Category Archives: foreign relations

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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Rebel priest says US aid meant for war

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, http://www.allvoices.com MANILA, Philippines-

Rebel priest Fr. Santiago Salas, spokesperson on the communist led_national Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Eastern Visayas said the $ 200 million US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant will bring militarization and human rights violations and not genuine development in the highly militarized island in Eastern Philippines.

Fr. Salas tagged 8th Infantry Division chief Gen. Mario Chan a barefaced liar for denying the sinister agenda of US funded projects currently undertaken in Samar as part of the counter-insurgency program of administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the extended Oplan Bantay Laya.

“It is sheer duplicity for Gen. Chan to deny Samar’s militarization,” the NDFP-Eastern Visayas spokesperson said in a press statement, a copy of which was sent to http://www.allvoices.com. Salas added: “Victims of human rights violations have publicly denounced widepread and extended military operations since August in Jiabong, Motiong, San Jorge, Catbalogan, Gandara, Paranas, San Jose de Buan and Matuguinao in Western Samar, as well as several adjacent towns in Northern and Eastern Samar.

The rebel priest said it only shows the Aquino government is enamored with the militarist solution and Gen. Chan is implementing this by militarizing Samar.He said is already clear the present government is dragging its feet in the peace process with the NDFP, extending the widely condemned (national security program) Oplan Bantay Laya until January 2011, and carrying out the US Counterinsurgency Guide in plotting its own counterrevolutionary war.

Anti-development?

The NDFP-EV spokesperson also rebuked Gen. Chan for maliciously accusing the revolutionary movement of being against development in opposing the US-funded Samar Road project.

“Without basic socio-economic reforms, the MCC project will be a mere publicity and psywar gimmick to glamorize the Aquino government and to justify militarization in the name of securing this project,” Fr. Salas said. The NDFP-Eastern Visayas maintains that to assure genuine economic development, land reform and national industrialization are needed.

But Samar reflects the backwardness and imbalance under semifeudalism in Eastern Visayas.The democratic front argued the crops planted do not benefit the people and over 60% goes to commercial crops for export such as coconut and abaca, while less than 20% is left for rice and other basic foodstuffs.The agricultural conditions are also dire in Eastern Visayas with the number of irrigated rice fields is drastically declining, farmlands continue to be divided into smaller and less productive parcels, and the use of agricultural machinery or even farm animals is woefully inadequate.

“Such is the explosive situation where the peasants are becoming increasingly landless, desperate and hungry,” the NDFP-EV added.Meanwhile, other economic activities such as mining and logging have not resulted in industrialization but the plunder of the island’s rich natural resources as raw materials for export.”Thus it is Gen. Chan who is against development, for pushing a project that will not solve the island’s economic ills, but will hasten the exploitation and oppression of the people,” the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-led NDFP-EV added.

Bureaucratic loot

The NDFP-EV likewise charged Gen. Chan of hustling for the US-funded project in his greed to ensure his share from the bureaucratic loot.

“The NDFP-EV is aware that civilian contractors in Samar have been complaining in recent years that they are being muscled out by the 8th ID in construction projects,” it said. ” High-ranking military officials not only back certain contractors to share the kickbacks, but also use the army engineering battalions to grab corruption-tainted projects that should have been done by the civilian government,” the NDFP-EV asserted.
“Isn’t it strange otherwise why Gen. Mario Chan makes vulgar demands to the local government to rush the US-funded project, when he is out of line in doing so, as a military official who should be subordinate to civilian authority?” it asked.

Oppose MCC in EV

The NDFP-EV spokesperson called on the people to express their grievances and expose the real situation in opposing the US Millennium Challenge Corporation project.

“We call on the peasantry and the people to press the demands for land reform and national industrialization against a grandiloquent but deceptive project. We call on the Church and the human rights and peace activists to expose and oppose the ‘counterinsurgency’ scheme behind the MCC project based on the US COIN Guide,” Salas said. The NDFP spokesperson also rallied anti-corruption activists to study and criticize the US-funded project that will surely be undertaken by the same thieves responsible for the neglected state of Samar’s roads and other public works.

