Archive for June 6th, 2008

Ka Bel: Proletarian internationalist, hero of the working class and the Filipino people

June 6, 2008

Message of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party of the Philippines

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) pays the highest tribute to Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, a great hero of the international proletarian movement, the international anti-imperialist movement, the militant workers’ movement in the Philippines, the toiling masses and the Filipino people. The entire CPP and the revolutionary movement it leads salute him as a fine and valiant proletarian leader.

His death on May 20, 2008 at the age of 75 is mourned by the oppressed. Along with the rest of the Filipino people, the CPP conveys its deepest sympathies to his bereaved wife Ka Osang and his family, friends and comrades in the struggle. The Filipino people likewise celebrate the victories they have won with Ka Bel. These triumphs provide great inspiration, strength and enthusiasm to carry on with the struggle.

In the veins of Ka Bel flowed the blood of Gat Andres Bonifacio and all the Filipino revolutionary heroes. Like our revolutionary ancestors, Ka Bel laid down his life for the cause of the toiling masses and the entire people against oppression, exploitation, plunder and bondage by foreigners, tyrants and rapacious elements. He offered his life and talents in advancing the struggle of the working class, the toiling masses, the Filipino people and the peoples of the world.

In the face of myriad sacrifices and trials, his steadfastness and enthusiasm never waned in championing the interest of his class and of the Filipino masses, in pursuit of a sovereign, just and prosperous future. Be it in the picket lines or in the halls of Congress, in the streets or in peasants’ fields, in rallies or in gatherings, Ka Bel had always been a true fighter who stood firm, daring and vigorous in waging the struggle for national liberation, democracy and socialism.

At a young age, he served as a courier for the patriotic guerrilla forces fighting the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. In his youth, he farmed and eventually found work as a janitor, gasoline boy, messenger, bus driver and taxi driver. At the age of 20, along with his fellow drivers at the Yellow Taxi Driver’s Union, Ka Bel staged a strike opposing the company’s unjust policies. Three workers were mercilessly killed and many others wounded when police forces brutally dismantled their picket line.

His fellow workers recognized Ka Bel’s bravery, strength and militancy and elected him union president. Ka Bel was among the pioneer organizers of Amalgamated Taxi Drivers Federation, and served as its president from 1955 to 1963. During the time of intense anti- communist witchhunts and repression of the legal democratic movement in the 1950s, Ka Bel stood strong in defense of the oppressed.

From 1963-1972, Ka Bel served as vice president of the Confederation of Labor Unions of the Philippines (CLP) that he founded with Felixberto “Ka Bert” Olalia, Feliciano Reyes and Cesar Lacarra, all militant labor leaders. He was also one of the founders of the Philippine Workers Congress, Katipunan ng Samahan ng mga Manggagawa (KASAMA), PACMAP and other workers’ organizations. The workers under their leadership relentlessly fought against capitalist oppression and exploitation as well as Marcosian repressiveness until martial rule was declared.

Ka Bel stood unfazed by the reign of state terror under the USMarcos dictatorship. He played a significant role in the formation of the Federation of Unions in Rizal and of the Philippine Nationalist Labor Organization (PANALO) that was later transformed into the Alliance of Nationalist Genuine Labor Organizations (ANGLO). These were all part of the preparations for the establishment in 1980 of a center for a genuine, fighting, anti-imperialist and militant labor movement in the Philippines—the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) or the May First Movement. Ka Bel served as the first secretary general of KMU and Ka Bert Olalia, the chairperson. In the 1980s, KMU’s membership swiftly ballooned from 100,000 to half a million workers.

Marcos felt seriously threatened by the growing strength of the KMU and the labor movement it headed. He attempted to suppress the KMU. In August 1982, he ordered the arrest and detention of Ka Bel and Ka Bert. They, however, remained symbols of the genuine, patriotic and militant labor movement, and even behind bars, stood as strong symbols of the opposition against the US-Marcos dictatorship.

Ka Bel manifested his bravery and resistance to the Marcos dictatorship when he managed to escape from his military guards in November 1984. He joined the armed revolutionary movement in Central Luzon where, as a member of the New People’s Army, he vigorously aroused, organized and mobilized farmers in the countryside. “Ka Anto” was his nom de guerre, drawn from the nickname of Crisanto Evangelista, a great labor leader and founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1930. Ka Bel contributed immensely in forging a stronger worker-peasant alliance in the area.

When Marcos was ousted and the political situation turned relatively favorable for the open mass movement, Ka Bel surfaced and became active once again in KMU. He took over as chairperson following the brutal killing by the military in November 1986 of Rolando “Ka Lando” Olalia.

Ka Bel was also one of the founders of Partido ng Bayan (PnB) or People’s Party under which he ran for senator in 1987. Amid the repressive terror campaign and massive poll fraud by the ruling rotten politicians and the military forces, Ka Bel and the rest of the slate lost in the elections. He was also a National Council Member of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) or the New Patriotic Alliance which he chaired from 1993 to 1999.

Ka Bel remained KMU’s chairperson until 2003, after which he was proclaimed KMU’s Chairman Emeritus in recognition of his remarkable leadership and the inspiration he provided the workers.

As a labor leader, Ka Bel was active in supporting the workers’ struggles and championing the cause of the oppressed people in the country and abroad. He was frequently invited to participate in conferences in a number of countries and international forums. He persevered in the struggles of the world proletariat and the international solidarity of oppressed peoples against imperialist plunder, bondage and oppression. Ka Bel was the first chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and its International Coordinating Committee in 2001 and became its Chairman Emeritus in 2004.

Ka Bel also served as vice president of Bayan Muna (BM) party from 2001 to 2003 and sat as one of its representatives in Congress after BM got the most number of votes in the party-list elections. Ka Bel likewise became the chairperson of Partidong Anakpawis upon its founding in 2004, and consequently became its representative in Congress from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2007 until his death.

As a representative in Congress, Ka Bel along with other progressive representatives was famed for his relentless criticism of the rotten ruling system and corrupt rule, in drafting bills and resolutions that promoted the national and democratic interests of the toiling masses and the Filipino people.

Foremost among the bills he filed was one calling for a P125 increase in the daily minimum wage of workers that was approved by Congress in 2007 after seven years of struggle. This was, however, later blocked by Gloria Arroyo and returned to Congress for the final kill by her minions.

Until his last days, Ka Bel pursued this bill especially in the face of the worsening poverty and hunger caused by the regime’s proimperialist and antipeople economic policies. On the day he died, Ka Bel, together with the other progressive solons, were preparing to pass a resolution calling for the removal of the EVAT from electricity charges. He was likewise active in pushing for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and deterring the Arroyo regime’s maneuver to extend the bogus and pro-landlord Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Within and outside the halls of Congress, Ka Bel was relentless and vigorous in his conviction to fight the rotten and puppet Arroyo regime. He was among the active proponents of the impeachment case against Arroyo in 2005. In October 2007, Ka Bel exposed the bribery attempt by members of Gloria Arroyo’s party on him and other oppositionist solons. They were offered several millions of pesos to support the fake impeachment case that was aimed at sabotaging the filing of the genuine and new impeachment case against Arroyo. He always joined rallies and similar protests in the streets, especially for the welfare of the workers and the toiling masses.

Ka Bel was awarded the title Filipino of the Year in 2002 by the Philippine Graphic Magazine in recognition of his tireless support for the welfare of the majority of power consumers and other of impoverished Filipinos. The same title was awarded to him by the Philippines Free Press in 2003 in his determination to take on the interest of the toiling masses. Every year, he was chosen as the Most Outstanding Congressman from 2002 until 2005. In 2006, he was included in the Congressional Hall of Fame.

In spite of the countless awards he received, Ka Bel remained an honest and humble worker, servant and people’s warrior. Inside an institution of the rotten system filled with billionaires and crooks plundering the nation’s wealth, Ka Bel took home not a single centavo for himself. In the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth he submitted as a Congressional representative, he declared as personal “assets” his two barong tagalog, a few other clothes, a pair of eyeglasses and cabinets. He died the poorest among all congressmen.

