On the French flag filter


To those who had quickly changed their profile pictures into French colors, I hope you do not stop at that. I hope you explore the backstory of the attacks, how the US and its allies created their own monsters (ISIS and other terrorist groups), and the extent by which these monsters are wreaking havoc in other parts of the globe not just in Paris. I hope you inquire about the possible backlash on migrants and refugees in Europe, and how US and French governments might use the Paris attacks to justify increased military intervention in several countries.

Also, I hope you will also look at the killings of our lumad brothers and sisters with the same grief and compassion. Because you cannot just seek justice for Paris but remain tight-lipped on the injustice in front of you.


From Syria to Surigao del Sur: Lumad victims need your rage, too

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

America Created Al-Qaeda and the ISIS Terror Group

From Syria to Surigao del Sur: Lumad victims need your rage, too

First published on Blogwatch

Artwork by Prof. Neil Doloricon

Artwork by Prof. Neil Doloricon

In quite a poignant and disturbing tone, the image of a dead Syrian boy washed ashore echoed across globe, drawing attention to Europe’s stance on migrants and refugees. Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi fled war-torn Syria with the hope of finding refuge in Europe, a hope shared by many other refugees displaced by years of internal war and foreign interventionist operations led by the US and European countries. He however ended up drowning in the Mediterranean Sea like several other refugees.

Aylan’s image made rounds on social media, sending a jolt to the consciousness of those who had never seen injustice and cruel border politics as vivid as the photo of a lifeless young refugee with head down on the sand. Many Filipino netizens expressed grief and rage, circulating the heart-breaking photo and urging the powerful EU bloc to have a heart.

But as we look and mourn over Aylan’s tragic death, we should not miss out the horrid details of terror and injustice happening in our own soil. Right at home, our Lumad brothers and sisters are being driven away from their ancestral lands in bloody fashion.

In the town Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Manobo children and their families were forcibly taken out of their homes and rounded around 4 a.m. on Sept. 1 by Bagani paramilitary forces to see a horror show. They were made to witness the point-black execution of tribal leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo. The perpetrators also bound Emerito Samarca or Tay Emok, the alternative school’s executive director, by the neck and limbs in the faculty room, then stabbed him in the chest and slit his throat open. Paramilitary forces warned the children and their families to leave their village immediately or all of them would suffer the fate of the three people, whom they accused of being supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA).

In Pangantucan, Bukidnon, five people were shot one by one by soldiers in the afternoon of August 18 – as witnessed by a 15-year-old Manobo boy.  Seventy-year-old Herminio Samia, his sons Joebert and Emir, and his relatives Norman and Elmer were accused by the military of being communist rebels, and that their deaths were the result of an alleged legitimate encounter. But human rights group Karapatan disputed the Army’s claim, saying they were innocent victims of the government’s Oplan Bayanihan which is patterned after the US counterinsurgency (COIN) plan.

Samarca, Campos and Sinzo, and dozens more in other tribal communities were not simply killed. They were massacred with the aim of sowing terrror among Lumad communities in what was the latest in the string of attacks against lumads in Mindanao. What makes their grisly deaths more revolting is the fact that the Aquino government would not directly own the bloody operations nor express any sign of condemnation on the killings. The 4th Infantry Battalion, which is operating in Surigao del Sur, simply dared rights groups to file charges against them.

Aylan, too, did not die simply because of Europe’s strict policy on migrants and refugees. He was first a victim of US and European intervention in Syria with the goal of dismantling the Assad regime.  Garikai Chengu of Global Research even argues that the ISIS Terror Group is created by Washington in the same way that it trained Al-Qaeda. There were several accounts too of US and British Special Forces dressing up as ISIS rebels to fight Assad in Syria.

Back home, the relentless massacre of tribal people by paramilitary forces point to the utter failure of President Aquino to keep his promise of dismantling paramilitary groups and private armies. This is the same president who has failed to exact justice over the massacre in Maguindano of 58 people by paramilitary groups despite sitting in power for five years now. This is also the president who brandished his vow for peace in Mindanao through the much-hyped Bangsamoro political project, but will be stepping out of power with mercenary paramilitaries still on the loose and wreaking havoc on many communities in Mindanao.

