Twice Orphaned: Adeliza Albarillo

I am reposting here Kapatirang Simbahan para sa Bayan’s (KASIMBAYAN) heartrending article on why the human rights situation in the country is not at all ‘lovely’ as reported by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita before the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Council in Geneva.

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Twice Orphaned: Adeliza Albarillo

The human rights situation in the country is lovely – if we are to believe in the report made by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.The Philippine report to the Universal Periodic (UPR) Review of the UN Council in Geneva was accorded with much applause from the audience.Granting that the audience believed him the way they believed that Gloria Arroyo did not cheat in the 2004 presidential election, the truth about extrajudical killings and the record of human rights violations in the countr y is remains horrible—far from being lovely. The governmnet of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may submit to all international agencies a report that would send an impressive picture of human rights situation in the country, but what does the report mean to a young girl like Adeliza Albarillo?

Twice Orphaned

“Masakit isipin na hanggang ngayon wala pa ring nakamit na katarungan ang mga magulang ko at ang daan-daang biktima ng extrajudicial killings.” (It is so painful to think that until now there is no justice rendered on the killings of my parents and the hundreds of victims of extra judicial killings.)

These were the words of Adel (Adeliza) Albarillo during the memorial gathering for the 6th year death anniversary of her parents Expedito and Manuela Albarillo held on April 10, 2008 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Quezon City .

On April 8, 2002, Adel then only eleven years old and in her fifth grade witnessed the tragic incident in her family. It was still dark, while everyone else in the barrio (village) was asleep, and the dawn light was about to break when armed men wearing bonnets and military uniform stormed into their house. Adel was awakened when she heard a commotion . She taught her Nanay (mother) and Tatay (father) were just arguing on something. However, when she tried to see what was going on, she was shocked that her parents were being dragged outside. She neither moved nor whimpered . She did not let the armed men know that she was in the house witnessing the cruelty of her parents’ attackers. She heard her mother saying, “Why are you doing this to us? Have pity on us.” Not far away, she saw her father being tied and hit by an armalite. Adel wanted to shout but could not, she remained silent. She thought of seeking help from their neighbours and relatives so she crawled out from the back of their house and went to her grandmother’s house. Then she heard gunshots. She was crying and panting. She thought then that the gunshots must have been aimed to her Nanay and Tatay. They must have killed them.

At the break of the morning light, family members and neighbourhood saw the dead bodies of the couple. Expedito sustained multiple gunshot wounds and one of his eyes was gouged out. Manuela was shot right under her right eye with the bullet piercing through her neck.

Expedito and Manuela are both from Oriental Mindoro ( Luzon ). Expedito was an active barangay leader and a the Coordinator of Bayan Muna, a progressive party list representing the marginalized sectors of society while Manuela was a member of GABRIELA, a national women’s organization with wide membership among grassroots women. The community members could only testify to the goodness and kindness of
the couple..

Adel was only twelve years old when we first met her with some of the internal refugees who stayed at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines chapel in Quezon City , and who later camped at the Union Theological Seminary in Cavite . At such a tender age, we have witnessed how she led the other children who were also emotionally, psychologically and physically injured by militarization in the countrysides. She was like a big sister to them. One time, when she joined the team who picked up the relief goods we solicited for the internal refugees, she politely told us, “There’s a new born baby in the camp.” She was staring at the disposable diapers piled at the corner when she was telling this. We just laughed and handed to her a pack.

After her parents’ death, Adel stayed with her older siblings and on some occasions, with the human rights group. Eden Marcellana, General Secretary of KARAPATAN -Southern Tagalog , a human rights organization and Eddie Gumanoy, a peasant leader in the region, became Adel’s immediate parents. She called them Nanay Eden and Tatay Eddie. However, on April 21 , 2003, both leaders were also summarily executed on their way home after conducting a human rights fact-finding mission in Mindoro . The Human Rights group KARAPATAN believed that the military was responsible for the killings.

Adel was so depressed and the wound from her recent parents murder was reopened with greater pain and anguish. I remember her speaking in an indignation rally on the killings of Eden Marcella and Eddie Gumanoy held in front of the Department of National Defense. Adel courageously faced the policemen and soldiers and tearfully said,

“Don’t you know how difficult it was to be an orphan? When my parents were killed, Nanay Eden and Tatay Eddie became my immediate parents. But they too were killed. You also have children. Would you like them to be orphans too?”

