Monthly Archives: March 2009

Filipino fishers urge Manila execs to reject transfer of oil depot

Filipino fishers urge Manila execs to reject transfer of oil depot

Manila, Philippines —-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged other Metro Manila mayors along the Manila Bay area to reject the transfer of Pandacan oil depot in their respective cities, asserting their residents would face the same clear and present danger posed by the operations of Shell, Chevron and Petron.

“Please allow us to state the fact that aside from being one of the country’s major fishing areas, Manila Bay is a home to 25 million Filipinos. We cannot allow the local governments in the National Capital Region to gamble the lives of our fellow countrymen just to accommodate the operations of the oil cartel. That’s a national foul play,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader made the call a day after Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim vowing to church pressure against the continued stay of the oil depot, announced of his plan to veto an amended city ordinance that would allow the oil companies to maintain the oil depot despite its life-threatening presence in Pandacan.

Hicap said he learned last year that one of the alternative plans of the Big 3 operating the Pandacan oil depot is to transfer it to any of the cities in the main capital along the coastline of Manila Bay to effectively carry out the immediate transfer and minimize the cost of transfer.

“This is ridiculous. The oil cartel will not only endanger the lives of million Filipinos, but it will also deliver the death certificate to the coastal living species in Metro Manila portion of Manila Bay and even beyond,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The militant group urged the mayors and city councilors of Malabon, Navotas, Pasay City, Las Piñas and Parañaque to pass ordinances that will prevent the Big Three from relocating the Pandacan oil depot to their respective cities.

Pamalakaya raised this call after it learned the Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco expressed openness to accommodate the Pandacan oil depot in the city. “We appeal to Mayor Tiangco to reconsider his proposal and resign from entertaining that thought to host the Big 3. Navotas by orientation and by design Luzon’s fish capital and he should not change that,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also opposed the proposal of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) to build an alternative oil depot in Pulilan, Bulacan. The militant group said the PNOC was planning to build a 45-kilometer petroleum pipeline worth $ 200 million with a receiving terminal in Pulilan near the North Luzon Expressway.

“Imagine the devastating impact and wholesale destruction a 45-kilometer pipeline that would pass through Manila Bay waters from Bataan to Bulacan once a freak accident occurs. The proposal is insane, period, period, period,” the group said.

The pipeline which will originate from Petron’s refinery in Limay, Bataan will be constructed in the 64-hectare property acquired by European investors to accommodate the oil depot from Pandacan in Manila.

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Ombudsman sacrificed 17 DPWH execs to get FG, Ebdane off the hook, says militant group

Ombudsman sacrificed 17 DPWH execs to get FG, Ebdane off the hook, says militant group

The 17 officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) who were named in the charge sheet of the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged anomalies regarding World Bank-funded road projects were made as sacrificial lambs to get First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo and public works secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. off the hook.

“This is ridiculous, outrageous and a grand design for one of the biggest cover ups of the 21st century. Where is the Ombudsman’s sense of truth and objectivity here? This anti-graft office is setting the stage for another major whitewash, nothing more, nothing less,” the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a press statement.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the charging of 17 DPWH officials minus the alleged principals—the president’s husband Atty. Arroyo and Secretary Ebdane, is nothing but a political masquerade.

“The Filipino public will not buy the idea that Atty. Arroyo and Secretary Ebdane were not part of the collusion in orchestrating corruption in the Arroyo bureaucracy. The people are not born yesterday not to understand this well-placed syndicate and mafia operating in and out of Malacañang and in and out of the public works portfolio,” he added.

The Pamalakaya leader said the Filipino public is expecting the Office of the Ombudsman to absolve the First Gentleman and Secretary Ebdane from this large-scale act of corruption in the Macapagal-Arroyo government.

“The taxpaying public is convinced the Office of the Ombudsman will not touch the untouchables and it will just go after the starlets and bit players in the DPWH. The Filipino taxpayers are correct, because the Ombudsman decided to drop the presidential husband and Secretary Ebdane from the charge sheet and from the horror roll,” added Hicap.

