Monthly Archives: January 2009

Palace warned: French like general strike in RP, possible, says leftist group

Palace warned: French like general strike in RP, possible, says leftist group

A militant group warned Malacañang of a scenario of an across-the-nation general strike similar to that was launched by France’s 1.9 million-strong workers is not a remote possibility in the country, given the extreme degree of crisis confronting the country’s 37 million labor force.

The fearless forecast was raised by the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) after Labor secretary Marianito Roque announced that the government maybe looking at 200,000 jobless workers in six months if companies continue to shed jobs at present rate.

“A general strike across-all-sectors and across-the-archipelago is not a remote possibility given the extreme impact of the global financial crisis and the government’s continued implementation of neo-liberal economic impositions despite its adverse and devastating effects to 90 million Filipinos. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top economic officials are facing a social volcano here,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Records of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) show that 18,641 workers lost their jobs as of last week and that 33, 548 were working on reduced hours since companies in economic zones felt the brunt of the global economic crisis and financial crunch late last 2008.

“The scenario of general strike that would include factories, schools, government agencies, transport and farm and fish strikes is not a remote possibility. The current turn of events is pushing and driving the people to stage a general strike that would lead to the crowding of the National Capital Region and other key urban centers and cities nationwide. Mrs. Arroyo is really in big trouble,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis, the Macapagal-Arroyo government should impose a number of mitigating measures including a stop to mass lay off, moratorium on withholding tax, refrain from imposing new taxes, stop retrenchment of workers, spare the P 12.5 billion SSS funds from corruption, stop water and electricity rate hikes among others.

The Pamalakaya leader added that the government should allow the passage of House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) to ensure genuine land reform to rev up agricultural production in the countryside that will absorb jobless and job-lacking Filipinos all over the country.

Hicap said if passed into law, GARB will lead the national economy to absorb job losses in the National Capital Region and other urban centers, including displaced overseas Filipino workers abroad.

“Free land distribution with guaranteed strong subsidy and support mechanism is the most effective and far-reaching economic measure that would shield the country from the devastating impact and global menace of economic and financial meltdown across the globe,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap insisted.

For the fisheries sector, Pamalakaya demanded a P 32-billion production subsidy to enable the not less than 1 million small fisherfolk and fish workers to continue production and cushion the impact of the worldwide economic and financial crisis.

The group suggested a minimum P 4,500 oil subsidy for all small fishermen operating small fishing boats and P 2,000 for non-motorized small fishing boat owners across-the-country.

The P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by marginalized fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. Hicap said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

As for the P 2,000 production subsidy to non-motorized boats, the proposed production subsidy measure will benefit more than 600,000 small fishermen all over the country. #

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Pamalakaya backs Palawan execs call to include Kalayaan isles in baselines bill

Pamalakaya backs Palawan execs call to include Kalayaan isles in baselines bill

Local government officials of Palawan found an unlikely ally in the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) against the exclusion of Kalayaan group of islands from Congress baselines bill defining the country’s archipelagic and territorial waters.

“The Macapagal-Arroyo government deserves wholesale condemnation for violating and defying the Filipino people’s long-running historic claim to Kalayaan islands. This regime of greed reduced our rightful, legitimate and moral claims to Spratly to a regime of islands and this is national foul play,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader added: “Mrs. Arroyo and her company of hooligans are moving heaven and earth to remove the Kalayaan group of islands from the Philippine territory to facilitate the revival and provide the full blanket authority to the controversial Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking that would allow China to proceed with its biggest offshore mining escapade in Palawan and South China Sea.”

Pamalakaya said it is supporting the protest lodge by Palawan officials against the exclusion of Spratly group of islands in the baselines bill set to be approved by Congress next week. The militant group said the implication is not only limited to the local government officials claim to Malampaya, but to the entire claim of the Filipino people over the Kalayaan group of islands.

“The baselines bill which exclude Kalayaan group of islands is tantamount to treason to the highest order. The country’s sovereignty and territorial rights is over and above any kind of diplomatic relations and business ventures,” the group added.