Tears began rolling from her eyes as she cried. Everyone knew how difficult it was for a child like her to be orphaned twice. More painful was the fact that both her biological and community parents were killed when they were humbly and simply obeying God’s greatest commandment of loving your neighbour.

Adel is now seventeen years old. Before we started the Catholic mass for her parents and for the more than 900 victims of extrajudicial killings, I saw her alone staring at the trees. I approached her and asked, “Kumusta ka na,” (how are you?). She was quiet and with teary eyes, she said, “Ok naman po.”

“I still remember my parents. There were nights when I dreamed about them. One time, when I was so lonely and missing them, they appeared in my dreams. They were asking me if I wanted to go with them. I wanted to reach out for their hands because when they were still alive, I felt so secured by their embrace and presence. Yes, I wanted to go with them in my dream….but my brother woke me up and told me that I was raising my hand and crying. Today, as I remember them, I always long for their embrace, but I know it will never happen again because they were gone six years ago ….” She started to shed tears like a fresh stream of waters flowing through her young face. But it was a short weeping episode. She easily dried her tears away as we went back to the mass.

During the mass, she said, “While there are many of us who have been orphaned and lost their loved ones, we are proud of the decision they chose to serve the people. We must continue the work that they have done. We become lonely because we missed them and sometimes, we even feel discouraged because until now, not a single case of killing involving our parents and loved ones has been resolved, but still we must pursue seeking justice.”

Adel was just a child when she witnessed the meaning of persecution of those who serve the people. Her parents were violently taken away from her. She was still a child, but t she already learned to value a life offered for others. That in the midst of repression there are those who are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of others. She has seen this in her parents, She has seen this in Nanay Eden and Tatay Eddie who took care of her and loved her. She has seen this with her brothers, sisters , friends and members of people’s organizations who keep on believing , struggling and hoping that a brighter tomorrow is possible. And yes, she learned this life’s truth and value before she reached the age of seventeen.

Norma P. Dollaga
General Secretary
KAPATIRANG SIMABAHAN PARA SA BAYAN
(KASIMBAYAN)
3/F NCCP 879 Edsa Quezon City
kasimbayan@yahoo.com.ph

‘Wrong focus’

President Arroyo scolded National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials recently for its alleged ‘wrong focus’ on solving the country’s rice shortage.

She told them that the Bureau should train their sights on rice hoarders and price manipulators rather than, you guessed it, smuggling.

Hmmm…..

Is it not that the President’s husband has been repeatedly linked to rice smuggling activities?

Hmmm……

A nation held hostage

In a matter of weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if I see Gloria Arroyo on nationwide television announcing a food crisis in the country. She has to do this in order to justify the implementation of a state of national emergency.

With rice supplies dwindling and its price going nowhere but up, looting and riots breaking out in several parts of the country (similar to what’s happening right now in Haiti) would be a given. The possibility of National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses nationwide ransacked by hungry and angry mobs in a matter of days or weeks are high. Expect rallies and demonstrations to be bigger and angrier. This will culminate in a mammoth demonstration in July for Gloria’s Sate of the Nation Address (SONA).

Come SONA, the real state of the nation can be seen outside of the Batasan (where Gloria will be delivering her speech). There, waves of poor and hungry Filipinos are converged, banging empty pots and pans in hunger and anger.

In short, the nation is indeed on the verge of revolt. So expect drastic measures from the iron lady in Malacanang.

On the other hand, the rice crisis in the country can be exploited by the Arroyo regime to hold the nation hostage. Commercial rice, which sells P30 above a kilo, is no longer an option for the Filipino majority. I wouldn’t be surprised if the government, who’s the biggest hoarder of the now prime commodity that is the NFA rice, would use its horde of relatively affordable rice to dissuade the masses from taking action.

Headlines on May 1:

“Rice is Arroyo’s Labor day gift”

“Arroyo orders rice distribution in communities on Labor Day”

“Militants: GMA’s rice distribution order, a ploy to discourage people from joining Labor Day rally”

Alternative use for Bayani Fernando tarps

Bayani Fernando’s tarpaulin eyesores in Metro Manila should be removed, sewn together so it can be used as tents or roofing materials in evacuation centers across the country.

