Archive for June, 2008

Survey Shows Online Advertising Is Less Effective Than TV Advertising in Asia

June 22, 2008

Singapore & Hong Kong, June 18, 2008 –IDC announced today the results of a regional survey exploring the use and impact of online advertising in Asia, which showed that Internet ads are seen as informative but often relatively weak in prompting consumers to make a buying decision. The survey, which included both Asian consumers and Asian enterprises, is the second round of a series of surveys that IDC is conducting in 2008 to examine the impact of Web 2.0 on Asian enterprises and consumers.

On average, more than 60% of the consumer respondents said they perceived Internet ads as “informative” – considerably higher than what was seen with TV and print ads. But on the downside, the survey showed that consumers tend to find TV ads more enjoyable and more likely to make them want to buy the product that was being advertised.

“Online advertising has become one of the most important revenue models for many Internet sites in Asia”, said Claus Mortensen, Principal, IDC Asia/Pacific Emerging Technologies Research. “But while the Internet offers a huge potential for marketers to target and engage audiences, it is still seen as a very fragmented medium. And while online ads are seen as more informative than ads in other media they suffer from being perceived as more annoying and less enjoyable than TV or print-based ads”.

The survey suggested that online video advertising is a good medium to capture the interest of Asian consumers. Almost 70% of the respondents said they had watched video commercials on the Internet and more than 80% said they had watched movie trailers online. And humour is the way to go if companies want consumers to watch their online video commercials: almost 60% of respondents said they would be “highly interested” in watching a commercial if it was funny.

Among Asian enterprises that are advertising online, most respondents indicated that they were doing so because it is seen as more cost-effective and targeted than traditional advertising. But the relatively low impact on consumers’ buying decisions indicates that companies may be wasting much of their resources when going online. And while advertising agencies are often seen as necessary go-to-agents for offline advertising, less than 20% of the companies surveyed said they were going online on the advice of an agency.

“Our research indicates that companies will need to be very selective when they choose their online advertising approaches if they are to achieve the full potential of online campaigns – and perhaps agencies could do a better job of guiding them to choose this channel.” Mortensen said.

IDC conducted the survey among Asian consumers in March 2008, and among companies that had previously advertised online in April 2008. The enterprise component was done through phone-based interviews with 302 companies across six Asian markets (Australia, China, India, Korea and Singapore). The consumer component was web-based with 857 respondents across eight markets (Australia, China, India, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).

Notes to Editor
More details are published in Online Advertising Strategies of APEJ Companies, 2007, Doc # AP628202Q and Consumer Perceptions of Online Advertising in APEJ, Doc # AP628203Q

For more information about this research or to make a purchase, please contact Elizabeth Shunmugam at +603-2169-7536 or eshunmugam@idc.com. For press enquiries, please contact Sasithorn Sae-iao at +66-2651-5585-87 (Ext. 113) or sasithorn@idc.com.

About IDC Asia/Pacific Web 2.0 Conference
IDC is organizing a conference on June 24 in Singapore to bring attention to the emerging Web 2.0 trends and technologies for enterprises. The conference will shed light on how web 2.0 is emerging as a strategic tool to shape new business applications, accelerate new business interaction and enhance market growth.

About IDC
IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 100 countries. For more than 44 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world’s leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting http://www.idc.com.(PinoyPress)

Arroyo-Bush Meeting to ‘Strengthen Unequal Relations, US Intervention ‘

June 22, 2008

The reported trip of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the United States to meet with US president George W. Bush and presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama will mark another low point in RP-US relations, according to the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

“It will be an extravaganza of terror and economic plunder, the two areas of concern of the US government. The meeting with Bush would reaffirm existing unequal ties between the Philippines and the US. Arroyo hopes for continuity in these relations which is why she is meeting with McCain and Obama,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Arroyo’s status as a most favored Asian puppet of the US brings shame to the Filipino people, more than anything else,” he added.

The group said that there will not be meaningful benefits from the scheduled trip.

“In a time of severe crisis, we can’t see how the meeting with Bush can be beneficial to the Filipino people. The agenda is in favor of US geo-political and economic interests in the region as well as Arroyo’s desire of political survival. Bush and Arroyo are also known to have two of the worst human rights records for any president,” Reyes said.

Bayan said protests are already being readied in the states where Arroyo is expected to go. Protesters will include Filipinos in the US, as well as American human rights and migrants advocates.

“We are certain that Philippine support for the US war on terror will play an important role in the talks. The Philippines has given the US virtual basing rights through the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. Arroyo seeks a continuation of these policies, whether it’s McCain or Obama who wins,” Reyes said.

Bayan says the meeting with Bush and the US Secretary of Defense will also be crucial in determining additional US military aid for the Philippines. The beleaguered Arroyo regime has been using US military and economic aid to prop its isolated regime.

“Despite human rights abuses and hundreds of unresolved case, the US government is intent on increasing military aid to the Philippines. This is being justified as part of supporting the war on terror. The military offensive in Mindanao against the kidnappers of a Philippine journalist is being used to justify additional military aid and troop presence,” Reyes said.

“How convenient for GMA that she has another incident in Mindanao with which she could justify US military aid and intervention,” the Bayan leader added.

Bayan also said that the funding from the Millenium Challenge Corporation will be vulnerable to corruption considering the Arroyo regime’s track record. The Philippine government is said to have qualified for $700 million grant.

Falling Enrolment Rates Highlight Need for More Social Spending

June 22, 2008

One more child out of every 10 school age children was not able to go to school, highlighting the need for higher government spending in social services, said research group IBON Foundation.

Figures from the Department of Education (DepEd) show that participation rate at the elementary level, or the percentage of children aged 7-12 who are enrolled in public and private elementary schools, has fallen from 96.95% in SY 1999-2000 to 83.22% in SY 2006-2007. At the secondary level, only 58.59% of children aged 13-16 were enrolled in high schools in SY 2006-2007 from 65.43% in SY 1999-2000.

These figures highlight the need for government to allocate more resources for social were ditional penditure) espectively7.s, 17 out of e of rising cost of livingh is way below int quality stdsservices spending. The 2008 national budget allocated just over P2,000 per Filipino for education, 14% less in real terms than what was allocated in 1998. For health services, another important social service, only P253 was allocated per Filipino, which was 28% less in real terms than what was allocated in 1997.

Such services should be prioritized over the paltry subsidies the Arroyo administration has been using recently to win popular support from the poor. It recently allocated some P2 billion to provide four million poor families a one-time P500 electricity subsidy, and promised other subsidies such as loans for poor students. However, its education spending is only 12% of public expenditure and 2.1% of the gross domestic product. These are way below the international quality standards of 22% (for public expenditure) and 6% (for GDP). (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.(PinoyPress)

Drilon Kidnapping: A Case of Gauging Risks for a Story

June 22, 2008

By Alan Davis
IWPR Director of Special Projects

MANILA, Philippines — Any blog on the June 8 Sulu kidnapping of the ABS CBN news team and their ‘fixer’ Professor Octavio Dinampo has to begin with a wish for the safe and speedy release of the remaining captives. At the back of many media professionals is the sense of, ‘there but for the grace of God…’

Over the past few days I have pondered hard on whether now is a suitable time to write a piece on safety and security of journalists in such situations. It is a matter for debate to be sure — yet I think the answer has to be ‘yes’ if it gets just one journalist to carefully consider when the risk of following a story outweighs the benefit of securing a story. Time spent on good risk assessment is never wasted and I encourage those who have not done any formal safety training to click on the project’s safety and security pages.

Meantime amid the column inches published so far on the kidnapping, the June 13 editorial and cartoon in the Philippine Daily Inquirer are well worth reflecting upon.

The cartoon which shows a TV crew interviewing a shadowy gunman in the jungle and inside the huge jaws of a menacing head labeled Abu Sayyaf should be cut out and pinned on every newsroom notice-board – perfectly summarizing as it does, the risks journalists face every time they seek face to face interviews with insurgents and/or bandits.

Everybody loves the idea of a scoop and an exclusive. Live pictures are much more dramatic and sell much easier than words. But as the cartoon demonstrates, journalists walk into potential traps every time they try and meet up with people who by their very actions will be hidden and hard to locate or track down.

A cartoon previously in I think the Philippine Star had the Abu Sayyaf camp as a spider’s lair. True enough.

Of course risks are all part of the business we are in. But as the security consultants who train journalists on hostile environment courses tell us — risks must be known, measured and manageable. Journalists must remain in control of their own movements and decisions and avoid delegating their own security to others.

For sure this is sometimes much easier said than done, and we have probably all done things that in retrospect seemed foolhardy. I have for sure and remember well the sleepless night I had before taking the fast boat to Basilan.

The line between getting into serious trouble and getting back home with a good experience and story is a very fine one. Usually too it is invisible and you never know if you have crossed it until it is too late.

Another thing that safety training teaches us is that there are no leaders and no followers when it comes to your own personal security. Individuals are autonomous and there should never be any pressure to ‘go along’ because colleagues or competitors are. There is no shame in staying out of harm’s way.

At the same time it is right and proper to salute those who keep us informed from difficult and dangerous areas.

In such cases, where there is an overriding and agreed reason and need to interview ‘outlaws’ or people who are fighting under a certain flag, cause or ideology, we must find safer ways of doing it. The more extreme the ideology, the more caution needs to be applied.

In southern Afghanistan, where my IWPR colleagues work to develop the capacity of local media to serve society, we encourage our local trainees to contact the Taliban by phone where there is a compelling reason to secure a quote from them and which does not give them undue platform or any opportunity to propagandize.

The ABS CBN crew was criticized for not liaising with the military upon arrival in Jolo –but journalists should always remain wary in such instances in case they are used as ‘bait’. Equally and much more so we need to be very, very careful in dealing with groups with no known agenda beyond that of sowing fear and terror. In general – though not always – it is usually safer to cover groups with political or territorial positions. People who called themselves The Sword of God (Abu Sayyaf) are obviously driven by a religious ideology that suggests they should only ever be approached with extra special care.

The Inquirer editorial makes several more good points – the first of which is to be continually suspicious of offers or opportunities to interview groups or individuals beyond reach as it will invariably mean you going to them. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t do it.

The second is that we shouldn’t allow anybody or any group or official to accuse somebody or blacken their name without just cause. In this case, the PNP seem to be questioning the motives of Professor Dinampo. But as the law teaches us all, people are innocent, until…

The Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project only very recently published a story on Sulu which tried to show a balanced picture of what is happening there: an island with a great many problems and pressures and the image people have of it is of terror and conflict – not education or development which is also ongoing there.

Sadly the kidnapping will just reaffirm the negative picture most people have of Sulu. We should not though let a small band of kidnappers stigmatize an entire community or people.

Ultimately, as well as our prayers, the ABS CBN team and their fixer deserve credit for keeping focus on a story and going where the story is to see for themselves and not simply reporting from Manila and helping perpetuate stereotypes through ignorance. The day Sulu or any other place becomes a no-go zone for journalists will be a black day indeed.

That said, while ordinary people and critical issues and challenges deserve the oxygen of publicity always, we should also ask whether the same applies to a renowned group of kidnappers. (PinoyPress)

Young, Poor and Unschooled

June 22, 2008

By Perla Aragon-Choudhury
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

QUEZON CITY — Pepe, 12, is busy helping his mother package loose garlic cloves for sale. “Before I go to school,” he says,” I put the cloves in plastic packs and staple them onto strips of cardboard. And when I get back home, I walk with my mother to the stores around Tandang Sora.”

Working in this main thoroughfare of Quezon City with his mother, Pepe endures the fierce afternoon sun, as shown by his dark brown skin. But he is proud to have finished Grade 6 — and happy that his cousin Jeffrey will return to school after dropping out last year.

Pepe and Jeffrey descended from tenant farmers who once toiled the land here before it was converted into subdivisions for the burgeoning population in the Philippines.

Their grandmother talks of a time when the family had enough for all their needs. But today they have lost the lands and their livelihoods to become tricycle and jeepney drivers or sidewalk vendors who are not allowed in to sell at the nearby private market.

Pepe is not the only working-class student determined to stay in class. In a garbage pile near a big drugstore along Tandang Sora, Mac-Mac, 12, checks for plastic bottles to sell. “I can get a good price for the mineral water ones,” he says indicating a junk shop along Visayas Avenue.

Mac-Mac is a fifth grader at a public school and proudly claims his teachers have awarded him `Best in Science’ and `Top Five’.

“I want to be a doctor and treat people even if they are too poor to pay,” he says as he carries a sack which once held the rice that the poor of Manila now queue for outside of the National Food Authority (NFA) on Visayas Avenue.

A kindly meat vendor in the nearby market worries out loud about the future if the children who work the streets here instead of being in school. “Just like the gangs in Oliver Twist, they’ll probably lack the proper values, character formation, discernment and life skills,” says Francisco Mondragon, 60.

“By late afternoon they are here at the market, asking for what we will discard,” says Mondragon. “How will they get the jobs that just might lift them out of poverty if they’re out of school?”

Shirley too works in the market. Poverty forced her to quit high school after her second year and she is now married to a seasonal construction worker earning what she can through buying and selling on fish to her equally poor neighbors. She makes very little in the way of profit.

But she hopes at least her children with get a better chance of schooling than she ever did.

“I’m lucky that one of my sons impressed his teachers during the entrance interview at the rich pre-school in our area, and got a scholarship. I hope that he can still get one tomorrow when we enroll again in his new school. If not, he might have to quit.”

The problem is education in the Philippines is free in principle –but not in practice. Pupils are routinely denied schooling for failing to wear the proper uniform or having the proper stationary or supplies.

Shirley’s sons and a great many other children like them across the Philippines are being denied the right to an education which is contrary to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which states that “everyone has the right to education.”

In 2000 — close to 50 years after it ratified the UDHR in 1948 – the Philippines became one of the signatories to the Millennium Declaration and committed to meet by 2015 eight goals that address development concerns worldwide.

Last year marked the midpoint for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but in its progress report last October, the Philippine government said there may be problems in achieving universal primary education.

Writing in the Philippine Center for Investigation (PCIJ) last month, field reporter Jaileen Jimeno described the state of education in the Philippines as dismal. “Since the Arroyo administration came to power in 2001, all key performance indicators in education in fact have floundered,” she claims. “The percentage of schoolchildren who reach up to grade six, for instance, is down from a high of 75.9 percent in 2001 to 69.9 percent in 2006. Elementary dropout rate in 2001 was 5.75 percent, but went up to 7.36 in 2006. Those who repeat a grade is also up, from 1.95 percent in 2001 to 2.89 percent in 2006.”

In large part, she says, problems can largely be traced to a decline in per capita spending for education and a booming population. Per capita spending for education currently stands around $25. This includes teachers’ salaries and building and classroom maintenance. The result is that many schools and their teachers find creative ways of charging pupils and their families in order to raise much needed funds and supplementing income.

But as 20 million children trooped back to school this week, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reminded teachers not to charge them fees and accept those who came without uniforms.

“We want to make it as small a burden as possible on parents to send their children to school. Just like in the United States and many parts of Europe, we should not require children to wear uniforms. We want to make sure that all our children go to school, especially our six-year-olds, because our statistics show that majority are at home.”

The idea is to help children enter and stay in school. In this connection, the National Framework for Youth Development (Philippine Medium-Term Youth Development Plan 2005-2010) cites Labor Code Article 139 which rules that children under 15 may not be employed (as do Republic Act or RA 9231 and 7858).

The Labor Code also prevents children under 16 — like Pepe and Mac-Mac — from working at night; those under 18 from working unless permitted by the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); and those below 18 from working in jobs hazardous to health, safety and morals.

Another set of laws – the Women and Child Labor Law, the Labor Code Article 150 and RA 8231 – stipulates that children below 15 are not permitted to work more than seven hours a day; and that no children below 14 are allowed to work as apprentices.

But what if students are near the point of dropping out?

The DOLE has its Special Program for Employment of Students to encourage the employment of poor but deserving students and out-of-school youth (OSY) during summer and Christmas breaks. The Department of Education has its Youth Action for Sustainable Development to teach students and OSY entrepreneurship, science, culture and the arts.

The scholarship for Shirley’s son at Little Lamb Learning Center shows how private groups help prevent and lessen the number of school drop-outs. For its part, Miriam College offers night classes for adults wanting to go back into education. One of its students, Eileen Gardo, made it through the five-year high school course by combining housework with homework for her 5-9 p.m. classes.

She recalls: “At times, I had to wade through floods just to get to exams on time. Many evenings I had to go hungry because I had just enough cash for the jeepney fare but no money for food. But now I want to study hotel and restaurant management so that I can run my very own business. I’m good at cooking, you know.”

Other private initiatives to keep children in schools come from major television networks which requests viewers to donate bags, notebooks, pencils and other school supplies.

And under the Adopt-a-School Program of the Department of Education, schools are built, repaired and maintained by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, the Coca-Cola Foundation, the SM Foundation and other socially responsible organizations.

Still other groups like Child Hope Asia use a comprehensive approach to ensure livelihood for urban poor families as well to keep children in school as long as possible.

One step at a time admittedly — but when many people move together, school children are helped on the road to a better life.


(The author is a freelance reporter specializing on women, children, reproductive health and religious issues. Names of the minors interviewed in this story have been changed to protect their identities.)

Australia May Exploit Drilon Kidnapping to Push for Military Pact in Mindanao

June 22, 2008

By Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
BAYAN Secretary General

The Australian government has no business intervening in Philippine affairs. Their statements on escalating military offensives in Sulu is unwarranted and can be construed as a self-serving move to allow their troops access to the Philippines.

Australia’s support for escalating military offensives in Mindanao vs. the kidnappers of journalist Ces Drilon and her companions sets the stage for Australian military intervention in the region. We say this because Australia is actively pushing for the ratification of the RP-Australia Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which would allow them to conduct joint military exercises in the country. The SOFA is being pushed under the aegis of the US-led “war on terror”. It is now pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In the guise of fighting terrorists and extremists, Australia wants to get a foothold in Southern Philippines through the SOFA. The presence of the ASG or any bandit group for that matter, is a convenient reason for the Australian government to engage in military intervention, in partnership with the United States, in areas around Mindanao.

The all-out war in Sulu would be an ideal condition for US and Australian military intervention. The two governments are set to take advantage of this condition. The US and Australia will both offer military support for the all-out war in Sulu. This would include sending foreign troops to conduct “military exercises” in Mindanao.

We will not be surprised if Australia invokes the situation in Sulu to push the Philippine Senate to ratify the SOFA. It takes after the lead of the US in this regard.

Having two foreign governments engaged in military operations in Sulu certainly undermines Philippine sovereignty in the region.

The RP-Australia SOVFA, just like the RP-US VFA, accords the Australian military access to our country and its facilities. It would allow Australia to hold military operations even in areas where there are actual enemy combatants, thereby departing from the original purpose of “military exercises.”

We must learn from our experience with the US and not allow Australia military access to Mindanao. We must learn from the bitter lessons of the RP-US VFA and not allow these to be repeated by another foreign power such as Australia.

We are already talking with various Australian groups opposed to Australian military involvement in the Philippines. We vow to oppose the ratification of the SOFA.

(PinoyPress)

Residente ng Rapu-Rapu tutol sa bagong operasyon ng Lafayette

June 22, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

NANAWAGAN ang mga residente ng Isla ng Rapu-Rapu sa pag-alis ng mga mamumuhunang Koreano mula sa kontrobersiyal na Lafayette Phils. na nagmimina sa kanilang lugar.

Napunta sa LG International at Korean Resources Corp. Ang pagmamay-ari at operasyon ng Lafayette noong Abril 2008.

Ayon sa mga residente, bangkarote at mapaminsala sa kalikasan ang Lafayette polymetallic mining project kaya wala na itong dahilang magpatuloy pa ng operasyon.

Noong 2005, napatunayang nakontamina ng cyanide ng Lafayette ang katubigan ng Rapu-Rapu at katabing ilog sa Albay. Pinagmulta ng P10 milyon ang kompanya

Bukod rito, nagkaroon rin ng pagtagas ng mina, pagguho ng lupa at pagkamatay ng isda sa operasyon ng Lafayette mula Hunyo 2005 hanggang Oktubre 2007.

Nais ng mga residente na tuluyan nang isara ang kompanya sa halip na ibenta sa iba pang mamumuhunan.

Mahihirap na Pilipino aabot sa 1.2 M?

June 22, 2008

Jean Campos, Rodalyn Capilo, Mary Rose Retrita

NANGANGAMBA ang Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) na maaaring umakyat ang bilang ng mahihirap na Pilipino sa 1.17 milyon sa katapusan ng taon kung magpapatuloy ang pagtaas sa presyo ng langis.

Tinatayang aabot sa P75.15 kada litro ang presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo sa Disyembre kung mananatiling buwanan ang pagtataas nito, na ibinabala ng mga kompanya ng langis.

Ayon sa Asian Development Bank, 160,000 Pilipino ang nagiging mahirap sa bawat 10 porsiyentong pagtaas sa presyo ng langis.

Linggu-linggong kilos-protesta ang ilulunsad ng Bayan para ipanawagan ang pagkakansela ng 12 porsiyentong Value-Added Tax sa langis at pagbasura sa Oil Deregulation Law.

Asambleya ng migrante ginanap sa Hong Kong

June 22, 2008

Noel Sales Barcelona

MAHIGIT 130 katao na kumakatawan sa 85 progresibong mga organisasyong sa daigdig ang dumagsa sa stadium ng City University of Hong Kong para sa kauna-unahang internasyonal na asambleya ng International Migrants’ Alliance o IMA noong Hunyo 15.

Karamihan sa mga delegado, nagmula pa sa Hong Kong, US, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, UAE, Austria, Mexico, Kenya, Italy, Denmark, Turkey, Netherlands, Taiwan, Korea, Macau, Japan, Australia, Pilipinas, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, New Zealand at Switzerland.

Tampok na usapin sa asambleya ang sahod; kaseguruhan sa trabaho; remitans at epekto ng General Agreement on Tariffs and Services Mode 4; giyera kontra-terorismo ng US; imigrasyon; at pagiging refugee at ang kriminalisasyon ng di-dokumentadong migrante.

Napag-usapan din ang karahasan sa kababaihang migrante; human trafficking at globalisasyon; kalusugan ng mga migrante; epekto sa pamilya nang puwersahang migrasyon; pag-oorganisa sa hanay ng mga migrante; pagbubuo ng mga alyansa; at estratehiya sa kampanyang pang-migrante.

Kabilang sa panauhing tagapagsalita sa asambleya ay si Dr. Irene Fernandez ng Tenaganita, isang organisasyong pangkababaihan sa Malaysia.

Ayon kina Leni Estari (isang manggagawang Indones), Teresa Gutierrez ng May 1st Coalition ng US at Connie Bragas-Regalado, dating OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) at tagapangulo ngayon ng Migrante International sa Pilipinas, sa pagtitipong iyon, binibigyang pagkakataon ang mga nasa “ibaba” o mga migrante manggagawa mismo, na isatinig ang kanilang mga hinaing at malalimang talakayin ang mga isyung patungkol sa kanila.