However, Pamalakaya appealed to the 17 DPWH officials named in the charge sheet of the Office of the Ombudsman to tell all and reveal the involvement of First Gentleman and the public works secretary on alleged anomalies in foreign and national government funded projects.
“Bare all and tell all. The truth will set them free. That should be their political motto once they face the probers of the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with this case and other anomalies involving the top honchos in Malacañang. This is their time to redeem themselves and become the people’s witnesses against this regime of greed,” the militant group added.

The Office of the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (FIO) on Wednesday recommended the conduct of a preliminary investigation to determine if graft charges could be filed against 17 officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways being linked to the allegedly anomalous World Bank-funded road projects.

Assistant Ombudsman Mark Jalandoni, head of the FIO, named those who should be investigated include former DPWH secretary Florante Soriquez, current undersecretary Manuel Bonoan, and assistant secretaries Bashir Rasuman, Salvador Pleytol and Juanito Abergas.

Jalandoni said the FIO pushed for a preliminary investigation on Soriquez because he approved the results of the bidding. He said Bonoan also has to undergo probe because he was the chairman of the DPWH-BAC for Visayas and Mindanao projects, as well as Rasuman because he was BAC chair for Mindanao.

The Office of the Ombudsman also recommended the investigation on Mocamad Raki-in Sr., vice-chairman for the Mindanao area; Rafael Yabut, vice chairman for operations for Area III; BAC members Emerson Benitez, project manager lll and head of the BAC-Technical Working Group; Baliame Mamainte, project director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development-Project Management Office (IBRD); Lope Adriano, project director for the IBRD-PMOP; and Atty. Joel Jacob, officer-in-charge of Legal Service.

Others are Camilo Foronda, OIC for Legal Service; Director Antonio Molano, Jr. of the Bureau of Research and Standards; Leonora Cuenca, OIC of the Comptrollership and Financial Management Services; Director Walter Ocampo of the Bureau of Construction, all BAC members and Florencio Aricheta, representative from National Constructors Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Construction Association.

If there is probable cause, the officials could be charged for violating Section 3 (e) and (i) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices); and Section 4A (a) and (b) of RA No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees).

They could also be charged with administrative cases of grave misconduct, dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service and neglect of duty. #

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Pamalakaya protests Japan’s plan to dock ships in RP ports

Pamalakaya protests Japan’s plan to dock ships in RP ports

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday rejected the proposal of the Japanese government to allow its international sea vessels to dock in several ports across the country as they await shipment of imported products to foreign countries.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the proposal of Japanese government to allow its international cargo ships to anchor in Philippine ports is tantamount to reducing the country into the docking capital of Japan in Southeast Asia.

“The proposal is outrageous and extremely mind-boggling. Imagine Japanese ships carrying Japanese flags and suggesting Japanese control will saturate Philippines ports in the immediate future. This ship invasion of Japan is tantamount to across-the-country violation of the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Hicap.

According to labor and employment secretary Marianito Roque, Japan is eyeing the country to become the lay-up heaven of their international vessels in response to the global economic crisis which continues to slowdown demand on imported products.

The labor chief said he met up with Japanese ship owners last week, and they have initially identified the ports of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SMBA) and the Malalad Bay in Davao as possible lay up centers for Japanese vessels.

According to Roque, the Philippines is being strongly considered because it is one of the closest neighbors of Japan, and that makes it a cost-efficient area for Japanese ship owners to dock their vessels until a strong demand for shipping cargo returns.

The labor department said there are two kinds of lay ups—one is hot lay up where the crew are still on board the anchored ship and will still get regular pay, and the other one is cold lay up, which would require crew members to leave the ship.

“As far as we are concerned there’s no such thing as RP-Japan docking agreement or RP-Japan visiting vessels agreement. While there is this one-sided and notorious economic pact known as Jpepa (Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement), it does not suggest that the Philippines will accommodate hundreds and thousands of Japanese vessels waiting for strong demands for overseas shipment of imported products,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said at present there are more than 3,000 Japanese vessels plying international waters, and the Philippine government will be obliged to provide docking ports for Japanese vessels which want to avail of the country’s major ports all over the country.

