Tag Archives: Bayan Muna

New AFP chief asked: Who’s behind smear campaign against Left candidates?

By Viva Regala-Alonzo and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) asked on Thursday newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit the reason why despite his order for government troops not to obey unlawful orders from their most senior officers, officers and members of the armed forces are still engage in partisan politics and electioneering against militant party list groups and progressive candidates running in the May 2010 elections.

“If the nationwide hate and vilification campaign against militant party list groups and progressive candidates was not ordered by the AFP chief, then someone that is higher and powerful than The Emperor could be behind this electoral foul play orchestrated by the military”, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap’s group is supporting the party list of Anakpawis party list and the senatorial bids of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza. The Pamalakaya leader had earlier asked members of the international community observing the conduct of the May 2010 polls to monitor the involvement of the AFP in partisan politics and electioneering which are directed against activist party list groups and militant candidates.

“We strongly ask Gen. Bangit to set the record straight. Who is behind the smear campaign against progressive party lists and candidates? It is not only unlawful but grossly unconstitutional for AFP officers and state security forces to campaign against progressive party lists and candidates,” Hicap added.

In a speech to a group of marines at Camp Teodulo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu on Wednesday, the newly appointed AFP chief said the soldiers are not bound to obey unlawful orders, stressing that the military are not politicians and therefore should stay out of politics and follow only lawful orders from their superiors.

Leaders and members of Pamalakaya in Sorsogon said the military in the province are conducting house-to-house campaign in the province calling on all voters not to vote for militant party lists like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan Party and Act Teachers party list. The party lists formed Makabayan coalition party that includes Katribu party list, a new party list representing indigenous people and national minority groups in the country.

On Feb.23, Army Major Arnal Manjares hurt one of the campaigners of Makabayan during a house-to-house sortie, while conducting house-to-house campaign for progressive party lists and senatorial candidates Ocampo and Maza.

Based on the report reaching the headquarters of Bayan Muna in Quezon City, Manjares slapped the face of the volunteer and threatened the victim and his companions that they would be killed and harmed if they come back again and campaign for leftwing party lists and candidates in the area.

Pamalakaya said in the last May 2007 elections, cases of partisan politics specifically against Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela party lists were also documented Castilla Sorsogon, San Luis, Isabela, Nasugbu, Tanauan and Taysan in Batangas, Dasmarinas, Cavite, Cordon, and Cauayan, and San Luis Roxas, Isabela, Tuburan, Iloilo, Tubod, Lanao Del Norte, Palimbang Sultan Kudarat, Baggao, Cagayan, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, Kolambugan and Tubod Lanao del Norte, Roxas, Mindoro Oriental, Masbate, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

There were also documented cases of military partisan politics against progressive party lists in Gumaca, Lucena, Sariaya, Candelaria, Lucena, Pagbilao, Gen. Luna and Macalelon, all in Quezon province, Alangalang and Tacloban in Leyte, North Cotabato, Marikina City, Makati City, any parts of Camarines Norte, Sa. Rosa, Laguna, Lavenzares, North Samar, Abuyog, Cagayan Valley, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Marawi City, many polling places in Lanao del Sur and many canvassing areas in Isabela.

Pamalakaya said the forms of military and police involvement include abductions and salvaging of progressive party list leaders and poll watchers, Illegal presence inside canvass areas or roaming around polling places and canvass areas, harassment of voters and forcing them not to vote militant party lists and instead vote for Palace backed party lists like Bantay of Rep. Jovito Palparan, transporting of ballot boxes in canvass areas, banning militant party list poll watchers inside the canvass areas and selecting only those they want to allow to enter, acting as bodyguards of candidates.

Other incidence cited by the militant group to prove military involvement in the 2007 polls included the presence of APC and 6×6 trucks near polling places and canvass areas, police counting the votes in precinct, the shooting and wounding of a Bayan Muna leader, the burning of school rooms, the Illegal arrest of poll watchers and the threatening Comelec official.

Pamalakaya had appealed to members of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to also monitor and entertain reports and cases against AFP officials and rank-and-file personnel accused of engaging in partisan politics and electioneering.

The group had asked Jamie Metzl of NDI, Thomas Barry, deputy regional director of NDI for Asia, Sam Gejdenson, former member of US Congress, Nora Owen, former justice minister of Ireland and Sue Wood, former president of the New Zealand National Party to put premium on documented reports that the military are campaigning for pro-administration bets and on the other hand are campaigning against certain candidates and party lists highly critical of the Arroyo administration.

