Archive for August 4th, 2008

Editorial Cartoon: On MILF-GRP M.O.A.

August 4, 2008

Naisahan ang MILF

Villar open to coalition with Lakas party in 2010

August 4, 2008

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:51:00 08/03/2008

MANILA, Philippines–Senate President Manuel Villar has declared himself and the Nacionalista Party (NP) he heads open to an alliance in 2010—even with the administration bloc.

“It’s hard to limit our choice of partner because we have not started anything. We are not closing our door to anything,” said Villar in an interview with reporters.

“We have to keep our options open because that is the only way we can establish our independence.”

Linking up with the Lakas-CMD the administration coalition, was a possibility, Villar said, depending on what President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would do—whether she would support one or two candidates, or not support anyone at all.

Villar said he fully expected former president Joseph Estrada, who remains popular, not to support any candidate who would join the administration party or tie up with the administration in a coalition.

“Anything is possible. President Erap is a close friend that I respect. At the right time, we will talk about this,” said Villar on the possibility of fighting Estrada for the presidency in 2010.

Estrada is reportedly toying with the idea of running for president again in 2010 if the opposition fails to come up with a common candidate.

Villar ranked fifth in a recent Pulse Asia survey on presidential candidates for 2010. The survey was topped by Vice President Noli de Castro, Estrada and Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda.

But Villar conceded it was still “too early” to talk about political partnerships, saying the best time would be a year from now or the middle of 2009.

In the meantime, he said that he would focus on keeping his post as Senate President.

An attempt to replace him was foiled earlier this month. It would take 13 senators to replace him.

“These coups do come often, but I believe I have the support of my friends,” he said.

Villar ran for the Senate and won on the opposition ticket but the anti-administration bloc was split on the choice of Senate President. Villar won the post with the support of the administration bloc.

Muslims, Christians to stage protests vs gov’t-MILF deal

August 4, 2008

Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 18:21:00 08/03/2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines–Muslims and Christians in the Southern Philippines have assailed the “landmark deal” between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that seeks to expand Moro autonomy in Mindanao.

None other than Sultan Esmail Kiram, the heir of Sultanate of Sulu, expressed disgust over what he called government’s insensitive action of offering the areas which have been part of the ancestral domain of Sultanate of Sulu, to the MILF without prior consultation.

“I feel really very bad. What we know prior to the agreement, the MILF was claiming ancestral land somewhere in Central Mindanao. The government committed a very drastic move by offering areas, including our ancestral domain which, unfortunately, the MILF approved,” Kiram said in an interview.

“Ano ba talaga ang aim ng Philippine government, papag-awayin ang mga Muslim at Kristyano dito sa Mindanao? [What is the true aim of the Philippine government? Get the Muslims and Christians to fight each other?] Do they want us here to fight each other over ancestral domain?” Kiram said.

Kiram said he had nothing against the MILF. “We support them, but for Allah’s sake, no one has full authority to seek historical rights or encroaching over it,” Kiram said about the impending agreement on ancestral domain.

In a press conference on Saturday night, Sheikh Abdul Wakil Tanjil, deputy mufti for Western Mindanao and executive director of Salamat Islamic Institute, also questioned the memorandum of agreement (MOA).

Tanjil said even the Sultanate of Sulu, which “has all the rights for Ancestral Domain claim, respected certain territories.”

“People have the right to be consulted before agreeing and signing any deal,” he said.

Datu Albi Julkarnain, chair of the Council of Royal Datus, said the MOA on ancestral domain would “encroach in areas supposedly under the Sultanate.”

Kiram and the other Muslim leaders said they would support the protest action in Zamboanga City on Monday, a day before the signing of the MOA in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat said he was expecting thousands of residents, not just from this city but as well as from neighboring towns and provinces, to join the protest action to “dramatize our opposition to the inclusion in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (JBE).”

Spearheaded by Lobregat, the protest rally will coincide with the city’s formal filing of a case before the Supreme Court.

The case seeks for a stop to the signing of the proposed memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.

The rally will be the first since the mass protest in 2001 when residents, then led by Celso’s mother, the late Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat, also marched on the streets expressing their opposition to the proposal to include Zamboanga City in the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), the transition government for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We, Christians and Muslims alike, have spoken and resoundingly voted against this,” Lobregat said.

Idjirani likened the MOA to modern colonization.

“Before Mindanao or the Philippines was colonized by foreigners. Now Muslim counterparts, not foreigners, are colonizing our own people,” he said.

Ustadz Shariff Mohsin Julabbi, chairman of the MILF in Western Mindanao, objected to the idea of giving parts of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi to the MILF.

“I am an official of Moro Islamic Liberation Front. I am a spiritual leader. Now I can say that those agreeing to the territories given by the government are not MILF like me, they are Maguindanaoan Iranon Liberation Front,” Julabbi said.

Julabbi was referring to the MILF leaders who belong to the Maguindanao and Iranon Muslim tribes.

Citing the Quran, Julabbi said no one had the sole right to own a place except to take care of the resources.

In Zamboanga City, at least eight villages are included in the proposed BJE. There are Barangays (Villages) Zone 3, Zone 4, Landang Gua, Busay, Landang Laum, Manalipa, Pasilmanta and Tigtabon.

Covered by the BJE are Lobregat’s ancestral home, the Fort Pilar shrine, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, the City Hall and the entire city center.

Teresita Sebastian, vice chair of the Mindanao Business Conference and regional governor of the Zamboanga Peninsula Philippine Chamber of Commerce, said the BJE would be “divisive and only sow confusion among the people.”

“When we were young, we did not highlight the differences in us. We looked at the commonalities and appreciated it. With this ongoing development, we are now seeing differently. The government should have done something to make people meet and see on common ground, not further divide them,” Sebastian said.

Sebastian said the business community did not deal with people based on differences. “We engage actively in business not because they are Muslims, Christians or Lumads [indigenous peoples]. In fact, our co-existence is not just mere toleration, but appreciation.”

But Eid Kabalu, MILF civil military affairs chief, assured that they would uphold the rights of people, particularly Christians, upon signing a deal with government.

“We are not barbaric. We guarantee that we will respect their rights. While we are in Islamic State, we will still follow a democratic form of government,” Kabalu said.

“We are asking the people of Mindanao to widen their thinking and not to entertain selfish desires. The past administrations tried but failed to address the Bangsamoro problem. Now, the agreement we will sign in Malaysia on August 5 will not benefit the people of Mindanao but the entire nation,” he added.

Despite Kabalu’s appeal for an open mind, protests will be held in various parts of Mindanao, including Iligan City on Monday.

Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz said the protest action would be their way of expressing their opposition to the inclusion of eight upland villages in the proposed BJE.

The Iligan City villages that were included in the proposed BJE are Rogongon, Panoroganan, Mainit, Dulag, Lanipao, Kalilangan, Hindang and Diigkilaan.

Cruz said these villages have been engaged in agricultural food production.

“Why should we be included again in another referendum when Iligan City twice rejected the move to include the city in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)?” Cruz asked.

“We are not against the peace process nor are we against the expansion of the ARMM. However, we cannot allow divisions to destroy the harmonious relationship among Muslims, Christians and lumad,” Cruz added.

In North Cotabato, Vice Governor Manny Piñol said they would stage protests on Tuesday, the day of the MOA signing.

Reports from Julie S. Alipala, Richel V. Umel, Aquiles Zonio and Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao

Conflicting provisions between peace pacts, MNLF warns

August 4, 2008

By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:51:00 08/03/2008

MANILA, Philippines–The impending signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) might spark a new wave of violence and armed confrontations in Mindanao, ranking officers of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) warned on Sunday.

MNLF officials, led by Dr. Parouk Hussin, likewise argued that the plan of the Commission of the Elections (Comelec) to push through with the August 11 elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) could further complicate the volatile security situation in the region.

“This is not a warning but a harsh reality,” Abu Ambri Taddik, MNLF’s deputy secretary general for military affairs, said in a press briefing in Quezon City.

The group lamented that while the government had yet to fulfill its obligations under the peace agreement it signed with the MNLF in 1996, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) was already embarking on a new peace treaty with another separatist group.

Hussin, the group’s chairman for foreign affairs, said the MNLF was never consulted by GRP representatives regarding the draft of the MOA between the government and MILF on the issue of ancestral domain.

Even their request for observer status during the GRP-MILF negotiations was not granted, he said.

He said MNLF leaders, including founding chairman Nur Misuari, expressed deep concern over the effects of the MOA on the existence of ARMM as the sole mechanism to implement the contents of the peace agreement between MNLF and GRP.

With the likelihood of the GRP-MILF pact to “superimpose” on the ARMM territory, Hussin said a renewed armed conflict across Mindanao would not be far-fetched.

“In an environment where everybody is armed, the breakout of violence is a possibility,” said Hussin.

Hussin, however, clarified that the MNLF would not be against the signing of a GRP-MILF agreement, but was only concerned about probable conflicts between the GRP-MNLF pact and the one with the MILF.

“The MNLF and the MILF are brothers. We have the same ideologies and aspirations for the Bangsamoro people… We’re hoping that the government will find a certain mechanism (to avoid conflict in territory),” he said.

Hussin also lauded President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her “determination to bring genuine peace and development to Mindanao.”

“Unfortunately, bringing peace to Mindanao is very complex. The important thing is the President’s determination to move the peace process forward.”

Asked what could be done to avoid conflict between the MILF and MNLF leaders, Hussin said postponing the scheduled ARMM elections could help them set up a caretaker administration composed of leaders from both groups.

He, however, stressed that the chairmanship of ARMM should be given to the MNLF representative “in the spirit of the 1996 peace agreement.”

Taddik said a number of former MNLF combatants have already decided to join extremist groups after becoming disillusioned with how the government reneged on its promise to spur economic development in the region after the MNLF signed the peace accord.

He said “thousands of MNLF combatants” have been thinking of joining “MNLF lost commands and breakaway groups in pursuit of genuine peace in Mindanao” after learning of the recent suspension of the tripartite review of the peace agreement.

Taddik said a significant number of his comrades joined the group of MNLF commanders Habier Malik and Indama Furuji.

“Some even went with JI (Jemaah Islamiyah) and the Abu Sayyaf just because they were very disappointed,” Taddik said.

“We have been talking with our comrades to be patient and wait until the technical review of the tripartite peace agreement is finished,” he said.

“But many of them, especially the younger ones, are getting restless. We cannot control them anymore.”

“Many of them are asking, ‘Why are we still poor?’ or ‘Why are the roads in Mindanao still impassable?’” he added.

Mujahab Hashim, Hussin’s deputy, said stipulations contained in the proposed GRP-MILF agreement had legal and technical repercussions on the earlier accord they signed with the government.

Hussin said the MOA on ancestral domain would include the territory of ARMM consisting of Marawi City and the provinces of Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.

Once approved, he said the MOA would virtually abrogate the contents of the GRP-MNLF peace pact.

“The government is moving so fast on signing agreements with sister organizations like the MILF. It’s not proper. The 1996 MNLF-GRP accord should take precedence before any other agreements,” Hashim said.

“We are willing to support other agreements if it will not result in the ejection of the MNLF in the equation.”

Hashim underscored the importance of ARMM as the primary and most potent tool for implementing political, socio-economic and military reforms as stated in the MNLF’s peace agreement with the government.

He said by signing a conflicting treaty, like the MOA with the MILF, the government would practically abolish the ARMM.

“If that happens, the Bangsamoro people will be like Palestine, a nation without a state,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Abdurahman Amin, MNLF’s permanent liason to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the government should realize that MNLF was the “only recognized representative” of the Bagsamoro people to the 56-nation OIC.

“As such, we should be consulted on the MOA. The existence of ARMM should be respected,” Amin argued.

