Monthly Archives: April 2009

Congress urged to shoot down P 2-billion fund for 6,000 more troops

GORY, MORBID AND DETESTABLE
Congress urged to shoot down P 2-billion fund for 6,000 more troops

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged lawmakers from both Houses of Congress to shoot down the proposal of Department of National Defense (DND) secretary Gilbert Teodoro to provide an additional P 2-billion budget for the recruitment of 6,000 new troops who will be tapped to enforce the 110,000 strong Armed Forces of the Philippines in effectively addressing the country’s security problems.

Dismissing the defense chief suggestion as “gory, morbid and detestable”, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap urged members of the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate to frustrate Teodoro’s bid to secure more funds for the fresh recruitment of troops.

“Mr. Teodoro is acting like a modern-day military emperor who sees waging of an unjust and insane war as key to achieve peace and order in this country. This self-proclaimed presidentiable in case he wins the presidency in 2010 will turn this country into a full-blown and de jure military dictatorial state,” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader asserted that it would be better for the defense secretary to instead push his principal in Malacañang to pursue the peace negotiation with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) instead of employing more people for the government’s unjust war.

“Why spend P 2-billion of taxpayers’ money for an unjust and crazy war being waged by this reactionary and anti-people state? All Secretary Teodoro and his reactionary government have to do is to renounce the policy of state terror and work progressively for the attainment of just and lasting peace,” added Hicap.

According to Hicap the P 2-billion fund that will be earmarked for additional troops employment could be used to create productive 40,000 jobs at P 50,000 per job cost or 40,000 decent and simple housing at P 50,000 per housing unit to accommodate jobless and homeless people affected by the ongoing global economic and financial crisis.

“Secretary Teodoro is said to be training his sight to the 2010 presidency. But this political starlet and presidential wannabe has no sense of public service. All he wants is all-out war and this is totally objectionable,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

“As a presidential wannabe, Teodoro is going to electoral campaign and at the same time pushing his war freak escapade to the limit. This is outrageous,” said Hicap.

Speaking at a press conference during the annual Binirayan Festival in Iloilo, Teodoro said an additional 12 infantry battalions (around 500 soldiers per battalion) would address the need to saturate areas where conflicts between government troops and rebel or armed groups continued.

But the defense secretary said this number could change and would have to be validated because of the changing situation and security threats.

Teodoro further asserted hat increasing the number of soldiers would enable the Armed Forces to provide a deterrent against security threats and to conduct continual re-training while fighting the various armed groups.

According to the defense chief, the troops would also be stationed in areas cleared of rebels to ensure that armed groups would not return in these areas. Teodoro said one main reason for the continued existence of and abductions staged by the Abu Sayyaf bandit group was the shift of focus of military operations because of the lack of troops.

He said the priority should be not on high-tech equipment like multi-role fighter planes but on acquiring equipment for the infantry, including troop carriers, logistic vehicles, combat and civil engineering equipment. #

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Hacienda Luisita workers asked SC to lift TRO

Hacienda Luisita workers asked SC to lift TRO

Groups identified with Hacienda Luisita farmworkers on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it issued on June 14, 2006 preventing the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) from distributing the 6,453 hectares of sugar lands own by the family of former President Corazon Aquino to farmworkers.

In a press statement, the Hacienda Luisita farmworkers represented by the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Luisita (Ambala) and their supporters belonging to Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said the TRO is prolonging the agony of agrarian reform beneficiaries inside Hacienda Luisita.

“The Supreme Court is legally, morally and politically mandated to carry out the cause for agrarian justice and social emancipation. However, the TRO it issued last June 14, 2006 counters this mandate at the expense of landless farmworkers,” the groups said in their joint statement.

The high court issued a TRO instructing PARC and Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman to refrain from distributing Hacienda Luisita lands to farmworker beneficiaries. The SC Third Division also ordered the Hacienda Luisita Incorporated to post a cash bond of P 5 million for the TRO.