Inaasahang maraming resolusyon at kasunduan, sa pagitan ng mga organisasyong pang-migrante, ang mabubuo at malalagdaan sa naturang pagtitipon at magiging tuntungan sa paggigiit ng karapatan at kagalingan ng mga migrante sa buong mundo.(PinoyWeekly)

Paano magpipista kapag dalawang taon nang nawawala ang anak mo?

June 22, 2008

Rolando Tolentino, Pasintabi

HINDI ko kilala sina Nanay Connie at Tatay Oca. Kaya rin nag-atubili ako nang maimbitahan ng kakilala ng kakilala na dumalo sa pista sa kanilang baranggay sa Masinloc.

Ang inisip ko, hindi pa ako napunta sa bahaging ito ng Pilipinas. Kaya mabuti itong pagkakataon. Hindi ko akalain na anim na oras pala ang biyahe, at tunay na puwedeng magluto ng pandesal sa upuan namin.

Hindi tapos na bahay sa looban ang sa mag-asawa. Pangmeryendang oras na kami dumating. At dahil madalas ang kantiyawan sa stopover na huwag magpakabusog, nagmistula kaming hayok nang isa-isang inilabas ang pagkaing itinago para sa grupo.

Ang mga hipon at talangka ay huli sa pangunguryente sa dalampasigan. Ang inihaw na bangus ay galing sa fishpen sa baybayin. Hindi na umabot ang malagkit na kanin. Napanis na sa kaantay dahil ilang oras pa lamang nagkakaroon ng kuryente, matapos ang bagyo ilang araw pa lang ang nakararaan.

May ref cake din na inihanda. At dahil pista, labas-pasok ang mga tao. Maraming ipinakikilala, at nag-uusyoso ang mga kapitbahay. At nang matapos ang mabilis na pagkain, nag-usap naman kung ano pa ang gagawin kinabukasan.

Gusto raw mag-beach ng mga batang lalakeng kasama namin. Sige, magpipiknik daw, sabi ni Nanay Connie. At inilibot niya kami sa kapaligiran ng bahay. Nagtumba ang mga puno ng mangga sa taniman ng kapitbahay.

Naglipana ang pagkarami-raming manok sa bakuran. Na sabi nga ni Nanay Connie, ayon kay Tatay Oca, puwede raw silang kumain ng isang manok araw-araw at di mauubos ang mga ito ng isang taon. Imbes na ang tirang pagkain ay ipakain sa aso, mga manok ang naghahabulan sa mumo.

Nag-posing kami sa isang nabuwal na puno ng manggang inakyat. Naging musmos ang lahat. Pinagtatawanan ang lahat nang puwedeng mapagtawanan: laki ng mga katawan ng kasama, imahinaryong pag-aaring asyenda, pati ang kakulitan ng tahimik at cute na apo ng mag-asawa.

Natuloy ang pagpunta sa beach. Umarkila sila ng isa pang tricycle para magkasya ang grupo. Puwedeng mag-surfing sa beach sa Masinloc. Malakas ang alon dahil kababagyo nga lang. Kami ay nasa pampang lang at nag-aantay itulak ng inaabangang alon.

Hindi pa nakuntento sa beach. Dinala rin kami sa ilog na pinagpipiknikan ng iba pang grupo. Nagtatalunan ang mga musmos at teenager sa ilog, samantalang ang grupo namin ay nagbababad lamang sa tagiliran ng ilalim ng kalsada.

Sa panahon ng digicam, walang takot na magkukuha ng pix. ‘Yung dalawang lalake ay panay ang posing dahil ilalagay raw nila sa kanilang Friendster. Dinala kami ni Nanay Connie sa kanyang paaralan. Prinsipal siya at nakasaad ito sa mga marker. Kami na ang pumansin nito.

Hapon na nang bumalik kami sa bahay. Malakas ang buhos ng ulan. Gumagayak na kaming bumalik sa aming buhay sa Manila. Si Nanay Connie ay naghahanda ng pasalubong package para sa lahat: suman, mangga, kasoy wine, daing, at langka. Bawat isa sa amin ay binigyan niya rin ng trucker’s cap.

Napayakap ako kay Nanay Connie. Gaya nang ibang nauna sa akin, hinalikan ko rin siya sa pisngi na para ko ring nanay. Tinapik ang balikat ni Tatay Oca. Naglakad kami habang nag-aantay ng tricycle pabalik sa sakayan ng jeep.

Iniisip ko, para lang ba kaming multong nagpakita sa mag-asawa? Na tulad ng mga diplomang naka-laminate sa dingding at graduation picture ni Karen Empeño, estudyanteng dinampot at magdadalawang taon nang nawawala, ay nagpaparamdam nang alaala ng pagkakamit at kawalan? Nang pag-aantay at pagbabakasakali?

Dumating kami pero hindi umalis. Dumating din sila sa amin at hindi kailanman aalis pa.(PinoyWeekly)

Pagpaparehistro ng unyon

June 22, 2008

Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr.

ANG pagtatayo ng unyon ng mga manggagawa ay madaling sabihin ngunit napakahirap gawin. Mahigpit itong tinututulan ng mga kompanya at gagamitin nila ang lahat ng teknikalidad sa libro para ito ay labanan. Ganoon pa man, hindi dapat panghinaan ng loob ang mga manggagawa sa kanilang hangaring magka-unyon sa kanilang kompanya. Dapat nilang tandaan na ang karapatang magtayo ng unyon ay pinapangalagaan ng ating Saligang Batas at kung hindi naman gaanong matibay ang dahilan ng manedsment laban dito, tiyak na aaprubahan ng husgado ang itinatayo nilang unyon.

Isang kasong maari nating pagkukunan ng aral sa bagay na ito ay ang Dong Seung Incorporated vs. Bureau of Labor Relations, et. al., ( G.R. No. 162356) na hinatulan ng Korte Suprema nito lamang Abril 2008.

Sa nasabing kaso, nagtayo ng unyon ang mga manggagawa at naiparehistro nila ito sa Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Nang malaman ito ng manedsment, agad itong nagsampa ng kaso para kanselahin ang rehistro ng unyon. Ayon sa manedsment, hindi nasunod ng unyon ang hinihingi ng batas para ito marehistro. Kailangan daw kasi na bawat dokumentong ibibigay ng unyon ay may kalakip na sertipikasyon mula sa kalihim nito na nagpapatunay na ang dokumento ay totoo at hindi peke. Kailangan ring notaryado ang mga sertipikasyon na ito. Nakalimutan daw ng unyon na ipa-notaryo ang mga sertipikasyon na kanilang inilakip, kaya hindi ito dapat binigyan ng rehistro. Isa pa, sa 200 manggagawang kasapi ng unyon, 148 ang pumirma sa isang petisyon na nagsasabing naloko lamang sila kung kaya sila sumali sa unyon.

Lumabas ang desisyon ng Regional Director ng DOLE at nagpasya itong kanselahin ang rehistro ng unyon. Hindi naman nawalan ng pag-asa ang mga manggagawa at umapela sila sa Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR). Binaliktad naman ng BLR ang naunang desisyon at sinabing mananatili ang rehistro ng unyon bagamat inutusan niya itong magbigay ng notaryadong sertipikasyon. Dinala ng manedsment sa Court of Appeals ang kaso ngunit talo pa rin ang manedsment. Napilitang dalhin ng manedsment ang kaso sa Korte Suprema.

Napansin ng Korte Suprema na totoo nga na walang notaryadong sertipikasyon ang bawat dokumento na ipinakita ng unyon kaugnay ng aplikasyon para sa rehistro nito. Ganoon pa man, may pangkalahatang sertipikasyon ang unyon na lahat ng dokumentong kanyang ibinigay ay tunay at hindi huwad. Ang pangkalahatang sertipikasyon na ito ay notaryado. Ayon sa Korte Suprema, sapat na ang mag-isang sertipikasyon na ito para masunod ng unyon ang hinihingi ng batas. Hindi kinakailangan ang tig-isang sertipikasyon bawat dokumento tulad ng gustong mangyari ng manedsment. Ang layunin ng batas kung bakit kailangan ang sertipikasyon ay upang matiyak na tunay ang mga dokumentong ibibigay ng unyon sa pagpaparehistro nito. Ang layuning ito ay makakamit din kahit na isang sertipikasyon lamang ang ibibigay para sa lahat ng dokumento at hindi kailangan ang tig-iisang sertipikasyon bawat dokumento.

Hinggil naman sa sinasabi ng manedsment, na marami sa mga kasapi ng unyon ang pumirma sa salaysay na niloko lamang sila ng unyon para makuha ang kanilang mga pirma na sila ay sumasali dito, napansin ng Korte Suprema na hindi maliwanag kung paano ginawa ng unyon ang panlolokong ito. Kulang sa detalye ang salaysay. Hindi malinaw kung saan, kailan, at ano ang ginawa ng unyon para lokohin ang mga kasaping ito. Pangalawa, ang salaysay na pinirmahan ng mga kasapi na nagsasabing niloko sila unyon ay xerox copy lamang at hindi orihinal. Hindi naibigay ng manedsment ang orihinal na kopya ng salaysay na ito. Kaya, ito ay walang kwentang ebidensiya at hindi maaring bigyan ng bigat, paliwanag ng Korte Suprema.

Nagpasya ang Korte Suprema na panatilihin ang rehistro ng unyon.(PimoyWeekly)

‘Onsehan’ ng Malakanyang

June 22, 2008

PW Reportorial Team

MINSAN nang iminungkahi ni Pangulong Arroyo na “maghigpit (na lamang) ng sintoron” sa panahon ng krisis. Ngayong todo-todo na ang pagsirit ng presyo ng mga bilihin at serbisyo – at di na maitatago sa mga katagang pampropaganda na “Ramdam ang Kaunlaran” – mas sopistikado na ang tugon ng Palasyo.

Pero ang tanong, ito ba ang totoong hiling ng taumbayan sa panahon ng krisis?

Itinala ng Pinoy Weekly ang samu’t saring naging tugon ng gobyerno sa kasalukuyang krisis sa ekonomiya. Nilapatan din natin ng kaukulang pagsusuri ang mga tugong ito. Nakasasapat ba, o nakakapalala lang? O pampapogi lang? Hindi kami nagulat kung bakit onse ang bilang namin sa mga tugong ito.

11. Parang PBA, mahilig sa import

HABANG ipinipilit ng gobyerno na may sapat na suplay ng bigas para sa mga mamamayan, pinaplano naman nitong magrasyon ng bigas – tatlong kilo kada pamilya – at nakaangkat na ng tinatayang 2.2 milyong metriko tonelada ng bigas mula sa Vietnam, Thailand at US. Ito ang pinakamalaking bulto ng importasyon mula noong 1998.

Mula sa pagkakaroon ng sariling suplay ng bigas at nag-eeksport pa nga ng bigas noong dekada ’80, naging taga-angkat ng bigas ang Pilipinas mula noong 1993. Sa kasalukuyan, ang bansa ang nangungunang umaangkat ng bigas sa buong mundo.

Ayon sa Ibon Foundation, naging ganito ang kalagayan ng Pilipinas, dahil sa atrasadong produksiyon sa agrikultura at mga polisya ng liberalisasyon, pribatisasyon at deregulasyon na ipinatupad ng gobyerno mula noong dekada ’80.

Dahil sa pagpasok sa Agreement on Agriculture ng World Trade Organization, sapilitang nag-aangkat ang Pilipinas ng minimum na bulto ng bigas mula sa ibang bansa kahit pa may sapat na suplay ito.

Dahil dito, tumaas ang importasyon ng bigas, mula sa wala (0) noong 1994 hanggang 257,260 MT noong 1995 at patuloy pang tumaas hanggang 1.7 milyong MT noong 2006.

Patuloy naman itong binabatikos ng mga magsasaka. Naniniwala ang KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas) na walang dahilan para mag-angkat ng bigas ang bansa.

Ayon sa grupo, kung may 7.2 milyong MT ng produksiyon ng palay ngayong anihan, isama pa ang kabuuang imbentaryo ng bigas noong Marso, may sapat na bigas para sa bawat Pilipino hanggang buwan ng Oktubre, kahit pa walang importasyon.

Umaangkat umano ng bigas ang Pilipinas dahil nauna na itong nakipagkasundo sa Vietnam at US.

Soliman Santos

10. Credit card ng mahihirap

UMANI ng batikos ang gobyerno nang tanggalin nito ang bigas-NFA (National Food Authority) sa mga palengke at palitan ito ng mga access card para hindi umano maabuso ang mas murang bigas.

Batay sa programang ito, ang murang bigas ay ibebenta lamang sa mga benepisyaryong may hawak na access card. Ipinamahagi ito sa 150,000 pamilya sa walong siyudad sa Metro Manila.

Maaaring makakuha ng mula dalawa hanggang 14 na kilo kada transaksiyon ang sinumang may hawak ng access card.

Kinutya naman ng Kadamay ang hakbang na ito, kasama na ang P5 Bilyong “Ahon Pamilyang Pilipino” programang subsidyo, na hindi naman umano makapagreresolba sa matinding krisis na kinakaharap ng maralitang taga-lungsod.

“Ang kailangan ng maralita ay trabaho, kabuhayan, sahod na makakabuhay sa kanilang mga pamilya, tiyak at disenteng paninirahan, nakasasapat na serbisyong panlipunan, katiyakan sa pagkain,” ani Carmen Deunida, tagapangulo ng Kadamay.

“Hindi nila kailangan ng limos, lalo na mula sa gobyernong gagawin lamang ito para lamang makapanatili pa ito sa poder. At ang paghihigpit sa kakayanang makabili ng NFA rice, na siyang gagawin ng iskemang family access cards, ay magreresulta lamang sa mas malala at malawakang kagutuman,” dagdag pa ni Deunida.

Soliman A. Santos

9. Lifeline subsidy: Limos sa kinawawang Pinoy

SA unang tingin, dapat lamang na mamahagi sila ng pera. Noong nakaraang taon, ginawa na nila ito, pero hindi sobre lang at hindi P500, kundi isang buong paper bag na naglalaman ng kung ilang bungkos ng papel na pera. Hindi sa ordinaryong mga mamamayan ipinamigay ang “limos” kundi sa mga kongresista at lokal na opisyal – para ibasura ang reklamong impeachment sa Kamara laban sa Pangulo.

Pero sa pamimigay ng gobyerno ng P500 sa bawat kabahayang gumagastos ng mahigit 100 kilowatt hour na kuryente, hindi na impeachment ang pinapatay ng Palasyo. Pinapatay nito, ayon kay Ramon Ramirez, tagapagtipon ng Power (People Opposed to Warrantless Electricity), ang iba pang dapat na hakbang ng taumbayan para ayusin ang power sector.

“Walang magagawa ang subsidyo para maibaba ang rates. Wala itong magagawa para maisaayos ang mga abuso ng power sector. Short-term lang ito, at limitadong tugon na may populistang intensiyon,” ani Ramirez.

Siyempre, bulnerable rin umano ang pondong ito ng gobyerno sa korupsiyon. Makakabuti lang umano sa pansamantala ang pamimigay ng pera kung “nakatarget ito sa mga taong nangangailangan talaga nito.”

Priscilla Pamintuan

8. Nakuryente sa Meralco

BILANG tugon sa halos linggu-linggong pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin at serbisyo, biglang pinuruhan ng mga alyado ng Malakanyang sa Senado, kasama si Winston Garcia ng GSIS, ang mga Lopez na mayoryang may-ari ng Meralco (Manila Electric Corp.).

Inakusahan ni Sen. Miriam Santiago ang pagkakaroon diumano ng “sindikato” sa loob ng Meralco na siyang nagpapanatili ng mataas na singil sa kuryente. “Mga konsiyumer ang nagbabayad na matataas na taunang suweldo ng chief executive officer ng Meralco at pitong iba pang senior executive officer na nagkakahalagang P97 Milyon ngayong 2008. Makakakuha naman ang mga opisyal at direktor ng P170-M. Lumalabas na may abuso sa manedsment,” sabi ni Santiago.

Hindi tutol ang militanteng mga organisasyon sa pag-iimbestiga sa mga Lopez at sa Meralco. Gayunman, lumalabas diumano

ang tunay na intensiyon ng gobyerno ngayong nanahimik na ito sa pagbira sa mga Lopez at nagkasya sa pamimigay ng lifeline subsidy para masubsidyohan ang binabayaran ng mga mamamayan sa kuryente.

Para sa mga manggagawa ng KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno), hindi lamang simpleng pagpuksa sa mga Lopez ang makakapagpababa sa bayarin sa kuryente. “Idinulot ng Electric Power Industry Reform Act at iba pang iskema sa pagsasapribado ng gobyernong Arroyo ang walang habas na pagtaas ng power rates na di na mapasan ng taumbayan,” ayon kay Lito Fadriquelan, miyembro ng National Council ng KMU at presidente ng pederasyong Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa.

Priscilla Pamintuan

7. Barya-baryang dagdag-sahod

GAMUMO na, hindi pa lahat makatatanggap. Ito ang reyalidad ng P20.00 na umento sa sahod (P15 ang dagdag sa mismong sahod at P5 naman ang emergency cost of living allowance). Gaya ni Glee, 40 anyos na nagtatrabaho bilang isang mananaliksik sa isang kompanya sa Makati City, dahil hindi siya saklaw ng P20 na umento sa sahod.

“Sayang din naman kasi, kahit dagdag na pamasahe,” sabi ni Glee.

Ayon sa KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno), bagaman ipinagmamalaki ng Dole (Department of Labor and Employment) na halos lahat ng rehiyon ay nagtakda na nang kanikanilang taas-sahod, nakatitiyak silang hindi naman lahat ng kompanya ay magbibigay nito.

Sa Iloilo na lamang, ayon kay Prestoline Suyat, tagapagsalita ng KMU, 80 porsiyento ng mga empresa ang nagpahayag na mag-aaplay sila ng eksempsiyon para hindi maibigay ang P20 umento.

Ang tanging pag-asang House Bill 1722 na inihain noon sa Kamara ni yumaong Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran, tila aamagin na at tila ayaw ipasa. Noong 2007, muntik nang makalusot ang kaparehong panukalang batas—na si Beltran din ang naghain—ang HB 345 subalit muling ibinalik sa Kamara, batay na rin sa apela ni Cavite Rep. Crispin “Boying” Remulla at sinabing hindi pa napag-uusapan nang husto ang naturang panukala.

Noel Sales Barcelona

6. Laban o bawi sa matrikula

WALA pa ring balita hinggil sa sinasabing balik-bayad sa matrikula sa pampublikong mga unibersidad at kolehiyo.

“Patuloy na ikinakalakal ang edukasyon at sa panahon ni Pang. Arroyo, sa halip na bumaba, dumoble ang halaga ng matrikula at iba pang bayarin,” sabi ni Dion Cerrafon, pangulo ng Kabataang Pinoy party-list.

Inayudahan naman ito ng NUSP (National Union of Students of the Philippines) at sinabing kung hindi man sa matrikula humahataw nang paniningil ang mga eskuwelahan, sa ibang bayarin naman nito kinukuba ang mga magulang at estudyante.

“Naririyan ang P250 developmental fee sa Polytechnic University of the Philippines, bukod pa sa sinisingil ang mga estudyante ng Open University nang energy fee na nagkakahalaga nang halos P800,” sabi ni Sophia del Prado, student regent ng PUP.

Habang isinusulat ito, tahimik pa rin ang Ched (Commission on Higher Education) kung paano nila ibabalik sa mga estudyante ang sobrang singil sa matrikula.

Noel Sales Barcelona

5. ‘D2 n me, wer n u?’

IDINEKLARA ng DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) noong Mayo na pinag-aaralan nito ang posibilidad ng pagtanggal sa singil sa texting. Ayon sa ___ wala namang karagdagang gastos ang texting sa mga kompanya ng telekomunikasyon tulad ng Smart, Globe at Sun Cellular kung kaya hindi ito dapat naniningil.

Ikinatuwa ng Txtpower, isang grupo ng mga nagtataguyod ng IT (information technology) para sa taumbayan, ang panukalang ito. “Matagal na naming sinasabi na bahagi ito ng serbisyo ng GSM standard na ginagamit ng telecommunications companies at dapat maging libre pero hindi nakikinig ang gobyerno,” pahayag ng Txtpower.

Gayunman, sa kanyang kolum sa Business World noong Mayo 30, ipinaliwanag ni Luis Teodoro ang intensiyon ng panukala ng DOTC: “tinitingnang hindi masyadong mabait sa rehimen ang pinakamalalaking telco, at hindi lang magiging popular ang pagtulak sa kanila na gawing libre ang text messaging, tuturuan pa nito ang mga may-ari (ng telcos) ng wisyo ng pagsuporta (sa rehimen.”

Priscilla Pamintuan

4. Masahol na pasahe

MATAGAL nang gipit ang mga drayber na kumikita na lamang ng mahigit P100 sa 24 oras na pamamasada. Laging kunot-noo ng gobyerno, pagbibigyan ba ang petisyon nila sa taas-pasahe? O kikiling sa mga pasahero na hirap din namang bumunot ng karagdagang barya mula sa bulsa?

Kung tutuusin, hindi taas-pasahe ang hiling ng Piston (Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide) dahil alam nilang pasanin itong mabigat ng mga mamamayan. Pagbaba ng presyo ng langis ang kanilang panawagan. Pero dahil hindi nga ito matugunan ng Malakanyang, idineklara ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board noong Mayo 18 ang pasahe sa dyip nang 50 sentimos (naging P8 mula P7.50). Sa huling-minuto, mukhang natakot ang gobyernong Arroyo sa magiging reaksiyon ng mga pasahero. Kaya ipinagpaliban ang pagtaas—ng isang araw lang din naman.

Tuloy, disgustado ang mga tsuper pati na rin ang mga pasahero sa katawa-tawang atras-abante. Hindi kasi kailanman solusyon ang taas-pasahe sa pagsirit sa presyo ng langis. Pinaluluwag lamang nito nang bahagya, ang lubid na nakapaikot sa leeg ng kawawang mga tsuper.

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

3. Pamemeke’t pulitika sa iskolarship at pautang

SA tuwing may photo-op ng pamimigay ni Pangulong Arroyo ng iskolarship, hindi mo mawari kung sino ang may ngiting mas matamis; ang kabataang umaasang makapagtatapos sa tulong ng gobyerno, o ang Pangulo na umaasang maiaangat ang kanyang imahe sa mata ng madla.

Noong Hunyo 5, inilunsad ni Arroyo ang Student Assistance Fund for Education for a Strong Republic (Safe-4-SR). Umano’y P1 Bilyon ang kanyang pakakawalang pautang para sa mga estudyanteng naghihirap. Target nito ang 100,000 estudyante sa kolehiyo na pauutangin ng P8,000 kada semestre. Babayaran ang utang dalawang taon matapos ang graduation, ayon sa Ched (Commission on Higher Education) na mangangasiwa sa nasabing pondo.

Para sa grupong Kabataang Pinoy, hindi sila maililigtas ng mga programang wala ring lalim, lalo pa’t may kasaysayan ang gobyernong Arroyo sa paggamit nito para sa pamumulitika.

