Landslide-prone areas identified (Bicol Mail)

July 30, 2011

Landslide-prone areas identified
By FLORENCIO P. NARITO

LEGAZPI CITY —- The Office of Civil Defense has released the list of flood-prone municipalities and cities in Bicol with high, moderate and low degree of landslide hazards.

The Province of Camarines Sur tops the list with 16 towns with high degree of landslide hazards, seven moderate and 14 low degree of landslide hazards.

The OCD identified the 16 Camarines Sur towns with high degree of landslide hazards: Baao, Bato, Bombon, Buhi, Bula, Cabusao, Calabanga, Camaligan, Canaman, Gainza, Libmanan, Magarao, Milaor, Minalabac, Nabua, and San Fernando.

The province of Albay has only three municipalities with high degree of landslide hazards. They are Libon, Oas, and Polangui, all in the third district of Albay.

The cities of Legazpi and Tabaco and towns of Malilipot and Malinao, belong to the moderate degree of landslide hazards.

Ten municipalities and one city in Albay have been classified under low degree of landslide hazards. They are Bacacay, Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Jovellar, Manito, Pioduran, Rapu-Rapu, Sto. Domingo, Tiwi and Ligao City.

The Province of Camarines Norte has three towns with high degree of landslide hazards, five moderate and four low degree of landslide hazards. The municipalities of Mercedes, Talisay and Vinzons have high degree of landslide hazards.

In Catanduanes, two towns — Bato and Viga — are listed under high degree of landslide hazards, three moderate and six low.

The province of Sorsogon has one town –Juban — with high degree of landslide hazards, eight with moderate and six with low landslide hazards.

The island province of Masbate has no town with high degree of landslide hazard, one moderate and 20 low degree of landslide hazards.

Incidentally, July is celebrated as Disaster Prevention Month with “Makialam, Makiisa sa Pagsugpo ng Panganib, May Maitutulong Ka “ as slogan.

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Sorry

July 11, 2011

Sorry.

At nagsalita na ang simbahan.

Sa pangunguna ng CBCP, humingi ng paumanhin ang simbahang katoliko sa milyon nitong mga laiko,mga kleriko at relihiyoso, at sa mga hindi kasaping naniniwala sa kabutihan ng relihiyong ginagabayan ni Kristo at ng Amang Diyos.

Pero linawin natin ang lahat. Bakit nag-sorry ang CBCP? At gaano kalaki ang halaga ng paghingi ng paumanhing ito ng CBCP sa mata ng mga mananampalataya?

1.Ang pangunahing objective ng ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay apulahin ang apoy ng pagkalitong maaaring kumalat sa hanay ng mga mananampalataya, sanhi ng mga kaganapang kinasasangkutan ng ilang iginagalang na Obispo at Kaparian.

2.Ang ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay isang statement na nagsasabing hindi naman aksyon ng buong Simbahan ang mga wala sa tonong aksyon ng iilan lang sa hanay ng mga kleriko.

3.Isa rin itong simpleng pahayag na nagsasabing sa isang banda’y may pagkukulang din ang CBCP lalo na’t ilan sa kanilang hanay ang may direktang partisipasyon sa isyung komukonsumo ngayon sa atensyon ng buong sambayanan.

4.Ang ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay hindi lang isang simpleng paghingi ng paumanhin. Kinalakipan din ito ng matibay na paninindigang panghawakan ang mga turo at aral ni Kristo, at ng Social Doctrine, sa pamamagitan ng paglalahad sa publiko na ang susunod na pangulo ng CBCP ay isang environmentalist at human rights advocate na si Archbishop Jose Palma, at ang pangalawang tagapangulo ay si Retired Archbishop Socrates Villegas. Ito, para sa akin, ay sapat nang paraan ng pagtutuwid sa mga pagkukulang ngayon ng CBCP, sa kanilang hanay, at sa buong simbahan.

5.Ang ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ay ‘sorry’ ng simbahan. Isa itong imbitasyon ng pagkakaisa ng buong simbahan (read: laiko at kleriko), para masikhay na itayo ang kaharian ni Kristo dito sa lupa, ngayon mismo.

Sa limang puntong ito, tumpak sabihing napakalaki ng halaga ng pag-sorry ng CBCP. Nagpakumbaba ang pastol sa kanyang mga tupa. At tama lang naman ito. Dahil katulad ng pangangailangan ng mga tupang magkapastol ang pangangailangan ng pastol na magkatupa. Ang esensya ng kaganapan ng isa ay matatagpuan nila sa bawat isa. Kung wala ang isa sa kanila, tiyak na wala naman ang isa.

Pero kung pagbabatayan ang pananaw ng mga Pilipino sa katarungan, ang pag-sorry ng CBCP ay purong aksyon lamang na nakatuon sa sarili nitong self-preservation. At tama lamang ito. Pero may hinahanap pa ang mga Pilipino, ang kaganapan ng katarungan at paumanhin, ang kaparusahan.

Para sa atin, hindi ganap ang katarungan kung walang karampatang kaparusahang maigagawad sa nagkasala. At dahil minimal ang kasalanan dito ng simbahan, madali lang tanggapin ang sorry nila.

Pero ibang usapin na kung mapapatawad ba agad ang mga klerikong na-imbwelto, lalo na si Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos. Sa mata kasi ng publiko, hindi lang simpleng niregaluhan ang nabanggit na Obispo ng mamahaling sasakyan. Siya pa ang humingi ng ‘regalo’ sa taong lubhang nagpalugmok sa taumbayan sa kahirapan.

Kaya kung isasalarawan natin sa isang away ng mga tambay ang mga kaganapang kinasangkutan ni Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, ganito ang maaaring daloy ng usapan:

Tambay
1: (kay Pueblos) Letse. Napagtripan mo ko! Grr. Kita mo nang may tao dito, dumura ka pa! ha?

Tambay
2: (sa Tambay 1) Tol. Tol. Tol. Awat na. Sorry na. Di naman sinasadya ng kasama ko.

(Sa paulit-ulit na palitan ng dayalog ng dalawa, tahimik lang sa tabi ang inirereklamo)

Well, pagsasalarawan lang yan mga kaibigan. Dahil kung talagang naganap ito sa kalye, wala nang mangyayaring usapan, tiyak na bugbog sarado na agad ang nandura at damay ang kaibigan niyang humihingi ng paumanhin.

Na siyang magbibitbit sa atin pabalik sa ating punto. Hindi kayang maisalba ng ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ang mga klerikong nadawit sa kalokohang ito, pati na rin ang mga kaparehong kalokohang nagaganap sa mga diocese at parokya. Bagamat may pahaging ito ng pangungumbinsi na isabay na ang ilan nilang kasama sa mga mapapatawad.

Ito, sa tingin ko, ang pinakamababang sagad, sa ‘sorry’ ng CBCP. Pero di ko na ito papatulan. Sabihin na lang natin na ito’y isang porma ng “kung makakalusot lang” na paraan. Pero hindi ibig sabihing hindi seryoso ang CBCP sa kanilang pangkalahatang paghingi ng paumanhin.

Sa pagkakataong ito, na nakapagsalita na ang simbahan, oras naman nilang akuin ang responsibilidad at panagutan ang kanilang mga pagkakamali. Kumbaga, naihiwalay lang ng ‘sorry’ ng CBCP ang puti sa de-kolor. Saved na ang puti. Humanda naman ang de-kolor.

Dahil sa pagkakataong ito, katulad ng hinangad natin kay Gloria, hindi sapat ang ‘sorry’ lang.

(Pahabol na punto: ang korapsyon sa simbahan ay di lang solong responsibilidad at pananagutan ng mga kleriko at relihiyoso. Dahil may mga laiko ring involved sa korapsyon – sa loob at labas ng simbahan – marapat ding marinig natin ang kanilang sorry, at makitang panagutan nila ang kanilang mga kasalanan sa Diyos at sa taumbayan.)

Survivor Series:Dalagang Pilipina

July 4, 2011

Pahinga muna sa mga firsts.

Sa paglilibot ko sa kanayunan, isang nakapag-aalalang practice ang napansin ko. Ang mga kadalagahan, gaano man sila kaganda o katalino, ay karaniwan nang hindi nakakatungtong sa kolehiyo at bagkus ay maagang sumasabak sa pagtatrabaho. Wala silang pinipiling trabaho: kasambahay, saleslady, abroad.

Pangunahing dahilan nito ang kahirapan. Sa pagnanais na matulungang maihanon sa kahirapan ang kanilang pamilya, hindi na mahalaga sa mga dalagang ito ang laki o liit ng sweldong matatanggap, o ang posibilidad ng panganib na makakaharap nila sa proseso ng kanilang mga pakikipagsapalaran.

Sekundaryong dahilan na rin, at sa tingin ko’y siyang nagdudulot ng excitement sa kanila, ay ang ideya na pansamantalang mapapalayo sila sa hirap ng buhay sa kabundukan at kabukiran. Sa dahilang ito sumisingit ang nabubuo nilang pananaw sa kung ano ba dapat ang dapat nilang kinalalagyan bilang mga babae: magaang trabaho, akses sa mga produktong pampaganda (mula sa pananamit, pabango, at iba pang mga ‘feminine products’), na kadalasang wala silang akses kung sa kani-kanilang lugar lang sila mananatili.

Wala naman sanang problema dito. Pero napapansin kong dumadami na rin sa kanila ang nagkakaroon ng boyfriend na foreigner o kaya’y mga may asawa. Ang ilan ay minamalas pang mabuntis nang hindi pinapanagutan. Bilang lalaki, alam kong minimal ang kasalanan o pagkukulang ng babae sa usapin ng pagbubuntis. Madaling lokohin ang babae lalo na’t may pera at itsura ang lalaking nagbabalak sumingit sa kanilang pagkababae.

Anyway, sa pagpapaikli ng salaysay, nais kong tumbukin ang mga sumusunod na punto:

1. Napakalaki ng posibilidad na ang kadalasang pag-boyfriend o pag-aasawa ng foreigner ay hindi isang act of love (bagamat may iilang kaso na makapagpapatunay na mai ako) bagkus ay survival act. Sa proseso ng kanilang pagtatrabaho, napapansin ng mga dalaga na nagkakaedad na sila at di pa rin nakapag-iipon. At ang pinakamabilis na paraan para abutin ang dalawang dahilang nabanggit ko sa itaas ay ang pag-aasawa ng dayuhan, na mabilis nilang naitutugma sa dolyar at kung gayo’y kaginhawaan. Di bale nang makulong sa isang kontrata, kung ito naman ang magbibigay-daan sa kaginhawaan. Anila, nadedevelop naman ang pagmamahal lalo na’t nakapaloob ka na sa isang kasunduan. Tandaan ninyong ang praktis na ito ay matandang kagawian na: halimbawa na ang mga 16 yr old na pinapakasal sa kababaryong 40 yr-old dahil lang sa malaki ang lupa ng lalaki o nagbayad ito ng isang lata ng kamote hanggang sa dalawang fully-grown na baka.

2. Ang matagal na pagkawalay ng mga dalagang ito sa kanilang pamilya ay nagiging dahilan ng mas pagiging bulnerable ng mga ito sa kaway ng tukso, adbenturismo at mga pagkakamali. Humihina ang kanilang mga prinsipyo bilang babae at lumalakas ang pagsandig nila sa dahilang “para maka-ahon sa kahirapan”.

Sino ngayon ang dapat sisihin sa ganitong kalagayan ng ating mga kababaihan?

Ayaw kong magmukhang kontra sa gobyerno pero pangunahing kakulangan ng pamahalaan ang pagkakawatak-watak ng mga Pamilyang Pinoy at pagkasira ng mga indibidwal na kinabukasan ng ating kababaihan. Pangunahing dahilan o ahente ng kahirapan ang ating pamahalaan, lalo na’t ang mga mayor nilang polisiya mula agrikutura hanggang sa kalusugan at edukasyon ay pawang lihis sa tunay na pangangailangan ng sambayanan.

Ikalawang may sala ang relihiyon. Kadalasang ang simbahan (ano mang uri ng relihiyon sa bansa) ang ahente ng extreme na pagpapakumbaba at pag-asa sa “Diyos” sa halip na sa kani-kaniang mga sariling bisig. At bagamat may pagsisikap nang ipakilala ang Social Doctrine ng simbahan, iilan lang ang makikitang mga paring nagsusumikap para dito, at karamihan pa sa kanila ay may distorted na pag-unawa at makasariling dahilan sa pagpapatupad ng Social Doctrine.

Hindi ko tuloy maiwasang ituring ang mga dalagang ito na mga hayop na nasusukol ng panganib. At ang practice nilang ito ay hindi na isang pinag-isipang aksyon bagkus ay instinctive na pagkilos para lang maka-survive.

At siyang unti-unting pagkamatay naman ng ating mga Dalagang Pilipina.

Editorial/Political Cartoon: No Boycott

June 18, 2011

proudle chinese-made

A Year After Ordeal, Life Goes on for Freed ‘Morong 43′ But Scars Remain

February 11, 2011

A year ago today, the military and police illegally arrested and detained the “Morong 43″ health workers. While most of them have been freed and are now trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, many still have nightmares and still feel vulnerable and exposed to danger.

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

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MANILA – Physically they are already free, they appear fine and they are picking up the patterns of their old life, but many of the Morong 43 health workers today seem to be still struggling with the memory of their abduction exactly a year ago today, Feb. 6, and their subsequent torture and detention.

“I still can’t sleep well,” said Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the Morong 43 who was released last December. Even when she manages to sleep, it is fitful at best. She told Bulatlat.com that what she is going through is common among the Morong 43 health workers. She still has nightmares when she is alone in the dark. She dreams of soldiers seizing one of them and spiriting a detainee out of jail in the dead of the night.

While most of them have gone back to work by now and are coping well with it, Dr. Clamor says, she still feels vulnerable whenever she is out in the street. The other freed health workers interviewed by Bulatlat.com also said they feel the same, although they are also quick to reassure everybody who asks that they are fine.

Lydia Obera, the eldest female Morong 43 detainee, told Bulatlat.com that, “Personally, I feel I’m okay. Everything is as it should be, as natural as can be.” She asked other health workers to tell her if they noticed something different with her. “They said I was just like before.”

At 62, Obera is slim, sprightly and cheerful. A gentle, fun-loving Waray, Mama Del, as she is affectionately called in the health sector and by the inmates at Camp Bagong Diwa detention facility, had for some reason been accused of illegal possession of firearms and of having violated the Comelec election gun ban a year ago. Mama Del is one of the health staff of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).

Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, shown here while still in detention: “I can’t sleep well.” (Photo by Carlos H. Conde / bulatlat.com)

“My memory seemed to have sharpened,” Mama Del said. In fact, she said, she could now recall cellphone numbers, which she had difficulty doing before her arrest. Like the other members of the freed Morong 43, she said, she gets her strength from the warm welcome and support of friends, family, colleagues and all those organizations whose members visited them while they were in jail.

“When I visited the public hospitals where the members of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) are working, their welcome was truly heartwarming,” she said.

Mama Del no longer has nightmares; she said she only had them when she was in solitary confinement, which lasted 14 days, at Camp Capinpin. Others in her neighboring jail cell would try to wake her up when she was having those nightmares. “I was shouting in my sleep: ‘Why did you arrest us, we did nothing wrong!’”

Today, Mama Del’s eyes sparkle as usual when she animatedly tells stories about the good things that they managed to do even when they were in jail. But she apologetically admits that she still can’t shake off the feeling of vulnerability as she goes about her day-to-day activities. She said she feels that something bad might still be inflicted on her or to her loved ones, or that she might be slapped with yet another trumped-up charge by the military.

Lydia “Mama Del” Obera, back at work: “Everything is as it should be.” (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)

“I never cried while I was in jail, not even at Camp Capinpin,” she said. She only shed tears of happiness when they won their freedom last December. But the memory of Camp Capinpin, where “mornings are so quiet you could hear only the chirping of birds,” can spoil her mood.

“I don’t want to go back to what happened in our health training in Morong and at Camp Capinpin. It makes me furious,” Mama Del said. It seems to remind her as well why she continues to feel vulnerable.

The same feeling of vulnerability or of being exposed to danger from the military marks the trips to and from work by Gary Liberal. An operating-room nurse at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRMMC), Gary, 44, has been at JRMMC for 20 years at the time he went to Morong, Rizal, on this day last year to serve as resource person in the training.

He, too, had been warmly welcomed back in the hospital by his co-employees. “So far, there’s been nothing untoward about my going back,” Liberal said. He resumed working as head operating-room nurse at JRMMC last January 17. He also reassumed his position as president of the employees’ union in the hospital.

Gary Liberal, at the JRMMC: “Things are the same.” (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)

“The adjustment back to work had been easy – things are the same, there are the usual numerous patients to attend to, the usual SOPs (standard operating procedures). There were only slight changes in SOPs since I’d been gone, but essentially the mechanics are the same. There are now a few new colleagues here, too,” Liberal told Bulatlat.com.

Even if working in a public hospital is neither subversive nor illegal, Liberal said, he had received advice from well-meaning doctors to just go out of the country for his security. Freed along with the other Morong 43 last December, with all charges against them dropped, the concerned doctors nevertheless told him that “when the military has arrested you, it is like your head has been marked”.

Indeed, he could clearly remember how the military interrogators at Camp Capinpin had told him that “we know where you are working; where you live. When you get out, we can easily follow you. We can kill you even when you have been released.”

Today, Gary Liberal, Lydia Obera and Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor intend to resume everything they used to do as health workers before their arrest happened. Liberal said he is still willing to become a resource person in health trainings, though, jokingly, he said he prefers that it be conducted within Metro Manila. (Because their health training last year was held in Rizal, Liberal traveled to the place the night before his scheduled topic to avoid being late. The next morning the training was raided.)

They are trying to cope with insecurity when out alone by being attentive to their surroundings. Some, said Dr. Clamor, are consulting psychiatrists to help them cope with the trauma.

Gary Liberal on his way to the operating room at the JRMMC.(Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)

All of them are fervently grateful for the outpouring of support from local and international organizations. These have strengthened them in their struggle for freedom. They are also grateful for the warm welcome that greeted them.

They lost 10 months of what would have been their normal life with their family, work and organizations. During those 10 months, Liberal, for instance, did not earn anything from JRMMC, even if it was not his fault that he was prevented from reporting to work.

While the probability of receiving compensation for the lost 10 months of their lives is still far-fetched – the military has so far refused to even apologize – the released health workers have to deal every single day with the dark memories of their illegal arrest, detention and torture. (http://bulatlat.com)

Residents, Small-Scale Miners Act to Stop Encroachment of Large Mining Firms

February 11, 2011

Residents of Pantukan, a coastal town in Compostela Valley province, are locked in battle against two large-scale mining companies attempting to wrest full control of the area’s mineral resources. They also bewail the unfair advantage the government gives to these companies at the expense of small-scale miners.

By CHERYLL D. FIEL
Bulatlat.com/Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Residents of Pantukan, a coastal town in Compostela Valley province, are locked in battle against two large-scale mining companies attempting to wrest full control of the area’s mineral resources.

The residents who belong to various small-scale mining associations have formed a group called “Save Pantukan Alliance.”

“This is our way of saying that we are now taking the cudgel in defending our land from plunder and destruction of large-scale mining,” said Belen Galleto, spokesperson of the group, during a press conference in Davao City.

The Save Pantukan Alliance identified Nationwide Development Corporation (Nadecor) and Napnapan Mineral Resources Inc. (NMRI) as the companies that have recently encroached into their area, claiming a total 6,575 hectares of land for extracting gold, bronze, copper and silver.

Galleto said residents of Nadecor are worried they could be displaced.

A map of Pantukan. (wikipedia)

Nadecor’s 1, 663-hectare claim covers areas where some 3,000 families of small-scale miners, indigenous peoples, farmers and small traders have established a living. Their livelihood centers on their small-scale mining operations.

The other company, NMRI, was granted rights by the government to claim a total of 4, 912 hectares of land in Pantukan for gold extraction through a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA). According to Galleto, there are about 5,000 families living within the NMRI claim.

Granted in June last year, the NMRI’s mineral agreement with the government covers the 81-hectare mining area of the Boringot, Biasong and Diat Small Scale-Miners Associations which was declared as “Minahan ng Bayan” (roughly, “peoples’ mines”) by the local government in 2009.

Work in the mines, said Galleto, earns the miner at least P1,300 ($30) for two to three days of toil, depending on the buying price of gold. Gold last December cost P2,000 ($45.44) per gram. Lately, it has gone down to P1,300 ($30).

This map shows the areas being claimed by mining companies. Go to the DENR-MGB’s website to view specific claimants of each area.

“We know that large-scale mining will destroy our current production setup. They will just hire us as cheap labor while they take away large profits,” Galleto said.

All Eyes on Pantukan Gold

At least 13 companies have applied for mining claims of large areas of Pantukan as of April 2009. Based on data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’ s (MGB), these companies claims range from 800 to 13,000 hectares of land. (See List of Mining Tenements/Companies in Southern Mindanao)

Residents fear landslides as large-scale mining are known for using environmentally destructive methods.

