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Anonymous Philippines hackers attack gov’t websites over cybercrime law

Hackers from the group Anonymous Philippines defaced the website of American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines as well as the web portals of a number of government agencies to push for the revision of the newly passed Cybercrime Law.  The following are the affected government websites:

– Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)

– Manila Water and Sewerage System

– Philippine Information Agency (PIA);
– Regional Caves Committee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources;
– Smokefree Philippines of the Department of Health; and
– Philippine Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT), an inter-agency and multisectoral task force fighting intellectual property pirates.

(Source: GMA News)

Anonymous Philippines Hackers

Anonymous Philippines Hackers attacked a number of government websites late Wednesday night

The website of DOH and MWSS remain inaccessible as of early Thursday morning while BSP and PIA are now under control. In a statement posted in the hacked websites, the group described the newly-passed Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 as “the most notorious act ever witnessed in the cyber-history of the Philippines.” It added that the bill “effectively ends the freedom of expression in the Philippines.”

Echoing an earlier statement made by University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque, the group noted that the law’s provision on online libel covers written messages, comments, blogs, or posts in sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other Internet social media sites, and that this poses a threat to all netizens.

“The Cybercrime Law, again seems to have retarded our march with the rest of the world with respect to giving full force to the people’s freedom of expression,” Anonymous Philippines also said. Using the hash tag #OccupyPhilippines, the hackers  identified themselves as Anonymous Butuan, PrivateX, #pR.is0n3r, Lo0p th3 Lo0p, l4stl00k, Blackrain, and Anonymous Manila.

Officially known as Republic Act 10175, the Cybercrime Law contains a portion on Internet libel based on Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code. The constitutionality of this provision in RA 10175 is being challenged in at least three petitions filed before the Supreme Court.

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Gov’t not doing enough to protect environmentalists – int’l rights group

Press release sent by Human Rights Watch. Original post can be accessed here.

The Philippine government’s failure to address threats and killings of environmental advocates worsens a climate of lawlessness just as the Aquino administration is pushing for new mining investments, Human Rights Watch said today.

On July 2, 2012, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 79, which aims to institutionalize reforms in the Philippine mining sector by “providing policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining.” However, Human Rights Watch said the executive order is silent on the issue of human rights abuses arising from mining investments and on the deployment of paramilitaries at the mines.

“President Aquino has enacted decrees to encourage mining investment in the Philippines but has done little to stop attacks on environmental advocates,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “He should recognize that respecting human rights is crucial for economic development.”

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Лого...

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюман Райтс Вотч (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The government should redouble its investigations into attacks on advocates, particularly when evidence points to the involvement of the military or paramilitary forces, arrest and prosecute all those responsible, and protect witnesses at risk, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch has documented three cases since October 2011 in which critics of mining and energy projects have been killed, allegedly by paramilitary forces under military control. The activists had been vocal in opposing mining and energy operations which they said threatened the environment and would displace tribal communities from their land.

Margarito J. Cabal, 47, an organizer of a group opposing a hydroelectric dam in Bukidnon province, was gunned down on May 9, 2012. Relatives allege that the police have not investigated the killing, and no suspect has been arrested. Cabal had told relatives that he was under military surveillance and had been called to meet the military regarding his activities.

On March 5, a leader of a paramilitary group with a dozen of his men allegedly shot dead Jimmy Liguyon, a village chief in Dao, San Fernando town, Bukidnon province, in front of family members. Relatives said he was killed because he refused to sign an agreement needed to secure a mining investment, and that he had been under military surveillance. The main suspect, the leader of a group called the New Indigenous People’s Army for Reforms, faces a warrant for his arrest, but has been seen going about his usual business in the village.

Slain environmentalist Margarito Cabral from Bukidnon province (credits: Human Rights Watch)

The local paramilitary group Bagani (“tribal warriors”), reportedly under military control, was allegedly responsible for the fatal shooting of Italian priest Father Fausto Tentorio, 59, in Arakan, North Cotabato province on October 17, 2011. Fr. Tentorio was a long-time advocate of tribal rights and opposed mining in the area. No one has been arrested for the killing, although the National Bureau of Investigation has recommended charges against four suspects. Tentorio’s colleagues have alleged that some suspects with military ties have been deliberately left out of the case, and two witnesses and their families are in hiding while others have been threatened.