Para may silbi naman yang mga tarpaulin na yan.

PS:

I think Bayani Fernando’s audacity to pinky-fy the Metro, and put up self portraits slash campaign materials disguised as public announcements, has a psychological explanation. I leave it to the experts to crack what’s really going on in BF’s head.

Gov’t OFW reintegration program unmasked: Turning ‘supermaids’ into call center agents

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) recent opening of a call center training program for Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong provides us a glimpse of what’s in store for our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) when they decide to return ‘for good’ in the country. It also exposed how and why the Arroyo government’s so-called reintegration program for our returning ‘modern day heroes,’ is doomed to fail.

After years of hard work in foreign lands, away from their families and the comforts of home; the government’s big plan it turns out, is to turn ‘supermaids’ into call center agents.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the program aims to train domestic workers – touted by the government as ‘supermaids’ – so they may land jobs at the country’s booming call center industry upon their return. He said call center jobs pay the same as their previous jobs in Hong Kong .

The program consists of a 40-hour call center training course which a domestic worker can take for two hours during days off. The OWWA will provide the training for free.

Roque added that while the OWWA would be in charge of training prospective call center agents, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), would take care of their placement when they get home.

Hire and fire

The government’s reintegration agenda would essentially pit returning OFWs into jobs that are currently reeling from record high turnover rates or in jobs where attrition levels are at their highest.

The Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) has earlier stated that the turn-over rate in the industry has hit 60 to 80 percent; a fact that has earned for the Philippines the title of having the most turn-over rates among the world’s call centers.

Some believe that there actually exists a hire and fire policy in the Philippines ’ call centers. Journal of Service Industry Management researcher and industry analyst Catriona Wallace explains that the high turnover rates are often the result of a “deliberate strategy of frequent employee replacement to provide enthusiastic and highly motivated customer service at low cost to the call centre.”

“What you see here is an industry-wide policy of firing and replacing employees to keep their workforce fresh and motivated,” she said.

For Prof. Ben Teehankee, chair of the Human Resource Management Department of La Salle School of Business in Manila, if ever there’s truth in the hire and fire policy of call centers here, this strategy is just “not consistent with giving good jobs to Filipinos and developing people for higher job responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by Callcentres.net, a publishing group that is focused on the contact center sector, revealed that full time call center agents in the Philippines would stay in the company for an average of only 22 months, while part-time agents often stay for only about 10 months.

The Sidney based Callcentres.net said the study was sponsored by software solutions provider Genesys and Autonomy and covered almost 2,500 call centers across Asia . In the Philippines , 87 companies were covered by the study.

The high attrition rates has prompted almost all of the call centers in the Philippines to embark on a full-blown advertising campaign to encourage the Filipino youth to consider a career in the industry. News papers and even MRT stations are teeming with ads that promise a lucrative career in call centers, with slogans: “Are you getting paid for your performance?” “Ride your future with us!” “Great careers happen overnight!” “Entrust your dreams with us!” “Earn as much as P40,000 a month!” “Get our P10,000 signing bonus!”

A call center company is reportedly even giving their employees’ parents tours in the workplace to impress upon them that there really is a bright future for their kids in their company.

Exploited, dehumanized

But for most of call center employees, they quit simply because they feel exploited. This fact is further compounded by the droning routine in the workplace, the more than the usual fare of angry and cussing clients and the graveyard shifts that are already taking its toll on their health.

Iya Cipres, 26, a call center agent working in Mandaluyong City, says that though their pay is relatively higher than most of the jobs that are available in the market, the disparity between their monthly wage compared to how much the company makes is simply unfair and downright exploitative.

She said call centers rake in a lot of money in each call from clients who are mostly from the West. In her company, an agent there receives an average of 250 calls a day or more than 6000 calls per month. The average number of seats in Philippine call centers, according to Callcentres.net, is about 670 to 800.

Cipres also related how they are being “dehumanized” in their work. She said they are confined daily in their cubicles where even bathroom breaks are restricted to only two minutes. Their calls she added are being monitored and most of the time, recorded, by supervisors who checks on how they handle calls, how courteous and effective they are in solving the client’s complaints and/or inquiries.