In 1996, a landslide occurred in Kingking Village where a Canadian company, Echobay Mining/Toronto Ventures Incorporated, had been drilling. Galleto recalled that many homes and farms were destroyed. Even the community church was wiped out.

Two years ago, a landslide also occurred In Barangay Masara, Maco, a nearby town, which, like Pantukan, is also part of the mineral-rich mountain ranges of the famous Diwalwal gold area.

The disaster that killed 24 people is still fresh in the minds of the residents. It happened right in the area being mined at the time by the British-owned Apex Mining Corporation.

“We cannot allow this to happen again,” Galleto said. She said they are better off mining ores with their bare hands than allowing heavy equipment that are proven to be more extractive and destructive of the environment.

Work in small-scale mining operations, as Galleto explained, basically means hard rock mining. A team of three miners usually work inside a tunnel for a few days. They pound the earth for ore with their bare hands and process them for gold extraction.

Unfair Mining Policies

Galleto laments that while the government granted mineral agreements to these large-scale mining operators, many of the small-scale miners associations’ requests for mining rights remain unheeded.

At least four other small-scale miners’ associations, namely, the Gumayan De Mano Mining Association, Panganason Miners’ Association, Inc., Lumanggang De Mano Miners’ Association and Minahan Mayantok na Katutubo, have pending requests with the local government for declaring their areas as “Minahan ng Bayan.”

A small-scale miner inside a mining tunnel. (Photo: davaotoday.com)

A large-mining corporation can strike a contract with the government to mine vast hectares of lands for a period of 25-50 years, while the contract term for small-scale miners lasts only two years.

“It is just unfair that the government gives outsiders far better deals compared to us when we are the ones who maintain and manage the mining areas. In the first place, this is our home. Why would we do anything that could endanger the lives of our own communities?” Galleto asked.

The entry of large-scale mining has largely been blamed on the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The law has been widely criticized for practically opening up the country to full control of mineral resources by large-scale mining companies.

Not only does the law provide foreign mining companies full equity and control of mining projects in the country, it also allows them generous agreements that are highly unfair to Filipinos, such as granting permission to exploit the mineral resources for as long as 50 years, permission to enter private lands and build structures, as well as the right to the water and timber resources within the mining areas.

Those in favor of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 claimed the law would provide a much-needed boost to the economy.

But a look at the provisions of the law shows that it guarantees large-scale mining operators unfair advantage over small-scale miners. For instance, the law allows 100 percent repatriation of investments by large-scale mining companies operating in the country.

The government also only starts to earn its share after the mining operator has fully recovered its operating expenses. The net profit of operation that goes to the government, which amounts to 60 percent, is also inclusive of corporate taxes, duties and other fees. The mining company gets a clean cut of 40 percent.

The small-scale miners of Pantukan are now asking the government to cancel permits given to Nadecor and NMRI.

They have joined the growing number of those demanding the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, owing to serious issues concerning national patrimony. (http://bulatlat.com)

MILF Pooh-Poohs Split, Says It Will Present Draft Peace Pact When Talks Resume

February 11, 2011

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it is ready for the resumption of peace talks with the Manila government this month even as the front confirmed reports of a split within its ranks.

In a phone interview, Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, admitted that Ameril Umbra Kato wanted to create a separate military unit but the MILF leadership would not allow it.

“We are resolving the conflict,” Iqbal told Bulatlat.com. “He is accusing the MILF of revisionisn,” Iqbal said, adding that Kato is against any negotiation. “To him, a jihad is all about fighting, the use of arms.”

Kato, a senior MILF military commander, is known to have led the attacks in Mindanao after the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) in 2008.

Iqbal maintained the MILF can achieve its objectives with jihad as the main approach. “Fighting and negotiations are tactics,” Iqbal said. “If the negotiations will not serve the struggle [of the Bangsamoro people], we will fight endlessly.”

Formal talks are scheduled in Malaysia on Feb. 9 and 10.

Agenda

Iqbal said the MILF will present its draft of a “comprehensive compact.” “Essentially, it is a harmonization of the issue of sovereignty and our right to self-determination,” he said, adding it would be in a form of “asymmetrical state-substate relationship.” Iqbal said that the proposal aims to provide powers for the central government and for the substate in Mindanao. There will also be joint jurisdiction over certain matters, he said.

The MILF will also demand the release of 25 MILF political detainees. “They have released the Morong 43, they should also release our detainees,” he said, referring to the 43 health workers arrested in February last year.

Iqbal said they would also want to raise the issue of security and immunity guarantees in the light of the peace talks. He said that the guarantees should not be limited to the members of the panel and must be extended to the MILF leadership.

In September last year, Edward Guerra, a member of the MILF central committee, was arrested at the Davao International Airport. The MILF said Guerra was tortured and is still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa. Key military commanders are also among those detained, Iqbal said. (http://bulatlat.com)

Reyes’s Death Should Spur Deeper Probe Into Systemic Corruption in Military

February 11, 2011

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Cause-oriented groups said today the death of former armed forces chief of staff Angelo Reyes should compel authorities to step up their investigation into the alleged massive corruption within the military.

Reyes, who was also former defense secretary, apparently committed suicide Tuesday morning. Reyes was implicated in the ongoing congressional hearings looking into corruption in the military and the plea bargaining deal between the Office of the Ombudsman and ex-military comptroller General Carlos Garcia. Reyes was supposed to attend a House hearing today.

In a statement, Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change said that the ongoing investigation should result in making those accountable to answer for their crimes.

“This is an unfortunate event and we condole with the family of Gen. Reyes. But it is in the national interest that his death should not in any way derail the investigations being conducted by the Senate and the House. On the contrary, these probes must intensify to get those involved, whether military or civilian officials, accountable”, said Father Joe Dizon, Pagbabago! spokesman.

The late Angelo Reyes (Photo by Aubrey Makilan / bulatlat.com)

Dizon said Reyes, who also served as a secretary of various Cabinet departments under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, could have helped shed light on the systemic corruption not only within the military but also in the civilian bureaucracy of the previous regime.

Reyes was served as secretary for defense, environment, local government and energy, among others. He tried to run for Congress under the party-list 1-Utak but was disowned by the party.

In the same vein, Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino said the incident should not delay the investigation on the corruption cases involving Reyes himself and top government officials especially from the military.

“It is unfortunate that Reyes passed away for he could have been a vessel in solving these corruption cases. While we condole with his family and friends, I sincerely hope that the people’s quest for truth and justice will not be delayed by this sad incident,” Palatino said.

“Without a doubt, the House hearing today is tinged by the death of Reyes. However, it will be more tragic if the corruption cases will remain unsolved and those responsible will not be put to justice. I urge my fellow government officials to be more determined in putting an end to corruption. It is the people’s welfare and interest that is at stake here,” Palatino added.

Meanwhile, Karapatan spokesman Roneo Clamor said that Reyes’s death “should bear on the conscience of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly its officers’ corps.

“Reyes embodied the politicized military… The AFP leadership should rethink its role in society if his death would have relevance,” Clamor said.

Clamor said Reyes was the AFP chief when the bloody US-backed counter-insurgency Oplan Bantay-Laya was implemented. He was a key player in the EDSA 2 as he led the military in withdrawing support for then President Joseph Estrada.

“While we regret one unsolved mystery in the corrupt practices within the AFP, the on-going investigations into the AFP slush funds should be pursued in the interest of truth, justice, government accountability, and genuine civilian supremacy over the military,” Clamor added.

Marie Hilao Enriquez, Karapatan chairwoman, said Reyes, as one of the brains behind Oplan Bantay Laya, could have shed light on the cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

“Sadly, he chose to remain silent up to the very end. I hope that this will also serve as wake-up call to all those who must answer the people’s demand for justice. Only the truth can give us peace of mind,” Dizon of Pagbabago! said.

In reaction to Arroyo’s statement hailing Reyes for his patriotic service, Enriquez said: “Here she comes again, equating her narrow interests to patriotic service.” (http://bulatlat.com)

One of 3 Remaining Morong 43 Detainees Made to Suffer For Another Person’s Crime

February 11, 2011

“Why do they keep on insisting that my husband Edwin is the Edwin Bustamante in the charge sheets? My husband is not a criminal,” Lyn Dematera said, in reaction to the continuing detention of her husband, one of the Morong 43.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Edwin Dematera turned 39 years old today. His only birthday wish is to be free and be reunited with his family. This has been frustrated by another attempt of authorities to prolong his detention.

Dematera is one of the three remaining male health workers among the Morong 43 who are still being detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The Morong 43 refers to the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were branded as members of the New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). On Dec. 17, 33 of the Morong 43 were released upon the dismissal of charges against them by local courts. Two were subsequently released December 28. The other five have remained under military custody at Camp Capinpin.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) showed a list of so-called pending charges against Dematera and four other detainees. Included in the list are the two who were released December 28 but are supposedly facing charges of violating the anti-bouncing check law and illegal possession of drugs. The DOJ claimed that Dematera is facing rape charges before a Las Piñas court.

Dematera’s lawyers obtained records of the said rape case. They insisted that Dematera is not the same Edwin Bustamante accused in the criminal case. On Feb. 8, Dematera’s wife Lyn and his lawyers were told that another criminal case, this time a robbery case, was filed against Dematera. Again, the suspect’s name is Edwin Bustamante.

“Why do they keep on insisting that my husband Edwin is the Edwin Bustamante in the charge sheets? My husband is not a criminal,” Lyn told Bulatlat.com in an interview. Dematera is being accused of stealing a Nokia 8210 cellphone, cash amounting to P150 ($3.40) and a silver necklace. The incident allegedly happened in May 2008.

Back home in Juban, Sorsogon, Dematera’s children Bito, 4 and Bea, 2 have been waiting for their father for more than a year. They had hoped for their father’s return last Christmas but Lyn travelled back to Sorsogon alone.

In an affidavit filed before the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 255, Dematera categorically denied he is the accused in the said case. Dematera argued that the only similarity between him and the said accused is their first name and it just happened that his middle name “Bustamante” is the last name of the said accused.

“I would like to categorically state with utmost truthfulness that I have never committed any crime in my life. I am not the ‘Edwin Bustamante’ accused in Criminal Case No. 08-0459. All factual matters gathered from my birth certificate and from the records in Criminal Case No. 08-0459 clearly and convincingly show that I am not the person accused in the said case,” he said.

Dematera also said that while the accused is a resident of Basa Compound II, Zapote, Las Pi?as City, he has been a permanent resident of Juban, Sorsogon since birth. Attached in his affidavit is a copy of his birth certificate issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Juban, Sorsogon.

Dematera said the only time he had been to Metro Manila was when he attended the First Responders’ Training in Morong, Rizal in February last year and when he was detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. He added that the only time he set foot on Las Piñas was when he attended a hearing on January 18 on the rape case against Bustamante.

“My continued detention in the Metro Manila District Jail merely because there is a pending criminal case against a certain ‘Edwin Bustamante,’ whose full name and other personal circumstances are clearly different from mine, is unjust and indubitably gravely violates my constitutional rights,” Dematera said.

“It’s the second time he would spend his birthday in jail,” Lyn said. “Why can’t the authorities find and arrest the real Edwin Bustamante?” (http://bulatlat.com)

New poverty methodology detached from real situation

February 11, 2011

Ibon Foundation, Inc.
Posted by Bulatlat.com

Research group IBON criticizes government’s new poverty methodology as unreflective of the real situation of poor Filipinos, saying that the adjustments made on the already-flawed methodology has further distorted the picture of poverty in the country.

The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) yesterday released official poverty figures based on adjustments on the poverty estimation methodology, which the agency approved early this month. The new method supposedly estimates a food bundle, which is important because some three-fifths of the income of the poorest half of the population is spent on just food.

However, the estimates are based on a “least cost” food bundle, which the research group says may not be available to most Filipinos. This bundle apparently also relies on “revealed preference” which seems to mean that it reflects actual spending, but may be a pattern of spending not so much by choice but rather forced on Filipinos who adjust their spending according to their poverty.

Moreover, the revised methodology now pegs the official poverty threshold, or the amount supposedly necessary for a tolerable standard of living, at PhP37 per person per day. This is down from the previous national poverty line of PhP41 and effectively reduced the number of poor by 4.6 million without really improving the poverty situation.

The research group says it is also disappointing that the government will only generate parallel estimates according to the old and new methodologies for just three years. This will make poverty estimates over time even more incomparable aside from, perhaps intentionally, giving the impression that poverty has been markedly decreasing. IBON also asks how the new methodology will affect the formulation of future poverty alleviation programs, especially amid rising prices and joblessness.

The government should cut poverty by increasing the incomes of Filipinos instead of reducing the poverty threshold. This is a similar situation to the change in the definition of unemployment in April 2005 under the previous Arroyo administration which statistically reduces the number of unemployed by some 1.5 million and the unemployment rate by around 3.6 percentage points without actually reducing the number of jobless Filipinos.

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

Aquino Urged to Stop Magnetite Mining, Conversion of Coastal Areas Into PPP Ventures

February 11, 2011

Pamalakaya, the fisherfolk group, said the government should stop “the national auction of coastal resources to multinationals and transnational corporation,” saying such a policy would worsen the impact of climate change.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) recently signed a collective manifesto calling on President Benigno S. Aquino III to stop national projects that convert coastal communities into business havens and hasten the disastrous impact of climate change.

The Pamalakaya leaders said the privatization and conversion of fishing grounds have eroded the capability and capacity of coastal communities to confront the challenge and impact of climate change and extreme weather phenomenon such as La Nina and El Nino.

The manifesto was signed by Pamalakaya leaders from Cagayan, Aurora, Bulacan, Bataan, Pangasinan, La Union, Navotas, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Mindoro Occidental, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, Leyte, Samar, Cebu and Bohol provinces during the group’s national council meeting held in its national headquarters in Quezon City.

Pamalakaya national chairMAN Fernando Hicap said several government projects that are primed for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects would continue thereby exacerbating the impact of climate change on coastal resources, water environment and the livelihood of the small fisherfolk.

(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)

Stop Magnetite Mining

The group said that Aquino should immediately take action to ban magnetite mining in the coastal waters of Eastern Visayas region.

Based on reports from Pamalakaya-Eastern Visayas, of the 107 offshore mining applications in the regions, 17 are applied for magnetite mining which covers several municipalities of Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran.

Magnetite is a magnetic and very dense mineral of iron important for the steel industry. High-grade magnetite is used in many chemical processes including the production of iron sulfate, which is used to purify water in many major cities. Magnetite’s weight per volume makes it an important source of aggregate in the production of heavy concrete. Heavy concrete is used from the construction of baffles and containment tanks in nuclear power plants to things for everyday use such as counter weights in household washing machines.

According to environmental group Kalikasan-PNE, if these magnetite mining applications are approved by the DENR and Malacañang, it would promote widespread community displacement, further diminish the coastline, reduce fish catch to rock bottom levels, and decrease productivity since magnetite mining in coastal areas are inherently destructive to the environment.

Many studies reveal that black sand mining in coastal areas results to coastal erosion, inundation of communities, and degradation of marine ecosystem. Offshore mining of magnetite in Cagayan can increase vulnerability to floods as magnetite holds the sand together. The absence of magnetite in the sand can deplete and erode the coastal and near-shore areas.

The Department of Environment of Natural Resources (DENR) is now processing the applications of magnetite giants like Nicua Corporation which would cover 5,390 hectares of coastal areas in the towns of Tanauan, Tolosa, Julita and Dulag in Leyte; Kando Mining Company, 3,945 hectares (Dulag, Mayorga and Julita towns in Leyte); Rushfield Mining Company, 5,309 hectares (Palo, Tanauan and Tacloban City, Leyte); and Minoro Mining and Exploration Corporation; 6,375 hectares (Alang-alang, Sta. Fe, Jaro, Pastran and Palo, Leyte).

Other exploration firms entering the fray are Citygroup Philippines Corporation which is applying for 1,694 hectares (Caibiran, Biliran and Naval in Biliran); Asian Mines Incorporated, 769 hectares (Motiong, Samar); Bridestone Mining and Development Corporation, 7,252 hectares (Hinunangan, Hinundayan and Silago, Southern Leyte); Lazarus Mining Corporation, 6,205 hectares (Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte); Oregon Mining and Development Corporation, 5,099 hectares (Babatngon and Barugo); Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corporation, 11, 686 hectares (Babatngon, Barugo, Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte).

Grand Total Exploration and Mining Corporation also has another application covering 5,752 hectares in the municipalities of Biliran, Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba and Leyte, all in Leyte. Then there is Mt. Mogan Resources and Development Corp. applying for operations covering 3,022 hectares (Dulag, Leyte), another 15, 781 hectares in Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, Mayorga, MacArthur and Abuyog.

Mt. Mogan Resouces also has an application for exploration involving 25,312 hectares covering the coastal towns of Basey, Marabut and Tacloban City.

Another Pamalakaya affiliate, the Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) also urged DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to disapprove the application of the US-Korean firm Bogo Mining Resources Corporation. The mining firm has a pending application for offshore mining for magnetite before the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR Region V dated November 20, 2009.

The exploration for magnetite would cover more than 17,000 hectares of municipal coastal waters in San Miguel Bay that would encompass five coastal municipalities in Camarines Sur—Sipocot, Cabusao, Calabanga, Tinambac and Siruma.

Pamalakaya vice chairperson and Lambat-Bicol regional chair Salvador France said the exploration will be conducted within the 15 kilometer municipal fishing waters.

“Magnetite exploration will result in a complete ban of municipal fishing activity and the destruction of fishing resources in San Miguel Bay,” he said.” We strongly urge the DENR chief in the national office to reject the application of Bogo Mining Resources and order the mining firm to get out of San Miguel Bay,” said France.

The Pamalakaya leader said that while still waiting for the approval of the DENR permit for exploration, the technical personnel of BMRC has already started drilling operations in the five coastal municipalities to determine potential of magnetite. France said about 30,000 holes were drilled by mining personnel of Bogo since it applied for permit on November last year.

Environmental Destruction and Climate Change

Pamalakaya also named several other projects which they said contribute to the devastating effects of climate change. Among said projects were the offshore mining activities in Cebu-Bohol Strait and Palawan waters that would destroy the marine and ecological balance in the waters of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Masbate and Palawan provinces.

“ The government is set to award 30 more contracts for unbridled exploitation of marine waters for oil and gas explorations. These contracts should be junked and the projects permanently shelved,” Hicap said.

(Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)

In Cebu-Bohol Strait, a total of 445,000 hectares of marine waters will be laid bare to oil hunters and gas contractors looking for oil and gas reserves. In Palawan, more than one million hectares of waters will be explored for oil and gas exploration. This is apart from the oil and gas exploration being conducted by Exxon Mobil off Sulu waters in Mindanao.

Hicap also cited the reclamation project involving more than 7,000 hectares of coastal areas in Cavite. He said another 5,000 hectares of coastal areas adjunct to the expressway project will be reclaimed for the construction and modernization of Sangley naval port, which entails eco-tourism projects and construction of gambling and entertainment centers.
Other leaders of Pamalakaya also sounded the alarm against projects in their areas:

1)The 54,000 hectare Cagayan Export Processing Zone project in Cagayan province. The project involves development of a major Freeport zone, magnetite mining and the creation of world class international and seaport in Northern Philippines. The prime mover behind the project is Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

2)The offshore magnetite mining in Camarines Sur, Lingayen Gulf and Cagayan provinces which will cover several coastal municipalities in each province. The offshore mining of magnetite materials will affect the livelihood of more than 20,000 fishing families in the Camarines Sur province alone, aside from its huge environmental cost.

3) The widespread conversion of coastal municipalities of Nasugbu, Lian, Calatagan, Calaca, Lemery and Tuy into eco-tourism areas, all in first district, province of Batangas in Southern Tagalog region. More than 20,000 hectares of fishing and farming areas are covered by this district wide eco-tourism project.

4)The eco-tourism project in Taal Lake, Batangas which seek to develop the lake into a major tourist destination in Southern Tagalog region under the Metro Taal Development Project. More than 30,000 residents, mostly lake fishermen will be affected by this public-private partnership project on eco-tourism.

“The national auction of coastal resources to multinationals and transnational corporations should be put to an end. If this national policy of denationalization, privatization and conversion would continue, this country will forever be battered by the extreme impact of El Nino and La Nino,” said Hicap. (http://bulatlat.com)

Nanay Mameng at 83

February 11, 2011

She became known as the small but firebrand speaker during the protest actions leading to the People Power II uprising that ousted then president Joseph Estrada. Protesters from all walks of life, from the urban poor to well-dressed women from the elite, went near the stage whenever she spoke during rallies.

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — On February 8, among the thousands who celebrated their birthday in the country and around the world, one person stood out in the hearts and minds of urban poor Filipinos.

“I hope God would give me a longer life so I could continue serving the Filipino people,” Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida told Bulatlat.com on Tuesday as she celebrated her birthday together with residents of Sitio San Roque, an urban poor community in Quezon City where threats of demolition still loom. Food were brought by Nanay Mameng’s colleagues.

