Category Archives: debt

World Bank eyes RP as Asia’s begging capital

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Bb. Tayuman Recto-Yap and Akihira Tatchu

MANILA, Philippines- The plan of the Brettonwoods institution to support the direct cash assistance fund to millions of impoverished Filipinos through an increased fresh loan to Manila government sparked protest from a Philippine group highly critical of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The leftist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday assailed WB over its recent move to double its assistance in the country for 2011 so the national government could fund its conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to poor Filipinos. Impressed by the Philippine government’s initiatives on good governance, WB country director Bert Hofman last Friday said WB will increase the current overall assistance to the Philippines from $ 630 million to $ 1.3 B in total assistance to the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.Hofman said the aid increase was approved last week at the annual meeting of the WB and International Monetary Fund (IMF)with the Philippines economic team.

In 2007, the WB approved a five year support to CCT with $ 400 million loan as funding support for 2008 as launched by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) then under President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo administration. This year, Congress passed the national budget for 2011, allotting P 21 B for CCT, an increase of P 9 billion compared to last year. The P 21 B for CCT elicited protest from 100 congressmen.

But Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the increase in aid assistance merely suits the political agenda of WB-IMF to turn millions of Filipino poor into beggars and mendicants, transform them into passive political entities highly allergic or hostile to politics of change in the country.

“The WB-IMF supports the CCT program because it sees it as a socio-political instrument that would convert this nation of over 90 million starving Filipinos into a Republic of mendicants and beggars rather than into a progressive nation with critical thinking and struggling people fighting for land, jobs, rights and justice.The increase in assistance with the purpose of supporting the CCT program is mainly a counter-insurgency program in form and in substance,” Hicap explained.

“The WB-IMF backed CCT program is also counter-productive in the sense that it does not create jobs and does not transform people into productive citizens but helpless folks begging for alms,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The WB country director said the initiatives of the Aquino administration for poverty alleviation were doing well for target beneficiaries and that transparency under the new government made them more comfortable to provide additional assistance to Aquino government.

“It is business as usual for IMF-WB. It will lure the Aquino administration enter into another cycle of debt trap and national death bed due to debt. Behind the triple platinum debt offer of this US-led financial monster is the cruel intention of IMF-WB to get involved in Jurassic public-private partnership (PPPs) economic escapade of the Aquino administration,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group also slammed the Philippine officials who signed the deal with IMF-WB during a meeting in Washington D.C. Pamalakaya said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget and management SecretaryFlorencio Abad and Socio-Economic planning secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. should be condemned to the highest order for what the group called a millennium sell out of the national economy.

“These officials of Noynoy Aquino committed one of the major blunders in the 21st century when they offered the Philippines at the altar of IMF-WB millennium exploitation.They should be remembered in history as modern-day traitors along with President Aquino for undertaking this sell out of national patrimony and grand scam denationalization and privatization of national economy,” said Pamalakaya.

According to Pamalakaya, the IMF-WB aside from raking super profits from interest on loans, would also take part in highly profitable business in the country including but not limited to the expansion of Light Railway Transit system, the improvement of sewerage system of Maynilad and Manila Water.

The militant group said IMF-WB also wants to facilitate PPPs in tourism, food supply chain, construction of airports and other road networks, mass transport, national highways, water, power and other utilities.

Pamalakaya said the P 18.7 B Laguna Lake Dredging Project in Laguna de Bay was one of the PPPs approved by the Arroyo government prior to the May 2010 elections.The group said the project is between the Philippine government and the Fortis Bank of Belgium, which is a private commercial bank based in Brussels. It said around 400,000 lake families or roughly 2 million people in Laguna Lake will be displaced by the Laguna Lake dredging project #

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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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Critics pressed Arroyo to junk allies bid granting her emergency powers

By Sarsi Pimentel and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines- Rabid critics of Malacanang on Saturday pressed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to junk the proposal of her allies in the House of Representatives to give her emergency powers to resolve the worsening power situation in Mindanao.

In a press statement, the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) believed the idea of granting the Chief Executive emergency powers to address the looming power crisis did not come from her allies but from Arroyo herself, and if she’s unchecked, Arroyo might use these powers to convince the Filipino public to postpone the May 2010 elections.

“The power crisis is being hyped to justify the cruel intentions of Malacanang and it is now part of Palace’s scenario building to justify the declaration of failure of elections in 2010. That is the clear and present danger of extending emergency powers to President Arroyo. A lame duck and an outgoing President with interest to perpetuate herself to power might exploit this congressional action for her own political interest. Ladies and gentlemen, remember we are talking here of Mrs. Arroyo and we are not dealing with a patriotic leader and decent statesman,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Arroyo allies headed by Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Simeon Datumanong, Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Antonio Cerilles. Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco and Bulacan Rep. Reylina Nicolas were courting an extreme political danger in pressing emergency powers for the President.

