Monthly Archives: July 2010

Davide rejected as head of Truth Commission

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Lady Michelle Adobe and Trinity Biglang Awa

MANILA,Philippines- Leftwing fisherfolk activists belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday slammed President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III over the appointment of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. as head of the Truth Commission which will investigate issues ranged against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Either Mr. Aquino is not doing his job or he is just indebted to Mr. Davide. This former chief justice is a close associate of President Arroyo who worked overtly and covertly to perpetuate the criminal regime of Arroyo and company. Where is Mr. Aquino’s sense of history, truth and justice?” asked Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

Hicap reminded President Aquino that Davide served as Arroyo’s Supreme Court chief justice from 2001 was appointed as adviser on election matters by President Arroyo in 2004 at the height of the election protest filed by the camp of the late Fernando Poe Jr. who questioned presidential victory of Arroyo in 2004 .

The Pamalakaya leader said Davide was later appointed as the Philippine Permanent Representative to UN where the former chief Justice defended Arroyo on charges of political killings and crimes against humanity before the UN and the international community.

“Mr. Davide is Arroyo’s no.1 defender at apologist during his prime as chief justice. The former chief justice of the Supreme Court is an opportunist political animal who switched allegiance to the Aquino camp when he found out that Arroyo is a lame duck president and that the Washington D.C has already chosen Aquino as its new political darling in the Philippines,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the national interest and collective sentiment of 94 million Filipinos to have Mrs. Arroyo prosecuted and later jailed for her crimes against the people will be sacrificed at the altar of political accommodation if Aquino insists Davide’s chairmanship of the Truth Commission.

Pamalakaya argued that the cases against President Arroyo had been backed up by voluminous materials which were used in the four impeachment complaints filed against the outgoing President. The Pamalakaya officials asserted that prosecution and eventual imprisonment of President Arroyo can happen within the first 100 days of President elect Aquino.

“Mr. Aquino is constitutionally, politically and morally bound to pursue the case People of the Philippines vs. former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He cannot overlook this legitimate crusade of 94 million Filipinos in favor of political accommodation and horse trading between the Arroyo camp and the Aquino syndicate. But the Truth Commission under Davide is a brazen attack on the rights of the people to achieve truth, justice and accountability,” the group added.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other agriculture officials in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines, which the group claimed were overpriced by 100 percent.

In 2006, Pamalakaya also filed plunder and other criminal and civil charges against President Arroyo and other cabinet members in connection with the offshore mining activities in Central Visayas, the fish kill caused by Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the indiscriminate issuance of environmental compliance certificates in 2005 to more than 4,000 companies.

Prior to the two plunder charges, Pamalakaya along with the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) filed plunder case against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Cito Lorenzo and former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante in connection with the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam in June 2004, less than a month after the May 2004 presidential elections.

In 2005, Pamalakaya and KMP led coconut farmers and fisherfolk in filing another plunder case against President Arroyo in relation to the P 150 billion coconut levy fund. “ All in all, we have 4 plunder complaints filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo and company and the Office of the Ombudsman did not even bother to inform us about the status of these plunder cases,” Pamalakaya lamented.

Earlier, Pamalakaya staunch ally party list Bayan Muna announced it will file a plunder case against President Arroyo on July 1, the day Mrs. Arroyo will officially lose her immunity from suit. Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teodoro Casino said the plunder case will deal on the controversial $ 329 million NBN-ZTE deal. #

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House arrest proposed for Arroyo

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Trinity Biglang Awa and Bombshell Moran

MANILA, Philippines-Eight rural based groups today urged President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III to immediately place former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under house arrest as plunder and other criminal and civil cases against his predecessor and her other officials are expected to flood the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman beginning tomorrow July 1.

In a statement, organizers of the 100 Days of Peasant Camp- Out for Land and Justice composed of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), AMIHAN peasant women federation, Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), the Hacienda Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the Alyansa ng Mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) said there is an immediate need to place ex-President Arroyo under house arrest to prevent the former President from launching any daring escape from justice anytime beginning July 1.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said aside from placing Arroyo under house arrest, her passport and other travel documents should also be cancelled to make sure the former President who is facing pending cases of plunder and other criminal offenses and would face again similar cases on various counts will be present once the investigation of the Truth Commission started and the DoJ and the Office of the Ombudsman begins their respective parallel probe on complaints filed before the offices.

