Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TUCP asks, Is Your School Free From Asbestos

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP)has issued a warning in the wake of the Department of Education's 2011 launch of “Brigada, Balik-Eskwela,” the community-based project that aims to spruce up public schools before the start of classes next week.

A release by the trade union warned that the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and teachers joining "Brigada" nationwide could be at risk for "possible exposure to asbestos in old schools."

It asked the DepEd "to supplement its Brigada and or Balik-Eskwela program activities with extra pre-cautionary and safety measures to help people deal with the presence of asbestos and asbestos materials and products in the course of their cutting, sanding, scraping, dusting, renovating, and dismantling old classrooms and school-buildings.

"It is not the intent of this call to dampen or defeat the bayanihan-spirited 'Balik-Eskwela' program. We want this program to succeed but, in so doing, we wish everyone to be safe and protected against possible exposure to the deadly and highly-carcinogenic asbestos dust fibers," a statement by the group said.

It pointed out that asbestos dust fibers are also present in old school building materials, especially the ones built in the 1970s.

"When asbestos is disturbed, dust fibers become very friable. And when these invincible dusts are inhaled even in small amount, anyone exposed will likely suffer an incurable mesothelioma cancer and other cancers caused by inhaling asbestos dust fibers. It can take 10 to 40 years before the problem is realized.

For more information and interviews, contact: Alan A. Tanjusay, ALU Policy Advocacy Officer +63.920.669.9187,, +63.2.922.5575 local 122; TUCP-PGEA Compound Maharlika corner Masaya St., UP Village, Diliman, Quezon City.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Defend the freedom of expression! Remain steadfast in seeking justice for
all victims of the Ampatuan massacre!

On April 12, 2011, a special division of the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a
resolution charging Rowena Paraan, secretary general of the National Union
of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and Monet Salaysay, widow of
Ampatuan massacre victim Napoleon Salaysay, of contempt.

The five justices of the CA who issued the resolution accused the two
respondents of “foisting bias and corruption” against the court for their
statements quoted in a news article where they expressed concerns on the
slow pace of the case.

The two were also charged after they pointed out that Associate Justices
Danton Bueser and Marlene Gonzales-Sison did not inhibit themselves from
deliberations on the pending petition for release of former Autonomous
Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the principal
accused in the case.

Zaldy Ampatuan has a pending petition before the CA special division for the
court to uphold the April 17, 2010 order of former Department of Justice
Secretary Alberto Agra which cleared him from the massacre.

The two CA justices had earlier voluntarily inhibited themselves from a
similar petition filed by Andal Ampatuan Sr., the family patriarch accused
of ordering the killings.

The contempt charges are alarming and may have a chilling effect especially
on those at the forefront in the struggle to find justice for the victims
including the families of the victims and media organizations.

The charges will impact not only against Rowena Paraan and Monet Salaysay
but on the victims' families, media groups and other organizations and
individuals who remain vigilant against continued efforts of the
perpetuators and brains of the massacre to escape culpability.

Having said this, we will not be cowed into surrendering our right to free
expression for we cannot afford to be silent as we monitor the progress of a
case that is crucial not only because it involves the loss of so many of our
colleagues but even more important, because its outcome may well determine
whether we can continue to consider ourselves a democracy, a nation, a

Many Filipinos are disappointed on how the Ampatuan massacre case has
proceeded a year and a half after 58 persons including 32 media workers were
murdered in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.

A survey of the Social Weather Station conducted on May 4 to 7 showed that
more than half (51 percent) of the people are dissatisfied with how the
government is handling the case, up from 46 percent in November last year.

An overwhelming number of people (75 percent) believe the case is proceeding
"too slow," according to the survey.

More than ever, there is a need to remain vigilant on the conduct and
proceedings of the case amid continued reports of threats against the
victims' families and legal maneuvers of the accused.

We call on the special division of the CA to withdraw the order, uphold the
people's freedom of expression and heed the people's demand for a speedy and
impartial trial.

We urge the families of the victims, colleagues and friends to remain
steadfast in ensuring that justice will not be sabotaged.

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Tel.: (+632) 3767330
Mobile: 0927.920.3652

4/L FSS Bldg. # 89 Sct. Castor corner
Sct. Tuason Street (near T. Morato Ave),
Bgry. Laging Handa,
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.: (+632) 3767330



My name is Mika Ortega, eldest daughter of Doc Gerry Ortega who was mercilessly gunned down while buying used clothing in an ukay-ukay store in Puerto Princesa. My father was a broadcaster, anti-corruption crusader and environmentalist.

Tomorrow (May 24) is the fourth month anniversary of his murder. We are still awaiting justice. We know it will be a long process, but we trust that the Department of Justice officials will be objective in their evaluation of evidence.

But we have to be vigilant.

Please join us tomorrow as we commemorate the senseless murder of my father. My mother, brother, Fr. Robert Reyes and Gen. Danny Lim will join us as we bike/walk from the Luneta Grandstand to the Department of Justice then the Senate of the Philipines. Below is the timetable of our activity.

8:45 am - Assembly in front of Quirino Grandstand

9:00 am - Depart for the Department of Justice (DOJ)

9:30 am - ETA at the DOJ
Quick Prayer in front of the DOJ, hopefully inside the compound to avoid causing traffic

9:50 am - Depart for the Senate of the Philippines

10:30 am - ETA Senate of the Philippines

Have letters to the Senate President, Sen. Teofisto Guingona and other Senators received by their respective offices.

11:00 am - Visit to Senate Press Office

Should you have questions, please email me back at this address or call/text me at 0917-5971002.