Taddik also lamented how officials of Malacañang intervened with the elections in ARMM. He said because of the Palace’s penchant for controlling the results of the elections in Mindanao through “controlled votes,” ARMM returned to the hands of old political clans in the region.

He said this was very different from what they envisioned when they decided to enter into a peace pact with the government.

At present, the MNLF only has a lone representative to the regionwide body, with MNLF vice chairman Hatimil Hassan sitting as board member in the 24-member ARMM regional council.

The MILF broke away from the MNLF after the latter signed its peace agreement with the government.

GRP-MILF draft pact on Bangsamoro homeland (Full Text)

August 4, 2008

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:18:00 08/04/2008

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) herein referred to as the “Parties” to this Agreement.

Terms of Reference

The context of referents follows:

The Agreement for General Cessation of Hostilities dated July 18, 1997 Between the GRP and the MILF, and its Implementing Administrative and Operational Guidelines;

The General Framework of Agreement of Intent Between the GRP and the MILF dated August 27, 1998;

The Agreement on the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks Between the GRP and the MILF dated March 24, 2001;

The Tripoli Agreement on Peace Between the GRP and the MILF dated June 22, 2001;

The Tripoli Agreement Between the GRP and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) dated December 23, 1976 and the Final Agreement on the Implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement Between the GRP and the MNLF dated September 2, 1996;

Republic Act No. 6734, as amended by R.A. 9054, otherwise known as “An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)”;

ILO Convention No. 169, in correlation to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, and Republic Act No. 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, the UN Charter; the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and internationally recognized human rights instruments; and

Compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua’hada (or territory under compact) and dar-ul-sulh (or territory under peace agreement) that partakes the nature of a treaty device. For the purpose of this Agreement, a “treaty” is defined as any solemn agreement in writing that sets out understanding, obligations, and benefits for both parties which provides for a framework that elaborates the principles declared in the Agreement.

Have agreed and acknowledged as follows:

CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES

1. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as “Bangsamoros”. The Bangsamoro people refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization of its descendants whether mixed or of full blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected.

2. It is essential to lay the foundation of the Bangsamoro homeland in order to address the Bangsamoro people’s humanitarian and economic needs as well as their political aspirations. Such territorial jurisdictions and geographic areas being the natural wealth and patrimony represent the social, cultural and political identity and pride of all the Bangsamoro people. Ownership of the homeland is vested exclusively in them by virtue of their prior rights of occupation that had inhered in them as sizeable bodies of people, delimited by their ancestors since time immemorial, and being the first politically organized dominant occupants.

3. Both Parties acknowledge that ancestral domain does not form part of the public domain but encompasses ancestral, communal, and customary lands, maritime, fluvial and alluvial domains as well all natural resources therein that have inured or vested ancestral rights on the basis of native title. Ancestral domain and ancestral land refer to those held under claim of ownership, occupied or possessed, by themselves or through the ancestors of the Bangsamoro people, communally or individually since time immemorial continuously to the present, except when prevented by war, civil disturbance, force majeure, or other forms of possible usurpation or displacement by force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government project or any other voluntary dealings entered into by the government and private individuals, corporate entities or institutions.

4. Both Parties acknowledge that the right to self-governance of the Bangsamoro people is rooted on ancestral territoriality exercised originally under the suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. The Moro sultanates were states or karajaan/kadatuan resembling a body politic endowed with all the elements of nation-state in the modern sense. As a domestic community distinct from the rest of the national communities, they have a definite historic homeland. They are the “First Nation” with defined territory and with a system of government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations.

The Parties concede that the ultimate objective of entrenching the Bangsamoro homeland as a territorial space is to secure their identity and posterity, to protect their property rights and resources as well as to establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to them as distinct dominant people.

5. Both Parties affirm their commitment to mutually respect the right to one’s identity and the parity of esteem of everyone in the political community. The protection of civil rights and religious liberties of individuals underlie the basis of peace and justice of their totality of relationships.

6. Both Parties agree that the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) shall have the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral lands, including both alienable and non-alienable lands encompassed within their homeland and ancestral history, as well as the delineation of ancestral domain/lands of the Bangsamoro people located therein.

7. Vested property rights upon the entrenchment of the BJE shall be recognized and respected subject to paragraph 9 of the strand on Resources.

TERRITORY

1. The Bangsamoro homeland and historic territory refer to the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region. However, delimitations are contained in the agreed Schedules (Categories).

2. Toward this end, the Parties entered into the following stipulations:

a. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the Parties to this Agreement commit themselves to the full and mutual implementation of this framework agreement on territory with the aim of resolving outstanding issues that emanate from the consensus points on Ancestral Domain.

b. The Parties confirm their understanding that the mutual goal of reaching an agreement on Bangsamoro territory specific to mapping the outlying borders and the boundaries affecting local government units will lead to consolidation of the agreed texts on the Ancestral Domain Strands.

c. The Parties affirm that the core of the BJE shall constitute the present geographic area of the ARMM, including the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite;

d. Without derogating from the requirements of prior agreements, the government stipulates to conduct and deliver, within six (6) months following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, a plebiscite covering the areas as enumerated in the list and depicted in the map as Category A attached herein (the “Annex”). The Annex constitutes an integral part of this framework agreement.

e. The areas covered by Category B has already been reflected on a map and officially agreed by both Parties.

f. Internal Waters:
The Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) shall have jurisdiction over the management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of all natural resources, living and non-living, within its internal waters extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE area.

g. Territorial Waters:
(1) The territorial waters of the BJE shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the Republic of the Philippines (RP) baselines south east and south west of mainland Mindanao. Beyond the fifteen (15) kilometers internal waters, the Central Government and the BJE shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and management over areas and [of] all natural resources, living and non-living contained therein. The details of such management of the Territorial Waters shall be provided in an agreement to be entered into by the Parties.

(2) The boundaries of the territorial waters shall stretch beyond the 15-km BJE internal waters up to the Central government’s baselines under existing laws. In the southern and eastern part of the BJE, it shall be demarcated by a line drawn from the Maguling Point, Palimbang, Province of Sultan Kudarat up to the straight baselines of the Philippines. On the northwestern part, it shall be demarcated by a line drawn from Little Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City, up to Naris Point, Bataraza, Palawan. On the western part of Palawan, it shall be demarcated by a line drawn from the boundary of Bataraza and Rizal up to the straight baselines of the Philippines.

The final demarcation shall be determined by a joint technical body composed of duly-designated representatives of both Parties, in coordination with the appropriate Central Government agency in accordance with the above guidelines.

h. Sharing of Minerals on Territorial Waters:
Consistent with paragraphs 5 and 6 of the provisions on Resources, all potential sources of energy, petroleum in situ, hydrocarbon, natural gas and other minerals, including deposits or fields found within the territorial waters, shall be shared between the Central Government and the BJE in favor of the latter through production sharing agreement or economic cooperative agreement.

i. Activities Allowed on Territorial Waters:

(1) The Parties shall have authority to carry out the following activities within the territorial waters:

(a) Exploration and utilization of the natural resources, whether living or non-living within the territorial waters;

(b) Establishments and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;

(c) Marine scientific research;

(d) Protection and the preservation of the marine environment;

(e) Conservation of living resources;

(f) Regulation of shipping and fishing activities;

(g) Enforcement of police and safety measures, including interdiction of the entry and use of the waters by criminal elements and hot pursuit of suspected criminal elements;

(h) Regulation and control of contraband and illegal entry of prohibited materials and substances, including smuggling; and

(i) Such other measures as the Parties may otherwise mutually agree.

(2) Activities relating to exploration and utilization of non-living resources, as well as paragraphs (c) and (d) of the Authorized Activities will be carried out on a joint basis agreed by the Parties which may be in the form of production sharing agreements or joint development pacts.

j. Establishment of a Joint Commission:

(1) The Parties shall establish a Joint Commission, which shall elaborate the modalities for the implementation and the carrying out of the Authorized Activities and the measures adopted in cases of allegation of breach, and carry out any other functions which may be assigned to it by the Parties for the purpose of implementing the joint management of resources.

(2) The Joint Commission shall consist of one representative from each Party, who are assisted by advisers as may be needed. The conclusions of the Joint Commission shall be adopted by consensus and shall only be recommendatory in nature. Only when the conclusions of the Joint Commission are adopted by the Parties do they become binding on the Parties.

k. Demarcation and Status of Territorial Waters:

The demarcation and status of the BJE territorial waters shall be finally determined together with the demarcation and final status of Category B of the BJE.

3. From and after entrenchment of compact rights over the Bangsamoro homeland and the territorial jurisdictions for associative governance shall likewise embrace those under proclamation for agricultural and human settlements intended for the Bangsamoro people, all alienable and disposable land, pasture lands, timberlands together with all existing civil and military reservations, parks, old growth or natural forests declared as forest reserves, watersheds, mangroves, fishponds, wetlands, marshes, inland bodies of water and all bays, straits and channels found within the BJE.

4. All territorial and geographic areas in Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan, and the Sulu archipelago that have been recognized, and/or delineated as ancestral domain and ancestral land of the Bangsamoro people as their geographic areas, inclusive of settlements and reservations, may be formed or constituted into political subdivisions of the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdictions subject to the principles of equality of peoples and mutual respect and to the protection of civil, political, economic, and cultural rights in their respective jurisdictions.

5. For purposes of territorial delimitation, the Parties have agreed to the joint determination of geographic areas encompassed within the territorial borders of the Bangsamoro homeland and territory based on the technical maps and data submitted by both sides as provided above.

RESOURCES

1. The Bangsamoro juridical entity is empowered with authority and responsibility for the land use, development, conservation and disposition of the natural resources within the homeland. Upon entrenchment of the Bangsamoro juridical entity, the land tenure and use of such resources and wealth must reinforce their economic self-sufficiency. Among the purposes or measures to make progress more rapid are:

a. Entry into joint development, utilization, and exploitation of natural resources designed as commons or shared resources, which is tied up to the full setting of appropriate institution, particularly affecting strategic minerals.

b. Stimulation of local economy by a range of mechanism, in particular the need to address unemployment and improvement of living conditions for the population in the Bangsamoro juridical entity;

c. Intensification of measures needed to uproot the cause of poverty in the Bangsamoro juridical entity through responsible harnessing and development of its natural resources; and

d. Undertaking program review of public services, industrial or trade-related and agrarian-related issues in situations of different sectors of the society in the Bangsamoro juridical entity, which acquire communal character deriving from the special nature of their industry.

2. The Bangsamoro People through their appropriate juridical entity shall, among others, exercise power or authority over the natural resources within its territorial jurisdiction:

a. To explore, exploit, use or utilize and develop their ancestral domain and ancestral lands within their territorial jurisdiction, inclusive of their right of occupation, possession, conservation, and exploitation of all natural resources found therein;
b. To conserve and protect the human and natural environment for their sustainable and beneficial enjoyment and their posterity;

c. To utilize, develop, and exploit its natural resources found in their ancestral domain or may enter into a joint development, utilization, and exploitation of natural resources, specifically on strategic minerals, designed as commons or shared resources, which is tied up to the final setting of appropriate institution.

d. To revoke or grant forest concessions, timber license, contracts or agreements in the utilization and exploitation of natural resources designated as commons or shared resources, mechanisms for economic cooperation with respect to strategic minerals, falling within the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro juridical entity;

e. To enact agrarian laws and programs suitable to the special circumstances of the Bangsamoro people prevailing in their ancestral lands within the established territorial boundaries of the Bangsamoro homeland and ancestral territory is within the competence of the Bangsamoro juridical entity; and

f. To use such natural resources and wealth to reinforce their economic self-sufficiency.