“While mining and other environmentally sensitive projects promise economic benefits for Filipinos, they should not come at the expense of basic rights, particularly the lives of environmental advocates,” Pearson said. “The Aquino government should ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice.”

Many mining investments in the Philippines are in areas with large indigenous populations or are controlled by tribal groups. Philippine law requires the “free and prior informed consent” of the local tribal communities for these investments to proceed. This often has divided tribal communities, some of whom back investors with the support of the military to acquire the necessary permits, while tribal factions opposed to the investments sometimes get support from the communist New People’s Army or other armed groups. This has resulted in proxy conflicts pitting tribal groups against each other, resulting in numerous rights abuses.

Media and local human rights and environmental groups have reported other attacks against anti-mining and environmental advocates. Sister Stella Matutina, a Benedictine nun who led a grassroots campaign to oppose destructive mining in Davao Oriental, told Human Rights Watch that she continues to fear for her life as the military persists in vilifying her as a communist. She and her fellow advocates say that she is being targeted because of her opposition to mining in the province.

And even in cases where suspects have been identified and face an arrest warrant, they may go unpunished. For instance, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes remains at large despite an arrest warrant for his role in the killing of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega on January 24, 2011.

Dr. Gerry Ortega (+) of Palawan

On July 9, the United Nations special envoys on human rights defenders and on extrajudicial executions issued a joint statement criticizing the Aquino administration for the attacks on human rights and environmental defenders, saying these abuses “have increased significantly over the past few months.”

Human Rights Watch reiterated its call to President Aquino to ban all paramilitary forces in the Philippines because of their long and continuing history of serious human rights violations. Aquino has backtracked from earlier pledges to dismantle paramilitaries, saying that getting rid of military-supervised groups “is not the solution.” The government claims that paramilitary forces are now better trained and better regulated than in the past. Until such groups are banned, Aquino should revoke a 2011 directive that permits these forces to provide security for mining companies.

“Aquino should disband paramilitary groups that are being used to divide tribal communities and instill fear among the residents,” Pearson said. “The government crucially needs to hold accountable the military officers who are behind these abusive forces.”


Class Suspensions – July 3 2012

In an advisory posted via Twitter around 4AM today, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration warned that serious flooding can be expected in low-lying areas and communities living near waterways in Metro Manila and parts of Luzon.

It has continuously rained for several hours now as of posting time. The Department of Education is yet to issue any class suspension, but the following announcements had been made:

*No classes from preschool to High School in the following cities:

Caloocan City (all levels), Las Pinas, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Manila, Marikina City, Muntinlupa City (all levels), Navotas, Parañaque City, Pasay City, Pasig City, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig City, Valenzuela City, and Cainta, Rizal.

*Caloocan Mayor Recom Echiverri suspends classes in ALL levels in Caloocan City.

As of 10 AM today:

*RT @PolytechUnivPh: Classes now suspended in PUP-Sta. Mesa, PUP-San Juan, PUP-Commonwealth, PUP-Taguig, including the College of Law

*Classes in the University of Santo Tomas in ALL LEVELS SUSPENDED starting 12:00 nn. Everybody is expected to be out of the campus by 2:00pm. via UST Central SC (9:50 AM)

* Philippine Medical Women’s School along V. Luna Street in Quezon City

*RT @NewEraU (New Era University) – Early dismissal from pre-school to high-school effective 12NN today due to intermittent rains and thunderstorms. No announcement for college.

*RT @UPManilaOnline (University of the Philippines – Manila) – Classes and offices in UP Manila until 12nn today. Half day due to inclement weather.

*NO CLASS – All afternoon classes in elementary and high school (public and private schools) are suspended in Quezon City

*PAREF Woodrow School – ANNOUNCEMENT: Classes are suspended today, Tuesday, July 3. Grade School and High School to be dismissed at 10:30am.

As of 11AM:

*Update from the Office of the Principal of UPIS (10:57 am): Morning classes are ongoing at UP Integrated School but classes will be suspended by 12 pm.

*Letran: We are suspending classes in the basic ed at 12nn and collegiate classes at 1pm today due to inclement weather via@LetranOfficial

*Ateneo Grade school: DISMISSAL for Prep & Grade 1, 11AM Grades 2-3, 11:30AM, Grades 4-5 12NN & Grades 6-7 12:30PM #walangpasok

*University of Asia and the Pacific -> Due to inclement weather, classes have been officially suspended starting 12:00 nn. Work is suspended by 3:00 pm.