The TRO came from the petition filed by HLI questioning PARC resolution No.2005-32-10 dated Dec.22, 2005 upholding the decision of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to revoke the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) plan of the Hacienda Luisita management.

The PARC also ruled to place the entire Hacienda Luisita estate under compulsory acquisition, earmarking some P 15-billion for the acquisition of the sugar estate own by the family for ex-President Aquino.

“In the name of truth and social justice, we demand the Supreme Court to immediately lift the TRO and instruct PARC and DAR to effectively carry out the free distribution of Hacienda Luisita lands to farmworkers,” AMGL chairperson Joseph Canlas said.

Canlas and 33 other sugar workers led a silent protest outside the gate of the Supreme Court in Padre Faura, in Manila to call for the immediate lifting of the TRO.

“It’s about time the SC makes a giant kill on the agrarian reform dispute in Hacienda Luisita and uphold interest of the landless tillers and exploited farmworkers,” the AMGL leader said.

For their part, ULWU President Rene Galang and Ambala chairperson Lito Bais warned the high tribunal on the current maneuver being undertaken by HLI to prevent the farmworkers from pursuing their land rights. According to Galang and Bais, the Cojuangco family had issued a memorandum last December 18, 2008 ordering all farmworkers who occupied about 2,000 hectares of the 6,453 hectares of Hacienda Luisita to destroy their crops and vacate the lands on or before October 2009.

The leaders of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers said the memorandum was issued a day after the Senate and the House of Representatives approved Joint Resolution No.1 extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) minus the provision on compulsory acquisition.

“First the Cojuangcos used the bankrupt CARP and its provision on stock distribution option to evade land distribution, now they used the Joint Resolution to effectively deny the rights of the farmworkers to land they have been tilling for nearly a century,” Galang and Bais stressed.

ULWU and Ambala said the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita was exempted from distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Instead, the sprawling sugar estate was placed under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a non-land transfer scheme, which converted sugar workers into stock holders and daily workers receiving P 9.50 per day without any share in the gross sales.

Jay Calaguing, UMA information officer said Hacienda Luisita farmworkers continue to cultivate more 2,000 hectares of the hotly disputed sugar estate outside the framework of the 20-year old CARP, which he said was bogus, bankrupt, pro-landlord and anti-farmer.

Calaguing added that despite the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court refraining the Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC) from covering and distributing the Cojuangco sugar lands to sugar workers, the farmworkers managed to assert their land rights and pursue the “bungkalan” campaign.

UMA said the current “bungkalan” campaign has already benefited 838 families or roughly 1,676 individuals spread in the barangays of Malapacsiao (244.5 hectares), Asturias (209.93 hectares), Bantog (258 hectares), Cut-Cut (275.9 hectares), Balite (153.4 hectares), Mutrico (248 hectares), Pando (163 hectares), Texas (140 hectares), Pasajes (60 hectares) and Parang (51.5 hectares).

On the other hand, UMA is also supporting 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 his successor Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño and Gabriela Party list Reps. Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

Under GARB, Hacienda Luisita will be distributed for free to farmworkers and poor farmers and with guaranteed security of tenure and strong support mechanisms to make the 6,453 sugar estate productive and responsive to the need of farmworkers, poor farmers and the Filipino public in general. #

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Secretary Atienza reneged promise to distribute 2,000 hectares of land

Secretary Atienza reneged promise to distribute 2,000 hectares of land in Calatagan, fishers group says

Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and its affiliates- the Haligi ng Batangueñong Anakdagat (Habagat) and Claimants 2000 said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza reneged his promise to distribute 2,000 hectares of foreshore lands in Calatagan, Batangas to fishermen and farmers

“If my memory serves me right, Secretary Atienza last May 22, 2008 made a highly publicized promise that the DENR will start distributing 2,000 hectares of foreshore lands to fisherfolk and farmer residents in 19 out of the 24 barangays in Calatagan. Today is April 29, 2009. How long it will take him from accomplishing a very easy assignment?” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The 2,000 hectare plot is part of the 12,000 hectares of land owned by Ayala companies had previously been exempted from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) but the Supreme Court in July 1999, decided with finality that the hotly disputed lands should be distributed to farmers and fishermen in 19 barangays of Calatagan.

