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Aquino told: Submit own corruption case to “truth body”

Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bombshell Moran and Trinity Biglang Awa

MANILA, Philippines- Staunch critics of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III on Saturday challenged the 50-year old bachelor president to allow the newly established Truth Commission to investigate not only corruption cases involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies, but also his own turf in connection with the controversial Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTex) road scandal.

In a press statement, the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the national goverment paid P 170 million for the construction of the interchange in Hacienda Luisita, and there was no closure about the previous expose on this highly irregular deal between the Arroyo government and the Cojuangco-Aquino who agreed on the deal.

“Why not include the SCTex road scandal in the list of high crimes of corruption that happened during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration? If this truth body is after truth, justice and accountability, then it should include the SCTex right of way scandal in the investigation. If President Aquino and former President Arroyo are accountable for flagship cases of corruption that happened from 2001 to 2009, then by all means, subject the two to the Truth Commission and have their grand day for condemnation before the Filipino public,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The Truth Commission created through Aquino’s Executive Order No.1 was established to investigate ex-President Arroyo and her allies accountable for irregularities under her watch, including the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal.

President Aquino signed yesterday Executive Order No. 1 will “investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people.”

The “independent collegial body” chaired by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. will have four more commissioners. It has until Dec. 31, 2012, to complete its work, with formal hearings most likely to begin next year, according Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

De Lima said the hearings would be open to the public but that closed-door sessions would be conducted for “matters of national security or public safety,” including the safety of witnesses.

Justice secretary De Lima said EO No. 1 was crafted in such a way that it would be “broad enough” to include cases such as Arroyo’s purported manipulation of the 2004 presidential election.

In seeking closure to controversies that occurred from 2001 to 2009, President Aquino armed the truth commission with the power to subpoena respondents and documents.

The commission is empowered to “collect, receive, review and evaluate evidence related to or regarding the cases of large-scale corruption which it has chosen to investigate, and to this end, require any agency, official or employee of the executive branch, including government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), to produce documents, books, records, and other papers.”

The EO empowers the commission to “obtain information and documents from the Senate and the House of Representatives’ records of investigations conducted by committees,” as well as those from the “courts, including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Court Administrator,” in connection with corruption cases filed before them.

The commission can also “call upon any government investigative or prosecutorial agency such as the DOJ or any of the agencies under it, and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, for such assistance and cooperation as it may require in the discharge of its functions and duties.”

“If that is the case of this EO, then it can also summon the President or any members of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to explain and bare all about the P 170 million SCTex scandal and how the family continues to control Luisita despite legal, political and moral basis for them to surrender their unlawful and immoral claim of the 6,453 hectare sugar estate,” said Pamalakaya’s Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader the Cojuangco-Aquino family received P 170 million but regular government procedure mandates the landowner should give the property to the government at zero cost.

Hicap said the government does not ordinarily pay private landowners for right-of-way properties in government projects because the private landowner presumably benefits from the construction of a national road.

The Pamalakaya official also noted that the Toll Regulatory Board, which processes applications for interchanges in major road projects, does not normally pay for the construction of interchanges in private lands.

“Because of the SCTex hocus pocus, the value of Hacienda Luisita per square meter increased from P 8 to P 1,000 per square meter. The SCTex scandal deserves another round of scrutiny and the Truth Commission can look into this issue, aside from those high crimes of corruption perpetrated by the ruling Arroyo clique in Malacanang from 2001 to 2009,” Pamalakaya said.

The cost of the interchange built inside the Hacienda Luisita complex was shouldered by the government and funded through a loan from the Japan Bank and International Corp. It is a flagship project of President Gloria Arroyo.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA)-SCTEx project engineering chief retired general Eduardo Lena had explained that the government paid for the construction of the interchange because it was part of the original plan for SCTEx.

The hearing failed to directly link Senator Aquino to the allegedly irregular transaction. The BCDA had negotiated with Senator Aquino’s uncle, Pedro Cojuangco.#

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Criminal charges pressed against Manila officials behind rice scam

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Gegemon Babon and Roy Morilla

MANILA, Philippines- The peasant activist group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the multisectoral alliance Bantay Bigas, the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged National Food Authority (NFA) chief administrator Lito Banayo to file criminal and other appropriate charges against former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former agriculture secretary and now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap in connection with the over importation of rice which occurred in 2004 and 2007.