Because of the militancy Ka Bel and the other progressive representatives displayed in the streets, in various arenas of protests, and even within the halls of Congress, Malacañang never stopped persecuting them by filing trumped-up charges against them.

The Arroyo regime arrested Ka Bel on February 25, 2006 and detained him for one and a half years. His body was weakened by incarceration and state repression so he was transferred to hospital detention. Ka Bel was only freed after 15 months when the Supreme Court junked the baseless rebellion cases filed by the regime against him and over 50 other progressive leaders and activists.

Upon his release and return to Congress, Ka Bel did not waste a single day and continued his fight against the Arroyo regime and the rotten system and in championing the cause of the toiling masses.

Ka Bel died in the midst of intense struggle and tireless resistance against repression, bondage and cruelty under the US-Arroyo regime and the entire semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. In spite of his age and weakened constitution, Ka Bel remained very active in attending conferences and meetings here and abroad to strengthen the unity of the Filipino people and raise their militant consciousness and determination to end the rule of the puppet, brutal and rotten Arroyo regime.

He left us a golden legacy of militant struggle. Like his predecessors Ka Bert Olalia, Ka Lando Olalia, Ka Amado Hernandez, Ka Crisanto Evangelista and Ka Isabelo delos Reyes and other Filipino labor leaders, the memories and spirit of Crispin “Ka Bel” Betran will forever remain etched in the Filipino people’s collective memory.

His story is a wellspring of inspiration. His humility and simple living, courage and determination to fight marked his unwavering service to the masses in his desire to change, end exploitation and advance the struggle for national liberation and democracy.

Like many others from the toiling masses, he died while repairing his humble abode. In life and in death, he was a model of simple and dignified living and faithfulness to principles and struggle.

With clenched fists, the hundreds of thousands of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Red fighters of the New People’s Army and the millions of revolutionary people in the cities and countryside accord the highest tribute to Ka Bel.

Long live the memory, aspirations and struggles of Ka Bel!

Long live the working class!

Long live the toiling masses!

Love live the Philippine revolution!

Sketches: Eden Grace

June 6, 2008

Another Quality Product while inside a netshoppe. :)

Editorial Cartoon: The CARP Illusion

June 6, 2008

Papatayin na lang ang magsasaka, inuuto pa.

Saving Randy Malayao: Newsdesk Bar Ticket (A Fund-Raising Night for the Legal Defense of Randy Malayao)

June 6, 2008

Please be present. :)

‘SAFE-4-SR as VAT-deodorant, smokescreen for educ budget cuts’

June 6, 2008

June 6, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gov’t hitting two birds with one stone via student loan scheme

‘SAFE-4-SR as VAT-deodorant, smokescreen for educ budget cuts’

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) today criticized Malacanang’s Student Assistance Fund for Education for a Strong Republic (SAFE-4-SR) program saying that it is a mere ‘VAT-deodorant’ and that it does not address the problem of poor state subsidy for state colleges and universities (SUCs).

CEGP National President Vijae Alquisola said that the SAFE-4-SR may be described as a ‘double whammy’ for students in that it is ‘not even a genuine subsidy for SUCs but a student loan program meant to pass on the burden to students who are also laden with government’s VAT imposition.’

Under the SAFE-for-SR, P500 million will be allotted to 60 thousand needy Iskolars ng Bayan in their junior and graduating years through a ‘one-time P8,000 interest-free loan’.

The P500 million allegedly came from the ‘fruits of VAT collection’ from oil and electricity during the first quarter of this year.

“With the SAFE-for-SR, Mrs. Arroyo attempts to hit two birds with one stone by flaunting alleged fruits of the highly unpopular VAT while riding on students’ popular protest against the rising cost of education during this season of opening of classes,” Alquisola said.

Smokescreen

Alquisola said that the SAFE-for-SR, like Arroyo’s statement of a tuition moratorium in SUCs, is a mere attempt to smokescreen the problem of yearly budget cuts for SUCs.

Alquisola cited that for this year, SUCs got a meager share of 1.84 percent of the national budget compared to last year’s 2.74 percent allocation. He added, “Malacanang’ s statement that SUCs have no reason to hike their tuitions for this school year because budget for SUCs was increased is completely false.”

“In fact, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines which collects the cheapest tuition fee among SUCs has not had an increase in budget since Arroyo assumed office in 2001. If anything, it has suffered a total of approximately P6 million in budget cuts over the years.”

Alquisola said that subsidy-sprees and student loan programs such as the SAFE-for-SR fail to address the problem of low government spending for education as the root cause of SUCs’ inability to accommodate more needy students in the tertiary level. ###

Pandarahas sa mamamahayag sa Olongapo binatikos ng NUJP

June 6, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

Binatikos ng NUJP (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines) ang magkahiwalay na insidente ng pandarahas sa dalawang mamamahayag sa Lungsod ng Olongapo.

Kinilala ang mga biktimang sina Jeff Tombado, stringer ng ABS-CBN at Robert Gonzaga, reporter ng Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Ayon sa NUJP, kumukuha ng video footage si Tombado noong Mayo 27 kaugnay ng nasamsam na shabu sa SBMA nang pagbawalan siya ng mga awtoridad. Hinanapan umano siya ng ID at nang wala siyang maipakita dahil bago pa lamang siya sa kompanya ay inagaw ng isang Col. Virgilio Tolentino sa kanya ang video camera habang ang iba pa ay pinalipit ang kanyang kamay.

Pinakawalan lamang umano si Tombado nang makapagpakita ng ID mula sa kanyang dating kompanya.

Samantala, hinanapan rin ng ID ni Sheriff Leandro Madarang ng Olongapo City Court si Gonzaga habang ginagawa ang kanyang trabaho bilang reporter. Bagamat hindi kasing-grabe ng nangyari kay Tombado, kinondena ng NUJP ang inasal ng opisyal ng gobyerno sa pakikitungo sa mamamahayag.

Hiniling ng NUJP sa mga superyor ng dalawang opisyal na imbestigahan ang mga ito at patawan ng karampatang parusa dahil sa kanilang mga inasal.(PinoyWeekly)

AFP ’di makatao sa rebeldeng heneral –Biazon

June 6, 2008

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

HINDI pinayagan si Hen. Renato Miranda, nanguna sa standoff ng mga rebeldeng sundalo sa Philippine Marines noong 2006, na makapiling ang kanyang asawa na sumailalim sa operasyon para sa breast cancer kamakailan.

Ibinunyag ni Sen. Rodolfo Biazon na pinayagan ni Hen. Alexander Yano, hepe ng AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), si Miranda na makapiling ang asawang si Delia sa mismong operasyon at sa buong panahon ng pagpapagaling nito.

Ngunit bigla umanong binaligtad ang utos ni Yano. Nakapiling lamang ni Miranda ang asawa tatlongaraw matapos ang operasyon. Ibinalik siya sa piitan sa Intelligence Services ng AFP pagkaraan ng apat na oras.

“Bakit hindi pinagbigyan ang makataong hiling na ito ni Miranda sa kabila ng kanyang pagiging inosente hanggang mapatunayang maysala?” ani Biazon.

Nahaharap si Miranda sa mga kasong Mutiny and Sedition at Conduct Unbecoming of An Officer and A Gentleman dahil sa pagbawi ng suporta sa gobyernong Arroyo sa kasagsagan ng kontrobersiyang “Hello Garci”.(PinoyWeekly)

Batas Militar, umiiral sa Negros – Karapatan

June 6, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

Parang umiiral ang Batas Militar sa Lungsod ng Guihulngan, Negros Oriental simula nang dumating ang mga sundalong kabilang sa 11th I.B., 79th I.B., 78th I.B., 12th I.B., 1st Scout Ranger at 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company noong Marso 2008, ayon sa Karapatan-Negros.
Ayon sa grupo, kasamang dumating ng militarisasyon ang mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Inihambing pa ng Karapatan ang Oplan Bantay Laya ng gobyernong Arroyo sa Oplan Thunderbolt noong panahon ng Batas Militar.

