[13 Mar 2015 | Comments Off | 147 views]

With the Board of Inquiry (BOI) finally submitting its report on the Mamasapano clash last night, the House of Representatives should immediately resume its own probe on the botched operation, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said Friday.

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[26 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 82 views]

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon described President Benigno Aquino III’s remarks on the Mamasapano clash during today’s 36th Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) graduation as a “non-apology apology.”

In his speech during the commencement exercise, Aquino asked for “understanding.”“Bilang pangulo, pasan ko ang responsibilidad…Ikinalulungkot kong may mga pamilyang nawalan ng ama, anak, asawa…Buong pagpapakumbaba kong hinihiling ang inyong pag-unawa,” Aquino said.

“Opo, ako ang pangulo, pero tao rin ako,” Aquino added.

Rep. Ridon fumed over Aquino’s latest pronouncements, saying that the whole speech is nothing but a “tongue-in-cheek explanation.”

“Note how the president didn’t even ask for the public’s forgiveness. He asked for understanding. Mr. President, the public understands – we the people understand that it is you at fault in this botched operation,” Ridon said.

The youth lawmaker said that Aquino’s PNPA speech is a classic “non-apology apology” wherein the president asked for understanding yet admitted nothing.

“The president has purposefully and willfully missed the point in this speech. The point is to admit that he broke the chain of command, that he used the PNP SAF as cannon fodder, that he is ultimately responsible for the bloodshed in Mamasapano. Yet here is Aquino at his worst: showing not even an ounce of remorse for his criminal actions that led to the death of almost 70 Filipinos,” Ridon said.

“Today, you have not fooled anyone Mr. President. Your passive-evasive remarks has just fanned the flames of the growing call for your resignation,” Ridon ended.KPL logo clean version

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[18 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 186 views]

A Manila-based college is routinely violating their students’ right to peaceable assembly, a party-list lawmaker reported in a House resolution filed Wednesday.

In House Resolution No. 1991, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon called on the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) to look into rights violations allegedly committed by the National Teachers College (NTC).

Ridon reported that the NTC administration is “maligning and subjecting students who participate in various protest activities to unjust vexation.”

On February 13, 2015, around 80 NTC students held a solidarity activity that sought truth, justice and accountability for the victims of the botched operations in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Days after, a student from NTC wrote to Kabataan Party-list to report that a professor of the said college confronted them during the solidarity program and insisted that the activity was “illegal” because it violated the student handbook.

According to the professor, the protest did not have a permit, it was held within 50 meters of the college’s premises and the students who participated in the activity were wearing their uniforms, thereby dragging the name of the college to the issue.

The student who reported the incident is currently facing administrative sanctions due to the incident. Ridon said he tried to reach out to the NTC administrators to talk about the incident, to no avail.

More recently, on February 26, the day of the tuition and other school fees (TOSF) consultation in NTC, there were reports from several students that exposed a memorandum from the administration that warned students against joining protests that denounce TOSF proposals.

The gates of the college were even locked that day to prevent students from joining the protest.

“It is clear that the NTC administration is abusing its powers to step on the rights of their students to attend and participate in legitimate protest activities. Leaving this matter unsettled exposes students to utter vulnerability to further threats, intimidation and other forms of harassment from the said college,” Ridon said.

The youth solon urged the CHTE to immediately discuss the said case, especially as the said House panel is currently deliberating a related bill, the Students’ Rights Act.NTC padlock schoolgate

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[18 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 257 views]

The House Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) on Tuesday voted to unanimously pass the substitute bill for House Bill 1550 or the Free Public Wifi Bill.

The bill seeks to provide free internet connectivity in buildings of all national government offices including its regional and satellite offices, in municipal halls and in provincial capitols, in state universities and colleges, in public parks and plazas, in public hospitals and even in public transportation terminals such as airports and public bus stations.

“The Free Public Wi-Fi Bill seeks to move government one step forward in providing democratic access to the Internet. Notwithstanding the issue of the mass accessibility and availability of personal electronic devices that people have to use in order to access public networks, government has to recognize that the Internet is an important mechanism in delivering some of its services, and a valuable tool for people’s participation in governance and in democracy,” said Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, principal author of the Free Public Wifi Bill.

Ridon said that before the House ICT committee approved the bill yesterday, the committee members added key provisions on 24/7 stability and reliability of the public broadband hotspots, and a provision that will prohibit administrators and managers of public broadband hotspots from collecting user data and even Internet traffic data from people who will connect to the public Wifi network.

Another notable provision of the proposed legislation is the absence of restrictions with regard to public Wifi access, in the form of passwords and other similar mechanisms.

“The bill has been warmly received by members of the ICT committee, with most of our colleagues even co-authoring the Free Public Wifi Bill. We thank ICT Committee Chair Joel Duavit for the speedy passage of this legislation,” Ridon said.

With its passage at the committee level, the next step for the Free Public Wifi Bill is to hurdle it past the House plenary.

Ridon said he is optimistic that the bill will be tackled and passed by the House before it adjourns the second regular session.