“The pro-GMA clique in the AFP is in command of all these dirty electoral campaign against progressive candidates and party lists. It is blatantly and brazenly violating provisions of the 1987 Constitution that illegalize any kind or form of military partisan politics and electioneering. We appeal to the members of the international community to give proper attention to this militarist agenda of the pro-Arroyo faction in the AFP,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also asked members of the Western electoral watchdog to remain until June 30 to complete their observation and make an objective preliminary assessment of the May 2010 elections. The militant group said the March 12 to March 17 schedule of NDI electoral observers was short and will not give them even a comprehensive overview on how the Arroyo government and Comelec commence the 2010 elections under its stewardship.

The militant group had pressed Comelec chairman Jose Melo to invoke the constitutional provision banning all military officials and government troops from exercising partisan politics in lieu of reports that that some members of the AFP are engaged in campaigning against Makabayan senatorial candidates—Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza and activist party lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis.

‘The commissioners of Comelec headed by Chairman Melo should impose an iron hand policy against officials and members of the AFP engaged in partisan politics. The military is violating the 1987 Constitution pertaining to partisan politics and this political-military adventure sanctioned by the ruling party in Malacanang must be put to an end,” the group said. #

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Mikey urged to work as security guard before running as party list nominee

By Lollipop de los Reyes and Queen Shawn Dok

MANILA, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Monday gave presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “ Mikey” Arroyo to work as security guard for at least 2 years before seeking running as party list nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, a sectoral party list organization representing the “marginalized” interests of security guards all over the country.

“If Rep. Arroyo wants to become the voice of the poor and the oppressed he should undergo a major political overhaul, atone for his grave sins against the people and prove his worth as the real representative of the marginalized group he wants to represent. If he wants to acquire continuing political power and impunity by cannibalizing and bastardizing the party list system, then better forget his sinister plan and consider an early retirement from politics,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Arroyo gave up his chance to represent the second district of Pampanga in favor of his mother- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He is rumored to be running as the first nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy party list, which Pamalakaya and allied party list groups opposed because it is a party list backed by Malacanang and perceived to be one of the party list machineries to ensure seats that would catapult Mrs. Arroyo to the speakership of the 15th Congress.

“Why not work first as a security guard at least for two to three years. Mikey can work as one of the security guards guarding the Arroyo owned LTA Corp. building in Makati City in various shifts so he could directly experience the ordeals of blue guards and internalize their issues and concerns in the process. Will he accept this challenge?” Hicap asked.

The Pamalakaya leader also said the same applies to Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Angelo Reyes who is rumored to be running as the party list nominee of the transport party list group 1-UTAK, another Malacanang hatched party list.

“We also advise Secretary Reyes to leave his post and pursue a driving career as a jeepney driver in the next two to three years before joining the party list system as no.1 nominee of that highly questionable transport party list group,” added Hicap.
Pamalakaya argued that Secretary Reyes does not represent the voice of the hardworking transport worker, asserting further that the controversial energy chief is the ultimate and first rate puppet of oil cartel and transnational mining companies over the last five years.

The militant group doubted that Rep. Arroyo and Sec. Reyes would accept their challenge, saying people with cruel intentions and sinister interests will not subscribe to their proposal for political reforms and meaningful change.

“Rep. Arroyo and Sec. Reyes and the party lists they represent are part of the entire ruling syndicate in Malacanang. Their penchant for extreme greed for power and super crimes of corruption are undeniable,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said since it is next to impossible for Rep. Arroyo and Sec. Reyes to live up to their challenge, they would join party list groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and Kabataan Party in the signature campaign to disqualify alleged party list groups identified and supported by Malacanang.

Pamalakaya said the party list groups that should be exposed, opposed and disqualified to run in the party list elections in the coming May 2010 elections aside from Ang Galing Pinoy and 1-UTAK are Ang Kasangga headed by Maria Lourdes Arroyo, sister of First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel “ Mike” Arroyo, Bantay party list of Rep. Jovito Palparan, Agbiag Timpuyo Ilokano, Ahon Pinoy, Akbay Pinoy-OFW, Aangat Ating Kabuhayan-Filipinas (Anak), Babae Ka, Bigkis, Byaheng Pinoy Labor Association, Kalahi and League of Youth for Peace and Advancement (Lypad).

