Archive for the ‘feudalism’ Category

Nuns Decry Inclusion of Church Workers in Military’s ‘Order of Battle’

May 26, 2009

An association of 350 Catholic nuns from 40 congregations in Mindanao expressed outrage over the inclusion of Church people to the reported ‘order of battle’ of the 10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In a document titled “JCICC ‘AGILA’ 3rd QTR 2007 OB VALIDATION RESULT,” several Catholic and Protestant groups were listed, including the Archdiocesan Council of Lay Apostolate and Integrated Movement (ACLAIM), Missionaries of Assumption (MA), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Promotions of Church
Peoples Response (PCPR), Philippine Independent Church (PIC) and Mindanao Interfaith People Conference (MIPC).

Bishop Felixberto Calang of PIC and Bishop Anacleto Serafica of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), along with Catholic priests and nuns were also named in the document.

In a recent statement released to the media, Lt. Col. Kurt A. Decapia, chief of the 10th ID’s Public Affairs Office, did not deny the existence of such list but criticized Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo for “falsifying” the document.

Ocampo presented the order of battle in a press conference of the International Solidarity Mission in Davao City on May 18.

Decapia said that the words “targeted,” “dominated” and “organized” in the document mean that the individuals and groups on the list are targeted, organized and dominated individuals and groups by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

The Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (SAMIN) said in a statement, “It is indeed disturbing to know that such an order exists from the AFP, which labels church people, lawyers, journalists, activists and NGO workers as enemies of the state.”

“It is condemnable that church people who are fulfilling Christ’s mandate to bring the Good News to the poor are subject to this vilification campaign,” said SAMIN executive secretary Sr. Elsa Compuesto MSM.

Compuesto said that the order puts all the individuals and organizations in the list in grave danger, including church people.

The SAMIN recalled the harassment against SR. Stella Matutina OSB and the raids in two sisters’ convents in Butuan City in 2006. “Both cases have shown that even religious can be subject to the attacks of the state,” Compuesto said.

In February this year, Matutina along with her three companions was illegally held against her will by the elements of the 67th Infantry Battalion in Cateel, Davao Oriental after doing advocacy work against large-scale mining.

In November 2006, the convents of the Contemplative Good Shepherds and the Missionary Sisters of Mary were raided by the police on allegations that they are keeping a rebel leader in their convents.

In 2005, the SAMIN was already among those included in the military’s powerpoint presentation “Knowing the Enemy.” Compuesto said that pictures of their members and their activities were downloaded from their old website and inserted in the powerpoint.

“These accusations remind us of the Biblical times, when being Christians meant putting one’s life in danger of being persecuted and killed by the soldiers of the Roman Empire. Today, this persecution continues with the military’s attack on the religious, especially on those who dare to speak God’s message of hope, denouncing the evils of society and taking sides with God’s chosen poor,” Compuesto said.

The association of nuns vowed, “As a new tyranny is in our midst, SAMIN is emboldened to continue with its commitment of fighting the darkness of oppression and corruption, and bringing the light of hope and justice for the poor and Creation.”

The group called on the government authorities to stop the “persecution of church people and the poor.” (Bulatlat.com)

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Substandard Hybrid Seeds Distributed Under GMA Rice Program

April 21, 2009

A fact-finding mission led by various peasant groups and non-government organizations revealed that farmers in Nueva Ecija towns received substandard hybrid rice seeds under the government’s GMA Rice Program. Worse, the Department of Agriculture’s response to the problem was far from being satisfactory.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat

Unlike the traditional rice seeds, the SL-8H rice variety distributed to farmers in Nueva Ecija towns is red in color.

The SL-8H rice variety is the latest hybrid line introduced by Chinese company SL Agritech Corporation (SLAC) and promoted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) under its Hybrid Commercialization Rice Program.

As rice granary of the country, Nueva Ecija is included in the target areas for hybrid rice cultivation along with other provinces such as Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Camarines Sur, Leyte, Maguindanao, South Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Bukidnon.

Finesa Cosico, an agriculturist and member of the scientist group Agham (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People), said that the red color of the SL-8H seeds may be attributed to a grain protectant, indicating that they were stored in warehouses for a long time.

Cosico is a member of the fact-finding mission led by Resistance and Solidarity Against Agrochemical Transnational Corporations (RESIST) on March 19. The team went to Barangay (village) Tondod in San Jose City and Brgy. Santo Rosario of Santo Domingo town.

Other participating organizations include the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP-Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL-Alliance of Farmers in Central Luzon), Farmers and Scientists for Development of Agriculture (MASIPAG), EED Task Force Indigenous Peoples (TFIP) and Genetic Resource Action International (GRAIN).


Willy Marbella, national officer of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, compares the red hybrid seeds distributed to farmers in Nueva Ecija to the traditional rice varieties in a press conference in Quezon City, April 4. (Photo by R. Olea)

Closer examination shows that the seeds were not uniformly red and appeared to have been mixed with another hybrid variety, the mission report stated.

Cosico noted that the bags containing the seeds have no tags to indicate their origin and other important information. She said that traceability, an important factor in quality control, is a problem.

Without this information, the team said, the bags could have been tampered before delivery to the market.

Abnormalities

The report of the fact-finding team states that the SL-8H variety showed early signs of flowering immediately after transplanting. Cosico said flowering normally takes a month. The hybrid rice seeds also produced panicles empty of rice grains.

“This caused massive panic to the farmer communities,” the report said. Cosico said the farmers increased the application of fertilizer, on a weekly basis, to catch up with the early flowering of the rice crops.

“Such abnormalities from the regular practice of fertilization of hybrids caused farmers additional expenditures in buying fertilizers,” the report said.

Cosico said that planting of hybrid rice seeds is usually input-intensive. But she said that in the case of SL-8H, the application of additional fertilizers is extraordinary.

Unsatisfactory response

The groups criticized the DA’s response to the problem.

“The Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Rice Research Institute failed to explain the failure of the SL-8H hybrid seeds,” Cosico said.

Philrice said that the abnormalities in the growth of hybrid rice were due to “cold stress”, “strong wind” and other “stresses”. The farmers interviewed by the fact-finding team, however, did not notice anything unusual that could trigger the unusual development of hybrid seeds.

A one-page advisory from the DA instructs farmers to apply additional fertilizer to the seeds.

Enough of IRRI

The groups blamed the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for the proliferation of hybrid variety of rice seeds.

Willy Marbella, KMP deputy secretary-general for internal affairs, said that hybrid rice seeds introduced by IRRI have exacerbated rural poverty.

In connivance with agrochemical transnational corporations (TNCs), Marbella said, the IRRI confiscates all traditional rice seeds and introduce hybrid rice seeds. Marbella said TNCs gain enormous profit from the sale of the seeds and chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

In a statement, Dr. Chito Medina, MASIPAG national coordinator, said, “The use of high yielding varieties (HYV) has put farmers in continuous contact with pesticides thereby increasing serious health hazards and environmental contamination.”

The MASIPAG said the IRRI receives grants from agrochemical TNCs.

Marbella called for the abolition of IRRI. “IRRI’s programs and policies have always been anti-farmer and pro-agrochemical TNCs.”

The groups asserted that in IRRI’s 49 years of existence, it has failed to achieve its promises to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers and ensure that rice production is environmentally sustainable. (Bulatlat.com)

NCIP receives Bakun folk opposition vs. Royalco

March 5, 2009

BAKUN, Benguet — Residents of Bakun, Benguet submitted last Friday to the regional and provincial offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) a resolution for the permanent suspension of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and the rejection of any exploration in their area by Royalco, Philippines.


COMMUNITY UNITY. Gambang residents renew their opposition against proposed explorations as the mine activities allegedly will destroy their agriculture-based livelihood and environment. Photo courtesy of Mariz Guinyawan

Their position was handed by Chairman Ernesto Soriben of Bakun – Aywanan and Bakun Mayor Marcelo Contada.

Denominated as Bakun-Aywanan Resolution No. 002, series of 2009.

It was endorsed by the Barangay Council of Gambang, the Bakun Municipal government, and Benguet Provincial Governor Nestor Fongwan.

The residents of Gambang, Bakun headed by the Bantay ken Kinabaknang ti Umili a Nagtaudan-Aywanan (Bakun-Aywanan) are vigilantly guarding against the possible approval of the exploration applications of the Royalco, Philippines for Phase 3 and other areas in Bakun.

It was reported by the residents that a MOA was about to be signed by few land owners last November 18, 2008 without legal and proper consultation with the majority residents of the target areas. It was stopped. The MOA signing was indefinitely suspended due to the organized appeal made last November 17 and 18, 2008 at the Regional and Provincial NCIP offices.

Meanwhile, to strengthen unity and hone their leadership skills, the Bakun-Aywanan’ council of elders held their first Leadership Training Seminar last January 16 and on February 09, 2009.

The seven community organizations and some individuals affiliated to Bakun-Aywanan on February 22 where they conferred the Basis of Unity presented by the Benguet Mining Alert and Action Network (BMAAN) Spokesperson Vergel Aniceto as embodied under the Constitution and By-Laws of the Bakun-Aywanan. They reaffirmed the opposition against large scale mining and destructive industries.

Witnessed by almost 180 residents and officials, Mayor Contada inducted the new officials and representatives of Bakun-Aywanan.


Photo courtesy of Mariz Guinyawan

Javier Akien, vice chairman of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, challenges the leaders where he recalled the historical struggles by the Bakun people against several attempts of mining operations. “I urged you to stay on guard for the protection of their ancestral domain as their source of life and the preservation of the indigenous history.”

Elder Fausto Labinio, Bakun ex-councilor, called the people to strengthen their fight against the mining corporation and give his full support to the organization while elder Marcelino Dati pledged his support and guidance on their struggle.

