Monthly Archives: January 2010

JPE told: “Remember June 8, 1989”

By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Viva Regala-Alonzo

Manila, Philippines-

Supporters of striking Hacienda Luisita farmworkers commemorated the 5th year anniversary of Luisita massacre

Two militant groups supporting the striking farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita on Saturday reminded Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that on June 8, 1989, the senator, then Senate Minority Leader of the Corazon Aquino controlled Senate delivered a privilege speech questioning the late President Aquino’s insertion of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) in her outline for the land reform law.

In a joint press statement, the Hacienda Luisita based Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said 21 years ago, Sen. Enrile accused former President Aquino of usurping powers by signing Executive Order No. 229 to preside over the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), the body that placed and approved to place the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita under the SDO scheme.

“Will the Senate leadership under the Enrile presidency find time to re-open the long-running story of Hacienda Luisita and the controversial SDO in the name of farmers’ right to land and social justice? Is there a guarantee from Enrile that he will re-open the still unresolved cases and issues surrounding the sugar estate of the Cojuangco-Aquino family upon the request of Luisita farm workers?” the groups said in their joint statement.

In his speech, Enrile, then Senate Minority Floor Leader assailed the Aquino presidency for withdrawing the government case against owners of Hacienda Luisita, adding that the Arroyo presidency circumvent land reform to stay control of Hacienda Luisita.

“It is about time to re-open the Hacienda Luisita case. It will be moral and politically upright to have this case closed ahead of the 2010 elections with the free distribution of lands to 8,000 farmer beneficiaries and the punishment of those involved in the Nov.16, 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre,” said UMA spokesperson Lito Bais.

Bais noticed that presidential and senatorial candidates are exploiting the controversial C-5 road double insertion issue to gain media mileage and public attention for the advancement of their respective electoral chances and futures in the May 2010 polls, while on the other hand had deliberately ignored the demand of Hacienda Luisita workers to re-open the Hacienda Luisita agrarian dispute, including the still unresolved Nov.16, 2004 massacre that claimed 7 lives of farmworkers and injuring more than 100 others.

Last week, 10, 000 farmers and Manila-based activists who took part in rally at Mendiola posed this question to presidential candidates, except Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III: “How do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita.”

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap scored Senator Aquino for treating the Mendiola Massacre a closed case, asserting that the perpetrators of the Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita massacres remain unpunished and free.

“Political arrogance becomes Noynoy. This guy is closet dictator passing himself off as a liberal politician,” he added.

The Pamalakaya leader lamented that Noynoy believes Hacienda Luisita is God’s gift to Cojuangco-Aquino clan, and therefore only God can take it back from them.

The United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is relying on the strength of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme to prevent the free land distribution of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to some 8,000 farmer beneficiaries. ULWU acting president Lito Bais said the SDO which transformed farmworkers into nominal stockholders, also compelled Luisita workers to accept the P9.50 net pay daily. #

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GMA urged to confess crimes ahead of May 2010 polls

By Trinity Biglang Awa and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Lakbayanis staged a picket rally at the headquarters of Southern Luzon Command of the AFP in Lucena City Leaders of the left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday advised outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to confess her crimes to the public ahead of the May 2010 national and local elections.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya Vice-chair Salvador France said instead of embarking on three-month publicity offensive, the President should tell the truth on various issues ranged against her like the 2005 Hello Garci scandal, the extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances of political activists and the long-running high crimes of corruption levelled against her nine-year old administration.

“The election season provides President Arroyo the opportune moment to confess her crimes to the public and declare readiness to accept the consequence of her wrongdoings to the Filipino people. The right time is today or anytime before June 30,2010,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

The President will step down on June 30 to give way to the new elected president. But critics and political analysts say Arroyo is moving heaven and earth to stop the May 2010 polls and keep herself to power.

