Monthly Archives: July 2009

DENR chief slammed over 600,000 hectare RP-Japan biodiesel deal

DENR chief slammed over 600,000 hectare RP-Japan biodiesel deal

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday slammed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Joselito Atienza for allowing the United Kingdom-based Japanese firm Pacific-Bio-Fields Corp. to use 600,00 hectares of public lands for biodiesel production, dismissing it as national crime against national interest.

“The DENR under the tutelage of Secretary Atienza further degraded itself into the biggest pimp of national patrimony with this latest biodiesel escapade. Instead of protecting the country’s patrimony and natural resources, this office has turned into the largest money outlet of the corrupt administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The DENR provincial office in Ilocos Norte had found the area in Pagudpud in Barangay Caunayan to be suitable for coconut plantation after inspecting it last year. The inspection was ordered by DENR Secretary Atienza.

“This is Secretary Atienza performing his role to the hilt as the most aggressive agent of Malacañang in disposing public lands for corporate takeover. This virtual sell out should be further exposed, opposed and condemned by the 90 million Filipinos,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the RP-Japan 600,000 hectare biodiesel deal is part of the government’s commitment to Japan under the Japan-Philippine Economic and Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), the controversial bilateral economic agreement approved by the Philippine Senate last year.

“This is Jpepa in action. Although Japan will lease it for 25 years and could renew it for 25 years, that is virtual land grabbing and land ownership because 50 years up to 75 years already constitute a lifespan,” Hicap noted.

Pamalakaya said it will explore all legal venues to stop the RP-Japan coco deal, including the filing of a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the Supreme Court and the filing of plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against Secretary Atienza and other groups and persons involved in the highly treacherous deal before the Office of the Ombudsman.

“We will make things hard and difficult for Secretary Atienza and his partners in crime in and out of Malacañang, including the Japanese business mafia behind this incorrigible biodiesel adventure in the country,” the group said.

To start its legal offensive, Pamalakaya today pressed senators and congressmen to investigate the agreement between Pacific-Bio Fields Corp. and its local partner- the Philippine BioEnergy Northern Luzon Inc. and the supplemental Memorandum of Agreement between the DENR and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

The militant group put to task Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to immediately calendar the investigation. “It would be better if both House leaders conduct the start the probe ahead of the scheduled State of the Nation Address by President Arroyo,” the militant group said.

“The Senate President and the Speaker of the House must rally the lawmakers in declaring the agreement illegal, immoral and unconstitutional. They should cross party lines and go for the truth and nothing but the truth, because national interest is at stake here,” said Pamalakaya.

Pamalakaya lamented that the incident involving the free use of 600,000 hectares of lands for the production of bio-diesel for the use of Japanese users is a clear proof that it is really anti-Filipino and merely intended to address the need of Japanese transnational corporations.

“In exchange for 400 nursing and caregiving jobs in Japan, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will allow the corporate exploitation of 400,000 hectares of Philippine agricultural lands to foreign groups identified with and serving at the pleasure of Japanese car makers. No Filipino can stomach this kind of across-the-nation betrayal of national interest,” said Pamalakaya.

In an announcement in Tokyo which coincided with the state visit of President Arroyo, the Pacific Bio-Fields Holding Corp. said the project would make alternative auto fuel which it plans to sell to Japanese users in five years. Its counterpart the Bio-Energy NL headed by company president Salacnib Baterina denied that the government will allow the use of 400,00 hectares for the production of bio-diesel for free. #

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Congress pressed to probe rice overpricing, despite denials of top agri officials

Congress pressed to probe rice overpricing, despite denials of top agri officials

Despite the denials made by Department of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and top executives of the agriculture department, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday asked lawmakers to investigate the alleged overpricing of imported rice from Vietnam.

“Facts and figures cannot be denied by statements of outright denials. We strongly appeal to members of both chambers of Congress to get at the bottom of the issue and let the truth come out in the name of national interest and for the sake of the taxpaying public,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the denials of agriculture secretary Yap, agriculture undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla and National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jesus Navarro cannot be take at face value.

“These officials can lie to high heaven to protect the sinister agenda of the corrupt regime, but they cannot escape from the call of accountability. A full-blown inquiry is a must and we cannot afford to let this case of big-ticket of corruption to go like an ordinary thing of the past,” Hicap added.

The militant group said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles should immediately calendar the investigation of overpriced rice imports which were bought from Vietnam at an average of $ 456 to $ 459 per ton last December, where the prevailing price of Vietnam rice per ton at that time was only $ 380 per ton for an overpriced value of 45 percent per ton.