Kamakailan lamang, idineklara ng Central Command ng Armed Forces of the Philippines ang Negros bilang erya ng kanilang “tagumpay” sa Visayas. Paniwala ng Karapatan, ipinatutupad ng AFP sa Guihulngan ang modelong ginawa ni dating Hen. Jovito Palparan sa Mindoro o kaya’y sa Bohol bilang bahagi ng kampanyang OBL.

“Ang kakaiba sa OBL ay ang polisiya nitong ituring na target ng kanilang marahas na atake ang legal na Kaliwa. Naniniwala ang OBL na para madurog ang rebeldeng New People’s Army, kailangang durugin ang legal na Kaliwa, na itinuturing ng gobyerno bilang “prenteng organisasyon ng mga komunista”, pahayag ng Karapatan.

Para umano madurog ang mga organisasyon ng magsasaka, ikinulong si Emelia Quirante, lider ng Kaugmaon-KMP sa Guihulngan, dahil sa gawa-gawang kaso. Hanggang sa kasalukuyan, nakakulong pa rin si Quirante kasama ng kanyang kapatid na si Marycris, kasapi ng Anakbayan at guro ng isang proyekto ng Unicef sa naturang lugar.

Inaresto sila ilang linggo bago ang eleksiyong 2007, na ginawa para isabotahe ang kampanya ng Bayan Muna sa Guihulngan, ayon sa Karapatan.

Sa kasalukuyan, naghahari umano ang mga militar bilang mga “administrador ng batas militar”.

Kabilang sa ipinatutupad ng mga militar ang pagtatayo ng mga detatsment sa mataong lugar, paglilihim ng pangalan ng mga sundalo, pag-uutos sa konseho ng barangay na magdaos ng mga pulong kontra-komunismo, pang-iintriga at malisyosong paratang sa mga organisasyon ng mga magsasaka, pagpapakuha ng sedula kahit sa mga 15-17 taong gulang, pagpapatawag sa mga residente nang walang kaukulang papel at pagrerekrut ng mga residente sa Cafgu at Barangay Defense System.(PinoyWeekly)

P2-B subsidyo sa kuryente: Konsiyumer din magbabayad

June 6, 2008

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

Dahil pinaiikot lamang ng Malakanyang ang buwis na ibinabayad ng mga konsiyumer, hindi tunay na ginhawa ang hatid ng P2-Bilyong subsidyo sa kuryente na iniutos ng Malakanyang, ayon sa grupong Power (People Opposed to Warrantless Electricity Rates).

Inihayag ng Presidential Task Force on Energy kamakailan na sasagutin ng gobyerno ang bahagi ng gastos sa kuryente ng mga kumokonsumo ng 100 kWh (kilowatt hour) pababa. Kukunin ang pondo sa subsidyo mula sa VAT (value added tax) na ibinabayad ng mga konsiyumer ng kuryente.

Limitado
Tinatayang P1,000 kada taon o P100 kada buwan ang mababawas sa binabayaran ng 1.9 milyong maliliit na konsiyumer ng kuryente sa Metro Manila at mga probinsya ng Cavite, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, at Quezon, ayon kay Kal. Esperanza Cabral ng Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Pero ayon kay Engr. Ramon Ramirez, tagapagsalita ng Power, tila nanloloko ang gobyerno dahil mula sa bulsa ng mga konsiyumer mismo ang subsidyo. “Isusubsidyo ng mga konsiyumer ang iba pang mga konsiyumer,” aniya.

Limitado ang saklaw ng subsidyo na para sa mga kostumer lamang ng Meralco (Manila Electric Company), ayon naman kay Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

“Kung magbibigay lang naman ng subsidyo ang pamahalaan, sa lifeline users dapat sa buong sa Pilipinas at hindi lamang dito sa Metro Manila. Tumataas ang presyo ng kuryente sa buong bansa,” aniya.

Pinuna naman ni Sen. Mar Roxas ang umano’y “pansamantalang solusyon” ng gobyerno sa mataas na presyo ng kuryente.

“Maganda man ang tulong ng P2-B, mauubos din iyan. Ang punto ay pinagsasamantalahan ba tayo sa singil sa kuryente? Dapat mapigil yung pagsasamantala,” aniya.

Pagbasura sa VAT
Iginiit ng Bayan (Bagong Alysansang Makabayan) na mas maigi ang pagbabasura sa VAT dahil magbebenepisyo ang lahat ng mga konsiyumer ng kuryente. Tinatayang makakatipid ng 70 hanggang 80 sentimos kada kWh ng kuryente ang mga ito kapag inalis sa singil ang nasabing buwis.

“Hindi namin maintindihan kung bakit ayaw ng gobyerno ang pinakasimple at batayang hakbang para mapababa ang singil sa kuryente. Bakit sa panahon ng krisis, prayoridad pa rin ng gobyerno ang pangongolekta ng buwis at bayad-utang?” sabi ni Renato Reyes Jr., pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bayan.

Mahigit P18-B kada taon ang nakokolektang VAT mula sa mga konsiyumer ng Meralco. Napupunta ang kalakhan sa bayad-utang.

Ani Reyes, nangongolekta ng VAT ang gobyerno para patuloy na makapangutang sa mga dayuhan.(PinoyWeekly)

Ang lihim ni Winston Garcia

June 6, 2008

Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano/ Tarik Garcia

Hindi matapat sa publiko.

Ito ang ibinibintang ni Winston Garcia, general manager ng GSIS (Government Service Insurance System), sa pamilya Lopez na namumuno ng Meralco (Manila Electric Company). Tinatangka ng GSIS na makontrol ang Meralco, pinakamalaking distribyutor ng kuryente sa bansa, para mapababa umano ang labis-labis na singil nito sa kuryente.

Pero kung inililihim man ng mga Lopez ang abusadong paniningil nito, inililihim din naman ni Winston ang kanyang posibleng tunay na interes sa Meralco.

May koneskiyon ang pamilya Garcia sa Veco (Visayan Electric Company), pangalawang pinakamalaking distribyutor ng kuryente sa bansa. Malapit na alyado ni Pangulong Arroyo si Winston na tubong Cebu ang pamilya.

Nakadikit ang prominenteng mga miyembro ng pamilya Garcia sa Veco, na pag-aari ng pamilya Aboitiz. Nakabase rin sa Cebu ang mga Aboitiz, at tulad ng mga Garcia, malapit diumano sa Palasyo.

Dating legal counsel ng Veco si Jesus Garcia Sr., tiyo ni Winston. Humalili sa tiyo ni Winston ang kanyang pinsang si Jesus Garcia Jr. Ang pamangkin ni Jesus Garcia Jr. na si Jess Anthony N. Garcia ang kasalukuyang legal counsel ng Veco.

Samantala, umupo rin ang mga Garcia sa Board of Directors ng Vivant Corporation, nakalista sa Philippine Stock Exchange na holding company ng Veco. Si Jess Anthony N. Garcia ang kasalukuyang corporate investment officer at sekretarya ng Vivant.

(May dalawang grupo ng mga Garcia sa board ng Vivant. Hindi kadugo ng pamilya ni Winston ang mga Garcia na lahing Espanyol na kumokontrol sa board ng kompanya.)

“Niloloko ni Garcia ang publiko sa pamamagitan ng pagkukunwaring panig siyang walang interes na nagnanais lamang pababain ang singil sa kuryente ng Meralco. Sa totoo, may interes ang kanyang pamilya sa Veco, na makikinabang ang mga may-ari kapag nalusaw ang prankisa ng Meralco. Ang kanyang populistang retorika ay pagtatakip sa pandarambong ng mga alyado at kroni ni Arroyo,” ayon kay Jaime Paglinawan, tagapangulo ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Central Visayas.