According to Pamalakaya, once the baselines bill is approved with the exclusion of Spratly islands, the government will start renegotiating the stalled offshore mining project with China..

“The China National Offshore Oil Corporation will eventually set up gas pipelines from Palawan to mainland China once the potential reserves of 3.3 trillion cubic meters of gas are confirmed in the ongoing gas exploration. This is the immediate consequence of this baselines bill,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said the setting up of gas pipelines from Palawan to China will be the next big thing to happen under the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) since the transfer of gas can only be done through the construction of gas pipelines like in the case of the Malampaya gas pipeline project.

“That’s the next logical chapter of this highly detestable agreement between RP and China. China will put up its pipelines to complete the loot, and the Malacañang will just beg for alms in the form of taxes and other duties,” the group added.

Pamalakaya said his group’s fearless forecast in the next three years is that China will establish gas pipelines that would supply the energy sector of China, Malaysia and Singapore and that it would merely engaged in lease contract with the Philippine government for the use of 142,886 square kilometers encompassing Palawan and certain parts of the Spratly Islands being claimed by the Philippines over the last four decades.

Pamalakaya recalled last year the Chinese oil exploration vessel Nan Hai docked at Puerto Princesa City port to refuel after coming from a seismic operation in Southwest Palawan.

“Nam Hai 502 was in Palawan last year not only to conduct seismic operations because it is already confirmed that trillions of cubic meters of natural gas are found in the waters of Palawan and the Kalayaan group of Islands. The best kept secret there is that the Chinese oil explorers are seemingly engaged in mapping operations regarding the setting up of gas pipelines,” the group said.

The Pamalakaya added: “We were not born yesterday not to understand this geographical escapade of Chinese oil explorers. Once they explore, all aspects are considered from identification of gas deposits to how these deposits would be taken off and transferred to the home base of the oil exploration giant and their big-time clients in neighbor countries.” #

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Laguna Lake “Movement” declared war vs. int’l airport

Laguna Lake “Movement” declared war against plan to build international airport

Dismissing it as a “triple platinum murder”, the environmental alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) and the left-leaning fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday declared war against the government plan to build a new international airport at the heart of Southeast Asia’s second largest lake.

In a joint statement signed by SLLM spokesperson Romy Antazo and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, the groups vowed to cooperate and help each other in opposing the Rizal International Airport, which is supposed to be constructed after the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the city government of Taguig complete the reclamation of 3,000 hectares submerged public in the Taguig portion of Laguna Lake.

“This triple platinum murder of Laguna Lake must be stopped at all cost. Laguna Lake is already in the Intensive Care Unit, and this project will deliver the death blow, nothing more, nothing less,” both leaders said in the statement.

Both leaders added: “We decry this sell-out of Laguna Lake. This is not development, but a world class murder written and directed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and conspiracy with the LLDA chair Edgar Manda and Taguig City mayor Freddie Tinga,” the Pamalakaya and SLMM stressed.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap demanded Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza to refrain from issuing an environmental clearance certificate (ECC), warning him of the legal, moral and political repercussions the project would bring to his office.

SLMM Antazo said in December 2008, Malacañang in cooperation with the City of Taguig and LLDA announced their plans to develop some 3,000 hectares of lake waters into a mixed-use property that would include the Rizal International Airport and high-end residential, commercial and recreational zones.

Dubbed as the Lakeshore Project, Taguig City Mayor Freddie Tinga and LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda said once completed, the project is expected to rival the Fort Bonifacio Global City also in the city.

Mayor Tinga said the cost of reclaiming 3,000 hectares of sub-merged public properties in Laguna Lake stands at P 1million per hectare or P 3 billion to displace the lake water from the planned development site, stressing that the total cost of the project would depend on what the private developers intend to develop in the site.

Tinga said the government will start inviting investors and developers in the first quarter of 2009
to bid for the projects and the winner or winners would be announced in the second quarter of next year. He said the construction of the international airport will take 10 to 15 years.

According to master plan of Laguna Lake 2000 project, the government intends to finish the international project by 2025.