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Manila anti-casino group sought divine intervention

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Handog Malaya Vera and Victoria Sunshine Malubarry

MANILA, Philippines- A militant alliance of small fishermen opposed to the planned construction of a Las Vegas like casino in the western portion of Manila Bay in Paranaque City on Saturday asked the influential Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to join forces with them to stop the 557 million US dollar casino-resort project in the Bagong Nayong Pilipino-Entertainment City.

In a press statement, the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) appealed to the 117 archbishops and bishops of the CBCP to coalesce with the fisherfolk and other affected people in Manila Bay in the fight of what it called the Las Vegas-nization of the country.

“We ask our archbishops and bishops to join the Manila Bay coastal people in their legit and just struggle against those evil forces who want to make this country the gambling capital of Asia to the detriment of coastal people and the bay environment,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said his group is planning to seek a dialogue with the bishops and archbishops of the CBCP anytime next week to discuss the devastating impact of the project to small fisherfolk and urban poor and its destructive effect to the already fragile Manila Bay environment.

“We will move heaven and earth to put up a strong opposition against this largest gambling project clinched during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and passed on to the new administration of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III,” added Hicap.

In a statement yesterday, Bloombury Investments Holdings Inc. which was acquired by port operatorEnrique Razon Jr. said it had broken ground for the construction of Solaire, an integrated resort complex that includes a five-star, 500-room hotel on a 165,000-square-meter land.

According to Bloombury, aside from catapulting the Philippines into becoming a key player in the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries, the project will make Filipinos proud for having a world class leisure hub that will showcase the best that the country can offer. It said the entertainment city will rival leisure hubs in the region such as those in Macau, Malaysia and Singapore.

The project marks Razon’s first venture into the lucrative gaming industry. Razon owns Manila-based global port giant International Container Terminal Services Inc. The Bloombury complex is expected to open by the third quarter of 2012. Total investment in the long term is expected to reach $ 1 billion.

Project proponents said aside from attracting local and foreign visitors, the complex is expected to generate some 2,500 jobs and boost the country’s ancillary service sectors.

“This is ridiculous, very, very ridiculous. Please allow us to inform the bishops that the Supreme Court ruling is clear——-Malacanang should rehabilitate Manila Bay and should not transform the bay into a gambling capital of Asia is contrary to the high court decision,” said Hicap in reference to the Dec. 2008 Supreme Court decision mandating the national government and concerned government agencies to restore Manila Bay back to its historic and proud past.

“The bishops are politically and morally obliged to confront this gambling project of the ruling Mafia in Malacanang. That is one their callings as far as the Christian faith and the people’s collective interest are concerned,” the Pamalakaya official added.

The other companies granted licenses were Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc., the partnership between the Andrew L. Tan-led Alliance Global, Inc. and casino-resort operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd., SM Investments Corp. and Universal Entertainment Corp. (formerly Azure Corp.), which makes gaming machines and is a co-investor in the Wynn chain of casino hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.

“The issue of Manila Bay casino project is not only about cronyism and the despicable partnership between Arroyo and his cherished client-Mr. Razon and now Razon as de facto supporter and crony of Aquino. At stake here is the marine environment, the livelihood of 3 million people in Manila Bay and the national interest of 92 million Filipinos. Sad to say, President Arroyo sacrificed these stakes to make more money and make his crony the happiest and the luckiest guy on earth.

Pagcor president and chief operating officer Rafael Butch Francisco announced on Monday the construction at the Bay Shore Entertainment City was expected to start in the latter part of the year. Sources said the Razon’s entry into the Pagcor project came after his exit from the power transmission business. Last month, Henry Sy Jr.’s OneTaipan Holdings, Inc. bought Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. from Razon’s group for $350 million.

Pagcor said the construction is expected to start in the third quarter at an estimated cost of $400 million for the first phase. According to the state-run gambling corporation, the complex will include two five-star luxury hotel towers of over 1,000 rooms within a world-class entertainment and convention facility.

The Pamalakaya fisherfolk alliance said the construction of Manila Bay casino similar to first-ratecasinos in Las Vegas and Macau will trigger the displacement of 3 million coastal people in Metro Manila and Cavite who are still dependent to fishing as principal source of livelihood, and any move to transform or convert Manila Bay for other purposes like the $15-billion casino project will have a killing impact on the livelihood of small fishermen, aside from the fact that they would be demolished from their communities, once construction of support structures and establishments begins.