Matatandaang P185-M Emergency Financial Assistance for Students o Efast ang pinakawalan ilang buwan bago ang 2007 eleksiyon. Binigyan ng tig-P1-M ang mga kongresistang alyado ni Arroyo para sa ipamudmod sa anyo ng mga iskolarship.

Sa aktuwal, P14.2-M lamang ang namonitor ng COA (Commission on Audit) na ipinamigay sa ilalim ng E-fast, at sa mga estudyanteng ‘walang sapat na mga dokumento, walang tamang awtorisasyon, at di kuwalipikado.’

Hinala ni Dion Cerrafon, presidente ng Kabataang Pinoy, na kinasangkapan lamang ito sa pulitika. “Lumalabas na ginagamit ang mga student assistance program, hindi para tulungan ang mga estudyante, kundi para maisalba ang rehimen at sustentuhan ang mga ambisyong pulitikal ng mga kandidato ng administrasyon,” ani Cerrafon.

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

2. Propaganda, pampaganda

SA tugon ng gobyernong Arroyo sa krisis sa ekonomiya, tampok at tawag-pansin ang propaganda. Ginamit nito ang rekurso ng gobyerno at kinatuwang ang midyang mainstream para ipaabot sa publiko ang propaganda nito sa krisis.

Noong mainit na pinapatampok ng midya ang krisis – sa langis at pagkatapos sa bigas – iisa ang tugon ng gobyerno, mula kay Pang. Arroyo hanggang sa mga opisyal niya: Pandaigdig ang krisis, na umaabot kahit sa mayayamang bansa, walang kasalanan ang gobyerno, at hindi sa gobyerno nakasandig ang solusyon.

Matapos itong ipatimo, dalawa ang naging direksiyon ng propaganda ng gobyerno. Una, ang pagmamalaki sa naitalang “pag-unlad” ng ekonomiya noong simula ng taon. Sa isang tarpaulin ng gobyerno na nagkalat sa Kamaynilaan, at sa isang patalastas nito sa telebisyon, sinasabi: “Ramdam ang Kaunlaran.”

Ikalawa, pagpapatampok sa mga tugon ng gobyerno sa krisis. Madalas, kasama ng nabanggit na tarpaulin ang isa pang islogan: “Labanan ang Kahirapan.” Bukod pa rito ang mga propagandang naglilitanya sa mga nagawa ng gobyerno, tulad ng pagtatayo umano ng mga botikang nagbebenta ng murang gamot.

Kapansin-pansin din ang papel na direktang ginampanan ni Pres. Arroyo sa propaganda ng gobyerno sa krisis. Sa midya, lumilitaw na abalang abala siya: Nagsasalita tungkol sa pag-unlad ng ekonomiya sa harap ng mga negosyante, namimigay ng bigas sa mahihirap, nag-aanunsiyo ng paglalabas ng pondo para sa samu’t saring proyektong tutulong umano sa mga apektado ng krisis.

Roberto Andres

1. ‘Kayanin n’yo ang (emergency) powers ko!’

NOONG Abril, isinampa ni Rep. Thomas L. Dumpit, Jr. ng La Union ang Resolusyon 512 sa Kongreso, na humingi ng kapangyarihang pang-emergency para kay Pang. Arroyo. Ayon kay Rep. Dumpit, “hindi ordinaryo” ang krisis sa bigas, kaya kailangan ng pangulo ang dagdag na kapangyarihan para “matugunan ang krisis… sa pinaka-episyente at pinakamatalinong paraan.”

Panukala niya ang dagdag na kapangyarihan para matugunan ang diumano’y pangho-hoard ng bigas at paglilihis ng bigas na sinusubsidyuhan ng estado patungo sa komersiyal na pamilihan, at para lansagin ang kartel sa bigas.

Duda ni Rep. Liza Maza ng Gabriela Women’s Party, gagamitin lang ang kapangyarihan para labanan ang pampublikong ligalig na “puwedeng iluwal ng sumisirit na presyo ng langis, bigas at iba pang bilihin, ng pagdinig ng Senado sa ZTE na nakatakdang magbukas muli sa posibleng testimonya ni dating Espiker Jose de Venecia at muling pag-ikot ni Jun Lozada sa mga paaralan.”

Sa kanyang kolum, tila kinukumpirma ni Alex Magno, kilalang tagapagtanggol ng gobyernong Arroyo, ang kinakatakutan ng gobyerno sa krisis. Aniya, “Hindi tayo puwedeng magpatuloy at magbigay ng subsidyo… Pero hindi rin natin maaatim na humantong sa panlipunang pagsabog sa pamamagitan ng di pagbibigay ng gayong mga subsidyo sa panahon ng napakatinding panlipunang kahirapan.”

Madiin ang naging pagtutol ni Mayor Jejomar Binay ng Makati: “Naiisip ba ninyo kung ano ang gagawin ng administrasyong Arroyo kapag pormal nang ibinigay ng Kongreso ang kapangyarihang… ito? Wala pa mang kapangyarihang pang-emergency, inaabuso na (ni Pres. Arroyo) ang kapangyarihan niya.”

Matapos ang malaganap na pagtutol ng iba’t ibang sektor, nagpahayag ng di pagsang-ayon sa panukala maging ang Malakanyang at ang nangungunang mga alyado ng administrasyon tulad ni Espiker Prospero Nograles.

Roberto Andres

Tamang hirit sa taggipit

June 22, 2008

Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano

Pila para sa subsidyo sa Davao City

NANGANGATOG ang tuhod ng mga taga-Malakanyang sa pagharap sa kasalukuyang krisis. Pero hindi dahil nalipasan sila ng gutom – sa huling balita natin, tuluy-tuloy pa rin naman ang catering sa Palasyo. Nangangatog ang tuhod ng mga tambolero ni Pang. Arroyo dahil sa takot. Iba’t ibang pandaigdigang ahensiya na ang nagsalita, mula World Bank hanggang Eurasia Group, hinggil sa posibilidad ng pagbugso ng pag-aalsa ng mga mamamayan kung titindi pa ang pagtaas ng mga presyo.

Pero sa kabila nito, patuloy na itinatanggi ng Palasyo ang tatlong kongkretong hakbang na pinaka-epektibong magbibigay ng kagyat na ginhawa sa taumbayan. Hindi maikakaila ang matinding presyur sa gobyerno ng lokal na mga negosyante at dayuhang mga mamumuhunan na magbingi-bingihan sa mga tatlong hirit na ito.

Lumalabas tuloy na ang pagtugon ng gobyerno sa krisis ay hindi nakatuon sa pagbigay ng kagyat na ginhawa, kundi sa pagrenda ng galit ng taumbayan para di mag-alsa.

Ito ang tatlong hirit ng taumbayang gipit:

1. Itaas ang sahod, P125 across-the-board

Maski bote ng softdrink, bibihira na ngayong matikman ni Armando Arroyo, halos tatlong dekada nang nagtatrabaho sa Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc. Luho na, para sa kanya, ang sariling produktong nililikha. Sa halip na lumagok nitong paboritong palamig ng mga Pilipino, itatabi na lamang niya ang iilang piso para pambili ng bigas at pamasahe ng mga anak na pinag-aaral.

Kung tutuusin, angat sa karaniwang obrero si Arroyo, presidente ng Pepsi Cola Labor Unity. Umaabot sa P650 kada araw ang kanyang kinikita (P345 hanggang P382 ang minimum na sahod sa National Capital Region). Pero dahil sa tindi ng krisis sa presyo ng batayang mga bilihin, kapos na kapos pa rin ang kanyang sahod para sa pangaraw-araw na gastusin.

Katunayan nito, isa na lamang sa kanyang mga anak ang nagpapatuloy sa kolehiyo. Para makapag-ambag sa pamilya, tumigil na sa pag-aaral ang dalawa at namasukan – isa sa call center, isa sa water station – sa trabahong mas masahol dahil kontraktuwal at walang kaseguruhan.

Hindi sana mangyayari ito, aniya, kung noon pa man dininig na ng gobyerno ang panawagan ng mga manggagawa para sa P125 dagdag-na-sahod, across-the-board sa buong bansa. “Napakahirap nang kitain ang sahod namin sa walong oras na paggawa, tapos kapag ibinili pa namin, napakaliit ng halaga,” sabi ni Arroyo.

Taong 1999 pa unang ipinanawagan ng KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno), militanteng sentro ng paggawa, ang pagsasabatas ng P125 dagdag-na-sahod. Pero idinaan ng gobyerno ang kakarampot na pagtaas ng sahod sa mga Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, na nitong Abril, P20 ang itinakda para sa mga manggagawa sa NCR.

Labis na ikinagalit ito ni Arroyo. “Para ka lang binigyan ng kendi…Ngayon, kahit siguro umabot pa sa P1,000 ang sinasahod namin araw-araw, hindi pa rin aangat ang aming kabuhayan. Kakainin lang ito (taas-sahod) ng pagtaas sa presyo ng mga bilihin.”

Nakasalarawan sa mga estadistika ang kanyang sentimyento. Para mabuhay nang disente ang isang pamilyang may anim na katao sa NCR, P858 kada araw ang kinakailangang kita o living wage, ayon sa National Wages and Productivity Commission o NWPC noong Marso.

Hindi ito mapupunan kahit parehong magulang ang nagtatrabaho at nakatatamasa ng minimum na sahod. Ayon pa sa Ibon Foundation, sentro ng pananaliksik, mababa sa minimum ang sahod ng mahigit sa kalahati o 58 porsiyento ng mga manggagawa sa bansa: mula P153 hanggang P287 lamang kada araw.

2. Tanggalin ang VAT

Hindi pa kasama sa komputasyon ng NWPC sa living wage ang sunud-sunod na pagtaas ng presyo ng bigas, langis, kuryente, at iba pang batayang bilihin at serbisyo sa nakaraang mga buwan. Pumapalo na ang bigas sa P38 hanggang P50 kada kilo. Nagbabantang umabot sa P80 kada litro ang presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo.

Kaya kahit pa man tinutulungan si Isabelita dela Cruz, manggagawa at lider-unyon sa Triumph International Philippines, ng kanyang asawang OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), hindi na sapat ang kinikitang P480 kada araw sa mahigit dalawang dekada sa serbisyo. Tipid na tipid ang kanyang paggastos—sapat lamang para mapakain ang pamilya.

“Dati-rati, nakakadaan pa ako sa groseri para makapag-stock nang isang linggo. Ngayon, araw-araw na akong namamalengke…Tinuturuan ko na rin ang aking mga anak na magkasya sa kung ano lang ang nandiyan ngayon. Bahala na ulit bukas kung papaano,” aniya.

Hindi lamang siya naghihinaing sa gobyernong maganit sa pagtaas ng sahod, kundi maging sa gobyernong walang patid ang pagkubra ng buwis. Tulad ng progresibong mga grupo, naniniwala si Dela Cruz na pinakamabilis at sinserong solusyon sa krisis pang-ekonomiya ang pagtanggal sa 12 porsiyentong VAT (value-added tax).

“Malaking ginhawa ang pagtanggal sa VAT kasi todo-todong paghihigpit ng sinturon na aming ginagawa. Matindi rin ang korapsiyon sa gobyerno. Paano ka magtitiwalang bumabalik sa iyo ang buwis na binabayaran mo?” sabi ni Dela Cruz.

Kung aalisin ang VAT sa mga produktong petrolyo, bababa ang presyo ng krudo at gasolina nang mahigit P4 kada litro, at P60 naman sa bawat tangke ng LPG (liquefied petroleum gas).

Makakatipid naman ang mga konsiyumer ng P1.42 kada kWh (kilowatt hour) kapag tinanggal ang VAT sa kuryente. Katumbas ito ng P206 na kabawasan sa bill sa kuryente ng mga kumokonsumo ng 200 kWh kada buwan.

3. Ibaba ang presyo ng mga bilihin

Naniniwala rin si Dela Cruz na kakayanin ng gobyerno, “kung gugustuhin nito,” na ibaba ang presyo ng mga bigas, langis, at kuryente – ibasura lang ang ilang mga batas at patakaran na nagsasapribado sa industriya at nagdederegularisa ng merkado.

Kabilang na rito ang Oil Deregulation Law, Electric Power Industry Reform Act, at importasyon ng bigas.

Para kay Arroyo, iisa lamang ang ibig sabihin ng kabiguan ng gobyerno na itaas ang sahod, tanggalin ang VAT, at kontrolin ang presyo ng mga bilihin. “Hinahayaan ang mga [negosyanteng] dayuhan na igisa tayo sa sariling mantika. Ibinebenta nila ang kanilang mga produkto dito na napakamahal…ang pasahod naman nila, napakababa,” aniya.

Nawawalan na rin ng pasensiya si Dela Cruz. “Ang tagal-tagal na namin iginigiit ’yang P125 dagdag-na-sahod. Namatay na nga ang awtor (ng panukala),” sabi niya, patungkol kay yumaong Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran na naghain sa Kongreso ng House Bill 1722.

Hindi na sila umaasang mapagbibigyan nang basta-basta. Alam nilang kailangang ilaban.

Kaya patuloy nilang pinalalakas ang kani-kanilang mga unyon, sumasama sa mga pagkilos, nangangalap ng mga pirma para sa pagtanggal ng VAT, at ipinaliliwanag sa mga kapwa-manggagawa ang krisis pang-ekonomiya.

“Hindi ito simpleng krisis kundi permanenteng krisis, kung hindi tayo mamumulat at tutugon sa lalong madaling panahon,” pagtatapos ni Dela Cruz.(PinoyWeekly)

Police launch online most wanted list

June 22, 2008

THE database of all most wanted persons throughout the country can now be accessed in the Internet as the Computer Service of the Philippine National Police (PNP) launched the “Online Most Wanted Person Registry.”

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

PNP Chief Avelino Razon Jr. ordered the PNP Computer Service to put together all the most wanted persons of police field investigative and operational units on a nationwide scale.

“This 24-hour online site will be very effective in immediately alerting all police offices throughout the country as well as the public of the possibility that a person in their community is a most wanted person,” said Razon.

The site includes pictures, vital information of these fugitives and the monetary reward for any information that will lead to their apprehension.

Topping the online most wanted list is Jose Sarmiento Panlilio alias Bong, wanted for robbery and homicide with a P5 million bounty. Panlilio is the primary suspect in the killing of brothers Ariel Real and Albert Gutierrez on July 15, 2003 in Calamba City, Laguna.

PNP Computer Service Director Teofilo Melliza Jr. said this online registry is part of the PNP Modernization Program that includes innovation in preventing and resolving crimes through information technology.

“The public, especially those with access to the Internet, is encouraged to regularly check the PNP Online Most Wanted Person Registry so they can be wary of these criminals, and to report to the nearest police office any information they have on these fugitives,” said Melliza.

This online gallery of most wanted individuals can be accessed through the PNP website (http://www.pnp.gov.ph) or by visiting the direct link (https://registry.pnp.gov.ph/mwp). (VR/Sunnex)

PB asks power coop to explain fees in bill

June 22, 2008

THE Iloilo Provincial Board is set to ask the Iloilo Electric Cooperative 1 (Ileco I) about the fees listed on its monthly bill.

A group from the Municipality of Oton asked the board to look into the alleged anomalies committed by the electric cooperative.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Kontra Selos, Incorporated (Kontra System Energy Loss, Incorporated) had asked weeks ago for an explanation from Ileco 1 on its policies concerning meter reading, meter cutoff, and distribution of electric bills.

But Malvin Nad, Ileco 1 board of director, allegedly neglected the group’s request, and this pushed Kontra to study the components of the electric bill.

The group said it has found some discrepancies in the electric cooperative’s power rate charges.

“We found out that aside from the generation charges, Ileco 1 has included additional charges entitled components of an unbundled electric bill,” the group’s statement said.

Kontra Selos said the unbundled components of the electric bill should be shouldered by Ileco 1 and not by the end users.

Included in the unbundled components are the metering charge and power cut-off charge.

Moreover, the group alleged that bills of consumers who failed to pay their dues were also charged on other consumers. (EC)

‘Angel Tree’ launched in fight vs child labor

June 22, 2008

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Labor officials in Central Mindanao on Thursday launched “Project Angel Tree” in this city in a bid to free children from the bondage of labor.

The launching of the project in the region coincided with the country’s observance of its 110th Independence Day anniversary.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Ma. Gloria A. Tango, Department of Labor and Employment director for Central Mindanao, said the country hopes to eliminate child labor through the Philippine Program Against Child Labor.

“Project Angel Tree is a vehicle for providing child laborers and their families’ wishes for assistance. The wishes may come in the form of food, clothing, livelihood, education, training and medical assistances, counseling and mentoring,” she said.

The project aims to encourage the community, represented by the Angel Tree, in giving relief to the sufferings of child laborers and their families, she said.

The labor department will serve as broker between child laborers in need of assistance and those willing to extend the needed assistance, Tango added.

The labor executive said the city social welfare office here has initially identified 40 child laborers “whose needs were written in a wish registry.”

Angel Tree, according to the labor department, is a symbolic tree that “bears fruits for child laborers.” The fruits will come in many forms, as child laborers are as diverse as their needs.

This means the Angel Tree represents a broad array of social services that will be made available to child laborers.

Its objective is to improve the conditions of child laborers by providing them even for their most basic needs.

It also seeks to educate bystanders and transform them into allies and advocates of child labor elimination.

Tango appealed to business companies, employees and civic organizations to support the Angel Tree project to contain incidence of child labor in the area.

Incidentally, in 2002, the International Labor Organization (ILO) declared June 12 as World Day Against Child Labor.

ILO director general Juan Somavia said the event is commemorated around the world “to help spread the message that child labor remains a serious problem and that we must do more to combat it.”

This year’s theme — “Education is the right response to child labor” — focuses on the importance of education as a major strategy in preventing and eliminating child labor, Tango said. (BSS)

Capitol lawyer defends military, CHR

June 22, 2008

CAPITOL lawyer Erwin Vergara defended both the Philippine Army and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against charges from militant groups.

Karapatan and other allied human rights groups earlier charged CHR Special Investigator Jesus Canete as a spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

They also lashed at the military for committing human rights violations against civilians.

In a recent hearing of the Provincial Board (PB) Committee on Peace and Order chaired by Board Member Melimore Saycon, Vergara explained that soldiers who committed abuses were already imprisoned. Others were given appropriate sanctions and charges were also properly filed.

He said based on the assurance of top military officials, AFP will not cover any wrongdoing done by its men.

But Vimarie Arcilla, information officer of Karapatan-Central Visayas, said after Canete “cleared” AFP members deployed in Linantuyan village in Guihulngan for their alleged involvement in human rights violations, they still heard reports of alleged arson, rape and other forms of harassments committed by members of the 11th Infantry Battalion.

Canete went to the Linantuyan village upon orders of CHR Regional Director Alejandro Alonso to investigate on the charges.

But Arcilla challenged the lawyer to investigate further.

“We believe he should do a real investigation, instead of just parroting out what Lieutenant Colonel Nemesio Gacal says,” Arcilla said.

Arcilla also questioned Canete’s involvement with the AFP. “When did Canete become the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces of the Philippines?” he asked.

Vergara maintained that Canete conducted a fair investigation.

Arcilla, however, said Canete’s investigation failed to consider the background of the four peasants prior to the execution of the affidavits.

MILF: Gov’t dragging the peace talks

June 22, 2008

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) described government’s approval of the draft proposal on the ancestral domain issue in Mindanao as another scheme of the government to make fool of the Moro rebels.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Calling it as a “paikut scheme,” the MILF said the government is simply dragging the peace talks “inconclusively until President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo steps down in 2010 and passes on the legacy of war in Mindanao to the next president.”

The government is proposing to submit to Congress at least six points in the said proposal for legislation before the whole memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain can be implemented or enforceable.

These include the redefinition of the word “freedom,” control over natural resources, including strategic minerals, self-governance, and territorial waters.

In a report posted at http://www.luwaran.com, Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF committee on information, said the MILF does not want the government to violate its Constitution by undertaking whatever necessary legal steps to implement any agreement with the MILF, but this should not be done on piece-by-piece basis.

“We can sign the memorandum on agreement on ancestral domain and then let the government undertake a constitutional process as its internal requirement to comply with commitment. That is perfectly good,” Musa said, adding that there must be timetable to do that in order to have accountability and fixed timeline to comply.

Reacting to statements that the proposed draft practically sealed by the parties after the Malaysian chief facilitator made his last shuttle between Manila and Darapanan on February 19 to 22, 2008 is “unconstitutional,” Musa retorted: “Even ordinary resolutions presented to Congress are unconstitutional until they are passed into law. How much more for agreement, which is extra-constitutional right at the start.”

He also cited the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States of America, saying before it was ratified, it was not constitutional.

Musa urged the government and its leaders to be fair enough and open their eyes and use their good senses to look around and see for models around the world, in Northern Ireland, in Sudan, in Bougainville, and even in Aceh, Indonesia.

“Why can Sudan do this thing and the Philippines can’t, because the Sudan government is Muslim and the Philippines Christian?” he asked. (BOT)

New AIDS threat emerging in India call centers (3 p.m.)

June 22, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A new AIDS threat is rising in India’s numerous call centers, where young staff are increasingly having unprotected sex with multiple partners in affairs developed during night shifts, a top AIDS expert has warned.

While India has made great strides in bringing down its HIV infection rate, the promiscuity among “call center Romeos” is a great concern, Dr. Suniti Solomon, who detected the first HIV case in India in 1986, told an international medical conference Saturday.

The United Nations, however, still estimates there are some 2.5 million Indians living with HIV and AIDS now.

“India has reached a plateau of the infections,” Solomon told the International Congress on Infectious Diseases, which ends Sunday.

Her concern now is the call centers, where many of the young staff work at night to correspond with the daytime working hours of their American and European clients.

“They have all the money. They huddle together in the night. They are young, they are sexually active, so naturally they start,” Solomon, who runs an AIDS center in the southern city of Chennai, told The Associated Press in a separate interview.

She said at least three or four call center workers visit her clinic every week to get tested for HIV because they are worried after having unprotected sex.

It is estimated that India’s call centers employ some 1.3 million people, mostly youths fresh out of school and colleges, earning a starting salary of 25,000 rupees (US$600) a month, more than a government doctor’s paycheck.

“You will see call center Romeos are a major high risk for HIV,” Solomon said.

There are no figures for how many call center workers are infected with HIV.

Citing confessions by the visitors to her center, Solomon said groups of young men and women rent apartments along the beach during the weekends and end up having multiple-partner sex.

“If they are having sex just among themselves, and all are non-infected it is fine. But if there is one person who has gone out of this group and brought in the virus, it will spread to everyone,” she said.

While the “call center Romeo” situation is a reflection of recent liberal values, India’s anti-AIDS fight is also hampered by society’s coexisting conservatism, Solomon told the conference.

She said this is evident in Hindu activists’ opposition to circumcision – which is proven to help inhibit HIV transmission – on the grounds that it is against tradition and religion of Hindu-majority India.

Solomon said she does not expect India to accept circumcision for preventing HIV infections. A recent government study to gauge the acceptance for circumcision triggered a massive backlash by Hindu fundamentalists, who called it “obnoxious” and “a conspiracy.”