Nanay Mameng is an icon of the urban poor struggle in the Philippines. Having been born and raised in an urban poor community, herself, she understood well what they need from the government. For more than three decades of active participation in the people’s movement, Nanay Mameng said it is her comrades and entire urban poor communities who inspire her.

Residents of San Roque in Quezon City offer a song for their beloved Nanay Mameng.(Photo by JANESS ANN J. ELLAO / bulatlat.com)

“They were hurt and some were jailed. But they continued to fight (for their rights),” Nanay Mameng said. When asked about her birthday wish, Nanay Mameng said, without hesitation, victory for the people’s struggle to eradicate poverty in the country.

Struggle

Nanay Mameng became an activist at the age of 50, making her the oldest member of the former urban poor youth group Kabataan para sa Demokrasya at Nasyunalismo (Kadena or Youth for Democracy and Nationalism) during the Marcos dictatorship.

In 1983, she became a community organizer of urban poor women’s group Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (Samakana or Association of United Urban Poor Women) where she later became its chairwoman for 11 years. She became known as the small but firebrand speaker during the protest actions leading to the People Power II uprising that ousted then president Joseph Estrada. Protesters from all walks of life, from the urban poor to well-dressed women from the elite, went near the stage whenever she spoke during rallies.

“At that time, there were attempts to bribe Nanay Mameng to the tune of P1 million or around $23,000, with promises of jobs for her children and grandchildren to stop her from joining rallies but she did not accept it,” Bea Arellano, chairwoman of urban poor group Kadamay where Nanay Mameng is emeritus chair, said. In fact, Nanay Mameng continues to live in Leveriza, an urban poor community in Pasay City.

Arellano said Nanay Mameng, despite her old age, remains to be sharp in her analysis of issues. She continues to participate in protest actions and is a known critic of the nine-year rule of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who she dubbed as “Gloria Macapal-ang-mukha Arroyo.”

When President Benigno S. Aquino won during the May 2010 elections, Nanay Mameng warned that if his administration would be no different from the previous one, she would be among the very first to denounce the newly installed government.

Wanting to Reschedule Her Birthday

A simple birthday celebration for Nanay Mameng.(Photo by JANESS ANN J. ELLAO / bulatlat.com)

Nanay Mameng is so frustrated with the Aquino administration that she wanted to move her birthday, which fell on February 8, to another date as it also coincides with Aquino’s birthday. “But If we are talking about the fact that my birthday also coincides with that of Joma’s, (referring to International League of Peoples’ Struggle chairman Jose Maria Sison) and nationalist Claro M. Recto, I would jump with joy,” she told Bulatlat.com. The two were also born on the same day.

For the urban poor, the Aquino administration is insensitive to their conditions because his programs consist mainly of the conditional cash transfer scheme, public private partnerships, budget cuts on basic social services, railway fare hike. Urban poor groups also criticized Aquino’s decision to buy himself a “third hand” Porsche.

But no matter how much Nanay Mameng wished her mother had given birth to her earlier or later than February 8, Carlito Badion, vice chairman of Kadamay, said that there is a reason why her birthday coincides with Aquino’s. “This is to show how the two chose to serve the interest of the masses, but one, Nanay Mameng, is genuine, and the other one, Aquino, is not.” (http://bulatlat.com)

Probe Arroyo Too, Groups Urge

February 11, 2011

Fr. Joe Dizon of Pagbabago said the recent expose´ on corruption inside the military is another test to the current administration. “This is a golden opportunity to show that he is serious [in fighting corruption].”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – In the light of a series of revelations on corruption within the military, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should also be investigated.

“The previous government allowed this sordid practice to remain because it kept the generals happy at a time when Arroyo’s rule was being threatened by calls for her ouster. Apart from the corrupt generals, the corrupt commander-in-chief should also be probed for her possible complicity in all this,” Renato Reyes, Jr., Bayan secretary general, said.

In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Fr. Joe Dizon, spokesman of Pagbabago!, said corruption inside the military was tolerated by Arroyo in exchange for their allegiance and loyalty. “She overused the military compared to Ferdinand Marcos even if there was martial law then. Arroyo did not only use the military to get rid of her critics but also to stay in power,” said Dizon citing the 2004 election fraud. “Not even Marcos did that.”

The 2004 elections were marred with massive fraud. Not a few military officers were implicated in the controversial “Hello Garci” tapes, the wiretapped conversations allegedly between former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and Arroyo.

Dizon said the recent expose´ on corruption inside the military is another test to the current administration. “This is a golden opportunity to show that he is serious [in fighting corruption],” Dizon said but noted that the Aquino government is “too slow” in resolving the problems of corruption.

Dizon said Arroyo should have been arrested since the day she stepped down from power. He said there is enough evidence to prosecute Arroyo, citing the evidences gathered for the many impeachment complaints filed against her but were seemingly swept under the rug.

“He [Aquino] is projecting that he is clean. But it is unacceptable to be just clean without doing anything decisive. If he wants to convey a strong message then it should be as loud as the wang-wang (referring to sirens that Aquino ordered banned),” Dizon said.

The activist Catholic priest added that if Aquino has strong political will, he could prosecute Arroyo and other corrupt officials as well as retired AFP comptroller Major General Carlos Garcia and his cohorts.

“Reform in the government does not start from eradicating corruption alone. There has to be an overhaul in the social structure, in which the government is led only by the elite,” Dizon said during an interview with Bulatlat. He pointed out that for as long as the leaders of the government have their personal interest in mind other than serving the Filipino people, there would always be corruption.

“Anti-corruption is a continuing advocacy. People should be vigilant even if there is a new government,” Dizon added.

In a separate statement sent through email, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said: “There can be no rectification of past crimes without true accounting and punishment of top criminals in the government and military.”

Foot Soldiers and Junior Officers

“The large-scale corruption and luxurious lifestyle of top government military officials and their families have always hit a sensitive nerve among the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s foot soldiers and junior officers who bear the brunt of reduced and delayed salaries; unpaid life insurance; lack of housing, medical, pension and other social benefits; theft of their combat rations and substandard field equipment bought with huge kickbacks,” the CPP said.

CPP said widespread demoralization exists among the middle and lower ranks of the AFP, “not only because such mega-plunderers are in command, but also because rank-and-file and junior officers are the ones being used as cannon fodder in a losing war.” (Bulatlat.com)

Philippine Agencies, State Schools That Promote GMOs Are Violating the Law — Casiño

January 29, 2011

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said agriculture agencies and government-ran agricultural schools are mandated by the law to promote organic farming. So why are they promoting genetically modified crops like Bt eggplant?

By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Government agencies and institutions that are supposed to promote organic agriculture in the Philippines are violating the law because these, too, are proponents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said this week.

Casiño said Congress should investigate the involvement of these agencies and institutions in promoting GMOs, which critics deem harmful to humans and the environment.

“Congress, through its Committee on Agriculture and Food, has to look into the cases of testing and releasing genetically modified organism (GMO) crops into the Philippine environment,” Casiño said.

He expressed incredulity that the proponents of Bt eggplant in the Philippines, particularly the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Plant Industry and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and other state colleges and universities, are the same entities tasked to spearhead organic agriculture in the Philippines.

Bt eggplants. (Photo from whybiotech.com)

“Field tests on Bt eggplant runs counter to organic agriculture law and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a protocol to which we are a signatory,” Casiño said. “By allowing the field tests and even by merely planning to sell Bt eggplant in the market, these agencies are breaking the law and, much worse, they are putting public health at risk.”

Among the schools that participated in recent field tests of Bt eggplant is the University of the Philippines- Mindanao, which was forced to uproot and destroy the crops after the local government issued a cease and desist order in December.

Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act was signed into law on April 6, 2010. The main premise of this law was that the government should promote, propagate, develop and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the country.

Casiño said the National Biosafety Framework of the Philippines and the Local Government Code of 1991 were also ignored when it came to government decisions relating to Bt eggplant.

Article 2 of the Cartagena Protocol states that the “development, handling, transport, use, transfer and release of any living modified organisms are undertaken in a manner that prevents or reduces the risk to biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.”

An anti-GMO poster from Bayan Muna.

Organic Food Festival

Last week, party-list groups Bayan Muna and Anakpawis party-lists opened the Organic Food Festival at the House of Representatives to showcase sustainable agriculture produce such as organic red rice, organic lettuce and organic basi wine.

There were also organic plants in lightweight pots, such as aloe vera, spinach, oregano, tarragon, and lemon grass. Bunches of organic pechay were also sold, as well as tomatoes, chili, and bottles of organic honey. The produce were sold in booths sponsored by various people’s organizations and sponsors.

The festival also featured a forum on safe and sustainable food, and planting techniques which organizers said can help the country attain food self-sufficiency and bio-safety. There was also a lecture on urban farming and organic agriculture.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño emphasized the need for organic farming.

The activity was also co-sponsored by Resistance and Solidarity against Agrochem TNCs (Resist), Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa pag-unlad ng agrikultura (Masipag), Sibat, TFIP, Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Searice.

Casiño said that they held the event to popularize their advocacy on food security and biosafety issues among other legislators as well as employees in congress. He said there is a serious need to look into the government’s programs when it came to attaining food security while keeping tabs on bio-safety that involves public health and has impact on the environmental.

Serious Concerns

In the last decade, progressive farmer organizations led by KMP and scientist groups have been campaigning against the commercialization of GMOs — hybrid rice, BB Rice, Bt Corn, hybrid papaya and other genetically altered produce because of serious health and environment concerns.

In September last year, Bayan Muna launched what it called an all-out war against the Bt eggplant, a genetically engineered eggplant that is allegedly resistant to a local pest, the Fruit and Shoot Borer.

Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) is a toxin-producing germ which, when embedded into the eggplant, makes it resistant to the insect. The Bt eggplant is a GMO designed to produce an insecticide that is present in the whole plant and concentrated in the eggplant itself. Bt eggplant was introduced for field testing in the Philippines by Maharastra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd (Mahyco) in a few areas, but this 2011, it’s being introduced to the commercial market.

Mahyco is affiliated with Monsanto, the same US-based biotech company that introduced Bt corn in the country and is foremost proponent of GMO.

Casiño said the Department of Agriculture should not have allowed Bt eggplant field trials in different sites across the country in the drive to commercialize it this year. Through the DA, the Bureau of Plant Industry has been given the go signal to conduct Bt eggplant field trials in Sta. Maria, Pangasinan; Bae, Laguna; Pili, Camarines Sur; Baybay, Leyte; Sta. Barbara, Iloilo; UP Mindanao, Davao City; and Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Casino said that it was good that residents and local governments were putting up a fight against the field trials. “We support the LGUs of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo and Davao City in their opposition to the ongoing field test trials in their area. They are all against the planting of Bt Eggplant in their areas,” he said.

Casiño has already filed House Resolution 237 which directs the Committee on Agriculture and Food to investigate the current field trials as it violates the laws on organic farming as well as regulations on environmental safety.

An anti-Monsanto crop circle in Mindanao. The bio-tech company has been accused of propagating GMOs and of using force and intimidation to corner its market. (Photo by Melvyn Calderon / Greenpeace)

“It is high time that Congress look into this issue to come up with better government policies on bio-safety that will help us attain long-term safe and sustainable food for the people,” Casiño said.

Organic agriculture versus GMOs

Organic farming is said to help condition and enrich soil fertility, increase farm productivity, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, prevent the depletion of natural resources, further protect the health of farmers, consumers and the general public, and save on imported farm inputs.

A specific section of the law, Section 3(b), defines organic agriculture as including all agricultural systems that promote the ecologically sound, socially acceptable, economically viable and technically feasible production of food and fibers.

While it also includes the use of biotechnology and other agricultural practices, it was explicitly stated t that biotechnology does not include GMOs.

According to research of anti-GMO groups, Bt genes could cause cancer and tumors once ingested into the human body.

The group Masipag said there should be an immediate stop to the field trials as these may pose irreversible damage to the surrounding native crops and potential health hazards to the communities.

“Even now we have yet to receive reports if the said crop would be safe to eat and would offer no harmful effects to the environment. If there are no safety data, it is imperative that the field tests be stopped to protect the surrounding communities from the potential hazards of GMOs, Bt eggplant in particular,” it said.

Unfortunately, as a counter-effort to the proliferation of GMOs, organic farming has yet to fully take off in the Philippines. Advocates find it ironic because prior to the arrival of foreign transnational and multinational corporations (TNCs and MNCs) during the American occupation in the 1940s, agriculture in the Philippines was purely organic.

Workers prepare to uproot Bt eggplant at the University of the Philippines-Mindanao after Davao City mayor Sara Duterte stopped the field tests. (Photo from upmin.edu.ph)

“Philippine agriculture is heavily dependent on these TNCs and MNC, and many of them are pesticide manufacturers,” said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano. He added that the effects of pesticide use on the environment also had tremendous impact on the small farmers.

“Before the widespread application of agrochemicals, their rice farms also provided them with fish, snails and other viands for free. It’s the TNCs in agriculture and the full support the government gives them that makes it very hard for farmers to return to organic farming.”

According to Mariano, nine out of 13 big pesticide companies in the country are foreign firms, including Monsanto, Dow, Novartis, Aventis and Bayer. They control 85 percent of the market. Even the few Filipino pesticide companies have to import almost all materials.

Organic farming against climate change

Organic farming does not use any synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. This does not put pressure on the soil and the environment at large. The process makes extensive use of natural fertilizers like manure and bio-fertilizers composed of helpful microorganisms which are capable of providing nutrients to the plants.

In the meantime, proponents and consumers of organic food testify that organic food is tastier and more nutritious than conventional food. They cite various experiments that have reportedly confirmed that organic foods have more amounts of vitamin C and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron than their conventional counterparts. Organic foods are also rich in phenolic compounds and other antioxidants which play a protective role in heart diseases and cancers.

“So not only eating is planting organic food good for the environment, it’s also good for you,” said Casiño.

Finally, the festival organizers said that the call to switch to organic farming has become more urgent in the face of climate change as the Philippines is considered a vulnerable spot for the phenomenon’s effects, which include massive flooding, sea-level rise and drought.

Experts from Masipag and TNC Resist said that organic agriculture production systems are less prone to extreme weather conditions. It increases the soil’s organic matter content and improves water holding capacity and makes crops more resistant to drought.

Organic farming also contributes to the fight against climate change as it reduces carbon emissions from farming system inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, methane, CO2, and CO emissions in lowland rice paddies because of effective water management. (http://bulatlat.com)

In Isabela, Soldiers Pretend to Be Guerrillas; in Davao, They Don’t Even Try

January 29, 2011

Residents of Jones, Isabela, told a fact-finding mission that the soldiers would present themselves as New People’s Army guerrillas and try to extract information from them. Human-rights advocates called it harassment and that it illustrates the extent the Philippine military has gone to try to suppress the 42-year-old communist movement.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

Sidebar: In Davao, ‘New’ Military Tact Vs. NPA Terrorizes Residents

JONES, Isabela – What gave the men away was their behavior. “They looked intimidating and asked questions arrogantly,” said Marjun Dacuso, a 29-year-old resident of sitio Dibulod in this town in the northern Philippines.

The men, around 20 of them, came to the house of Marjun’s brother Marvin on January 7. They disguised themselves as members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), wearing camisa de chino, the poor man’s shirt, and parachute pants, supposedly a favorite pants of guerrillas. Some wore combat boots and were carrying firearms.

“But we had a feeling that they were soldiers because of their approach,” Marjun said.

Jones resident Marjun Dacuso: “They were arrogant.” (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)

The incident, which the Dacusos related to members of a recent fact-finding and mercy mission to Isabela, illustrates the extent the Philippine military has gone to try to suppress the 42-year-old communist movement. Human-rights advocates say this visits by soldiers is a form of human-rights violation.

“President Benigno S. Aquino III said his government’s new internal security plan is different. Well, based on what we found during our mission, it is not that different from what happened in the previous administrations. There rights of civilians are still being violated,” said Nardy Sabino, secretary-general of the Promotion of Church People’s Response.

Sabino’s group was among those that organized the fact-finding and mercy mission in Isabela on January 21. Led by the human-rights group Karapatan, Manila-based and organizations from Isabela visited this town to gather data on human-rights violations allegedly committed by members of 77th Infantry Battalion.

Marvin Dacuso says the soldiers destroyed his crops. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)

In the case of the Dacusos, it was pure harassment.

Marjun said his wife, Malou, 30, rushed to him in the morning of January 7 about the men who arrived at his brother’s house. “When I came to the house, two men, who introduced themselves as commanders, approached me. They were convincing me to go first to a hut but I refused. Then they asked me where the anniversary celebration of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was held. I told them I don’t know anything about it,” Marjun told the mission.

The CPP marked its 42nd anniversary on Dec. 26 and held public celebrations in several parts of the country. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.

The two men, according Marjun, kept asking him about the whereabouts of their “comrades” because they would continue the celebration. He stood by his first answer. Then they asked him to guide the men around his house. “They looked around the house, they saw my camouflage hats, and one of them said, ‘You have these? Maybe you’re an NPA?’”

That’s when Marjun confirmed that these men who were representing themselves as rebels were not NPA guerrillas.

“Because I kept telling them that I knew nothing about the anniversary, one of them put aside his firearm and came toward me as if about to hit me. When I sensed it, I immediately distanced myself from him,” Marjun said.

The men stayed for about an hour. They ransacked house. “When I came to my brother’s place, it was already messy. The men cooked rice and took it with them,” he said. Marjun said his wife was so traumatized “she was shaking.”

The soldiers also destroyed the Dacusos’ crops. “It’s okay if they cooked our rice, maybe they were really hungry, but they should not have ruined our place,” Marjun’s brother, Marvin, told the mission.

Residents of Jones, Isabela, complain to members of the fact-finding mission. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)

Other residents, whose identities are withheld for their security reasons, related to the mission and to Bulatlat.com that on Jan. 10, four armed men approached some 12 farmers working in their farm. The men, according to the farmers, asked them if they have seen their “kadua” (comrades). They said they got separated from the others.

The farmers said they saw no one, but the men stayed for an hour just the same. One of the four men even took a video of the four farmers. Later, the farmers saw the same men with a group of about 30 soldiers in their uniforms.

Fernando Dumalawon, another resident, also narrated that his son Rene, 24, and his companion Ronald Agustin, 22, were slapped by men who introduced themselves as members of NPA on Jan. 6.

Fernando said a neighbor told him that he witnessed how armed men hurt Rene and Ronald. The neighbor “said the two were being forced to tell the men where the camp of the NPA was. But since they did not know, they were slapped.”

Rene and Ronald were formers rebels and immediately left their place after the incident and have not gone back since, according to Fernando.

Part of the mission was a discussion on human rights. (Photo by Anne Marxze D. Umil / bulatlat.com)

The PCPR’s Sabino said most of the residents that they interviewed were all scared to talk about the militarization in their area. Some said that while soldiers are not seen in the morning, they know that they roam at night because the dogs would bark. Out of fear, many of the residents moved to other villages.

Marvin Dacuso also said members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) accompanied these soldiers. “Some of the Cafgus were from the Visayas who are now living in sitio Dima, barangay Minori,” Dacuso said.

As part of the mission, the participants held discussions with residents about basic human rights. The mission also provided relief goods and schools supplies to the residents. A medical mission was also held, benefiting some 300 residents. (http://bulatlat.com)

State, Weak Justice System Blamed for Impunity in Killings of Journalists, Activists

November 29, 2010

“We stand not at a crossroad, but at a precipice.” — Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno

By BENJIE OLIVEROS
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Impunity, according to human-rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno is the “dark side of accountability.” It is, he said, a thousand guns aimed at perceived enemies of the state.

Impunity, said Frank La Rue, a Guatemalan academician and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, is a state policy. La Rue cited as reasons for the prevalence of impunity: a weak state, state negligence, or a conscious policy of the state. By not investigating a case, the state gives the message that it could be repeated over and over again. Thus, said La Rue, impunity multiplies geometrically.

To end the culture of impunity in the country is the call of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Mindanao as they spearheaded a protest rally and liturgy together with the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines and other progressive groups gathered around Rizal Park, Davao City a day before the 1st anniversary at of the Ampatuan Massacre that killed 58 individuals. (Photos by Jose Hernani / bulatlat.com)

To stress his point on impunity, Eric Mallonga of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law and the UP Law Center Institute of Human Rights, cited the massive violations committed during the implementation of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Lambat Bitag during the administrations of Cory Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos and how this “total war” policy of the Philippine government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is being implemented up to now.

Malloga said there is no clear policy statement that this “total approach” to counterinsurgency is no longer being implemented. “Low intensity conflict intensifies,” he said. Low intensity conflict refers to the counterinsurgency strategy developed by the US Armed Forces, which is still the framework of counterinsurgency operations being implemented up to the present, especially by countries that are allies of the US and hosts of its troops, such as the Philippines.