Peasant leaders Willy Marbella, deputy secretary general of KMP, Bantay Bigas convener and Amihan peasant women federation secretary general Lita Mariano, Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap led 100 farmers and supporters’ rally outside the NFA outlet in Visayas Avenue in Quezon City asking the NFA chief to charge Arroyo and Secretary Yap before the regular court.

Marbella said aside from Reps. Arroyo and Yap, the charge sheet should include former officials of the Department of Agriculture and NFA who played key roles in the over importation of rice in 2004 and 2007 which cost Filipino taxpayers some 171.6 billion pesos.

In 2004, the Philippine government imported 900,000 metric tons of rice, while the country at that time only lacked 117,000 metric tons to fit the demand of the population, while in 2007, the government only needed 589,000 metric tons to fill the gap in rice supply, but DA and NFA pursued the importation of 1.827 million metric tons or about 1.2 million metric tons more of the required volume to augment the shortage in rice supply.

The rural based groups said aside from bringing the perpetrators of over importation of rice in exchange for fat or juicy commissions, the NFA and the DA should impose a six-year moratorium on the importation of rice and instead pursue measures that would increase domestic rice production, stop land use conversions of rice lands and assure irrigation for more than 3 million hectares of lands devoted to rice production.

They said, instead of reducing rice lands, the government should promote and increase rice lands devoted to rice and food production.

Procurement capacity

For her part, Mariano of Bantay Bigas and Amihan peasant women group urged Aquino government to increase the buying capacity of NFA to 25 percent of the total domestic produced palay by local rice farmers to stabilize rice prices and ensure good dividends for rice farmers.

Mariano lamented that while NFA is mandated by law to buy 10 percent of the locally produced palay from farmers, the authority only managed to buy one percent, and the rest of the funds of the NFA are allocated for unbridled importation of rice.

She said the NFA should increase not only its buying capacity, but also the price of palay per kilo. At present, Bantay Bigas wants the NFA to procure palay at P 15 per kilo, instead of spending taxpayers money to rice importation at the expense of Filipino farmers and consumers.

The groups said rotten and contaminated rice should not be distributed to poor Filipinos, saying the poor do not deserved rotten and unsafe rice for consumption. The groups said it would be grossly insulting and highly revolting to feed the poor with unsafe and health risk rotten rice.

Which is which?

But the groups asserted the unused and undistributed stocks of rice in government warehouses which are sound and still safe to eat should be distributed for free to communities affected by typhoon, including calamity stricken areas hit by Ondoy and Pepeng, and the El Nino and La Nina affected areas.

“In print media, Banayo of NFA said he will strongly consider the demand of farmers to have these hundreds of thousands of metric tons of rice distributed for free to poor Filipinos. But in TV and radio, the NFA chief said the authority will not give free rice to hungry families and multiple conditions shall be met to have these sacks of rice distributed either through food for work program or other measures,” noted Hicap of Pamalakaya.

” Which is which? Are Banayo and his puppet master in Malacanang taking us to another roller coaster ride?” added Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary Proceso Alcala should step into the picture and stop the NFA from talking non-sense , adding that the agriculture department has the last way on what to do with the over imported rice.

“Alcala should tell Banayo to shape up or leave NFA. The demand is as easy as ABC. Make an inventory and proceed with the free distribution of these sacks of rice for free at the immediate, ahead of the next harvest season this coming October. Is that difficult? Mr. Banayo and his benefactor in Malacanang are making things difficult and complicated for the Filipino public.,” said Pamalakaya.

Earlier, the KMP, Pamalakaya and other rural based groups demanded Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte to conduct joint or separate congressional inquiry on the over importation of rice in 2004 and 2007.

The groups said in aid of legislation, the rice inquiry will be able to draft policies to stop the government from anarchic importation of rice which are hinged on the liberalization policy and on the agenda of corrupt officials for juicy and fat commissions sourced from over importation and over pricing of rice imports. (With reports from Bombshell Moran and Lollipop de los Reyes)

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Probe rice scandal RP Congress urged

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bb. Joyce Cabral in Manila and Gegemon Babon and Sugar Hicap in Tarlac City

MANILA, Philippines-Four of the biggest rural-based organizations in the country– the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the peasant women federation Amihan, the agricultural worker group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte to pursue a joint or separate congressional inquiry on the alleged over importation of rice in 2004 and 2007.