Pamalakaya said these groups are pseudo party lists which are backed or influenced by Malacanang and other political interests identified with President Arroyo. The militant group said there are other party lists which are believed to be funded or backed by the Office of the President which needed by to be exposed and opposed to the Filipino public. #

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Comelec told: Castigate AFP on partisan politics

By Mama Mila Liguasan and Akihira Tatchu

Manila, Philippines –

Pamalakaya took a brief respite after having their Feb.14 sortie in Baywalk, Manila Bay

The leaders of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged on Sunday the officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to castigate officials and rank-and-file members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) involved in partisan politics.

In a joint press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Vice chairperson Salvador France pressed Comelec chairman Jose Melo to invoke the constitutional provision banning all military officials and government troops from exercising partisan politics in lieu of reports that that some members of the AFP are engaged in campaigning against Makabayan senatorial candidates—Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza and activist party lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis.

‘The commissioners of Comelec headed by Chairman Melo should impose an iron hand policy against officials and members of the AFP engaged in partisan politics. The military is violating the 1987 Constitution pertaining to partisan politics and this political-military adventure sanctioned by the ruling party in Malacanang must be put to an end,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

Hicap and France who both came from Sorsogon learned that the military in the province are conducting house-to-house campaign in the province calling on all voters not to vote for militant party lists like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan Party and Act Teachers party list. The party lists formed Makabayan coalition party that includes Katribu party list, a new party list representing indigenous people and national minority groups in the country.

On Feb.23, Army Major Arnal Manjares hurt one of the campaigners of Makabayan during a house-to-house sortie, while conducting house-to-house campaign for progressive party lists and senatorial candidates Ocampo and Maza.

Based on the report reaching the headquarters of Bayan Muna in Quezon City, Manjares slapped the face of the volunteer and threatened the victim and his companions that they would be killed and harmed if they come back again and campaign for leftwing party lists and candidates in the area.

Pamalakaya said in the last May 2007 elections, cases of partisan politics specifically against Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela party lists were also documented Castilla Sorsogon, San Luis, Isabela, Nasugbu, Tanauan and Taysan in Batangas, Dasmarinas, Cavite, Cordon, and Cauayan, and San Luis Roxas, Isabela, Tuburan, Iloilo, Tubod, Lanao Del Norte, Palimbang Sultan Kudarat, Baggao, Cagayan, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, Kolambugan and Tubod Lanao del Norte, Roxas, Mindoro Oriental, Masbate, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

There were also documented cases of military partisan politics against progressive party lists in Gumaca, Lucena, Sariaya, Candelaria, Lucena, Pagbilao, Gen. Luna and Macalelon, all in Quezon province, Alangalang and Tacloban in Leyte, North Cotabato, Marikina City, Makati City, any parts of Camarines Norte, Sa. Rosa, Laguna, Lavenzares, North Samar, Abuyog, Cagayan Valley, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Marawi City, many polling places in Lanao del Sur and many canvassing areas in Isabela.

Pamalakaya said the forms of military and police involvement include abductions and salvaging of progressive party list leaders and poll watchers, Illegal presence inside canvass areas or roaming around polling places and canvass areas, harassment of voters and forcing them not to vote militant party lists and instead vote for Palace backed party lists like Bantay of Rep. Jovito Palparan, transporting of ballot boxes in canvass areas, banning militant party list poll watchers inside the canvass areas and selecting only those they want to allow to enter, acting as bodyguards of candidates, presence of APC and 6×6 trucks near polling places and canvass areas, police counting the votes in precinct, the shooting and wounding of a Bayan Muna leader, the burning of school rooms, the Illegal arrest of poll watchers and the threatening Comelec official.

Pamalakaya also reiterated its call for Comelec to recall its previous decision allowing CAGGUs and other paramilitary units to carry fire arms during the election season. The militant group asserted that the long experience and track record of CAFGUs in partisan politics, acting as paid goons and private armies of powerful politicians, the poll body should have recalled its resolution and pursued the across-the-nation disbandment of special civilian armed forces.
Under Comelec resolution 8742 made effective last January 11, amending Resolution 8714, the CAFGU was exempted from gun ban along with members of the Presidential Security Group, Bureau of Fire Protection, Optical Media Board, the treasurers and deputy treasurers and members of the Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Treasury.
Prior to Comelec promulgation of Resolution 8714, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao opposed the disarming of CAAs because these paramilitary groups are tapped by fishing companies to secure their venture in the South. For his part, Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of Western Command said as far as the military is concerned, the CAFGUs are part of the military organization and not all CAFGUs are utilized by private companies operating in far flung areas. #

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Militant solons to challenge “1959” in Congress

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times and Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines- Eight activist party list lawmakers comprising Makabayan coalition bloc in the House of Representatives have vowed to spearhead the fight against Proclamation 1959 in the House and are filing a resolution tomorrow seeking to revoke the President’s imposition of martial law in Maguindanao.