Pamalakaya along with militant party list group Anakpawis fired the first political salvo against the Arroyo administration this year, when they filed plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against President Arroyo and other agriculture officials in connection with the
P 455 million ovepriced ice-making machines last Jan.6.

Malacanang dismissed the fresh plunder suit against President Arroyo as ideologically driven harassment.

The militant group also supported the formation of a national commission that will try President Arroyo on her crimes against the people. But Pamalakaya said aside from civil society groups, the commission should also include representatives from the Supreme Court, representatives from the new Senate and House leadership including those from the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and several human rights and lawyers groups and anti-corruption watchdogs.

Pamalakaya said President Arroyo wasted people’s money when she spent public funds for the publicity ads initiated by different government offices. According to the group, a two-page full page publicity ad will cost not less than P 380,000 per broadsheet per day.

The group said a broadsheet publishing Palace publicity ad will cost taxpayers some P 2.6 million per broadsheet per week. “This is double jeopardy to the people. Imagine Mrs. Arroyo is using taxpayers money for cover up and super road show publicity offensive?”, said Pamalakaya. #

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Farmers accused pawnshop magnate of intrusion

By Glemmar Bacusmo, KMP media officer in Cebu

Cebu City, Philippines– A cooperative of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Carmen, Cebu today lambasted businessman Michel Lhullier after the road project of the latter encroached their farms destroying crops and plowed plots.

Without their consent, Lhullier’s men stealthily uprooted more than 200 corn stalks and scores of other crops and cut down a 30-year old coconut tree last Thursday, according to Cantipay Farmers’ Association (CAFA) chairperson Erlinda Into.

Into added that the newly constructed road, 5 meters wide, ate up the sizeable chunk of their 2 hectares communal and individual farms, which is part of the 20 hectares landholding placed under government’s agrarian reform program.

“Indeed, not all that glitters is gold. Amidst the façade of charity and community service is the cruel reality of business that put profit first over people and the environment,” Into said

When confronted by the members of CAFA, security personnel and employees of Lhullier’s poultry and flower farm nearby alleged that their boss already bought the land. The farmers bluntly dismissed their claim as ridiculous saying the land could not be sold being part of an agrarian reform area.

To prevent further construction activities, the farmers barricaded the land and replanted it with banana and other crops.

“We have this message to Mr. Lhullier: if you think you can have your way, then you are gravely mistaken. We will militantly defend the land we inherited from our forefathers,” Into ended. ###

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Gov’t no contingency plans on tuna job crisis, says fishers group

By Sugar Hicap and Billy Javier-Reyes in General Santos City
and Bb. Joyce Cabral and Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila

Manila, Philippines- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday lamented that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration failed to come up with a contingency plan on how to address the loss of 150,000 jobs among tuna fishermen in Far South Mindanao with the two-year tuna fishing ban executed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

“The government has no contingency plans to address “the Great Tuna Crisis” of 2010. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her economic advisers are well informed that this job crisis in the tuna industry is in the offing with the imposed two-year ban, but nothing has been done to arrest the issue of labor woes and loss of economic means for tuna fish workers” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

“150,000 tuna fishermen will lose their jobs, and around 750,000 people indirectly dependent on the country’s backward tuna fishing industry will also feel the economic disaster of this 2-year tuna ban. So what would be the next move of this government? Tell the poor tuna fishing people to wait for two years for the lifting of the ban?” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Big players in the tuna industry including corporations in canning of tuna said the closure of high seas for tuna fishing will render idle some 200 fishing boats for the next two years, predicting a 20 percent drop in the supply of tuna in the local and world markets. The tuna industry in General Santos is currently valued at $ 380 million based on annual export figures of 400 metric tons per year.

Hicap agreed with the observation raised by Martin Tan, president of Socsksargen Fishing Federation and Allied Industries Inc. (SFFAII), that the closure of high seas for tuna ban, covering areas parallel to Palau, above Papua New Guinea and below Micronesia was not meant to preserve tuna stocks in West and Central Pacific, but to dislodge fishing companies from Third World countries from their tuna fishing grounds and allow tuna industrial fleets of European Union and Japan to takeover these tuna rich fishing areas.