“In aid of legislation, the people of rural Philippines hereby order Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte to undertake a joint or separate congressional inquiry on rice importation that cost the Filipino people of P 171.6 billion in taxpayers money,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos and Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The two activist leaders suggested the “rice inquiry” to open the books of the National Food Authority (NFA), including inventory, records of transactions and financial records of the food authority from 2004 up to June 2010.

Ramos and Hicap, who spoke in behalf of their peers in Amihan women peasant federation and UMA agricultural labor group said all the officials of the Department of Agriculture and the NFA from 2004 up to June 2010 shall be subpoenaed by the rice inquiry task force to be put up jointly and separately by Congress.

KMP and Pamalakaya said those who should be made answerable for the anarchic importation of rice in 2004 and 2007 referring to the 900,000 metric tons of rice imported as against the 117,000 metric tons needed to fill up the gap in supply in 2004, and the 1.827 million metric tons imported by the Philippine government compared to he 589,000 metric tons needed to fill up the gap in rice supply.

“If that is the case, then former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her then agriculture secretary now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap should take the center stage of the rice inquiry that should be called by Congress at the soonest possible time, maybe next week,” the groups said.

KMP and Pamalakaya also suggested that while Congress is investigating the rice scam jointly or separately, Reps. Arroyo and Yap shall be suspended from performing their jobs as legislators of their respective districts until the investigation is done and concrete legislative and legal actions have been made to address the over importation of rice and the corruption issues which surround the anarchic buying of rice from sources abroad.

The groups said Congress can make proposals out of the results of the rice inquiry like forwarding corruption cases or legislative complaints before the House Ethics Committee which could decide on the expulsion of Arroyo and Yap from Congress.

“The case People of the Philippines vs. Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Rep. Arthur Yap must be pursued at all cost. We are talking here of 171.6 billion pesos drawn against the people’s hard earned taxes. The NFA can’t even buy 10 percent of the farmers’ produce in the nine-year rule of Arroyo, but billions of pesos of people’s money were spent for unwarranted importation,” added Pamalakaya and KMP.

Earlier. Danilo Bonabon, NFA director in Central Visayas, Wednesday said that around 2 million bags of rice were arriving in Cebu City until the end of August for Central and Eastern Visayas and the cities of Pagadian and Dipolog. He said this shipment would be on top of the 2.6 million bags of imported rice stored in different warehouses in Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and Negros Oriental.

Lito Banayo, newly appointed NFA chief, yesterday said he was asking the Department of Justice to investigate why the NFA under Arroyo had authorized the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PTIC) to import 20,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam in spite of the surplus. #

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Manila lawmakers tasked to review water crisis

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Bb. Joyce Cabral

MANILA, Philippines- The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) put to task lawmakers from both Houses of Congress to conduct a joint or separate congressional inquiry on current water crisis affecting 12 million residents in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and vice chairperson Salvador France the full-blown investigation of the water problem that immediately affected 1.2 million residents in 177 barangays in Metro Manila should be in the first order of business of the 15th Congress under the Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III administration.

“If President Aquino is afraid to grill the Lopezes of Maynilad Water Services Inc. and the Ayalas of Manila Water Co. on respective culpabilities to the consuming public because they are Aquino’s political benefactors, Congress as separate and co-equal branch of the government should pursue the real score in aid of legislation,” Hicap and France said in their joint statement.

Cross party lines

The Pamalakaya leaders added: “Senators and congressmen should cross party lines and rise above the occasion and pursue this warranted investigation on the roots of water crisis and the evils of privatization of water service”.

Pamalakaya suggested to lawmakers to invite owners, officials and operators of the state owned Manila Water Sewerage System (MWSS) and the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and water concessionaires Maynila and Manila Water. “Congress is lawfully, politically and morally obliged to send the policy of privatization and contracts to these water concessionaires in the hot seat of public investigation and public opinion. Let us all call a spade a spade,” the fisherfolk group said.

Pamalakaya said Congress should also expand its full-blown investigation by reviewing proposals such as the Laiban Dam project and the suggestion opening the water reserves of the 94,000 Laguna Lake to Maynilad and Manila Water despite the two companies’ dismal performance in providing the water needs of the people under a privatized water utility and service system. Dismissing the LLDA suggestion as mindboggling, incorrigible and all-out environmental plunder and destruction.