Among the top real-estate companies that attended the launching of Lakeshore project were the
representatives of Megaworld Corp., San Miguel Properties, SM Development Corp., Federal Land, Filinvest Land, DMCI Holdings, Eton Greenfield, Sta. Lucia Real Estate Group, Alphaland, Robinsons Land and Century Properties.

Pamalakaya and SLMM said the Lakeshore project that intends to construct the international airport and other world-class infrastructures in Laguna Lake is the main reason why Malacañang and the LLDA are hell bent in evicting some 30,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in a number of towns of Rizal, National Capital Region and Laguna that surround the lake to give way to
reclamation and construction of dikes, roads and other support infrastructures.

The groups said the first phase of the lakewide development program involves reclamation and
construction of road dikes that will initially displace 32,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in
Pasig, Cainta, Taytay and Muntinlupa, all in National Capital Region.

To facilitate the entry of foreign investments, the government will first execute the North Laguna
Lakeshore Flood and Drainage System that will involve construction of road and dikes from Taguig to Taytay (9.8 kilometers), Bicutan to Taguig (9.5 kilometers), Sta. Rosa to Calamba City section (28 kilometers) Bay to Sta.Cruz in Laguna (32 kilometers), Siniloan to Kalayaan section (28 kilometers) and Tanay section (10 kilometers).

Pamalakaya and SLLM also said aside from road and dike construction, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the LLDA will proceed with the reclamation of lake waters in Taguig (3,000 hectares), Muntinlupa (5,000 hectares) and Los Baños
in Laguna (500 hectares).

Pamalakaya also said the government plans to reclaim thousands of hectares of lake waters from Taytay to Binangonan.

“The LLDA said it wants to save the lake from biological destruction. But the government projects facilitated by the lake authority have further exposed the falsity of President Arroyo’s long running claims that it is really after protection of Laguna Lake and the welfare of the people,” the groups added. #

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Pamalakaya slams Atienza’s P 814,480 fund for dismantling of small fishpens in Manila Bay

Pamalakaya slams Atienza’s P 814,480 fund for dismantling of small fishpens in Manila Bay

The left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday questioned the P 814,480 fund alloted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for dismantling operations of small fishpens in Manila Bay.

Dismissing it as gross usurpation and misspending of public funds, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap demanded DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza to refrain from using taxpayers’ money to destroy the livelihood of small fisherfolk and small fishpen operators in Manila Bay, particularly in Cavite province.

A DENR letter to Cavite Governor Ayong Maliksi dated January 12, 2009, a copy of which was obtained by Pamalakaya, revealed that Assistant Secretary Mark Allan Jay G. Yambao informed the governor that the Office of Sec. Atienza had approved the amount of P 814,480 requested by Gov. Maliksi for the equipment rental of backhoe and tug boat to be used for the dismantling of small fishpens in Cavite.

The Cavite government requested assistance last October 13, 2008 for the dismantling of fishpen structures in Manila Bay, particularly in the province of Cavite. The DENR is set to implement the second phase of dismantling operations on Feb.3, 2009, which will be graced by secretary Atienza.

Hicap said the demolition of fishpens was not meant to clean up the Manila Bay in the name of the environment. The Pamalakaya leader said fish pens are being dismantled to pave way for reclamation of shallow coastal waters of Manila Bay in line with the R-1 Expressway Extension Project. “The left-and-right reclamation activities should be blamed for the destruction of Manila Bay, and not the fishing activities like fish capture and mussel growing along the bay operated by small fishpen operators and small fishermen,” added Hicap.

Yesterday, some 15,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents along the 15 coastal villages of Bacoor town in Cavite staged a “People’s March” against the R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp.

The protest action, the biggest so far against the Cavite road project was organized by the Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC), an affiliate of Pamalakaya. Fisherfolk and urban poor residents from Kawit, Binakayan and Noveleta coastal towns also joined the march.

SMBC spokesperson Trina Shavez said the R-1 extension project, which will involve the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of coastal waters and mangrove areas will connect the Manila-Cavite Road from Bacoor to Kawit, and it will continue inland up to Noveleta for a total of 11 kilometers.