“If you go out into the streets and say I will do this (circumcision) to reduce HIV, there will be a chaos,” she said. “Vaccines have failed. Microbicides have failed. This is one tool we have in hand but we can’t use it.” (AP)

Cebu bears Frank’s wrath in Central Visayas

June 22, 2008

By Mia E. Abellana & Rene H. Martel
Sun.Star Staff Reporters
With Garry Cabotaje & Oscar C. Pineda

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TYPHOON Frank hit Cebu the hardest in Central Visayas.

Strong waves damaged about 100 houses and affected some 300 families in the coastal barangays of Talisay City.

Landslides left roads in Cebu’s mid-north impassable, while power and telephone posts fell from strong winds in many parts of the province.

Power blackouts hit Tabogon, Borbon, Tabuelan, Tuburan, Asturias, Medellin, Daanbantayan, Sogod, Catmon, Carmen, San Remigio and Poro, while Bogo City and Bantayan Island suffered power outages and damaged phone lines.

Disaster coordinators, however, have not received any report of casualties.

The Talisay City Rescue Emergency Action Team (Treat) rushed to the scene after a hut in Sitio Kalubihan, Barangay Poblacion was reportedly swept away by waves at the height of the storm yesterday morning.

The Talisay City Social Welfare Office (CSWO), though, still had to get the identities of the household members. There is no report of any casualty, though.

Poblacion Barangay Treasurer Luna Mae Bacalso said big waves from strong winds crushed more than 30 houses in four coastal sitios: Kalubihan, Mahayahay, Asan and YMCA.

Powerful waves also left knee-deep water and widespread flooding in these areas, forcing CSWO personnel to temporarily put off their inspection and assessment report.

Twelve more houses were destroyed while 50 others were damaged in Sitio Litmon, Barangay Dumlog, said Talisay City Social Welfare Chief Felipa Solana.

Despite constant prodding by authorities, majority of the dwellers, however, refused to transfer to the sports complex, barangay halls and chapels in the two barangays.

“As of Friday night, only 10 families opted to stay at the sports complex in Poblacion, the rest are not keen on leaving their homes,” said Bacalso.

The CSWO and barangay personnel gave food to the storm victims yesterday.

Province

Since Friday, much of the anxiety over typhoon Frank focused on the northern towns, which were placed under typhoon warning signal number two.

But reports from the northern towns in Cebu were hard to come by, said Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Operations Officer Neil Angelo Sanchez. Radio repeaters were affected by the strong winds.

The Cebu Provincial Police Office had the same problem in relaying reports.

However, Sanchez said, they relied on the Federation of Visayas Radio Club to transmit reports to the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council.

Some areas in Barangays Panalipan, Basak and Binongkalan in Catmon town were deemed impassable due to fallen trees, as were the roads in Barangay Lugo, Borbon and Barangay Sagay, Tabogon.

Barangays Paypay, Lanao and Malingin in Daanbantayan town were flooded while a house was reportedly swept by the flood.

A minor landslide occurred in Barangay Cabongahan, Danao City, damaging a house owned by Marcelo Denaem, but his family evacuated unhurt.

The OCD also received a report about a damaged cell site in Medellin, but Sanchez said they were unable to confirm this. However, he said, it is possible because they were having difficulty reaching the mobile phones of social welfare officers in the nearby towns.

The typhoon also blew off the roof of the Bantayan Sports Complex.

A house was damaged in San Remigio town due to strong winds, but no one was hurt, while banana and fruit trees were uprooted in the town, as well as in San Francisco, Camotes Island.

Cebu City

In Cebu City, the typhoon hit farm crops in the mountain barangays. No major incident was reported in the urban areas.

The Cebu City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCCC) reported a landslide in Binaliw, which blocked the road and created a cave-in.

Water level in the rivers rose, but the CDCC received no report of any untoward incident.

Binaliw officials and tanods tried to clear a portion of the landslide to make the road passable.

Cebu City Councilor Gerardo Carillo said a payloader and a dumptruck were sent to the site to clear the road.

The Cebu City Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) was instructed to collected landslide debris to fill up another part of the road that caved in.

“Generally, our city is okay. There’s a small landslide in Binaliw, but with our monitoring, what was worst hit were the crops, corn and banana plantations were damaged by strong winds,” Carillo said.

He said that after the typhoon made landfall in Samar last Friday night, they expected the weather to improve.

Yesterday, though, personnel were sent to the coastal barangays of Suba, Pasil and Sawang Calero to monitor the sea walls battered by huge waves.

Carillo said the Cebu City Government will start draining the rainwater that flooded private properties in Sitio Manggahan, Barangay Mambaling.

“Water level has been high. We’ll drain it again,” the councilor said.

Talisay City

Meanwhile, a Sambag tree fell on three houses and damaged a portion of the Barangay Hall in Lawaan 3, Talisay City.

The tree crushed one of the houses and hit part of the hall where Lawaan 3 Elementary School pupils held their classes.

Barangay residents helped cut the tree in pieces to clear the area. No one was reported injured.

Also, two families in Sitio Tangub, Barangay Lagtang fled to safer grounds following a landslide that covered a portion of the Lagtang-Toledo road.

Solana said the affected families voluntarily transferred to the houses of their relatives in Campo 4, a hilly village in Talisay City.

Using a payloader and backhoe, Talisay City Hall personnel removed the huge boulders and mud that blocked the road, said Lagtang Barangay Captain Celiapo Cabuenas.

The landslide that cascaded from a hillside private quarry of the Aznars occurred past 3 p.m. last Friday, making the road impassable to motorists.

It happened hours after a portion of the riprap wall of the Manipis Elementary School caved in past 7 a.m., spilling sand and gravel on the hallway that separates two school buildings.

No one was hurt in these two incidents.

Mandaue City

No major damage was reported in Mandaue city, except flooding near a quarry site in Barangay Tawason and in low areas in Barangay Cabancalan.

A family also sought shelter in Barangay Labogon Elementary School, said Barangay Captain Damaso Tumulak as wind broke portions of their house.

Mandaue City’s Disaster Coordinating Council convened last Friday and will meet again if the need arises, City Administrator Briccio Boholst said.

In Barangay Tawason, the site of massive quarrying, Barangay Captain Jun Arcilla noted knee-high flooding in Sitio Huyong-Huyong, near the elementary school and in H. K. Plastic.

But the roads remained passable.

Cabancalan Barangay Captain Corregidor Cosedo used pumps to drain waist-high floodwaters in Pilit road. The place is near the river.(SunStarCebu)

Thousands stranded on rooftops in Iloilo City (3:05 p.m.)

June 22, 2008

ILOILO City Vice-Mayor Jed Mabilog said Sunday around 20,000 persons were stranded at rooftops in Iloilo City due to floodwater caused by heavy rains, an ABS-CBN report said.

The mayor said that while the rains have subsided Saturday night, a high tide however occurred.

Half of the city, the report said, was still covered by floodwaters.

The flooding is considered the worst flooding that has hit Iloilo in history.

Relief supplies needed by affected residents include potable water, food, clothes and blankets. (Sunnex)

Update sa Bagyong Frank

June 22, 2008

As of this moment, 155 na ang patay ayon sa Red cross.

101 sa Iloilo

6 sa Antique

45 sa Romblon

tig-iisa sa Cotabato, Capiz at Leyte.

==================

Nailigtas na rin ang mga sakay ng lumubog na ferry.

==================

Tinamaan na  ang Metro Manila, Signal 3 na ngayon ang kabuuang maynila.

==================

Ayn sa mga radio report naman, 60 ang patay sa Iloilo City at province, 16,000 + pamilya ang apektado, 2,000+ bahay ay nasira.

==================

Cong. Javier of Antique said… 7 ang patay

==================

Ilang mga ospital naman sa Ililo binaha. sa munisipyo ng Janiuay, at dumangs, hanggang bewang ang baha.

paumanhin sa mga taga-subaybay

June 22, 2008

inabot ng malakas na baha ang aking lungga.

Solons: Probe OFW’s death, recruitment

June 21, 2008

Kit Bagaipo

Two congressmen are now asking national government agencies to investigate the anomalous recruitment of two Boholana overseas workers deployed to the Middle East.

One of the OFWs, Eugenia Baja, died of a mysterious cause in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on February 24 and whose body was just recently repatriated


RAPE VICTIM. Coming home from Jordan where she was abused by her employers, 23-year old Meya Pojas (not her real name) accompanied by her mother (center) recounts her sad fate to Rep. Edgar Chatto (l) shortly after her arrival. Foto: DANNY REYES

and was buried in her hometown in Matin-ao, Sierra Bullones yesterday.

Another 23-year old Boholana OFW, Meya Pojas (not her real name) from Dagohoy town who worked as domestic helper arrived home last Monday after escaping her employers in Jordan who repeatedly raped her.

First district Rep. Edgar Chatto and Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela are separately asking the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) to look into the death of Baja and the alleged illegal recruitment of the domestic helper from Dagohoy.

Both solons expressed concern on the welfare of other OFWs in the Middle East while calling for justice on the death of Baja.

“The unknown nature of her (Baja) death warrants an investigation. We are calling on the government to cooperate with the proper authorities to know the real cause of and thus give justice to her death,” Ilagan said.

According to Migrante International, an organization of OFWs and their families, Baja’s family was informed on March 3 that the OFW died of an illness in Riyadh. A second report from the DFA, however, stated that she committed suicide.

One month before her death, Baja’s family received a text message from her asking for help.

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The partylist representative also called on the POEA to investigate on the anomalous nature of Baja’s recruitment. She purportedly signed a contract with a US-based company to work as a patient server in Saudi Arabia but was employed as a domestic helper. Her family also mentioned that she complained about not being given her salary.

“Our OFWs are not given enough protection by the government despite their help in keeping our economy afloat,” Ilagan said. “It is alarming how many of our so-called heroes fell victim to illegal recruitment, illegal detention and exploitation in other countries.”

SEX SLAVE

Domestic helper Meya came back home Monday. She is the third overseas worker to arrive in just five days and the only one of the three to return alive.

She voluntarily advised those who yet yearn to work abroad, particularly in Middle East, to be sure that they are not falling into the trap of unscrupulous illegal recruiters.

The maid in Jordan from Dagohoy had to change employers thrice in her just a little over five months of work there, hoping to find one who could be kind and humane. But fate was simply brutal to her.

When Meya arrived here Monday morning, she proceeded, together with her parents and a congressional staff, to the residence of Chatto to see and thank him for facilitating her rescue and return.

Her arrival followed the mournful return of deceased aircraft mechanic Franco Antonio Galo on Thursday and Baja on Friday, who both worked in Riyadh.

Meya narrated that on the night of her departure for Jordan last December 6, 2007, a man, whom she now realized could be in cahoots with unscrupulous BID personnel, escorted her at the NAIA and told an officer at the immigration counter to “just allow her (Meya) entry (to Jordan).”

Just before that, Meya was held at the immigration counter when a BID personnel found out her visa, which had Arabic entries she could not decipher, to be for tourist, not employment.

FROM HEAT TO HELL

The ordeal of Meya began just a few weeks after she started working for her first male Arab employer in Amman, Jordan.

He would touch her private parts and during nighttime she could hardly sleep as her male boss and his wife would have violent fights.

She complained to her employment handler there called AKKA Trading Est and begged to find her another employer.

Her second employer, also an Arab couple, physically harmed the Boholana maid, who always got slapped and choked.

Her female employer would not give her food, so that the domestic helper would “steal” something to eat from the food closet whenever the wife was out.

Meya found a third employer—a couple who, this time, was kind to her—but whose 25-year-old son repeatedly raped her in the family’s five-storey house.

The Boholana maid, who stayed on the third floor, could not get out of the building since its main door on the ground floor would be locked after members of the family got out. The windows of the building are blocked with steel bars.

Especially when the Arab couple were out, their son would force Meya to the rooftop where she was raped several times.

The OFW managed to contact her mother whom she confided her suffering, prodding the latter to seek assistance from Chatto thru his office here.

Chatto’s office alarmed and linked with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, POEA, the DFA and the Philippine Embassy in Jordan on Meya’s plight. (With reports from Ven Arigo)(BoholChronicle)

Pump prices go up again on weekend

June 21, 2008

By Euan Paulo C. Añonuevo, Reporter

Fuel prices are expected to rise again today, as oil firms said they have to recover losses incurred from the soaring prices of crude in the world market.

Oil prices in Asian trade went up on Friday after sliding earlier.

Oil firms in the Philippines are expected to hike prices by another P1.50 per liter after incurring P7.50 in under-recoveries. Earlier, they recovered P3 of the amount, which means that price hikes would continue until July.

Starting June 14, the prevailing domestic price of fuel has been averaging at P55.26 to P57.07 for unleaded gasoline; P52.10 to P55.30 for kerosene; and P48 to P49.97 for diesel.

The price of an 11-kilogram liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder has been hovering between P615 and P661.

The Department of Energy reported that as of June 20, the monthly average price of the regional benchmark Dubai crude increased by more than $6.50 per barrel compared to the May average.

Also, gasoline and diesel rose by about $8.40 per barrel and $6.50 per barrel to $139.58 per barrel and $168.07 per barrel, respectively, over the previous month levels.

The contract price for LPG rose by $57 per metric ton to $912.50 per metric ton this month.

Dubai crude, gasoline and diesel posted new record highs last week brought about by the sharp depreciation of the dollar against the euro, tensions between Israel and Iran, and the forecast of Morgan Stanley that falling US stockpiles could send crude to $150 a barrel by July 4.

$132 at Asian trade

In Friday’s trading in Singapore, the benchmark oil futures contract, New York’s light sweet crude for July delivery, rose 23 cents higher at $132.16 per barrel.

It had tumbled $4.75 earlier to close at $131.93 in US trade on Thursday following China’s announcement to hike oil prices.

Brent North Sea crude for August delivery rose 45 cents to $132.45 following a drop of $4.44 to settle at $132 in London on Thursday. Both the Brent and New York contracts had fallen in early Asian trade.

China became the latest Asian nation to curb energy subsidies by hiking retail petrol and diesel prices by as much as 18 percent, moving to close the gap between state-set domestic prices and the soaring world oil market.

Analysts said the move by the world’s second biggest oil consumer was important, but differed on its longer-term impact on soaring oil prices, which hit nearly $140 this month from a low under $11 in the 1990s.

“I think it’s very significant,” said Dave Ernsberger, Asia director of global energy information provider Platts. “It is going to eat into demand. I’m pretty sure of that.”

He had called China’s subsidies “the big gorilla in the room” ahead of its price hike announcement Thursday. Experts have said China’s booming economy has up to now been a key driver of the world’s growing appetite for oil.

But the fuel price hike “may temper growth in fuel demand in China, helping moderate demand-based pressure on oil prices,” David Moore, a commodity strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney, said in a report.

Fuel subsidy cuts elsewhere in Asia are already said to be hurting regional energy demand. Malaysia has hiked fuel prices by 41 percent and Indonesia by around 29 percent, while Taiwan and India have also raised energy costs.

Looking ahead

The longer-term impact of China’s move on world oil prices would not be clear until later in the year, when numbers about demand are released for the market to digest, Ernsberger said.

“It’s possible we won’t see a big impact on the price until September, October,” he said.

Victor Shum, an analyst at Purvin and Gertz energy consultancy in Singapore, said the impact from decreased demand for oil in China was likely to be small, as higher prices would stimulate production.

“The negative impact in demand growth in China may be more than compensated by increased supply,” Shum said.

Global finance officials fear soaring crude costs pose a threat to world economic growth, as higher inflation leads central banks to raise interest rates.

Thursday’s oil price fall of nearly $5 also came as Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC), said it planned to increase output by 200,000 barrels per day.

Shum said the Saudi announcement would not have a major impact because the increase is “not that significant compared to the total oil demand of 86 million barrels a day.”

Concerns about lost Nigerian oil output might outweigh the Saudi increase due to the better grade of the African nation’s crude, Shum said.

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell said it had shut down a Nigerian offshore oilfield after an attack by militants. The field has a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day.

Hugo Chavez, president of OPEC member Venezuela, said prices should be around $100 per barrel, but “could soon reach $200” given political tension, threats against oil producer Iran and a weak US dollar.

Chavez threatened Thursday to shut off oil exports to European countries if they enforce tough new rules on illegal immigrants.

World leaders are also preparing for a high-level meeting between producers and consumer nations on Sunday in Jeddah to discuss soaring prices.
– With AFP(ManilaTimes)

Timeline of Kidnapping

June 21, 2008

The following chronology was based on a Philippine National Police report released Friday.

June 7, 2008 (Saturday)
Ces Oreña-Drilon and cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama arrived at 2:45 p.m. in Jolo town, the capital of Sulu province.

June 8, 2008: Day 1 in captivity
At 9:20 a.m., Drilon’s group was picked up at Sulu State College by professor Octavio Dinampo and Juamil Biyaw, also known as “Commander Mameng,” who was the group’s driver and guide. They proceeded to Barangay Adjid, Indanan, where three armed men met them at a waiting shed.
The group proceeded to a tapahan (copra dryer) and had lunch. Later the group was met a man known as “Putol,” after which the mobile phones of Drilon and company were confiscated by the armed men.
The group continued walking until they reached another abandoned nipa hut in Barangay Panding, Patikul, where they rested.
At this point a certain Roger Isha, believed to be an Abu Sayyaf member, took all their personal belongings.
The group resumed walking until they reached an abandoned mosque at Barangay Bungkaong, Patikul. They ate dinner, as they waited for a certain Commander Tek.

June 9, 2008: Day 2
Around 2 a.m., the group reached a nipa hut at the Sitio Datagkanmansarin, Barangay Dayaran, Patikul, where they slept.
Then at 6 a.m., Drilon was told that they were kidnapped. But she was ordered not to tell her companions or else they will be killed. They stayed in the area the whole day, when more armed people arrived.
At 5 p.m., the group resumed walking until they reached Tibig Bato, Barangay Darayan, Patikul. As Drilon’s group rested, their captors recited prayers.
Afterwards, the group continued walking for at least 30 minutes until they reached an abandoned house with no walls at Sitio Kanbadal, Barangay Panglayahan, Patikul, where they spent the night.

June 10, 2008: Day 3
At 6 a.m., the group continued walking for at least 15 minutes until they reached their final harboring site at Mount Tunggol in Barangay Pansul, Patikul.
It was during this time when the captors issued their first demand. The victims were tied up, and Valderama was told he was going to be beheaded if ransom was not paid.

June 12, 2008: Day 5
The police had no report about what transpired on June 11. But the day after, the captors again demanded ransom.
At 2 p.m. on the fifth day, Valderama together with 11 armed men left the area. When they reached Sitio Danasi, Barangay Sinumaan, Talipao, Valderma was picked up by Haider “Jun” Isnaji and two officers of the Philippine National Police.

June 13, 2008: Day 6
At 11 a.m., Valderama was brought to Zamboanga City aboard a Philippine Navy plane.
Then at 2 p.m., the crisis management team of Gov. Sakur Tan of Sulu was convened at the governor’s office, to discuss how Drilon and the remaining hostages could also be released.

June 14, 2008: Day 7
At 1 p.m., Jumail Biyaw, alias Mameng, was arrested by Task Force Comet in Talipao, Sulu, through the effort of an assistant secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Then at 2 p.m., a meeting was convened in Zamboanga City to plan the safe recovery of Drilon and company. Those who attended included the Interior and Local Government secretary, the national police chief, the police regional director, and various officials from region nine and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

June 15, 2008: Day 8
At 4 a.m., the kidnappers move with their hostages to an area near Sitio Pigih Daho, Barangay Bayog, Talipao, Sulu.

June 16, 2008: Day 9
This was the day when the Abu Sayyaf issued an ultimatum for ransom to be paid by noon the following day or else the hostages will be killed.

June 17, 2008: Day 10
At 10:10 a.m., the secretary of Interior and Local Government, the national police chief, and their staff arrived at the provincial office of the police in region 9. There they assessed the situation. The national police and the military agreed to launch an assault against the kidnappers, if the hostages are harmed.
At noon, the kidnappers extended the deadline for another 24 hours, and reports came in that the extension may be indefinite.
At 11:53 p.m., Drilon and the remaining hostages were released by the kidnappers at Sitio Danasih, Barangay Sinumaan, Talipao, Sulu. They were picked up by Jun Isnaji and four policemen.

June 18, 2008: Day 11
At 2:45 a.m., Drilon and others were flown from Jolo to Zamboanga City aboard two military helicopters. Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, Mayor Alvares Isnaji of Indanan and his son Jun accompanied the released hostages.
Between 3 a.m. and 3:40 a.m., Drilon and party arrived at Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City and were met by the national police chief, Director Gen. Avelino Razon; Lt. Gen Nelson Allaga, commander of the Western Mindanao Command; and other police and military officials.
Drilon and her companions were brought to the Special Action Force Seaborne Office at Zamboanga City for processing and medical checkup. Doctors found them OK, except for mild dehydration and mosquito bites.
The Armed Forces and the national police, led by Task Force Comet, then launched pursuit operations against the kidnappers.
At 11:45 a.m. Drilon, Valderama and Encarnacion were turned over to Maria Ressa, ABS-CBN vice president for operations at Vista del Mar beach Resort in Zamboanga. Sen. Loren Legarda, who had been helping the negotiations for the release of Drilon and her companions for several days, was also present.
– Jefferson Antiporda(ManilaTimes)

Kuro Hinggil sa Nangyaring Kidnapan sa Sulu: Pagkalikot ng Isipang Malikot Habang Naghihintay ng Antok

June 20, 2008

(Babala: Ito ay opinyon lamang ng may akda.  Paumanhin sa mga masasaktan, kung meron man.  Katatapos lang kasi ng may-akda na magbasa ng Little Drummer Girl.)

Nitong mga nakaraang araw, isinabit ko sa aking blog ang mga haka ko hinggil sa tunay na dahilan ng pagkaka-“kidnap” kay Ces at sa mga kasama niya (pinili ko si ces bilang tag dahil siya ang pinaka-sikat sa kanilang apat)­.

Matapos kong mapanood ang interview ng GMA7 kay Propesor Dinampo, isa sa mga na-“kidnap”, mas tumibay ang paniniwala ko na ang naganap na “kidnapan” sa Sulu ay isa sa mga pinakamalaking dramang ipinalabas sa entablado ng tunay na buhay, para isulong ang isang politikal na interes sa paparating na ARMM elections.

Sa interview, buong linaw niyang ikinwento ang pangyayari.  At bagamat si Sahiron ang kanilang pakay, wala siyang Sahirong nakita, maging noong mga panahong sila’y bihag na.  Kinumpirma din niya na si Biyaw nga ang kanilang giya, pati ang pagkalas ni Biyaw nang sila’y na-secure na ng mga armado.  Sabi ni Biyaw, ay mauuna na daw siya ayon sa utos ni Sahiron.

Ang ganitong eksena ay nauna nang nakumpirma batay na rin sa kwento ng drayber ng dyip na inarkila ng grupo ni Ces papunta sa lugar.