3. The Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, and the Central Government agree on wealth-sharing based on a mutually agreed percentage ratio in favor of the Bangsamoro juridical entity through an economic cooperation agreement or arrangement over the income and revenues that are derived from the exploration, exploitation, use and development of any resources for the benefit of the Bangsamoro people.

4. The Bangsamoro juridical entity is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries: provided, however, that such relationships and understandings do not include aggression against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines; provided, further that it shall remain the duty and obligation of the Central Government to take charge of external defense. Without prejudice to the right of the Bangsamoro juridical entity to enter into agreement and environmental cooperation with any friendly country affecting its jurisdiction, it shall include:

a. the option to establish and open Bangsamoro trade missions in foreign countries with which it has economic cooperation agreements; and

b. the elements bearing in mind the mutual benefits derived from Philippine archipelagic status and security.

And, in furtherance thereto, the Central Government shall take necessary steps to ensure the Bangsamoro juridical entity’s participation in international meetings and events, e.g. ASEAN meetings and other specialized agencies of the United Nations. This shall entitle the said juridical entity participation in Philippine official missions and delegations that are engaged in the negotiation of border agreements or protocols for environmental protection, equitable sharing of incomes and revenues, in the areas of sea, seabed and inland seas or bodies of water adjacent to or between islands forming part of the ancestral domain, in addition to those of fishing rights.

5. Jurisdiction and control over, and the right of exploring for, exploiting, producing and obtaining all potential sources of energy, petroleum, in situ, fossil fuel, mineral oil and natural gas, whether onshore or offshore, is vested in the Bangsamoro juridical entity as the party having control within its territorial jurisdiction, provided that in times of national emergency, when public interest so requires, the Central Government may, during the emergency, for a fixed period and under reasonable terms as may be agreed by both Parties, temporarily assume or direct the operations of such strategic resources.

6. The Bangsamoro government-take or profit split from total production shall be shared with the Central Government on a percentage ratio of 75%/25% in favor of the Bangsamoro juridical entity. All royalties, bonuses, taxes, charges, custom duties or imposts on natural resources and mineral resources shall be shared by the Parties on a percentage ratio of 75%/25% in favor of the Bangsamoro juridical entity.

7. The legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people arising from any unjust dispossession of their territorial and propriety rights, customary land tenures, or their marginalization shall be acknowledged. Whenever restoration is no longer possible, the GRP shall take effective measures of adequate reparation collectively beneficial to the Bangsamoro people, in such quality, quantity and status to be determined mutually by both Parties.

8. All proclamations, issuances, policies, rules and guidelines declaring old growth or natural forests and all watersheds within the BJE as forest reserves shall continue to remain in force until otherwise modified, revised or superseded by subsequent policies, rules and regulations issued by the competent Bangsamoro authority or juridical entity.

9. Forest concessions, timber licenses, contracts or agreements, mining concessions, Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA), Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMA), and other land tenure instruments of any kind or nature whatsoever granted by the Philippine Government including those issued by the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) shall continue to operate from the date of formal entrenchment of the Bangsamoro juridical entity unless otherwise expired, reviewed, modified and/or cancelled by the latter.

10. The Parties recognized an immediate need to establish a five-member Bangsamoro economic-expert mission (the “Mission”) bearing in mind that the functioning of the economy and the operation of institutions involve financial and other resource management as well as parallel or complementary means, by which the Bangsamoro Development Agency will manage and administer resources acquired for the above purposes, especially in coordinating strategies and programs for cooperation in all fields.

11. The said Mission acts as a link in the conduct of Bangsamoro juridical entity’s associative parallel relationships and shall cooperate fully with all organizations involved in implementation of the peace settlement. It shall launch a plan and joint international appeal for the repatriation and development of the conflict affected areas in Mindanao. Persons appointed thereto must be familiar with the specific economic, political and legal characteristics in the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan region and must possess recognized competence, integrity, and high moral standing.

12. Cognizant that the Bangsamoro economic-expert Mission will benefit from international expertise, both the Central Government and the BJE hereby join the Third Party facilitator in inviting international funding institutions or equivalent entities for reconstruction and development to appoint two members and to designate one as the Chairman. The BJE shall designate one member as Co-Chairman. The remaining two members shall each be designated by the Central Government and the BJE.

GOVERNANCE

1. The recognition and peaceful resolution of the conflict must involve consultations with the Bangsamoro people free of any imposition in order to provide chances of success and open new formulas that permanently respond to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

1. The ultimate objective of entrenching the Bangsamoro homeland as a territorial space is to secure their identity and posterity, to protect their property rights and resources as well as to establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to them as a distinct dominant people. The parties respect the freedom of choice of the indigenous peoples.

3. The Parties agree to invite a multinational third-party to observe and monitor the actual implementation of the comprehensive compact which will embody the details for the effective enforcement of this Agreement. The participation of the third-party shall not in any way affect the status of the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE.

4. The relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro juridical entity shall be associative characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a structure of governance based on executive, legislative, judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the comprehensive compact. A period of transition shall be established in a comprehensive peace compact specifying the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE.

5. The modalities for the governance intended to settle the outstanding negotiated political issues are deferred after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

The establishment of institutions for governance in a comprehensive peace compact, together with its modalities during the transition period, shall be fully entrenched and established in the basic law of the Bangsamoro juridical entity. The Parties shall faithfully comply with their commitment to the associative arrangements upon entry into force of a comprehensive compact between the MILF and GRP.

7. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA AD shall be spelt out in the comprehensive compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively.

Any provisions of the MOA on Ancestral Domain requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing of a comprehensive compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the comprehensive compact.

8. The parties agree that the BJE shall be empowered to build, develop and maintain its own institutions, inclusive of, civil service, electoral, financial and banking, education, legislation, legal, economic, and police and internal security force, judicial system and correctional institutions, necessary for developing a progressive Bangsamoro society the details of which shall be discussed in the negotiation of the comprehensive compact.

9. The Parties further agree to undertake activities which will enhance the capacity of the government institutions during the transition through technical assistance, information-sharing and human resource development.

10. Matters concerning the details of the agreed consensus points on Governance not covered under this Agreement shall be deferred to, and discussed during, the negotiations of the comprehensive compact.

CHEd head wants public colleges run like businesses

August 4, 2008

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:02:00 08/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines—All 111 state universities and colleges, or SUCs, nationwide should be run like corporations, according to the new head of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

By “promoting corporatization, the SUCs can be freed from the shackles of government bureaucratic provisions,” said CHEd officer in charge Nona Ricafort.

Citing Republic Act No. 8292, the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997, Ricafort in a statement said SUCs were “empowered to engage in business ventures, raise endowments and other income-generating activities.”

But militant teachers and students see it otherwise.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers chair Antonio Tinio said, “Her support for the continued corporatization of SUCs can only mean higher costs that will push tertiary education beyond the reach of even more students.”

Alvin Peters, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, and Ken Ramos, chair of the Anakbayan youth group, echoed Tinio.

“By announcing corporatization as a cornerstone of her leadership, it is evident Filipino students and their parents shouldn’t expect much in the way of meaningful and much-needed reforms in tertiary education,” Peters said.

Contrary to Ricafort’s claim, Peters said corporatization “will further drive the profit-oriented nature of education in the country.”

Ramos said corporatization was “tantamount to the state’s abandonment of its role of ensuring an education for all. It promotes the notion that government’s role in the delivery of basic social services is limited to subsidizing a select few.”

But in a phone interview, Ricafort explained corporatization “does not mean we’ll push for the privatization of SUC-owned properties.”

“With the country’s food security problem in mind, we’re seriously considering converting idle SUC lands into agricultural estates. We’ll put them to good use,” Ricafort told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

Conducting an inventory of idle SUC lands was one of the commission’s priorities, she said.

Only SC can stop deal now

August 4, 2008

RP, MILF set to sign pact in Malaysia

By Leila Salaverria, DJ Yap, Nikko Dizon, Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:45:00 08/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines—It’s all systems go for the signing on Tuesday of an agreement which critics say will pave the way for the creation of a new state out of a proposed expanded Bangsamoro homeland.

Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and his Malaysian counterpart Rais Yatim are expected to witness the signing in Kuala Lumpur of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“It’s a go,” said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s peace adviser, Hermogenes Esperon Jr., unless the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order, which some Mindanao officials were seeking.

“It’s all systems go for the signing of the agreement on Aug. 5,” MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu also told Agence France Presse by phone from his base in Mindanao. “Our men on the ground want to see peace in Mindanao, and we have been talking for a long time already.”

Esperon, former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said that after the signing, the government would launch an “all-out consultation” preparatory to the holding of a plebiscite in one year.

The MOA grants an expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) its own basic law, an internal security force, a system of banking and finance, civil service, education and legislative institutions, full authority to develop and dispose of minerals and natural resources.

The government of the proposed MILF-controlled area would also have the power to send trade missions overseas and to enter into international arrangements, according to a draft of the agreement obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

Adel Tamano, spokesperson of the United Opposition, said that under the MOA, the President had “effectively ceded part of the territory of the Philippines to the MILF.”

Tamano cited Section 3 on concepts and principles of the MOA, which states that “ancestral domain does not form part of the Philippines’ public domain.”

“Obviously, GMA (Ms Arroyo) is not empowered to give up any part of our country to any group, only the Filipino people can do that in their sovereign capacity and only via amending the Constitution,” he said.

Declaration of independence

Tamano warned that the signing of the MOA would grant the MILF the “status of belligerency” and could open the door for a declaration of independence.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita dismissed claims that the MOA would violate the Constitution and constitute an impeachable offense against Ms Arroyo. He said the MOA was just one of three major undertakings in the peace agenda, the others being security and economic issues.

“There is no final agreement yet,” Ermita said in a phone interview.

The signing of the MOA will pave the way for the resumption of formal peace negotiations and from there, both panels will firm up a “comprehensive compact” of the final peace agreement, he said.

Referring to the petition in the Supreme Court seeking to stop the Kuala Lumpur signing, Esperon said government lawyers “will argue that the power of negotiations is with the executive branch.”

Enabling law required

Both Ermita and Esperon contended that the MOA was a “preliminary agreement” and pointed to provisions there stating that nothing would be executory unless there was a law enabling its implementation and everything must be done within the legal framework.
Ermita said this meant that any agreement between the government and the MILF had to be in accordance with the Constitution.

Both Ermita and Esperon stressed that the MOA called for the holding of a plebiscite in order to expand the Moro homeland.

“Any plebiscite will be pursuant only to an enabling law enacted by Congress,” Esperon said. “We are not giving away Mindanao.”

He also said the MOA only “defines the rights over the land” and thus, “it was not saying we will confiscate or revoke all land titles.”

Not impeachable

“That’s why I don’t see anyone can say that there is a violation and this would be an impeachable offense,” Ermita said, dismissing claims that the President was using the peace pact with the MILF to amend the Constitution so as to extend her term.

“I think we are extending our imagination too much,” said Ermita, who also expressed hopes that Congress would postpone the ARMM election scheduled for Aug. 11 as part of a “big confidence-building measure.”

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez also said that the MOA would undergo “constitutional processes,” including the requirement of an enabling law before it could be implemented.

“If Congress will pass something else, then the MOA will not hold. It’s up to Congress,” he said. “There are no shortcuts being taken here.”

Gonzalez also branded as “inaccurate” the news reports that a new state would be created under the MOA on ancestral domain.

No deal on secession

“What’s being given is an enlarged autonomous region. Never in the discussions have we agreed to secession,” he said. “There is no such thing as peace at any price. But we will give a chance to peace because peace is better than shooting,” he said.