Hindi umano malayong gamitin ni Garcia ang pensiyon ng mga kawani ng gobyerno para sa kapakanan ng kanyang pamilya at mga alyado sa pulitika at negosyo. Nagawa na niya ito noon.

Noong 2004, bilyun-bilyong piso ng pondo ng GSIS ang kinuha ni Garcia mula sa Land Bank of the Philippines na pag-aari ng gobyerno at inilipat sa pribadong Union Bank.

Iginawad din ni Garcia sa Union Bank ang multi-milyong pisong kontrata sa proyektong E-Card. Idineklara ng Commission on Audit na “illegal” ang nasabing kontrata.

Pag-aari ng pamilya Aboitiz ang Union Bank.

Samantala, nagpahayag ng pagtutol ang mga kawani ng gobyerno sa umano’y tiwaling pamamalakad ni Winstyon sa GSIS at pag-abandona nito sa tungkuling pangalagaan ang kanilang interes.

Sa ika-22 anibersaryo ng Courage (Confederation for the Unity Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees) noong Mayo 19, nagkaisa laban sa pamunuan ng GSIS ang mga empleyado ng National Food Authority, National Housing Authority, Bureau of Customs, Land Transportation Office, Department of Trade and Industry, National Broadcasting Network, Quezon City Hall, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor and Employment, Senado, at iba pang ahensiya ng gobyerno.

“Pinagsasamantalahan ng GSIS ang pondo ng mga manggagawa at ginagamit lamang sa pamumulitika,” ani Ferdinand Gaite, tagapangulo ng Courage.(PinoyWeekly)

Programa sa lupa, nauwi sa wala

June 6, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

Protesta ng mga magsasaka noong 2007 laban sa Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Ilang-Ilang Quijano)

PANAKa-NAKA ang pag-ulan at pag-init, pero balewala ito sa kanila. Malayo ang nilakbay ng mga magsasakang ito – marami ang mula sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Timog Katagalugan – kung kaya di sila pahahadlang sa pagdadalawang-isip ng panahon. Nagluluto, kumakain at nagpoprotesta sila sa bungad ng DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform).

Balewala sa mga magsasaka ang sakripisyong sandaling mawala sa kanilang pagsasaka. Ano ba naman ito kumpara sa 20 taon ng paghihintay?

“Hinahamon namin si Ginang Arroyo at ang DAR na itigil ang pagapapalit-gamit sa lupa,” bungad ni Orly Marcellana, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Kasama-TK (Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan).

Kasama ni Marcellana ang mga magsasaka mula sa Hacienda de Calatagan, Batangas. Tulad ng 80 porsiyento ng mga magsasaka sa Pilipinas, di nila pag-aari ang lupang pinagtatamnan. Pag-aari ito ng Ayala Land Corporation, korporasyong pag-aari ng isa sa pinakamayamang pamilya sa buong bansa, ang mga Zobel de Ayala.

“Hinahamon naming ibalik ang 97 ektaryang lupain ng Hacienda Fule sa mga magsasaka na napalayas dahil sa pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa mula sa pagiging agrikultural tungong komersiyal na lupain ng Ayala Land Corp,” ani Marcellana.

Sa simula ng kanilang pagkakampo sa DAR noong nakaraang linggo, nagpupuyos ang damdamin ng mga magsasaka ng nasabing asyenda. Paano ba naman, pinalayas ng mga Ayala ang mga magsasaka mula sa 19 na barangay ng Calatagan. Matagal na nilang hiling na mapasakanila ang mahigit 10,000 ektaryang lupang sinasaka sa ilalim ng Carp (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program). Pero sa halip na ipamahagi ng gobyerno ang lupa, kinatigan pa ang pagpapalusot ng mga Ayala na “pastulan” daw ang lupa at hindi sakahan.

Halimbawa lamang daw ito ng kapalpakan ng gobyerno sa pagpapatupad ng repormang agraryo sa bansa.

Bigong reporma
Ayon sa KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas), pito hanggang walo sa 10 magsasaka ang wala pa ring sariling lupa. Hindi umano winasak at winakasan ng Carp ang monopolyo sa lupa sa loob ng 20 taon.

Mahigit sampung milyong ektaryang lupain ang target ng DAR, ahensiyang pangunahing nagpapatupad ng Carp, noong maitatag ito. Ayon sa DAR, nakapamahagi na ito ng mahigit anim na milyong ektarya sa tulong ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Pero mahihinuha sa mismong datos ng gobyerno ang napakalaking limitasyon ng naging saklaw ng Carp. Umabot sa 1.9 milyong ektarya lamang ng pribadong lupaing agrikultural ang naipamahagi sa mga magsasaka simula noong 1988. Kasama pa rito ang kalat-kalat na mga lupang ipinamahagi sa panahon ng diktadurang Marcos sa ilalim ng na Presidential Decree 27. Sa 1.9 milyong ektaryang ito, 82% ang may mga kaso pa, at wala pang aktuwal o pisikal na pamamahagi ng lupa sa magsasaka.

“Marami kasing butas ang Carp na kumbinyenteng ginamit at ginagamit ng mga panginoong maylupa para makaiwas sa makitid na saklaw nito,” paliwanag ni Rafael Mariano, tagapangulo ng KMP at hahalili sa yumaong Crispin Beltran bilang kinakatawan sa Kamara ng Anakpawis Party-list.

Kabilang sa mga butas: “Mga lupaing na-exempt dahil sa mga order at exemptions na inilabas ng DAR, Darab (DAR Adjudication Board), at ng korte; mga lupaing nanatili sa kamay ng mga panginoong maylupa dahil sa paggamit ng kanilang karapatang mapanatili sa kanila ang holdings; mga lupa at magsasakang saklaw ng inisyung order for land conversion; mga lupain at magsasakang sinaklaw ng mga order ng ejectment; mga lupa at magsasakang saklaw ng kinanselang certificate of land ownership at emancipation patents,” sabi pa ni Mariano.

Nandiyan din ang mga lupang nababawi sa magsasaka dahil sa iba’t ibang kaparaanan o kaya hindi lang makabayad ng amortisisasyon. Gayundin ang mga lupaing talagang hindi nakasama, na hindi inirehstro ng mga nag-mamay-ari nito doon sa ginanap na land registration noong 1988.
Noong 1995, ang mahigit 10 milyong ekraryang dapat ipmahagi ng DAR ay nabawasan pa ng mahigit dalawang milyong ektarya dahil sa mga executive issuances, administrative orders, Supreme Court rulings, at mga susog sa Carl (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law). Sa esensiya, malakihang binawasan ang ipapamahaging lupaing agrikultural.

Ang kabuuang lawak ng mga sakahan sa bansa, ayon sa 1991 Census of Agriculture, ay 9,974,871 ektarya, ang ibig sabihin nito ay saklaw lamang ng Carp ay 43% ng lahat ng sakahan sa bansa. May kabuuang 5.7 milyong ektarya ng sakahan ang hindi nakapaloob sa reporma sa lupa.

Hindi pa umano ibinawas ng DAR sa ”total accomplishment report” nito ang mga lupain na kinansela ang mga Certificate of Land Transfer, Emancipation Patent at Certificate of Land Ownership Award, gayundin ang inaprubahang mga pagpapalit-gamit ng lupa, mga ineksempt sa Carp gamit ang DOJ Opinion No. 44 at Seksyon 20 ng Local Government Code ng 1991), at mga proklamasyon na nagdedeklara sa ilang erya bilang mga “tourism zones”.

