you P10,000  [sic] every month for four years and two months. The remaining P500,000, yun ang magiging capital share niyo sa cooperative,” a female speaker told the crowd in a program held at the Freedom Park grandstand.

A group of security guards from Cavite that the UPLB Perspective has talked to said that while they were aware before the event that they will receive something, it was only today during the program at the grandstand that they were informed about the cash advance.

“Narinig namin mismo [doon sa programa]. Alam namin na may matatanggap nga pero ngayon lang sinabi na [ang may] booklet, tatanggap daw,” one of the guards said.

Students condemn unexpected event

For their part, the University Student Council (USC) and other organizations condemned the UPLB administration’s move to allow inside the campus, which is known for its vigilance and militancy against Marcos’ Martial Law, an event purportedly glorifying the late dictator.

“Ang pagpapangako ng pera sa mamamayang Pilipino ay hindi mapapaltan ang mga buhay na nawala noong panahon ng diktatura ni Marcos. Kinokondena natin ang ating administrasyon na hinayaang magawa dito ang ang aktibidad na ito,” the USC said during an indignation rally at Carabao Park on Saturday afternoon.

“Nakakagalit na sa mismong pamantasan na nanindigan at lumaban sa diktadura ginanap ang ganitong pagtitipon,” Samahan ng Kabataan Para sa Bayan said in the same rally.

The political alliance also questioned the University’s decision to allow delegates of Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya this year to enter the campus but with oppressive limitations. “Sa panahon na ang mamamayan ang humingi ng permit, hindi napagbigyan,” they said.

Other organizations also slammed the supposed distribution of Marcos’ wealth, saying it contributes to historical revisionism.

“Walang kahit anong pera o kayamanan ang magbibigayt-presyo sa mga buhay na kinitil ni Marcos na nagpapatuloy hanggang ngayon,” Anakbayan-UPLB said during the rally.

Complaints against Bullion Buyer

Bullion Buyer Ltd. has been a subject of an advisory of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The advisory, dated March 8, 2017, warned citizens to not invest in the said entity.

READ: MABIBIGYAN BA TALAGA KAMI?’ | A look at coop’s claim of distributing Marcos wealth

SEC describes their modus operandi as follows: “Those recruited are asked to pay thirty pesos (PhP 30.00) in exchange for receiving ten thousand pesos (PhP10,000.00) per month through their Landbank ATM accounts for four (4) years and eleven (11) months starting February 2017.”

“The public is hereby informed that Bullion Buyer Ltd. is not registered with the Commission as a corporation or partnership. There being no primary license, it is not authorized to solicit investments which require a secondary license as provided under Sec. 8.1 of the Securities Regulation Code,” the advisory reads.

A Google search of Bullion Buyer Ltd. leads to various reports of complaints against the company. Reports published by local media indicate that Bullion Buyer has been operating in Baguio City, Pangasinan, and Bacolod[P]

Police presence at LB Square on Monday an emergency response

No Tokhang operation conducted, says PNP-LB

No warrantless body searches or Oplan Tokhang operation happened at LB Square along Grove, Lopez Avenue in Brgy. Batong Malake on Monday night, UPLB Perspective has learned.

Citing unverified social media posts saying that body searches were “confirmed” to have been conducted at the Square, PO2 Raymond Malabanan, on-duty investigator of the Los Baños Municipal Police Station, told the UPLB Perspective in an interview Wednesday evening: “Kami naman dito sa Los Baños PNP, pinabubulaanan namin ang sinabing iyon.”

“Walang pangangapkap. Ni preventive search nga, wala kaming ginawa,” he added.

The local law enforcement authorities said they were there at the Square, where several restaurants and bars are located, to respond to an emergency.

According to Malabanan, the on-duty investigator on the incident, eight people had a fight at the second floor of Cubes Resto Bar in LB Square at past 11pm on Monday. Relationship dispute was seen as a motive behind the incident. Two of those involved underwent medical examinations, Malabanan said.

The owner of the resto bar had no interest in pressing charges, Malabanan said. “Wala naman siyang interes na magreklamo, pinabayaran na lang ang mga nasira, mga nabasag,” he added.

Malabanan confirmed that three emergency response vehicles were on the scene to respond to the incident.  Two of these are Los Baños PNP’s mobile vehicles which were stationed at the Junction area, while one is from Barangay Batong Malake. He said that all the members of the Los Baños PNP, including its chief, PSupt. Arvin Avelino, who were at the Junction area for Oplan Sita, a regular police operation, responded to the said incident.

The Barangay Public Safety Office (BPSO) of Barangay Batong Malake also responded to the quarrel. The incident was confirmed by Dindo Tuazon, a radio operator for Barangay Batong Malake. In a separate interview with the UPLB Perspective, he said that the incident was reported on the barangay’s blotter.

The barangay radioed the incident to the police, Malabanan said. He also mentioned that the incident was settled in the barangay level, thus, it was not recorded in the police’s blotter. “Kung dito sila magba-blotter, automatic, magkakaso sila. Eh napagdesisyunan naman nilang isantabi ang paghahabla,” the investigator said.

Eyewitness accounts

 The manager of Cubes and other eyewitnesses that the UPLB Perspective have talked to also denied the alleged warrantless searches on students and patrons of the Square. They also denied that drugs were involved in that incident.

Ace, the owner of Cubes Resto Bar, told UPLB Perspective that no customer was subjected to a body search. Policemen did not enter in other establishments, he added.

“Buong magdamag, nandito kami, wala naman kaming na-observe na nakapkapang mga estudyante o customer. Wala akong nakita kasi hanggang madaling araw kami nag-stay dito,” he said.

Two witnesses have also spoken to the UPLB Perspective, telling the same story. One of the witnesses, a waiter at Cubes, said that their cashier called the attention of policemen stationed at a public assistance desk near the Square.

When asked whether arrests were made that night, he said: “Wala naman po.”

Another witness, a waiter at another restaurant in the Square, when asked about alleged entry of policemen in other establishments, said: “Hindi po sila pumasok [sa amin].” The same witness also denied reports of students being subjected to searches.

Continuing call for vigilance

Political alliance Samahan ng Kabataan Para sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN) was the first to publish an alert on early Tuesday morning to students and the UPLB community on the incident on Monday. “We have been informed that police officers are allegedy conducting search of bags at LB Square and Tresto in connection with Oplan Tokhang,” the statement posted on their Facebook page read.

The said alert is still up as of press time, with 374 reactions and 851 shares.

However, Tresto Garden Restaurant, via its Facebook page, denied the conduct of any police operation in their establishment, saying that “part of [SAKBAYAN’s] propaganda is ‘fake news.’”

When asked about the alleged operation in Tresto, Los Baños police deferred to the restaurant’s statement.

For their part, SAKBAYAN said in a later statement issued Tuesday evening via social media that they are continuing “to affirm its call for vigilance in the whole UPLB community in light of recent threats to our civil liberties.”

“First and foremost, our concern would be the safety and security of our constituents. We must ensure that we are able to enjoy our rights,” SAKBAYAN said in a text message to the UPLB Perspective.

“Thus, we call on the UPLB community to stay vigilant given the present political climate in the country,” they added.

For the part of the UPLB University Student Council, chairperson Charmane Jay Maranan said in a separate phone interview: “Syempre, magkakaroon ng fact finding committee, ad hoc na fact finding committee or [iimbestigahan] ng EdRes (Education and Research) Committee) kung anong nangyari.” [P]