The militant group said Japan is also notorious as far as tuna poaching in the country’s waters is concerned citing reported poaching activities of Japanese owned and operated factory ships to fish tuna off the waters of Aurora province from January to July 2008.

In January, Pamalakaya filed a diplomatic protest against the Japanese government against the poaching activities of Japanese fishing vessels in the waters off Aurora province.

The militant group said while cannot ascertain the total tuna haul of Japanese fishing vessels; it said at least eight Japanese fishing vessels, some with canneries were seen almost daily during those months.

Pamalakaya said Japanese tuna poachers used long-line fishing gears in the hauling of tuna, blue marlin and other high value fish species. The group said Japanese fishing vessels even entered in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters from the shoreline.

Industry standards said, a 3,000 Japanese single-ton tuna factory ship, accompanied by support fishing fleets can catch as much as 150 metric tons of tuna on a 24-hour operation basis. By industry standard, a single factory ship could harvest 50,000 metric tons of tuna per year.

“Let us say there are eight Japanese tuna fishing vessels that regularly poach in the waters of Aurora province daily from January to July that means a total haul of 27,000 tons of tuna per factory ship during the period or 216,000 metric tons of tuna for all eight fishing vessels,” the group said.

According to Pamalakaya’s computation, the owners of the eight fishing vessels could have earned as much as US $ 1.274 billion or US$ 160 million per fishing vessel in just six months from tuna poaching in Aurora and other tuna-rich waters of the Philippine territory.

“The situation is very, very alarming. The Philippine waters which is part of the country’s national territory has become an open city for foreign fishing plunderers led by Japanese tuna fishing interests and shipping cargo monopolies in Japan,” the group added. #

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EU asked to suspend if not stop aid to RP because of killings

EU asked to suspend if not stop aid to RP because of killings

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged the influential European Parliament to suspend if not stop all its financial assistance and economic aid to the Philippines due to the failure of the government to stop extrajudicial killings and other forms of human rights violations all over the country.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap was referring to the 61 million euros or $ 90.22 million leaders of the European Union had promised to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo beginning March last year.

“The European Resolution which called the attention of the Macapagal-Arroyo government about the government failure to investigate and prosecute members of state security forces implicated in hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of political activists must be followed by an indefinite suspension if not total halt of all European aid to the extrajudicial killing republic of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” said Hicap.

Last Monday, Ambassador Alistair McDonald, head of the delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines told reporters that the killings of Rebelyn Pitao and Eleazar Billanes could damage the reputation of the Philippines just as the government was exerting efforts to solve the problem of human rights violations.

McDonald said the reputation of the Philippines should again be tarnished by the brutal murder of Pitao, which was followed only a few days later by the Billanes in Koronadal. Pitao, a 20-year old teacher is the daughter of Leonicio Pitao, alias Commander Parago of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao, while Billanes is an environmental activist.

The European Parliament, the legislative body of the European Union adopted the resolution last March 12 and is it is expected to forward the resolution to Malacañang soon.

“The European Parliament and the European Union should follow the resolution with concrete and totally punishing actions like the indefinite suspension or total halt of all European aid to the Philippines. This is one way of effectively stopping the liquidation squad of the Arroyo government from pursuing its policy of political killings of leftwing activists and critics of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Of the 61 million Euro aid to the Philippines, 36 million Euros are earmarked for delivery of basic social services like health, the European Union said. Some 12 million Euros will be used to support efforts to bring peace in Mindanao, while 13 million Euros will be alloted for trade development.

But Pamalakaya said predicted that 80 percent of the European funds or 48 million Euros will go either to the militarist project of the government or to corruption escapade of the Arroyo administration and allied politicians and only 20 percent will be used to some projects to show that the government really spent the funds for intended beneficiaries.