Days off are irregular, falling on days that are dependent on the company’s judgment.

“We are forced to meet the company’s service level even during times when we simply can’t,” she said, noting that these very conditions trigger resignations, job-swaps and transfers in call centers.

Still, thousands like Iya are forced to stomach these deplorable conditions. “We have no choice,” she said. Cipres has a child to support and her husband’s earnings as an OFW simply isn’t enough to cover their expenses.

Quite a number also of call center agents treat their jobs as mere ‘transition’. Some of them, like Angel, 28, work there while processing applications for overseas employment.

Angel is a nursing graduate, who works in the same call center as Cipres. She is currently processing her application to work as a nurse or a caregiver in the United Kingdom.

Doomed to fail

Though the call center industry in the Philippines has room for more than 500,000 jobs until the year 2010 and is set to hire more than 10,000 agents monthly according to the CCAP, the government’s plan to train OFWs for call center employment upon their return, simply put, is doomed to fail.

In spite of this, with the opening of a call center training outfit in Hong Kong, we can expect the government to do the same in other countries such as Italy , Spain , South Korea, China and Japan . OFWs there that have learned the language and culture already has the edge in landing jobs in call centers here that provide language translations, tutorials etc.

Still, work in the country’s ‘sunshine industry,’ that is the call centers, can’t be considered long term and viable as what is needed and rightfully deserved by our returning migrant Filipino workers.

Expect them to line up again in various recruitment agencies or in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) building for another shot in overseas employment after a few months of work as call center agents. ###

Anti-tambay device

I just found this on the internet. It is basically an anti-tambay device invented in the UK in 2005. The electronic device, called Mosquito, emits high-pitched sounds that only kids can hear. According to Kids Be Gone, who distributes the Mosquito in North America, it is an “effective tool in the fight against teenage anti-social (loitering) behavior.”

Apparently, the Mosquito targets kids who tend to congregate and cause damage in alleys, parking lots, convenient stores etc.

I’m sure somebody out there is thinking how they can use this device to disperse rallies and demonstrations and even prison riots.

I wonder though if they have one for unwanted presidents, like the one who’s now in Malacanang?

Mundo nag-aalsa dahil sa gutom

Nitong mga nakaraang buwan, nasaksihan sa maraming bansa sa mundo ang pag-apaw ng matinding galit ng mga mamamayan dahil sa gutom dala ng sobrang taas ng presyo ng pagkain. Sumiklab ang mga pag-aaklas sa Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Mauritania at Yemen. Pumutok din ang ‘pasta protest’ sa Italya, ‘tortilla rallies’ sa Mexico at ‘onion demonstrations’ sa India. Nag-aalsa na rin ang mga mamamayan sa Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Burkina Faso at Ivory Coast. 

Sa Pilipinas, tikom and bibig ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sa nagbabadyang malawakang kagutuman sa bansa. Walang krisis, aniya. Praning lamang daw ang mga nagsasabing mayroon. 

“Perfect Storm”

Ayon kay Josette Sheeran, Executive Director ng World Food Program (WFP), ang sangay ng United Nations na tumututok malawakang kagutuman, matatawag na isang “perfect storm” ng gutom ang kasalukuyang nananalasa ngayon sa daigdig. 

Sabi niya, sanhi ito ng grabeng taas ng presyo ng pagkain at petrolyo, bumubulusok na dolyar, tumataas na demand para sa biofuels at sunod-sunod na kaso ng mababang ani. 

Mahigit 73 milyong mahihirap sa mundo ang umaasa lamang sa pagkaing ini-rarasyon ng WFP. Ngunit dahil sa tumaas ng 55% ang gastusin ng ahensya simula pa noong Hunyo, nangangamba ngayon ang WFP sa posibilidad na magbawas sila ng rasyong pagkain o di kaya’y tumigil na lamang sila sa kanilang operasyon sa ilang lugar. Ilan sa mga tataman nito, ayon sa WFP, ay ang mga bansang nasa sub-Saharan Africa. 

Samantala, umabot naman noong nakaraang linggo sa 30% ang itinaas ng pandaigdigang presyo ng bigas. Dahil dito, agad na nagdeklara ng anim na buwang suspension ang Egypt sa pag-export ng kanilang bigas para umano tugunan ang pansariling pangangailan. Apektado kaagad ng hakbang na ito ang mga bansang Turkey, Lebanon, Syria at Jordan na pawang umaasa lamang sa angkat na bigas mula sa Egypt. 