In closing their February 22 activity, they paid tribute to elder Mundo Taguda, a respected council of elder and officer of the Bakun-Aywanan, who passed away last November 27 after he led the community oppositions. His family was given the highest appreciation and recognition for his contribution to the earlier struggle against Royalco, Philippines, Incorporation. # Sonia S. Bullong

Anakpawis probes CMP

March 5, 2009

BAGUIO CITY — Anakpawis and Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (Ornus) will conduct a fact-finding mission (FFM) on the implementation of Community Mortgage Program (CMP) in Cypress, Irisan.

Ornus, a Baguio-wide alliance of urban poor communities, its allied organizations and advocates in the national and local level will conduct the said fact-finding mission in an attempt to bring their issues to the attention of the public, and to local and national legislation.

The FFM aims to involve affected residents in various caucuses in Cypress Point Village (CPV) and will reach out to the implementers of the CMP through the Homeowners Associations and dialogs with government offices, agencies and the Baguio City government. The FFM will be on March 5-6.

Complicated history

CMP is a mode of land acquisition defined by Republic Act 7279 commonly known as the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA). It is intended to help under priviliged and homeless citizens to own and develop home-lots. In the said program, communities are encouraged to organize associations to acquire the land.

According to the initial data of Ornus, the CMP in Irisan missed its objectives at delivering decent housing to the poor. Ornus alleged that CMP’s implementation is marred with serious allegations of corruption of its mandate to provide low-cost housing, among other needed social services.

According to the primer by Ornus, Cypress is an 18-hectare area in Barangay Irisan with more than 500 households and 2,700 individuals. Its title, OCT No. 56, in the name of CPV was subdivided into 248 lots. The title was among the 211 titles which were declared null and void by the Supreme Court in 1973 but was given consideration by Presidential Decree 1271.

In the 1970’s, the property was occupied by migrants from different places and was densely populated by the 1990s. Earlier occupants were not disturbed by the so-called original claimants or title holders. So that they even processed their claims through the Townsite Sales Application (TSA).

In 1993, a certain Arsenio Menor from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor came to Irisan and told the residents that the property was bought by a Mr. Peter Santos of the Asia Pine Hills Development Corporation (APHDC).

He then introduced the CMP to the actual occupants for them to own the lots. But the residents rejected it and instead negotiated to pay P350.00 per square meter. Menor however never went back to Irisan to finalize the negotiation.

During the term of then Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda as Chairperson of Committee on Land and Housing, a proposal to continue the plan of Menor pushed through. In 2000, the City Council passed a resolution authorizing then City Mayor Mauricio Domogan to negotiate with Peter Santos. In 2003, a subdivision plan for Cypress was approved by the council.

Three Homeowners Associations collected from the equity of members a total of P17, 335, 011.40 for the total of 77, 876 square meter or 7.8 hectares.

On August of 2003, more than houses were demolished by Baguio City demolition team in Purok 14-B in Cypress. Some residents were forced to stay with their relatives in other places of Baguio and the rest went back to the area and rebuilt their houses.

After barely a year, the person claiming to be Peter S.L. Santos wrote a letter to the different homeowners associations demanding to remit the equity. More or less P17 million was then paid by the residents as their equity to Santos.

As of now, the true identity of Santos who was claiming to be the president of APHDC has yet to be established especially that his signature in the Articles of Incorporation is different from other alleged signatures.

Demands on the CMP

Ornus has asked for an in-depth investigation of the CMP in Irisan as irregularities in its implementation has surfaced implying corruption.

They also further call for an investigation and the suspension on the said equity and amortization without any penalty should push through and the suspension of demolition orders within the CMP affected areas, according to ORNUS.

Moreover, Ornus demands that victims of demolition will be allowed to re-occupy their lots. Ornus also demands the investigation on the real identity of Peter Santos.

The results of the FFM will be released in a public program to be graced by Anakpawis representative Rafael Mariano. Ornus hopes through the FFM, Baguio officials will learn to look seriously into the case and initiate its own investigation and discuss appropriate legislation and action.

Besides Mariano, representatives of the national alliance of urban poor Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Tongtongan ti Umili (TTU), Interfaith Gathering for Truth and Accountability. # Aldwin Quitasol

AFP ops disrupt Abra economy

March 5, 2009

BAGUIO CITY — On-going military operations between government troops and revolutionaries has greatly disrupted production and further impoverished the communities in Abra.

The 41st Infantry Battalion under the 503rd Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) operations are continuously in pursuit of the revolutionary forces of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the province of Abra.

Basically dependent on farm produce and their small-scale mines for food and cash, people of the barrios of Talampak, Pacoc, Buneg and Guinabang in Lacub raised concern about the prolonged government operations that reportedly destroyed farm crops and disrupted continuing farm production activities.

In February last year, there were aerial bombings in the area of Tubtuba, Tubo where 191 bombshells were reportedly dropped. The bombings have frightened the people in the affected and surrounding communities that many of them have preferred to stay away from their farms, reducing harvest in the first cropping season.

Again, sometime in June to July last year, battalion troop movements through the farms of the above mentioned barrios have trampled and destroyed a substantial area of newly planted rice fields with young seedlings for the second cropping further causing reduction in farm produce.

This year’s beginning of the cropping season has again recently been disrupted by an ensuing firefight between these two contending forces.

Stifling local livelihood

Initial interviews and reports made by the Abra Human Rights Alliance (AHRA) indicate that military war initiative in the area has greatly limited the daily economic activities in the communities.

The soldiers has enforced curfew hours to limit movements and facilitate monitoring of the villagers, preventing them from completing farm production schedules.

They have also prevented and limited the community from traveling out of an imposed perimeter, preventing them from checking on the irrigation water flow and from going to their mine areas.

It is an age-old farm practice to go out at dawn and work till mid-morning then go home for brunch to avoid the tropical mid-day heat, and return to work again when it is cooler at mid afternoon until late night.

Under the military impositions the people just move around the village housing area as their fields and mines are further out of the perimeters imposed.

Under these circumstances and for lack of something to do the people tend to deviate to anti-social activities like drinking and gambling.

In the same initial report, war shock was apparent as was indicated that villagers, especially children, have complained of deafness, hysteria and trauma from the loud and prolonged period of gunfire exchange and shelling. # Kathleen T. Okubo

Photos: KMP-Cebu and BAYAN-Central Visays mark the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre

January 28, 2009

KMP-Cebu and BAYAN-Central Visays

mark the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre

Cebu City

January 22, 2009

The KMP – Cebu, BAYAN – Central Visayas and progressive partylists held a street protest in Cebu to commemorate 22nd year of Mendiola Massacre. The rallyists went to the Department of Energy – VII to condemn off-shore mining in Cebu Strait particularly, in Sibonga and Argao, Cebu. After which, the progressive groups went to the Department of Agrarian Reform – VII to demand genuine agrarian reform, to junk CARP extension and to immediately pass the House Bill 3059 or (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill). The militants also demanded justice to the victims of Mendiola Massacre and to stop militarization and political persecution.

— Jaime Paglinawan
Vice President for the Visayas
ANAKPAWIS PARTYLIST,
Chairperson
BAYAN – Central Visayas


CARP Extension to Worsen Landlessness Problem

December 28, 2008

Members of the progressive party-list bloc at the House of Representatives walked out of the session hall, December 17, as their colleagues adopted Joint Resolution No. 19. They said they decided not to be a party to the landlord-dominated House of Representatives’ “pretensions, and deception of the Filipino peasantry and the people” in extending the ‘bogus’ Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which was further emasculated with the removal of the compulsory acquisition scheme.

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
(Bulatlat.com)

Members of the progressive party-list bloc at the House of Representatives walked out of the session hall, December 17 as their colleagues adopted Joint Resolution No. 19. They said they decided not to be a party to the landlord-dominated House of Representatives’ “pretensions and deception of the Filipino peasantry and the people” in extending the ‘bogus’ Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which was further emasculated with the removal of the compulsory acquisition scheme.

Enacted on June 10, 1988, Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was supposed to be implemented for 10 years. Falling short of its targets, the Agrarian Reform Law was extended by the Ramos administration for another ten years. It expired for the second time this June 2008.


Militant groups join farmers in calling for the scrapping of CARP extension . (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)

In a joint statement, Anakpawis Representative and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) Chairperson Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño Jr. and Gabriela Women’s Party list Representatives Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan, said Joint Resolution 19 removed the compulsory acquisition scheme and deferred the acquisition of lands with pending notices of coverage, like the Arroyo lands in Negros.

“This is a shotgun legislation that has killed the anti-peasant CARP. This also further exposed the real character of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who certified the joint resolution as urgent, as the chief political representative of big landlords,” they said.

The legislators also condemned Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives for denying Mariano his right to interpellate during the presentation by the sponsors of the joint resolution.

Unconstitutional

In a separate statement, Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary general said the joint resolution extending CARP for another six months as ‘grossly unconstitutional and morally bankrupt.’

“Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile said CARP is legally defective and that the Upper House decided to sign the resolution extending CARP for another six months to undergo a thorough review of the agrarian reform program. What kind of political and moral attitude is that? If CARP extension is legally defective, then throw it in the dustbin of history…” said Ramos.

Bogus CARP


Nestor Villanueva, one of the farmers from Hacienda Yulo, supports HB 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB). (Photo by Ronalyn Olea)

In an interview with Bulatlat, Nestor Villanueva, 51, a farmer in Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna said he and the other farmers have not benefited from the CARP.

Villanueva said their ancestors have been tilling the land in Hacienda Yulo since 1910.