Sinagkaan din ng Carp ang karapatan ng mga mangingisdang Pilipino na pakinabangan ang mahigit 800,000 ektarya ng palaisdaan sa buong bansa. Sa ilalim ng huwad na reporma sa lupa, tiniyak ng gobyerno na hindi maisasama sa Carp ang pamamahagi ng fishponds at prawn farms at iba pang katulad nito sa mga kooperatiba, asosasyon at organisasyon ng mga mangingisda, ayon pa sa KMP.

Gatasan
Ang masaklap pa, ginagamit ng gobyerno ang mga magsasaka para mangalap ng bilyong pondo sa labas ng bansa at mga institusyong pampinansiya.

Iniulat mismo ng DAR noong Hunyo 17,2007 na “may kabuuang P62.31-B ang ginastos na mula sa internasyunal na mga institusyong nagpopondo para gumawa ng mga daan, tulay, irigasyon, mga dryer at para sa maiinom na tubig, kuryente, pautang at maging mga pagsasanay at mga programang pangkabuhayan sa mga agrarian reform communities.”

Ayon sa KMP, ginagawa itong ”gatasan” dahil ang nakikinabang sa pondo ay ang administrasyong rehimeng Arroyo at mga tiwaling opisyal ng DAR sa pakikipagsabuwatan ng kolaborisyunista at repormistang mga grupo ng mga magsasaka at institusyon.

Sa nakalipas na 10 taon (1998-2007), umabot sa P 119-B ang ginastos para sa implementasyon ng Carp na nanggaling sa pagbebenta ng non-performing assets ng gobyerno at nabawing nakaw na yaman ng pamilyang Marcos. Labas pa dito ang mga pondo na nakalap mula sa European Union at World Bank at iba pang dayuhang pondo.

Hindi lamang ang KMP ang nakapansin nito. Kahit si Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., pinasisiyasat kung ano ang nangyari sa napakalaking pondo ng gobyerno sa Carp.

Nadismaya diumano si Pimentel nang hindi maayos na naipaliwanag ng DAR sa Senado kung ano ang eksaktong mga pinagkagastahan ito sa milyun-milyong pondo sa loob ng 20 taong implementasyon ng Carp.

Kaya hindi nagtataka ang KMP kung bakit ginawang sertipikadong urgent sa Kongreso ang panukalang palawigin pa ng limang taon ang Carp. “Ibig sabihin, napakabulagsak na paraan ng paggamit ng pondo ng publiko. Kailangang mai-account nang maayos ang pondong ito,” sabi ni Pimentel.

Partikular na ipinagpapaliwanag ni Pimentel sa DAR kung paano nito ginastos ang P30 Bilyong mula sa nasamsam na yaman ng mga Marcos na inilaan sa repormang agraryo noong 2003. Hanggang sa kasalukuyan diumano, hindi pa rin ito sapat na nasasagot ng DAR at gobyernong Arroyo.

Tunay na repormang agraryo
Sa kabilang banda, ayaw na ng mga magsasaka na palawigin pa ang Carp. “Isang malagim na halimbawa ang karanasan namin ng kawalang- katarungan at kainutilan ng Carp,” sabi ni Romy Cayao, tagangulo ng Kasama-TK.

Sa halip, isinusulong nila ang “tunay na repormang agraryo.” Sinusuportahan ng KMP at mga alyadong grupo nito sa buong bansa ang Garb (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill) o House Bill 3059, na isinampa ng progresibong mga party-list na Anakpawis, Bayan Muna at Gabriela sa Kongreso. (Basahin ang kaugnay na artikulo)

Sa kanyang pag-upo sa Kamara, inaasahang lalabanan ni Mariano ang panukalang pagpapalawig pa sa implementasyon ng Carp. Ikakampanya niya ang isang tunay na repormang agraryo sa kalidad ng Garb.

Kuha na niya ang suporta ng mga magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan. Kuha niya ang suporta ng mga magsasaka sa buong bayan.

Ano ang CARP?

Magtatapos na sa Hunyo 10, 2008 ang Carp o Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, ang batas sa repormang agraryo na mandato ng Republic Act No. 6657, na pinirmahan ni dating Pangulong Corazon Aquino noong Hunyo 10, 1988. Ito ang ika-11 batas sa repormang agraryo sa bansa sa loob ng 50 taon, sumunod sa mga batas sa repormang agraryo ng mga presidenteng sina Manuel Quezon, Ramon Magsaysay, Diosdado Macapagal at Ferdinand Marcos.

Ayon sa RA 6657, layon ng Carp na magkaroon ng pantay na distribusyon at pag-aari ng lupa. Sampung taon ang lawig nito para maipamahagi ang lupa sa mga magsasaka. Subalit hindi ito nangyari kaya noong Hunyo 1998, pinalawig pa ang termino nito ng karagdagan pang 10 taon at binigyan ng P50 Bilyong pondo para sa implementasyon nito.

Ipinaliwanag ng RA 6657 ang repormang agraryo bilang “pamamahagi ng lupa, anumang pananim o prutas na produkto nito, sa mga magsasaka at regular na manggagawang-bukid na walang lupa” at “lahat ng kasunduang alternatibo sa pamamahagi ng lupa, tulad ng profit-sharing, labor administration at pamamahagi ng shares of stock na magbibigay-daan sa pagtanggap ng mga benepisyaryo ng makatuwirang hatian sa bunga ng lupang kanilang binungkal.”

Nakasaad rin sa naturang batas na dapat ipamahagi ang malalawak na lupaing agrikultural sa mga magsasakang nagbubungkal, habang hanggang limang ektarya lamang ang matitira sa mga panginoong maylupa at tatlong ektarya sa kanyang bawat anak.
Gayunman dahil sa mga butas ng Carp, natatakasan ng mga panginoong maylupa ang pamamahagi ng lupa sa pamamagitan ng reklasipikasyon ng kanilang lupain. Hindi kasi kasama sa saklaw ng Carp ang mga lupaing residensiyal, komersiyal at industriyal.
Para sa mga magsakaka, nagsilbi at nanatiling instrumento ang Carp upang patuloy na ipagkait ang saligang karapatan ng mga magsasaka na ariin ang lupang sinasaka. Taliwas sa ipinangako nitong pamamahagi ng lupa, pinanatili nito ang monopolyo at konsentrasyon ng malalawak na lupain sa kamay ng iilan.

Soliman Santos

Panukalang ‘totoong reporma sa lupa’

Hindi pa man pormal na nanunumpa bilang kinatawan ng Anakpawis na hahalili kay Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran sa Kamara, abala na si Rafael Mariano sa pagtutulak sa panukalang batas na Garb, o Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. Para sa kanya at sa organisadong mga magsasakang kinabibilangan niya, isang hakbang ang Garb para s tunay na reporma sa lupa na di nakamit sa Carp.

Pero batid niya ang limitasyon pakikipaglaban sa Kamara na pinamumugaran ng mga pulitikong panginoong maylupa.

Ito ang ilan sa mga sagot niya nang tanungin ng Pinoy Weekly hinggil sa Garb noong nakaraang taon:

Anong kaibahan ng Garb sa Carp?
Ito ay pusupusan at tunay na reporma sa lupa. Bunga ito ng naging matagumpay na konsultasyon sa hanay ng organisadong mga magsasaka.

Malaki ang kaibahan nito pangunahin sa sasaklawin ng programa. Kasama na rito ang mga lupaing nasa kontrol pa rin ng malalaking agrocorporation lalo na ng mga dayuhan na kalakhang matatagpuan sa Mindanaw. Kasama sa coverage ng bill na ito kahit yung mga lupaing naitakas sa saklaw ng huwad na Carp.

Doon sa mga may-ari ng lupa na nagpapabuwis, na target saklawin ng programang ito, kung mayroon silang ipinuhunan, dahil sa ilang beses nilang piyudal na pagpiga ng land rent, ilang beses na rin namang naibalik sa kanila. Kaya hindi na dapat pagbayarin o singilin pa ng amortisasyon ang mga magsasaka. Kaya nga prinsipyo ito ng libreng pamamahagi ng lupa bilang sentral na nilalalaman ng isang batas sa tunay na reporma sa lupa. Gayundin ang laman diyan, no retention. Walang ititira, lalo na yung lupain ng malalaking despotikong maylupa na mayroong magsasaka. Dapat wala ’yang retention holdings na ’yan.