Against this backdrop of terror and impunity in Mindanao, children actually suffer the most – their innocence torn by bloodbaths before their own eyes. They have this shock which they cannot express at all, and a burning urge to ask why terrible things happen to their communities. They have their learning and upbringing disrupted, as they were driven away from their homes and schools. They are supposedly the heirs of the beautiful Mindanao. But at their very young age, they are forcibly shackled to fear and mental disarray, incapacitated by the escalating attacks by armed men on their villages.

We don’t need to gaze as far as Europe to be reminded that a boy is being killed, families are being displaced, and dreams are being extinguished by structural terror and injustice. We just have to look at our Lumad brothers and sisters – whose brutal executions barely land on the banner headline or top topics on Facebook and Twitter. They are the faceless victims in our midst. They need your grief and rage, too.

The folly of Comelec’s ‘full automation’ bid

Poll officials, and ironically to some extent some lawmakers, are peddling a bad joke. They are currently in chorus in rejecting the hybrid system as proposed by independent groups to push for “full poll automation” in 2016, which is in their universe the use of old precint count optical scan (PCOS) machines from foreign supplier Smartmatic.

One wonders if their memory is too short to remember that the 2010 and 2013 eections were not actually fully automated with the use of PCOS machines. Or maybe, they are dangerously sticking to a wrong idea of “full automation.”

Last week, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced that they are rejecting the hybrid system of manual balloting and partial automation in favor of full automation. The proposal for hybrid system, which was pitched by independent IT professionals, was described by the new Comelec chair Andres Bautista as costly and slow, adding that the poll body will now just have two options: either to refurbish the old 80,000 counting machines and lease additional 23,000 units, or lease all voting machines.

PCOS isn’t full automation

Before I explain how ridiculously costly Comelec’s two options are, it should be clarified first that Smartmatic’s voting system is not full automation but partial automation being an example of optical mark reader (OMR) technology. If it really was full automation, then voters would not have to manually shade the ballots to indicate their electoral preference. Full automation, in the real and exact sense, is a system wherein voters directly input their votes to the machines, such as a direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine which uses touch screen. Comelec chair Bautista should review this distinction before making a misguided prescription for the upcoming elections.

In rooting for PCOS “full automation” and rejecting the hybrid system, Bautista even claimed that opting for a hybrid electoral system would be against the law. Yet Republic Act 9369 or the poll automation law does not actually specify the use of full automation. What RA 9369 prescribes is the use of the “most suitable technology of demonstrated capability taking into account the situation prevailing in the area and the funds available for the purpose,” as it distinguishes paper-based technology from DRE voting technology.

As I have emphasized in my past articles, it was Smartmatic’s technology that violated the minimum system capabilities specified in the law (by the way, RA 9369 still has no implementing rules and regulations up to now).  Let me again point out some of the minimum technical requirements set in the law (Section 7) which Smartmatic failed to comply with:

  1. Provide the voter a system of verification to find out whether or not the machine has registered his choice – the PCOS machine simply greets voters with a silly “congratulations” message after the ballot was fed to the machine without offering any option for voter verification
  2. System integrity which ensures physical stability – In the 2010 and 2013 elections, several PCOS machines conked out and broke down even under stable non-catastrophic environment
  3. Accurate ballot counters – a technical team of experts from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) discovered the presence of vertical lines in the scanned images of ballots, potentially affecting the accuracy of the votes counted.

Poll watchdogs including the Automated Election System (AES) Watch have repeatedly rejected the PCOS technology given such errors, yet poll officials seem to be stuck with their penchant for Smartmatic’s voting machines.

Lease, sell, repair, repeat

That unwavering penchant for PCOS machines by Comelec came at a very steep price that was shouldered, and will be shouldered again, by Filipinos via taxes.

Let it be not forgotten that for the 2010 national elections, the government paid Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) consortium P7.19 billion for the lease and delivery of PCOS machines (P3 billion for the delivery alone of the counting machines nationwide), and the canvassing system as well. In 2012, the Comelec signed a P1.8 billion contract with Smartmatic to purchase and reuse the PCOS machines for the 2013 midterm elections despite the machines’ glitches.

In December 2014, Smartmatic bagged the P268-million contract to refurbish and repair the old erroneous 80,000 PCOS machines which were cramped in a shady warehouse in Laguna. Thankfully, the Supreme Court voided the contract and ordered the return of the taxpayers’ money. Yet more recently, the Comelec awarded the P1.72 billion contract to Smartmatic for the lease of additional 23,000 PCOS machines to be used for next year’s elections.