In a press statement sent to The Pamalakaya Times, the Makabayan coalition in the House of Representatives led by representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna; Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela, Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis and Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Party will file a resolution urging the Lower Chamber to revoke the controversial proclamation placing Maguindanao under Martial Law.

The Makabayan solons said they would do everything humanly possible to oppose what they called an emerging Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dictatorship.

They reiterated their stand that Proclamation 1959 was unconstitutional as there is no rebellion or invasion in Maguindanao. They also said it was unnecessary since a state of emergency had already been declared in the area and the AFP, PNP and other government agencies had enough powers to deal with the aftermath of the Maguindanao massacre.

“We believe that Proclamation 1959 is meant to be a precedent. It is an attempt to impose martial law even without the requirements specified in the Constitution. If the GMA gets away with this one in Maguindanao, she can get away with it in any other province or the whole country,” they said.

They said they would make sure Proclamation 1959 would not go unchallenged in Congress or in the Supreme Court.

“We demand that Congress act immediately to revoke Proclamation 1959 and protect our people from similar threats to their democratic rights and freedoms,” they said.

The bloc also said they would join and support all rallies and demonstrations against Proclamation 1959 and for the resignation or ouster of Pres. Arroyo.

Meanwhile, leftwing militants identified with the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday warned congressmen allied with Arroyo that the House of Representatives will face dissolution if congressmen will not reject the imposition of Martial Law in Maguindanao province.

In a a separate statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said pro-GMA congressmen should rise above the occasion and quell the grand plan of Malacanang and the National Security Council to slowly but surely place the entire country under Martial Law with the Maguindanao massacre as a laboratory for eventual declaration of martial rule all over the country.

The Pamalakaya leader said the statement of House Speaker Prospero Nograles justifying Proclamation 1959 is politically dangerous, asserting that the top house leader is toeing the Palace line for the across-the-nation imposition of Martial Law that will soon lead to the dissolution of the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate.

“Remember the imposition of Martial Law is one of the available legal measures for President Arroyo to perpetuate herself to power beyond 2010. Mrs. Arroyo and her ruling gangland will do everything, anything, whatever the cost is and come what may to justify martial rule and keep the reigning political syndicate to power,” said Hicap.

Pamalakaya said congressmen allied or oppose to President Arroyo should take cue from the Supreme Court which said that Malacanang has no basis to declare Martial Law in Maguindanao because the court system in Maguindanao is functioning.

“The Supreme Court is clear, the court system is working and in fact that judge in Kidapawan had issued six search warrants that authorized the raids on several Amputuan residences. The cruel intention of Mrs. Arroyo and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez is highly exposed here—they want the Maguindanao to jumpstart the well planned imposition of Martial Law all over the country,” the group said.

“It appears to us that the Maguindanao massacre orchestrated by the powerful Ampatuan clan had the official blessing if not tacit approval of the national security mafia in Malacanang to justify the possible declaration of national state of emergency or even Martial Law across the country. Palace think tanks believe the situation could be exploited to justify the martial rule not only in Maguindanao but also across the country in not so distant future,” Pamalakaya added.

The militant group asserted that aside from President Arroyo, Secretary Gonzalez and ex-defense chief Teodoro, previous defense secretaries and chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines should be made to explain why they allowed the proliferation of CAFGUs, armed Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) and private armies in Maguindanao and have them enlisted and functioned as military and security personnel and private armies of the powerful Ampatuan warlord clan in Maguindanao.

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Satur urges Malacanang to defy business groups demanding termination of EO 839

By Vince Borneo, contributor

Manila, Philippines- Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo today said that Malacanang should not cave in to the demand of foreign and local businessmen that Executive Order 839, which places petroleum products under price control, be terminated. The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said that the EO 839 is damaging to the oil industry. Other groups have also expressed concern over EO 839, among them the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Makati Business Club, and the Federation of Philippine Industries.

“Instead of heeding the JFC,MAP, et al, Malacanang should defy their warnings and threats, and remain firm in implementing EO 839. There has been a long-standing need to regulate the prices of oil and petroleum products in the Philippines and it had to take a series of major calamities for the government to impose it. The oil cartel and their partners have been chaffing at the bit because their profiteering has been reined in. Their arguments against price controls are blatantly self-serving and do not serve the public good,” Ocampo said.