Samantala, kinumpirma na ng mismong PNP na sinungaling ang kanilang pinuno nang aminin nilang nagbayad nga ng ransom ang pamilya ni Ces at nandun pa ang isa nilang opisyal sa “intelligence.”   Nakakatawang si Razon din ang bumali sa una niyang sinabi.  Haha.  Nakakatawa.  Kayo na lang mag-isip ng tamang kataga na magsasalarawan sa kanya at sa kanyang ginawa.

Ano ngayon ang implikasyon ng mga kaganapang ito?

Hindi Abu Sayaff Group ang dumukot kina Ces.  Maging ang PNP ay hindi pa magawang pangalanan ng direkta ang ASG bilang siyang direktang may gawa ng krimen.  Bakit kaya?  Dahil ba sa  alam ng PNP kung sino ang may hawak noon kina Ces?

May mga obserbasyong lumabas na nagpapahiwatig na hindi ASG ang mga kidnapper.  Isa na rito ang obserbasyon na naninigarilyo ang ilan sa mga armadong dumukot kina Ces, ayon sa mga taga-doon sa lugar, ang mga tunay na ASG daw ay hindi naninigarilyo.

Wala ring ilinalabas na statement ang ASG.  Normally, ang kanilang paraan ng pakikipagnegsasyon ay sa pamamagitan ng midya.  Ang objective kasi nila, makapagpropaganda, at makapaghatid ng banta sa kanilang mga kalaban, na sila’y malupit, dapat katakutan, at handang lumaban ng patayan.

Ang ganitong aura ay kataka-takang wala sa buong haba ng panahon ng negosasyon.  Bakit di lumabas si Sahiron?  Kung siya nga ang nagpadukot, dapat lumabas siya, siya ang nagclaim, siya ang nakipagnegosasyon, dahil lilitaw at lilitaw din ang kanyang pangalan.  Dahil mas malaking propaganda score/point ang makakabig niya kung siya mismo ang magsasalita.  Dahil mas magiging credible ang kanilang paghingi ng pera.  Dahil mas malaking pera ang mahihingi nila kung malalaman ng mga pinapaukulan nila na siya, si Raddulan Sahiron, pinuno ng mapanganib na ASG, ang may hawak kina Ces, at dapat na mapagbigyan ang kanyang hiling dahil siya, sampu ng kanyang ASG ay namumugot ng ulo pag hindi nakukuha ang kanilang gusto.  Yan ay kung siya nga at ang ASG ang dumukot kina Ces.

Ang papel na ginampanan naman ni Biyaw, kilala bilang ahente ng military sa lugar,(pinabulaanan ito ni Biyaw sa kanyang affidavit at inamin niyang marami lang siyang kaibigan sa militari) ay kapansin-pansin at nagbibigay ng kabaliktarang kulay sa claim ng mga taga-gobyerno na ASG ang may hawak kina Ces.

Ang manner naman ng pakikipagnegosasyon – smooth, intelligent, cool – ay hindi estilo ng ASG.  Ang flow ng negosasyon, batay sa pagbasa ko sa mga pagkakasunud-sund ng hakbang ng mga kidnapper, ay anticipatory.  Anticipated nila ang susunod na hakbang ng kabilang linya.  Anticipated nila ang mararamdaman ng kabilang linya.  Anticipated nila ang init ng atensyong ilinalaan ng midya sa kasong ito.  At ang aktitud nila ay ang ingatan ang kanilang identity, liban sa malinaw na pagpapabaya nila sa midya na tawagin silang mga ASG.  Ang galing (hindi ito papuri)nga nila, dahil matagumpay nilang nagawang emisaryo si Encarnacion para direktang maipaabot sa pamilya ni Ces ang kalagayan ng kanilang grupo at ang mga kahilingan ng mga kidnapper.

Pinakahuling hibla ng patunay na hindi ASG ang dumukot kina Ces ay ang kawalan ng presensya ni Sahiron at ng sinumang lider na kinikilala sa hanay ng ASG.

Linabag ng pamahalaan ang sarili nitong patakarang “No Ransom”.  Una nang nabalita na nagkaroon ng bayaran, pero pilit pa itong pinagtakpan ng mga elemento ng pamahalaang ito.  At ngayong kinakailangan nilang maging credible para paniwalaan sila sa claim nilang ang mga Isnaji ang mastermind sa pangingidnap kina Ces, basta na lang nilang ilalantad sa atin ang kanilang ebidensya: isang larawan na nagpapatunay na ang pamahalaang ito ay nakikipagsabwatan sa mga terorista sa pamamagitan ng pagbabayad ng ransom sa kanila?  (Pag lumabas yung sinasabi nilang “iba pang ebidensya”, baka magbago ang opinion ko.)

Kawawa naman si Heneral Razon.  Lubusang sinira ng pamahalaang ito ang kanyang pangalan, Razon, reason.  Nagi itong alibi, palusot, pagsisinungaling.  Isipin nyo na lang, sinabi niya on national coverage, in his capacity as PNP chief na walang bayaran ng ransom na naganap para mapalaya ang grupo nina Ces, tapos on national coverage din, still in his capacity as PNP head, sasabihin niyang nagbayad nga ng ransom ang pamilya ni Ces, effectively telling everyone that he is a liar, Legarda is a liar, and everyone else who tells everybody that there is no ransom paid are liar.  At may ebidensya pa siyang ilinabas para patunayan na sinungaling nga sila!

Kawawa naman si General.  Malamang ay napakalaki ng utang na loob niya sa taong pinoprotektahan niya, kung di man siya takot dito, para lang gawin niya ang kahihiyang ito sa kanyang sarili.  (Biglang nagflashback sa isipan ko yung mga sinabi noon ni General Razon: na gas blast daw ang dahilan ng pagsabog sa Glorietta, na media person daw ang nagpatakas kay Faeldon, etc… Poong mahabagin!  Paano kung lahat ng iyon ay pawang kasinungalingan din? Wag naman sana!)

Dahil sa kaganapang ito, ang pamahalaan mismo ang nag-encourage sa ilan nating kababayan na magtayo ng mga bagong Kidnap 4 Ransom groups dahil ipinakita nilang nagbabayad naman pala talaga ng ransom ang mga pamilya ng nakikidnap.

Naging bulag at iresponsable ang ilang elemento ng midya sa paghahatid ng balita.  Umasa ang mga ito sa spoon-fed info mula sa mga taga-gobyerno.

Unwittingly, naging bahagi ang midya sa isang grandiosong panloloko sa taumbayan.  At nanatili silang bahagi nito sa pamamagitan ng pagbabalita na ASG ang may hawak kina Ces sa kabila ng kawalan nila ng batayang impormasyon na magpapatotoo sa kanilang balita.

Sana naman, sa panahong nagdududa sila sa mga info na natatanggap nila e, naghanap na lang sana sila ng iba pang source o kaya e, nanahimik na lang sana sila.

Mula sa mga implikasyong ito, hindi ko maiwasang  kantiin ang panig ng politika at iugnay ito sa pagkakadukot sa grupo ni Ces, at sa pinakahuling kaganapan, kung saan idinidiin na ng mga taga-pamahalaan si Mayor Alvarez Isnaji bilang siya umanong mastermind ng pangingidnap sa grupo nina Ces.

(Hindi ko na ilalahad ang opinyon ko sa kriminal na aspeto ng akusasyon ng pamahalaan kay Alkalde Isnaji dahil korte na ang bahalang kumanti dito, pero nais kong pasadahan ang politikal na aspeto nito na may kaugnayan sa isang napakalaking aktibidad na nakatakdang maganap sa likod ng kidnapang ito: ang lokal na halalan sa Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).)

Ang Mindanaw ang pinakamayamang rekurso ngayon ng likas na yaman, dahil ito na lang ang may mga nalalabi pang lugar na hindi pa nagagahasa ng mga kurakot na opisyal ng pamahalaan at ng mga negosyanteng kakutsaba nito, kasama ang mga dayuhang mangangapital lalo na yaong mga galling sa Estados Unidos.

Ang pakikipag-usap ng pamahalaan sa mga Moro para abutin ang isang “kapayapaan” sa Mindanaw, ang presensya ng sangkaterbang sundalo sa isla ng Mindanaw, ang presensya ng mga dayuhang armadong Kano dito.  Lahat ng ito ay malinaw na nagtuturo na ang Mindanaw ang nalalabing ‘eden’ ng Pilipinas.

At ang ARMM elections ay isang avenue para legal na makuha ang kontrol sa naturang erya.

Isa sa mga napapabalitang tatakbong gobernador sa halalang ito si G. Isnaji.  At bilang isang dating kabahagi ng Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), at alyado ni Nur Misuari, si G. Isnaji ay masasabing may komand at may malaking potensyal na manalo sa halalang paparating, lalo pa’t nasa kainitan ngayon ang isyu hinggil sa usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng pamahalaan at ng MNLF.

Kaya’t tulad ng ibang mga nagdududa, di ko rin maiwasang magtaka sa timing, at sa tunay na motibo ng “sudden twist of events” sa gitna ng “pangingidnap” kina Ces.

Sa isa kong litanya sa blog , nabanggit ko ang posibilidad nang pagkakaroon ng isang grand drama, designed to set-up Mayor Isnaji, and temporarily hold him at bay, effectively pushing him out of the gobernatorial race (Kahit pa matuloy ang kandidatura niya, tiyak namang papahirapan siya ng administrasyon sa pangangampanya dahil nga sa kasong ito na kinakaharap niya), and snatch the ARMM leadership away for another three good years.

Ang grand drama ay malamang na nag-umpisa sa planning stage pa lang ni Propesor Dinampo.  Dahil involve na mula sa simula si Bidaw, malamang ay na-feed na ni Bidaw ang mga kakutsaba niya at this point para mapagplanuhan na nila ang gagawin.  Baka nga ang nakakausap ni Propesor Dinampo noon over the phone is not the real Sahiron.  Maybe it’s one of the kidnappers posing as Sahiron, kasi kung si Sahiron nga ang kausap ni Dinampo from the very start e, dapat kahit utot ni Sahiron maaamoy nila dun sa lugar.  Dapat e nakapagplano din sana ang ASG ng kahit isang statement for the media na magiging behikulo din nila ng kanilang propaganda.

At nang ideklara ng Anti-Terrorism Council ng gobyerno na hindi aplikable sa kasong ito ang Human Security Act (HSA) – sa kabila ng pagpapakalat ng ilang mga elemento ng pamahalaan na ASG ang dumukot kila Ces (Ang ASG po ay deklarado ng pamahalaan bilang isang teroristang grupo, at popular sa bansa bilang isang teroristang grupo), opisyal nang naging bahagi ng drama ang pamahalaan.  Ang aksyong ito ng pamahalaan ang mitsa ng aking mga pagdududa.  Ito ang dahilan kung bakit naging isang malaking katanungan sa akin ang nature ng kidnapping at ang mga susunod na takbo ng mga pangyayari

At ngayong papalapit na ang SONA, hindi ko rin maiwasang iugnay ito sa ihinahandang sobrang lupeeeeet na speech ni PGMA.  Ah, tiyak na nasa front row ng gallery sina Ces at iba pa.  Hmmm… baka nga maging senatoriable pa si Ces, o ha?

Napakakumplikado ng sitwasyon ngayon.  Kahit nga sina Ces at Propesor Dinampo eh, kapag naririnig ko ang mga paliwanag nila sa midya ngayon eh, di ko na rin maiwasang mag-isip kung at this point ba eh, na-hire na rin sila para maging mga aktor ng pinakabagong teleserye ng taon.

Hay!

Tanging dalangin ko lang ay sana’y mali ako.  Nakakalungkot at nakakatakot kasi kung bandang huli’y masasabi kong tama pala talaga ako.

Hay sige… tulog na ako, nawawalan na ako ng mga punto at namimigat na ang mga mata ko.  Sa wakas ay dumating na rin ang antok na kanina ko pa hinihintay..  Buti na lang at may pangyayaring ganito, at least hindi ako naboryong sa pagpapa-antok sa sarili ko. (6:56am)

TV reporter’s family paid P5M but mayor kept P3M–officials

June 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) The family of a television reporter who was abducted by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf paid P5 million to her captors although only P2 million reached them, police and justice officials disclosed Friday.

In separate press conferences, Philippine National Police Chief Avelino Razon and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said that the family of ABS-CBN’s Ces Drilon gave the ransom to Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, who was negotiating for her release, along with her crew and a professor, after they were abducted last June 8 in Sulu.

The kidnappers initially demanded a P15-million ransom.

“The initial payment was P5 million, however P2 million lang naibigay sa [only P2 million was given to the] kidnap for ransom group and the P3 million was kept by Mayor Isnaji,” said Razon.

Razon showed a picture of Isnaji and several others counting the money.

Razon also said that based on intelligence information gathered, the leader of the kidnap gang was identified as “Larin-Larin,” an alleged alias of Isnaji.

Gonzalez confirmed this, saying it was former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Nur Misuari who identified “Larin-Larin” as Mayor Isnaji, being a member of the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF’s) central committee that signed the peace agreement in 1996.

Gonzalez said during the de-briefing of the victims, they claimed that they heard their abductors mention “Larin-Larin.”

Gonzalez also said that based on witnesses’ accounts, Isnaji allegedly pocketed P3 million and gave the balance to the abductors.

Gonzalez said the money was divided in the house of Isnaji.

Razon said an intelligence officer, Senior Superintendent Winnie Quidato, was sent to Jolo to “observe” Isnaji.

Chief Superintendent Raul Castañeda, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief, also noted the inconsistencies in Isnaji’s statements.

Castañeda cited that in a previous media interview Isnaji mentioned a P100,000 “board and lodging fee” that was given to the kidnappers in exchange for the release of Valderama, one of two cameramen of Drilon, but which the mayor never mentioned during the interrogation.

Isnaji and his son were charged with kidnap for ransom at inquest proceedings at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group office at the PNP that began late Thursday and ended early Friday.

=============================

My Take:

I will take the Isnaji’s innocent, until proven guilty.  Tutal yan naman ang sabi ng batas.

That’s why at this very moment, i smell something fishy on this development. one glaring point is: how the hell did the PNP know that only P2M of the of the P5M ransom money was delivered to the kidnap group?  Hmmm…

which raises another question from my mind… kung ASG nga ang dumukot kay Ces, hindi ito magkukuwento ng ganun kay ces (hOy ces, tangna, P2M lang ang natanggap namin, bwisit, sige papalayain ka na namin kahit P2M lang mula sa usapan nating P5M ang natanggap namin, bwisit! kahit alam naming your worth mre than P2M o P5M, sige na! Uwi na! lAYA KA NA, cES!) dahil alam ng ASG na hindi na sila katatakutan o makikipagtawaran na lang ang mga pamilya ng kanilang biktima sa mga susunod nilang kidnapping, kapag lumabas ang ganitong kwento.  Sino ba talaga ang dumukot kay Ces? (update: sabi nila may intel daw sila don na nagpanggap na dilg at apparently ay pinabayaan lang sina isnaji with the vice guv to cunt the ransom and deliver it to the kidnappers)

Hmm… hindi kaya isa itong grand design laban sa mga MNlf ngayong darating na ARMM elections?  The mere fact na hindi pinigilan ng pamahalaan ang pamilya ni Ces na magbayad ng ransom, nagiging malinaw na someone in the highest places of political power is in favor of it, to create the biggest political set-up of the year!

Normally, the bullet-headed military and macho-PNP will stomp the yard and go on attacking the kidnappers.  Pero hindi ito nangyari.  Eto’t pumasok lang sa eksena ang pulisya nung huling bahagi na ng drama, at sila pa nga ang nagyabang na mapapalaya na sina ces, meaning, alam nila na magbabayad na ng ransom ang pamilya ni ces.  samantala, ang afp naman ay nagpaputok ng ilang bomba, indikasyon kaya ito na sinisenyasan na nila ang mga may hawak kay ces na tama na, next phase of the plan na?

WE ARE WITNESSING here now the philippine version of the “wag the dog” story, and the way ces is pitching in her own view/analyses/opinion, i can’t tell f she is indeed a victim or is she now a part of this year’s biggest drama.

Sensya na sa mga maiirita, likot lang kasi ng isip ko.  I wuld be very glad if im wrong.  I wud be very sad if im right.

From Under This Hat: The NCIP is now under the DENR

June 20, 2008

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act – “An Act to Recognize, Protect and Promote the Rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples creating a National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Establishing Implementing Mechanisms, appropriating funds therefor and for other purposes.”

Last May 23, 2008. President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 726, that ordered the transfer of the NCIP from its “attachment with the Department of Agrarian Reform” (DAR) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

On this development, one Igorot said, “After reforming the ancestral lands into Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) they will now take the domains’ natural resources? Itta nga na-iCLOA da ti ancestral land, i-mining claim da manen ti domains? Angsan! Ayshilay usok tan pastolan ni Igodot. Naitulshon shal’ma’y pipi-ig bengat i-tuo,” (Now that the ancestral lands were converted to CLOAs, these will be turned into mining claims. Gosh,! There will be no more native mines and pasture grounds for the Igorots. People will be driven further). Whether he meant it as a joke or not it sounded so true.

This transfer has only once more reaffirmed the policy of the national government on indigenous peoples. That they are just part of the state-owned natural resource, to be extracted and sold, just like their land, their gold and their forests.

It has just been less than a month after representatives of the national government practically showed off to the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting that they had the IPRA, “a local and better version of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” as proof that they are human rights defenders and not violators as pointed out by the local independent human rights monitoring group.

The proof of service may not and is not in the written document but in the implementation of the law to serve the people it draws its realization and mandate from. Many observers, — IP and human rights advocates, historians and documenters — see that instead of keeping the IP communities and resources intact, IPRA has contributed more to their deterioration and loss of identity and loss of cultural integrity. Could it be toward ethnocide?

It is discrimination against all Filipino indigenous peoples — man, woman or child — to take, and note, without their knowledge and participation; the national agency that is supposed to be protecting their rights and defending their rights as IPs; and then attach it to some national agency organized for the land distribution to landless peasants, or to an agency mandated to protect and manage the country’s natural resources!

Well, of course, these IPs are but “poor, noisy Filipino people” located in the fringes of society who in the Independence Day speeches are being called to unite their ranks and assert their rights as a freedom- loving community!#(NorthernDispatch)

Women’s Front: Women cry in Pananuman

June 20, 2008

By INNABUYOG-GABRIELA

It was dusk when we reached the plaza of Barangay Tubtuba, in Tubo, Abra on May 2. We had to walk a few more miles to reach the said village due to the rough conditions of the road. After 30 minutes walking through the rugged terrain, villagers welcomed us with a humble dinner.

It was very obvious at first glance that some of the villagers, especially the children, were aloof. From the background I have earlier learned of what happened, I presumed that the people have not forgotten what they have gone through in that hands of the military.

On the other hand, I also noticed hope in the eyes of some people who knew of our intentions. Perhaps, they were hoping that people from the urban areas would finally notice them because behind the mountains and rivers of Abra, there lies many untold stories of terror.

The traumatic evening of March 12, started the month-long terror for the villagers of Pananuman. The village, composed of 16 households, was preparing for the usual evening routine when soldiers of the Charlie Company of the 50th Infantry Batallion headed by Lt. Dalven Abdul Rashid Avila, were seen approaching.

Then, soldiers started intimidating people and conducted searches in most of the houses. The military believed that these people are sympathizers and members of the New People’s Army. These reasons, even without firm basis, tagged the community as “enemy of the state”.

The harassments continued the following days as the military searched houses and the surroundings. One household even reported that the military robbed them of personal belongings. The troops camped inside the community even in sacred places such as the church and the “Dap-ay”. The economic flow of the community was disrupted. The villagers were prevented from tending their farms. They were threatened that villagers seen outside the community, armed or unarmed, villager or combatant, will be shot automatically. Food was near scarce and they experienced hunger.

Ground to air missiles stationed from the community school were fired day and night. The deafening noise got worse when the broncho missiles were sent by the military above ground. These atrocities resulted in much stress and anxiety to the women and children of Pananuman.

Teary-eyed, Ina Goria, one of the villagers, confided to us how thankful she is that the soldiers are gone. “I could not sleep every time they fire the bombs especially during nighttime. I felt that I was not secured anymore. I am always thinking I might be dead by morning,” she revealed. She stresses that due to the incident, even to hear of soldiers causes body to tremble.

Ina Teresa, another Pananuman woman told her story of fear as the soldiers threatened her children to confess the location of their father’s alleged rifle. And with this, her children are too traumatized; she had to send them away to Mt. Province in order to recover. Her husband, too, was abused to admit that he is an NPA member or sympathizer. At first, Ina Teresa attempted to take her children and leave her husband because she thought her husband can handle the repression from the military. But soon as she heard the soldiers saying that no one will help her husband, she decided to be at her husband’s side. They could not flee because they were avoiding more speculations from the military.

Like Ina Goria, Ina Teresa suffers from the same trauma. She trembles even with the slightest noise outside her house. She still thinks that the military is out to get them. She has neglected their “uma” because she fears that someone is watching her.

They are only two of many women in Pananuman who suffered during the massive militarization of Pananuman. Each of them has her own story – stories of fear, anger and hunger which are rooted from state terrorism. Children who should be enjoying their youth are now victims of human rights violations.

Until now, it still enrages us why the Armed Forces of the Philippines would treat civilians as such. Is it their duty to protect the people or terrorize them? If they are looking for combatants, why search within the villages? Why is it that the innocents are the ones suffering? If the villagers are indeed sympathizers of the NPA, is that enough to violate their rights?

Every year, the people of Pananuman experience this terror. If this continues, nobody is to be blamed but the AFP itself if the villagers should turn against the state. #(NorthernDispatch)

Weekly Reflections: Beyond symbols and ceremonies

June 20, 2008

By REV. LUNA L. DINGAYAN

“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your relatives.” — Isiah 58:6-7

Independence Day celebration

The City of Baguio had witnessed last June 12 the unfurling of the biggest Filipino flag ever made since the declaration of our country’s independence. It covered almost the whole athletic bowl. Many were delighted to see and to be part of such a rare ceremony which might land to the Guinness’ Book of World Records as intended. I understand that this was also inspired by what the Israelis did with their own flag.

While it is true that the unfurling of the huge Filipino flag introduced a new dimension to our yearly celebration, still what was done remains a mere ceremony and the flag remains a mere symbol of our country’s sovereignty. We have to do more than the ceremony and go beyond the symbol in order to find meaning and fulfillment to the genuine freedom we cherish as a people.

Surely, those who invested their money, time, and efforts for such an extraordinary event did it with good intensions, and perhaps even justify that they did it as an outward expression of their love of country. Certainly, they spent not a few pesos to make such a huge flag, which appear to be quite scandalous taking into consideration our deteriorating economy with people lining up for hours just to buy a few kilos of cheaper rice. In any case, I am not quite sure if this is the best way to celebrate our country’s independence day.

Isaiah’s prophetic words

The Israelites during Prophet Isaiah’s time were also after mere symbols and ceremonies. They loved to fast and show that they were sorry of their sins by wearing sackcloth and putting ashes on their heads. Yet the Prophet observed as the Lord said that while they were fasting they were also pursuing their own selfish interests and oppressing their workers (cf. Is. 58:1-5).

And so, the Lord said through Prophet Isaiah, “The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your relatives” (Is. 58:6-7).

