Category Archives: politics

Leftist alliance in Manila calls for scrapping of PH-US war games

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- Opposition to the up coming Philippines-US joint military exercises is getting stronger with the largest alliance of patriotic and progressive groups in Manila voiced out their collective rejection to the scheduled Balikatan exercises next month. In their webiste (www.bayan.ph), the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today called on the Aquino government to scrap the scheduled 2011 Balikatan exercises saying it undermines any meaningful review of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

“By holding the Ballikatan war games on April 5-15 this year, the Aquino government is showing that it is not really serious in reviewing the VFA. Unequal and lopsided provisions remain in the agreement yet the Aquino government has no problems enforcing this pact for the upcoming war games,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“What will happen if there are again violations of Philippine law which would require us gaining custody of American troops? How will the unequal provisions of the VFA be implemented once more? Will we have another Daniel Smith episode, one that is ultimately embarrassing for the Philippines?” Reyes added.

Bayan objected to the holding of the Balikatan exercises saying that the VFA does not specify the number of US troops entering the country and the type of activities they can engage in.

“The VFA has been abused by the United States so they can permanently station their troops in the Philippines as what we are seeing now in Mindanao. The Philippine government has taken on the untenable position of allowing this to happen despite it being a clear violation of our sovereignty and constitution,” Reyes said.

“The upcoming Balikatan exercises show the extent of the Philippine government’s subservience to US dictates. The Aquino government will allow 6,000 US troops who are covered by a defective and one-sided pact to undertake unspecified military operations in our country. The Aquino government, much like the Arroyo government, will allow US troops to make the Philippines their playground,” he added.

The group also said that there remains the unresolved issue in relation to corruption of Baliaktan funds. A Commission on Audit investigation revealed there were irregularities in the management of the AFP’s funds deposited in the Land Bank of the Philippines.

“This is the 27th Balikatan war games. What have we gained so far? What benefits has the VFA provided us? The so-called civil military operations at the communities are mere publicity stunts for US forces to be acceptable to the local population,” Reyes said. The Philippine military announced last week that around 6,000 American troops are going to participate in Balikatan (Shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises next month. It said around 2,000 Philippine troops will join their US counterparts in the 10-day war drill that would start on April 15. The exercises include a unilateral planning exercise inside the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

But AFP officials said the US troops will only participate as observers in the unilateral planning exercise. Aside from the unilateral planning in Puerto Princesa, other joint PH-US military exercises will be held inside Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija, Basa and Clair Air Base in Pampanga, Crow Valley Range in Tarlac, Naval Station L in Zambales, Sangley Point in Cavite, Msrine Base in Ternate, also in Cavite and Mactan Airbase in Cebu province. Earlier, the activist peasant group in Central Luzon– the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) announced its plan to hold series of protests against the Balikatan exercises. Leaders of the farmer regional alliance said farmers in the region will be barred again from attending their crops during the war exercises.

The same sentiment was echoed by the fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, which said that the water-based military drills in Sangley Point and Ternate might result to banning of fishing activities during the joint war drills. Pamalakaya vice chair for Luzon Salvador France said everytime there is joint military exercises held along the country’s coastal shores, local government units enforce fishing ban as what happened in the Bicol Region during the 2008 Balikatan exercises.(With reports from Roy Morilla and Labo Molabo Ramos)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under politics

Lawmakers asked to stop toll hikes

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Manila Legarda

MANILA, Philippines – A group of affected rural producers on Saturday urged members of the Philippine parliament to act with dispatch and stop the looming hikes in toll fees, after the Philippine high tribunal declare the recent increases as legal and constitutional.

