We condemn the Duterte government’s arrest of Rappler chief and TIME Person of the Year Maria Ressa, the latest of the series of actions aimed at stifling press freedom in the country. 

Duterte is jailing the TIME Person of the Year. It could be any of us next if, as Maria keeps on repeating, we do not hold the line. The arrest of Maria Ressa for fighting disinformation puts a target sign on all those who tell the truth.

The arrest of Maria sends a chilling signal to all journalists and the public that press freedom is under attack by state forces. 

President Duterte will not stop until he has silenced voices who speak of the truth about his administration - hounded by extrajudicial killings, corruption, nepotism, and misogyny. 

This arrest is deplorable. It highlights Duterte's fear of true, free and critical journalism. 

We call on all journalists to stand with Maria against this brazen attack of press freedom. We call on the public to collectively hold the line, defend press freedom as a pillar of our democracy, and rally behind Maria. 

It is not just Maria who’s under arrest. Press freedom is under arrest. Democracy is under arrest.  

Tonight, #WeAreMaria.#

“It’s becoming a family affair. And it’s wrong”. Akbayan Partylist kicked off their campaign today urging voters to reject political dynasties masquerading as partylists, after reports that politicians have started to hijack the partylist system to build dynasties.  

The partylist was joined by their funny take on political dynasties: Congressman Loloko and Congresswoman Loloko, wooing voters to vote for Manloloko Partylist because “a family that runs together, will win together and will steal… your hearts together “. Akbayan maintained that there are numerous “manloloko” partylists in the ballot this 2019, noting reports that nearly half, or 62 partylists, have ties with political clans and business interests.  

“The partylist system is not a family enterprise. It should be a space for ordinary Filipino families, the farmers, the workers and the women. It should remain that way in 2019," said Akbayan Chairperson-Emeritus Etta Rosales during their campaign kick-off at a public market in Quezon City this morning.  Rosales was one of the drafters of the 1995 Partylist System Act and the first partylist representative of Akbayan in Congress.  

It is up to the voters now to reject those who do not embody the spirit of the partylist system, Akbayan said in a statement.  “They do not represent any marginalized sector or ideology but an extension of their family politics”, Akbayan furthered.  

Rosales also appealed to young and old voters to keep dynastic partylists out. “The 2019 elections is crucial to keep political dynasties out of the partylist system," she said. "Youth and senior citizen voters, who make up majority of the electorate, can wield their power to keep dynastic partylists out”, Rosales concluded. #

Akbayan Partylist lawmakers Senator Risa Hontiveros and Congressman Tom Villarin on Monday presented the Gawad Aksyon at Solusyon to Ailyn Martinez, a former officer of Barangay Payatas as a testament to the positive impact of rehabilitative shelters for children in conflict with the law (CICL). The awarding comes on the heels of the Senate debate on a bill to make 12 year old children criminally liable.

Martinez worked for 5 years in Barangay Payatas as a desk officer for Violence against Women and Children (VAWC) concerns where she has helped children access the services of private shelters in partnership with the local government. 

"Isang malaking karangalan ang makatanggap nito. Sana ay mas makilala pa ang papel ng barangay sa pangangalaga sa mga kabataan. Hindi natin kailangan ibaba ang edad ng mga nakukulong, kailangan itaas ang bilang ng mga barangay children's shelters at suporta sa mga workers kagaya ko," Ailyn Martinez said. (It's a huge honor to receive this award. I hope we will soon recognize the important role of barangays for our children's welfare. We don't have to lower the age of those we jail but increase the number of children's shelters and support to barangay workers.)

“Pensyon para kay lola at lolo, hindi kulong para kay apo”

This was the call of a panel of youth and children’s rights advocates and senior citizens groups in a press conference on Monday, supporting the bill to provide universal social pension for senior citizens.

Akbayan Partylist spokesperson Gio Tingson, the Coalition for the Services of the Elderly (COSE), and several other groups urged congress to prioritize support of Senate Bill No. 2138, or the “Lingap Para kay Lolo at Lola Act” filed by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, instead of lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

“Imbes na ibaba ang minimum age of criminal responsibility sa bansa, ang dapat atupagin ng kongreso ay itaas ang benepisyo ng ating mga senior citizens sa pamamagitan ng isang universal social pension fund,” Gio Tingson, who was formerly the National Youth Commission chair, said.

If passed into law, the bill seeks to create a social pension system which grants a monthly stipend to all senior citizens, unlike the current means-based system where only those considered as indigent senior citizens can receive government assistance.

Akbayan Partylist lauds the House of Representatives (HOR) for unanimously passing the Safe Spaces bill which seeks to penalize gender-based harassment in public places on third and final reading on Monday.

"The time is up for catcallers. Once this will be signed into law, the Safe Spaces bill will provide protection for our family members from sexual harassers in public places," Akbayan partylist spokesperson Gio Tingson said.

The Safe Spaces bill, principally authored by Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, will go through the bicameral conference as the Senate passed its counterpart bill on October 2018.

"Women and LGBT+ advocates took action to shepherd this bill through both chambers. This is our solution to stop the alarming cases of our sisters and our children being harassed in the streets," Tingson said.

The bill seeks to punish catcalling and other forms of sexual harassment with penalties ranging from community service, imprisonment and fines up to PHP 500,000.###