This was how impunity was defined and dissected in a forum with the title “Journalism Asia Forum 2010: Media and the Culture of Impunity,” which was held at the Manila Hotel last November 23 and was sponsored by the Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA). The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism are the Philippine members of SEAPA. Representatives from Indonesia Ms. Bina Bektai of Tempo, a Jakarta based news magazine, and Thailand Mr. Anucha Charoenpoh, a senior reporter of the Bangkok Post shared their experiences with impunity in their own countries. The forum was also participated in by SEAPA delegates from the different Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, among others.

While the forum was meant to discuss the problem of impunity in the killings of journalists — especially on the day which marked the first year anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre that claimed the lives of 58 people, inlcuding 32 journalists — and the legal remedies available in the pursuit of justice, it could not help but touch on the whole question of justice, or the lack of it, in the country up to the present.

To end impunity in the country, Diokno, Mallonga, and La Rue were one in saying that there is a need to pursue justice and strengthen the justice system in the country.

In the massacre site, progressive groups join the families of the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre in commemorating the 1st anniversary as they call to end impunity, to seek justice for all of the victims of human rights violations in the country and to trial former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the primary violetator. (Photo by Jose Hernani / bulatlat.com)

Diokno pointed to the excruciatingly slow grind of justice in the country as the reason behind the dismal record of convictions of those responsible for the killings and the need to amend the rules of court through legislation or by an act of the Supreme Court. Specifically, Diokno said, the courts should allow the “perpetuation of testimony” so that witnesses could have their testimonies recorded immediately to be able to move on with their lives. According to Diokno, a case that normally takes two to three years creates a tremendous amount of pressure on the witness who has to endure being under confinement for his or her protection while the accused roams freely. What happens is that witnesses decide to get out of the program and are either killed or intimidated. He also pushed for the strengthening of the Witness Protection Program (WPP). Not like in the US, Diokno said, the Witness Protection Program in the Philippines does not provide for the relocation of witnesses and their families. After the case, the witness is practically left on his or her own. Mallonga added that not only are there very few convictions, those convicted are only the truggermen and not the masteminds. He also batted for the plugging of loopholes in current laws and available remedies.

La Rue said the formation of an international body such as the Comision Internacional Contra Impunidad en Guatemala that would investigate the killings of journalists and activists could contribute a lot in pursuing justice for the victims and strengthening the state and its justice system toward ending impunity. However, he said, it would require a lot of humility on the part of the government and the president to admit that the justice system is weak and that it needs outside assistance. Also the government needs to formally request for a partnership with the United Nations and to solicit the support of a group of funders.

Meanwhile, La Rue said, to push press freedom forward, there is a need to decriminalize the freedom of expression, referring to laws that constrict it such as laws on libel and censorship.

On the other hand, journalists should professionalize and be accountable to the public, not to the state because that would constitute censorship, said La Rue. Journalists should also be wary of media conglomerates, which control what and how news would be broadcasted and published.

In any case, La Rue stressed, violence against journalists must end, citing reports that the Philippines ranks first in the list of countries with the most number of cases of violence against journalists. Joining the Philippines in the top five are Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico. Somalia is under a violent civil war; Iraq and Afghanistan are being occupied by the US, which has been encountering stiff resistance from local armed groups; in Mexico the drug war has turned increasingly violent.

The speakers called on journalists, organized groups and the general public to continue the fight against impunity. “We stand not a crossroad but at a precipice,” Diokno concluded. (Bulatlat.com)

Justice Secretary, Journalists Agree that Ampatuan Massacre Trial Crucial in Addressing Impunity

November 29, 2010

“The case of the Ampatuan massacre is not just a matter of prosecuting individuals. It also requires the neutralization of the whole machinery of violence and brutality that is fueled by power, political influence and wealth.” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – “When the powerful and the wealthy kill journalists, there has been a pattern in which they could get away with it,” said Luis Teodoro, deputy executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). In his speech before the delegates of the seventh Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), he called on the Aquino government to address the problem of killings of journalists.

Since 1986, NUJP said, 141 journalists have been killed. One hundred seven were killed under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government and one under the new administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“Impunity continues because of the weaknesses of the justice system,” said Teodoro who is also a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications (UP-CMC). Only four cases have been more or less resolved, he added.

Teodoro said the justice system cannot operate effectively. “Prosecutors are afraid either because the police and military are in collusion with the perpetrators or the police and military are involved in the killings,” he said, adding that CMFR studies prove this.

Teodoro cited the case of Edgar Damalerio, managing editor of the weekly newspaper Zamboanga Scribe and a commentator on DXKP radio station, who was shot dead on May 13, 2002 in Pagadian City. Police officer Guillermo Wapile is the primary suspect in Damalerio’s murder.

“There is a shortfall in the number of prosecutors. They are overworked, [saddled] with hundreds of cases… There is also a lack of enthusiasm to prosecute killers of journalists,” Teodoro concluded.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in her keynote address to the NUJP Congress, admitted that “prosecutors do not yet have the right mindset when it comes to dealing with killings of journalists.”

De Lima is advocating for prosecutors to get involved in the case build up, as is the practice in the United States. “In the Philippines, the practice is that prosecutors are not involved in the gathering of evidence. But they know which evidence would be admissible in court. So I have been encouraging prosecutors to get involved at the investigation stage. However, prosecutors helping in the case build up would be different from those conducting the preliminary investigation.”

Teodoro said the Aquino government can enhance the witness protection program of the Department of Justice, reform the prosecutorial service by raising the salaries of prosecutors and hiring more prosecutors.

Private Armies

Teodoro also pointed to the reality of warlords and private armies such as in the case of the Ampatuan massacre. “Government security forces have themselves been privatized. It’s a situation encouraged by the central government. Security forces become independent power themselves. It is the police and military who have exclusive monopoly over arms,” he said.

“Disband private armies, CVO and CAFGU. This is do-able on the part of government but the government won’t do it,” Teodoro said.

When asked about the plan of the Aquino administration with regards the numerous calls to disband paramilitary groups, de Lima said Aquino is still studying the matter. She said the military reasoned that they lack manpower for counterinsurgency operations.

“If that is the policy, something like the Ampatuan massacre will occur again,” Teodoro predicted. “Without disbanding private armies, there will be that constant danger.”

Combating Impunity

Teodoro said punishment for the perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre is especially crucial. It would send the message whether these crimes would be tolerated or not.

Justice will be served, de Lima assured the journalists. “We recognize the personal stake each of you has in this trial. After all, aside from the Ampatuans and the others accused, what is on trial here is our whole criminal judicial system.”

De Lima is supportive of the call for live coverage of the Ampatuan massacre trial.

The case of the Ampatuan massacre “is not just a matter of prosecuting individuals,” said de Lima. “It also requires the neutralization of the whole machinery of violence and brutality that is fueled by power, political influence and wealth.” (Bulatlat.com)

Environmental Groups Intensify Opposition to Planned Expansion of Coal-Fired Power Plants

November 29, 2010

A typical coal power plant generates an average of 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide… 500 tons of small airborne particles…720 tons of carbon monoxide… 225 pounds of arsenic… and 114 pounds of lead, four pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium which are all poisonous and carcinogenic.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Coal-fired power plant is the most hazardous energy source in the world but despite its dire effects, the national government plans to construct at least four new coal power plants by 2012 and is targeting to increase the local production of coal by 250 percent by 2015.

According to Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), more coal-fired power plants will be constructed in the provinces of Isabela, Zambales, Negros Oriental and Occidental, Davao City, Saranggani, General Santos, and Sultan Kudarat.

There are already nine existing coal-fired power plants in the Philippines which are operating in Sual, Pangasinan; Masinloc, Zambales; Mauban and Pagbilao, Quezon; Toledo City and Naga, Cebu; La Paz, Iloilo, and Semirara, Antique and Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. By December of this year, Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) will start to operate in Iloilo, while Korean Electric Power Co. (Kepco) in Naga, Cebu was also set to operate next year.

“The hazards of coal fired power plants is well discussed in numerous international studies, but here in the Philippines, there seem to be a deliberate attempt by the government to ignore these health and environmental impacts as well as the pleas of the communities against coal fired power projects,” said Meggie Nolasco, public information officer of Kalikasan-PNE.

After his US trip last September, Aquino boasted of bringing home $3.7 billion in investments. Part of this potential investments would be coming from Marubeni Corp, which plans to rehabilitate and expand the 1,200-megawatt (MW) Sual and 735-MW Pagbilao coal-fired power facilities in Luzon.

Dirty

How dirty could the coal-fired power plant be?

A typical coal power plant generates an average of 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide which causes acid rain; 500 tons of small airborne particles which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death and lung diseases; 720 tons of carbon monoxide which causes headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease; 225 pounds of arsenic which is carcinogenic; and 114 pounds of lead, four pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium which are all poisonous and carcinogenic.

Coal-fired power plants produce electricity through coal. The coal, a sedimentary rock is the main material in producing energy. It is burned to produce heat; this heat coming from the burning coal is used to generate steam that is used to spin one or more turbines to generate electricity. Coal is composed of carbon along with variable quantities of other elements, sulfur, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

However, the generation of harmful byproducts in coal burning depends on the efficiency of the process. Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of Agham said if the coal is made of pure carbon, its byproduct is carbon dioxide. But the country’s coal is not high grade; it is not pure carbon. “Not all coal available here in our country are pure, there are other materials contained in the coal and some of these are even radioactive.”

In an interview with Bulatlat, Tapang explained that if the coal is not burned efficiently, the radioactive materials contained by coal would be emitted through the ashes coming from the burned coal. This would definitely affect the community surrounding the coal-fired power plant. “We oppose this because it does not only contribute to climate change but also has vast effects on the community and the people.”

Companies running coal-fired power plants claim that there are new technologies to ensure that people’s lives and the environment would not be at risk, said Tapang. “According to them there are ways to ensure the efficiency of coal burning like liquefying the coal (grind it into fine powder and mix it with other materials). But still, if the burning process is not efficient the plant would still emit substances in the atmosphere. And there would still be liquid wastes that have to be disposed somewhere and would have effects on the community.”

Impact on Health

On Oct. 14, PEDC had a second test run of its 164 megawatt coal power plant in Barangay Ingore La Paz, Iloilo. According to the local urban poor organization Kadamay, the residents complained of ground tremors, loud noise and foul fumes. During the test run, the communities were covered by smog. Kadamay added at least eight children from the affected village, aged eight months to 14 years old, were hospitalized after inhaling fumes from the plant and exhibiting symptoms of sickness, such as headaches, dizziness and nausea.

A medical mission conducted in Naga, Cebu in December last year by the group of Dr. Romeo Quijano, a professor at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in University of the Philippines(UP) -College of Medicine, proved that coal-fired power plants greatly affects people’s health. The Salcon Power Corp. (SPC)-Kepco operates in Naga.

According to a news report, people who accidentally inhaled coal ash from the operating coal-fired power plant affects their upper respiratory system. In Barangay Poblacion, Naga, 34 of 97 patients have upper respiratory infections. Some of the diseases acquired by the people within the community of Naga are hypertension, urinary tract infection, Musculosketal disorder that affects the body’s muscles, joints, tendons ligament and nerves, Koch’s pulmonary or tuberculosis and other lung-related diseases like pneumonia and acute bronchitis, arthritis, errors of refraction, malnutrition and postural hypertension among others.

Nolasco said increasing the number of coal-fired power plants in the country is misguided and downright disastrous.

Contradiction in Prevention of Climate Change

The Philippines participates in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), an international treaty that sets general goals and rules for confronting climate change.

According to Kaliksan-PNE, coal is identified as the single major source of carbon emission and air pollution in the world. “Coal accounts for one third of the emissions of global greenhouse gases, the primary cause of climate change and global warming. The power industry consumes most of the coal produced and coal-fired power plants, the main technology used to convert coal to electricity, is known as one of the dirtiest power generation technologies.”

“This contradicts our country’s commitment to prepare people to adapt to the effects of climate change and to protect people’s health,” Nolasco told Bulatlat.

Moratoruim on Coal-Fired Power Plants

On Nov. 24, Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Anakpawis Act Teacher’s Partylist and Kabataan have filed a house resolution calling for the immediate moratorium on the construction and/or expansion of all coal-fired power plant projects in the country until 2050.

The organizations under the Network Opposed to Coal Power Plants (No to Coal Power Plants) supported the resolution.

Nolasco, also the spokesperson of No to Coal Power Plants said the resolution “is in response to the Aquino administration’s push for two new coal power plants in Iloilo City and Cebu province to operate early next year and its commitment to foreign and local energy companies to construct four coal power plants in the country.”

However, the group clarified that they are not calling for the closure of existing coal power plants in the country. The moratorium until 2050 only goes with the deadline set by the UNFCC to stabilize global carbon emission, climate change, and global warming. The group also said that by 2050 there would be a 52 percent increase of greenhouse gas emissions if the trend in carbon emissions continues. This would result in a rise of global temperature by 1.7 – 2.4 degrees centigrade.

“Imposing a coal moratorium in the country is a big contribution to combating global warming. More so, avoiding the use of coal for power will alleviate our dependency to imported fossil fuels and dirty power technologies. Given the right policies and programs on energy, the government can definitely provide a cheap, stable and clean power supply to the Filipino people, without sacrificing the welfare of our communities and environment,” Nolasco said.

Privatization of Electric Power Industry

Tapang said there are other alternatives for generating power and the Philippines has one of the highest potential in the world in terms of geothermal resources. Added to this, Tapang said, the country’s solar and wind power potentials are more than enough to replace existing power generation.

Other indigenous renewable energy sources are biomass and water. Tapang said these industries needed only to be tapped and developed.

“It is the responsibility of the government to build the power plants and generate, transmit and distribute the electricity in the country. However, the government privatized the National Power Corporation (NPC) and let private companies to develop the electric power industry,” Tapang explained, citing the Electric Power Industry Act of 2001 (Epira). “The problem is these private companies will not build plants if they will not gain profits,” said Tapang.

“The government should have developed other energy sources like renewable energy instead of passing an anti-people law like Epira,” Tapang explained. (Bulatlat.com)

Filipino Journalists Face Another Form of Impunity: Violation of Labor Rights

November 29, 2010

In a speech at the seventh Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), labor lawyer Nitz Mahinay said there is impunity not only in the killing of journalists but also in the violation of their rights to self-organization and job security.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Contrary to perceptions that journalists enjoy glitz and glamour, journalists and media workers suffer the same job insecurity and appalling conditions no different from other Filipino workers.

In a speech at the seventh Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), labor lawyer Nitz Mahinay said there is impunity not only in the killing of journalists but also in the violation of their rights to self-organization and job security.

Mahinay noted that contractualization in the Philippine media industry has become rampant. The use of in-house manpower agencies owned by the principal employer is one of the latest tactics employed against media workers. Such is the case of the ABS-CBN Internal Job Market (IJM) employees. Despite the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) decision in favor of the workers, the ABS-CBN management did not reinstate the dismissed workers and even continues to retrench them.

Delegates of the NUJP Congress spoke of various work arrangements that violate labor rights such as volunteer reporters, talent and technical staff, correspondents, among others. Some owners of media agencies also deny the existence of an employer-employee relationship.

Journalists suffer from scandalously low remuneration with some being paid per story, per commission, or with very low wages. Benefits such as insurance and hazard pay are rare, if given at all. Journalists are hardly protected from the risks of the job with no protective clothing or insurance.

Mahinay said the Supreme Court and the DOLE are ‘not consistently upholding the law.’

Propose Actions

The Congress adopted a resolution addressing this concern. The NUJP resolved to:

1. ensure the installation of a data base system that would provide the necessary information about the different working conditions of journalists in the different media, regions, and provinces to enable the union to plot out strategies and tactics to promote the rights and welfare of NUJP members,

2. study and make recommendations regarding the most effective and workable form of organization that would promote the rights and welfare of NUJP’s members, in particular, and journalists, in general such as, but not limited to, an industry union, federation, alliance, etc

3. promote education on unionism among NUJP chapters and members through the publication of a primer, the conduct of seminars on unionism and labor rights, among others

4. assist chapters and members in organizing a union and addressing their rights and welfare concerns

5. study and recommend laws, amendments to laws, policies and procedures that shall advance the rights and welfare of journalists

“We should go to the basic of organizing ourselves,” Mahinay told journalists. (Bulatlat.com)

ABS-CBN Defends Firing of 41 Workers (So Far)

July 19, 2010

The network said it is “not dismissing or retrenching employees.” Instead, it describes the dismissals as an “ongoing process.”

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Since the employees of the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN’s internal job market (IJM) decided to form a union in March 2009, they thought that as employees of the giant network that calls everybody a “kapamilya” (family member), they would also be treated as such. But so far they have met only disappointment and “dirty tactics” as ABS-CBN belied the message of its own station ID in the course of denying them recognition and crushing the union.

One of the issues the union has been fighting for is regularization on the job. The thousand-strong IJM pool, composed mainly of seemingly “permanent contractuals,” comprise about half of the ABS-CBN workforce.

Now, as the profitable network engages in a series of regularization schemes that unionists have dubbed as “bogus,” “discriminatory” and the latest offer as “long-term contractualization,” the unionists are bracing themselves and urging the rest of the employees to “stand up for your rights, assert that the IJM employees should have been regular employees.”

Since June 17, some 41 employees of IJM have been terminated from their job or denied work schedules and access to the network’s compound over the issue of regularization and union-building.

But in a statement emailed to the media, Bong Osorio, head of corporate communication of ABS-CBN, said they are “not dismissing or retrenching employees.” Instead, Osorio describes what is happening as an “ongoing process” that is “not a mass termination or dismissal.”

Osorio explained that they “want to move on with the employees that want to work with us and help make us bigger and better.” He is referring to the selected employees in the thousand-plus IJM pool whom they recently offered with, and accepted, either long-term or program contracts.

This, however, constitutes “constructive dismissal,” said IJM unionists, because the “regularization package” is loaded with conditionalities that few self-respecting employee or unionist could swallow. For instance, wage reduction for the same job.

A Case of Contractualization

ABS-CBN is a leading media network in the Philippines with consistently rising profitability. Today it expects a “blockbuster” 2010 with net income likely doubling to P3.4 billion ($74,090,215), up from its earlier projection of P2 billion ($43,582,479), from P1.7 billion ($37,045,107) in 2009, which for its part represents a 23 percent increase from its net income in 2008 of P1.4 billion ($30,507,735).

ABS-CBN is owned by the Lopezes, one of the wealthiest Filipino families who supported President Benigno Aquino III’s campaign. It is also a family known for having recovered its wealth and stature through the help of the first Aquino administration. This network prides itself of its strong advocacies and public service.

But the network is apparently engaged in crushing the union of its IJM workers and continuing its drive to hire permanent contractual employees.

In a language that affirms what its workers have been complaining about before the Department of Labor and Employment, Osorio said: “The individuals in the IJM were engaged to render service under non-regular positions, which means they could freely work in two or more capacities within the network, and even outside ABS-CBN that will have a need for their talents and skills.”

But why are positions in IJM non-regular? The said IJM workers, according to its union, have been working with ABS-CBN for years already. “We should have been regularized long ago,” said Alain Cadag, vice-president of IJM workers’ union. “One year of continued service to the company is enough for us to be considered regular employees according to the Labor Code, and we are working for this company from 5-22 years already!”

The union also argues that there is really no “new regular positions” being created, because the ABS-CBN is offering it to existing IJM employees. “If they are really granting regular status to some IJM employees, then it follows they knew that the IJM is performing work that are necessary and desirable to the company,” the union said in a statement, adding that it is again another basis for regularizing all of the longtime employees with the IJM.

What and who is the IJM? Based on Osorio’s statement, the IJM is “a database of accredited technical or creative individuals” engaged to render service under non-regular positions. It is a “pool” from where ABS-CBN is now hiring for “limited regular posts.”

Before the labor department the ABS-CBN said it is the IJM that employs the individuals in IJM workers’ union, not ABS-CBN itself. This argument led to the non-recognition of the IJM workers’ union. But then Osorio said in his statement that the IJM “is not a labor agency of ABS-CBN.”

“Whether you call it as database or workpool, IJM is ABS-CBN. Who owns IJM? Who owns ABS-CBN? They are one and the same. We should not have been contractuals, we should have been regulars here,” said Cadag of the IJM Workers Union.

The union slammed the “improved packages” Osorio said they were offering with their “new regular positions.”

In a statement, the IJM workers’ union explained that they “refused their offers because (1) there is a waiver of pending cases against ABS-CBN; (2) the salary offered is (only) 50% of what we’re earning as IJM; (3) years of tenure are waived; and (4) it is a move to bust the union.”

Osorio said they are not union-busting but the union said the ABS-CBN management’s supposed regularization offers are calculated “to lessen our members to eventually bust the union.”

“ABS-CBN is moving in step with the ever evolving multi-media industry landscape, and we are treating this issue driven by the company values of fairness, honesty and transparency,” Osorio underscored in his statement.

The union said it hopes the management truly meant that. (Bulatlat.com)

Pascual Guevarra and the Struggle for Land

July 19, 2010

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — The death of 78-year-old farmer Pascual Guevarra is not a result of a personal feud but of a long struggle for land.

Guevarra was shot dead inside his house by a lone gunman in barangay San Isidro, Laur, Nueva Ecija, around 4:30 p.m., July 9. The killer whisked away with a male companion on board a black motorcycle without a license plate. They headed north.