“The irrevocable desire of President Aquino and Mr. Razon to convert Manila Bay into an international gateway for big time gambling addicts both international and domestic is not only blasphemous, but also detestable and highly revolting. This government is sacrificing the future ofManila Bay fishers at the altar of corporate interest and gambling addiction of the international and domestic elites,” the Pamalakaya said.

The militant group said the construction of Manila Bay casino will also trigger reclamation of other coastal shores along Manila Bay that will result to eviction of fishing communities and coastal villagers along the bay.

Pamalakaya recalled from 1992 to 1995, the demolitions of coastal shanties became an everyday ordeal in Pasay Reclamation area. Houses were uprooted on almost day-to-day basis. Small and big time bribery to divide the communities were conducted to facilitate the demolition of homes as if the words and orders of Malacañang were the words of God in this country.

The setting up of casino and resorts, including SM’s Mall of Asia was all in the master plan of the government known as Manila Bay Master Development Plan that officially started during the time of President Ramos and projected to end between 2020 and 2025.

Pamalakaya said 3,500 small fisherfolk and their families in Pasay Reclamation Area, and another 3,000 coastal and urban poor families along the coastal shores of Parañaque were evicted by the government of former President Ramos to pave way for the construction of the proposed casino that would make the Philippines the Las Vegas of Asia.#

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Laguna Lakers slam P 200 million building project

By Pepsi Laloma, Sarsi Pimentel and Gerry Albert Corpuz

Binangonan, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday expressed disbelief on why and how the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA)pursued a P 200-million contract for a new three story building for the lake agency.

“P 200 million is P 200 million. This contract is a fast break deal and a last minute money making activity courtesy of the midnight deal department of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda, an Arroyo stooge,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

Hicap learned that the LLDA’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) opened the bids last week to determine which of the contractors would get the project. The Pamalakaya leader said the winning bidder will receive the contract on June 28, two days before the inaugural of President elect Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino.

“Please allow us to establish the facts. The people of Laguna Lake- the 6 million stakeholders composed of small fishermen, farmers, urban poor and ordinary people were not consulted about this P 200 million escapade of the LLDA under the Arroyo-Manda regime. The construction of P 200 million building for LLDA is never a priority and all the people want is the genuine rehabilitation of the lake and assurance of fishing livelihood for small scale fishers,” added Hicap.

Pamalakaya said the people of Laguna Lake, especially the victims of super typhoon Ondoy were demanding state subsidies and assistance in the form of economic relief and rehabilitation and the immediate repair of their homes.

“They did not ask for the construction of a P 200 million building for LLDA. So where in this part of the globe did President Arroyo and Mr. Manda get their idea that all the victims of Ondoy want is a new building for LLDA. That’s baloney,” the militant group said.

Pamalakaya dared President-elect Aquino to recall the P 200-million project of the LLDA. “Mr. Aquino will face an across-the-lake project if his administration will continue to pursue to super damnable and crazy project,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said President elect Aquino should also instruct the incoming manager of the LLDA and the incoming secretary of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to stop the project and declare the contract null and void since because the P 200-million contract is illegal, highly irregular and anomalous and against the collective interest of 6 million lake folk surrounding the lake.

The militant group said they will soon write the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate to conduct either a joint or separate congressional inquiries on the P 200-million Laguna Lake building project.

“The draft of the letter of request to have this high crime of corruption investigated is ready. We will just wait Congress to name the next of Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President because the letter will be addressed to the top two leaders of the legislative branch,” said Pamalakaya.

Last Feb. 23, leaders of Pamalakaya and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) submitted an Omnibus demand to LLDA Gen. Manager Manda. The set of demands include support and housing subsidies to victims of last year’s typhoon Ondoy and this year’s El Nino.

Pamalakaya and SLLM set of demands include supply of 1 rice of sack for free from March to July, P 5,000 economic and production subsidies for every fishing families and another P 5,000 for housing subsidy or house rehabilitation program per affected fishing family. #

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Aquino told: Submit RP-EU trade pact to Senate

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Handog Malaya Vera

MANILA, Philippines- The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday urged soon to be proclaimed President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to submit the approved RP-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) to the Philippine Senate for deliberation either for rejection or ratification after officials of the Philippine government and European Union yesterday finalized the content the content of the bilateral trade agreement.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said the Aquino administration should follow the legal and constitutional processes required in sealing bilateral treaties with other nations such as the free trade agreement with EU.