What the Lord was simply saying through Prophet Isaiah is that it is not enough for the people to merely use the symbols and follow the ceremonies of fasting. They should do something concrete to show that they are really repentant of their sins. For instance, they should stop oppressing their workers; they should give them their just wages. They should stop being greedy and share what they have to those who have less in life. Unless they do these things, the symbols and ceremonies they perform are just for a show and worst of all, they only serve as cover up for their evil deeds.

Beyond symbols, ceremonies

Filipinos are also fond of symbolic actions and ceremonies. But the fact remains, that we cannot really have genuine freedom as a people by just having symbolic actions and ceremonies. Our Filipino flag has no meaning at all if our nation’s patrimony continues to be given to foreign interests to exploit, if our workers are not given just wages, if our farmers do not own the land they till, if our journalists and church workers are harassed or even killed for telling the truth. We may have the biggest flag in the world, but it does not necessarily mean that we are truly free.

We have to go beyond symbols and ceremonies and make genuine freedom a reality. #(NorthernDispatch)

Advocate’s Overview: Philippine independence

June 20, 2008

By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW

It is the 110th Independence Day and various activities commemorated this June 12. This is an opportunity to go back to important historical events.

A few months after he came back from Hongkong on June 12, 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo’s “dictatorial government” proclaimed Philippine independence. On that day, the Philippine flag was first officially raised while the Philippine national anthem was first publicly played. In the post colonial period in the time of then Pres. Diosdado Macapagal, he changed the Philippine Independence Day from the American July 4 to June 12 to mark the historical event that day in 1898.

Independence has been a debatable issue in the country. A question remains: Are we really independent? But that is not the issue that I will tackle on today’s column. I want to share some historical events which will help clarify the issue on “independence” and how this “independence” has evolved.

Prior to June 12, 1898, let us go back to the so called “Pact of Biak-na-Bato” event in 1897. The Spanish colonial government, through Pedro Paterno as mediator, negotiated for the surrender of Aguinaldo, who had grabbed the Katipunan leadership from Bonifacio. In exchange for their surrender of his illustrado Katipunan leadership, they received P 800,000 which would be given in three installments: P 400,000 upon Aguinaldo’s and his men’s departure from Biak-na-Bato; P200,000 upon the surrender of their arms; and another P 200,000 when the “te deum” (whatever that is) at the Manila Cathedral. Another P900,000 would be distributed to civilians who suffered as a result of the Katipunan-Spanish war.

When the surrender of Aguinaldo and his men was ironed-out, they got the money and left for Hongkong on December 27, 1897 while the local leaders and revolutionaries continued the fight against the Spaniards. In Hongkong, the money had been the root of division on Aguinado and his illustrado group. It was also in Hongkong when the Americans talked to Aguinaldo for his return to re-lead the Filipino war against the Spaniards which he did.

Going back earlier in our history, it is important to understand how the Katipunan was established. It is interesting to know the main purpose of the Katipunan in order to relate it with the “independence” being celebrated. It is also important to know how Aguinaldo grabbed the leadership from Bonifacio in order to understand if the Katipunan under Aguinaldo fought for the real demands of the Bonifacio-led Katipunan.

The Katipunan was founded in 1896 when Filipinos, including the European propagandist, were convinced that reform is no longer a reality during that period. When the underground society Katipunan was discovered, the members retreated to Balintawak where they had the famous cry of Pugadlawin on August 23, 1896. Here they tore up their cedulas to signal the beginning of their revolution to gain total independence from the Spanish colonialist. War spread in the nearby provinces, including the Cordillera albeit not mentioned by national historians but was specifically described by Willian Henry Scott and local historians.

At the height of the war, a division occurred within the Katipunan. Magdiwang was a group loyal to Bonifacio while the Magdalo, a faction loyal to Aguinaldo, was composed mostly of intellectuals from Cavite, who belittled Bonifacio as he did not get an education like them. A convention happened which came to be known as Tejeros Convention. Maneuvered by the Magdalo, the convention led to the grab of the Katipunan leadership by Aguinaldo and his group from Cavite.

They also concocted charges against Bonifacio and his brother for alleged treason against the revolution and plotting to kill Aguinaldo. For a day, the Aguinaldo-appointed court tried the Bonifacios with treason and sedition and found them guilty punishable by death. Here, Bonifacio failed to confront the “court’s” main witness as they (court) claimed the witness was dead but historian Constantino stated in his book that the witness was seen with the Magdalo after Bonifacio’s death. Still, Aguinaldo’s men killed the Bonifacio brothers on May 10, 1897. Afterwards, Aguinaldo and his group surrendered to the Spaniards and went to Hongkong.

As the government celebrated Independence Day, still many people failed to understand the background of this event and Philippine history in general. I hope the above historical events would help us understand the issue on independence. It is also an opportune time to understand the character and nature of Philippine leaders during that period and if they really worked for the achievement of independence. #(NorthernDispatch)

Student journalists decry press freedom, democratic rights violation

June 20, 2008

PASIG CITY — Student journalists denounced violations of campus press freedom and democratic rights in a picket-rally staged first week of June in front of the Commission Higher Education (CHED) in relation to the move by administration officials of an Ilocos-based government school.

Campus journalists belonging to the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) were joined by about fifteen (15) protesters from National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) the CHED National Office protest during the recent meeting of the University of Northern Philippines (UNP) Board of Regents (BOR).

Said BOR meeting would tackle the approval of The Blazers to change Tandem as the new publication of UNP, as approved at the recent Policy Conference of the UNP administration last May. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) has consistently pushed the Blazers since last year; however, the BOR did not approve said publication and recommended that the administration resolve the issue inside the university.

According to Ma. Criselda Diocena, editor-in-chief of Tandem, the official student publication of UNP, and convener of Defend Tandem, the UNP has launched blatant attacks to the rights to the students by silencing its voice in the publication and the student council.

“They closed the publication and used force to harass the student leaders and instill fear among the students.” Diocena stressed as she enumerated the cases of student’s rights and campus press freedom violations that the UNP administration allegedly committed.

Diocena was among the student leaders who was harassed and charged with theft after allegedly taking the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of Tandem to the Student Resource Center. To date, Diocena’s case is still at the City Prosecutor’s Office and the office of Tandem remains closed.

In addition, Diocena was not allowed by the College of Engineering (CE) to take up her final examinations, as the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) through Dr. Gilbert Arce did not issue her any clearance. Diocena has not yet enrolled.

Vijhae Alquisola, National President of the CEGP lambasted the UNP administration for creating a new publication to replace Tandem. “The BOR should look into the Tandem seriously, it should not resort to the closure of publication.” Alquisola noted and suggested that the BOR should see to it that the “democratic rights and campus press freedom of the student are upheld.”

Diocena is currently lobbying at various government and non-government agencies to support her call for the reopening of the publication and to stop political persecution to her and other student leaders. # Rod Tajon(NorthernDispatch)

UNDRIP delegates visit Itogon mining areas

June 20, 2008

ITOGON, Benguet — The delegates of the recently concluded Asia Workshop for the Promotion of the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) visited mining areas in this mining town Thursday to observe firsthand the conditions of mining and its effects on the environment and the community.


Photo by Myko Franco Chiong/NORDIS

The troop went to the mining areas in Ucab and Virac where the group participated in discussions on the history of mining in Itogon and how the community works to protest against large-scale imperialist mining.

The group also entered one of the small-scale mine tunnels in Ucab and interacted with the indigenous miners in the community where they also learned of the hazards miners face to earn a living.


Photo by Noel Godinez/NORDIS

“It is important that the delegates be informed of this because most of them are indigenous peoples who are currently facing, or are about to face, development aggression issues of their own.” said Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Deputy Secretary-general Santos Mero, who led the trip. “This is a great opportunity for them to be critical about upcoming developmental projects in their own communities as well,” added Mero.

Prasenjit Chakma, a delegate from Bangladesh said, “It is a big pity because they would have been more fortunate if they were not endowed with these natural resources because then their livelihood would not have been disturbed by powers beyond their control.” # Myko Chiong(NorthernDispatch)

Nursing dominates enrollment

June 20, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Nursing and medical allied courses remain the most enrolled and graduate discipline in the Cordillera region in the school year 2007-2008, showed data from the regional office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd-CAR).

From the 68,511 students enrolled in the higher educational institutions (HEIs) in this city, the top ten most enrolled courses are nursing and allied medical courses with 27,015 ( 39 %); Business Administration and Related 12,757(19 percent), Engineering and Technology 8,404 (12 percent), IT Related Discipline 4,141 (6 percent), Education Science and Teacher Training 3,736 (5 %); Service Trades 1,778 (3 %); Social and Behavioral Sciences 1,605 (2 %); Mass Communication and Documentation 1,286 (2 %); Law and Jurisprudence 1,240 (2 percent); and, Architectural and Town-Planning 932 (1 %).

The least enrolled courses are Fine and Applied Arts, Religion and Theology, and Mathematics and Computer Science.

Reportedly, the trend as to the most enrolled discipline will be the same this school year as Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) remains to be the top rank courses due to the demand of the international market.

The Ched-CAR data show that the 18 schools in this city have a total graduates of 10,218 in 2007.

The top 10 disciplines are Medical and Allied Course (dominated by BSN) 4,781 (47 %); Business Administration and Related Courses 1,906 (19 %); Engineering and Technology 939 (9 %); Education Science and Teacher Training 633 (6 %); IT Related Discipline 397 (4 %); Social and Behavioral Sciences 326 (3 %); Law and Jurisprudence 253 (2 %); Mass Communication and Documentation 163 (2 %); Natural Science 121 (1 %); and, Humanities 110 (1 %).

“The data for graduates show that nursing course is being patronized more to cater for the international market. While we have graduates, our health care system is not assured due to the labor export policy of the government. They should balance courses also for the needs of the people,” said Flora Belinan, chairperson of the Migrante-Cordillera.

Based on the Ched-CAR data, there are eight graduates in Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries in 2007 but no one graduated in 2008. “These courses for food security are no longer the priority of the government due to its thirst for dollar remittances by these future overseas workers,” pointed out Belinan, a graduate of Social Work who went to Hongkong as a domestic helper.

Enrollees in the 18 HEIs in this city increased to 68,511 (SY 2007-2008) from 68,481 (SY 2006-2007) while the graduates increased by 19 percent with the total 10,218 (2007) from 8,570 in 2006.

Baguio as educational center

The Ched-CAR data show that there are a total of 98,015 enrollees in the higher educational institutions (HEIs) in the region during the school year 2007-2008.

Some 68,511 (70%) students are enrolled in the HEIs in Baguio City, making it as the educational center of the north. There are 9,627 (10 percent) students enrolled in Benguet; 5,417 (6 percent) in Mountain Province; 4,851 (5 percent) in Abra; 2,867 (3 percent) in Ifugao; and, 2,146 (2 percent) in Apayao.

The data also show the disparity of urban-based HEIs from the provinces. There are 46 HEIs in the region which are distributed as follows: Baguio 18; Benguet 8; Kalinga 6; Abra 5; Ifugao 4; Mountain Province 3; and, Apayao 2. All the HEIs in Mountain Province, Apayao and Ifugao are state colleges.

From the 46 HEIs, 37 or 80% are privately-owned or controlled while the 10% are SCUs, said Patricio Dinamling, Education Supervisor of the Ched-CAR.

The nine State Colleges and Universities (SCUs) are distributed in the region as follows: Baguio 1; Kalinga – 3; Benguet – 3; and, Abra2. The data show the control of private institutions on the HEIs.

4.5-38.89% TFI for private schools

It was also learned from the Ched-CAR data that private-owned HEIs in the region had increased their tuition fees ranging from 4.5 to 38.89%.

The following HEIs in the region increased their tuition fees: Saint Louis University – 4.5 % with a minimum of P377.25 per unit; Baguio Central University – 6.5 % for higher years with minimum from 369.98.92 to 346.04 while 10 % for first years from P 431.83 to 475.10; University of the Cordilleras – 10 % from P 327.15 to 359.85; University of Baguio – 7.5 % from 351.90 to 378.29; Baguio College of Technology (BETI) – 5 % from P 282.85 to 296.99; Kalos M.A. College – 38.89 % from P 72 to 100; Divine World College – 13 % from P 219.15 to 248 but P 270 to P 305.10 for first year BSN students.

Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently suspended the increase of tuition and other fees in SCUs.

“There is no order received by this office so far for the suspension of school fees in SCUs,” Dinamling pointed out. “But the tuition fees for private HEIs are for implementation,” he added.

This reporter learned from Dinamling that the tuition fee application for AMA Computer College and International Christian Colleges were disapproved. He added that the said institutions failed to observe some of the provisions of CMO No. 13, series of 1998 and CMO No. 29, series of 1999 which were the basis for school fee increases. # Arthur L. Allad-iw(NorthernDispatch)

Food security of the people in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya being threatened

June 20, 2008

KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya — Food security of indigenous peoples in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya is threatened by large-scale mining operations of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and Oxiana-Royal Co.

At the same time, the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) brings disunity among the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) residing in the mining-affected areas.

Different organizations like the Philippine Network for the Environment (PNE)-Kalikasan, and the Regional Development Center-Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan (RDC-Kaduami) which is a member of the EED TFIP or EED Philippine Partners for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, joined the Congressional hearing with their partner Save the Valley Environmental Alliance together with the local people organizations.

The Committee on National Cultural Communities of the House of Representatives conducted two on-site hearings and investigations in June 7-9, 2008 in Brgy. Kakidugen and Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya which are the sites of Oxiana-Royal co and Oceana Gold,respectively.

Indigenous peoples expressed their concern about the adverse impacts that these mining operations will bring to the environment and their sources of livelihood and subsistence.

“How do these mining operations address the food crisis of the people? We have been displaced from our ancestral lands in Ifugao and Benguet due to mining operations yet we are still facing the same problem here. We have witnessed the destructive impacts that these mining operations brought to the environment and we cannot allow this to happen again here. The people in these areas already have a sustainable source of livelihood than what these mining companies claim to provide upon entry of these operations,” said Lucas Buay of Kasibu Inter-Tribal Response for Ecological Development (KIRED).

The municipality of Kasibu has a wide forest area, making up about 30% of the total land area. It is proven that almost all crops except mango are suitable in this area.The primary agricultural products of the province are still rice and corn, but this gateway to the Cagayan Valley is envisioned to be the regional center for fruit and vegetable production and spice-based industries.

“We cannot let the entry of these mining companies destroy our lands as Kasibu is considered the citrus capital of the country, with an annual output of about 10 million kilograms of oranges from an estimated 20,000 hectares of citrus plantations. The citrus farmers stand by its position that agriculture is still the sustainable development for the people as our independent study on the success of citrus industry here would show. We do not want mining here,” Alfonso Namuhje II of the Mallabing Tribal Development Association (MTDP) said.

In Nueva Vizcaya, about 40% of its total population of 366,962 (based from the 2000 census) is comprised of IPs. It is home to the Bugkalots, Ifugaos, Ibalois, Gaddangs, Isinais, Ikalahans and Ilongots. Bugkalot, a group of IPs from Nueva Vizcaya, has entered into a peace covenant through a blood compact in 1950s with other IP groups who have migrated to this area after they had been driven away from their ancestral lands.

The areas stated in the mining permit granted to the mining companies are within an ancestral land claim by the Bugkalots who applied for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC), through the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

“We were not consulted by the NCIP during the process of securing the FPIC certificate because we are only migrant IPs in the areas and we are not holders of CADC. But there was no such thing in the provisions of the IPRA that migrant IPs could not be consulted, especially that we have been here for three decades now,” Fidel Opay of the Lower Muta Valley Farmers’ Federation (LMVFF) explained.

The FPIC process is being questioned because of the bribery and deception controversies in securing the certificate. “ Our peace pact with the Bugkalot tribe is also threatened to be negated because of this conflict that arises due to these controversies,” Opay added.

Mayor Romeo Tayaban of Kasibu, who was one of the resource speakers during the hearing said, “mining operations claim that they will bring development to the people in Kasibu. What kind of development is this if our people are disunited? We were once a peaceful community, but these issues have divided us because of these operations.” # Sherry Mae Soledad(NorthernDispatch)

Ipatupad ang GARB — magsasaka ng Ilokos

June 20, 2008

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — “Tunay na reporma sa lupa ang kailangan ng mga magsasaka at hindi ang mga bogus na programa tulad ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).”

Ito ang panawagan ng mga magsasaka ng Ilocos sa kanilang paggunita sa anibersaryo ng CARP noong Hunyo10.

Ayon kay Zaldy Alfiler, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation), dahil sa mga bogus na programa sa reporma sa lupa tulad ng CARP, nananatiling mailap ang pangarap ng mga magsasaka na magkaroon ng sariling lupang bubungkalin at lumaya mula sa pyudal na pagsasamantala.

Ayon sa datos ng Stop Exploitation at ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), mula noong maipatupad ang CARP noong 1988, mahigit 9,500 na malalaking panginoong maylupa ang nagmamay-ari ng 2,820,000 ektarya ng lupa o 20% ng lupaing pang-agrikultura. Sa loob ng 20 taon, halos hindi nabawasan ang mga pagmamay-ari ng mga panginoong maylupa dito kung kaya naman 70% ng mga magsasaka ay nakikisaka.

Kanselasyon

Dagdag pa ni Alfiler, “Numanpay adda dagiti inwaras ti gobyerno babaen ti Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) a Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) ken Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA), in-inut met a makankanselar dagitoy gapu ti panagkumplot dagiti apo’t daga ken DAR. Adu a dagdaga a naiwaras kadagiti mannalon ti ginuyod met laeng dagiti apo’t daga.” (Totoong may mga lupaing ipinamahagi ng gobyerno sa amamagitan ng CLT at CLOA ng DAR, pero unti-unti ring binabawi ito ng mga panginoong-maylupa).

Sa rehiyon ng Ilocos, tampok na kaso ang pagkansela ng mga CLT sa Cabugao, Ilocos Sur. Ayon kay Elmer Serrano, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Alyansa ti Kumpang ti Cabugao (Alkumpac), 37 magsasaka ang nakaambang mawalan ng lupa sa Brgy. Bato at 37 din sa Lipit kung magtatagumpay ang mga claimant ng mga lupain sa kanilang laban sa DAR.

Kung susuriin, ang mga lupaing iyon ay pag-aari na namin dahil kami ang nagsasaka at hindi ang mga nais magmay-ari nito,” giit ni Serrano.

Ang mga nasabing CLT ay ipinagkaloob noong dekada ’80 sa mga magsasaka ng Bato sa ilalim ng gobyernong Marcos na inaari ni Maximina Sajor na di-umano’y nagsanla kay Don Miguel Florendo bilang pambayad ng utang. Sa Lipit naman, may tatlong nag-aari ng lupain ngunit ang mga ito ay walang maipakitang papeles. Hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay wala pa ring nangyayari sa kaso sa DAR.

Ipatupad ang GARB

Sa pahayag ng Stop Exploitation, ipinaabot nito ang pakikiisa sa pagsasabatas ng Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) na inihanda ng Bayan Muna, Anakpawis at Gabriela Women’s Party.

Ani Elizabeth Alfiler ng Solidarity of Ilocos Associations of Women (Silaw), organization ng mga magsasakang kababaihan, layon ng House Bill 3059 na wakasan ang pagmomonopolyo at pagkontrol ng mga panginoong maylupa at mga dayuhang kapitalista na lupa.

“Daytoy ti pudpudno a mangipatungpal ti libre a pannakaiwaras ti daga ken mangikkat ti aniaman a klase ti panaggundaway iti kaaw-awayan. Panggep pay daytoy a pangatoen ti produksyon ken pastrek ti mannalon ken babbai,” (Ito ang tunay na magpapatupad ng libreng pamamahagi ng lupa at papawi sa anumang klase ng pagsasamantala sa kanayunan. Layon nitong pataasin ang produksyon at kita ng magsasaka at kababaihan) paliwanag ni Alfiler.

Hindi pabor and Silaw sa panukala ng gobyernong Arroyo sa ekstensyon ng CARP, ani Alfiler . “Magpapatuloy ang kawalan ng lupa at pagsasamantala sa mga magsasaka dahil ang makikinabang lamang nito ay si Gloria Arroyo kasama ang kakuntsaba niyang mga panginoong maylupa at dayuhang kapital,” giit pa nito.

Ayon kay Ireneo Agabao, isang lider ng Alkumpac, umaasa pa rin sila na makakamit nila ang kanilang pangarap. “Sa aming sama-samang pagkilos, maipapatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa,” pahayag ni Tata Inyong. # Rod Tajon(NorthernDispatch)

Militant groups stage “chain of protests”

June 20, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Showing their disgust to the Arroyo government of the worsening economic crisis, different militant sectoral groups staged a “chain of protests” in key areas of the city’s central business district, here Tuesday.


RICE PRICE PROTEST. Passersby and people queued trying to buy the cheaper government-subsidized rice listen attentively to women protesters as they explain steep price hikes at the rice section of the Baguio City market Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Cye Reyes/NORDIS

Clad in apron while holding placards with calls of protest against the issue of rice crisis, members of Innabuyog-Gabriela and the Cordillera peasant group Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taéng Kordilyera (Apit-Tako) held a short program in the rice section of the market, where there was a long line of people trying to buy the cheaper government-subsidized rice.

The women protesters stressed that the “increase in rice importation made the country dependent on other countries to meet the local demand for rice” that eventually led to the condition of speculation and price manipulation.

“We are actually capable of producing our own supply of rice but thousands of hectares of our agricultural lands are now being converted into subdivisions and golf courses,” said Virgie Dammay of Apit-Tako adding that the country’s food security is also threatened by crop conversion where high-value crops such as oil palm and jathropa are substituted for palay.

Members of the urban poor organization Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (Ornus) in their lightning rally at Km. 0 lower Session Road, showed their fury on the continuous oil price hikes resulting to the relentless increase in the prices of basic commodities.

“Mahal na ang bigas, mahal pa ang gas, kaunting kita lagas!” read the rallyists’ placards.

Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) Spokesperson Lito Wayas aired the sentiment of drivers and operators for the scrapping of the 12% expanded value added tax (EVAT) on oil and its by-products.

The urban poor sector pinpointed the oil deregulation law as the main culprit why multinational oil companies can have unlimited increases in the prices of their petroleum products.

The militant workers’ alliance Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Cordillera chapter held a petition signing at the People’s Park calling for the enactment of House Bills 1772 and 1962 authored by the late Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran of Anakpawis Partylist.

The said House Bills are to legislate the P125 wage increase of workers and the P3,000 across-the-board wage increase of government employees.

“We intend to get as much signatures as we can before submitting it to the appropriate committee in Congress,” said Nida Tundagui of KMU-Cordillera.


Photo by Cye Reyes/NORDIS

Different youth organizations led by Anakbayan also gathered along Session Road on the same day to ventilate the people’s remorse to the present economic crisis, specifically denouncing Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s late pronouncement asking colleges and universities not to increase tuition and other school fees.

“There is no other way to help the students with the high fees than to review and reform the Commission on Higher Education’s (Ched) policies on education and allocate higher state subsidy to education,” said Anjo Rey Cerdeña, chairperson of College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) Baguio-Benguet chapter.