All in all, the Comelec-Smartmatic partnership has cost us Filipinos a whopping P10.71 billion (excluding the voided repair contract) since 2009 through the lease, sale and lease again of PCOS machines that have been demonstrated technical glitches over and over again. Such huge amount could have been used for the development of a Filipino and publicly owned voting system that is compliant with the requirements set forth in the law. That way, the government would not need to rely on suppliers third party providers

Hasn’t the Comelec gotten Smartmatic’s lease-sell-repair ploy even up to now? Or is it deliberately playing hostage to a foreign supplier’s corporate interest at the expense of ordinary people and at the cost of free and fair electoral exercise? Come 2016, Smartmatic executives will emerge yet again as the true victors of an election that has become ridiculously lucrative under the control of the foreign private entity.

Of Velosos and ‘firing squad’ journalism

Mary Jane Veloso

First published on Blogwatch

Errors in reportage are so common nowadays as speed and news saleability become the metrics of the news business. Most of these errors could be easy bygones because there is always a more recent and more hilarious one. But the recent series of ethical lapses by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) on the Mary Jane Veloso issue is too brazen to be ignored, precisely because it victimized the victim on several counts and brought Philippine journalism to a new low. And unlike other newsroom blunders, PDI’s lapses are nothing close to being hilarious.

On April 29, the PDI ran a dramatic but erroneous banner “Death came before dawn”, referring to Filipino migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso who was scheduled for execution on the night of April 28. At the last minute though, Veloso got a last-minute reprieve from execution in Indonesia. PDI apparently “killed” Veloso as it put the paper to bed even as Inquirer.net came up with a story titled “Veloso execution stopped” with time stamp at 1:43 a.m. Among major broadsheets, it was only PDI which got the story wrong, although the Center for Media Freedom for Responsibility (CMFR) noted that other papers similarly used appeal to emotions for their heads during that day.

PDI issued a statement on its erroneous headline, saying it regrets the “aggravation this may have caused Mary Jane Veloso’s family.”

But the morning after Labor Day, the PDI published a story that carried a malicious and loaded headline that belittles the Veloso family: “Militants use Velosos in labor protest rallies.” The title clearly was an insult not just to progressive groups but to the Veloso family, which was insinuated as to allowing itself to be used by militant groups for propaganda purposes. Whether intentional or not, the effect of the title was that it reduced the issue of workers (low wages, contractualization) and of Veloso in particular into a mere propaganda stunt – despite being real issues. On the contrary, the head appealed to the taste of anti-“extreme Left” (as they would put it) middle class who would use any opportunity to discredit the militants. A reading of the body however will show that the bias in the title was not substantiated. In fact, the story quoted leaders of progressive groups linking the issues of migration and local jobs crisis.

By some sort of editorial prerogative, the title-story disconnect was made publishable, defying even one of the most basic rules in journalism.

PDI’s most recent journalistic lapse was far more tasteless and disgusting, to say the least. It published a story titled “Netizens: #Firing squad for Celia Veloso”, referring to the mother of Mary Jane who castigated the government’s inaction on the case during the Labor Day rally. The story framed Nanay Celia in the crosshairs of Twitter hate speech (that included “Pakshet”), with the addition of a Guyito cartoon to play up the loaded angle. But most of the “netizens” quoted in the story are actually non-existent (checked as of May 4, evening) if not with questionable online identities. Apparently the currently non-existent Twitter accounts were bots (presumably backed up by a well-oiled vested interest) which were programmed to make #FiringsquadforCeliaVeloso as trending topic.

Committing an ethical lapse and blindly falling into the “netizen trap” is one thing. But to incite archaic violence and fan animosity against an aggrieved party – which in this case is a poor mother of a migrant worker – is a far more serious offense that no media organization should go away with, in the same way that no perpetrator of journalist killings should go scot-free regardless of the victim’s reportage. PDI should be sensitive enough to discern that the Veloso case and the averse reactions of questionable netizens should not be dealt like a usual story on trending celebrities, politicians and mundane expressions. Nanay Celia and the Veloso family demand far more sensitivity and ethical considerations from the media, as they have had enough of pain and misery during the past five years and having no similar clout and means to air their reply as that of a politician or a celebrity. To put them in further aggravation with one-sided and unprofessional reportage constitutes the height of insensitivity.