Pamalakaya noted that in their respective free trade agreements with the Philippines, Japan for instance want to invade the Philippine waters for tuna fishing under the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), while EU also wants a share of the country’s territorial waters for tuna under the proposed RP-EU free trade pact.
The militant group said under Jpepa, the Philippine government is obliged to allow Japanese tuna factory ships to explore the country’s tuna resources in exchange for taxes derive from the value of harvested tuna from the country’s territorial waters.

Pamalakaya projected that the local tuna industry concentrated in General Santos port city stands to lose P18 billion in profits yearly once Japan tuna fishing fleets start their tuna exploration this year.

On the other hand, Japanese investors are expected to gain at least P43 billion annual profits in tuna trading, he said.

“The devastating impact of JPEPA to the local tuna industry includes the loss of 100,000 jobs provided by the local tuna fishing companies in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos City and the Davao regions,” Pamalakaya said.

According to Pamalakaya, a single 3,000-gross ton Japanese factory ship is capable of harvesting 50,000 metric tons of tuna a year or 150 metric tons of tuna per day. Based on industry standards, a single factory ship could earn as much as $32.5 million in gross profits from the sale of skipjack tuna.

Pamalakaya said the bulk of the profit will come from the remaining 35 percent of the 50,000 metric ton tuna catch, which is $210 million. “A single medium size factory ship thus will earn $242.5 million a year, and since Japan at the very least, employs four factory ships in its regular tuna fishing expedition per country, we expect them to earn a total of $ 970 million or P43.5 B per year,” the group said.

At present the local tuna industry yearly produces 400,000 metric tons of tuna, with 15 percent of the production going to domestic market and 85 percent for exports.

The European Union accounts for 40 percent of the country’s fresh and canned tuna exports or roughly 64,000 metric tons per year. The rest of the exports are shipped to tuna markets of Japan and the United States..

Pamalakaya said the government should indefinitely suspend if not abrogate the Jpepa treaty with Japan if it wants the local tuna fishing industry to survive.

“The most logical and objective solution to current predicament of tuna fish workers in Southern Philippines is to abrogate Jpepa and pursue the nationalization of tuna fishing industry by investing finance capital and technology for the inward development of the tuna sector, and this will arrest the rising tide of job loss among tuna fish workers and tuna fishermen,” the group said. #

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Fishers group asked Malacanang: Stop Panglao reclamation project

By CherryPie Eggpie Sandoval and Lollipop delos Reyes

Manila, Philippines-The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday pressed Malacanang to stop the ambitious reclamation project in Panglao, Bohol province, asserting that the environment and the livelihood of small fisherfolk should not be sacrificed in exchange for business accommodation and money making and profiteering escapades of the few.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap asked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately recall the 450-hectare reclamation project in Panglao offshore, saying the Office of the President has decisive say on what he called “a geographic devastation and environmental holocaust.”

“Imagine the national government and the provincial government will change the geography and engage in all-out destruction of Panglao just to please their corporate clients. The situation merits the immediate cancelation of the project,” Hicap stressed.

The Pamalakaya leader believed the proposed man-made islands project off Panglao shores has the seal of approval of Malacanang. “The finger prints of Mrs. Arroyo and her staunch ally Gov. Eric Aumentado are imprinted in this extremely mindboggling project”, he said.

Hicap said it will ask militant representatives in Congress— Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casino and Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, Gabriela Women Party lawmakers Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan and Anakpawis party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod to conduct an investigation on the controversial project in aid of legislation.

Hicap said Pamalakaya will formally write Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on Climate Change to conduct her own investigation on the possible impact of offshore reclamation in Panglao Island on climate change. “We will explore all possible venues to ventilate the opposition of the fisherfolk and other concerned sectors on this outrageous escapades in Panglao,” he said.