“If Malacanang caves in, the oil cartel would have again won, and it’s another point proving the weakness and ineffectivity of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration in protecting the public interest,” he added.

Ocampo even challenged the Palace not only to maintain price controls but to overhaul the oil industry by regulating and eventually nationalizing it.

Ocampo called on the JFC, MAP and other business groups to rethink their blind faith on deregulated markets especially since a cartel exists in the oil industry. “Consumers and the rest of the Filipino people are already overly-familiar with the abuses of Shell, Caltex and Petron. Rather than side with the oil cartel, I hope our businessmen will help find ways to bust the cartel and ensure that oil prices are just, reasonable and transparent,” Ocampo said. #

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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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(Update)House leader urged Palace to expand EO 389 coverage

By Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines- Makabayan senatorial candidate and Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) urged Malacanang to expand the coverage of Executive Order 389, an order calling on all oil companies to reduce prices of petroleum products at their Oct. 15 levels.

Ocampo, who is currently on a 4-city Mindanao swing to consult local leaders on his planned senatorial run, said: “If the reason for the EO is to protect consumers, why not expand its scope of coverage to include the rest of the country? After all, no one is exempted from the impact of oil price hikes.”

Ocampo’s visit to the cities of Davao, Tagum (Davao del Norte), Kidapawan and Cotabato (North Cotabato) is also in line with the Nov.13 national convention of the progressive party coalition Makabayan, of which he is the party’s no.1 candidate for senatorial elections next year.

“No one finds it easy to adjust to high oil prices and the increases in rates of services and prices of basic commodities. Malacanang should not stop at controlling the profiteering of the oil cartel in Luzon – it should go after the oil companies’ operations in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Ocampo said in a press statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Pamalakaya Times.

Ocampo said that Shell, Caltex and Petron will predictably try to get around the executive order by increasing oil prices outside Luzon.

“Already Shell has released statements paving the way for this move by saying that there’s a shift in commercial and industrial customers’ purchases to retail outlets. We expect Petron and Caltex to follow suit with their own excuses justifying regulated allocations supposedly based on average sales, then eventually, the declaration of a shortage. In the meantime, as the public is focused on developments in Luzon, the cartel will continue to jack up prices in Mindanao and Visayas,” Ocampo said.

“Already, some oil firms have said that they are determining how to allocate their current inventories or hold off their shipments altogether,” Ocampo said.

The Bayan Muna solon also castigated the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Task Force for their failure to monitor the value and volume of import shipments of the oil companies together with duties and taxes paid.

He said that “the DOE and other government agencies tasked to do the monitoring have been less than strict to the point of looking the other way when it came to the predatory business activities of the oil firms.”

“Sec. Angelo Reyes cannot make excuses for this lapse given that a new EO is in place. The least that he can do is to make sure that the oil companies comply with the provisions of EO 389. Punitive action should be laid down against oil firms and their outlets which refuse to comply and sell at approved and designated prices.”

The militant solon argued that while piecemeal efforts to control oil prices such as EO 389 were well and good, they were still far from being enough to curb the insatiable greed of the oil firms.

“Decisive and long-term solutions should be implemented. At the onset, the oil deregulation law should be repealed and all its effects on the oil industry reversed. Petron should be placed under full government control, paving the way for the eventual nationalization of the oil industry. Government control over the industry is necessary to protect consumers from the oil firms’ excessive and unjust profiteering,” the activist lawmaker said.

Earlier, the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the government should takeover the operations of the Big Three, asserting that Malacanang should effect the nationalization of the oil industry since Shell, Chevron and Petron will not take seriously the order urging oil firms to rollback prices of petroleum products back to their Oct.15 price levels.

Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said the government should ask Congress for the repeal of Oil Deregulation Law to pave way for the urgent regulation and subsequently, the nationalization of the oil industry. (With reports from Billy Javier Reyes and Viva Regala-Alonzo).

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Satur to poll body: Allow militant migrant group to run in 2010

By Sugar Hicap and Lollipop de los Reyes

Quezon City, Philippines- Party list coalition Makabayan today strongly urged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to reconsider its earlier resolution to remove Migrante Sectoral Party from the list of accredited party-list organizations participating in the 2010 elections.