Sinundan ito ng Vietnam, na nagdeklarang magbabawas ng 25% sa kanilang export. Naghigpit na rin sa kanilang bigas ang mga bansang India at Cambodia. 

Ang pag-sirit ng presyo ng bigas ay pinalala pa ng grabeng pag-taas sa presyo ng langis sa pandaigdigang merkado na umabot sa $100 kada-bariles. Nagdulot ito ng drastikong pagtaas ng gastusin sa produksyon at transportasyon ng bigas. 

“There are 854 million hungry people in the world and 4 million more join their ranks every year. We are facing the tightest food supplies in recent history. For the world’s most vulnerable, food is simply being priced out of their reach,” sabi ni Sheeran sa isang pahayag noong Nubyembre 2007.

Oktubre noon ding nakaraang taon, nagbabala si Jacques Diouf, director-general ng UN Food and Agriculture Organization ng mga pag-aaklas dahil sa gutom. 

“If prices continue to rise, I would not be surprised if we began to see food riots,” aniya. 

Ngunit para naman kay Arroyo: “Many are worried because there is a rice shortage around the world, that we will have a rice shortage. The price of rice would increase a bit but there would be no shortage, the supply is continuous.” 

Sa kabila nito, nauna nang nakiusap si Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap sa mga restawran na maglagay sa kanilang menu ng kalahating-kanin. Nakatakda rin tayong mag-import ng 2.1 milyong metriko toneladang bigas mula sa Vietnam, 100, 000 tonelada naman mula sa Estados Unidos at 15, 000 tonelada mula sa Thailand. 

Noong isang taon, 1.87 milyon toneladang bigas lamang ang kinailangang i-angkat ng bansa. 

May Krisis – KMP

Sa kabila ng tahasang pagtanggi ng gubyernong Arroyo sa napipintong kagutuman sa bansa sanhi ng kakulangan sa bigas, nanindigan ang Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas na mayroong aktuwal na krisis. 

Ayon kay Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano,  tagapangulo ng KMP, maging ang National Food Authority (NFA) at ang Department of Agriculture (DA) ay alam na nagbabadya ang pagputok ng krisis sa pagkain sa Pilipinas. 

“The main cause of this crisis is the backward and feudal state of agriculture in the country and is worsened by neo-liberal policies of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime and trade liberalization that has drastically cut rice lands through land-use conversions and crop conversions. Now this was further aggravated by the rice cartel by their control of the rice industry and their hoarding practices today,” paliwanag ni Mariano. 

Nagpakita pa ang KMP ng mga memo mula sa NFA, na nagdedetalye ng mga pagsusuri ng ahensya hinggil sa posibleng sanhi ng krisis sa bigas, at mula sa DA na naglalaman naman ng mga pandaigdigang kaganapan hinggil sa krisis sa bigas at tumataas na presyo nito. 

Ayon pa kay Mariano, patuloy pang tataas ang presyo ng bigas sa pandaigdigang pamilihan kahit pa magsisimula nang umani ng palay ang mga magsasaka sa bansa sa isang buwan. Ang agresibong pagsasara ng maraming bansa sa kanilang mga eksport na bigas, mga peste na umaatake sa mga palayan ng Delta Province sa Vietnam, at ang patuloy na paglobo ng populasyon sa Gitnang Silangan at Africa; ang ilan sa mga itinurong dahilan ni Mariano. 

“It is crystal clear that there is an actual crisis, that is why Malacanang is trying to increase our rice stock through importation,” idiniin ni Mariano. 

Ngunit nanindigan ang lider magbubukid na hindi solusyon ang importasyon sa krisis sa bigas bagkus palalalain pa lamang nito ang sitwasyon. “Food security program based on imports is not food security at all,” aniya. 

“What we need now are immediate rice price controls and at least a 25 percent increase in the local procurement of rice of the NFA, so that the cartel cannot get their hands on the April-June harvest. These are our only chance to stave off the rice crisis until we implement genuine agrarian reform, so that this will not happen again,” pagtatapos ni Mariano. ###