Ang primary beneficiaries ay mga magsasaka at farmworkers na walang lupa. Naglalayon talaga itong batas na ito na basagin ang monopolyong kontrol sa lupa ng iilan at maipamahagi ito ng libre sa mga magsasaka.

Hindi natin papayagan ang non-land transfer schemes na kung tutuusin corporate landgrabbing tulad ng leaseback agreement, SDO (stock distribution option), profit and production sharing scheme.

Sa mga lugar na hindi pa masasaklaw ng programa, dapat ’yung signipikanteng pagpapababa ng upa sa lupa, pero malaunan dapat saklawin din.

Ang isa pang kaibahan nito, maikli lang ang period ng iplementasyon. Kung limang taon, limang taon lang. Hindi extendable. Nagbubunyi kasi ang mga panginoong maylupa sa ekstensiyon.

Kung may uunahin ’yan ng malalakihan tulad ng lupain ni Danding (Cojuangco), Hacienda Luisita. Isasama natin pati yung mga lupain ng mga military reservation kuno pero may mga magsasaka at produktibo.

Kitang-kita ang malaking kaibahan nito sa huwad na reporma sa lupa na Carp. Magmula sa period of implementation, na maikli lang, hanggang sa moda ng pag-a-acquire, kailangan compulsory acquisition at distribution.

Ang tanong, lulusot ba ito? Maipapatupad ba ito sa isang Kongreso lalo na ang mga kongresista kung hindi man tuwirang panginoong maylupa ay nagtataguyod ng makauring interes ng panginoong maylupa, komprador, at dayuhan?

Bakit gusto ng gobyerno ng ekstensiyon ng Carp?
Magtatagumpay sila sa panloloko at panlilinlang sa Carp. Sasabihin nila naipamahagi na lahat. Sasabihin nilang nagtagumpay na tayo ang kailangan lang tapusin. Hindi lang kailangan tapusin ito ngayon, kailangan iekstend. Pagdating ng panahon na ’yon, inaasahan marahil nila kaya na nilang mapatanggap sa nililinlang nilang mga magsasaka na tapos na ang reporma sa lupa.

Gusto rin ito ng US dahil ang mga lupain ngayon na nakatakas sa tunay na reporma sa lupa. Ang gobyernong papet, inilalako ang mga lupang ito para gamitin sa agribusiness na magsusuplay sa pagangailangan ng merkado ng US.

Ilang-Ilang Quijano

(PinoyWeekly)

Bishops seek special session for passage of Carp extension bill

June 6, 2008

THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday appealed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to call for a special session in Congress for lawmakers to pass the bill seeking to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), said ordering the majority bloc in the House of Representatives to hold a special session will prove that Arroyo is sincere in her efforts to extend the law.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

“We are appealing to the President to call for a special session in Congress for the passage of the Carp extension bill,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Chief Executive certified as urgent the bill seeking to extend Carp.

For her part, Akbayan party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel said it will be easy for the President to call for a special session as she already did the same in the passage of the national budget.

Pabillo is saddened by the delays in deliberating the bill as Congress has yet to reach the discussions on the merits of the proposed law.

“We think it is both delaying tactic and lack of interest of lawmakers,” he lamented.

He said the non-passage of the law could lead to the stalling of contested land disputes being tackled by civilian courts.

There are almost 1.8 million hectares out of the nine million hectares of Carp-able land that remains undistributed.

The Carp is set to expire on June 10 while Congress will go on recess on June 13. (FP/Sunnex)

MILF fighters told to boycott Armm elections

June 6, 2008

KORONADAL CITY — Al Haj Murad Ebrahin, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has ordered its 10,000 strong combatants to refrain from participating in the coming elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

In a statement released Monday, Murad reiterated the front’s policy on the “non-recognition, non-participation” in any elections the government is undertaking.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

His statement, which was posted at the rebels’ news website http://www.luwaran.com, jibed with the beginning of the election period in the Armm, which the MILF denounced as an antidote to the genuine resolution to the centuries-old Bangsamoro problem.

Its release came the same day that a powerful bomb exploded outside Edwin Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga that reportedly injured 10 people.

The latest Zamboanga bombing, however, will not affect preparations for the Armm polls, assured Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose A.R. Melo, who added the that they are contemplating on augmenting security forces in the wake of the attack.

Armm Governor Datu Zaldy U. Ampatuan is seeking reelection with the backing of the Lakas administration party.

Murad claimed: “Armm did not and cannot cater to the basic needs of the Bangsamoro people and instead has worsened their already depressed condition and added confusion to the populace.”

On several occasions, the government has allegedly dangled the Armm to leaders of the MILF but each time it was offered, it was turned down immediately, the statement said.

Murad was reported to have rebuffed a very high unnamed Philippine government official, who offered him the Armm few years ago, saying: “What happened to our brothers in the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) when they accepted Armm will also happen to us.”

A cabinet member of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also offered Abdulazis Mimbantas, MILF vice chair for military affairs, the same post, but it was also turned down.

This cabinet member, who was not named, was reported to have converted to Islam as a means to win the trust and sympathy of the Moro people.

The Comelec has started accepting certificates of candidacy for the positions of governor, vice governor and assemblymen for the Armm polls on August 11.

The filing of COCs will run until June 4.

The Armm election is expected to be under close public scrutiny, as it will serve as a prelude to the automation of the 2010 national and local polls.

“We will learn how much better automated elections can be; and we will discover unique challenges this new model will present,” the MILF statement quoted Melo as saying. (BSS) (SunStarGenSan)

Gov’t intervention urged in Sultan Kudarat land conflict

June 6, 2008

SENATOR NINOY AQUINO, Sultan Kudarat — Local government officials called on the National Government to intervene in the worsening land conflict in the area that has already turned violent.

Mayor Rafael Flauta Jr. specifically urged government law enforcement agencies to conduct a deeper probe on the escalation of violence in Sitio Blangas in Barangay Midtungok last May 16, wherein a farmer was killed when armed escorts of Filipino-American land claimant Florence Case-dela Peña allegedly fired upon a group of residents.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The victim was identified as Robert Rodriguez, 32, a resident of Sitio Blangas, Barangay Midtungok of this municipality.

Sultan Kudarat Vice Governor Donato Ligo, Mayor Flauta, and municipal officials attended the victim’s burial in Sitio Blangas on May 24.

Eulogio Rodriguez, the victim’s father, said they want the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and other concerned agencies to investigate the incident.

Dela Peña, who was allegedly escorted by heavily armed men clad in military fatigues but with no name plates, came to the area along with personnel from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Land Management Services-Region 12 to conduct a perimeter survey on the 374 hectares of land under her claim.

According to witnesses, a group of residents, composed of Ilocano and Ilonggo settlers and members of the area’s Manobo Dulangan tribe, were reportedly starting to gather near the Sitio Blangas Elementary School around 1.pm. for a scheduled consultation-dialogue related to the survey when violence erupted.

Dela Peña’s group immediately fled the area after the incident.

However, the accompanying surveyors from the DENR’s Land Management Services were forced to abandon their commissioned Elf truck and Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment.

The area claimed by dela Peña, who is reportedly a resident of General Santos City, covers at least seven sitios of Barangay Midtungok that are part of the ancestral domain of the Manobo Dulangan tribe as declared by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Southern Mindanao.

The Kulaman Manobo Dulangan Organization (KMDO) has long been fighting to secure land titles for their ancestral domain through the assistance of the NCIP’s Kulaman Community Service Center and the Tri-People Concern for Peace, Progress and Development of Mindanao Inc. (Tricom).