He said that during the Aquino administration, they fought for the distribution of land but the Hacienda Yulo was exempted from CARP coverage as the landlord declared the land as non-agricultural.

In 1990, the Department of Justice issued Opinion No. 44 that stated that all lands classified before 1988 as non-agricultural are exempted from coverage of land reform.

The local government, said Villanueva, also declared the land as a forest reserve and watershed. He said, however, that a subdivision and a golf course have been built inside the hacienda.

Villanueva is among millions of farmers who have remained landless under the CARP. The KMP said the CARP is the source of all the troubles of landless farmers over the last 20 years.

The KMP and Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Unity of the Fisherfolk Movement in the Philippines) said CARP has provided the legal basis for the denial of farmers’ land rights, and the landgrabbing spree of big landlords inside Fort Magsaysay and Hacienda Luisita, courtesy of the law’s fatal flaws and wide loopholes. “The 3,100 hectares in Fort Magsaysay were cornered by the landlord syndicates, while the 6,453 hectares in Hacienda Luisita were kept untouchable because of CARP.”

Citing the recent study made by the Sentro Para Sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra or Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform), KMP and Pamalakaya said that on September 2007 the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reported that 5,049 emancipation patents (Eps) and 103,392 certificates of land ownership awards (CLOAs) were canceled, covering 204,579 hectares of land acquired under the agrarian reform program.

Both groups asserted that the figures they cited did not yet include pending cases of cancellation of EPs and CLOAs before the DAR. They noted that the agrarian reform agency, up to now, has been unable to determine how many land titles were canceled or revoked by DAR.

The same Sentra study showed that landlords all over the country ‘profited immensely from the implementation of CARP.’ Citing data from the Land Bank of the Philippines, Sentra revealed that from 1972 to 2005, the compensation to 83,203 landowners for 1,348, 758 hectares has already reached P 41.6 billion ($833,500,300 at the current exchange rate of $1=P46.91) in cash and bonds, or an average of P 500,463 ($10,668) per landlord. In 2005, P 4.6 billion ($83,507,306 at the 2005 exchange rate of $1=P55.085) went to the compensation of landlords.

The two groups said the Congress should have instead passed House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill authored by the late Anakpawis party list Representative Crispin Beltran and co-authored Mariano, Ocampo, Casiño, Maza and Ilagan. The bill seeks to cover all agricultural lands and distribute these lands to landless farmers across-the-nation for free.

Worse

In an interview with Bulatlat, Mariano said the joint resolution has further worsened the ‘bogus’ CARP.

He said that the resolution effectively removed even the token distribution of land under CARP.

The joint resolution extends the CARP for another six months, stating that private owners of agricultural land may enter into voluntary offer to sell (VOS) or voluntary land transfer (VLT) schemes. Mariano said it is unlikely for landlords to offer their land to landless farmers. “Even if they do, landlords can easily withdraw from the VOS,” he said.

Land grabbing, eviction

The legislators further said, “This sham joint resolution further strengthens the landlords’ monopoly and control over vast tracts of agricultural lands in the country and will surely lead to the massive eviction of peasants and land-grabbing in the countryside.”

Mariano explained, “Mapupuno ang kamay ng DAR ng petitions for exemptions, land-use conversion, cancellation of CLOAs and EPs.” (DAR will be flooded with petitions for exemptions, land-use conversion, cancellation of CLOAs and EPs.

He said landlords could also pressure local government units to issue zoning ordinances declaring agricultural land as non-agricultural or enter into corporative farming and other non-land transfer schemes.

Under the CARP, the KMP and Pamalakaya revealed, the scope for land distribution had been eroded from time to time. From the original 10.3 million hectares in 1988, the scope was adjusted down by 21.76 percent to 8.1 million hectares.

Globalization, Charter change

Mariano said that the VOS and VLT schemes conform with the World Bank model, “The willing to sell, willing to buy formula without government intervention is what the World Bank calls market-assisted land reform,” he explained.

“This suits globalization. Eventually, 100 percent foreign ownership of land would be allowed through Charter change,” he added.

Mariano said that after six months, foreign corporations and local landlords would have lorded over vast tracts of land, leaving little or nothing at all for distribution to landless farmers.

Attacks against farmers

Mariano said further that the CARP extension would intensify attacks against farmers. “Landlords will continue to criminalize farmers fighting for their land. Killings will also increase.”

He added, “Sa loob ng six months, ilan ang magsasakang pwedeng paalisin o paslangin? Karanasan natin iyan eh.” (In a span of six months, how many farmers would be evicted or killed? This has been our experience.)

According to human rights group Karapatan, 467 peasants have been killed under the Arroyo administration, while 10 were killed this year.

Mariano said that while the government uses bogus agrarian reform programs as a means of deception, repressive measures are also used against farmers.

Lessons

The peasant-lawmaker said that the landlord-dominated House Representatives proved once again that it is anti-peasant.

Mariano said the peasants have to continue relying on themselves in the struggle for genuine land reform in the countryside. He called on farmers to draw lessons from the struggles of farmers from the Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Looc, Central Mindanao University in Bukinon, among others.

He said that amid threats of eviction, these farmers asserted their right to stay in the land they have been tilling for decades. The Hacienda Luisita farmers, Mariano added, have tilled more than 1,000 hectares of land in defiance of the Cojuangco landlords.

As Villanueva, the farmer from Hacienda Yulo, puts it, “Sa pamamagitan ng lakas ng magsasaka, maipapatupad ang tunay na reporma sa lupa. Kung taumbayan mismo ang may gusto, walang hindi kakayanin.” (Only through the strength of peasants would genuine agrarian reform be implemented. If the people so desires, nothing is impossible.)

HR Day awaits amparo resolution

December 20, 2008

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The Regional Trial Court (RTC) here Thursday agreed to send the petition for the writ of amparo, filed after the abduction of James Moy Balao, for resolution in 10 days, in time for this year’s Human Rights Day.

Balao, a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and president of the Oclupan Clan, was abducted on September 17 here. His family and CPA strongly suspect James was a victim of an enforced disappearance perpetrated by state security forces, as a part of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), a state policy which targets legitimate people’s activist organizations as part of counter-insurgency operations.

Balao’s family and CPA filed a petition for the writ of amparo on October 8, asking for a court order to search state security force camps, to produce James and to produce all military and police records referring to him, particularly the military order of battle (OB) .

RTC Branch 63 Judge Benigno Galacgac has already presided over two hearings on the petition. During the first two hearings on October 23 and 30, the Balao family and CPA presented witnesses who attested to the heavy surveillance that CPA and its members have been facing since the implementation of OBL.

Their witnesses also testified to the surveillance Balao was subjected to before his abduction.

At the end of the second hearing the Balaos rested their case and requested the court to bring the case to a quick resolution. The third hearing Thursday was scheduled for the 13 respondents, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), to present witnesses.

“The strategy of the OSG throughout the first two hearings was to delay the resoplution of the case. Insisting on a third hearing to “possibly” present witnesses was just to delay the case resolution,”said Atty. Mary Ann Manja Bayang of the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples Legal Center (Dinteg).

Bayan maintain the petition for the writ of amparo is not a normal case,but rather involving a person’s life, liberty and security. “It is a case that requires proper care and speed. Any attempt to delay it is unprofessional and irresponsible,” she added.

Bayang and Atty. Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, appearing for the Balaos and CPA, filed a motion that waived the right of the petitioners to cross-examine any witness presented by the respondents, accepting their affidavits as their testimony and requested the court to resolve the case,hoping it would make the third hearing unnecessary.

The court, however, chose to push through with the third hearing. Balao lawyers iterated the importance of a speedy trial in this case and the desire to have the case resolved.

In an apparent change in strategy the OSG also asked the court to move for a resolution.

In regular proceedings a judge has 90 days to resolve a case. In a petition for the writ of amparo a judge must present a resolution within 10 days.

Jude Baggo, secretary-general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said, “We need a resolution as soon as possible. We want James out of state custody and out of danger as soon as possible.”

Beverly Longid, CPA chairperson “It is important to remember that the writ of amparo is not accusatory and is not a proceeding on criminal charges. The granting of the writ does not define guilt.” She added it is a proceeding intended to protect Balao from any further harm and to release him from illegal detention,” she said, wondering at the government’s antagonistic response.

As this developed, there is a significant pressure for the immediate surfacing of Jame from national and international indigenous and human rights advocates s.

November 28 marked the International Day of Action to Surface James Moy Balao, when hundreds of groups and individuals who support the Surface James Balao! Campaign simultaneously faxed and emailed the Philippine government to increase the pressure for his immediate release.

At the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, students led by Takder, an organization of Cordilleran students, lit candles symbolic of hope for the surfacing of James. # CHRA Release

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

June 19, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorial Cartoon: The Real Tune

June 16, 2008

Very bad tune.

Crisis Management, Arroyo Style

June 16, 2008

ISSUE ANALYSIS No. 9
JUNE 13, 2008
Series of 2008

Crisis Management, Arroyo Style

By the Policy Study, Publication and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)

Long queues of people wait for their turn to buy NFA rice; gas prices shoot up every week as the country faces unprecedented high inflation; parents are uncertain whether they will be able to send their children to school; the rate of unemployment is highest in decades; and the number of victims of disease epidemics and calamities is mounting by the year.

Is the government in control of the deteriorating situation? Is there any prospect for the country to weather the economic and political morass that it is in?

With the vast executive powers it wields and the financial resources at its disposal, the Arroyo administration should be able to grapple with the country’s woes by the horns, so to speak, and navigate past danger zones. Yet its style of crisis management reveals a propensity to use, on the one hand, short-term, quick-fix solutions to problems that cry for comprehensive and responsible response and, on the other, costly PR strategies to project a president in control of a ship that is fast sinking.