Pamalakaya said Congress should also go deeper on the plan to allow Maynilad and Manila Water to source additional water from the lake. LLDA’s Manda suggested to source water from Laguna Lake to mitigate the impact of water crisis in Metro Manila should the water level at the Angat dam remain at low level.

Obsession

The LLDA official said the Lopez owned Maynilad Water Services Incorporated has water treatment facilities which could be used to convert freshwater into potable water for Metro Manila consumption. Manda said they have conducted water sampling to determine the lake’s potential as a water source.

“Maynilad’s mouth watering attitude towards Laguna Lake has been there for more than a decades or even decades. This obsession in the name of monopoly profits has been in Maynilad’s corporate mindset since the all out deregulation, privatization and liberalization policy was implemented in the time former President Fidel v. Ramos,” asserted Hicap.

“The LLDA general manager has no option but to back off from the LLDA-Maynilad deal and rescind whatever written or verbal agreement the lake authority had entered into with the Lopez owned water utility,” added Hicap. Pamalakaya said the proposal of Maynilad is to abstract 300 million liters per day (MLD) from Laguna Lake is extremely dangerous to the lake environment. Hicap said the proposal will entail the closure of Napindan Hydraulic control system, preventing the entry of salt water of Manila Bay. He said fish species in Laguna Lake requires the mixing of salt and fresh water to spawn and survive.

“We strongly urge Manda and the LLDA authorities to refrain from further privatizing and converting the lake for the purpose of Jurassic model of development, super profiteering and fat returns of commissions and kickbacks. The LLDA is hereby prevented by national interest from entering into a contract that constitutes sell-out and all-out destruction of people’s livelihood and environment,” said Pamalakaya.

Death certificate

The Pamalakaya said the Maynilad plan is like a death certificate to Laguna Lake killing not only the livelihood of more than 500,000 people engage in fish capture and fish culture activities. He said it will also endanger the fish supply and the fish need of millions of people in the National Capital Region, Laguna and Rizal provinces. Citing the study conducted by the Netherlands government for the LLDA, it said Laguna De Bay, being the largest lake in the Philippines and strategically located in the heart of Calabarzon region, is the most viable source of water for Metro Manila’s west zone.

Maynilad, which is authorized water concessionaire of the Manila Water Sewerage System (MWSS) for the western part of Metro Manila, said the proposed plan if approved will enable the Lopez water utility firm to supply water to the remaining 29 percent covered by its agreement with MWSS in the West Zone area. At present, Maynilad renders water supply to about 703,519 customers, or only 71 percent of its total concession area. The rest of the west zone does not have enough water supply — mainly comprising the areas of Muntinlupa, Parañaque, and Las Piñas.

The LLDA said if it gives the go signal Maynilad will take over operations of the existing water treatment plant in Putatan, Muntinlupa, which currently extracts 180,000 cubic meters per month of lake water and then supplies it to the Ayala Alabang subdivision for the residents’ domestic use. Maynilad will gradually implement the 300-million-liters-per-day extraction of water from the Lake.

The first 100 million liters per day will be made available to the west zone of Metro Manila in 2010 and then water extraction will be increased to 200 million liters in 2011, and then 300 million liters per day by 2014. Maynilad has admitted that 53% of water allocated to the west zone was lost mainly due to leakages. Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson also said that the critical low water level in Angat Dam was attributed to lack of rain and Napocor’s fault on excessive water releases.

According to Water for the People Network reducing water loss or non-revenue water of both concessionaires to single digit percentage will mean additional 900 mld (million liters per day) of water supply to National Capital Region.

The WPN said the multipurpose reservoir of Angat Dam, which provides for 97 percent of the domestic water supply of Metro Manila, gets its water from the Angat Watershed Reservation.

The Angat Watershed Reservation has a total area of 62,309 hectares in two sub-catchments areas. The effective drainage area of the Reservation is 56,800 hectares. This watershed, if properly managed, could provide adequate water to the Angat Dam all year round.

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Outrage sparked anew over killing of another RP media

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Members of the Philippine media are again outraged with the murder of Nestor Bedolido of the weekly Kastigador in Digos City, Davao del Sur, on Saturday night. Bedolido, according to the media alert dispatched by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) was the 140th journalist killed since 1986. Since 2001 or under the nine-year rule of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration there were 103 Philippine journalists and media workers killed.