Earlier, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham) has endorsed the proposed bill, saying that a law that will make free WiFi available in “crowded urban areas” can be considered as a valuable public sector contribution.

“Higher internet penetration will bring a wealth of benefits to Filipinos and efficiencies for the economy, reducing business costs and helping the economy to become more competitive and meet its Millennium Development Goals,” Amcham explained.

Even as Congress inches to the passage of the Free Public Wifi Bill, Ridon emphasized that the fight for “better Internet” continues.

“We must emphasize that even if the Free Public WiFi Bill is gaining traction, there is still an urgent need to make Internet service providers responsible for the slow and erratic Internet connection in the country. Ultimately, providing free Wifi access in public areas will be futile if Internet speeds remain at the glacial pace we have at present,” Ridon said.KPL logo clean version

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[17 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 149 views]

Exact accountability from US forces involved in Oplan Exodus, solon calls

The Senate report on the Mamasapano clash provides more compelling reason for President Benigno Aquino III to resign from office immediately, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said on Tuesday afternoon.

“The Senate report essentially reaffirms what the Board of Inquiry has earlier pointed out: that Aquino is ultimately responsible for the Mamasapano clash. Aquino and his spokespersons should stop beating around the bush and issuing silly justifications. The only reasonable response for the result of these two separate investigations is for the president to accept responsibility and resign with all humility,” Ridon said.

In the report released on Tuesday afternoon, the Senate said that the “President must bear responsibility for giving assent to and failing to prevent the unlawful exercise of official functions by PDG Purisima in connection with Oplan Exodus.”

“The Mamasapano incident raises serious questions about whether the President, as well as some other high-ranking officials of the government, could have done more to minimize the number of deaths which resulted from the incident,” the report added.

“If Aquino does not resign despite all these findings, it only goes to show that he has no sense of decency left. Mr. President, enough with the lies and the blame game. Take responsibility on the Mamasapano clash and resign,” Ridon said.

US forces should be held accountable too

The youth solon also stressed that the Senate report reveals more details on the United States’ involvement in the Mamasapano operation.

“There are indications that the planning and the execution of the Oplan Exodus were not 100% Filipino planned and implemented,” the executive summary of the Senate report stated.

The Senate report mentioned particular instances wherein US intervention is evident:

  • Napeñas brought three Americans into the Army Brigade headquarters (HQ). A helicopter arrived and three more Americans came into the HQ and joined Napeñas at his work table.
  • One of the Americans, identified by Napeñas as Mr. Al Katz, supposedly handled the training of the Seaborne.
  • One of the Americans ordered Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan to fire the artillery. However, Pangilinan refused and told him, “Do not dictate to me what to do. I am the commander here!”
  • The Americans provided surveillance in the area through their Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR). TV monitors were brought in by the Americans to the HQ.

Ridon reiterated that these findings raise more questions on the real extent of US intervention in police and military operations in the country, particularly on Operation Exodus.

“The Senate report clearly shows that the US not only intervened but primarily directed Oplan Exodus. Their very presence in the tactical command post shows that the Americans were actually heading the whole operation, with American forces literally calling the shots in the operation through their computer monitors – safety tucked in the tactical command post – while they let the SAF to march through Mamasapano equipped with faulty radio equipment,” Ridon said.

“If this is the case, then the argument that the US used the PNP SAF as cannon fodder for their counterterrorism activities clearly holds water,” he added.

Ridon also noted that if Americans were indeed providing real-time intelligence, then they should have been the first to know that the 55th SAC were already engaging in firefight with members of the MILF and the BIFF.

“The Americans should have been the first ones to know that the 55th SAC were already cornered, yet they apparently did nothing to help. Instead, all their attention was with the 84th Seaborne as they were only interested in getting Marwan. Simply put, the Americans let the Filipino SAF troopers perish because all they wanted was to get Marwan’s finger,” Ridon explained.

“The US is equally liable for the Mamasapano deaths. And the story should not end with this finding – heads must roll, accountability must be exacted,” the legislator said.KPL logo clean version

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[17 Mar 2015 | No Comment | 112 views]

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said Tuesday that President Benigno Aquino III’s plummeting approval and trust ratings are clear “indications of growing public unrest” following the Mamasapano clash and may even signal the president’s “imminent downfall.”

Earlier today, Pulse Asia reported that Aquino registered his lowest overall approval and trust ratings since winning the May 2010 elections in the March 2015 survey, at 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

Pulse Asia also noted a big decline in Aquino’s overall approval and trust ratings during the period November 2014 to March 2015, with the president losing 21 and 20 percentage points, respectively.

“This is a clear indication that the Filipino people do not buy Aquino’s lame excuses on the Mamasapano clash. His approval and trust ratings can even dip further, following the release of the BOI report that named him as the one who gave the go signal for the botched operation,” Ridon said, noting that the Pulse Asia survey covered a period prior to the release of the BOI report.

“Mr. President, read the writings on the wall. If you don’t resign now, you risk entering the most turbulent period in your presidency,” the legislator added.KPL logo clean version