“This project is a curse. It will not only kill our livelihood. The R-1 road project is also meant to remove us from fishing communities. Where we will go from here? This government is not after our rights and welfare. It is only after the interest of big investors and real estate money makers in exchange for fat kickbacks,” the SMBC spokesperson said in a press statement.

Shavez said the R-1 expressway extension project will displace 26,000 fisherfolk families and urban poor residents in the coastal towns of Bacoor, Kawit, Binakayan, Noveleta and Cavite City. Last year, around 1,000 fishing and urban poor families were demolished and relocated to Tanza. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) promised to give P 15,000 to each family whose houses were demolished.

Hicap recalled that on June 21, 2007, President Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 629 directing the PRA to develop Sangley Point in Cavite City into a logistical hub with modern seaport and an airport, citing the R-1 expressway extension project as enabling component. The Pamalakaya leader said the Sangley Point project was Mrs. Arroyo’s birthday gift to PRA chair and former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr..

“The R-1 extension project which is directly link to old Revilla’s Sangley escapade is an exchange deal between the Arroyos and the old Revilla. They don’t mind about their collaborations killing impact to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and Manila Bay’s fragile environment,” said Pamalakaya

Pamalakaya said the R-1 extension project resulted to diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Bacoor Bay. The same Cavite road project is also being blamed for the flooding in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in the province.

Pamalakaya said the reclamation activities conducted by the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. violated the recent Supreme Court decision on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay adding that the reclamation is destructive to the marine environment. “We cannot bring Manila Bay back to its pristine state and historic glory if the Arroyo government continues to sanction the anti-environment and anti-people business activities of the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. The R-1 extension project and the Sangley big ticket item project of Revilla Sr. are in violations of the high court’s ruling on the environment,” it said. #

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MBCC meet, a farce, says Pamalakaya

“Manila Bay Coordinating Committee meeting, a grand mockery and extremely farce”– Pamalakaya

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) today dismissed the first meeting of the Manila Bay Coordinating Committee (MBCC) organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) “a grand mockery and extremely farce”.

“It is nothing but a showoff just to make an impression that Malacañang and its government agencies are doing the best they can to save Manila Bay from the deathbed of environmental destruction,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

“It can be viewed as a meeting of minds among the top lackeys of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and their sinister agenda is to convince Congress, the World Bank, the rich nations and global funding agencies to allot at least P 100 billion in rehabilitation funds for Manila Bay that will eventually end up to the corrupt hands of the Arroyo ruling clique in Malacañang,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The MBCC composed of officials of the DENR, the Metro Manila Development Authority, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Budget and Management, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Philippine Maritime Group and the Department of Interior and Local Government will meet today at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City to discuss plans on how to revive Manila Bay and bring it back to its pristine state in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling on December 18 last year.

“They are just talking to their own shadows. As long as the framework for Manila Bay development is the sell out of the bay to Palace top corporate clients, the deterioration of this once rich fishing ground will continue will continue to the detriment of 23 million Filipinos living and fishing along the bay,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya which has fisherfolk chapters in Cavite, the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan lamented that the main and the biggest group of stakeholders in Manila Bay—the small fisherfolk were not invited to speak in the MBCC meeting, because DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza and the rest of government officials were afraid to be exposed and opposed in the MBCC meeting.

“The fisherfolk were not invited for obvious reason—Atienza and his company of extraordinary auctioneers of Manila Bay will not allow themselves to be exposed and embarrassed by the affected sector in this hundred-billion racketeering project of the government under the guise of rehabilitating Manila Bay,” the militant group added.

In protest of the MBCC meeting, 15,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents along the 15 coastal villages of Bacoor town in Cavite today staged a “People’s March” against the R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp.

The protest action, the biggest so far against the Cavite road project was organized by the Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC), an affiliate of Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya blamed the ambitious Sangley dream of former Senator and PRA chair Ramon Revilla Sr. as the main culprit behind the looming demolition of fisherfolk communities in many coastal towns of the province.

Pamalakaya recalled that on June 21, 2007, President Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 629 directing the PRA to develop Sangley Point in Cavite City into a logistical hub with modern seaport and an airport, citing the R-1 expressway extension project as enabling component. The Pamalakaya leader said the Sangley Point project was Mrs. Arroyo’s birthday gift to Revilla.