The location of the project developed by Oasis Leisure Islands and Development Inc. is composed of cluster of islands. The project proponent said the first one of about 150 hectares is intended for commercial and recreation areas, convention centers, hotels and other facilities; the second island (150 has.) is for institutional and residential, spas and medical tourism facilities; and the third one (75 has.) would house for small commercial establishments such dive and souvenir shops and apartment for people who work here.

The fourth island (70 has.) would be reserved for nature’s park or camping grounds or fishing for commercial use. Here, “private sector can be tapped for coral planting and other marine-based initiatives for the conservation and protection of the environment.” The fifth cluster of islets (5 has.) can be acquired privately,

“Panglao Island has been virtually converted into a Temptation Island by the Manila government and its puppet mini-republic—the Bohol republic of Gov. Aumentado. Anyone can have his or her own republic built in Panglao as long as the price is right. This is totally and highly inflammatory,” said Pamalakaya. #

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Militant group sees Nograles hand in Palparan’s fresh anti-Left campaign in Davao City

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Akihira Tatchu

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said the fresh deployment of rabid anti-communist crusaders Bantay party list Rep. Jovito Palparan Jr., Jun Alcover of Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) in Davao City has the seal of approval of House Speaker Prospero Nograles.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Speaker Nograles is the current godfather of Palparan, tagged by activists as “butcher” responsible for the hundreds of cases of political killings and enforced disappearances of activists during his stint in Mindoro island, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon.

“It is an open book to all political circles that Speaker Nograles is now the chief political-military benefactor of Gen. Palparan. The Butcher of Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon is strong ally and partner of the Speaker in terrorizing all political activists and members of the opposition in the city,” added Hicap.

The activist fisherfolk leader issued the statement after reports reached its office in Quezon City that Palparan and Alcover resumed their anti-Left and counter-insurgency driven black propaganda against legitimate people’s organizations like Bayan Muna, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Gabriela, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and other activist groups.

Reports said Palparan had been spreading anti-communist propaganda branding leaders of militant groups in Davao City as either leaders or supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing– the New People’s Army operating in the Southern Mindanao Region, and therefore legitimate targets of military operations.

“Palparan is endorsing anew the Arroyo government’s campaign to assassinate leaders and members of militant party list and people’s organizations in Davao City. The Commission on Elections and even the House leadership should step in and stop this criminal frenzy of Palparan backed by his benefactors in and out of Malacanang, in and out of AFP and in and out of Congress,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Speaker Nograles—the former human rights lawyer turned coddler of Palparan and Alcover connived with another rabid anti-Left and pro-GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) military official Brig. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario in attacking and demonizing progressive groups and personalities who are also opposed to Nograles’ plan to become the next mayor of Davao City due to his subservience to President Arroyo and the ruling military clique in Malacanang.

“Nograles thru people with criminal minds like Palparan, Alcover and del Rosario wants to score a back-to-back win for the government’s anti-insurgency program known as Oplan Bantay Laya 2 and for his mayoralty bid in Davao City,” said Hicap.

Last year, Pamalakaya called on Nograles to expel Palparan from Congress because the latter was using his seat as party list representative to attack the eight militant congressmen—Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casino and Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, Anakpawis party list Rep. Joel Maglunsod and Rafael Mariano and Gabriela Women’s Party reps. Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan.

But Nograles junked the call for Palparan’s expulsion from Congress. Prior to Palparan’s joining of Congress as party list representative, the controversial retired army general where seen a couple times visiting the office of Speaker Nograles.

“The Nograles- Palparan connection has been established long before this criminal lawmaker entered the House of Representatives as party list representative of the pro-Arroyo military clique in the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” added Hicap. #

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Palace asked: “Explain alleged conspiracy with Cojuangco-Aquino on SCTEx deal

by Kremlin Montenegro and Viva Regala-Alonzo

Manila, Philippines-Leftwing militants supporting the fight of striking farmworkers in Hacienda Luisita on Saturday asked Malacanang Palace to explain its role on the alleged overpricing of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) project.