Prior to the enactment of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) and the subsequent approval of CARP in 1988, the Supreme Court had already issued a writ of execution in June 1988 enforcing the 1965 SC ruling recognizing the land rights’ claim of the farmers and fisherfolk in Calatagan.

“The 2,000 hectares of lot in Calatagan is not under CARP, but Atienza and the Office of President keep on insisting that the distribution of these lands should be within the framework of the bogus land reform program,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog chairperson and Habagat President Isabelo Alicaya said what the DENR had accomplished so far was the survey of 1,769 hectares out of the 2,000 hectares identified for distribution to fishermen and farmers in Calatagan. He said the remaining 231 hectares are still to be surveyed.

However, Alicaya said, the survey is not an assurance that the DENR will push through with the distribution of lands to farmer and fisherfolk in 19 barangays. The Pamalakaya leader said in Barangay Silang, the DENR surveyor did not recognize 500 families as residents and potential beneficiaries of the Supreme Court ruling on Calatagan lands.

“Worse, the leaders of Habagat and Claimants 2000 are being deluged with various criminal and civil cases by several land developers and big landlords for insisting their rights over these lands based on the decision of the high tribunal,” Alicaya added.

Pamalakaya-ST said 6 leaders of Habagat and Claimants 2000 were charged with cases like unlawful retainer, malicious mischief and forcible entry to stop them from pursuing the fisherfolk claims over the 2,000 hectares of land owned by Ayala companies. Among those charged were Daisy Ayo and Rossana Mole, leaders of Claimants 2000 identified with Habagat and Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog. #

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Palparan, part of the extended Arroyo political dynasty— groups

Militants accused Arroyos of building political dynasty inside Congress
Palparan, part of the extended Arroyo political dynasty— groups

Organizers of the 54-day Rural People’s Camp-Out for Genuine Agrarian Reform led by the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Tuesday accused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of building a political dynasty inside the House of Representatives with newly proclaimed Jovito Palparan, Bantay party list group Rep. as part of the extended family.

In their joint statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said with the entry of Kasangga party list lawmaker Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, younger sister of First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo, the Arroyo political dynasty composed of Ms. Arroyo, presidential sons Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo, and her brother in-law, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo is now in placed.

“This is the case of Arroyo political dynasty plus plus with the entry of Bantay party list Rep. Jovito Palparan and other Palace-backed and Palace friendly party list lawmakers in the House of Representatives,” both leaders said.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said President Arroyo and the four Arroyo lawmakers in the House of Representatives violated the 1987 Constitution that rejects political dynasty as a practice of governance. The Pamalakaya leader cited Article 2, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution that compels the state to prohibit political dynasties in the country.

“The same section (Article 2, Section 26) in the constitution gives an explanation why there should be an end to political dynasties, so that there would be “equal access to opportunities for public service. The President and the four other Arroyos in Congress are guilty of violating the country’s fundamental law,” added Hicap.

“In fact, the politically correct term in describing the Arroyos striking and powerful presence in the House of Representatives is political syndicate or political gang, where the four will serve as the core of the pro-GMA dominated congress, and they would be ably supported by the likes Palparan who is unofficial member of the Arroyo political mafia inside Congress,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Flores of KMP is set to join other militant party list lawmakers in filing the disqualification case against Palparan before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET). An advisory released by Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and Anakpawis announced that the groups will lead in the filing of the disqualification case before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) today at 10:30 a.m.

“The Lower Chamber of Congress is supposed to be the house of the representatives of the people. How come a criminal on the loose like Palparan is here and using the podium of the House to attack militant groups and other critics of the bankrupt, criminal and corrupt regime of President Arroyo? It will be the grandmother of all tragedy to allow The Butcher of Mindoro, Central Luzon and Eastern Visayas to exploit the House and perform his role to the hilt as attack dog of Malacañang and the military establishment” Flores said. #

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Hacienda Luisita workers seek

Hacienda Luisita workers seek
CBCP’s divine intervention on Cojuangco sugar estate

Groups identified with Hacienda Luisita farmworkers on Tuesday asked the divine intervention of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in clinching free land distribution of 6,453 hectares of the sugar estate owned by the family of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino.