The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday urged lawmakers from both houses of Congress to cross party lines, call a special session and pass a joint resolution to scrap if not indefinitely suspend the implementation of toll increase at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said Congress can exercise its legislative powers and remedies to spare millions of people in Southern Luzon and the National Capital Region from bearing the brunt of the 250 percent hike in SLEx toll fees.“President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will not stop the toll fee increase at SLEx because he wants to lure foreign investors to takeover SLEx that would promise lucrative business and sure super profits for foreign investments. So the ball is now Congress court to stop this highway robbery in broad daylight,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte to lead the authorship and sponsorship of a joint Senate-House resolution that would indefinitely suspend the implementation of SLEx toll hike, which should be followed by a full-blown congressional inquiry on toll hike proposals that would include the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and South Metro Manila Skyway.

“The 250 percent increase in toll fees at SLEx is not only a case of highway robbery in broad daylight. This burdensome hike in toll fees is tantamount to economic sabotage,” added Hicap.

Following the Supreme Court ruling junking the petition against SLEx toll increase, South Luzon Tollways Corporation (SLTC) president Isaac David said the increase toll rates at SLEx will be implemented by next week or early November.David said the toll increase would enable STLC to pay its debts from creditors amounting to P 1 billion in the past two months. In a decision released Thursday last week, the Supreme Court declared as valid and constitutional the supplemental toll operation agreement (STOA) covering the Luzon Tollway Project between the government and SLEx, as well as the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) resolutions allowing rate increases.The SLTC had spent P 12 billion for the rehabilitation of SLEx which cover the rehabilitation of Alabang viaduct and the widening of highway. The company which is backed by Malaysia’s MTD Capital holds a 30-year concession to operate SLEx and it is allowed to collect toll to ensure that it gets a 17-percent return on investment every year.

Pamalakaya said the 250 percent increase in SLEx toll fees would further push trade cartels and buyers of agricultural and fishery products in Southern Luzon to cut farm gate prices of farmers and fisherfolk produce in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions. “The cartel will further cut prices of farm gate prices by as much as 50 percent. Because of toll hikes at SLEx, fish traders will further reduce the average of fish price of P 50 per kilo to P 30 or P 25 per kilo. To ensure fish cartels would have money for toll fees and still make profits, fish cartels on the other hand will jack up prices of fish products by another 10 to 20 percent at the expense of the fish buying and eating public. This is one of negative impacts of the 250 percent increase in SLEx toll hike,” said Pamalakaya. (With reports from Pepsi Laloma and Sarsi Pimentel)

Leave a comment

Filed under corruption, neoliberalization, politics

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 #

Leave a comment

Filed under corruption, debt, foreign relations, politics, US intervention

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under barangay news, corruption, debt, disaster, Laguna Lake, politics

Land disputes hound Manila’s new agrarian chief

By Roy Morilla and Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- At least seven cases of agrarian disputes mostly from Southern Tagalog region were presented today to newly installed Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes. In a dialogue with Secretary delos Reyes, the Southern Luzon based peasant group Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and its mother federation- the activist Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the farmer groups asked the new DAR chief to act swiftly on cases pertaining to land use conversions and cancellations of agrarian reform titles in the region.

Among the land dispute cases involving land use conversions, cancellations of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and eviction of farmer beneficiaries include the 8,650 hectare Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas which has been primed for eco-tourism projects and the 7,100 hectare prime agricultural land in Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna province.

The other cases of agrarian disputes presented during the dialogue with DAR secretary include land reform reversals and land use conversions in Dasmarinas and Silang in Cavite province, the seedling projects in Montalban, Rizal and the conversion of Araneta owned lands in Barangay Tungkong Mangga in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Kasama-TK secretary general Axel Pinpin asked the new agrarian reform secretary to immediately issue cease and desist orders to big landlords and real estate developers to effectively halt all land use conversions and indefinitely suspend all these activities to prepare the stage for a comprehensive review of these lands currently embroiled in legal, political and moral disputes between the farmers and the big landlords in Southern Tagalog region.

“The Southern Tagalog region has become the laboratory for land reform reversals, land reform denials and land use conversions since the Calabarzon days of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Hundreds of thousands of prime agricultural lands have been subjected to automatic control of big landlords and were primed for land use conversions at the expense of land reform beneficiaries and other land tillers across the region,” Pinpin noted.