“The treaty requires the full-blown deliberation and the concurrence of 16 senators of the incoming Philippine Senate. Mr. Aquino should not misrepresent the RP-EU bilateral pact as an executive agreement to escape Senate debate, approval or rejection,”
said France.

EU delegation to RP Ambassador Alistair MacDonald said the new trade agreement is expected to be initialed within this month of June and the official signing will be on September or October this year once the PCA text is translated into 22 other languages of EU.

The negotiations for the RP-EU trade pact which lasted about 18 months, seeks to further advance the bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and EU in many of issues, including but not limited to
political, security, counter-terrorism, trade and investment, development cooperation, education and culture, energy, transport, migration, and human rights.

The Philippines is only the second Southeast Asian country to complete negotiations on an updated PCA with the EU. The EU last year clinched a bilateral trade pact with Indonesia and was signed in November 2009. The EU is also in the process of clinching negotiations with Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore

But Pamalakaya’s France said the 94 million Filipinos were all kept in the dark because the content of the RP-EU trade pact was concealed by the Arroyo administration from the public.

According to Pamalakaya, it was the EU which initially drafted the agreement and the Philippine government merely obtained a copy of the PCA on February 1, 2006 obtained a copy.

“If this is a joint partnership agreement, how come the content of the agreement is made and decided by only one party to the agreement which is the EU. Is this really a partnership agreement or an imposition from the powerful EU bloc,” the group said.

Pamalakaya said efforts to secure a copy of the partnership agreement but these efforts proved futile. “If our memory serves us right, Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna requested the office of Secretary Alberto Romulo for documents regarding the ongoing negotiations between the Arroyo government and the European Commission (EC) but his request was denied,” the group said.

“The Aquino administration and the 23 senators are constitutionally bound, legally mandated, politically and morally obliged to look into the impact and consequences of the PCA, which is currently being syndicated among top officials of Malacañang and the European Commission,” the fisherfolk group stressed.

Pamalakaya further asserted the Senate should not be caught flat- footed as in the case of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, or Jpepa, where the Senate, the ratifying body, was kept in the dark in the early stages of the negotiations and was compelled to seal the agreement despite Jpepa’s all-out violation of national interest and the 1987 Constitution.

“If Jpepa is nightmare, the RP-EU partnership and cooperation pact is an across-the-nation tragedy that will soon hit this nation of impoverished and starving people,” Pamalakaya said.
“The real agenda of EU in orchestrating this biggest sell-out of the century is to pass the burden of their economic and global crisis to the downtrodden people of the Third World like RP,” the group added.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Edsel Custodio on February 19 released a foreign affairs statement dated February 9, 2009, on the draft RP-EU PCA, which was submitted by the European Commission on November 21, 2006.

Custodio said the Philippines had received from the EC the initial draft of the PCA on February 1, 2006. At that time, the PCA, consisted of two separate framework agreements: the main PCA document and the political elements on weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and the ICC.

In May 2006 President Arroyo had met with then-EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and expressed the Philippines’ keenness on pursuing negotiations after thorough evaluation by the agencies of the Philippine government. In accordance with this directive, the DFA established the interagency process on the PCA.

Since then, according to Custodio, the draft underwent further revisions by the EC. The second revised PCA draft dated November 21, 2006, merged the two separate agreements of February 1, 2006, into one omnibus PCA. This version underwent a lengthy but thorough interagency process of over two years and involved around 30 agencies and offices of the Philippine government.

Interagency deliberations continued throughout much of 2007. Some issues-particularly the nature and rationale behind the PCA and its relation to the regional free-trade agreement-emerged that required further discussion. For this reason, the DFA and the EC held the first informal consultations on the draft PCA on September 24, 2007.

Interagency discussions intensified in frequency and deepened in analysis in 2008. The number of agencies involved in the PCA increased, while some sub-clusters were consolidated due to the interrelatedness and cross-cutting nature of certain provisions.