“It is public knowledge that moderation of greed is not even a cup of tea of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, which has been hounded by allegations and charges of high crimes of corruption. Based on the corrupt practices and track record of the present administration, 50 to 80 percent of government funds went to corruption since Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001 through the second edition of People Power,” the group said.

“To give 61 million Euros to the present regime currently battered with cases of corruption and plunder of government funds is like committing a political suicide. It is appropriate for the leaders of the European Union to listen to the Filipino people and subscribe to just demand for the EU to defer if not stop giving aid to President Arroyo,” Pamalakaya added.

Based on the human rights report provided by the human rights group Karapatan, about 991 political activists from 2001 up to 2008 were killed by alleged members of the Philippine military, and state security forces were also blamed for the enforced disappearances of 201 activists from 2001 to 2008. #

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Leftwing group urges Filipinos to phone and tell GMA to scrap VFA

PATRIOTIC ADVISORY
Leftwing group urges Filipinos to phone and tell GMA to scrap VFA

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday issued a patriotic advisory urging all Filipinos to phone or email the Office of the President and tell President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to scrap the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

At the sideline of the re-launching of broad Junk VFA Movement this morning held at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap asked decent thinking, nationalist and patriotic Filipinos to barrage President Arroyo with phone calls and emails urging her government to terminate the defense pact.

“Let us barrage the Office of the President with phone calls and emails asking the no.1 US puppet in Asia to stop her puppetry and perform in accordance with the patriotic and collective interest of the people. This is one way of teaching Mrs. Arroyo that national sovereignty, truth and justice are non-negotiable even if she received 1 million calls from US President Barack Obama, the Pamalakaya leader said.

In their patriotic advisory, Pamalakaya urged all decent and patriotic Filipinos to rise above the occasion and demand from President the scrapping of the VFA, the junking of RP-US joint military exercises and the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.

The advisory also contained information where the people could contact President Arroyo like the Palace hotlines—-+63 (2) 564-1451 to 80; +63 (2) 735-8005, the Office of the President’s fax number— +63(2) 736-1010 and the president’s public email corres@op.gov.ph

“Mrs. Arroyo should listen to the voice of the Filipino people against VFA and must entertain and listen to the demand of the Filipino people struggling and asserting their sovereign rights, instead of chasing Obama who is following the terrorist and global police dog regime of US President George W. Bush,” the anti-VFA advisory said.

Pamalakaya, its regional affiliate Lakas ng Mangingisda ng Bicol and other anti-VFA groups in Albay yesterday staged a 50-boat fluvial protest against the defense treaty and the upcoming Balikatan exercises.

The Lambat-Bicol and Pamalakaya said 50 fishing boats assembled in San Roque, Albay at around 8:00 a.m and sailed towards Legaspi City pier by 9:00 a.m. The protesters aboard 50 boats reached the city’s main port by 10:00 a.m where they held a one-hour protest against VFA and Balikatan.

Pamalakaya asserted the RP-US Balikatan exercises were not only meant to gain future access to guerilla fronts maintained by the CPP and the NPA. 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 group said 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 who are very vocal against state militarization and foreign intervention. #

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DENR chief will nose bleed defending Manila Bay demolitions, says fishers group

DENR chief will nose bleed defending Manila Bay demolitions, says fishers group

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday said environment secretary Joselito Atienza will have a nose bleed explaining to the Supreme Court the justification of his campaign to rid Manila Bay of fishing structures and houses in connection with the ongoing Manila Bay clean up.

“Secretary Atienza will nose bleed. His lawyers and legal staff will experience the same in explaining the legal, moral and political rationales why they went on an across-the-bay rampage destroying the livelihood of small fisherfolk in Cavite,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Supreme Court last March 4 ordered Secretary Atienza to comment within 10 days on petition of Pamalakaya, the fisherfolk of Bacoor represented by Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC) and Anakpawis party list questioning the DENR demolition of fish pens and mussel growing structures along Manila Bay.

Hicap said the order of Supreme Court to Atienza, made his group and the fisherfolk of Cavite as official parties to the Manila Bay clean up case filed by concerned citizens against government authorities.