The proposed ancestral domain, to be governed by the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), is the last remaining hurdle for a final political settlement that is expected to end the four decades-old insurgency that has claimed more than 120,000 lives. This would include plans for the future of the MILF’s 12,000 fighters, many of whom have said they will not disarm.

Esperon also dismissed suggestions that the MOA amounted to making the proposed Moro homeland a state.

“In the highest form, it could be a state within a state, if it comes to that,” Esperon said. But he added that only a constitutional amendment would allow this to happen if there was a shift to the federal form of government.

“But if our lawyers will say that the BJE will be under an expanded ARMM that will be enough, then we don’t have to have an amendment in the Constitution,” Esperon said.

Aside from the current ARMM provinces of Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan, and city of Marawi, the proposed Moro region would include six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and hundreds of barangays (villages) in Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato, which voted to become part of the ARMM in 2001.

The proposed MOA also provides for the inclusion of the Bangsamoro’s “ancestral domain” in Mindanao, Palawan and Sulu.

Copies of the draft MOA were distributed to retired generals during a forum on July 24 in Camp Aguinaldo and made available to the Inquirer.

Shared authority

Under the MOA, the Philippine government and the BJE are to exercise “shared authority and responsibility” over the Bangsamoro homeland.

The details of the structure of shared governance will be defined in the “comprehensive compact.” A multinational third party will be jointly invited by the government and the BJE to observe and monitor the actual implementation of the “comprehensive compact.”

Peace negotiations between the government and the MILF have been stalled on the contentious issue of ancestral domain since December 2007.

Only on July 25, informal talks aimed at getting the peace negotiations back on track broke down in Kuala Lumpur, with the MILF panel accusing the other side of trying to “undo” provisions in the “breakthrough” agreement forged on July 16.

The MILF said the meeting had been intended to finalize the text of the draft agreement on ancestral domain, but that the government panel led by retired Maj. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia wanted certain settled issues reopened.

On July 27, the government and MILF panels led by Garcia and MILF’s Mohagher Iqbal, respectively, initialed the final draft of the agreement on ancestral domain, Malacañang said. With a report from Agence France-Presse

Krisis at kahirapan sa ilalim ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo

August 4, 2008

SObraNA!

Krisis at kahirapan sa ilalim ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Hulyo 2008

Ika‐walong SONA na ni Gloria pero krisis ay lumala pa

Masyadong malala na ang inabot na pagkabulok ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo.

Sumadsad ang “approval ratings” ni Gloria sa pinakamababang antas ng sinumang pangulo mula 1986.
Nasa ‐38% ang popularidad ng pangulo dulot na rin ng patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, krisis sa
bigas at mapaniil na VAT. Hindi na nakabangon ang ratings ni Arroyo mula noong panahon ng dayaan sa
eleksyon ng 2004, Hello Garci Scandal ng 2005, extrajudicial killings at alegasyon ng malawakan at
malakihang mga kaso ng katiwalian.

Sa kabila nito, nagmamatigas pa rin ang administrasyon sa mga patakarang binabatikos na ng mayorya
ng mamamayan bilang pahirap sa kanila. Isang halimbawa ang VAT sa langis, Sa kabila ng apela ng mga
lider ng simbahang Katoliko at batikos ng mga mambabatas, ayaw pumayag ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo na
tanggalin ito dahil limpak ang koleksyon ng BIR mula sa VAT.

Hindi pa rin nakaka‐alpas ang rehimen sa mga isyu ng katiwalian. Sariwa pa sa isip ng tao ang
maanomalyang ZTE‐NBN deal at inaabangan ang magiging testimonya ni dating House Speaker Jose de
Venecia kung totoong isisiwalat niya ang kanyang nalalaman. Nagiging matunog din ang mga nakaraang
kaso ng katiwalian tulad ng “Swine Scam” at ang Northrail contract.

Ang korapsyon sa panahon ng matinding krisis ay lalong magpapatindi sa galit ng mamamayan sa
nakaupo sa Malacanang.

Ang pabigat na VAT ay binibigyang katwiran ng rehimen sa pamamagitan ng tinaguriang “subsidy” para
sa mahihirap. Tinutuligsa ng marami ang pakanang ito bilang panandalian, di tunay na solusyon kundi
panlilinlang at madaling mauwi sa korapsyon.

Nakakapanatili na lamang si Arroyo sa poder sa suporta ng mga heneral, big business (lokal na
komprador kapitalista at dayuhang monopoly kapitalista), mga tagasunod at mga kaalyado sa
lehislatura, sa local at pambansang pamahalaan at sa korte suprema. Nariyan pa rin ang suporta, ayuda
at panunulsol ng US sa rehimen dahil sa masugid nitong pagtupad sa mga maka‐imperyalistang polisiya,
kabilang ang neo‐liberal na globalisasyon at ang “gera laban sa terorismo”.

Desperado ang rehimeng Arroyo na bigyan ng “laman at sustansya” ang kanyang darating na SONA.
Hindi kumagat ang islogan nilang “Ramdam ang kaunlaran” dahil sa tindi ng krisis. Hindi rin
pinapaniwalaan ang islogan nilang “Labanan ang kahirapan” dahil hindi nga sapat ang mga ginagawa ng
gobyerno para bigyang lunas ang krisis o kahit man lamang ibsan ang epekto nito. Naghahabol ng
maaaring gamiting palusot si Arroyo sa gitna ng maraming mga bigong pangako at maling patakaran.
Sa huli ay mauuwi ang talumpati ni Arroyo sa litanya ng mga di‐umanong “accomplishment” na walang
batayan sa realidad, pawing kasinungalingan o kaya’y pinakikinabangan ng iilang naghahari.
mamamayan, kasabay ang mga planong “dole‐out” at subsidyong ginagawa na sa kasalukuyan.

Kahirapan, di pag‐unlad

Sa likod ng diumano’y paglago ng Gross Domestic Product, patuloy naman ang pagtindi ng kahirapan ng
maraming Pilipino. Sa pinakahuling ulat ng NSCB, lumaki ang bilang ng mahihirap ng 3.8 milyon sa
pagitan ng 2003 at 2006. Sa taya mismo ng gobyerno na malamang minemenos pa, umaabot na sa
27.6 milyon ang bilang ng mahihirap (o 33% ng populasyon) mula sa dating 23.8 milyon (30% ng
populasyon).

Tandaang napakababa ng pamantayang ginagamit ng gobyerno upang sukatin ang kahirapan.
Halimbawa, noong 2006, kailangan lamang daw ng isang pamilyang may limang kasapi ng P206 kada
araw upang huwag maituring na mahirap. Napakalayo nito sa tinataya namang halagang kailangan ng
isang pamilyang may parehong bilang ng kasapi na P894 kada araw upang mabuhay nang disente (i.e.
batay sa family living wage ng NWPC) kung sa NCR. Kaya higit na marami pa ang maituturing na
naghihikahos kumpara sa opisyal na datos ng gobyerno. Sa hiwalay na pagtaya, maaaring umabot sa 8‐9
sa bawat 10 pamilya ang maituturing na mahirap.

Sinusukat lamang ng mga macroeconomic indicators gaya ng gross domestic product (GDP) growth ang
paglago ng produksyon ng ekonomya sa loob ng isang takdang panahon. Pero hindi nito ipinapakita kung
paano naipapamahagi ang yamang nililikha ng ekonomya upang pakinabangan ng higit na nakararami.
Naipapamahagi ang yamang ito sa pamamagitan ng paglikha ng produktibo at sapat na bilang ng mga
trabaho, pagseguro ng disenteng sahod at kita, maaasahang panlipunang serbisyo at iba pa. Pero ang
mga ito rin mismo ang hindi tinutugunan ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo.

Kawalan ng trabaho

Lumalala ang krisis sa kawalan at kakulangan ng trabaho sa bansa. Sa pinakahuling ulat ng NSO, mahigit
16 milyong manggagawang Pilipino (o halos 28% ng labor force) ang wala o kulang ang trabaho.
Dinadaya pa nga ng gobyerno ang pagsukat sa kawalan ng trabaho dahil sinadya nitong baluktutin ang
depinisyon ng empleyo upang itago ang tunay na kalagayan ng job scarcity sa bansa. Samantala, ang
labor force participation rate (LFPR) na 63.2% noong April 2008 NSO survey ay siyang pinakamababa
mula noong 1995.

Hindi nakakalikha ng sapat at produktibong trabaho ang mala‐kolonyal at mala‐pyudal na lipunang
Pilipino. Ibayong pinalolobo ang bilang ng walang hanapbuhay ng patuloy na pagkawasak ng mga
industriya sa bansa at patuloy na konsentrasyon ng mga lupang sakahan sa kanayunan. Sa April 2008
survey ng NSO, iniulat nitong umabot sa 168,000 netong trabaho ang nawala mula sa parehong
panahon noong 2007 dahil sa 244,000 na nawalang trabaho sa industriya. Samantala, anumang
trabaho ang nililikha ng ekonomya ay batay sa kung ano ang pangangailangan ng dayuhang
pamumuhunan at hindi sa kung ano ang aktwal na pangangailangan ng ekonomya.

Bukod pa rito ang mga nalilikhang trabaho na di‐produktibo, walang seguridad at napakababa ng kita
gaya ng pangangatulong, pagtitingi, at iba pa dahil walang trabahong malikha ang industriya at
agrikultura. Katunayan, halos 50% ng bilang ng may hanapbuhay sa bansa ang nasa sektor ng serbisyo
kunsaan kabilang ang ganitong tipo ng mga trabaho gayundin ang mga negosyong call center at iba pa
na siyang pinapaboran ng mga dayuhang imbestor.

Krisis pangkabuhayan

Hindi rin nakakatiyak ng disenteng pamumuhay ang mga Pilipinong may hanapbuhay. Nananatiling
napakababa ng minimum wage at patuloy na iniiwanan ng umaalagwang pagtaas ng halaga ng
pamumuhay. Sa NCR, umaabot lamang sa P345 hanggang P382 ang arawang minimum wage kasama
na ang COLA, malayo sa itinuturing na ”living wage” na P894 kada araw.

Pumapatong sa kawalan ng hanapbuhay, disenteng sahod at kita at pangkalahatang pagkaatrasado ng
ekonomya ang napakatinding pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin na bunga ng
pagsasamantala ng mga dayuhan at lokal na monopolyo, maling patakaran ng gobyerno at mga pahirap
na buwis gaya ng VAT.

Bunga halimbawa ng Oil Deregulation Law (RA 8479), hindi mapigilan ang pagsirit ng presyo ng mga
produktong petrolyo. Mula nang ipatupad ang ODL, tumaas na ang presyo ng diesel, 738%; gasoline
products, 554‐572%, at LPG, 499%. Ngayong taon lamang, 19‐20 ulit na OPH ang naitala na nagpataas sa
presyo ng gasolina ng P19 kada litro; diesel, P24 kada litro; at kerosene, P22.50 kada litro. Mahalagang
tumbukin din na mayroon mang OPH o wala, dati nang artipisyal na mataas ang presyo ng langis bunga
ng pag‐iral ng pandaigdigang kartel sa langis.

Pero pinalala pa ito nang patawan ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo ng 12% VAT ang langis (RVAT Law) mula
noong Nobyembre 2005 sa dikta ng IMF. Sa kasalukuyan, umaabot na sa mahigit P7 kada litro ang
kuleksyon ng gobyerno sa VAT. Kailangan ng bangkaroteng rehimeng US‐Arroyo ang VAT upang matiyak
sa mga dayuhang creditor na patuloy itong makakapagbayad ng utang.