“The R-1 extension project which is directly link to old Revilla’s Sangley escapade is an exchange deal between the Arroyos and the old Revilla. They don’t mind about their collaborations killing impact to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and Manila Bay’s fragile environment,” said Pamalakaya

The group said the R-1 extension project resulted to diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Manila Bay. The same Cavite road project is also being blamed for the flooding in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in the province.

Pamalakaya said the reclamation activities conducted by the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. violated the recent Supreme Court decision on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay adding that the reclamation is destructive to the marine environment.

“We cannot bring Manila Bay back to its pristine state and historic glory if the Arroyo government continues to sanction the anti-environment and anti-people business activities of the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. The R-1 extension project and the Sangley big ticket item project of Revilla Sr. are in violations of the high court’s ruling on the environment,” it said. #

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UPDATE)15,000 Bacoor fishers to march against Cavite road project

Revilla Sr.’s Sangley Point dream blamed for looming demolitions
15,000 Bacoor fishers to march against Cavite road project

Some 10,000 fisherfolk and urban poor residents along the 10 coastal villages of Bacoor town in Cavite staged a “People’s March” on Wednesday against the R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp.

At around 7:30 on Wednesday morning, the protesters from 15 coastal barangays gathered at the Mabolo Freedom Park Later, they marched to the reclamation site, where hundreds of hectares of shallow waters off Bacoor Bay were already reclaimed according to rally organizers.

They were joined by fisherfolk and urban poor from other coastal towns of Cavite-namely Kawit, Binakayan and Noveleta. Organizers said barangay captains and local village officials from 15 barangays in Bacoor also joined the big rally against the CAvite Road project, according to a text message sent by SMBC.
The protest action, the biggest so far against the Cavite road project was organized by the Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC), an affiliate of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

SMBC spokesperson Trina Shavez said the R-1 extension project, which will involve the reclamation of 7,500 hectares of coastal waters and mangrove areas will connect the Manila-Cavite Road from Bacoor to Kawit, and it will continue inland up to Noveleta for a total of 11 kilometers.

“This project is a curse. It will not only kill our livelihood. The R-1 road project is also meant to remove us from fishing communities. Where we will go from here? This government is not after our rights and welfare. It is only after the interest of big investors and real estate money makers in exchange for fat kickbacks,” the SMBC spokesperson said in a press statement.

Shavez said the R-1 expressway extension project will displace 26,000 fisherfolk families and urban poor residents in the coastal towns of Bacoor, Kawit, Binakayan, Noveleta and Cavite City. Last year, around 1,000 fishing and urban poor families were demolished and relocated to Tanza. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) promised to give P 15,000 to each family whose houses were demolished.

“We want an end to his corporate takeover and plunder. We want our fishing and housing rights back and guaranteed. We will not leave,” the SMBC spokesperson added.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap blamed the ambitious Sangley dream of former Senator and PRA chair Ramon Revilla Sr. as the main culprit behind the looming demolition of fisherfolk communities in many coastal towns of the province.

“This aging and has-been actor and politician, now PRA chair wants to achieve Sangley dream at the expense of thousands of fisherfolk and urban poor. In partnership with the criminal, puppet and corrupt administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the old Revilla is mortgaging and selling the future of Cavite fishers and urban poor to the highest bidders and plundering clients of Malacañang,” added Hicap.

Hicap recalled that on June 21, 2007, President Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 629 directing the PRA to develop Sangley Point in Cavite City into a logistical hub with modern seaport and an airport, citing the R-1 expressway extension project as enabling component. The Pamalakaya leader said the Sangley Point project was Mrs. Arroyo’s birthday gift to Revilla.

“The R-1 extension project which is directly link to old Revilla’s Sangley escapade is an exchange deal between the Arroyos and the old Revilla. They don’t mind about their collaborations killing impact to the livelihood of the fisherfolk and Manila Bay’s fragile environment,” said Pamalakaya

Pamalakaya leaders on Monday went to the Office of Senator Jamby Madrigal, now chair of the Senate Committee on Environment to investigate the harsh effects of reclamation activities to marine life in Cavite and in the entire Manila Bay.