Citing a report filed by Ibon Foundation, KMP spokesperson Antonio Flores said as of December 2006, DAR has cancelled at least 108,141 CLOAs and Emancipation Patents (EPs) involving 204,579 hectares. CLOA and EP cancellations are increased by 3,790% from 1995 data of 2,780, while land area increased by 1,162% from 16, 213 hectares. Of the cancellations, majority or 87% were due to subdivision of mother-CLOAs into individual CLOAs. It involved about 82% of the lands to 167,486 hectares.

The KMP leader also cited a report filed by Sentro para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo Foundation (SENTRA), the lawyers group that handles agrarian cases including Hacienda Luisita. Flores said that of the 205 agrarian cases from Central Luzon,Southern Tagalog, Northern Luzon, Bicol and Panay regions, about half came from Southern Tagalog, mostly from Batangas reaching to 54 cases.

Flores lamented that farmers tend to lose the case at DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB), Regional Trial Court (RTC) and the Supreme Court (SC) even material evidences are sufficient but opposed to big landlords such as Zobel-Ayalas, Roxas, Yulos, Aranetas, Cojuangcos, Puyat family, big-time real-estate developers as Henry Sy, Sobrepenas, and traditional politicians as the Revillas, Remullas, Enriles, Mitras, Villafuerte. The farmers are also against foreign corporations such as Kuok Properties; including traditional and despotic landlords in the remote rural areas in the country such as the Dolors and Lopezes of Batangas, Don Domingo Reyes of Quezon, among many others.

“The DAR secretary should be daring enough to oppose big and influential landlords as the provisions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with `Reforms’ (CARPer) are on their side. If he continues to serve their side, his stay at the department would be restless and he should expect more and more protests in front of his office,” Flores said. #

Leave a comment

Filed under agrarian reform, human rights, politics

Manila’s justice chief set review on Belgian funded lake rehab project

By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Rey Manangan

MANILA, Philippines- Leaders of the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday welcomed the decision of Department of Justice (DoJ) secretary Leila de Lima to review the controversial P 18.7 billion Laguna Lake rehabilitation awarded to a Belgian firm by the previous administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Vice chairperson Salvador France said the decision of Justice secretary de Lima to review the opinion issued by her predecessor-former secretary Alberto Agra that the project is an executive agreement and governed by Republic Act 8182 or the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Act of 1996.

In Agra’s opinion, ODA loan agreements may be considered an executive agreementm which the under revised implementing rules of the Government Reform Procurement Act are exempted from its provision requiring government projects to be subjected for bidding.
But in their July 2 letter of appeal to Secretary de Lima, the Pamalakaya leaders stressed the issue is a matter of life and death to 6 million people residing around the lake’s surroundings.

“Honorable Secretary de Lima please pardon us for bringing this early to your honorable office. We believe this is a matter of national interest beyond the sectoral interest of small fisherfolk in Laguna Lake and the 6 million people surrounding the country’s largest but dying lake. We affirm this is a matter of life and death in which your honorable office can play a decisive role to correct the grave mistakes of the past,” Hicap and France said in their July 2 letter to de Lima.

“Madam secretary, to begin with, former Justice Secretary and Solicitor General Alberto Agra recently issued an eight page opinion affirming the legality of the loan agreement between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Belgian government involving the rehabilitation of the 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake which will cost the Belgian financial bank a total of P 18.7 billion,” they added.
Acccording to Pamalakaya, former Secretary Agra issued the opinion upon the request of acting Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Horacio Ramos who sought the advice of the DoJ on whether the loan agreement between the two countries shall be considered an executive agreement or a treaty that needs the approval of the Philippine Senate and what Philippine laws govern the loan agreement between the two countries.
In his eight page opinion issued less than two weeks before the inauguration of President Aquino, former justice secretary Agra asserted the loan agreement may be considered an executive agreement based on the ruling issued by the Supreme Court in the Commissioner of Customs v. Eastern Sea Trading case, where it differentiated an executive agreement from a treaty.
In the said ruling, the Court held that international agreements involving political issues or changes of national policy and those involving international arrangements of a permanent character usually take the form of treaties.