The Hacienda Luisita farmworkers represented by the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Luisita (Ambala) and their supporters belonging to Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) appealed to CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo and the rest of the more than 100 archbishops and bishops of the prelate’s group to uphold the demand of farmworkers to acquire the sugar lands of the Cojuangcos’ for free.

“In the name of truth and social justice, we ask the archbishops and bishops of the CBCP to support the unconditional and immediate demand of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers for the entire free distribution of Cojuangco lands to landless farm workers across the sugar estate,” AMGL chairperson Joseph Canlas said in a press statement.

“The CBCP should rally the prelates behind the cause of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers. That’s what the Gospel of truth , justice and genuine agrarian reform says,” the peasant alliance leader added. The AMGL led the mobilization of 34 leaders of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers to Manila to seek an audience with the CBCP, according to Canlas.

The AMGL leader lamented that since the November 16,2005 massacre in Hacienda Luisita, the CBCP has yet to issue an official statement urging former President Aquino to surrender the lands to the rightful owners of the sugar estate— the sugar workers and farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita Incorporated.

“It’s about time the CBCP makes an official statement on the agrarian reform dispute in Hacienda Luisita and it should be on the side of the landless tillers and exploited farmworkers,” Canlas added.

In a joint statement ULWU President Rene Galang and Ambala chairperson Lito Bais told the CBCP that the Cojuangco family had issued a memorandum last December 18, 2008 ordering all farmworkers who occupied about 2,000 hectares of the 6,453 hectares of Hacienda Luisita to destroy their crops and vacate the lands on or before October 2009.

The leaders of Hacienda Luisita farmworkers said the memorandum was issued a day after the Senate and the House of Representatives approved Joint Resolution No.1 extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) minus the provision on compulsory acquisition.

“First the Cojuangcos used the bankrupt CARP and its provision on stock distribution option to evade land distribution, now they used the Joint Resolution to effectively deny the rights of the farmworkers to land they have been tilling for nearly a century,” Galang and Bais stressed.

ULWU and Ambala said the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita was exempted from distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Instead, the sprawling sugar estate was placed under the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a non-land transfer scheme, which converted sugar workers into stock holders and daily workers receiving P 9.50 per day without any share in the gross sales.

Jay Calaguing, UMA information officer said Hacienda Luisita farmworkers continue to cultivate more 2,000 hectares of the hotly disputed sugar estate outside the framework of the 20-year old CARP, which he said was bogus, bankrupt, pro-landlord and anti-farmer.

Calaguing added that despite the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court refraining the Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC) from covering and distributing the Cojuangco sugar lands to sugar workers, the farmworkers managed to assert their land rights and pursue the “bungkalan” campaign.

UMA said the current “bungkalan” campaign has already benefited 838 families or roughly 1,676 individuals spread in the barangays of Malapacsiao (244.5 hectares), Asturias (209.93 hectares), Bantog (258 hectares), Cut-Cut (275.9 hectares), Balite (153.4 hectares), Mutrico (248 hectares), Pando (163 hectares), Texas (140 hectares), Pasajes (60 hectares) and Parang (51.5 hectares).

On the other hand, UMA is also supporting 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 his successor Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño and Gabriela Party list Reps. Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

Under GARB, Hacienda Luisita will be distributed for free to farmworkers and poor farmers and with guaranteed security of tenure and strong support mechanisms to make the 6,453 sugar estate productive and responsive to the need of farmworkers, poor farmers and the Filipino public in general. #

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Rural groups launched “Palparan sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso” campaign

Rural groups launched “Palparan sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso” campaign

Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), the peasant women federation Amihan and the Southern Tagalog-based Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) on Saturday announced the launching of “Palparan Sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso” campaign.