In a joint statement, the fisherfolk alliance Pamalakaya and staunch ally Anakpawis party list said the sweetheart deal on SCTEx was done at the time President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former President Corazon Aquino were the best of friends in national politics.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente in a joint statement said at the time SCTEx project was conceived and approved, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan was still supportive of the Arroyo administration, and in fact endorsed Mrs. Arroyo over closest rival- the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. in May 2004 presidential elections.

“President Arroyo owes the public an honest-to-goodness explanation. Malacanang and the ruling patriarchs and matriarchs of Hacienda Luisita should tell the truth and nothing but the truth on this mother of road to perdition scandal in recent memory,” both leaders said.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap believed that the SCTEx project was a grand plan for money making. “Imagine the original price of SCTEx project was P 15.7 billion and shot up to P 32.8 billion. If this was not money making at its best, then what was it? Multiple insertion for multi-platinum crimes of corruption?”, said Hicap.

Hicap said the controversy involving the government purchase of the road right of way in Hacienda Luisita, involving 600-hectare sugar plantation owned by the Aquino-Cojuangco family should be investigated by both chambers of Congress, and should not be dismissed as mere political stunts in connection with the May 2010 polls were Senators Manuel Villar and Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III were leading presidential candidates.

“National interest and public trust are involved here,” said Pamalakaya.

Reports said SCTEx project was first conceived in 1999 at the cost of P15.7 billion. By 2007, the cost of the project more than doubled to P32.8 billion, with an additional supplemental loan of P6.7 billion made to cover price escalation, contingency and interest that further bloated the price.

The cost of the project ballooned to almost P39 billion [or] P419 million per kilometer of road. The government paid P83 million for the purchase of the road right of way and poured in another P170 million for the construction of a road interchange in the middle of the hacienda.

The government had agreed to buy 83 hectares of Luisita land at P100 per square meter, which he claimed was more than 10 times the zonal value of P6 to P8 per sq m for similar raw sugar lands in Concepcion and San Miguel, Tarlac.

Yesterday, some 10, 000 farmers and Manila-based activists who joined the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan (National Journey of Toiling Masses for Land and Justice) today posed this question to presidential candidates, except Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III: “How do you solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita.”

Leading the 10-kilometer march from Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to Mendiola to commemorate the 23rd year anniversary of Mendiola Massacre, Lakbayan organizers Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod in a joint statement said presidential candidates Sen. Manuel Villar (Nacionalista Party), Sen. Dick Gordon, Lakas-Kampi merger party bet Gilbert Teodoro, independent candidates JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas and Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas are lawfully, politically and morally obliged to state their position on Hacienda Luisita.

“Senator Aquino believes Hacienda Luisita is God’s gift to Cojuangco-Aquino clan, and therefore only God can take it back from them. Does the rest of the pack of the presidential wannabes subscribe to this whimsical assertion of the Cojuangcos? ”, the Lakbayan leaders said in a joint statement.

Several farmers groups led by the United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) said the Cojuangco-Aquino clan is relying on the strength of Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme to prevent the free land distribution of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate to some 8,000 farmer beneficiaries. ULWU acting president Lito Bais said the SDO which transformed farmworkers into nominal stockholders, also compelled Luisita workers to accept the P9.50 net pay daily.

KMP’s Ramos said the problems in Hacienda Luisita will not find a long lasting and just settlement under a Noynoy Aquino presidency, asserting that the 6,453-hectare sugar estate is the bread and butter and the source of economic and political power of the Cojuangco-Aquino for near century and the landed clan have been treating generations of farm workers as children of a lesser God.

“So the 64-dollar question mark remains—how these presidentiables except Noynoy solve a problem like Hacienda Luisita?” the KMP leader reiterated.#

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