*De La Salle University – Classes at all levels & in ALL CAMPUSES are suspended today from 1:00 PM onwards. Office Work is also suspended. Same goes for the College of Saint Benilde.

*San Beda College: Classes 12nn onwards are suspended (via @sbcsc)

*Central Colleges of the Philippines (Aurora Blvd. Q.C.): Suspended as of 11:20AM for high school to college

*@Official_UE: From University of the East President Ester Garcia: Classes in all levels are suspended in both UE Manila and UE Caloocan.

(As of 12:00 PM)

*Manila City Hall: Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and City College of Manila afternoon classes suspended

*RT @FarEasternU: As of 12pm, classes and offices in FEU Manila are suspended.

*Adamson University: As of 12:13 PM classes & work at all levels at AdU are officially suspended #walangpasok via @AdamsonUni

*Afternoon classes in Emilio Aguinaldo College-Manila, all levels, are suspended starting at 1 pm, today.

*Vice President for the Loyola Schools (Ateneo de Manila University) Dr. John Paul Vergara announced that college classes after 3PM will be suspended |via@ateneodemanilau

NO CLASS SUSPENSION IN THE FOLLOWING:

*From UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma (July 3, 7:36 am): Classes are NOT SUSPENDED in UPD. Students are advised to go to school prepared on a rainy day. Weather conditions will be constantly monitored.

(Update, 10:40AM):  From Chancellor Saloma: “I will issue an advisory that students who are unable to reach the UPD campus due to rains will be officially excused from attending classes.”

UpdFrom UP Diliman Chancellor Saloma (11:25 am): Classes in UPD are NOT SUSPENDED today under prevailing weather (as of 11:18 am).

(PS: Do you really have to rub it in?)

*Update from the Office of the Chancellor of UP Los Baños (UPLB): As of today (July 3), 9:55 a.m., classes are NOT SUSPENDED at UPLB.

*RT @AdamsonUni: No announcement yet re: class suspension at AdU. Classes &work to go on as expected.

*Ateneo: Loyola Schools classes will go on as scheduled. Only high school and grade school classes are suspended | via @TheGUIDON

*RT @DLSUD: As of 1pm, there is no announcement of suspension of classes in DLSU-Dasmariñas

This post is being updated as soon as new information is available.

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International group slams Aquino human rights record

Philippines: Two Years Under Aquino, Abuses Go Unpunished
No Successful Prosecutions of Security Forces for Killings, ‘Disappearances’ (press release from Human Rights Watch)

(New York, June 28, 2012) – President Benigno Aquino III of thePhilippines has not fulfilled his promises to hold accountable the security forces responsible for serious abuses since taking office two years ago, Human Rights Watch said today. The Aquino government has not successfully prosecuted a single case of extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, including those committed during his presidency, Human Rights Watch said.

In his inaugural speech on June 30, 2010, Aquino gave “marching orders” to the Justice Department to “begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all.” Five months later, at an event to commemorate human rights, he said that, “The culture of silence, injustice and impunity that once reigned is now a thing of the past.” And during his 2011 State of the Nation Address, Aquino reiterated this commitment, saying, “We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals.”

“President Aquino has not lived up to his promises to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Concrete measures – rather than more promises – are needed now.”

Human Rights Watch today released a video, “Philippines: No Justice for Victims of Enforced Disappearances,” in which family members of the “disappeared” call on the president to live up to his promises of justice.

Human Rights Watch, in its 2011 report “No Justice Just Adds to the Pain,” documented 10 cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances since Aquino took office. No one has been arrested in any of these cases, and the three “disappeared” people remain missing.

The Aquino administration has not taken the needed steps to bring recent cases of serious abuse to trial, Human Rights Watch said.

In his first State of the Nation Address in July 2010, President Aquino noted the case of Francisco Baldomero, an activist from Aklan province who was killed on July 5, 2010, as among those “on their way to being resolved.” An arrest warrant has been issued for Dindo Ancero in the case, but he has not been apprehended and the case was “archived” – put on hold – in January 2011.

An arrest warrant was issued but never served for one of two suspects in the killing of Rene Quirante, a left-wing activist who was beaten and shot by uniformed men on October 1, 2010, in Negros Oriental province. A relative of Quirante’s has alleged that the suspect has been seen in the company of soldiers. “Nothing is happening,” Quirante’s relative told Human Rights Watch in April. “We’re growing tired of waiting for justice.”