Magkasabwat ang rehimeng US‐Arroyo at mga kumpanya ng langis sa pagpapahirap at pagpiga ng
pakinabang sa mamamayan – ang gobyerno sa VAT sa langis at ang mga oil firms sa lumalaking tubo
bunga ng OPH. Sa taya ng Kontra‐KulimVAT, sa kada P1 kada litro na OPH, lumalaki ang koleksyon ng
gobyerno mula sa VAT ng P5.5 milyon kada araw. Ipinapaliwanag nito ang pagmamatigas ni Arroyo sa
VAT sa langis.

Upang bigyang katwiran ang VAT sa langis, ipinangangalandakan ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo ang subsidy
program nito na pinupondohan ng lumalaking koleksyon ng gobyerno mula sa VAT sa langis. Kabilang
dito ang inanunsyong P4 bilyon na subsidyo (P1B power subsidy; P1B microfinancing para sa asawa ng
mga tsuper at konduktor; P500M karagdagang benepisyo para sa mga senior citizens; P1B para sa mga
lalawigang tinamaan ng kalamidad). Ngunit walang makabuluhang pakinabang dito ang mamamayan
dahil sa bukod sa lubhang maliit, hindi rin ito naipapatupad sa buong bansa.

Samantala, kung aalisin ang VAT sa langis, agad na bababa ang presyo ng diesel ng hanggang P7.07 kada
litro; gasolina (P6.93 hanggang P7.46); kerosene (P7.20); at LPG (P88.62 kada 11‐kg tangke). Para sa mga
tsuper, maaring madagdagan ang kanilang kita ng mahigit P212 kada maghapong pamamasada; tricycle
driver, P29 kada pasada; maliit na mangingisdang gumagamit ng bangkang de‐motor, hanggang P69
kada pangingisda. Ilan lamang ito sa mga kongkreto at direktang pakinabang ng ordinaryong
mamamayan kung aalisin ang VAT sa mga produktong petrolyo.

Krisis sa bigas

Bunga naman ng patakarang liberalisasyon ng agrikultura at pribatisasyon ng NFA, hindi mapigilan ng
gobyerno ang pagsasamantala ng kartel sa bigas. Balewala at pakitangtao lamang ang panapanahong
raid na ginagawa nila sa mga warehouse ng mga rice wholesalers. Sa ilang bahagi ng Mindanao, umabot
pa sa P50 kada kilo ang retail price ng bigas at walang palatandaang nag‐iistabilisa ang presyo nito sa
buong bansa. At kahit maging istable, sinasabi na ng NFA na nasa napakataas na P35‐37 range ang
magiging presyo ng commercial rice, malayung‐malayo na sa P24‐28 (maliban sa fancy) na presyo noon
lamang Disyembre 2007.

Mula Disyembre 2007 hanggang nitong ikatlong linggo ng Hulyo 2008, tumaas ang retail price ng
regular milled rice sa NCR ng 50%; well milled rice, 46%; at premium rice, 43 percent.
Patuloy na pagsandig sa importasyon at liberalisasyon ang tanging solusyon ng NFA sa krisis sa bigas at
itinaas pa sa 2.4 milyon MT ang target nitong angkatin ngayong taon mula sa dating 2.1 milyon MT.

Ginagamit din nitong palusot ang krisis sa bigas upang ituluy‐tuloy ang pribatisasyon ng NFA at hikayatin
ang mga pribadong trader na mag‐angkat ng bigas. Lalo nitong pinalulubha ang kawalan ng seguridad sa
bigas ng bansa habang ibayong pinalalakas ang lokal na kartel sa bigas.

Pagsirit ng presyo

Sa pangkalahatan, pumitik sa 11.4% ang inflation rate nitong Hunyo, pinakamataas sa loob ng 14 na
taon. Itinulak ito nang husto ng 17.4% pagtaas ng presyo ng pagkain na bumubuo sa mahigit kalahati ng
badyet ng isang pamilya.

Pinatitindi ng pagtaas ng presyo ang kahirapan sa bansa lalo’t sa kalagayang marami ang walang trabaho
at kulang na kulang ang kita. Sa pag‐aaral, halimbawa, ng ADB, sa bawat 10% pagtaas sa presyo ng
pagkain, 2.3 milyon ang madadagdag sa bilang ng mahihirap. Sa kasalukuyang bilis ng pagtaas ng presyo
ng bigas lamang, tinatayang madaragdagan ang bilang ng mahihirap ng 660,000. Samantala, sa bawat
10% pagtaas sa presyo ng langis, 160,000 Pilipino ang nadaragdag sa bilang ng mahihirap.

Pinahihirapan na nga ng husto ng kawalan ng maasahang programang lilikha ng trabaho, na
pagpapanatili ng mababang sahod at kita, matinding pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin at
pabigat na VAT, wala pang maasahang panlipunang serbisyo mula sa rehimeng US‐Arroyo. Mula 2001
hanggang 2008, halos 28% ng taunang pambansang badyet ang inilalaan sa interest payments pa
lamang samantalang napakaliit ng nakalaan para sa edukasyon (15%); kalusugan (1.7%); at pabahay
(0.3%).

Sa halip na panlipunang serbisyo, karahasan at pagpapalayas ang dinaranas ng anakpawis at maralita sa
kamay ng rehimeng US‐Arroyo. Ayon sa tinipong datos ng KADAMAY, halimbawa, mula July 2007

hanggang February 2008, aabot na sa 24 na kaso ng demolisyon ang naitala sa NCR pa lamang na
nagpalayas sa may 12,345 pamilya bukod pa sa 2,650 kabahayan.

Papanagutin ang rehimeng US‐Arroyo

Walang aasahan ang mamamayan sa darating na SONA ni Gloria kundi pawing kasinungalingan.

Ipinapakita ng kasalukuyang sumasahol na kalagayan na dapat nang tapusin ang paghahari ng pahirap,
korap, tuta at pasistang rehimeng US‐Arroyo. Hindi dapat tiisin pa ng dalawang taon ang isang bulok na
pamamahala.

Dapat managot ang kasalukuyang rehimen sa pagkawasak ng kabuhayan at pagdarahop ng milyunmilyong
Pilipino.

Dapat managot ang rehimen sa patuloy na pandarambong sa kabang‐yaman, ekonomya at patrimonya
ng bansa sa gitna ng matinding krisis at kahirapan dinaranas ng mamamayan.

Bangsamoro Juridical Entity should not be used to divide the people of Mindanao

August 4, 2008

Press Statement
25 July 2008

Bangsamoro Juridical Entity should not be used to divide the people of Mindanao

The inclusion of several villages in Zamboanga City in the mapping of the Moro people’s ancestral domain should not appear as a threat to the people of Zamboanga. Rather it should be a venue for the people of Mindanao to assert their right to land and ancestral domain.

It is not new for the Moro people to hear landed families and politicians of Mindanao react to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. However, politicians should know better than to fan anti-Moro hysteria by accusing their Moro brothers and sisters of reclaiming lands and inciting them to arm themselves the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The mapping out of the Moro people’s ancestral claim should undergo a process, and should not be forced on the people. The decision of which and how many villages should be included in the Moro people’s territorial claims should not solely be at the hands of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or be limited at the negotiating table of the GRP-MILF peace talks.

It is the responsibility of the government to correct the pervading notion that the Moro people are out to forcibly take the lands of the Christian settlers and the Lumads. While plebiscite may be a venue for the people to decide whether they want to be part of the Moro people’s ancestral domain, the government should inform and educate the public by providing venues wherein the people can fully discuss not only the Moro people’s claim to ancestral domain, but the issue of ancestral domain and land rights of the people of Mindanao as a whole.

We may view the BJE as the Moro people’s way of correcting historical injustice, that of decades of forcible evacuation as a result of government policies on land ownership, forcible evacuation of residents due to decades of war and military operations and the accumulation of lands by the few business and landed elite families– Christians and Moros alike.

To correct our biases, we must learn lessons from our history. The settlers and the Lumads in Mindanao lost their lands for these same reasons. We were made to fight over what was left of the land, ravaged by multinationals and landed elite. Even in our small tracts we were reduced to being tenants, plantation workers with small pay and, worse, driven away.

The MILF and even the Moro National Liberation Front have yet to realize the aspirations of the Moro people’s right to self-determination. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is a far cry to the genuine autonomy they agreed with the government, for it did not even give the right for the Moro people to utilize and manage their natural resources. ARMM remained tied to the economic polices of the national government, and deep in debt.

The national government and the politicians have had so many years to correct their policies, yet they chose the status quo. Under the Arroyo administration, lands remained at hands of the rich and being sold to multinational companies. Already the government has signed a deal with Exxon Mobil for the exploration of the oil-rich Sulu Sea and other multinationals lining up to get a chunk of the natural gas in Liguasan Marsh.

President Arroyo even intensified the mining policy which has flushed out thousands of Lumads out of their mountains, and continued the land conversion programs that has forced the Christian and Lumad farmers out of their lands. Only the multinationals rake in profit from the low pay of workers in the rubber, palm and fruit plantations in Mindanao.

We must unite to resolve the problem of the people of Mindanao. The people of Mindanao should respect the land of its fellow people. Let us put a stop to the monopoly of land by one clan, one government official and foreign businesses. Let us assert that the Mindanao lands should be for the people – for the Moro, for settlers and for the Lumads. #

Amirah Ali Lidasan
National President, Suara Bangsamoro
Telefax (064)421.5860; Mobile: 09196603839
email: suarabm@yahoo.com

Katas ng VAT for the poor: the data and the math

August 4, 2008

Katas ng VAT for the poor: the data and the math

“”It’s easy to understand why many would want to see taxes on oil and electricity removed. [But] if [the] VAT on oil and power is lifted, how do we replace about P80 billion in revenues, mostly used for the poor?

“Won’t scrapping the VAT on energy benefit mainly the well-to-do, who consume 84 percent of oil and 90 percent of power, while depriving the poor of billions [of pesos] in programs now funded by VAT?”

—GMArroyo, Inquirer, July 18, 2008

Although not new, still It is a clever  idea: tax the rich and the well-to-do since they allegedly use most of the oil and power, and then use the billions  to subsidize the  poor. That is why Arroyo bandies it around as “Katas ng VAT para sa mahirap”.

What does the hard data from the Dept of Energy (DOE) tell us?. In 2007, electricity sales by sectors were as follows:

Industrial       – 34.41%
Commercial  – 28.02%
Others          – 3.42% (street lighting, public buildings and the like)
Residential   – 34.11%

The industrial and commercial sectors consumed 62.4% of the electricity. The companies promptly passed on the VAT on power to the buyers of their products and services  — the consumers, which include the poor and the vast majority of the people. Thus, the consumers themselves, not the owners of the companies, ultimately paid the VAT on power

The 3.4% consumed by street lighting, public buildings and the like and the VAT paid for them came from the people’s taxes. Therefore, the VAT on the total of the three items, 66%, were paid indirectly by the people, not the rich.

That leaves us the 34% residential consumption. What percentage of this was used by the well-to-do and the rich?

DOE has no breakdown of the residential customers but Meralco has. We can take Meralco’s latest data since it is indicative of the figure for the whole Philippines.

The well-to-do are presumably those consuming more than 500 kwh.  This group consumed 28% of the total power delivered to homes.  That means that relative to the nation-wide power consumption in the DOE data only about 10% of the VAT on power were paid for by the well-to-do and the rich, i.e., 0.28 x 34%.

We can now say that the vast majority of the people, which includes the poor, pay 90% of the VAT on power.  Only a fraction of the collected VAT is doled out to the poor as subsidies under the signboard “Katas ng VAT para sa mahirap”. Correct math on hard data tells us that the people are better helped by removing the VAT on power, and with the bonus that they have their dignity intact.

As for Arroyo’s claim that 84% of the VAT on oil is paid for by the well-to-do and the rich — I would leave that as a homework for Arroyo and her economic advisers. I could give them a tip though: check out how much of the oil is consumed by the commercial and industrial groups whose VAT on oil are passed on to consumers. Check out also the oil consumption by government.