“Enrile and Nograles should do their assignment and call for an all-out probe. They should quit acting as top apologists of the corrupt Arroyo administration, and should instead go for a giant kill, nothing more, nothing less,” said Pamalakaya.

According to DA undersecretary Fondevilla, based on December rates, the Philippine government obtained a good deal at the time because the actual import price agreed upon by Manila and Hanoi was
$ 549.50 per ton, which include add on costs like freight, bid and performance bonds, surveyor’s fees and the cost of money arising from the Philippine government’s paying of imports not in cash but on a deferred credit basis for six months.

NFA’s Navarro also insisted that the transaction also saved some $ 7.54 million for the government based on the prevailing February prices of the grain as posted by the Board of Trade of Thailand, because the rice imports from Vietnam was acquired at an average of $ 549.50 per ton, while the February price of rice imports soared to $ 656.15 per ton.

“The NFA administrator is either bad in math or just playing fool here. The prevailing price of rice imports at the time the country acquired rice from Vietnam was pegged at $ 380 per ton and this was in December of 2008. The point of reference of Navarro was February where average price of rice imports shoot up to $ 656.15 per ton. Mr. Navarro is engaged in all out manipulation here to justify the possible acts of corruption performed by the greedy regime of President Arroyo,” said Pamalakaya.

Agriculture officials also said the rice import transaction with Vietnam was approved by the Private Sector Procurement Transparency Group (PSPTG) headed by lawyer Paterno Menzon representing the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BCC). #

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Fishers to pit own SONA vs. GMA SONA

Fishers to pit own SONA vs. GMA SONA

The chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday announced it would have its own State of the Nation Address (SONA) ahead of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s SONA on July 27.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the fisherfolk alternative SONA to be held in UP Diliman on July 20 would be billed as “Like Fishes Over Troubled Waters”, which will be co-sponsored by Anakpawis party list.

He said fisherfolk resource persons would discuss disturbing trends in local fisheries like the across-the-country sell out of coastal communities to foreign investors, and left and right lease of public lands and foreshore land areas to big corporations abroad.

Hicap announced the schedule of its own SONA a day after Presidential Chief of Staff and former AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. revealed that the President’s SONA on July 27 would deal largely on the infrastructure accomplishments of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration since last year.

Esperon, who is tasked to monitor the implementation of government infrastructure projects, last week, said that 38 infrastructure projects are already completed and 37 more projects are set to be finished by the end of the year. He said the funding for these projects are complete or are in place.

“It is going to be a battle of SONAs. But our SONA is based on truth and vast experience of ordinary, yet struggling coastal people in fishing communities. We will flood and deluge President Arroyo with fishery facts and figures that will further expose her crimes against the fisherfolk and the Filipino public in general,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said problems concerning the massive privatization and conversion of coastal communities will be highlighted by stories of reclamation in Laguna Lake, Manila Bay, Cordova reclamation and South Reclamation Project in Cebu province. Hicap said the phenomenon of offshore mining in Cebu, Bohol, Antique, Palawan and Ragay Gulf will also be tackled during the fisherfolk SONA.

Hicap said the forum aptly billed “Like Fishes Over Troubled Waters” will also discuss the implications of bilateral agreements the Arroyo government entered with foreign states like the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), the RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Pact, the forthcoming RP-US Free Trade Agreement, the RP-China Agreement and other economic deals the government recently clinched with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Brazil.

Hicap said these agreements are closely linked or attributed to the moves of Malacañang and allies in the House of Representatives that seek to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution and lift the ban on 100 foreign ownership of land, aside from allowing President Arroyo to extend her stay in power.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said around 200 fisherfolk leaders from the provinces of Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon, all in Southern Tagalog Region, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales in Central Luzon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes all in Bicol region and Cebu, Bohol and Negros Occidental.

For his part, Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said, the alternative SONA will also launch the group’s campaign for the P 32-billion oil and production subsidy to small fisherfolk.

France said the fighting demand of the small fisherfolk for monthly production subsidy to arrest the uncontrollable hikes in the prices of petroleum products and the global economic and financial crisis is long overdue.

He recalled that the demand for production subsidy was submitted to the office Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap on July 2008. France said the demand which was written in two-page letter had been in the office of agriculture secretary, but Secretary Yap is not doing his homework.

The main purpose of the P 32-billion production subsidy is to keep the wheel of production in the fisheries sector in the Philippines moving, because it is currently battered by high prices of oil products and skyrocketing prices of fishing gears and equipments.