Mrs. Gloria M. Arroyo’s knee-jerk response to the food and oil crises, for instance, is too late. Her damage control tack is to first make the people believe that it is the result of an unavoidable global crisis way beyond government’s control when in fact the fuel and food security problems can be traced to poor priorities and simple lack of foresight. Thousands of youths won’t be able to enter school this year due to insurmountable high education costs while the shortage of teachers and classrooms is at critical proportions. To all these, the president now styles herself as Merlin the magician with a wand of subsidies worth P4 billion taken, so she claims, from E-vat collections. The subsidies are for distribution to schoolchildren, power consumers, poorest households, farmers, and the land transportation sector. Is she doing all these as an accomplishment in her coming state-of-the- nation address (SONA)?

Rehash

Some of the subsidies are a rehash of previous promises though. Faced with prolonged budget deficits and unsolved corruption scandals, Arroyo’s package of “subsidies” comes across as nothing but stopgap remedies with no promise of long-term effect. The handout is held with suspect, coming as it is from a president widely believed to have used government resources for her own political ends, who authored multi-billion transactions for the greed of her business cronies and close allies, and definitely a person without any genuine compassion for the poor except as a cheap publicity gimmick.

The president’s resort to “band-aid” solutions and other incredible prescriptions is exemplified by her full endorsement of globalization policies as a means of addressing poverty, unemployment, and other social and economic ills. The costs of this economic paradigm have been staggering: 28 million individuals rated as poor or an increase by four million in just three years; four million jobless; a wide income gap with the net worth of the country’s 10 richest individuals ($12.4 billion) equivalent to the total annual income of the poorest 9.8 million families. Arroyo’s personal assets, in the meantime, went up by at least P11 million in the past year alone.

As in past regimes, the management of economic programs has been run by the president’s economic advisers and academic elite intoxicated by the bitter pills of international finance institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, and the Asian Development Bank. The stimulus for this package has been to increase the taxpayers’ burden, pay the huge foreign debt and further liberalize the country’s trade and investment to transnational corporations in tandem with the local finance oligarchs and Arroyo’s business cronies. In the course of implementing development projects and budget allocations, billions of pesos have been lost to corruption.

Economic governance

Meanwhile, the constitutionally- enshrined infrastructures of people’s participation in economic governance have been largely written off while those who oppose the regime’s indefensible policies are tagged as de-stabilizers. The president’s subservience to foreign interests and local finance oligarchs accounts for the threats to food security, energy requirements, and other socio-economic costs and exposes Arroyo’s “pro-poor” and “meal for every table” posturing as an empty rhetoric.

Another case is Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program. Tagging the armed Left as a “national security threat,” the president unleashed Oplan Bantay Laya targeting the “enemy of the state’s” alleged legal political network. Flaunted as part of the state’s counter-terrorism measures, the counter-insurgency program enhanced U.S. military assistance and political support for Arroyo. It was also used by Arroyo to maintain military loyalty and to promote hawkish senior AFP officers based on the number of suspected “communist terrorists” killed or abducted. The costs of Arroyo’s national security doctrine have been monumental: 903 activists summarily executed and 193 others victims of enforced disappearance. The peace process that seeks to address the institutional roots of the armed struggle has long been abandoned in favor of the short-term militarist approach.

Like past administrations, the Arroyo regime has been in a crisis mode since the very beginning of its reign. Instead of instituting reforms toward addressing the long-running problems of land dispossession, low labor wages, and a host of other concerns of the very same people who catapulted her to power in January 2001, she chose to align herself with the narrow, elitist interests of her allies and business cronies. She shielded from investigation her fellow conspirators in politics, the military, business, and the Commission on Elections who ensured her presidential power in one of the most fraudulent elections – the 2004 presidential derby.

Misfortunes

She blames others like the Left and the electoral opposition for the misfortunes that are caused by her own mismanagement and a poor diagnosis fed by her neo-liberal perspective and anti-progressive biases. Aside from this “wag-the-dog” approach, there is no transparency of information about the magnitude and roots of problems thus putting her prescribed solutions under public suspicion if not rejection. Arrogance is saliently at the core of her management style: “I’m not bothered by what public surveys say about my performance because God knows that what I do is for the good of the people.”

While according the long-lasting and most-favored- treatment to financial credit institutions, TNCs and the economic elite through her globalization policies, she has nothing or, if any, only piecemeal measures for the vast majority of Filipinos. Her offensives against political dissent and human rights have strengthened the coercive powers of the state thereby further weakening the justice system. The same iron-fist policy is likewise under criticism among the business sector in her pursuit of, for instance, appropriating power distribution into the hands of her business cronies under the guise of state takeover.

Perhaps the worst component of her crisis management is to take each problem from the perspective of surviving the presidency. In these critical times – induced no less by her dangerous policies – every major economic problem or criticism to her presidential rule is treated as a threat to her presidential survival. This insecurity is what drives her to react with quick-fix solutions that are designed to cushion public reactions, complete with PR cosmetics and threats to harness her authoritarian powers.

Actually, the problems faced by multitudes of Filipinos are basically the same that the people saw in the past and have deep institutional roots. The only difference is that while in the past such predicaments were aggravating by the year, today people are hurting by the day.

Reference:


Bobby Tuazon
Director, Policy Study, Publication and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
TelFax +63-2 9299526; mobile phone: 0915-6418055
E-mail: cenpeg.info@gmail.com; info@cenpeg. org
http://www.cenpeg. org

Ombudsman findings unfair – lawmakers

June 15, 2008

By Delon Porcalla
Sunday, June 15, 2008

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Congressmen linked to the P728-million fertilizer scam in 2004 yesterday decried as “unfair” the initial findings of the Ombudsman implicating them in the misuse of public funds.

Quezon City Rep. Nanette Daza, one of the lawmakers named by the Ombudsman in the scam, explained that as a matter of procedure, it is the Department of Agriculture – not the congressmen – that identifies what projects should be undertaken in a particular district.

“No such thing as fertilizer, no such thing as overprice,” Daza told The STAR.

“In fairness to the other congressmen, we have never identified projects. These are identified by them (DA), not by us.”

Daza, now on her third and last term, could not recall though if the DA even provided her with towable shredders as reported.

“That I can’t recall. But if indeed there is I would have endorsed this to Payatas where this is needed. I still have to check the records,” she said.

Daza also cited her highly urbanized district as another reason why she cannot possibly avail herself of a fertilizer subsidy.

“My district and the NCR (National Capital Region) doesn’t need fertilizers,” she said.

Former congressmen Oscar Gozos of Batangas and Federico Sandoval II of Malabon-Navotas also made the same defense.

Both denied having received fertilizers for farm use, but admitted receiving shredders.

“These are not our funds. These are DA funds. We’re not even involved in the bidding. All of these came from the executive department even if Congress has the power of the purse,” said Gozos, now the mayor of Lipa City in Batangas.

“It is the DA that disbursed these funds, not us,” he added. “I’m not a recipient (in the fertilizer list), although I suspect that my name was included. But I didn’t get any fertilizer, in whatever form.”

Sandoval, for his part, claimed he never received any fertilizer for his former district.

“I don’t know (about the fertilizers and overprice). It is the DA that conducts the bidding. What I got was a shredder. Alangan namang tanggihan ko? E para naman sa district namin iyun (How can I refuse that? Anyway, my district was identified as a recipient of that shredder).”

As leader of the 241-strong House of Representatives, Speaker Prospero Nograles expressed displeasure over the report, which was leaked to the media despite the confidential nature of cases handled by investigators.

But Nograles could not say whether former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante used the involved congressmen in the scam.

Bolante, who is now hiding and undergoing deportation proceedings in the US, allegedly masterminded the scheme to help bankroll President Arroyo’s campaign in the May 2004 presidential elections.

“Let us not telegraph in haste our opinions until there is clear and final findings of a prima facie case,” Nograles said.

“As a matter of fact, this premature disclosure is against the confidentiality nature of Ombudsman cases where only final resolutions are made public. The reason being that reputations of officials may be unduly harmed by premature disclosures,” he said in a text message to The STAR.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, who was also listed among the recipients, said congressmen “are not part of the process for the funds to be released. They may be correct that their districts were just recipients.”

An irate Makati City Rep. Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin, who in 2004 hurled invectives at Bolante, lashed back at Newsbreak for getting credit for the fertilizer expose.

“Newsbreak writes like they exposed it. I did and Newsbreak wouldn’t carry (the) story. Siguro nabili sila nuong una (Maybe then they were paid to kill the story),” Locsin said.

“Pu…ina, cleared daw ako ng mga p…iyan sa Ombudsman when ako ang nag-expose while ang lecheng opposition walang imik kasi sali sila. (… how can they say I was cleared by the Ombudsman when I was the one who exposed it, while those… opposition kept silent because they were part of it).”

“I demand a refund from everyone who got delivery. I need the money for the contract I put out on that asshole (Bolante). A clearance from the Pinoy Ombudsman is like a conviction from a US court, worse than useless. It is an insult,” Locsin said.

“I don’t allow monkeys to judge me. It is for me to decide that to do with the money in my name, not some monkey. Quote in full please. That’s what comes from giving chimps the right to hold public office,” Locsin said in a text message.

Former Tarlac representative and now Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who was also on the list, said he and former Batanes representative Florencio “Butch” Abad were also used in the scam, even though they never applied for the program.

“This is rather a difficult situation since we are being used as a shield. Either way, the farmers will get angry. They read in the newspapers and ask us where (the money) is, and we say we’re not part of it, but they want to know why we didn’t get anything,” he said.