Tricom Inc. has been assisting IP communities in their struggle to own and develop their ancestral domains in various parts of Mindanao. (SunStarGenSan)

Militants seek Capitol intervention over hunger woes

June 6, 2008

MILITANT farmer leaders troop to Capitol Thursday afternoon to seek the intervention of the provincial legislators in their plight as hunger hit their sector for several months now due to the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities.

The farmer leaders belong to the militant Kapunungan Alang sa Ugma sa Gagmayng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros (Kaugmaon), an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Fermin Lorico of the District Farmers Alliance, also an affiliate of Kaugmaon, told the board members that one of the major reasons why they had suffered is due to the fact that for the past years, many agricultural lands in the province were converted to other uses.

In effect, he added, the conversion of agricultural lands to plantation of jathropa, cassava and others, has reduced the lands intended for farming.

He said they are not supposed to be feeling this brunt of hunger since they are the ones producing foods.

But wrong prioritization and policies of the government has contributed to the worsening hunger woes faced by the farmers, said Lorico.

The farmers said that aside from hunger woes, they are also facing the massive militarization in the countryside and in areas where they are densely populated.

He lamented that harassment continues in farmer areas where military men are operating, adding that they are falsely linked to the underground New People’s Army (NPA). (SunStarDumaguete)

NFA rice now sells P25 a kilo

June 6, 2008

THE National Food Authority (NFA) will no longer sell NFA rice at P18.25 a kilo.

Starting Thursday, NFA rice will cost P25 a kilo in all public markets in the city, according to NFA Misamis Oriental Victoria Duray.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

“We are heeding the clamor from the general public for us to sell good quality rice,” Duray said.

Duray said the grains they are selling for P25 per kilo is from Vietnam but of better quality than those sold at P18.25 a kilo.

She said the new rice will be available to the public at three kilos per family.

“Actually it is the public who is demanding that we sell better varieties of rice,” Duray said.

The announcement came as prices of commercial rice varieties went up to as much as P54 a kilo starting this month.

NFA spokesperson Rex Estoperez said in Manila they ordered the distribution of the P25 a kilo rice to curb speculative retail pricing.

Estoperez said the medium price rice is distributed in the cities of Davao, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro where the price of rice is unusually high.

“We know that speculation plays a role in pricing. For example, when the price of fuel goes up or when we report that a drought or typhoon affected harvests, retailers may think about raising prices,” Estoperez said.

Subsidized rice, sold at P18.25 per kilo, will still be available in far-flung barangay of Cagayan de Oro and other provinces, according to Duray.

“We assure the public that the P25 kilo of NFA rice is a higher grade variety, yes it also came from Vietnam but it is a mid primed commercial grade,” Duray said.

Trinidad Abragan, a vegetable vendor, was taken by surprise when she saw the huge tarpaulin announcing the new price of NFA grains in Cogon market Thursday morning.

Abragan have to dip for more money when her turn came at the NFA retail store.

“Bug-at na baya gyud na nga presyo pero wala man mi mahimo kay dili man pud namo makaya ang tag P44 nga kilo. One day one eat na mi ana (It is really expensive but it is better than buying rice at P44 a kilo. We will eat only once a day with that price),” Abragan said.

Prete Digna Pandan, of barangay Iponan, agreed. She said they are still lucky that the increase was not too high.

University execs explain tuition hikes

June 6, 2008

“SCHOOLS are also affected by outside forces.”

Increase in school fees is imposed not because of the whim of a school’s administration but because they also need to address the clamor of teachers for a salary increase as well as to continually improve their facilities.

University of Baguio (UB) executive vice president Armando Galimba said universities in the city have been considerate of the plight of parents, reason why the increases done are very moderate compared to other schools outside of the Cordillera.

Galimba said even with a modest increase, quality education has been maintained, reason why students from Northern Luzon prefer studying in Baguio, despite the put-up of colleges and universities in their own provinces.

Compared also to state universities and colleges (SUCs) where some of its funds are subsidized by the government, private higher educational institutions (HEIs) depend on fees paid by its students to defray expenses, University of the Cordilleras chairman of the board Benjamin Salvosa said.

But on top of the increases they impose are their mandate to deliver quality education, Salvosa added.

To improve the quality of education, new equipment, facilities, books and training for teachers would have to be done, they say.

And while there are sectors that complain of the increases which is usually done annually, panelists who attended last Thursday’s regular Kapihan sa Baguio said parents usually expect an increase and have actually prepared for this.

What made this year’s increase a burden to parents is that this took place at a time when fare and the prices of basic commodities have gone up.

Asked of the possibility of imposing a one-time increase and later on stop increases for a period of at least five years, Galimba said this will be more burdensome than the staggered increases that schools usually impose.(SunStarBaguio)

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

My Take: Same old palusot.  Same old lies.  Taun-taon tu,ataas ang tuition pero lagi namang bulok ang cr ng mga schools.  Sira ang mga kisame.  Di tumataas ang sweldo ng mga titser.  Di tumataas ang passing rate sa mga licensure exams.  Hay naku.

Newks pushes gov’t-to-gov’t fertilizers’ importation

June 6, 2008

TO CURB the rising prices of fertilizers in the country, Bacolod Representative Monico “Newks” Puentevella has asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to initiate a government-to-government importation of fertilizers, initially Urea.

In his privilege speech at the House of Representatives, Puentevella has asked the DA to facilitate the importation of fertilizers with the funding to be provided by the Philippine Sugar Corporation (Philsucor). It may be augmented by the National Government, he added.

He said Philsucor will assume possession of the product and distribute it to the planters’ federations, who in turn, will sell the fertilizer to their member-farmers.

The lawmaker also proposed that the DA facilitates the first two shipments of about 25,000 metric tons per shipment and then establish reliable contracts with suppliers abroad.

The sugar industry would then take charge of the succeeding importations through Philsucor, Puentevella added.

Puentevella’s move was an offshoot to the worsening plight of the sugar industry that small farmers, especially in Negros, complained about the high prices of fertilizers.

Aside from fertilizers, the solon also joined a move calling all telecommunication companies in the country to include free text messaging as part of their basic services as well as the lifting of the expiration on prepaid cards.

He also suggested that telecom companies submit their own proposals that seek to alleviate the situation of their clients, who are already feeling the pinch of rising fuel and food prices.

In a related news, Puentevella said he was humbled when the House committee on good government deliberated on his bill that will investigate the approximately 11,000,000 textbooks and 300,000 teacher’s manuals worth about P518,000,000, bought and paid for by the Department of Education (DepEd) using the World Bank Social Expenditure Management Project 2 (SEMP2) loan proceeds starting 2006.

The textbooks, distributed to elementary students nationwide, turned out to have inconsistencies and errors that prompted DepEd to release a 21-page erratum entitled “Errata para sa Sibika 1-3 at HeKaSi 4-5 Batayang Aklat at Manwal ng Guro.” It was also reported the textbooks were of poor quality paper and bindings.

Puentevella is pushing for sanctions on the erring publisher or DepEd officials responsible for the defective and error-prone textbooks, bought and distributed nationwide, “to the detriment of the millions of elementary students using these books and the national government, which will be paying for the loan.”

The committee also decided to continue with the hearing to further deliberate the issue.

Meanwhile, Puentevella also defended House Bill 3957 in the committee on civil service and professional regulation, which seeks to limit the practice of cosmetic dermatology to licensed and qualified physicians.

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

My Take: Included in the “Senatoriables List” of the administration, Newks fired up his propaganda machinery, trying things to float his name up in the air.  This pspeech also intends to ‘court’ the support of the ‘asenderos’ in Negros.