“The SC found merit on the petition we filed against the ongoing demolitions undertaken by the office of Secretary Atienza. The move of SC ordering the DENR chief to reply to the issues we raised last Feb.23 is an indication that we are now part of the Manila Bay clean up case. This is a positive development but it still a long way to go and things are still uncertain as far as the legal battle is concerned,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

In their “very urgent and respectful motion for leave to intervene” filed at the Supreme Court on Feb.23, the petitioners Pamalakaya, its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog, Anakpawis party list and SMBC said they are with the public in approving the Decision of the Honorable Court promulgated on December 18, 2008, for the clean-up and rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.

“Unfortunately, however, the decision was used and abused by the petitioners, making it the basis for the illegal and incessant demolition of their houses, fish traps and fish cages and the destruction of one of their livelihood which is growing of mussels,” they said.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, one of the petitioners said: “Let it be told that the decision of the Honorable Court does not warrant or suggest that the rights of small fishermen in the Manila Bay be trampled upon.”

The Pamalakaya leader added: “Nothing in the decision gives the petitioners, especially the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the authority to demolish and destroy the houses and source of livelihood of the movants. They or the structures they have put up in Manila Bay were not the source of the pollution, toxic waste or contamination of the bay.”

“Our fisherfolk and poor people in Manila Bay should not bear the brunt of the decision but the real culprit behind the sorry state of the Manila Bay. They should not be deprived of life, livelihood and property by the erroneous interpretation and implementation of the petitioners of the Honorable Court’s decision. For rightly so, they are not the cause of the effluence of the Manila Bay but some other factors, which, unfortunately were not given much attention by the petitioners,” they said.

The petitioners have been adversely affected by the erroneous interpretation and implementation of the petitioners-agencies, especially the DENR, of the Honorable Court’s decision. They have no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. They are directly filing this motion to the Honorable Court as it was its very decision that has been used to justify the demolition and destruction of the source of livelihood of the movants by the petitioners-government agencies,” they said.

On December 18, 2008, the Honorable Court in the instant case rendered a decision directing the petitioners government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level (Class B sea waters per Water Classification Tables under DENR Administrative Order No. 34 [1990]) to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.
In February 2009, DENR caused the destruction of the mussels, fish cages and fish traps of the movants. Every week, eight hundred fourteen thousand pesos (P814,000.00) of public funds were used by DENR in demolishing fish traps and mussel growing structures in Manila Bay, including make-shift structures.
Pamalakaya maintained that the decision of the Honorable Court dated December 18, 2008 does not warrant or suggest that the rights of small fishermen in the Manila Bay be trampled upon. Nothing in the decision gives the petitioners, especially the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the authority to demolish and destroy the houses and source of livelihood of the movants.
“Let it be noted that they or the structures they have put up in Manila Bay were not the source of the pollution, toxic waste or contamination of the bay. It is the source of their livelihood and these activities of the small fisherfolks constitute passive fishing, and therefore not destructive to the environment and the Manila Bay but in fact, they are environment friendly,” it said.

Pamalakaya asserted the fishing activities of the small fisherfolks are not the cause of the degradation of the Manila Bay but the toxic chemicals and industrial waste of factories and companies.

They were sourced not from the Manila Bay itself. As stated in the material facts of the case, almost 60 percent of pollution entering Manila Bay comes through the Pasig River, and 80 percent of the pollution comes from industries and commercial establishments situated along the country’s major river system in the National Capital Region. Another 15 percent of the pollution that gets into Manila Bay comes from Pampanga River, is colonized by big and small polluting factories.

“Ostensibly, therefore, the decision of the Honorable Court was merely used as cloak to justify the intention of the DENR to get rid of the structures established and used by the movants to grow mussels and to catch fishes in Manila Bay in order to give way to the construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Philippine Reclamation Authority,” the group added.

Pamalakaya said the same decision will later on be used by the petitioners to justify the further demolition of the houses of small fishermen and the destruction of the mussel-growing structures, fish traps and fish cages to give way to further reclamation activities in the bay.