They said the R-1 extension project resulted to diminished fish catch and destruction of remaining corals and mangroves in Bacoor Bay. The same Cavite road project is also being blamed for the flooding in Bacoor and nearby coastal towns in the province.

Pamalakaya said the reclamation activities conducted by the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. violated the recent Supreme Court decision on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay adding that the reclamation is destructive to the marine environment.

“We cannot bring Manila Bay back to its pristine state and historic glory if the Arroyo government continues to sanction the anti-environment and anti-people business activities of the PRA and the UEM-Mara Philippine Corp. The R-1 extension project and the Sangley big ticket item project of Revilla Sr. are in violations of the high court’s ruling on the environment,” it said. #

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CBCP asked to oppose appointment of ex-military generals to Arroyo bureaucracy

De facto Martial Law, says Pamalakaya
CBCP asked to oppose appointment of ex-military generals to Arroyo bureaucracy

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday appealed to the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to oppose the appointment of retired military and police generals to various government posts.

“The left and right appointment of ex-military and police generals to various civilian posts are enhancement of the prevailing de facto Martial Law across the Macapagal-Arroyo cabinet. The archbishops and bishops of the CBCP must rise above the occasion and deliver knock out political statement against the raging militarization of the civilian bureaucracy under the militarist gang of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The fisherfolk leader particularly called the attention of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales and CBCP President Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo to address the concerns raised by lawmakers, human rights groups, anti-crime watchdogs, civil libertarians and people’s organizations on the wholesale appointment of former military and police generals to various government posts.

“Please allow us to remind archbishops and bishops of the CBCP that these generals being appointed by President Arroyo to various government posts are not officers and gentlemen but ex-military and police officers condemned by the public for their crimes against the Filipino people, including but not limited to election fraud, extra judicial killings and gross violations of human rights and civil political rights,” added Hicap.

Malacañang last week announced the appointment of former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. as head of the Presidential Management Staff replacing Cerge Remonde who was moved to the Office of the Press Secretary. On the other hand, former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Avelino Razon was named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Also last week, the Palace floated the name of retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan to head the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) or as member of the Dangerous Drug Board.

“Like the Filipino public, the CBCP is well informed about the crimes of these former military generals in partnership with the ruling Arroyo clique from 2001-2008. It would be unfair and unjust for everybody, especially to the victims of election fraud and political repression to resurface in the national political scene as continuing partners in crime of the President,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The militant group said the appointment of former military and police generals to government posts was also part of the exchange deal between President Arroyo and these generals loyal to the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

“The policy of political accommodation is very much in effect under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration with the no-surprising entry of hooligans like Esperon, Razon and possibly Palparan. The President can’t say no these generals because they share the same common dark secrets since Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001 and cheated the presidency in 2004,” said Pamalakaya. #

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Fishers group demands P 32- billion production subsidies to cushion impact of global economic crisis

Fishers group demands P 32- billion production subsidies to cushion impact of global economic crisis

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday pressed their demand for a P 32- billion production subsidies for small fishermen to cushion the impact of global economic crisis.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap suggested a minimum P 4,500 oil subsidy for all small fishermen operating small fishing boats and P 2,000 for non-motorized small fishing boat owners across-the-country.

The P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by marginalized fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. Hicap said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.

“We submitted the same production subsidy proposal to the Department of Agriculture at the height of the oil price increases last year. But Secretary Arthur Yap ignored our demand and dismissed our petition letter like one of those scratch of papers inside his office,” said Hicap.

Based on Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy, for non-motorized fishing boats operators, the government will spend monthly subsidy of P1.3 billion or roughly P 15.67 billion per year. All in all, the total subsidy for a little over small fishermen will cost he government some P 32 billion in total production subsidies annually.

The Pamalakaya leader said 100 percent of the production subsidy for fisherfolk operators of small fishing boats will go to oil, while around 50 percent of the proposed subsidy for owners of non-motorized fishing boats will go to gas subsidy, while the rest will go to other production and food needs of small fishermen.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the production subsidies for small fishermen could be addressed by immediately and indefinitely suspending the annual payments of foreign and domestic debts that eats up more than P 300 billion of the annual national budget.