“The highest level of vigilance and engagement in the name of truth, justice and accountability is highly required and at the same time a political necessity because we don’t want our people’s collective interest and demand for the prosecution and immediate imprisonment of Arroyo to be sacrificed at the altar of political accommodation. We have also this strong gut feeling that the US government will intervene to stop the Aquino administration from pursuing the people’s cases against GMA,” Ramos stressed.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap shared the sentiment of the KMP official warning President Aquino of an across-the-nation outrage if his administration fails to prosecute and jail Arroyo within his first 100 days in office.

“Arroyo’s prosecution and eventual imprisonment can be done and finished with flying colors in the first 100 days in office of President Aquino. This job is as easy as ABC or basic arithmetic, all Mr.Aquino need is strong political will. In fact, Aquino does not need 100 days, he can do the job in two weeks time or before his first State of the Nation Address on July 26,” Hicap said.

On June 2004, about two weeks after the 2004 presidential elections, KMP and Pamalakaya together with their regional and provincial chapters filed a plunder complaint against President Arroyo and officials of the Department of Agriculture in connection with the P 728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Last January 6, Pamalakaya filed a plunder case before the Office of the Ombudsman against President Arroyo, former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap and other agriculture officials in connection with the P 455 million ice making machines, which the group claimed were overpriced by 100 percent.

In 2006, Pamalakaya also filed plunder and other criminal and civil charges against President Arroyo and other cabinet members in connection with the offshore mining activities in Central Visayas, the fish kill caused by Lafayette mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay and the indiscriminate issuance of environmental compliance certificates in 2005 to more than 4,000 companies.

Meanwhile, Kasama-TK secretary general Guillermo Bautista and AMGL secretary general Joseph Canlas said aside from immediate prosecution of President Arroyo, the 100 days camp-out of farmers and fisherfolk from Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon would demand immediate positive responses on agrarian disputes involving thousands of hectares in the regions.

The peasant leaders said they would submit a peasant agenda to President Aquino that demand concrete favorable actions from the newly installed government like land cases in Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas involving 8,650 hectares of prime agricultural lands now being developed for real estate projects of Manila South Coast Development Corporation, the 7,100 hectares of former sugar lands in Hacienda Yulo in Barangay Canlubang in Cabuyao, Laguna and the 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita sugar estate owned by the family of President Aquino.

They said Aquino should work for the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of these lands to farmer beneficiaries.

Kasama-TK and AMGL leaders will also press for the investigation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of rural activists from 2001 to 2009 and will also urge the Aquino administration to drop all politically motivated fabricated charges filed against leaders of peasant and fisherfolk groups in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and other regions and the unconditional and urgent release of peasant political prisoners all over the country. #

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Manila police clears Aquino on Mendiola dispersal

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Mudra Amparo and Sugar Hicap

MANILA, Philippines- Manila police chief district GeneralRodolfo Magtibay had insisted that he ordered the violent demolition of protest camp-out structures set by striking farm workers of Hacienda Luisita and peasant activists in Southern Tagalog and the mass arrest of 41 farmers as Magtibay assured the public Malacanang had nothing to do with what leftwing groups first violent disperal under the Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III administration.

“To General Magtibay, we have this short message for your day-to-day consumption— tell that to the marines”, said Antonio Flores, leader of of the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), one of the organizers of the 100 days of peasant camp-out for land and justice. On Saturday, some 200 operatives of the Manila Police District (MPD) in cooperation with the city engineering office of the Manila City hall forcibly demolished the makeshift camp-out protest structure set by protesting farmers in Don Chino Roces bridge and arrested 38 farmer activists.

About a dozen of those arrested in Mendiola were women identified with the Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK). Another set of 44 farmers and their supporters who followed their arrested colleagues to the MPD headquarters in UN Avenue to assist and provide immediate paralegal services were also dispersed, three of them were also arrested, while not less than 15 farmers were injured and brought to the nearest hospital for treatment.

“Gen. Magtibay is engaged in a major cover up and political foul play. The order to disperse the farmers came from the Office of the President or anyone who is a close associate of President Aquino,” added Flores. ” Let me remind this police officer that three days before the dispersal, a Palace staff who received the sets of demands from Hacienda Luisita farmers, from Kasama-TK and KMP told us that Malacanang would get angry with Gen. Magtibay if he will continue to allow us to hold the 100 day camp out in Mendiola Bridge,” the KMP official said.

The KMP official said Magtibay was compelled to follow the “chain of command” and that is to follow any order from Aquino how illegal and immoral such order is. “Since Magtibay’s police career is at stake, the police general has no choice but to swallow Aquino’s order, play the usual brutal and mercenary role in the name of the brutal, pro-landord and fascist presidency of Mr. Aquino,” the peasant leader added.