Under the annual P 32-billion production subsidy for the fisheries sector proposed by Pamalakaya, all fishermen who own a small motorized banca will receive a minimum P 4,500 monthly oil subsidy, while those who operate non-motorized banca will receive P 2,000 monthly production subsidy.

According to Pamalakaya, the P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. It 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.

Pamalakaya’s proposal for production subsidy for 630,000 non-motorized fishing boats operators across the country will cost the national government some of P1.3 billion per month 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 group 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 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 one-third of the annual national budget.

It said 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. #

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“Hello Garci” whistle blower asked: “Who order the bombings before?”

“Hello Garci” whistle blower asked: “Who order the bombings before?”

The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged controversial Hello Garci whistle blower Vidal Doble to identify government and military officials who ordered them to stage previous bombing incidents in the country.

“In the name of national interest, Mr. Vidal Doble is hereby asked by the 90 million Filipinos to identify the government and military officials who ordered them to perform the previous bombings at the time he was still in the military service,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader said Doble should go all-out in his expose and ready himself once the Senate or the House of Representatives decides to conduct an inquiry on the past bombings where he and his colleagues were involved. “The truth will set him free and he is obliged to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. We hope the lawmakers in both chambers of Congress will put premium to Doble’s bombshell and cross party lines in the name of public interest,” said Hicap.

The Hello Garci whistleblower on Wednesday theorized the recent bombings including the incident in the Office of the Ombudsman this week were the handiwork of state security forces, recalling his ordeal while working with the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp), where he and other military intelligence officers did the bombings themselves to create a political scenario that will justify the moves of Malacañang and the AFP.

“Who ordered Mr. Doble to perform the bombing incidents in the previous years of the Arroyo administration? Is it President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself? Is it the National Security Adviser in the person of Secretary Norberto Gonzalez? Is it the Defense Secretary or is it the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Mr. Doble has to identify or name names and go all-out,” added Hicap.

Doble said he was incline to believe that “Oplan August Moon”, an alleged administration backed coup plot that sees the installation of administration friendly military and police officials to sensitive government posts to allow Charter Change and extension of President Arroyo’s stay in power.

The Hello Garci whistle blower in 2005 said the Arroyo administration wants to control the entire AFP in case the Constituent Assembly pushes ahead. Pamalakaya said “Oplan August Moon” cannot be discounted as a political fiction, saying Arroyo’s last option to remain in power is declare Martial Law and justify its imposition by creating all out trouble and by terrorizing the Filipino public. #

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US President Barrack Obama dared:

US President Barrack Obama dared:
Denounce GMA over torture of Fil-Am activist

The chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday urged US President Barrack Obama to denounce President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the military establishment over the alleged torture of Fil-Am activist Melissa Ocampo by military agents of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a press statement, Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said Obama is politically, legally and morally obliged to issue a strongly worded statement assailing President Arroyo and the AFP for the politically motivated abduction and torture of Ocampo, an American by citizenship who came to the Philippines for exposure and research program.

“US President Obama should come to the picture and assail President Arroyo and her national security syndicate in Malacañang to the highest order for torturing Ocampo. The White House made a super political monster out of Arroyo by endorsing its policy of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the name of Washington’s war on terror,” said Hicap.

Hicap said his group is wondering why up to now, the populist US president has yet to issue a statement involving the torture of Ocampo.

“Obama’s silence on the Ocampo torture is really bothering and mind-boggling. We hope Obama would do his assignment and castigate the Washington puppets in Malacañang and the AFP and tell them to stop their madness and eternal thirst for the blood of political activists,” he said.

The Pamalakaya leader said his group is planning to write the US Senate and the House of Representatives to conduct their own investigation on the abduction and torture of Ocampo, who is an American citizen.

“Definitely we will write the American leadership of both chambers of US Congress. This is one way of showing our full support to Ocampo and to all victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration,” said Hicap.

According to Pamalakaya, the letter will be finalized this week by the national executive committee members of the fisherfolk alliance and will be sent not later than Friday through speed mail. Two years ago, Pamalakaya wrote a letter to Speaker of the US House of Representatives, urging top house leaders to address the issue of political killings of activists under the Arroyo administration.

The 31-year old Fil-Am in a press conference last Sunday in Los Angles, California burst into sobs as she publicly recounted on how a group of men she said were military agents tortured her to the point she would die. Ocampo, a member of the US chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said she was planning to sue her torturers before a US court.