In a statement sent to media a copy of which was emailed to http://www.allvoices.com,, the NUJP said “it would be convenient to attribute this week’s murders to a killing frenzy by the enemies of press freedom before this unlamented government steps down.But it is more likely they really cannot care less which administration is in place”.

The NUJP added: “Not with the apathy and official inaction administration after administration – the outgoing one admittedly more than any other – has shown towards attempts to silence one of the cornerstones of democracy, a free press”.

It futher said: “The outgoing administration has, again, excelled at – that nurtures warlords and sundry crooks, allowing them to amass power and pervert public service into personal privilege, in exchange for political favors, like stolen votes”.

The NUJP said Bedolido’s murder followed that of Ilocos Norte’s Jovelito Agustin of dzJC Aksyon Radyo in Laoag City, who was ambushed on his way home Wednesday and died while being treated at a hospital, and Davao Oriental’s Desiderio Camangyan of Mati-based Sunshine FM, killed with a single shot to the head as he sat onstage while emceeing a village singing contest in Manay town.

Bedolido, in his late 40s, was buying cigarettes on the corner of Rizal and Quezon Avenues when he was shot six times by a lone gunman who then “casually walked to a waiting motorcycle driven by another unidentified man.”

The victim was rushed by bystanders to the nearby Gonzales Hospital but died before he could receive treatment.The Philippine Daily Inquirer which ran a story on the killing of Mindanao based journalist, the victim was known to be critical of a prominent politician in Davao del Sur and was suspected of authoring a series of exposés against the official. “It is clear that government’s failure or, and we suspect this is more accurate, refusal to hold accountable those responsible for the killings – especially the masterminds – makes it equally guilty, an accomplice to the bloodbath that has made a mockery of all our claims to being a democracy,” the NUJP said.

The NUJP challenged President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to put an end to the killings of journalists and resolve previous cases of politically motivated murder of their peers.

The Philippine media group said the search for truth and justice for murdered journalists in the country will be a litmus test of how seriously Benigno Aquino III considers his promise of good governance. So will his resolve to hold accountable his predecessor not only for the corruption that marked her nine years in office, but also for the massive loss of lives for which, she too, should be made responsible for.
The NUJP said these media killings are matter of state accountability asserting these human rights violations were committed under the administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.The group said the business of ensuring justice for all victims weighs just as heavy on Aquino as head of state as it should on all thosewhose sworn duty it is to protect and ensure the life and welfare of all citizens but which, sadly, they still have to do so.
Earlier, international journalist groups have urged Aquino to resolve with dispatch the continuous killing of journalists all over the archipelago.

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President elect Aquino asked to stop power rate hikes

By Bombshell Moran, Trinity Biglang Awa and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Calling it the biggest robbery in broad daylight of year 2010, an official of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged on Monday President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to reject the proposal of state-owned National Power Corporation (Napocor) to hike its’ rates two times tis year.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France dismissed the proposals for two time big time power rate increases as the biggest robbery in broad daylight in the post President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

“Mr. Aquino should immediately order the Energy Regulatory Commission to reject these unmindful and berserk proposals of Napocor. He can send the marching order right after his inauguration as 15th President of the Republic,” said France.

Napocor is seeking a 62.51 centavos increase per kilowatt-hour in Luzon, 9.73 centavos per kwh in the Visayas and 11.22 centavos per kwh in Mindanao under the 16th installment of the Generation Rate Adjustment Mechanism or GRAM.

The government owned power utility group is also asking the ERC to approve the 63.61 centavos per kwh increase in Luzon, 7.04 centavos per kwh increase in the Visayas and 3.99 centavos per Kwh increase in Mindanao this time under the 15th installment of Incremental Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment or ICERA.

“These electriying proposals of Napocor are worthy of consumer revolt and across-the-nation outrage. All the officials of Napocor should immediately resign from their posts and be ready to be confronted by the angry public and exploited consumers face to face,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

France said one Aquino’s first order of business include the nullification of Napocor proposals for power rate increases. The Pamalakaya official added that President elect Aquino should instead form an investigating body that would open the books of Napocor and scrutinize the operations of the state-owned power utility in the last nine years from 2001 to 2010.