The KMP said the 100-days peasant camp-out was also organized by KasamaTK, the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL), the Luisita based United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU) and Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala), Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan peasant women federation and the left-leaning fisherfolk aliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

According to KMP, the 100-days peasant camp out was meant to present to Aquino lists of peasant demands that include the immediate prosecution of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of corruption particularly referring to the P 728 million fertilizer fund scam, the urgent and unconditional free distribution of the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita and the investigation of agrarian disputes in Southern Tagalog particularly the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna.

“Mr. Aquino like his predecessor Mrs.Arroyo is an ultimate anti-peasant president. His display of extreme brutality as shown by the equally brutal dispersal of striking farmers reminds the public that he and his family will not give up Hacienda Luisita and other farm lands controlled by big landlords, corporate giants and warlords all over the country,” said Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin.

“We thought we are dealing with a new administration with full of hopes and promies, but just the same Aquino is just an Arroyo trapped in a man’s body. What he did to us is grossly unacceptable and higly condemnable,” the Kasama-TK added.

On Saturday, hours after the arrest, the 41 farmers arrested by MPD police were released upon the intercession of lawyers Atty. Jobert Pahilga and Atty. Jules Matibag of Sentra Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) respectively. The released farmers were brought to Caritas Manila in Pandacan, Manila where they were allowed to stay until Sunday night. Pinpin of Kasama-TK said the farmers in Southern Tagalog and the Hacienda Luisita farm workers will remain in the National Capital Region (NCR) up to the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.

The Kasama-TK official said farmers Southern Tagalog had also prepared a petition to the Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima urging the newly installed justice secretary to withdraw all trumped up charges filed against regional peasant and multisectoral leaders in the region particularly those cases filed in Rizal, Batangas and Quezon by the Armed Forces of the Phillippines during the Arroyo administration.

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Manila’s high court asked to stop 2 presidents from converting lands

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bombshell Moran and Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines-Leftwing fisherfolk activists belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said theSupreme Court ruling upholding the ban imposed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) two years ago on land use conversion of agricultural lands should cover the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” AquinoIII and the 157 Hacienda Bacan in Negros Occidental owned by the family of former President and now Pampanga (2nd district) Rep.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said aside from Hacienda Luisita and Hacienda Bacan owned by the families of President Aquino and ex-President Arroyo respectively, the high tribunal ruling against land use conversion should also cover other big cases of land grabbing and land-use conversions like the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas and the the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Canlubang, Laguna.

“The DAR has no choice but to stop and scrap the planned land use conversions in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Bacan, Hacienda Looc and Hacienda Yulo. There should be special treatment to Aquino and Arroyo and the landed feudal aristocracies in the country. Their lands should be subjected to immediate, unconditional and free distribution to farmer beneficiaries,” Hicap stressed.

The Pamalakaya official pressed President Aquino and Rep. Arroyo to heed to the Supreme Court ruling against land use conversion and allow DAR to take over their lands and have it distributed for free to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“Aquino and Arroyo are legally bound to honor the high court ruling. They must give up their immoral and illegal control onHacienda Luisita and Hacienda Bacan respectively,” said Hicap.

Quoting a report from peasant NGO– Sentro Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo (Sentra), the Pamalakaya leader noted that from 6 million hectares of rice lands the country had, the coverage was reduced to 4 million hectares due to land use conversions. Hicap said in Cavite alone, from 1989 to 1993, irrigated rice land fell from 14,710 hectares to 12,800 hectares due to land use conversions. Recently, the DAR placed 217 hectares of rice land known as Tropical Land in Cavite for land use conversion.

“The ban on land use conversion should be effectively implemented to stop this anarchic land use conversions and destructions of rice lands and other prime agricultural lands. To set the record straight, the DAR itself is the main instrument in enforcing land use conversions. From 1988 to 1997, a total of 129, 467 hectares of land were converted for other purposes and in Cagayan Valley around 442, 648 hectares,” said Pamalakaya.

In a ruling issued last June 18, the high court’s First Division unanimously agreed that the DAR was right to impose a moratorium at the time when the country was suffering from global rice crisis. The SC dismissed the petition filed by the Chamber of Real Estate and Builders Associations (Creba), an umbrella organization of 3,500 companies and individuals in the real estate business. The real estate group questioned Memorandum No. 88 issued by then Agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman.

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