Aquino said they were told then the “guidelines” were still being processed, but he had received reports that several congressmen had already gotten their share. “Obviously, we were excluded,” he added.

Aquino nevertheless managed to secure a “certification” from Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap stating that his district in Tarlac was not a recipient of the fertilizer project.

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

My Take:

This classic ‘doctor’s way’ (pandodoktor, hehehe) is another quality handiwork by the shadows (huge ones) lurking at the darker sections of Malacañan.  Sa tingin nyo, with jocjc’s situation e makakaya pa nyang makapagmaniobra ng ganyan?  Hehehehe never.

Someone in here did that, putting that opposition solons in the list to confuse the people and muddle the investigation.

Nice work to the Daddy of all suckers!

Militant group tags Canete as AFP spokesperson

June 14, 2008

THE regional office of Karapatan Human Rights Alliance tagged Special Investigator Jesus Canete of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Negros Oriental.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Vimarie Arcilla, information officer of Karapatan-Central Visayas, issued the statement after Canete “cleared” AFP members deployed in Linantuyan village in Guihulngan for their alleged involvement in any form of human rights violations.

Canete earlier went to the Linantuyan village upon orders of CHR Regional Director Alejandro Alonso when they heard reports of violations from broadcast stations and print outlets on the alleged arson, rape and other forms of harassments committed by members of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in the countryside of Guihulngan.

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

She said what Canete claimed as one-man investigation was actually a platoon-sized charade directed by 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers who herded residents in a “pulong-pulong” with him.

“In this light we ask: When did Jesus Canete become the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces of the Philippines?” the Karapatan official said.

According to her, Canete has no capacity to delve into the human rights violations since he is not “even wise enough to ask and investigate both sides of the story.

“Canete didn’t even bother to ask and investigate Lourdes Baloy, the victim of the malicious vilification campaign by the AFP,” she said, adding that Canete only reiterated worn-out lines of the AFP maligning legitimate organizations such as Karapatan.

“How should one investigate? Why Canete didn’t consider the background of the four peasants prior to the execution of the affidavits? Perhaps, it would interest him to know how the peasants end up in the detachments. Or does he really believe that the peasants have a choice to turn down a summon or ‘invitation’ from the military. If he does not think that ‘mere invitation from police and military already constitute an arrest,’ then he should review his Constitution,” said Arcilla. (SunStarDumaguete)

‘Delayed and detained,’ insists official

June 13, 2008

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: Provincial Administrator Manuel Tabora said they were definitely detained inside the “mining compound” during the June 7 visit to Barangay Didipio, Kasibu of four house representatives including Rep. Carlos Padilla and together with Gov. Luisa Loren Cuaresma, and other provincial officials.

In an interview with The Manila Times, members of the Vizcaya delegation that joined the visit claimed they had to wait for more than 20 minutes before they were allowed entry by the police officers in checkpoint at Barangay Burgos, Cabarroguis, Quirino province.

Tabora said, after having been accosted for more than 20 minutes at the police checkpoint “and not five minutes as claimed by the police,” they were allowed to get inside. “On our way, we were not allowed to pass another barricade that was padlocked and the guards refused to unlock it.”

Tabora said the incident at the police checkpoint is a separate situation from that which transpired inside the mining compound. “That is where we were somehow detained because we were already inside and not allowed to get through the barricade.”

One provincial security officer who requested anonymity said that when they were inside the compound, they discovered their tents transferred from their original setups but the security guards of Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. who were there, allegedly carrying long firearms, denied having transferred the said tents supposedly to be used by the provincial employees.

In the June 9 issue of The Manila Times, Rep. Padilla complained that he and his three colleagues, Rep. Solomon Chungalao of Ifugao and Party-list Representatives Teodoro Casiño and Luzviminda Ilagan were “detained” for almost half an hour inside the police checkpoint while on their way to Barangay Didipio, Kasibu for a congressional committee inquiry on alleged abuses of the foreign firm conducting the large-scale mining operation in the area.

The solons, all members of the House Committee on Cultural Communities, passed Resolution 594 seeking an inquiry over alleged abuses committed on tribal villagers by Oceana Gold in their operation of the Didipio project, one of the only two large-scale mining ventures approved since the enactment of the 1995 Mining Act. Gene Basilio

Chungalao, Casiño and Ilagan vowed to bring the “horrible experience” before the House plenary.

In his report to Police Dir. General Avelino Razon Jr., Police Chief Superintendent Ameto Gil Tolentino, Regional Dir. of Police Regional Office 02, said that the PNP personnel manning the checkpoint stopped the convoy of Rep. Padilla for five minutes and not 30 minutes as alleged. “They may have been delayed but definitely were not detained,” Tolentino said.

Tabora said however that Rep. Padilla and all the rest of the delegation could not lie. “We were stopped and even if Governor Cuaresma already introduced herself, we were still inspected without considering that these high-ranking elected officials are the ones they should be protecting.”
— Gene Basilio(ManilaTimes)

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

My Take:

Grabe talaga ang pangil ng state-terrorism.  Maski gov’t oficial di pinapatawad.  Hay naku, sino pa ba ang maaasahan natin ngayong magprotekta sa atin kung ganito na ang ginagawa ng mga kapulisan natin?  Tapos magrereport pa ng kasinungalingang pantakip.

Kakabwisit!

Catanduanes governor opposes mini-hydro

June 11, 2008

VIRAC, Catanduanes — The provincial governor here who is supposed to lead in undertaking an environment-friendly project to minimize, if not combat, global warming turns out to be its strongest oppositor.

Gov. Joseph Cua of Catanduanes reportedly has expressed his opposition to the proposed construction of a mini-hydro power plant here despite favorable endorsement by Bishop Manolo A. De los Santos of the Diocese of Virac, the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines-Catanduanes chapter, Bicolano Senators Joker Arroyo and Gregorio Honasan, and of the National Power Corporation.

Sources claimed the project runs counter to the business interest of the governor.

The min-hydro power plant is an electric power generating plant that utilizes the kinetic energy of falling or running water (run-off river hydro plants) and turn the turbine generator to produce electricity. The project hopes to generate no less than 101 KW or more than 10,000 KW of renewable and clean energy.

Elizaldy ‘Zaldy’ Co, president of the Sunwest Water and Power Co. Inc., (SUWECO) accused the governor of being the real ‘inconvenient truth’ because the governor is involved in diesel fuel business.

Co expressed disgust upon learning that Gov. Cua is blocking the mini-hydro power project which could have otherwise generated employment, provide clean energy and resolve power outages.

Co said that Cua monopolized the diesel-fed fuel business in the island Catanduanes, and worst, sell it at 30 percent higher compared to prices in mainland Bicol.

“There was a businessman who put up the Petron gasoline station and spent almost P2 million but he (Gov. Cua) opposed it too because it would affect his diesel business. The issue here is not only moral but ‘vested interest’ considering that he was elected as public servant. If he allows our project, the government will save P200 million a year, aside from providing clean energy,added employment and income,” Co told Bicol Mail.

Aside from gasoline business, Cua is also engaged in rice trading, owner of RSL buses plying from Catanduanes-Manila vice versa, and sea crafts operating the Catanduanes-Tabaco sea lane.

Co is constructing the Solong mini-hydro projects with capacity of 2.1 MW in San Miguel town, Hitoma 01 with 1.5 MW and Hitoma 02 with 1.35 MC capacity all in Obi, Caramoran town, Gigmoto mini-hydro power plant with 0.55 capacity in Gigmoto town and Kapipian mini-hydro project with 2.8 MW capacity in Solong,Catanduanes with the total of 8.3 MW capacity.

Apart from Catanduanes mini-hydro projects, Co is currently constructing several mini-hydro projects in the country such as the Villasiga Mini-hydro project in Igsoro, Bugasong Antique, Guiamon San Ramon Mini-hydro project in Laua-an, Antique, Dalanas Mini-Hydro-project in Barbasa, Antique, Tiniano Mini-Hydro project in Tibiao, Antique with 14.1MW total capacity. All these projects were supported by Bishop Lagdameo of the Diocese of Jaro to address the acute power shortage in Panay island, especifically in Iloilo.

In Albay province the on-going mini-hydro power plants are the Misibis Multi-Purpose Reservoir in Cagraray Island, Bacacay town, Cumagingking and Vera Falls mini-hydro projects in Malinao town.

The mini-hydro projects in this island province is programmed to be operational by 2010 with a total of 5,375 KW capacity and additional 2,600 kW capacity by 2013 to stabilize and energize numerous barangays here.

Unfortunately, the renewable energy project of SUWECO was blocked by Govv.r Cua before the Energy Regulatory Commission last month.

Cua cited the following grounds in his opposition paper submitted May 26,2008 : the applicant failed to submit the documents prescribed by law; there is no competitive selection process or bidding undertaken by FICELCO in the selection of SUWECO as new power producer; the selling price of electricity offered by the firm is grossly overpriced and is against the basis established by law; SUWECO has no technical and financial capacity to undertake the project; the cooperation period stated in the Electricity Supply Agreement (ESA) is violative of the law; and SUWECO did not conduct a feasibility study to justify the assumptions made in the ESA.

As if on cue, Arvin T. Amata, provincial legal officer of Catanduanes, also asked the ERC to invalidate and scrap immediately the instant application for approval of the ESA submitted by SUWECO and FICELCO for lack of merit.

SUWECO entered into ESA with the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative Inc. (FICELCO) whereby the latter would pay for all the electricity produced by the proposed mini-hydro electric plants at a discounted rate of 4 percent less than the subsidized and approved generation rate (SAGR) for Catanduanes for a period of 30 years from commercial operation, Co said.