“The best way to resolve the power crisis is stop the privatization of the power sector, repeal Electric Power Industry Reform Act and disempower the Arroyo presidency,” added Hicap.

Meanwhile, Pamalakaya scored Palace Deputy spokesperson Charito Planas for trivializing the problem of water shortage in the country courtesy of El Nino phenomenon.

“Please allow us to remind Madam Charito Planas that this world and the problem we face is for real. We totally dislike this trivial approach to a serious issue that needs comprehensive planning and strong political will. We cannot subscribe to this product like endorsement approach to a major problem that needs major solutions beyond trivia and cheap tricks,” the group added.

Planas on Friday brought out a pail and a basin during a televised briefing and gave simple conservation tips to address the looming water crisis.

With her household props, the Palace spokesperson demonstrated how the water one uses for washing hands, brushing teeth or bathing could be recycled to flush the toilet.

Planas said in her home, she use eight pails and basins to recycle water and had started such practice a year ago. “I use a tabo (dipper) when I bathe. That’s probably one of the reasons why I’ve lost weight—from using a dipper. After shampooing, I rinse my hair directly into the pail. We can do this, and should do this,” she added. #

Pamalakaya wonder dog Barrack OCigeNga barks whenever he sees President Arroyo on TV

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Pinoy activists outraged at outcome of Copenhagen climate talks

By the Center for Environmental Concerns, contributor, in Copenhagen, Denmark and Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times, in Manila

Copenhagen, Denmark- Climate activists from the Philippines expressed outraged at the Copenhagen Accord signed by 26 heads of states at the summit of the United Nations Conference of Parties 15 (COP15). The group was even more disappointed at the Philippine delegation, headed by President Gloria Arroyo, for being one of the first to sign the undemocratic document and once again selling out the interests and welfare of the Filipino people.

“The Copenhagen Accord, which does not commit the developed countries and biggest polluters to specific emission cuts targes at a specific deadline puts humanity nearer to the brink of world catastrophy. How the accord came to be is a case in point of how rich countries like the US preserve its interests at the expense of the welfare of the world’s population by imposing its power to prevent the creation of a fair, effective and legally binding deal,” said Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

KALIKASAN-PNE was among the hundreds of civil society organizations that flew to Copenhagen to participate in the talks by forwarding the positions and calls of the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized sectors. While the group did not have high expectations that a binding and substantial agreement will be signed at the UN summit, they were revolted how the talks turned out.

The Copenhagen Accord was brokered by the United States during a closed door meeting last Friday night with the BASIC countries: Brazil, South Africa, India and China, which the other countries left out of the meetings. The process was undemocratic, secretive and in gross violation of the UN charter and the rights of other nations to take part in an agreement where the fate of the world depends on.

The Accord also set the to limit the increase in global temperature to 2°C instead of the 1.5°C needed by countries such as Bangladesh and Tuvalu to stay above sea level. To achieve that, the accord aims to cut global carbon emission by only 50% of 1990 levels by 2050, with no specific target and legally binding commitment from rich countries to reduce their emission.

Aside from the emissions cuts, the accord supposedly commits the developed countries to raise climate funds for vulnerable nations.

Unfair accord

“While we have observed in the past 2 weeks that the climate talks is not a negotiation between equal parties, we have also observed how the Philippine delegation expressed enthusiasm for the unfair accord and contented itself with a few billion pesos of climate aid, ” said Marjorie Pamintuan of Agham Youth.

Ms. Pamintuan also participated in the COP15 with 350.org, an international movement campaigning for the lowering the carbon in the atmosphere to 350ppm.

Referring to an interview of expert negotiator Ms. Bernarditas Castro-Muller, Ms. Pamintuan explained that, “The $30 billion that is to be provided by rich countries for vulnerable nations between 2010 and 2012, and the $100 billion dollars ‘from a wide variety of sources’ to be available after 2020 could hardly be considered any help at all since ‘these will be in the form of loans’ which will bury the Filipinos into much deeper national debt.”

Ms. Pamintuan further pointed out that, “additional national debts means larger budget cuts for services like education and health since a large portion of the national budget is appropriated for debt servicing. With a destroyed environment, unhealthy bodies and without education, what kind of future does the Filipino youth have?”

“Instead of being used to increase the resiliency and adaptive of the country, the $380 million pledge of clean technology and forestry investment funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank that Mrs. Arroyo is so proud of will be allocated to hoax technological solutions like clean coal, market based mechanisms and will also facilitate the exploit of our energy and forest resources by foreign corporations,” explained Ms. Meggie Nolasco of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA).

According to the PCWA statement , “If the government is indeed serious in addressing climate, instead of promoting technological fixes and false climate solutions it should prioritize people’s needs by immediately scrapping destructive environmental policies like the Mining Act of 1995 and stopping the building of new coal-fired power plants and coal mining projects.”

“While there is already a global consensus that any further delays in coming up with effective solutions will jeopardize the whole planet especially vulnerable nations such as the Philippines, Mrs. Arroyo and her delegation even commended the unfair and unsubstantial deal,” said Ms. Nolasco.