“Napocor is losing money because of left-and-right and unbridled bureaucratic corruption in the 9 years of the Arroyo administration. Napocor is losing money because of the deregulation policy of the govenrment since the deregulation regime of former President Fidel Ramos up to Ms. Arroyo. Therefore, Mr. Aquino has no option but stop this money making adventure of Napocor and kill the three-in-one deregulation, privatization and liberalization policy that made Napocor into monster ,” said Pamalakaya. @

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Aquino in cheap publicity stunt, says critics

by Bb. Joyce Cabral, Sarsi Pimentel and Trinity Biglang Awa

MANILA, Philippines- The left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday accused apparent President elect Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino of blatantly engaging in cheap publicity stunt over his plan to take oath before Tarlac barangay captain Edgardo Aguas, the head of Barangay Central at Hacienda Luisita where Aquino is a registered voter.

“This is image building and a cheap publicity stunt rolled into one,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement. “We have nothing against barangay captain Aguas. The issue here is Noynoy who is brazenly engaged in all-out propaganda escapade to impress the public that he is a down-to-earth and pro-poor person,” the fisherfolk leader stressed.

The Pamalakaya leader said Aquino’s plan to push the oath taking at Barangay Central in Hacienda Luisita will not erase the crimes of the Cojuangco-Aquino on the Filipino farmers, particularly the denial of land rights to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries in Hacienda Luisita and the brutal murder of 7 farm workers and injury of more than 100 others during the Nov.14, 2004 massacre.

“There is no such thing as forgive and forget. The bloody carnage in Hacienda Luisita and the more than half- a-century resistance of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan to give up their immoral and unlawful claim on the 6,453-hectate sugar estate will be forever etched in the minds and memories of the Luisita folk in particular and the more than 90 million Filipino public in particular,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said Noynoy’s decision to take his oath in Hacienda Luisita is a symbolic way of saying that he and his family will not yield the sugar estate to 10,000 farmer worker beneficiaries, and that the controversial lands would remain untouched under his six-year term.

“Aquino’s insistence to have his oath taking ceremony before the barangay captain of Luisita Central is an open declaration of war to exploited sugar farm workers that as long as he is in power, the across-the-hacienda landlessness and exploitation of sugar workers will continue,” the group said.

Earlier, Pamalakaya announced there would be no honeymoon period with Noynoy, saying the first day of the Aquino administration will be met with challenges, demands and protests.

“There’s no honeymoon. Noynoy is dreaming of having a 100 day honeymoon with the people. The total political exposition of and opposition to Aquino and the newly installed ruling Mafia in Malacanang is the top order of the day,” the group said.

The statement of the Pamalakaya was contrary to the call of senatorial topnotchers Senators Ramon Revillar Jr. and Jinggoy EstradaJinggoy Estrada for the filipino people to unite and support the incoming Aquino presidency.

The group predicted Aquino will face an early political turbulence if his administration will not push for the prosecution of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and his men implicated in high crimes of corruption, extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances and the still unclosed case of Hello Garci election fraud in 2004.

Pamalakaya pressed Aquino to push the Office of the Ombudsman to decide on plunder cases filed by various groups against Arroyo and his men before the ombudsman’s office. He said his group had a pending plunder case against Arroyo and former agriculture officials in connection with
P 728-million fertilizer fund scam and the P 130-billion coconut levy fund.

The group had also filed another plunder case against President Arroyo and agriculture secretary Arthur Yap in connection with the P 455-million ice making machine scam. Hicap said Arroyo and former environment secretary Michael Defensor were also facing administrative and criminal charges before the Ombudsman’s office for allowing offshore mining companies to destroy Tanon Strait separating the island provinces of Cebu and Negros and Cebu-Bohol Strait separating Cebu and Bohol island provinces.

Pamalakaya also warned Aquino of accommodating members of the Hyatt 10, all former members of the economic team of President Arroyo, whom Hicap said were responsible for the economic disaster the people experienced during the first five years of the Arroyo administration.

“This so-called team of economic managers connived with Arroyo in executing ill-advised economic policies that further impoverished millions of Filipinos. These charlatans and puppets of neo-liberal globalization should not be allowed to prescribe poisonous economic prescriptions to the more than 90 million populace,” added Pamalakaya.

A week before the May 10 elections, Pamalakaya issued a national political memorandum to all its 43 chapters nationwide to reject the presidential bid of Aquino, dismissing the 50-year old Liberal Party standard bearer as Arroyo trapped in a man’s body. #

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