On May 7, 2008, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Catanduanes led by Vice Governor Alfredo M. Aquino granted Gov. Cua an authority to represent the provincial government in any legal action relative to the electricity supply agreement entered into by FICELCO and SUWECO.

The provincial board council stated in their authorization given to Cua to oppose the said agreement due to following grounds; FICELCO has an existing ESA with several power providers which to date still remains to be in effect not having been declared invalid or rescinded by any competent authority in an appropriate proceedings, several provisions of ESA between FICELCO and SUWECO are found to be detrimental to FICELCO and its consumers.

The council added that the provincial government, pursuant to its mandate under section 16 of the RA 7160 to promote the general welfare of the people of Catanduanes, is duty bound to do and enforce any legal action including opposing the application for approval of the ESA between Ficelco and SUWECO which is pending before the ERC.

Former Senator Francisco Tatad, a native of Catanduanes, opined that Cua and his allies’ move was disadvantageous to the people while it was deemed to protect the governor’s business interest.

Tatad had Rodolfo Albano, Jr., Chairman of the Energy Regulatory Board to help facilitate the speedy completion and immediate operation of the mini-hydro projects being undertaken by SUWECO in several municipalities of the island province in order to liberate their poor constituents from the scourge of unstable power supply and inordinately high prices provided by highly polluting bunker-fed sources.

“I am made to understand, however that certain provincial politicians who are involved in the sale and distribution of bunker fuel, are moving to block the projects for their own reasons,” Tatad said in his letter to Albano.

He said that as former chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and principal sponsor of the Electric Power Crisis Act in the Senate, it was his dream then to see the province of Catanduanes and other small islands in the country which are cut off from the national power grid, become self-sufficient in energy, through their exploitation of indigenous renewable energy sources like water, sun and wind.(BicolMail)

Farmers Ask CBCP: Support GARB, Not CARP Extension

June 11, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

This developed as some 1,000 farmers from Southern Tagalog were staging a “Lakbayan para sa Lupa, Pagkain at Hustisyang Panlipunan” (March for Land, Food and Social Justice).

In the weekly Kapihan sa CyPress media forum at the Treehouse Restaurant, Matalino St., in Quezon City last June 7, Orly Marcellana, secretary-general of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog), a local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines ), and currently the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan) regional chair, said that history has already proven the futility of the existing agrarian reform program, which is now 20 years old.

“In the two decades of CARP’s implementation, the farmers in the region remained landless, hungry and poor. We have enough of this bogus land reform,” said Marcellana.

Marcellana insisted that only GARB can introduce an almost-perfect solution to the landlessness problem of farmers in the country.

Rev. Ray Galloaga of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), who works closely with the peasant folk in the region, cited the Scriptures and said that as part of the social justice program of Yahweh, Israelites-through their judges and kings-have implemented their own version of agrarian reform program

“Thus, it is rightful to support what the peasant-folks are fighting for right now and that is the passage of a progressive legislation on agrarian reform,” Galloaga said.

Earlier, Second National Rural Congress (NRC2) Chair and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, expressed support to the extension of CARP.

CBCP even asked the President to certify the bill extending the CARP as urgent. She certified it as urgent early last week.

The Central Luzon experience

United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) president and now Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Agricultural Workers) Rene Galang shared his own experience with CARP inside the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Instead of giving the lands to the farmers and farm-workers for them to till, they (the Cojuangcos) have given us the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a scheme that paved way for more abuse. Now that the Supreme Court has finally decided in favor of the farmers, the Cojuangco clan still refuses to give the farmers’ part of the hacienda which our colleagues have already shed their blood for,” Galang said, referring to the November 16, 2004 massacre.

Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL or Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon) chairman  Joseph Canlas said more and more lands are being grabbed by unscrupulous landlords and developers thus leaving more and more farmers landless and hungry.

Among the schemes used are crop conversion and land use conversion, in which lands are being developed into industrial and residential uses, and instead of being used for production of rice and other food lands are planted with cutflowers and other high-yielding crops, threatening the country’s food supply, Galang elaborated.

“That’s why, we are strongly supporting the bill that our beloved Ka Bel, filed in Congress,” said Galang.

CARP: the Mindanao experience

Mindanao has the same experience, said Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, KMP officer in Mindanao.

“Many lands have been classified as corporate farms, which can only be distributed if the corporation owning the farm voluntarily submits to CARP, as provided for by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988,” said Flores.

GARB

Incoming Anakpawis Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, said that he would be fighting hard for the passage of the GARB and will ensure that the farmers would win this battle.

Mariano joins thousands of farmers that are expected to flock the foot of Mendiola bridge, this June 10, CARP’s 20th anniversary. Contributed to Bulatlat

Amid Oil Crisis: No Need for Emergency Powers Yet, DoE Says

June 11, 2008

But public warned to ‘expect the worst’

While oil prices in the international market are soaring and projected to hit US$200 per barrel before December, the Department of Energy (DoE) claimed that the situation is under control and there is no need—as of now—to give emergency powers to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. However, Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes Jr., said that the country must expect the worst now that pump prices of gasoline and diesel have breached the level of P50 (US$1.124) per liter and transport groups are not totally abandoning their demand for a fare hike, despite the “withdrawal” of their petition to the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed To Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

While oil prices in the international market are soaring and projected to hit US$200 per barrel before December, the Department of Energy (DoE) claimed that the situation is under control and there is no need—as of now—to give emergency powers to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

However, Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes Jr., said that the country must expect the worst now that pump prices of gasoline and diesel prices have breached the level of P50 (US$1.124) per liter and transport groups are not totally abandoning their demand for a fare hike despite the “withdrawal” of their petition to the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

In the weekly Kapihan sa Sulô in Quezon City, the energy chief said that they are still talking about short- and long-term solutions to the surge in oil prices.

Measures such as the promotion of the use of compact natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas for public utility vehicles, tariff cuts on crude imports (which was done earlier) and the promotion of the use of biofuels in industries and transport, are more likely to be considered, he said.

“But for now, all we need to do is to conserve and cut down on our fuel consumption,” Reyes said, adding that it is not government’s sole responsibility to find solution to the crisis.

“Expect food prices to soar due to higher transport cost,” Reyes added.

On the issue of suspending the 12-percent value-added tax (VAT) on oil, Reyes explained that it is hard for the administration to do so for it is mandated by law. The law he was referring to is Republic Act No. 9337, more commonly known as the Restructured Value-Added Tax Law, which was passed in 2005.

“Unless we repeal or amend the law, then the suspension or the removal of VAT on oil can’t be imposed,” said Reyes.

Asked about the possible re-opening of the US$2.3-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which was mothballed in 1987, Reyes replied that it is easier said than done.

Some groups are lobbying for the reopening of the controversial power plant but Reyes clarified that government needs at least US$800 million (P35.585 trillion) to rehabilitate the plant and the public must wait another five years before the BNPP can be fully operational.

On the other hand, independent think-tank IBON Foundation, Inc., said that it is the proper time for the government to take a stand and regulate the domestic prices of oil.

In the statement published in their official website (http://www.ibon.org/), the think tank stated that the recent pronouncements of the Big Three (Petron, Caltex and Shell) that they need to increase their prices by as much as P10 to P11 ($0.22 to $0.24) per liter highlight the urgency of reinstating regulation of the oil industry.

The government has lost its power to control prices of petrol in the local market after the Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Law was implemented in 1998. Contributed to Bulatlat

Farmers Kick Off Week-long March for New Land Reform Bill

June 11, 2008

No less than 1,500 farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and peasant women from Southern Tagalog provinces – Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal have kicked off a week long rural people’s march to dramatize their opposition against the proposal to extend the 20-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), and push for the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059 principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.

BY GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

No less than 1,500 farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and peasant women from Southern Tagalog provinces – Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal have kicked off a week long rural people’s march to dramatize their opposition against the proposal to extend the 20-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), and push for the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill No. 3059 principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran.

Five of the biggest rural-based groups – Anakpawis, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Alliance of Small Fisherfolk Organizations), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Workers in Agriculture) and Amihan- National Federation of Peasant Women, in cooperation with Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog) and Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog will spearhead the “Lakbayan ng mga Magsasaka para sa Lupa, Pagkain at Hustisyang Panlipunan” (Peasant March for Land, Food and Justice).

“GARB is Beltran’s legacy to the Filipino farmers. It is a landmark piece of legislation that recognizes the class interest and class power of the peasantry,” said Kasama-TK secretary general Orly Marcellana.

Marcellana added: “The rice crisis we are experiencing is proof that CARP has done nothing to solve the landlessness of peasants and the development of agriculture in the country. Since CARP was implemented, more farmers have been driven away from their lands and homes because of massive land grabbing and land use conversions made legal by CARP. This bogus land reform program now being directed by Arroyo is a pest to farmers.”

Lakbayan organizers added that peasant and rural people joining the march are expected to enter the National Capital Region (NCR) on June 8 and would hold a vigil in Baclaran Church on the same day. On June 9, the farmers would march from Baclaran to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) National Office in Quezon City for an anti-CARP and pro-GARB solidarity night. On June 10, the farmers would march from DAR to Mendiola in Manila to demand the rejection of CARP extension, and the passage of HB 3059.

20 years of injustice

“For millions of farmers and rural people, CARP is equivalent to 20 years of social injustice and extreme massacre of peasant land rights. It is nothing but a token symbol of land reform. It is about time to bury this shotgun piece of legislation six feet under,” KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said in a press statement.

“As far as truth- and justice-seeking farmers are concerned, the death of CARP is the new beginning for GARB, a landmark piece of legislation that will entail a thoroughgoing and justice driven agrarian reform program in the country. The free distribution of land to landless farmers is the corner stone of GARB which is a million times superior to the bankrupt character and orientation of CARP and CARP extension,” Ramos added.