KMP vice chairperson and Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo the public launching of the campaign will officially begin on Monday and will extend up to the electoral campaign in 2010 elections next year.

For a start, Lacandazo said on Monday, farmers and fisherfolk activists camping-out by the gates of the House of Representatives will burn 100 paper bonds bearing the demonized face of recently proclaimed Bantay party list representative former Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan.

“The Palparan Sa Kulungan, Hindi sa Kongreso campaign is part of our protracted battle for justice. The campaign will constitute protest actions, signature campaign and lobbying inside the House of Representatives where we will convince other members of Congress to cross party lines and kick out this criminal and bogus party list representative from the Lower Chamber of Congress,” Lacandazo said.

“We will not allow this evil to continue his platform of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and state terrorism,” the KMP leader said.

Lacandazo said a signature campaign calling for the ouster of Palparan will be piloted in selected provinces of Southern Tagalog, which were tormented and terrorized by the former army general namely Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Batangas, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental where controversial military general launched the brutal campaign against political activists.

She said two of the most noted victims of Palparan were human rights activist Eden Marcellana of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy of Kasama-TK. Both leaders were killed on April 2003 in Mindoro Oriental while leading a fact-finding mission on alleged atrocities committed by the military under the command of Palparan.

Citing a report from Karapatan, Lacandazo said 165 victims of the total 991 victims of extrajudicial killings came from the region.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said their move to expel Palparan from Congress has a fighting chance because last Feb., 40 congressmen crossed party lines and signed a resolution
opposing the appointment of Palparan to any government post.

Hicap was referring to House Resolution 999 in Congress that was filed at the time that the controversial retired military official will be assigned to either the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). The resolution states that “Palparan’s possible appointment is another knee-jerk reaction to government’s failure to effectively address the drug problem.”

“We have a fighting chance. We will write and talk to friendly congressmen to join our cause against Palparan and support another resolution calling for the expulsion of a political criminal and terrorist at large. It is long a way to go, but painstaking work and our justice driven campaign will convince other lawmakers to junk Palparan and send him behind bars instead,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

The resolution, according to groups was initiated by Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, was signed by 40 others from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Partido ng Masang Pilipino, Nacionalista Party, Lakas-CMD Balane, Liberal Party, CIBAC, An Waray, Anak Mindanao, Kampi, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Partido Demokratiko-Sosyalista ng Pilipinas, and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

The measure cited as basis Palparan’s alleged involvement in the proliferation of extrajudicial killings in areas where he was assigned during his stint in the military, particularly in Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, and Central Luzon areas. #

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40 congressmen who signed anti-Palparan resolution urged to lead oust “The Butcher” campaign in Congress

40 congressmen who signed anti-Palparan resolution urged to lead oust “The Butcher” campaign in Congress

Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Thursday urged the 40 congressmen who last February signed a house resolution opposing the appointment of retired Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan to any government post to lead anew in opposing the entry of the controversial general to the House of Representatives as party list Rep

In a joint statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos said the 40 lawmakers last Feb. crossed party lines to sign House Resolution No. 999 rejecting Palparan’s appointment to any government post, and the same can be applied to bar him from entering Congress this time as party list lawmaker under Bantay party list group.

The resolution was filed at the time that the controversial retired military official will be assigned to either the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). The resolution states that “Palparan’s possible appointment is another knee-jerk reaction to government’s failure to effectively address the drug problem.”

The resolution, according to Pamalakaya and KMP was initiated by Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, was signed by 40 others from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Partido ng Masang Pilipino, Nacionalista Party, Lakas-CMD Balane, Liberal Party, CIBAC, An Waray, Anak Mindanao, Kampi, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Partido Demokratiko-Sosyalista ng Pilipinas, and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.

The measure cited as basis Palparan’s alleged involvement in the proliferation of extrajudicial killings in areas where he was assigned during his stint in the military, particularly in Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, and Central Luzon areas.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the 40 congressmen who crossed party lines and signed the anti-Palparan resolution, could initiate another resolution barring Palparan from taking a party list seat and lead the oust Palparan campaign inside the House of Representatives.