Guevarra was preparing the evening meal at the kitchen located at the back of the house when a man in his mid to late 30s, fair skinned, 5’5” in height, medium built, wearing a light blue shirt, denim pants and a hat quickly walked towards him and pulled a handgun tucked in his waist.

A photo of Pascual Guevarra (Photo courtesy of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas / bulatlat.com)

The shots were heard by Ronnel Villoria, the victim’s grandson who was tying their carabao in the yard. He immediately rushed inside the house and saw the assailant standing over his wounded grandfather. Ronnel grabbed the assailant from behind and tried to wrest away the gun. He continued to struggle with the gunman until the latter broke free and shot Ronnel in the shoulder. The gunman hurriedly ran outside.

Guevarra’s daughter Lilibeth, who also witnessed the shooting, brought his father to a hospital in the nearby town of Bongabon but he was pronounced dead on arrival. Lilibeth’s four-year-old son Jebhet Prince also saw how his grandfather was killed.

In an interview with Bulatlat, Lita Mariano, spokesperson of Amihan, said that Guevarra was under surveillance for almost one month.

Amihan is an organization of peasant women and a member of the fact-finding team organized by the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), an affiliate of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

Mariano said that Guevarra’s relatives said that two men frequented their house, one pretended to be a buyer of used-bottles and the other an icedrop vendor. Both men, whose faces were always covered, stopped going to their place a week before the shooting.

Lilbeth also noticed, on two occasions, a black Hyundai Starex van with red license plate (government owned) passed slowly by their house. She first noticed it at 4:00 p.m. the day before the shooting. The same vehicle went back in the morning of the shooting while they were conducting a bible study.

On July 5, while Guevarra and other farmers were at the Department of Agriculture Region 3 office, Byrone dela Cruz of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) District 3 of Nueva Ecija went to see him at his house. He found Lilibeth instead who told him where her father was. Dela Cruz left a message for Tatay Pascual that the farmers affected by the DPWH projects would now be paid. He also told Lilibeth that he was coming back on Friday, July 9 and specifically told Lilibeth to tell her father not to leave the house on the said date. He also asked where Lilibeth’s husband was and took both of their mobile phone numbers, then left. Dela Cruz never came back on the day he said he would.

Not a Mere Land Dispute

Site where Tatay Pascual Guevarra was brutally murdered while preparing to cook for dinner.(Photo courtesy of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas / bulatlat.com)

In its spot report, the local police of Laur said that the motive behind the killing is a mere land dispute. The police, however, did not identify any suspect.

Lilibeth told the fact-finding team that the family strongly believes that the military, particularly the 7th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army, was behind the killing.

Mariano said Guevarra had always been at the forefront of the struggle for the 3,100 hectare land located inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR), home of the 7th ID.

“It is clear that Tatay Pascual’s death is not due to a personal feud,” Mariano said, reacting to President Benigno S. Aquino III’s recent statement that the recent cases of extrajudicial killings are due to personal grudges. “It is the struggle for land,” she said.

In another interview, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Mariano who also joined the fact-finding team, said there is an Army detachment one kilometer away from the place of the incident and the perpetrators sped away toward that direction. “The killers were not at all afraid to be apprehended,” he said.

Historical and Political Context

In 1956, President Ramon Magsaysay issued Presidential Proclamation Order No. 237 declaring the 73,000 hectares of land in Nueva Ecija as a military reservation. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) uses 15,000 hectares of the 73,000 hectares as a camp and training ground.

By 1991, the Corazon Aquino administration allotted 3,100 hectares of FMMR to peasants displaced by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption through a Transfer of Deed between the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Agrarian Reform. By virtue of this Deed of Transfer, over a thousand peasants and other residents were awarded Certificate of Land Ownership Awards or CLOAs.

But on 24 June 2008, the newly-appointed commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division, Brigadier Gen. Ralph Villanueva, wrote to Mr. Orlando Tumacay, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (Paro) of Nueva Ecija requesting the latter to revoke the awarded CLOAs and to defer the issuance of new ones pending the litigation of a case filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against the DAR before the Court of Appeals.

The residents in the 3,100 hectares organized themselves and formed Almana to oppose the 7th IDPA’s plan of evicting them from their community. Almana sought the help of the AMGL and conducted a fact-finding mission on 5-6 October 2008. Since then, Almana has actively lobbied and held dialogues with concerned agencies regarding the farmers’ plight. Guevarra was always present in these dialogues with the military and Department of National Defense (DND).

Rep. Mariano said Aquino should act immediately on the case of Guevarra, underscoring that the 1991 deed of transfer was anchored on the executive orders issued by his mother Cory.

Last week, Rep. Mariano filed House Resolution 64 directing the House of Representatives’ committees on human rights and agrarian reform to jointly probe the killing of Guevarra.

“It is imperative that the joint committees on human rights and agrarian reform immediately conduct the inquiry upon its formation. The lives of farmers in Fort Magsaysay are now under threat,” Rep. Mariano said.

According to Tanggol Magsasaka, 561 farmers have been killed since 2001 and 119 of whom are KMP leaders.

“There seems to be no difference [between Arroyo and Aquino],” Amihan’s Mariano said. She said that the recent spate of killings reminded her of the peak in extrajudicial killings in 2006. “That time, within 24 hours, five activists in Central Luzon were gunned down.”

Five activists have already been killed in the first ten days of the Aquino administration. (Bulatlat.com)

International Groups Ask Aquino to Institute Transparent, Participatory Process for Selecting CHR Chair

July 19, 2010

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

The pending appointment of former Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) would violate United Nations’ standards for human rights commissions and may cause the downgrading of status of the country’s rights body.

International bodies are urging the Aquino administration to establish a participatory process in choosing and appointing the next chairperson of the independent Commission on Human Rights. Just as the issues of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations are an international concern, so is the independence of the CHR.

International groups wrote to President Benigno S. Aquino III raising concerns about the appointment of the next CHR chairperson.

“It will be important that the appointment procedures you adopt can be held up as international best practices so that the next CHR Chairperson can start on a firm foundation,” said Rooslyn Noonan, chairperson of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC). The ICC, the worldwide association of rights commissions and ombudsmen, is recognized by the UN as the body that accredits human rights commissions according to their compliance with the standards known as the Paris Principles.

The Paris Principles, also known as the Principles Relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions, were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly through Resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993.

The Paris Principles states:
1. The composition of the national institution and the appointment of its members, whether by means of an election or otherwise, shall be established in accordance with a procedure which affords all necessary guarantees to ensure the pluralist representation of the social forces (of civilian society) involved in the protection and promotion of human rights, particularly by powers which will enable effective cooperation to be established with, or through the presence of, representatives of:
( a ) Non-governmental organizations responsible for human rights and efforts to combat racial discrimination, trade unions, concerned social and professional organizations, for example, associations of lawyers, doctors, journalists and eminent scientists;
( b ) Trends in philosophical or religious thought;
( c ) Universities and qualified experts;
( d ) Parliament;
( e ) Government departments (if these are included, their representatives should participate in the deliberations only in an advisory capacity).

The ICC laid down the following criteria for the selection and appointment process: there should be a transparent process, broad consultation throughout the selection and appointment process, advertising vacancies broadly, maximizing the number of potential candidates from a wide range of societal groups and selecting members to serve in their individual capacity rather than on behalf of the organization they represent.

In another letter, the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF), said that the failure to undertake such a process may be seen as breaching the Paris Principles and may lead to a review of the accreditation status of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines.

In a separate letter, the international NGO, Civicus, wrote to Aquino: “We ask that you guarantee the independence of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines in line with the United Nations’ Principles Relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions.”

“The front-runner candidate should not have a problem with an open selection process, with her credentials and long advocacy. In fact, with this process, critics of candidates will have to make their negative statements in public, with some proof, instead of unsubstantiated comments to the press,” CHR Commissioner Cecilia R.V. Quisumbing said.

Losing the A-status

According to Quisumbing, the CHR has already been warned by the international accreditation body in its past review that the process of selecting its members does not meet the Paris Principles.

“It would be a shame to lose our A-status during the Aquino Administration, just when we’re all optimistic about a rights-focused government,” Quisumbing said.

An A-status means that the institution meets all the criteria set out in Paris Principles. It gives the CHR the right to make statements at the Human Rights Council, to make reports and statements to U.N. Committees that monitor compliance with each human rights convention, among others.

The rating of commissions and institutions for human rights are determined by the ICC.

Clear Bias

Former Bayan Muna representative and Makabayan president Satur Ocampo said Rosales is closely identified with Aquino. He said that Rosales’s Akbayan party played a role in Aquino’s campaign during the elections and was even part of the Liberal Party.

“Impartiality is the key in selecting the next CHR chair,” Ocampo said in a press conference, July 15.

Bayan Muna Rep, Teddy Casino said Rosales will not be an effective chair of the CHR. “She has been involved in many conflicts within the human rights community,” Casino said.

As then chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights, Rosales showed clear ideological bias against members of the mainstream Left. “The primary victims of extrajudicial killings are from the mainstream Left, how would Etta handle this?” Casino said.

Karapatan, the premier human rights group in the country, has opposed Rosales’s appointment. “Ms. Rosales will not be objective in handling human rights violations cases,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan secretary general, said, “and will not have sympathy for victims of human rights violations and their relatives. Her dismal performance as Chairperson of the Committee for Human Rights at the House of Representatives was marked with prejudice against victims affiliated with our groups and network. It will taint, if not diminish, the independence of the Commission.” (Bulatlat.com)

Prioritize Disaster Preparedness, Aquino Urged

July 19, 2010

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – . When typhoon Basyang (international name: Conson) hit Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces last Tuesday night, killing 26, people living in disaster prone areas traumatized by typhoon Ondoy last September 2009 were on their feet getting ready for another catastrophe. But Basyang had more wind than rain and left hundreds of families homeless and rendered Luzon without electricity.

The horror of Ondoy still haunts people. Government, on the other hand, only reacts when disaster strikes. Thus, the Citizen’s Disaster Response Center (CDRC) challenged President Benigno S. Aquino III to prioritize disaster preparedness to prevent what happened last September 2009.

“Let’s not wait for the next disaster to hit the Philippines before we reinforce our systems,” said Lourdes Louella Escandor, CDRC executive director, in a statement, adding that early preparation is the best solution to natural calamities.

According to CDRC, the Philippines topped the list of countries most frequently hit by natural disasters, as revealed by the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) being maintained by the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
CRED also ranked the Philippines second to China in the top ten list of countries most affected by natural disasters in 2009 with 13.6 million people affected.

Poor: Vulnerable to Disaster

Giovanni Tapang of Agham said the vulnerability of the country to disasters is not just a function of the hazards that are present in the country because earthquakes, typhoons, flooding are “part and parcel of our geographical (and geological) location.” It is aggravated by poverty, lack of preparedness and proper disaster response, said Tapang.

It is not only typhoon Ondoy that wreaked havoc to the country as it has always been battered by at least 20 typhoons every year. Typhoon Uring in 1991 was recorded as the most deadly typhoon in the Philippines that killed around 6,000 people. Typhoon Pepeng in November 2009 was the most destructive with P27.3 billion (USD 608 million) worth of properties lost. In the face of these tragic losses, what does the government do to prevent deaths and loss of shelter and livelihood in the future?

Suyin Jamoralin, advocacy officer of CDRC, said that in reality, poor families are the most affected by the calamity. “That’s why we in CDRC define disaster as a result of a hazard that hit vulnerable communities that have no capability to overcome its destructive effects.

Jamoralin said the Philippine government relies on a knee-jerk response to disasters. “They still would not invest on disaster preparedness activities, rehabilitation and mitigation. Their prevailing framework for disaster management is still within the traditional approach, which is focused on emergency relief measures rather than rehabilitation and mitigation. They only act when disaster happens and it’s often dole-out.” She added that this framework is one-dimensional.

The Presidential Task Force on Climate Change (PTFCC) in 2008 is one of the many government agencies that do not fully work. Its tasks are to “design concrete risk-reduction and mitigation measures and adaptation resources, especially to address short-term vulnerabilities, on sectors and areas where climate change will have the greatest impact.” But still, many lives were lost during typhoon Ondoy.

Tapang said that PTFCC is one-sided, “it only looks at technical solutions like geoengineering, carbon reduction etc. They should also take into account the biggest factor in our vulnerability, which is poverty. It is relatively easier for a family in Forbes Park to recover from floods than a family in a barong-barong (small hut) despite being hit by the same hazard (like floods). The widespread poverty makes us more vulnerable to climate change-induced problems.”

The National Disaster Coordinating Council and Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council also functions only when disasters happen. Tapang added that “they rarely have preparatory practice.” Like what happened with Basyang, Metro Manila was unprepared not only because the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) missed the prediction but because it simply was not ready for any disaster at all (predicted or not). No systems were in place, no clear lines of communications etc. — these lead to problems especially in crisis/disaster events.”

Philippine government also received funds from different funding agencies (http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2009/10/02/where-did-millions-of-aid-for-disaster-relief-go-ibon-wants-to-know/), but still, the government’s disaster response is not effective.

Community-based Disaster Management

CDRC pushes for Community-Based Disaster Management (CBDM). It is a comprehensive approach to disaster management with a development perspective.

Jamoralin said that central to this approach is people’s empowerment. “The people must be involved and participate fully in all aspects of the process to bring about development, including disaster management. They are involved in identifying potential risks and hazards to their communities, in building disaster preparedness committees (DPC) and in draftinf a counter disaster plan such as warning, evacuation plan, securing of resources, organizational arrangements and policies, evacuation drills and training of community leaders and members,” said Jamoralin.

Jamoralin said disaster management should be a holistic approach; it is not separate from people’s development. The CDRC, for example, does not only respond to disasters through relief, it trains communities on disaster preparedness; it has a program for mitigation (tree planting, seed banking, etc.), emergency response (relief delivery, evacuation center management, psychosocial services), and rehabilitation (reconstruction, shelter, livelihood, etc.). “Helping people help themselves” is the slogan they have been carrying for 26 years. It does not only lessen the communities’ vulnerability to disasters but also enables it to get rid of it.

But most of all, the government should address the root cause of disaster “which is people’s vulnerability stemming from social inequality and bad governance, especially anti-people policies. And these will not be solved only through relief delivery because disasters are not only caused by natural calamities, there is the underlying issue of poverty,” Jamoralin pointed.

Challenge to Aquino government

CDRC urged the new administration to fully implement the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 (RA 10121) which was signed into law by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last May 27 before she stepped down from office.

CDRC said that under the new law, the Calamity Fund, renamed as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRM Fund), could now be used for disaster risk reduction or mitigation, prevention and preparedness activities. Before this law was passed, the calamity fund could only be tapped during emergencies. Escandor said the challenge to the new administration is to ensure that this law is fully implemented down to the barangay level.

However, only around P600 million ($12,967,365 at an exchange rate of $1=P46.27) has been left in the calamity fund.

Jamoralin added that the new administration should prioritize disaster risk reduction in the country and to be more pro-active and not reactive. “He should also address the root causes of people’s vulnerability to disasters.” (Bulatlat.com)

Progressive Groups Urge Aquino to Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya and Its Operating Principles

July 19, 2010

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

Human rights groups and UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Philip Alston have long established that the former Arroyo government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya is one of the main reasons for the spike in extrajudicial killings because it did not distinguish between “combatants and non-combatants.” However, President Benigno Aquino III refuses to acknowledge this.

In the past two weeks, five activists have already been killed. Fernando Baldomero, 61, a municipal councilor in Lezo, Aklan and Bayan Muna provincial chairperson, was shot dead in front of his son July 5. Pascual Guevarra, 78, was killed by a lone gunman inside his house in Bgy. San Isidro, Laur, Nueva Ecija. His grandson was also wounded. Three days after, on July 9, public school teachers in Masbate, Mark Francisco, 27 and Edgar Fernandez, 44, were gunned down in separate incidents.

After the elections, the killings never stopped. On May 19, Jim Galez, a member of Bayan Muna in Panabo City in Davao was shot dead. On June 2, union leader Edward Panganiban was killed on his way to work in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. On June 14, Karapatan member Benjamin Bayles was also killed in Himaymalayan City, Negros Occidental. On June 22, human rights lawyer Ernesto Salunat was slain.

Except for the case of Bayles, no perpetrators have been identified and arrested.

Human rights group Karapatan criticized President Benigno S. Aquino III for not issuing a categorical statement to the Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) to put a stop to the extrajudicial killings.

Aquino recently said that “this is not a policy of our administration but in general, we can’t say that this is an abuse because of a state policy in the past.”

“President Aquino said we do not have a policy on extrajudicial killings, we do not tolerate that—that’s plain and simple,” Edwin Lacierda, palace spokesperson, also said.

“By accepting that evaluation [by the military and police], Aquino practically sanctioned the killings,” Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan coalition, said in a press conference Thursday.

“By saying that many of the killings are motivated by personal reasons and not by a state policy of the past, Aquino is effectively turning a blind eye to the gross and systematic human rights abuses started by the Arroyo regime and continuing under his watch. Is Aquino now implying that the killings of hundreds of activists are unrelated and merely coincidental since there was and is no state policy?” Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a separate statement.

Former Gabriela Women’s Rep. and Makabayan vice president Liza Maza said Aquino, without the benefit of any investigation, has already absolved the military of any culpability to the killings.

Counterinsurgency Policy

“It is unthinkable that Aquino is unaware of the military’s policy on extrajudicial killings of activists. The recent killings bore the DNA of Gen. Jovito Palparan’s shock and terror tactics,” Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano said.

Palparan, the favorite general of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has been branded as “The Butcher” for the trail of blood he left behind in areas where he was assigned. Palparan was vocal in maligning leaders and members of people’s organizations and party list groups as “enemies of the state,” a key feature of Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

Mariano noted that the areas where the recent killings occurred, Panay, Central Luzon, and Bicol, are among OBL’s priority areas.

“All these, coupled by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo David’s renewed three-year deadline to end the insurgency are strong indications that Oplan Bantay Laya is still being implemented,” Mariano said. The OBL has 13 priority areas in seven regions.

According to Karapatan, Arroyo’s OBL has taken the lives of 1,205 unarmed individuals, mostly activists and members of progressive people’s organizations, in its bloody campaign to end the insurgency.

“Oplan Bantay Laya is the worst and most brutal of these campaigns as it specifically targets legal organizations and personages resulting to a staggering body count and brazen impunity in nine years of the Arroyo regime and it is still in place,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the human rights group Karapatan, said.

Ocampo said until Aquino orders a stop to the OBL or the operating principles behind the OBL, the killings would continue. Under the OBL, the state bears no distinction between the armed revolutionary groups and leaders and members of people’s organizations and party list groups. Ocampo noted that Aquino did not issue any categorical statement whether to uphold the OBL or not.

“The way he dismisses the issue,” said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in a statement sent through email, “Aquino seems not to have read or comprehend the report prepared by Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston, which clearly points to the military as the perpetrator of the killings in accordance with policies of the ruling state and orders from those in authority.”

Alston, who visited the country in February 2007, identified the counterinsurgency program as the culprit behind the killings. Alston said in his initial report dated April 18, 2008:

“One response has been counter-insurgency operations that result in the extrajudicial execution of leftist activists. In some areas, the leaders of leftist organizations are systematically hunted down by interrogating and torturing those who may know their whereabouts, and they are often killed following a campaign of individual vilification designed to instill fear into the community.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino said Aquino should first acknowledge that there is a state policy. Casino likened Aquino’s statement to the AFP’s theory of personal grudges and so-called “internal purges” within the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Alston also dismissed the AFP’s theory. “The military is in a state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers are implicated. The military’s insistence that the “purge theory” is correct can only be viewed as a cynical attempt to displace responsibility,” he wrote in 2008.

“Now, Aquino himself is also in denial,” said the CPP.
“It is still the same military in denial mode speaking on the current spate of extrajudicial killings going on in the country,” Enriquez said of AFP spokesman Brigadier General Jose Mabanta’s blanket denial of the AFP’s involvement in the recent cases of extrajudicial killings.

Urgent Recommendations

Mariano urged Aquino to implement Alston’s recommendations, including the elimination of extrajudicial executions from counterinsurgency operations. Alston also said: “as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the President must take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations, which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations.”

Makabayan coalition called on Aquino to put a stop to the practice of AFP and PNP of tagging and vilifying legal progressive organizations as communist fronts and state enemies; implement administrative measures and sanctions that will enforce command responsibility and ensure the policy of “no harassment, abduction and killings” of activists; stop political persecution, through the filing of fabricated chargers, against leaders and members of legal progressive parties and organizations and instead focus on prosecuting and arresting masterminds and perpetrators of extrajudicial killings of activists including former Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales and former Major Gen. Jovito Palparan; and, strongly support the passage of proposed laws on command responsibility, enforced disappearances, and Marcos and Arroyo human rights victims compensation bills.

The coalition also said that the Truth Commission should include in its investigation human rights violations committed during the previous administration.