“Thousands of overseas Filpinos are in danger of being disenfranchised by this COMELEC ruling. They who contribute so much from the economy have for so long been marginalized by the electoral system. Now, once again, they are being denied their right to representation,” said Rep. Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan.

In an en banc resolution last October 13, 2009, COMELEC barred Migrante and 25 other party-list organizations from participating in the 2010 elections. Migrante, according to the commission, participated and failed to gain seats in two straight elections prior to the upcoming polls.

It is on record, however, that Migrante only participated during the 2004 elections and signified their intent not to run in 2007 while maintaining the option to run in the next election.

“It is clear from its track record that Migrante is a legitimate party-list organization, with the largest and broadest membership among overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines. It cannot be denied that to delist Migrante is to disenfranchise their constituency,” explained Ocampo.

The Makabayan president further pointed to COMELEC’s wild inconsistencies in its decision to delist and maintain party-list groups in its accredited list. For instance, groups like BISA, Pinoy Overseas Party and Banat were allowed to run in 2004 even as they failed to garner the required two-percent of total party-list votes to garner seats in 1998. These groups also failed to run during the 2001 elections.

The activist lawmaker lamented that groups with dubious representation like (Mike Arroyo’s sister) Ma. Lourdes Arroyo’s Kasangga Party-list and butcher general Jovito Palparan’s Bantay Party-list were allowed to participate in 2007 and defame the true spirit of the Party-List System Act.

“All these point to a political motive in the delisting of Migrante. After all, Migrante, along with the other progressive party-list organizations, have been the most vocal in criticizing government misdeeds and even exposing electoral fraud during the past elections,” said Ocampo.

Ocampo also urged the commission not to give in to pressure from Malacañang. He asked COMELEC to give progressive party-list organizations like Migrante a chance to finally run for House seats that would represent the millions of Filipinos long denied of due representation.

While Comelec was slapped with criticisms over its decision to delist Migrante sectoral party list, the militant Bayan Muna party list welcomed the statement of House Speaker Prospero Nograles expressing the urgent need to stop the abuses of oil cartel-Shell, Caltex and Petron.

Nograles also said that the Oil Deregulation Law fell short of its supposed intent to put an end to the monopoly of the big three on the oil industry.

“It’s good that Speaker Nograles has seen the light on this issue of oil deregulation. For the longest time, Shell, Caltex and Petron have been abusing the law by jacking up their prices at the slightest excuse. Oil deregulation has only made the cartel even more abusive, and consumers have been at their mercy since the law was approved in 1998. More than a decade later, we have all seen the disastrous impact of oil deregulation, and it’s high time that the law be repealed,” Bayan Muna secretary general Nathanael Santiago said.

Santiago said that despite Nograles’ assertion that there was no more time to repeal the law, he said that “it was still important for Congress to make the attempt.”

He said that “all it will take is strong and determined political will to repeal the law and send an unmistakable signal to the Big Three that their abuses are not being tolerated.”

“There is still enough time to fast-track measures to repeal the oil deregulation law. If bills pushed by Malacanang can be rushed and even passed in a series of overnight plenary sessions, why not a bill putting an end to oil deregulation? It would be a great service to once and for all repeal this law that has brought nothing but added economic burdens to the people,” Santiago said.

“Bayan Muna is certain that our many lawmakers are willing to sacrifice a few sleepless nights for this effort. The oil companies should be taught a lesson, and this could be a good first step towards regulating the oil industry,” he added.

“If Speaker Nograles will put his influence and clout behind calls for the repeal of oil deregulation law, it will be possible to junk the said law before the end of the 14th Congress,” Santiago said. #

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Militants to Loren: Slowdown on relocation of lakeshore residents

By Rey Manangan, Tootsie Roll Arcadia and Lollipop delos Reyes

Manila, Philippines- The lake wide fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and staunch ally- the multisectoral alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Sunday said Senator Loren Legarda should slowdown on her proposal to relocate tens of thousands of fisherfolk and residents of lakeshore towns, including alleged illegal settlers at the mouth of the lake.

Pamalakaya and SLMM added this might be exploited by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) which had programmed the conversion of the lake for private use and profit-driven activities at the expense of lake people and the environment.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said his group wanted to get in touch with Legarda, who chairs the Senate oversight committee on climate change, after they learned that she already agreed with LLDA General Manager Edgar Manda on the immediate relocation of residents without conducting first a public consultation with the affected people.