According to the statement of Tongtongan ti Umili “the economic hardship would not only lead to increasing number of poor and hungry Filipinos but also to the widening and ever-growing movement to assert people’s rights and protest against this anti-people regime.”

The protesters all gathered at the People’s Park and held a short program to signify their united call to oust Arroyo. # Cye Reyes(NorthernDispatch)

IPs prime victims of climate change

June 20, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Indigenous peoples (IPs) zoom in the problem of climate change as one major issue endangering their very existence.


Christian Erni. Photo by Myko Franco Chiong/NORDIS

This was emphasized in the press conference of the recently concluded Asia Workshop for the Promotion of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) here Tuesday.

According to Joan Carling, a member of the advisory council of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), indigenous peoples have nothing to do with the worsening conditions of global warming but they are in the front line as victims of this phenomenon and as victims of the governments’ mitigation measures.

“Because of the distortion of the agricultural cycle brought about by the climate change, farmers cannot recognize anymore when the wet or dry season would be and this greatly affects the farming cycle leading to food insecurity,” said Carling.

One cited factor was the government’s aggressive promotion of bio-fuel production like jathropa, as an alternative to fossil fuels that causes massive conversion of agricultural lands.

According to the panelists, lands originally used for food production now massively converted for bio-fuel production is one of the main reasons for food scarcity, soaring food prices and widespread hunger across the globe.

“The impact of the issue of bio-fuel production is that our lands are being taken away from us,” said Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Secretary-general Jannie Lasimbang. She added that they anticipate massive land grabbing these plantations.


Photo by Myko Franco Chiong/NORDIS

Dams also considered as an alternative source of energy was also cited as contributor to widespread ethnocide. It destroys the social cohesion of indigenous peoples through dislocation and the destruction of their traditional resources.

Carling said the indigenous peoples have actually been practicing sustainable resource management systems that have preserved the environment.

“As the original environmentalists and conservationists, the indigenous peoples have ways to preserve the environment and prevent the damaging effects of environmental degradation that has not only been recognized,” said Carling.

The centuries-old Banaue rice terraces was cited as one good example of such indigenous practices. The terracing prevents the erosion of land and manages the irrigation from forest watersheds.

Lasimbang lamented, however, that these indigenous ways of managing the resources are neither acknowledged nor recognized by “modern” agricultural systems today.

Promotion of IP rights

According to Christian Erni the Asian coordinator of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the UN declaration was a result of a 20-year struggle of different IP groups and their support groups.

“It was a result of a global IP movement which is considered as one of the most successful movements in the world,” said Erni.

Since the adoption of the UNDRIP in September of last year, different IP groups, lobby and advocate groups are now campaigning for its promotion and implementation by the different governments.

“The battle was already won with the UN adoption of the declaration but the war is not yet over,” said Erni adding that their group would still closely monitor its implementation by the different states.

The Asia workshop attended by 80 participants representing 40 organizations from 10 Asian countries, was the first regional occasion where the UNDRIP promotion was discussed.

“It is a historic event especially that the discussions were at various levels and the participants came from different backgrounds,” said Chandra Roy, regional IP program coordinator of the UN Development Program (UNDP).

The action plan of the Asian workshop includes themes on IP women, identification and recognition of IPs as distinct peoples, partnership with UN agencies and advocacy groups, local struggles, networking, issues on health, human rights, self-determination and self-governance.

According to Carling there are about 300 million IPs worldwide and two-thirds of this population are in Asia, “thus the declaration would be implemented largely in Asia.” # Cye Reyes(NorthernDispatch)

Editorial Cartoon: Karambola sa wala

June 20, 2008

Tsk tsk tsk!

Drilon, Legarda on Isnaji’s role: Maybe

June 20, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—“Maybe.”

Ces Drilon could not give a categorical reply when asked if Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji had conspired with her kidnappers, as police officials have alleged.

Drilon talked to reporters before attending a thanksgiving Mass with her family, close friends and colleagues Thursday at Medical City hospital in Pasig City where she was confined.

“The mayor … maybe,” said Drilon.

Drilon said her suspicion was somehow roused after her abductors chose Isnaji as the main emissary when they previously said that they did not want a politician as a negotiator.

She said she found it confusing and asked them why they chose Isnaji.

“I said I thought no politician, but why the mayor?” she said.

Drilon said her kidnappers told her that they knew Isnaji and if he betrayed them, they could easily kill him or his family.

But she said she was somewhat torn and could not say she was convinced that Isnaji was behind her kidnapping.

“Personally, I can’t say,” she said.

“But there may be some evidence,” she said.

“Of course, we were successfully taken out from the clutches of those guys by his son, so it’s hard to judge,” Drilon said.

She also said that there were no tell-tale signs if Isnaji was a conspirator in her conversations with him. “I didn’t feel that.”

Drilon suspected that phone conversations between Isnaji and the kidnappers could have been tapped.

“So I’m hoping that [wiretaps] will stand in court if ever there was anything to suggest that he is a suspect through the conversations with the kidnappers,” Drilon said.

Mindanao State University Prof. Octavio Dinampo, who was kidnapped with Drilon, said Thursday in Zamboanga City that he could not believe that Isnaji had been arrested in connection with the abduction.

“I think it is very unfair,” Dinampo told reporters. “Mayor Isnaji and his son were just like anybody else who wanted to help us get out of there. Their becoming suspects is really unfair.”

Temojen Tulawie, provincial chair of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Society in Sulu, expressed surprise at the turn of events.

“We are appealing for the immediate and safe release of the mayor and his son,” said Tulawie.

In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday, Sen. Loren Legarda, who played a key role in the negotiations, disclosed that “from the beginning he (Isnaji) was suspected already, that’s why he was withdrawing (as a negotiator).”

“But assuming that he’s not completely clean, he was a necessary cog,” Legarda then said.

The senator said Isnaji was “crucial” to the talks and that he “knew how to use his position.” Somebody, she said, just “needed to focus and tell him what to do.” With a report from Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao(PDI)

=====================

My Take:

2 sides:

1st — If the Isnaji’s are really the mastermind, which is a possiblity, then this is a very good development.

2nd — else, this is another form of moulding the perfect scape-goat, as the real perpetrators flee.  i cannot disregard this point considering the politicalization and the corruption of our armed forces and national police.

on ces’ take: she said “So I’m hoping that [wiretaps] will stand in court if ever there was anything to suggest that he is a suspect through the conversations with the kidnappers” as she commented on th possibility of Isnaji masterminding her abduction.

1. ces is talking here as citizen ces. not as mediaperson ces.  we shuld be very clear about this. she wanted a revenge.  that’s the reason why she unwittingly promoted wire-tapping — journalist’s are against it.  but she’s conscious. conscious of her, being a journalist. that’s why she is not saying that she fully embraces that theory.

2. i pity her. she’s just a rag doll now. being used by the real mastermind to clean-up their track. i hope she’ll soon recover her mind, her composure.  para naman di sha tanggap ng tanggap agad ng spoon-fed information.  it’s time for her to be the media-person ces again, para maview niya ang nangyari sa kanya in a broader perspective and see other possibilities, possibilities that may be bigger than isnaji-possibility.

latest development painted isnaji as an influential man — a reason why he was chosen by the kidnappers to be the negotiator.  he is also a former mnlf oficer — a reason why the military conveniently tagged him suspect.  politically, isnaji is being groomed by some mnlf to be their bet on the upocmming ARMM elections, so the possibility of him being the mastermind and him being the scape-goat or victim of political attacks is present.

Binmaley mayor deplores sub-standard materials

June 20, 2008

BINMALEY–Upon seeing that substandard materials are being used to repair schools here damaged by Typhoon Cosme, Mayor Simplicio Rosario has immediately ordered a halt to the ongoing reconstruction work in two schools

Rosario, an engineer and a contractor prior to entering public service, said he personally saw, while he was distributing free school bags and notebooks to school children in his town, that the steel being used by the contractor of the Department of Education (DepEd) is only 9 millimeters in size which is not enough to hold trusses.

“This is not fit for building construction,” an angry mayor said, adding that it puts the children and the school staff at risk in the event another natural calamity, especially an earthquake, hit the town.

Stopped by the mayor were the rehabilitation of Binmaley Central Elementary School and Binmaley North Central School, two of the most heavily-damaged schools.

Rosario asked the contractor to present to him the design for the repairs, and he was told that the reconstruction blueprint came from the DepEd central office and no coordination was undertaken with the town’s engineer.

The mayor also stressed that while the town is grateful to the DepEd’s immediate assistance in the aftermath of the calamity, the department must not compromise safety of the schoolchildren.

Meanwhile, the school opening here went smoothly on Tuesday, June 10, despite the extensive damage brought by the typhoon on May 17.

Eduviges de Vera, principal of the Binmaley North Elementary School, told The PUNCH that they have adopted two shifts for the classes to accommodate all students owing to the lack of classrooms.

It was the school’s Gabaldon building that houses eight classrooms, the principal’s office, and the school clinic that was badly damaged.

De Vera expressed optimism that the rehabilitation will be finished soon. #

Region I workers get P10

June 20, 2008

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union—The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) has approved on May 28 a P10 increase in the daily wage of private sector workers from in Region 1.

RTWP Board Secretary Exequiel de Guzman said the increase will become effective 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the region.

Based on the wage order, the P230 daily wage will now become P240 for the minimum wage earners within the Ilocos Region.

The board’s approval came after due consultation with representatives of labor and management in the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur

In the consultation meetings, labor representatives asked for a higher increase but this was opposed by representatives of management, citing negative factors affecting their businesses.—LM(SundayPunch)

2010 election fund raiser? Privatization of gov’t stake in Petron means more oil price hikes – Bayan Muna

June 19, 2008

BAYAN MUNA Rep. Teddy Casiño is firmly opposing the government’s plan to sell its 40 percent stake in Petron Corporation, saying it would “definitely lead to a permanent regime of oil price hikes as the government losses its only remaining foothold in a deregulated industry dominated by foreign oil firms and their local agents.”

The government is looking to sell its 40% stake in oil giant Petron Corp. by November once approvals are secured from Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo and the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) board next month, Finance Sec. Margarito Teves said yesterday.

“Government, instead of selling Petron, should get back a majority stake to gain market leverage and effectively control the manner, rate, frequency and so-called justifications being made by oil companies in hiking prices. Petron’s sale shows that this government actually favors the weekly oil price hikes done by oil companies. So far, prices have been hiked 15 times this year.  We also view this privatization initiative as an administration fund raiser for its slate in the 2010 elections,” Casiño said.

Petron refines, markets and distributes fuel throughout the Philippines . It has consistently retained its market position, cornering 40 percent share of the country’s fuel market. “It is easy to see that oil price hikes can be effectively be put in check if the state itself has market leverage. The problem with the Arroyo administration is its focus on raising funds – including selling Petron – for purposes other than the people’s immediate relief,” Casiño said.

“Since government rejected British investment firm Ashmore Group’s offer of P6.531 per share, we think that it must instead get majority control of Petron if it is intent to alleviate the people’s sufferings worsened by each oil price hike.  If government wants to take a clear and definite step towards addressing rampant oil price hikes, it should buy back Petron,” Casiño said.

Casiño, principal author of House Bill 3031 that mandates the government to re-acquire control of Petron Corp. said that “government only needs to acquire an additional 11% of Petron shares on top of the PNOC’s 40% stake for the state to gain the majority in the oil firm.” HB 3031 has been pending with the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization since November 13, 2007.

The lawmaker said one source of funding for the buyback is the windfall revenues from the VAT on oil and petroleum products estimated to be between P16.7-P18 billion. ###

On Rizal bday, youth groups urge fellow youth to be ‘pag-asa ng bayan’

June 19, 2008

Offer flowers at Rizal monument in Luneta, stage human chain in Espana

YOUTH ACT NOW! (Youth for Accountability and Truth Now!) celebrated National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s 147th birthday today by urging the youth to be ‘pag-asa ng bayan (the hope of the nation)’ and take action for meaningful social change.

YOUTH ACT NOW! member organizations the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Student Christian Movement, Kabataang Pinoy, Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, youth artists’ group KARATULA , Youth Revolt, Kabataang Kristiyano para sa Bayan and the Liga ng Kabataang Moro spearheaded today’s activities to mark the event.

Youth and student leaders offered red roses at the Rizal monument in Luneta early this morning as a symbol of the youth’s commitment to continue Rizal’s legacy of vigilance and courageousness.

In the afternoon, youth and students from different schools and universities gathered in front of the University of Sto. Tomas in Espana and formed a human chain ‘underlining the youth’s unity and collective action against the ills of society.’

YOUTH ACT NOW! Spokesperson and NUSP president Alvin Peters said, “We urge our fellow youth to emulate Dr. Rizal’s heroism. Kabataan, maging pag-asa ng bayan. It is our noble duty to criticize when we see wrongs done, to take action when there is oppression and repression against our fellow youth and countrymen.”

For his part, CEGP national president Vijae Alquisola said, “Rizal once said, ‘There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves’. Our country is experiencing a new kind of tyranny, that of economic slavery and a government marred by corruption and lies. We enjoin our fellow youth to reject this miserable status quo and act for meaningful social change.”

LFS Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said that ‘to relive Dr. Rizal’s heroism, the youth of today should diligently study and analyze the country’s situation and bravely face the challenges of the present. Mag-aral, mangahas, makibaka, this is Rizal’s legacy. Our elders are counting on us to be the young radicals of the nation, to once again create history by toppling the Arroyo administration and to build a future of good governance and social justice.”

YOUTH ACT NOW! announced that it would conduct weekly protests that would escalate towards a nationwide ‘walkout protest’ by July, before Pres. Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address. ###

In Catanduanes: Townsfolk support hydro plant

June 19, 2008

VIRAC, Catanduanes — Close to 3,000 people from various municipalities in the island province of Catanduanes stormed the hearing of the Energy Regulatory Commission here to show their support for the controversial mini hydro-power plant project whose construction was blocked by Gov. Joseph Cua.

Energy Commissioner Rodolfo Albano, Jr., chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission, expressed bemusement upon seeing close to 3,000 people coming in together with streamers and placards expressing their support to the P729 million proposed hydro power plant projects that they said could help resolve the worsening power outages here

The P729 million proposed hydro-power project was initiated by Chinoy businessman Elizaldy Co, president of the Sunwest Water and Power Co. Inc., (SUWECO) based in Legazpi City. To Co’s dismay, the proposed project was opposed by Gov. Cua of this province.

Co accused Cua of protecting the latter’s diesel oil business by turning down the environment-friendly and recyclable hydro power plant. Co’s sentiment were supported by other concerned Bicolano lawmakers and policy makers, including former Senator Francisco Tatad, a native of this province.

The security guards of First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative (FICELCO) reportedly barred the people with streamers and placards from entering the premises unless they agreed to leave behind their propaganda materials.

Albano was amazed because according to him it was the first ever in the country wherein thousands of people thronged to attend a commission’s hearing relative to a planned hydro-power plant project.

“This is the first time in the country’s history that the commission conducted the ERC hearing wherein thousands of people are very eager to know the outcome of the hearing. Even Senator Tatad and Bishop Manolo de los Santos are here; seemingly the contract is in the favor of the consumers,” Albano said before large audience here.

Tatad attended the first day of hearing last June 5 from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm, along with the people of Catanduanes while Bishop De los Santos attended the June 6 hearing from 9: 00 a.m., to 12:00 noon under the scorching heat of the sun within the FICELSO compound.

Albano even requested the people to stand up together as a sign of their respect to the prelate.

Albano flew in this island province to preside over the two-day initial hearing, pre-trial conference and evidentiary hearing for ERC Case No. 2008-021 in the matter of application for approval of the Electricity Supply Agreement (ESA) between Ficelco and SUWECO held at Ficelco compound last June 5 and 6. The hearing was conducted after the proposed hydro power plant projects was contested by Gov. Cua before the ERC last May 26, 2008 following the authority given by the provincial board led by Vice Gov. Alfredo M. Aquino last May 7, this year.

Cua cited in his opposition paper to the ERC that the applicant failed to submit the documents prescribed by law; there is no competitive selection process or bidding undertaken by Ficelco in the selection of SUWECO as new power producer; the agreement entered into between Ficelco and Co’s firm did not conduct feasibility study to justify the assumptions made in the Electricity Supply Agreement; the selling price of electricity offered by Co is grossly overpriced and is against the basis established by law, thus SUWECO has no technical and financial capability to undertake the project.

Cua also said that the Ficelco has an existing ESA with several power providers which to date still remains to be in effect not having been declared invalid or rescinded by any competent authority in an appropriate proceeding.

Zaldy Co said that the primary reason why the governor was opposing the project was selfish business interest.

“Kung sa Iloilo mainit kaming sinasalubong ni Gov. Sally Perez nang garland dahil sa hydro power project, dito sa Catandaunes sinalubong kami ni Governor Cua ng bato. Nakakalungkot isipin na kapwa ko pa Bicolano ang hindi supportive at nag-oppose,” Co lamented.

Co told Bicol Mail that as a Bicolano businessman he was pioneering a clean renewable energy project in the region to prepare for the increasing power demand that would result to gradual and global power shortages starting in 2011.

“If he allowed our project, the government will save P200 million a year aside from providing clean energy, employment and income to the province and host municipalities even as it will also attract new investors,” Co told Bicol Mail.

Former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad also assailed Gov. Cua for his vested interest.

He said Cua was involved in the sale and distribution of bunker that would be affected when the hydro plant began to operate.

“Governor Cua should distinguish business interest from politics,” Tatad said.

In an interview over the mobile phone, Gov. Cua denied the accusation of Tatad and Co.

Cua said that he was just questioning the ESA agreement entered into between the FICELCO and SUWECO because there was no competitive bidding done which could possibly be disadvantageous to the prople of Catanduanes in the future.

He admitted he owned three gasoline stations and the National Power Corporation is using his tank as storage of bunk-fed fuel.

“NPC is using my tank as storage of bunker fuel but I am opposing the project because of lapses made within the ESA entered into by SUWECO and FICELCO,” the governor said.

He explained however that despite his opposition, he cannot do anything if ERC finally decided to approve the ESA.

SUWECO is engaged in the installation and distribution of water and electric utilities on the micro level and on macro plane for other similar projects in other parts of the country outside Bicol.

Co said that SUWECO works to help reduce dependency on imported fossil fuel, where prices are constantly increasing.

SUWECO also provides the host community significant revenues as mandated by R.A. 7156 from the operation of the mini-hydro plants.

a“While the province of Albay is a prime energy source for mainland Luzon, its residents and the rest of Bicol have had to cope with more expensive energy rates,” Co said adding that the search for cheaper alternative energy sources becomes even more imperateat economic crisis.

Caption: DIESEL VS HYDRO PLANT. Former Senator Francisco Tatad (seated, 3rd from left of front row among the audience), a native of the island province of Catanduanes, flew home to attend the ERC hearing on the proposed hydro plant which Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua opposes. – RHAYDZ B. BARCIA

Sex and the City at Kung Fu Panda sa Panahong Tulad Nito

June 19, 2008

Habang ang mamamayan ay natuto nang managinip na kasing laki ng Disneyland at barkong Titanic, ang ipinapalaganap naman ng lokal na studio ay pa-lokal at nasyonal na karanasan ng mga OCW na pelikula na naglalayon makapagrekruta pa ng mas maraming mamamayang mag-o-OCW.

NI ROLAND TOLENTINO
KULTURANG POPULAR KULTURA
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

Walang ibang panahon.  Wala namang substansyal na pagbabago sa pagdaan ng mga panahon.  Ang nagbabago lang ay ang mga bagay na nagiging artifact ng panahon—mga bagay na nagpapagunita sa nakaraang lagay ng panahon.

Sa U.S., ang pagpasok ng mga Hollywood blockbusters ay senyales na panahon na ito ng tag-init sa kanila.  Ang bulto ng kanilang taunang kita ay nanggaling sa kung ilang pelikula ang lalampas sa US $100 milyon na marka bilang sertipikadong blockbuster.

At sa kaisa-isang paglubog ng barkong “Titanic,” na siyang magtataas sa US $500 milyon ang pinakamalaking kinita ng pelikula, nangangarap ang Hollywood na muli pa itong malampasan.  Global ang market ng Hollywood at kasama tayo sa bultong tumatangkilik ng kanyang pelikula.

Humahawi ang lokal na sinehan kapag dumating ang Hollywood blockbuster.  Naalaala ko sa nakaraang installment ng “Batman” na nang pumasok ako sa Gateway Mall ay walang ibang sineng mapapanood kundi ito.

At sa kasalukuyang pag-unlad ng saklaw ng Hollywood sa bansa, tanging mga pelikula ng lokal na higanteng studio ang maaring makalaban dito.  Kaya rin hindi kataka-taka na ang pinambabato ng Star Cinema ay OCW (overseas contract worker) film, tulad ng “Caregiver,” na pinagbibidahan ng pinakamalalaking artista sa arsenal nito.

Habang ang mamamayan ay natuto nang managinip na kasing laki ng Disneyland at barkong Titanic, ang ipinapalaganap naman ng lokal na studio ay pa-lokal at nasyonal na karanasan ng mga OCW na pelikula na naglalayon makapagrekruta pa ng mas maraming mamamayang mag-o-OCW.

At ito ang global turn ng studio, na kaugnay rin naman ng kanilang telebisyon network na may direksyong maging komoditi sa mga OCW tumatangkilik nito sa labas ng bansa.  Una, umaapila sa guilt ang lokal na pelikula sa abject na realidad ng kahirapan sa loob ng bansa na napag-iwanan ng mga mahal sa buhay.  Ikalawa, silang OCW na may finansyal na yaman ay nililikha bilang sabayang media bi-product at consumers.

Bi-product dahil hindi naman sila ang ibinebenta kundi ang kanilang karanasan via Sharon Cuneta at Claudine Barreto.  Consumer dahil sila rin mismo ang ipinapatangkilik ng komoditing ginawa para sa kanila.  Pinapatangkilik ang OCW sa pagnanasang makaugnay sa mahal sa buhay (bayan, bansa, kamag-anak, at kaibigan) na nakabatay sa realidad na hindi makabalik dahil sa kalikasan ng kanilang trabaho.

Na hindi rin naman kakatwa kung bakit ang mga pangunahing channel sa bansa ay brina-brand ang sarili bilang “kapamilya” at “kapuso.”  Ipinipirito ng mga ito sa sariling mantika ang mga OCW at ang kanilang mahal sa buhay.  At inihahanda rin ang mga wanna-be OCW sa OCW na karanasan—ipinadarama na kung paano ba kahirap maging OCW, kung bakit hindi na ito option, at kung paano dadalhin ang bigat ng ganitong desisyon.

Ang lokal na manonood ay prospective OCW naman talaga.  May kita kaya nakakapanood ng sine sa loob ng mall.  May kita kaya nakakapagdamit ng maayos para manood ng sine at mag-malling.  May kita pero hindi lubos dahil hindi naman regular na nagagawa ang magastos na aktibidad na ito.