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Obama told to stop Exxon oil hunt in Manila

By Sarsi Pimentel, Pepsi Laloma and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines-The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday asked US President Barack Obama to extend his order to suspend all offshore mining activities in American territorial waters to foreign waters like Sulu where ExxonMobil is currently undertaking a $ 110-million oil and gas exploration.

Obama recently suspended all offshore mining activities following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill where 20 million gallons are now estimated to have leaked since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20 and sank, killing 11 workers. Since the spill started, an estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of crude have leaked into the Gulf each day, which environmentalists described as worst environmental disaster in US history.

The massive oil spill in Gulf of Mexico prompted US lawmakers to file a bill demanding a permanent ban on all offshore drilling across the United States. At least 6 Democrat senators — Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington sponsored the controversial measure.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap advised Obama to also issue an executive order calling ExxonMobil and other US-owned offshore mining companies doing oil and gas explorations abroad to call off explorations following the BP oil spill.

“Mr. Obama can issue an order calling ExxonMobil to back out from its oil and gas expedition off Sulu Sea. The White House current occupant can issue black and white order commanding ExxonMobil to back off from its oil deal with the Philippine government,” the Pamalakaya leader said.

Hicap said his group was apprehensive of the project’s impact on the livelihoods of fishing communities in Palawan, Western Visayas, Zamboanga peninsula and Sulu archipelago.

Pamalakaya said the Sulu Sea, in the southwest Philippines, connects the South China Sea and the Celebes Sea and is considered to be on the route of tuna and other schools of fish leaving or going to the Pacific Ocean.

The militant group claimed that the approval of the ExxonMobil exploration deal was “just a preview of the forthcoming RP-US Free Trade Agreement, which the incoming presidency of leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy”Aquino III is expected to yield to the Obama administration in recognition of the US top officials support to Aquino before , during and after the May 10 presidential elections.

Pamalakaya theorized ExxonMobil, a major world player, would not go to a country where the potential is not great. The militant group recalled that ExxonMobil officials US oil firm officials led by Stephen Greenlee said the plan to explore for oil and gas in Sulu was a big deal for the company, and that ExxonMobil was encouraged by preliminary seismic data on the potential of oil and gas reserves in the Sulu Sea.

Aside from ExxonMobil, Pamalakaya said Australian mining firm NorAsia was also reportedly set to conduct oil explorations in the Cebu-Bohol Strait, while Dutch-owned Premium Oil will also launch offshore explorations in the Ragay Gulf of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Quezon . #

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Aquino pressed to review Manila-Tokyo trade deal

By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila, Philippines and Tomada Sakaguchi in Tokyo City, Japan

Via-PLDT-The leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday urged leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to immediately review the controversial Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement(Jpepa) which was ratified by the Philippine Senate in 2008.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap the review and possible abrogation of the bilateral trade pact between the Philippines and Japan could happen in the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.

“This is a make or break for Aquino and his Yellow Republic. We are giving him 100 days to serve the death sentence to this one-sided agreement whose only claim to fame is the awarding of 30 caregiving jobs to 30 Filipino nurses in 2009,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said the Japanese government and the Japanese corporations are engaged in indirect bribe to ensure the incoming Aquino administration will continue to uphold and support the anti-Filipino economic and partnership treaty.

Citing a recent report of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Hicap said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently renewed its offer to provide at least $ 700 million in aid to the Aquino administration.

NEDA said the JICA country assistance to the Philippines is meant for the country to achieve its next Medium Term Philippine Development Plan that involves support programs and projects in the areas of capacity building, operation and maintenance and climate change. But Pamalakaya’s Hicap said the money was meant to fast track the implementation of Jpepa.

“This seven hundred million US dollar economic aid to RP is part of the pro-Jpepa offensive of Japan. If this is not a direct or indirect bribe, then what is it? A charity work from Japanese corporate syndicates? We don’t think so,” Hicap added.

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 profitsfrom the sale of skipjack tuna.

Pamalakaya said the bulk of the profit will come from the remaining 35 percent of the 50,000metric 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 recalled that during the Senate deliberation of Jpepa, Sen. Aquino voted against the controversial treaty. The group said Aquino can challenge anew the treaty by calling the Philippine Senate to review Jpepa and compel the 23-member of the August chamber to recall its ratification in 2008. #

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