“Gen. Palparan is the representative of the national security gang and extrajudicial killing republic of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He will exploit Congress into a political staging ground to aggressively attack militant groups and personalities and other lawmakers and personages highly critical of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the ruling de facto military junta in Malacañang,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said his group will re-file the P 20-million libel case it filed against Palparan in connection with the ex-army general’s statement branding Pamalakaya and party list group Anakpawis as terrorists, extortionists and recruiters of New People’s Army in the coastal areas of Bulacan two years ago.

The case was dismissed on mere technicality by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court and for lack of jurisdiction, and the case should have been filed in Tarlac City because Palparan’s unit was under the Northern Luzon Command of the AFP.

For his part, KMP’s Ramos said relatives and surviving victims of Palparan from the peasant sector will troop to Congress next week to convince lawmakers to come up with a congressional action that will stop Palparan from gaining a seat in the House of Representatives as a party list lawmaker under Bantay party list.

“The expulsion of Palparan from Congress and his incarceration for committing crimes against humanity are non-negotiable issues to us. This political crusade of the Filipino peasantry will go on and will continue to hound this brutal political criminal of activists of all time,” added Ramos.
KMP said Palparan as Bantay party list representative will be the government’s attack dog in carrying out the state politics and policies of human rights violations, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists and critics of the Arroyo administration and the military establishment.

“Palparan’s year long stint as party list lawmaker in this case will be a one hell of experience. He will be deluged with cases of disqualifications before the Commission on Elections and other appropriate bodies. If he survived the disqualification test, we will torment him with day-to-day protest and other forms of earthshaking activities that will compel him to leave Congress and go to jail instead,” Ramos said. #

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Earth Day outrage: Fishers, environmental activists are mad with top environment chief

Earth Day outrage: Fishers, environmental activists are mad with top environment chief

Manila, Philippines-Staunch critics of environment secretary Joselito Atienza on Earth Day expressed their outrage against the controversial DENR chief by dumping a sack of mud sourced from dredged soil near the site of the 11-kilometer R-1 Expressway Extension Project in Bacoor, Cavite.

Around 200 members of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and its Cavite affiliate—Samahang Magdaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite (SMBC) joined forces with the environmental activist group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) in assailing secretary Atienza over the DENR’s massive uprooting of small fishpens and mussel growing structures in Manila Bay to pave way for the construction of the P 4.3-billion Cavite Coastal Road Phase 2 Project.

In a joint statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Kalikasan-PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista charged Atienza of spearheading the destruction of Manila Bay to allow the construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project, which both leaders said will destroy the livelihood of the people and the remaining marine life in Manila Bay.

“We are mad with the Office of the President and Secretary Atienza. They are responsible for the massive loss of livelihood and all-out destruction of the bay in the name of corporate interests and bureaucratic corruption. On the occasion of Earth Day, we declare President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Secretary Atienza as enemies of the people and environment, and coddlers of big time plunders and destroyers of the environment,” the Pamalakaya and Kalikasan-PNE leaders said.

According to SMBC President Rodolfo Torres, the R-1 Expressway Extension Project had already displaced 26,000 fisherfolk families from their main source of livelihood, and he blamed Atienza for issuing the environmental compliance certificate to the project jointly undertaken by the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the Malaysia group UEM-Mara Philippines.

Torres said the ECC granted by DENR to PRA and UEM-Mara allowed the national government and its foreign investor client to reclaim not less than 5,000 hectares of coastal waters in Bacoor and nearby towns of Rosario, Noveleta, Kawit and Cavite City.

But Pamalakaya, its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and Kalikasan-PNE said the ECC granted by the DENR to R-1 proponent UEM Mara-Philippines Corporation in 2007 clearly stipulated that the 11- kilometer expressway shall be constructed on top of a viaduct to avoid flooding in the low-lying areas of Bacoor, Cavite.