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Лого...

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюман Райтс Вотч (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human Rights Watch has monitored progress on cases of killings and enforced disappearances under the previous administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. If progress has been made, it is often because of the perseverance and courage of family members, rather than aggressive action by police and prosecutors, Human Rights Watch said.

For instance, in the 2006 disappearance of two university students, Karen Cadapan and Sherlyn Empeno, family action was crucial in bringing the two soldiers to trial for their kidnapping and illegal detention. The trial for the two soldiers started in May. However, the men are not in civilian custody but are being held in a military camp. Two others implicated in the students’ disappearance, including retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, the commander in the area at the time, have evaded arrest. Human Rights Watch has received information that military and business interests are protecting General Palparan.

In the past decade, state security forces in the Philippines have been implicated in the torture, enforced disappearance, and killing of hundreds of leftist activists, journalists, and clergy. The communist New People’s Army and other insurgent groups have also been responsible for killings and other serious abuses. Under President Macapagal-Arroyo, government security forces conducted a massive campaign targeting groups deemed to be Communist Party fronts and their alleged members and supporters. The number of killings and disappearances implicating the military has gone down under the Aquino administration, but they continue.

The Philippines’s human rights record was scrutinized at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during its Universal Periodic Review in May. Several countries – including the United States, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Holy See – raised alarm over the continuing killings, enforced disappearances, and torture. During the sessions, several countries urged the Aquino administration to end impunity for these abuses.

Human Rights Watch has longstanding recommendations to Aquino to initiate the comprehensive reforms necessary to end impunity for serious abuses. He should order the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate police and military personnel, including at the command level, who have been implicated in killings.

He should also make clear to the police that they are responsible for vigorously pursuing any crimes committed by government officials and police officers and that if they do not, they will become the target of a criminal investigation. He should order the military to cooperate with civilian authorities investigating military abuses or themselves face sanctions. And he should take immediate steps to ensure that the country’s witness protection program is independent, accessible, and properly funded..

“As President Aquino himself pointed out, the conviction of those implicated in abuses is the true test of his commitment to his promise,” Pearson said. “So the government needs to move beyond simply identifying suspects and obtaining warrants to actually apprehending the suspects and putting them on trial.”


July 2 2012 Special Holiday – Pasig City

Pasig City’s 439th anniversary is a local holiday,

according to Proclamation 410

If you are working in the Ortigas business district, this is good news for you.

President Benigno Aquino has declared July 2, 2012 a special non-working holiday in Pasig City. The city will be marking its 439th anniversary on the said day. The declaration was made by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 410, which you can access in this link.

Signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa last June 18, the proclamation aims to give Pasig City residents the “full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.” July 2 is a Monday, and this effectively gives the people of Pasig a three-day weekend.

According to pay rules laid out by the Department of Labor and Employment, workers who choose not to work on special non-working holidays are not bound to receive anything except if there is “a favorable company policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement (CBA) granting payment of wages on special days even if unworked.”

Meanwhile, employers are required to give employees who will report for work on this day 30% of their regular rate for the first eight hours of service rendered. Those who will work beyond eight hours (by necessity, perhaps?) should get plus 30% of their hourly rate for this holiday.

As per DOLE guidelines, employees are entitled to a holiday premium only when “he/she is present or is on leave of absence with pay on the work day immediately preceding the holiday.”

For example, if your work schedule is from Monday to Friday, then don’t be absent this June 29. That is indicated in DOLE’s Handbook on Worker’s Statutory Monetary Benefits (released in 2010).Download the handbook in this link.


Rep. Trisha Bonoan-David withdraws HB 6195

Solon drops measure after drawing flak from OFWs

Manila Rep. Trisha Bonoan-David (4th distrct) is now rescinding her initial sponsorship of House Bill 6195, which would have amended parts of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Protection Act of 1995. Rep. Bonoan-David’s camp sent to The Filipino Scribe a copy of the lady solon’s official announcement Friday afternoon.

Dated June 18 and addressed to House Majority Leader (and chair of the Committee on Rules) Neptali Gonzales, Jr., Bonoan-David said she is withdrawing sponsorship as principal author of HB 6195 “after some careful consideration on (its) provisions.” Curiously, a copy of the said bill is not uploaded in Bonoan-David’s page in the House of Representatives website.

trisha bonoan david HB 6195

Rep. Trisha Bonoan-David has officially withdrawn her sponsorship of House Bill 6185 (click to enlarge)

Filed last May 17, HB 6195 will require departing overseas Filipino workers to pay US$50 as contribution to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration emergency repatriation fund. The Manila solon said her bill “intends to provide the necessary measures for the government to carry out its responsibility to assist distressed OFWs in cases of war, epidemic, disaster or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events, and promote their general welfare.”