Ms Nolasco added that, “What Mrs. Arroyo and her delegation should have done was act in the interest of the Filipino people by standing firmly with the other nations in demanding that developed countries, especially the US, to commit to an effective, fair and legally binding climate deal.”

“However, we must not be disheartened in our struggle. We must sustain our collective actions even as we go back to our countries and press for true climate change solutions and lasting social justice,” ended Ms. Nolasco.

Not all about aid

In Manila, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday chided President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for praising her efforts to secure $ 380-million in financial aid to help the Philippines cope with the impact of climate change.

“Is that how President Arroyo measure the meaning of success? Where is climate justice in the $ 380-million pledges to fight global warming? We don’t call it aid, we call it bribery from top global polluters and environmental destroyers,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap said his group was dismayed on President Arroyo over her silence and non-committal and no-combative stance on the collective position of the G-77 for the United States and other major economies of the world to drastically cut their carbon emissions to cushion if not eliminate the phenomenon of global warming across-the-world.

“President Arroyo attended the Copenhagen summit on climate change not to attack the global warmers and present the global people’s agenda for climate justice, but to perform her duty as an apologist for the US and other rich nations,” the Pamalakaya official said.

In her arrival statement, President Arroyo described the Philippines’ efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change as a “life and death’ issue. She said her government is at the frontline of the changing global climate, as she mentioned the past storms that had ravaged the country, the Filipino people and their way of life.

The President said the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank committed up to $ 250 million from their clean technology fund in recognition of the Philippines leadership role in tackling climate changes in Asia. Mrs. Arroyo also took home $ 70 million for forestry investment fund and another 50 million US dollars from the global environmental fund. The Danish government promised another 10 million US dollars in support to the Philippines local water utilities.

Money, money,money

“Mrs. Arroyo works hard for the money for herself and not for climate justice and not for the people affected by US-led inflicted climate change. That’s the President’s vision in life—money, money, enough money for her eternal greed, nothing more, nothing less,” said Hicap.
While President Arroyo was rebuked by Pamalakaya, the militant group commended a group of Filipino activists who made their presence felt during the Conference of Parties (COP) in Copenhagen.

The group praised Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the environmental group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment and the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), Ms Tess Vistro of Amihan peasant women federation, Paul Quintos of Ibon Foundation and Ces Quimpo of Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) for bringing the Filipino people’s collective position on climate justice and the need to punish top global polluters like the United States and its transnational corporations for bringing global environmental disasters to 77 most poorest countries in the world.

“The Filipino people were not in default in the Copenhagen battle. Their voice was added to the worldwide demands for rich nations to stop exploiting and destroying the people and the resources and to ensure global climate justice against the super profiteering activities of US and other capitalist exploiting nations across America, Europe and Asia and the Pacific,” said Pamalakaya.

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Bayan Muna slams Palace refusal to stop debt payment

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines- Bayan Muna party list Rep. Teddy Casiño slammed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for honoring fraudulent debts at the expense of the general public and Filipino taxpayers.

In a press statement emailed to The Pamalakaya Times, the activist lawmaker decried reports that the Macapagal-Arroyo government spent a total of P549.016 billion to service its debt from January to September this year.

The amount, according to Casino is two percent higher than the P537.352 billion it released last year for the same purpose. Some P235.283B of the total went to interest payments, slightly higher than last year’s P234.706 billion.

“After the devastation caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng worsened by the lack of government preparedness, it is shocking that the Arroyo administration still refuses to declare a moratorium on debt payments. These so-called ‘financial obligations” are nothing compared to government’s obligations to the Filipino people, millions of whom are worse off than they were previously because of the calamities,” Casiño said in a statement.

The Bayan Muna solon also castigated the government’s refusal to reorient the remaining section of its programmed payments for financial obligations for the rest of the year. For 2009, government aimed to allot a total of P698.5 billion for debt payments, 8.7 percent higher than the actual payout of P612.7 billion in 2008.

“It is an endless source of outrage that the Philippine government refuses to drop its debt payments when there are undoubtedly more urgent needs that should be attended to and provided for,” Casiño said.

“A debt moratorium is of utmost importance, as more funds are needed to hasten the rehabilitation are devastated areas and enable victims and survivors to get themselves back on their feet. The billions going to international banks and creditors should be given instead to local service infrastructure repair and creation,” Casiño pointed out.

Based on current data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), the government released P61.277 billion for debt payments in September alone, higher by 1.87 percent from last year’s P60.149 billion allocation.

Interest payments to local lenders and foreign creditors were also exorbitant, with the former receiving P132.635 billion during the nine-month period, and the latter getting P102.648 billion from P93.379 billion paid out in the same period last year, an increase of 9.9 percent.

Principal payments amounted to P313.733 billion, or 3.66 percent higher than the P302.646 billion disbursed in 2008 during the same period. #

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