CHR (Commission on Human Rights) chair Leila de Lima yesterday asked Ocampo to come back to the Philippines to testify, saying a recent inspection of a military camp tended to validate her physical description of the place where she was tortured last May. #

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UN special rapporteur on food begins inquiry on Tañon Strait offshore mining —- Pamalakaya report

UN special rapporteur on food begins inquiry on Tañon Strait offshore mining —- Pamalakaya report

The chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday revealed that United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right food is looking into the impact of offshore mining in Tañon Strait to the coastal people and fishing communities covered by the previous oil hunt in Central Visayas.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in his email dated June 3, 2009, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Mr. Olivier de Schutter acknowledged the receipt of several information on the oil and gas exploration project in Tañon Strait, a protected seascape separating the island provinces of Cebu and Bohol, and expressed his interest to know more about the situation, including the increasing presence of government troops and the actions taken by the Supreme Court on the cases filed by the affected fishermen.

In his two-page email addressed to Mr. Vince Cinches, executive director of Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (FIDEC), a support non-government organization (NGO) working with Pamalakaya and the affected communities due to offshore mining in Tañon Strait and other parts of Central Visayas, de Schutter said after examination of the initial report of Pamalakaya and FIDEC, he wants to know more about the Philippine army getting involved in stopping the demonstrations against the offshore mining.

“Some reports mentioned that the army has been deployed in some areas to prevent local leaders from disturbing ongoing exploratory operations. Could you please give us more details on this situation?” the UN special rapporteur on the right to food asked.

“Has the army intervened in some demonstrations and then left, or is the army permanently deployed to prevent access by fishermen? Can you provide details of a few instances where this happened, including the names localities, dates etc?” de Schutter added.

According to the Pamalakaya leader, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right food also want to know the Supreme Court action on the cases filed by Pamalakaya, FIDEC, the affected communities and environmentalist groups against the offshore mining in Tañon Strait conducted by Japan Petroleum Exploration Ltd. (Japex) since 2005.

“The UN special rapporteur on the right to food is interested on how the high tribunal acted on several petitions filed by affected communities and their supporters before the Supreme Court. It seems the UN engagement will depend on the high court will take this issue. If the court decides in favor of the national government and Japex, then that will be time the UN will intervene because the legal remedy at the domestic arena is already exhausted,” said Pamalakaya.

Last year, a Tokyo based daily published a story on May 13 announced that Japex mother company announced that Japex Philippines Ltd. decided to relinquish service contract 46 on June 20, 2008 because no promise of oil and gas was found in the protected seascape believed to be rich in marine biodiversities.

But Pamalakaya said the pull out of Japex offshore mining in Tañon was a triumph of truth and justice and high regard for people’s livelihood and the environment. We are happy to send Japex out of Tañon Strait. But we have some scores to settle with Japex and Malacañang for the economic and environmental havoc they created to the people,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said the next offshore mining battle will be in Cebu-Bohol Strait, where the Australian firm NorAsia is expected to start its oil and gas exploration in August this year. The group had already written Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to persuade the’ offshore mining company—NorAsia Energy Limited to back off from oil and gas exploration deal with the Philippine government in the Cebu-Bohol Strait.

In their three-page open letter to Prime Minister Rudd of the Australian Labor Party, Pamalakaya said the offshore mining that will be conducted by NorAsia and their Filipino partner companies beginning next month poses extreme danger to the Philippine marine environment, and the East Visayan Sea, which is the center of marine biodiversity in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

Pamalakaya said the case of Cebu-Bohol Strait will also be brought to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

“The far-reaching effects of oil and gas exploration even during its exploratory or prospecting stage prior to production and extraction are extremely dangerous to fish production and marine life based on the country’s previous experience with Tañon and other offshore mining activities staged by foreign oil and gas groups,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said it will ask de Schutter to also investigate the offshore exploration and mining of NorAsia on the 445,000 hectares of marine waters over a 7-year period based on the agreement signed by NorAsia and its Filipino partner-the TransAsia Oil and Energy Development Corporation. The agreement was sanctioned by the Department of Energy.

In 2007, NorAsia acquired 146 square kilometers of 3D seismic data over two prospects in Service Contract 51. It said Area 8 of Service Contract 69 offers significant follow-up potential in additional structures if initial drilling in Service Contract 512 is successful.

NorAsia said Service Contract 69 has approximately 3,000 kilometers of existing 2D seismic and an active petroleum system as shown by the abundant onshore oil seeps and seismic-supported direct hydrocarbon indicators in the area.#

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