By several indications, the ethical lapses fall squarely on the shoulders of the gatekeepers, the editors, who apparently applied their biases in the headlines with journalistic hubris. These editors have engaged in “firing squad” journalism versus the Velosos, putting the aggrieved party on the hot seat in the way that subjects them to public condemnation. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, they actually served to create dissonance in public opinion over the Mary Jane Veloso instead of helping the people fully grasp the issue. Those in power who have demonstrated criminal neglect of Mary Jane Veloso over the past five years are the only ones benefitting from kind of character assassination against the Velosos. At a certain point, discussions are shifting from tracing government’s accountability to defining Veloso’s relations with the Left which is actually irrelevant to the rigor by which #SaveMaryJaneVeloso should be pursued. It should be made clear yet again that Veloso is a victim.

The consequence of the Veloso bashing, which was partly fuelled by the mainstream media, is that the issue of forced migration, state neglect of migrant workers, and death penalty have been downsized into a purely personal frame of ungratefulness to the President. This is certainly not the kind of trajectory which everyone across the globe and across the social strata who supported #SaveMaryJaneVeloso yearned for.

Pens vs pork: People’s Initiative puts dead end to Aquino’s ‘Daang Matuwid’ show

First published on Blogwatch

Tens of thousands returned to Luneta Park today to kick off the Luzon leg of the petition for a People’s Initiative bill to abolish the pork barrel system, a year after the mammoth “Million People March” demonstration against widespread corruption in government.

Today’s gathering brings to the fore two main positives for the country’s history: One, Filipino voters transcend their token role as mere source of votes for politicos in the electoral exercise, in a bid to finally end the abuse and misuse of public funds. Two, the Filipino people are taking the anti-corruption drive literally into their hands, which is by far the strongest telltale sign that President Aquino’s sham “Daang Matuwid” show has ended.

The former marks a milestone as regards the electorate’s political maturity while the latter signifies the ruling class’s immaturity in running their business of deceptive politics, believing that empty slogans will still do the trick. But of course Palace spokespersons would be quick to place credit on the President for this growing political movement to end and criminalize pork. They would say the people were inspired by Aquino’s resolve to stamp out corruption in government.

In truth, the people were disillusioned by Aquino’s farcical anti-corruption campaign.  A growing number of Filipinos from the left to the right, south to north, are now rising up, kicking off the long haul to kill pork in all its permutations.

At the center of today’s protests is the petition proposing the enactment of an anti-pork bill that not only bans lump sum funds but also criminalizes the budget schemes. This is premised on the fact that the Chief Executive in collaboration with lawmakers has retained discretionary funds in the 2014 national budget, as the audio recording by ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio of “executive sessions” reveals. Based on the discussions between some agency officials and lawmakers, the latter will still have discretion over the lump sum funds that were realigned to different departments.

In short, pork barrel is still alive and “oinking” despite Supreme Court rulings declaring Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. This comes as no surprise since the President has remained staunch in his assertion that discretionary funds should be maintained in any national budget.

As if to blunt the impact of the explosive disclosure on the state of “hidden pork” in the budget, President Aquino then began entertaining the thought of term extension and Charter change. But instead of dissuading the public from joining today’s protests, it appears that the contrary resulted. Aquino’s talk of term extension has galvanized the unity of the anti-pork coalition and has attracted to the fold more disillusioned camps and individuals.

Groups behind the People’s Initiative target at least 10 million signatures, or nearly twice the compliance rate of 6 million signatures for the the bill to be considered for approval. Once the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has verified at least 6 million signatures and the referendum successfully conducted, the initiative cannot be vetoed even by the President.

With the People’s Initiative to drive a stake through the heart of the pork barrel system now in full swing, no future Philippine president can lay claim to another anti-corruption rhetoric. Future presidential aspirants would have to invent modern formulations of anti-poverty themes that are disjointed from corruption – that is IF there would be elections as presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda spilled out.

An alternative way to frame the prospects of the 2016 elections would be like this: Assuming that the People’s Initiative will be successful in ridding all forms of pork, will politicos still run for public office? There would be probably be a different “no-el,” but of course the country’s elites will fight tooth and nail to retain the lifelines of graft and plunder in the bureaucracy. Without pork, politicians’ lives in our country would be very boring. They would have no money to splurge for their mansions and mistresses, and no “incentive” to keep patronage transactions well-oiled. It would be the end of Philippine politics, as we know it.