“Thus, on the guise of implementing the decision of the Honorable Court for the clean up, protection and rehabilitation of Manila Bay, the DENR has dismantled and will dismantle the structures used by the movants for growing mussels and for catching fishes in the Manila Bay. But it could not be denied that their real intent is to get rid these structures to allow the unhampered construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project and reclamation of the portion of the Manila Bay without risk of civil, criminal and/or administrative suits and without compensating anything to the movants,” it said.

Pamalakaya further noted that “It must be said then, that the misplaced interpretation and interpretation of the decision of the Honorable Court by the petitioners especially the DENR will defeat the significance and usefulness of the decision. They have led their sight to the small fishermen, while turning a blind eye to the destructive effect of the conversion and reclamation projects in Manila Bay.”
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DAR paid ad on CARP meant for fund generation campaign

DAR paid ad on CARP meant for fund generation campaign

Groups opposed to the extension of the 20-year old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) on Monday said the full-page advertisement which appeared in major broadsheets this week were paid for by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to convince foreign donors agencies to continue funding the agrarian reform program of the government.

“To make it simple and understandable, DAR merely wants funding agencies abroad to invest more billions of pesos for CARP implementation and support services in the tradition of the
P 76.2 billion foreign donors had shelled over the last 20 years. In other words, it is just another money making scheme,” anti-CARP groups Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Amihan peasant federation said in a joint press statement.

“Whether agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman admits it or not, the paid advertisements which ran in millions of pesos of taxpayers money were part of the sinister scheme to acquire more funds and more loans abroad for the current corrupt regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” the groups said.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos noticed that in the paid advertisement, DAR put more emphasis on the need of CARP to sustain funding for support services, adding that the DAR, in a way admitted that it would no longer give premium to land distribution and would focus more on foreign funded and assisted projects ranging from support infrastructures and maintenance of so-called agrarian reform communities for fund drive abroad.

“This is a money making racket sanctioned by the bureaucracies in and out of Malacañang and in and out of DAR. This is money making at its best,” said Ramos.

The KMP leader also questioned the claim of DAR that it was able to distribute 7.2 million hectares of land to 4.5 million farmers over the last 20 years under CARP, while the truth is more than half of the 7 million hectares target for land distribution were already reverted back to the former landlords or transferred to new private owners in the form of cancellation of land titles, land use conversions and other forms of land grabbing and agrarian reform reversals.

“In fact vast tracts of land remained in the hands of few landed monopolies both local and foreign. DAR spin doctors are trying to make a glossy picture out of the sorry state of land reform in the country,” added Ramos.

For his part, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap challenged DAR secretary Pangandaman to identify the beneficiaries and the exact locations of the beneficiaries where the so-called physical land transfer or land distribution.

The Pamalakaya leader said an audit performance is highly necessary to prove if there is really truth to the claim of DAR that it was able to distribute 7.2 million hectares of land to 4.5 million farmer beneficiaries.

“DAR has this two-decade long record of doctoring the agrarian reform statistics to show to the people of the country and the international community that agrarian reform really existed in the country over the last 20 years,” Hicap added.

According to accomplishment report of DAR, the government under CARP was able to provide tools for productivity to 5,961 farmers organizations and cooperatives and benefited 709,219 members. It also said 2,595 organizations availed of the P 4.736 billion credit support provided by the agrarian reform department.

The DAR report also cited other accomplishment reports such as the construction of 6,577 farm-to-market roads, 976 irrigation systems, 428 units of post-harvest facilities, 194 multi-purpose buildings, 6 flood control projects and 174 bridges.

KMP, Pamalakaya and other staunch allies are calling for the junking of CARP, and have rejected moves to extend the 20-year old agrarian reform program, including the scrapping of Joint Resolution No.1 that extended CARP for another six months without compulsory acquisition.

Instead the groups are calling for the passage of Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 3059 authored by the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran and co-authored by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela partly list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

The meat of GARB is the free distribution of lands to landless, land-lacking and willing to till farmers with enough guaranteed security of tenure protection, production subsidies and support services. #

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