“The proposed fishery production subsidy program is about 10 percent of the national government’s allotment to debt servicing. It would be better if we suspend if not totally stop paying these fraudulent loans acquired and accumulated by the previous and present administrations for their own corruption purposes,” he added.

Pamalakaya said the national government should also oblige commercial and aquaculture operators to give their fish workers the mandated minimum wage and certify as urgent the pending bill in both houses of Congress granting private workers a P 125 across the board, across the country wage increase.

To recover and further enhance the purchasing power of the Filipino fishermen, the workers and the poor, Pamalakaya said the government should scrap the 12 percent expanded Value Added Tax on all petroleum products, consumer good, utilities and services.

“These are doable items and sound economic measures to ease the burden and cushion the impact of global economic crisis. What this government need is a strong political will. But the trouble is the will of this government is only meant for big time ticket for corruption and unstoppable subservience to transnational interest and class interest of the elite,” added Pamalakaya. #

They will brave the murky waters of Manila Bay to protest the unstoppable hikes in the prices of petroleum products

They will brave the murky waters of Manila Bay to protest the unstoppable hikes in the prices of petroleum products

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Bicol fishers start seeing US military personnel ahead of Balikatan exercises

Bicol fishers start seeing US military personnel ahead of Balikatan exercises

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday said small fishermen in the Bicol region started seeing an unidentified number of US military personnel as early as first to second week of January conducting ocular inspection in various parts of the Bicol.

In an initial report forwarded by Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol), the regional chapter of Pamalakaya, it revealed that US military personnel were seen conducting initial surveillance operations in Barangay Mayngaran in Masbate City, Barangay Bagacay, Marintuk, Lalaguna and Balatukan in Mobo town, barangays Marcilla, Dapdap, Panisihan, Buenvista, Armenia, Sawang, Buenasuerte and Magsaysay in Uson town, and in the municipality of Cataingan proper all in Masbate.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap also said Lambat-Bicol also noted the early presence of US troops in Oas town, Albay, particularly in the farming villages of San Pascual, San Miguel and Talisay, where the 5th engineering battalion of the Philippine Army is currently detailed.

The Pamalakaya leader said a number of US troops were also seen in Barangay Liyang, municipality of Irosin in Sorsogon province

“They are coming by batches and appeared to be gearing for an active stunt as if the entire Bicol region is the new Iraq or Afghanistan for Washington D.C in 2009. The US military troops are seemed gearing for an all-out military intervention that could develop into a US war of aggression in the region. This senseless Balikatan exercises must be stopped at all cost,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya also assailed the looming imposition of six month to one year fish ban in the entire Bicol region once the RP-US joint military exercises go full blast this April. The group said in anticipation to the US war ships expected to carry some 3,000 regular US troops and personnel who will participate in the six-month joint military training, the government would resort to ban fishing in Ragay Gulf, Albay Gulf and Sorsogon Bay, three of the major fishing areas in Bicol and home to more than 100,000 small fisherfolk.

Pamalakaya said BFAR-Region V will ban fishing in the coastal municipalities and cities of Tiwi, Malilipot, Malinaw, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Manito, Rapu-Rapu, Legaspi City and Tobaco City in Albay province, and Prieto Diaz, Bacon, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Matnog, Casiguran, Bulan, Joban, Donsol, Pilar Magallanes, Castilla and Sorsogon City in Sorsogon province, and nearby coastal municipalities in Masbate province.

“We saw it coming. There’s no recourse for us but to face and fight this anti-fisherfolk Balikatan exercises in the sea, in the parliament of the street and in the court of public opinion. Over a hundred thousand fishermen will lose their livelihood to this crazy and shameful military stint known as Balikatan exercises. We will not allow this puppet government to sacrifice our rights and livelihood to please their Washington-based military puppeteer,” the group said.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is expected to mobilize thousands of government troops and impose its intimidating presence in fishing communities to provide blanket security to US troops participating in the joint military exercises,” added Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya said the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. He said the joint military training exercises will also cover intelligence and military operations against militant groups in the region which the AFP and the US State Department labeled as front organizations of the CPP in the Bicol region.