Such ramifications of pork’s demise for ruling families present the reasons why the People’s Initiative will face a very rough sailing and why it requires the broadest support possible. President Aquino is expected to mobilize all institutions albeit cunningly to avert this initiative, with political Charter change as the ace up in his sleeve. Extending his term would buy himself time to maneuver against the anti-pork crusade, aside from sparing himself from potential suits. But then it would also be too politically costly for the ruling clique.

The final war to end patronage politics and corruption has just begun. The lines have been drawn, with Noynoy and his allies and apologists on the wrong side of history.

Aquino’s DAP speech: Same smug defense of a badass budget scheme

First published on Blogwatch

It was more of the same smug defense of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) replete with fallacious analogy and “good faith” rhetoric. The only difference was that this time, President Aquino ate up nearly 30 minutes of precious primetime news to prove his presidential arrogance before the viewing public.

Rather than save his sagging political capital, Aquino just isolated himself from many of his “bosses” who think that threatening a war with the judiciary in a televised speech is the least that the nation need at this crucial point.

Exactly two weeks after the SC declared the key provisions of DAP unconstitutional, the President did not offer any added value to discussions about the chief executive’s badass realignment of funds to projects of his choosing. He miserably failed to demonstrate the DAP-economic growth nexus, or to just even show a bird’s eye view of DAP-funded projects simplified in pie charts. Details about DAP remain in the dark.

The President is even unsure how to really defend his case – insisting the constitutionality of the program at one point and then citing expediency’s sake over the rule of law at the other. If this is a preview of how the Palace would flip-flop in its motion for reconsideration, we could then expect another 13-0 in the offing.

What Aquino only made clear is that 1) his head is still buried in the heap of his self-serving interpretations of the law 2) DAP funds are purely discretionary, and that he will defy budget allocations at will.

“Ang hangad po natin: Huwag patagalin ang pagpapatupad sa isang proyekto. Ang pinagkasunduan ng buong Gabinete tungkol sa kani-kanilang budget: Use it or lose it. At kung malinaw na hindi talaga ninyo magagamit ngayong taon ang pondong inilaan para sa inyo, maliwanag na savings na ‘yan.”

It appears that the President did not really read the SC’s ruling even as he encouraged the public to read it. The high court has made it clear: DAP funds are not savings. Hence Aquino’s citation of Section 39 of the 1987 Administration Code during his speech is clearly a waste of time, if not a dumb take on the issue.

Good results can’t remedy DAP’s legal defects

Moreover Aquino is keeping a false faith that DAP’s good results on the ground will be enough to convince the magistrates on the scheme’s supposed constitutionality. While realignments under DAP can indeed produce higher electrification rates of communities and construction of more classrooms, the question still remains: were the realignments in line with the processes set out in the law? Good intentions and good results cannot in any way cure the legal infirmities that dot the DAP design. They are, at best, only sweeteners to the brazen violation of the Constitution.

Reasoning out that not a single cent of funds pooled under DAP went to corruption would also not qualify as defense. Again, what is in question is the manner by which funds were realigned since DAP took effect in 2011. The high court is resoundingly clear on the unconstitutionality of the 1) withdrawal of unobligated allotments from the implementing agencies 2) cross-border transfers of savings of the executive department to other branches 3) funding of projects, activities, programs not covered by appropriations.

DAPatronage politics

What is alarming is that Aquino is insisting on this budget distortion practice in line with his whims supposedly to bankroll projects that need funding. You see, under DAP, the President can pull out funds at will from an ongoing project and call it “savings.” He can instantly create items for immediate funding without going through the budget process, or distribute it to lawmakers depending on their political allegiance.

Could this be the reason why many of our lawmakers are not raising a howl on how the President has usurped the Congress’ power of the purse? It is strange that lawmakers feel not the slightest insult that they spend hours deliberating on the budget trying to insert their projects and yet the President can have the last laugh in the form of “disbursement acceleration.” Maybe because they benefitted from DAP too.

This brings us to bigger problem about DAP: When billions of people’s money – more than ten times allegedly stolen by Janet Lim-Napoles and partner lawmakers – are pooled under the discretion of the President, institutions could be held hostage to a single person’s political agenda. We saw it during the impeachment of former chief justice Renato Corona. We saw billions of our hard-earned money go to financing the President’s political vendetta. As per lawmakers’ confessions about the President’s bribe from DAP, the gears of political patronage did turn at that time.