“Secretary Atienza is politically, lawfully and morally obliged to reply in all honesty about this public inquiry. Did his office gave UEM-Mara the go signal to reduce the ECC into a plain piece of thrash paper and do whatever they wanted to do. There is a big difference between a viaduct and a solid land expressway made possible by all-out reclamation,” the groups asserted.

Based on the document obtained by Pamalakaya, it said the ECC awarded to UEM-Mara Philippines Corporation, the private firm was not allowed to destroy the remaining mangrove areas and reclaim coastal waters for the R-1 Expressway Extension Project.

Pamalakaya said a resolution of the municipality of Bacoor urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to temporarily halt the construction of R-1 Expressway Extension Project until the design is modified for the benefit of the people of Bacoor.

In the resolution dated October 20, 2008 and signed by Bacoor Mayor Strike Revilla and councilors Rolando Remulla, Hubert Gervacio, Normita Celestino, Avelino de Castro, Miguel Bautista, Bayani de Leon, Catherine Sarino and Gianne Louise Olegario, the local government of Bacoor appealed to President Arroyo to immediately order the temporary cessation of the R-1 Expressway construction, as they urged Malacañang to construct the road project on top of viaduct and not by reclamation involving thousands of reclaimed and to be-reclaimed areas.

In said municipal resolution, Mayor Revilla and other councilors reiterated that the R-1 Expressway Extension project as specifically mentioned in the ECC granted by DENR shall be constructed on top of a viaduct to avoid flooding in the low areas of Bacoor.

Mayor Revilla and the councilors asserted that UEM Mara through its contractor SARGASSO Construction and Development Corporation reclaimed large tracts of land in Bacoor Bay resulting in the economic displacement of hundreds of small-scale fisherfolk. #

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Protesters outside Batasan gate, hold own plenary session as peasant lawmakers

Protesters outside Batasan gate, hold own plenary session as peasant lawmakers: Junked Chacha, and passed new land reform law

Leaders of the militant farmers and fisherfolk groups camping by the gates of House of Representatives on Tuesday conducted their own “rural people’s parliament” and voted against House Resolution 737 and the other Chacha (Charter Change) resolution seeking to convene both chambers of Congress into a constituent assembly.

Imelda Lacandazo, spokesperson of the Southern Tagalog-based peasant group Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan, acted as the Speaker of Rural People’s Parliament and led in voting 50-0 in favor of junking HR 737 and the other Chacha resolution authored by former Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino) President and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte.

Lacandazo, was joined by other leaders of the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the peasant women federation Amihan and the agricultural worker group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) in shooting down the twin Chacha bills.

The militant leaders who posed themselves this time as people’s lawmakers and agents of politics of change, also passed the controversial House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) and a number of wage bills allowing P 125 across-the-board wage increase for private workers, P 3,000 for government employees and P 9,000 salary increase for public school teachers nationwide. All these bills were authored by militant lawmakers from Anakpawis, Bayan Muna and Gabriela.

Also voting 50-0 the rural people lawmakers affirmed the impeachment cases filed against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Ombudsman Atty. Merceditas Gutierrez and they vowed to transmit the impeachment cases before the Philippine Senate anytime next week.

Kasama-TK’s Lacandazo also led her “peasant lawmaker colleagues” in approving the Magna Carta for Women, which was previously barred by some women legislators allied with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

KMP Secretary General Danilo Ramos and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap who acted as majority floor leader and deputy floor leader respectively led their “peasant lawmaker colleagues” in shooting down the “right-to-reply bill” and in passing the compensation bill for victims of human rights during the Marcos dictatorship.

Likewise, the two rural leaders rallied their “peasant lawmaker colleagues” in approving the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) sponsored by militant party list lawmakers Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Bayan Muna party list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela party list lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

Ramos and Hicap also led the 50-0 onslaught in favor of scrapping the Oil Deregulation Law and the Anti-Terrorism Law. The two leaders also led their colleagues in passing a resolution honoring the late Anakpawis party list Rep. Crispin Beltran as the “man of century” for the late labor leader’s outstanding contribution for the militant workers’ movement all over the country and for defending the rights of the poor all over the country.

