We in PinoyMedia Center and the alternative online newsmagazine Pinoy Weekly condemn the military’s apparent surveillance of one of our correspondents, UP Diliman Prof. Mykel Andrada.
It is deplorable that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) considers Prof. Andrada, who is a multi-awarded writer, academic and alternative media practitioner, as something of a threat to the State and therefore should be subject to military surveillance. Aside from his activities as a writer and correspondent for Pinoy Weekly, Prof. Andrada also lends his time and academic expertise on popular culture, literature and media in a number of mainstream television shows. In particular, he has spoken about the AlDub phenomenon in a number of TV programs.
As an academic, writer and concerned citizen, Prof. Andrada was also active in the campaign to stop the killing of Lumad leaders and activists in Mindanao. By all indications, his involvement in a worthy cause now has made Prof. Andrada a target of military harassment and surveillance. This is unacceptable.
We ask the military establishment to cease and desist from targeting Prof. Andrada, as well as other alternative media practitioners like Max Santiago of Manila Today and leaders of cause-oriented groups like Vencer Crisostomo of Anakbayan. Advocating for the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples like the Lumad people is not a crime under Philippine laws. On the contrary, such concern for marginalized sectors of society must be commended and rewarded.
It says a lot about how the military establishment and the Aquino government regards its citizens that socially-involved Filipinos like Prof. Andrada, Santiago and Crisostomo, as well as independent visual artists like Archie Oclos and Aleili, are harassed and surveilled, while suspects of acts of impunity like the killing of Lumad leaders and the militarization of Lumad communities continue unabated.
We also call on fellow media practitioners and the general public to condemn these military activities of harassment and surveillance that target journalists, activists and even well-meaning, ordinary citizens.
Kenneth Roland A. Guda
Editor in Chief, Pinoy Weekly
Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano
Executive Director, PinoyMedia Center, Inc.
Some facts on the harassment of #StopLumadKillings supporters
The military surveillance on Prof. Mykel Andrada, fellow alternative journalist and visual artist Max Santiago and well-known youth activist and blogger Vencer Crisostomo, were caused by their involvement in the public information campaign on the killing of Lumad leaders and activists in Mindanao, according to human rights group Karapatan.
The targeting of Prof. Andrada, Santiago and Crisostomo in a surveillance operation was revealed when two independent visual artists, Archie Oclos and “Aleili” (not her real name), told Karapatan that they were being harassed by military agents for their involvment in one of many artistic endeavors to support the #StopLumadKillings campaign.
On December 11, military agents, including one who called himself “MJ Suarez”, threatened Oclos and apparently tried to recruit him to gather information on Prof. Andrada, Santiago and Crisostomo. “Suarez” even handed to Oclos a brown envelope containing printed pictures of Oclos and Aleili, some family members, and that of Prof. Andrada, Santiago and Crisostomo.
In separate incidents prior to December 11, another military agent, one Alvin Layaguin, also harangued Oclos’ girlfriend Aleili through text messages. The military agent said he wanted to know if she and Oclos were members of Karatula, an activist-artist youth group, or know about the said group.
After the December 11 incident with Oclos, Aleili called up Layaguin to ask him to stop harassing them. Layaguin, in turn, said he was just asked by one “Robert Madrigal” at the General Headquarters of the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio about the group Karatula. He also said that the three – Prof. Andrada, Santiago and Crisostomo – were indeed the actual targets of the surveillance operation.