Palace denies hand in Olivares libel verdict

June 6, 2008

MANILA — Malacañang said it has nothing to do with the conviction meted by a local court against The Daily Tribune publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivares, who was sentenced to a maximum of two years imprisonment for the charge of libel.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has not consulted the Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo and Angcangco law firm, formerly the Carpio, Villaraza and Cruz, for several years now.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Bunye added that the Arroyo administration “holds press freedom as one of our core values.”

“However, press freedom like all other rights is not absolute. The power of the pen must be wielded with responsibility. It must never be used to destroy reputations especially when private individuals are involved,” he said.

Related story:
Court finds Tribune publisher guilty of libel

Deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez also branded reports that Malacañang may have a hand in the meting out of the sentence as speculation, following previous association of the government with the law firm.

Golez said Olivares was accorded with due process including her chance to explain and defend herself in court.

Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Winlove Dumayas sentenced Olivares to six months to two years in prison in connection with the libel case filed by the law firm. In 2003, the accused came out with an article alleging that then ombudsman Simeon Marcelo chose people “connected” to the law firm to handle the case of Asia’s Emerging Dragons Corp. (AEDC) against former officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

AEDC is bidding for the controversial Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 project.

Olivares was also ordered to pay P5 million for damages and P33,732 for civil damages to the law firm.

The court said it finds the article defamatory and the first element of libel is present. It added that the publication of the article is attended with malice in fact and in bad faith.

During media interviews, Olivares through her lawyer Alexis Mina said they will pursue all legal remedies to reverse the ruling.

Mina already filed a petition asking the court to release her client on provisional liberty and be granted bail using the P10,000 bond earlier posted during the course of the trial.

According to the lawyer, Olivares is willing to be put in the “custody” of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on “recognizance” while they are appealing the case. (JMR/AH/Sunnex)
(SunStarCDO)

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

My Take: Normally, this item would fall under the “press freedom” category.  But I think this issue is more politically colored (TraPolitics that is).

Drive to phase out incandescent bulbs

June 6, 2008

MANILA. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday said it is set to launch a program to distribute about nine million compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to low-income Filipino families as part of a plan to phase out incandescent bulbs in the country by 2010.

ADB Senior Energy Specialist Sohail Hasnie said the ADB has already met with 60 electric cooperatives in the country for the distribution of the fluorescent bulbs to lifeline customers by the end of the year. “Priority will be given to the lifeline customers. The people will not pay, they will get it for free,” he told ABS-CBN.

“What will happen eventually is that it will be paid by the Clean Development Mechanism. Every light, you give away one million, it’s equivalent to building a 50-megawatt power station and you save so much carbon dioxide emissions. Ultimately, the value of that avoided carbon dioxide will pay for the bulb itself.”

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol that allows richer and industrialized countries to invest in clean power projects in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emissions reduction measures in their own nations.

The ADB is extending a $30 million loan to the Philippines to fund projects on energy efficiency, including the shift to CFLs and the efficient disposal of mercury tubes.

Hasnie said CFLs are more cost-efficient since they consume less energy than incandescent bulbs and lasts 10 times longer. He said that the Indonesian government saved $250 million in fuel costs annually after distributing 51 million fluorescent bulbs to consumers.

“If you have a 75-watt bulb, it will cost you about 75 centavos to run it every hour. When you switch to a CFL, it will be 15 watts, which means you have savings by 60 centavos. This is how you calculate your savings,” he said.

He said the Philippine government is also eyeing the possible construction of a pilot facility that will handle the proper disposal of about six to 10 million mercury fluorescent lights in the country.

Hasnie said fluorescent tubes usually have about 15 to 20 milligrams of mercury, which could seep to the ground and contaminate water reservoirs if not disposed off properly. He said the facility would be the first of its kind in Asia if the project pushes through.

Lifestyle change

Hasnie said Filipinos should shift to a lower fuel consumption lifestyle as part of a national effort to lower energy demand.

In her opening remarks at the three-day Asia Clean Energy Forum, ADB Vice-President Ursula Schafer-Preuss said the region is estimated to need up to $6.4 trillion in new energy infrastructure by 2030 due to rising demand. She said ADB will invest one billiondollars annually in “clean energy” projects as part of an effort to encourage their use.

Hasnie said the viability of “clean energy” projects largely depends on locations and power charges. As an example, he said “the Philippines has high (power) tariffs so a lot of (renewable energy) projects would be viable here which would not be viable in Indonesia,” which has low power tariffs.

He said the rise in fuel prices should also serve as a wake-up call to policy-makers globally that more efficient fuel consumption is called for. He also said the ADB is embarking on a project with the Department of Energy to revise the way the energy efficiency ratings of appliances are done to make it more understandable to ordinary Filipinos.

Ultimately, however, it is up to consumer to move from a lifestyle of waste to efficiency.

“In movie cinemas, you can set the temperature at 22 to 23 degrees instead of 17 degrees. Switch off the water heater or that extra light when you’re not using it.

When you buy kitchen appliances, look for the ones that have good energy ratings – the ones that consume less electricity. Make school children aware of what to look for in good appliances.”

“This is what we want to do in the project in the Philippines. Let’s try to be energy efficient,” he said.(BoholChronicle)

Curtailed civil rights

June 6, 2008

by KIT BAGAIPO

Who says one cannot enjoy his civil liberties once incarcerated?

Before inmates at the Bohol Detention and Rehabilitation Center (BDRC) were locked up inside their cells starting yesterday for a period of one month as disciplinary measure, many of us would not have an idea of their activities while in detention.

While police teams rummaged through the different cells at BDRC yesterday, an outsider could only wonder how two inmates managed to put up private rooms for themselves carved out of the 5 sq.m. by 3 sq.m. detention cell, leaving only a small space for 11 other inmates whom he shares the prison cell.

Checking the private room, one would see that it was almost completely furnished as a hotel suite with a personal refrigerator, television, video player, stereo component and an assortment of movie and music CDs.

The two well-off prisoners settled for the temporary relief of electric fans. Nobody would have stopped them from putting up airconditioning units as the prison’s council of elders negotiated for more liberties.

One of the two had one more refrigerator outside his private room. This is where he stores softdrinks and iced water sold to other inmates.

Being in jail did not stop several other enterprising convicts to take advantage of a captive market.

Several sari-sari stores line-up BDRC’s detention area, selling a variety of goods – from table salt to cigarettes – that are considered important commodities in the prison facility.

Police operatives were likewise surprised to find out that one detention cell was turned into a bakery – complete with an improvised oven with trays of freshly baked bread.

Even the jailguards are allowed credit in the stores, according to an inmate interviewed by the Chronicle.

According to Provincial Government Media Affairs head Antonietto Pernia, visitation rights were abused. Wives of prisoners can stay beyond the allowed 24-hour visit at the conjugal room. Most wives stay for at least three days and complain being frisked by jail guards upon entry.

Aside from this, the prisoners have discretion on the use of BDRC’s budget for food and one inmate is tasked to go to the market and buy what is for the day’s menu.

Pernia said that just recently, the prisoners held their own tennis tournament even inviting non-inmates.

The council of elders (leaders of detention cells), are practically running the activities of the other inmates. They impose their own code of conduct and discipline.

The elders changed rules on visitation hours while insisting that they be allowed to cook the food themselves, thus, giving them access to knives and kitchen utensils that can be improvised into deadly weapons.

Since the 25 cells do not have padlocks after the April 13 riot, the prisoners are free to wander to other cells.

It was not until Friday last week when the elders wrote an open letter for Gov. Erico Aumentado that matters had taken a crucial turn.

The inmates threatened bloodbath and to hold barricades if two of their fellow prisoners are taken to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. The two have long been due for shipment to the national penitentiary but are still held at the BDRC due to the threats of the prisoners.

Interviewed over dyRD’s top-rated Tagbilaran-By-Nite, Aumentado vowed to institute reforms and restore law and order at the provincial jail.

It didn’t take that long as police operatives, led by Bohol PNP Director SSupt. Edgardo Ingking mapped out its operation, carried out early morning yesterday.


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