Reply to detractors

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap told detractors of GARB and proponents of CARP extension that CARP beneficiaries themselves were victims of the twenty year old bogus agrarian reform program.

“Proponents of this bogus land reform program failed to explain the real score behind thousands of cases of land reform reversals, compounded by confiscation of land titles, thousands of cases of land use conversions, across-the country land grabbing extravaganza and the unexplained P143-billion ($3,240,793,201) taxpayers’ money spent for CARP, which all happened in the 20 years of CARP,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

“Now GARB detractors have the guts to tell the farmers that CARP is meant for social justice despite the fact the CARP failed the tillers of this land over the last 20 years. The ring leaders of the pro-CARP syndicate in and out of Malacañang are obscuring the truth in the name of their respective political and material agenda,” Hicap added.

“These pro-CARP extension hooligans and anti-GARB shenanigans are misleading the farmers for fear of losing their rackets in and out of the Arroyo syndicate,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

CARP victims

KMP’s Ramos and Pamalakaya’s Hicap cited at least 7 big cases in Southern Tagalog where CARP beneficiaries including fishermen were eased out from their farmlands to give way to land use conversion projects undertaken by big landlords, private developers and the government:

• 10,000 farmers and fisherfolk beneficiaries, all CARP beneficiaries are still locked in a battle against Fil-Estate, the Manila South Coast Development Corporation and SM of Henry Sy over 8,650 hectares of prime agricultural lands, which private developers intend to develop into a major eco-tourism hub in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu in Batangas. The Department of Agrarian Reform cancelled their Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Emancipation Patents (EPs) to pave way for land use conversion.

• The CLOAs of CARP beneficiaries were revoked by DAR in Hacienda Roxas in Nasugbu, Batangas covering 7,183 hectares of sugar lands to give way to eco-tourism, residential and commercial projects to be funded by foreign and local investors.

• In Hacienda Puyat in Batangas, some 1,800 hectares of land were denied to supposed CARP beneficiaries to pave way for the construction of golf courses and other eco-tourism projects.

• The DAR allowed the exemption and conversion of 10,000 hectares of sugar lands to livestock farms, poultry farms, fishponds in Hacienda Zobel in Calatagan, Batangas, and also gave the right to the Ayala clan to land-grab an additional 2,000 hectares of foreshore land to deny agrarian claims of farmers and fishermen in 19 out of Calatagan’s 24 barangays (villages).

• In Carmen and Silang towns, DAR approved the conversion of 2,500 hectares of land into golf courses and residential areas by the Ayala land group of companies, denying farmer beneficiaries of their rights to utilize prime agricultural lands which they tilled for generations.

• In Aguinaldo Estate, Tartaria, Silang in Cavite, 2,000 farming families were displaced from their farmlands, after DAR gave the go-signal for investors to convert the 197- hectare estate to commercial subdivision and a high-end golf course.

• The DAR also facilitated the conversion of 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canluibang, Laguna into an array of subdivisions and golf courses, and victimized 457 families, whose CLOAs were cancelled by the agrarian reform agency.

They said from 1994 up to 2007, about 1,302,375 hectares of prime agricultural lands have been placed by DAR under conversion and such terrible act led to the massive land reform reversals with the cancellation of land titles all over the region. The group said around 173,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands in the region have been already been converted for commercial purposes; leaving tens of thousands of supposed to be CARP beneficiaries landless.

In 1993, Pamalakaya, KMP and the Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra or Center for Genuine Agrarian Reform) held a preliminary assessment of CARP from 1988 to 1993, and one of the most striking results of the program was revealed – a total of 10,958 certificate of land transfers (CLTs), 9,133 EPs and 2,303 CLOAs were cancelled by DAR covering 32, 041 hectares of prime agricultural lands affecting over 22,000 CARP beneficiaries.

The groups said while farmlands belonging to farmers are perpetually targeted for landgrabbing and conversion under CARP, lands leased to foreign corporations like Dole and Del Monte Philippines remained untouched. It said foreign corporations managed to keep 220,000 hectares of agricultural lands because these lands were devoted to production of export crops.

P100 billion for CARP extension

Meanwhile, another GARB co-author, Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Teodoro Casiño, said the Filipino people will be forced to fund a fatally flawed agrarian reform program to the tune of not less than P100 billion ($2,266,288,951) in taxpayers’ money if CAR is extended.

“Merely extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (RA 6657) without correcting its fatal defects will cost the Filipino taxpayer P100 billion ($2,266,288,951) in wasted funds,” Casiño said.

The Bayan Muna party list lawmaker recalled: “ In my interpellation…of Rep. Edcel Lagman, sponsor of HB 4077, he candidly admitted that the so-called “necessary reforms” in the proposed CARL extension bill do not address what even he admits are the flaws and glaring loopholes in RA 6657.”

“Lagman even called said loopholes “congenital defects” that have sabotaged the government’s agrarian reform program for the last 20 years,” Casiño added. The Bayan Muna solon said the most glaring of these defects in RA 6657 that HB 4077 fails to correct are:

1. The limited coverage of agrarian reform:

• The exclusion of lands that are technically classified as either forest, mineral, commercial or residential land even if these are tenanted and actually used or suitable for agriculture (Sec. 3)

• The exclusion of lands devoted to livestock, swine and poultry farms, fishponds, prawn farms, salt beds, fruit farms, orchards, vegetable and cut-flower farms, cacao, coffee and rubber plantations (Sec. 10)

• Allowing the conversion and exclusion of lands already awarded to farmer beneficiaries from the program (Sec. 65)

• Allowing landowners to retain their vast landholdings by instituting open-ended retention limits of five hectares for the owner plus three hectares per child, whether natural or adopted, legitimate or not (Sec. 6)

• Provisions for alternative modes of compliance as outlined in the definition of agrarian reform (Secs. 3 and Sections 29-31) on corporate and commercial farms that allows landowners to enter into stock distribution schemes, leasehold, joint venture,leaseback arrangements and other ways of going around the physical distribution of land to the ownership and control of the farmer beneficiaries. This leaves farmer beneficiaries confused, easily manipulated and exploited by landowners and vulnerable to corporate
backroom maneuvers.

2. A payment scheme that keeps farmers in a continued life of servitude, paying for the land at 6 percent interest per year for 30 years (Sec. 26). Thus, most farmer beneficiaries end up illegally mortgaging or selling their land just to pay the landowner or the Land Bank
.
3. A valuation and compensation scheme (Sections 17 and 18) that is so contentious and complicated that it opens a myriad of opportunities for graft and corruption. Thus, DAR is seen as of the most corrupt government agencies.

4. A “voluntary offer to sell” and “voluntary land transfer” scheme (Sections 19-21) that gives landowners the upper hand in imposing their will on their former tenants, with the connivance of unscrupulous DAR officials.

“These are the very reasons why the implementation of the agrarian reform program has taken a world-record breaking 20 long years with distressing results. What RA 6657 could not achieve in 20 years it can never achieve through a five year extension as long as these provisions remain. A CARP extension bill that fails to correct these most glaring defects is a bill that is more deplorable than the existing law it seeks to extend,” Casiño said. Contributed to Bulatlat

Cartel, GATT-WTO, Gov’t Polices to Blame for Rice Crisis

June 11, 2008

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that the current rice crisis is a result of hoarding by the rice cartel, loopholes in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, and the government’s policy of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which is in line with its commitment to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said that the current rice crisis is a result of hoarding by the rice cartel, loopholes in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, and the government’s policy of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, which is in line with its commitment to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO).

This crisis, KMP said, cannot be solved neither by the government’s aggressive importation of rice nor by the extension of the CARP.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, early last week, certified as urgent House Bill No. 4077, which provides for a five-year extension for CARP. HB 4077 provides for an allocation of P100 million ($2.27 million at the June 6 exchange rate of $1:P44.14).

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was signed in 1988 and was intended to be in force until 1998. CARP expired in 1998 but was extended for another 10 years. It expires again on June 10 this year.

Based on DAR data, only 3.96 million hectares out of the target 5.16 million hectares, or 77 percent, under CARP have been redistributed.

Usec. Gerundio Madueño of the Department of Agrarian Reform supported the extension of CARP saying that extending CARP will help improve the country’s rice production.

“By completing CARP, it will help in the increase in the production of rice ‘cause the farmers will be given the basic rural infrastructure, technology, the training and support for their cooperatives and training for themselves,” Gerundio said.

But Madueño’s claim was belied by KMP secretary-general Danilo Ramos. He pointed out that the country had experienced rice crises under CARP. This, he said, does not give a promising picture of CARP’s supposed ability to solve the rice crisis.

“When did we first experience a rice crisis?” Ramos said. “That was during FVR’s (Fidel V. Ramos) time (as President). 1994-1995. CARP ended only in 1998, before it was extended for another 10 years. That means that experience shows that CARP is not a solution to rice crises.”

The rice cartel

“In fact, during FVR’s time, rice supply increased by 350 percent, but prices nevertheless soared,” he added. “Why? Because of the cartel.”

The rice crisis of 1994-1995 was largely a result of the partial privatization of the National Food Authority (NFA), which then procured only 0.5 percent of total palay (unhusked rice) production. Private traders took advantage of the situation, creating an artificial rice shortage by hoarding supplies. This caused rice prices to jump by 90-100 percent.

The present rice crisis is also largely traceable to the activities of a rice cartel, known as the Big Seven, whose members, aside from being able to channel production to itself through a network of traders, are also allowed to import heavily.