To be fair, the President needs all the discretionary funds that it can have to bribe all institutions to avert his administration’s impending doom. But he should understand that political honeymoon cannot be bought nowadays. He can hire more spinmeisters and bribe senators, state auditors and even justices – but the voices of reason will still rise up in the streets to call for his resignation.

How PH workers are tapping social media in gutsy ways

Originally published at Blogwatch

bring back NXP 24

Photo by IOHSAD

There is some sort of alienation when new tech gadgets are rolled out from assembly lines and into the bustling marketplace. Electronics workers rarely make out the most of these tools to at least be heard in the vast social media sea. In the daily grind, they work to produce communication tools which the middle class use to share a wide range of content, from selfies to scrumptious desserts and social commentaries.

Now this is something new: the workers who make your smartphones, tablets and PCs are tapping these same tools to present a different story to these gadgets. Seeing the potential of social media to push for advocacies, workers are now bringing the issues of meager wages, contractualization and union-busting closer to the general public.

Take the #bringbackNXP24 for instance, a campaign that calls for the reinstatement of 24 illegally dismissed union officers and for the resumption of stalled bargaining talks in electronics firm NXP Semiconductors in Cabuyao, Laguna. In around three weeks’ time, the Facebook page has drawn over 1,000 likes and boasts of active daily engagement among its base and outer circles – something unusual for a relatively unpopular campaign and for a labor issue in the Philippines at that.


Last May 5, the 24 union leaders were illegally dismissed by the company for merely spending the regular April holidays (April ) with their families. NXP Semiconductors describes the workers’ decision not to work on a regular holiday as “illegal strike.” But the union maintains that the management’s move is meant to derail the ongoing negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

“The union demands a significant wage hike for workers – an 8% increase, while the management wants only a 3.5% raise. The union also insists that contractual employees be regularized, to which the company disagrees,” the campaign’s Change.org petition reads.

#bringbackNXP24, which is the brainchild of a circle of labor advocates, has now become the buzzword and battle cry of thousands of NXP workers and their supporters. It is now part of the “unselfies” of trade unionists and labor advocates from Australia, Hongkong, China to Belgium. It is in the placards carried by workers during their protests. It is even spraypainted on the company’s white walls inside the Light Industry Science Park (LISP) in Cabuyao, a sign of defiance against the economic zones’ strict “no union, no strike” policy.

The inspiring thing about the campaign is that NXP workers themselves are the ones sharing updates inside the company. Just recently, a worker uploaded a photo of the latest company memo that tries to sow confusion among the 1,500-strong workforce. In another instance, a worker uploaded a photo of the company’s anti-union message contained in a paper strip.


Ahead of this year’s Labor Day commemoration, Filipino workers and labor advocates embarked on an enterprising initiative to mark the special day in social media alongside the democratic protest actions in Manila and key cities. Through #May1Fight, netizens were encouraged to support the workers’ cause by sharing Labor Day memes, photos and messages, which were later compiled in a Storify post.

Interestingly, the initiative piqued the interest of mainstream media and bloggers. Philstar.com reported that #May1Fight drew over 400 tweets on May 1 as tracked by analytics tool Hashtracking. Again, this is a remarkable baby step for a breakthrough labor advocacy initiative on social media in the Philippines.

Raising workers’ capacities

To complement and sustain these initiatives, at least two projects are focused on raising capacities of Filipino workers to use social media and citizen journalism to amplify their voices and to influence policymakers.

Contractuals for Change Media Media Collective (CCMC), a project by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), is conducting social media trainings among contractual workers, who constitute the majority of the workforce yet voiceless and not represented by existing unions. The project is supported by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and Otto per Mille.

Another initiative, WORKINGCAST, targets unionists for social media and photojournalism sessions to help workers document cases of work-related accidents and union activities. The project is run by the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD), a Manila-based labor NGO. More often than not, work-related injuries are easily swept under the rug by erring companies, as traditional media cannot immediately access company premises. Hence, the project seeks to shed light on numerous health and safety violations in the workplaces that lead to terrible injuries or even death of workers.

During Saturday’s celebration of Social Media Day, Filipino workers and their supporters vow to take part in the #boomPH activities at SM Aura. They will carry their demands for regularization and higher wages loud and proud, alongside equally important causes in the vibrant local social media landscape.