But the CPP noted that Aquino, by absolving the military, “is setting the stage for a coverup of grand proportions”, said the CPP. “The fascist masterminds of these killings, including Gloria Arroyo, her top military and security officials, those now in command, and their US advisers, are being let off the hook.” “Aquino is even now showing how dependent and afraid he is of the military forces under his jurisdiction. He worries that if he would seriously pursue the demand for justice for the victims of gross human rights violations, he will be on a collision course with the AFP. He will thus be incapable of pursuing justice for the more than one thousand victims of extrajudicial killings in the past, and the growing number of victims under his rule,” added the CPP.

In a letter to Aquino dated July 12, Civicus (World Alliance for Citizen Participation), called on Aquino to release the 43 health workers or the Morong 43; to investigate the AFP’s conduct in the arrest, detention, interrogation, and general treatment of the 43 health workers; to end impunity for state authorities who commit human rights violations by bringing those guilty of torture and other abuse to justice according to Philippine and international law, among others.

“CIVICUS urges you to heed the warning signs for a perilous future should the state of Philippines’ human rights continue down its current path,” the group told Aquino. “The Philippine people have demanded an end to the corruption and abuses by electing you as their leader and your promises give hope for a brighter future of human rights protections. CIVICUS encourages you to demonstrate your commitment to rule of law and human rights by bringing justice to victims of human rights violations to their families and showing that the new Philippines is no longer a place for such abuses.”

US Role

“If indeed President Noynoy Aquino says that extrajudicial killing is not a policy of his administration, then he must scrap the OBL and desist from embarking on a counter-insurgency program to supposedly defeat the insurgency, as what his predecessors did, only to end up fueling more fire into the problem they vowed to end. I hope he learns his lessons well and heed our calls for him to disallow the penchant for embarking on counter-insurgency programs that only victimize the poorest sections of the Filipino people who need most the government’s protection and nurturing,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez said it is their bitter experience that once counter-insurgency programs are implemented, violations of human rights occur. “Civilians are the ones who bear the brunt of human rights violations,” she said.

Ocampo said the central issue in the spate of killings is the culture of impunity which started during the Marcos dictatorship and carried over by the succeeding administrations.

Enriquez also noted that the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency programs were directly imposed by the US Government since its aggression in the country in the early 1900’s. “All counterinsurgency programs of all administrations are thus recycled programs meant to silence the people’s resistance to break free from poverty resulting from government policies that benefit not the Filipino people but those of foreign, especially American, interests,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez noted that the OBL is anchored on the ‘war on terror’ by the US Bush government. “Thus, the victims of OBL are now labeled as “terrorists or communist-terrorists” or supposed supporters of such.”

Bayan also assailed the continuing US support for the counter-insurgency policy. “What is even alarming is that the AFP, despite its numerous human rights abuses, continues to receive huge military aid from the US government. This is another reason why the counter-insurgency policy remains unchanged. Not only does it have domestic support, it enjoys support from Washington,” Bayan’s Reyes said.

Recently, the Philippine Army received a $8.9 million grant from the US, under the US Excess Defense Articles Program. The Philippines is one of the biggest recipients of US military aid. (Bulatlat.com)

Groups Slam Possible CHR Appointment of ‘McCarthyist’ Etta Rosales, Who Echoed AFP’s Line on Killings

July 12, 2010

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Various groups have expressed dismay over the reported impending appointment of former Akbayan representative Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

According to reports, Rosales is the choice of President Benigno S. Aquino III but her appointment papers have yet to be released.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the human-rights group Karapatan, said Rosales will not be objective in handling cases of human-rights violations. “Our experience bears out that Ms. Rosales has shown bias against victims of human-rights violations and advocates such as Karapatan,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez, a victim of the abuses during martial law, accused Rosales of creating divisions among the martial-law victims by agreeing to a compromise settlement with the Marcoses and establishing a separate group of victims that would, Enriquez said, choose “monetary settlement over justice for the entire class.”

Dismal Performance

Enriquez also described Rosales’s performance as then chairperson of the Committee for Human Rights at the House of Representatives as “dismal” and marked with “prejudice against victims affiliated with Karapatan and its network.” This, Enriquez said, will taint, if not diminish, the independence of the CHR.

In a separate statement, the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno said Rosales merely sat on hundreds of resolutions seeking investigations into extrajudicial killings since 2001 when she was chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights during the 13th Congress.

Red-baiting US senator Joseph McCarthy and Etta Rosales; Birds of a feather.

Enriquez said Rosales will not be able to earn the trust, confidence and cooperation of the victims and human-rights organizations affiliated with Karapatan.

Sounding like the Military

“Why appoint Akbayan party-list chair emeritus Etta Rosales, who has sounded like military butcher Jovito Palparan in linking legal progressive groups to the Communist movement, to the Commission of Human Rights?” KMU said in a separate statement.

The labor center noted that Rosales has echoed the military’s arguments in dismissing the extrajudicial killings of activists and civilians under the Arroyo regime as mere result of “internal purging” among communist ranks, and that legal progressive organizations are linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

“Appointing her [Rosales] to the commission, which should solve the killings with impartiality, is highly unreasonable, if not insane,” said KMU executive vice-chairman Lito Ustarez.

Ustarez recalled that during the visit of Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings, to the country in 2007 to investigate the human-rights violations under Arroyo, Rosales echoed the military’s line that the killings were part of the “purging” allegedly being undertaken by the CPP.

In 2004, Rosales’s partymates in Akbayan accused the KMU, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), Migrante, among others, “as groups that are associated or working closely with the CPP.”

In January 2007, Rosales and Akbayan party-list released a statement asserting that “Bayan Muna continues to express sympathy toward the NDF.”

In April 2008, Akbayan members also filed murder charges against Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, citing again the so-called “internal purge” within the CPP.

“Such McCarthysist red-baiting is what the military uses to legitimize the black propaganda and brutal killings that it undertakes against members of progressive party-lists and people’s organizations,” Ustarez said.

KMU said it would campaign to block Rosales’s appointment to the CHR. “The Commission on Human Rights right now needs someone who has the resolve to hold the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings liable. Rosales clearly does not have that resolve. What she has is her fervor to link progressives to the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

“If you are going to appoint her, you might as well appoint someone like Norberto Gonzales or Palparan,” youth group Anakbayan told Aquino in a statement, referring to retired general Jovito Palparan.

Gonzales, former chief of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica), has been vocal in maligning partylist groups and people’s organizations as fronts of the CPP. As part of the then Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), Gonzales also led the filing of trumped-up charges against critics of the Arroyo government.

Palparan, on the other hand, has been branded as “The Butcher” due to the trail of blood he left behind in areas where he was assigned. At the congressional hearings on extrajudicial killings, Palparan mouthed the same line as Akbayan.

Political Patronage

Anakbayan national vice-chairperson Anton Dulce said the possible appointment of Rosales is an obvious act of political patronage, exactly the thing President Aquino campaigned against during the elections. Akbayan actively campaigned for Aquino during the elections.

“This is the reward for their being Noynoy’s attack dog against progressives who were, and continue to be, critical of him and his policies,” said Dulce, referring to several statements made by Akbayan leaders and members, including former Akbayan representative Risa Hontiveros, against senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, accusing them of links with the CPP and NPA.

Transparent Process Sought

Anakbayan said there are certainly more qualified candidates than Rosales and her appointment runs counter to efforts to professionalize the CHR, as well as the entire civil service.

“President Aquino must think twice in appointing Ms. Rosales. He must heed the call of the CHR to subject the selection of the CHR chairperson to a transparent selection process in which human-rights organizations truly working on the ground will also be allowed to voice out their choice,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez added that Aquino should better choose someone from the current CHR commissioners.

In another statement, CHR officer in charge Commissioner Cecilia R.V. Quisumbing said that a participatory and transparent selection process is vital to the CHR’s standing in the United Nations and other international bodies.

The CHR, together with various human-rights groups, called on Aquino to establish a process for the selection of the CHR chairman that includes open applications and consultations with stakeholders as required by international standards.

Quisumbing said the CHR has already been warned by the international accreditation body in its past review that the process of selecting its members does not meet with the Principles Relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions, also known as the Paris Principles, which were adopted by the U.N. General Assembly resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993. (Bulatlat.com)

Like Arroyo Like Aquino? Same Cabinet/Government – Same Anti-people Policies

July 12, 2010

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Of all decisions Aquino made in his first week, it is “his cabinet appointments that raised more questions than hope,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance). “The cabinet appointments are a reflection of the policy direction the new administration will take. Some of the appointments don’t give much hope for change.”

“The cabinet that he has formed recycles old faces – former Arroyo officials who will now occupy key positions – with new ones particularly in the justice post basically providing the embellishment of token reform,” said a CENPEG analysis of the new president’s administration.

Except for the new Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, many of the Aquino cabinet appointees are either representatives or members of big businesses and landed elite, or, as Terry Ridon, national chair of League of Filipino Students, described them, they are “recycled” government technocrats that “have long pursued the policy of limiting the role of government in the delivery of social services and access to basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and petroleum products.”

With such people at the helm, “change for the worse” seems to loom over ordinary Filipinos such as the health workers, said Emma Manuel, chair of Alliance of Health Workers, who cited as example the new Health secretary Dr. Enrique Ona.

“We are hoping for change that will move forward, not backward, in terms of providing health for all,” Dr. Geneve Rivera, secretary-general of Health Alliance for Democracy, said in a statement. Dr. Ona was former director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI). His track record there, said Dr Rivera, was marked not just by union-busting but also by pushing heavily for “corporatization of government hospitals and medical tourism, the exact opposite of what the Filipino people urgently need in terms of health care.”

Given Dr. Ona’s ‘expertise’ at running public hospitals like a business for profit, health groups say the message Aquino seems to be saying now is: “If you have money, we have health care for you, if not, sorry for you.”

The new Labor secretary, Rosalinda Baldoz, also caused apprehension to youth groups and labor groups when she issued statements regarding Aquino’s platform on labor and employment, and revealed mere “photocopies from Arroyo’s book.”

A government bureaucrat with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration long criticized by Migrante for virtually selling off the interests of overseas Filipino workers, Baldoz is now “trying to condition the public,” said Anton Dulce of Anakbayan, into “accepting a continuation of Arroyo’s wage-freeze policy.” This, according to Baldoz, is geared toward attaining “competitiveness” and attracting foreign investments.

Baldoz, according to Garry Martinez, chair of Migrante, was “incompetent in addressing labor-related concerns of OFWs during her time in the POEA.” She botched the labor case of Sentosa nurses, for instance, Martinez said. During Baldoz’ term at the POEA, she led in crafting many anti-migrant policies; she likewise failed to resolve numerous cases of unfair labor practices victimizing OFWs.

As threat to rights and welfare of the country’s working people Baldoz and Dr. Ona are not alone in Aquino’s cabinet, unfortunately.

KMU pointed to other representatives of big businesses in Aquino’s cabinet as the group who will likely block, as usual, the labor’s demand for wage adjustments. Worse, these new officials may not also be depended on in bringing down prices, or keeping the lid on price increases of basic commodities and utilities. Some cabinet appointees, said the group Bayan, hailed direct from Big Business such as Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim of the Makati Business Club; Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras who is former president of the Ayala-owned Manila Water, and Transportation and Communication secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus who is former president and chief operating officer of electricity distributor Meralco and also former PLDT executive vice president.

As if the looming price increases and wage freeze are not enough, a more regressive taxation becomes a big possibility too with Cesar Purisima as Finance Secretary. A proponent of the E-VAT in 2005, Purisima may well continue the onerous taxation binge of the Arroyo regime.

“When Mr. Aquino says Purisima’s credentials speak for themselves, we can’t help but be reminded of the expanded Value-Added Tax (e-VAT) he pushed. Will we be treated to more of the same fiscal policies?” Bayan’s Reyes asked now. Purisima, by the way, is also listed as a big contributor to the Aquino campaign.

Another cabinet official recycled from Arroyo’s is Alberto Romulo, who “never resigned from the Arroyo cabinet and has never shown remorse for the blunders he committed,” said Reyes of Bayan. “He (Romulo) should have been sacked after he was rebuked by the Supreme Court when he allowed the transfer of convicted rapist US Marine Daniel Smith from the Makati City Jail to the US embassy. He’s a member of the VFA cheering-squad, an unapologetic Am-boy,” Reyes said, adding that “Romulo’s track record shows he did not uphold the national interests while in the DFA.”

“The US troops’ continuing and permanent presence in Mindanao under the vague provisions of the VFA violates the Philippine Constitution. Why is the Aquino government not raising a howl over this violation of our sovereignty?” Reyes asked.

Romulo retains his foreign affairs portfolio under Aquino. Migrante also has a mouthful to say not only against Romulo’s consistent failure to protect them overseas, but also against his seeming connivance with host countries and in milking OFWs through exorbitant fees. Migrante said better bilateral agreements with the receiving countries could have averted the worst of their members’ hardships worldwide.

Defense/Peace

Hoped-for peace is still on shaky ground during Aquino’s first week, but it seems to teeter more on preserving the terror of Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) as Aquino has all but promised to give the military everything they need, such as more soldiers and police and higher budget for AFP’s modernization. He has not uttered similar assurances to hire more teachers or increase the education budget, said various youth groups.

Peoples’ organizations have been urging Aquino to speak out against OBL and military rights abuses, but in lieu of his silence, his action speaks louder. Aquino has been “briefed” last month by the new US ambassador Harry Thomas on “anti-terrorism,” the same coinage the military uses for “target enemies” of Oplan Bantay Laya.

Ambassador Harry Thomas has made no secret of consolidating the Philippines in the US interest of facing down China as a growing threat. Last year, a paper has outlined the “security needs” of the Philippines to beef up not only its fighting capability against internal threats such as the communists and secessionists but also outside forces like, say, China.

In sync with that today, Aquino has ordered a “review” of AFP’s needs, to better improve its modernization. Also, the Philippine Army recently bragged about the $8.9 million worth of protective equipment it has received as a grant from the US, under the US Excess Defense Articles Program. The grant, according to Army spokesman Maj. Ronald Alcudia, covers 50,000 Kevlar helmets costing $7.52 million and 1,355 armor vests worth $1.43 million.

The AFP under Aquino has extended its self-imposed deadline of three years more to crush the insurgency, prompting fears of more human rights violations.

Aquino has declared openness to peace negotiations but his defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin seems to be taking it back in demanding that the NPAs must lay down its arms first. Former NDF negotiator and Rep. Satur Ocampo said this demand is “guaranteed to close the door to negotiations.” Gazmin is formerly chief of the army and defense attaché in Washington D.C.

The new AFP chief of staff Ricardo David, meanwhile, is a former Northern Luzon Command (NolCom) chief who has had responsibility in the persistent militarization and harassment of farmers in the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. According to KMU, “David’s stint as NolCom chief contrasted with his pronouncements on civilian supremacy. For the longest time, NolCom has kept Luisita highly militarized and dangerous to those vocal against the abusive schemes of the Cojuangco-Aquino family,” KMU’s Lito Ustarez said.

In a nutshell this seems to indicate the style of Aquino administration– mouthing nice statements for change while doing the exact opposite. For instance, “In only its third day, the Aquino regime has already revealed its true stance in regards to the issue of genuine agrarian reform. Instead of addressing farmer grievances, they just forcibly removed the complainants,” Anakbayan national vice-chair Anton Dulce said bitterly in a statement, in the wake of a violent, treacherous dispersal of a peasants’ camp-out at Mendiola.

“This is unacceptable under the new government who claims to push for change, boasts of being democratic and pro-people. The Aquino government is no different from its predecessor Arroyo regime, implementing same-old fascist tactics to trample on our basic rights,” KMP’s Ramos declared after the dispersal and 42 of the peasant protesters had been hauled off to jail.

“If Aquino is this swift in breaking promises and disappointing the peoples’ expectations, it will be no surprise if he ends up more hated than his predecessor,” youth leader Dulce said.

As Usual, Poverty for the Majority, Super-profits for the Few?

Given the way Aquino has peopled his cabinet, and the way he projects his vision for the economy, it looks like “we are headed for a round-trip to the dark times under Arroyo,” Elmer Labog, chair of KMU, said in a statement.

Just who exactly then is Mr. Aquino’s real boss?

Into his first few weeks as president, it is becoming clear whose interest Aquino would serve more. By categorically stating his inclination “to induce a more vibrant business climate in the country to attract foreign investors,” Aquino has reassured the interests of entrenched big businesses in the country, to the detriment of the working people these interests habitually trample on.

“The US must be very happy for his strong affirmation of neoliberal policies, laying down an economic blueprint which parallels that of his pro-US predecessors,” Labog said.

Leading the clues that these previously proven as bankrupt economic policies would be kept in force is the new NEDA Director-General Cayetano Paderanga, “who fully supported the full liberalization and deregulation of the economy during the Aquino and Ramos administrations that resulted in the further collapse of Philippine agriculture vis-à-vis our South East Asian counterparts,” said Terry Ridon of youth group Anakbayan.

Current Meralco president Jose “Ping” de Jesus, Maynilad Water Services CEO Rogelio “Babes” L. Singson, Manila Water Co. president Jose Rene D. Almendras, all in Aquino’s cabinet, also share the same track record of carrying out full deregulation of water, electricity and oil industries that resulted in the skyrocketing of water, oil, and electricity prices.

The Makati Business Club’s Alberto Lim and retained DFA Sec. Alberto Romulo also “represent the full opening of the Philippine economy to foreign interests, such as the perfection of planned free trade agreements with the United States,” noted Ridon of Anakbayan.

“Most surely, these moves that intend to allow more foreign access to our economy, will only mean more wage cuts, contractualization and job massacres. Foreign firms are always the first to block any wage increase, to push for massive contractualization and outsourcing schemes, and to cry ‘crisis’ and cost-cutting’ as excuses for retrenchments. The Philippines have always been fertile ground for their needed ‘cheapest labor’ to maintain growth of their profits,” Roger Soluta, KMU secretary general, said in a statement.

It is not just the Philippine human resources but also its natural resources that are being lined up by Aquino for continued plunder of the few. Leading the charge to the country’s resources is the new environment secretary, Mr. Ramon Paje.

Like former secretary Horacio Ramos whose near-retention as environment secretary was resisted by environmentalists and the church, “Mr. Paje is one of the mining czars of the Arroyo administration in promoting and implementing mining liberalization in the country. The Minerals Development Council (MDC) which he heads facilitates the selling and privatization of mineral facilities and lands in the country. One of which is the gold-rich Mt. Diwalwal area in Campostela Valley, Davao del Norte,” said Clemente Bautista Jr. of environmental group Kalikasan-PNE.

It thus seems more likely that under Aquino, farmers and indigenous people would continue to be displaced from their lands in the name of large-scale mining and “environmental projects.” The drive for bio-fuels, which happens to be another US government priority here as declared by its new ambassador Harry K. Thomas, has already caused the displacement and fierce land struggles involving hundreds of farming families under the Arroyo government.

Mining liberalization is one of the priority economic policies of the previous Arroyo administration. The DENR now under mining czar Paje has identified 63 priority mining projects, most of which are foreign-owned. Based on the DENR record, there are 545 approved mining agreements covering more than 700,000 hectares of mineral lands as of December 2009.

As Aquino’s pronouncements and appointees suggest, his administration is unfolding into just another sequel in the poverty-inducing saga of implementing neo-liberal policies in the Philippines. The youth group Anakbayan, a sector who by inclination should have been more optimistic, “posits that the continuation of these economic policies” and these kind of appointees “might prevent Mr. Aquino from completely delivering on his promises of change in the next six years. (Bulatlat.com)

Peasant Leader Killed Inside Nueva Ecija Army Camp

July 12, 2010

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — A 78-year-old peasant leader was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding men inside his house in San Isidro, Laur town, Nueva Ecija, at around 4:45 p.m. Friday, July 9.

Pascual Guevarra is a senior leader of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa 3100 (Almana), which has been struggling for land ownership inside the 3,100 hectare Fort Magsaysay. The group is affiliated with Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). The victim’s grandson, Ronnel Villoria, was also wounded when he tried to help his grandfather, the KMP said in a statement.

Guevarra is the second victim of extrajudicial killing under the new administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III. On July 5, Fernando Baldomero, a Bayan Muna coordinator in Aklan, was shot dead in front of his house in Lezo town.

Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary general, said he holds accountable the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), particularly the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army assigned at the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation, for Guevarra’s death.

According to KMP, Guevarra led numerous dialogues with the 7th IDPA, particularly with Col. Hermino Barrios of the Judge Advocate Group’s Office (Jago) representing former AFP Chief Maj. Gen. Ralph Bangit, about the military’s alleged harassment of farmers. “The military could never deny that they had a hand in these as they totally control Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation,” Ramos said.

Guevarra also attended the dialogue at Camp Aguinaldo, with the representatives of the then secretary of Department of National Defense (DND) Gilbert Teodoro on Nov. 17, 2008, and countless dialogues with the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office (PARO), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Region III office and its central office regarding their struggle for land.