The members of the Big Seven have been identified in Senate investigations as Joaquin Go Soliman (JOMERCO Trading), Pio Sy Lato (PNS Grains Center), Ramon Ang Syson (Family Native Supply), Gil Go (Jocardo Merchandising), Leoncio Tan/Janet Tiu (Leoneco Merchandising), Santos See (Manila Goodyear), and Teofredo Co (Teofredo Trading).

CARP and GATT-WTO

The depredations wrought by the rice cartel are aggravated by CARP’s loopholes and the government’s implementation of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization policies in accordance with the GATT-WTO (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization) framework.

The Philippines is now the world’s top importer of rice, according to the socio-economic think tank IBON Foundation – a far cry from its status as a self-sufficient, rice-exporting country in the 1980s. IBON Foundation’s research also shows that the Philippines devotes only 4 million hectares to rice production – contrasting sharply with Vietnam, with more than 7 million hectares planted to rice, and Thailand which devotes more than 10 million hectares.

Lands planted to cash crops are exempted from CARP. The owners of lands planted to rice and corn, which are subject to CARP, have found a way out of the government’s agrarian reform program through crop conversion. This contributed to the decrease in rice production.

Under the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which the Senate ratified in 1995, the Philippines has been forced to meet a minimum rice importation requirement, whether or not the country has sufficient rice yields. The Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), which Ramos signed into law in 1997, aims for further privatization of the NFA and increased private-sector participation in rice importation.

The NFA is mandated by law to procure at least 12 percent of palay production. From an average of 7.95 percent of palay production in 1977-1983, the NFA’s procurement dropped to 3.63 percent in 1984-2000 and from 2001-2006 was only 0.05 percent of total production.

Rice imports have increased from 257,260 metric tons (MT) in 1995 to 1.7 million MT in 2006. This year, the government has secured the importation of some 2.2 million MT of rice from Vietnam, Thailand, and the U.S. – the country’s largest volume of rice importation since 1998.

“The government’s ratification to the GATT meant full liberalization of Philippine agriculture, particularly the emphasis on export crops and, on the other hand, rice importation,” Ramos said. “That is why in 1994, when the GATT was being deliberated upon in the Senate, we put forward a position urging them to reject it.”

The government’s Medium-Term Agriculture Development Plan (MTDAP) aims to reduce rice and corn production from 5 million MT to 3.1 million MT. Meanwhile, the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2004-2010 aims for “the development of 2 million hectares of new agribusiness lands through multi-cropping, the cultivation of idle and marginal lands, the expansion of fishery production in unutilized offshore and inland waters, and expansion of the product mix through high value crops and value-adding through innovative packaging and agro-processing.”

The reduction of rice production and the country’s increased dependence on rice importation have placed the people more and more at the mercy of private traders, who control rice prices.

HB 3059

The KMP is calling for the passage of House Bill No. 3059, or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. Principally authored by the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran, the bill provides for free distribution of land to farmers, the expansion of agrarian reform coverage to include all agricultural lands, and government support services for beneficiaries. Bulatlat

Bayan demands results from Task Force Pojas

June 10, 2008

Davao City – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) held a protest rally on May 29 at Camp Leonor, San Pedro St., Davao City to demand from Task Force Pojas the results of their investigations on the killing of peasant leader Celso Pojas.

Pojas was killed last May 14 at the height of his involvements in the anti-militarization campaign in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental and in the independent investigation of the Diarog killing. He was at that time chairperson of the Farmers Association of Davao City, a member organization of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“We have not heard any development regarding the investigations that Task Force Pojas has been conducting since its formation a day after Celso Pojas was killed. Weeks have passed and we fear that their investigations are going nowhere,” Bayan secretary general Jeppie Ramada said.

Bayan reiterated that the killing of Celso Pojas was an execution under Oplan Bantay Laya 2 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Arroyo government. “While the killings continue to claim innocent lives, the suspects remain at large with impunity,” Ramada added.

Ramada also revealed the ongoing surveillances on the offices of Bayan and other progressive organizations in Davao City. “Unidentified men are seen constantly tailing our mass leaders including myself,” Ramada added.

Ramada urged the Local Government Unit and the Davao City Council to act decisively to end the series of extrajudicial killings happening in the city.

“The city’s peace and order situation is getting so alarming and we call on the people to be vigilant in protection of their lives and of those who stand courageously for truth, justice, and equality,” Ramada ended.(DavaoToday)

‘Exodus’ calls for end to militarization in countryside

June 10, 2008


Concerned organizations and individuals form an alliance called Exodus for Justice and Peace to call for a stop of the militarization in the countryside and for the return of hundreds of Lumads displaced from their communities. The alliance also seeks justice for the death of tribal chieftain Dominador Diarog, peasant leader Celso Pojas and other victims of human rights violations. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Lawyer Beverly Musni, one of the convenors of EXODUS for Justice and Peace, talks about the displacement of lumads in Mindanao during the time of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. She estimates about a million people displaced in different parts of Mindanao from 2001- 2008. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Exodus’s members sign a statement of unity calling attention to the daily needs of victims, including health and medical services, psychosocial therapy sessions for women and children, legal services, moral support, among others. (davaotoday.com photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Peasant leader killed in front of family in Negros–police

June 9, 2008

By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 09:13pm (Mla time) 06/08/2008

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines–A peasant leader was executed in the presence of his wife and 11-year-old son in Manapla, Negros Occidental, the police said on Sunday.

PO3 Ron Somondong of the Manapla police identified the victim as Armando Dolorosa, 45, vice president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers chapter at Hacienda Marian, Barangay (village) San Pablo in Manapla.

Three unidentified persons, armed with high-powered firearms and wearing bonnets, summarily executed Dolorosa at his house at Hacienda Marian at around 7:30 p.m. on Friday (June 6), according to his wife Janetta.

Janetta said her husband died of 23 gunshot wounds in different parts of the body.

She said her family believed that her husband’s killing was related to the implementation of the agrarian reform program in Negros Occidental.

Somondong said the victim might have known the killers, one of them he was heard to have called “Tol,” as he even welcomed them to his house.

Janetta, in a separate interview, recalled that a burst of gunfire followed after her husband invited the perpetrators to enter their house.

She said she saw her husband’s assailants run away but they immediately returned and pumped more bullets into the body of her husband, to make sure he was dead.

Policemen recovered 12 empty shells of M-16 and .30 rifles from the crime scene, Somondong said.

Janetta told police investigators her husband and 36 other agrarian reform beneficiaries were given Certificates of Land Ownership Awards by the Department of Agrarian Reform 2007 over a portion of land in Hacienda Marian.

Janetta said that since then, Dolorosa had been receiving death threats from persons whom she described as “planters.”

She, however, hinted that one of the gunmen whom her husband called “Tol” was a family friend.

Dolorosa recalled that the animosity started between her husband and “Tol” after agrarian reform beneficiaries in the hacienda got their CLOAs. “Tol” was not one of the beneficiaries, she said.

Armando was the third local NFSW leader who was killed in Manapla since 2003, police records show.(PDI)

===========

My Take:

This only shows that the government’s seemingly approval of these type of crime (as seen thru its inaction), invites more perpetrators to sow terror in the countryside.

Dahil walang hinuhuli at napapagpanagot, pati ang mga simpleng alitan ay nagiging dahilan na rin para magpatayan.

Kasalanan ito ng gobyerno.

Groups set last-ditch effort for CARP extension

June 9, 2008

THE Reform CARP Movement promised to flood the tent city outside the Department of Agrarian Reform office in Quezon City with at least a thousand farmers and peasants pushing for the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program beginning today, and also tomorrow, the CARP law’s expiration date.

At the same time, other farmers calling the 20-year-old CARP a failure and said they would have nothing to do with its extension.

The Reform CARP Movement counts as members Task Force Mapalad, Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan, Task Force Baha-Talibayog and other farmers who have been picketing DAR since May to press for CARP extension.

The groups said the proposed five-year extension would give DAR the time to distribute its backlog of 1.1 million hectares consisting of private agricultural lands 60 hectares or more to about half a million farmers nationwide. “More than 3 million hectares were distributed during 20 years of CARP. Most of these lands are still in the hands of farmer-beneficiaries whose lives have certainly improved compared to those who remained mere tenants or farm workers,” the group said in a joint statement.

But Hacienda Luisita farm workers under the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, United Luisita Workers Union and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said CARP cannot take credit for the fact that thousands of farm workers and their families in Luisita now have more than 1,600 hectares for cultivation. They instead blamed government policies for encouraging land use conversion, land-grabbing, ejectment, crop conversion and other schemes that dispossess tillers, as well as high farm inputs and lack of agricultural support services that have led to the decreased rice production in the country.

“This is the reason why we are against any special session in Congress for CARP extension, they should let the anti-farmer program die a natural death,” the second groups said in a statement.

The Luisita farm workers accused government and the Aquino-Cojuangco clan of working together despite apparent political differences to reverse farm workers’ gains, adding that soldiers remain deployed for psy-war tactics in the 10 barrios straddled by the hacienda.

Last month, the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas in a study of stakeholders composed of farmers, indigenous peoples, urban poor and fisherfolks nationwide, said the stakeholders gave government a 70 to 75 percent rating in its implementation of major asset reform laws such as CARP, the Indigenous People’s Rights, Fisheries Code and various socialized housing program. Governance weakness, red tape and weak inter-agency coordination were blamed for the poor performance. – Randy Nobleza(MALAYA)

Editorial Cartoon: The CARP Illusion

June 6, 2008

Papatayin na lang ang magsasaka, inuuto pa.

Batas Militar, umiiral sa Negros – Karapatan

June 6, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishops seek special session for passage of Carp extension bill

June 6, 2008

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

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

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gov’t intervention urged in Sultan Kudarat land conflict

June 6, 2008

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

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

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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