Arroyo will deliver her SONA tomorrow. She still has time to go over her data if she intends to repeat her claim and justify the VAT on power and oil. Otherwise people will say that her claim does not reflect the reality of concrete. People call it as not being truthful, or lying, or pagsoSONAngaling.

– AGHAM/POWER Research

July 27, 2008

One UP student’s journey

August 4, 2008

One UP student’s journey

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost, 1915


The University of the Philippines Centennial Year is spurring a lot of reminiscences as well as serious reflection on the role the premier state university has played and will continue to play in addressing intractable national problems and the huge challenges that go with them. Having been remiss in partaking of the formal festivities since the start of the year, I wish to add my own personal reflections and do my share in placing on record that facet of UP that is indelibly etched in its past and will inevitably help shape its future – radical student activism.

Even in the late sixties, it was still unusual for a graduate of a relatively exclusive, all-girl Catholic school, still run by German nuns, to go on to UP for a college degree. The common perception was that one could lose one’s soul to the devil at UP, not just by imbibing the liberal thinking that opened the door to agnosticism, or worse atheism, but also to the insidious infiltration of one’s young mind by “communist” ideas.

But having come from a middle-class family of UP alumni, my situation was the exact opposite. It was expected that the entire brood of six would somehow enter UP’s grand portals and finish with a degree properly tucked under the arm, if possible with honors. We were completely unaffected by the conservative scare about UP.

Thus did I step into the Diliman campus bringing with me my orientation towards academic excellence, a strong background in Catholic social action and a marked streak of rebelliousness. (The latter had caused my transfer to the “B” section during my last year in high school as punishment for being outspoken, my election by accident to the presidency of the student council and culminated in a spur-of-the-moment walkout during a meeting with the disciplinarian school principal.)

By then I was also a budding feminist, having imbibed such ideas from the literature of the Women’s Liberation Movement that my role model eldest sister assiduously mailed to us from the US. As a young adolescent, I already instinctively resisted any manifestations of male domination or hints of a patronizing attitude from new-found male friends and acquaintances. Refreshingly, UP had comparatively less of that by the time I enrolled even though the macho fraternities were still going strong and continued to swagger and give female freshmen the eye from their ubiquitous tambayan.

I truly reveled in the liberal atmosphere of the iconoclastic institution of higher learning that UP had become. I enjoyed the general education courses in my first two years that helped mold me into a well-rounded, thinking young person with a sense of being Filipino. The faculty members were a mixed bunch but generally competent, if not all excellent; thought-provoking, if not always inspiring. One’s idiosyncratic teachers (we students called them “terrors”) provided indispensable lessons in surviving the unexpected in one’s colorful student life.

From such a background, one might expect that I would be a natural recruit for the radical student organizations that mushroomed and grew by leaps and bounds in those turbulent seventies. Instead I entered the UP Student Catholic Action (UPSCA) and not its counterpoint, the Student Cultural Association of UP (SCAUP) founded by one Jose Maria Sison. Delaney Hall and the UP Chapel became my comfort zone as I negotiated the daunting new social terrain fresh from the relative insulation of my collegiala years.

I became a “moderate” as they called it in the political parlance of the time. I spoke at teach-ins in the dormitories railing against social injustice and police brutality against demonstrators but I equally denounced the “violence” and the “extremism” of the leftist student organizations. I didn’t join the militants’ rallies but the ones led by the Atenean student leader, Edgar Jopson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines. We always left before the police moved in to violently disperse the radical students with truncheons and bullets. Then, I understood very little of their ideology nor was I intrinsically opposed to their politics; I was just turned off by their sloganeering and seeming unruliness.

My being a student leader in high school made it easier for me to get involved in extracurriculars particularly student politics and I became elected as a councilor in the college council in my second year. But my priorities then were academics first and foremost. Even as students were boycotting their classes to protest the unwarranted oil price increases at the time (by one to two-centavo increments!) I was holed up in the Arts and Sciences student council room studying for my next exam.

Only the persistent ribbing from an activist friend about my abdicating my responsibility to lead co-students in protesting provoked me to leave my books behind. In the nick of time, I witnessed the shooting by a crazy, enraged Math professor, of a protesting high school student, Pastor Mesina, who was part of a contingent of students massed up at UP’s main avenue leading up to the Oblation.

In this dramatic, heart-stopping manner did I eventually get drawn into the historic train of events that led to the setting up of student barricades at the major entrances to the campus to stall the entry of police and military troops ordered by President Marcos to impose “law and order”. I became part, albeit still peripherally, of the symbolic liberated zone of the “Diliman Commune” that was declared by students, teachers and other members of the UP community in February 1971.

That was my baptism of fire into radical student activism. I was confronted with the reality of state fascism unleashed barefaced against defenseless citizens and in flagrant violation of academic freedom. This was how I came to concretely understand the qualitative difference between state violence utilized by the ruling classes to preserve the status quo and the defensive violence resorted to by the oppressed and exploited to challenge the existing order and assert their rights.

And it all happened right in the heart of UP in my second year as an AB Psychology student. (Next week: Campus Politics and Medical School)

posted by Carol P. Araullo @ Thursday, July 31, 2008

Workers, urban poor skip meals and sleep longer to cope with crisis

August 4, 2008

Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR)
Rm. 702 Culmat Building 127 E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Brgy. Mariana, Quezon City
Telefax: 632.4110256 email address:
ctuhr.manila@ gmail.com,
Website:
www.ctuhr.org


Workers, urban poor skip meals and sleep longer to cope with crisis
by the CTUHR team

Rosa, 55, is a garment worker in Taytay, Rizal for almost ten years now. The company implements a quota basis which forces her to work for more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week, to reach the minimum quota. In total she receives around 2,000P (US$ 43.94) during pay day, which she will use to pay previous debts, house rent, water, and electricity bills. Because she only has 300P (US$ 6.59) left for food, she will have to reduce its quality and quantity, or borrow some money from illegal five-six operators.

Rosa’s plight is not rare anymore. The worsening economic crisis, as obviously shown in continuous rise in prices of commodities like fuel and rice, forces workers and urban population to develop ingenious means of subsistence and to tighten their belts further.

Of course, the Arroyo government may delight of the poor’s creativity. In fact, it is Malacanang advice to cope with surging prices while government is raking in billions of revenues from the very price hike that punishes the poor. Whilst the poor must be commended with how they continue to survive and refused to be robbed completely of their dignity, their plight should shame those who profit from their poverty.

The stories below are from direct interviews with workers from different factories and urban poor communities. Every account strikes similarities and echoes the same situation that every one of us was systematically placed into.

Skipping Meals

The soaring price of rice and other basic foods have resulted in reducing, if not the quality, the quantity of meals or food intake.

For example, Ruth, Rosa’s fellow garment worker, told us that her family is eating breakfast and lunch at the same time (also widely known as “brunch”) to avoid more expenses. Ruth is a casual worker and receives only 110P (US$ 2.42) daily wage, 177P (US$ 3.89) below the mandated minimum wage in Region 4.

Nanay Mildy, 60, an urban poor resident in Intramuros, Manila, has similar story. She told us that her family is now used to prolonging sleeps during daytime and wake-up past breakfast late in the morning.

These families, like most, are eating only 2 meals a day, not simply because they want to save money, but because they simply could not afford the standard three meals a day.

Teofilo Galalo, 55, is a regular worker in Reliance Farm Inc., a small scale piggery in Novaliches industrial belt. He has been working there for almost 27 years now. He receives 336P (US$ 7.38) daily wage. He allots 186P (US$ 4.09) for food everyday which will be shared by eight members of the family. This is far way below the 862P (US$ 18.94) daily food allowance needed for a family of six according to National Productivity Wage Commission (NPWC).

At the time of this writing, commercial rice in Metro Manila is around 35-40P (US$ .77-.88) per kilogram, while in other regions it has already reached 52P (US$ 1.14) per kilogram. Many had already shifted to either 25P (US$ .55) per kilogram NFA commercial rice, or to 18.50P (US$ .41) per kilogram NFA rice, for others who can withstand its soap-like taste. But even if their palettes refuse, the stark reality that they don’t have choice makes the soap-like NFA rice delectable.

Walk to work

The soaring prices of petroleum products also created significant coping techniques among the workers.

Renilyn Tubay, 19, works in Unity Packaging, a factory with 50 workers which produces boxes for medicines and skin applications. Women workers receive only 281P (US$ 6.17) everyday for eight hours of work, while men receive 331P (US$ 7.27). The discriminating disparity between salaries in effect means more burdens for Renilyn compared to male counterparts. Minimum wage in Metro Manila is pegged at 382P (US$ 8.39) per day.

As a result of insufficient salary, Renilyn started to walk everyday to save her travel expenses. She needs to wake up at 6am to reach workplace at 8am.

Celine Castillo, 32, is also suffering distress because of continuous oil price hikes. Though she doesn’t work, she had to do all the budgeting for the family and necessary adjustments.

Her husband works in Rebisco Company which produces Hanzel, Rebisco Crackers, Marie Choco Sandwich, etc. Out of 2,900 total workforces, only 1,900 are regular workers. According to Celine, she now shifted to charcoal or uling in cooking instead of the usual LPG tank. Two sacks of uling are enough for a month which costs up to 300P (US$ 6.59). She saves 350P (US$ 7.69) at most.

At the time of this writing, gasoline is at 61P (US$ 1.34) per liter, diesel at 54P (US$ 1.19) per liter, while a regular LPG tank is at 650P (US$ 14.28).

Dropping out

Education was deemed before by poor families as the best way to break the chains of poverty. However, in the present time crisis, schooling became very luxurious and unsustainable.

For example, Ruth, 32, also a garment worker in Taytay, Rizal, failed to enroll her eldest son, a second year college student in University of Rizal System (URS) Taytay campus. They were forced to spend enrollment budget for food. “Life was very hard… we need more income and so I want my children to look for work,” she said in Filipino.

Even the International Labor Organization (ILO) expressed its worries over the decline in the enrollment rate in schools from 96.77% in 2000-2001 to 83.22% in 2006-2007. (PDI, 19 June 2008). Decline in enrollment will logically increase child labor, a condition that ILO and the trade union movement wanted eliminated.

Extra-income

Economic crisis have gripped the workers too much. For workers, performing well inside a factory is not enough to sustain a decent, simple life. They have to exhaust all means to generate more income outside working hours.

Direct-selling seems to benefit a lot from wage pegging and consistent price hikes. Workers that we had interviewed told us that they sell Avon, Natasha, DXN, and other products to create more money to augment financial needs.

Jose Campilos, 20, works as taga-igib ng tubig in an urban poor community in Intramuros, Manila. His work does not have a regular salary. It depends upon the need for water in the neighborhood and how much they want to pay him. He acquires 50-100P (US$ 1.1-2.2) everyday. He also do laundry services sometimes, he receives 100-200P (US$ 2.2-4.4) per labada. But due to high prices, he also collects plastic bottles and tin cans by night.

Celine, aside from saving money by using uling, also sells embotido to her neighbors in the afternoon. While Ruth do laundry services during Sundays in exchange of money or food.

Doles and subsidy to the poor will not address the problem

Despite the worsening crisis that had succumbed workers in suffering and pain, Ms Gloria Arroyo has remained deaf if not living in hallucinations. Her posters bearing her picture beaming in Ramdam ang Kaunlaran (Progress is ubiquitous) continues to hang in major buildings, highways and bombard TV advertisements.