Struggle for Land

Pascual is one of some 6,000 peasants and other residents inside the Fort Magsaysay who should have acquired ownership of the land by virtue of a 1991 Deed of Transfer between the DND and the DAR.

They were awarded Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“He was already old but still fighting for his right to land. He walked around with loads of documents from DAR proving their claim. He was harmless and all he wanted was to keep their farm so that his grandchildren would have something,” Ramos said.

In a separate statement, Anakpawis Rep. and KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said that since 2008, the military has been instrumental in denying farmers in Fort Magsaysay their rights to own land. “It was the 7th ID itself who has requested the DAR to cancel the CLOAs given to peasants within the 3,100-hectare contested area,” Mariano said.

“This is very clear that Tatay Pascual’s struggle to land had made him a target of the state fascist forces. The military is obviously accountable as it happened inside their area of responsibility. They are in control of the area, they control whoever gets in or out, thus, it is impossible for the perpetrators to carry on their mission without the military’s knowledge,” Ramos said.

AMGL will lead a the fact-finding mission on Monday.

Concrete Action Urged

The KMP said it will hold a condemnation protest at Mendiola this Monday to push Aquino to immediately act and stop the killings. “He could not afford to be late and slow on the issue of extrajudicial killings in the country,” Ramos added.

“Mr. Aquino should immediately act on Ka Pascual’s killing and stop the military from evicting farmers inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation. It was during his mother’s term when the so-called transfer of the lands to farmers was initiated,” Mariano said.

Mariano is set to file a resolution calling for the immediate investigation on the killing of Guevarra and the Fort Magsaysay agrarian dispute. (Bulatlat.com)

Two Leftist Public School Teachers Killed, Another Survives Attack in Masbate

July 12, 2010

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Two more activists, this time teachers who were members of the leftist group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), were killed in just the first 10 days of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, bringing the number of extrajudicial killings under his watch to four.

Mark Francisco, 27, a teacher of San Isidro Elementary School in Palanan, Masbate province in Bicol, was on his way home with four co-teachers on Friday, July 9, at around 5:00 p.m when two men wearing masks and camouflaged uniforms fired at their group. His body was riddled with bullets from an M-16 rifle. Francisco’s co-teacher managed to escape as the killers tried to pursue him. He reported the incident to the police.

On the same day, Edgar Fernandez, 44, another public school teacher from Barangay central, Masbate City, Masbate, was shot dead by unidentified men on his way home.

“I least expected that this would happen because Edgar seemed to be very happy during the welcome program that we prepared for students that day,” Myrna Laurio said in a telephone interview with Bulatlat. She is the principal of Roco C. Pahis Sr. Central School where Fernandez taught.

Laurio said Fernandez sleeps in the school during weekdays because he lives far from the school. He only goes home on Fridays for the weekend. But on July 9, Fernandez and a co-teacher, both riding a motorcycle, were fired at by an unidentified man. Fernandez died immediately but his co-teacher survived with a bullet wound.

Laurio added that Fernandez’s co-teacher and friend told her recently that the slain teacher had received death threats through text messages. But Fernandez did not take it seriously.

“The whole school is in mourning,” Laurio said. She added that these unidentified gunmen seem to have no respect for the lives of the teachers who were probably educating their children.

Earlier, another ACT member and public school teacher Dexter Legazpi, 36, also of Palanan, Masbate was shot at on July 6. Luckily, he survived. He and his wife were on a motorcycle going to school when five men, also wearing ski masks and military uniforms, shot at them. Legazpi was able to speed away to safety on his motorcycle.

The three public school teachers are members of the Alliance for Concerned Teachers’ local chapter in Masbate. They actively campaigned for its party-list bid during the May 2010 elections. ACT Teachers Party and other progressive party-list groups such as Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Anakpawis, and Kabataan are targets of vilification campaigns by the military, which accuses them of being “front organizations” of the New People’s Army.

“We demand justice for our fellow teachers and party members,” ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said in a statement. He called on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on the brutal murders of Francisco and Fernandez and the attempted murder on Legazpi to ensure that justice would be served. He added that the Department of Education should work with the Philippine National Police and local government authorities to ensure that protection would be given to the teachers who survived the attack and those who may serve as witnesses to the crime.

Benny Almanzor of ACT in Masbate said teachers in Palanas town in Masbate are afraid to go to school now. Classes were suspended in 16 schools in the said town because of the killings. “Teachers and barangay captains are going to the local government office to see what can be done to protect the teachers.”

As for teachers in Roco C. Pahis Sr. Central School, Laurio said they are taking extra precautions.

“The Aquino government must immediately take steps to put an end to the violence faced by teachers in Palanas town,” Tinio said, “The Aquino government’s ability to ensure the well-being and safety of its citizens is being put to the test.”

Tinio said these murders show that extrajudicial killings targeting activists continue even under the newly installed Aquino administration. “It has only been a few days, yet the death toll is already rising. We expect nothing less than an end to impunity from this new government.”

“President Aquino must direct the necessary government resources to ensuring that the perpetrators of these four murders are caught, tried and punished,” Tinio said.

The first victim of extrajudicial killing under Aquino was 61-year old Fernando Baldomero, municipal council and Bayan Muna member, who was shot in front of his son in Kalibo, Aklan. The second victim was 78-year old farmer Pascual Guevarra of Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon. Guevarra’s grandson Ronnel Villoria was also wounded when he tried to help his grandfather. (Bulatlat.com)

Political/Editorial Cartoon: P-Noy Killings

July 12, 2010

Editorial/Political Cartoon: PGMA’s Shield: CHACHA

July 9, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: P-Noy is a Chained Smoker

July 6, 2010

Editorial/Political Cartoon: Power Play

June 9, 2010

Raping the Victim on Air

June 9, 2010

For the past few days, I’ve returned to my old habit: browsing the airwaves and listening for local news and commentaries.

Thanks for my tv gone, my radio has now my attention.

I happened to chance upon this Bombo and Super Radyo late night program, both discussing the rape incident involving a colorum taxi with a fake plate number, and a young lady, a nursing graduate and working as promo girl for Nestle Philippines.

I was apalled to hear that most of the texters are praising the criminal and villifying the victim. Some has gone too far by saying that the criminal is lucky to have a very young and pretty girl for the night, and some judged the girl almost automatically, as the real one to be blamed for her misfortune.

What enraged me most was the radio reporter and radio host show’s action: they read those kind of text messages on air, laughed and even agreed to some nasty comments, effectively sending a message to listening public that their distorted opinions and views on rape was correct.

What kind of media persons are these people? Grrrr. It seems to me that these colorum media persons are not knowledgeable about the ethics of reporting stories involving women and children.

The next time i hear them doing these very same thing, i’m going to name them.

Political/Editorial Cartoon: Post-Senakulo

April 25, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: Erap Ghost

April 25, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: Politically Marked

April 25, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: Another Lutong Makaw

April 25, 2010

“Villarroyo”: Behikulo ni Noynoy at ng LP Pabalik sa Pwesto

April 22, 2010

“Villarroyo”
Behikulo ni Noynoy sa Pagka-Pangulo
Behikulo ng mga Oportunista para Makabalik sa Pwesto

Sa kawalan ng sapat na mapagkakatiwalaang record bilang mambabatas ni Noynoy, at sa kakapusan ng mga argumento tungkol sa C-5, ang mga propagandista ng Liberal ay matagumpay na nakapagbuo ng panibagong katagang gagamiting sasakyan para sa maipanalo ang pampanguluhang halalan: ang Villarroyo.

Ingenious.

Ang kanilang objective, ngayong di nila kayang patunayan ang akusasyon hinggil sa C-5(which is tantamount to tsismis), tuluyan na silang tumungo sa lantarang paninira, sa pamamagitan ng pagpipinta sa kanilang inaakalang mabigat na karibalng kaparehong kulay ng kinamumuhiang Arroyo administration.

Sa pamamagitan ng pagkakabit ng pangalang Arroyo kay Villar, umaasa ang Liberal na mag-iiba ang paningin ng mga botante sa kanilang kalabang kandidato, at lilipat ito sa kanilang kampo.

Ang ganitong linya ay masisilip sa mga pamamaraan ng CIA (pagkakalat ng tsismis lalo na sa rehimen ni Hugo Chavez ng Venezuela at Saddam Hussein ng Iraq) at ng AFP, pagsasabing ang mga aktibista ay mga komunista o kaya’y NPA. Ang ganitong taktika ng red baiting ang siya ngayong ginagamit ng Liberal para makapamingwit ng boto para sa kanilang kandidato. Kapansin-pansin ang pagflourish ng ganitong taktika ng gamitin din ito ni Rissa Baraquel sa pakikipagdebate niya kay Liza Maza ng Makabayan Party (Guest candidate ng NP) sa nakaraan nilang Harapan sa Channel 2.

Pero gaano katotoo ang “Villarroyo”? Gaano katotoo ang isang akusasyon na kinakabitan ng katagang “sikreto”? Kasing-totoo ba ito ng isyu ng Hacienda Luisita, na pinipilit ipalabas lang noon pa ng kampo ng Cojuangco-Aquino na tsismis lang? Kasing-totoo ba ito ng isyu na walang nagawa bilang mambabatas si Noynoy Aquino?

Ganitong klase ban g kampanya ang ipinamanang legacy nina Ninoy at Cory sa kanilang anak?

Nakaka-awang isipin na sa pagnanais ng anak na abutin ng walang hirap ang pinaghirapang maabot ng kanyang magulang, ay gagamitin niyang tuntungan ang mga dakilang pangalan ng mga ito. And much worse, ang magpagamit sa mga nakapaligid sa kanya at gumamit ng ganitong klase ng linya ng kanyang kampanya.

Ito marahil ang nakikitang dahilan ng yumaong Cory Aquino kung bakit ayaw niyang patakbuhin noon si Noynoy. Ganunpaman, unless katulad tayo ni Gng Arroyo na nakakausap ang Diyos, hindi na natin malalaman ang tunay na dahilan ni Gng Cory Aquino.

Matagal nang gamit ng LP ang “Villarroyo”. Ako man, sa mga unang linggo nito’y napaniwala. Pero habang tumatagal, napapansin kong ang “Villarroyo” ay hindi pinaputok para paigtingin ang kontra-Gloriang laban ng mamamayan, kundi gawing behikulo lamang para sa kanyang pagkapanalo.

Bakit ganito kasidhi ang hangarin ng LP na maipanalo ang halalang ito? Una, ang mga nakapaligid sa LP ay mga dating Cabinet officer na nakatikim na ng poder at nagnanais na makabalik muli sa kanilang marangyang pwesto. Nakapaligid din ang ilang malalaking civil society group sa pangunguna nina Dinky Soliman na nasabit na rin sa isyu ng katiwalian kung naaalala nyo pa ang isyu ng CODE-NGO scam. Ikalawa, si Noynoy ay mahinang Pangulo na madaling manipulahin kung sakali man. After all, kung si Gloria nga na nagmamagaling ay manipulated ng military, much worse si Noynoy. Ang kanyang track record ang magsasabi na wala siyang political will, walang politikal na buto.

Ibig sabihin, sa halalang ito, si Noynoy ay isa rin lamang behikulo. At para matupad ang kanilang pangarap, kailangan nila itong maipanalo. At para manalo, nabuo ang “Villarroyo”.

Political/Editorial Cartoon: Anti- FOE Move

April 21, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: The Frog

April 21, 2010

Political/Editorial Carton: The Bat

April 21, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: South Gun

April 21, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: Transport Sector

April 17, 2010

Millionaires, Allies of GMA, Lead Nominees of Dubious Party-list Groups

April 14, 2010

By Anne Marxze D. Umil
Bulatlat.com

Many party-list groups that have successfully made it to Comelec’s accredited list have questionable nominees and strong links to Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said election watchdog Kontra Daya (Against Cheating) and Kabataan (Youth) Party-list. For nominees, these party-list groups teem with millionaires, former government officials, former police and military officials, even incumbent government officials. Many are proven allies of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In fact, based on the investigation of Kontra Daya, some are members of her family, and they include a son and various close relatives.

Legitimate party-list groups representing genuinely marginalized sectors and featuring nominees who have either been long-time members or advocates of these sectors, for instance Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women’s Party, and the Makabayan senatorial bets Lisa Maza and Satur Ocampo, have all filed a petition to disqualify the dubious party-list groups. They began last month with Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) party-list, the so-called party-list group being represented by presidential son and outgoing Pampanga Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.

In pushing for the disqualification of the dubious party-list groups, the legitimate party-list groups and Kontra Daya cited the Party-list System Act, which provides that a party-list should be represented by those who belong to the marginalized and under-represented sectors. They also cited the rules on disqualification cases against nominees of party list groups, or Resolution No. 8807. Its Section 6 stated that party-list nominee must be “one who belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent…”
As of April 6, 2010, Kontra Daya has pinpointed at least 49 dubious party-list groups in the Comelec list. These party-list groups, they said, have questionable nominees, or nominees who are obviously not from any truly marginalized groups. Kontra Daya intends to submit the following list of dubious party-list groups to the Comelec for disqualification.

Party-list groups of the Rich, Connected and Powerful

1. 1st Kabagis Party-list – an Ilocano party-list group that claims to advocate for “widening the segments of economic development.” Jose Singson, Jr., brother of National Security Adviser Chavit Singson, is its second nominee.

2. 1 United Transportation Koalisyon (1-Utak) – a party-list group purportedly representing the transport sector, but its first nominee, former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, has been the drivers’ nemesis in the past few years; he is the “spokesperson” of the oil cartel in justifying the overpricing of oil products , according to Piston (United Association of Drivers and Operators). Its second nominee is former Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) official Vigor Mendoza. Its third nominee is Homero Mercado, owner of the bus company HM Transport.

3. Aangat Tayo – a party-list group led by Teddie Elson Rivera, an official of the state-owned Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC). The group claims to represent labor, urban poor, elderly, women, youth, and the overseas workers. Its nominees include Rep. Daryl Grace Abayon, wife of Rep. Harlin Castillo Abayon (Lakas) of Northern Samar.

4. Abante Tribung Makabansa (ATM) – a party-list group that claims to represent the indigenous peoples and was endorsed by presidential adviser for Mindanao Jesus Dureza. Its first nominee is former Army Col. Allen A. Capuyan who was among those implicated by former T/Sgt. Vidal Doble in the “Hello Garci” controversy. According to Doble, Capuyan was among those who implemented “Project Lighthouse” or the wiretapping of personalities during his stint as head of the Intelligence Service of the AFP’s ‘special operations group.’ ATM’s second nominee, Reuben Dasay A. Lingating, is a former official of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). He is also a program officer of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

5. Abono Partylist – a party-list group that claims to represent the agricultural sector. The Abono party-list’s first two nominees are Robert Raymund Estrella and Franciso Ortega III. Both hail from the prominent Estrella and Ortega political clans, which are allied with the administration. Its third nominee is Jacky Rowena Lomibao, wife of former PNP chief Arturo Lomibao.

6. Abot Tanaw – its first nominee is Gerwyn See, husband of Sheryl Genuino-See, daughter of PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino. Sheryl See is also a nominee of Batang Iwas sa Droga Foundation, Inc. or BIDA party-list. The couple also own the Philippine master franchise of Mrs. Fields Cookie Cafe chain.

Its second nominee is Mario Cornista, a PAGCOR consultant. In their SEC registration, he is also named as chair of the board of directors of BIDA. Its third nominee, Tomas Toledo, is another PAGCOR consultant. Both BIDA and Abot Tanaw are thus closely associated with PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino.

7. Action Brotherhood for Active Dreamers, Inc. (ABROAD Partylist) – a party-list group that claims to support a speedier process for Filipinos seeking work abroad and combating illegal recruitment. Its first two nominees are Danilo Magsino Dy and Angela C. Dy. Danilo Dy owns the Montessori Professional College.

8. Agila ng Katutubong Pilipino, Inc. (AGILA) – a Baguio-based party-list group that claims to represent indigenous peoples. Its nominees include DILG undersecretary and Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems administrator Orlando Hondrade, as well as former Quezon City councilor Restituto Malañgen.

9. Ahon Pinoy (AHON) – a party-list group that claims to speak for the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers and their families as well as of organizations of expatriates and immigrants. Its first nominee is Dante “Klink” Ang II, son of publisher Dante Ang who also heads the Presidential Commission on Overseas Filipinos. Its second nominee is Emerito Remulla from the influential Remulla clan of Cavite. Third nominee is Von Bryan Cuerpo, son of Rodriguez, Rizal Mayor Pedro Cuerpo.
10. AKO BICOL Political Party (AKB) – a party-list group that claims to advocate progress and development of the Bicol Region. Its first nominee is Christopher Co of the Co clan of businessmen who are reportedly also close to Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Its second nominee is outgoing Legazpi mayor Noel Rosal. Its officers include Dr. Dennis Febueno of the Commission of Higher Education.

11. Alliance of Bicolnon Party (ABP-Bicolnon) – a regional political party representing Bicol, the Alliance of Bicolnon Party has the father-and-son tandem of architects Enrique Olonan and Henry Steve Olonan. The Olonans are a prominent family of businessmen from Catanduanes. Enrique Olonan has been a director of the Chamber of Real Estate Builders Association.

12. Alliance of Mindanao Elders (AME) – a party-list group that claims to advocate the interests of senior citizens throughout the country. Its first nominee is Alfonso Goking, a councilor of Cagayan de Oro City who is a member of the Lakas-Kampi coalition.

13. Alliance of People’s Organizations (APO) – a party-list group that claims to advocate the scrapping of the oil deregulation law. Its first nominee is former Ilocos representative Salacnib Baterina, a businessman and a known Arroyo ally. Its third nominee is Anna Marie Ablan, daughter of Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan Jr.

14. Alma sa Pagkahikahos at Ignoransya (ALMA) – a party-list group that claims to represent small farmers and fisherfolk, as well as the rural and urban poor. It also claims to have drawn most of its initial constituency from Central and Northern Luzon. Its second nominee Rodolfo Vicerra is the Director-General of the Congressional Planning and Budget Department of the 14th Congress of the Philippines.

15. Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) – an anti-communist group believed to be supported by the AFP. Its nominees include the farther and son tandem of Pastor Alcover, Jr. and Pastor Alcover II. The elder Alcover calls himself an “anti-communist vigilante”.

16. Angat Ating Kabuhayan, Inc. (ANAK) – a party-list group that claims to represent the urban poor. Its first two nominees are former Police Senior Superintendent Eduardo Octaviano, Jr. and infamous “euro-general” Eliseo dela Paz.

17. Alagaan Natin Ating Kalusugan (ANAKalusugan) – a party-list group that claims to promote and safeguard the health of Filipino people. Its first nominee is Col. Roland E. Kempis, a doctor and Commanding Officer of the AFP Medical Center. According to the Department of National Defense website, Kempis also served in that capacity under Gilbert Teodoro and Norberto Gonzales. Its fourth nominee is presidential assistant Mohammad Ali Basir Lucman Magurang.

18. Ang Galing Pinoy (AG) – also formerly known as Guardians Party-list, a multi-sectoral national party claiming to represent security guards, tricycle drivers and vendors. Its first nominee is Pampanga congressman and presidential son Mikey Arroyo; second nominee is Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda and third nominee is Bacolor Mayor Romeo “Buddy” Dungca. All three are elected officials in Pampanga and members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi coalition. It’s organizational documents are plagiarized from that of Bayan Muna.

19. Ang Kasangga – a party-list group that claims to represent small entrepreneurs. Its current representative is Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, sister of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. Its first nominee is businessman Teodorico T. Haresco. According to its website, Haresco is known for his involvement in the President’s Bridge Program, a sustained infrastructure and fast-track rural development project spanning over 14 years. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the PNOC.
In December 2005, British newspaper The Guardian ran an article on Mabey & Johnson Ltd., a British firm “accused of making excessive profits in an aid project, by building what their critics call bridges to nowhere”. The Guardian cited Haresco, of the President’s Bridges Program, as the Philippine contact of the British firm.

Second nominee is Eugenio Jose V. Lacson, a scion of the affluent Lacson clan of Negros, a three-term mayor of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental and a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) – United Negros Alliance. Last Jan.21, he endorsed the candidacy of administration bet Gilbert Teodoro.
Third nominee is Anna Maria Nava, the wife of current Guimaras Governor Felipe Nava. Fourth nominee is Enrique V. Martin, a Board Member of the Capiz provincial government.

Fifth nominee Segundo M. Gaston is the Senior Vice President for support and subsidiaries of the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC)

20. Akbay Pinoy OFW-National, Inc. (APOI) – a party-list group that claims to support the cause of overseas Filipino workers. In its website, it describes itself as “an accredited organization of the Department of Labor and Employment…via a linkage with the Sentro ng Manggagawang Pinoy for a program organized by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration”. Its first nominee is Maj. Gen. Melchor Rosales, the administrator of the Office of Civil Defense and current DILG executive. Its fourth nominee is Katherine Mari S. Garcia, a lawyer for the Puno & Puno Law Offices whose clientele counts several multinational corporations as well as big Filipino businessmen like Henry Sy and the Aboitizes.

21. Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction, Inc. (ARARO) – a party-list group that claims to represent farmers. Its first nominee is former PNP Regional III Chief PC/Supt Quirino dela Torre. According to Kontra Daya, many have pointed out the irony that it was during his stint as police chief that the Hacienda Luisita massacre happened.

22. Association of Labor and Employees (ALE) – a party-list group that claims to represent workers. Its first nominee is Catalina Bagasina, Pampanga provincial board member, businesswoman and a known Arroyo ally. Bagasina owns a cargo forwarding company.

Erlinda M.B. de Leon, Ms Arroyo’s first cousin, is its second nominee. According to the Office of the President’s website, De Leon has served as a special assistant to the President.
Its third nominee, Ma. Michaela D. Magtoto, is the operations manager of the Prime Review Center.

23. Bago National Cultural Society of the Philippines (BAGO) – a party-list group that claims to represent the Bago tribe of Region I. Its president is Alexander Bistoyong, Ilocos Sur’s Provincial Consultant for Upland Municipalities and a former Board Member of the same province. Its third nominee is B/Gen. Manuel E. Mariano, Jr. who was the Asst. Division Commander of the 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army in 2008.
24. Bagong Henerasyon (BH) – a party-list group that claims to represent youth, women, and “the people of communities.” It has a husband and wife team as its first two nominees, former Quezon City councilor Bernadette Herrera-Dy and her husband businessman Edgar Allan D. Dy.

25. Bagong Bayan na Nagtataguyod ng Demokratikong Ideolohiya at Layunin (Bandila) – this party-list competed during the 2007 elections. Its nominees included retired police general Lucas Managuelod and Benasing Macarambon III, a scion of the wealthy and powerful Macarambon clan of Lanao. Nominees include Nilo Tayag and actor Juan Miguel Bondoc.

According to Kontra Daya, Tayag is a former activist who went over to the Marcos regime after a short period in detention during Martial Law. He helped organize support rallies for the Estrada regime at the height of the oust Estrada campaign. After Estrada’s ouster, he moved over to the Arroyo camp, and in 2006 was part of the “people’s initiative” charter change campaign called Sigaw ng Bayan, which was orchestrated by Arroyo allies. Until September 2009, he was being considered for inclusion in the senatorial lineup of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the political party of the Marcos family.

Bondoc hails from a family of wealthy businessmen. He owns several businesses including the Benedictine International School of Quezon City.

26. The True Marcos (for God, Country and People) Association of the Philippines, Inc. (BANTAY) – a party-list group that claims to represent security guards, barangay tanods, etc. Current representative is Gen. Jovito Palparan. First nominee is Evangeline Palparan, wife of Gen. Jovito Palparan. Mrs. Palparan is a dentist in the AFP Dental Service.

27. Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA) – this was earlier assailed by watchdog Kontra Daya for being ineligible for party-list accreditation because it is a government-funded and initiated entity. Its first nominee is Sheryl Genuino-See, daughter of PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino. Sheryl See was also a previous nominee of Bigkis Pinoy, a partylist also affiliated with PAGCOR’s Genuino.

Other nominees of BIDA like Johhny Tan have been associated with the party-list group Bigkis Pinoy. It is not clear when See and Tan resigned from Bigkis Pinoy to become nominees of BIDA.
BIDA’s fifth nominee appears to be Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio, who is presently a nominee for the Chief Justice’s position.

28. BUHAY Partylist – a party-list group that claims to protect and support the unborn, the sick, the disabled and others not capable of protecting themselves alone through observance of their basic right to live. BUHAY Partylist has father and son Mariano Velarde, Jr. and evangelist Bro. Mike Velarde as the first and fifth nominees respectively.

Mike Velarde is not only the leader of the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai but is also a millionaire who owns Amvel Land Development Corporation. Buhay’s other nominees include William Irwin Tieng, whose family controls Solar Sports.

29. Confederation of Non-Stock Savings and Loan Associations, Inc. (CONSLA) – a party-list group that claims to represent savings and loan associations and their members. The financial assets of CONSLA members is reported to be up to P60 billion, with 5,000 individual depositors who have a deposit of at least P1 million each. Nominees include former Air Force Col. Ricardo Nolasco, Jr., former Navy Rear Admiral George T. Uy, and former Col. Samuel Padilla

30. Kabalikat ng Mamamayan (KABAYAN) – a party-list group that claims to represent transport workers, farmers and fisherfolk, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, anti-crime crusaders, overseas Filipino workers, government workers, industrial workers, urban and rural poor, migrant workers and seafarers, and students, youth and professionals. Its first nominee is Palace executive Ron Salo. Salo was undersecretary under the Office of the Executive Secretary of Eduardo Ermita in 2009. Before that he was with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.

31. Pilipino Association for Country / Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare (PACYAW) – a party-list group that claims to represent urban poor youth. PACYAW is advocating sports development among the youth. Its first nominee is Department of Tourism Asst. Secretary Janet Rita B. Lazatin. She is a member of the Lakas-CMD party and hails from a prominent political clan in Pampanga. Its second nominee is businessman and former Los Angeles Consul Reynaldo Pineda, who is also based in Pampanga.

32. Philippine Coconut Producers Federation (Cocofed) – a party-list group that is comprised of both landlords and farmers as well as businessmen. Cocofed’s third nominee is Jose Lobregat, a scion of the wealthy Lobregat clan of Zamboanga who also owns a cable TV company.

33. SAGIP – Nominee includes former police general Romeo Maganto

34. Sulong Barangay Movement – a party-list group that claims to represent the marginalized, the underprivileged, the underrepresented and the less fortunate people, workers and officials of the barangays. Its first nominee is businessman and former vice-presidential candidate and Tarlac vice Governor Herminio Aquino, a grand-uncle of presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino.

35. YES WE CAN – its first nominee is Maynard Lapid, son of Senator Lito Lapid. Second nominee is Noah N. Nocon, kagawad of Brgy. San Lorenzo, Makati City.

36. Alliance of Transport Sector (ATS) – a party-list group that claims to represent the transport sector. Four of its five nominees are government officials, the first is Philippine Postal Savings Bank President and former Transportation and Communication Asst. Secretary Virgilio Montera. The rest of the nominees are Jaime Domdom, Leticia Gorospe, and Leopoldo Villarena – all officials of the DOTC’s Office of Transport Cooperatives.

37. Itinerant Vendors Alliance of the Philippines Inc. (IVAP) – a party-list group that claims to represent vendors. Its third nominee is Manggay M. Guro, mayor of Marantao, Lanao del Sur.

38. Ang Agrikultura Natin Isulong (AANI) – its first nominee is Roberto V. Rodriguez, mayor of Taytay, Palawan. The third is Jose Umadhay, an executive of the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizers Corporation (Philphos). The fifth nominee, Fiorello E. Azura, is a senior partner of the Azura Quiroz & Campos Law Offices, which represents Philphos.

39. Alagad Partylist – a party-list group that claims to represent the urban poor. Its nominees include Sergio Manzana, mayor of Pangil, Laguna.

40. Ang Mata’y Alagaan (AMA) – its third nominee is Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and former Sandiganbayan Justice Raoul Victorino.

41. Abante Katutubo, Inc. (ABANTE KA) – a party-list group that claims to represent indigenous peoples. Its first nominee is former Governor and Congressman Romulo B. Lumauig of Ifugao.

42. Agrarian Development Association (ADA) – a party-list group that claims to advocate the reduction of rural poverty through “dynamic approaches that will transform agriculture into a modern and competitive sector and ensures the sustainability of the agricultural economy.” Its third nominee is Teresita Victora Agbayani (a. k. a. Viktoria, a former singer) who is also a daughter of former Pangasinan Gov. Aguedo Agbayani.

43. Agapay ng Indigenous People’s Rights Alliance, Inc. (A-IPRA) – a party-list group that claims to represent indigenous peoples. First nominee, Eugenio Insigne, is an official with the National Commission of Indigenous People (NCIP).

44. Alyansa ng mga Naulila ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Bayan (ALNA) – a party-list group that claims to represent widows and other bereaved relatives of soldiers, policemen, security guards, and barangay tanods killed in action. Its first nominee is former PNP Diretor for Logistics Charlemagne S. Alejandrino.

45. Alyansa ng Media at Showbiz – a party-list group that supposedly represents media practitioners and the showbusiness community. Its second nominee is Dr. Manny Calayan who is a cosmetic surgeon with a chain of beauty clinics. He is joined by his wife Dr. Pie Calayan. He is not a media practitioner nor is he part of the showbusiness community.

46. Kababaihang Lingkod Bayan sa Pilipinas (KLBP) – its first nominee is Laguna Gov. Teresita Lazaro.

47. Alay Buhay Community Development Foundation (Alay Buhay) – is a foundation claiming to serve the marginalized. It is chaired by Science and Technology Undersecretary Fortunato dela Peña. The first nominee is Weslie T. Gatchalian, president of Wellex Industries Inc. The third nominee is Miguel B. Varela, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former chairman and president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.

48. Ang Minero – a party-list group that claims to represent workers in the mining industry. Its fourth nominee is Joel D. Muyco, general manager and director of the Vulcan Industrial Mining Corporation. He is also the vice president of Wellex Industries Inc., of which Weslie T. Gatchalian, Alay buhay’s first nominee, is president.

49. Alliance for Community Transformation and Service (ACTS) – its third nominee is Ernesto M. Maceda, Jr. son of former Senator Maceda.

Malacañang Memo on Fielding Own Party-list Groups
Bogus party-list groups supported and funded by Malacañang have been fielded since the last elections. In 2007, progressive party-list groups have exposed a memorandum of the government’s Office of External Affairs (OEA), dated October 16, 2006, informing the president of the formation of a Special Concerns Group “which shall focus in the participation” of their own grassroots and allied NGOs and people’s organizations in the 2007 congressional elections. They requested P5.5 million to cover its electoral campaign.

Their specific objectives have been to: “1) provide full support to several Comelec-accredited party-list groups that are ascertained to be pro-administration and ensure winning nine to twelve seats in the House of Representatives; 2) form a party-list bloc that will support the plans and programs of the administration and help in countering destabilization moves by the opposition as well as the left-leaning party-list groups; and, 3) contribute in the over-all campaign to substantially lower the number of votes of leftist and left-leaning party-list organizations and in the process reduce the seats of this anti-administration parties in the House of Representatives.”

Kabataan Partylist named the party-list groups included in the OEA memo that were accredited by the Comelec to run in the 2010 elections. These include Babae para sa Kaunlaran (Babae Ka or You’re a Woman), League of Youth for Peace and Advancement (LYPAD), Kalahi, Agbiag! Timpuyog Ilokano, Inc. (Agbiag), Abono, Kasangga and Aging Pinoy.

The Kabataan party-list also included other pro-administration party-list groups with already dubious linkages with the government. These included: 1Ganap/Guardian, A-Teacher, Abakada Guro (Abakada), Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak ng Maharlika (Adam), Aksyon Sambayanan (Aksa), Ang Laban ng Indigong Filipino (Alif), Association of the Philippine Electronic Cooperatives (Apec), Alliance for Rural Concerns (ARC), Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE), Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (Banat), Bigkis Pinoy Movement (Bigkis), Butil Farmers Party-list (Butil), Cooperative Natcco Network Party (Coop-Natco), Kapatiran ng mga Nakakulong ng walang Sala (Kakusa), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Veteran’s Freedom Party (VFP) and Youth Against Corruption and Poverty (Yacap).

Adam’s first nominee is Energy Undersecreatry Zamzamin Ampatuan, nephew of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. who is implicated in Ampatuan Massacre. Aksa on the other hand, is National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’s party-list, an organization of opportunist “yellow” labor leaders who frequently demonized the progressive party-list groups such as Bayan Muna, said a report from CENPEG (Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance). Aksa has likewise been regarded as a phony social democratic movement allegedly affiliated with Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP).

Banat, meanwhile, is a party-list group of the government’s Liga ng mga Barangay (Village League) and Sigaw ng Bayan (Nation’s Cry). Both are supporters of Arroyo’s Charter Change. Bigkis, on the other hand, is identified with PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino.

Coop-Natco was supported by the Department of Agriculture in the 2007 elections and initially by the president, too. Kakusa, another party-list group, has for its chairman emeritus the convicted child rapist and former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos. It is supported by the Lamb of God Foundation and by the outreach program for elderly inmates reported to be established by Jalosjos.

Yacap’s current nominee, Rep. Haron Omar, is the brother-in-law of Rey Sumalipao who is one of the election officials implicated in the “Hello Garci” controversy for padding the votes of the president in 2004. (Bulatlat.com)

Editorial/Political Cartoon: Election 2010 (The Winner)

April 13, 2010

HALALAN 2010: SIRA NI NOYNOY, PROBLEMA NG ABS-CBN

April 11, 2010

HALALAN 2010: SIRA NI NOYNOY, PROBLEMA NG ABS-CBN

Sa halalang ito, kapansin-pansin ang hayagang pagpaling ng ilang pribadong institusyon ng midya sa isang partikular na kandidato.

Bagamat wala sa kanilang opisyal na mga pahayag, panuntunan at kondukta ng operasyon, hindi lang ang kampo ng Nacionalista Party (NP) ang nakakapansin na ang ABS-CBN ay may obvious na leaning pabor sa kandidatura ni Noynoy. Pero dahil hindi ito ang pangunahing diskurso ng artikulong ito, hindi na muna natin tatalakayin ang mga Paano at Ano na nakakabit sa usaping ito.

ANG PSYCHE REPORT

Ang isyu ngayon: ang umano’y paglalabas ng ABS-CBN ng ulat hinggil sa isang Psyche report na nagsasabing si Noynoy Aquino ng Liberal Party(LP) ay may problema sa utak.

Pagputok na pagputok pa lamang nito, maraming reaksyon ang agad na nagsilabasan.
1. Sa kampo ng LP – NP ang agad na inakusahang nagpalabas ng balita.
2. Sa kampo ng NP – agaran at mariing pagtanggi sa akusasyon ng LP.
3. Sa kampo ng ABS-CBN – paninindigan na totoo ang kanilang report.
4. Sa kampo ng Ateneo – pineke umano ang lagda ng Pari doon at wala umanong report na ganun.

Na sinundan agad ng panibagong mga reaksyon.
1. Sa kampo ng LP – pagkundena sa NP at conclusive na pagtukoy sa NP bilang source ng balita.
2. Sa kampo ng ABS-CBN – pag-amin na galing sa NP ang source (sabay ng pagrefresh nila sa viewer ng balita na unang nabanggit ni Sen Alan Cayetano ang “TOPAK ni NOYNOY” but with a different meaning) pero pag-invoke ng kanila umanong right to protect their source/s para hindi mapangalanan kung sino ang source nila umano.
3. Sa kampo ng NP – paghamon sa ABS-CBN na pangalanan ang source para malaman kung totoo ngang galing sa kanila ang balita, at paghamon kay Aquino na linawin na lamang ang isyu.

Sa gitna ng palitan ng mga reaksyong ito, lumalabas ang tanong sa midya: bakit ilinabas ng ABS-CBN ang balita? Ano ang basis of truth nila sa impormasyong nakalap para ilabas ito sa kaalaman ng madla? One fact, ang impormasyon ay kumakalat na sa internet bago pa man ito nailabas ng ABS-CBN.

Hindi ba naisip ng naturang network na sakaling totoong taga-NP nga ang nagforward sa kanila ng datos ay di pa rin wastong sabihing ito rin ang pinagmulan ng datos? Kahit pa anong paraan ang gawin ng ABS-CBN para papaniwalain ang mamamayan na kasapi o kakabit ng NP ang taong nagbigay sa kanila ng umano’y “psyche report”, lalabas na hindi pa rin credible ang kanilang pag-uulat, dahil lagi nang bukas ang posibilidad na ang taong nagforward sa kanila ng datos ay pumulot lang ng impormasyon sa mga blog na una nang nagbandera ng naturang psyche report.

Sa praktika ko bilang mamamahayag, bago ko gawan ng balita at ilabas ang nakalap na datos, inaalam ko ang batayan ng katotohanan ng mga datos na ito. Marami kasing sinungaling na source sa ating paligid. Kaya nga umatras na ako sa pagiging news reporter. Ano ngayon ang naging batayan ng ABS-CBN para ilabas ito?

HALAGA NG DATOS O SUPORTA SA IMAGE BUILDING NI NOYNOY?

Well, kung sa halaga ng datos, masasabing walang kwentang palusot na ito ngayon, lalo pa’t may isang paring sumisigaw na hindi ito totoo at pineke lang ang kanyang pirma dito. Ang paring ito’y nasa Ateneo lamang at madaling tanungin para maverify ang ‘report’, at sa oras na pinasinungalingan ng pari ang katotohanan ng psyche report, napakadali sa ABS-CBN na iatras ang pag-uulat hinggil dito, sa ngalan ng patas na pagbabalita. In private maaaring kwestyunin ng reporter ang kanyang source at pagsabihan na hindi na niya ito muling i-entertain as a source pag puro kasinungalingan lang ang impo na ibabato nito sa kanya. Or the reporter can verify the veracity of the information dun mismo sa kanyang source.

Dahil pumalya ang ABS-CBN sa aspeto ng katapatan sa paggampan sa kanilang tungkulin bilang midya, bumibigat ngayon ang paniniwala ng karamihan na ang motibo ng naturang network ay ang tulungan ang LP sa pagsira sa imahe ng NP and in effect, sa kandidato nitong si Sen. Manny Villar.

Oo nga naman. Ang nais nilang paputukin ay hindi ang sira sa ulo ni Noynoy. Ang nais nilang paputukin ay ang paggamit ng NP ng Dirty Tricks para sirain si Noynoy. Kaya kahit alam nilang di totoo ang balita, kanila pa rin itong inilabas, explicitly identifying their source as NP people but not naming them, para hindi na matukoy kung tama o mali ang balita at kung saan nga ba talaga nagmula ang impormasyon na may sira nga ang tuktok ni Noynoy.

At ang kanilang kalasag: ang kanila umanong pagprotekta sa kanilang source.

ANG KORPOREYT NA MIDYA AT ANG KALAYAAN SA PAMAMAHAYAG

Ilang beses nang ipinagsigawan ng mga mamamahayag na nasa korporeyt na midya, ang pagtatanggol umano nila sa kalayaan sa pamamahayag sa bansa. Ilang ulit na rin nating natunghayan ang kanilang mga krusada para sa pagtatanggol sa kalayaang ito. At sa pagkakataong ito, bukambibig ng ABS-CBN ang press freedom kasabay ng paggamit nila sa prinsipyo ng pagtatanggol sa source.

Ang motibo: para itago ang sagot sa mga tanong na nailahad na sa itaas.

Ang kaganapang natutunghayan natin ngayon ay nagpapakita na wala namang totoong kalayaan ang midya sa bansa. Dahil kontrolado ito ng korporasyong ka-ututang dila naman ng naghaharing politika, ang corporate media ay nagsisilbi lamang mouthpiece ng mga naghaharing uri. Kanilang sasabihin ang mensaheng nais ipakalat ng korporasyon: mga mensaheng magsisilbing investment nila para sa mas maalwang kinabukasan ng kanilang negosyo sa ilalim ng gobyerno ng pinapaburan nilang kandidato.

Talo (Election 2010)

April 9, 2010

Sa Mayong darating, may isang larong gaganapin. May mahalaga tayong papel na gagampanan, pero hindi tayo kasali sa maglalaro.

Ang manlalaro ay nahahati sa grupo o indibidwal. Bawat grupo ay may tinatawag na ‘kandidato’, ‘political operator’, ‘kapitalista’, ‘propagandista’ at ‘armadong yunit’. Ang bawat isa sa kanila ay may mga trabahong gagampanan para makalap ang pinakamaraming bilang ng ‘boto’ na manggagaling sa atin. Tayo ang ‘pawn’ sa larong ito.

Sa larong ito, gagawin ng bawat team ang lahat para masungkit ang ating mga boto. Aawitan tayo ng mga kandidato, bibilhin tayo ng mga kapitalista, igugrupo tayo ng mga operator, kukwentuhan tayo ng mga propagandista, at tatakutin tayo ng mga armadong yunit nila. Ang lahat ng ito ay gagawin nila sa ilalim ng pangakong pagagandahin nila ang buhay nating mga pawn.

Para makasali sa larong ito, dapat ay nasa sapat kang edad at taal na taga-rito sa atin.
Pero para manalo sa larong ito, dapat ay napakayaman mo, napakasikat mo, suportado ka ng mga pinakamayayaman at pinakamakapangyarihan sa inyong lugar, o di kaya’y marunong kang pumili ng iyong kagrupo sa iyong team at marunong kang magbigay sa mga gusto nila.

Sa larong ito, sila lang ang maglalaro.

Tayo ang paglalaruan.

Manalo matalo, may miryenda silang pagsasaluhan habang naglalaro.

At tayo?

Political/Editorial Cartoon: Middle Force

March 30, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: The Ghost

February 21, 2010

Political/Editorial Cartoon: The Making of Morong 43

February 17, 2010