“The sinister agenda of Balikatan exercises include intelligence work on various people’s organizations, their leaders and mass members highly critical of US military and economic interests in the Philippines, and very vocal against the reactionary troops and ruling puppet regime in Malacañang. This is Vietnam War in the making,” it said. #

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Atienza told: Reject fish ban in Manila Bay or face storm of protest

Atienza told: Reject fish ban in Manila Bay or face storm of protest

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday warned Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza that he and his office will face a storm of electrifying protest from small fishermen if he approved the proposed fish ban off Manila Bay.

The proposal to ban fishing in Manila Bay came from the River Basin Control Office (RBCO), the agency coordinating water-related initiatives nationwide. RCBO executive director Dr. Vicente Tuddao Jr. said he would bring the proposal in next week’s meeting of the Manila Bay Coordinating Committee (MBCC) with Secretary Atienza.

“Not only the extreme force of nature will confront Secretary Atienza if he will approve this crazy proposal, he will meet the extreme anger and slam bang protest of the Manila Bay fishermen who will be affected by this incorrigible act,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

According to Hicap, the proposed fish ban off Manila Bay will massacre the livelihood of not less than 500,000 fishermen and their dependents. The Pamalakaya leader said the ban on all fishing activities will severely affect the livelihood of small fishermen and fish workers in all coastal towns of Cavite, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Navotas, Malabon, the coastal towns of Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan provinces.

“The fish ban is not the solution to Manila Bay’s degradation. The government and its environmental planners are conspiring to eliminate small fishermen so they could sell Manila Bay to the transnational clients of the ruling Mafia in Malacañang,” said Hicap.

According to Pamalakaya, the government will impose fish ban in Manila Bay not to rehabilitate it, but to allow and fast-track all reclamation activities in this once rich fishing ground.

The fisherfolk group said the government is eying to reclaim another 90 hectares of shallow coastal areas in Pasay City Reclamation Area for the controversial Las Vegas style casino project along Roxas Boulevard which the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) will undertake.

Pamalakaya said the government also plans to construct another casino inside the Navotas Fish Port, while in Cavite, the government will undertake a 5,000 hectare reclamation project that would cover the coastal areas of Bacoor, Kawit, Binakayan, Noveleta and Cavite City.

“The Supreme Court ruling is clear. The national government through the DENR and other concerned agencies should bring Manila Bay back to its pristine state and glorious past as productive fishing ground. In order to do this, the government must stop all its destructive activities along the bay like reclamation, instead of enforcing this diabolical measure known as fish ban,” the militant group added.

Pamalakaya said it will ask its network of lawyers ‘groups regarding the proposal to impose fish ban and how they could challenge the measure before the Supreme Court, which December last year promulgated a decision putting to task the national government and all its attached agencies in ensuring the rehabilitation of the bay.

“The Supreme Court ruling sent marching orders to the government to conduct a comprehensive rehabilitation program. It did not say it should impose fish ban, pursue all-out reclamation and sell Manila Bay to the highest bidders,” the group added.

Manila Bay, once the country’s no.2 most productive fishing area has a surface area of about 1,800 square kilometers and a coastline of 190 kilometers connecting parts of National Capital Region to Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan. The bay has 4,600 hectares of wetlands that provide food and habitat for various species, act as reservoir for watersheds, help maintain and improve water quality in rivers and other water bodies.

Pamalakaya blamed the present and the previous governments for the destruction of mangrove areas in Manila Bay. The group said because of rampant reclamation projects in Manila Bay, its mangrove areas shrank from 54,000 hectares several decades ago, to 2,000 hectares in 1990 and further 794 hectares in 1995.

“The fisherfolk and all the Manila Bay dwellers are being blamed by the government for the sad state of Manila Bay, where in fact, it is the national government since time immemorial should be castigated and punished for privatizing and converting Manila Bay to accommodate super-profiteer clients of Malacañang from the very, very beginning,” the group added. #

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