Another poster says `Labanan ang Kahirapan’ (Fight Poverty) fill the MRT stations. And the only thing that Arroyo government does is to hand doles and subsidy to poor consumers of electricity while benefiting from a windfall of revenues. The government collects P52 billion in revenues and expecting another P18 billion more due to weekly increase in fuel prices as a result of 12% VAT on fuel. The collection is needed, as Malacanang says, because it allots P2 billion in subsidy for the poor. Where the remaining goes, is a big question.

A big section of the population wants the VAT removed and the oil deregulation law that allows companies to increase oil prices anytime they want, scrapped. Arroyo government refuses stubbornly, the way it refuses the demand for a legislated 125P across-the board, nationwide wage increase (US$ 2.75). Instead, tried to deceive the people and create good public image by using temporary and artificial solutions.

The 2 billion peso, for example, allotted budget to give 500P (US$ 10.98) allowance to some 400,000 low electricity consumers is not just temporary but it encourages people to depend and expect that some more charity will come from the government. It reduces the poor to beg, depriving them of their dignity, while the government smiles handing crumbs and a pack of rice from the money it gets from the poor through VAT.

Few days ago, the government ordered a fare hike under the pretext of giving drivers, jeepney drivers particularly some relief from high cost of fuel. The poor, mostly workers are the jeepney passengers. Whilst it is understandable to uplift the drivers, the fare hike will come from the very pockets of the workers, who have been denied of the substantial wage increase. This government insulted the workers with 10-20P (US$ .22-.44) wage hike, an amount that is just enough to buy 2 packs of instant noodles, loaded with sodium and MSG.

The government won’t repeal 12% e-vat, legislate and implement 125P wage increase. It stands to benefit from them, unless, thousands of workers and the poor again fill the streets to demand not only the VAT repeal, but removal of the government which reduces its people into beggars. When that day happens, the poor will have more reasons to smile, even to laugh.#


————————————————————————-
The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) is an independent NGO based in Quezon city, Philippines, engaged in documentation & monitoring of human rights violations committed against workers. It conducts research, information and supports advocacy campaign for workers’ rights promotion and protection. For more information, call or fax:632.4110256
or visit
www.ctuhr.org

Letter of Thanks of the family of Ka Bel and the Anakpawis Partylist

August 4, 2008

July 21, 2008

Salamat sa Young Blood article, “Quiapo Vendors” ni Ms. Lucero, na lumabas sa PDI.

On July 19, 2008, we went to Plaza Miranda to look for the Flower’s Vendors Association. We easily found the vendors selling flowers along the mall at the side of Plaza Miranda near Quiapo Church. I asked about the president of their association and met Mrs. Maria S. Batac, from San Fernando, Pampanga. I learned that Ms. Lucero bought the flowers from her.

Maya-maya ay ngumiti siya. Nagtanong siya kung kailan kami pupunta sa puntod ni Ka Bel. Magpapadala uli siya ng mga bulaklak (at inisa isa na ang mga bulaklak). Pinigil ko siya, at sinabing “sa Bulacan po siya nakalibing, baka ho malanta agad ang mga bulaklak.”

Aling Maring said, “basta nakababad sa tubig ang mga bulaklak ay matagal itong malanta.” Para lang huwag na siyang mag-abala pa, I told her na “ganito na lang po, Aling Maring. Pag kailangan namin ng mga bulaklak, sa inyo na lang kami oorder at magpapagawa. Hihingi na lang po kami ng discount.” Tumango siya at sabay sabi sa amin na, “sige, kayo ang bahala. Hihintayin ko kayo.”

Binanggit ko sa kanya na marami ang nakabasa at naluha sa artikulo ni Ms. Lucero. Kaya, hinanap namin sila para mapasalamatan. Sabay abot ko sa kanya ng dala naming Thank You cards mula sa pamilya at Anakpawis Partylist. Naluluha-luha niyang binasa at tinitigan ang mga cards na iniabot ko sa kanya. Pansamantala kaming nagpaalam at sinabing babalik kami sa kanyang puwesto para muling makipagkuwentuhan.

Marami pang ibang simpleng tao na hindi namin kakilala ang nagpunta sa burol ni Ka Bel. Tulad ng isang lalaki na tuwing umaga ay pinupunasan ang kabaong ni Ka Bel. Nang tinanong siya ng isa kong kapatid, ang sagot niya ay “ito man lang ay magawa ko para kay Ka Bel, bago man lang siya ilibing.”

Napakarami, di mabilang ang mga simpleng tao, marami sa kanila ang nanggaling pa sa probinsiya ang nagtungo sa Iglesia Filipina Independencia (IFI) para masilayan sa huling sandali ang katawan ni Ka Bel at magbigay ng kanilang respeto, kilalanin ang simpleng buhay at puspusang pakikibaka ni Ka Bel para sa interes ng masang anakpawis.

Nais namin silang puntahan at makilala, para tulad ni Aling Maring ay maabutan ko ng Thank You Card ng aming pamilya at ng Anakpawis Partylist. Higit pa rito, ay maiparamdam namin sa inyo ang mahigpit at mainit na pakikipagkamay at masabi sa inyo ang aming taos pusong pasasalamat.

OFELIA BELTRAN
Anak ni Ka Bel

SONA 2008 Pictures

August 4, 2008

Metro Manila, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Bikol – People’s SONA, July 28, 2008
Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto – People’s SONA, July 27-28, 2008
Los Angeles, New York – People’s SONA, July 28, 2008
mula sa ARKIBONG BAYAN

CARTOONING CONTEST: 1ST INTERNATIONAL “OLIVE” CARTOON CONTEST 2008

August 4, 2008

1ST INTERNATIONAL “OLIVE” CARTOON CONTEST 2008

MUNICIPALITY OF KYRENIA
CYPRUS TURKISH CARTOONISTS ASSOCIATION

1ST INTERNATIONAL “OLIVE” CARTOON CONTEST 2008

PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS:
1 – This contest and exhibition is open to all professional and amateur cartoonists of any nationality religion and background…

2 – Subjects-Topics: Cartoons against detroying the olive trees, olive, olive industry, olive oil, olive branch, olive tree, cutting olive trees, benefit from olive etc…

3 – The minimum and maximum sizes of each cartoon to be submitted must be A4 and A3. Cartoons can be drawn in any colour… There shall be no frame nor any bandages around the cartoons…

4 – The cartoons must be original… Photocopies and technically produced (from the computer) cartoons will not be evaluated. This type of cartoons will only be exhibited or will be put in the albume if approved by the selection committee…

5 – The cartoons submitted to the contest which will be pre-elected will be put and exhibited on a web page for the attention and objection of international cartoon associations to overcome copying and steeling… Any cartoon which is copied, stolen or awarded in other cartoon contest will be disqualified…

6 – All participants are allowed to submit maximum two cartoons… Name, surname, address, e-mail and telephone numbers of the participants must be written at the back of each cartoon… A short resume and photograph must also be attached…

7 – All the cartoons must reach to the specified addresss till 30 August 2008… The cartoonists themselves will be responsible from all losses, delays and damages…

8 – Being publicated or not is not important for the cartoons… The important thing is that they should not be awarded in any contest…

9 – All cartoons eligible for an award or not shall not be returned and shall be stored in archive of the “Cyprus Inernational Catoon Museum.”

10 – Besides those cartoons which will be awarded, all the cartoons approved by the selection committee will be pubicated in an album and exhibited in Zeytinlik Village at 5-10 October 2008 during the “7th International Olive Festival”.

11 – The result of the contest will be announced in local newspapers…

· The transfer and accomodation expenses of the cartoonists who will win the first three awards will be paid by the Municipality of Kyrenia…

· Only the accomodation expenses of the cartoonists who will win particular/distinctive awards will be paid by the Municipality Of Kyrenia…

AWARDS:

1st Prize: 1.500 Euro+Gold Medal…
2nd Prize: 1.000 Euro+ Silver Medal…
3th Prize: 750 Euro+Bronz Medal…

10 or 20 person “Special Prize” (Bronz Medal)

ADDRESS:

KIBRIS TURK KARIKATURCULER DERNEGI
(1. ULUSLARARASI “ZEYTİN” KARİKATÜR YARIŞMASI)
POSTA KUTUSU: 87., LEFKOŞA-KUZEY KIBRIS (VIA TURKEY)

Nearly 3,000 people join anti-mining rally in Brooke’s Point

August 4, 2008

By Cheryl A. Galili

“WE STRONGLY oppose mining operations in our municipality.” This is the united call of nearly 3,000 people in Brooke’s Point who attended a rally organized by anti-mining advocates, including representatives from the religious sector, on July 17.

Attended by mostly indigenous peoples (IPs), students, professionals, businessmen, women and farmers from different barangays, some even coming from as far as the municipalities of Sofronio Espanola and Rizal, the anti-mining rally was held to express indignation against three mining companies: Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC), MacroAsia Mining Corporation (MMC) and Lebach Mining Corporation (LMC) that are waiting to do mining operations in Brooke’s Point,

Indigenous peoples Panglima Quirino Tanugan, overall leader of all IP leaders in Brooke’s Point, warned of a “bloody confrontation” if the mining companies push through with their operation.

Brooke’s Point Vice-Mayor Jean, on the other hand, called on the residents “to remain vigilant and to continue opposing any mining activity that would threaten the environment. She believes that their town does not need mining to prove its economy because they are dependent on their rich agricultural and coastal resources.

Emphasizing that Brooke’s Point is relatively much developed than Bataraza, Feliciano said that she and all the anti-mining residents will do everything possible in their power to stop all mining operations.

Bataraza is where the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) has been operating for the last 30 years.

During the rally, barangay chairmen Federico Aguilar and Jonathan Lagrada of Mainit and Ipilan exposed that some representatives of mining companies allegedly attempted “to bribe them” and offered assistance just to get their endorsements.

Bishop Pedro D. Arigo, the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Palawan, also expressed his all-out support in the struggle of Brooke’s Point against mining.

The rally ended with the burning of an effigy which represents the “death of mining operations in Brooke’s Point,”(PalawanTimes)

Advisory Board orders BATA leaders to be audited on royalty share

August 4, 2008

By Celeste Anna R. Formoso

PENDING LIQUIDATION of around P10 million from the Berong Nickel Corporation (BNC) representing their 1% royalty share from mining, the leaders of the Berong Aramaywan Tagbanua Association (BATA) in Quezon town was inhibited to further withdraw from their bank accounts by the Advisory Board (AB) that was given an authoritative order to assist and guide them in the management of their fund.

The AB also ordered them to be audited by a team of auditors that will be provided by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP); restrained from spending more funds on new projects until they have completed their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP); and advised to deposit their remaining money to a trust fund.

These recent developments happen following reports of an internal conflict among the leaders and members of the BATA due to complaints of alleged anomalous fund disbursements, illegal withdrawals, formation of their own mining corporation, discrimination against other Tagbanuas and failure to conduct consultation with the members regarding major decisions – grievances that have affected their credibility.

The association was given until July 31 to comply with the conditions. For this period, its leaders were consented to withdraw P100,000 that they can use as revolving fund.

The impositions on the leaders of the Tagbanua association, headed by Victorino Danglong, chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), were issued on Monday, July 21, during an AB meeting held at the El Nido Function Room of the Legend Hotel.

Vice Governor David A. Ponce de Leon, representing the provincial government; and Helen Saulon, executive director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), were present in the said meeting as co-chairmen of the AB.

Ponce de Leon started the meeting with an announcement that the BNC is ready to release the royalty share of the BATA for 2008 amounting to around P6 million. He cautioned however, that this will only be made available if the association has already accounted all the expenses it incurred from the 2007 release.