Thank you and good day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


(Photo from

1) It allows people to choose the number or children they want to have. None or one – or a dozen. That's FREEDOM. That's RESPECT.

2) Not all medical professionals, not all people believe a sperm and egg touching equals life. Those who don't should be allowed options according to their light.

3) I believe those who wish to limit the number of their children do so not because of selfishness but because of love.

4) Life is not a game of Russian Roulette. Children need to be nurtured.

5) I am against abortion.

6) I believe education and access to different family methods WILL reduce cases of abortion.

7) The RH bill goes beyond just birth control.

8) I believe education will give kids the strength "to just say no."

9) We are a multi-cultural and multi-faith country. My faith is not a license to gag and bind everyone else.

10) The RH bill allows medical professionals to exercise their conscience. If God wanted us to be sheep, we would be bleating. He have us free will; we should trust Him more.

11) I do not think God thinks fealty to his Will (however you interpret this) includes playing blind as a woman bleeds her life away on the gurney.

Much as I support the RH bill, I know it barely skims the surface of a troubled sea. I can only hope that implementation will focus as much on RESPONSIBILITY as on rights.

Technical information will not be enough if power dynamics in a relationship are skewed. RH is not just about babies or STD. It is about people's ability to forge wise and free decisions in the realm of sexuality (which is not just about sex).

And in a sense, the Bishops are right. Raising even just two children could be an impossible task if a family is trapped in poverty and injustice. Those who push for the RH bill SHOULD NEVER forget the other factors needed for a full, productive and dignified life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

American Idol, Top 5: Lilith rules!

“We want you to be you,” was the Zen-like advice dispensed a long time ago by, of all people, Randy Jackson. Whereupon the seers on the theater floor, in the studios and rehearsal halls, proceeded to give contradictory advice to the Idol wannabes.

Those who tried to please ended up floundering (Jacob, Pia, Haley and Lauren, even if the latter’s never made a trip to the bottom three.) The stubborn ones got adulation (and hate mail) as they proudly flew their banners – James, Scotty and Casey, who went out with a performance that ensures him a career in the jazz/blues field.

Tonight, the Top 5 had two chances to show who they are, what they genre they represent; though really now, with music mixed and matched through the decades, conventions have been broken all around. Zucchero sang with Pavarotti; Willie Nelson, Sting, Eric Clapton have jammed with everyone.

James Durbin has ranged wide, from heavy metal rock, to slow rock, to rock that almost feels like country, to anthems of rebellion and love. Whatever he’s done, whatever the stunt or the time period he chooses to lug onstage, Durbin’s real strength is not his high notes. It is the nakedness of his hunger, not just to win, but also to get love from his audience, his peers and everyone with a beating heart.

Tonight he shows that can be a scary thing. The passion that excites audiences can wreak havoc on artists. The downside of adulation is a deep, deep loneliness, especially for someone who is a big baby, handicapped in ways that have made him the butt of jokes, who early on confessed that it is music that takes him to a safe place. Now he is learning that music can also take away (for days and weeks) from the woman who gave him strength in the first place.

With his buddies gone, life bears heavy on James. He rocked “Closer to the Edge” but there was a strain in his tenor. And there were rough patches in “Without You.” But music history shows that it is never just the voice. Great artists have that but they are above all story-tellers able to show the millions that they sweat, they ache, they suffer – just like us. This James does in so emphatic a manner that we actually feel scared for him.

It is this – the capacity to bare heart and soul – that makes him so much more fascinating than the charming country crooner, Scotty.

Not that Scotty paled beside him tonight. In “Gone”, the young man threw caution to the wind and displayed all the tics and winsome awkwardness and zest – and charisma, and the kind of mad courage that separate him and James from the pack. He’s no devil, despite Steven Tyler’s effort to corrupt him; he’s a most charming, talented kid who loves the crowd and delights in pleasing them – as himself.

In “You Are Always in My Mind,” he reminds us of his uncanny ability to spin a song, to phrase it like a fine, fine actor so that we totally get the story and believe in the message. And again, Scotty shows that what he lacks in wit and smarts he more than makes up for with an intuitive genius that bores down to the core of a song.

Jacob Lusk is destined for ouster tomorrow. There was no rhyme or reason to his choices. “No Air” was indulgent and a disaster. While Jason’s funny moves in past weeks were fun, tonight they were embarrassing. He was a caricature.

You watch Sheryl Crow sing sweetly and then get Jacob whining and then eventually staging a tantrum! It is no way to get any baby of any gender. So he belted out the highest note ever, but a note is not a song.

Lauren Alaina, got some mojo back, and her stylist back in “Flat on the Floor.” She also shows potential as a great stylist. But she is just too young and tentative now, and that face just so blank, that once you open your eyes, it is hard to take her seriously – especially when she is singing “Unchained Melody.” It seemed inappropriate for 16 as she pretended adult passion – and Tyler’s unfortunate adjective, “ripe” didn’t help at all.

But Haley – aaaah, an angry Haley is a woman men from Siberia to the Africa would hunger for – and fear. The judges were unfair in the aftermath of “You and I” – after talking of risks!

And then she showed them with “House of the Rising Sun.” Fierce eyes, fierce vocals and moves that were collectively a giant finger up the you-know-whats of the judges. Rebellion has never been so exciting. If American parents suddenly find in the coming days their girls simmering with barely held contempt for the fairy tales unraveling all around them, they can thank Haley. Best of all, she refused to simper at the belated praise and came back with a sweet sarcasm that children of all ages can relate to.

Haley was the best. Jacob the worst. James will get over his slump and storm back stronger next week – or implode. I am betting it won’t be the later as his angel and BFF will be flying to his side.