“We are aware of the honest and noble purpose of Sen. Legarda, her concern for the people and the environment, but the good senator should first consult the people, learn and understand their collective interest and current sentiment on the proposed relocation before subscribing to the suggestion of Mr. Manda, who is known in the Laguna Lake community as lapdog of big business, a certified puppet of the Office of the President, and a public official with cruel intentions against the people,” the Pamalakaya leader said in a press statement.

Legarda who ran in the 2004 election for vice-president and 2007 in the senatorial election was endorsed and supported by Pamalakaya for her outstanding advocacy on environment, peace talks and her gallant cause against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“To set the record straight, we have (been) anticipating the senator’s invitation for us to appear in the hearing of the Senate oversight committee on climate change, but up to now, no invitation was sent to our national office. Perhaps in the next hearing, the good senator will invite us to hear and know the real score coming from the lake folk and not from Mr. Manda alone,” Hicap added.

On Saturday, Sen. Legarda and Manda conducted an ocular inspection of the lake whose water level at the height of tropical storm Ondoy reached 14.5 meters from its normal level of 12.5 meters. She and the LLDA chief reached the poor community after inspecting flooded areas along Pasig River from Guadalupe in Makati City to Pasig.

Legarda said the LLDA had repeatedly warned the Lupang Arenda, a community of shanties built along the banks of the lake in Taytay, Rizal, was permanently at risk of flooding at every abnormal rise of the water level. She said the residents and the government should agree on permanent relocation site.

As many as 100,000 households in Lupang Arenda, Cainta and Pasig have been displaced by the abnormal rise in lake’s water level but Lupang Arenda residents have resisted relocation, telling LLDA that they had been paying fees to the National Housing Authority for a permit to stay in the reclaimed area.

Yesterday, Pamalakaya attended a meeting of calamity victims in Muntinlupa where tens of thousands of lakeshore residents and fishermen are still submerged in deep waters. The consultation among fisherfolk and residents was called by Bayan-NCR and the Muntinlupa chapters of party list groups—Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan Party and Akap-Bata.

During the consultation, Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz explained that the immediate cause of continuous flooding was the permanent closure of Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NCHS), a flood support structure, the prevented excess waters of Laguna Lake to flow into Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay.

“The people there are open for relocation provided that the following requirements will be addressed by the national and local governments—on city relocation that will provide decent mass housing for calamity victims, provisions for comprehensive rehabilitation projects and social services and the immediate yet productive creation of jobs for thousands of displaced residents,” he said.

According to Corpuz, Bayan-NCR and local chapters of progressive party list groups and urban poor organizations today will conduct a fluvial parade in Muntinlupa, that will include distribution of relief goods to several calamity stricken villages and clean up.

“Bayan-NCR and the people in the lakeshore side of Muntinlupa are doing their very best to address the immediate needs and demands under Kilusang Bayanihan movement. Sen. Legarda should involve them in the current hearing of her committee on climate change. They can speak on the matter more than Mr. Manda,” the Pamalakaya information chief added.

Earlier, Pamalakaya and Save Laguna Lake Movement urged leaders of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to also prioritize the legislative inquiry on Laguna Lake which is still under 14.5 meter deep since tropical storm Ondoy hit the country on Sept.26.

“Today is Oct.18 or about 22 days since storm Ondoy turned Laguna Lake into a virtual water world. Do we need 40 days before Congress takes up an inquiry on the ill-fated 90,000 hectare lake? Excuse us, but Laguna Lake, its people and environment are not dead entities waiting for 40-day ritual,” the groups said.

Pamalakaya added: “Let me remind our lawmakers that 30 towns and cities of Rizal and Laguna provinces and the National Capital Region were swallowed by Laguna Lake at the height of storm Ondoy affecting 2.2 million out of the 6 million fisherfolk and lake shore population. But the investigation is not moving as if the issue on hand is just a dime-a-dozen concern”.

The groups noted that only a handful of lawmakers agreed to their proposal for an all-out investigation on the current state of Laguna Lake. They are Senators Jamby Madrigal and Legarda in the Senate, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon and militant party list lawmakers Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino and Neri Colmenaras of Bayan Muna, Luzviminda Ilagan and Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party, Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Party and Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod of Anakpawis party list.

“The Senate has 23 senators and the House of Representatives has 255 congressmen. But only a few good men and women managed to rise above the occasion. It is not too late for the leadership of both Houses and their peers to come to their senses and start the ball rolling on Laguna Lake catastrophe,” added Pamalakaya.