Memorandum of agreement

On imposing the conditions, Ponce de Leon reminded the leaders of the BATA that as per the memorandum of agreement (MOA) they signed, under Article VII-MOA Monitoring and Evaluation Schemes, it is stated that there will be “special and/or regular financial audits of all monies by the NCIP and submission of quarterly reports among others.” These stipulations were even strengthened by a supplemental MOA signed on March 25, 2008.

Since the credibility of the BATA leaders in handling the royalty share for their members is being questioned, the AB believes that the liquidation report they will submit will provide the answer.

“We will be very frank, very straightforward here. What is happening right now is not good and must be resolved,” Ponce de Leon said at the start of the meeting.

He informed Danglong, Efifanio Marcelo, Mike Marcelo, Samuel Pantod, and other BATA members who were also present that if the internal conflict is not resolved, the BNC will be obliged to seek legal means that would determine if the BATA is still credible to receive the royalty share.

In an earlier interview with George Bujtor, the chief executive officer of the BNC, he said that ultimately, their “desire is to fulfill their responsibility stated in the MOA, and hopes that the BATA would do the same through their leaders.”

Without the conflict being resolved, he said the BNC would have difficulty determining who has the right to receive the 2008 royalty share. “I sincerely hope for the BATA to resolve the conflict,” Bujtor said.

The Tagbanua association leaders are expected to liquidate P500,000 released two years ago by the BNC; P2 million turned over on December 13, 2007 and P1.5 million in February this year — equivalent to P4 million.

On February 29, 2008, in a regular meeting of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), the BNC again released P11.4 million to the BATA, received by Danglong, to complete P15.4 million or 1% royalty share from mining operations.

As per information from the BATA leaders, the amount of money they have at the Palawan Development Bank (PDB) is P3.6 million and P1.325 million deposited in a trust fund at the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), or a total of P4.925 million.

The amount to be accounted for totals to P10.475 million, according to Ponce de Leon.

BATA leaders tell the truth

In a meeting of the AB on July 11, Ponce de Leon discussed a letter he has received from Balinsay with the following complaints: “the practice of nepotism, specifically citing the Marcelo family who have five members benefiting from the royalty fund; BATA projects arbitrarily chosen without consultations with the members; approval of the utilization of dwarf coconuts that was never consulted to the IP communities and the deduction of P100 from the share that each family received from the Pamaskong Handog (Christmas Gift) last December.”

These complaints were aside from the BATA leaders forming their own mining corporation and why; anomalous fund disbursements and illegal fund withdrawals.

In the July 21 meeting, Ponce de Leon wasn’t able to hide his disappointment on the fact that the BATA leaders didn’t tell the truth when he and Berong barangay chairman Rodrigo Hablado asked in the July 11 meeting about the Westcoast of Palawan Mining Corporation (WPMC).

During then, Danglong denied the rumor, saying that “if it is true, its existence can’t be hidden from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) where applications are filed.” He said “all were baseless charges.”

Mike, the young Marcelo, who serves as the BATA’s project manager, confirmed Danglong’s reply. He said the rumors may have started when they went to Manila to follow up on their certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT).

But on Monday’s meeting, Danglong, the Marcelos and the other BATA leaders were no longer able to hide the truth. This was because copies of the certificate of incorporation (COI) of the WPMC were distributed to the members of the AB, including representatives of the media who were invited.

Westcoast of Palawan Mining Corporation

The COI from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed that the WPMC was incorporated on February 6, 2008. It will be engaging in “large scale mining, quarrying, milling, processing, smelting, producing nickel and all kinds of ores, metals and minerals, as well as the byproducts thereof, to purchase, lease, or otherwise acquire mining rights, mines, building plant, machinery, equipment and other properties necessary for its business.”

With principal office at Caimito Extension Road, Barangay San Jose, the BATA leaders who belong to the mining corporation are Rosino L. Bunan, Sr., Epifanio L. Marcelo (treasurer of the BATA); Sardin A. Gurian, Victorino V. Danglong (chairman of the BATA), Safdul B. Guinto, Sr., Melecio G. Pandeno, Eddie A. Seniaga, Onsino A. Alian, Pompilo D. Damalde, Danilo S. Virtudazo (not Virto Dazo as earlier written in this newspaper), Alexis R. Balayo, Samuel N. Pandod, Durmili S. Ninge, Motaleb M. Kemil and Mike Marcelo (the BATA project manager).

The seven directors of the WPMC are Bunan, Marcelo, Danglong, Damalde, Virtudazo, Balayo and Kemil.

Balayo was apparently elected as treasurer of the mining corporation, and it was in his name that a deposit of P2.5 million was made in trust on November 17,2007 under Saving Account No. 050-109248-070, per a certification issued by the HSBC Saving Bank (Philippines), Inc.-Makati Branch.

The formation of WPMC casted doubt on the credibility of the BATA leaders, who many believe do not have money to put into the corporation. Initially, Hablado had notions that they might have taken out the money from the royalty share.

But Epifanio, the older Marcelo, said they did not pay a single centavo as share to the mining corporation. “Sa katotohanan, wala kaming ibinayad (Honestly, we didn’t pay anything),” Epifanio said.

His son Mike, on the other hand, explained that the mining corporation was set up even before the BATA was formed. But the documents obtained by the AB proved that some of the developments that happened on their application only occurred in the early months of 2008. By this time, the BATA has already been formed.

Provincial NCIP Director Roldan Parangue believes that the Tagbanuas are just being used so local mining speculators can stake tenement mining claims. “There are no more to claim. Every claim has been applied for,” Parangue told them at the AB meeting.

“Why didn’t you tell the truth? The only answer we want was a yes or no,” Ponce de Leon, obviously disappointed, asked the BATA leaders. He said that the fact the BATA leaders lied about the existence of WPMC was reason enough for their members to really doubt them.

Expensive dwarf coconuts

The NCIP and the AB also want an explanation on why the BATA leaders struck an agreement with Virtudazo for the supply of 49,300 dwarf coconut seedlings with a total price of about P3.2 million. Each costs P65.

Ponce de Leon said the municipality of Quezon, under the leadership of Mayor Ronilo Caputilla, has a coconut project that sells them cheap and that the Philippine Coconut Authority is, in fact, giving them for free.

Mike said they didn’t know that the municipality has this project, and that their mistake was failing to inquire where they can get cheap coconut seedlings.

Virtudazo, who reportedly owns the Tree of Life farm in Barangay San Jose, will be delivering the seedlings from Zamboanga.

Ponce de Leon said the PCA currently bans coconut from other provinces to be brought to Palawan without passing quarantine and through them.

In Balinsay’s complaint, he said not all Tagbanuas are amenable to the project because some of them are already old and can no longer handle a coconut tree farm.

Ponoy said this is true, and that not all of them own lands where the coconut seedlings can be planted. Apparently, this is the reason why the project was in the first place, never consulted with the rest of the BATA members.

The AB required the BATA leaders to show a copy of the agreement with Virtudazo to determine if it can still be voided. This is despite the admission from the BATA leaders that they’ve already paid in advance even if the coconut seedlings have not been delivered yet.

Ponce de Leon said the NCIP has a legal counsel that can help them cancel the agreement and coordinate with the PCA or the municipality of Quezon regarding the coconut seedlings they require.

As of press time, Epifanio has already resigned as treasurer to avoid further criticisms that his family has no “delicadeza” engaging in nepotism. In the Marcelo family, Mike serves as project manager, his sister Lea the assistant secretary and another sister is apparently a scholar of the BATA.

Danglong, on the other hand, explained that although he is the chairman of the BATA Board of Trustees, his decision is not his to command. He said he is always outvoted on major decisions.

Ponce de Leon and Saulon said that as long as the BATA leaders have not liquidated funds from the royalty share that were already spent, their members will always doubt their honesty and integrity.(PalawanTimes)

‘Lumad’ leaders deliver own Sona

August 4, 2008

By Ryan Rosauro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:20:00 08/02/2008

WE ARE HUNGRIER NOW. WE ARE POORER.” This, according to leaders of “lumad” communities, is the state of indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

In a “State of the Indigenous Peoples’ Address” (Sipa) on Monday, they assailed President Macapagal-Arroyo and the government for turning a blind eye on the concerns of the country’s indigenous peoples. Her State of the Nation Address (Sona), while not missing mention of the “lumad”, treats them “passively,” they said.

The annual Sona spells out the Arroyo administration’s priority concerns for the coming year.

“We listened and watched with disbelief as the images we saw and the statements made by (Ms) Arroyo were a far cry from our reality—that of increased poverty, worsened hunger and further marginalization,” the Sipa stated. “Instead, she has only exaggerated the benefits of one, which obviously does not represent the true circumstances of all.”

Some 140 “lumad” leaders from all over Mindanao gathered in Davao City for three days to discuss their common plight and craft strategies on how to advance their struggle for recognition of indigenous rights.

CADT issuance

The last time Ms Arroyo spoke about the “lumad” people was in 2001, when she vowed to distribute 100 certificates of ancestral domain titles (CADTs) every year. A CADT signifies the grant by the government of a secure tenure to indigenous groups over specific land areas proven to relate to their ancestry.

But data from a nongovernment group, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK), revealed that for the past seven years, only 71 CADTs had been issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Of these, eight are ancestral domain claims in Mindanao.

This means that the CADT issuance performance is short by 29 for a year’s target alone.

Judith Pamela Pasimio, LRC-KsK executive director, said that since the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Ipra) was enacted in 1997, only 25 percent of the total CADT applications had resulted in awards.

Tenement rights

The “lumad” leaders were worried that the government could be disfavoring the fast-tracked tenurial security grant over their ancestral domain claims to favor the tenements applications of foreign mining companies.

Since assuming power in 2001, Ms Arroyo has advocated the entry of foreign capital into the minerals production sector as a principal strategy for pushing economic growth.

The LRC-KsK noted that as of December 2007, the government granted a total of 240 tenement rights to various mining companies, 60 percent of which were within ancestral domains.

Timuay Noval Lambo, a Subanen leader in the Zamboanga Peninsula, criticized the Arroyo administration for hyping about environmentally sound and “lumad”-friendly mining operations. “I cannot believe that’s happening with the current crop of miners we have,” he said.

Last month, in a series of consultations among “lumad” leaders throughout the country, the Irish Center for Human Rights found at least 40 cases of violations of the United Nations protocols against discrimination against indigenous peoples.

Cathal Boyle, who represented the center in the meetings, noted acts of racial discrimination by way of government policies that disfavored the indigenous peoples.

Of the 40 documented cases, the bulk were related to large-scale corporate mining projects within ancestral domains. A serious violation related to “short-circuiting” the process of seeking consent for mining projects.

Displacement

“Lumad” people also feared being displaced as a result of expanding crop plantations and increasing projects within their land, the Sipa said. It took issue of the declaration of portions of their lands into environmentally protected areas which limited their use of natural resource for their survival.

“The small lands we till for vegetables, corn and other root crops for our food are threatened with conversion to dams, mine sites and energy plants. The entry of plantations, timber license agreements and mining mean the loss of our sustainable livelihood practices,” the Sipa read.

“Our rights to self-determination and to self-governance are continuously violated. The government and private corporations interested in our lands have connived to employ tactics to undermine our traditional processes and customary laws,” it added.

The government’s intensified campaign against communist insurgents in the countryside is hampering the lives of many “lumad” people, the document said. It pointed out that a number of “lumad” leaders had become victims of summary killings, while others were forced to join paramilitary forces.

Many families have to evacuate to avoid getting caught in the crossfire of armed clashes, it said.

Given their plight, the “lumad” leaders pushed for the speedy issuance of CADTs as a cornerstone step to secure tenure over indigenous peoples’ lands. They also urged reforms in the country’s political administration.

“The governance of the nation should be more decentralized, inclusive and cognizant of the different systems of governance particularly in indigenous communities and territories,” the Sipa said.


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