Kaya ang rekursong sinasambit ng panonood ng pelikula—lokal man o Hollywood at foreign—ay paghahanda sa mamamayan ng bansa na gawing lehitimo ang karanasan sa libangan.  Na ang panonood ng sine ay isang gitnang uring panuntunan.  Na ang pirated DVD at player ay simulain lamang pagdanas ng illicit na gitnang uri tungo sa lehitimong pagiging gitnang uri via OCW o ang lokal nitong surrogate, ang call center.

Di nga ba’t ang call center ay pagdanas na rin ng pagtratrabaho sa ibang bansa?  Na sa mga aral na twang at virtual space ay araw-araw (o gabi-gabing) nakakapangibang-bayan at pagtratrabaho?  Na ang entry point na kita rito ay tulad na rin ng kita ng OCW sa ibang bansa (katumbas ng kita ng DH o domestic helper)?

Nang manood ako ng “Sex and the City” sa Trinoma Mall, ang high-end mall sa kabilang dulo ng Metro Manila, lost lang ako sa pana-panahong kolektibong tumatawa ang manonood.  Parang hindi naman natatawa, o sila lang ang natatawa.  Pero masaya naming dinanas ang voluntaryong virtual na malayo sa pang-araw-araw na realidad.

At ano ba ang tinunghayan sa sine?  Apat na babaeng walang guilt sa kanilang indibidwal na pagnanasang maging maligaya sa kani-kanilang personal (domestiko) na buhay.  Apat na mayayamang babae na ang ipinakita lamang ay ang kanilang pagdanas ng libangan dulot ng kanilang trabaho at hindi ang aktwal na pagtratrabaho nila.

Ganito ang kahalintulad na pagtatago ng sine sa mismong paraan kung paano tayo nakapanood ng sine.  Hindi ba’t may nagtrabaho kaya tayo nakabili ng tiket?  Hindi ba’t ang ginagawa natin ay libangan, at kung gayon bakit gusto nating makapanood ng sine ukol sa pagtratrabaho?

Kung gusto nating makapanood ng sine tungkol sa pagtratrabaho, manonood tayo ng OCW na pelikula.  Pero hindi ito ang choice natin.  Hindi ba’t naggayak tayo sa pagmo-mall at ang suot natin ay aproximasyon ng suot ng mga tauhan sa pelikulang pinapanood natin?  Kasama ng tabas ng buhok at make-up, at higit sa lahat, disposisyon sa buhay?

At anong klaseng buhay ito?  Guilt-less, na tulad ng O-calories at sugarfree ay hindi naman lubos bilang healthy ang mga opsyon na ito.  Na patuloy pa ring magre-release ng insulin ang sistema dahil ito naman ang gawain ng artificial sugar.

Paano magiging guilt-less kung ang mismong sinasakdal ay ang manonood na willing namang magpasakdal sa kasong aksesorya sa pagnanasang makaangat?  At maaga ang sosyalisasyon sa ganitong pagnanasa.

Nanood kami ng mga pamangkin kong paslit ng “Kung Fu Panda,” na pati naman ako ay naaliw.  Ang konsepto ng pagsasama-sama at panonood nilang magpipinsan ay nakakasapat na para sila maging hyper sa loob ng sine.  Ang dami nilang palitan ng tig-iisang linyang hirit.

At maging ang mga paslit sa likuran namin ay gayon din.  Nag-uumapaw sa enjoyment sa libangan na sandali.  Ang mga realidad sa mga bata at problema sa nakakatanda na kinahaharap ay saglit na naglaho.

Sa “Kung Fu Panda” ang isang pagkataba-tabang hayop ay natuto ng ilang araw lamang para maging savior ng mamamayan sa China.  Kahit pa may kapasidad ng distinksyon ang totoo sa hindi ang mga paslit, napuntirya na rin ang kanilang pagkatao sa aspirasyong makaangat.

Mapunta sa ibang lugar maliban sa sariling kinalalagyan.  Tunay na bonanza ito ng Hollywood films.  Hindi lang nasisimot nila ang kita ng gitnang uring Filipino na sa ngayon ay pangunahing market ng pagtangkilik sa sine.  Maging ang aspirasyon at paraan ng pagnanasa ng gitnang uri ay naisama na sa net ng Amerikanong ideolohiya.

Na kahit pa sa China ang mga hayop, tagpuan at kung-fu na istilo, ang mga ito ay nakolonisa na sa adbentura ng ideolohiya ng Amerikanong imperialismo.  Na sa manonood ng “Sex in the City,” ang posh-ness ng upper-side New York ay malalim na ring nakaukit sa guni-guni ng gitnang uring manonood nito at nagnanais rin mapabilang, kundi man makita, sa guilt-less na mundong ito.

Na parang hindi nangyari ang 9/11 sa New York, at ang New York ay naging mas malaking U.S., at ang U.S. ay lumawak na sa sinehan sa Trinoma at iba pang cinemplex sa bansa.  Nag-uumapay na ang geopolitikal na espasyo ng Amerikanong imperialismo.

Soft-selling ito kaya nakukumbinsi tayo sa napakaraming bagay hinggil sa kanilang dominasyon ng mundo.  Ito o i-boykot ang mga produkto nila?  Paano mo ibo-boykot ang Hollywood films, ang kanilang palabas sa telebisyon, cable channels, usong damit at tabas ng buhok?

Nang mapanood ko ang dalawang pelikula, hindi lang naman kami nag-iisa sa sinehan.  Blockbuster ito.  Ano ang sinasabi na ang panonood ng Hollywood na sine ang rekurso ng mga gitnang uri para magkaroon ng relief sa kanilang unti-unting naagnas na pangekonomikong lagay panlipunan?

Sasabihing intelligent comedy at women-in-their-40s liberation ang pelikula, o wholesome family entertainment ito.  Ito nga naman o ang saga ng caregiver-via-Sharon Cuneta ang magaganap.  Na kung gusto mo ngang magkaroon ng relief, bakit ka manonood ng anumang konektado sa iyong realidad?

Kaya maging ang “Caregiver” na rin ay hiwalay sa historikal at panlipunang realidad.  Na nanghihimok ito sa kapwa professional na huwag magsisi, piliin maging caregiver, at idambana ang puting alaga bilang nagpalaya sa kanyang agam-agam, kulang na lang at mismong Philippine Overseas Employment Agency ang nag-produce nito.

Na nakakapanghimok na maging at manatiling OCW ang pelikula ay patungkol pa sa aparato ng mainstream film industry ng estado.  At ang estado ni Gloria Arroyo, kahit pa ginigipit ang mga Lopez na may-ari rin ng Star Cinema na nag-produce sa pelikula, ay konektado naman sa Amerikanong imperialismo.

Sa susunod na magbayad ang gitnang uri ng malaking bahagi ng kanyang sweldo para sa tiket sa sine, isipin niyang siya na nagbabayad ay nagtratrabaho para may ipambayad.  Siya na nagbabayad ay nagbabayad hindi lamang para manood at makalimot, kundi para bumoto rin sa referendum ng estado at imperialismo.

Malaki ang puwang ng independent filmmaking at political film collectives sa bansa.  Ito ay kung matatalakay nila ang ugnayang pang-estado at imperialismo na soft-sell at wholesale na inilalako sa mamayang nagtratrabaho, namimili at pabor na bumoboto.

Mangangailangan din ng ibang paraan ng produksyon at konsumpsyon, distribusyon at iba pang sistemang nakagisnan na sa pagiging nasa laylayan ng Hollywood at imperialismo.  Ito ang kailangang akdain sa mga panahong tulad nito.

Walang ibang panahon! Bulatlat

RP Envoy to Saudi Dared: Tell Your Lies to Rape Victim’s Face

June 19, 2008

An overseas Filipina worker was allegedly gang-raped in Saudi Arabia. Instead of getting all the support she needed from Philippine Embassy officials, they accused the victim of fabricating lies just so she could return home.

BY AUBREY MAKILAN
MIGRANT WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

“Come home and tell your lies to the rape victim’s face.”

This was the challenge of Migrante International to Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor after he castigated Filipina rape victim Jessa, not her real name, for insisting that she was gang-raped in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after a press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – claiming that Jessa denied being raped – was published in major dailies.

Claiming credit

Jessa’s story caught the public’s attention after a text message was sent by an OFW in Saudi Arabia to Migrante International about a Filipina domestic helper who was being raped by her employer. Migrante International, in turn, notified the Department of Foreign Affairs DFA).

On May 29, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that Jessa has denied being held hostage by her employer and being gang-raped by four men on May 19 in Al-Qatief, Saudi Arabia.

According to the DFA press release, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) allegedly stated in her May 26 statement that her “allegations were fabricated and mere products of her imagination, and that all she intended was to facilitate her return to her family in the Philippines.” Furthermore, the DFA said Jessa also acknowledged her receipt of full payment of the salaries due her amounting to 6,700 riyals ( ___ ).

In an earlier statement dated May 28, the DFA said that the OFW extended her gratitude to the embassy for facilitating her repatriation, and making sure that her employer paid for her travel expenses.

In fact, the DFA commended Ambassador Villamor’s immediate response to Jessa’s case. It said, “Villamor immediately dispatched a consular officer and an interpreter to Al-Qatief—some 700 kilometers from Riyadh – to investigate the case and assist the OFW, soon after receiving instructions from the department.”

The DFA added that upon representations of the embassy officer, the Al-Qatief Police summoned the employer on May 26 to present the OFW and shed light on the case. The employer reportedly agreed to shoulder the OFW’s repatriation costs.

On the other hand, Jessa, who arrived in the country on May 28, has been quoted in media reports saying that she was forced by the Saudi police to sign a piece of paper in Arabic and she does not stand by that document.

Who is telling the truth?

Jessa, through her husband, told Migrante-Cordillera that she never withdrew her allegations in the KSA, adding that she was even videotaped while being gang-raped by four men. Jessa reiterated that she signed the document under duress and that Philippine embassy officials didn’t even explain to her the contents of the said document written in Arabic. She just thought that signing the document would be the fastest way for her to escape her tormentors.

For Migrante International and Migrante-Middle East, the bias should always be on the side of the victim.

“Reason and common sense dictate that in choosing what to believe between the conflicting claims of the victim and Philippine Embassy officials – who are supposed to protect the victim – one could easily deduce that the victim would never lie because such accusation would put her safety at great risk. The embassy official’s interest, on the other hand, is to protect his position, even if that means violating the right of the victim to file an appropriate case against the alleged perpetrator,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona also said that the victim would not insist on going back home if her employer is treating her well.

He recalled that in their appeal letter to the Philippine Embassy on May 21, Migrante-Middle East explicitly requested the embassy to assist the victim in filing the appropriate case once the victim has already been rescued from her employer so that justice would be served.

“To our surprise, the victim was immediately sent back home on May 28. Why did they suddenly and immediately repatriate the victim without a thorough investigation of the matter?” asked Monterona. “Such swift and compromising stance and action by Philippine officials abroad on sensitive cases like rape, sexual abuses and harassment and mysterious deaths of OFWs abroad is quite alarming because it deprives the victims and their families of justice,” Monterona added.

Criminal negligence

Lian Santos, Migrante deputy secretary general, also criticized Villamor who was quoted as saying, “This kind of misleading attitudes of our workers like Jessa will harm our bilateral relations.” Villamor even said that the KSA and the Philippines have had excellent ties in almost all sectors.

“Villamor’s callous and unfounded outbursts manifest his kind of leadership over almost a million OFWs in the Kingdom; he is more concerned with diplomatic relations than the welfare of our kababayans under his watch,” said Santos. “Because of his proven track record of criminal negligence and lack of sympathy to our OFWs in the Kingdom, Villamor has lost all credibility.”

Santos said they would continue to seek justice for Jessa and for all OFWs raped, maltreated, unjustly jailed and stranded not only in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but all over the world. They also stepped up their call for the recall and termination of Villamor for criminal negligence.

Monterona added that their group is calling on the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment and the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs to conduct an investigation on how Philippine officials abroad deal with such sensitive cases to protect OFW-victims and to ensure that their basic human rights are protected and upheld. Bulatlat

OFW’s Remains Repatriated After 3 Months, Quest for Justice Begins

June 19, 2008

The plane that carried that remains of Eugenia Baja from Saudi Arabia landed in NAIA around 7:30 p.m. June 12. For her sister Lilibeth Garcia, it was the result of more than three months of pleading with government agencies to have her sister’s body repatriated; and it was facilitated only after she sought the help of the media and Migrante International.  Now that Eugenia Baja’s remains are back, the quest for justice begins.

BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MIGRANT WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

It has been two years since Lilibeth Garcia has seen her sister Eugenia Baja who left to work in Saudi Arabia in May, 2007.  Their long-awaited reunion should have been joyous and full of significance being on June 12 Independence Day and just five days since Migrants Day.  But there was no cause for celebration in Baja’s much awaited return and the day lost its significance to Garcia and her relatives; because they were in grief and mourning as they waited in the cargo area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for the remains of her sister Eugenia Baja.

Baja left the country for Saudi Arabia last May 6, 2007. Her employment abroad was facilitated by the Aisis International Manpower Inc.  which has its office in Malate, Manila. She signed a contract stating that she would be employed as a patient server in Saudi Arabia. However, she ended up being a domestic helper.

In January this year, Baja’s family was alarmed after receiving a series of text messages from her: the first pleading for help from her brother and a second message telling them that she did not know what her employers were doing to her and that she felt like losing her mind. (LINK SA STORY TO HANNAH “Short-lived Dream, a Shattered Family Vol. VIII, No. 13).

Their greatest fear was confirmed when they received news February 27 that Eugenia died three years earlier. But it was only by March 2008 that Garcia received a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) informing them of her sister’s death. Garcia was first told that Baja died from an illness.  But DFA officials later told her that Baja committed suicide by hitting her head with bathroom tiles.

At that moment, their long struggle to have Eugenia Baja’s remains repatriated began.

Three painful months

Garcia followed up the repatriation of her sister’s remains with the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs for three months to no avail. When Garcia felt that her pleas were being ignored, she brought along representatives from the 700 Club, a news talk show of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which is being aired locally in QTV Channel 11.

Garcia told Bulatlat that because of the presence of media, OWWA officials immediately promised to give them P20,000 ($450.349 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.41) for burial expenses, a P100,000 ($2,251.745) life insurance policy for her father and another P2,000 ($45.03) for her father’s transportation expenses in going back to their hometown in Bohol.

Garcia said that even Aisis International Manpower, Inc. gave them P10,000 ($225.17) as financial assistance. The OWWA also gave them a direct contact number to a certain Ed Lamparas who is working in the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

Nag-iiba sila kapag may kasama kang media. Samantalang dati pinabalik-balik pa nila ako,” (They suddenly changed just because I was accompanied by a media person. Whereas before, they made me come back and forth with no results. ) she added.

On the other hand, through the help of Migrante International, an organization of OFWs and their families, they were able to ask Senate President Manny Villar for assistance. Villar gave money for the plane tickets of Garcia and two other relatives going to Bohol for Baja’s wake. Congressman Edgar Chato of Bohol promised to shoulder the funeral expenses for Baja.

Journey home

Nawalan na ako ng gana magtanong sa DFA kaya kay Ed Lamparas na lang ako tumatawag sa telepono,” (I lost my confidence with DFA so I called Ed Lamparas directly for updates.) said Garcia. She added that it was Lamparas who informed her that her sister’s remains would be arriving within one week and that they were having a hard time getting a flight back to Manila. Garcia was also informed that her sister’s employer shouldered the expenses for her repatriation.

She added that this was also the first time that someone, either from the government or from the recruitment agency, disclosed the name of the Baja’s employer, Major Abdulasis Alhusim. “Pulis ata yun,” (I think he is a poiceman.) she added.

Nung nalaman nila na uuwi na yung kapatid ko, yung OWWA na yung tumatawag. Eh dati ako yung nangungulit,” (When OWWA found out that my sister’s remains was scheduled to be sent home, they started communicating with me. Whereas before I had to follow them up persistently. ) Garcia said.

The arrival

The plane that carried that remains of Eugenia Baja landed in NAIA around 7:30 p.m. June 12. Gladys Garcia from the legal department of Senate President Manny Villar was able to negotiate with the NAIA administration to allow the relatives to fetch the casket. Ten people – three relatives of Baja including Garcia, four people from the media, two staff of Migrante International and another from the office of Senate President Villar – went inside the airport to claim the body of Baja.

Garcia and her two accompanying relatives later emerged from the airport hand-in-hand and went to where other people were anxiously waiting. Garcia was crying hard as the rest of her relatives came to hug and comfort her. The night ended with a solemn prayer inside the humble jeepney, which they rode going to the airport.

But their quest for justice has just begun.

In an interview with Bulatlat earlier in the day, Garcia said that they intend to have Baja’s body autopsied here to be able to determine the true cause of her death.

Yung buhay (na stranded OFWs) nga kaya baligtarin, yung patay pa kaya?” (If the testimonies given by stranded OFWs who are still alive are being twisted, how much more if that person is already dead?) she said. . Bulatlat

For Violating Rights of Sison, Filipino Refugees: Dutch Gov’t Hit Before UN Human Rights Council

June 19, 2008

The Dutch government was criticized by an international group of lawyers before the United Nations Human Rights Council for violating the rights of Prof. Jose Maria Sison and of members of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

Filipino lawyer Edre Olalia, representing the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and president of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) decried the Dutch government’s violation of human rights of Filipinos living in the Netherlands during the 8th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, June 11.

Olalia made the intervention in the course of the consideration of the report of the Working Group on the human rights record of The Netherlands.  The IADL is an NGO composed of lawyer and jurist members and associations in over 80 countries. It has consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the UN Human Rights Council.

In a statement sent through email by Defend International, Olalia criticized the disparity between the pious pronouncements of the Dutch government about human rights and the continuing political persecution of Filipino political exiles, asylum seekers and refugees like Filipinos in the Netherlands who are in “legitimate and democratic opposition to what they view as anti-people policies and programs of the Philippine government.”

Collaboration with RP Gov’t

Olalia pointed out that the Dutch government and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) had collaborated in using false criminal charges against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, as a pretext to arrest and detain him, raid the NDFP information office and the homes of the peace panelists, consultants and staffers of the NDFP and seize their computers, digital files, documents, bank accounts and many other things on 28 August 2007.

Olalia said, “How could arbitrary and indiscriminate carting away of an immense amount of materials, including the records and related study materials of peace negotiations since 1986 as well as complaints, evidence and files of the Joint Monitoring Committee, a body designed to monitor compliance with a bilateral agreement on human rights and international humanitarian law be justified?”

He asserted that the NDFP is a national liberation movement, whose status is recognized under international law, and which has maintained an open international information office in the Netherlands for a long period of time, and is engaged in peace negotiations with the GRP.

Olalia stressed that persecution through false charges is a major form of human rights violation. “The falsely accused is subjected to detention, humiliation, stigmatization, unnecessary expense of efforts and resources, loss of income and opportunities and public incitement of violence against his person and reputation.”

He pointed out that the Dutch government gave credence to false information provided by the Philippine government, particularly from a body called the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), which the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Prof. Philip Alston recommended to be abolished.

He said, “In this regard, how can the Dutch government guarantee that in the sphere of criminal investigation, prosecution and judicial decision-making, political interests are subservient to the supposed rule of law in the Netherlands so that the human rights of individuals who exercise their basic freedom of thought and expression are promoted and protected?”

Meanwhile, Sison, speaking via the internet before the All Leaders Forum organized by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), June 12, said, “Tingnan n’yo ang kawalanghiyaan ng GRP, niloko ang Dutch government sa pagsasampa ng false charges. Kasama ang Kintanar at Tabara incidents sa rebellion charges na ibinasura na ng Korte Supreme noong July 2, 2007.” (Look at the shamelessness of the GRP; it fooled the Dutch government in filing false charges. The Kintanar and Tabara incidents formed part of the rebellion charges that were already dismissed by the Philippine Supreme Court last July 2, 2007.)

Sison was charged in The Netherlands for ordering the murder of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. He was arrested August 28, 2007 but was released September 13 after the Dutch court found that there were no “sufficient indications that the accused [Sison], while living in the Netherlands, committed the offenses he is charged with, in deliberate and close cooperation with the perpetrators in the Philippines.”.

Olalia said that the oppressive policy of the Dutch government towards Prof. Sison did not cease despite the series of decisions of the Hague District Court on 13 September 2007, The Hague Court of Appeal on 2 October 2007, and the examining judge on 21 November 2007 that there is no prima facie evidence against him. The latest decision of the Hague District Court on 5 June 2008 declares that up to now there is no incriminating evidence against him.

In the same forum, Sison described the cruelty of  “Dutch imperialism.” “Sa kasaysayan, pumatay sila ng tatlong milyong Indonesians for oil interests. May pamukha lang na kumikilala ng karapatang pantao.” (History shows that Dutch imperialists killed three million Indonesians for its oil interests. It only wants to portray itself as a defender of human rights.)

Peace talks

Olalia averred that peace advocates are concerned that the false criminal charges have paralyzed the peace negotiations. He demanded that the Dutch government show respect for human rights by doing away with persecution through false or politically-motivated charges in order to strengthen the rule of law and promote the implementation of agreements between the GRP and the NDFP, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). He called for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in order to pave the way for the end of the armed conflict in the Philippines and lay the ground for human rights to thrive.

For his part, Sison deemed that the political persecution against the NDF aims to pressure the NDF to capitulate. “Gustong ipanalo (ng rehimeng Arroyo) ang hindi niya kayang ipanalo sa battlefield.”  (The Arroyo regime wishes to gain what it cannot win in the battlefield.)

He said that the prospect of peace negotiations remains dim. “Anuman ang kagustuhan ng NDF, di kayang alisin ng GRP ang mga obstacles to the peace negotiations. Gusto nilang talikdan ang Hague Joint Declaration at iba pang agreements. Dinambong na ang pondo para sa indemnification ng mga biktima ng martial law. GRP ang nag-request sa Dutch government para isama kami sa terrorist list at iba pa.” (No matter how willing the NDF is, the GRP refused to remove the obstacles to the peace negotiations. They do not want to comply with the Hague Joint Declaration and other agreements. The fund for the indemnification of martial law victims has been plundered. The GRP requested the Dutch government to include us [Sison, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army] in the terrorist list and so on.)

Dutch Reply

In another statement sent to Bulatlat, the UPR Watch related, “The head of the Netherlands delegation, Dutch Ambassador for Human Rights from the Foreign Ministry Mr. Arjan Hamburger – who was obviously caught by surprise by a Filipino making an oral intervention on the Netherlands human rights report and situation – was unprepared to answer and meekly replied that they will respond to the issues raised by the NGOs in an interim overview of their UPR report or through bilateral contact with the organizations that spoke.”

Olalia challenged the UN Human Rights Council to react or respond to reports that Dutch and Philippine government authorities at the highest level have a long-running scheme to “oppress and criminalize” Prof. Sison by subjecting him to such false charges and to an endless politically-motivated criminal investigation by the Dutch State.

He demanded that satisfactory answers be made to the questions he raised. He said, “Without satisfactory answers, we are afraid that other individuals and organizations in the Netherlands will suffer the same fate in contravention of the basic international instruments to which the Netherlands has committed itself.” Bulatlat


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