The bill has received a firestorm of criticism in the social media, led by migrant workers’ rights advocate Susan Ople and other organization of overseas Filipino workers. In her blog, Ople described HB 6195 “bereft of logic” and “inimical to the welfare and rights of our OFWs.” The 2010 senatorial candidate added: “(The bill) touches a sensitive nerve because of its gross insensitivity to the heavily burdened life of an OFW.”

trisha bonoan david congress

Manila Rep. Trisha Bonoan-David is now in her second term in Congress.

Bonoan-David is currently serving her second term in Congress. She has not indicated if she will seek reelection in next year’s midterm polls or if she will instead run for a higher post in Manila.

PS: Ms Susan Ople has mentioned this post in her latest blog entry.


Presbitero Velasco – the dark horse in the race for Chief Justice

Will he appoint a Chief Justice compliant to his wishes? What is more important to him, a compliant Chief Justice or one who has a mind of his own? – Inquirer columnist Amando Doronila

Much of the attention in the ongoing search for the country’s next Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice is currently centered on three individuals – Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. If there’s one person who might just become President Benigno Aquino III’s surprise pick for the post, then it is Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco.

Appointed in 2006 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Velasco is now the Supreme Court’s second most senior magistrate (next only to Carpio). Because of this, he is an automatic nominee to the post vacated by impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. The low-profile Velasco earned his political science and law degrees from the University of the Philippines. He placed sixth in the 1971 national bar exams.

Born in 1948, Velasco served as Court of Appeals justice from 1998 to 2001 and as Court Administrator from 2001 to 2006 prior to his promotion to the SC. He was recognized by the Consumers Union of the Philippines as the Most Outstanding Jurist in 2000. What makes Velasco a potential safe pick for the post is that he doesn’t share the baggage that his fellow nominees have.

Presbitero Velasco, Supreme Court Associate Justice, can be the dark horse in the race to succeed Corona (credits: http://www.sc.judiciary.gov.ph)

As the most senior SC magistrate, the 62-year-old Carpio is the logical choice for the post. He declined to be nominated in 2010, insisting that he’ll only accept the job if given by Arroyo’s successor. Three senators (Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Jinggoy Estrada, and Francis Escudero) have publicly cautioned Aquino against appointing Carpio. Escudero noted that Corona had insinuated that Carpio is involved in the smear plot against him. For her part, Defensor-Santiago said that if Aquino appoints “someone close to him” to the post, then he accused of “deliberately getting rid of Corona in favor of an ally.”

Why Aquino may possibly appoint Velasco

Velasco’s son, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, is one of the 188 lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint against Corona, a move initiated by Aquino’s allies in the Liberal Party. Thus, the elder Velasco had to inhibit when the petition of Corona seeking to nullify the impeachment proceedings was assigned to him.

Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque signed the impeachment case against Renato Corona (credits: http://www.marinduquegov.blogspot.com)

His son’s decision to back Aquino’s effort to oust Corona will certainly put the elder Velasco in the president’s good graces. Another motivation for Aquino to appoint Velasco is the need to soothe relations with the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). According to a report by Newsbreak’s Ariel Rufo, the influential religious group lobbied for Velasco’s installation to the SC.

Nonetheless, one issue that will surely weigh down Velasco’s chief justice prospects is his highly-publicized tiff with veteran journalist Maritess Danguilan-Vitug. Five months before the 2010 elections, Vitug published an article alleging that Velasco openly solicited support for his son’s congressional bid. One barangay captain accused Velasco of offering to underwrite the campaign expenses of those who run in his son’s slate. The justice filed 13 counts of libel raps against Vitug at the Manila prosecutor’s office four month after the story appeared.

If appointed, Velasco will serve as the country’s chief magistrate until 2018 just like Corona, or two years after Aquino’s six-year term ends. While Carpio remains the prohibitive frontrunner in the race for the top post in the Philippine judiciary, having Velasco as the next chief justice is not exactly far-fetched.

Read:

Aquino toady can’t be SC chief by Inquirer columnist Amando Doronila


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