On the other hand, executive agreements involve arrangements of a more or less temporary nature such as commercial and consular relations. The P18.7-billion loan agreement was signed by the government through the DOF and Fortis Bank on April 30, 2010.

Pamalakaya learned the project is covered by a loan agreement between the government through the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Fortis Bank SA/NV, a Belgian commercial bank which offers a comprehensive package of financial services for private and professional clients, wealthy individuals, corporate clients, financial institutions and public entities.

The loan granted by the Belgian commercial bank is to be guaranteed by the office National du Ducroire Delcrederedienst, the export credit agency of the Belgian government. Secretary Agra said the loan is considered official development assistance (ODA) under Republic Act 8182 or the Official Development Assistance of 1996.
The loan was intended to improve the environmental condition of the lake in order to uplift the socioeconomic condition of the people within the Laguna de Bay regionand its spillover development effect benefiting the entire Metro Manila and the whole country as a whole, in the long term.

The project is composed of subprojects such as dredging of the lake nautical highways; lake water-quality improvement; development and operation of the lake ferry-transport system; and lakeshore development.

The project will be implemented for 850 days and the contract was awarded to Baggerwerken through direct contracting, an alternative mode of procurement. Sources said Baggerwerken is a Belgian company engaged in the business of keeping the sea lanes open, construction of some of the world’s biggest ports and protection of the coastal population against flooding and violence of the seas.

The supply contract was entered into by and between then-Environment secretary Eleazar Quinto for the government and Dimitry Dutilleuz for Baggerwerken. Quinto was one of those midnight appointees of former President Arroyo and was followed by Ramos, another midnight appointee of the former President.

The Pamalakaya leaders said they were highly puzzled about the project since this rehabilitation undertaking was not even brought to the attention of Laguna Lake people. Everybody was kept in the dark. This project is an across-the-lake mystery to 6 million people of Laguna Lake.

“The DoJ, the DENR and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) did not bother to inform, consult or seek the collective opinion of 6 million people living along the lake regarding the ambitious lake rehabilitation project funded by the Belgian government,” the group insisted.

“The fisherfolk of Laguna Lake through Pamalakaya wish to inform your honorable office and the chair of the EU delegation to the Philippines—Honorable Alistair MacDonald that there is nothing honorable with the P 18.7 billion Laguna lake rehabilitation project simply because the project was questionable and merely a passed on project by the Arroyo administration to the Aquino government that should be reviewed and scrutinized by the present dispensation,” the group in their letter to the DoJ chief.

“Nobody knows what the project is all about? Madam Secretary it seems to us the P 18-7 billion project is one of the midnight contracts rushed by President Arroyo and the Office of the President before Arroyo’s term expired on June 30. We have this strong feeling that this project is another money making campaign on the part of the former Arroyo presidency,” the group added.

Pamalakaya also sought the help of Secretary de Liam to faciliate a talk with the highest official of the EU commission in the Philippines to immediately ask the Belgian government and its Belgian embassy in Manila to indefinitely suspend or terminate the contract for the P 18.7 billion rehabilitation project in Laguna Lake.

“We are suspicious of the project which is packaged as rehabilitation project of Laguna Lake. The Philippine government could be pursuing a bogus rehabilitation project in the name of privatization of Laguna Lake at the expense of the livelihood and community rights of over 6 million lake people,” it said.

Pamalakaya said the 18 billion peso project was meant for the setting up of support infrastructures for the full-blown privatization of the lake. The government intends to clean the lake and get rid of fishing communities and urban poor villages in preparation for the grand entry of big business planning to put up an international airport and world class hotels along the lake.#

1 Comment

Filed under agriculture, Laguna Lake, politics

Davide rejected as head of Truth Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under corruption, human rights, politics