Earlier, Kasama-TK, KMP, Amihan, UMA and Pamalakaya challenged House Speaker Prospero Nograles and other pro-Charter Change (Chacha) lawmakers to debate the controversial measure seeking to effect revisions in the 1987 Constitution through constituent assembly outside the Batasan complex. #

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DENR chief told: Stop blaming poor over sorry state of Manila Bay

DENR chief told: Stop blaming poor over sorry state of Manila Bay

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday urged Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza to stop blaming small fishermen and urban poor folk over the sorry state of world famous Manila Bay.

“We strongly urge Secretary Atienza to stop misinforming the Filipino public about the real score on Manila Bay and quit from castrating and blaming the fisherfolk and urban poor over the sorry state of the bay. He is committing an across-the-nation foul play here, nothing more, nothing less,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The fisherfolk leader on February 23 questioned before the high tribunal Secretary Atienza’s aggressive use of a Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay clean up, asserting that the environment secretary has been abusing and illegally using the SC decision to effectively carry out massive demolition of fishpens and communities in Bacoor, Cavite and other parts of the National Capital Region.

“The DENR secretary is the no.1 protector of big business groups dumping their toxic wastes and changing the landscapes and waterscapes of Manila Bay for their own profiteering adventures. He is putting the blame to small and ordinary people and exonerate the real masterminds behind the destruction of the bay,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Hicap said Secretary Atienza like Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando sees the small fisherfolk and urban poor along the bay as eyesores and nuisance groups of people who don’t deserve decent life and should be evicted along the shorelines of Manila Bay, Laguna Lake and Pasig River.

“Secretary Atienza wants to get rid of us to allow transnational takeover of Manila Bay and the two immediate bodies of waters connected with the bay—Laguna Lake and Pasig River. For the environment secretary, what is important is the interest of big business groups doing profitable ventures and business escapades along Manila Bay,” he added.

Likewise, Pamalakaya dismissed anew, the ambitious 10-year P 100-billion Manila Bay rehabilitation program being eyed by the DENR for the bay’s rehabilitation as the biggest money making scheme of the 21st century.

“P 100 billion for the 10-year rehabilitation plan on Manila Bay is really money making scheme that makes DENR the biggest source of bureaucratic corruption fund in the country. It is like income generation campaign for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the rest of her corrupt gang in and out of Malacañang,” said Pamalakaya.

During the SC environmental forum last week, Secretary Atienza told forum participants that the government needs P 100 billion to rehabilitate Manila Bay. The DENR chief said it would be impossible to clean the water in the Manila Bay as long as domestic wastes flow into the canals into the Pasig River and into Manila Bay.

“The Operation Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy which details the projects and budget to rehabilitate Manila Bay was completed in 2005. It is now 2008 but nobody knows what this master plan is all about. It is only Secretary Atienza, the master showman of DENR who is aware that there is such a thing as P 100- B Manila Bay rehab plan,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said 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, which the group said, is colonized by big and small polluting factories.

“The government is blaming over fishing as a major factor in the degradation of Manila Bay. That is a flimsy and ridiculous excuse. The massive privatization and conversion of public lands and coastal communities along the bay since the Marcos dictatorship up to present administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the principal reason why Manila Bay is under the Intensive Care Unit, and suffering from environmental comatose,” Pamalakaya said.

The militant group said not less than 20,000 hectares of Manila Bay have been subjected to reclamation to pave way for the construction of special economic zones in Bataan and Cavite, the commercial spaces presently occupied by Manila Film Center, the GSIS Building in Pasay City, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Folk Arts Theater in Manila, and the SM Mall of Asia and other commercial companies in Pasay City.

Pamalakaya said the government intends to reclaim areas in Pasay City for the setting up of $ 15-B Casino Project in Pasay City, and it is also inclined to reclaim another 8,000 hectares of foreshore areas in Cavite for the coastal road project from Bacoor to Sangley Point in Cavite City. The coastal project alone will evict 26,000 small fishermen and urban poor from their main source of livelihood and communities. #

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