The lake-based groups said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles should discourage members of the Senate and the House from going into vacation or abroad and instead call for special sessions that will look into the impacts of storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng and root the causes of the twin catastrophe that plagued the almost entire island of Luzon. Both houses are set to have their recess on Oct.15.

“No more foreign trips please, and the lawmakers should continue their legislative work by pursuing these investigations in aid of legislation and by going back to their respective districts and find out the needs of their devastated constituents,” Pamalakaya added.

Prior to typhoon Ondoy, Pamalakaya and SLLM asserted that towns and cities surrounding the lake were already flooded. The groups attributed the flooding to the closure of the NCHS that prevented excess waters of Laguna Lake from passing through Pasig River on its way to Manila Bay. Both groups said at the height of typhoon Ondoy, the Napindan channel was still closed impounding more waters to the lake and later spilled to 30 towns in Rizal, Laguna and Metro Manila.

The Social Action Center of San Pablo City in Laguna said the mass flooding affected 20 towns of Laguna, excluding several towns in Rizal province and had displaced around 750,248 people mostly fisherfolk, farmers and urban poor.

The most affected towns are the towns of Binan where 45,125 families or 198,700 people were displaced, followed by San Pedro (25,606 families or 153,636 people affected), Sta.Cruz (20, 498 families or 102,590 people displaced) Sta. Rosa (14,951 families or 77,052 people displaced), Cabuyao (7,670 families or 46,001 persons affected), Calamba (8,024 families or 33, 819 people affected) and Los Banos (5,496 families or 29,730 people displaced.

Pamalakaya and SLLM suggested the following names and offices to be invited or subpoenaed for the congressional inquiry, whether separate or joint congressional inquiry.

Their list includes environment Secretary Joselito Atienza, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Manda, the governors of Rizal and Laguna provinces, mayors and local government officials of affected 30 towns and cities surrounding the lake, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the officials of Board of Investment (BOI), the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the Office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita to represent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. #

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Satur tells GMA: Prioritize homes for victims of Ondoy and Pepeng

By TC Concepcion, contributor

Manila, Philippines- Makabayan senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo on Friday urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to prioritize the provision of decent homes to the victims of storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng, describing his proposal as practical yet very urgent.

Bayan Muna Rep. Ocampo, also the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives brought the issue up in response to reports that President Arroyo has given the go-signal for much delayed urban development project supposedly meant to relocate thousands of squatters and rearrange Metro Manila areas on a permanent scope. Part of the planned Metro Manila development project is the relocation of thousands of informal settlers living near rivers and creeks.

The militant lawmaker was referring to the 1977 Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Project, which Malacanang will use as a blue print for the extreme makeover of the National Capital Region that will entail the demolition of not less than 400,000 informal settlers in Manila Bay, Laguna Lake and in Marikina Valley.

At the Legislative and Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting in Malacanang yesterday, administration Senator Edgardo Angara brought the idea fof changing the topography anf geography of parts of Metro Manila in the wake of Ondoy’s devastation.

In the study funded by the World Bank used by Malacanang, it was stated that development will be applied in three major areas: in the Marikina Valley, the western shores of Laguna de Bay, and the Manila Bay coastal area to the north of Manila.

“Thousands lost their homes along with almost everything else they owned. In the meantime, thousands more fear returning to the areas where they used to live out of dread that the next big floods can be worse. Already, experts see an increase in the number of slum dwellers disparagingly called squatters”, noted Ocampo.

According to the Bayan Muna solon asserted that poor people deserve safe, secure dwellings, and it is the government’s task to provide these. “We hope that Malacanang’s plans to rehabilitate Metro Manila will not be a cold-blooded and mechanical campaign to simply clear away the poor and drive them off to far-flung areas to build slum communities”, Ocamppo noted.

Random surveys reveal that majority of the victims come from menial and low-paying jobs — many are from the informal sector. The calamities have driven them to even deeper levels of penury. Urban poverty is certain to worsen.

Ocampo said that Malacanang should send a concrete blue-print for the urban development project to Congress. He also said that residents of Metro Manila especially the areas affected by the typhoon should be consulted on the changes.

“The government must not be allowed to add more injury to those already sustained by the victims. A genuine urban renewal and rehabilitation program prioritizes the welfare of residents — ensuring that they have houses and not hovels. Beautification is not merely planting trees, it’s building safe communities with easy access to water, sanitation and electricity services,” he said.

The Bayan Muna solon said that the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) should immediately find means to quantify the possible increase in slum dwellers and provide the government a ball-park figure on the extent of the work it must undertake. #

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